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 HeroSeason. 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 theApes (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; BabyDriver onJune 28th; Spider-Man: Homecoming on July 7th; and another Charlize Theron film The LastFace 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….WillFerrell 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 Flixposts and the latest installments in our 6 Degrees of Filmmagazine 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
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.
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 OldWhite 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 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 & Lion. Manchester 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
There’s so much going on now, the Oscar News is a two-parter. Stay tuned! See you at the movies-ML
Where does the time go? It’s already Summer and the list of summer films has been rolled out for the past month. Are there any good ones out there? Here are a few that caught my eye…
Last Days in the Desert: Ewan McGregor is Jesus & the Devil in this version of Christ’s 40 days in the Desert.
The Lobster made some noise at Film festivals: An absurdist comedy about single people given 45 days to find a mate-or else they will be turned into an animal.
Coming In June:
Genius: Jude Law plays Thomas Wolfe, with Colin Firth as his editor.
Free State of Jones: Matthew McConaughey stars in the true story of the Mississippi farmer, and ardent abolitionist who leads an uprising against the Confederacy during the Civil War.
Coming in July:
The Legend of Tarzan: Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard) has married Jane and moved to England to take up the duties and entitlements due him as Lord Greystoke. But he’s lured back to the jungle and the plot thickens.
Star Trek Beyond is released on July 22nd, with Idris Elba as the villain Krall, and Chris Pine back as the durable James T Kirk.
Florence Foster Jenkins: Meryl Streep returns to the screen in the very intriguing (at least on paper) true tale of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York socialite who wanted desperately to be an opera singer, minus small details such as talent and pitch.
Café Society: Woody Allen directs Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart in a romantic comedy set in 1930’s Hollywood.
The Founder: Michael Keaton stars as the McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc in this story about the early years in the fifties where he began to amass his empire.
Ben-Hur returns to the screen with Jack Huston in the title role of the Jewish prince who is condemned to slavery and culminates in a deadly chariot race.
War Dogs is the true story of two amateur arms-dealers who talk their way into a deal to equip the Afghan military with weapons. Starring Jonah Hill and Miles Teller as the two intrepid war dogs.
I have written many times about the lamentations of critics with endless remakes. However, just as in theatre where the play’s the thing, so it is with film, where the story, a good story, is the thing that matters. So if there is an interesting story, there just may be a good film lurking underneath.
It depends on the director, the cast, the screenwriter, the film editor, and sometimes more obscure things such as timing and marketing and distribution, but of late, it’s been hit or miss when I see big screen summer movies premiere. There really is no there there.
This batch looks rather promising. Woody Allen directs a comedy, Meryl Streep and Michael Keaton and Matthew McConaughey all headline interesting stories. And we haven’t seen as many Ben-Hur’s as Batman’s in the past few decades. Tarzan has had a slight rest.
It’s nice to see some films without CGI leading the way with flying costumed men and an apocalyptic background with huge monsters or truck monsters looming large against a sea of flying saucers. You get the drift. There really isn’t too much that is new under the sun, so if you have a half-way decent story and a great cast and crew, then you might have a little gem of a movie hit. That’s the only reason to keep me, or any of us, going back to the movies.
The Oscars are coming this weekend. And the lists I tend to gravitate towards are my own made-up versions for what passes as 6 Degrees Awards. The dream lists include some needed revision to the tired and stale Old White Guys Awards that has devolved into the Academy Awards Show.
The one bright spot for me is the possible Oscar for Leo DiCaprio, and since it will be for his entire body of work, including The Aviator, Blood Diamond, The Wolf of Wall Street, and many more from his long career, it should be a fitting tribute.
What about categories for….?
One of the solutions I’ve been kicking around under the hashtag: OscarsSoWhite; SoOld; SoPredictable; SoBORing and So20thCentury are some new updated categories for the Academy of Old White Guys to kick around.
First, obviously, they should change the makeup of the people who vote for these films. And then, to revive the entire Awards Concept, you should update the Categories with some that people might be interested in knowing the outcome when you announce them, rather than treating the whole thing as a big insider’s game where only a few rarified groups care when you announce the winners.
