Hello to all Film Fans & Friends! The good news, surprising to some of us, is that Dunkirk has opened to really good reviews. It’s short-107 minutes -Thank God! (Spare me from the overly long Summer serial movies recently that have begged for good editing!). So that’s a pleasant surprise… And the Planet of the Apes film has also gotten surprisingly good reviews. There is always hope that we’ll salvage a fairly blah summer film season.
Wonder Woman has continued to rake in the money. But there comes a point in the summer film season when we start to desperately look around for some good films on the horizon. And there are usually these great little hidden gems of cinema that are a big reason why many of us continue to watch movies.
6 Degrees Magazine: This week, check out these articles online. There’s an article about Director Werner Herzog’s masterpiece of a documentary Burden of Dreams, which is about the making of the film Fitzcarraldo in 1982.
Critically Speaking: As mentioned, the reviews for Dunkirk and War for the Planet of the Apes have been good. Also, there’s The Big Sick, with a supporting cast that includes Ray Romano and Holly Hunter, so that has garnered interest and hope that the Rom-Com’s are not dead (simply in need of a 21st Century upgrade!).
The Indie Film:The Little Hours is reviewed on the macguffin film site as well as the sci-fi film from director Luc Besson,Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Film Comment also has a post on the Valerian film, which is based on a popular French graphic novel series entitled Valerian and Laureline by Pierre Christin and Jean-ClaudeMezieres.Film Comment calls the series of books a “travesty of storytelling”, and says the film itself is “bereft of narrative tension” but instead functions “strictly as spectacle.” Valerian reviews as a whole have been mixed, so this explains it as good as any other reason I’ve heard. Rolling Stone has a film review of Valerian with the lead: “Luc Besson makes a Sci-Fi Mess.”
We’ve already mentioned War for the Planet of the Apes, which has garnered good reviews after suffering through a few stumbles in the past with some duds in the continuing “ape” series. There’s a film out called Endless Poetry, from an 88 year old Chilean-French filmmaker which has been getting good reviews.
And finally, Lady Macbeth is reviewed on Ebert.com, and focuses on the performance from the 21- year old lead Florence Pugh. It’s worthy to note that Lady Macbeth is NOT based on the Shakespearean character, but instead comes from a Russian novella by Nikolai Leskov titled “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk”, a book centering on ways women were suppressed and stifled in the 19th century. (It makes a difference!)
Notable Deaths: There’s an interview from Film Comment featured in our magazine done recently with the late Martin Landau, who won an Oscar for his supporting role in Ed Wood. And the other recent passing was of the much-admired Horror Director GeorgeRomero, famous for the original 1968 Night of the Living Dead film, as well as the many spawns of that classic: Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead and many others, including the TV series from 1983,Tales from the Darkside.
Well, till we meet again film goers. I’m excited about the films coming soon (Stephen King’s The Dark Tower is one) and the great Armchair Film Festival offerings from Turner Classic.Hitchcock lovers have had a fantastic month in July if they tuned in and recorded the entire catalog of Hitchcock classics. One of my favorite lines will always be from Notorious, when Madame Sebastian learns her son has married a spy. She quietly lights a cigarette and tells him, “We are saved by the enormity of yourstupidity.” I have truly come to adore that line, and try to apply it to my own life whenever possible. See you at the movies!-ML
Happy post-Fourth of July week, readers and moviegoers! We are seeing lots of films debut this month, and I’ve included some of the summaries up front so you can judge for yourself. One of the things that I’m excited about is the line-up on Turner Classic this month, which is showing so many of the great Hitchcock classics in July. Make sure, especially if you haven’t seen them, to set the DVR to record some of the top films: Psycho, Rear Window, The Birds, Notorious, and many more. Armchair Film Fest: The Hitchcock list of films on TCM is phenomenal. They start with his early silent work and run through his classics all month long. This is definite fodder for the Armchair Film Festival devotee. The Armchair Film Fest is my favorite kind of film festival personally! One thing has always stuck with me in the biography and studies of Hitchcock-Hitchcock was asked about his penchant for horror films, and what his idea of something that was really funny would be. He said that a party where the food was all dyed blue was something that struck him as hilarious. There are some people that are originals. Hitchcock was a one of a kind, unique character in films-one who will never be replicated.
