6 Degrees: A Must-see film list for the 21st Century

 

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Greetings 6 Degrees readers, and Happy New Year! Here is our list of some of the films recommended for the 21st Century Film Buffs “Must-see” list.

How was the list compiled and what were the criteria in choosing this cross selection of films? There’s a diverse array in this group, as you see that some of the films are documentaries, and some are children’s films. But what they have in common is that all have made an impact in some way on the way we think about films and movie-going in the 21st Century.

Some are science-fiction entries, and some are just well-crafted stories with exceptionally good actors. Some are comments on the changes in our society, and how we look at the world we live in. And a few of these are simply popular culture flicks, commenting on our times and the entertainment we know and love as we immerse ourselves in cinematic history.

Some of these are best experienced on the big screen. I would recommend Gladiator, Slumdog Millionaire, The Aviator, Lez Miserable, Arrival, There Will be Blood and Gravity to be seen at the movies. There are many ways to see these films, but this is a list I would recommend for anyone who is simply looking for a good solid list of films to round out their Netflix/Hulu or Armchair Film Fest viewing lists…
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In the coming weeks, we’ll preview some of these, and include past reviews too of the films of the past two decades that have made an impact or lasting impression focusing on the zeitgeist of our era. The Lost Generation was one that was born from the nihilism and pain of a world war. In our modern era, where nothing matters, and yet everything is on the table, we need to focus on those films that not only show us where we have been, but also look at what we have become in the modern age.

The films that deal with loneliness, isolation, our response to the technological advances, the violence that is common in our society, the changing roles of women, the way we deal with children, our relationships, and even the changing roles of characters such as James Bond and the way African Americans are portrayed on film are just some of the reasons these films made the cut.

There is a recurring segment in Film Comment that offers a deep focus on some segment of film history each month. These changing cultural norms give us insight as 6 Degrees also strives to focus deeply when we can to spot the trends in films of our recent past as well as those from fifty or more years back.

The book I wrote in 2013: 6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in the Global Village, takes a look at some of the changes that effect the ways we perceive film. Here’s an excerpt:

“No doubt in the twenty first century, certain parts of the cinematic experience will continue to decline. Foreign markets have made a huge difference in the way films are being released and marketed. Now more than ever, films occupy a Global Village…
George Lucas spoke once about the possibilities for drug enhancing experiences in which individuals could become a part of a virtual-reality film playing in their minds. These ideas may not be the same as conventional movie theater films; however, we cannot dismiss the possibility of these events coming to pass in the distant future. This experience would not be standard movie theater filmmaking as we have come to know it, but at any rate it would be a reality far removed from our own near future world. As long as humans aspire to dream and to create, we will be interested in watching movies in whatever form that might be”

The ways in which we view movies continues to evolve. The cinematic experience is unique, and needs to be preserved for those of us who appreciate the unique pull that viewing a film in the theater as the director intended it to be seen is an art form that does need to continue and to be encouraged and promoted.

Here is our list:

Coco 2017
Arrival 2016
The Big Short 2015
Ex Machina 2015
Spectre 2015
The Grand Budapest Hotel 2014
Gravity 2013
Her 2013
Frozen 2013
Life of Pi 2012
Les Miserable 2012
Inception 2010
The Social Network 2010
The Hurt Locker 2009
Avatar 2009
Up 2009
Slumdog Millionaire 2008
The Dark Knight 2008
No Country for Old Men 2007
There will be Blood 2007
Juno 2007
Pan’s Labyrinth 2006
Capote 2005
The Aviator 2004
The Lord of the Rings 2003
Lost in Translation 2003
Finding Nemo 2003
The Fog of War 2002
Bowling for Columbine 2002
A Beautiful Mind 2001
Gladiator 2000
The Matrix 1999*

The Matrix series did extend into the 21st Century, and the first film was really the only one that we can recommend as part of this list.

6 Degrees: Friday Flix

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6 Degrees of Film

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.

