Hello film fans. It’s been a quiet summer for the box office, and there have been a few surprises. I was surprised that Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible film has done as well as it has…That may be another sign that there isn’t a whole lot of great films to choose from at this particular moment in time.
At the Movies in August: Reviews for Christopher Robin have been good. It’s been a Mixed bag for The Spy who Dumped me with Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon-an R rated action comedy. As mentioned, Mission Impossible-Fallout has gotten surprisingly good reviews for the intense action and plot twists included in this sequel of a sequel of a sequel in the series. Coming Soon: There are previews for the Spider Man spin-off film, Venom, starring Tom Hardy. Hardy plays a reporter named Eddi Brock, whose body is taken over by an evil alien host. Venom premieres in October.
I am one who promotes seeing certain classic films at the movie theatre. One of these classics is 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick. This film is going to be shown in IMAX theatres for the first time. I would heartily recommend all film buffs to take the opportunity to try this movie experience. The Armchair Film Fest: Here are some Turner Classic Movies to watch for this August: There is Film Noir at the top of my list, including The Big Sleep, one of the best of Bogey & Bacall’s films. And The Set Up with Robert Ryan, about a washed up boxer who is conflicted about throwing a big fight. Clint Eastwood is featured throughout the month of August. I find it hard to watch the old Spaghetti Westerns, but this is from someone who knows every word of spoken dialogue in the script for The Outlaw Josey Wales. In other words, Eastwood improved with time, but the early Westerns still are worth watching if you’ve never seen Clint in action.
It’s a good month for high comedy in August on the small screen. Cary Grant is probably the greatest comic actor of all time, in my opinion, and many of his funniest films are featured this month. One I would recommend is the early black and white The Philadelphia Story with Katherine Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart. This was remade as a musical, High Society, with Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby many years later. But The Philadelphia Story remains the superior film.
And one of my favorite not-to-be missed silent comedies is on TCM next week. The Freshman, with Harold Lloyd as the naïve young college freshman who wants to try out for the football team, has some of the most creative and innovative physical comedy bits ever screened and it has never been replicated. This is not to be missed for those who love films and comedy. One more thing: Read the piece in 6 Degrees Magazine from The Ringer.com titled: “Moneyballing the Movies: How the Box Office became a sport.“ This is a fascinating look at the way movies are ranked for their box office earnings, which continues the ongoing debate of whether Gone with the Wind, Titanic, or Star Wars: The Force Awakens or Avatar is the top moneymaker of all time. It’s a deep dive into the numbers behind the cash that flows weekly into the box office and the way films are rated and ranked. From time to time, 6 Degrees lists the top money makers from various web sites and the box office numbers can give us some insights into the way our culture has changed, and where we are headed as we watch and review films in the 21st Century.
In the next few weeks, we are going to break out the list of the 2018 Fall films premiering this September in our Fall Film Newsletter. So stay tuned and till next time, see you at the movies!
First my thoughts on my obligatory viewing of Solo: A Star Wars Story. In summary, the film left me with an overall feeling that the critics were largely correct. The film is fairly pedantic, with some interesting pieces of Han Solo’s life coming together and one appearance by a major Star Wars villain who was thought to be dead. (One Star Wars fan from 6 Degrees magazine was incensed at the spoiler listed in the title of an article which listed the name of the villain-so we’ll just leave it there!)
Overall, the film was like one of those old ‘movie of the week’ made for TV films. It was ok, but I can’t recommend it to anyone but the most devout Star Wars fans. And I know there are a lot of you out there. The thing is, Star Wars has become something of a cottage industry, with cartoons and books and a multi-verse of characters and sub-plots making their way under the umbrella of “Star Wars” stories. This Solo story features some major characters, Hans Solo and Lando Calrissian and Chewbacca, who were all major players in the original Star Wars cast. So that is why this film has any significance. I thought the last Star Wars feature, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, lacked a lot of depth in the overall story, too, by the way.
