6 Degrees of Film: Friday Flix

 

6 Degrees of Film

This week there are mixed reviews out for the new live-action Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson as Belle the Beauty and Dan Stevens as the Beast. The knock on this is that it’s a CGI version of the exact story that was made so well back in 1991. So now they are re-creating it with live actors and CGI. A remake that falls shot of the original, but isn’t really terrible…hmm, that is not an original story in Hollywood.

There are reviews for not only Beauty & the Beast, but also Kong: Skull Island and Get Out featured in the online 6 Degrees of film magazine. I have a short review of Kong: Skull Island set to preview this week, but in case the suspense is killing you, know that it is recommended to wait for the small screen where you may safely scroll through to the big fight scene.

On this St. Patrick’s Day, they always trot out the predictable Irish film list. It’s a fairly short list, but The Quiet Man, from 1953, is usually at the top of most of them.  And I agree, it’s a great film about Ireland, filmed on location and is a beautiful movie both in storyline and visuals. One of the missing points rarely mentioned is the strong female lead from Maureen O’Hara. She plays a young bride who is torn between her brother and loyalty to family and her love for her new husband, played by John Wayne. And even though she is literally dragged kicking and screaming to the final resolution, she is seen as a strong, funny, smart and never cowed Irish woman with a mind of her own. This was quite a feat for the time period when this film was made and Director John Ford brought out all the best elements of O’Hara’s character to create this unique early model of feminism and strength. There’s a review from Filmsite on 6 Degrees that details much of the background of the making of this film.

One other thought about St. Patrick’s movie madness for my Armchair Film Devotees-rent the film, “The Playboys” with Aidan Quinn, Albert Finney, and a young and beautiful Robin Wright. Made in 1992, the film is a romantic drama surrounding a group of touring actors who descend on a quiet Irish village and disrupt their normally placid lives. This is one to add to the usual list of Irish must-see films to break out on St. Patrick’s Day.

From the Past: The Origin stories-a term of late for back stories that are fleshed out and made into feature films. Turner Classic is showing some of the great ones through the month of March. The term “to Gaslight someone” or to cloud someone’s vision of reality is taken from the film, Gaslight starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer. Directed by George Cukor, it’s still a classic tale.

Frankenstein & The Mummy, both with Boris Karloff, are shown this month. The original vampire story, Nosferatu, a silent film directed by the legendary F. W. Murnau, is shown. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was remade recently by Martin Scorsese and starred Leo DiCaprio (Shutter Island).

Humphrey Bogart became a film star, a gangster, after starring in the play, “The Petrified Forest” and then the film version with Leslie Howard, who declared he wouldn’t make the film without Bogart. Bogey was so grateful he named his daughter Leslie, after his friend. And years later, after laboring for many years pigeon-holed as a tough guy, Bogart got his big break in a leading man role starring in Casablanca, in 1942, with Ingrid Bergman.

The original Pink Panther film, that launched so many terrible sequels and a few funny ones, starred not only Peter Sellers but also David Niven, and was directed by Blake Edwards. King Kong was made in 1933 and made a star of Fay Wray. It is still probably the best version of the story.

Bonnie & Clyde was a huge hit for Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, and it also made the career of the noted film critic Pauline Kael, who loved the film and was hired by the New Yorker during this time period. Kael was ascending as a critic at the same time as the New York Times fired their long-time movie critic Bosley Crowther, who hated the film, and had vehemently panned it. Bonnie and Clyde was considered hip, and a product of the new age of film makers coming into their own in the sixties. Violence and sex were still taboo subjects for the mass audience, and Director Arthur Penn’s edgy production was considered cutting edge for its day.

Finally in March for TCM, there’s two films that routinely make the top ten lists for film critics- The Wizard of Oz from 1939, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, made in 1968. These two are definitely on my personal list.

There’s a biography in 6 Degrees magazine paying tribute again to the TCM host Robert Osborne, who died this past month. Some film legends and critics are irreplaceable. Robert Osborne, Pauline Kael, and Roger Ebert all fall into this category. The documentary about Roger Ebert,Life Itself”, is featured in an article on Ebert.com that we highlight in 6 Degrees.

Another exciting feature on the Ebert site is the Women Writers Week, which premieres during the last week of March where they will be showcasing the work of their team of women writers and critics. As mentioned, Pauline Kael was one of the pioneers in film criticism for decades, and her voice, along with Ebert’s, is sorely missed. At a time when more and more publications and news organizations are ditching their staff, we need to focus and promote the great work done by both men and women who write for blogs, online movie sites and other publications where at times, they are paid little or nothing to continue to build up the craft of film criticism and to speak out and promote the arts.