Also on TCM this Saturday, one of the films that is certainly unique, is the comedy with Eleanor Parker, who is remembered as the Baroness in The Sound of Music. She stars with Robert Taylor in Many Rivers to Cross. The film is light and at times a “fluff piece”, but the portrayal of a strong pioneer woman by Parker remains one of the highlights of the era.
Most of the fifties women were at times even sycophantic in their deference to men. Parker plays this role with a gusto and a physical presence that makes it memorable for most women of the 21st Century to relate to the character.
Some of the political films playing this month will also seem tailor made to this era in our political life. They are showing the original The Manchurian Candidate which was thought to have been banned at the time due to the controversial content. It turns out, that wasn’t accurate, but the film wasn’t seen for many years, due to contractual agreements. It is a very gripping 1962 Cold War thriller about a U.S soldier who is captured and brainwashed to be used as a political assassin.
The other film for Armchair Film Fest is Inherit the Wind with Spencer Tracy. I would invite anyone, on the left or right, to watch this great classic with the memorable opening soundtrack pulling the camera back with the folk spiritual “Old Time Religion” playing solemnly as the shot pans to small town, USA . In this case, it’s a small town where the famous Scopes Monkey Trial was held in Dayton, Tennessee, and Tracy delivers one of his best performances as the distinguished lawyer Henry Drummond, who is defending a high school science teacher, (played by Dick York), who was teaching the theory of evolution in his class. The film is powerful, as is the message which is derived from the play of the same name. We are still debating the Evolutionary theory with the creationists defending their viewpoint well into the 21st Century. What’s Playing: Here’s a quote about the film, Okja, which says a lot. The film has generated a lot of good buzz, but ….”somewhere in here lies a great film wanting to come out” This review and more are featured in this week’s 6 Degrees magazine. Here’s a recap of the plot. The Plot of Okja: A CEO-played by Tilda Swinton, announces that a new breed of super-pig has been developed. A cross between a pig and a hippotamus has been created with the animal having the disposition of a puppy. The purpose of breeding them is to solve the world’s food shortage, and to create an eco-friendly food source. Twenty-six super pigs are to be grown over a period of ten years as the corporation has a competition. At the end, they will be taken back to America to be hailed as a success. Okja is the name of the pig raised in South Korea by a young girl, who bonds with the animal. In the end, the film is a cross between Animal Farm, Charlotte’s Web, The Yearling, and a slew of films that come to mind about kids and their pets. The Big Sick has been getting lots of good reviews. It’s an updated modern-day version of a romantic comedy. The two lovers are star-crossed, with their life situations updated for the modern era. He is a comedian and a Muslim, and she is a WASP. They break up and are reunited when he learns she is sick and going to be placed into a medically-induced coma. At this point, he must confront his deeper feelings for her and reconcile his hostility to commitment with his love for her. And there is comedy! Holly Hunter plays the mother and Ray Romano is the father of the sick girl. So there are laughs to be had along the way. We haven’t seen too many good rom-com’s since When Harry met Sally, so this is a re-fashioned kind of plot for the new age. Spider-Man:Homecoming has also debuted over the holiday weekend. And Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled is reviewed on the Macguffin site, as well as the afore-mentioned films. Film Comment has a post on The Dirty Dozen, released in 1967. It was a landmark war movie, but not really in the same class as Saving Private Ryan or even The Longest Day.The Stranger, also from 1967, is reviewed and it’s another 1967 release, starring MarcelloMastroianni. Based on The Stranger by Albert Camus, it has rarely been seen since its release, due to distribution rights disputes. It is faithful to the book by Camus, and is generally regarded favorably by critics who’ve seen it.
