Sunday, February 18, 2018

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 640th Edition

Welcome to the 640th Edition of my series.  This week, I received my Moviepass card which is really pretty cool.  It is a monthly fee of about $10 and you can see one standard 2D movie at the movie theater each day.  That being said, not much else is happening now that football season is over so I'll just get on with my selections for the week.

Wayne's World 2 (1993):  I start the week out with this SNL sequel to the hit 1992 comedy WAYNE'S WORLD which mostly continues right where the first one left off.  Stephen Surjik directed this comedy where Mike Myers and Dana Carvey reprise their roles of Wayne and Garth. Wayne has a dream where he meets Jim Morrison, played by Michael A. Nickles, who tells Wayne he must put on a music festival.  He looks to put on the show with much trouble while also trying to fend away a sleazy manager, played by Christopher Walken, who is trying to woo his girl Cassandra, reprised by Tia Carrere.  Chris Farley, Ralph Brown, James Hong, Rip Taylor, Aerosmith, Lee Terguson, Heather Locklear, Bob Odenkirk, Robert Smigel, Larry Sellers, Kevin Pollak, Olivia D'Abo, Kim Basinger, Drew Barrymore, Harry Shearer, Ted McGinley, Tim Meadows, Charlton Heston, Ed O'Neill and many others co-star or have cameos.  For me and likely most other people, this does not beat the first one as I believe it is the best SNL movie they have made.  This still has its moments like a lot of really amusing parody scenes and where can you go wrong with a little Christopher Walken?

Popeye for President (1956):  This is my animated short for the week and as you might guess this centers around Popeye who in this animated short is running for president against his rival Bluto.  On election day, they are tied and the deciding vote is in Olive Oyl and must fight for her vote.  This has the usual formula when it comes to Popeye and Bluto in the fight part but the election added an interesting element to it.  This is available on Amazon Prime as part of the Cartoon Classics Volume 2 and can likely be found on Youtube.

The Birds (1963):  I came upon this one when I was housesitting for my friends Drew and Stephanie and came upon this VHS and needed something from this era.  Believe it or not, I don't know the last time I dealt with VHS so I liked this idea.  Alfred Hitchcock directed this classic horror film based on a story by Daphne Du Maurier.  Tippi Hedren stars as socialite Melanie Daniels who pursues a potential boyfriend in Mitch, played by Rod Taylor, to a small Northern California town.  Things take a bizarre turn when the birds start to attack the town and everyone outside.  Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette, Veronica Cartwright, Ethel Griffies, Charles McGraw, Lonny Chapman, and many others co-star in this film.  This is the closest Hitchcock came to doing a conventional horror film with the exception of PSYCHO I suppose.  The promo video Hitch does that was in the beginning of the VHS is very entertaining.

Let the Fire Burn (2013):  Now I bring one of two documentaries for the week.  Jason Osder which takes a look at the events that lead to a stand-off between the black liberation group MOVE and the Philadelphia Police Department.  This was a group that wanted to live more communally and got more attention by the Philadelphia with their radical movements with bullhorn speeches, unsanitary conditions, and questionable parenting.  In 1978, nine of their members were convicted of third degree murder with the killing of a police officer making them believe the police were just corrupt and years later would lead to the very sad standoff in 1985.  There is not much else to say on this one it is very sad to see nothing has been learned since these forgotten incidents.  This documentary does not take sides and takes a look at how both sides were in the wrong.

The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933):  This is my royalty selection for the week.  Alexander Korda directed this film which stars Charles Laughton as Henry VIII which takes a look at the five marriages after getting and annulment with his first wife Catherine of Aragon.  Merle Oberon, Wendie Barrie, Elsa Lanchester, Binnie Barnes, and Everley Gregg play wives 2-6 in this film and each have their own interesting story.  Robert Donat, Miles Mander, William Austin, John Loder, and many others co-star in this film.  Laughton was great as Henry and could be the best one.  It was also good to see Lanchester playing Anne of Cleves as she is mostly known as the bride BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN.  It is not a very long movie as it is a little over 90 minutes so this is not really that in depth towards each one like some may think.  I felt it covered enough ground for Henry's portrayal.  It was also the first Academy award win for Britain which helped pave the way for some of their other film.  This is available on Amazon Prime.