Shout out to my good friend and colleague: Professor Futon Spoonin-who curates the wonderful Flipboard mag: Film 101: Classic Cinema to Celluloid…. Prof: I tried to write to you and couldn’t get thru the maze of Flipboard tech-so here it goes….I plead guilty to the charge and simply add that the nature of the beast: Content Curators-means we are always “ripping off” other people’s content! I think even the New York Times conceded they cannot review all of the films out there…so therefore, we must find great and informative content from all sources available.

This week, on St. Patrick’s Day, wishing everyone the best and hoping that the road will rise to meet you and that you find yourself in heaven, one half hour before the Devil knows you’re Dead!-See you at the movies-ML

6 Degrees: Friday Flix

 

6 Degrees of Film

This week, there’s still some controversy about the Oscars show that
somehow managed to crash land the ending of a perfectly decent show. And then we found out that the ratings were abysmal, so perhaps it’s better to just go back to the drawing board and be glad more people didn’t see the fiasco at the end of the evening! And on a sad note, the beloved figure for movie buffs, Robert Osborne, a man who was the urbane and dapper host of Turner Classic Movies for many years, died recently. He will be missed. Here’s some of what’s happening atthe movies, found in the magazine-Six Degrees of Film online:

The Upcoming Dates for Festivals: Noir City: Will be held March 24
to April 2 in Hollywood- Two of the best Noirs featured: This Gun for
Hire & Ministry of Fear.

For the Armchair Film Fest: The Annual TCM Classic Film Festival:
April 6 to April 9th: Make ‘Em Laugh: Comedy in the Movies: Born
Yesterday, The Graduate; High Anxiety, Postcards from the Edge, What’s
Up, Doc? are just a few of the classic comedies featured.

Books on Film: The Way Hollywood Tells It: Story and Style in Modern Movies-Hollywood welcomes innovation, but it also controls it” is a quote from book author, David Bordwell. He writes about the fact that, although the times we are living in are extremely disruptive, the film industry has actually encouraged the Hollywood machine to remain fairly consistent in terms of the style and the production techniques used in film from the early years. Bordwell argues that the Hollywood  model of mass market theatrical filmmaking is continuing with traditions that emerged as early as 1917. The norms of the actual process of filmmaking have remained fairly stable, as the mores and styles have changed through the years. In the book I wrote in 2013, 6 Degrees of Film, many of these same ideas parallel those of Bordwell’s The Way Hollywood Tells It. The films of the modern era are very much in league with the styles and filmmaking techniques that emerged in the early classics and during the Golden Age of Cinema.

Robert Osborne: Goodbye to a genuine Good Guy. Osborne had written the definitive history of the Oscars, and was once an actor himself. But his legacy is one that made him a beloved fixture at Turner Classic Movies, where he introduced feature films for decades.

Recommended: A great piece in The Hollywood Reporter has been written on the origins of how the original King Kong came into being. It’s called, “Origin of ‘Kong’: The Unbelieveable True Backstory of Hollywood’s Favorite Giant Ape“, and it’s centered around a real life explorer and filmmaker named Merian C. Cooper, who ended up at RKO with the legendary David O. Selznick. Selznick came up with the name, King Kong, by the way.

Of Note: There’s a piece on Dr. Strangelove, one of our favorite films. At this period in our history, Strangelove seems strangely prescient suddenly. There’s more on the continuing Oscar drama surrounding “”envelope-gate”. And coming soon to the 16th Annual Tribeca Film Festival in New York, The Godfather cast members will reunite. That should be worth the wait.

What Critics are Saying About: I don’t feel at Home in this World Anymore- has been given glowing reviews by critics. The unusual choice of the worst Best Picture “Snubs” from the past two decades is another list that is interesting. There are reviews for all 9 of the Best Picture nominees for 2017 found in our magazine. An interesting, but a bit in the weeds piece, again from David Bordwell, on the early history of Cinema, is one where he explains the static camera style of the early days of cinematography, the “tableau” style. The issue surrounding this is how the techniques of storytelling developed in films in the early period-before 1920, when films were still silent. Bordwell explores the style in detail in this article from his site.