I suppose, not being someone who has simply leapt into the Star Wars universe enthusiastically, this is somewhat predictable in my critical eyes. I thought The Empire Strikes Back was the best of the Star Wars series, and also, that the other stand-out was the one that everyone tends to pan, the 1999 feature with Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor, Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace. So who am I to judge the wrath of a Star Wars fan who is serious about their Star Wars connections?
I do realize the significance of Star Wars in connection with our culture and the history of filmmaking in general. My book has an entire section devoted to George Lucas’ quest to establish CGI and his Industrial Light and Magic Studio. Here is the link to the excerpt for all Star Wars followers to see: From Star Wars to Sin City. There’s more on this later, but I urge everyone to read the link from all of Roger Ebert’s Star Wars reviews.
I also urge all of you to visit the 6 Degrees Magazine and follow the link to the Village Voice piece about some of the restoration work that has been done recently for Republic Studio pictures. Republic Studios was a significant player in the Golden Age of Film, with hits like The Quiet Man and cult films like Johnny Guitar among their credits.
• Reviews of the films out this week. From the Ebert.com site; How to talk to Girls at Parties and Book Club have good reviews. It’s been a ho-hum launch to the Summer Film Season, so there are no standouts to tell you about. Mary Shelley and Adrift were not given great reviews, but you can read them for yourself in the magazine. Here’s the line-up featured in our Summer Film News:
• An interesting piece on rogerebert.com from a master cinematographer talks about the craft of shooting films. Edward Lachman talks of his start in the business looking at photos by Robert Frank. Lachman also spoke of the changes in film because of ‘digital cinematography’, in ways that change not only how the movie is shot, but how it is perceived. “They always say the digital world should look like film, but I never hear the film world should look digital.’ Keep an eye out as you look at modern films in the theatre after reading this. Lachman thinks that digital cameras make everything darker. According to Lachman, “if the whole film’ is in this darkness, your eye tires.” Something to look out for the next time you’re at the movies…
• There’s a video roundtable discussion of critics at Cannes: Ben Kenigsberg, Jason Gorber and Lisa Nesselson discuss movies. Check it out here
In closing, there are a few interesting elements in the latest Solo film foray venturing forth into the Star Wars Universe. There’s always a promise of more to come, and the films all open with the same fairy tale of Once upon a time implicit in the crawl: “A Long time ago in a galaxy far, far away’which gives us leave right there to suspend all disbelief. We can be the judges of whether the films live up to our high expectations, and of course, they seldom do. But the idea is that the universe will continue.
I do like what I read from a New Yorker piece, entitled “The Growing Emptiness of the Star Wars Universe”, that talks about the dilution of the brand. As it is with the idea of making a copy of a copy of a copy, the ‘simulacra’ is defined as a ‘diluted tincture’ and as with fashion and the example is the brand of Tommy Hilfiger. Of it, the writer says of Hilfiger: ‘it is impossible to be more derivative, more removed from the source, more devoid of soul.’ This, in application to the viewing of Solo: A Star Wars story does not augur well for the overall dilution of the brand. There is a disturbance in the force, as they say. And that ain’t good….Till next week, see you at the movies-ML
The Cinco de Mayo Edition: Happy Cinco de Mayo to one and all…I am still pleasantly surprised, as mentioned in the past week, at the response that most have to any mention of James Bond. Bond has made a huge impact, not only in the movies themselves, but in the global interest in who plays Bond onscreen and the continued interest in the screen legacy of the Bond franchise.
*The Death of Cinema?Martin Scorsese and Ridley Scott have both been quoted in recent interviews lamenting the death of cinema as we know it. Both have blamed the comic book genre, a likely target for those of us old enough to remember the debut of The Godfather and Raging Bull,Blade Runner and Jaws as they became huge hits at the movies. The award-winning directors talked about the millennials ability to watch big-screen features on any device; the advent of CGI; the comic book genres and the difficulty of getting a project “green-lit” when so many sequels and comic book series are in the works. Conversely, Scorsese also acknowledged the “revolution in filmmaking” that has allowed so many young people to make films on a very small budget. And the directors Wes Anderson, Richard Linklater, David Fincher, Alexander Payne, the Coen Brothers and Paul Thomas Anderson all drew praise from Scorsese. So…all is not lost!
