6 Degrees: Friday Flix

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6 Degrees of Film

 

Hello Film Fans! This week in 6 Degrees some of the best movies of the Season are starting to roll out. The Florida Project with Willam Dafoe has received great reviews, and Blade Runner 2049 has received ridiculously good reviews. I recall the first film didn’t get such a great reception at the time of its release. If you have never seen the original, please do so before seeing the new Bladerunner. There’s a review in 6 Degrees Magazine of the original film starring Harrison Ford.

Other movies out this week include The Mountain Between Us with Idris Elba and Kate Winslet and Una, with Rooney Mara, which is adapted from a stage play Blackbird.

Other projects of note include the Variety review of the documentary on Steven Spielberg. There’s a trailer for the new Woody Allen film Wonder Wheel  with Kate Winslet. The children’s film My Little Pony is reviewed on SF Gate, which recommends the film “only for established fans” (5 and under, we presume!)

One interesting Oscars note: Foreign Language film submissions hit a record high this year, which is good and speaks well for the nature of the Global Village in which we live.

One of my newly discovered favorite film sites is awesomebmovies.com. This week, they have an interesting piece called The Modern Day Western vs The Classic Western Movie. It’s a very interesting concept, and considering that modern day westerns come few and far between, we need to grasp that the entire genre was one that dominated early Silent film and extended well into the fifties and sixties with Clint Eastwood being the last major star to draw huge crowds to see Westerns. There’s an argument that Star Wars films are a reboot of the Western theme, but for this piece, the original concept of Western films sticks to the films of the Old West.

Speaking of Westerns: If anyone would like to see a great Western that is rarely shown, set your box to record The Westerner on Turner Classic Movies this weekend with Gary Cooper and Walter Brennan. It’s one of Cooper’s great performances as the Western hero, a drifter named Cole Harden, and Brennan shines as Judge Roy Bean, the epitome of good and evil rolled into one in his character. There’s a great scene where Cooper casually lets the Judge know that he has a lock of hair from Bean’s goddess, Lillie Langtry, and the comic undertones are almost as good as classic Jack Benny. Catch it if you can!

Here’s the link to our Fall Film Newsletter, featuring all the films released in October. There are lots of good movies being released this fall, (in contrast to a slow summer), so hope you can get out there and catch a good flick this week. See you at the movies!-ML

6 Degrees: Friday Flix

6 Degrees of Film

Greetings Film Fans: The Fall Film Newsletter is still available on this 6 Degrees of Film website, so click the link and check out the upcoming films. Some of the big stories happening now in Hollywood include the terrible reviews for Jennifer Lawrence’s Mother! My brother warned me about how terrible this movie was,(which of course, intrigues me even more!), and the audience response has been overwhelmingly negative.
The Stephen King horror film, IT is still the dominant box office winner. And some of the films rolling out this month are featured in the Six Degrees Magazine. The Battle of the Sexes has had some mixed reviews, but not terrible ones. There’s a new trailer for the all-star cast featured in the Murder on the Orient Express remake coming in November.
Each week, I go thru the online film sites and look for interesting and intriguing reviews and articles that don’t simply repeat the main headlines over and over….Some are reviews of classic films, and others are about movies that people may have missed-those that go Under the Radar.
Entertainment Weekly is arguing that The Assassination of Jesse James with Brad Pitt is a “mistreated masterpiece”. I beg to differ, but it’s worth reading the arguments supporting this one. And there’s a good piece on the great Stephen King, who doesn’t need a new Renaissance Revival. If there are people who don’t know of his work, besides the horror field, know that he also penned The Shawshank Redemption as well as notable treatises about the craft of writing.
Film Reviews: Kingsman: Golden Circle has a controversial sex scene supposedly, but I can’t say it’s something that keeps me awake at night! And director Wes Anderson, another controversial filmmaker, has released a trailer for his stop motion feature, Isle of Dogs. There’s a review for Judi Dench’s latest film, Victoria and Abdul, from NPR, which is a favorable one.
And for Hitchcock fans, there is an analysis of supposedly the ‘weakest’ scene in the classic “Psycho”. Some people have told me that “The Princess Bride” is one of their favorite films of all time. For Princess fans, there’s a post from Moviefone with fun facts on the film!
And some of my favorites that have gone unnoticed include the follow-up of  Jack Nicholson’s Chinatown character which he revived in The Two Jakes. And the great ensemble piece from Director Curtis Hanson that was Russell Crowe’s breakout performance, L.A. Confidential, is also reviewed. The other Under the Radar film featured this week is from 2005- a review of the Nicholas Cage film, Lord of War. Cage plays an illegal arms smuggler and the topic is sadly prescient in our current political climate. And finally, the Indie Black comedy starring Don Johnson, before he made it big with Miami Vice is reviewed- A Boy and His Dog.
In the last few months, we’ve lost some of the great avante-garde actors and artists of the last few decades. One is the playwright and actor Sam Shephard, known best most likely for his iconic role in The Right Stuff. The other is the character actor, Harry Dean Stanton, who was a contemporary and sometimes collaborator with Shephard.  Stanton starred in one of Shephard’s adaptations to the screen, Paris, Texas. There’s an article with the three best selected obits on Stanton featured in our magazine.
Recommended Reads: The book Reinventing Hollywood: How 1940’s Filmmakers Changed Movie Storytelling is reviewed on the David Bordwell film site. The 6 Degrees Fall Film Newsletter will  also give you short blurbs for each recommended movie released in the coming weeks.
Next week will feature some of the Turner Classic Movies for the month of October, as well as the upcoming films we’re excited to see debuting in film festivals and touted for Oscars and other notable awards. Looking forward to some of the new crop-till then, see you at the Movies!-ML