Reviews for: Get Out has been getting positive reviews; Kong: Skull Island has had many good reviews, but there are some mixed opinions on this one; Beauty and the Beast has debuted with favorable reviews; Moonlight, the best picture winner (eventually), has also garnered mostly favorable reviews. The Ottoman Lieutenant, although praised for its visuals, has been garnering poor or lukewarm reviews owing primarily to a weak script. Logan has been garnering good reviews. And finally, there’s a list in our magazine of the best Vampire movies of all time. If you’re a fan, check it out.

Best of the Web: Check out these sites on the web. Some of the best articles are found on The Hollywood Reporter, NPR (National Public Radio), the L.A. Times and Davidbordwell.net.

One of the titles that caught my eye was “Films for Intelligent Audiences“. Of course, readers, you are all intelligent, and although I don’t agree with many of the films listed, the concept is a good one. Hollywood and filmmakers in general need to make MORE films for Intelligent Audiences. Some of the films that I did agree about that were on this list include Inception and The Big Short, Fight Club, Prestige, The Matrix, GoneGirl, and Memento. The idea is that we should promote and applaud more films that make us think and take us out of ourselves by challenging our intellect. These are the films that will be remembered a generation from now.

Here’s to the films that challenge us. See you at the movies!-ML

6 Degrees: Oscar News

Bob hope oscars

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

6 Degrees: Notes from the Global Village

6 Degrees of Film
6 Degrees of Film

Friday Five: Notes from the Global Village: Recommended at the movies this week are:

*Star Wars
*Spotlight
*The Big Short
*Trumbo
*45 Years

Star wars logo

Star Wars is here! Star Wars:The Force Awakens has landed to mostly positive reviews and mass media in hyper-drive with the onslaught of the movie campaign. The best place to see reviews for Star Wars: The Force Awakens is in the 6 Degrees online magazine. Read the reviews from:

Ebert.com
• Film comment.com
• Time Magazine
• The LA Times
• Associated Press (Pop culture appeal of Star Wars)

Mad max furiosa

*Fem Flicks: 2015 was a good year for Strong Women’s film roles. Mad Max: Fury Road and Suffragette were both excellent fem flicks for women of all ages to find strong role models. See link: “Is Hollywood finally a woman’s world too?- LA Times

**
Coming Soon: Here are some of the most anticipated films coming soon:

The Revenant

Batman v Superman-with Ben Affleck
The Hateful Eight-Tarantino’s Latest
The Revenant-Oscar buzz for DiCaprio
Ghostbusters all female cast Remake
Misconduct– starring Anthony Hopkins & Al Pacino

*The American Film Institute names top 10 movies for 2015:

Bridge of spies speilberg hanks

The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Carol
Inside Out
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
Room
Spotlight
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Straight Outta Compton

The National Film Registry has also come out with their picks for films to be preserved and entered into the registry. Here’s a partial list of films selected for the registry this year :

Bill Murray Ghostbusters

*Being There (1979)

A Fool There was (1915)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Hail the Conquering Hero (1944)
Humoresque (1920)
Imitation of Life (1959)
John Henry and the Inky-Poo (1946)
LA Confidential (1997)
The Mark of Zorro (1920)
The Old Mill (1937)
Our Daily Bread (1934)
Seconds (1966)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Sink or Swim (1990)
The Story of Menstruation (1946)
Top Gun (1986)
Winchester ’73 (1950)

Gone with the wind
Box Office Winners: Star Wars has big numbers, but the # 1 highest grossing film is… Gone with the Wind released in 1939. The other movies on the list are:

The original Star Wars-1977
The Sound of Music-1965
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial-1982
Titanic-1997
The Ten Commandments– 1956
Jaws– 1975
Doctor Zhivago- 1965
The Exorcist-1973
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs-1937

*They’re back! Not only Awards season but “Best of” lists for 2015. If you missed these films at the movies, and would like to rent or stream a good film, here are those films found on most critics and audiences top 10 lists. They include Ex Machina, The Assassin, 45 Years, Clouds of Sils Maria, I’ll See You in My Dreams, Creed, Son of Saul, Carol, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, Sicario, & Brooklyn.

The idea of awards season and best of lists always tends to be suspect. Some years are better than others. The last two summers have seen long, dry spells where hardly any decent films were released. The best films seem to cluster in releases around the end of the year for some reason!

This year there were a few notable exceptions. The Martian and Bridge of Spies, Ex Machina and Mad Max: Fury Road all came out long before the mad holiday rush. It seems that almost all the oxygen has been sucked out of the room for film and film criticism with the anticipated release of Star Wars. (The Donald Trump of films!)

