Friday Flix: Armchair Film Fest

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Hello everyone…Thanks for stopping by this week. Some of the big movies have begun to roll out in the Summer Film series. In case you missed it, here’s the link to the Summer Film News from last week. Melissa McCarthy’s film, Life of the Party, is out and so is Book Club.

Book Club has gotten some surprisingly good reviews, albeit from a plot that is a weak one. But the actors are all A-listers, and it has good reviews in 6 Degrees Magazine from Ebert.com. Life of the Party has some mixed reviews, but for the most part, it is recommended as a good light comedy.

The Seagull, from Chekhov and starring Annette Bening, is reviewed on Ebert, as well as Solo: A Star Wars story. There are mixed reviews for the Solo/Star Wars film, and as some people have asked me why we would put both positive and negative reviews of a film in the same magazine, I would say that after reviewing films for many years, there are people who have strong opinions on films they absolutely love or they loathe. Case in point: for me it is a lukewarm loathing for Citizen Kane and Gone with the Wind. I never have had a soft spot for either of these films, but they are acknowledged classics.

Tastes in film are relative, but the artistic quality and merits of production techniques are not. Citizen Kane used some cutting edge camera work for the day, and Gone with the Wind was the first true Blockbuster in terms of marketing and promotion of a film. So they are acknowledged as bonafide classics, but you can certainly find reviews that pan both of these films out there somewhere!

Also in 6 Degrees this week: An interview with director Christopher Nolan on the impact of 2001: A Space Odyssey; plus a Film Comment column that looks at how cinema has dealt with race, discrimination and sexuality by addressing issues like homosexuality in subtle ways or with overt discrimination. There’s a look at the work of Tom Wolfe, the writer who died this week. His greatest contribution in terms of cinema was most likely The Right Stuff, another ensemble casting triumph that transferred the idea of the book-that the early pilots turned astronauts were courageous and they had ‘the right stuff’- into film with a panache and emotional appeal that is rare with most book adaptations. The book often loses so much in translation as to be unrecognizable or simply lackluster (Bonfire of the Vanities comes to mind.)

And finally, one interesting piece from Uproxx is entitled: The Franchise Era of Filmmaking: What is it, and how did we get here? This is a subject I often pontificate upon. Why are so many films remakes, or part of a series franchise? The article cites a list of box office high-grossing films, and last year there were none in the top 10, and only one-Coco from Pixar-which was on the list. The list that I occasionally print in Friday Flix shows only two of the all-time box office top 10 and three of the top 20 that are NOT part of a sequel or franchise and are original films and not remakes of earlier hit movies. “The business has shifted to brands, and franchises”….is one way of explaining it.

The explanation of the superhero genre, the big bucks involved, the profit margin that explains the continued success of this model, and the overall Hollywood machine is laid out in “The Big Picture: The Fight for the Future of Movies” by Ben Fritz. This article is highly recommended as a great long read.

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The Tampa Theatre, my hometown art theatre which has recently been renovated and has reopened, is beginning their Summer Film series. Most of the films look pretty pedestrian, but there are a few on the ‘lists’ that we have been discussing-specifically, the list of films to see in a movie theater once in your life. These summer series films are the original Bladerunner, Casablanca, & The Wizard of Oz, The other films, (not on Tampa Theatre’s list) I would recommend are Jaws, (MOST of Hitchcock’s films from the 50’s and 60’s),The Godfather, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Lawrence of Arabia. If any of these films are showing at an art house near you, run, don’t walk, to take them in and experience them in the theater.

We talked in Summer Film News about some of the recommended films to record in your own “Armchair Film Fest.” I would recommend The Great Escape on TCM this week, as well as You Can’t Take it with you, Magnum Force and Vanishing Point.