6 Degrees Fall Film Newsletter

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6 Degrees of Film

Greetings Film Lovers! Welcome to the 2017 Six Degrees Fall Film Newsletter. There’s a total of 52 Films we’ve listed for the period from September through to the Christmas and Holiday Season in December. Here’s a clue: the ones with 2 stars by them are recommended to see at the movies. A couple have 3 stars-they are the Kids films and recommended for family viewing.

The films with one star may be very good films, but they are recommended for the small screen. The Big Screen Movie Experience is something that should be a significant one for most films these days. After all, it’s getting more and more expensive to go to a movie at the movie theater. And we should demand, as moviegoers, a high quality of film on many levels, artistically and technically, to spend our money and take the time to make the trek to the theaters to see great films! This list includes action/adventure; A-list stars and directors, and intriguing storylines. Those are the types of films that will always command our attention even in the fast-paced world we live in today. Enjoy and see you each week at the movies!-ML

 **Recommended for Viewing at the Theater

*Save for the Small Screen

***Recommended for Families/Kids Movies

 

 

 

September Movie Openings

 

 September 8th

 

**IT – Bill Skarsgard plays the shape-shifting clown Pennywise in this version of Stephen King’s IT

 

*Rebel in the Rye – with Nicholas Hoult is about J.D. Salinger, the scarred author who is depicted during his creative process in creating the classic The Catcher in the Rye.

 

 September 15th

 

*In Search of Fellini –A small town girl from Ohio discovers the delightful yet bizarre films of legendary director Federico Felline.

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 **Mother! With Jennifer Lawrence- Darren Aronofsky directs this film about a married couple whose relationship is tested when another couple-played by Michelle Pfeiffer and Ed Harris, come to visit. Reportedly a cross between Black Swan and Rosemary’s Baby, this film is hard to pin down, but has been called a thriller.

 

September 22nd

 

* Kingsman: The Golden Circle – a sequel movie-where Colin Firth returns along with co-star Taron Egerton as the juvenile-delinquent turned master spy named Eggsy.

 

*Stronger with Jake Gyllenhaal-  Gyllenhaal plays the role of Jeff Bauman in this biopic based on the memoirs of Bauman, who had both legs blown off in the Boston Marathon bombing.

 

**Battle of the Sexes stars Steve Carell and Emma Stone in this recreation of the famous Bobby Riggs vs Billie Jean King Tennis Match in 1973.

 

*Victoria and Abdul is from Director Stephen Frears and stars Judi Dench as Queen Victoria in this drama surrounding her friendship with the handsome Indian man named Abdul.

 

*Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of our Lives documentary opened the Tribeca Film Festival and was well received.

 

September 29th

 

*American Made with Tom Cruise, who stars as the real-life pilot Barry Seal,  a man whose flying skills and his greed led him to moonlight as a drug runner for the infamous Medellin drug cartel, and later to become an informant for the CIA.

 

*Mark Felt- The Man who Brought Down the House– with Liam Neeson playing Felt, the FBI agent who was known as Deep Throat during Watergate.

 

October Movie Openings

 

 October 6th

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**Blade Runner 2049 with Ryan Gosling- is the much- anticipated sequel of sorts to the original Ridley Scott/Harrison Ford classic. Denis Villeneuve directs and there’s an appearance from the original Rick Deckard -we’ll have to see if it’s more than a walk on by Harrison Ford. 

