6 Degrees:The Good New/Bad News Summer Film List

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6 Degrees of Film

Most of our 6 Degrees followers know of the many problems I’ve written about regarding the current superhero and comic-book genre and Hollywood’s love of remakes. For the most part, we’ve been able to write about films that are interesting and innovative, with both the documentary and indie film format being two of the most recommended as we see each new film season begin and cycle through the predictable rounds. One bright spot has always been the animated films for children which often use unique and creative ways to communicate and really work to stimulate the imagination of young kids. But even the awards and upcoming film lists have begun to lose their value as we see less original work recognized, and more formulaic and rehashed material used.

CGI hasn’t helped as we see many big ticket spectacles relying heavily on Computer generated images to tell the story. So we have come to the new summer film lineup. I am recommending less than five films I see in the latest Hollywood lineup. They are: Shaft, Aladdin, Once Upon a Time in America, The Lion King and The Secret Lives of Pets 2.

This is remarkable and a first, as I think back on the years where we have listed an average of fifteen to twenty films. The documentary titles are unique, and have also been a bright spot in the movie listings, with recent films like Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and Amazing Grace both showcasing the lives of great departed American icons from our recent past. Even with the blip on the radar of documentary work and innovative kids films, there is really not enough to warrant a Summer Film Newsletter list.

However, there is some good news on the Indie Film front. The releases of Independent films with unique plots and A-list actors has grown in past years. This summer, there are the following:

The Dead Don’t Die: Directed by Jim Jarmusch and starring Chloe Sevigny, Bill Murray and others. The plot: 3 small town police officers join forces with a morgue expert (Tilda Swinton) to combat a zombie attack.

Wild Rose: A musical drama about a young Scottish single mother who is released from prison and dreams of going to Nashville and becoming a country singer. Julie Walters stars as her disapproving mother.

Them That Follow: Set in Appalachia, the story is about a pastor’s daughter in a love triangle with a young man who is skeptical of the snake-handling church and its beliefs and the boy who is part of the congregation and is the chosen suitor her father is pushing on her.

Ophelia tells the story in Hamlet of the ill-fated girlfriend and of Hamlet’s mother Gertrude from a feminist’s point of view.

In classic Indie fashion, here’s an intriguing ‘What if” for a plot. What if the Beatles had never been discovered and no one but you knew about their music? The film from director Danny Boyle, Yesterday, imagines a young musician waking up after an accident to find the world has never heard of the Beatles music. He sets himself the task of bringing the legendary band’s music to an uninitiated world.

Another musical entry is Blinded by the Light, a musical drama from Sundance that is a joyous celebration of the music of Bruce Springsteen.

Finally, there is Official Secrets, starring Keira Knightley as a whistleblower who leaks information to the press about illegal activities from the US leading to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Ralph Fiennes also starts in this film which debuted at Sundance.

There are other intriguing plots this summer in the Indie category, but none of the films previewed for major release, in my opinion, has either an original plot or a unique spin. That is a sad commentary on the state of Hollywood and the type of films that are green-lighted these days.

6 Degrees: Holiday Film News

 

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6 Degrees of Film

Hope everyone is planning a wonderful Thanksgiving break. This is the best part of the Holiday season. We can visit with friends and family, with no expectations of the holiday madness that Christmas, as wonderful as it can be, brings with it. So, hope all of you plan a great and relaxing holiday weekend ahead.

Which means…a trip to the movies of course! Or, if you are one of our Armchair Film Fest Fans, there’s always something on the small screen to be seen in the comfort of our favorite armchair.

Aquaman 2018
This is our edition of Holiday Film News for 2018; the Holiday films are coming, and there is quite a variety. In past years, there seemed to be the darkest of cinematic choices to grace the screen for the holidays, but this year, Hollywood is dropping Mary Poppins and Aquaman into the mix, so we will have a bit of holiday cheer.

