Cinemark announced Wednesday that it was closing its 345 theaters, effective March 18, as large gatherings are discouraged to try to stem the corona virus pandemic. So what’s the perfect sequester occupation? Movies on TV. And thank goodness for cable and “streaming.”
There’s no longer much distance between a film’s screening and its appearance on cable these days. And some films go straight to cable, though I’m usually a bit suspicious of those. You can imagine how blown away I was to discover that “The Goldfinch,” a film that was released by Warner in September last year, and then yanked because the reviews were so terrible, is just, as of this week, streaming.
The film, adapted from Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 2013 novel by Peter Straughan and directed by John Crowley, has an enviable cast, including Ansel Elgort in the lead, Nicole Kidman, Sarah Paulson, Jeffrey Wright and Luke Wilson among others. It is a brilliant book about a boy who loses his mother in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, an event that will follow him the rest of life.
There are plenty of movies streaming that are thoughtful, historic or simply entertaining. Military history buffs would enjoy award-winning “1917,” a film that is a marvel of suspense and beautiful camera work. Directed by Sam Mendes, it is about two young World War I soldiers and their mission behind enemy lines to halt a British advance that will be a slaughter.
“Midway” was a passion project for director Roland Emmerich, who had trouble raising studio money for it and ended up raising it himself. At a budget of $100 million, it is one of the most expensive independent films ever made. It has an all-star cast including Woody Harrelson as Admiral Chester Nimitz, Dennis Quaid as Vice Admiral Bull Halsey, Ed Skrein, Aaron Eckhart, Patrick Wilson and Nick Jonas. Then there were their Japanese counterparts.
The film is essentially about the Battle of Midway, and the politics of getting the admiral staff to believe in the recommendations of their Pearl Harbor intelligence staff. They finally did.
The 1976 film called “Midway” reads like a Who’s Who of Hollywood stars. But only this latest film emphasized the importance of the intelligence, and the fact that misreading it meant things could have gone south quickly for the U.S.
In keeping with the times, they’re streaming Steven Soderberg’s 2011 film “Contagion,” that’s a Who’s Who of contemporary Hollywood stars and scared the heck out of everyone; and Dustin Hoffman’s 1995 film “Outbreak.” None of these are comedies.
I’ll talk about less serious fare next time. See you round the television screen.
Toni Clem is a Paris resident and has been writing Deja View for more than 30 years.