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 Film Fans! Ant Man and the Wasp opened this week to good reviews. There’s Skyscraper, Incredibles 2, Hotel Transylvania 3 and for Indie film lovers there’s good buzz about Sorry to Bother You.

From 6 Degrees Magazine: There’s a good article on High Society, the remake of The Philadelphia Story. High Society is the musical version with Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby, but I wouldn’t bother unless you’ve seen the far superior Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn original The Philadelphia Story. There’s also a piece talking about the late Tab Hunter, a heartthrob of the fifties who finally came out of the closet in his later years.

There are some retrospectives from Film Comment on Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, talking about their amazing run as a film dancing duo. I wasn’t as fond of their dance pictures, as I don’t believe they hold up as well as Fred Astaire’s many dance films later in his career, long after Fred & Ginger had parted ways. But it’s worth catching one just to say you’ve seen them in action.

An interesting read is one that lists the Marvel Cinematic Universe release schedule, from the next pictures out in 2019 and listing them through the next Avengers film, the new Doctor Strange as well as Black Widow and Black Panther 2. So if you are a superhero fan, there’s plenty in store for the next decade it seems, for the pantheon of players in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

But it’s summer and this is always a good time to watch some of the Bad B’s of Summer. Here’s the link to the Bad B Recommended Movie list from 6 Degrees. Hope everyone is having a great summer with a chance to catch up on reading or watching some of the films shown on Turner Classic. This month, Steve McQueen is the featured star, and as we mentioned last week, it’s always a good time to rev up the DVR and have an Armchair Film Fest with all of his greatest hits. You can never go wrong with Steve McQueen (hardly ever!) Till next week, see you at the movies!-ML

*What does the Future Hold for the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

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

Friday Flix: Thoughts on Solo

solo star wars

 

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?

Star wars I
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.

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Also featured in 6 Degrees:

• 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

Star wars logo
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

6 Degrees: Capsule Review:The Black Panther

black panther 2018

I’ve seen so many reviews of this film that center around the ‘feel good’ politics of Black Panther. I’ve seen the fantasy politics of Black Panther listed, as well as the spoiler alerts tying the film into the Marvel Universe. There’s the record breaking box office numbers, as well as the stories of the many groups of young African American children going to see this film. And others who see it are wearing traditional African garb. In short, it’s a phenomenon…a ‘thing’.

And the film has been well received. Of the films in the superhero universe, this one is a cut above the rest. The plot centers around the rise to the throne of T’Challa, who is the new king in the fictional African country of Wakanda. Wakanda has hidden its amazing and superior technology from the outside world, and this is the central debate later in the film. Should they share this knowledge, or continue to keep it hidden…?

Without too many spoilers, the film is driven by the rise to the throne of the new king, played by Chadwick Boseman.  The Black Panther’s super powers include not only superior intellect, but his strength which is derived from the special formula that is given to the king to drink. And then there’s the technology, similar to James Bond’s, where he dons a special suit made of the miraculous fictional metal mined only in Wakanda known as Vibranium.  The Vibranium  makes him impervious to bullets and other weapons of dastardly origins.

But in my estimation, the thing that sets this superhero apart is the fact he is touted as a man with a heart. His father talks to him from beyond the grave, telling him, “You are a good man, and that is something that may bring trouble for you”, which is a wise thing to tell your son, if you only have a few moments with him in the afterlife. The film centers not entirely on the concept of this superhero saving people and thwarting dastardly deeds, but also working to help others, to find himself and to find his true love.

In other words, it may depict the life of an ordinary man in an extraordinary world, or the reverse of this. That is the debate in history: Are great and exceptional men made so by the times they live in, or is greatness thrust upon them due to the circumstances in which they find themselves? We think of our Founding Fathers and the greatest Presidents and leaders of the Civil Rights era. These men all had great hearts, and although most had their share of flaws, they were able to rise above and to grasp the moment and meet the occasion to prevail.

In this film, T’Challa may or may not be the one who is the strongest fighter, but he is the one who is the ablest, the wisest, and the one who will prevail. This is the takeaway that is most heartening for any of the superhero films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Perhaps, in the end, at least according to the laws of this fictional universe, not the strongest but the wisest will be the one who prevails. It’s a good lesson in life.

