Los Angeles Times - 03.04.2020

(C. Jardin) #1


hat films do you watch when you’re facing what might well be the end of the world as we’ve known it?

I was in the audience several years ago when Oscar-winning screenwriter and film academy then-

president Frank Pierson revealed that on the cataclysmic night of Sept. 11, 2001, the decision for he

and his wife was a snap: the tonic, exuberant “Singin’ in the Rain.”

It’s in that spirit of engaging, upbeat popular entertainment in impossible times that I’m offering a

very personal list of more than a dozen movies that fit that particular bill.

Think of them as a kind of “free from fear 14,” a reminder of films — some very familiar, some less so, almost all from

Hollywood — that I can always count on to raise my spirits and keep my mind off potential catastrophe.

On one level I’m doing this because this is what all critics do, recommending what they believe readers will enjoy. But

this piece is a little different. It’s the last one I will write under the Times film critic byline.

Though I hope to continue contributing to film coverage here, after close to 30 years in a job that was


HAYAO MIYAZAKI’S“My Neighbor Totoro,” clockwise from top left, Marcel Carné’s 1945 classic “Children of Paradise,” Ang Lee’s
“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and the Hollywood musical “Singin’ in the Rain” are all handy films for getting through hard times.

Images from, clockwise from top left, Studio Ghibli; Criterion; Chan Kam ChuenSony Pictures Classics; Warner Bros.



Before I step down, here are some spirited movies to lift you up



Sam Hunt, back
in the saddle
The country star,
above, returns to the
scene with his first
new album in over five
years, “Southside.” E6

Getty fund will
aid arts entities
The Getty Trust is
creating a $10-million
COVID-19 relief fund
for arts organizations
in L.A. County. E3

What’s on TV..........E6

Allen J. SchabenL.A. Times




They say you should never
meet your heroes. They’re wrong.
I’m grateful not only to have met
one of mine, but also to have called
him my teacher, colleague and
There is some consolation in
this, and this is a time for consola-
tion. This week, after nearly 30
years on the job, Kenneth Turan is
stepping down as film critic for the
Los Angeles Times.
He has assured us that we have
not seen the last of his words,
which is comforting if hardly sur-
prising. For someone who spent

years as a sports and features
writer at the Washington Post —
and who has tirelessly juggled
book reviews, covered movies for
radio, taught journalism classes
and cranked out several books, all
while holding down one of the
most distinguished careers in film
criticism — retirement was always
going to be a relative concept. But
he will no longer be writing movie
reviews, the ones he has been
churning out week after week
since 1991, and which have been
among the indispensable treas-
ures of this newspaper.
I began devouring those re-
views long before I ever thought I’d
meet their author. I imagine that
for most people, a love of film

Kenny and me: What I’ve learned

Turan has been my idol,

my teacher, my colleague.

He taught me to trust my

voice, as he has trusted his.

APARTNERSHIPdecades in the making: The Times’ Justin
Chang, left, and Kenneth Turan at 2020’s Sundance festival.

Jay L. ClendeninLos Angeles Times


Directors on Turan
Clint Eastwood, Jane Campion
and others offer tributes. E2

[SeeChang, E3]

Not ifbut when.
It’s the rallying cry ut-
tered over and over again by
the doctors, scientists, hu-
manitarian workers and
public health officials pro-
filed in “Pandemic: How to
Prevent an Outbreak.”
Structured like a globe-trot-
ting thriller, the Netflix doc-
umentary series follows
dedicated men and women
on the front lines of the bat-
tle against the next devas-
tating disease to ravage the
human population — an
event they are all certain is
just around the corner.
Turns out they were
In a freakish coincidence
of timing, “Pandemic” pre-
miered on Netflix in late Jan-
uary, just as the novel
coronaviruswas beginning
its rampage. Over six epi-
sodes, the series issues un-
comfortably prescient warn-
ings about the risk of a new
respiratory virusthat could,
within a matter of months,
overwhelm the planet. It
brings epidemiological sci-
ence to life in unexpected
ways — not with dry data but
through compelling charac-
ters located in far-flung,
seemingly unconnected
places, from a crowded ani-
mal market in Vietnam to an
under-resourced hospital in
rural Oklahoma.
“There were already a lot
of scary science docu-
mentaries where you had
people sitting in a room talk-
ing about the potential for a
new virus to spread around
the world,” says executive
producer Sheri Fink, a re-
porter for the New York
Times with experience in in-
fectious disease. (She cov-
ered the H1N1 flu pandemic
in 2009 and the Ebola out-
break in West Africa in 2014.)
“We thought we would try to
go around the world and give
a sense of the lives of these
people who felt passionate
[about] and devoted their
lives to trying to detect pan-
These subjects include
Susan Flis, a retired nurse
who volunteers to give out
flu shots at the U.S.-Mexico
border in Arizona; Jacob
Glanville, an entrepreneur
trying to develop a universal
flu vaccine; Michel Yao, a
doctor with the World
Health Organization at-
tempting to contain an
Ebola outbreak in the


just ‘a



the flu’

Netflix’s docuseries

‘Pandemic: How to

Prevent an Outbreak’

predicted such a crisis.

By Meredith Blake

Free download pdf