6 Degrees of Film: Notes from the Global Village


After seeing more than one story from a critic complaining about the volume of films and the impossibility for a single film critic or film website to adequately cover all of the existing material, it seemed to be a good idea to try and sort out some of the mass data dump we are all receiving on a weekly basis.

Here’s a listing from 6 Degrees of all the news that’s fit to print. Alright, perhaps that’s an overstatement but at least here’s a stab at the top news from the world of film-makers and Hollywood, with a healthy dose of 6 Degrees skepticism tossed in for good measure.

Features will include:

1) Top Stories: From Hollywood and global markets.
2) Critics choice: Good buzz. What the critics are saying about films.
3) Coming soon: What looks good in Upcoming Features
4) The Armchair Film Fest: Recommended viewing of classics plus streaming and on-demand/DVD
5) Of Note: Future events and Hollywood trending…

Jurassic World

1) Top stories of this week include the colossal success of Jurassic World. That’s no surprise considering that Jurassic Park is still high on the list of top-grossing films and it has been over twenty years since its debut. On the other hand, it looks like Disney and George Clooney have a flop in Tomorrowland, which posted disappointing numbers.

2) Critics like Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. It’s a film about a young high school boy who finds an emotional connection with a young girl diagnosed with cancer.
They also like Wolfpack, a film about a group of young Peruvian-American brothers who were socially isolated for years in their New York apartment dwelling and passed the time by watching perhaps as many as five thousand movies. I like these films because they dwell on a subject I have written on extensively, and that is the growing sense of isolation that exists in our society.
On a much ligher note, Spy has generally received good reviews for Melissa McCarthy. Also Love & Mercy, the film about Brian Wilson’s life as the creative force behind The Beach Boys, is getting great reviews.

Man from uncle
3) Some of the biggest openings coming up are Ian McKellan as a much older version of Sherlock Holmes in Mr. Holmes, and Terminator Genisys, both premiering in July, with Arnold Schwarzenegger recreating his iconic performance as the robot killing machine. Fans of the old TV series, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. will be pleased to know the film is set to open in August.


4) The Armchair Film Fest: A personal (over a year in the making) favorite of mine is the idea of binge-watching when a noted actor or star comes across the radar. For this, it’s best to contemplate your own personal “Armchair Film Festival”. In days gone by, it would be impossible, but in today’s world, there are so many great performances and actors that need the Film Festival treatment that it makes sense to create your own.
There are so many different film festivals out there it’s hard to keep track. One thing in this age of video that is definitely a bonus is the discovery of so many great films and great performances that you can see on demand and on video. For instance, I fell in love with Russell Crowe and Peter O’Toole and Clive Owen at the movies and subsequently became a fan after watching so many of their older films that were available on video. My recommended viewing includes favorite actors and genres plus what’s playing on TV.

Paul Blart MC
5) Of Note: The Hateful Eight, the Quentin Tarantino re-make of the Magnificent Seven, is set to premiere in December. Bill Murray, who has kept audiences guessing for more than a decade with his quirky performances in Wes Anderson and other indie films, is back in Rock the Kasbah. Star Wars fans are still buzzing about the trailer for the upcoming (December release date) JJ Abrams directed Star Wars picture. Chaz Ebert has released a list of the worst films of the year. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 is prominent, although I have to say, I have seen films far, far worse than this light and insipid comic romp.

6 Degrees: Summer Newsletter

maggie gyllenhall

Women in Hollywood: Sexism & Age Discrimination. Now there’s Maggie Gylenhall to add to the list of women speaking out about some of the unfair and discriminatory practices Hollywood has been engaged in for decades. In her case, she was told that at age 37, she was too old to be the love interest for a 55 year old man!

angelina jolie


Top 10 Highest Paid Actresses: No big surprises, but some small ones. I would have thought Scarlett Johannsen or Drew Barrymore would be on this list. Maybe Kate Hudson? Other than that, it’s fairly predictable. Some of the older females, all still relatively young mind you, but not by Hollywood standards!

1. Angelina Jolie
2. Jennifer Lawrence
3. Kristen Stewart
4. Jennifer Aniston
5. Emma Stone
6. Charlize Theron
7. Sandra Bullock
8. Natalie Portman
9. Mila Kunis
10. Julia Roberts

Selma 2

Top 10 Spiritual Films-2014 from Dr. Edward McNulty
1. Selma
2. Calvary
3. Ida
4. Cesar Chavez
5. The Good Lie
6. The theory of everything
7. The Railway Man
8. St Vincent
9. Unbroken
10. Son of God