Tampa Theatre, the local arthouse, is showing a very traditional listing of holiday classics that include White Christmas with Bing Crosby, Miracle on 34th Street with a young Natalie Wood; and the ubiquitous It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart. If that list makes you yawn or roll your eyes, then I would tend to agree, although these are all great films for their time period.

For Milennials, some not to miss films would be Elf with Will Ferrell and Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase. The Jim Carrey version of the Grinch can also be thrown into the mix. And for the holidays, Harry Potter is always a good idea. The first film is a good choice, or there is my personal favorite, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; which would always be a good family flick.

For those who want something that is more spiritual in keeping with the season, The Nativity Story from 2006 is one that is an unusually well made version of the story of the first Christmas. And there is always Scrooged, with Bill Murray, to round out the season with a modern day version of Ebenezer. For Scrooge purists, the George C Scott rendition of A Christmas Carol is hard to beat.

Under the category of something completely different, there is also the Black & White version of The Little Shop around the Corner which has been made into two later versions, one with Judy Garland as a musical-In the Good Old Summertime– and the other You’ve Got Mail  with Tom Hanks. And for Judy Garland fans, Meet me in St Louis has Garland singing the classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

No, I don’t think Die Hard is a Christmas movie…But if you like action-adventure films, there are some that may be more upbeat. The Mel Gibson buddy film series, Lethal Weapon 3 or 4, with Danny Glover, which basically turned into light comedy in the last two films, is lighter fare And the films with Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte, 48 hours and Another 48 hours, have a lot of comedy mixed with the action scenes. And there is always the Dan Akroyd/Eddie Murphy classic Trading Places as well as Murphy’s Coming to America, both are good for holiday viewing, especially for first-time viewers.

There are many genres and styles of film that may be better for family viewing and lighter fare during the holiday season. Classic comedy is anybody’s pick-Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Mel Brook’s High Anxiety or Young Frankenstein are both classics.

Mary Poppins 2018

At the Movies: We recommend Mary Poppins or Aquaman; and if you haven’t seen Crazy Rich Asians or Green Book, they will definitely be at the top of most people’s wish list as films to see on the big screen. There is another interesting take on the Spiderman universe, with the animated Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse.

Some films spoken of in terms of Oscar contenders include The Wife-for Glenn Close’s performance, and director Alfonse Cuaron’s semi-biographical look at his life in the black & white Roma.

For Armchair Film Fest: In case you missed them, there’s Bridge of Spies, a great Tom Hanks piece, as well as Hanks’ Charlie Wilson’s War with Julia Roberts and the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman. And if you have never seen Hoffman’s portrayal of Truman Capote in Capote it is not to be missed for any serious film buff.

Films of the decade and films of the year are phrases that will inevitably be tossed around for the end of the year. I think that after the very dark films that appeared at the end of the past decade, including The Departed and No Country for Old Men as well as There Will be Blood, the movie industry has for the most part tried to steer the ship away from the dark stories, although there are plenty of nominees in past years that have been eligible, including 12 Years a Slave and Birdman.

Clive owenVenom Tom Hardy 2018

For those who binge watch, I recommend some A-list actors. I am a huge fan of Tom Hardy and Clive Owen. The two have made careers playing often dark, but extremely diverse and interesting characters onscreen. Hardy is in “Legend, The Drop, Mad MaxL Fury Road, and also plays a depression-era moonshine runner in Lawless from 2012. Clive Owen has been in the film version of the play Bent, the film noir I’ll sleep when I’m Dead, and in Closer with Jude Law.

Holiday films can be surprising in many ways. If you are looking for a list of Spiritual films that can uplift and upend, here’s my list from years past that will take you through to the New Year. The crazy season of holiday giving and holiday cheer is often mixed with periods of reflection and some sadness too, as we look back on years gone by. So here’s hoping your holiday season is a time of renewal and is filled with fun and joy and of course, leaves you time to spend with loved ones as you watch movies, both old and new! Happy Holidays from 6 Degrees!-ML

6 Degrees: Friday Flix

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6 Degrees of Film

Hello everyone!  This week at the movies, we are looking at some films opening that were highly anticipated, and are now expected to bomb badly. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is one that looked beautiful, and according to most reviews (See Ebert.com in 6 Degrees Magazine), it is a muddled mess of a story.
Some other news of note include the release of Orson Welles last film that was held up for many years. There is Bohemian Rhapsody, which has also garnered some lukewarm reviews.
Here is 6 Degrees of Film list of films debuting in November, including the Nutcracker remake that has reportedly fallen short of expectations. Check them out here, and in our Fall Film News.