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Steve McQueen stars in one of his first major screen roles in this prisoner of war film from 1963, The Great Escape. The cast includes Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, James Garner, James Coburn and Donald Pleasance. The other films are Magnum Force, with Clint Eastwood in a classic tough guy role that may seem dated in the #MeToo era, yet this is who we are as Americans and the fact that Eastwood was loved and adored for the type of macho mantra of shoot first and ask questions later is one of his roles that cannot be ignored. Love him or hate him Clint is who we are.

Vanishing Point belongs in the category of one of those really interesting films that got away. Barry Newman was a TV star, with a modest following, when he made this film in the early 70’s that has some degrees of connection to Thelma and Louise and other films like, The Driver with James Caan. It’s about a man named Kowalski who makes a bet that he can deliver a Dodge Challenger from Denver to San Francisco in 15 hours, and finds himself in a race against time to beat the clock, law enforcement, and his own internal demons. It’s a kind of existential quest, with the man vs man, and man vs machine story line keeping the film’s doomed lead character, in tandem with the bare bones plot, moving forward to its inevitable conclusion.

Cannes film festival has had some interesting debuts these past few weeks. There was one screening from director Lars von Trier called The House that Jack Built that prompted numerous walkouts over the gory content. Spike Lee has a film at Cannes called BlacKkKlansman which is the type of film and statement that Lee has been making since Do the Right Thing. The film is adapted from a memoir of an African-American policeman who infiltrated a chapter of the KKK in the 1970’s. Lee’s voice is one we need to hear loud and clear in these confusing times.

That’s all folks, for this week. Soon we will be heading into summer and hopefully, get some vacation time to relax and …watch movies, what else? Till next week, see you at the movies-ML

Links:  The Franchise Era of FIlmmaking:

6 Degrees: Friday Flix Armchair Film Fest Edition

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6 Degrees of Film

For the Armchair Film Fest Crowd: For those couch potatoes, like myself, who love films and prefer to partake of Film Festivals from the comfort of their living room chairs, here’s some recommended viewing for May. Here are two big blocks of films shown on Turner Classic you may want to watch and record. The first is the action adventure series with Johnny Weismuller and Maureen O’Sullivan who star together in a string of Tarzan films. Tarzan was the Nativist ideal billed as the “King of the Jungle” who ruled with compassion and care as the lord of his domain. This is on the heels of Darwin’s theory that the strongest survive, and it followed the early 20th century notion of the domination of stronger countries (The United Kingdom and the United States come to mind), over the weaker ones as we went nation-building throughout Africa and the Middle East. The entire film series has an underlying theme of man’s dominance, and yet some surprisingly modern views of women, as Jane, (played by Maureen O’Sullivan-mother of Mia Farrow) tosses aside all of society’s norms to abandon her country and her fiancée to live with Tarzan in the wilds of Africa. The best of the series, after the original Tarzan, is Tarzan’s New York Adventure and Tarzan Find’s a Son!

The other Film Fest that is a must see on TCM in May is the Thin Man series. Myrna Loy is a favorite for all women, including myself, who appreciate the strong female role models that popped up from time to time in Hollywood. Myrna Loy had terrific chemistry with William Powell, and the two made a string of Thin Man gems, with lots of witty dialogue and clever plot twists during the ‘screwball comedy’ period of the thirties and forties. The original Thin Man is one of the best of the series, as well as the second- After the Thin Man– with a young Jimmy Stewart, and the third, Another Thin Man, with a hilarious baby birthday party featuring the toughs of New York City, all of them tough guys carrying their babies around. As is often the case, hilarity ensues.

One not to be missed film on TCM is A Few Good Men, which in the climate we live in, both politically and ethically, is a wonderful example of an intense courtroom drama that has a lasting moral message of dogged determination and the idea that the truth will out in the end. A must-see for anyone who has never had a chance to watch one of Tom Cruise’s best performances, as well as an outstanding role for Jack Nicholson with the memorable line: “You WANT me on that wall!…You NEED me on that Wall!”….The connotations are obvious as they resonate today.

