Journal of the Hunker-Down Year

Day 7 — Thurs., March 19

Check this out — it could be the face of future movie-going


universalDay 6 — Wednesday, March 18.

Or is it Day 2? We’ve been sheltering since last Friday, but officially this is the second day of self-isolation. Whatever … Overcast, then drizzly outside. Our street is eerily deserted, save for the occasional UPS truck delivering ‘the essentials,’ like Kona coffee … I dropped by to see how the industry’s trusted trade paper was handling the pandemic and found  — the H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D sign replaced by S-H-U-T-D-O-W-N. Cute. … Steven Soderbergh‘s scary, nightly news immediate “Contagion” (2011) may be getting all the exposure, so to speak, but let’s not forget Wolfgang Petersen‘s earlier “Outbreak” (1995), starring Dustin Hoffman as a frenetic Army medico hot on the trail of an Ebola-like plague. As film critic for the SJ Merc I filed a snarky Pg. 1 on the film’s sketchy credibility. Indeed, the deadly African virus enters the Bay Area via “the Port of San Jose” …

Day 5 — Tuesday, March 17

Good morning. It’s somehow reassuring on this first full day of shelter-in-place to turn on the radio (sturdy Sony Cassette-corder from OSH) and hear “Is your testosterone level low …. ?” The I-280 and 101 may be eerily deserted, like the freeways in “Target Earth,” a cheesy 1950’s sci-fi’er with Richard Denning) but it’s busichronness as usual in most quarters. Marco, our lion-size tabby, is suffering hunger pangs, the Keurig is belching steam … and the newspaper is at the end of our driveway (almost on the neighbors’ lawn). And what’s on everybody’s mind? Tom Brady, after 20 years, has made it official: he’s leaving the Patriots and angling for a new contract. Talk about bad timing? There’s something more urgent than football out there at the moment, Tom, something called a pandemic —

Day 4 — Monday, March 16

Desperate, Universal announces it will make three of its first-run titles — “The Hunt,” “The Invisible Man,” and “Emma” — available for streaming Friday for a limited 48-hour window. Each will cost $20 to rent. I’m down. Want to encourage the practice, especially at a time when getting out can be problematic. No word yet on whether Warner Bros., Paramount and Disney will follow suit and let their decades-old commitment to first-run houses slide.

This morning’s suggested “hunkering” is now codified. Santa Clara County, our home, and most of the Bay Area ordered, starting at midnight, to “self-isolate” and “shelter in place” for at least three weeks. This hasn’t stopped or slowed the scammers. Received fourth robocall of the day. Scary. After the planet is rendered a pulsing, irradiated green orb, phones promising free time-shares and romantic Caribbean getaways will continue to ring … and ring … and ring.

I woke early, around 4:30. Heavy rain. We need it. Fired up the Kindle. Toggled between Robert Ardry’s “The Territorial Imperative” and “Men Against the Sea,” the second volume in the Bounty trilogy. Both, given the current situation, seem somehow worthwhile. Maybe our unprecedented dilemma is Earth’s way of healing itself. Skies above northern Italy are said to be clearing of exhaust, other noxious fumes …

Day 3 — Sunday, March 15.

Shit not only hits the fan, it melts the thing. Restaurants, bars, movie megaplexes are ordered to shutter in the Bay Area. The New York Times reports “Ticket Sales Dive at Box Office … Lowest Turnout in 20 Years.” No surprise there: Hollywood was in trouble long before the pandemic. Coronavirus took care of a job started by Netflix, Amazon Prime and its own reluctance to acknowledge the obvious — people aren’t going to the movies like they once did. Weekend ticket sales dropped to 2000 level.

Day 2 — Saturday, March 14.

Day 1 — Friday, March 13. Coincidence or empathetic programming? Just as the government calls for us to “think about huwinternkering down,” as in stay put, wouldn’t you know it, TCM dusts off George Stevens‘ adaptation of “The Diary of Anne Frank” (1959), about two Jewish families in-hiding from the Nazis. Set almost entirely in the secret annex behind the bookcase, this musty perennial redefines stage-locked, claustrophobic. Worse, we’re shut in with doe-eyed Millie Perkins‘ as the more cloying than charming Anne and Shelley Winters as the mettlesome Mrs. Van Daan? You’d have to search long and hard for a more annoying performance by Winters, who, beginning with her “A Place in the Sun” party-pooper, specialized in whiney millstones. See Winters as Humbert’s gauche landlady, Charlotte Haze, in “Lolita,” as the former Olympian masquerading as stereotypical yenta in “The Poseidon Adventure” … or, as the rock-star president’s strung-out mater in “Wild in the Streets.”



One Response to “Journal of the Hunker-Down Year”

  1. jacknyblom Says:

    Hey Glenn! Hope you guys are safe – and sane.  I am safe but the sanity part is questionable these days.    Been following Cinemadope and enjoying your posts.  You should send more! I am working with some very talented ladies who are putting together a podcast of which I will be the host of one of two segments, my part dealing with film and doing a bunch of interviews.  I’d like to ask you to be my first guest if you are game. I’ve been hunkered down/sheltered in for too long.  Need to get some creative juices flowing. Can we make a time to talk next week?  Either socially distanced perhaps over a beer at an outdoor bar (something I’ve missed), or over the phone or a zoom chat, which is part of my new norm? Look forward to hearing from you.  Been too long! ThanksJack

    Jack NyBlomManaging PrincipalPruneyard Cinemas(408)


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