Here’s a round-up of some of the leading stories found in the 6 Degrees of Film @ the Movies magazine on Flipboard. The last two summers have proven to be relatively slow for finding little gems of movies or seeing big Hollywood blockbusters. The Cinematic Comic-Book Universe keeps churning them out, and we see lots of films coming out of China and overseas. The latest hit has an unusual looking “radish” monster baby (see the picture on Flipboard) and it’s breaking all kinds of box-office records in the all-important Chinese movie market. Here’s what we found in July:
*Citizen Kane: No 1 in BBC Poll: Greatest American film….? My book has a list of top 100 and Citizen Kane is not included. It’s a great film, and like so many great films, it’s an acquired taste. It’s not just me….many man on the street interviews have yielded this opinion of Citizen Kane. Insiders and critics like it. I do agree with most of the top 10 picks which are as follows:
1. Citizen Kane
2. The Godfather
4. 2001: A Space Odyssey
5 The Searchers
6. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans-Murnau,
7. Singing in the Rain
10 The Godfather Part II
As lists go, it’s not a bad one. Five out of ten isn’t bad, just no cigar! And it’s not inclusive if you are talking about strictly American films. The Wizard of Oz should be in any respectable top 10 List.
Hitchcock & Kubrick are problematic if you are speaking about American films. Hitchcock was born in England and Kubrick worked exclusively in England…To Kill a Mockingbird is a uniquely American film also and one would have to put it in the top ten rankings if you are going to parse the definition at all.
Probably you would include An American in Paris and It’s a Wonderful Life if you are talking about Americana. I would put Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or Stagecoach or The Westerner with Gary Cooper over The Searchers.
It’s a very subjective thing to pick a list of strictly American films, and even harder for the Brits to decide!
**Primer to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe: In this informative article, the first 25 pages recap and address the history of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. Rail against it if you are a critic or purist, but the comic book genre is here to stay. This is a good look at the continuing saga of the Cinematic Universe.
Starting in 2008, Phase One included: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers from 2012.
Beginning in 2013 with Iron Man 3, Phase Two includes Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers, Age of Ultron and the current 2015 Ant-Man.
In 2016, Phase Three continues with Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in 2017. Spider-Man and Thor: Ragnarok, also slated for release in 2017, and Avengers: Infinity War-Part I, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel in 2018. In 2019, Avengers: Infinity War-Part 2 and Inhumans will conclude Phase Three.
*Add as a caveat George Martin-creator of Game of Thrones- critique of the superhero genre, saying, “I am tired of this trope where the bad guy has the same powers as the hero. The Hulk fought the Abomination, who is just a bad Hulk. Spider-Man fights Venom, who is just a bad Spider-Man. Iron Man fights Ironmonger, a bad Iron Man.Yawn. I want more films where the hero and the villain have wildly different powers. That makes the action much more interesting.” Martin praised Ant-Man, as one of the best he’d seen since 2004’s Spider-Man 2.
**Ranking the “origin stories” of the Marvel Universe may provide background if you don’t really want to sit through 10 or 15 comic book movies. Read the moviefone article here….avclub.com
**Reviews: Southpaw, the boxing movie with Jake Gylenhall, has received mixed reviews; as had Paper Towns; Pixels from Adam Sandler was not received well (officially declared a dud!); Mr Holmes, the new Sherlock Holmes film with Ian MacKellan has generally garnered good reviews. Woody Allen’s new film, Irrational Man with Joacquin Phoenix and Emma Stone is receiving mixed reviews. Not surprising as those who are familiar with Woody’s work may see him going back to familiar ground over and over again.
*Global Box Office: Monster Hunt, out of China, is one of the highest grossing films made there. The Shrek 3 Director was at the helm. China’s state administraion of Print, Publishing, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT-SARFT) had imposed an annual blackout period of 6-8 weeks when imported quotas of films are barred from mainland in order to boost Chinese movies. The family fantasy epic, Monster Hunt may surpass Transformers 4 and become PRC/s (People’s Republic of China) 2nd biggest release in history.
Jurassic World moves into the 3rd highest grossing film of all time-Passing Avengers. The sequel to Jurassic is already set for 2018. If you are wondering…
Avatar is #2; Titanic still No 1 and still the oldest film on the list.
