6 Degrees: Notes from the Global Village

168816805 FOR 6 DEGREES COVER PHOTO SHOT

The Fall season is a wonderful time of the year for movie buffs. Fall brings some of the best films of the year out just in time to become eligible for the never-ending Awards Season! Hollywood has had another split year, where the blockbuster summer films have produced several hits but nothing to really be excited about in terms of innovative art or injection of excitement into the existing Cinematic Universe.

Here are some of the notes collected from 6 Degrees-some from articles and long reads in August, and some from my own demented mind…
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*Ridiculous & Overly complex plots-in blockbusters…the trend? Here’s a quote from a long-winded complaint in an article bemoaning the overly complex plots in recent super-hero movies:
Labyrinthine machinations to desperately weave in character motivation, geography and the practical aspects of getting from one scene to another
Apparently, it has come to someone’s attention that Hollywood has a problem with story “density”. Is that what they call crappy movies now? For action-packed super-hero stories that contain “teasers” and origin stories, there’s only so much information the audience needs.

Older audiences all know who Superman and Batman are. We’ve read comic books from the fifties through the eighties. And now, thanks to the wonderful newly coined phrase, “The Cinematic Universe”, which is perhaps a euphemism for the billions of dollars that Hollywood envisions when imagining the mileage they can squeeze out of an entire cast of super-heroes, each with his own movie debut and story of origin, we are all treated to some of the worst aspects of the comic book genre, including clumsy plot points weaving through the endless reems of origin stories and desperate attempts to inject original thought into the storyline along with character motivation.

Although I have not been a huge fan of the comic-book genre, I do see the impact that the stories have on a younger generation of fans. And not to be close-minded about this, I’ve conceded that even Shakespeare used a lot of re-hashed plots, and was able to influence generations with his unmatched ability as a wordsmith and his sheer genius as a playwright.

Perhaps there will come a time where some innovative director will take one of these origin stories and craft the equivalent of a Shakespearean play out of the original material. So far, there has been no evidence this has occurred.

Tootsie

**Actors have spoken: A list of their favorite films includes all the usual suspects (not that particular film though!). But a surprising Number One appears: Tootsie!

The list of films that actors chose is not that surprising. And it’s not a far cry from most of the movie-going publics list of great movies. Boogie Nights, The Red Shoes, and A Woman under the Influence are definitely films that actors might choose over any other group.

But the rest of the films seem to be pretty much in line with standard movie “Best of” lists. Tootsie as the favorite film is a surprise. It’s a great comedy, with a superb supporting cast and many memorable lines. Director Sydney Pollack is wonderful in a small part as Hoffman’s agent. Jessica Lange won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role. And Bill Murray was memorable as the befuddled room-mate of Dustin Hoffman’s Dorothy character, and had some of the best “zingers” in the film.

But Dustin Hoffman’s energetic portrayal of an actor who is desperate for a part to the point of risking everything, and laying it all on the line, is more of a statement about the actor’s existential state of being than any real film portrayal. That compels me to the conclusion that the actor’s perpetual state of angst is portrayed to the point that most fellow thespians that saw this film must have simply been saying “Yes!” through the entire film.

*Actors compilation of Greatest Movies includes:

*Taxi Driver
*The Red Shoes
*Boogie Nights
*Annie Hall
*Godfather Part II
&To Kill a Mock
*Cinema Paradiso
*A Woman under the influence
*The Godfather
*# 1 is Tootsie

RIcki and teh flash

**Strong women & Fem Flicks: Women are speaking out more and more concerning the inequality they see in Hollywood and throughout the film industry. Stars such as Meryl Streep, Sandra Bullock, Salma Hayek, Natalie Portman, Emma Thompson & Emma Watson have all spoken out against the glaring inequalities for women in the film industry. The Death of the Bond Girl is another subject for feminists everywhere to cheer about.
It seems that the highest-paid actress in Hollywood (Jennifer Lawrence) is paid significantly less than the highest paid male star (Robert Downey Jr.) Granted, we’re talking about millions of dollars, but the principle is universal. Women are still paid less than men for doing the same job!

*Another list has popped up. Now that we are in the middle of the second decade of the 21st Century, the need to list all the categories and best of films is overwhelming for critics and news organizations. Here’s one that compiled all the best action films. Although this list is edited to include only the top six, two of these are from the year 2000-15 years ago-and one is a recent addition-Mad Max.

Mad Max Fury Road

**The List of 21st Century Best-Action films-includes:

*John Wick-2014
*Bourne Ultimatum
*Casino Royale-2006
*Gladiator-2000
*Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon =2000
*Mad Max: Fury Road-2015
There were more films listed, but none that deserved the accolade of Best-Action film!

Frank Sinatra

**Frank Sinatra on Film: In this celebration year of Sinatra’s 100th birthday, a list emerges of some of his best work on film. The famous crooner starred in hits like From Here to Eternity, On the Town, Guys and Dolls, The Manchurian Candidate, Pal Joey and High Society. He started making films in 1943 with Higher and Higher and ended in 1984 with Cannonball Run II.