Baby Driver is still making waves with critics this week. And the independent The LittleHours is reviewed favorably on rogerebert.com.Will Ferrell’s The House has bombed badly, with a quote in a review reading: “movies require scripts.” Ouch. Critically Speaking: There’s a podcast from Vanity Fair titled: “How Hollywood Ruined Zombies, According to George A Romero”. And there’s an interesting post from Barron’s: “Is Hollywood Finally Desperate Enough to Give up on Theaters?” The thinking here is that since there is a massive wave of talent and energy moving to the small screen, in the form of Netflix, HBO, Hulu, and others, that eventually it will make more financial sense to release them to the cable pay-tv audience format. To have on-demand movies simultaneously available for the home viewing audience. I hate to tell these people, but we are just about there now. There simply isn’t a lot of lag time from the debut at the theater to the home screen. Vox has released a list of 50 films that we are supposed to be excited about yet to be released this year. One of my big beefs is with the titles that list this incredible number of films that are supposed to be: the best of the year, the century, the top 50 films in Sci-fi, the top 100 action films, etc. I have a top 100 list of best films in my book, 6 Degrees, but that is from all films-starting at the turn of theth Century. I cannot believe that there are 50 really good films lurking out there waiting to be released this year, but there are a few that I did agree on regarding 2017 releases. A Ghost Story has been getting good buzz from the Sundance debut. It stars Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck.Dunkirk is coming soon, with Tom Hardy, and directed by Christopher Nolan. The Dark Tower is the Stephen King adaptation that has been long awaited by fans of the serial novels. Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey star in the horror/fantasy/action/adventure…and oh yes, Western! Epic. Ingrid goes West was another popular Sundance Film Fest release, said to be dark and funny, with Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen. Another Stephen King adaptation is It, releasing on September 8th. The sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle is coming this fall and Colin Firth returns along with Taron Egerton. Blade Runner 2049 is coming in October, with Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford. Much anticipated, this one is set 30 years after the first film debuted. Also in October, a biopic of the Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall, in a courtroom drama depicting one of his biggest cases, defending a black chauffeur accused of sexual assault and attempted murder.
The Holiday Season is anticipated to begin early with Murder on the Orient Express dropping on November 10th. Kenneth Branagh directs the Agatha Christie remake with an all-star cast. Also in November, the indie film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri looks interesting, with a cast including the great Frances McDormand, of Fargo fame. Pixar has Coco debuting in November, a children’s movie with a cast of Hispanic and Latino actors. But nothing will matter after December 15th, because as everyone knows, Star Wars sucks all the oxygen out of the room! Star Wars: The Last Jedi debuts and that is almost all she wrote. Still….Steven Spielberg is directing a film about the PentagonPapers, a timely subject for this era where we hear lots of rumbling about the days of Watergate and the sixties. Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep star in this one. Opening on Christmas Day:The Greatest Showman starring Hugh Jackman, about the life of P.T. Barnum.
And also at Christmas, the soon to be retiring Daniel Day Lewis is reunited with director Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood) in a film called Phantom Thread, set in the world of fashion during the fifties.
That’s a wrap for this week, folks! I’m looking forward to some of these big screen releases, as well as the Hitchcock Armchair Film Fest all this month on TCM. Stay tuned later this week as we offer a complimentary download of my Hitchcock chapter on my 6 Degrees blog site. See you at the movies!
Happy Fourth of July to all who are going to be celebrating this weekend! 6 Degrees Magazine has some reviews of the big Blockbuster movies out over the holiday weekend.
Critically Speaking: Despicable Me 3 has had mixed reviews, as has the Sofia Coppola remake of The Beguiled with Nicole Kidman. The Netflix film Okja, has garnered some good reviews, as has the action flick Baby Driver with Ansel Elgort and Lily James. The dark comedy about randy nuns, The Little Hours, an adaptation of a 14th century collection of novellas known as “The Decameron”, hasn’t fared well with critics.
Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler are starring in The House, a comedy about a suburban couple who start a casino to raise money for their daughter’s college tuition. WonderWoman is still a dominating force at the box office, and we are seeing some trailers for the upcoming releases…
Trailers are out for the Jumanjiremake, as well as Dunkirk, the war drama set for release July 21st. There’s one for Emily Blunt’sMy Little Pony: The Movie with lots of pastel ponies floating around…making a colorful splash. The multi-talented HughJackman is starring in a musical biopic of P. T. Barnum, and the trailer looks promising.
About Bond: One of the things that bring in the most comments of all film articles in the magazine are pieces about the hunt for the new James Bond actor, and the ongoing discussion of some of the greatest portrayals of Bond on film. I must say, it sometimes gets surprisingly intense I’ll have to admit to being a fan of Timothy Dalton’s Bond, which is apparently sacrilegious. The pecking order, as always, begins with Sean Connery, and the most widely accepted list goes from Connery to Moore to Brosnan to Craig, with few giving even passing remarks to Dalton in The Livng Daylights and his follow-up (much weaker film) License to Kill.