The Shining
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!

Mary Poppins 2018

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.

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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

6 Degrees: Friday Flix

 

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6 Degrees of Film

 

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: Three Godfathers.

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

Mary queen of scots 2018

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

6 Degrees: Holiday Film News

 

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6 Degrees of Film

Hope everyone is planning a wonderful Thanksgiving break. This is the best part of the Holiday season. We can visit with friends and family, with no expectations of the holiday madness that Christmas, as wonderful as it can be, brings with it. So, hope all of you plan a great and relaxing holiday weekend ahead.

Which means…a trip to the movies of course! Or, if you are one of our Armchair Film Fest Fans, there’s always something on the small screen to be seen in the comfort of our favorite armchair.

Aquaman 2018
This is our edition of Holiday Film News for 2018; the Holiday films are coming, and there is quite a variety. In past years, there seemed to be the darkest of cinematic choices to grace the screen for the holidays, but this year, Hollywood is dropping Mary Poppins and Aquaman into the mix, so we will have a bit of holiday cheer.

Tampa Theatre, the local arthouse, is showing a very traditional listing of holiday classics that include White Christmas with Bing Crosby, Miracle on 34th Street with a young Natalie Wood; and the ubiquitous It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart. If that list makes you yawn or roll your eyes, then I would tend to agree, although these are all great films for their time period.

For Milennials, some not to miss films would be Elf with Will Ferrell and Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase. The Jim Carrey version of the Grinch can also be thrown into the mix. And for the holidays, Harry Potter is always a good idea. The first film is a good choice, or there is my personal favorite, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; which would always be a good family flick.

For those who want something that is more spiritual in keeping with the season, The Nativity Story from 2006 is one that is an unusually well made version of the story of the first Christmas. And there is always Scrooged, with Bill Murray, to round out the season with a modern day version of Ebenezer. For Scrooge purists, the George C Scott rendition of A Christmas Carol is hard to beat.

Under the category of something completely different, there is also the Black & White version of The Little Shop around the Corner which has been made into two later versions, one with Judy Garland as a musical-In the Good Old Summertime– and the other You’ve Got Mail  with Tom Hanks. And for Judy Garland fans, Meet me in St Louis has Garland singing the classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

No, I don’t think Die Hard is a Christmas movie…But if you like action-adventure films, there are some that may be more upbeat. The Mel Gibson buddy film series, Lethal Weapon 3 or 4, with Danny Glover, which basically turned into light comedy in the last two films, is lighter fare And the films with Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte, 48 hours and Another 48 hours, have a lot of comedy mixed with the action scenes. And there is always the Dan Akroyd/Eddie Murphy classic Trading Places as well as Murphy’s Coming to America, both are good for holiday viewing, especially for first-time viewers.

There are many genres and styles of film that may be better for family viewing and lighter fare during the holiday season. Classic comedy is anybody’s pick-Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Mel Brook’s High Anxiety or Young Frankenstein are both classics.

Mary Poppins 2018

At the Movies: We recommend Mary Poppins or Aquaman; and if you haven’t seen Crazy Rich Asians or Green Book, they will definitely be at the top of most people’s wish list as films to see on the big screen. There is another interesting take on the Spiderman universe, with the animated Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse.

Some films spoken of in terms of Oscar contenders include The Wife-for Glenn Close’s performance, and director Alfonse Cuaron’s semi-biographical look at his life in the black & white Roma.

For Armchair Film Fest: In case you missed them, there’s Bridge of Spies, a great Tom Hanks piece, as well as Hanks’ Charlie Wilson’s War with Julia Roberts and the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman. And if you have never seen Hoffman’s portrayal of Truman Capote in Capote it is not to be missed for any serious film buff.

Films of the decade and films of the year are phrases that will inevitably be tossed around for the end of the year. I think that after the very dark films that appeared at the end of the past decade, including The Departed and No Country for Old Men as well as There Will be Blood, the movie industry has for the most part tried to steer the ship away from the dark stories, although there are plenty of nominees in past years that have been eligible, including 12 Years a Slave and Birdman.