*What They’re Saying About: Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is on track to break records and pull it into the top moneymakers lists. It Comes at Night has debuted as a first rate horror film for 2017
***Star Wars Day: There is such a holiday now, honoring the impact Star Wars has on our culture. One article in 6 Degrees magazine highlights the top Star wars Movie Moments. We all know the lines:… “Luke I am your Father, give in to the Dark Side of the Force; I love you…I know” and “Help me,Obi Wan Kenobi- You’re my only hope.”
The way Yoda speaks Pig Latin of a sort, the power of the Force to create magic and the quest for Luke to find his father are all deeply entrenched in our lexicon and our culture. The myth begins with…Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away…and the myth continues to build into the 21st Century.
Such is the power of imagination. As J. K Rawlings created the mythical realm of Hogwarts, so did George Lucas create the universe of Star Wars. There may be a universal acceptance of Star Wars Day, but as it stands now, the Force is honored mostly with costume parades and toy sales.
In my book, 6 Degrees of Film, there is an acknowledgment that the last quarter of the 20th Century belonged to Star Wars. Not only through the film and the story-telling lens, but the myth and the persistent allure of the stories of the Force and the nature of the Dark Side permeate our culture. There doesn’t seem to be any signs of waning interest in the universe of Star Wars, particularly since Disney has bought the rights and promotes it through theme parks and characters. In short, the first two decades of the 21st Century have also been steeped with the mythos of the Star Wars Universe.
**Films to be excited about in the Summer of 17: Some of the summer releases include: The House–Will Ferrell returns to his comic roots; Wonder Woman-with a nod to GirlPower world wide, the tale of the invincible Amazonian warrior is hopefully spun to interest women who need a dose of empowerment in the current climate. And finally Dunkirk; with director Christopher Nolan giving us his take on the true story of the “Miracle of Dunkirk”; along with Tom Hardy,Harry Styles and Kenneth Branagh.
About The Godfather: They didn’t want Pacino or Brando; Pacino thought it would flop; they couldn’t use the word Mafia in the film; but the movie somehow managed to come together and catapulted Al Pacino and James Caan to fame. The film also reignited Brando’s faltering career, and promoted Francis FordCoppola into the pantheon of great directors of all time.
*Coming on TCM: There are lots of Bogart films and war films featured on TCM during the month of May. Pulled from the vaults at Turner Classic, some of Bogart’s greatest films, The Big Sleep and To Have and to Have not are being shown. One of his lesser known films, Across the Pacific with Mary Astor, is also shown in May. It’s highly recommended for all who may be interested in the continued allure of the great character that was Humphrey Bogart.
*Godzilla v King Kong: coming in 2020, there is already “buzz” about the upcoming clash of the two major Hollywood film monsters. The latest film Kong:Skull Island was a tepid entry in the listing of monster movies. But the classic originals are both being shown this month on TCM: Godzilla (with Raymond Burr) and King Kong-the one with Fay Wray and the Empire State Building. Both are must see’s for those who are at all interested in the litany of monster movie classics.
*About Film Noir: If you do get a chance to watch The Big Sleep, or another classic Film Noir, remember some of the rules to identify this genre: The scenes are lit for night; there are lots of scenes with rain, which tends to accelerate the dramatic events; the narrator is crucial; and usually sets the tone for the type of dark and ominous moods that beset the characters and the subsequent events. There is often a passionate attachment to the past, followed by a fear of the future; and the overall movie themes almost always encompass loss, nostalgia, mysterious attachments to objects or people from the past and insecurity in all of its forms.