Akeelah and the Bee (2006):  This is my more inspirational film for the week.  Doug Atchison wrote and directed this film that take place in South Los Angeles.  Keke Palmer stars as Akeelah who is an eleven year old inner city girl that gets in trouble and through a threat by the principal, she takes part in the school spelling bee in which she wins.  She is encouraged by the principal to take part in the Scripps Spelling Bee in which they are participating in for the first time.  For Principal Welch, played by Curtis Armstrong, it is more about bring publicity to his very struggling school and enlists his friend and former spelling bee champion Dr. Larabee, played by Laurence Fishburne, to coach Akeelah.  Angela Bassett, J.R. Villarreal, Sean Michael Afable, Sahara Ware, Lee Thompson Young, Julito McCullum, Erica Hubbard, Eddie Steeples, and many others co-star in this film.  This was pretty formulaic but still very inspiring seeing a inner city girl struggle in a far bigger world that she is used to.  It is also really good seeing how the community all comes together for someone of their own.  This is available to watch on the Hoopla Digital website.

Our Town (1940):  Sam Wood directed this film adaptation to the play by Thornton Wilder who also co-wrote the screenplay.  This takes place in the small town of Grover's Corner, New Hampshire and narrated by town druggist Mr. Morgan, played by Frank Craven, who tells the story of his town as well as the everyday people in the small town.  This mostly centers around the Webb and Gibbs family that live next door to each other with the son George Gibbs, played by William Holden, and the daughter Emily Webb, played by Martha Scott, who have been friends since childhood start to fall in love.  Fay Bainter, Beulah Bondi, Thomas Mitchell, Guy Kibbee, Stuart Erwin, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a good small town story with a pretty well-done film adaptation with a rather disturbing climax.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime and on Hoopla Digital.

The Big Sick (2017):  This is part one of a two-part David Alan Grier series.  Michael Showalter directed this film which was written by Kumail Nanjiana, played by himself, and Emily V. Gordon, played by Zoe Kazan.  Kumail Nanjiani stars as struggling stand-up comedian trying to go further.  At a show one night, he meets grad student Emily and they form a relationship but the clash of cultures make things very difficult.  Things change when Emily gets put into a medically induced coma and must consider what he wants for himself.  He goes to the hospital and slowly wins over her parents, played by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter, while balancing his own life.  He must also consider the pressure his family puts on him to marry someone of his parents' choosing.  Grier, Anupam Kher, Zenobia Shroff, Adeel Akhtar, Bo Burnham, and many others co-star in this comedy-drama.  This is based on a true story but did make a loose basing of their relationship.  This has a really good amount of comedy and drama in this clash of cultures film.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Laserblast (1978):  This is my MST3K selection for the week.  Kim Milford stars as teen Billy Duncan who comes across an alien weapon which transforms him into a killer and must deal with dinosaur looking aliens who are trying to get their weapon back.  Cheryl Smith, Gianni Russo, Dennis Burkley, Eddie Deezen, Keenan Wynn, Roddy McDowell, and many others co-star in this sci-fi movie.  This episode had Michael J. Nelson as the host where much of their jokes come from the two and a half star review that Leonard Maltin gave it while naming of more well-done movies that got either that amount of lower.  This is the last episode produced by Comedy Central and is available on Netflix.

Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (1980):  I end the week with this documentary short which was kind of selected as the result of a chain reaction so to speak.  Two weeks ago I featured the documentary LIFE ITSELF which was about film critic Roger Ebert where I learn of one of his favorite movies in the 1978 documentary GATES OF HEAVEN which I featured last week in which director Errol Morris made putting himself on the map with a lot of help from Ebert giving it the publicity it needed.  When looking more into that movie, I learn that the very versatile filmmaker Werner Herzog tells Errol that if he is able to get that movie completed that he would eat his own shoe.  Les Blank directed this documentary where before GATES OF HEAVEN premiers, Herzog keeps his word by eating his shoe.  Also through this really interesting stunt, he also talks to the crowd and encourages other aspiring filmmakers to take the risks so this is both funny and profound at the same time.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime and is only about twenty minutes long.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

"Kickboxer: Retaliation" Retaliates in Your Own Home

Well Go USA recently released information for their upcoming release of "Kickboxer: Retaliation". The film stars Alain Moussi (Kill Order), Sara Malakul Lane (King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table), Mike Tyson (IP Man 3), Jessica Jann (Easy A), Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (“Game of Thrones”), Steven Swadling (Kickboxer: Vengeance), Sam Medina (Olympus Has Fallen), and Miles Strommen (Wilson), Christopher Lambert (Highlander franchise) and legendary martial arts star Jean-Claude Van Damme (“Jean-Claude Van Johnson”).

Special features on the DVD and Blu-Ray includes "Meet the Fighters".