How about Oscar Categories for:
Best Performance by a young actor (under 30)
Best Comic Performance
Science & Trending-CGI Categories
Best Social Impact Film or Film with the Greatest Impact in the past decade
Classics: All Oscar Nominated Films are eligible to compete-
Best Remake of a Classic
Best Comic Genre Film…
Another list I’ve toyed with is one for Oscars from the past decades that have impacted lives. It’s a short list, with only a few memorable films. The films of the 21st Century that have most impacted our lives would include:*
Lost in Translation; The Matrix; The Social Network; There will be Blood; No Country for Old Men; Brokeback Mountain; Capote; Casino Royale; Batman Begins; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; Frozen; The 40 Year old Virgin; Juno; 12 Years a Slave; Slumdog Millionaire; Iron Man; Taken; The Hurt Locker; Inglorious Basterds; The Wolf of Wall St; When the Levees Broke; Closer
**Some may wonder why there are no foreign films on the list. At 6 Degrees of Film, our reason for existence has been and continues to be the impact of current films and the contrast with films from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Hence the six degrees of separation found in our title.
We do note, and certainly concede that most foreign films of the 21st Century are made well and for the most part, are far superior to the Hollywood version (Let the Right One in, Little Nikita, Wings of Desire are a few that come to mind.) We have compiled a list of some recommended blog sites that have a much wider range of scope plus manpower in terms of review of foreign films.
And there are some films that are distributed worldwide, simply because they are produced in Hollywood, which is still the business center of filmmaking. Therefore, the cultural impacts are seen first when these movies are made, and for several years into the future, as films, along with all other art forms, take years to sink in and to become ingested into the mainstream of culture. This short list illustrates some of the films that have had a lasting impression on our society within the past decade.
Benedict Cumberbatch will star as Dr Strange. The remakes include The Jungle Book; Ben Hur; Legend of Tarzan; plus the sequel Bridget Jones’ Baby.
The biopics are Race about the Olympic runner Jesse Owens; plus the much-anticipated Hank Williams story, I saw the Light.
The book adaptation category includes the faith-based film The Shack.
The two Sutherlands, Donald and Kiefer, will star together in a Western, Forsaken.
And finally, the Oscar Winners: Denzel Washington /Antoine Fuqua will team again to remake: The Magnificent Seven and Matthew McConaughey stars in Free State of Jones.
Stay tuned for the Oscars Round Up as we recap the winners and losers from this year’s show. There are some films that always seem to go under the radar, and others that fade with time. Few films are so acclaimed in their own time period that we see the merit of the film right away.
Many of the greatest films are ones that didn’t do well when they were first released. Or they may have some critical acclaim, but go unnoticed by the public in general. That is perhaps the nature of art, and at times, the way we view life through the lens of time.
We should take a few steps back and take in the best films we’ve seen in the past few years. Some films may appear dated, while others deserve a second or third look. We’ll have more of the lists of films that Oscar overlooked in the coming weeks. Until next time we’ll see you at the Movies!
Check out our list of Recommended reads each week in the online magazine:6 Degrees @the Movieson Flipboard!
Star Wars: The Force Awakens premieres December 18th. This one is sucking all the oxygen out of the room! I have to confess that I was never a Star Wars fanatic. I saw the original film when it came out in 1976 and wasn’t impressed. I thought that the sequel, The Empire Strikes Back was superior in every way, but I never became a true devotee of Star Wars.
Since I’ve written a book on film, it’s obvious that the cultural phenomenon and overwhelming impact that Star Wars has had on film-making in general, and also on our culture, is too great to be denied. In 6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in theGlobal Village, the book delves into the history of how George Lucas and his Industrial Light and Magic Company dominated the industry for years and put CGI-Computer Graphics Imaging, and special-effects in the forefront of the movie industry.
When Lucas sold his rights to Disney, many loyal fans were stunned and felt a sense of betrayal. But after reading some interviews Lucas gave, it really did make sense for him to move his ideas and creative themes to Disney. He said in an interview featured in 6 Degrees that “ …I’m not interested in virtual reality at its current level, because it’s just too crude. But if you can program virtual reality or simulator rides with biotech, you will have a very interesting non-world.”
After reading this, it makes sense that Lucas would sell his theme and his mythology to a group that specializes in transferring dreams to paper and making those dreams come true. That’s the Disney mantra and the new theme park being developed by Disney seems to be the natural extension of the Cinematic Universe Lucas created over a quarter of a century ago.
