For the Armchair Film Fest Crowd: For those couch potatoes, like myself, who love films and prefer to partake of Film Festivals from the comfort of their living room chairs, here’s some recommended viewing for May. Here are two big blocks of films shown on Turner Classic you may want to watch and record. The first is the action adventure series with Johnny Weismuller and Maureen O’Sullivan who star together in a string of Tarzan films. Tarzan was the Nativist ideal billed as the “King of the Jungle” who ruled with compassion and care as the lord of his domain. This is on the heels of Darwin’s theory that the strongest survive, and it followed the early 20th century notion of the domination of stronger countries (The United Kingdom and the United States come to mind), over the weaker ones as we went nation-building throughout Africa and the Middle East. The entire film series has an underlying theme of man’s dominance, and yet some surprisingly modern views of women, as Jane, (played by Maureen O’Sullivan-mother of Mia Farrow) tosses aside all of society’s norms to abandon her country and her fiancée to live with Tarzan in the wilds of Africa. The best of the series, after the original Tarzan, is Tarzan’s New YorkAdventure and Tarzan Find’s a Son!
The other Film Fest that is a must see on TCM in May is the Thin Man series. Myrna Loy is a favorite for all women, including myself, who appreciate the strong female role models that popped up from time to time in Hollywood. Myrna Loy had terrific chemistry with William Powell, and the two made a string of Thin Man gems, with lots of witty dialogue and clever plot twists during the ‘screwball comedy’ period of the thirties and forties. The original Thin Man is one of the best of the series, as well as the second- After the Thin Man– with a young Jimmy Stewart, and the third, Another ThinMan, with a hilarious baby birthday party featuring the toughs of New York City, all of them tough guys carrying their babies around. As is often the case, hilarity ensues.
One not to be missed film on TCM is A Few Good Men, which in the climate we live in, both politically and ethically, is a wonderful example of an intense courtroom drama that has a lasting moral message of dogged determination and the idea that the truth will out in the end. A must-see for anyone who has never had a chance to watch one of Tom Cruise’s best performances, as well as an outstanding role for Jack Nicholson with the memorable line: “You WANT me on that wall!…You NEED me on that Wall!”….The connotations are obvious as they resonate today.
Well, we recently listed the top 10 money making films of all time. And the Avengers makes the list at No. 5 AND No 7…(Age of Ultron). So it’s no wonder that the new Avengers film: Infinity War, has suddenly begun to explode records in terms of box office earnings. There are several reviews of the movie in this week’s 6 Degrees magazine, and most of us have gleaned that some of the Marvel characters don’t make it through to the end in this one. Enough said, however, in true Marvel hero fashion, the one hint I will drop is that most of these characters that meet their demise have already announced their sequels so we’ll have to just stay tuned to see if they live to fight another day. My prediction: as long as they are making money hand over fist for the studios, we don’t have to worry about a shortage of super-heroes!
One list I found funny this week in 6 Degrees supposedly had the ten most boring films of all time. And Brad Pitt was in three of them. I didn’t agree with all of the films on the list, not because any of them were particularly stellar ( However I do like Meet JoeBlack), but because in my lifetime, I’ve seen so many really bad, really boring films. And these would not make the top ten cut.
That happens a lot when I see the lists compiled from many of these film blogs. I realize I’ve seen a hell of a lot of films, and some really bad ones to boot. And my movie watching experience extends decades beyond what these bloggers and writers are including when they compile any list-comedy, film noir, action, drama, etc….So I suppose it’s all relative. However, I am not as down on Brad Pitt as this critic seemed to be. He also had Tom Cruise in two of these films, and yes, they were bad Cruise vehicles. (See above-Tom Cruise was in a few good films like A Few Good Men)
Stay tuned for the Summer Film News coming next week. We highlight some of the top summer offerings, as well as discussing some of the major film trends of the 21st Century. Don’t miss out! Till next time, have fun and I’ll see you at the movies!-ML
Here’s a round-up of some of the leading stories found in the 6 Degrees of Film @ the Movies magazine on Flipboard. The last two summers have proven to be relatively slow for finding little gems of movies or seeing big Hollywood blockbusters. The Cinematic Comic-Book Universe keeps churning them out, and we see lots of films coming out of China and overseas. The latest hit has an unusual looking “radish” monster baby (see the picture on Flipboard) and it’s breaking all kinds of box-office records in the all-important Chinese movie market. Here’s what we found in July:
*Citizen Kane: No 1 in BBC Poll: Greatest American film….? My book has a list of top 100 and Citizen Kane is not included. It’s a great film, and like so many great films, it’s an acquired taste. It’s not just me….many man on the street interviews have yielded this opinion of Citizen Kane. Insiders and critics like it. I do agree with most of the top 10 picks which are as follows:
1. Citizen Kane
2. The Godfather
4. 2001: A Space Odyssey
5 The Searchers
6. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans-Murnau,
7. Singing in the Rain
10 The Godfather Part II
As lists go, it’s not a bad one. Five out of ten isn’t bad, just no cigar! And it’s not inclusive if you are talking about strictly American films. The Wizard of Oz should be in any respectable top 10 List.