Nutcracker 2018
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is another offering in a series of films that tell the classic story of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, who based his famous ballet on an 1816 story by E.T.A Hoffman. The fantasy film is a big-budget number, with designs and sets that adhered to ‘a strict historical cutoff from the year 1879”.
Benedict Cumberbatch will put up his Sherlock Holmes cap to play another classic character, the Grinch, in the animated remake of Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch.
The Outlaw King is a period piece about Robert the Bruce, the legendary Scottish king who united his people in their fight for independence from British rule. Chris Pine stars as King Robert.

Fantastic Beasts
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is in the Harry Potter sub sequel of a prequel category, introducing fans to a new cast of adorable characters from the Wizarding World. In this film, we meet baby Nifflers, a Kelpie (a Scottish underwater monster) and a Leucrotta-described as a large, moose-like creature.
Ralph Breaks the Internet is another children’s film with some grown up proclivities, including the star John C Reilly who is also breaking the internet with multiple films out this year. This film is the sequel to 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph from Disney, where arcade heroes Ralph (With Reilly’s voice), and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), go on the internet in search of a replacement game part and adventures ensue accordingly.
Robin Hood returns to the screen with Taron Egerton starring as the overworked man of the forest in this action adventure film that someone must have clamored for…?
That’s all for now, folks, so until next week, stay tuned in and see you at the movies!

6 Degrees: Friday Flix

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6 Degrees of Film

Hello 6 Degrees Friends: This week we are beginning to look at the films debuting in October. Tom Hardy stars in Venom, and Robert Redford is in The Old Man & the Gun. The movies that have done well the past few weeks at the box office include Crazy Rich Asians and the children’s film starring Jack Black, The House with a Clock in Its Walls.
The films of October were previewed in our Fall Film News. Here’s a look at the movies that will premier next month:

October

*The Great Buster: A Celebration is a documentary film on the life of comedian and silent film star Buster Keaton.

Venom Tom Hardy 2018
Venom stars Tom Hardy in the comic book genre tale about a journalist (Hardy) who finds that his body is invaded by an alien-Venom. The two become one as anti-heroes with journalist Eddie (Hardy) still managing to investigate stories. Hardy says: “They bring out the very best and the very worst in each other.”
The Happy Prince starring Rupert Everett depicts the life of famed writer Oscar Wilde. Everett wrote, directed and stars in this film about the final years of the writer’s life in exile, and begins with Wilde’s spiral downward after being imprisoned for ‘gross indecency’; depicting Wilde battling Victorian conventions as a homosexual who shocked the existing norms of the day.
Apostle with Dan Stevens of Downton Abbey fame, is another period film, set in 1905, with Stevens attempting to save his kidnapped sister from a mysterious religious cult led by a charismatic leader.

First Man 2018
First Man is the bio-pic story of the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, as portrayed by Ryan Gosling.. The film goes for authenticity for the times in which it was made. Director Damien Chazelle, reteaming with Gosling after La La Land, said First Man was made to feel like a documentary, “just like we’re a fly on the wall grabbing moments in these families’ households.”
Halloween returns in a new sequel to the original starring Jamie Lee Curtis. The film has Curtis reprising her role of Laurie Strode and is billed as a direct sequel to the 1978 movie, with the interesting concept of simply ignoring the scores of films that have been made previously in this franchise-shades of Dallas! The plot has Curtis as a woman on a mission, having waited four decades to track down and end the menace of masked killer Michael Myers.

