6 Degrees: Friday Flix

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6 Degrees of Film

Happy post-Fourth of July week, readers and moviegoers! We are seeing lots of films debut this month, and I’ve included some of the summaries up front so you can judge for yourself. One of the things that I’m excited about is the line-up on Turner Classic this month, which is showing so many of the great Hitchcock classics in July. Make sure, especially if you haven’t seen them, to set the DVR to record some of the top films: Psycho, Rear Window, The Birds, Notorious, and many more.
Armchair Film Fest: The Hitchcock list of films on TCM is phenomenal. They start with his early silent work and run through his classics all month long. This is definite fodder for the Armchair Film Festival devotee. The Armchair Film Fest is my favorite kind of film festival personally! One thing has always stuck with me in the biography and studies of Hitchcock-Hitchcock was asked about his penchant for horror films, and what his idea of something that was really funny would be. He said that a party where the food was all dyed blue was something that struck him as hilarious. There are some people that are originals. Hitchcock was a one of a kind, unique character in films-one who will never be replicated.
Also on TCM this Saturday, one of the films that is certainly unique, is the comedy with Eleanor Parker, who is remembered as the Baroness in The Sound of Music. She stars with Robert Taylor in Many Rivers to Cross. The film is light and at times a “fluff piece”, but the portrayal of a strong pioneer woman by Parker remains one of the highlights of the era.
Most of the fifties women were at times even sycophantic in their deference to men. Parker plays this role with a gusto and a physical presence that makes it memorable for most women of the 21st Century to relate to the character.
Some of the political films playing this month will also seem tailor made to this era in our political life. They are showing the original The Manchurian Candidate which was thought to have been banned at the time due to the controversial content. It turns out, that wasn’t accurate, but the film wasn’t seen for many years, due to contractual agreements. It is a very gripping 1962 Cold War thriller about a U.S soldier who is captured and brainwashed to be used as a political assassin.
The other film for Armchair Film Fest is Inherit the Wind with Spencer Tracy. I would invite anyone, on the left or right, to watch this great classic with the memorable opening soundtrack pulling the camera back with the folk spiritual “Old Time Religion” playing solemnly as the shot pans to small town, USA . In this case, it’s a small town where the famous Scopes Monkey Trial was held in Dayton, Tennessee, and Tracy delivers one of his best performances as the distinguished lawyer Henry Drummond, who is defending a high school science teacher, (played by Dick York), who was teaching the theory of evolution in his class. The film is powerful, as is the message which is derived from the play of the same name. We are still debating the Evolutionary theory with the creationists defending their viewpoint well into the 21st Century.
What’s Playing: Here’s a quote about the film, Okja, which says a lot. The film has generated a lot of good buzz, but ….”somewhere in here lies a great film wanting to come out” This review and more are featured in this week’s 6 Degrees magazine. Here’s a recap of the plot.
The Plot of Okja: A CEO-played by Tilda Swinton, announces that a new breed of super-pig has been developed. A cross between a pig and a hippotamus has been created with the animal having the disposition of a puppy. The purpose of breeding them is to solve the world’s food shortage, and to create an eco-friendly food source. Twenty-six super pigs are to be grown over a period of ten years as the corporation has a competition. At the end, they will be taken back to America to be hailed as a success.
Okja is the name of the pig raised in South Korea by a young girl, who bonds with the animal. In the end, the film is a cross between Animal Farm, Charlotte’s Web, The Yearling, and a slew of films that come to mind about kids and their pets.
The Big Sick has been getting lots of good reviews. It’s an updated modern-day version of a romantic comedy. The two lovers are star-crossed, with their life situations updated for the modern era. He is a comedian and a Muslim, and she is a WASP. They break up and are reunited when he learns she is sick and going to be placed into a medically-induced coma. At this point, he must confront his deeper feelings for her and reconcile his hostility to commitment with his love for her. And there is comedy! Holly Hunter plays the mother and Ray Romano is the father of the sick girl. So there are laughs to be had along the way. We haven’t seen too many good rom-com’s since When Harry met Sally, so this is a re-fashioned kind of plot for the new age.
Spider-Man:Homecoming has also debuted over the holiday weekend. And Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled is reviewed on the Macguffin site, as well as the afore-mentioned films.
Film Comment has a post on The Dirty Dozen, released in 1967. It was a landmark war movie, but not really in the same class as Saving Private Ryan or even The Longest Day. The Stranger, also from 1967, is reviewed and it’s another 1967 release, starring Marcello Mastroianni. Based on The Stranger by Albert Camus, it has rarely been seen since its release, due to distribution rights disputes. It is faithful to the book by Camus, and is generally regarded favorably by critics who’ve seen it.

