6 Degrees Friday Flix

6 Degrees of Film

The Friday Flix is basically a list of the threads that tie together to become part of the 6 Degrees of Film. For those who may not find the connections in older films, and the notion that everything old is new again, we’ve decided to keep the 6 Degrees theme for our Friday Flix weekly film review. And naturally, that applies to our online magazine, 6 Degrees, as well.

For this week in film, there’s a good piece that ranks all the James Bond films. On Flipboard, (Favorite Things for Writers), the Bond blog takes it to extremes with the question of Bond’s salary, which seems to be stretching it a bit far. But Bond movies are in the news as companies are salivating over the bids by studios to take over the successful franchise.

There is one article that lists recommended search engines for films. With the recognition that many sites are offering free streaming movies to view, and so many types of either “niche” postings for horror or comedy or comics, there are way too many places to list. But the ones that we all know: Netflix, IMDb, and Rotten Tomatoes are certainly on there, and then there’s the newer and –I hate to use this word- “hipper” ones which are Criticker-which finds movies to watch; Clerkdogs-which uses a film you like to find similar types; and the highest recommendation went to Jinni. You can search films or find new films and reviews on this site. So check it out….?

Recommendations are included for two big film festivals- Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, opening this week, and Cannes Film Festival in France. Classic films and films stars will be honored, as well as premieres of art films and other major productions. One retrospective will feature Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine” documentary (hard to believe Moore’s films are old enough to start doing retrospectives of them!)

The Summer Film rollout seems to come earlier each year. It used to be the end of May, but now we see the films rolled out the week after Easter (which this is!). The Guardians of the Galaxy franchise is big (no surprise), and Guy Ritchie’s re-tool of the King Arthur legend is opening soon with Jude Law and Charlie Hunnam as Arthur.

Goldie Hawn is back in a comedy with Amy Schumer, Snatched, opening Mother’s Day weekend. Another comedy that features a female cast is Rough Night with Scarlett Johannson, about a bachelorette party in Miami gone wrong. A female styling of The Hangover perhaps?

For those awaiting the return of Will Ferrell to comic form, he is starring in The House, with Amy Poehler, about a couple who try to convert their basement into a casino.

The prequel for Alien-Alien: Covenant opens in May. Pirates of the Caribbean has another entry with a returning Johnny Depp. Baywatch has been widely publicized, and stars Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron. Wonder Woman kicks off the Summer Season in June with Gal Gadot in the title role.

For kids, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is also in June, based on the popular book series. Also for kids, Cars 3 from Pixar with Owen Wilson as the voice of Lightning McQueen. And Despicable Me 3 opens June 30th with Steve Carell returning in the third installment.

For adults who are still Tom Cruise fans, Tom is re-booting The Mummy franchise. For young adults, there’s The Book of Henry, about an 11 year old who discovers a secret about the family next door.Transformers is back in June, titled: Transformers: The Last Knight.

And the sequels and comic book series keep on coming with Spider-Man: Homecoming, starring Tom Holland. Then there’s War for the Planet of the Apes.

One that looks good is from director Christopher Nolan, and features Tom Hardy and the acting debut of Harry Styles-it’s the WW II drama Dunkirk, coming in July.( There’s a trailer on our site for this one). We’ll have more in the next week with a full list of the Summer Movies opening. But there are a few here that look pretty good, amidst the sturm and drang of the sequels and prequels.

One film that has an anniversary and therefore, is getting some renewed attention features Jack Nicholson’s masterful performance in “One flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, based on the book by Ken Kesey. The book is great, and the film is recommended viewing for anyone who has never seen it. Check out the review on 6 Degrees.

One funny post was a list of actors who “sell out” to make movies. My friend and I used to talk about, in particular Michael Caine, who seemed to always be in these parts where he was just walking through and picking up a paycheck. We always called these actors “whores” for money (as a joke!). But it is easy to spot the talented actors who are seen from time to time in films where there is not much story, little need for a range of emotions, just lots of money and wasted talent on display as the veteran actors trudge through, sometimes gamely, as guns for hire in these plotless wonders.

One interesting development over at Turner Classics has veteran Alec Baldwin stepping in as host for The Essentials on TCM. Should be good!