Another film list that caught my eye was a list of Spiritual Films of 2014. The list found in Presbyterian Today includes some of my favorite films from last year. Selma, St. Vincent, Calvary, Cesar Chavez, The Theory of Everything, Unbroken, Ida & The Railway Man are some of the films on the list.
I would add The Drop, with Tom Hardy and the late James Garolfini., plus The Imitation Game with Benedict Cumberbatch. These are films that had meaningful messages and all featured characters who, at their core, had some spiritual depth and beliefs that made these films resonate.
There should be some point to reviewing films other than relating the obvious such as whether you recommend it to others. If movies are simply mass entertainment, then word-of-mouth or box office results should be enough to send people to see them. But some films have, at their core, a statement to make or a deeper meaning which is meant to be conveyed to the viewing audience. And in this day and age, it’s becoming harder and harder to find the films with deeper meanings and values.
It’s pointless to reach the end of a year and simply decide, based on box office or one or two critics opinions, which films have staying power. Of course, the reason for award shows like the Oscars or Cannes is to bring to light many obscure and fine works of art. But sometimes that’s not enough.
Many of the films lauded by Hollywood don’t really leave lasting impressions. They may simply reflect a mood of a particular time or era. And there are other films that do leave lasting impressions. Over the past decade in film, the films that have lasting power are few and far between.

Next month I’m featuring a list of films from the past decade that have some kind of lasting impact in our culture. Here’s a list of upcoming Summer Films.

Coming in June


June 5th: Spy with Melissa McCarthy: Hopefully funnier than some of her latest outings. McCarthy is a talented comedienne with a deft touch given the right material. She was wonderful in St Vincent with Bill Murray.

Entourage: The hit series with Jeremy Piven comes to the big screen.

Jurassic World

June 12th: Jurassic World-Coming again to a theatre near you! Jurassic World takes off from the end of the first outing. Jurassic Park is one of the films listed in the top 100 Highest Grossing Films list. Hence, the inevitable rework!


Inside out

Inside Out: Pixar’s latest offering. As I’ve said many times, some of the most imaginative and creative work in films is done by Pixar. The film is about five emotions-Joy, Anger, Disgust, Fear & Sadness-that exist in the mind of a young girl.

A little chaos

June 19th: A Little Chaos has received mixed reviews. The plot revolves around Kate Winslet as one of the gardeners who helped design the gardens of Versailles  during the reign of King Louis XIV.

Max dog movie 2015

June 26th: Max-This one is not Mad. This is about a service dog from the war and is billed as an ” American family adventure film.” Max is a service dog who must help the family of his fallen handler heal as they recover from his loss.

Coming in July

Terminator Genisys-Another outing with the Terminator. Arnold Schwarzenegger is starring and this one is billed as ” a sequel and a reboot’ of the series. After reading the synopsis, suffice it to say that John and Sarah Connor will try to unravel the time travel screw ups that occur as the writers struggle to make sense of it all.

Mr Holmes

July 10: Mr. Holmes-has received critical acclaim. Ian McKellen stars as an aging Sherlock Holmes.

Ant man

Ant-Man-The ever affable Paul Rudd stars as the super-hero Ant-Man. The plot surrounds Rudd as con-man Scott Lang, who has the ability to shrink and gain astonishing strength when wearing the incredible super-suit.

Irrational man

July 17: Irrational Man-Woody Allen directs Emma Stone and Joacquin Phoenix in this film that debuted at Cannes. Billed as a “mystery drama”, the plot revolves around Phoenix as a college philosophy professor who is experiencing an existential crisis, but finds meaning to his life when he begins a new relationship with one of his students, played by Emma Stone.

Pan 2015

July 24: Pan-Another tale of Peter Pan, this is the background story for the traditional tale of Peter and his journey to Neverland.  Hugh Jackman stars as Blackbeard and Rooney Mara is cast as Tiger Lily.

Vacation 2015

July 29: Vacation-The remake of the original Vacation, this one stars Ed Helms with a cameo from Chevy Chase. Rusty Griswold (Helms) decides to re-connect with his family and take them to see “Wally World”, the mythical theme park that is soon to be closed.


RIcki and teh flash

Ricki and the Flash-This is one of those Fem Flicks. Meryl Streep stars and Jonathon Demme directs in this musical comedy/drama. Streep plays a musician who “gave up everything” for her dream of rock-and-roll stardom. Now she is returning to her home to try and make peace with her family.

Opening in August

Man from uncle

August 7: The Man from U.N. C. L. E.- This looks promising, although it is recycled material from the hit series from the sixties. The characters are set in the 1960’s again, as CIA agent Napoleon Solo works with KGB operative Illya Kuryakin to foil a mysterious criminal organization working to proliferate nuclear weapons.

Straight out compton

Straight Outta Compton-This also shows promise to be a timely entry with a story about the hip-hop group NWA as they emerge from Compton, California in the mid-eighties and change the music industry and pop culture forever with their unique brand of music and tales from life in the hood.


Masterminds-Something on the lighter side, with Kristen Wiig and Zach Galifianakis starring in this comedy based on a true story of one of the biggest bank heists in American history.  Kristen Wiig is another talented comedienne who suffers when she’s not given the right script. Hopefully, this one will hit the high notes. Owen Wilson and fellow SNL veteran Jason Sudeikis also star.

Other films of note opening this summer are:  Mission Impossible with Tom Cruise  and  another Fantastic Four remake.


black mass

September 2: Black Mass with Johnny Depp starring as gangster Whitey Bulger. Depp has been getting rave reviews for his portrayal of Bulger.