6 Degrees: Friday Flix

6 Degrees of Film

Hello from my writing conference in Orlando, dear readers, so the Friday Flix is going to post on Saturday this week-in keeping with the topsy turvy nature of the “biz” that we write about!

There has been a lot of “buzz” about the failure of Tom Cruise’s The Mummy and the success of Gal Gadot/Patty Jenkins Wonder Woman. There was talk of the fact that Gadot had made much less for her appearance in Wonder Woman than the Superman actor (Henry Cavill) did, which has been partially debunked.

There’s a new trailer for the upcoming Blade Runner 2049 which looks good. Another tidbit from Hollywood was that Ron Howard has taken over the reins and is directing the Hans Solo Star Wars film, after the directors unexpectedly left the project.

Here’s a short list from our online magazine, 6 Degrees, featuring reviews from some classics being shown on Turner Classic this month, with a couple of articles that list the best of Hitchcock, which is hard to do.

Reviews for Hitchcock….TCM has featured several Hitchcock classics, including Rear Window. There’s a review on 6 Degrees, and a piece with some interesting facts about the movie. And if you have never seen this list, go to the National Film Registry-the link on our site will give you the full list. The important work they do is vital to preserve the films of the early 20th Century that have been fading over time. The list grows each year as more and more films are added and acknowledged to be classics decades after their release. A must see for all movie buffs!

As the month draws to a close, there’s a post reviewing Audrey Hepburn’s Funny Face. She is a movie star that cannot be replicated, and her films are still extraordinarily fun to watch. This one is a period piece, and although it’s kind of a “chick flick”, the colors and vibrancy of the cinematography make it not only a great fashion film, but a good old-fashioned date night movie, if only to be seen at the art houses or on the small screen.

What’s Playing: Transformers: Didn’t get universally good reviews, and in fact they were decidedly mixed. The Beguiled: 6 Degrees features an interview from Film Comment with Sofia Coppola, the director of the film. The Beguiled is not only a remake of an earlier Clint Eastwood film, it’s also adapted from a novel by Thomas P Cullinan. Film Comment also has reviews for Beatriz at Dinner, Baby Driver and Rough Night with Scarlett Johansson. The Rough Night review starts with “Dying is easy, comedy is hard”…so I’d say there’s been some mixed reaction to this comedy, also. Finally, there’s favorable reviews for the dark comedy,  The Big Sick.

There is an interesting interview with Bernard Tavernier on French cinema: A quote from Tavernier: “If by ‘auterist’ you mean that the director is the author of the film, I agree. If it means that you have to forget the importance of screenwriters, D.P’s, composers, I’m not an auterist” (I agree-there’s been a debate raging for decades on the importance of the director as “auteur” within the film critics community).

A new book is out that looks good: It’s about the wonderfully weird world of drive-in movies from a bygone era. The subject is explored in “Opening Wednesday at a Theater or Drive-In Near You” So many film books of late have focused on the new “Golden Age” of cinema that was from the late sixties and into the seventies. This book takes a look at the type of “Bad-B’ cinema that was usually featured at a drive-in. Those of us “of a certain age” will remember the very fifties practice of going to the drive-in movie and watching films with our parents, and later with friends and with dates as we sat beneath a canopy of stars in cars with open windows. It really is a by-gone era.

We are now in a different era, as my book, 6 Degrees of Film noted in the quarter century of Star Wars that has dominated the culture and our movies for the last decades of the 20th Century and into the 21st.

Other reviews from RogerEbert.com online are for Maudie; Once Upon a Time in Venice with Bruce Willis and The Book of Henry. Incidentally, the latter has been dubbed by some critics as one of the worst movies of the decade.

We are now steaming into the Summer Blockbuster Season as we gear up for the rollouts of the big July 4th weekend. Several critics have released the “Best of” for 2017, and it seems a bit premature to speak of as there hasn’t really been a stellar movie season in quite a while.

However, Will Ferrell is touting his new comedy, The House and Christopher Nolan’s big feature, Dunkirk are coming soon, so we will see what the next few weeks will bring. Have fun on your summer vacations, and see you at the movies!-ML

6 Degrees: Friday Flix

We are now officially in the Summer Season for films and there are a few I’m looking for over the next few months. Lady Macbeth and Dunkirk are two, and Will Ferrell’s new comedy is another that may pass muster.

Of course, the super hero season never ends, and the latest is Wonder Woman. My review is posting soon, and the recommendation is: You can wait for the small screen and rent Dr. Strange if you haven’t seen it yet. Of course, the ingenue who debuts as Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot, is very pretty, and the supporting cast is fairly decent. But it has been hyped as something it is not, which is a really good movie. It’s just an okay movie, but it’s nothing to write home about (in my humble opinion-which is that of a film critic!).

