This week, the world of film is still trying to reflect the culture with notions of how to open up movie theatres and how to portray a world that is changing so quickly! One of the topics in the 2013 book I wrote, 6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in the Global Village, was to ask what the nature of films and moviegoing would be like in the coming century. That question has been answered in part with the many ways we now view films. But the question of how to watch movies, streaming or live and in-person, and which films are going to be classics and designated as ‘art’ is another matter!
Forbes’ critic Scott Mendelson wrote recently about how Hollywood is seemingly ‘killing’ the idea of a leading man in films. Mendelson’s argument seems to be that when Hollywood tries to push the ‘next big thing’ in terms of a big Hollywood movie star on the viewing public, they do so by using old, stale serial formula films. They also, according to Mendelson, wipe out the promise of diversity in casting to find the next Will Smith or another actor of his talent and potential.
As that argument goes, we still have an ongoing pursuit of the next big thing in terms of who will play James Bond or who will star in the countless upcoming comic-book genre films. So that argument will be with us for a while!
Film Festival Season continues…along with Covid!
Meanwhile, the Film Festivals of 2021 are still going on despite the continuing threat of COVID. The Sundance Film Festival will require all in-person attendees to be vaccinated. And the return of movie theaters has been tamped down a bit as the new Delta Variant also hits towns and theatres near you. It looks like the drive-in movie business will thrive a bit longer, and that is a good thing!
The films of 2021 so far…
This week, Rotten Tomatoes has already started their list of the best action movies of 2021. And that list, though not a traditional action film, includes one of the more interesting films to be released in recent weeks, The Green Knight, starring Dev Patel.
Another notable opening is the film Annette, with Adam Driver. This one is a quirky kind of musical, billed as an odd ‘rock opera’ when it debuted recently at Cannes Film Festival. And add to the mix one of the biggest stories surrounding the Black Widow film opening is the fact that Scarlett Johansson sued Disney for streaming the film too early and breaking her contract. Which continues the argument that streaming vs. in-theatre openings is guaranteed to be a debate that will be with us for some time, both in and out of court!
Opening in August
Some of the most anticipated films that audiences were waiting for this August, according to Rotten Tomatoes, include thrillers like The Night House and Don’t Breathe, both set for August debuts. At 6 Degrees, we highlighted Candyman, which is a sequel to the 1992 classic. And for all of the Beatles lovers out there, the documentary from Peter Jackson, Get Back, will open later this month.
From Turner Classic Movies in August…
This month, Turner Classic is featuring some classic westerns that are must-see for all movie buffs and western film fans. I have often touted the fact that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid has one of the best screenplays ever written. It comes from the late, great William Goldman who coined that phrase in the book of his life in Hollywood: “Adventures in the Screen Trade.”
Here’s the quote from Goldman: “…Nobody knows anything…Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out is a guess, and if you’re lucky, an educated one.” Goldman also penned The Princess Bride and A Bridge Too Far (which is also showing this month on TCM!)
In addition to Butch Cassidy, the other recommended western is The Big Country, featuring Gregory Peck. Peck shines in this part which is completely different from the morally upright character he portrayed in his most famous role of Atticus Finch. Yet somehow, Peck’s moral courage and strength of character are the reasons this western stands apart from the typical shoot-em-up variety.
TCM: The Pioneer women of Film
Before #MeToo there were several stalwart and strong women role models who regularly appeared in films. One of these pioneers was Katherine Hepburn. Hepburn is featured in a few of her best-known roles this month on TCM. One stand-out part is with her life-partner on and off screen, Spencer Tracy, who co-stars in Adam’s Rib. The other is The Lion in Winter with Peter O’Toole, whom she lovingly referred to as “Pig.” Jane Fonda, always outspoken, is shown in a part that highlighted her figure more than her political views in Barberella. And Cat Ballou is another Western that is recommended, as it not only features Lee Marvin in his Academy Award winning comic turn, but singer Nat King Cole appears as a wandering minstrel, telling the story musically in his ballad of Cat Ballou.
TCM Comedy Highlights: The best of Abbot & Costello
With their string of horror films spoofing the popular films of the day, Abbott & Costello meet Frankenstein is the one to watch. The best of their work is surprisingly, a movie where they are not partnered as a team. It’s The Time of their Lives, where Costello plays a ghost. He is teamed with a young beautiful woman, and together the duo must prove their innocence in order to leave their earthbound existence. The comic stylings have a bit of a ghostly turn in this one, and it gives both comics a chance to break from the by then tired mold of the straight man routine they had perfected. That schtick featured their comic bantering of “Who’s on First?” variations in film after film….
6 Degrees Magazine
In the magazine this week, Rotten Tomatoes lists the best action movies from 2021. Jungle Cruise was the most popular film opening this past week, despite the COVID concerns surrounding in-person movie going. Rotten Tomatoes also has a list of the most anticipated films opening this month. We have our own list, and they both include several horror movies .
Robert Taylor is featured in a post on Classic Movie hub. Taylor was a popular actor from the Golden Age of Film and he also stars in one of the most frequently recommended of our Pioneer Women of Film series-Many Rivers to Cross (also playing on TCM this month!)
There’s also an article from Cine-vue.com on the lifetime work of director Terry Gilliam. Film Comment reviews The Green Knight and finally, Chaz Ebert, on her Rogerebert.com site, reviews the podcast series looking back on the Siskel & Ebert movie review show which started in 1975 on public television.
That’s all folks, for the merry month of August. Remember to stay cool and enjoy the flicks, either streaming or at the drive-in or local theatre near you. See you at the movies!-ML