*50th Anniversary of The Graduate: Groundbreaking films were rampant during the period when The Graduate debuted in the sixties. Easy Rider, Bonnieand Clyde, Cool Hand Luke and Hud broke all the rules of filmmaking to date. Mike Nichols made this comedy with a relative unknown star named Dustin Hoffman in the lead role. The rest, as they say, is history.
*Question: What makes a comic book movie “artful”? Or what makes any movie artful for that matter? My favorite Batman film remains Tim Burton’s Batman and also the original Superman starring Christopher Reeve…not so much for the artful nature, but for the fact that these films as a whole were treated as comic book entities as well as major Hollywood films.
The Batman series with Christian Bale was probably more artistic in the treatment of the dark side of the character. But the artful nature of any film is shown in nuanced vignettes and superior story-telling, and that is something missing in most of the comic book genre.
The great actors playing the villains always make the most interesting parts of the whole. Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger were undoubtedly the best parts of the Batman series. But there is no comparison with the aforementioned classics, The Graduate and The Godfather.
The comic book genre lends itself to the Hollywood treatment and the characters and nature of the beast will never be transformed into an art piece. The latest films stand on their graphic comic elements, not on the ideals and nuanced character portraits that are buried within the central themes.
Finally, once again here’s wishing everyone a happy celebration for the 5th of May known as Cinco de Mayo. A big shout out to my friend and colleague and fellow critic Jason King, who supplies us with some of his reviews from “Salty Popcorn” including The Zookeeper’s Wife and other delights. Until next week, as we gear up for more Summer Film releases-See you at the movies!_ML
The Friday Flix is basically a list of the threads that tie together to become part of the 6 Degrees of Film. For those who may not find the connections in older films, and the notion that everything old is new again, we’ve decided to keep the 6 Degrees theme for our Friday Flix weekly film review. And naturally, that applies to our online magazine, 6 Degrees,as well.
For this week in film, there’s a good piece that ranks all the James Bond films. OnFlipboard, (Favorite Things for Writers), the Bond blog takes it to extremes with the question of Bond’s salary, which seems to be stretching it a bit far. But Bond movies are in the news as companies are salivating over the bids by studios to take over the successful franchise.
There is one article that lists recommended search engines for films. With the recognition that many sites are offering free streaming movies to view, and so many types of either “niche” postings for horror or comedy or comics, there are way too many places to list. But the ones that we all know: Netflix, IMDb, and Rotten Tomatoes are certainly on there, and then there’s the newer and –I hate to use this word- “hipper” ones which are Criticker-which finds movies to watch; Clerkdogs-which uses a film you like to find similar types; and the highest recommendation went to Jinni. You can search films or find new films and reviews on this site. So check it out….?
Recommendations are included for two big film festivals- Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, opening this week, and Cannes Film Festival in France. Classic films and films stars will be honored, as well as premieres of art films and other major productions. One retrospective will feature Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine” documentary (hard to believe Moore’s films are old enough to start doing retrospectives of them!)
The Summer Film rollout seems to come earlier each year. It used to be the end of May, but now we see the films rolled out the week after Easter (which this is!). The Guardians of the Galaxy franchise is big (no surprise), and Guy Ritchie’s re-tool of the King Arthur legend is opening soon with Jude Law and Charlie Hunnam as Arthur.
Goldie Hawn is back in a comedy with Amy Schumer, Snatched, opening Mother’s Day weekend. Another comedy that features a female cast is RoughNight with Scarlett Johannson, about a bachelorette party in Miami gone wrong. A female styling of The Hangover perhaps?
For those awaiting the return of Will Ferrell to comic form, he is starring in TheHouse, with Amy Poehler, about a couple who try to convert their basement into a casino.
The prequel for Alien-Alien: Covenant opens in May. Pirates of the Caribbean has another entry with a returning Johnny Depp. Baywatch has been widely publicized, and stars Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron. Wonder Woman kicks off the Summer Season in June with Gal Gadot in the title role.
