Hello Film Fans! The Awards season is here. Some of the big winners so far have been The Green Book,The Favourite, Roma and A Star is Born, with the latter two also receiving multiple Oscar nominations. Black Panther was recognized in the Academy’s Best Picture category, and Glenn Close is the favorite for Oscar’s Best Actress award with her performance in The Wife.
The Sundance Film Festival is under way and Robert Redford emphasized diversity in his opening remarks. Hollywood has been particularly sensitive to this subject with the controversies of ‘white-washing’ in films about people of color, as well as the lack of diversity in female directors, critics and writers and the ongoing under-representation of women in the industry.
Although some of you may have read from time to time my complete lack of enthusiasm for the comic-book genre as a whole, there have been some great movies within the genre over the years. I have always maintained that a writer as great as a Shakespeare (or a Lin-Manuel Miranda), could take a traditional story and spin it into a great film or work of art. That happened in the case of Shakespeare using the re-worked and well-worn stories of his era and creating great classics. The following short list includes some of the best of the super-hero genre:
Superman(1978) with Christopher Reeve Batman(1989) with Jack Nicholson/Michael Keaton Iron Man I (2008) Spiderman I (2002) The Dark Knight(2008)
Black Panther (2018)
Some of the super-hero films to look for in 2019 include a new Spider-Man sequel to the 2017 Homecoming titled Spiderman: Far from Home with Tom Holland as Spidey; Avengers: Endgame is out in April and the plot is said to be ‘murky’-perhaps muddled may be closer to the truth. Shazam!, released in April also, should be lighthearted and fun with Zachary Levi debuting the character of a 14 year old boy who turns into the adult superhero.
One film with great trailers that might be a sleeper is The Kid who Would be King which is a new spin on the Arthurian legend of the Sword in the Stone. It’s reviewed in 6 Degrees Magazinethis week, along with reviews of Glass (No 1 at the box office last week), and one of my favorite films, The Lion in Winter-recommended for your small screen ‘must-see’ movie list.
With the Oscars coming up, and winter weather closing in, it’s a good time to pull out your Armchair Film Fest Movie list and settle in to watch some classics. Till next time, see you at the movies!
Greetings Film Fans! Hope everyone is enjoying a great holiday week, with some good Christmas flicks playing almost round the clock on cable. Some of the highlighted films that were chosen to be preserved in the National Registry include Jurassic Park from 1993; Kubrick’s The Shining from 1980, Hud with Paul Newman from 1963 and Cinderella, the Disney classic from 1950.
One of our 6 Degrees favorites, Mary Poppins, has been updated in the non-remake Mary Poppins Returns, which has generally opened to good reviews. Aquaman, the comic book holiday entry, has had some fairly good and some lukewarm reviews.
We are getting some previews of 2019 films already, Some interesting films include:
Teen Spirit, which opens in April. It’s about a shy girl who enters the world of television singing competition and finds her voice; Molly Shannon, the comic, portrays Emily Dickinson as a livelier character than we’ve ever seen her in Wild Nights with Emily; Jean Luc Godard has a film opening in January. The Image Book ‘speeds through classic film clips, disposable film clips and wartime imagery ‘as he grapples with the relationship between the violent power struggles that dominate the real world and their sanitized versions in movies” (I can tell you that I’m going to have to see this more than once to understand it!….But it does sound intriguing). Arctic with Mads Mikkelson was ‘written as a sci-fi adventure set on Mars’ originally. It’s said there’s a bear scene ‘that puts The Revenant to shame’ so stay tuned for lots of survival of the fittest in this snow packed adventure. Everybody Knows starts Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem in a Spanish language feature that is about a woman (Cruz) in search of her daughter who has disappeared, and turns to Bardem, overseer of the family vineyard, to help her. Billed as an Agatha Christie type feature where “everyone’s a suspect and everyone suspects everyone else.” The film debuted at Cannes earlier this year Greta is described as a ‘nutty…strange little thriller’ and a campy B-type movie that is fun. Starring Isabelle Huppert and Chloe Moretz, this one might be a sleeper hit. Fast Color, opening in March, may be just what we need in this day and age; a different kind of superhero story. “A fresh variation on the superhero story” in a near-future dystopia setting is the description given. It would be a refreshing change to see ANY type of variation of the standard superhero movie!