The Avengers

Well, we recently listed the top 10 money making films of all time. And the Avengers makes the list at No. 5 AND No 7…(Age of Ultron). So it’s no wonder that the new Avengers film: Infinity War, has suddenly begun to explode records in terms of box office earnings. There are several reviews of the movie in this week’s 6 Degrees magazine, and most of us have gleaned that some of the Marvel characters don’t make it through to the end in this one. Enough said, however, in true Marvel hero fashion, the one hint I will drop is that most of these characters that meet their demise have already announced their sequels so we’ll have to just stay tuned to see if they live to fight another day. My prediction: as long as they are making money hand over fist for the studios, we don’t have to worry about a shortage of super-heroes!

One list I found funny this week in 6 Degrees supposedly had the ten most boring films of all time. And Brad Pitt was in three of them. I didn’t agree with all of the films on the list, not because any of them were particularly stellar ( However I do like Meet Joe Black), but because in my lifetime, I’ve seen so many really bad, really boring films. And these would not make the top ten cut.

That happens a lot when I see the lists compiled from many of these film blogs. I realize I’ve seen a hell of a lot of films, and some really bad ones to boot. And my movie watching experience extends decades beyond what these bloggers and writers are including when they compile any list-comedy, film noir, action, drama, etc….So I suppose it’s all relative. However, I am not as down on Brad Pitt as this critic seemed to be. He also had Tom Cruise in two of these films, and yes, they were bad Cruise vehicles. (See above-Tom Cruise was in a few good films like A Few Good Men)

Stay tuned for the Summer Film News coming next week. We highlight some of the top summer offerings, as well as discussing some of the major film trends of the 21st Century. Don’t miss out! Till next time, have fun and I’ll see you at the movies!-ML

6 Degrees: Friday Flix

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6 Degrees of Film

Greetings Film Fans: This week on 6 Degrees, there’s a lot of films that are out there ready to launch this summer. And we have been following some of the film festivals this Spring, including the Tribeca Film Festival in New York and Cannes which is going to debut the Ron Howard Star Wars film: Solo: A Star Wars story-the backstory for Hans Solo. So there’s a lot of films out there, but at the movies, the latest debuts have been fairly tame.  The horror film, A Quiet Place has gotten good word of mouth, and other recommended films of late include Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs and “The Rock’s” film Rampage.

At the Movies: We recommend Rotten Tomatoes page dedicated for critics who rate the latest films; and we’ve featured it this week in 6 Degrees Magazine.

About the Summer Movie Guides: 6 Degrees will come out with the Summer Movie list in a couple of weeks, but the list is much shorter than the ones we have seen…(29 or more films seems a bit much.) Some of the summer movies are remakes, (therefore rehashes of the same tired plots) and some just don’t look that good. But summer is also a really good time to go to retrospectives at art film houses and catch up on your movie viewing in the same way you catch up with your book reads.

I recommend you keep a list of the films that you missed at the theatre and also have a list of classics-including black & white films, because even Millennials need to break down and watch films like Casablanca in all their black and white glory! Turner Classic shows films without commercial breaks, and that’s my ‘go-to’ spot for all the film classics recommended on 6 Degrees. If you are under 30, or know someone who is, make sure to help them develop a good list of classic top tens.  In my book, 6 Degrees of Film there’s a list in the back of the book of a recommended Top 100 films, and we’ll  list the top 10 at the bottom of this piece.  You can use the list to begin to compile your personal favorite films to watch & record. Make sure you have your Recommended reads and Recommended Viewing handy as the summer movie season rolls out!

