Round-up of Films seen in 2020

Dear USE readers and visitors,

Funnily I had anticipated at the beginning of 2020 that I probably wouldn’t see as many films in 2020 as I had done in 2019, but for very different reasons than I had thought possible. The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic and the hysterical reactions to it, including widespread lock-downs by governments at city level, state / province level and even at national level in most nations, without using those lock-downs to properly fund and supply healthcare services with the appropriate resources to deal with the pandemic, put paid to my film-watching adventures. Obviously under lock-down I could only leave home for essential reasons like shopping or exercise, and the cinemas that I favour were closed in the early half of 2020. (I suppose I could always watch films on Netflix and other online channels but I prefer to do other things online that I can’t do offline – such as posting reviews and essays to this blog!) In addition film production in many countries was put on hold and films that were supposed to have been released in 2020 have had their release dates pushed back. In many nations also governments reduced the monies allocated to the arts and entertainment industries, and this reduction would have meant (among other things) that individuals and companies needing government subsidies to finance film production at any and every stage of a film’s development (from developing and writing the script to hiring the cast and crew, and to marketing the film) had to shelve film projects or even let them go completely. In many cases film studios would have gone bankrupt.

Even so, I still did see a few good feature films such as J Komasa’s “Corpus Christi”, an excellent character study of a fake priest (an apparently common phenomenon in Poland), and the historical drama by F Safinia and P Shemran “The Professor and the Madman”. Nicholas Roeg’s “Don’t Look Now”, a re-telling of a Daphne du Maurier short story, is still an eerie and disturbing thriller nearly 50 years after it was made. I have been following short films and documentaries when I can; Carlton Meyer’s “Tales of the American Empire” series, though heavily biased towards a military viewpoint and at its best on military history, is worthwhile watching for an audience unfamiliar with the topics it deals with and who want an introduction and a quick sketch in a few minutes of these topics and what they imply on a geostrategic level.

There were television series I saw in 2020 that were frankly shocking in their depiction of their subject matter with regard to the level of disinformation and the dishonesty present: these were the BBC’s soap opera “The Salisbury Poisonings” which were hardly about the spy and his daughter who were at the centre of the real-life mystery, and Nanette Burstein’s fawning hagiographical treatment of Hillary Rodham Clinton in four nauseating episodes.

While I’m not optimistic that the global film industry will recover fully from the effects of the pandemic – if anything, the pandemic might even speed up the process by which film studios release product directly and solely to Netflix and other online media platforms, bypassing cinemas altogether and hastening their demise – nevertheless there are bound to be a few good film releases in 2021 that I’ll try to catch.

Everybody please keep safe and I wish you all a satisfying film-watching year in 2021!