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!

6 Degrees: Friday Flix for September

 

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6 Degrees of Film

Greetings film fans! Here are a few bullets from the last week.

*The Telluride Film Festival has debuted First Man and the last Robert Redford film, The Old Man & the Gun, both opening to generally good reviews.

*There’s been talk of the idea that the next James Bond could be a black man-Idris Elba to be specific. It seems to have been just that, an idea, but the notion of shaking up and stirring the formulaic approach to the Bond film series is a good thing.

At the movies: We have seen some bad reviews for Peppermint, the female vigilante film starring Jennifer Garner and good reviews for the modern remake of A Star is Born, with special kudos going to Lady Gaga for her acting debut.

From TCM: This week, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is recommended for kids who have never seen this. For adult viewing, there is The Year of Living Dangerously with Mel Gibson and directed by Australian Peter Weir and The Man Who Would be King with Sean Connery and Michael Caine-set your machines to record

And finally, the Oscars rolled out an ill-designed and poorly devised new “Popular Film” category that they have decided to roll back. It’s always best to seek out and explore and then expand the categories using the creative thought process rather than simply throwing something together after seeing the first highlight reel from Access Hollywood. 6 Degrees has written about and recommended some new categories, with definitely more thought given than the Academy of Motion Pictures seems to have given the matter.

Finally, from our Fall Film News, here’s the recommended films for the month of September: Till next time, see you at the movies!

Films opening in September:

Lizzie with Chloe Sevigny is the adaptation of the true story of the accused axe murderess Lizzie Borden. This film is described as a ‘speculative lesbian love story’ that is spun to explain the real-life murders of which Borden was accused in 1892.

Colette 2018 K Knightley
Colette with Keira Knightley is a period piece that follows the writer Colette from her youth through marriage and touches on her private life that included numerous affairs with women.
The House with a Clock in its Walls featuring Cate Blanchett and Jack Black in this fantasy adapted from John Bellairs’ book about an orphan who, with his uncle, explores a magical manor that holds a mystical clock.

SIsters Brothers 2018 Western
The Sisters Brothers is a Western with John C Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix cast as the two brothers Eli and Charlie Sisters. The film is an adaptation of a novel about the Sisters Brothers, contract killers who worked at the height of the Gold Rush in the 1850’s.

Old Man Robert Redford 2018
• Robert Redford is starring in what he has announced will be his last film: The Old Man & the Gun; a movie billed as a mix of ‘drama, comedy and romance’ and is loosely based on the true story of a career criminal, Forrest Tucker. Redford says of Tucker: “He robbed 17 banks, and he got caught 17 times. But he also escaped 17 times.
Smallfoot is a children’s animated film starring Channing Tatum. It’s about an abominable bigfoot who discovers proof there are humans-A.K.A…Smallfoots.

6 Degrees: Friday Flix

 

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6 Degrees of Film

 

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!

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

6 Degrees: Armchair Film Fest

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Some of the best action for film fans this week is going to come from the small screen. This week on Turner Classic: 6 Degrees Magazine has reviews for the upcoming films recommended for 6 Degrees Armchair Film Fest followers to record: The Graduate; An American in Paris; Death of a Salesman (the film from 1985) with Dustin Hoffman playing Willy Loman; Attack of the 50 Foot Woman with an excerpt of the original Variety review from the 50’s; Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind; The Academy award winning film The Bridge on the River Kwai and an article from Film Comment featuring Man in the Wilderness with Richard Harris.
There’s a piece from Ebert.com about one of the early feminist role models-Ida Lupino-who directed many of her own films and took control of her career from an early age. There is also an article on Ebert.com about diversity in film criticism. Or more accurately the lack thereof.  The article, entitled Where are Our Diverse Voices in Film Criticism, points to the fact that of the top 100 movies in 2017, the male critics reviewed three quarters of the films, while females critiqued only about a quarter of them. But feminists may take heart from a look at 20 rising female filmmakers listed this week in an Indiewire.com post.
Check out the article on Won’t you be my Neighbor?, the documentary about children’s television pioneer Fred Rodgers. Here’s a link to a piece I wrote about Mr Rodgers, talking about the documentary recently shown on PBS of his work on public television.
Other recommended reads for this week include this from Indiewire on the best Black American films of the 21st Century; and a Forbes post arguing that Solo and Justice League’s failures killed the Cinematic Universe.  Writer Scott Mendelson reasons that “...A Star Wars Episode is an EVENT…A Star Wars STORY is Not. When audiences crave only event fare, the cinematic universe is an act of glorified financial suicide” Perhaps that is the case, and we will see Mendelson’s theory put to the test later with John Wick and other franchise films that are looking for box office gold.

Film Reviews for Incredibles 2 prove the film is as funny as the trailers depicted,  And for the science geeks among us, syfy.com features a look at the physics behind the power of the Incredibles. There’s a movie trailer for the upcoming Aquaman which is out this December; and a trailer for the live-action film remake of Dumbo from Tim Burton. There’s good reviews for Ocean’s 8, the female version of the Ocean’s Eleven heist theme which opened this week.
For the Armchair Film Fest, I recommend Jeremiah Johnson and The Graduate. If you love musicals, there’s Singing in the Rain and  An American in Paris this week. Plus Sinatra fans will have a choice of some of his best screen work. I’d recommend Pal Joey over almost all other films for Sinatra fans to record and savor.
At the movies I recommend documentaries for those who may have tired of some of the super-hero fare at the box office. I’m going to see the Mr Rodgers film, Won’t You be my Neighbor and will set the idiot box to tape some of the aforementioned classics on Turner Classic this week. Till next time, have fun and be safe this summer and I’ll see you at the movies!-ML