Dear USE Readers,
As I’d not seen many films in 2021, due in part to a long lockdown in the second half of that year, I opted to pass up doing a summary of those films at the end of the year. I saw even fewer in 2022, so now that we’re into 2023, I’ll quickly look over the past two years of cinema visits. On the whole the films I saw were not too bad though I suppose, for the sake of wanting to be politically correct and pandering to identity politics, they rarely addressed contentious issues or challenged audiences’ viewpoints and opinions. Of the films I saw in 2021, the best one was A Levitas’s “Minamata”, a film that unfortunately had very little promotion and which accordingly had little exposure due to its lead actor Johnny Depp being hauled through the courts on charges of domestic abuse and violence by his ex-wife Amber Heard.
I managed to see just five films in 2022 and the best of these was D Kwan and D Scheinert’s comedic multiverse fantasy “Everything Everywhere All at Once”. Energetic and genre-busting, and boasting a career-defining performance by its star Michelle Yeoh, the film’s themes are surprisingly very dark: they revolve around depression, existential nihilism, the pressures of living in an alien society on Asian immigrant families and how such pressures affect parent-child relationships in those families. Mark Mulod’s film “The Menu” deserves mention for its depiction of class warfare in microcosm even though it suggests that workers can break out of their oppression only if they are led by a charismatic, perhaps even sociopathic leader who demands their utmost loyalty to the extent that the entire movement resembles a fanatical cult.
To be honest, I don’t see that 2023 will be much of an improvement over the past few years, post-COVID19, as global inflation leading to rising costs of living combined with stagnation in wages growth and a worldwide energy crisis caused by the West shunning Russian gas and oil (after Russia began a special military operation against Ukraine in February 2022, in response to the Ukrainian army build-up on the ceasefire lines between Ukraine proper and the breakaway people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk) will surely affect the film industry in adverse ways: faced with falling ticket sales and needing to cover their investment and budgets, film-makers will either have to make the blandest, most commercial product, scrape up their own money (which could take years) to make and produce their work independently, or give up. Film-makers will come under more pressure to incorporate identity politics into their work, even if subtly and passively, and to appear more patriotic or supportive of their governments’ propaganda platforms on various issues. The result is likely to be continued downward slides in the quantity and quality of films being released in 2023.
Anyhow I’ll do my best to continue finding good films at the cinema, on television or online and talk about them!