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6 Degrees Film Roundup for June: Judy Garland at 100!

The best of…The “best of” films are sometimes hard to find! Because people have different tastes and some bad “B” movies are the ones you really might be in the mood for some nights. I had a friend who worked in the old movie rental stores, and people would come in looking for something different. They would complain when she recommended films to people that were just not right for them. And that seems to be the way of it. Everyone has different tastes and standards, and it’s hard to find something to agree on with “Family Film Night!” That’s why you end up watching documentaries like “Call of the Wild.” What may be hilariously funny to you can leave others cold. And it’s the same with film reviews. I’ve seen people complain about bad reviews that just loved the films that I or others have panned. It’s a subjective thing-the subject of movies and especially “Best of!” Judy Garland at 100   For films of Judy Garland, the most beloved is one of my personal favorites. The Wizard of Oz has so much in the way of talent and beauty and it is a very family-friendly film. And yet, the fantasy takes you to places that Lord of the Rings lovers would agree are timeless. The realm of Oz is a fictional land of fantasy that really represents so much that is ‘the best’ of Hollywood. The Wizard of Oz captures the essence of what Hollywood can be at its heights. And it was made in a year that has come to be considered the ‘height’ of the Golden age of film. The year 1939 saw so many great films made, that stacks of books have been written about it. That was how Judy Garland came to be first seen, and then univerally beloved on celluloid. Some recommendations for her best performances include Wizard of  Oz as well as Meet me in St Louis and In the Good Old Summertime. The Harvey Girls is one of the #MeToo films for women who can see what women were depicted on screen in a favorable light during the Golden Age of Film. They were not always simply objects and there were so many great performances from strong female leads that it is important to highlight them. Some of Judy Garland’s later performances showed a complete metamorphosis of her character and physical appearance that it is almost startling. Judgment at Nuremberg is one of the darker appearances, but Montgomery Clift is even more pronounced in his character. TCM Highlights   For lovers of film noir, two favorites that have been shown frequently of late are Laura with Gene Tierney and The Big Sleep with Bogart and Bacall.  And those who can take a dose of dark humor, Kubrick’s classic Dr Strangelove is shown (with scenes that are unfortunately almost too real for these dark political times!) The Armchair Film Fest This month, those who love summer films may also enjoy some of the Bad B’s. Forbidden Planet is a sci-fi classic that is campy, but not really in the same category as the formulaic bad movies that make the grade! Plan 9 from Outer Space is a must-see, as well as the Attack of the 50-Foot Woman. There is also one called The Wild, Wild Planet which looks as if it fits the bill and checks every box for Bad B! Later this month, Mel Gibson fans can see a film fest that includes the original Mad Max (which also fits into the Bad B category with its dubbed dialogue for Mel making it completely campy!) Also, Mrs Soffel, (with a real-life sad version of this film recently seen in the news, as Soffel is also based on a true story of a woman seduced into helping a convict escape from prison.) The Year of Living Dangerously is one of director Peter Weir’s best, and also foreshadows the darker elements of Mel Gibson’s true character in this story. And on the subject of ‘bad boys,’  James Dean is seen on TCM in two of his big hits made during his short life. Rebel without a cause and Giant are both very good films. And I’ve often speculated about where the rebel character would have taken him in his film career. The James Dean Legacy in Film is a chapter in my book, 6  Degrees of Film, with the theory that Paul Newman and Steve McQueen  ended up taking over the mantle of Rebel that was Dean’s Legacy. They were the stars in the roles he would have been offered as the dark and mixed-up youth becomes the troubled young man and finally a haunted and despairing loner in later life. Friday Flix Recommends… Our online magazine, Friday Flix, highlights some of the revisionist westerns, including one of my all-time favorites, Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid. There’s a piece on some of Judy Garland’s ‘best films’ (See above!) And a beginner’s guide to American Film Noir. That is a new way to cover noir, (Noir means dark in French!) Noir is noir, and that can be American or French or any other combination of the above. In 6 Degrees of Film, there’s a chapter on the rise of Film Noir. It was a movement that gave a voice to many returning from war who were looking for meaning. And it also catapulted stars such as Humphrey Bogart to fame. That’s all for now film friends. Don’t forget to follow us each week at the newly re-vamped 6 Degrees of Film Facebook page! And sign up for the newsletter to receive updates and downloads from 6 Degrees of Film. Until next time, have a great summer vacation and see you at the movies!