Clive owenVenom Tom Hardy 2018

For those who binge watch, I recommend some A-list actors. I am a huge fan of Tom Hardy and Clive Owen. The two have made careers playing often dark, but extremely diverse and interesting characters onscreen. Hardy is in “Legend, The Drop, Mad MaxL Fury Road, and also plays a depression-era moonshine runner in Lawless from 2012. Clive Owen has been in the film version of the play Bent, the film noir I’ll sleep when I’m Dead, and in Closer with Jude Law.

Holiday films can be surprising in many ways. If you are looking for a list of Spiritual films that can uplift and upend, here’s my list from years past that will take you through to the New Year. The crazy season of holiday giving and holiday cheer is often mixed with periods of reflection and some sadness too, as we look back on years gone by. So here’s hoping your holiday season is a time of renewal and is filled with fun and joy and of course, leaves you time to spend with loved ones as you watch movies, both old and new! Happy Holidays from 6 Degrees!-ML

6 Degrees: Friday Flix

 

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6 Degrees of Film

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

6 Degrees: Friday Flix

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Greetings Film Fans: We are definitely into the dog days of summer. And at 6 Degrees of Film, that means planning a list of favorite films to watch at our own private Armchair Film Fest. Esquire has a list of some of the best films from 2018 so far, and if you are a subscriber to Netflix or other services, you may want to put some of these films you might have missed on the list for the small screen:

Leave No Trace: From Winter’s Bone director, it’s the story of a father and daughter living off the grid, illegally in the Pacific Northwest.
Let the Sunshine In: Isabelle (Juliette Binoche) is a divorced, middle-aged artist whose dating life moves from moments of bliss to disappointment and disillusionment.
• First Reformed: From director Paul Schrader, a religious drama with Ethan Hawke playing a New York man of the cloth going through a crisis of faith that is accelerated by an encounter with an environmental activist mired in anger.
The Rider: Story of the West about a young rodeo star facing an uncertain future after experiencing a catastrophic accident.
• You were Never Really Here: Joaquin Phoenix is a mentally scarred veteran trying to rescue a senator’s young daughter from a child prostitution ring.

Some others listed were A Quiet Place, Black Panther, Annihilation, Game Night and Isle of Dogs which you most likely would have seen at the movies
Ant Man and the Wasp is playing in theatres, and has generally gotten good reviews. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again can only be recommended to die-hard Abba and Mamma Mia ONE fans (I actually will admit that I’m in that boat!) and Mission: Impossible-Fallout’s has also been receiving good reviews.
Coming soon to theatres is Christopher Robin and The Spy who Dumped Me, plus the Papillon remake that we’ve mentioned in past weeks. So stay tuned and keep cool, friends, and till next time, I’ll see you at the movies!-ML

6 Degrees: Friday Flix

 

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6 Degrees of Film

Greetings Film Fans! Hope everyone had a happy fourth of July. The films of July are here beginning with Ant Man and the Wasp, which has had some good early reviews and a clever trailer to kick off the super-hero film of the month. Here’s a short clip of some other openings from our July/August list:
Mamma Mia! Here we go again is on July 20th...here we go again… This may not be worth revisiting, but I’m a huge Meryl Streep and Colin Firth fan, and this premise does (not) seem interesting enough to hold our attention….
Mission: Impossible-Fallout on July 27th.… And I ask without snark….will Tom Cruise ever make a film that is anything other than an exercise of gymnastics and stunts? He was a good actor in another life…

Papillon 2018
Papillon is coming at the end of the summer cycle, it’s set for release late in August. This would be hard to beat. The original with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman was a great action-adventure film that was an intense drama and is one of McQueen’s great screen triumphs. Charlie Hunnam (King Arthur) plays the lead, based on the real life story of a Frenchman who is desperate to escape from a life sentence in a French Guiana penal colony.

