Sunday, August 20, 2017

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 614th Edition



Welcome to the 614th Edition of my series.  Last week, my show in Fortville ended and some might think, "oh, Shaun will take a break from theater" but that is not true as my mom and I will be doing another murder mystery comedy in October at the Amvets which is our third one.  More details will come soon.  I am also glad to announce that I found a paid fantasy football league to be in and have a draft this Thursday.  That's about all for right now so onto my selections for the week.


Love, Marilyn (2012):  I start the week out with this documentary and homage of Marilyn Monroe.  This was done by mostly actors reading excerpts of things people wrote about her and things she wrote herself.  This mostly takes about her early career in Hollywood into her rise as a sex symbol and into her last days.  F. Murray Abraham, Elizabeth Banks, Adrien Brody, Ellen Burstyn, Glenn Close, Hope Davis, Viola Davis, Jennifer Ehle, Ben Foster, Jack Huston, Stephan Lang, Lindsey Lohan, Janet McTeer, Jeremy Piven, Oliver Platt, David Strathairn, Lili Taylor, Uma Thurman, Marisa Tomei, and Evan Rachel Wood all read segments of Marilyn's life.  This was really interesting to me to get more of her own insight into her work.  There were some things I knew but a lot I did not know like that her stage last name was her mother's last name.  It was too bad she did not have a longer life and career.  This is available on hoopladigital.com .


The Kings of Summer (2013):  Jordan Vogt-Roberts directed this comedy.  Nick Robinson stars as Joe who is a teen and tired of his single father trying to manage his life.  He gets the idea to build a home in a part of the woods that no one knows and takes his friend Patrick, played by Gabriel Basso, and a strange kid named Biaggio, played by Moises Arias, to help build it and live there with them.  Once done, they finally get that freedom to live on their own without parents.  Nick Offerman, Erin Moriarty, Craig Cackowski, Nathan Keyes, Megan Mullally, Alison Brie, Eugene Cordero, Tony Hale, and many others co-star in this comedy.  Arias has some great comedic timing in this movie and Offerman is also really good as the well-meaning father.  I'm sure just about every teen has thought about this situation and can relate well to this comedy.  This is available on Amazon Prime and was really worth a look.


Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II (1989):  This was the 11th episode of the new season of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 being followed by its predecessor in this episode.  The first one was in 1985 and for some reason they saw fit to make a sequel where evidently those in the first movie did not survive as this one has whole new characters.  Just a basic plot synopsis, a young wizard named Tyor , must restore peace at the three kingdoms and is helped by an elderly man, played by Mel Welles.  I guess I can say this one adds David Carradine and Sid Haig to the cast.  I don't know much else to say except this is available on Netflix and best watched with MST3K and can see why Kinga Forrester and Max would want to make Jonah and his robot friends watch it.


Aqua Babes (1956):  This is my Sportscope short for the week which centers around swimming with swimming instructor Lissa Bengston.  I thought going into this we were going to see hot women swimming but I should have read more into it, she is teaching toddlers to swim with some really strange methods.  This should keep you entertained for about 8 minutes and is still available on TCM On-Demand until September 1st.


Black Sheep (1935):  You will see the year and realize this is not the Chris Farley movie or the horror movie that involves sheep.  Allan Dwan directed this film.  Edmund Lowe stars in this film as gambler John Francis Dugan who makes the acquaintance of socialite Janette, played by Claire Trevor.  They see a young gambler named Fred Curtis, played by Tom Brown, losing $12,000 where John discovers a deeper connection to the young man and looks to help him with his debts towards the crooked gamblers.  Eugene Pallette, Adrienne Ames, Herbert Mundin, Ford Sterling, and many others co-star in this drama.  This is a pretty good film into the world of gambling in this era and has a lot of good performances.  It packs enough into the 76 minutes to make it worth a watch.


Joe Kidd (1972):  This is my western for the week which was directed by John Sturges and written by Elmore Leonard which is the author I credit for getting me through high school when I had to read and usually read his books that intrigued this mostly non-reader.  Clint Eastwood stars as the title character who is a former bounty hunter and is hired by a wealthy landowner named Frank Harlan, played by Robert Duvall, to help track a Mexican revolutionary leader named Luis Chalma, played by John Saxon.  In his pursuit, Joe must consider what is right and finds that Harlan is not on the level.  Don Stroud, Stella Garcia, James Wainwright, Paul Koslo, Gregory Walcott, Dick Van Patten, Lynne Marta, and many others co-star in this western.  This is not one of Eastwood's best works but is still pretty entertaining in my mind.  It has less action than a lot of Eastwood's westerns but conveys well a morel dilemma with the title character.  This is available on HBO On-Demand.