Hitchcock & Kubrick are problematic if you are speaking about American films. Hitchcock was born in England and Kubrick worked exclusively in England…ToKill a Mockingbird is a uniquely American film also and one would have to put it in the top ten rankings if you are going to parse the definition at all.
Probably you would include An American in Paris and It’s a Wonderful Life if you are talking about Americana. I would put Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or Stagecoach or The Westerner with Gary Cooper over The Searchers.
It’s a very subjective thing to pick a list of strictly American films, and even harder for the Brits to decide!
**Primer to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe: In this informative article, the first 25 pages recap and address the history of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. Rail against it if you are a critic or purist, but the comic book genre is here to stay. This is a good look at the continuing saga of the Cinematic Universe.
Starting in 2008, Phase One included: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers from 2012.
Beginning in 2013 with Iron Man 3,Phase Two includes Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers, Age of Ultron and the current 2015Ant-Man.
In 2016, Phase Three continues with Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in 2017. Spider-Man and Thor: Ragnarok, also slated for release in 2017, and Avengers: Infinity War-Part I, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel in 2018. In 2019,Avengers: Infinity War-Part 2 and Inhumans will conclude Phase Three.
*Add as a caveat George Martin-creator of Game of Thrones- critique of the superhero genre, saying, “I am tired of this trope where the bad guy has the same powers as the hero. The Hulk fought the Abomination, who is just a bad Hulk. Spider-Man fights Venom, who is just a bad Spider-Man. Iron Man fights Ironmonger, a bad Iron Man.Yawn. I want more films where the hero and the villain have wildly different powers. That makes the action much more interesting.” Martin praised Ant-Man, as one of the best he’d seen since 2004’s Spider-Man 2.
**Ranking the “origin stories” of the Marvel Universe may provide background if you don’t really want to sit through 10 or 15 comic book movies. Read the moviefone article here….avclub.com
**Reviews:Southpaw, the boxing movie with Jake Gylenhall, has received mixed reviews; as had Paper Towns;Pixels from Adam Sandler was not received well (officially declared a dud!); Mr Holmes, the new Sherlock Holmes film with Ian MacKellan has generally garnered good reviews. Woody Allen’s new film, Irrational Man with Joacquin Phoenix and Emma Stone is receiving mixed reviews. Not surprising as those who are familiar with Woody’s work may see him going back to familiar ground over and over again.
*Global Box Office:Monster Hunt, out of China, is one of the highest grossing films made there. The Shrek 3 Director was at the helm. China’s state administraion of Print, Publishing, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT-SARFT) had imposed an annual blackout period of 6-8 weeks when imported quotas of films are barred from mainland in order to boost Chinese movies. The family fantasy epic, Monster Hunt may surpass Transformers 4 and become PRC/s (People’s Republic of China) 2nd biggest release in history. Jurassic World moves into the 3rd highest grossing film of all time-Passing Avengers. The sequel to Jurassic is already set for 2018. If you are wondering… Avatar is #2; Titanic still No 1 and still the oldest film on the list.
*From the Fem Flicks File: A new list of 50 Films from Female Directors (how’s that for Alliteration 101?) A list I can’t agree with (Ishtar…? – I love Elaine May, but please!). On the list, I spotted eight worth mentioning
The Hitch-hiker- Ida Lupino-1953
Seven Beauties– Lina Wertmuller- 1975
Desperately Seeking Susan– Susan Seidelman-1984
Big– Penny Marshall-1988
Wayne’s World-Penelope Spheeris-1992
My Brilliant Career– Joan Tewkesbury-1994
Billy Madison-Tamra Davis-1995
Clueless- Amy Heckerling- 1995. Sophia Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow are two stand-outs, with Sophia Coppola not even on the list?! Bigelow is cited for her Strange Days in 1995. She became the first female director to win an Academy Award for Best Director with her Hurt Locker in 2008.
*Must read for all of those like me who love Mockingbird: A typed letter to Director Alan Pakula from the art director Henry Bumstead from To Kill a Mockingbird. His impressions of Monroeville and Harper Lee (Nell’s) extremely useful suggestions as to how the look and feel of the place should be portrayed onscreen. Most amusing when he recounts he’d never seen a collard green before!