Coming Soon: Some of the buzz in Hollywood openings is for the new Spider-Man: Homecoming, with Tom Holland in the starring role. War for the Planet of the Apes is continuing the series; and Dunkirk, as mentioned above, will be much anticipated with director Christopher Nolan and starring Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh and Harry Styles of One Direction fame.
Catherine Deneuve returns to the screen in The Midwife.The Big Sick has been garnering good reviews, being hailed as one of the best rom-coms (romantic comedies) of 2017. The release is set for July 14th. And for something completely different, there’s a documentary about Syria that has been garnering lots of praise tackling one of the tragedies of our modern world, the ongoing war in Syria. The film is called City ofGhosts, and it’s set for release on July 7th.
In Hollywood, there has been some progress made in swelling the ranks of the Academy members to include a more diverse group of judges for the future. 800 new members were issued invitations, but the march of progress is interminably slow.
Due out in July, 6 Degrees has an article about an upcoming book on the noted film critic James Agee. The collected writings of Agee have been compiled by Charles Maland, the film historian. Agee also wrote screenplays, most notably The African Queen and The Night of the Hunter.Agee died in 1955, and many of his Time magazine reviews were compiled in the book, Agee on Film. This book will be a more comprehensive look at his body of work as a film critic from the thirties until his death in the fifties. The book, “James Agee: Complete Film Criticism: Reviews, Essays and Manuscripts” should be an interesting read. Another book on film, ‘Showman of the Screen: Joseph E. Levine and His Revolutions in Film” is also recently released. Levine was a legendary producer and promoter in the 20th Century, producing films as diverse as Godzilla: Kingof the Monsters in 1956 to The Graduate in 1967. That’s Hollywood for you! Speaking of The Graduate,6 Degrees features an article on Dustin Hoffman’s greatest performances. The Graduate, his big debut as a major star, can never be overlooked.
Of note: Carl Reiner will appear in a new HBO documentaryIf You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast, with Reiner looking for stories of people who are not just getting by but are thriving in their advanced years. Reiner is funny in everything, so this should be good for some laughs as well as making a statement about how we sometimes tend to overlook people in their Golden Years and what they might still be able to achieve.
One last thought: This is about some of the articles that I have had the privilege of editing and reading to present in the weekly newsletter and in the magazine. Some of the writing leaves much to be desired, particularly when the titles contain grammatical errors and again when some of the titles are contrived to be dubbed “click-worthy”-known as click-bait.
It’s hard to write something off the cuff, and that’s true for bloggers as well as for news writers and opinion writers…all of us who write on deadline on a weekly basis. But one of my personal “beefs” is the ever-present Search Engine rules that are always looking for the correct formula to achieve the approval of the internet overlords, but fail to factor in rational thinking or critical writing.
Many of these stories are passed over by the editor of 6 Degrees on a weekly, if not daily basis. That editor is, of course, myself, and if my own writing doesn’t hold itself up to a higher standard, then I would ask other bloggers and writers to also have some hard and fast rules to follow when writing and reviewing other articles about film and writing in the ever-increasing blogosphere.
If there are interesting stories out there on film, I certainly do want to hear about them and read about them. However, there is no amount of money that will compel me to become beholden to those who are simply looking to exploit certain algorithms or data-driven polls to include the worst of banal claptrap that passes for film criticism or blogging about anything, for that matter.
Having stated all that, I invite everyone to have a wonderful Fourth of July Holiday weekend, having fun at barbeques and picnics on the beach, and of course, at the movies! We will be back next week, with a review of “House” with Will Ferrell. Until then, readers, see you at the movies!
Hello from my writing conference in Orlando, dear readers, so the Friday Flix is going to post on Saturday this week-in keeping with the topsy turvy nature of the “biz” that we write about!
There has been a lot of “buzz” about the failure of Tom Cruise’s The Mummy and the success of Gal Gadot/Patty JenkinsWonder Woman. There was talk of the fact that Gadot had made much less for her appearance in Wonder Woman than the Superman actor (Henry Cavill) did, which has been partially debunked.
There’s a new trailer for the upcoming Blade Runner 2049 which looks good. Another tidbit from Hollywood was that Ron Howard has taken over the reins and is directing the Hans Solo Star Wars film, after the directors unexpectedly left the project.
