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Christmas film releases true to form

by Philip Martin | December 25, 2020 at 1:40 a.m.

After nine months that have shaken the world and possibly changed the way we look at moviegoing forever, it appears we have a Christmas Day that feels almost normal, in that there are a number of high profile options opening theatrically today.

They include a superhero movie, an old-fashioned Western, a black comedy that marks the directorial debut of a hot television showrunner, a critically acclaimed documentary, and a classic fairy tale adapted by an arthouse favorite: Patty Jenkins' "Wonder Woman 1984," Paul Greengrass' "News of the World," Emerald Fennel's "Promising Young Woman," Bryan Fogel's "The Dissident" and Matteo Garrone's "Pinocchio."

And Pixar's latest, the highly anticipated "Soul," is also available for streaming if you have Disney+.

Unless things have gone very wrong, we have reviews of all of them in the newspaper today. This renders this column superfluous in that it was created as a kind of leak stopper to patch the inevitable gaps in our pandemic-compromised coverage.

Like everybody else, we've been disrupted and are having to adapt to a changing world. Our challenge used to be running down advance screenings of films opening in theaters; now we're trying to do that while covering the oceanic options available through streaming services.

It's exciting but also disorienting -- knowing that we can't possibly cover everything makes me realize that our real mission is one of curation, and increasingly I've come to question the value of reviews tied to the date a given film opens.

This means we have more freedom, but we also have to be more pro-active. We have to think about what we're putting in the section each week; our content is no longer driven purely by what movies are opening theatrically in Arkansas.

So occasionally we'll cover an HBO or Showtime mini-series ("Perry Mason" or "The Good Lord Bird") and more often look to big events happening digitally. (Like "Hamilton.")

So all I want to do today is wish you a happy Christmas and a cozy and warm holiday season. And to thank all of you as well as the people who play a part in bringing this section together every week: Morgan Acuff, Hanna Clark, Stan Denman, Eric Harrison, Courtney Lanning, Dan Lybarger, Piers Marchant, Karen Martin and Joe Riddle.

And, sooner or later, we'll see you at the movies.



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