"Kickboxer: Retaliation" hits retail on March 13th.

Press Release:

Alain Moussi (Kill Order) returns to the role of “Kurt Sloane” in the action-packed sequel to Kickboxer: Vengeance when KICKBOXER: RETALIATION slam-bangs its way onto on digital, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD March 13 from Well Go USA Entertainment. Directed and co-written by Dimitri Logothetis (Wings of the Dragon), the film also stars Sara Malakul Lane (King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table), legendary fighter Mike Tyson (IP Man 3), Jessica Jann (Easy A), Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (“Game of Thrones”), Steven Swadling (Kickboxer: Vengeance), Sam Medina (Olympus Has Fallen), and Miles Strommen (Wilson), with Christopher Lambert (Highlander franchise) and legendary martial arts star Jean-Claude Van Damme (“Jean-Claude Van Johnson”). When MMA fighter Kurt Sloane (Moussi) is forced into an underground death match with a 400lb drug-enhanced killer, he seeks help from the legendary Master Durand (Van Damme) and prison fighter Briggs (Mike Tyson) to survive the fight. Bonus material includes a “Meet the Fighters” featurette.

One year after finding vengeance for his murdered brother, MMA champion Kurt Sloane finds himself back in Thailand – kidnapped and imprisoned there by a powerful gangster (Christopher Lambert). His only shot at freedom is to win an underground death match against a 400lb killer enhanced with state-of the-art drugs (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson). To make it out alive, he seeks training unlike anything he’s ever endured, with the help of the legendary Master Durand (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and fellow prisoner Briggs (Mike Tyson).

Friday, February 16, 2018

Best Picture Nominee "Call Me By Your Name" Hits DVD & Blu-Ray

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment recently released information for the upcoming DVD and Blu-Ray release of  "Call Me By Your Name". The film recently nominated for 4 Academy Awards® including Best Picture and Best Actor. "Call Me By Your Name" stars Armie Hammer (The Social Network), Timothée Chalamet (Lady Bird), Michael Stuhlbarg (The Shape of Water), Amira Casar (Saint Laurent) and Esther Garrel (Camille Rewinds).

Special features on the DVD and Blu-Ray includes “Snapshots of Italy: The Making of Call Me By Your Name, “In Conversation With Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg & Luca Guadagnino”, Commentary with Timothée Chalamet & Michael Stuhlbarg and Music Video for “Mystery of Love” by Sufjan Stevens.

"Call Me By Your Name" hits retail on March 13th.

Press Release:

One of the year’s most acclaimed films, nominated for four Academy Awards®, including Best Picture and Best Actor and named the #1 best reviewed limited released movie on Rotten Tomatoes for 2017 with an adjusted 105.9% score, CALL ME BY YOUR NAME debuts on digital February 27 and on Blu-ray™ and DVD March 13 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Directed by Luca Guadagnino (A Bigger Splash), the romantic drama stars Armie Hammer (The Social Network) and Timothée Chalamet (Lady Bird) in a sensual and transcendent tale of first love, based on the bestselling novel by André Aciman. CALL ME BY YOUR NAME also stars Michael Stuhlbarg (The Shape of Water), Amira Casar (Saint Laurent) and Esther Garrel (Camille Rewinds).

In addition to its four Oscar® nominations, CALL ME BY YOUR NAME was named one of the Best Movies of the Year with an AFI Award from the American Film Institute. It was also nominated for three Golden Globes®, including Best Picture, and received a nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role (Chalamet) at the Screen Actor Guild Awards®. The film also received the most nominations of any film at the Film Independent Spirit Awards with six nominations, including Best Feature, Director, Male Lead and Supporting Actor.

The digital, Blu-ray and DVD releases of CALL ME BY YOUR NAME include the music video for the Oscar nominated song “Mystery of Love,” by Sufjan Stevens as well as audio commentary and two featurettes. In the insightful commentary, Timothée Chalamet and Michael Stulhbarg give a master class in the actor’s process as they discuss bringing their characters to life and their fond memories of making the film. Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg and Luca Guadagnino discuss the film’s artistic mastery and superb storytelling in the featurette “Snapshots of Italy: The Making of Call Me By Your Name.” Spend an evening with the exceptional cast for a candid Q&A about their experiences in telling this moving, beautiful and thought provoking film in “In Conversation with Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg & Luca Guadagnino.”

It’s the summer of 1983 in Italy, and Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet), a precocious 17-year-old, spends his days in his family’s villa transcribing and playing classical music and reading. Elio’s sophistication and intellectual gifts suggest he is already a fully-fledged adult, there is much that yet remains innocent and unformed about him.