6 Degrees Magazine Highlights: There’s a piece from a few years back from the master critic David Bordwell’s site about CGI: (Computer Graphic Imaging). It’s titled “The waning thrills of CGI” and is worth a read… Another topic of controversy is “Spoiler alerts.’ I tend to agree with the sentiment expressed in the article, “Spoilers don’t ‘ruin’ a movie.” (Or they shouldn’t, is perhaps a better expression.) We are so worried these days about spoiler alerts, that at times it does seem the point of the movie may be lost. It’s rare that a film has the type of spoiler as Hitchcock created in Psycho, or if a character does die in the end, there’s usually plenty of foreshadowing, although that is not the reason critics write about plot points. They shouldn’t be interested in spoiling the film, but instead enlightening and informing with their hopefully expert opinion, or pointing out nuances and different ways to watch a film. So spoiler alerts seem to be as overused as my personal cringe inducing phrase: “Easter Eggs.”

There’s an interview with the talented actress Juliette Binoche featured in Film Comment. Binoche stars in the French comedy, Let the Sunshine In and it is also reviewed in NPR and featured in our magazine this week.

Next week we’ll feature some of the Armchair Film Fest favorites for May in Turner Classic. And the Summer Movie News is out soon also, with some recommended films for the Summer of 2018. The list to date features about a baker’s dozen-12 or 13 that will be recommended over the course of the three to four months constituting the Summer Movie Season.

And of course, soon we will bring back our favorites in the Bad B’s of Summer, always a highlight for this film geek. So stay tuned and happy viewing till next time, see you at the movies!-ML

*Start your Movies to Watch List Today! Here’s a good starter top 10 from 6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in the Global Village

The List: Top 10

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1. To Kill a Mockingbird—Voted by the  American Film Institute, along with many other esteemed film organizations, as one of the best films ever made, this is Harper Lee’s moving, simple story set in the Depression-era South. The plot within the-plot includes the courtroom drama and trial within the sweet and innocent coming-of-age
story of three children and their lives in a small town in Alabama.

Six Degrees of Film Connections: All courtroom dramas, coming of-
age films, A Few Good Men, Juno

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2.  The Wizard of Oz—Also a masterpiece of film simplicity, The Wizard of Oz is a children’s story first and foremost a fantasy that weaves magic and spectacle within a simple black-and-white screen story. The picture explodes into vivid color as it tells the tale of a young girl from Kansas who wants to find her way homeagain.

Six Degrees of Film Connections: Fantasy, children’s films,
musicals, Harry Potter

Sound of Music

3. The Sound of Music—One woman made her way into the Guinness Book of World Records by sitting through this movie daily over several years. She must have seen it hundreds of times, and I think about her when the film plays religiously on television at all major holidays and at Christmastime. In recent years, movie chains have held sing-alongs for The Sound of Music as well asThe Wizard of Oz

Six Degrees of Film Connections: Costume pieces, beautiful location
films, musicals, Moulin Rouge, Chicago, Cabaret

Lawrence of Arabia 1962 2014
4. Lawrence of Arabia—This movie is a not-so-simple tale based on the real-life exploits of T. E. Lawrence, the famous English adventurer. The deceptively simple quality to this complex man is introduced at the beginning of the film when various people at his funeral try to describe him and each comes up with a different description

Six Degrees of Film Connections: Psychological dramas, epic films,

Butch Cassidy
5. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid—Considered by many Hollywood insiders to be the best screenplay ever written, this film originally included some scenes that were reportedly scrubbed because Paul Newman couldn’t say the lines without laughing. Yet this is a poignant film at times that focuses on two real life outlaws on the run for their crimes. The parts we remember most vividly are those that give the movie the aura of a “buddy” picture, then an action adventure
comedy, and finally a western very much of the sixties.

Six Degrees Connections: Buddy pictures, westerns, costume period
pieces, comedy-drama

The GOdfather
6. The Godfather—This much-anticipated film launched the careers of Francis Ford Coppola and Al Pacino and reinvigorated the career of the legendary Marlon Brando. When watching in a packed audience, I remember the hush in the theater and the shock and horror during the scene when the horse’s head was shown as a symbol of the brutality of the Corleone family. Italian American groups raised so many objections that the word Mafia was not used in the film.