 

 

*Brawl in Cellblock 99 with Vince Vaughn, is about a former boxer who takes a job as a drug courier and winds up in jail where his enemies converge and force him into acts of violence.

 

 *The Florida Project with Willem Dafoe, this one is set in Orlando Florida and is about some hard living characters, as seen through the eyes of a playful and imaginative child.

 

**The Mountain Between Us with Idris Elba and Kate Winslet is based on the 2010 Charles Martin novel. The story is about two plane crash survivors, a journalist (Winslet) and a surgeon (Elba) who brave the elements and fall in love as they struggle for survival.

 

***My Little Pony: The Movie with Emily Blunt providing a voice in this animated feature along with Kristin Chenowith and Zoe Saldana.

 

*Una with Rooney Mara is about a young woman’s confrontation with a man from her past that threatens to derail the man’s new life and the woman’s stability.

 

October 13th

 

*Goodbye Christopher Robin with Domhnall Gleeson. The film follows the real-life author of Winnie the Pooh and Co., A A Milne,  after he returns home for the war, damaged and dispirited. Milne finds consolation as he re-connects with his son Christopher Robin and the now familiar group of stuffed animal friends.

**Marshall – a film about Thurgood Marshall stars Chadwick Boseman as the iconic Supreme Court Justice who broke through racial barriers. This film focuses on the earlier life of Marshall, when he worked as an NAACP lawyer in a racially-charged case.

**The Meyerowitz Stories with Adam Sandler is about estranged siblings who gather in New York to celebrate their father’s work as an artist.

 

 *Overdrive with Scott Eastwood is about a notorious crime boss who forces two legendary car thieves to steal a vehicle to win back their freedom.

 

October 26th

*Same Kind of Different as Me- with Renee Zellweger and Greg Kinnear is about an International art dealer (Kinnear) who befriends a homeless man in order to save his struggling marriage

 

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**The Snowman with Michael Fassbender playing the brilliant fictional detective Harry Hole. Norwegian author Jo Nesbe created this fast paced and popular crime series, and this particular story is about the Snowman Killer, who always strikes on the first day of winter after leaving small snow statues near the victim’s body.

 

*Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween- This is a Halloween movie with Madea/Perry, of course!

 

 October 27th

*Suburbicon with Matt Damon, directed by George Clooney-(uh-oh). This film can’t be pinned down either, as it is about a 50’s era family who are victims of a home invasion. Oscar Isaac plays the suspicious investigator on the case. Clooney says there are laughs, “but it wasn’t designed to be ha-ha funny. It starts out like a Disney film, and by the end it feels like an acid trip”

*Thank You for Your Service with Miles Teller starring in this true story about the scars of war and the difficulties a soldier has in returning to civilian life.

 

November Movie Openings

 

*Bill Nye: Science Guy -Documentary where Nye attempts to restore science to its rightful place in a world sometimes openly hostile to evidence and reason.

 

 *Last Flag Flying with Bryan Cranston, Steve Carrell and Lawrence Fishburne-We previewed this indie in Friday Flix last week, with Steve Carrell starring as a grieving father burying his son who was killed in Iraq.

**LBJ with Woody Harrelson -Director Rob Reiner has created this biopic of President Lyndon Baines Johnson.

 

**The Man who Invented Christmas with Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) as Charles Dickens during the time he created the classic tale A Christmas Carol. Christopher Plummer plays Scrooge for the play within the play theme.

**Roman Israel, Esq with Denzel Washington in this crime thriller set in LA.

 

*Thor: Ragnorak with Chris Hemsworth- The Hulk is along for the ride, along with Valkyrie and Loki as they strive to stop the Goddess of Death-played by Cate Blanchett, from destroying Asgard (and the galaxy too).

 

November 10th 

 

*Daddy’s Home 2 with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg returning with a new round of sparring partners-their respective fathers, played by John Lithgow and Mel Gibson. The comedy hijinks play out when the Dads visit for the holidays.

*Lady Bird with Saoirse Ronan in a coming-of-age story directed by actress Greta Gerwig.

 

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**Murder on the Orient Express with Kenneth Branagh, also directing with the star-studded cast including Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe, Penelope Cruz, Daisy Ridley, Michelle Pfeiffer and Judi Dench. Agatha Christie wrote the original in 1934, and Branagh directs this revamped version as well as taking on the lead role of Hercule Poirot,  the master detective determined to sleuth out who killed who on the mystery train.