6 Degrees Magazine offers reviews and deep dives into Mary Poppins Returns. Also there are reviews of Aquaman, All is True from Kenneth Branagh and Roma. Roma from director Alfonse Cuaron has been getting great reviews and is a heavy contender as we head into awards season in Hollywood.
It’s hard to believe but true-Christmas is almost here! So for those Armchair Film Fans, I recommend kicking back the day after Christmas with a Cary Grant Film Festival on Turner Classic Movies that includes The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer, Mr Blandings Builds his Dream House, Topper and North by Northwest, which are some of Mr Grant’s best work.
For music and especially rock music lovers, there’s A Hard Day’s Night, Jailhouse Rock and Tommy all being shown on Turner Classic back to back for a true Armchair Film Fan Extravaganza! Happy Holidays to all and here’s hoping for a wonderful 2019 filled with action, fun, drama and romance all packed into a few great movies. Here’s looking at you, kids….See you at the movies!-ML
Hello Film Fans! Hope everyone is staying well and beginning to get in the Christmas mood with holiday shopping and Christmas movies playing on cable at all hours of the day. This month on Turner Classic, there are some good ‘mood movies’ to help you get in the Christmas spirit.
TCM for the Holidays: The Christmas films we recommend are The Shop Around the Corner and In the Good Old Summertime. We have a list of recommended viewing in Holiday Film News with the Christmas film breakdown. Some other films for lighthearted comedy include the Laurel & Hardy film fest and the Cary Grant film fest.
Also on TCM this month are some Steve McQueen films we recommend: The Getaway and The Thomas Crown Affair and a surprisingly spiritual entry from John Wayne: ThreeGodfathers.
6 Degrees Magazine features some films we anticipate for Winter of 2019. Plus, the Oscar predictions for Best Actress awards for 2018 are listed. We even include a piece on those schmaltzy Hallmark Christmas movies! (Some of them are actually pleasingly watchable, I do admit.)
The Golden Globe Nominations are out, which is an indicator for some of the Oscar nominees in the major categories. And in other award related news, we find that Kevin Hart was in as Oscar Host and out in less than 24 hours after some homophobic tweets from the comedian surfaced. This tells us we are not going back in the age of “Me Too” especially in the Hollywood Global film world
At the Movies: Ralph Breaks the Internet and Mary Queen of Scots reviews are included in the magazine, as well as a favorable piece on the new Spider-verse film; Spider Man: Into the Spider Verse.
Finally we reach the end of the year with the lists of “Best of” 2018 films that will inevitably surface. This has been a good year, but not a great year for releases, so we will see which films are going to make the cut.
Stay tuned for my list of best films, which will encompass the best of the past two decades. That list will give us an idea of where we are headed and in the scope and range of Hollywood which now includes the global reach of films and filmmakers, there are some films that will always emerge as gems that may be under appreciated when they were first released. Have fun and stay tuned as we begin to head into the holiday season. Till next time, see you at the movies!-ML
Greetings Film Fans: We have Holiday Film News out now…and the list of December releases is from our Fall Film News. Here’s the list of films opening in December: December Mary Queen of Scots is yet another period piece with Saoirse Ronan (of Brooklyn and Lady Bird fame) starring as the doomed queen. This film is based on a 2004 biography of Mary by John Guy. Historically, the famous Queen of Scots and the Virgin Queen Elizabeth never met, but there are several noteworthy plays and films that have these two women interacting and emoting together. Margot Robbie co-stars as Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen of England.
Mary PoppinsReturns in an original story, not a remake of the original, with Emily Blunt playing that Poppins woman. This film is set 25 years after the initial action in the Banks’ family home, and a tragic death leaves Jane, Michael, and Michael’s three children adrift. Enter Poppins.
Aquaman debuts with Jason Momoa as the king of the sea. The film is directed by James Wan, and centers around Aquaman’s quest to regain the Trident of Neptune and battle Aquaman’s menacing brother, King Orm (played by Patrick Wilson.) Holmes & Watson is a comic offering of the familiar Sherlock Holmes story with Will Ferrell as Holmes and his ubiquitous sidekick John C Reilly starring as Watson in this comic rendering of the classic story.
In6 Degrees Magazine, we have reviews for The Favourite with Emma Stone, which has been getting good reviews for the performances from Stone and others. And there are retrospective pieces on two directors who died recently- Nicolas Roeg and BernardoBertolucci.