Until next month, have fun and stay well and we’ll see you at the movies!-ML

6 Degrees: Friday Flix for September

 

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6 Degrees of Film

Greetings film fans! Here are a few bullets from the last week.

*The Telluride Film Festival has debuted First Man and the last Robert Redford film, The Old Man & the Gun, both opening to generally good reviews.

*There’s been talk of the idea that the next James Bond could be a black man-Idris Elba to be specific. It seems to have been just that, an idea, but the notion of shaking up and stirring the formulaic approach to the Bond film series is a good thing.

At the movies: We have seen some bad reviews for Peppermint, the female vigilante film starring Jennifer Garner and good reviews for the modern remake of A Star is Born, with special kudos going to Lady Gaga for her acting debut.

From TCM: This week, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is recommended for kids who have never seen this. For adult viewing, there is The Year of Living Dangerously with Mel Gibson and directed by Australian Peter Weir and The Man Who Would be King with Sean Connery and Michael Caine-set your machines to record

And finally, the Oscars rolled out an ill-designed and poorly devised new “Popular Film” category that they have decided to roll back. It’s always best to seek out and explore and then expand the categories using the creative thought process rather than simply throwing something together after seeing the first highlight reel from Access Hollywood. 6 Degrees has written about and recommended some new categories, with definitely more thought given than the Academy of Motion Pictures seems to have given the matter.

Finally, from our Fall Film News, here’s the recommended films for the month of September: Till next time, see you at the movies!

Films opening in September:

Lizzie with Chloe Sevigny is the adaptation of the true story of the accused axe murderess Lizzie Borden. This film is described as a ‘speculative lesbian love story’ that is spun to explain the real-life murders of which Borden was accused in 1892.

Colette 2018 K Knightley
Colette with Keira Knightley is a period piece that follows the writer Colette from her youth through marriage and touches on her private life that included numerous affairs with women.
The House with a Clock in its Walls featuring Cate Blanchett and Jack Black in this fantasy adapted from John Bellairs’ book about an orphan who, with his uncle, explores a magical manor that holds a mystical clock.

SIsters Brothers 2018 Western
The Sisters Brothers is a Western with John C Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix cast as the two brothers Eli and Charlie Sisters. The film is an adaptation of a novel about the Sisters Brothers, contract killers who worked at the height of the Gold Rush in the 1850’s.

Old Man Robert Redford 2018
• Robert Redford is starring in what he has announced will be his last film: The Old Man & the Gun; a movie billed as a mix of ‘drama, comedy and romance’ and is loosely based on the true story of a career criminal, Forrest Tucker. Redford says of Tucker: “He robbed 17 banks, and he got caught 17 times. But he also escaped 17 times.
Smallfoot is a children’s animated film starring Channing Tatum. It’s about an abominable bigfoot who discovers proof there are humans-A.K.A…Smallfoots.

6 Degrees: Friday Flix

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Hope everyone has had a great summer, and has fun plans for the holiday weekend that include watching some great flicks! Here’s a short list of the latest film news.
*The Venice Film Festival has wrapped and everyone was talking about the drama Roma, a film from Alfonso Cuaron, the director of Gravity and Children of Men. Roma was semi-autobiographical, a look at the director’s life in Mexico City in the early 1970’s in a middle-class family that included a live-in housekeeper.
*The MeToo Movement has taken root; Woody Allen’s latest film A Rainy Day in New York starring  Timothee Chalamet, Elle Fanning and others, has been suspended indefinitely and may never be released by Amazon Studios.
* The late, great Orson Welles has a film that was in a state of permanent suspension and is finally being released, The Other Side of the Wind.
* The Buzz: Crazy Rich Asians is still a big breakout hit for the summer. And there is good early word of mouth buzz for the Neil Armstrong biopic First Man from Damien Chazelle, director of La La Land with Ryan Gosling as Armstrong.
From 6 Degrees magazine: Two articles of note this week: The 10 Best black & white horror movies ever made from Esquire magazine: and from nofilmschool: Go inside The directorial process (and mind) of David Lynch.
For those wondering what to see this coming fall film season, worry no more. Here’s the link to the 6 Degrees Fall Film Newsletter, out last week; Have a wonderful holiday weekend, film fans, and see you at the movies!-ML

