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: Friday Flix-St Patrick’s Day Edition

 

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Happy St Patrick’s Day to my fellow Film Fans!

 

Happy St Patrick’s Day to my fellow film fans!

At the movies: This week in movies, we see the opening of another Benji, which has been reviewed as something so close to the original Benji as to be redundant. But those of us who are Uber Dog lovers will not quibble. The remake is sufficiently cute and heartstring-inducing to be acceptable.

The Subject is Objectivity: On the subject of Film Criticism, there’s a good article this week in 6 Degrees magazine about Casablanca, where the critic writes, “How could I have written a…book on 1940’s Hollywood and …devoted so little space to Casablanca?” He goes on to admit that Casablanca isn’t a favorite, and then cites a long list of classics that DO arouse his passion.

I forgive him because if we’re honest, then that’s true of all of us. I do acknowledge many of the classics don’t exactly move me to watch them over and over. However, you can acknowledge the excellence and innovative techniques used by the filmmakers, and still allow the film may not ‘move you’ in a significant way. With film, often there is a gut reaction that embeds them in your psyche and compels you to want to see the film again and again. It can allow you to identify with a mood or character and makes you ‘get it’ on that deeply psychic level.

To that end, in my book, 6 Degrees of Film, I compiled the “List of 100’, and as noted before on the 6 Degrees blog, the endless lists we see, from everything that can be compiled including science-fiction films, horror, rom-com, classics and any combination of categories and genres that go on and on are rendered meaningless by their ubiquitous nature. One of my pet peeves is the overly large number of films listed in these articles (I’ll leave my list of 100 films out of the argument for the moment!).

When compiling the best films lists of any recent year, reaching the number of up to 50 or 100 seems high to me. Yes, we can compile lists for the best films of the decade, or for an entire genre to reach the higher numbers, but there should be some discernment and discretion with critics compiling these long lists of films where, when actually perused, as I have done, seem to include lots of questionable picks and sometimes just feel loosely pulled together in order to create the headline, rather than fulfilling the headline’s narrative with the content required to follow up. (For example: Best Villains who dress well or Best Looking supporting actresses wearing swimsuits….)

About the List of 100: In the book. 6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in the Global Village, there is a list compiled of favorite films in the back of the book. Among the films listed is 2001: A Space Odyssey, which is a landmark film in so many ways. The film’s fiftieth anniversary has arrived, and there are a few articles about the making of Kubrick’s classic in the 6 Degrees Magazine.

Here’s an excerpt from my book that points to the reasons that this film made such a significant impact on future filmmakers such as George Lucas:

The Roots of ILM
A Life magazine story from the 1960s summed up
the crisis in visual effects in movies: “There were so many
innovations occurring in film, but in the field of special
effects, there was a dearth of ideas. The big studios couldn’t
finance the large Technicolor spectacles that had been the
signature entertainment for decades at studios like MGM and
Paramount. By the sixties, the film industry had begun to
resemble, a company town where the mine has closed.” 116
Demographics had changed, and audiences had changed. Even
television had evolved, and the world was rapidly changing too.
This meant that movies needed to evolve and adapt to the changing
times. There was an opening for a big turnaround movie.
One appeared in 2001: A Space Odyssey. At 2001’s release in
1969, Stanley Kubrick’s innovations were the cutting edge in
technological advancement in films. But Kubrick’s innovations
did not translate into other copy-cat films, and Kubrick
remained something of a lone-wolf figure. For one thing, the
film was made in England and was too big and too expensive
to emulate. The film failed to revive the waning special-effects
industry in Hollywood. But it did inspire a generation of
young filmmakers who saw that it could be done.
George Lucas was one who acted on that inspiration. He
said, “Almost from the moment film was invented, there was
this idea that you could play tricks, make an audience believe
they were seeing things that really weren’t there. But this was
completely lost by the 1960s.

From the list of 100, there are a few more films recommended for viewing this week. One of the films is in honor of St Patrick’s Day, and is usually shown each year for this occasion. The Quiet Man, the quintessentially Irish film for all things Irish that we love….Also recommended, Casablanca, which we’ve discussed recently on 6 Degrees. And one of my favorite Bogey films in the Film Noir category, The Big Sleep.

Enjoy watching the classics and until next time, see you at the movies!-ML