Here’s a short list from our online magazine, 6 Degrees, featuring reviews from some classics being shown on Turner Classic this month, with a couple of articles that list the best of Hitchcock, which is hard to do.
Reviews for Hitchcock….TCM has featured several Hitchcock classics, including RearWindow. There’s a review on 6 Degrees, and a piece with some interesting facts about the movie. And if you have never seen this list, go to the National Film Registry-the link on our site will give you the full list. The important work they do is vital to preserve the films of the early 20th Century that have been fading over time. The list grows each year as more and more films are added and acknowledged to be classics decades after their release. A must see for all movie buffs!
As the month draws to a close, there’s a post reviewing Audrey Hepburn’sFunny Face. She is a movie star that cannot be replicated, and her films are still extraordinarily fun to watch. This one is a period piece, and although it’s kind of a “chick flick”, the colors and vibrancy of the cinematography make it not only a great fashion film, but a good old-fashioned date night movie, if only to be seen at the art houses or on the small screen.
What’s Playing: Transformers: Didn’t get universally good reviews, and in fact they were decidedly mixed. The Beguiled:6 Degreesfeatures an interview from Film Comment with Sofia Coppola, the director of the film. The Beguiled is not only a remake of an earlier Clint Eastwood film, it’s also adapted from a novel by Thomas P Cullinan. FilmComment also has reviews for Beatriz at Dinner, Baby Driver and Rough Night with Scarlett Johansson. The Rough Night review starts with “Dying is easy, comedy ishard”…so I’d say there’s been some mixed reaction to this comedy, also. Finally, there’s favorable reviews for the dark comedy, The Big Sick.
There is an interesting interview with Bernard Tavernier on French cinema: A quote from Tavernier: “If by ‘auterist’ you mean that the director is the author of the film, I agree. If it means that you have to forget the importance of screenwriters, D.P’s, composers, I’m not an auterist” (I agree-there’s been a debate raging for decades on the importance of the director as “auteur” within the film critics community).
A new book is out that looks good: It’s about the wonderfully weird world of drive-inmovies from a bygone era. The subject is explored in “Opening Wednesday at a Theateror Drive-In Near You” So many film books of late have focused on the new “Golden Age” of cinema that was from the late sixties and into the seventies. This book takes a look at the type of “Bad-B’ cinema that was usually featured at a drive-in. Those of us “of a certain age” will remember the very fifties practice of going to the drive-in movie and watching films with our parents, and later with friends and with dates as we sat beneath a canopy of stars in cars with open windows. It really is a by-gone era.
We are now in a different era, as my book, 6 Degrees of Film noted in the quarter century of Star Wars that has dominated the culture and our movies for the last decades of the 20th Century and into the 21st.
Other reviews from RogerEbert.com online are for Maudie; Once Upon a Time in Venice with Bruce Willis and The Book of Henry. Incidentally, the latter has been dubbed by some critics as one of the worst movies of the decade.
We are now steaming into the Summer Blockbuster Season as we gear up for the rollouts of the big July 4th weekend. Several critics have released the “Best of” for 2017, and it seems a bit premature to speak of as there hasn’t really been a stellar movie season in quite a while.
However, Will Ferrell is touting his new comedy, The House and Christopher Nolan’s big feature, Dunkirk are coming soon, so we will see what the next few weeks will bring. Have fun on your summer vacations, and see you at the movies!-ML
Lots to discuss this week in the film world. 6 Degrees has picked up some interesting comments in the past week regarding the hit movie Wonder Womanand the star power of Tom Cruise, among other things. Here’s some of the highlights from our 6 Degrees Magazine.
Critics Corner: Reviews are in for…Rough Night with Scarlett Johansson. The verdict-no surprise is…it doesn’t look funny. My Cousin Rachel has received mixed reviews, but this adaptation from Daphne du Maurier’s novel is favorably reviewed in the post at thecriticalcritics.com site. Churchill is reviewed at the Movie Waffler site, and this film also has received mixed reviews, and although the lead (Brian Cox) is praised, they also conclude that the small screen would easily carry this production (I’m not the only one who has started using this small screen/large screen marker to review films!)