2001 a Space Odyssey

From 6 Degrees Magazine: Here’s an interesting quote that was unearthed from the late great Stanley Kubrick regarding the very mysterious ending scene in the classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick talks of the ending:
Kubrick: “The idea was supposed to be that he is taken in by god-like entities, creatures of pure energy and intelligence with no shape or form. They put him in what I suppose you could describe as a human zoo to study him, and his whole life passes from that point on in that room. And he has no sense of time. It just seems to happen as it does in the film…When they get finished with him, …he is transformed into some kind of super being and sent back to Earth, transformed and made into some sort of superman (alluding to the star baby.) “We have to only guess what happens when he goes back. It is the pattern of a great deal of mythology, and that is what we were trying to suggest.”

This is fascinating as so much has been written and speculated about regarding the fate of the astronaut and the entire ending sequence. The most important thing I pulled from this was in line with what I’d always heard when people talk of this film. 2001 allows anyone, the average man on the street, an intellectual or a science-fiction fan, to imagine the ending in their own way. We can ‘guess what happens’ when he returns to Earth as the fantasy star child. And the mythology is added to give it a special element of interest. (Much the same is said about the mythology that George Lucas attached to his Star Wars characters to give rise to an entire new mythology!)

At the Movies: The indie film getting a lot of good buzz is Sorry to Bother you. It’s about race and is a satire and send up of the gig economy and was directed by Boots Riley, who is a musician by trade.

Movies about America: The fourth brings out a spate of articles on which films are considered “American.” The essence of what America is can be found in many classic Hollywood films; and it means so many things to many different people, It can only be a subjective idea, and for me, my personal picks would include The Right Stuff; Apollo 13, American Graffiti; An American in Paris, North by Northwest; Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid & The Godfather. One film that is on my list and is showing this month on TCM is On the Waterfront with Brando, and I see this film as essentially American with Brando in the lead role in many ways, it’s a deeper and more pivotal role than Brando’s signature role from A Streetcar Named Desire, and it deals with the idea that anyone can be anything which is the essence of the standard ideal of the American Dream.

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Recommended for Armchair Film Fest: Continuing the theme of great American films, this is a great month for classic American actors with Steve McQueen as the featured actor on Turner Classic. One of my favorite things is to discover and recommend lesser seen films from famous actors where most people recognize them from their more popular work. With McQueen, some of his great performers are in some of his lesser known films. Those films would be The Getaway, Soldier in the Rain, and Nevada Smith, which are seen less than McQueen’s big debut film, The Great Escape. Another film to watch out for starring Steve McQueen is Papillon, which has been remade and will release, as we mentioned above, this August.

Armchair Film Fans to watch for in July on Turner Classic:
• Classic Comedy duos: Turner Classic is showing two of my all time favorite from two great comic teams, Abbott & Costello & Laurel & Hardy. Time of their Lives is a departure for Abbott & Costello in that they didn’t work together on film as they had in the past. The plot called for Lou to be a ghost who haunts the grounds where Abbott is just one of a group of people working to solve a mystery surrounding the death of the two ghosts. And Sons of the Desert is a comic masterpiece that no one who has ever loved Laurel & Hardy should miss.
Steve McQueen Film Festival: Some must-see’s to recommend are Soldier in the Rain, The Sand Pebbles-McQueen’s only Oscar nomination for Best Actor, Bullitt-his greatest performance,  and Papillon, One of the reasons that McQueen was a great actor was the fact that like Gary Cooper in another era, he made it seem effortless. In a time of ‘angst’ where acting studios and method actors produced Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift, McQueen was a tough guy who drifted onto the screen and not only oozed charisma and masculine charm from every pore, but also had a kind of vulnerability not seen before in many actors. Like Cooper, he was a natural.
That’s it for now. Have a great week and till next time, see you at the movies!-ML