 

**Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri with Frances McDormand is an Indie film about a woman named Mildred, who is angry and working to avenge her daughter’s murder in this dark comedy from the same director who brought us In Bruges – Martin McDonagh.

 

November 17th

**Justice League with Ben Affleck returning as Batman as he unites an entire team of super humans- Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Flash, and Cyborg as they defend the Earth from a cosmic threat.

 

 *Wonder with Julia Roberts is based on the 2012 novel by R.J. Palacio. It’s about a 5th grade boy with Treacher Collins syndrome, and his parents who decide to send him to a mainstream school for the first time.

 

 

November 22nd

***Coco is the animated Pixar offering,  about a 12 year old aspiring singer named Miguel who is accidently transported to the Land of the Dead, this vibrant posthumous place populated with Skeletal ancestors and all kinds of whimsical stops along the way. The director says it’s a bit like Monsters, Inc, in that there’s a fantastic world of monsters, but “it’s rooted in a world we know” Coco, by the way, is the great-grandma of Miguel, who is one of his living family members that we meet as Miguel traverses between the two worlds.

 

**Darkest Hour with Gary Oldman starring as Winston Churchill. This film focuses on the period when England had refused to give in to Hitler’s relentless war machine.

 

 *Death Wish with Bruce Willis in the title role made famous by tough guy Charles Bronson. Eli Roth directs the remake.

**Molly’s Game with Jessica Chastain, based on the story of Molly Bloom, is about a competitive skier who decides to move to LA and run the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game. Molly ends up being indicted, and the twists in this tale led director Aaron Sorkin to direct this fascinating story.

 

 November 24th

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**The Current War with Benedict Cumberbatch as Thomas Edison in this story about Edison’s race with George Washington to create a sustainable electrical system.

 

 December Movie Offerings: The Holiday Season

 

 

December 1st

*The Disaster Artist with James Franco explores the depths that lead to the creation of how a truly awful movie is made. Franco plays the “auteur-actor” Tommy Wiseau, who created the original 2003 cult film, The Room, which garnered a huge following based on it’s “entertaining awfulness”.

December 8th

 

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**The Shape of Water with Sally Hawkins in this Cold War era imaginary tale from director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) about a mute woman, (Hawkins), who discovers a top secret government experiment.

 

December 15th

 

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**Star Wars: The Last Jedi with Daisy Ridley returning as Rey with the saga picking up where we left the characters hanging. Luke Skywalker is there on a mountaintop, and we’ll see Carrie Fisher’s final screen appearance as Princess Leia. John Boyega and Adam Driver return respectively as Finn and the villainous Kylo Ren.

 

December 20th

 

*Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle with Dwayne Johnson in the reworked version of the Robin Williams film where four teenagers play an old videogame and find themselves trapped in the bodies of their avatars.

 

December 22nd

 

*Downsizing with Matt Damon in what is being described as a “dramedy” about an overpopulated world where scientists can now shrink humans to pocket size.

**The Papers with Meryl Streep & Tom Hanks – Spielberg directs this story centered around the real-life events that ensued when The Washington Post and the Nixon administration went to battle in the front pages of the news over the release of Daniel Ellsburg’s Pentagon Papers.

*Pitch Perfect 3 with Anna Kendrick-The Barden Bellas are back for a third round

 

December 25th: Christmas Day Openings

**The Greatest Showman with Hugh Jackman starring in this musical version about the life of master showman P.T. Barnum and the creation of his traveling circus.

 

*Wes Anderson film with retiring Daniel Day-Lewis – Not much has been released about this one other than the fact actor Daniel Day Lewis has announced his impending retirement from acting!

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We are living in a kind of post Golden Age of Blockbusters and trying to feel our way into the 21st Century Cinematic Film Experience that includes more than just a cheap thrill with a pair of 3D Glasses. We may end up nostalgic and waxing lyrical for the type of Blockbuster films and the Advent of each new film “season” that is prefaced with talk of the Possible Award winners and the big losers.

The recent interview with Director Steven Soderbergh was telling in that he spoke of the cavalier attitude towards “Markdowns” that ended the careers for directors such as Heaven’s Gate Director Michael Cimino. Now, in his words, “You don’t get punished for your mistakes the way you used to back then. There have been a couple of films in the last year to 18 months that are 200 million dollar write downs! It used to be people would get fired for that, and now they don’t….And I think that’s part of the problem, there’s no new oxygen in the system”.