One day, Oliver (Armie Hammer), a charming American scholar arrives as the annual summer intern tasked with helping Elio’s father, an eminent professor. Amid the sun-drenched splendor of the setting, Elio and Oliver discover the heady beauty of awakening desire over the course of a summer that will alter their lives forever.

Based on the novel by Andre Aciman, CALL ME BY YOUR NAME was directed by Luca Guadagnino with a screenplay by James Ivory. The film was produced by Peter Spears, Luca Guadagnino, Emilie Georges, Rodrigo Teixeira, Marco Morabito, James Ivory and Howard Rosenman and executive produced by Derek Simonds, Tom Dolby, Margarethe Baillou, Francesco Melzi d'Eril, Naima Abed, Nicholas Kaiser, Sophie Mas and Lourenço Sant'Anna

Thursday, February 15, 2018

"Robot Wars" Blu-Ray Review by Anthony T

I always love it when Full Moon goes back into the vaults and release one of the Paramount era films on blu-ray. It gives me that nostalgic feel that I had when I first watched them on VHS and cable. Their latest release is Albert Band’s “Robot Wars”, one of the lesser films of that era.

The film takes place in the future where the United States is split into two. The mega robots used for war are now used for peace and tourism. When a war monger takes over one of the MRAS-2 and hostages, only a reckless robot pilot can save them. The only way that he can do it is find ageing MEGA-1 to combat the war monger and his evil plans. The film stars Don Michael Paul and Barbara Crampton.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen “Robot Wars”. In fact, the last time I saw this film was on a two pack of films that also included Crash and Burn (which is the better of the two films) released by Shout Factory back in 2011. “Robot Wars” doesn’t hold up to the test of time unlike some of Full Moon’s films like Puppet Master, Subspecies, and Trancers 2 to name a few have but this film still has that guilty pleasure feel to it.

What I liked about this film was the fact the direction was good. Albert Band (the late father of Charles Band) makes sure that he keeps the action moving. Whether it’s the way he makes sure the action keeps moving to how he manages the action scenes, everything is done in a way that makes this fun to watch. The other thing that Band does well is to make sure the acting to good enough to keep you from turning off. He makes sure that his cast is making their characters interesting enough to keep this from falling completely apart. It made the film watchable. Also, the film has very good stop motion effects from the late Dave Allen, as the effects felt like more of the star of the film then the actors.

The screenplay was something else. This felt like something that you would see a cheesy sci-fi films. One of things that I didn’t like about Jackson Barr’s screenplay was the fact that it some of the scenes were short. Don’t know if it was because of budget or the fact that he didn’t care. Scenes like the heroes popping out of nowhere or the scene where they found the robot, it felt like one minute they were in one place and the next either ambushing the villains or inside the main control room of the robot. It felt rushed. The other thing that I didn’t like was the film’s running time. With a running time of seventy-one minutes, there was no need for a film of this caliber to have that running time when it’s distributed by a major studio. This should’ve been at least around eighty to ninety minutes. It would cover some of the screenplay’s flaws.

There are some nice retro extras on this disc including a full length Full Moon Videozone, a vintage promo which highlights the career of Charles Band around the nineties. There is also a new featurette called “Wizard of Wars” about the late David Allen, who was the special effects coordinator for this and many of Full Moon’s Paramount films. It feature a eleven minute interview with Full Moon head Charles Band talking about the various works of David Allen that he’s worked on with him on his films over the years whether it’s as producer or director. You also get a brief glimpse of David Allen’s unfinished film “The Primevals”. This is a must if you were a fan of the early Full Moon film which features Allen’s works.

I would rank this as one of the bottom films in the Full Moon/Paramount era isn’t as par as some other of Full Moon’s film because of the screenplay. “Robot Wars” is a film that features good directing, very stop motion effects and a screenplay that doesn’t stand up to the test of time compared to most of Full Moon’s Paramount films.

Review Rating: Two and a Half Stars
Extras: Three and a Half Stars

Official Trailer for the Upcoming Comedy "Overboard"

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM) / Pantelion Films / 3 PAS Studios recently released the official trailer for thier upcoming film "Overboard". The film stars Eugenio Derbez, Anna Faris, Eva Longoria and John Hannah.

"Overboard" hits theaters on April 20th.

For more information on this film, you can visit the film's official website at: www.Overboard.Movie.