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6 Degrees Film Round-up for April

This April, 6 Degrees is focusing on the great films that are found on the small screen. Our big screen blockbusters have often been eclipsed by the amount of content that has been available to everyone through streaming and all the online services. Even the Oscar winner CODA made history (which was overshadowed by ‘the slap!,’ by being released through a streaming platform and not a traditional studio. Another big event was the Best Director Oscar going to a woman for the third time! There is change afoot, but it is always a bit slow… Turner Classic features Strong Women on Film   There are always great movies with strong female leads on Turner Classic. This month, my favorite picks are Ninotchka, The Harvey Girls, The Philadelphia Story and Rachel & the Stranger. The Harvey Girls and Rachel & the Stranger deal with the real-life background stories of women who were true pioneers. The Harvey Girls were women who had the courage to move out west and try to bring ‘civilization’ to the rough and tumble world that existed past the Mississippi River! And Rachel & the Stranger dealt with the reality that occurred when your spouse died. It meant that the need to replace a strong worker was real, and it came before love or romance or anything else when you were out on a farm on the lone prairie! The Philadelphia Story is beloved for the scene where Cary Grant thinks better of assaulting his ex-wife and instead pushes her down. This is one of those controversial moments in old films. because it would be considered an acceptance of violent acts against women in modern times. In this case, it somehow fits the storyline and also tells us that there are and were characters such as Katherine Hepburn, who could fight back with words as well as deeds to make the men appear small! And Ninotchka is well-known from the Golden Age of Hollywood for the great publicity line, “Garbo Laughs!” This was a rarity in Garbo’s career, as she didn’t appear in many comedies.   Books on Film   For National Library Week, we have tried to highlight the many great books that have been written about film. Some are listed on the website and each Friday, in 6 Degrees of Film at the Movies, we feature the best recommended blogs as well as books and reviews on film. This week, we have recommended some books I love including “Film Noir” -edited by Alain Silver & Elizabeth Ward. There’s a great pictorial guide from Life Magazine-“Life goes to the Movies.”  And “The Story of Film” is a short history of film by Mark Cousins. There’s one with all sorts of great stories from films Golden Age called “The Great Movie Stars” from David Shipman. Another reference volume I love is “The Movies,” from Griffith & Mayer. Another good read for writers is “Writers in Hollywood” by Ian Hamilton.  And one of the more recent books that I really like is from Alicia Malone: “Girls on Film: Lessons from a Life of Watching Women in Movies.”  And finally, of course you can take a short walk through the history of film with my own “6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in the Global Village. ”  We are celebrating our ninth year in publication with a new Ebook Addendum out soon! From the Friday Flix Files   Finally, on the topic of resources for film, there is our Friday Flix magazine.  Friday Flix has a mix of articles on the Golden Age of film as well as news about the latest adventures in Hollywood (Yes, the ‘slap’ is there as well!) Some of the latest not-to-miss topics include: Life Changing Movies: The Atlantic delves into the question of what elements can make a movie life changing; And from my book, I have a post about films that did affect my life. Some films can definitely be life-changing… Coen Brothers: The unique film-making qualities that comprise the films made by the Coen Brothers are the reason that their films have been so successful. In this piece, there are ten tips that make their films stand out from the rest… Critics Choice: One of the unique tidbits that we found out this past week concerned the invention of the “Two thumbs up” sign for a movie’s success or failure. Siskel & Ebert were the great film critics out of Chicago who dominated the film review industry for years. Ebert’s widow, Chaz, has put together a special article that lists some of the reasons that Roger Ebert was one of the great film critics of all time. 50 Years of The Godfather: Friday Flix features several articles celebrating the fifty years since one of America’s most beloved films made its debut. Some facts about the making, some behind-the-scenes look from the cast members and some thoughtful pieces that try to pinpoint why this film has made such a powerful impact upon the psyche of our lives and times. How Star Wars changed the Film Industry   And finally, Cine-vue.com has a piece that marks the definitive ways in which Star Wars has impacted and changed the film industry since its 1975 debut. That is also one of the sections that is covered in my book, “6 Degrees of Film.” Here is a short excerpt: “…Peter Bogdanovich said, “There’s a general juvenilization of movies that’s happened over the last ten years that’s pretty scary. The other day, somebody read a script that I was working on and said, ‘Oh, I get it: This is an adult comedy.’ I said, ‘What do you mean—that it’s a comedy FOR adults?  He said, ‘No, no, no, it’s a comedy ABOUT adults.’ Most of the comedies, the rest of the comedies, are about kids. I think a lot of things have gone wrong. Movies are far less complex in their structure and in their execution than they’ve ever been.” In their defense, let’s remember Spielberg

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6 Degrees of Film: January Round-up