*From the Fem Flicks File: A new list of 50 Films from Female Directors (how’s that for Alliteration 101?) A list I can’t agree with (Ishtar…? – I love Elaine May, but please!). On the list, I spotted eight worth mentioning
The Hitch-hiker- Ida Lupino-1953
Seven Beauties– Lina Wertmuller- 1975
Desperately Seeking Susan– Susan Seidelman-1984
Big– Penny Marshall-1988
Wayne’s World-Penelope Spheeris-1992
My Brilliant Career– Joan Tewkesbury-1994
Billy Madison-Tamra Davis-1995
Clueless- Amy Heckerling- 1995.
Sophia Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow are two stand-outs, with Sophia Coppola not even on the list?! Bigelow is cited for her Strange Days in 1995. She became the first female director to win an Academy Award for Best Director with her Hurt Locker in 2008.
*Must read for all of those like me who love Mockingbird: A typed letter to Director Alan Pakula from the art director Henry Bumstead from To Kill a Mockingbird. His impressions of Monroeville and Harper Lee (Nell’s) extremely useful suggestions as to how the look and feel of the place should be portrayed onscreen. Most amusing when he recounts he’d never seen a collard green before!
*Good read on Kubrick: It spells out the reasons for his greatness as a director and an auteur. He was a photographer first and foremost-the look and the feel of his pictures is through the eyes of an artist framing a shot-as Hitchcock, as Wes Anderson, and so many artistic creators working in film today. The author of the piece, Mark Krasselt, is a Kubrick devotee, and some of the article goes long into the weeds discussing the genius and merits of the man, but to summarize, some of his trademarks such as Kubrick’s use of the Narrator are discussed in detail. Kubrick’s actors are stilted and styled as was Hitchcock’s. The character is seen as metaphor-remember Hitchcock’s famous statement-actors are cattle? Kubrick’s career is detailed at length. The arc of his development and how he came to be an independent auteur after the disappointment of Paths of Glory is one of the highlights. Plus he had an important backer at Warner Bros in Terry Semel-and he never made films again in the US! Always he worked out of his London studio, where he had more artistic control over the project as a whole. Stanley Kubrick is shown as a true auteur as we glean some insight into the “Kubrick experience”. From Mark Krasselt-tasteofcinema.com
*Coming in August: The Man from UNCLE; Ricki and the Flash with Meryl Streep; Best of Enemies, a documentary about the very real rivalry between pundits William F. Buckley and the liberal Gore Vidal, is recommended; American Ultra with Jesse Eisenberg looks funny and quirky-the plot is about a stoner, played by Eisenberg, turned government agent in a twist that hasn’t been done to death-opening August 21. The Revenant trailer looks interesting-two great actors in Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy are starring in this backwoods mountain movie about a man seeking revenge.
• Movie Trends: 3-D….Is it just an annoying fad…? Or is it part of the movie-going experience. We are going to see many specialized “gimmicks” to drive audiences into the movies. A wave of nostalgia for the good old days of movie palaces has already descended upon us.
• The League of Historic Theatres is a national organization dedicated to preserving the memory of old buildings housing defunct movie theatres. The League extends to old theatres and auditoriums, and includes drive-in movies too, a big part of the culture of the fifties and sixties.
Those of you from my Linked in Movie Group may remember my past history with unusual movie “experiences”. As a child I attended the Planet of the Apes “Ape-a-rama” where you got in free if you wore a Gorilla suit and the first 100 patrons got a free banana. It was an all day Planet of the Apes Marathon.
And my beloved Tampa Theatre screened William Castle’s “Thirteen Ghosts” on Halloween many years ago with the original introduction by Castle explaining the 3-D Ghost glasses (one side you could see the ghosts-the other was for non-believers!).
Tomorrow, I wander into the valley of the shadow with the Sing-a-long version of The Sound of Music. The movie means so much to me as it was the first real film experience I remember as a child. We went to the Palace theatre downtown, long defunct, and even got the program (which I scribbled on) and the little orange drinks shaped like oranges with the straws in the middle!
I digress. But the film means so much to so many people, there is one woman in the Guinness book who saw it every day for years when it ran in theatres, and this is truly something any self-respecting film buff should experience.
I’m looking forward to seeing you on the other side! Till then, dear readers. I’ll see you at the movies!