Here we are, digging into our new normal amidst the continued pandemic. Among the many changes to our lives has been the acceleration of the pivot to our virtual film-watching habits. Though streaming services like Netflix have been chipping away at theater attendance for years, their dominance has become total, at least for now, as theaters remain closed upon this writing. Thankfully, this means there are still plenty of ways to watch interesting films, even if you have to take advantage of all of them from your couch.
One innovation that would have seemed unlikely mere months ago is the virtual film festival. While festivals early in the calendar year, like Sundance, squeezed themselves in before the shutdown, many operating during the peak festival time of summer have found themselves scrambling for solutions, mostly in the digital realm. Oklahoma’s own flagship event, the deadCenter Film Festival, is among those going the online route: they are offering their full slate online during the week of June 11-21, when the festivities should have been held in Oklahoma City.
Make sure you check out the always interesting line up that deadCenter features, including plenty of short films, documentaries and Oklahoma-based productions. Above all, please consider upping your monetary support of the festival during this difficult time. After 20 years in business, it’s safe to call deadCenter an Oklahoma institution – one we need to shore up, if at all possible, for the future.
One thing that hasn’t changed? The power of DVDs. Even with the advent of streaming, there’s something primally satisfying for a film fan in owning a physical copy of a beloved film; not to mention that, with special favorites, it’s best not to put oneself at the mercy of streaming services that might not keep classics around very long.
This month’s DVD pick is James Foley’s adaptation of David Mamet’s play Glengarry Glen Ross, out in a new collector’s edition DVD from Shout! Factory. It’s notoriously hard to make plays pop on film, to make them feel simultaneously true to their roots and interesting in a more fluid medium. But Glengarry pulls it off, filling out Mamet’s already great dialog with a new, iconic cameo from Alec “Coffee is for closers” Baldwin, and rounding up a killer cast, including Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon and Alan Arkin. The tale of cutthroat real estate agents desperate for the next big deal, Glengarry both revels in and deconstructs its characters’ bravado and machismo.
Hollywood has largely adapted to theater shutdowns by offering their would-be new releases for digital download, so I’m operating on the assumption that planned releases will be available in that way.
With that in mind, I’d recommend giving a chance to Kajillionaire, which, goofy title aside, boasts a solid pedigree. Written and directed by the always-original Miranda July, the film stars Debra Winger and ace “that guy” Richard Jenkins as a con artist couple, and should be funny, quirky and imaginative.