The films that are reviewed this week, besides Rear Window from Ebert, are The Handmaiden, Colossal with Anne Hathaway, The Promise with Christian Bale and Oscar Isaac, Unforgettable with Katherine Heigl-which has mixed reviews, The Lost City of Z from the McGuffin site and Free Fire, also on McGuffin.

There’s also a biopic of Emile Zola and Paul Cezanne called Cezanne et Moi, a review of director David Lynch’s masterpiece, Mulholland Drive, and a review of Their Finest from our friends at Salty Popcorn. There’s also a review from Time magazine in 1977 of the Academy Award winner, Annie Hall, from Woody Allen.

Other film news is an adaptation in the works of Fahrenheit 451, done by HBO Films. And there’s a piece on the classic Mike Nichol’s film of the sixties, ‘The Graduate” starring Dustin Hoffman. Sofia Coppola is remaking “The Beguiled” with Nicole Kidman starring in the remake of the Clint Eastwood film from the seventies.

There’s a blog post making the case against the genre of Film Noir. That may be true for some aspects of a defunct genre, with the very few films even being made in black and white, but there is a very real and distinct place in the annals of cinema history for the Film Noir genre. In my book, 6 Degrees of Film,there’s a chapter devoted to The Rise of Film Noir.

Noir brought us the antihero, and with it, the rise of actors like Humphrey Bogart, who really found his footing playing these cynical characters always with a touch of gallows humor. There is such a thing as New Noir also, and if you’ve ever seen a film made in Noir style and shot in stark black and white, you usually remember it. My final thoughts from 6 Degrees were that although it’s out of vogue at the moment in Hollywood, if it’s done right the genre can produce great cinema; done poorly, it becomes camp.

Also of note: a post on Filmmaking in the Age of Social Media. It is a good discussion as the way we view films and perceive reality is at times different after we have lived with Social Media and the age of the Internet.

And along these lines, there’s an article on Film Inquiry about favorite opening credits. That’s a good one to mull over, as some of the most innovative and interesting film ideas reveal themselves as we watch the opening credits of movies and see how a director or a filmmaker can portray something that we may have watched dozens of times, but with a new twist or a different visual perspective, we see things with fresh eyes. That’s part of the beauty of film and it’s what keeps us going back for more. Till next time, see you at the movies!-ML

6 Degrees: Movie Trends for the New Year

6 Degrees of Film
6 Degrees of Film

 

Happy New Year to my fellow movie goers and 6 Degree friends! The Silly season is upon us, and in Hollywood, that’s saying a lot…(It’s always silly season, really). The Awards season has arrived with the Golden Globes, and BAFTA (British Films), and Film Critics Association and so on. The big Kahoona-the Oscars-just announced their nominees late this week.

But the most dreaded of all things for most film critics is the annual lists. The Year’s best films are all on parade as a sign of how very good or bad or banal or pseudo-intellectual the noted reviewer can be. There are some surprises when a list of films that no one in America has ever seen start to populate the lists. And then there are some absolute stinkers that crop up on one or two selected lists.

I think that the worst thing about the yearly list of lists is the predictable nature of the institutions that publish the lists. One of the reasons I’ve become overly cynical about the production of yearly film lists is that I not only write about film, but I also edit a film magazine. And the worst part of the job (besides not getting paid!), is that the same stories are recycled about 100 times and the only changes are the snazzy titles that are offered: “Films to watch when you want to lose weight”; “The best of….fill in the blank”; “Summer surf films”; “China is boffo at box office”; or “Who will be the next hero in the Cinematic Universe?”

The list goes on…I have my own list of movie trends. These are some of the things that seem to be rotated on an amazingly and at times, boringly regular basis:

Movie Trends List from 6 Degrees

  •  Sequels & Spin offs-These are the bread and butter movies for most of Hollywood. They are not all terrible, as I’ve often pointed out that Shakespeare did pretty well with re-hashing old plots.
    The Comic Book Universe-This is a genre that could use a good shake-up. It could use a small electrical shock for all the writers who continue to re-work the same basic plot through a never-ending list of superheroes bent on saving the world.