This Fall, Biopic’s abound: One recurring theme seen over and over are the number of films based on true stories. From Everest to The 33, from Black Mass to Bridge of Spies, it seems that the source material is telling us that truth is hopefully, much more interesting to audiences than fiction!
Fem Flicks– The Suffragette & The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2
The Hunger Games returns Jennifer Lawrence to her breakthrough role as Katniss Everdeen in this last installment. The Suffragette stars Carey Mulligan and one of the legends of the screen in a role of Emmaline Pankhurst, founder of the Women’s Movement in turn of the century England. The role seems tailor made for a strong female such as Meryl Streep.
Famous Directors: Oscar winners Ron Howard & Stephen Spielberg present their films, In the Heart of the Sea and Bridge of Spies, respectively.
Best Actors: DiCaprio & Tom Hardy, De Niro & Tom Hanks, some of Hollywood’s finest actors are starring in films this fall. De Niro and Tom Hanks are both featured in upcoming films, De Niro stars with Anne Hathaway in The Intern, and Hanks stars in Bridge of Spies. Michael Fassbender is taking on the role of Steve Jobs in a biopic. Bill Murray returns to Leading Man Status with Rock the Kasbah
And James Bond is back in a much-anticipated film Spectre with Daniel Craig returning to play the iconic role of Bond.
The Tarantino: Genre’s are turned on their heads with Quentin Tarantino at the helm. This much-anticipated Western, The Hateful Eight, stars Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell.
The Holiday season will usher in some of the most-anticipated children’s movies of the year. The Peanuts Movie and The Good Dinosaur will arrive just in time for Christmas.
But of course, on Christmas Day, as keeping with tradition, some of the darkest plots are featured. The Revenant, with DiCaprio and Tom Hardy is the heartwarming story of a man attacked by a bear and left for dead by his friends in the middle of the wilderness. Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight promises to be just as warm and fuzzy, giving us a Western with lots of blood and gore and vengeance.
The Armchair Film Fest: For warm and fuzzy, two Holiday classics will be guaranteed. At some point, Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, one of the best films Capra and Jimmy Stewart made, and Christmas Vacation, which is definitely Chevy Chase’s best work, will be shown on television.
You may see A Christmas Story looped endlessly on cable networks, so it’s easy to just turn it on at any point to lighten the mood. Of course, Miracle on 34thStreet with Maureen O’Hara and Natalie Wood is another standard that will lighten your spirits-if you are over the age of 40.
I find that Milennials and Gen X’ers don’t bother to watch too many films that were made in black and white. Too bad, as they are missing out on some of the greatest films ever made.
Here’s the Fall Movie List starting in September with:
9/18 Sicario: A female FBI agent (Emily Blunt) delves into a shady drug-cartel task force run by agents from both U.S. and Mexico.
Black Mass– The buzz for this biopic is around Johnny Depp’s much anticipated portrayal of the infamous Boston Gangster Whitey Bulger.
Everest: This Bio Pic is based on the real-life 1996 tragedy that took the lives of eight climbers on Mt. Everest.
Legend: Tom Hardy plays a dual-role of the Kray Brothers, real-life British gangsters of the 1960’s. Hardy plays both Ronald & Reginald Kray.
The Martian: This Sci-Fi Adventure tale stars Matt Damon as an astronaut left for dead by his fellow crew members and forced to survive alone on Mars.
Steve Jobs: Michael Fassbender plays Jobs in this bio-pic which has already garnered Oscar buzz for his portrayal.
Pan: Hugh Jackman stars in this new take explaining the origins of the famed Leader of the Lost Boys, Peter Pan.
Bridge of Spies: Speilberg & Hanks collaborated on this bio-pic based on the real-life Cold War exchange of a Russian spy for an American U-2 Pilot.
Truth: Robert Redford plays Dan Rather and Cate Blanchett is producer Mary Mapes in this film based on a true story. The story that ruined Dan Rather’s career is based on the real-life controversial news story involving George W. Bush and his Texas National Guard records.
Suffragette: The film depicts the suffragette’s fight for women’s rights in England. Meryl Streep stars in the film for only four minutes, but her role as a pivotal women’s rights leader Emmeline Pankhurst is a vital one.
Rock the Kasbah: Bill Murray stars as a burned-out agent stuck in Kabul, Afghanistan who discovers a young talented girl and decides to promote her.