For kids, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is also in June, based on the popular book series. Also for kids, Cars 3 from Pixar with Owen Wilson as the voice of Lightning McQueen. And Despicable Me 3 opens June 30th with SteveCarell returning in the third installment.
For adults who are still Tom Cruise fans, Tom is re-booting The Mummy franchise. For young adults, there’s The Book of Henry, about an 11 year old who discovers a secret about the family next door.Transformers is back in June, titled: Transformers: The Last Knight.
And the sequels and comic book series keep on coming with Spider-Man:Homecoming, starring Tom Holland. Then there’s War for the Planet of the Apes.
One that looks good is from director Christopher Nolan, and features Tom Hardy and the acting debut of Harry Styles-it’s the WW II dramaDunkirk, coming in July.( There’s a trailer on our site for this one). We’ll have more in the next week with a full list of the Summer Movies opening. But there are a few here that look pretty good, amidst the sturm and drang of the sequels and prequels.
One film that has an anniversary and therefore, is getting some renewed attention features Jack Nicholson’s masterful performance in “One flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, based on the book by Ken Kesey. The book is great, and the film is recommended viewing for anyone who has never seen it. Check out the review on 6 Degrees.
One funny post was a list of actors who “sell out” to make movies. My friend and I used to talk about, in particular Michael Caine, who seemed to always be in these parts where he was just walking through and picking up a paycheck. We always called these actors “whores” for money (as a joke!). But it is easy to spot the talented actors who are seen from time to time in films where there is not much story, little need for a range of emotions, just lots of money and wasted talent on display as the veteran actors trudge through, sometimes gamely, as guns for hire in these plotless wonders.
One interesting development over at Turner Classics has veteran Alec Baldwin stepping in as host for The Essentials on TCM. Should be good!
The films that are reviewed this week, besides Rear Window from Ebert, are The Handmaiden, Colossal with Anne Hathaway, The Promise with Christian Bale and Oscar Isaac, Unforgettable with Katherine Heigl-which has mixed reviews, The Lost City of Z from the McGuffin site and Free Fire, also on McGuffin.
There’s also a biopic of Emile Zola and Paul Cezanne called Cezanne et Moi, a review of director David Lynch’s masterpiece, Mulholland Drive, and a review of Their Finest from our friends at Salty Popcorn. There’s also a review from Time magazine in 1977 of the Academy Award winner, Annie Hall, from Woody Allen.
Other film news is an adaptation in the works of Fahrenheit 451, done by HBO Films. And there’s a piece on the classic Mike Nichol’s film of the sixties, ‘The Graduate” starring Dustin Hoffman. Sofia Coppola is remaking “The Beguiled” with Nicole Kidman starring in the remake of the Clint Eastwood film from the seventies.
There’s a blog post making the case against the genre of Film Noir. That may be true for some aspects of a defunct genre, with the very few films even being made in black and white, but there is a very real and distinct place in the annals of cinema history for the Film Noir genre. In my book, 6 Degrees of Film,there’s a chapter devoted to The Rise of Film Noir.
Noir brought us the antihero, and with it, the rise of actors like HumphreyBogart, who really found his footing playing these cynical characters always with a touch of gallows humor. There is such a thing as New Noir also, and if you’ve ever seen a film made in Noir style and shot in stark black and white, you usually remember it. My final thoughts from 6 Degrees were that although it’s out of vogue at the moment in Hollywood, if it’s done right the genre can produce great cinema; done poorly, it becomes camp.
Also of note: a post on Filmmaking in the Age of Social Media. It is a good discussion as the way we view films and perceive reality is at times different after we have lived with Social Media and the age of the Internet.
