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The new normal - Changes are coming in the film industry

Changes are coming in the film industry in the new normal

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Changes are coming in the film industry in the new normal

A dramatically altered new normal is coming to the film business – in how and who makes the films and how and why we will watch them. No one can say with certainty today what the future will look like, but it is now apparent it will never be what it was.

You might think this is because of the seismic shift that the global pandemic has forced into our daily lives, including in our cultural pursuits. True enough, but the seeds of change were already sown in film before COVID-19 started its deadly spread, prompting most countries to slam on the brakes and shutter public venues, including movie theatres.

The grip of the legendary Hollywood studios was already loosening. Just look at how streaming services – notably Netflix – had challenged the studios and started beating them at their own game by buying indie films outright or creating originals.

Oscar-nominated Yalitza Aparicio plays a nanny who shows her transformational love for her harsh employer's children in Roma.
Oscar-nominated Yalitza Aparicio plays a nanny who shows her transformational love for her harsh employer’s children in Roma.

The titles include some of the most exciting films of the 21st century. With Netflix, the list is already impressive: Beasts of No Nation (2015), starring Idris Elba; Tallulah (2016), starring Ellen Page; The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018), an eccentric Coen Brothers creation; Roma (2018), Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron’s family masterpiece; Dolemite is My Name (2019), featuring Eddie Murphy in a renaissance performance; and The Irishman (2019), Martin Scorsese’s riveting gangster epic starring a mafia of his old actor pals.

Netflix’s singular success even obliged the Academy Awards to change its eligibility rules to accommodate films such as Roma and The Irishman, after the racially charged embarrassment of denying Beasts of No Nation.

Meanwhile, commercial theatres were already feeling the pinch. Canada’s largest exhibitor, Cineplex, negotiated a lucrative buyout by Britain’s Cineworld. When the pandemic hit, the deal soured. Both companies are now suing one another. Cineplex is in a crisis. Expect some cinemas to close permanently.

Cineplex, and other world distributors such as Cineworld, will survive only by booking Hollywood’s flow of family animations and youth-friendly blockbusters fueled by comic book heroes. That is a limited niche, despite the billions generated so far. The wave will pass.

The truth is that more and more adult film fans, who are already exploring the joys and convenience of streaming, will stay put at home, finding what they want online.

Film festivals are also damned, on a certain level. The excitement had already been draining from the elite festivals, including Cannes and the Toronto International Film Festival. The giddy excitement I remember from TIFF’s 1976 launch as the Festival of Festivals disappeared a decade ago. Ditto for Cannes. The allure of discovery was dulled by corporate commercial branding.

Then COVID-19 derailed Cannes altogether in 2020, along with dozens of other festivals. Toronto will proceed, but only as a shadow memory this September. It is a gut-wrenching spectacle.

The future? The music business underwent a total tear-down transformation in this century, not always for the better. Now it is time for even more significant changes in film. And, if that makes stunning films such as Roma more accessible and celebrated, it could be a good thing.

Bruce Kirkland‘s career spans more than four decades, working for The Toronto Star, The Ottawa Journal and finally, as the senior film critic, for 36 years at The Toronto Sun.

bruce.kirkland@hotmail.com


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Joe Pesci puts his Jersey Shore mansion up for sale

Joe Pesci puts his Jersey Shore mansion up for sale

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Joe Pesci puts his Jersey Shore mansion up for sale

Academy Award-winning actor for his role in Goodfellas, Joe Pesci is selling his Jersey Shore waterfront mansion which has been his home for almost 30 years.

Whether as Vinny LaGuardia Gambini, Pesci’s character in My Cousin Vinny, or Nicky Santoro, his mob character with animal-killer instincts in Casino, Pesci’s skilled sense of timing brings his characters to life in a way that few actors can match. And after a lengthy sabbatical, Pesci makes his return to acting with Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in a new film, The Irishman, on Netflix starting Nov. 27. In the meantime Pesci has put his Jersey Shore waterfront home up for sale in Lavallette, NJ for US$6.5 million.

West Point Island

Built in 1990, the 7,200-sq.-ft. contemporary with an Art Deco vibe is located in the West Point Island neighborhood, protected from Atlantic storms on Barnegat Bay and only a short bicycle ride to the beach. Bright, airy and spacious and taking full advantage of the beautiful view, the eight-bedroom, eight-bath home has an open floorplan with large rooms perfect for large parties that spill out to the spacious pool terrace at the water’s edge with boat dock beyond. The gated property is completely fenced with a large motor court that can accommodate multiple guests as well as a two-car garage for the owner.

Upon entering, a dramatic free-standing curved staircase sets the stage for the living areas. With white rooms filled with light and the backdrop of the bay through floor-to-ceiling windows, the living room with its two seating areas and pianos hint at musical get togethers. The large eat-in kitchen with island is perfect for preparing large meals for dinner guests in the dining room encircled by glass doors opening to the pool terrace and bay. The comfortable media room walls are decorated with posters from Pesci’s films and because his first job was as a barber, a barber’s chair occupies one corner as a poignant reminder. The upper level, which can also be reached by elevator, contains bedrooms and an office, all with upper terraces and spectacular views. A downstairs party room next to the pool and spa has its own kitchen for entertaining.

Not that Jersey Shore

Many celebrities who were born and raised in New Jersey have homes up and down the Jersey Shore, similar to Pesci. From makeup mogul Bobbi Brown to Jon Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, author Mary Higgins Clark and many more, the shore is awash in glitterati.


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