What else is happening? Turner Classic has a great lineup of Audrey Hepburn movies this month. She really is something to write home about. If you have not seen some of her best work, then set your DVR to record: Roman Holiday; The Nun’s Story and How to Steal a Million.

TCM also has a new blog, Streamline, and one of the interesting pieces is Revisiting Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet. Branagh is also going to appear in director Chris Nolan’s Dunkirk in July. Another post is about the documentary The Times of Harvey Milk. As I’ve stated many times, if you are trying to choose between the documentary work and the feature film, nine times out of ten choose the documentary. This one is far superior to the film that Sean Penn did about Harvey Milk.

In Film Comment, writer Mark Harris has an excerpt from his book, Pictures at a Revolution, about the films from 1967. The sixties marked a big turning point in cinema, with the old Hollywood dying out and the studio system gone, the new breed of filmmakers were trying to find different ways to tell the story. And there was a lot of innovative thinking as well as actual re-tooling of the entire process of film-making. And the newest type of filmmaker, the independent film producer and director evolved and came into their own in this era.

Harris talks about the James Bond films, and in particular You Only Live Twice and Casino Royale. Also this week, 6 Degrees magazine features an interview with one of the prize-winning past winners of Cannes, Lauren Cantet, who won for The Class in 2008. The full list of winners at Cannes is discussed and the roundtable of critics, including Chaz Ebert, talk about their craft in 2017.

One recently released horror movie that has been receiving lots of praise is It Comes At Night: As defined by what the meaning of the word “IT” is! There’s a good discussion about the beautiful women featured in Wonder Woman that are….of a certain age. It’s good to see older women in films, but the problem has always been that there are only a few choice parts for women over 40, while men…of a certain age-from John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart through Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt all get to work in romantic and leading men parts where their female counterparts are usually relegated to roles for mothers and small supporting parts. It hasn’t changed that much in Hollywood yet!

There’s a review for The Exception on rogerebert.com. It didn’t get a good one-and neither did Churchill. There’s a review of the kids movie, Captain Underpants, on the Macguffin website. And Tom Cruise’s The Mummy has opened with decidedly mixed reviews. There’s one piece reminding us that the 90’s film of the same name was actually pretty good.

There are remakes, and then there’s the concept of the “shared universe” as discussed by Mike Ryan on Uproxx in the post: “Enough, Already, with this Shared Universe Trend.” Apparently, the Marvel comic universe has competition from the rival “Dark Universe”, which may just be a way to garner interest for a bunch of comic-book movies that the studios are desperate to plug. At any rate, the film critic universe still stands by the silly and old-fashioned notion that a good movie is hard to find. And not all of the comic flotsam floating around in these mixed universes contain good movies. As I am wont to say when someone is waxing lyrical about this film or that: “I’ll be the judge of that.”
We all will as we keep going back for more! See you at the movies-ML

6 Degrees: Friday Flix

6 Degrees of Film

Continuing with the thoughts about which films most impact our lives personally, I have re-posted here on 6 Degrees one of my older pieces that talks about films such as The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz and Roman Holiday-all of these films that encompass the times we live in and moments in our lives. One thing that has been lost in recent years is the millennial need to see films in color. Granted, it is at times a dated process to watch silent films, and some films don’t hold up well, but there is so much to be seen and heard in our rich history of the movies that would be lost if we shunned the superb examples of film making in black and white.

The films of Hitchcock, of Chaplin and Laurel & Hardy, of Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton, and the films of Bogart and Gary Cooper were primarily black and white ones. In fact, almost the entire genre of Film Noir is gone if you don’t watch the films in their original black & white format. It’s just a point of personal privilege and it sounds like some old fart ranting about how the good ol’ days of film were really the best ones, but there is a history to film-making that would be lost if we shunned the black & white treasures of the past.

Moving on: The end of March brings openings of The Boss Baby– the animated feature with the voice of Alec Baldwin (most reviews are not favorable); reviews for Life, Wilson, Atomic Blonde with Charlize Theron; an interview with director Danny Boyle about Trainspotting 2 and a Film Comment article on this one also.

Other films of note coming out are The Zookeeper’s Wife, with Jessica Chastain, based on a true story of Warsaw zookeepers who saved the lives of Jews in World War II.

There’s a Film Comment piece about Paul Newman’s work as a director in our 6 Degrees magazine. And RogerEbert.com features a book review of “Talking Pictures” by Washington Post critic Ann Hornaday.

There’s also an interesting post about a relatively new phenomena, the re-emergence of 1984. The book by George Orwell has had a rebirth in this era of Trump, and the film version of the same has also been showing in several major cities.

One of the interesting aspects of the recently released Natalie Portman film, Jackie, is the portrait of Camelot that Jackie helped to create after the assassination of JFK. RogerEbert.com discusses this interesting backstory behind the legend of Camelot.