Six Degrees of Film Connections: Drama, period pieces, mob
movies, Goodfellas, The Departed, The Sopranos (TV)

2001 a Space Odyssey
7. 2001: A Space Odyssey—This great film works on many different levels and is the gold standard for most science-fiction films of the latter part of the twentieth century. The beginning and end of the film take place in very different settings than one would think of as “outer space.” The scenes with the apes on earth and the old man in a sterile room contrast directly with the high-tech world associated with science fiction, and they are vital for the film to work

Six Degrees of Film Connections: Science-fiction films, futuristic
and innovative speculative fiction, Aliens, Blade
Runner, The Matrix

Jaws
8. Jaws—So realistic were the shark attacks in this film that when I saw it for the first time, someone actually shouted out in the packed theater, “Is there a doctor in the house?” The intensity lasted through the drive home from the theater. Now that is a masterful piece of filmmaking!

Six Degrees of Film Connections: Suspense and horror movies,
Halloween, 

The Birds
9. The Birds—Most people associate Hitchcock with horror films, but he was such a master of suspense and the thriller that one can argue a case for him in several different categories of film, and he would be at the top of his craft as a director in each one. He was just that
good. Most people remember him for Psycho, but he was equally well known for The Birds.

Six Degrees of Film: Thrillers: Jaws, Willard, The Sixth Sense

The GOld RUsh
10. The Gold Rush—Chaplin was one of the most recognized and beloved figures in film history. The character of The Little Tramp was so well known that he eclipsed Laurel and Hardy and Greta Garbo in the early days of cinema.

Six Degrees of Film Connections: All epic and recognized film
characters of the latter part of the twentieth century,
Star Wars characters, Schwarzenegger’s Terminator,
Shirley Temple, Lassie, Disney characters, Harry Potter,
all well-known film icons

 

6 Degrees: Friday Flix

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6 Degrees of Film

 

Happy Friday Film Fans! At the movies this week, we see Roger Ebert’s Film Festival-Ebertfest 2018 is going on this weekend in Chicago. Some of the featured films this week on the Ebert site include The Rider, praised as …” the best American movie this critic has seen in the past year”, which is high praise indeed for critic Godfrey Cheshire. Also a documentary of Elvis: The Searcher, is featured, which garnered good reviews also

Amy Schumer is out with a comedy called  I Feel Pretty and the controversy from the start has to do with the idea of “body-shaming’ to generate laughs. We are indeed in a Brave New World, as I could take my millennial readers on a trip down memory lane where the norm was what is now called “Body-shaming.” We are living in a different world, but funny is funny, and according to most critics, the body shaming critique is not the movie’s biggest problem. *(Hint: Most comedies should be funny!)

There is a Time Media Company list of 100 Most Influential people that includes many current stars like Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman); Hugh Jackman (The Greatest Showman); Greta Gerwig (director of Lady Bird); Director of Oscar winner: The Shape of Water’s Guillermo del Toro; John Krasinski, star of the horror hit A Quiet Place, and Chadwick Boseman of Black Panther fame. All their tributes are featured in 6 Degrees magazine this week. They’re worth a read.

Last week we listed some of the more interesting upcoming films coming soon; Some will be featured at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival next weekend. There’s also a piece in 6 Degrees magazine about films that turn 20 this year. It does speak to the idea that there are some films that age well, and some that are forgettable and will fade from memory. It’s a fun parlor game-to think of films you have seen in the past decade, or since 2000, that really stand out in memory….I’ve written about some of these memorable films in the past, but write a comment to let me know if there’s some that stand out for you…

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I have a piece that I published this week about some of the spiritual elements from the Oscar winning The Shape of Water. Some other films at the movies recommended are Wes Anderson’s quirky The Isle of Dogs, and we hear Blockers is a good light comedy. For the Armchair Film Fans, TCM is screening W.C FieldsThe Bank Dick and Steve McQueen’s The Thomas Crown Affair this weekend. Both are recommended viewing. Till next time, see you at the movies!-ML

6 Degrees: Friday Flix

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6 Degrees of Film

Greetings movie buffs! We have an interesting line up of both old and new films in April In the list of films that turned fifty this year we find one of the most famous sci-fi movies of all time, pre-Star Wars, and it is Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Also turning fifty is the campy original classic The Planet of the Apes with Charlton Heston. There’s some good articles on both of these films in 6 Degrees magazine this week.

