6 Degrees: Fall Film News

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6 Degrees of Film

The Fall Film Newsletter is here! Predictably, there are the expected comic book heroes, Aquaman and the anti-hero Venom, there are the historical films about Mary Queen of Scots, Lizzie Borden, Robert the Bruce and astronaut Neil Armstrong; we preview sequels and serial films including a new Halloween, the Fantastic Beasts, and even a new version of the Nutcracker in time for the holidays. Check out this list of films highlighted for the Fall Film Season:

September:

 

Lizzie 2018 Film

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.

October

*The Great Buster: A Celebration is a documentary film on the life of comedian and silent film star Buster Keaton.

Venom Tom Hardy 2018
Venom stars Tom Hardy in the comic book genre tale about a journalist (Hardy) who finds that his body is invaded by an alien-Venom. The two become one as anti-heroes with journalist Eddie (Hardy) still managing to investigate stories. Hardy says: “They bring out the very best and the very worst in each other.”

The Happy Prince starring Rupert Everett depicts the life of famed writer Oscar Wilde. Everett wrote, directed and stars in this film about the final years of the writer’s life in exile, and begins with Wilde’s spiral downward after being imprisoned for ‘gross indecency’; depicting Wilde battling Victorian conventions as a homosexual who shocked the existing norms of the day.

Apostle with Dan Stevens of Downton Abbey fame, is another period film, set in 1905, with Stevens attempting to save his kidnapped sister from a mysterious religious cult led by a charismatic leader.

First Man 2018
First Man is the bio-pic story of the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, as portrayed by Ryan Gosling.. The film goes for authenticity for the times in which it was made. Director Damien Chazelle, reteaming with Gosling after La La Land, said First Man was made to feel like a documentary, “just like we’re a fly on the wall grabbing moments in these families’ households.”

Halloween returns in a new sequel to the original starring Jamie Lee Curtis. The film has Curtis reprising her role of Laurie Strode and is billed as a direct sequel to the 1978 movie, with the interesting concept of simply ignoring the scores of films that have been made previously in this franchise-shades of Dallas! The plot has Curtis as a woman on a mission, having waited four decades to track down and end the menace of masked killer Michael Myers.

November

 

Nutcracker 2018

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is another offering in a series of films that tell the classic story of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, who based his famous ballet on an 1816 story by E.T.A Hoffman. The fantasy film is a big-budget number, with designs and sets that adhered to ‘a strict historical cutoff from the year 1879”.

Benedict Cumberbatch will put up his Sherlock Holmes cap to play another classic character, the Grinch, in Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch.

Outlaw King 2018
The Outlaw King is a period piece about Robert the Bruce, the legendary Scottish king who united his people in their fight for independence from British rule. Chris Pine stars as King Robert.

Fantastic Beasts
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is in the Harry Potter sub sequel of a prequel category, introducing fans to a new cast of adorable characters from the Wizarding World. In this film, we meet baby Nifflers, a Kelpie (a Scottish underwater monster) and a Leucrotta-described as a large, moose-like creature.

Ralph Breaks the Internet is another children’s film with some grown up proclivities, including the star John C Reilly who is also breaking the internet with multiple films out this year. This film is the sequel to 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph from Disney, where arcade heroes Ralph (With Reilly’s voice), and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), go on the internet in search of a replacement game part and adventures ensue accordingly.
Robin Hood returns to the screen with Taron Egerton starring as the overworked man of the forest in this action adventure film that someone must have clamored for…?

December

Mary queen of scots 2018

Mary Queen of Scots is yet another period piece with Saoirse Ronan (of Brooklyn and Lady Bird fame) starring as the doomed queen. This film is based on a 2004 biography of Mary by John Guy. Historically, the famous Queen of Scots and the Virgin Queen Elizabeth never met, but there are several noteworthy plays and films that have these two women interacting and emoting together. Margot Robbie co-stars as Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen of England.

Mary Poppins 2018
Mary Poppins Returns in an original story, not a remake of the original, with Emily Blunt playing that Poppins woman. This film is set 25 years after the initial action in the Banks’ family home, and a tragic death leaves Jane, Michael, and Michael’s three children adrift. Enter Poppins.

Aquaman 2018

Aquaman debuts with Jason Momoa as the king of the sea. The film is directed by James Wan, and centers around Aquaman’s quest to regain the Trident of Neptune and battle Aquaman’s menacing brother, King Orm (played by Patrick Wilson.)

Holmes & Watson 2018

Holmes & Watson is a comic offering of the familiar Sherlock Holmes story with Will Ferrell as Holmes and his ubiquitous sidekick John C Reilly starring as Watson in this comic rendering of the classic story.