It’s a relief to have it out at last, so we can move on to more important things like…the top 10 lists and the Awards Season that extends for months on end. Then again, maybe Star Wars fever is not such a bad thing after all! See you at the movies-ML

Notes from the Global Village: Friday Five: Top 5 Picks

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Top 5 Picks on 6 Degrees of Film @ the Movies

1) Over ½ of Americans Now watch Netflix
2) Top 15 Christmas Films
3) Profile: Carey Mulligan
4) Interview: Niki Trumbo: Trumbo
5) Cate Blanchett: 5 best moments

Friday Five Recommended:

• The Martian
• Bridge of Spies
• Trumbo
• Spectre
• On Demand: Far from the Madding Crowd

Star wars logo

Star Wars anticipation has reached critical mass as we see articles with names like: “What to watch after watching Star Wars” or “Before watching Star Wars, watch this!” and “What we learned from the Star Wars trailer.” We see the focus on the character of Kylo Ren, speculation as to the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker…tracking the advance ticket sales for Star Wars, plus the speculation of the Box Office totals for the new movie.

All these things are not unexpected, but still scream for the phrase to be added: “Really? What’s the big deal?” The film is so highly anticipated that one can only hope that it may live up to a fraction of the hopes and dreams that have been invested into this single film.

Why I stopped Blogging about the Movieswas the title of a recent blog post by a critic at Film Waffle. It underscored the continuing problem with film blogs and blogging in general in that the sheer volume of material you find on the internet completely shrouds any content that might hint at a new or original thought or idea.

The trends of the moment  propel the viewing public forward with the massive amounts of messaging we receive on a daily basis. All this mass media tends to drown out all original thought or any new way of looking at any particular subject, including film.

One way of combatting this ongoing dilemma is to take a step back and simply try to reframe the question. What if…instead of simply writing about and regurgitating the same old material, the 6 Degrees blog looked at Films and Movie Trends from a “Big Picture” perspective? And, what if we tried to present the information in a weekly format using links to the Flipboard online magazine, 6 Degrees of Film @ the Movies?

That is part of the solution we have come up with at 6 Degrees. The weekly link to the magazine will give you enough Film news to sink a battleship. We have taken the guesswork out of the equation. All the reader needs to do is  to scroll through the best articles and film news on the internet as it is presented in one location.

Meanwhile, back at the blog, we will continue to analyze and try to make sense of the fast-paced and ever-changing world of film and film-makers. That is our pledge to you.

 Happy Holidays and see you @ the movies!-ML Johnson

 

 

6 Degrees: Notes from the Global Village

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Each week, we hope to bring you some of the highlights that are found in the online magazine 6 Degrees of Film at the Movies. There is no way that one film critic or even one film blog site can encompass the vast array of news found in the film and movie business in the 21st Century.
At 6 Degrees, we have decided the best way to connect our readers to the latest information is to feature the highlights found on a weekly basis in the weekly blog, along with some outstanding long reads and exceptional pieces to showcase. The world is changing and the business of film and the way we bring the news to you, the reader, is changing too. Here is the newly re-tooled. 6 Degrees of Film…

Notes from the Global Village:

We’re back with some takeaways for the month of November. First,

The big country

TCM: This weekend, they are showing two of our all-time favorites here at 6 Degrees. One is The Big Country, with Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Burl Ives and Charlton Heston. The plot is standard boiler-plate fifties, where a tenderfoot ( Gregory Peck) goes West to romance his girl. When he arrives, he finds himself in the middle of a range war with simmering tensions and long-standing prejudice and rivalries that soon alienate him from his shallow fiancée. In the end, what wins the day over tough-guy posturing and violent confrontations is one man’s courage to stand alone for what is right in the face of blind prejudice. That is what makes the film great, plus stellar performances from Peck and Burl Ives.

Bullitt
• Bullitt: One of Steve McQueen’s best films. This is another film that stands the test of time. It was a landmark film in the sixties, with one of the first car chase sequences that started the trend that has never really ended. But it’s the stand-out performance of McQueen as a lone wolf cop who fights “the man” when dealing with a corrupt politician and even his own department to find the truth. His dogged determination and unflinching courage in the face of impending failure and censure makes this film a classic A must-see for all 6 Degrees fans who follow the James Dean Legacy in film.

Friday Five: Recommended:

The Martian

1. The Martian
 2. Bridge of Spies
 3.The Peanuts Movie
 4. Spectre
 5.On Demand: Far from the Madding Crowd

Spectre bond