At Cannes: The Penelope Cruz/Javier Bardem thriller: Everybody Knows will open Cannes film festival, And we are excited to hear that Ron Howard’s film, Solo: A Star Wars story, is going to premiere at Cannes..,stay tuned

The Superhero Watch: Wonder Woman was named the most ‘profitable’ superhero movie of 2017. That is news, because the film that has jumped to the top ten list of highest grossing films is Black Panther. This film has been phenomenally successful, and ‘has legs’ as they say in the buz. I update the highest grossing films list periodically, as it gives us a good window into what the public wants in terms of films, and in some ways, it shows us where we have been and where we are going in terms of culture:

As of 2018:

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Black Panther is Number Ten– Telling us Black Lives DO Matter (but it’s better in Wakanda!)
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017- the latest film) is Number Nine
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -Part II (2011- the last one) is Number Eight
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) is Number Seven – hence…the latest entry is out soon!
(Fast and) Furious 7 (2015) is Number Six
Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) is Number Five…We GET it!
Jurassic World (2015) is Number Four…The new one is also out this summer-see list
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) is Number Three-much better than Number 9, by the way!
• Number Two: Hanging on for dear life…is TITANIC from 1997-which is ancient for this list!
Number One: Avatar from 2009, both Numbers 1 & 2 directed by James Cameron, both feature love stories, so perhaps with The Shape of Water winning Best Picture, we realize love may come in different forms, but romance is not dead at the movies!

Avatar movie

At the movies; Ready Player One, Spielberg’s offering based on the Video game, has garnered mixed reviews. The film depiction of Ted Kennedy’s tragic scandal Chappaquiddick is also in theatres now. Also set for re-release in theatres in July: The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine which I predict will do well in this era and climate of protests as well as the MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements.

There’s a good review of the new Joaquin Phoenix thriller: You Were Never Really Here from Rolling Stone featured in 6 Degrees magazine this week. Isle of Dogs, from director Wes Anderson has also received good reviews. The film starring John Krasinski,  A Quiet Place has just opened to good reviews. The novelty in this one is the spider creatures who are attracted to sound, which means much of the movie is viewed in silence, which makes for an interesting premise…

Coming Soon: We will be out with the Summer Movie News in May, but to preview, some of the openers this summer include:

Avengers: Infinity War opening on April 27th
Life of the Party: May 11- a comedy with Melissa McCarthy
Solo: A Star Wars Story opens May 25th, and as stated above, directed by Ron Howard
Ocean’s 8- June 8th, is the female version of the franchise
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom opens June 22nd
Sicario: Day of Soldado opens June 29th
Mamma Mia! Here we go again is on July 20th…here we go again…
Mission: Impossible-Fallout on July 27th
Christopher Robin opens August 3th- and is a live action version of the well-known children’s story
• The Spy Who Dumped Me on August 3rd stars Mila Kunis in an ‘international espionage comedy’
The Meg on August 10th stars Jason Statham in an action version of “Jaws” with a megalodon monster that measures 70 feet
Slender Man is a horror flick debuting August 24th

So…lots of variety and a return to good solid storytelling and creative and inventive plots. Of course I’m kidding, this list is a short list with mostly sequels and standard Hollywood fare. Every now and then, there’s a standout like a Juno, or Her, or once in a blue moon you’ll see something wonderful like 2001: A Space Odyssey. Even Planet of the Apes, in its original format, was cheesy but interesting enough to spawn a generation of sequels.