At the Movies: Widows has gotten good reviews; Robin Hood…not so much. Roma is the one from director Alfonso Cuaron that is getting some advance Oscar buzz. Another is the Palme d’Or winner of Cannes: Shoplifters.
There are plenty of cheesy Holiday films from Hallmark and Netflix to watch if you want to simply absorb some holiday scenery and relax without having to think much about what you are watching… The Holiday Film News recommends a few holiday classics to add to your list for Armchair Film Festival Night.
The two big films opening at Christmas will be Mary Poppins for families and for baby boomers who want to see what they are going to do with it; and Aquaman for the Comic book genre. We are ending the year with a whirlwind of changes from the MeToo movement that really began in Hollywood with the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and has continued with the controversies over the Oscars lack of diversity, the whitewashing of characters in Hollywood films, and the continued lack of gender inclusion regarding female film directors and parts for leading ladies, for women of color and for older women. All of these things have been addressed, but of course, the problems are not going away overnight.
We are going to end the year a little bit wiser in terms of our “woke-ness” at the movies! So until next time, have fun as the holiday weeks unfold and see you at the movies!-ML
Hello everyone! This week at the movies, we are looking at some films opening that were highly anticipated, and are now expected to bomb badly. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is one that looked beautiful, and according to most reviews (See Ebert.com in 6 Degrees Magazine), it is a muddled mess of a story.
Some other news of note include the release of Orson Welles last film that was held up for many years. There is Bohemian Rhapsody, which has also garnered some lukewarm reviews.
Here is 6 Degrees of Film list of films debuting in November, including the Nutcracker remake that has reportedly fallen short of expectations. Check them out here, and in our Fall Film News.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is another offering in a series of films that tell the classic story of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, who based his famous ballet on an 1816 story by E.T.A Hoffman. The fantasy film is a big-budget number, with designs and sets that adhered to ‘a strict historical cutoff from the year 1879”. Benedict Cumberbatch will put up his Sherlock Holmes cap to play another classic character, the Grinch, in the animated remake of Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch. The Outlaw King is a period piece about Robert the Bruce, the legendary Scottish king who united his people in their fight for independence from British rule. Chris Pine stars as King Robert.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is in the Harry Potter sub sequel of a prequel category, introducing fans to a new cast of adorable characters from the Wizarding World. In this film, we meet baby Nifflers, a Kelpie (a Scottish underwater monster) and a Leucrotta-described as a large, moose-like creature. Ralph Breaks the Internet is another children’s film with some grown up proclivities, including the star John C Reilly who is also breaking the internet with multiple films out this year. This film is the sequel to 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph from Disney, where arcade heroes Ralph (With Reilly’s voice), and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), go on the internet in search of a replacement game part and adventures ensue accordingly. Robin Hood returns to the screen with Taron Egerton starring as the overworked man of the forest in this action adventure film that someone must have clamored for…?
That’s all for now, folks, so until next week, stay tuned in and see you at the movies!
Greetings to 6 Degree Film Fans: I am back from a short break, and looking at some good films to finish off the month of October and to celebrate Halloween. Turner Classic Movies is showing High Anxiety,Mel Brooks’ classic homage to Hitchcock, and on this Halloween weekend there is a great lineup including The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, a classic romance with Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison from 1947, and then The Ghost andMr Chicken, a silly spoof on haunted houses with Don Knotts from 1966. Later this week, on Halloween day TCM shows the original Night of the Living Dead from 1968, directed by George Romero.
To my mind, one of the spookiest of Halloween films, other than the original Halloween, is the 1962 classic, Carnival of Souls, directed by Herk Harvey, and this is the film I would recommend to round out Halloween night. It’s recommended viewing for those who want to end the month with a good fright!
At the movies this week there are mixed reviews for the film, Bohemian Rhapsody about the formation of the rock group Queen, and the film, Suspiria, remade from a 1977 classic film about a ballet school that is run by witches. And of course, there’s the Halloween remake with Jamie Lee Curtis, which has garnered mostly positive reviews. For those looking for something light, Johnny English Strikes Again is opening with the first release since the last 2011 “English” film.
The Oscar race is on, with talk of Lady Gaga’s performance in A Star is Born garnering a pick. In animated films, Isle of Dogs and Incredibles 2 have both been submitted for Oscars.
