6 Degrees Fall Newsletter: Notes from the Global Village

6 Degrees of Film
6 Degrees of Film


Let’s start with The 400 Pound Gorilla:

 Star Wars: The Force Awakens premieres December 18th. This one is sucking all the oxygen out of the room! I have to confess that I was never a Star Wars fanatic. I saw the original film when it came out in 1976 and wasn’t impressed. I thought that the sequel, The Empire Strikes Back  was superior in every way, but I never became a true devotee of Star Wars.

Since I’ve written a book on film, it’s obvious that the cultural phenomenon and overwhelming impact that Star Wars has had on film-making in general, and also on our culture, is too great to be denied. In 6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in the Global Village,  the book delves into the history of how George Lucas and his Industrial Light and Magic Company  dominated the industry for years and put CGI-Computer Graphics Imaging, and special-effects in the forefront of the movie industry.

When Lucas sold his rights to Disney, many loyal fans were stunned and felt a sense of betrayal. But after reading some interviews Lucas gave, it really did make sense for him to move his ideas and creative themes to Disney. He said in an interview featured in 6 Degrees that “ …I’m not interested in virtual reality at its current level, because it’s just too crude. But if you can program virtual reality or simulator rides with biotech, you will have a very interesting non-world.”

After reading this, it makes sense that Lucas would sell his theme and his mythology to a group that specializes in transferring dreams to paper and making those dreams come true. That’s the Disney mantra and the new theme park being developed by Disney seems to be the natural extension of the Cinematic Universe Lucas created over a quarter of a century ago.

This Fall, Biopic’s abound: One recurring theme seen over and over are the number of films based on true stories. From Everest to The 33, from Black Mass to  Bridge of Spies, it seems that the source material is telling us that truth is hopefully, much more interesting to audiences than fiction!

Fem FlicksThe Suffragette & The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2

The Hunger Games returns Jennifer Lawrence to her breakthrough role as Katniss Everdeen in this last installment. The Suffragette stars Carey Mulligan and one of the legends of the screen in a role of Emmaline Pankhurst, founder of the Women’s Movement in turn of the century England. The role seems tailor made for a strong female such as Meryl Streep.

Famous Directors: Oscar winners Ron Howard & Stephen Spielberg present their films, In the Heart of the Sea and Bridge of Spies, respectively.

Best Actors: DiCaprio & Tom Hardy, De Niro & Tom Hanks, some of Hollywood’s finest actors are starring in films this fall. De Niro and Tom Hanks are both featured in upcoming films, De Niro stars with Anne Hathaway in The Intern, and Hanks stars in Bridge of Spies. Michael Fassbender is taking on the role of Steve Jobs in a biopic. Bill Murray returns to Leading Man Status with Rock the Kasbah

And James Bond is back in a much-anticipated film Spectre with Daniel Craig returning to play the iconic role of Bond.

The Tarantino: Genre’s are turned on their heads with Quentin Tarantino at the helm. This much-anticipated Western, The Hateful Eight, stars Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell.

The Holiday season will usher in some of the most-anticipated children’s movies of the year. The Peanuts Movie and The Good Dinosaur will arrive just in time for Christmas.

But of course, on Christmas Day, as keeping with tradition, some of the darkest plots are featured. The Revenant, with DiCaprio and Tom Hardy is the heartwarming story of a man attacked by a bear and left for dead by his friends in the middle of the wilderness. Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight promises to be just as warm and fuzzy, giving us a Western with lots of blood and gore and vengeance.

The Armchair Film Fest: For warm and fuzzy, two Holiday classics will be guaranteed. At some point, Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, one of the best films Capra and Jimmy Stewart made, and Christmas Vacation, which is definitely Chevy Chase’s best work, will be shown on television.

You may see A Christmas Story looped endlessly on cable networks, so it’s easy to just turn it on at any point to lighten the mood. Of course, Miracle on 34th Street with Maureen O’Hara and Natalie Wood is another standard that will lighten your spirits-if you are over the age of 40.

I find that Milennials and Gen X’ers don’t bother to watch too many films that were made in black and white. Too bad, as they are missing out on some of the greatest films ever made.

Here’s the Fall Movie List starting in September with:


Sicario 2015
Sicario: A female FBI agent (Emily Blunt) delves into a shady drug-cartel task force run by agents from both U.S. and Mexico.


black mass 2 depp 2015

Black Mass– The buzz for this biopic is around Johnny Depp’s much anticipated portrayal of the infamous Boston Gangster Whitey Bulger.

Everest 2015

Everest: This Bio Pic is based on the real-life 1996 tragedy that took the lives of eight climbers on Mt. Everest.