As for me, I want to see how Ron Howard handles the Star Wars mythology. And from this list, I have to admit there’s not a whole lot that looks exciting or different to choose from. However, there’s a part of me that loves to see something deliciously bad from time to time....Gidget Goes Hawaiian always makes the cut for me in terms of really bad movies we love to watch against our better judgement. I’m sure everyone has some films on that short list…

Gidget is playing this weekend on TCM, so we can indulge in the short term, and celebrate some of the classic masterpieces that don’t come around often, like 2001: A Space Odyssey, as it celebrates its fiftieth anniversary. Check out 6 Degrees to read up on this classic film. Have fun and till next week, see you at the movies! ML

 

 

 

 

 

6 Degrees: Friday Flix-St Patrick’s Day Edition

 

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Happy St Patrick’s Day to my fellow Film Fans!

 

Happy St Patrick’s Day to my fellow film fans!

At the movies: This week in movies, we see the opening of another Benji, which has been reviewed as something so close to the original Benji as to be redundant. But those of us who are Uber Dog lovers will not quibble. The remake is sufficiently cute and heartstring-inducing to be acceptable.

The Subject is Objectivity: On the subject of Film Criticism, there’s a good article this week in 6 Degrees magazine about Casablanca, where the critic writes, “How could I have written a…book on 1940’s Hollywood and …devoted so little space to Casablanca?” He goes on to admit that Casablanca isn’t a favorite, and then cites a long list of classics that DO arouse his passion.

I forgive him because if we’re honest, then that’s true of all of us. I do acknowledge many of the classics don’t exactly move me to watch them over and over. However, you can acknowledge the excellence and innovative techniques used by the filmmakers, and still allow the film may not ‘move you’ in a significant way. With film, often there is a gut reaction that embeds them in your psyche and compels you to want to see the film again and again. It can allow you to identify with a mood or character and makes you ‘get it’ on that deeply psychic level.

To that end, in my book, 6 Degrees of Film, I compiled the “List of 100’, and as noted before on the 6 Degrees blog, the endless lists we see, from everything that can be compiled including science-fiction films, horror, rom-com, classics and any combination of categories and genres that go on and on are rendered meaningless by their ubiquitous nature. One of my pet peeves is the overly large number of films listed in these articles (I’ll leave my list of 100 films out of the argument for the moment!).

When compiling the best films lists of any recent year, reaching the number of up to 50 or 100 seems high to me. Yes, we can compile lists for the best films of the decade, or for an entire genre to reach the higher numbers, but there should be some discernment and discretion with critics compiling these long lists of films where, when actually perused, as I have done, seem to include lots of questionable picks and sometimes just feel loosely pulled together in order to create the headline, rather than fulfilling the headline’s narrative with the content required to follow up. (For example: Best Villains who dress well or Best Looking supporting actresses wearing swimsuits….)

About the List of 100: In the book. 6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in the Global Village, there is a list compiled of favorite films in the back of the book. Among the films listed is 2001: A Space Odyssey, which is a landmark film in so many ways. The film’s fiftieth anniversary has arrived, and there are a few articles about the making of Kubrick’s classic in the 6 Degrees Magazine.

Here’s an excerpt from my book that points to the reasons that this film made such a significant impact on future filmmakers such as George Lucas:

The Roots of ILM
A Life magazine story from the 1960s summed up
the crisis in visual effects in movies: “There were so many
innovations occurring in film, but in the field of special
effects, there was a dearth of ideas. The big studios couldn’t
finance the large Technicolor spectacles that had been the
signature entertainment for decades at studios like MGM and
Paramount. By the sixties, the film industry had begun to
resemble, a company town where the mine has closed.” 116
Demographics had changed, and audiences had changed. Even
television had evolved, and the world was rapidly changing too.
This meant that movies needed to evolve and adapt to the changing
times. There was an opening for a big turnaround movie.
One appeared in 2001: A Space Odyssey. At 2001’s release in
1969, Stanley Kubrick’s innovations were the cutting edge in
technological advancement in films. But Kubrick’s innovations
did not translate into other copy-cat films, and Kubrick
remained something of a lone-wolf figure. For one thing, the
film was made in England and was too big and too expensive
to emulate. The film failed to revive the waning special-effects
industry in Hollywood. But it did inspire a generation of
young filmmakers who saw that it could be done.
George Lucas was one who acted on that inspiration. He
said, “Almost from the moment film was invented, there was
this idea that you could play tricks, make an audience believe
they were seeing things that really weren’t there. But this was
completely lost by the 1960s.