These types of eye-opening and direct confessions occur rather infrequently. The last time I recall was when Spielberg spilled the beans about his Lincoln production, and predicted the continual rise of the small screen, after confessing he almost made Lincoln for HBO instead of as a theatrical release. These are the forerunners for the changing world that has been the standard in film for the past century. Who would have predicted “Talkies” at the beginning of the silent film era? And during the Golden Age of Film, who could have known that Television would create such a huge thunderclap in the entire film industry? Or who could have known that one lawsuit in 1949 could have ended the Golden Age with the decree that gave films and their theater chain counterparts the Kiss of Death by declaring the entire operation a type of monopoly that could not stand the scrutiny? Then, the sixties and the ratings codes gave films another kind of upheaval, creating the independent film industry and the Age of Aquarius with Sex and the Free Love Generation changing the way people watched films and thought about them.

Film critics rose and fell with this standard. The long-time New York film critic Bosley Crowther saw his career end after he panned Bonnie and Clyde. And critics like Pauline Kael and Roger Ebert rose to prominence. Ebert was able to cross over into the newer era of online film criticism, and his website, Ebert.com, continues to dominate long after his death.

Star Wars created another explosion, with the advent of the Art of Special Effects and the age of Science Fiction and the Juvenilization of Movies. The Blockbuster era began in the seventies, and has continued to this day. We have always known that the real artistic center of the Universe for all Hollywood producers is the Almighty Dollar. And politics and current events figure more than we would be comfortable in acknowledging, if we are going to make an honest assessment. That has been the norm from the very early days, when the Supreme Court ruled in the early 1900’s that film was NOT considered Art. That paved the way to monolithic control for Thomas Edison and his film studio.

And the story has been the same to this day….The film world exists and thrives on changes within our culture and society. And it has adapted from the earliest days of the Penny Arcades through the last century and into the 21st Century. And so it goes…

One More Thing: This Fall, sign up for the Friday Flix at the 6 Degrees website, and you’ll find the links to the latest film reviews and the in-depth articles that we scan to look for the best of the web. Save yourself the trouble and go straight to the source! We take the time to ask the questions about films that are on your mind….Not simply, what should I see this week? What are the top reviews on the film I’m interested in seeing? But also….

What are the best films made so far in the 21st Century? What types of films do millennials want to see? And what is going to happen to the vast network of Hollywood studios and theatre chains that have thrived over the past decades on an expanding American audience? What do film buffs really want to know? These are the questions we try to address and to respond to each week in “Friday Flix” and in the 6 Degrees of online Film Magazine.

Hope you enjoyed checking out the films and don’t forget to visit us online at the 6 Degrees Blog and our 6 Degrees Magazine for weekly updates. See you next week at the movies!-ML

 

 

6 Degrees: Friday Flix Labor Day Edition

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6 Degrees of Film

 

Happy Labor Day to all the Film Fans out there! We are very excited as we are ready to release the Fall Film Newsletter this weekend. There are about 52 films on the list, but much less in the final recommended pool of films to see this Fall. It’s always fun to see what’s coming around the bend. And after what can only be described as a lackluster Summer Season, there’s lots of room for improvement when it comes to Big Box Office releases. Some of the questions that we are hearing, and are asking, are part of the mix of articles and posts that we try to respond to on a weekly basis.

Just to name a few: What are the best films made to date in the 21st Century? What types of films do millennials want to see? And what is going to happen to the vast network of Hollywood studios and theatre chains that have thrived over the past decades on an expanding American audience? What do film buffs really want to know? These are the questions we try to address and to respond to each week in “Friday Flix” and in the 6 Degrees of  Film online Magazine.

This Fall, sign up for the Friday Flix at our 6 Degrees website, and you’ll find the links to the latest film reviews and the in-depth articles that we scan weekly as we look for the best of the web. Save yourself the trouble and go straight to the source!

What’s the Hollywood Buzz? Labor Day is here and the buzz is about the poor attendance at the box office and the sluggish sales. Of course, the answer always occurs to us that there is no problem when good movies abound. But the latest batch has been lackluster at best. The Films that are coming out this Fall hold some promising specimens.

The Shape of Water, Kenneth Branagh’s version of Murder on the Orient Express, the Justice League film for those who can’t get enough super-hero doses, and the big Kahuna: Star Wars- the Last Jedi are coming, just to name a few. There’s Blade Runner 2049 for geeks like me who remember the original 1983 Ridley Scott/Harrison Ford version. And some other movies are dropping that may or may not pan out.