There are a few other films of note that include Bumblebee (Hailee Steinfeld); Green Book (Viggo Mortenson); The Girl in the Spider’s Web with Claire Foy; Johnny English Strikes Again with Rowan Atkinson; The Ballad of Buster Scruggs with Tim Blake Nelson and The Other Side of the Wind, a documentary on the unfinished work of Orson Welles
One never knows when reviewing all the myriad number of choices that Hollywood lays before us as critics. There seem to be a smattering of superhero dusted with old familiar story tropes sprinkled with a light layer of sequels and old favorites thrown in for good measure. The originality is often found in children’s films, as I’ve noted for several years. The Harry Potter themed movies always do well, with the imagination of CGI and set designers running wild. The Nutcracker film may be another Fantasia type experience, we shall see. I’m hoping that the Mary Poppins film puts a nice spin on the original, which was so clever and cutting-edge when it was released in the early 60’s. So, too, the idea of the superhero genre, with the acting chops of Tom Hardy, may add another layer in the rather tired superhero film mold. Stay tuned!
We seem to be coming out on the other side of the #MeToo era with a renewed interest in women filmmakers and screenplays and stories told from the female perspective. Let’s just hope that this too doesn’t become overused in the predictable fashion of Hollywood and their method of overkill in all things. The idea of a “Taken” style film with Jennifer Garner(Peppermint) as the vigilante pursuing the bad guys admittedly made me wince. It’s so predictictable and so “YOU” Hollywood!?
As noted, stay tuned, film fans. We shall see which films are the big breakout classics of 2018. The summer has given us a big hit with Mission Impossible times …..100 Plus?! So one never knows, but it seems what’s old is new again- again, in Hollywood. Till next time, stay classy and see you at the movies!-ML

6 Degrees: Friday Flix

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Hello there Film Fans: This week we are gearing up for the Fall Film Newsletter coming soon. The films coming out this fall total well over 100, there were about 126 on the intial list, and there are about 22 that made the cut for our final list. There seems to be a nice mix of historical drama and some original storylines mixed with the usual suspects of remakes and superhero sequels. Stay tuned!
Some very good buzz surround the new film Crazy Rich Asians, for what is described as a charming and original romantic comedy. And don’t miss the video clip in 6 Degrees Magazine that shows the late, great Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin in her one iconic film role, singing RESPECT in The Blues Brothers.
Last week, we heard that Robert Redford was set to retire from acting after his next film. The Old Man & the Gun, out this fall. And that last film is the good news for all of us diehard Redford fans. Redford, like Brad Pitt and Paul Newman, had been categorized as just another pretty face, although his face has been weathered and lined for many years now. The appeal of Robert Redford has long been his steady and deliberate gaze, ‘the male gaze’ as opposed to the much vaunted FEMALE gaze that has been studied for years by film critics. Redford could open comedies and dramas, and was not just a romantic lead, but one who carried some of the best action thrillers as well as Westerns. In short, he has been a versatile lead for decades, with various credits in small parts, after getting his start in television in the early sixties.

Butch Cassidy
Redford was also in one of the greatest Westerns with the greatest screenplay of all time, one that tops most critics top ten lists, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. For all who may not be familiar with some of his lesser known work, here’s a list of some of his best films. As most regular readers know, I tend to give more space to the films and performances that may have gone ‘under the radar’, and for that reason, movies like All the President’s Men and The Way we Were are not on this list.

*Barefoot in the Park with Jane Fonda was “pre-Sundance” before Redford became a big star. He is funny and charming in this Neil Simon play turned into a movie, and the two leads are so energetic and enthusiastic with the light comic fare, it makes the film watchable.
The Electric Horseman: Redford teamed up with Jane Fonda many years later, and though the plot is forgettable, the two lead actors have some chemistry together, and the film holds up fairly well.
This Property is Condemned is a knock-off  of the Tennessee Williams-esque type melodramas that were popular in the fifties and sixties. But the pairing of Natalie Wood with Redford, the direction of Sydney Pollack, and the supporting cast that included a young Charles Bronson, Robert Blake, and an unusually effective performance from Mary Badham, who was the memorable child lead in To Kill a Mockingbird,  makes this film worth watching.
Jeremiah Johnson, is one of the first, before There Will be Blood or the recent horror film A Quiet Place that makes maximum use of silence as a major part of the entire performance. Redford is almost as mum as Clint Eastwood in a Spaghetti Western, but this film is a cut above the B-movie fare that launched Eastwood to fame.
The Natural is taken from the 1952 book about baseball by Bernard Malamud, and also has some notable performances by a supporting cast that includes Glenn Close, Kim Basinger, and an older but wiser version of Robert Redford.
The Sting is a wonderful blend of nostalgia and a light and effectively fast paced heist movie with a great musical score from Marvin Hamlisch, direction by George Roy Hill and this film also used a large and talented cast, including one of the most memorable best supporting roles ever seen from Robert Shaw.
Brubaker, made in 1980, was a cut above most of the Cagney-esque  type prison films of the thirties. Almost all of Redford’s films have been bolstered by great supporting casts, and in this case, there is a memorable supporting role from Yaphet Kotto, one of the inmates in the prison that Brubaker runs who helps him expose scandal and abuse within the prison.
A Bridge Too Far was a film that didn’t fare well at its debut on the big screen. It had too many sub-plots and it bombed badly at the box office. But on the small screen, I would recommend two stand-out performances: one is from James Caan as a soldier who is determined to save his commanding officer on the battlefield, to the point of holding a superior officer, a doctor, at gunpoint in the perfect illustration of the phrase: “Desperate times call for desperate measures.’
The other standout performance was from Redford himself, in a highly publicized bit part where Redford took home millions to play a soldier who is part of the desperate and ill-advised assault on the German bridge in World War II.
The other performance that I would recommend on the small screen is the part of Mr. Death that Robert Redford played in a classic Twilight Zone episode “Nothing in the Dark“,  which debuted long before he became a household name. These are just a small slice of the many memorable performances in an illustrious career, but they highlight and emphasize the reason why Redford has endured for decades as an iconic figure in the history of Hollywood.
Hope everyone has a great week, with lots of movies lined up as we head into fall. Till next time, have fun and see you at the movies!