*Good read on Kubrick: It spells out the reasons for his greatness as a director and an auteur. He was a photographer first and foremost-the look and the feel of his pictures is through the eyes of an artist framing a shot-as Hitchcock, as Wes Anderson, and so many artistic creators working in film today. The author of the piece, Mark Krasselt, is a Kubrick devotee, and some of the article goes long into the weeds discussing the genius and merits of the man, but to summarize, some of his trademarks such as Kubrick’s use of the Narrator are discussed in detail. Kubrick’s actors are stilted and styled as was Hitchcock’s. The character is seen as metaphor-remember Hitchcock’s famous statement-actors are cattle? Kubrick’s career is detailed at length. The arc of his development and how he came to be an independent auteur after the disappointment of Paths of Glory is one of the highlights. Plus he had an important backer at Warner Bros in Terry Semel-and he never made films again in the US! Always he worked out of his London studio, where he had more artistic control over the project as a whole. Stanley Kubrick is shown as a true auteur as we glean some insight into the “Kubrick experience”. From Mark Krasselt-tasteofcinema.com
*Coming in August:The Man from UNCLE; Ricki and the Flash with Meryl Streep; Best of Enemies, a documentary about the very real rivalry between pundits William F. Buckley and the liberal Gore Vidal, is recommended; American Ultra with Jesse Eisenberg looks funny and quirky-the plot is about a stoner, played by Eisenberg, turned government agent in a twist that hasn’t been done to death-opening August 21. The Revenant trailer looks interesting-two great actors in Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy are starring in this backwoods mountain movie about a man seeking revenge.
• Movie Trends: 3-D….Is it just an annoying fad…? Or is it part of the movie-going experience. We are going to see many specialized “gimmicks” to drive audiences into the movies. A wave of nostalgia for the good old days of movie palaces has already descended upon us.
• The League of Historic Theatres is a national organization dedicated to preserving the memory of old buildings housing defunct movie theatres. The League extends to old theatres and auditoriums, and includes drive-in movies too, a big part of the culture of the fifties and sixties.
Those of you from my Linked in Movie Group may remember my past history with unusual movie “experiences”. As a child I attended the Planet of the Apes “Ape-a-rama” where you got in free if you wore a Gorilla suit and the first 100 patrons got a free banana. It was an all day Planet of the Apes Marathon.
And my beloved Tampa Theatre screened William Castle’s “Thirteen Ghosts” on Halloween many years ago with the original introduction by Castle explaining the 3-D Ghost glasses (one side you could see the ghosts-the other was for non-believers!).
Tomorrow, I wander into the valley of the shadow with the Sing-a-long version of The Sound of Music. The movie means so much to me as it was the first real film experience I remember as a child. We went to the Palace theatre downtown, long defunct, and even got the program (which I scribbled on) and the little orange drinks shaped like oranges with the straws in the middle!
I digress. But the film means so much to so many people, there is one woman in the Guinness book who saw it every day for years when it ran in theatres, and this is truly something any self-respecting film buff should experience.
I’m looking forward to seeing you on the other side! Till then, dear readers. I’ll see you at the movies!
It looks like all Avengers all the time when scrolling through the 6 Degree Magazine on Flipboard. We have listed all the recent articles and they seem to be completely fascinated with the huge box office numbers that the Avengers movie is racking up. So to appease those who may have an interest in box office totals, (Box Office Mojo keeps a running count at www.boxofficemojo.com), we are going to list some of the current film box office champs in the Global race to the top.
Number One: Avatar. From 2009, James Cameron’s Avatar, the one he had worked for over a decade to bring to the screen, still holds the Number One spot. Special effects and CGI are still the big draws for bringing people in to the movies. (2.78 Billion)
Number Two: Titanic and James Cameron again. This is the oldest film on the list, from 1997, and it tells us that some movies contain drawing power with something other than special effects. Of course, the effects of the sinking ship are spectacular, but a young Leonardo DiCaprio and the love story also were a powerful draw. (2.18 Billion)
Number Three: The Avengers. Still. This film from 2012 gives us an idea of the drawing (and staying) power of the Marvel Cinematic Comic Book Universe. The troubling news? 25 films are planned in the next four years. When will the public reach saturation point, I wonder? (Or begin to care about the Infinity Stones?) (1.5 Billion)
Number Four: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. from 2011, this film embodies the enduring popularity of the Harry Potter series. The good news is that literary minded people will agree that JK Rowling’s books were the catalyst for this explosion of movie madness. (1.34 Billion)
Number Five: Frozen. Girls rule! This film exploded onto the scene in 2013 and quickly overtook many of the classic Disney characters and animated films. Women and young girls are hungry for the role model provided by the Disney character of Queen Elsa of Arendelle. (1.2 Billion)
Number Six: Iron Man 3. This comic book series stands apart with the help of a gifted actor in Robert Downey Jr. This film was from 2013. (1.2 Billion)
Number Seven: Fast & Furious 7. The latest installment, released in 2015, has overtaken the competition and landed in the top ten moneymakers of all time. Predictably, F & F 8 is in the works. (1.1 Billion)
Number Eight: Transformers: Dark of the Moon from 2011. Another popular series of films that keeps cranking out sequels and will continue to do so as long as they make money! (1.1 Billion)
Number Nine: Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. This 2003 film is relatively older in the scheme of things. Another book to film series that has kept audiences coming back for more. (1.1 Billion)
Number Ten: A Surprise! …at least to me it was. Skyfall, the James Bond movie from 2012 and one of the oldest continuing series of films-over 50 years-that is still incredibly successful thanks to a new lease on life in the form of Daniel Craig. (1.1 Billion)
Next, we’ll look at some of the surprising movies on the list of the top 100 current films making money for Hollywood markets…
What would you guess is the oldest film currently in the top 100 list?
*Hint: May the Force be with you.