So, depending on your taste, for Independent features, for action/adventure or comedy and romance (always lagging behind these days), there is something for everyone.

This week in 6 Degrees Magazine: Check out the TCM blog on The Wages of Fear, a great film based on a novel from 1953 called The Salary of Fear, the film is directed by Henri-George Clouzot and stars a young Yves Montand. There’s film reviews for The Hitman’s Bodyguard and Ingrid Goes West from the Macguffin film site.

A book on the wonderful actress Anne Bancroft is reviewed on the Film Comment site. Film Comment also remembers the late horror director Tobe Hooper who gave us the- if not immortal, at least the memorable “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” films. There are previews for 2017 Fall films from the Ebert site, and also previews of the Telluride Film Festival.

An interesting piece from Vox is entitled: Rotten Tomatoes, explained. There’s been some controversy of late over the RT scores having an adverse effect on box office returns. So there’s that.

And finally, we are set to prepare ourselves for the slowest Labor Day at the box office in 25 years. Just another sign of the growing influence of overseas sales, too many competing events and the drift of millennials away from the traditional theatrical experience, and, oh yes, the fact that Hollywood keeps making crappy films don’t help matters either!

The Fall Film Newsletter is coming out this weekend with a list that includes some of the more intriguing films opening this Fall. There’s the usual suspects: The sequels, some comic book genres, the kids films, the biopics, the adaptations of best-sellers and some that look like duds. There’s always one or two surprises in every batch of films that are unleashed on the public. Here’s hoping for some good surprises coming soon to a theater near you….Have fun with the Fall Film Newsletter and See you at the Movies!-ML

6 Degrees Summer Newsletter

 

Happy Summer to all our Readers and followers! This is the Summer Film Newsletter from 6 Degrees…At this writing, the Cannes Film Festival is in full swing. Here’s hoping that the Festival will bring to light some new, standout performances and notable films.

Meanwhile, back in Hollywood, the Summer Premieres are starting earlier each year. One of the first fatalities of the early openers has occurred with King Arthur: Legend of the Sword from director Guy Ritchie. One of my favorite review titles came from Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers: Welcome to to a King-Sized Pile of Crap.”

One of the most anticipated openings as far as the Summer Blockbuster category has been Wonder Woman, which opens in early June to kick off what is also known as the Summer Comic Book Hero Season. The other notables have been the Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, which made a lot of money-no surprise. And the Alien: Covenant film is one of the continuing prequels in the Alien series, which has done well.  

Some of the anticipated kids movies are the fun sounding Captain Underpants, also opening in June. Also for kids, there is Cars 3, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which opened in May, and another Despicable Me movie with Steve Carell.

There’s the serial brigade: with Transformers: The Last Knight. There’s the remakes: The Mummy with Tom Cruise, My Cousin Rachel with Rachel Weisz and The Beguiled with Nicole Kidman.

There’s sci fi  flick: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets as well as War for the Planet of the Apes (another sequel/remake/rehash?).  For the documentary enthusiasts, there’s Letters from Baghdad in June and An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power in August….

I’m looking for Dunkirk slated for July 21st and starring Tom Hardy. Lady Macbeth with Florence Pugh is set for July 14th. And Charlize Theron is in Atomic Blonde, an action pic opening July 28t

Other notable actors and openings are Once Upon a Time in Venice with Bruce Willis-June 16th; Baby Driver on  June 28th; Spider-Man: Homecoming on July 7th; and another Charlize Theron film The Last Face on July 28th.

All in all it’s not a bad lineup. There are a few good films that are most likely watchable, and that’s sometimes hard to find when so many films are remakes or sequels/serials that don’t break new ground. Which is why Cannes and other film festivals are so important, as they often bring into prominence the smaller films with low budgets that are more interesting and have new faces and talent lurking under the radar.

There isn’t any one type of film that tells us that Hollywood is on the way out, but the handwriting has been on the wall for at least a decade or more. There are so many choices out there, with Indies and Bollywood vying for the same audiences, and the double-edged sword is that there’s a lot of talented directors and actors who are working in films with small budgets and are on the cusp of making it. But there’s also a higher than ever demand to keep cranking out the same stale formulaic versions of yesterday’s hits because they still make money for the studios! So that’s not going to change anytime soon.

But, there are a few art house movies that make us sit up and take notice. And I almost forgot….Will Ferrell is making a comedy, The House, set to open on June 30th, so let’s hope there are a few laughs along the way as we prepare for a long hot summer in the U.S.

