6 Degrees: Friday Flix

6 Degrees of Film

This week we’ve got the 6 Degrees Dunkirk Review going up on the 6 Degrees blog. Great flick, and it has generally been reviewed very favorably, by myself and most critics. Atomic Blonde has opened this week, and War for the Planet of the Apes has opened with good box office numbers. An Atomic Blonde review from NPR is featured in 6 Degrees magazine.
Not faring so well is the new Emoji Movie, which has been widely panned. And the sci-fi film Valerian is generally acknowledged as being a flop.
Also in the magazine this week: There’s a book review of the late director George Romero’s classic horror films, “Nights of the Living Dead.” The other passing was of the actor John Heard, with some of his best films reviewed in an article from flickchart.com.
One of my favorite films from Albert Brooks is reviewed on our site. Lost in America, originally released in 1985, is now out on Blu-Ray. And the New York Film Festival, running from September 28th through October 15th, will close with a debut from Woody Allen called Wonder Wheel, starring Justin Timberlake, James Belushi and Kate Winslet.
Another of my favorite themes-Girl Power-is explored in a Film Inquiry piece this week. With Wonder Woman, Atomic Blonde, and A Wrinkle in Time, we have been able to extend the thematic possibilities well beyond the Frozen symbolism, which started the ball rolling.
There’s a review of the original (of course, still the best) version of The Day the Earth Stood Still with Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal. This film was also directed by Robert Wise of The Sound of Music fame. People often dismiss The Sound of Music as hokum, but Wise was one of those directors that was remarkably successful in different genres, from Film Noir to Sci-Fi and then went on to direct the greatest Family Friendly Film of all time!
Thinking about the iconic films of the sixties: There’s still a question of who will play James Bond in the next go-round. I must say, I love Idris Elba and Charlize Theron, but not as Bond. There are purists out there, and I guess I’m one of them. James Bond posts gets more comments and feedback on the internet than almost any other film article that runs. It’s official-Bond has legs! And we have a review of Casino Royale, one of my favorite Bond films. This review is from the A.V. Club.
For those who like a “deep dive” into film history, the David Bordwell site is featuring a review of a new book by film critic Christine Brinckmann. The book is “Color and Empathy” and the essays follow the treatment of color from silent films, through the fifties, and into experimental films and documentaries as well as the films of Hitchcock.
There’s a post from the LA Times about the director of Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan, and his complicated history with the Oscars. And since Nolan directed Batman (The Dark Knight), we add the article featuring all the Batman movies ranked, worst to first.
Coming Soon: Another documentary is coming. The sequel to An Inconvenient Truth- this one is An Inconvenient Sequel and also feature the talks of Al Gore, who, though never recognized as a dynamic speaker, becomes fiery and animated on the subject of Global Warming. The trailer for the horror film It has gotten good (scary) buzz. And George Clooney and the Coen Brothers have collaborated on another film, called Suburbicon, which is also written and directed by Clooney.
In August: There’s a feel-good Bollywood Musical Comedy called Mubarakan opening. The plot features twin brothers who “are in love with each other’s betrothed”. The long-awaited Stephen King adaptation of his Dark Tower series comes to the screen with Idris Elba starring. Wind River, with Jeremy Renner on a Native American reservation in Wyoming looks intriguing. There are traces of one of my favorite films that got away-Thunderheart-in the previews I saw.
A Ghost Story with Casey Affleck starring as “a friendly ghost” has gotten good advance press. The same with director Kathryn Bigelow’s film Detroit, about the true story of the killing of three black men during race riots in Detroit in 1967.
Well, Summer is in high gear, and we have had some mixed reviews along the way as we make our way slowly into the Fall Film Season. It’s starting to come earlier and earlier, and that means the Oscar Buzz and the Holiday Films and ….it’s too hot to think about that right now.

Hope everyone is enjoying some down time and till next week, see you at the movies!-ML

6 Degrees Friday Flix: The Cinco de Mayo Edition


6 Degrees of Film

The Cinco de Mayo Edition: Happy Cinco de Mayo to one and all…I am still pleasantly surprised, as mentioned in the past week, at the response that most have to any mention of James Bond. Bond has made a huge impact, not only in the movies themselves, but in the global interest in who plays Bond onscreen and the continued interest in the screen legacy of the Bond franchise.

*The Death of Cinema? Martin Scorsese and Ridley Scott have both been quoted in recent interviews lamenting the death of cinema as we know it. Both have blamed the comic book genre, a likely target for those of us old enough to remember the debut of The Godfather and Raging Bull, Blade Runner and Jaws as they became huge hits at the movies. The award-winning directors talked about the millennials ability to watch big-screen features on any device; the advent of CGI; the comic book genres and the difficulty of getting a project “green-lit” when so many sequels and comic book series are in the works. Conversely, Scorsese also acknowledged the “revolution in filmmaking” that has allowed so many young people to make films on a very small budget. And the directors Wes Anderson, Richard Linklater, David Fincher, Alexander Payne, the Coen Brothers and Paul Thomas Anderson all drew praise from Scorsese. So…all is not lost!