6 Degrees: Movie Trends for the New Year

6 Degrees of Film
6 Degrees of Film

 

Happy New Year to my fellow movie goers and 6 Degree friends! The Silly season is upon us, and in Hollywood, that’s saying a lot…(It’s always silly season, really). The Awards season has arrived with the Golden Globes, and BAFTA (British Films), and Film Critics Association and so on. The big Kahoona-the Oscars-just announced their nominees late this week.

But the most dreaded of all things for most film critics is the annual lists. The Year’s best films are all on parade as a sign of how very good or bad or banal or pseudo-intellectual the noted reviewer can be. There are some surprises when a list of films that no one in America has ever seen start to populate the lists. And then there are some absolute stinkers that crop up on one or two selected lists.

I think that the worst thing about the yearly list of lists is the predictable nature of the institutions that publish the lists. One of the reasons I’ve become overly cynical about the production of yearly film lists is that I not only write about film, but I also edit a film magazine. And the worst part of the job (besides not getting paid!), is that the same stories are recycled about 100 times and the only changes are the snazzy titles that are offered: “Films to watch when you want to lose weight”; “The best of….fill in the blank”; “Summer surf films”; “China is boffo at box office”; or “Who will be the next hero in the Cinematic Universe?”

The list goes on…I have my own list of movie trends. These are some of the things that seem to be rotated on an amazingly and at times, boringly regular basis:

Movie Trends List from 6 Degrees

  •  Sequels & Spin offs-These are the bread and butter movies for most of Hollywood. They are not all terrible, as I’ve often pointed out that Shakespeare did pretty well with re-hashing old plots.
    The Comic Book Universe-This is a genre that could use a good shake-up. It could use a small electrical shock for all the writers who continue to re-work the same basic plot through a never-ending list of superheroes bent on saving the world.

Wiz of oz 1
The Cinematic Universe-This is an interesting conceit as it encompasses so many different cinematic universes. We may think of Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings, but it could be interpreted as far back as The Cinematic Universe of Oz or the Cinematic Universe of Charlie Chaplin and Laurel & Hardy. The Cinematic Universe connotes fantasy and storytelling, some of the strong suits of Hollywood classics. In the world of fantastic beasts and unrequited yearning, we find some of the greatest stories and cinematic universes imagined.

  • 482px-Garbo_Lenox_Publicity
    Fem Flicks/Girl Power-Although there have always been strong women in films, from Greta Garbo and Katherine Hepburn to Meryl Streep and Maggie Smith, we are now seeing a new generation of moviegoers who celebrate Girl Power and young women who can identify with the heroines in hits like Frozen and The Hunger Games bringing young girls into the 21st Century and seeking parity with young boys.
    Kid Power/Pixar movies/animated & Kids movies: Some of the most creative films of the past few decades have come out of the Pixar studios. This shouldn’t be a surprise as Walt Disney was one of the pioneers in the field of animation and live action films for children through most of the 20th Century. The trend continues in the 21st Century, with more imaginative and creative films being produced from Finding Nemo and Wall-E to Shrek and Tangled.
    Global village at the movies-Diversity and Foreign Films continue to converge with the English language market and we are fast becoming a Global Village of moviegoers. You can interpret that to mean that not as many great films are coming out of Hollywood these days.
    Rise of China at the Box office-This is one of those stories that happens to have some elements of truth mixed in with a spice of hyperbole to lend it credence. Yes, there is a huge burgeoning market in the world now for Chinese audiences, but there market share is still far below most of the North American audience.
    Rise of the Small Screen- Here is a trend about fifty years in the making. In my book, 6 Degrees of Film, the movie moguls of the fifties were scared stiff by the thought of televisions showing movies on the small screen and keeping moviegoers at home. New fads such as 3-D glasses and Smell-o-Vision came to the theatres. Nothing new here, except we can now watch films on our televisions and I-Pads. Perhaps the most worrying trend is the one where the most talented writers are now working for Cable Network series, and the most interesting and creative story lines are being discovered on HBO and Showtime, and not at major film studios.
    Rise of the Movie Blogger– With the rise of the movie blogger, we find an interesting panoply of titles and genres to blog about, ranging from horror to box office totals, from Film Noir to Bollywood, from Classics to Comic book genres, and even to blogs for gaming sites. The problem is, as with the movie studios, that there exist only a certain amount of talented writers and bloggers producing material, and the rest, as they say, is “crap”!
    Twilight of the Film Critic– Not necessarily. Some of the best reviews come from NPR, The Guardian, and other old faithful’s like The New York Times and LA Times, plus some unexpected places like Ebert.com, where Chaz Ebert, Roger’s widow, has put together a really creative and varied site with different pieces covering all aspects of filmmaking. Film Comment also produces thoughtful and erudite pieces on film on a regular basis.