We are heading into November and the holiday film season begins, so stay tuned for our November list coming out next week. Till then, Happy Halloween from 6 Degrees and see you at the movies!-ML
Greetings Film Fans!
Some films to see this week…for the horror lover who is in the mood for something different, there’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, on TCM. It sets a slow pace, but don’t be fooled- there are some moments designed to make you lose your popcorn. Also recommended for fright fans: Seeing the Original Halloween before seeing any remake with or without Jamie Lee Curtis!
At the Movies this week: First Man is opening with Ryan Gosling and has been getting generally good reviews.
The MCU in Hollywood: Here’s one recommended read in 6 Degrees magazine. The article is titled: “How the Marvel Cinematic Universe Changed Hollywood.” There are some valid points made: 1) Big actors are not needed in these films; 2) A Billion-dollar industry has been created where plot points can glide from one film to another and be picked up and shared with different films; 3) The ‘coolness’ of superheroes (I guess?) is another argument… but they also claim that ‘movies will never be the same again’; which is a stretch, as the world of Harry Potter, in my opinion, has had more of an effect. I’ve written a book about the real game-changer, which, of course, was the Star Wars Universe. Comic book genre films are here to stay, and that is true, but the impact due to the huge impression made with the post-film credits is an exaggeration. Marvel films are hits; Star Wars changed the direction of cinema forever.
Here’s an excerpt from the book: 6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in the Global Village: From Star Wars to Sin City: Industrial Light and Magic has framed the era and defined it with their many breakthroughs in visual effects. The storyboarding that is critical to their vision is now a major part of most successful film series, and the comic genre that has emerged would not have been a reality without the effects of ILM. The criticism that Lucas and Spielberg films have juvenilized the movies, to my mind, is unfair. These filmmakers have given the public what they want, and there never has been a dearth of creative talent in the film industry.
On the contrary, there are many exciting new avenues for young and innovative minds to bring their creations to the screen, including Internet productions and independent venues. We are always seeing new ways for artistic talent to emerge as the next big thing. Film is changing and evolving as it has from the beginning, and the medium as a mass-communication tool and an art form make this an exciting time to break into the market. The future of film may involve the type of images seen in Sin City and Waltzing with Bashir, where actors are not filmed in the traditional way but with a kind of brushstroke or cartoon quality that enables the plot to go in many different directions. There might be alternate endings and story lines to follow with endless variations. Online, the viewer can access alternative views from various characters’ perspectives. The experience of going into a darkened theater to view a film is changing forever. As in the penny arcades and nickelodeons that began the first century of film, we now see the evolution and dawn of a new age and a new way of understanding the world through the medium of film. George Lucas spoke of his ideas on the future path that might occur using film and some kind of drug to enhance the experience. His ideas regarding future films would make theatrical, narrative-driven movies, in his words, “as quaint as an old silent-reeler”: Lucas: ‘I see true environments being created and combined with a lot of biotech things going on, in terms of manipulating people’s senses through drugs. This combination will have the most powerful effect on the kind of storytelling we’re doing today. It’s too far off for me to worry about, and 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. The first step would be to take the simulator ride part of an environment . . . where you can just implant the story in a pill and live it. That’s not outside the realm of possibility. You’d take the pill and go to sleep. It’d be like a dream and you’d have an actual, real, physical experience of something completely imaginary. What that’ll mean for society, I have no idea, and how you’d get there from here is way beyond me, but I know enough to know it’s within the realm of possibility. Because they’re already going there, creating images without actually making them, just as you create them in a dream.’
Hello and welcome to October, Film Fans! This week, 6 Degrees magazine has reviews of the top films at the movies now. A Star is Born has opened to generally good reviews, both for Lady Gaga’s acting and this particular retelling of a story that has been told and retold countless times. The Old Man and the Gun, Robert Redford’s crime caper, has been well received and is reviewed on Ebert.com.Smallfoot, the animated children’s movie, opened to mixed reviews; and Venom was widely anticipated as it features Tom Hardy, an A-list actor. But this movie, so far, seems to have received less than glowing reviews.
Since it’s October, there’s always a run on posts written about horror films, and the biggest horror film debuting in October will be the remake of Halloween with Jamie Lee Curtis returning to the fold. 6 Degrees has several posts featuring the best horror films of 2018.