6 Degrees: Friday Flix

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6 Degrees of Film

 

Hello Film Fans! This week there’s been a flurry of activity in the movie world. First, there’s news of one of my favorite screens stars, the legendary Robert Redford, announcing he is retiring from acting at the age of 81. We look at some of his greatest performances next week in a top ten list.
Also, there’s the news that is long overdue. The Academy of Motion Pictures is going to add another category to their Oscar awards list, one entitled the “Popular Film” category. They also vowed to keep the broadcast down to three hours. We have advocated for the shake-up of this dusty old institution for a while, but not exactly by adding this dubiously titled category. And although I am skeptical that this is anything other than a band-aid, we will see what they offer. There are several articles in 6 Degrees magazine on this new Academy development.
At the movies: Christopher Robin has had a rather unremarkable opening, and Mission Impossible-Fallout has performed better than expected. The horror film, Slender Man, has opened to tepid and not so great reviews. But Spike Lee’s new film, BlackKkKlansman has garnered some great reviews. Denzel Washington’s son, John David Washington is the star in this film based on a true story of a cop who goes undercover to infiltrate the KKK.
One development near and dear to my heart is the announcement that rogerebert.com is going to hire more female film critics. Being one myself, this announcement is a welcome reminder that we need more diverse voices reviewing films and looking at the movies from a different perspective than the predominantly male field of movie critics who have been reviewing films for decades.
Another film development near and dear to my heart is that the film Dog Days has opened and has been well reviewed. So those of us who are completely bias in our love for our canine companions will know this is a must-see and in so doing, can go with the sense of justification (It was well reviewed!)

The Meg has opened to mixed reviews, but they haven’t all been bad. This is one I was on the fence about, but the premise was intriguing. They have taken the concept of Jaws to the nth degree. The film is based (loosely) on a best-seller about a shark thought to be long extinct, a megalodon that is said to be 70 feet long. There are several different reviews for this in 6 Degrees also, ranging in commentary from silly but entertaining to simply silly stuff.
On the small screen, we recommend The Westerner on TCM this week with Gary Cooper and Walter Brennan. If you’ve never seen it, it is one of the reasons Cooper became an iconic star. Gary Cooper is one of the men who can carry a Western using minimal dialogue while exuding maximum power and charismatic charm. This Western is about the early range wars occurring between cattlemen and farmers, and though there is a lot of tough talk, there are some classic funny moments between Brennan and Cooper, particularly over the identity of a lock of hair belonging to Judge Roy Bean/Brennan’s ideal love, Lillie Langtry. Recommended for all Armchair Film Festival goers.
Till next time, see you at the movies!-ML

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

Hello Film Fans! Each Friday I like to go through the top film blog posts and pull out some of the best blog posts and articles of the week past and highlight them in 6 Degrees Magazine. This week there are film reviews in our magazine for Sorry to Bother You, The Equalizer 2 and Rogerebert.com does a rundown of the Mission: Impossible movies.
One of my favorites from this past week is from Film Comment about director Ingmar Bergman and his body of work. Although he stopped making movies way back in 1982, his filmography of over 40 films continued to impact directors for decades. The writer speaks of Bergman being liberated when he announced that Fanny and Alexander would be his last film, saying “Bergman was devoted to a cinema liberated from cinema….and added that Bergman is revered in French cinema. “Though an icon of the New Wave,…it is to the next generation that he would serve as a magnetic north.”
The Film Comment writer, Olivier Assayas, goes on to bemoan the lack of psychoanalysis in cinema today (certainly there is no one worthy of Bergman’s insight and skillful dissection of human nature.) Assayas writes “…cinema, which examines the soul through the features of its performers and records both silence and speech,…has always been the best path to approach the chasms of the unconscious’ Bergman certainly did carve a pathway through the human psyche with unique perceptions and there is no one in cinema today that explores the intimate levels of conscious to unconscious thought layer by layer in the same manner as Bergman. This is a recommended read.
Next week we’ll look at some of the big releases coming out in August, as well as the recommended recordings for our continuing Armchair Film Fest! Till then, have fun and stay cool and I’ll 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

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?