6 Degrees: Fall Film News

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6 Degrees of Film

The Fall Film Newsletter is here! Predictably, there are the expected comic book heroes, Aquaman and the anti-hero Venom, there are the historical films about Mary Queen of Scots, Lizzie Borden, Robert the Bruce and astronaut Neil Armstrong; we preview sequels and serial films including a new Halloween, the Fantastic Beasts, and even a new version of the Nutcracker in time for the holidays. Check out this list of films highlighted for the Fall Film Season:

September:

 

Lizzie 2018 Film

Lizzie with Chloe Sevigny is the adaptation of the true story of the accused axe murderess Lizzie Borden. This film is described as a ‘speculative lesbian love story’ that is spun to explain the real-life murders of which Borden was accused in 1892.

Colette 2018 K Knightley

Colette with Keira Knightley is a period piece that follows the writer Colette from her youth through marriage and touches on her private life that included numerous affairs with women.

The House with a Clock in its Walls featuring Cate Blanchett and Jack Black in this fantasy adapted from John Bellairs’ book about an orphan who, with his uncle, explores a magical manor that holds a mystical clock.

SIsters Brothers 2018 Western

• The Sisters Brothers is a Western with John C Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix cast as the two brothers Eli and Charlie Sisters. The film is an adaptation of a novel about the Sisters Brothers, contract killers who worked at the height of the Gold Rush in the 1850’s.

Old Man Robert Redford 2018
• Robert Redford is starring in what he has announced will be his last film: The Old Man & the Gun; a movie billed as a mix of ‘drama, comedy and romance’ and is loosely based on the true story of a career criminal, Forrest Tucker. Redford says of Tucker: “He robbed 17 banks, and he got caught 17 times. But he also escaped 17 times.

Smallfoot is a children’s animated film starring Channing Tatum. It’s about an abominable bigfoot who discovers proof there are humans-A.K.A…Smallfoots.

October

*The Great Buster: A Celebration is a documentary film on the life of comedian and silent film star Buster Keaton.

Venom Tom Hardy 2018
Venom stars Tom Hardy in the comic book genre tale about a journalist (Hardy) who finds that his body is invaded by an alien-Venom. The two become one as anti-heroes with journalist Eddie (Hardy) still managing to investigate stories. Hardy says: “They bring out the very best and the very worst in each other.”

The Happy Prince starring Rupert Everett depicts the life of famed writer Oscar Wilde. Everett wrote, directed and stars in this film about the final years of the writer’s life in exile, and begins with Wilde’s spiral downward after being imprisoned for ‘gross indecency’; depicting Wilde battling Victorian conventions as a homosexual who shocked the existing norms of the day.

Apostle with Dan Stevens of Downton Abbey fame, is another period film, set in 1905, with Stevens attempting to save his kidnapped sister from a mysterious religious cult led by a charismatic leader.

First Man 2018
First Man is the bio-pic story of the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, as portrayed by Ryan Gosling.. The film goes for authenticity for the times in which it was made. Director Damien Chazelle, reteaming with Gosling after La La Land, said First Man was made to feel like a documentary, “just like we’re a fly on the wall grabbing moments in these families’ households.”

Halloween returns in a new sequel to the original starring Jamie Lee Curtis. The film has Curtis reprising her role of Laurie Strode and is billed as a direct sequel to the 1978 movie, with the interesting concept of simply ignoring the scores of films that have been made previously in this franchise-shades of Dallas! The plot has Curtis as a woman on a mission, having waited four decades to track down and end the menace of masked killer Michael Myers.

November

 

Nutcracker 2018

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is another offering in a series of films that tell the classic story of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, who based his famous ballet on an 1816 story by E.T.A Hoffman. The fantasy film is a big-budget number, with designs and sets that adhered to ‘a strict historical cutoff from the year 1879”.