• Where to find the best information about film? Of course, in my humble opinion, all the news that’s fit to print about film can be found at 6 Degrees of Film, our online magazine where reviews and the best pieces on current films are selected each week, with an emphasis on weekly round-ups of top film sites each Friday, and on Mondays the box office numbers and top films are all featured.

This week: we found the following:

• News of the death of the great and distinguished English actor, Alan Rickman
• An Interview with Director Paul Verhoeven
• A piece on the newly released Orson Welles Classic “Chimes at Midnight” which was Welles’ take on Shakespeare’s Falstaff.
• An interesting looking film : “The Treasure”, about three men on a treasure hunt in a suburban backyard-reminiscent of the classic with Robert Ryan, “God’s Little Acre”
• Reviews of The Revenant (6 Degrees has a piece)
Molly Haskell on “The Masculine and the Feminine”, a piece originally published in 1974. She looks at classics such as “The Big Sleep” and the on-screen relationship developed in characters portrayed by Bogart and Bacall.
• The complete list of Academy Award nominated films. The Oscars are held Sunday, February 28th, with Chris Rock as this year’s host. Should be a welcome change, with Rock calling attention to the lack of diversity and the ongoing “Old White Guy” problem plaguing the Oscars.
• An interesting piece on “Star Wars Mythology 3.0”. There is always a danger of overkill with so much publicity and attention surrounding the Star Wars film, but this is a different take on the Cinematic Universe, if you will, of Star Wars.
• Much more to be seen and read in 6 Degrees of Film @ the Movies

6 Degrees: Notes from the Global Village

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The Fall season is a wonderful time of the year for movie buffs. Fall brings some of the best films of the year out just in time to become eligible for the never-ending Awards Season! Hollywood has had another split year, where the blockbuster summer films have produced several hits but nothing to really be excited about in terms of innovative art or injection of excitement into the existing Cinematic Universe.

Here are some of the notes collected from 6 Degrees-some from articles and long reads in August, and some from my own demented mind…
**
*Ridiculous & Overly complex plots-in blockbusters…the trend? Here’s a quote from a long-winded complaint in an article bemoaning the overly complex plots in recent super-hero movies:
Labyrinthine machinations to desperately weave in character motivation, geography and the practical aspects of getting from one scene to another
Apparently, it has come to someone’s attention that Hollywood has a problem with story “density”. Is that what they call crappy movies now? For action-packed super-hero stories that contain “teasers” and origin stories, there’s only so much information the audience needs.

Older audiences all know who Superman and Batman are. We’ve read comic books from the fifties through the eighties. And now, thanks to the wonderful newly coined phrase, “The Cinematic Universe”, which is perhaps a euphemism for the billions of dollars that Hollywood envisions when imagining the mileage they can squeeze out of an entire cast of super-heroes, each with his own movie debut and story of origin, we are all treated to some of the worst aspects of the comic book genre, including clumsy plot points weaving through the endless reems of origin stories and desperate attempts to inject original thought into the storyline along with character motivation.

Although I have not been a huge fan of the comic-book genre, I do see the impact that the stories have on a younger generation of fans. And not to be close-minded about this, I’ve conceded that even Shakespeare used a lot of re-hashed plots, and was able to influence generations with his unmatched ability as a wordsmith and his sheer genius as a playwright.