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The Cinematic Universe-This is an interesting conceit as it encompasses so many different cinematic universes. We may think of Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings, but it could be interpreted as far back as The Cinematic Universe of Oz or the Cinematic Universe of Charlie Chaplin and Laurel & Hardy. The Cinematic Universe connotes fantasy and storytelling, some of the strong suits of Hollywood classics. In the world of fantastic beasts and unrequited yearning, we find some of the greatest stories and cinematic universes imagined.

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    Fem Flicks/Girl Power-Although there have always been strong women in films, from Greta Garbo and Katherine Hepburn to Meryl Streep and Maggie Smith, we are now seeing a new generation of moviegoers who celebrate Girl Power and young women who can identify with the heroines in hits like Frozen and The Hunger Games bringing young girls into the 21st Century and seeking parity with young boys.
    Kid Power/Pixar movies/animated & Kids movies: Some of the most creative films of the past few decades have come out of the Pixar studios. This shouldn’t be a surprise as Walt Disney was one of the pioneers in the field of animation and live action films for children through most of the 20th Century. The trend continues in the 21st Century, with more imaginative and creative films being produced from Finding Nemo and Wall-E to Shrek and Tangled.
    Global village at the movies-Diversity and Foreign Films continue to converge with the English language market and we are fast becoming a Global Village of moviegoers. You can interpret that to mean that not as many great films are coming out of Hollywood these days.
    Rise of China at the Box office-This is one of those stories that happens to have some elements of truth mixed in with a spice of hyperbole to lend it credence. Yes, there is a huge burgeoning market in the world now for Chinese audiences, but there market share is still far below most of the North American audience.
    Rise of the Small Screen- Here is a trend about fifty years in the making. In my book, 6 Degrees of Film, the movie moguls of the fifties were scared stiff by the thought of televisions showing movies on the small screen and keeping moviegoers at home. New fads such as 3-D glasses and Smell-o-Vision came to the theatres. Nothing new here, except we can now watch films on our televisions and I-Pads. Perhaps the most worrying trend is the one where the most talented writers are now working for Cable Network series, and the most interesting and creative story lines are being discovered on HBO and Showtime, and not at major film studios.
    Rise of the Movie Blogger– With the rise of the movie blogger, we find an interesting panoply of titles and genres to blog about, ranging from horror to box office totals, from Film Noir to Bollywood, from Classics to Comic book genres, and even to blogs for gaming sites. The problem is, as with the movie studios, that there exist only a certain amount of talented writers and bloggers producing material, and the rest, as they say, is “crap”!
    Twilight of the Film Critic– Not necessarily. Some of the best reviews come from NPR, The Guardian, and other old faithful’s like The New York Times and LA Times, plus some unexpected places like Ebert.com, where Chaz Ebert, Roger’s widow, has put together a really creative and varied site with different pieces covering all aspects of filmmaking. Film Comment also produces thoughtful and erudite pieces on film on a regular basis.

• Where to find the best information about film? Of course, in my humble opinion, all the news that’s fit to print about film can be found at 6 Degrees of Film, our online magazine where reviews and the best pieces on current films are selected each week, with an emphasis on weekly round-ups of top film sites each Friday, and on Mondays the box office numbers and top films are all featured.

This week: we found the following:

• News of the death of the great and distinguished English actor, Alan Rickman
• An Interview with Director Paul Verhoeven
• A piece on the newly released Orson Welles Classic “Chimes at Midnight” which was Welles’ take on Shakespeare’s Falstaff.
• An interesting looking film : “The Treasure”, about three men on a treasure hunt in a suburban backyard-reminiscent of the classic with Robert Ryan, “God’s Little Acre”
• Reviews of The Revenant (6 Degrees has a piece)
Molly Haskell on “The Masculine and the Feminine”, a piece originally published in 1974. She looks at classics such as “The Big Sleep” and the on-screen relationship developed in characters portrayed by Bogart and Bacall.
• The complete list of Academy Award nominated films. The Oscars are held Sunday, February 28th, with Chris Rock as this year’s host. Should be a welcome change, with Rock calling attention to the lack of diversity and the ongoing “Old White Guy” problem plaguing the Oscars.
• An interesting piece on “Star Wars Mythology 3.0”. There is always a danger of overkill with so much publicity and attention surrounding the Star Wars film, but this is a different take on the Cinematic Universe, if you will, of Star Wars.
• Much more to be seen and read in 6 Degrees of Film @ the Movies