Baby Driver is still making waves with critics this week. And the independent The Little Hours is reviewed favorably on rogerebert.com.  Will Ferrell’s The House has bombed badly, with a quote in a review reading: “movies require scripts.” Ouch.
Critically Speaking: There’s a podcast from Vanity Fair titled: “How Hollywood Ruined Zombies, According to George A Romero”. And there’s an interesting post from Barron’s: “Is Hollywood Finally Desperate Enough to Give up on Theaters?” The thinking here is that since there is a massive wave of talent and energy moving to the small screen, in the form of Netflix, HBO, Hulu, and others, that eventually it will make more financial sense to release them to the cable pay-tv audience format. To have on-demand movies simultaneously available for the home viewing audience. I hate to tell these people, but we are just about there now. There simply isn’t a lot of lag time from the debut at the theater to the home screen.
Vox has released a list of 50 films that we are supposed to be excited about yet to be released this year. One of my big beefs is with the titles that list this incredible number of films that are supposed to be: the best of the year, the century, the top 50 films in Sci-fi, the top 100 action films, etc. I have a top 100 list of best films in my book, 6 Degrees, but that is from all films-starting at the turn of theth Century. I cannot believe that there are 50 really good films lurking out there waiting to be released this year, but there are a few that I did agree on regarding 2017 releases.
A Ghost Story has been getting good buzz from the Sundance debut. It stars Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck. Dunkirk is coming soon, with Tom Hardy, and directed by Christopher Nolan.
The Dark Tower is the Stephen King adaptation that has been long awaited by fans of the serial novels. Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey star in the horror/fantasy/action/adventure…and oh yes, Western! Epic. Ingrid goes West was another popular Sundance Film Fest release, said to be dark and funny, with Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen. Another Stephen King adaptation is It, releasing on September 8th. The sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle is coming this fall and Colin Firth returns along with Taron Egerton.
Blade Runner 2049 is coming in October, with Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford. Much anticipated, this one is set 30 years after the first film debuted. Also in October, a biopic of the Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall, in a courtroom drama depicting one of his biggest cases, defending a black chauffeur accused of sexual assault and attempted murder.
The Holiday Season is anticipated to begin early with Murder on the Orient Express dropping on November 10th. Kenneth Branagh directs the Agatha Christie remake with an all-star cast. Also in November, the indie film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri looks interesting, with a cast including the great Frances McDormand, of Fargo fame.
Pixar has Coco debuting in November, a children’s movie with a cast of Hispanic and Latino actors. But nothing will matter after December 15th, because as everyone knows, Star Wars sucks all the oxygen out of the room! Star Wars: The Last Jedi debuts and that is almost all she wrote. Still….Steven Spielberg is directing a film about the Pentagon Papers, a timely subject for this era where we hear lots of rumbling about the days of Watergate and the sixties. Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep star in this one. Opening on Christmas Day: The Greatest Showman starring Hugh Jackman, about the life of P.T. Barnum.
And also at Christmas, the soon to be retiring Daniel Day Lewis is reunited with director Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood) in a film called Phantom Thread, set in the world of fashion during the fifties.
That’s a wrap for this week, folks! I’m looking forward to some of these big screen releases, as well as the Hitchcock Armchair Film Fest all this month on TCM. Stay tuned later this week as we offer a complimentary download of my Hitchcock chapter on my 6 Degrees blog site. See you at the movies!

6 Degrees: Notes from the Global Village

6 Degrees of Film
6 Degrees of Film

Friday Five: Notes from the Global Village: Recommended at the movies this week are:

*Star Wars
*Spotlight
*The Big Short
*Trumbo
*45 Years

Star wars logo

Star Wars is here! Star Wars:The Force Awakens has landed to mostly positive reviews and mass media in hyper-drive with the onslaught of the movie campaign. The best place to see reviews for Star Wars: The Force Awakens is in the 6 Degrees online magazine. Read the reviews from:

Ebert.com
• Film comment.com
• Time Magazine
• The LA Times
• Associated Press (Pop culture appeal of Star Wars)

Mad max furiosa

*Fem Flicks: 2015 was a good year for Strong Women’s film roles. Mad Max: Fury Road and Suffragette were both excellent fem flicks for women of all ages to find strong role models. See link: “Is Hollywood finally a woman’s world too?- LA Times