Be on the lookout for the 6 Degrees Friday Flix posts and the latest installments in our 6 Degrees of Film magazine that will highlight some of the week’s top film news and news of note from Hollywood. Till next time, see you at the movies!-ML

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Oscar News: Part II

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6 Degrees of Film

I rarely agree with Joe Scarborough(from “Morning Joe”) on anything, but this morning I did.

The films of 2017 that are up for Oscars are, for the most part, films that would have been considered good, solid, “Indie”films and they wouldn’t have gotten as much press in other years. There are some years that have great films up for contention.

This is not one of those years….

The films that we remember, and the films that made the biggest impact on our society and our psyche have all been films that stay with us. It’s hard to know in the long term which films will be lasting ones, but there are plenty that we know as forgettable.

The biggest impact films from the past thirty years include the following: Films from before 2000 include:

Schindler’s List; Forrest Gump; Pulp Fiction; The Shawshank Redemption; Apollo 13; Braveheart; Fargo; Jerry Maguire; One of the biggest box office blockbusters was Titanic from 97…. The Full Monty was a term that entered the Lexicon. LA Confidential boasted perhaps one of the greatest ensemble cast ever assembled. Saving Private Ryan is iconic,as is The Matrix.: Most of these were up for Academy Awards, and a few won.

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After 2000, the list includes
Gosford Park-Robert Altman’s last film; Lost in Translation; The Aviator; Brokeback Mountain; Juno; Capote; Munich; The Departed; No Country & There will be Blood; Slumdog Millionaire ;Avatar; The Blind Side; Inglorious Basterds; Up; Inception; The Social Network; Moneyball; Les Miserables; Lincoln; Gravity; Her; The Wolf of Wall Street; The BIg Short; The Imitation Game; Bridge of Spies; Mad Max Fury Road & The Revenant;

 These are all films that were nominated or have had some lasting impact on our society. as a whole.  From the list of nominations, this year, perhaps Arrival & Fences reach that threshold.

As I have stated in the past, there should be new categories for films. Indie films, Classics, and they should drop the foreign film category and let them all compete for Best Picture. They have way too many films in the one category, and they should have some specific designations, as Best film adapted from source (plays, books) and Best Original Film; Best “Indie” Film, etc. A category for best new talent or Best Actress under 30; Best rising talent…whatever…to make it more interesting:

Or just the Old White Guy category-Best performance for the Bucket List Brigade…something like that. Because we all know that the way that the Academy has been run is much like the political parties in our country. There has been a stranglehold on power within the hierarchy of the studios and the Academy that actually picks the nominees,and that has limited the choices for a long time….

Tomorrow I’ll put out the list of films that have won Best Picture since 2000 vs. the list of my personal picks.Those two will never jive…

Oscar Selfie pix

6 Degrees: Oscar News

Bob hope oscars

 

Oscar Season is here. This year, the nominees are: (Should I be like Letterman’s old line, “Ah, who cares…?”) But no, there are some good solid films on the list for 2017.   Some good films were not mentioned, which is always the case. My favorite films and actors are never the ones that actually get the statue. It seems that politics even rears its ugly head in Hollywood. Shocking!

Here’s the List of Nominees:  La La Land; Moonlight; Hell or High Water; Hacksaw Ridge; Hidden Figures; Manchester by the Sea; Fences; Lion & Arrival.

From the past winners of Best Picture in the 21st Century, Slumdog Millionaire, No Country for Old Men .and perhaps A Beautiful Mind are probably the three standout films that have won the Oscar. But the most relevant films for the future of cinema are not the Oscar winners. Why? Because the Academy members don’t take into account the actual cinematic appeal of a film in any kind of intellectual capacity. If so, they would never have turned their Oscar ceremony into the mostly boring and tepid, dull as dishwater affair that it has become of late.

Another big controversy is #OscarsoWhite. This year, they’ve done a bit better about representing the population as it exists today, but there remains within Hollywood the same makeup of Old, White, Rich men who are running the show. And that has not changed.