Spectre: James Bond returns to the screen with Daniel Craig back as Bond.
Trumbo: Bio-pic of acclaimed writer Dalton Trumbo, who was blacklisted by Hollywood in the 1950’s after the McCarthy hearings.
The 33: Antonio Banderas stars in this bio-pic based on the 2010 true story about 33 Chilean miners trapped underground for 69 days after an explosion.
Hunger Games: Mockinjay: Final Installment: The much anticipated final installment of Katniss Everdeen’s (Jennifer Lawrence) fight against the ruling Panem government.
Children’s Animated Films
The Good Dinosaur: From Pixar, the film imagines a world where the dinosaurs didn’t become extinct, and the plot is a unique twist on boy-meets-dog tales; a friendship arises between the dinosaur boy and his pet -a feral human child.
The Peanuts Movie: The film touts the fact they used many of Charles Schulz’s original drawings, such as digital versions of Shulz’s depictions of rain and even Pigpen’s cloud of dirt!
Victor Frankenstein: James McaVoy and Daniel Radcliffe star in this unusual twist to the famous story as the film switches the focus to Igor, Frankenstein’s servant.
I Saw the Light: Yet another bio-pic tells the Hank Williams story featuring his rise to fame, his volatile relationships, his addictions and his spiral downward before his death at age 29.
In the Heart of the Sea: Ron Howard directs this film based on the true story that inspired Melville to write Moby Dick. It centers around the 19th century crew of the whaling ship, the Essex, which battles the elements after a whale destroys their boat in the treacherous deep waters of the Pacific Ocean.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Big Kahuna finally arrives after fanfare including detailed coverage of the Milennium Falcon and even the movie trailer. Star Wars returns to the big screen just in time for Christmas. Buy your tickets early.
12/25:Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight: A Western in the Tarantino Genre with Samuel L Jackson and Kurt Russell.
12/25: The Revenant: DiCaprio and Tom Hardy, who are perhaps two of the greatest actors working in films today, star in this movie, also based on a true story, of 19th Century trapper Hugh Glass (DiCaprio). The plot revolves around Glass seeking revenge after being attacked by a bear and left for dead by his companions.
Women in Hollywood: Sexism & Age Discrimination. Now there’s Maggie Gylenhall to add to the list of women speaking out about some of the unfair and discriminatory practices Hollywood has been engaged in for decades. In her case, she was told that at age 37, she was too old to be the love interest for a 55 year old man!
Top 10 Highest Paid Actresses: No big surprises, but some small ones. I would have thought Scarlett Johannsen or Drew Barrymore would be on this list. Maybe Kate Hudson? Other than that, it’s fairly predictable. Some of the older females, all still relatively young mind you, but not by Hollywood standards!
1. Angelina Jolie 2. Jennifer Lawrence 3. Kristen Stewart 4. Jennifer Aniston 5. Emma Stone 6. Charlize Theron 7. Sandra Bullock 8. Natalie Portman 9. Mila Kunis 10. Julia Roberts
Top 10 Spiritual Films-2014 from Dr. Edward McNulty
1. Selma 2. Calvary 3. Ida 4. Cesar Chavez 5. The Good Lie 6. The theory of everything 7. The Railway Man 8. St Vincent 9. Unbroken 10. Son of God
Another film list that caught my eye was a list of Spiritual Films of 2014. The list found in Presbyterian Today includes some of my favorite films from last year. Selma, St. Vincent, Calvary, Cesar Chavez, The Theory of Everything, Unbroken, Ida & The Railway Man are some of the films on the list.
I would add The Drop, with Tom Hardy and the late James Garolfini., plus The Imitation Game with Benedict Cumberbatch. These are films that had meaningful messages and all featured characters who, at their core, had some spiritual depth and beliefs that made these films resonate.
There should be some point to reviewing films other than relating the obvious such as whether you recommend it to others. If movies are simply mass entertainment, then word-of-mouth or box office results should be enough to send people to see them. But some films have, at their core, a statement to make or a deeper meaning which is meant to be conveyed to the viewing audience. And in this day and age, it’s becoming harder and harder to find the films with deeper meanings and values.
It’s pointless to reach the end of a year and simply decide, based on box office or one or two critics opinions, which films have staying power. Of course, the reason for award shows like the Oscars or Cannes is to bring to light many obscure and fine works of art. But sometimes that’s not enough.
