Friday, January 28, 2022

Soylent Sundance

This week is the annual Sundance Film Festival in Park City. You wouldn’t know it though, as the streets are devoid of all the PIBS (people in black), the hotels are empty, the restaurants uncrowded and the usual film venues shuttered. Sundance has once again gone virtual, as announced in early January, due to mounting concerns over the Nu-Wu-Flu cooties.


On January 5, 2022 it was announced that the in-person components would be scrapped in favor of a virtual festival due to the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant.

Just as “virtual” education advocates proclaim there is “virtual learning” going on, the Sundance promoters pretend there is a film festival going on but the reality is neither is happening. And just as the lack of real classroom education is a great loss for children, the lack of a real festival is a huge loss for the local businesses here who often rack up over a third of their annual income during the fest’s 10 day period.

From an artistic perspective however…meh. How many sappy dramas, docu-dramas, biopics and documentaries spouting the same MS messaging on global warming, overpopulation, abortion ‘rights,’ ‘food insecurity,’ bad cops and - of course - social injustice!! can one endure? The correct answer is 82 by the way, in case you wondered.

I’m only going to mention two of the 82 films in this year’s lineup.. The first is Fresh from Disney. And I mention it only because it is either a ripoff or a tribute film to a movie that debuted nearly 50 years ago: Soylent Green.


Raj and I saw this movie with my brother and his wife in the summer of ‘73. We were all young newly weds then, just whiling away a hot summer evening on a double-date at the local drive-in. I doubt Gen Zillennials even know what a double date is, as most of their social interactions are virtual – just like ‘education’ and  Sundance. And I’m quite certain the only drive-in they’ve ever been to is either the kind where you get handed your fries or where they get a free COVID cootie brain swab.

But back to my show-piece: Soylent Green. In the days before the Internet the only thing you knew about a movie before you went was what the publicists thought necessary to suck you into the theatre. That pretty much consisted of the “movie page” ads in your local paper. So all we knew in the summer of ‘73 was that Soylent Green was a futuristic sci-fi flick set in, coincidently, 2022 New York.

“By the year 2022, the cumulative effects of overpopulation, pollution and an apparent climate catastrophe have caused severe worldwide shortages of food, water and housing.”

Some things never change. But needless to say none of us had a clue what those swell looking green food wafers that people were rioting over actually were until we were well into our buttered popcorn. Ee-yew! People!!

And that brings me to Sundance ‘22 and the Disney Searchlight movie Fresh. I find its odd premise distinctly derivative – a dastardly pejorative in filmdom – of Soylent Green. Although it’s perhaps higher-concept and more socially-conscious than Soylent let’s face it: they’re both about cannibalism.

No Mickey, nor Minnie, no Donald, no dancing princesses no lions; just a real Disney charmer about a doctor who murders his dates, cuts them up and sells the portions to high paying customers/cannibals for dinner. It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea:

Written by Lauryn Kahn, I guess “Fresh” is supposed to be hip. It’s way too hip for me, that’s for sure. (Hip may be on Dr. Steve’s menu.) Disney will release it not on DisneyPlus but on Hulu, and try and distance their brand name. But it’s Disney, folks, nonetheless.

…“Fresh” may be considered hip because a woman wrote it and another one directed it. But women can make the same mistakes as men. Just because you’ve got a good cinematographer and production designer doesn’t mean you’ve got a good movie.

I mean, I know beef, pork and chicken prices have gone through the roof (Let’s Go Brandon!), but is this the answer? I won’t rush to judgement. I’ll let the “artist/writer/director” of Fresh help me do that.

I’m sorry to report that there are no more screenings of this delightful film on the Sundance schedule, virtual or otherwise. Nor will you be able to catch it at your local neighborhood movie theater – assuming you have one anymore. No, this gem is going directly to streaming. They already sold the worldwide distribution rights for the film to Searchlight Pictures which will release it on Hulu.

And that brings me to the 2nd Sundance movie I wish to discuss with you, also Disney related: The American Dream & Other Fairy Tales. Co-directed by Abigail Disney (granddaughter of Roy Disney) is a “compelling Disney expose” of pay inequity at…DISNEY! The only compelling thing about this flick is it’s demonstrable evidenc of why most really successful family businesses go belly up with the third generation - who tend to be entitled trust fund babies seeking relevance.

So I think Raj and I will rent Soylent Green on Amazon Prime Video for 3 bucks this weekend and celebrate it’s continued high-minded social consciousness raising relevance nearly 50 years on. And we’ll have some green popcorn.


I’ll just have to watch out for the eyeballs.