Of Note and under the heading-Fem Flicks: ALL of the content found on rogerebert.com during this last week in March has been written by women. The site also features examples of female-driven storylines in Hollywood with a video interview of Jessica Chastain and Niki Caro from The Zookeeper’s Wife.

We might be headed for a writers strike in Hollywood, according to CNN. But the Writers Guild of America must renegotiate their contract by May of this year, so stay tuned. We’ve also featured in our 6 Degrees magazine a piece (also from Roger Ebert) on the black and white classic from director Francois Truffaut, The 400 Blows. As well there’s a beautiful article on one of my favorite actresses of any era, Audrey Hepburn, who starred in “Roman Holiday” (both of these films were shot in black & white).

Also noteworthy is a piece in Rolling Stone on “Five Came Back” which has been called by some the best documentary ever made on the subject of Hollywood and wartime. As we move into April, there’s a list of movies to stream in the coming month

One Last Thing: One of my favorite reviewers, my good pal from Australia, Jason King, also has a wonderful movie magazine that’s found on Flipboard and it features great reviews. In fact, one of the highest reviewed posts on 6 Degrees was from Jason’s site-his piece on Kong: Skull Island. Check him out if you have a chance!

Next week we’ll feature some of the Turner Classic films and the accompanying reviews. Write or Comment if you can on some favorite films that have impacted your own lives. Looking forward to spring and seeing you at the movies!

Three things you should know about…My Fair Lady

My Fair Lady


1. Leslie Howard starred in Pygmalion, the George Bernard Shaw adaptation from which the musical is based, in 1938 with Wendy Hiller, and it is worth seeing to compare and contrast with the more flowery musical.
2. Rex Harrison is probably the best reason to see the musical version of this. The music is memorable, and many of the songs became hits and are still sung today, but Harrison shines in the film and the cadence and half-talking, half singing quality of his numbers suited him perfectly as the composers, Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner, wrote the songs with him in mind to play the lead on Broadway.
3. At the time, the big controversy was the decision to snub Julie Andrews and give the lead to the well-known star, Audrey Hepburn. And Julie Andrews responded with one of the best known ripostes in Hollywood as she thanked Jack Warner for being “the man who made all this possible” after he passed her over for the part in the film version, which gave her the chance to win an Oscar for Best Actress in Mary Poppins.
Audrey Hepburn is one of my favorite actresses, and she does justice to the part although Marni Nixon actually sang the songs in My Fair Lady. Hepburn looks beautiful, as always, and holds her own with Harrison’s commanding presence as the iconic professor Harold Higgins.

Hepburn is seen on TCM later this week in one of her Oscar winning performances, starring in The Nun’s Story with Peter Finch. Her quiet dignity and ability to combine the strength of an iron will with grace and beauty have always made her best performances stand out.

She shines in “Funny Face, Roman Holiday, Sabrina, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, How to Steal a Million” and so many more. Set your TV to record any of her leading roles if you appreciate the glamour of Old Hollywood combined with brains and sophistication, and that is the whole package that was Audrey Hepburn.

Tampa Theatre is screening My Fair Lady Sunday, January 24th at 3:00 pm.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s and other successful adaptations


brkfst at tiffany's

The Godfather, To Kill a Mockingbird, Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz… From the beginning, films have used other mediums and art forms, everything from plays and classical literature to best-selling books and even comic books for adaptations on screen.

Shakespeare and Jane Austen have proven to be exceptionally well suited to film adaptations. There have been countless movie versions of the Bard’s famous plays and Jane Austen and Charles Dickens have created a cottage industry around their many successful film versions of the most popular re-telling of their works.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s was adapted in 1961 from author Truman Capote’s best-seller of the same name. In 1958, Norman Mailer’s controversial novel, The Naked and the Dead,.was also made into a film starring Cliff Robertson. It didn’t fare as well as the Audrey Hepburn film.

One reason could be that Hepburn adapted the material to her style, and though it was reported that Capote had Marilyn Monroe in mind for the character of Holly Golightly, the screen version did convey some of the frenetic art scene that was prevalent during the turbulent sixties. Audrey Hepburn’s glamour and waif-like screen presence brought an undeniable sense of grace and mystery that would not have been possible had Capote’s wishes been realized.

When writing a novel and subsequently adapting the material, there is a vision of a story that every author has and it follows that the reader of any novel is able to envision his or her own reality when imagining a story and the characters. The same applies for the director and the cast of any film that has been adapted from an original story source.

The Harry Potter series and the ensuing screen adaptations followed the authors’ original vision fairly closely and the results were wildly successful. And so it goes that in each case, the original material is the source of the inspiration and the resulting film product may veer slightly or deviate wildly from the writer’s original concept. That is and always has been part of the nature of film. And it’s the visions that often turn what might have been just an ordinary film into a piece of art! It’s the “stuff that dreams are made of”.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s will be screened on Sunday, July 19th at Tampa Theatre as part of their Summer FIlm Series.