Sundance Film Festival

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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6 Degrees of Film: February Film Round Up

Oscar News This month, February is a preview of things to come. And for things delayed! The Oscars will be held this year on Sunday, April 25th, so there will be a few months to go yet before the Oscar “Buzz” and predictions heat up. A good indicator always for the Oscar nominees are the many award shows that precede it. The Golden Globes, the SAG (Screen Artists Guild) awards, the BAFTA (British Equivalent of Oscar) and the Sundance Film Festival all preview some of the pre-eminent films of the past year. CODA won the Sundance Film Festival Best Picture; and Frances McDormand will surely be a nominee for Best Actress in Nomadland; plus the late Chadwick Boseman has been nominated in multiple categories for his performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. For current information and up to date reviews of the latest award nominees and winners, check out 6 Degrees of Film magazine each week. Tributes to those we lost We just heard of the passing of Christopher Plummer, an exceptional actor who after so many credits, will always best known for his role of Captain Von Trapp in “The Sound of Music.” Cicely Tyson also died recently, and that fact only serves to remind us of the talents of those pioneers who helped to break barriers for African-American women in film. Black History Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is one of the films that is showing at the movies and is streaming currently. And as mentioned, the late Chadwick Boseman has broken ground for nominations in a variety of categories, for roles in Ma Rainey’s as well as the many memorable roles he created. Boseman, like Mr Plummer in Sound of Music, will be known primarily as the defining character in the Black Panther Marvel series. Some other notable films for Black History Month include Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner starring Sidney Poitier, playing on Turner Classic this month.  But I would recommend the original documentary series “Eyes on the Prize” and Spike Lee’s Malcolm X with Denzel Washington for those who seriously want to delve into Black History. The movie: The Black Panther is another obvious choice to watch, as well as Hidden Figures, both of these films being much more recent and notably well received. Chadwick Boseman was also brilliant as Jackie Robinson in 42 and to complete your viewing, there is his turn as the famed first Black Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall, playing Marshall as a rising young lawyer in the early fifties in the film- Marshall. Armchair Film Fest At 6 Degrees, each week we highlight the film events as well as the small screen feature films that are notable enough to record and watch (Sometimes known as “Binge-watching”!)….This month on Turner Classic Movies, they are featuring: Comedies with Mel Brooks: Blazing Saddles and The Producers are shown this month, both starring Gene Wilder. Robert Ryan: The Film Noir star is a particular favorite of mine-he is featured in Marine Raiders, The Set-up (Directed by Sound of Music director Robert Wise), and a Western-Trail Street. Romantic Valentine’s: For those who would like to see something romantic around Valentine’s Day, know that some of the most enduring romantic couples of all time are found in Hollywood’s Golden Age films. Casablanca features one such couple, and Doctor Zhivago features another. Alas, (Spoiler alert), both are films about a timeless love that endures, but if you are a fan of happy endings- Love doesn’t always lead to ‘Happily ever-afters” even in Hollywood! The state of Hollywood films in 2021 There are still many delays of big-studio films due to the ongoing Pandemic. James Bond will wait till November to debut with Daniel Craig in his last Bond film-No Time to Die. Some films will be released for streaming and On-Demand due to COVID-19 concerns. Stay tuned for announcements as the release dates have changed frequently these past months. That’s all for now, folks, and like everything else during the era of Covid, we will have to wait and see what the next few months bring in terms of Oscar nominations as well as the release dates for this year. Denzel Washington is currently starring in The Little Things, one of the films listed as popular at the drive-in’s, if you are lucky enough to find one near you!  Check it out if you can…Till next time, see you at the movies!-ML

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6 Degrees of Film January Film Round up