From the list of 100, there are a few more films recommended for viewing this week. One of the films is in honor of St Patrick’s Day, and is usually shown each year for this occasion. The Quiet Man, the quintessentially Irish film for all things Irish that we love….Also recommended, Casablanca, which we’ve discussed recently on 6 Degrees. And one of my favorite Bogey films in the Film Noir category, The Big Sleep.

Enjoy watching the classics and until next time, see you at the movies!-ML

6 Degrees: Friday Flix

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6 Degrees of Film

Here’s what’s happening in the past week, since the Oscars were awarded last Sunday night. For more, check out our 6 Degrees of Film Magazine:

black panther 2018

• There is still lots of talk swirling around The Black Panther and its staying power…The film has broken records at the box office, and has proven to have enormous appeal in the comic book film genre as well as for African Americans seeking positive role models in super-heroes. And in the all-important numbers game, The Black Panther has already made the top ten money makers of all time; passing Beauty and the Beast to reach the ninth spot, as it is expected to eventually overtake the last Star Wars entry in the near future.

A Wrinkle in Time has received mixed reviews…From RogerEbert.com, we learn that the film is a mixed bag with ‘a lot to like.” And this from the Ebert site: ”…in the era of ‘grittiness’ in films, this film has ‘zero interest in seeming cool as it ramps up the sentiment, particularly in the final part of the movie.” From Film Drunk, the analysis is that the film is a series of “affirmations in search of a story.”

• Believe it or not, one week after the Oscars have ended, there’s speculation about nominees for the 2019 Oscar nominees…! Wes Anderson is an acclaimed director still looking for his Oscar win. And Martin Scorsese has another big budget film out, The Irishman, with a star -studded cast. Nominees from this year, Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan are starring in Mary, Queen of Scots.

• This week in Bad Movies: Dwayne Johnson accepted the “Razzie” for his part in last years forgettable Baywatch film version. There’s some talk of Spielberg having a dud on his hands with Ready Player One but it’s too soon to tell. In my opinion, the video game industry is a rather dicey venture when it comes to recreating its success in a Hollywood film. But even if it’s a dud, Spielberg’s film may not be so worthy as to be dubbed a “Razzie” entry. Films require that special something to belong in the classic Bad B Movie category…

• Women’s empowerment and diversity are still on the ascendance in Hollywood these days. The next big film festival, the South by Southwest Festival, is debuting several films from female filmmakers.

• On the Sequel front: Several entries that are already set for 2019 include How to Train Your Dragon 3; The Lego Movie Sequel; Godzilla: King of the Monsters; Avengers 4; a Men in Black sequel; Toy Story 4; The Secret Life of Pets 2; Top Gun: Maverick (33 years later!); Angry Birds 2 and Kenneth Branagh’s return as Poirot in Death on the Nile. The long-anticipated sequel to one of the most successful box office animated films of all time from Disney- Frozen 2, is set for November of 2019. And the sequel department would not be complete without the last entry in the granddaddy of all film sequels: Star Wars Episode IX out in December of 2019.

That’s it for this week. There are still some Oscar nominated films that are now On Demand that I want to see: The Darkest Hour is one of them. Next week, a look at some of the small screen films that deserve a viewing at least once in your life….The Armchair Film Festival is always one of my favorite festivals! Till then, see you at the movies!-ML