Oscar Predictions abound in my weekly magazine of 6 Degrees of Film. The runaway favorite is La La Land, which has a rating of Wait for the small screen. Fences would get the See it at the Movies nod in this pack, as well as Arrival & LionManchester by the Sea would be a miss. One of the things I’ve argued for is to let the foreign films compete for Best Picture. Elle should be competing in Best Picture, along with others. We talk of living in a Global Village, but this is something that is still part of the politics of Oscar… We have a review of Elle in the 6 Degrees magazine also. Here’s the link: 6 Degrees of Film

*What Critics are saying about…..  Film reviews for all the Oscar nominees are on 6 Degrees.   And there’s an interesting piece, in keeping with my original premise,  about how much it costs to campaign to win an Oscar, or an Oscar nomination. Don’t let anyone fool you that this is high art-this is politics 101. There is a critics list of Best of 2016, if anyone is interested in keeping track. I’m always quite skeptical of finding even 10 films that will make the cut, but some years are better than others.

We have pieces from different critics who list their favorite past Best Picture winners, ranging from The Sting to Titanic and Gladiator. One of my favorite articles is from The Guardian, about the reasons that La La Land shouldn’t be considered a great film, even if it wins the coveted title of Best Picture. For all the reasons I’ve laid out in these articles, I agree. Some of the documentaries and short works have been the best parts of the Oscars in years past. That may be the case this year.

Reviews for I Don’t feel at Home in this world anymore, Fences, Patriots Day, the horror film Get Out, and the 1997 film, Jackie Brown are featured.  Last week we featured reviews for The Space Between Us; The Great Wall with Matt Damon; John Wick: Chapter 2; The Human Surge; The Lego Batman Movie; and the Bogart classic: Beat the Devil from director John Huston

The Best of the Web: I recommend going to the website of Ebert.com and Film
Comment for top film reviews (other than 6 Degrees, of course!)  These two top sites are usually consistent. Others I like on a weekly basis are The McGuffin, Film School Rejects and Rolling Stone, plus  Esquire. NPR and the New York Times, as well as the
Chicago Sun and the LA Times newspapers, which still have consistently solid
reviews for films and all things cinema.

Recommended Viewing: The list from the Tampa Bay Times has Fences &  Hidden Figures. Definitely see Arrival if you haven’t seen it already.

* OF NOTE: The next time Casablanca is playing at an art house near you, you should see it on the big screen. There is a piece this week on His Girl Friday with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. These are the Black & White classics that need to be seen at some point in everyone’s life. Look for the part in His Girl Friday, as the dialogue races by at lightning speed, where Cary Grant makes a tongue-in-cheek remark about his real name, Archie Leach.

There’s also a piece about one of my favorite films from the Australian director, Peter Weir: “Picnic at Hanging Rock” If you haven’t seen it, put it on your list to DVR. Another Aussie, the Oscar winning director Ridley Scott’s best movies are ranked also. Kubrick’s The Shining is also reviewed. I’ve read the book and seen the film many times, and they are two different animals. There’s an interesting piece in the magazine that will lay out the reasons why Stephen King still hates the Kubrick version. I recommend reading the book and seeing the film.

The best arguments for Black & White Films: Most of the great Film Noir genre, plus Hitchcock, Laurel & Hardy, and the Marx Brothers are all best experienced in their original black & white format. There’s a homage to the Marx Brothers in our magazine. If you’ve never seen “Duck Soup“put it on your list.

The Armchair Film Fest: For the month of February, the Turner Classic crew
has mixed it up by simply going through the alphabet with Best Picture
nominees from the past.  Listed here are a few of the best to tape:
Don’t worry about missing them, TCM usually repeats most of these at
some point throughout the year:

The Music Box from Laurel & Hardy;
The Music Man; Ninotchka; North by Northwest; The Nun’s Story; The
Outlaw Josey Wales; Papillon; The Philadelphia Story; The Pink Panther; A Place in the
Sun; The Quiet Man; Rear Window; Rebel without a Cause; Road to
Morocco; Roman Holiday; A Room with a View; The Seven Per-Cent
Solution; Shall We Dance; She Wore a Yellow Ribbon; Singin’ in the
Rain; Some Like it Hot; Spartacus; The Spirit of St. Louis; Strangers
on a Train; The Sundowners; The Tender Trap; The Thin Man; The Three
Musketeers; To Be or Not to Be; Top Hat; 12 Angry Men

**Film as Art: There’s a great piece about Film Posters seen as pieces
of Pop Art in the tradition of Andy Warhol. In my book, there’s a
chapter that talks about the reasons that the early days of film set
the tone for the way that film is viewed and treated to this day. It’s
never been recognized as an art form as it should be. This is a great
way to look at the overall themes that are laid out in modern
film-making.

There’s so much going on now, the Oscar News is a two-parter. Stay tuned! See you at the movies-ML