**
Coming Soon: Here are some of the most anticipated films coming soon:

The Revenant

Batman v Superman-with Ben Affleck
The Hateful Eight-Tarantino’s Latest
The Revenant-Oscar buzz for DiCaprio
Ghostbusters all female cast Remake
Misconduct– starring Anthony Hopkins & Al Pacino

*The American Film Institute names top 10 movies for 2015:

Bridge of spies speilberg hanks

The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Carol
Inside Out
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
Room
Spotlight
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Straight Outta Compton

The National Film Registry has also come out with their picks for films to be preserved and entered into the registry. Here’s a partial list of films selected for the registry this year :

Bill Murray Ghostbusters

*Being There (1979)

A Fool There was (1915)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Hail the Conquering Hero (1944)
Humoresque (1920)
Imitation of Life (1959)
John Henry and the Inky-Poo (1946)
LA Confidential (1997)
The Mark of Zorro (1920)
The Old Mill (1937)
Our Daily Bread (1934)
Seconds (1966)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Sink or Swim (1990)
The Story of Menstruation (1946)
Top Gun (1986)
Winchester ’73 (1950)

Gone with the wind
Box Office Winners: Star Wars has big numbers, but the # 1 highest grossing film is… Gone with the Wind released in 1939. The other movies on the list are:

The original Star Wars-1977
The Sound of Music-1965
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial-1982
Titanic-1997
The Ten Commandments– 1956
Jaws– 1975
Doctor Zhivago- 1965
The Exorcist-1973
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs-1937

*They’re back! Not only Awards season but “Best of” lists for 2015. If you missed these films at the movies, and would like to rent or stream a good film, here are those films found on most critics and audiences top 10 lists. They include Ex Machina, The Assassin, 45 Years, Clouds of Sils Maria, I’ll See You in My Dreams, Creed, Son of Saul, Carol, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, Sicario, & Brooklyn.

The idea of awards season and best of lists always tends to be suspect. Some years are better than others. The last two summers have seen long, dry spells where hardly any decent films were released. The best films seem to cluster in releases around the end of the year for some reason!

This year there were a few notable exceptions. The Martian and Bridge of Spies, Ex Machina and Mad Max: Fury Road all came out long before the mad holiday rush. It seems that almost all the oxygen has been sucked out of the room for film and film criticism with the anticipated release of Star Wars. (The Donald Trump of films!)

It’s a relief to have it out at last, so we can move on to more important things like…the top 10 lists and the Awards Season that extends for months on end. Then again, maybe Star Wars fever is not such a bad thing after all! See you at the movies-ML

Notes from the Global Village: Friday Five: Top 5 Picks

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Top 5 Picks on 6 Degrees of Film @ the Movies

1) Over ½ of Americans Now watch Netflix
2) Top 15 Christmas Films
3) Profile: Carey Mulligan
4) Interview: Niki Trumbo: Trumbo
5) Cate Blanchett: 5 best moments

Friday Five Recommended:

• The Martian
• Bridge of Spies
• Trumbo
• Spectre
• On Demand: Far from the Madding Crowd

Star wars logo

Star Wars anticipation has reached critical mass as we see articles with names like: “What to watch after watching Star Wars” or “Before watching Star Wars, watch this!” and “What we learned from the Star Wars trailer.” We see the focus on the character of Kylo Ren, speculation as to the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker…tracking the advance ticket sales for Star Wars, plus the speculation of the Box Office totals for the new movie.

All these things are not unexpected, but still scream for the phrase to be added: “Really? What’s the big deal?” The film is so highly anticipated that one can only hope that it may live up to a fraction of the hopes and dreams that have been invested into this single film.

Why I stopped Blogging about the Movieswas the title of a recent blog post by a critic at Film Waffle. It underscored the continuing problem with film blogs and blogging in general in that the sheer volume of material you find on the internet completely shrouds any content that might hint at a new or original thought or idea.

The trends of the moment  propel the viewing public forward with the massive amounts of messaging we receive on a daily basis. All this mass media tends to drown out all original thought or any new way of looking at any particular subject, including film.

One way of combatting this ongoing dilemma is to take a step back and simply try to reframe the question. What if…instead of simply writing about and regurgitating the same old material, the 6 Degrees blog looked at Films and Movie Trends from a “Big Picture” perspective? And, what if we tried to present the information in a weekly format using links to the Flipboard online magazine, 6 Degrees of Film @ the Movies?

That is part of the solution we have come up with at 6 Degrees. The weekly link to the magazine will give you enough Film news to sink a battleship. We have taken the guesswork out of the equation. All the reader needs to do is  to scroll through the best articles and film news on the internet as it is presented in one location.

