6 Degrees: Women of Note at the Movies

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6 Degrees of Film

Hello Film Fans: In honor of Women’s History Month, there is a list of films that were showcased and highlighted this past month on Turner Classic. I recommend to record as most are seen fairly regularly or are easy to rent. Some of these women were groundbreaking pioneers as there characters on film show us that we have always revered women who are smart and funny and courageous. It’s not always been easy to find your niche when Hollywood had the casting couch and the Golden Age of Film was not known for championing women’s causes or for enlightenment. But a new day is dawn, and we are not turning back. Here’s a list of films and women who were featured this past month on Turner Classic:
Carole Lombard in To Be or not to Be: Carole Lombard was known as one of the most versatile comediennes of her era or any other. She really played straight man to Jack Benny in this piece. Benny’s timing was unmatched, but Lombard kept up with him and she gave the greatest performance of her short career in this classic

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Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep: In the “Me Too” era, some would find fault with many performances and personas that sprang from the forties and fifties female stars. But Bacall was really a path setter, and gave as good as she got in keeping up with Humphrey Bogart’s very cynical and world weary characters. Bacall was not simpering, but tough and smart and funny, which was a distinct contrast to the wide-eyed dumb blonde routines that Marilyn Monroe and other big stars used as the standard for female stars throughout the fifties. A few bucked the trend, like Bacall and Katherine Hepburn and Audrey Hepburn, but most were conformers.
Eleanor Parker: Many Rivers to Cross: Eleanor Parker is best known for the classic Baroness with evil intentions as she set out to catch Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music. But she was a great comedienne and actress in her own right, and this was a light comedy that veered off from many others of the fifties era in which it was made.
As stated earlier, the persona for many was the dumb blonde, but in setting out to ‘get her man’ in this frontier comedy, Parker is athletic and funny and smart and determinedly setting a different standard for women to emulate. I saw this film as a young girl and always remembered the counter-typical character portrayed here of a woman who is bound and determined to get what she wants and goes after it with everything she has. And in the short blurb in the beginning of the film, it’s obvious that there is some recognition that women had to be rugged individuals with strength and character in order to survive in the early days of our country’s founding.

Another THin Man

Myrna Loy: The Bachelor & the Bobby Soxer; Myrna Loy was the antithesis of the ‘dumb blonde’ throughout her career. She was not blonde, of course, and the characters she portrayed embodied some of the sharpest and wittiest dialogue ever written for film. In The Thin Man, she made her mark along with William Powell as a woman who is determined to be more than just ‘the little wife’ who stays home and simpers while her man does all the dangerous work. And in this film with Cary Grant, she plays a judge who has the measure of the Cary Grant character and he knows it. She is smart and completely in control of every situation, and that is a pleasant departure from some of the standard Hollywood fare of the Golden Age of Film where women were often portrayed as either femme fatales or hopelessly dumb.
Sigourney Weaver in The Year of living Dangerously: Sigourney Weaver has made a career of landing these pioneer roles where women are the front and center heroes, as in Aliens where she takes charge and essentially carries the role that a man would have played a generation before her. And in this film, The Year of Living Dangerously, she’s a journalist who is not only the most ethical of the characters, she is also vulnerable but worldly wise at the same time. It’s a truly amazing performance from a young Sigourney Weaver, and a very prescient moment when we hear of the Mel Gibson character described as someone who is charming but fatally flawed.

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Women’s History Month showcases some of the film roles where strong and decisive characters are developed in this selection of beautiful and brainy women. We have seen the creation of the characters that Angelina Jolie played, that Jennifer Lawrence has perfected along with the new Captain Marvel star, Brie Larson, and the emergence of the women in Black Panther. The latest Mad Max film with Charlize Theron finally has tipped the hat to the notion that women are as tough and courageous and resourceful as men. Here’s hoping for another one hundred years or so of creative and brilliant characters for women to play, and for women to write and direct (and women critics to critique!) Till next time, see you at the movies-ML

6 Degrees: March Madness

 

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6 Degrees of Film

Hello Film Fans: As we move into March, there’s some films that are opening that have gotten good “buzz.” One is the Julianne Moore remake Gloria Bell. Film comment reviews the film, and since this is a remake, there’s a piece from a site called “Gold Derby” that explores the real reason why Hollywood insists on remaking foreign language films. The answer is money (I’m not spoiling it-it’s in the TITLE!)
And even though the Oscars are behind us (I found them forgettable in every way), the SXSW Film Festival begins this weekend in Austin. So we are still in Awards Season through the spring with the Cannes Film Festival still to come.

6 Degrees magazine has some interesting items regarding the juncture of film and Women’s History Month. One is a piece talking about The Status of Feminist Film Criticism from rogerebert.com. Also we need to remember that there were directors from the Golden Age of film who were known as ‘Women’s directors,’ even though they were men! George Cukor is one, and he is remembered also in 6 Degrees.
Also in 6 Degrees, there’s a piece on Orson Welles: The Other side of Orson Welles, and from Entertainment Weekly, director Francis Ford Coppola talks about the 50th anniversary of the release of the classic book from Mario Puzo, The Godfather, upon which his masterpiece is based.
Turner Classic is showing Night Train to Munich a couple of times this month. This film is deceptively slow to start, so don’t give up on it. It has some elements of Hitchcock in it, right down to the two comical English characters who show up earlier in Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes. Set your machines to record on TCM in March for:
*Night Train to Munich/The Big Sleep/Young Frankenstein/Inherit the Wind/The Year of Living Dangerously and This is Spinal Tap. All are classics in their own right, and all deserve the space of a column each….I almost forgot The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer with Cary Grant.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks. It seems that some of the classics that are generated regularly from Turner Classic fall into one of several categories; Classic Film Noir; Classic Comedy, Classic films that got away, Classic Romance….What makes a film “Classic?” We will list the criteria for some of the films made before World War II, during the Golden Age of Film, and some that are considered ‘Modern Classics.” Till next time, movie buffs, have fun and see you at the movies!-ML

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: Friday Flix

 

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6 Degrees of Film

Greetings Film Fans!
Some films to see this week…for the horror lover who is in the mood for something different, there’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, on TCM. It sets a slow pace, but don’t be fooled- there are some moments designed to make you lose your popcorn. Also recommended for fright fans: Seeing the Original Halloween before seeing any remake with or without Jamie Lee Curtis!