Interesting Reads: The Supreme Court case Loving v Virginia came up 50 years ago this month. One of the films from the sixties, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” dealt with an inter-racial couple. But we don’t seem to have moved very far in telling the story that was told with veterans Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn and Sidney Poitier. Fifty years later, we are still stuck in the time warp, and this piece from NPR in6 Degrees Magazinetalks about reasons why that has been the case.
Hollywood News: Avatar is the Number One film of all time in terms of Box Office Hits. There is no date set for the planned sequel, but since it’s made more money than any other film in history, there is no doubt there will be another one coming round the bend.
One of the more complex issues is Net Neutrality. There’s a good article on Indiewire.com entitled: “Netflix Cares about Net Neutrality Again, and Here’s Why You Should Too” that attempts to explain the complexity of the arguments for and against, and basically lets the audience know that Big Corporate entities in general are not on the side of the average consumer.
In our magazine, there’s also an interview from Daily Actor with Geoffrey Rush, a consummate character actor. Speaking as one who has seen more than her fair share of films, the character actors usually tend to be the most interesting ones that carry the big films, that share the most intimate dialogue and give us the biggest laughs and the truest tears. It’s the actors that we know by their faces, but probably not by their names. They are not huge stars, but they are hugely talented and almost always have the most interesting and complicated characters to play onscreen and onstage. Geoffrey Rush is one of these characters.
What’s Coming: Here’s a point of personal privilege for those enraged readers who found my assessment of Doctor Strange in comparison to the Wonder Womancharacter completely idiotic. This is from a site that thoroughly covers the comic book genre (Fittingly titled: “We Got this Covered”) “ For many, the involvement of Doctor Strange is one of the most intriguing things about the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War. After being brought to life in wonderful fashion by Benedict Cumberbatch in November, the hero has quickly become a firm fan-favorite, with audiences eager to see him on screen again.”
Ok, that was my small vindication after trodding on some vehemently PRO-WonderWoman fan’s toes who didn’t agree with my assessment. But for all that feel, as I do, that Cumberbatch is the superior actor and the film he played in was the better of the two, you’ll be glad to know that Benedict’s role in the upcoming aforementioned Infinity times….whatever has been greatly expanded.
The controversy is usually simply one of taste. And perhaps, as I suggested, some men may prefer seeing the beautiful and scantily clad figure of Gal Gadot as she races to the rescue from the trenches of World War I. However, one unforeseen lapse on my part was the political implications that would make Wonder Woman a hotbed of controversy.
Here’s a quote from someone: “I think the Zionist/Israeli lobby are behind Wonder Woman’s success. Let’s not forget that the movie heroine is an Israeli citizen”….Well, where to begin. Films are not reviewed with the political implications that are suggested here. Films are reviewed, hopefully, in terms of craft. The film is a statement of the entire production’s input, including the Director, the Producer, the Studio, and the artists who create the characters and in these modern times, the Computer Graphics and the cinematography surrounding the story
We are not going there, meaning into the politically charged motivations for someone who has a certain mind-set. However, the film that has been reviewed is part of a series of long-standing support; a genre emerging in Hollywood known as the comic-bookgenre complete with Origin tales of super-heroes. Hollywood’s intent, let there be no mistake-is to make money and make more movies. That has been the intent of the studios since they were filming in the back lots in New Jersey and at Edison Studios before they hit the sunny streets of Hollywood, California (Reference:6 Degrees of Film: The future of film in the global village).
But the auteurs, the directors, the actors and the producers are also creating art. Some people may scoff at the comic book genre, but we know that Shakespeare created art and he worked pulling his plots from lots of dog eared material that had been floating around for ages. My point is that art can be created from any source material, including a comic book. And art is, as beauty, in the eye of the beholder.
I believe that Ms. Gadot is a beautiful woman who has created a memorable character in the person of Wonder Woman. The myths and the artistic license may at some point create a film that can be truly seen as a work of art. I never particularly cared for the original “Star Wars”, which is heresy for a film critic. However, I thought The EmpireStrikes Back was a darn good film. As I’ve written before, I’m waiting for some creative genius to take hold of the material found in comic book form and create something wholly other, a masterpiece that will make the entire industry stand on its head to see where this new form of artistic expression is coming. It may not be that far down the road!
Films have somehow become as political as the rest of our society, with folks on both sides seeing and reading events into the creation of the films that aren’t supposed to be there. I heard some other feedback this week also. Here’s one general comment: “Hollywood is a big, “incest-fest” anyway…the same ten actors and actresses get cast in every movie.” Now, this one I do agree with to a certain extent.