Perhaps there will come a time where some innovative director will take one of these origin stories and craft the equivalent of a Shakespearean play out of the original material. So far, there has been no evidence this has occurred.

Tootsie

**Actors have spoken: A list of their favorite films includes all the usual suspects (not that particular film though!). But a surprising Number One appears: Tootsie!

The list of films that actors chose is not that surprising. And it’s not a far cry from most of the movie-going publics list of great movies. Boogie Nights, The Red Shoes, and A Woman under the Influence are definitely films that actors might choose over any other group.

But the rest of the films seem to be pretty much in line with standard movie “Best of” lists. Tootsie as the favorite film is a surprise. It’s a great comedy, with a superb supporting cast and many memorable lines. Director Sydney Pollack is wonderful in a small part as Hoffman’s agent. Jessica Lange won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role. And Bill Murray was memorable as the befuddled room-mate of Dustin Hoffman’s Dorothy character, and had some of the best “zingers” in the film.

But Dustin Hoffman’s energetic portrayal of an actor who is desperate for a part to the point of risking everything, and laying it all on the line, is more of a statement about the actor’s existential state of being than any real film portrayal. That compels me to the conclusion that the actor’s perpetual state of angst is portrayed to the point that most fellow thespians that saw this film must have simply been saying “Yes!” through the entire film.

*Actors compilation of Greatest Movies includes:

*Taxi Driver
*The Red Shoes
*Boogie Nights
*Annie Hall
*Godfather Part II
&To Kill a Mock
*Cinema Paradiso
*A Woman under the influence
*The Godfather
*# 1 is Tootsie

RIcki and teh flash

**Strong women & Fem Flicks: Women are speaking out more and more concerning the inequality they see in Hollywood and throughout the film industry. Stars such as Meryl Streep, Sandra Bullock, Salma Hayek, Natalie Portman, Emma Thompson & Emma Watson have all spoken out against the glaring inequalities for women in the film industry. The Death of the Bond Girl is another subject for feminists everywhere to cheer about.
It seems that the highest-paid actress in Hollywood (Jennifer Lawrence) is paid significantly less than the highest paid male star (Robert Downey Jr.) Granted, we’re talking about millions of dollars, but the principle is universal. Women are still paid less than men for doing the same job!

*Another list has popped up. Now that we are in the middle of the second decade of the 21st Century, the need to list all the categories and best of films is overwhelming for critics and news organizations. Here’s one that compiled all the best action films. Although this list is edited to include only the top six, two of these are from the year 2000-15 years ago-and one is a recent addition-Mad Max.

Mad Max Fury Road

**The List of 21st Century Best-Action films-includes:

*John Wick-2014
*Bourne Ultimatum
*Casino Royale-2006
*Gladiator-2000
*Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon =2000
*Mad Max: Fury Road-2015
There were more films listed, but none that deserved the accolade of Best-Action film!

Frank Sinatra

**Frank Sinatra on Film: In this celebration year of Sinatra’s 100th birthday, a list emerges of some of his best work on film. The famous crooner starred in hits like From Here to Eternity, On the Town, Guys and Dolls, The Manchurian Candidate, Pal Joey and High Society. He started making films in 1943 with Higher and Higher and ended in 1984 with Cannonball Run II.

**Dustin Hoffman is the latest to take aim and criticize the film industry. He said in an interview recently that TV is the best it’s ever been, and movies are the worst they’ve ever been.

**Upcoming: The Heart of the Sea from Ron Howard, Bridge of Spies with Tom Hanks, and Legend with Tom Hardy are all coming this fall. Robert Redford and Nick Nolte are teaming up in a comedy, A Walk in the Woods that may actually be as funny as the previews.

Star wars logo

**Another list emerged recently. These are some of the best movies aboutSpace”. This list included some of my favorites, and of course, it’s edited to include Honorable Mentions but not the ”Don’t bother to Mentions”!

I would simply add that the list lost a lot of credibility when it included The Day the Earth Stood Still and Blade Runner in Honorable Mentions…And if 2001: A Space Odyssey is not included, there’s nothing more to add.