Greeting Film Fans & Happy New Year to all! This is always an exciting time of year for those of us who love movies. The awards season begins in earnest, and soon the Academy Awards will announce the nominees for the Best Picture, Best Actor & Actress, from the past year, 2021. We have had a lot of lists of “Best of” which I have often derided as they sometime encompass a lot of the least of the ‘best’ simply to be able to announce the list! But there have been a lot of interesting films that have been made in the past year. As usual, the comic-book genre and the remakes are leading the pack in Hollywood with some of the ‘same old, same old’ schtick. But often, you will find a trailblazer embedded in there, such as Jane Campion’s Year of the Dog and the Licorice Pizza film with a different type of appeal. And so we are starting the countdown here with all the best of the best (lists, not movies!), from 2021. The “Best of” Lists of movies from 2021   Drive My Car appears on most of the top critics lists of films from last year. This film from Japan is about a widowed actor who confesses to his young female chauffeur that his late wife had been unfaithful. Annette proves to be an annoying favorite of critics. Adam Driver is a talented actor who plays a sociopathic stand-up in this film that really defies genres. Described as ‘part rock-opera, part celebrity satire…” this one is a head-scratcher in appeal at times The Power of the Dog is from director Jane Campion. Benedict Cumberbatch is one of our finest actors working, and he stars as a malicious brother who torments his new sister in-law within the confines of the ranch the two brothers own in Montana. Benedetta, from director Paul Verhoeven, is about a nun, Sister Benedetta, who lives in Italy during the 17th In the words of Film Comment, “Paul Verhoeven delves into the power of spectacle & the spectacle of power, affirming his place as one of cinema’s greatest social critics” The film deals with a lesbian relationship between Benedetta and another young nun, and yet it manages to go beyond the predictable and exploitative nature of the subject at hand. The Velvet Underground was an exploration of art in the era of Andy Warhol to see and experience personally the ideas…” to feel like you were discovering the music, and the ideas that were circulating and swapping form artists to artists during this time, yourself.” Licorice Pizza is the film from director Paul Thomas Anderson, a coming of age movie that is so named from the memories that Anderson had of a small shop named “Licorice Pizza’ in his California home town. The Card Counter is from director Paul Schrader and stars Oscar Isaac as a professional gambler who also happens to be one of the men who tortured prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Titane also makes the list, and this one is another ‘head-scratcher’ of sorts when people hear the part about a woman having sex with a car! A Cannes  “cause-celebre” break-out film, this film is described by Film Comment as a ‘wild, wild ride.’ Looking ahead…The Films of 2022   The Batman A long anticipated look at Robert Pattinson’s take on the title character. Paul Dano will appear as The Riddler in this outing of the caped avenger (Superman is the crusader, right?) Thor: Love & Thunder Chris Hemsworth will return as Thor and Christian Bale will play Gorr, the God Butcher in this outing Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Just when you think you’ve had enough of all the comic book tropes, here is one that I would not miss. Benedict Cumberbatch is one of my favorite actors, and he is also someone who makes the never-ending twists and turns of the Multiverse of Madness sound like an interesting adventure, as opposed to a maddening muddle!  (And now for something completely different…movies that aren’t about comic book heroes!) Downton Abbey: A New Era premieres March 18 Maggie Smith returns to move the action to her newly acquired villa in the South of France The Northman opens April 22 Nicole Kidman, Willem Dafoe and a huge cast of stars appear in this Viking epic which is billed as a ‘brutal revenge thriller.’ 65 opens in April The multi-talented Adam Driver stars in this sci-fi thriller about an astronaut who crash lands on a mysterious planet, only to find he’s not alone… Recommended on the small screen: TCM in January On Turner Classic Movies, there’s a top ten list of favorite films to screen and record for the Armchair Film Fest! Lawrence of Arabia Sons of the Desert You can’t take it with you Picnic at Hanging Rock Dr Strangelove Mad Max (the original) The Verdict Red River Mr Blandings Builds his Dream House Burden of Dreams 6 Degrees of Film @ the Movies And finally this week, our 6 Degrees magazine is featuring reviews of  The Tragedy of Macbeth with Denzel Washington, and Molly Haskell’s review of The Power of the Dog on Film Comment.com. Film Comment also has a thoughtful piece on the state of movies today in “Who Cares about Cinema?” And there’s a look at two Hollywood passages. The great actor Sidney Poitier is profiled on rogerebert.com, as well as the influential director and actor Peter Bogdanovich. The new movies, The Lost Daughter, directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal in her debut film. And  The Tender Bar, which is another coming-of-age tale. There’s a fun article on “The Night Stalker” the Darren McGavin cult TV classic, a preview of the Sundance Film Festival films, and a listing of the 25 films added to the National Film Registry, including Return of the Jedi. And to wrap it up, there’s a great piece from Cine-vue.com called “How Star Wars changed the film industry.” It is worth the read,

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6 Degrees August Film Round Up: @ the Movies!

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

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