Plot Synopsis:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM) and Pantelion Films presents Overboard, a fresh take on the iconic romantic comedy. In a splashy new twist, Overboard focuses on "Leonardo" (EUGENIO DERBEZ), a selfish, spoiled, rich playboy from Mexico's richest family and "Kate" (ANNA FARIS), a working class single mom of three hired to clean Leonardo's luxury yacht. After unjustly firing Kate and refusing to pay her, Leonardo falls overboard when partying too hard and wakes up on the Oregon coast with amnesia. Kate shows up at the hospital and, to get payback, convinces Leonardo he is her husband and puts him to work - for the first time in his life. At first miserable and inept, Leonardo slowly settles in. Eventually he earns the respect of his new "family" and co-workers. But, with Leonardo's billionaire family hot on their trail and the possibility of his memory returning at any moment, will their new family last or will Leonardo finally put the clues together and leave them for good? A Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Pantelion Films of a 3Pas Studios production, Overboard is set for release on April 20, 2018.

"Overboard" Official Trailer

Sunday, February 11, 2018

"Fifty Shades Freed" Review by Tim Hellman

'FIFTY SHADES FREED': Zero Stars (Out of Five)

The third installment in the blockbuster erotic romantic thriller series, based on the three hit books (beginning with 'Fifty Shade of Grey') by E.L. James. In this chapter Ana and Christian are finally getting used to a more stable relationship together, although it's still really kinky and abusive, when a stalker from Ana's past continues to ruin their happiness. The film was directed by James Foley and written by Niall Leonard (the same duo also performed both duties on the last sequel), and Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan once again reprise their starring roles (for the third time). The movie also costars Eric Johnson, Max Martini, Brant Daugherty, Eloise Mumford, Rita Ora and Luke Grimes. It's received almost unanimously negative reviews from critics once again (like the others), but it is expected to be another hit at the Box Office though (like the others). I once again hated it.

Ana (Dakota Johnson) and Christian (Jamie Dornan) are married, and finally starting to live a happy life together. Christian can't relax though, as he's constantly worried about Ana's safety. Especially when the couple realizes that Ana's ex-boss, Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), who also sexually assaulted her, is out of prison and stalking her. Christian does everything he can to try to keep Ana safe, including commanding her on where and when she has to be somewhere, but Ana wants her freedom, and doesn't listen. The couple's new happiness is of course soon jeopardized because of this.

I've hated this series from the beginning, because it makes a hero out of a #MeToo culprit (Christian Grey), and romanticizes stalking and sexual harassment. These are both things that the Christian character is guilty of doing to Ana, in the first two installments of the franchise. In this one his abuse towards her is at least seemingly consensual, but it still seems like the wrong message to send viewers (and readers of the novels). So I've always had a problem with the morality of supporting these films and books, and I don't understand why any intelligent moral person would. I've only continued to see each movie so that I can review them; in order to speak my feelings on this subject, and it's also just a lot more fun to review a bad film than a good one. This one is a really bad movie as well, and it's even worse than the first two installments. It seems like just a series of random pointless scenes strung together, by the weakest example of a plot that I've seen in a film in quite some time, just so they can give the viewer lots of erotic excessive sex scenes (as well as lots of pointless nudity). The movie really just feels like a well produced porno, but of course it's a heavy R-rated version of one (rather than X-rated).

"From Hollywood to Rose" Review by Tim Hellman

'FROM HOLLYWOOD TO ROSE': Three and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

An indie comedy from debut filmmakers Liz Graham (a veteran script supervisor) and Matt Jacobs. Jacobs also wrote the screenplay for the movie, which was filmed on just a $165,000 budget. It stars Eve Annenberg, Bradley J. Herman, Maxx Maulion, and a cast of other unknown actors. The film is about a woman in a wedding dress who's on her way home from Hollywood, heading west on a bus, when she has a number of strange diverse conversations with quirky outcasts that she meets along her way. The film is weird, and extremely stretched out, but it also has some amusing and memorable scenes in it, and a few insightful things to say.

A seemingly depressed woman in a wedding dress (Annenberg) boards a bus in Los Angeles and heads west on it. Along the way she meets a variety of different social outcasts, and has several weird conversations with them. While conversing with someone she misses her stop, and her ride becomes even longer and weirder. She takes the time to analyze her life though, and to think about what brought her to where she is at that moment, as well as to learn more about all of these other interesting people that she meets.

The movie is of course really low-budget, and it shows, but the performances are actually pretty decent, and the soundtrack is awesome. It does seem long and stretched out though (and kind of aimless at times as well). That's the way life is though, and I think the film actually has some insightful things to say about it. It's definitely not a great movie, but it isn't a bad one either in my opinion.