**Dustin Hoffman is the latest to take aim and criticize the film industry. He said in an interview recently that TV is the best it’s ever been, and movies are the worst they’ve ever been.

**Upcoming: The Heart of the Sea from Ron Howard, Bridge of Spies with Tom Hanks, and Legend with Tom Hardy are all coming this fall. Robert Redford and Nick Nolte are teaming up in a comedy, A Walk in the Woods that may actually be as funny as the previews.

Star wars logo

**Another list emerged recently. These are some of the best movies aboutSpace”. This list included some of my favorites, and of course, it’s edited to include Honorable Mentions but not the ”Don’t bother to Mentions”!

I would simply add that the list lost a lot of credibility when it included The Day the Earth Stood Still and Blade Runner in Honorable Mentions…And if 2001: A Space Odyssey is not included, there’s nothing more to add.

**The Best of “Space” films include:

 Star Wars-1977

Capricorn One-1977

Close Encounters-1977

Apollo 13-1995

Interstellar-2014

Moon-2009

The Right Stuff-1983

Gravity-2013

Contact-1997

Armaggedon-1998

Honorable Mentions were: Solaris-Planet of the Apes; Wall-E; Blade Runner!; The Day the Earth Stood Still; War of the Worlds; Buck Rogers in the 25th Century; Flight of the Navigator and E.T

*There seems to be an upcoming debate between the two rival comic universes, DC vs Marvel. With the idea that some of the superheroes are going to be expanding again to include even more tales of origin. As was pointed out recently, “Superhero tales are about extraordinary super beings bashing each other with ridiculous powers. Origin stories are about ordinary people suffering some sort of transformative trauma” With the underlying meaning being that one set of stories is exciting and adventurous, and the other has the potential to be deadly dull.
**Outliers:

Bill Murray Ghostbusters

Bill Murray does have an announced cameo in the new Ghostbusters film. If the film has any notion to receive its due in the Cinematic Pantheon, Murray must appear as a Ghostbuster.

*Influence of Star Wars on Film…There’s an article from 6 Degrees Flipboard recently that seemed interesting enough, regarding the influence of Star Wars on film. Naturally, I was interested, as I devoted a good portion of my book, 6 Degrees of Film, to the theory that Star Wars has shaped our culture and definitely our films for the past quarter of a century and more.

Specifically, George Lucas and his company, ILM-Industrial Light & Magic, have transformed the nature of cinema with the emphasis on special effects and CGI-Computer Graphic Imaging. The assertion was made that there would have been no Blade Runner without Star Wars. I’m not sure that is so, because Ridley Scott directed Blade Runner and made some innovative and creative decisions that were not connected with ILM.

*Christopher Guest will premiere his next mockumentary on Netflix-furthering Spielberg’s assertion that more and more original and creative projects will flow through Cable Networks rather than the big screen.

• The company that made Masterminds, the new Zach Galifianakis/Kristen Wiig comedy, is bankrupt and can’t afford to market the movie. Relativity Media filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which puts the October release on hold and the movie in limbo. Too bad because it looked funny, with lots of former SNL players on board for the comedy.

Oscar Selfie pix

*The Director of Crash recently admitted it shouldn’t have won Best Picture! I wanted  Munich or Capote to win that year, so this wasn’t shocking news. Almost every year, I root for a film to win Best Picture that eventually loses. And for that matter, it shows in the long run with so many forgettable films earning the nod. In the past 10 years, there have been few memorable winners for the Best Picture Oscar.

The under 30 Hollywood Set: The list of actors and actresses who are “up and comers” include these A-Listers in the 30 and under crowd: Margot Robbie, Cara Delevingne; Michael B Jordan, J Lawrence, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Stone, Zoe Kravitz, Nicholas Hault, Dakota Johnson, Miles Teller, Eliz Olsen, Alicia Vikander, Liam Hemsworth, and Elle Fanning.

**The Reviews are in:

*Fantastic Four bombs at the box office

*Monster Hunt was the biggest Chinese box-office film ever. And that is the largest market in the world now, so it’s definitely making some people in Hollywood sit up and take notice. The movie looks fairly simple, about a couple that “adopt” a small monster baby. It doesn’t sound like great news for those who root for more complex stories and adult plots.

The Lion King

*The Animated movie pick of all time is…The Lion King.  The Best selling VHS of all time was The Lion King; the top selling DVD is Finding Nemo and now, the best selling Blu-Ray film is…Frozen.

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What’s Coming Next:
*Scorsese is teaming with DiCaprio again for a movie about a serial killer from the best-selling book: “The Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson.

**Trailers: Some of the trailers for upcoming films that look promising include: Learning to Drive with Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley; A Walk in the Woods with Robert Redford and Nick Nolte and Sicario with Benicio Del Toro.

Far from madding 2015

**On Demand:
Movies on demand now include Child 44-reviewed in 6 Degrees, The Age of Adaline, Ex Machina, and Far from the Madding Crowd-all recommended for viewing

Published by

MLJ

Author of "6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in the Global Village", Ms. Johnson continues to blog on film and publishes a newsletter plus the Flipboard magazine 6 Degrees of Film @ the Movies. Her book is currently available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Degrees-Film-Future-Global-Village/

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