Legend 2015

Legend: Tom Hardy plays a dual-role of the Kray Brothers, real-life British gangsters of the 1960’s. Hardy plays both Ronald & Reginald Kray.


The Martian

The Martian: This Sci-Fi Adventure tale stars Matt Damon as an astronaut left for dead by his fellow crew members and forced to survive alone on Mars.


Steve Jobs film

Steve Jobs: Michael Fassbender plays Jobs in this bio-pic which has already garnered Oscar buzz for his portrayal.

Pan 2015

Pan: Hugh Jackman stars in this new take explaining the origins of the famed Leader of the Lost Boys, Peter Pan.


Bridge of spies speilberg hanks

Bridge of Spies: Speilberg & Hanks collaborated on this bio-pic based on the real-life Cold War exchange of a Russian spy for an American U-2 Pilot.

Truth: Robert Redford plays Dan Rather and Cate Blanchett is producer Mary Mapes in this film based on a true story. The story that ruined Dan Rather’s career is based on the real-life controversial news story involving George W. Bush and his Texas National Guard records.


Suffragette 2015

Suffragette: The film depicts the suffragette’s fight for women’s rights in England. Meryl Streep stars in the film for only four minutes, but her role as a pivotal women’s rights leader Emmeline Pankhurst is a vital one.

Rock the Kasbah Murray

Rock the Kasbah: Bill Murray stars as a burned-out agent stuck in Kabul, Afghanistan who discovers a young talented girl and decides to promote her.



Spectre bond

Spectre: James Bond returns to the screen with Daniel Craig back as Bond.

trumbo 2015

Trumbo: Bio-pic of acclaimed writer Dalton Trumbo, who was blacklisted by Hollywood in the 1950’s after the McCarthy hearings.


The 33

The 33: Antonio Banderas stars in this bio-pic based on the 2010 true story about 33 Chilean miners trapped underground for 69 days after an explosion.


Hunger games final movie 2015

Hunger Games: Mockinjay:  Final Installment: The much anticipated final installment of Katniss Everdeen’s (Jennifer Lawrence) fight against the ruling Panem government.

Children’s Animated Films

the good dinosaur

The Good Dinosaur: From Pixar, the film imagines a world where the dinosaurs didn’t become extinct, and the plot is a unique twist on boy-meets-dog tales; a friendship arises between the dinosaur boy and his pet -a feral human child.

Peanuts 2015


The Peanuts Movie: The film touts the fact they used many of Charles Schulz’s original drawings, such as digital versions of Shulz’s depictions of rain and even Pigpen’s cloud of dirt!


Victor Frankenstien 2015

Victor Frankenstein: James McaVoy and Daniel Radcliffe star in this unusual twist to the famous story as the film switches the focus to Igor, Frankenstein’s servant.


I saw the light

I Saw the Light: Yet another bio-pic tells the Hank Williams story featuring his rise to fame, his volatile relationships, his addictions and his spiral downward before his death at age 29.



Heart of the sea

In the Heart of the Sea: Ron Howard directs this film based on the true story that inspired Melville to write Moby Dick. It centers around the 19th century crew of the whaling ship, the Essex, which battles the elements after a whale destroys their boat in the treacherous deep waters of the Pacific Ocean.


Star wars logo

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Big Kahuna finally arrives after fanfare including detailed coverage of the Milennium Falcon and even the movie trailer. Star Wars returns to the big screen just in time for Christmas. Buy your tickets early.

The Hateful Eight

12/25: Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight: A Western in the Tarantino Genre with Samuel L Jackson and Kurt Russell.

The Revenant

12/25: The Revenant: DiCaprio and Tom Hardy, who are perhaps two of the greatest actors working in films today, star in this movie, also based on a true story, of 19th Century trapper Hugh Glass (DiCaprio).  The plot revolves around Glass seeking revenge after being attacked by a bear and left for dead by his companions.

6 Degrees: Notes from the Global Village


The Fall season is a wonderful time of the year for movie buffs. Fall brings some of the best films of the year out just in time to become eligible for the never-ending Awards Season! Hollywood has had another split year, where the blockbuster summer films have produced several hits but nothing to really be excited about in terms of innovative art or injection of excitement into the existing Cinematic Universe.

Here are some of the notes collected from 6 Degrees-some from articles and long reads in August, and some from my own demented mind…
*Ridiculous & Overly complex plots-in blockbusters…the trend? Here’s a quote from a long-winded complaint in an article bemoaning the overly complex plots in recent super-hero movies:
Labyrinthine machinations to desperately weave in character motivation, geography and the practical aspects of getting from one scene to another
Apparently, it has come to someone’s attention that Hollywood has a problem with story “density”. Is that what they call crappy movies now? For action-packed super-hero stories that contain “teasers” and origin stories, there’s only so much information the audience needs.