But again, being an old person, I remember a time when it seemed John Wayne or JimmyStewart or Clint Eastwood got cast in almost every film-certainly every Western film. So that critique has been around for a while. But the critics are always going to take issue with famous actors and their privileged lives.
To that point, I also thought Tom Cruise was a good actor, at one time. But he has certainly been lambasted recently, especially with the awful reviews coming in for TheMummy (which somehow has managed to make money regardless of the bad reviews.) This comment comes from a harsh critic of Mr. Cruise: “It’s been 15 years since he’s been relevant!” Cruel. I think that there’s a ring of truth, but nevertheless, that was a cruel comment.
So, we find that the harshest critics, as with restaurant and hotel reviews of late, come from the movie fans simply reading the articles and agreeing and disagreeing, as is their wont. Keep up the good work, movie fans, and know that it gives us something to write about! I’ll keep working to get it right and till next time, see you at the movies!-ML
Welcome to June, and we are officially starting to see the summer roll-outs for the Hollywood Summer Film Season. Starting with Wonder Woman, which has had some great reviews so far, we are seeing some of the early winners and losers. As we started listing them last week in the Summer Film Newsletter from 6 Degrees, it seems that King Arthur was an early casualty.
And at Cannes, the list of winners is included in this week’s 6 Degrees magazine.Sofia Coppola was awarded Best Director for her remake of the Clint Eastwood vehicle that is starring Nicole Kidman, TheBeguiled. And the top prize went to a Swedish film, an art-world satire called The Square.
Some other surprises or break-out performances at Cannes included great reviews for Adam Sandler and Robert Pattinson (of Twilight fame). And one of the former darlings of European cinema, Fugitive Director Roman Polanski’s film, Based on a True Story, was said to be sadly flat. You never can tell…
So…after Cannes, and before July 4th drops, there are some other note-worthy articles this past week. The number of LGBT characters in films, as with women and women directors, is still far short from where they could be as represented on film and in the film world. Jessica Chastain also discussed the way females are portrayed in films and describes it as “disturbing” during an interview at Cannes. There are some who are working to change the way things have always been done in Hollywood, but the entrenched attitudes have been around for over 100 years (as depicted in my book, 6 Degrees of Film).
One of the trends that is encouraging surrounds the opening of Wonder Woman and how much positive feedback the female director and some of the reviews have garnered. There’s a good article in Vanity Fair about tracing Wonder Woman’s Cinematic Origins also.
One amusing piece from earlier this week was about Johnny Depp and his predilection for having his lines fed to him through a microphone. And honestly, if I was Depp and had to literally walk through the performances he has given for basically the same movie over and over, I might be tempted…
There’s a good piece in The Guardian from director John Boorman talking frankly about some of the problems and challenges as he filmed the classic Deliverance, with Ned Beatty and Jon Voight. There’s also in the Guardian, an article discussing some of the pitfalls in trying to remake another classic, the Al Pacino gangster film Scarface, directed by Brian de Palma. And for those who are looking for something a little different in their film viewing, Rolling Stone has a list of “Alternate-Summer Movies” to preview.
Some of the films with positive reviews, besides Wonder Woman, include the new drama about WinstonChurchill, and the kids movie based on the best-seller, “The Adventures of Captain Underpants.”
For film buffs like me, there’s an article talking about the classic Marx Brothers film, Duck Soup, from 1933, directed by Leo McCarey. At times, the Marx Brothers could be a bit irritating to me, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Duck Soup and the plot surrounding the mythical Freedonia.
And in that vein, the newest books about film are recommended in the Out of the Past Blog. The original film, The Beguiled which was mentioned above as being remade by Sofia Coppola and starring Nicole Kidman, was a vehicle for Clint Eastwood back in 1971. He was playing another anti-hero, but this one was not as commercially successful as his other major hits in the day, so this is an interesting choice for a remake. The original is reviewed in 6 Degrees magazine.
There’s a review of the upcoming Lady Macbeth and also a list of the top ten movies from 1947! So check out the 6 Degrees magazine, and the Summer Film Newsletter that we released last week. Hope you are enjoying the summer days and look forward to seeing you at the movies!-ML
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