Benedict Cumberbatch will put up his Sherlock Holmes cap to play another classic character, the Grinch, in Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch.

Outlaw King 2018
The Outlaw King is a period piece about Robert the Bruce, the legendary Scottish king who united his people in their fight for independence from British rule. Chris Pine stars as King Robert.

Fantastic Beasts
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is in the Harry Potter sub sequel of a prequel category, introducing fans to a new cast of adorable characters from the Wizarding World. In this film, we meet baby Nifflers, a Kelpie (a Scottish underwater monster) and a Leucrotta-described as a large, moose-like creature.

Ralph Breaks the Internet is another children’s film with some grown up proclivities, including the star John C Reilly who is also breaking the internet with multiple films out this year. This film is the sequel to 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph from Disney, where arcade heroes Ralph (With Reilly’s voice), and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), go on the internet in search of a replacement game part and adventures ensue accordingly.
Robin Hood returns to the screen with Taron Egerton starring as the overworked man of the forest in this action adventure film that someone must have clamored for…?

December

Mary queen of scots 2018

Mary Queen of Scots is yet another period piece with Saoirse Ronan (of Brooklyn and Lady Bird fame) starring as the doomed queen. This film is based on a 2004 biography of Mary by John Guy. Historically, the famous Queen of Scots and the Virgin Queen Elizabeth never met, but there are several noteworthy plays and films that have these two women interacting and emoting together. Margot Robbie co-stars as Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen of England.

Mary Poppins 2018
Mary Poppins Returns in an original story, not a remake of the original, with Emily Blunt playing that Poppins woman. This film is set 25 years after the initial action in the Banks’ family home, and a tragic death leaves Jane, Michael, and Michael’s three children adrift. Enter Poppins.

Aquaman 2018

Aquaman debuts with Jason Momoa as the king of the sea. The film is directed by James Wan, and centers around Aquaman’s quest to regain the Trident of Neptune and battle Aquaman’s menacing brother, King Orm (played by Patrick Wilson.)

Holmes & Watson 2018

Holmes & Watson is a comic offering of the familiar Sherlock Holmes story with Will Ferrell as Holmes and his ubiquitous sidekick John C Reilly starring as Watson in this comic rendering of the classic story.

There are a few other films of note that include Bumblebee (Hailee Steinfeld); Green Book (Viggo Mortenson); The Girl in the Spider’s Web with Claire Foy; Johnny English Strikes Again with Rowan Atkinson; The Ballad of Buster Scruggs with Tim Blake Nelson and The Other Side of the Wind, a documentary on the unfinished work of Orson Welles
One never knows when reviewing all the myriad number of choices that Hollywood lays before us as critics. There seem to be a smattering of superhero dusted with old familiar story tropes sprinkled with a light layer of sequels and old favorites thrown in for good measure. The originality is often found in children’s films, as I’ve noted for several years. The Harry Potter themed movies always do well, with the imagination of CGI and set designers running wild. The Nutcracker film may be another Fantasia type experience, we shall see. I’m hoping that the Mary Poppins film puts a nice spin on the original, which was so clever and cutting-edge when it was released in the early 60’s. So, too, the idea of the superhero genre, with the acting chops of Tom Hardy, may add another layer in the rather tired superhero film mold. Stay tuned!
We seem to be coming out on the other side of the #MeToo era with a renewed interest in women filmmakers and screenplays and stories told from the female perspective. Let’s just hope that this too doesn’t become overused in the predictable fashion of Hollywood and their method of overkill in all things. The idea of a “Taken” style film with Jennifer Garner(Peppermint) as the vigilante pursuing the bad guys admittedly made me wince. It’s so predictictable and so “YOU” Hollywood!?
As noted, stay tuned, film fans. We shall see which films are the big breakout classics of 2018. The summer has given us a big hit with Mission Impossible times …..100 Plus?! So one never knows, but it seems what’s old is new again- again, in Hollywood. Till next time, stay classy and see you at the movies!-ML