Older audiences all know who Superman and Batman are. We’ve read comic books from the fifties through the eighties. And now, thanks to the wonderful newly coined phrase, “The Cinematic Universe”, which is perhaps a euphemism for the billions of dollars that Hollywood envisions when imagining the mileage they can squeeze out of an entire cast of super-heroes, each with his own movie debut and story of origin, we are all treated to some of the worst aspects of the comic book genre, including clumsy plot points weaving through the endless reems of origin stories and desperate attempts to inject original thought into the storyline along with character motivation.

Although I have not been a huge fan of the comic-book genre, I do see the impact that the stories have on a younger generation of fans. And not to be close-minded about this, I’ve conceded that even Shakespeare used a lot of re-hashed plots, and was able to influence generations with his unmatched ability as a wordsmith and his sheer genius as a playwright.

Perhaps there will come a time where some innovative director will take one of these origin stories and craft the equivalent of a Shakespearean play out of the original material. So far, there has been no evidence this has occurred.


**Actors have spoken: A list of their favorite films includes all the usual suspects (not that particular film though!). But a surprising Number One appears: Tootsie!

The list of films that actors chose is not that surprising. And it’s not a far cry from most of the movie-going publics list of great movies. Boogie Nights, The Red Shoes, and A Woman under the Influence are definitely films that actors might choose over any other group.

But the rest of the films seem to be pretty much in line with standard movie “Best of” lists. Tootsie as the favorite film is a surprise. It’s a great comedy, with a superb supporting cast and many memorable lines. Director Sydney Pollack is wonderful in a small part as Hoffman’s agent. Jessica Lange won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role. And Bill Murray was memorable as the befuddled room-mate of Dustin Hoffman’s Dorothy character, and had some of the best “zingers” in the film.

But Dustin Hoffman’s energetic portrayal of an actor who is desperate for a part to the point of risking everything, and laying it all on the line, is more of a statement about the actor’s existential state of being than any real film portrayal. That compels me to the conclusion that the actor’s perpetual state of angst is portrayed to the point that most fellow thespians that saw this film must have simply been saying “Yes!” through the entire film.

*Actors compilation of Greatest Movies includes:

*Taxi Driver
*The Red Shoes
*Boogie Nights
*Annie Hall
*Godfather Part II
&To Kill a Mock
*Cinema Paradiso
*A Woman under the influence
*The Godfather
*# 1 is Tootsie

RIcki and teh flash

**Strong women & Fem Flicks: Women are speaking out more and more concerning the inequality they see in Hollywood and throughout the film industry. Stars such as Meryl Streep, Sandra Bullock, Salma Hayek, Natalie Portman, Emma Thompson & Emma Watson have all spoken out against the glaring inequalities for women in the film industry. The Death of the Bond Girl is another subject for feminists everywhere to cheer about.
It seems that the highest-paid actress in Hollywood (Jennifer Lawrence) is paid significantly less than the highest paid male star (Robert Downey Jr.) Granted, we’re talking about millions of dollars, but the principle is universal. Women are still paid less than men for doing the same job!

*Another list has popped up. Now that we are in the middle of the second decade of the 21st Century, the need to list all the categories and best of films is overwhelming for critics and news organizations. Here’s one that compiled all the best action films. Although this list is edited to include only the top six, two of these are from the year 2000-15 years ago-and one is a recent addition-Mad Max.

Mad Max Fury Road

**The List of 21st Century Best-Action films-includes:

*John Wick-2014
*Bourne Ultimatum
*Casino Royale-2006
*Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon =2000
*Mad Max: Fury Road-2015
There were more films listed, but none that deserved the accolade of Best-Action film!

Frank Sinatra

**Frank Sinatra on Film: In this celebration year of Sinatra’s 100th birthday, a list emerges of some of his best work on film. The famous crooner starred in hits like From Here to Eternity, On the Town, Guys and Dolls, The Manchurian Candidate, Pal Joey and High Society. He started making films in 1943 with Higher and Higher and ended in 1984 with Cannonball Run II.

**Dustin Hoffman is the latest to take aim and criticize the film industry. He said in an interview recently that TV is the best it’s ever been, and movies are the worst they’ve ever been.