**The Best of “Space” films include:

 Star Wars-1977

Capricorn One-1977

Close Encounters-1977

Apollo 13-1995

Interstellar-2014

Moon-2009

The Right Stuff-1983

Gravity-2013

Contact-1997

Armaggedon-1998

Honorable Mentions were: Solaris-Planet of the Apes; Wall-E; Blade Runner!; The Day the Earth Stood Still; War of the Worlds; Buck Rogers in the 25th Century; Flight of the Navigator and E.T

*There seems to be an upcoming debate between the two rival comic universes, DC vs Marvel. With the idea that some of the superheroes are going to be expanding again to include even more tales of origin. As was pointed out recently, “Superhero tales are about extraordinary super beings bashing each other with ridiculous powers. Origin stories are about ordinary people suffering some sort of transformative trauma” With the underlying meaning being that one set of stories is exciting and adventurous, and the other has the potential to be deadly dull.
**Outliers:

Bill Murray Ghostbusters

Bill Murray does have an announced cameo in the new Ghostbusters film. If the film has any notion to receive its due in the Cinematic Pantheon, Murray must appear as a Ghostbuster.

*Influence of Star Wars on Film…There’s an article from 6 Degrees Flipboard recently that seemed interesting enough, regarding the influence of Star Wars on film. Naturally, I was interested, as I devoted a good portion of my book, 6 Degrees of Film, to the theory that Star Wars has shaped our culture and definitely our films for the past quarter of a century and more.

Specifically, George Lucas and his company, ILM-Industrial Light & Magic, have transformed the nature of cinema with the emphasis on special effects and CGI-Computer Graphic Imaging. The assertion was made that there would have been no Blade Runner without Star Wars. I’m not sure that is so, because Ridley Scott directed Blade Runner and made some innovative and creative decisions that were not connected with ILM.

*Christopher Guest will premiere his next mockumentary on Netflix-furthering Spielberg’s assertion that more and more original and creative projects will flow through Cable Networks rather than the big screen.

• The company that made Masterminds, the new Zach Galifianakis/Kristen Wiig comedy, is bankrupt and can’t afford to market the movie. Relativity Media filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which puts the October release on hold and the movie in limbo. Too bad because it looked funny, with lots of former SNL players on board for the comedy.

Oscar Selfie pix

*The Director of Crash recently admitted it shouldn’t have won Best Picture! I wanted  Munich or Capote to win that year, so this wasn’t shocking news. Almost every year, I root for a film to win Best Picture that eventually loses. And for that matter, it shows in the long run with so many forgettable films earning the nod. In the past 10 years, there have been few memorable winners for the Best Picture Oscar.

The under 30 Hollywood Set: The list of actors and actresses who are “up and comers” include these A-Listers in the 30 and under crowd: Margot Robbie, Cara Delevingne; Michael B Jordan, J Lawrence, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Stone, Zoe Kravitz, Nicholas Hault, Dakota Johnson, Miles Teller, Eliz Olsen, Alicia Vikander, Liam Hemsworth, and Elle Fanning.

**The Reviews are in:

*Fantastic Four bombs at the box office

*Monster Hunt was the biggest Chinese box-office film ever. And that is the largest market in the world now, so it’s definitely making some people in Hollywood sit up and take notice. The movie looks fairly simple, about a couple that “adopt” a small monster baby. It doesn’t sound like great news for those who root for more complex stories and adult plots.

The Lion King

*The Animated movie pick of all time is…The Lion King.  The Best selling VHS of all time was The Lion King; the top selling DVD is Finding Nemo and now, the best selling Blu-Ray film is…Frozen.

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What’s Coming Next:
*Scorsese is teaming with DiCaprio again for a movie about a serial killer from the best-selling book: “The Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson.

**Trailers: Some of the trailers for upcoming films that look promising include: Learning to Drive with Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley; A Walk in the Woods with Robert Redford and Nick Nolte and Sicario with Benicio Del Toro.

Far from madding 2015

**On Demand:
Movies on demand now include Child 44-reviewed in 6 Degrees, The Age of Adaline, Ex Machina, and Far from the Madding Crowd-all recommended for viewing