And along these lines, there’s an article on Film Inquiry about favorite openingcredits. That’s a good one to mull over, as some of the most innovative and interesting film ideas reveal themselves as we watch the opening credits of movies and see how a director or a filmmaker can portray something that we may have watched dozens of times, but with a new twist or a different visual perspective, we see things with fresh eyes. That’s part of the beauty of film and it’s what keeps us going back for more. Till next time, see you at the movies!-ML
Continuing with the thoughts about which films most impact our lives personally, I have re-posted here on 6 Degrees one of my older pieces that talks about films such as The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz and Roman Holiday-all of these films that encompass the times we live in and moments in our lives. One thing that has been lost in recent years is the millennial need to see films in color. Granted, it is at times a dated process to watch silent films, and some films don’t hold up well, but there is so much to be seen and heard in our rich history of the movies that would be lost if we shunned the superb examples of film making in black and white.
The films of Hitchcock, of Chaplin and Laurel & Hardy, of Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton, and the films of Bogart and Gary Cooper were primarily black and white ones. In fact, almost the entire genre of Film Noir is gone if you don’t watch the films in their original black & white format. It’s just a point of personal privilege and it sounds like some old fart ranting about how the good ol’ days of film were really the best ones, but there is a history to film-making that would be lost if we shunned the black & white treasures of the past.
Moving on: The end of March brings openings of The Boss Baby– the animated feature with the voice of Alec Baldwin (most reviews are not favorable); reviews for Life, Wilson, Atomic Blonde with Charlize Theron; an interview with director Danny Boyle about Trainspotting 2 and a Film Comment article on this one also.
Other films of note coming out are The Zookeeper’s Wife, with Jessica Chastain, based on a true story of Warsaw zookeepers who saved the lives of Jews in World War II.
There’s a Film Comment piece about Paul Newman’s work as a director in our 6 Degrees magazine. And RogerEbert.com features a book review of “Talking Pictures” by Washington Post critic Ann Hornaday.
There’s also an interesting post about a relatively new phenomena, the re-emergence of 1984. The book by George Orwell has had a rebirth in this era of Trump, and the film version of the same has also been showing in several major cities.
One of the interesting aspects of the recently released Natalie Portman film, Jackie, is the portrait of Camelot that Jackie helped to create after the assassination of JFK. RogerEbert.com discusses this interesting backstory behind the legend of Camelot.
Of Note and under the heading-Fem Flicks: ALL of the content found on rogerebert.com during this last week in March has been written by women. The site also features examples of female-driven storylines in Hollywood with a video interview of Jessica Chastain and Niki Caro from The Zookeeper’s Wife.
We might be headed for a writers strike in Hollywood, according to CNN. But the Writers Guild of America must renegotiate their contract by May of this year, so stay tuned. We’ve also featured in our 6 Degrees magazine a piece (also from Roger Ebert) on the black and white classic from director Francois Truffaut, The400 Blows. As well there’s a beautiful article on one of my favorite actresses of any era, Audrey Hepburn, who starred in “Roman Holiday” (both of these films were shot in black & white).
Also noteworthy is a piece in Rolling Stone on “Five Came Back” which has been called by some the best documentary ever made on the subject of Hollywood and wartime. As we move into April, there’s a list of movies to stream in the coming month
One Last Thing: One of my favorite reviewers, my good pal from Australia, JasonKing, also has a wonderful movie magazine that’s found on Flipboard and it features great reviews. In fact, one of the highest reviewed posts on 6 Degrees was from Jason’s site-his piece on Kong: Skull Island. Check him out if you have a chance!
Next week we’ll feature some of the Turner Classic films and the accompanying reviews. Write or Comment if you can on some favorite films that have impacted your own lives. Looking forward to spring and seeing you at the movies!
Today in the Friday Flix, we’ve got some more reviews for the Beauty and the Beast film, which was Number One at the box office this week. Kong: SkullIsland (my review is on6 Degrees-waiting for small screen was my recommendation) is still doing well. There’s a piece from Mubi.com about the entire spectrum of Kong films beginning with the original 1933 version.
There’s an interesting post from the A.V. Club that reflects on the films that best embody the 90’s. That’s a fascinating concept in my opinion, and a good one to ponder. What are some of the films that embody your high school years; the American Dream; your own visions of life and/or romance and success…the thought experiment can go on and on.