And then there are the small screen films in October, including films for the Armchair Film Fest connoisseur. On Turner Classic this month, I was excited to see the 1940 film Night Train to Munich with Rex Harrison in the lineup, as this movie is not widely shown. Hitchcock fans can record The Lady Vanishes and Strangers on a Train, both showing in October. TCM also is showing A Star is Born with Judy Garland from 1954, directed by George Cukor, which received good reviews. Probably all of the “Star is Born” films were received well, with the possible exception of Barbra Streisand’s remake, which seemed to most to be a tad self-indulgent.
Another 6 Degrees classic remake on TCM is The Front Page from 1931, which was remade with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell as His Girl Friday in 1940. Both are worth watching, but I always recommend any film that stars Cary Grant. He somehow managed to throw in his real name, Archie Leach, if you can catch it through the fast-paced dialogue in this one.
That’s all for now, friends, so set your VCR’s to record and till next time, see you at the movies!-ML
Hello 6 Degrees Friends: This week we are beginning to look at the films debuting in October. Tom Hardy stars in Venom, and Robert Redford is in The Old Man & the Gun. The movies that have done well the past few weeks at the box office include Crazy Rich Asians and the children’s film starring Jack Black, The House with a Clock in Its Walls.
The films of October were previewed in our Fall Film News. Here’s a look at the movies that will premier next month:
*The Great Buster: A Celebration is a documentary film on the life of comedian and silent film star Buster Keaton.
Venom stars Tom Hardy in the comic book genre tale about a journalist (Hardy) who finds that his body is invaded by an alien-Venom. The two become one as anti-heroes with journalist Eddie (Hardy) still managing to investigate stories. Hardy says: “They bring out the very best and the very worst in each other.” The Happy Prince starring Rupert Everett depicts the life of famed writer Oscar Wilde. Everett wrote, directed and stars in this film about the final years of the writer’s life in exile, and begins with Wilde’s spiral downward after being imprisoned for ‘gross indecency’; depicting Wilde battling Victorian conventions as a homosexual who shocked the existing norms of the day. Apostle with Dan Stevens of Downton Abbey fame, is another period film, set in 1905, with Stevens attempting to save his kidnapped sister from a mysterious religious cult led by a charismatic leader.
First Man is the bio-pic story of the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, as portrayed by Ryan Gosling.. The film goes for authenticity for the times in which it was made. Director Damien Chazelle, reteaming with Gosling after La La Land, said First Man was made to feel like a documentary, “just like we’re a fly on the wall grabbing moments in these families’ households.” Halloween returns in a new sequel to the original starring Jamie Lee Curtis. The film has Curtis reprising her role of Laurie Strode and is billed as a direct sequel to the 1978 movie, with the interesting concept of simply ignoring the scores of films that have been made previously in this franchise-shades of Dallas! The plot has Curtis as a woman on a mission, having waited four decades to track down and end the menace of masked killer Michael Myers.
Until next month, have fun and stay well and we’ll see you at the movies!-ML
There’s lots of excitement as we are headed into fall and film festivals and awards season. This week in 6 Degrees magazine, there are reviews for A Simple Favor with Blake Lively, The Wife with Glenn Close (She is getting lots of Oscar ‘buzz’ about her performance in this!); The House with a Clock in its Walls with Jack Black; and Crazy Rich Asians, which was one of the sleeper hits of the summer.
Other notable posts include one about the legendary film director William Wellman, who directed the original A Star is Born with Janet Gaynor, (This latest with Lady Gaga will be the fourth remake!). There is a piece on Keira Knightley’s film about Colette the writer. But the two recommended over all the others include a piece from Rogerebert.com: “How the Fall Festivals shaped the 2018 Oscar Race” talking about Venice, Telluride and Toronto film festivals and the notable releases from each. The second piece from Ebert.com is “2018 Fall Movie Preview: 10 Films we’re excited about. ”
I don’t agree with too many on this fall movie list, but then again, film criticism is by definition a very picky tradecraft! One film that does stand out, for me, is Roma, from Alfonse Cuaron who directed Children of Men and Gravity. My list of upcoming films to watch in October can be found in the 6 Degrees Fall Newsletter.
Stay tuned for more film news and reviews as we head into October and preview some of the recommended films releasing next month. Stay plugged in and till next week, see you at the movies!-ML