Meanwhile, back at the blog, we will continue to analyze and try to make sense of the fast-paced and ever-changing world of film and film-makers. That is our pledge to you.

 Happy Holidays and see you @ the movies!-ML Johnson

 

 

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:

September

Sicario 2015
9/18
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.

October

10/2

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.

10/9:

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.

10/16

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.

10/23

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.

November

11/6

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.

11/13

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.

11/20

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!

11/25

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.

11/27

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.

December

12/11

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.

12/18

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

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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.

Tootsie

**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
*Gladiator-2000
*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

Interstellar-2014

Moon-2009

The Right Stuff-1983

Gravity-2013

Contact-1997

Armaggedon-1998

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.
**Outliers:

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

Back to the Future & The Future on Film in 6 Degrees

Backto future 2015

October 2015 will be the 30th anniversary of the premiere of  Back to the Future. Some of the films portrayals of a future world have been remarkably accurate. Other things were missed, but that’s the nature of predictions. Here are a few of the major things the film got right (and a few things missed):

 

 Nike Self-tying shoes: The shoes they came up with look remarkably like the type that Nike sells.
  Hoverboards: The technology is there for a few elites, but not for the general public.
 Drones & Robot Technology: The drones were imagined with uncanny accuracy.
  Biometric Scanners-for eyes/Fingerprint ID’s: This is current state of the art technology
 Google glass specs: Although they aren’t flying off the shelves, we do have Google glasses
  Flying cars: Nope. Not yet.
  TV Screens and video chats: Predated Skype and FaceTime with their imagined version.
  No Internet! Probably the biggest omission is the scope of the internet and how much it affects our daily lives
Back to the Future will be screened as part of Tampa Theatre's Summer FIlm Series this Sunday at 3:00 pm at Tampa Theatre.

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In the beginning, there was George Melies’ A Trip to the Moon in 1902. By 1939, The Wizard of Oz came along. But there were no real “cutting-edge” special effects on film for the first fifty years or so. Until Stanley Kubrick made 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968 and gave audiences a glimpse into just what the filmmaker can do with a superior imagination and a large budget.

From Forbidden Planet and The Day the Earth Stood Still, to Star Wars and Jurassic Park, futurist sci-fi has advanced technologically to the point where the Special Effects completely dominate the action and the plot. Star Wars, released in 1977, was the game changer, in terms of special effects and the way the future was portrayed on film. Audiences were no longer satisfied with a flying car held up by string or a giant enlarged lizard. They wanted to see and to experience something extraordinary. And George Lucas and his Industrial Light & Magic studios delivered. They were the game changers in charge of the newly minted Cinematic Universe of the 21st Century.

Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) became so adept that the end result made one of the principal managers say, “The only thing that limits films these days are the budget and the scope of the director’s imagination. “We’re helping directors previsualize their films. Our designs are becoming more specific to the actual look of the film.”

One veteran from Industrial Light & Magic speculated of a future where film becomes an interactive experience, enabling participants…”to explore virtual worlds or even inhabit the form of computer graphics characters, controlling the action with a joystick. Players from all points on the planet could be linked through TV screens, computer modems, or game pods in arcade settings.”
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When asked if films will become obsolete, ILM Visual Effects Supervisor Dennis Muran said: “Eventually…..theaters will be able to use an electronic or laser-light projection system, which is not a new thing; it’s been around for a long time. The hard part will be getting the thousands of movie theaters around the country to upgrade and install a new $200,000 projection system

And the man with the vision, George Lucas, who created the Cinematic Universe we now live in, said this about futuristic film :

“I see true environments being created and combined with a lot of biotech things going on, in terms of manipulating people’s sense through drugs. This combination will have the most powerful effect on the kind of storytelling we’re doing today. It’s too far off for me to worry about, and I’m no 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. The first step would be to take the simulator ride part of the environment…where you can just implant the story in a pill and live it.
That’s not outside the realm of possibility. You’d take the pill and go to sleep. It’d be like a dream and you’d have an actual, real, physical experience of something completely imaginary. What that’ll mean for society, I have no idea, and how you’d get there from here is way beyond me, but I know enough to know it’s within the realm of possibility. Because they’re already going there, creating images without actually making them, just as you create them in a dream.”

This experience would not be standard movie theater fare as we have come to know it. It would be a reality far removed from our own near future world. As long as humans aspire to dream and to create, we will be interested in watching movies in whatever form that might be.

Excerpt from 6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in the Global Village-ML Johnson 2013

6 Degrees of Film: Notes from the Global Village

168816805 FOR 6 DEGREES COVER PHOTO SHOT

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.

spy
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.

 

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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.