Hello Film Fans and Happy New Year! This month in film, we are always subjected to the inevitable lists of “Best of” films from 2020. And the year 2020 has proven to be of one of the most unusual years in film history since the advent of talkies! Covid-19 has upended all major industries globally, and the film industry  is one of the hardest hit. One of the latest victims is the Sundance Film Festival-they just announced that the in-person drive-in screenings in the Rose Bowl stadium were canceled for their 2021 Festival. The Festival is still set for Jan 28th through February 3rd. The good news is that the Armchair Film Fest is still an ongoing presentation from 6 Degrees! Streaming films and recording them and downloading have proven to be the foolproof way to watch even new releases. This month, Turner Classic has a line-up that includes: Happy Birthday to “The King” There’s always the obligatory “Elvis Fest” in  January to honor the King of Rock N’ Roll and his long career of making mostly Bad B’s. But some of the stand-outs are included here; Jailhouse Rock & Viva Las Vegas were two of his best to record. The Armchair Film Fest Cary Grant is always front and center for the Armchair Film Fest. This month, the Bachelor & the Bobby Soxer is shown, and this also includes one of our pioneers of #MeToo-Myrna Loy is the judge in this one, and she’s got some great lines playing opposite Grant and a teenage Shirley Temple.  Pioneers of #MeToo This month, the strong and smart women of #MeToo are front and center in films like the Ghost & Mrs Muir with Gene Tierney as a young widow with Rex Harrison as the Ghost; and in Adam’s Rib with Katherine Hepburn as a lawyer opposite Spencer Tracy playing her husband and her opposing counsel. Audrey Hepburn plays an interpreter for the United Nations opposite Cary Grant in a predictable thriller Charade. But the movie is somewhat elevated by the two stars performance and the memorable musical score by Henry Mancini. The Great Santini is shown on TCM, and this one is not seen often on television. It’s highly recommended for Armchair Film Buffs, as it’s one of Robert Duvall’s stand-out performances. The film is adapted from a book by the late great writer Pat Conroy. The original film version of Lord of the Flies is also shown this month, and this film was adapted from the book of the same name that is required reading for many a high-school English class. 6 Degrees of Film at the Movies Magazine In 6 Degrees Magazine   we have a piece that looks at the great horror films of the past-notably the year 1960. Plus there are reviews of Coco from Disney-Pixar and their newest film Soul. We also include a post from the David Bordwell site about the best films from…1930! A little bit more contemporary offerings come from one of our favorites- the Forbes Critic Scott Mendelson. He writes about why Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was the top grosser in 2019 AND 2020….There is a piece about the Bond Girls-past and present and finally, some of the best films of 2021 are recommended to watch for. What’s Coming at the Movies in 2021 2021 will also be a challenging year for those of us who love film. Some of the movies we’re looking for include: Don’t Look Up– from the same writer of 2015’s Oscar winning The Big Short’s Adam McKay. Jennifer Lawrence and Leo DiCaprio star in this film about “two low-level astronomers who embark on a media tour to warn mankind about an approaching asteroid that will destroy the Earth” Oscar Winner Frances McDormand stars in Nomadland– the story of a woman who leaves her small-town life behind after losing her job. She sells off her belongings and sets out to travel around the country. The film centers on her nomadic lifestyle and her adapting to the survival mode in the course of her journey. A big winner at the Venice Film Festival, McDormand is an Oscar favorite for this performance. Coming 2 America: Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall reprise their roles in this sequel to the original 1988 comedy. The plot centers around Murphy discovering he has a long-lost son in America on the eve of his coronation as King of Zamunda. The Bond Movie: No Time to Die-with Daniel Craig in his final appearance as 007 is finally set to release in April. The Horror movie: A Quiet Place Part II is the sequel with Emily Blunt returning in this film as a widow who is still fighting to protect her children from the mysterious monsters who seek out sounds. Scarlet Johansson is starring in the long-awaited Black Widow film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s a throwback set after the events of Captain America: Civil War where she grapples with a dark past A Sci-Fi Comedy with Ryan Reynolds called Free Guy is about a bank teller who suspects he is living in a world of a video game called “Free City” and the game is about to go offline! Emma Stone plays Cruella in this origin story about the legendary villainess Cruella De Vil. Lin Manuel Miranda’s first musical was called In the Heights-this musical about the New York City neighborhood where Miranda grew up is set to be released in June LeBron James will play in Space Jam: A New Legacy; a sequel to the 1996 Cult hit comedy, where James ends up in a digital world filled with Looney Tunes characters. The Horror film Candyman from Jordan Peele is a sequel to the 1992 horror classic. The Marvel Cinematic Universe will continue with The Eternals, starring Angelina Jolie and an ensemble cast that introduces a race of immortal aliens who live undercover among humans but are forced to come out of hiding to defend Earth from ancient enemies. Due out in

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