Many of the films lauded by Hollywood don’t really leave lasting impressions. They may simply reflect a mood of a particular time or era. And there are other films that do leave lasting impressions. Over the past decade in film, the films that have lasting power are few and far between.
Next month I’m featuring a list of films from the past decade that have some kind of lasting impact in our culture. Here’s a list of upcoming Summer Films.
Coming in June
June 5th: Spy with Melissa McCarthy: Hopefully funnier than some of her latest outings. McCarthy is a talented comedienne with a deft touch given the right material. She was wonderful in St Vincent with Bill Murray.
Entourage: The hit series with Jeremy Piven comes to the big screen.
June 12th: Jurassic World-Coming again to a theatre near you! Jurassic World takes off from the end of the first outing. Jurassic Park is one of the films listed in the top 100 Highest Grossing Films list. Hence, the inevitable rework!
Inside Out: Pixar’s latest offering. As I’ve said many times, some of the most imaginative and creative work in films is done by Pixar. The film is about five emotions-Joy, Anger, Disgust, Fear & Sadness-that exist in the mind of a young girl.
June 19th: A Little Chaos has received mixed reviews. The plot revolves around Kate Winslet as one of the gardeners who helped design the gardens of Versailles during the reign of King Louis XIV.
June 26th: Max-This one is not Mad. This is about a service dog from the war and is billed as an ” American family adventure film.” Max is a service dog who must help the family of his fallen handler heal as they recover from his loss.
Coming in July
Terminator Genisys-Another outing with the Terminator. Arnold Schwarzenegger is starring and this one is billed as ” a sequel and a reboot’ of the series. After reading the synopsis, suffice it to say that John and Sarah Connor will try to unravel the time travel screw ups that occur as the writers struggle to make sense of it all.
July 10:Mr. Holmes-has received critical acclaim. Ian McKellen stars as an aging Sherlock Holmes.
Ant-Man-The ever affable Paul Rudd stars as the super-hero Ant-Man. The plot surrounds Rudd as con-man Scott Lang, who has the ability to shrink and gain astonishing strength when wearing the incredible super-suit.
July 17:Irrational Man-Woody Allen directs Emma Stone and Joacquin Phoenix in this film that debuted at Cannes. Billed as a “mystery drama”, the plot revolves around Phoenix as a college philosophy professor who is experiencing an existential crisis, but finds meaning to his life when he begins a new relationship with one of his students, played by Emma Stone.
July 24:Pan-Another tale of Peter Pan, this is the background story for the traditional tale of Peter and his journey to Neverland. Hugh Jackman stars as Blackbeard and Rooney Mara is cast as Tiger Lily.
July 29:Vacation-The remake of the original Vacation, this one stars Ed Helms with a cameo from Chevy Chase. Rusty Griswold (Helms) decides to re-connect with his family and take them to see “Wally World”, the mythical theme park that is soon to be closed.
Ricki and the Flash-This is one of those Fem Flicks. Meryl Streep stars and Jonathon Demme directs in this musical comedy/drama. Streep plays a musician who “gave up everything” for her dream of rock-and-roll stardom. Now she is returning to her home to try and make peace with her family.
Opening in August
August 7:The Man from U.N. C. L. E.- This looks promising, although it is recycled material from the hit series from the sixties. The characters are set in the 1960’s again, as CIA agent Napoleon Solo works with KGB operative Illya Kuryakin to foil a mysterious criminal organization working to proliferate nuclear weapons.
Straight Outta Compton-This also shows promise to be a timely entry with a story about the hip-hop group NWA as they emerge from Compton, California in the mid-eighties and change the music industry and pop culture forever with their unique brand of music and tales from life in the hood.
Masterminds-Something on the lighter side, with Kristen Wiig and Zach Galifianakis starring in this comedy based on a true story of one of the biggest bank heists in American history. Kristen Wiig is another talented comedienne who suffers when she’s not given the right script. Hopefully, this one will hit the high notes. Owen Wilson and fellow SNL veteran Jason Sudeikis also star.
Other films of note opening this summer are: Mission Impossiblewith Tom Cruise and another Fantastic Fourremake.
September 2: Black Mass with Johnny Depp starring as gangster Whitey Bulger. Depp has been getting rave reviews for his portrayal of Bulger.