I’m going to extend this out to ask readers, as the A.V. Club does, to reflect on the films that embody their youth. We can continue to expand that with the films that reflect the past and depict life in America or the changing global vision…these are all good questions to ask when we think about films that impact our lives. More on this next week…
There are reviews in the 6 Degrees magazine for Trainspotting 2, Elle, the classic Kubrick film, Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to stop worrying and love the bomb; Wilson, Cinema Paradiso,The Eyes of My Mother, the wonderful Noir film from 1944, Laura (one of my personal favorite film noirs!), and Life with Jake Gyllenhaal.
There’s a piece this week that discusses the accusation that the website Rotten Tomatoes has become the final arbiter affecting the outcomes of new films. The irony is that in days of old, that was the knock on many of our finest critics. My thinking is that if a movie’s premise sounds interesting, or you really want to see it, and/or if a movie gets good “buzz” or word-of-mouth movement, then the negative reviews from one source shouldn’t affect your decision to see a film. It doesn’t affect mine, and the dirty secret is, as we all know, critics don’t always get it right, folks.
There is a piece from the excellent site: Filmschoolrejects.com, about the origins in the Beauty and the Beast myth that trace back to the Jean Cocteau filmLa Belle et la Bete.
Fem Flicks: The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has set up a rating to help promote women in film and support and advance their work. There will be a Women’s Media Summit also this month that honors the work of women filmmakers. Both of these articles are found in 6 Degrees of film magazine.
Coming Soon: The L.A. Times has ten movies that are good enough to generate Oscar buzz already, so check out the post and see what you think. That’s the great thing about film. We can all stop and think about the films that affect our lives; there’s the good and the bad ones, the silly and funny ones, the fabulous ones and the classic unforgettable films as well as the very forgettable ones.
My homework this week is going to be to answer the question posed earlier in this post…. The list of films that affect our lives, that shape our views, and have made an impact on us. The post asks us to look at films of the nineties, but we need to look at the Big Picture and include films from several decades past to square this circle.
Looking forward to hearing more about what our readers think regarding films that impact your lives…Have a great weekend, friends, and see you at the movies!-ML
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 can’t let the month pass without a word on Robert Ryan. One of my favorite actors has been featured all month on Turner Classic Movies. Robert Ryan was a workhorse, a character actor, a film noir star, and at times a B movie actor with a ruggedly handsome profile that rivaled his co-star and friend, John Wayne. John Wayne was an icon, but Ryan was the stalwart trooper who worked in so many genres and cut through generations of rapidly changing film audiences with differing tastes and mores.
He was the down and out boxer in the film noir classic The Set Up, directed by The Sound of Music director Robert Wise. He was the love interest in one of Marilyn Monroe’s early hits, Clash by Night. He starred with John Wayne in. TheFlying Leathernecks, a bad-B, and with Pat O’Brien in Marine Raiders, which is highlighted with the singing of the venerable Marine fight song, Bless Them All.
Ryan was a Marine in real life and he used that tough-guy persona in his performances. Moving from the film noir period, he went on to star in movies like Lonelyhearts, with Montgomery Clift, and the unique version of Erskine Caldwell’s novel, God’s Little Acre. He was the heavy in many films, most notably with Spencer Tracy in Bad Day at Black Rock and Robert Mitchum in Crossfire.
In the sixties, he was in the classic The Wild Bunch, as well as the war films, TheLongest Day and The Battle of the Bulge. Ryan was friends with John Wayne, but his politics came down on the other side of the fence. He was an ardent liberal who fought for Civil Rights.
One of the lighter stories surrounding Ryan’s and John Wayne’s friendship was regarding the time Robert Ryan went on a radio program and condemned the John Birch Society. When he returned home, there was a man with a shotgun standing in his driveway. As he pulled in, he realized it was his old friend, Duke Wayne, who had dropped by just to insure that there would be no trouble for Ryan!