*What They’re Saying About: Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is on track to break records and pull it into the top moneymakers lists. It Comes at Night has debuted as a first rate horror film for 2017

***Star Wars Day: There is such a holiday now, honoring the impact Star Wars has on our culture. One article in 6 Degrees magazine highlights the top Star wars Movie Moments. We all know the lines:… “Luke I am your Father, give in to the Dark Side of the Force; I love you…I know” and “Help me,Obi Wan Kenobi- You’re my only hope.”

The way Yoda speaks Pig Latin of a sort, the power of the Force to create magic and the quest for Luke to find his father are all deeply entrenched in our lexicon and our culture. The myth begins with…Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away…and the myth continues to build into the 21st Century.

Such is the power of imagination. As J. K Rawlings created the mythical realm of Hogwarts, so did George Lucas create the universe of Star Wars. There may be a universal acceptance of Star Wars Day, but as it stands now, the Force is honored mostly with costume parades and toy sales.

In my book, 6 Degrees of Film, there is an acknowledgment that the last quarter of the 20th Century belonged to Star Wars. Not only through the film and the story-telling lens, but the myth and the persistent allure of the stories of the Force and the nature of the Dark Side permeate our culture. There doesn’t seem to be any signs of waning interest in the universe of Star Wars, particularly since Disney has bought the rights and promotes it through theme parks and characters. In short, the first two decades of the 21st Century have also been steeped with the mythos of the Star Wars Universe. 

**Films to be excited about in the Summer of 17: Some of the summer releases include: The HouseWill Ferrell returns to his comic roots; Wonder Woman-with a nod to GirlPower world wide, the tale of the invincible Amazonian warrior is hopefully spun to interest women who need a dose of empowerment in the current climate. And finally Dunkirk; with director Christopher Nolan giving us his take on the true story of the “Miracle of Dunkirk”; along with Tom Hardy, Harry Styles and Kenneth Branagh.

About The Godfather: They didn’t want Pacino or Brando; Pacino thought it would flop; they couldn’t use the word Mafia in the film; but the movie somehow managed to come together and catapulted Al Pacino and James Caan to fame. The film also reignited Brando’s faltering career, and promoted Francis Ford Coppola into the pantheon of great directors of all time.

*Coming on TCM: There are lots of Bogart films and war films featured on TCM during the month of May. Pulled from the vaults at Turner Classic, some of Bogart’s greatest films, The Big Sleep and To Have and to Have not are being shown. One of his lesser known films, Across the Pacific with Mary Astor, is also shown in May. It’s highly recommended for all who may be interested in the continued allure of the great character that was Humphrey Bogart.

*Godzilla v King Kong: coming in 2020, there is already “buzz” about the upcoming clash of the two major Hollywood film monsters. The latest film Kong: Skull Island was a tepid entry in the listing of monster movies. But the classic originals are both being shown this month on TCM: Godzilla (with Raymond Burr) and King Kong-the one with Fay Wray and the Empire State Building. Both are must see’s for those who are at all interested in the litany of monster movie classics.

*About Film Noir: If you do get a chance to watch The Big Sleep, or another classic Film Noir, remember some of the rules to identify this genre: The scenes are lit for night; there are lots of scenes with rain, which tends to accelerate the dramatic events; the narrator is crucial; and usually sets the tone for the type of dark and ominous moods that beset the characters and the subsequent events. There is often a passionate attachment to the past, followed by a fear of the future; and the overall movie themes almost always encompass loss, nostalgia, mysterious attachments to objects or people from the past and insecurity in all of its forms.

*50th Anniversary of The Graduate: Groundbreaking films were rampant during the period when The Graduate debuted in the sixties. Easy Rider, Bonnie and Clyde, Cool Hand Luke and Hud broke all the rules of filmmaking to date. Mike Nichols made this comedy with a relative unknown star named Dustin Hoffman in the lead role. The rest, as they say, is history.

*Question: What makes a comic book movie “artful”? Or what makes any movie artful for that matter? My favorite Batman film remains Tim Burton’s Batman and also the original Superman starring Christopher Reeve…not so much for the artful nature, but for the fact that these films as a whole  were treated as comic book entities as well as major Hollywood films.

The Batman series with Christian Bale was probably more artistic in the treatment of the dark side of the character. But the artful nature of any film is shown in nuanced vignettes and superior story-telling, and that is something missing in most of the comic book genre.

The great actors playing the villains always make the most interesting parts of the whole. Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger were undoubtedly the best parts of the Batman series. But there is no comparison with the aforementioned classics, The Graduate and The Godfather.

The comic book genre lends itself to the Hollywood treatment and the characters and nature of the beast will never be transformed into an art piece. The latest films stand on their graphic comic elements, not on the ideals and nuanced character portraits that are buried within the central themes.

Finally, once again here’s wishing everyone a happy celebration for the 5th of May known as Cinco de Mayo. A big shout out to my friend and colleague and fellow critic Jason King, who supplies us with some of his reviews from “Salty Popcorn” including The Zookeeper’s Wife and other delights. Until next week, as we gear up for more Summer Film releases-See you at the movies!_ML