**Upcoming: The Heart of the Sea from Ron Howard, Bridge of Spies with Tom Hanks, and Legend with Tom Hardy are all coming this fall. Robert Redford and Nick Nolte are teaming up in a comedy, A Walk in the Woods that may actually be as funny as the previews.

Star wars logo

**Another list emerged recently. These are some of the best movies aboutSpace”. This list included some of my favorites, and of course, it’s edited to include Honorable Mentions but not the ”Don’t bother to Mentions”!

I would simply add that the list lost a lot of credibility when it included The Day the Earth Stood Still and Blade Runner in Honorable Mentions…And if 2001: A Space Odyssey is not included, there’s nothing more to add.

**The Best of “Space” films include:

 Star Wars-1977

Capricorn One-1977

Close Encounters-1977

Apollo 13-1995



The Right Stuff-1983




Honorable Mentions were: Solaris-Planet of the Apes; Wall-E; Blade Runner!; The Day the Earth Stood Still; War of the Worlds; Buck Rogers in the 25th Century; Flight of the Navigator and E.T

*There seems to be an upcoming debate between the two rival comic universes, DC vs Marvel. With the idea that some of the superheroes are going to be expanding again to include even more tales of origin. As was pointed out recently, “Superhero tales are about extraordinary super beings bashing each other with ridiculous powers. Origin stories are about ordinary people suffering some sort of transformative trauma” With the underlying meaning being that one set of stories is exciting and adventurous, and the other has the potential to be deadly dull.

Bill Murray Ghostbusters

Bill Murray does have an announced cameo in the new Ghostbusters film. If the film has any notion to receive its due in the Cinematic Pantheon, Murray must appear as a Ghostbuster.

*Influence of Star Wars on Film…There’s an article from 6 Degrees Flipboard recently that seemed interesting enough, regarding the influence of Star Wars on film. Naturally, I was interested, as I devoted a good portion of my book, 6 Degrees of Film, to the theory that Star Wars has shaped our culture and definitely our films for the past quarter of a century and more.

Specifically, George Lucas and his company, ILM-Industrial Light & Magic, have transformed the nature of cinema with the emphasis on special effects and CGI-Computer Graphic Imaging. The assertion was made that there would have been no Blade Runner without Star Wars. I’m not sure that is so, because Ridley Scott directed Blade Runner and made some innovative and creative decisions that were not connected with ILM.

*Christopher Guest will premiere his next mockumentary on Netflix-furthering Spielberg’s assertion that more and more original and creative projects will flow through Cable Networks rather than the big screen.

• The company that made Masterminds, the new Zach Galifianakis/Kristen Wiig comedy, is bankrupt and can’t afford to market the movie. Relativity Media filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which puts the October release on hold and the movie in limbo. Too bad because it looked funny, with lots of former SNL players on board for the comedy.

Oscar Selfie pix

*The Director of Crash recently admitted it shouldn’t have won Best Picture! I wanted  Munich or Capote to win that year, so this wasn’t shocking news. Almost every year, I root for a film to win Best Picture that eventually loses. And for that matter, it shows in the long run with so many forgettable films earning the nod. In the past 10 years, there have been few memorable winners for the Best Picture Oscar.

The under 30 Hollywood Set: The list of actors and actresses who are “up and comers” include these A-Listers in the 30 and under crowd: Margot Robbie, Cara Delevingne; Michael B Jordan, J Lawrence, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Stone, Zoe Kravitz, Nicholas Hault, Dakota Johnson, Miles Teller, Eliz Olsen, Alicia Vikander, Liam Hemsworth, and Elle Fanning.

**The Reviews are in:

*Fantastic Four bombs at the box office

*Monster Hunt was the biggest Chinese box-office film ever. And that is the largest market in the world now, so it’s definitely making some people in Hollywood sit up and take notice. The movie looks fairly simple, about a couple that “adopt” a small monster baby. It doesn’t sound like great news for those who root for more complex stories and adult plots.

The Lion King

*The Animated movie pick of all time is…The Lion King.  The Best selling VHS of all time was The Lion King; the top selling DVD is Finding Nemo and now, the best selling Blu-Ray film is…Frozen.


What’s Coming Next:
*Scorsese is teaming with DiCaprio again for a movie about a serial killer from the best-selling book: “The Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson.

**Trailers: Some of the trailers for upcoming films that look promising include: Learning to Drive with Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley; A Walk in the Woods with Robert Redford and Nick Nolte and Sicario with Benicio Del Toro.

Far from madding 2015

**On Demand:
Movies on demand now include Child 44-reviewed in 6 Degrees, The Age of Adaline, Ex Machina, and Far from the Madding Crowd-all recommended for viewing