To put it very mildly, the past couple weeks have been a bummer. Everyone has had a moment where they realized that on a surface level, things have changed. My personal realization was seeing a movie with my girlfriend at the Citadel Mall a few days before they temporarily closed. The reserved seating asked that audience members sit with a chair between them. Watching the movie with a quiet, respectful audience of four was kinda nice. It was like having your own movie screening. Pretty kickass until you remember the context.
As of this moment, The Terrace, the only local theater currently open, is having private screenings of films like Burden, The Way Back, Onward, Wendy, Emma, The Invisible Man, and Portrait of a Lady on Fire at $10 per ticket (price includes popcorn and a small drink). For those preferring to keep the social distance thing, there's always the VOD option.
Here are but a few recent releases of note:
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Remember when everyone was whining about how so-and-so ruined their childhood by making sub-par films based on a trilogy that became a marketing juggernaut over the past few decades? Those were much simpler times. Revisit a time when hot takes of JJ Abrams' conclusion to the Skywalker saga were extreme and divisive hyperbole. Love it, hate it, or "eh" it, it's a hyperdrive diversion. "A hyperdrive diversion" would have been a great pull-quote for the TV spots.
My cat, Hank, wrote about this movie a couple months back. From what I ascertain, he didn't particularly care for this big screen adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical. He was supposed to go to the North Charleston Performing Arts Center to see the Broadway play to form a more-complete opinion this month but that got postponed. He said that while he hated the movie, he could see some hipster douches that love bad movies liking it. I'm looking forward to watching it.
It's a shame this satirical thriller flew under the radar and then, in the midst of it all, it came out two weeks ago when we got more bad announcements. It's a movie that President Trump used as a scapegoat to showcase how the leftist liberal looney elites were making movies about hurling "deplorables'' into a most dangerous game. It has since become glaringly apparent that he never actually watched the movie or never picked up on any nuance since said "deplorables" (particularly one) were the protagonists, fleeing liberals hunting them for sport. It makes its point about divisive political views quite violently at times — lampooning both parties to great effect. Seeing this film from the director of the equally undervalued Compliance was a nice subversive treat. Technically, it's still in theaters but since all but one is closed for the time being, Universal decided to make Craig Zobel's film as well as two other films currently on the big screen, available for rental online.
The Invisible Man / Emma
While The Hunt is slightly cheaper to rent for a 48-hour period, these other two films being released while still in theaters are about double the price. Leigh Whannell's film, The Invisible Man, turns the H.G. Wells' tale into a paranoid thriller that takes gaslighting to the -nth degree thanks in no small part to Elizabeth Moss' manic performance.
Meanwhile music video director Autumn de Wilde's feature film debut is the latest to tackle Jane Austen's novel Emma. The wicked humor pointedly sends up social class and interpersonal relationships with a little help from Bill Nighy, Mia Goth, Johnny Flynn, and Anya Taylor-Joy as the title character.
Jumanji: The Next Level
I haven't seen this movie but I hear if you like the last Jumanji movie, Welcome to the Jungle, there's a good chance you'll like this one. Welcome to the Jungle was definitely a fun movie. I hear director Jake Kasdan takes what made his last film awesome — the humor and the overall light-hearted nature — and makes it super-awesome. Besides, you can never go wrong with a little Dwayne Johnson.
One thing that has become apparent in the past couple of weeks is the need to support the local infrastructure as much as possible. Personally that's where local horror filmmakers come into play. This is one of those fun little films that spoke my language. It'd be nice if more folks knew of it. About two years ago, Charleston's own Michelle Iannantuono debuted her gaming horror film to festivals, including Charleston's Crimson Horror Festival. Playing out like a found footage film, Livescream unfolds through a live-streaming interface where a guy named Scott (Gunner Willis) plays a horror game sent to him by an anonymous fan. Before too long, his followers/viewers start biting the bullet.