Posted in lieu of the April 2020 movie preview that would have been the shortest and saddest version of that monthly feature that I’ve ever written
So, here’s a question that’s been nagging at me ever since the first film got pulled from the spring schedule (if you’ve forgotten in all the excitement, it was No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond film): how does one do the work of movie criticism when there are no movies to criticise? In an unbelievably perfect bit of timing, my weird schedule that’s made it hard to be as diligent in posting new reviews as I’d like is freeing up right about the time that the spigot of new releases is entirely drying up, give or take anything being unexpectedly dropped onto streaming in the next few weeks. As I write these words now, the next theatrical releases scheduled in North America are set to come on 8 May, and let’s just say that I’m not at all optimistic enough to assume that the world or the movie theaters will be ready for that date. And even if they are, I’m not actually convinced that music industry drama The High Note or blind-date-gone-wrong thriller Run Sweetheart Run are the big welcome-back party that anybody wants to be their first trip to the movies in two months.
So the question remains: absent a steady diet of direct-to-streaming originals (*shudder*), whatever are we to do with ourselves here at Alternate Ending for the next several weeks and/or months? My solution, and it is very much a self-serving solution, is to indulge myself in some classic movie reviews. But to keep things interesting, I’ve decided to focus those classic reviews around theme days. For the month of April (or even longer!) I’ll be filling the time with movies centered around these topics:
SUNDAYS: It’s no secret that I have an abiding fascination for films on spiritual themes. On Sundays, we’ll be going to movie church, with some of my favorite cinematic expressions of faith, doubt, and the nature of the universe. First up on 4/5: everybody’s favorite expression of religious ecstasy so pure it leads to martyrdom, The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1928).
MONDAYS: In which I try to do some good work, by promoting movies that I feel have been, for whatever reason and by whatever definition strikes my fancy, overlooked and underappreciated. These might not all be Forgotten Masterpieces, but they’re all very good, and I think more people should see them than has apparently been the case. First up on 4/6: the deliciously snotty Cold War satire Our Man in Havana (Carol Reed, 1959).
TUESDAYS: There are four Tuesdays in April. There are four films in the Anaconda series. Both “April” and “Anaconda” start with the letter “A”. I’m not superstitious, but that seems like too many coincidences to ignore. First up on 4/7: Jennifer Lopez vs. Jon Voight vs. an Anaconda (Luis Llosa, 1997)
WEDNESDAYS: You’re going to help me do some housecleaning. I own a pretty substantial number of DVDs and Blu-rays that I’ve never actually watched, substantial enough for it to be a distinct embarrassment. Certainly substantial enough that I won’t be telling you all what that number is. So I’m going to use this opportunity to clear it out a little bit. Every week, I’ll be selecting one film out of my collection that I’ve never seen and sharing my thoughts. First up tomorrow, 4/1: the ’70s evil twin art-thriller The Other (Robert Mulligan, 1972)
THURSDAYS: You have perhaps noted that I like to talk about animation. I hope you like it when I do that, because this will be my day for looking at some prominent examples of Japanese anime, ones I’ve seen and ones I haven’t, all united in the fact that it’s ridiculous I haven’t reviewed them yet. First up on 4/2: the infamously violent Ninja Scroll (Kawajiri Yoshiaki, 1993).
FRIDAYS: Eventually, I want to have a review of every single winner of the Best Picture Oscar on this site. Right now is a great chance to knock a few of those off the list, in a collection that’s been curated to present as wide a range of styles and moods as the Academy permits. First up on 4/3: the long-delayed 1st runner up from the 2019 Best Picture Review Poll, The French Connection (William Friedkin, 1971).
SATURDAYS: A day of rest. Also possibly the aforementioned (*shudder*) direct-to-streaming originals, as the mood takes me.