First Man 2018
At the Movies this week: First Man is opening with Ryan Gosling and has been getting generally good reviews.

The MCU in Hollywood: Here’s one recommended read in 6 Degrees magazine. The article is titled: “How the Marvel Cinematic Universe Changed Hollywood.” There are some valid points made: 1) Big actors are not needed in these films; 2) A Billion-dollar industry has been created where plot points can glide from one film to another and be picked up and shared with different films; 3) The ‘coolness’ of superheroes (I guess?) is another argument… but they also claim that ‘movies will never be the same again’; which is a stretch, as the world of Harry Potter, in my opinion, has had more of an effect. I’ve written a book about the real game-changer, which, of course, was the Star Wars Universe. Comic book genre films are here to stay, and that is true, but the impact due to the huge impression made with the post-film credits is an exaggeration. Marvel films are hits; Star Wars changed the direction of cinema forever.

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Here’s an excerpt from the book:
6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in the Global Village:
From Star Wars to Sin City:
Industrial Light and Magic has framed the era
and defined it with their many breakthroughs in visual effects.
The storyboarding that is critical to their vision is now a major
part of most successful film series, and the comic genre that
has emerged would not have been a reality without the effects
of ILM.
The criticism that Lucas and Spielberg films have
juvenilized the movies, to my mind, is unfair. These filmmakers
have given the public what they want, and there never has
been a dearth of creative talent in the film industry.

On the contrary, there are many exciting new avenues for young
and innovative minds to bring their creations to the screen,
including Internet productions and independent venues. We
are always seeing new ways for artistic talent to emerge as the
next big thing.
Film is changing and evolving as it has from the beginning,
and the medium as a mass-communication tool and an art
form make this an exciting time to break into the market.
The future of film may involve the type of images seen in Sin
City and Waltzing with Bashir, where actors are not filmed in
the traditional way but with a kind of brushstroke or cartoon
quality that enables the plot to go in many different directions.
There might be alternate endings and story lines to follow with
endless variations. Online, the viewer can access alternative
views from various characters’ perspectives.
The experience of going into a darkened theater to view
a film is changing forever. As in the penny arcades and
nickelodeons that began the first century of film, we now
see the evolution and dawn of a new age and a new way of
understanding the world through the medium of film.
George Lucas spoke of his ideas on the future path that
might occur using film and some kind of drug to enhance
the experience. His ideas regarding future films would make
theatrical, narrative-driven movies, in his words, “as quaint as
an old silent-reeler”:
Lucas: ‘I see true environments being created and
combined with a lot of biotech things going on,
in terms of manipulating people’s senses through
drugs. This combination will have the most powerful
effect on the kind of storytelling we’re doing today.
It’s too far off for me to worry about, and I’m
not interested in virtual reality at its current level,
because it’s just too crude. But if you can program
virtual reality or simulator rides with biotech, you
will have a very interesting non-world. The first
step would be to take the simulator ride part of an
environment . . . where you can just implant the
story in a pill and live it.
That’s not outside the realm of possibility.
You’d take the pill and go to sleep. It’d be like
a dream and you’d have an actual, real, physical
experience of something completely imaginary.
What that’ll mean for society, I have no idea, and
how you’d get there from here is way beyond me,
but I know enough to know it’s within the realm
of possibility. Because they’re already going there,
creating images without actually making them, just
as you create them in a dream.’

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 of Film: Friday Flix

 

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6 Degrees of Film

Hello Film Fans! Probably the most interesting films to watch over the next week would be the ones that are being screened on Turner Classic. The Armchair Film Fest features a Martin Scorsese film festival with classics like Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, and Alice Doesn’t live here anymore all being shown in one block.

Scorsese is the modern master of filmmaking. I would probably not screen a homage to Scorsese without including Goodfellas or Raging Bull, but the films they are showing are solid Scorsese classics. The Wolf of Wall Street may be the one film that, at least in recent years, didn’t get the recognition it deserved as the nature of the content, the greed and debauchery of Wall Street, was depicted as even more profane and grotesque than the behavior of the Mob!

Some other films that deserve mentioning in a Scorsese film fest and should be viewed: The Last Waltz; The Last Temptation of Christ with Willem Dafoe; Cape Fear, (a superior remake of the original with Robert Mitchum), and The Aviator, with one of DiCaprio’s best performances as Howard Hughes.
In 6 Degrees Magazine: The Filmmaker Taika Waititi, director of Boy, is quoted in a great piece from NoFilmSchool titled: Taiki Waitit on Breaking all of the Rules. Waitit speaks about Hollywood filmmaking in the 21st Century: “We’re in a very cool place right now where Hollywood is running out of ideas. They are scrambling…for new stories…They turn to anywhere outside of America for films that they can remake, because that’s where the interesting ideas are.” The idea, he maintained, was to keep people guessing. This gets right to the heart of what we speak of frequently in 6 Degrees, the remakes and superhero stories that are rehashed and cranked out on such a pervasive basis.
That’s all for now. Stay cool in these final days of summer and see you at the movies!