Wolf Hall (2015):  This is my mini-series for the week and is through PBS and BBC as an episode of MASTERPIECE CLASSIC.  Mark Rylance stars as Thomas Cromwell who was the secretary for Cardinal Wolsey, played by Jonathan Pryce, but after the downfall of Wolsey he becomes an advisor for Henry VIII, played by Damian Lewis.  This was the time where he was in an unwanted marriage with Katharine of Aragon, played by Joanne Whalley, and marry Anne Boleyn, played by Claire Foy.  This shows Cromwell being an idealist and opportunist and must consider how far he is willing to go for the king.  Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Bernard Hill, Hannah Steele, Jessica Raine, Tom Holland, Richard Dillane, Saskia Reeves, Luke Roberts, David Robb, Kate Phillips, Edward Holcroft, Charity Wakefield, Matthieu Amalric, and many others co-star in this mini-series.  This is a well-done series toward the rule of Henry VIII, played very well by Lewis and Foy also does well as the rather conniving Anne Boleyn whose fate most of us know but will not spoil.  This is available on both hoopladigital.com and through Amazon Prime.


Pitfall (1948):  This is my film noir for the week which was directed by Andre De Toth and based on the novel by Jay Dratler.  Dick Powell stars as insurance executive John Forbes who is a family man with a wife, played by Jane Wyatt, and child, played by Jimmy Hunt.  When doing business with femme fatale Mona Stevens, played by Lizabeth Scott, whose boyfriend is in jail and John ends up falling for her.  He gets his private investigator J.B. MacDonald, played by Raymond Burr, involved and he ends up also falling for Mona but becoming more obsessive getting John unexpected consequences.  In a few years from this film, Burr would go onto play his iconic attorney character Perry Mason but before that I saw him play a few rather shady characters like in this film.  He really stole the show in this film as the villain that really gets things going.  This is very well written and the ending was quite different from other film noirs that was really good.  This is available on the website hoopladigital.com and available to most people that have a card to a public library.


Blow-Up (1966):  This is part three of my Vanessa Redgrave trilogy.  Michelangelo Antonioni directed and co-wrote this mystery.  David Hemmings is a successful London photographer named Thomas who meets a mysterious woman to photograph named Jane, played by Redgrave, and in the photos he sees something very suspicious to the point that he believes he might have photographed a murder.  Sarah Miles, John Castle, Jane Birkin, Peter Bowles, Veruschka von Lehn, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a good look at the lines between reality and illusion.  Hemmings is great as the photographer trying to piece together what he thinks he might see through things like blowing up on negatives.  Look for the band the Yardbirds who at the time had Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck.  This is also available on the hoopla website.


Lucia (2004):  I end the week with this German short film which was written and directed by Felix Gonnert.  Lucia is a young girl who takes a night trip around the hospital and discovers some X-ray pictures which stimulates her into an unusual place of imagination.  This is a really good and simple story of a girl in the hospital trying to make the most of her stay.  This is available on Amazon Prime and is worth approximate 10 minutes.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Ernest Borgnine, Chloe Sevigny, John Wayne, Sidney Poitier, and many others.



Saturday, August 19, 2017

"The Dark Tower" Review by Tim Hellman


'THE DARK TOWER': Two and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

A fantasy-western adapted from Stephen King's novel series (of the same name), and it's actually a continuation of that story (with a planned TV series to follow). The film tells the story of an 11-year-old boy that's transported to another dimension, where he meets a gunslinger on a quest to reach the 'Dark Tower' (which will help him save all of humanity). The movie stars Idris Elba, Tom Taylor and Matthew McConaughey. It's received mostly negative reviews from critics, and it's performed modestly at the Box Office so far. I found it to be pretty disappointing as well, and mostly a bore.

Jake Chambers (Taylor) is an 11-year-old boy who's able to see into another dimension, called Mid-World. His parents believe his visions are a form of mental illness though, and they try to get him professional help for it. While being pursued by demons from this other world, Jake is transported to the other dimension. There he meets a gunslinger (Elba) on a quest to reach the 'Dark Tower', which is believed to have the power to save all of humanity. An evil sorcerer (McConaughey) is also trying to reach the tower though, for his own evil purposes.

While the film is well cast (you can't get much better than Elba and McConaughey as your two leads), it's also very poorly directed and edited. The film just feels like a mess, and it's never very interesting or involving. Parts of it are amusing though, and some of the effects are cool, but it seems like the book series (which I haven't read) deserved a much better film adaptation. Hopefully the upcoming TV series is much better.

Official Trailer for Arron Sorkin's Upcoming Film "Molly's Game"


STX Films recently released the official trailer for Arron Sorkin's Upcoming film "Molly's Game". The film stars Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Jeremy Strong and Chris O'Dowd.

"Molly's Game hits theaters on November 22nd.

For more information on this film, you can visit the film's official website at: MollysGame.movie

Plot Synopsis:

MOLLY'S GAME is based on the true story of Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who ran the world's most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by 17 FBI agents wielding automatic weapons. Her players included Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans and finally, unbeknownst to her, the Russian mob. Her only ally was her criminal defense lawyer Charlie Jaffey, who learned that there was much more to Molly than the tabloids led us to believe.

"Molly's Game: Official Trailer

Official Trailer for the Upcoming Drama "In Search of Fellini"

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Ambi Media Group and Spotted Cow Entertainment recently released the official trailer for their upcoming film "In Search of Fellini". The film stars Ksenia Solo, Maria Bello and Mary Lynn Rajskub. "In Search of Fellini" hits theaters in limited release on September 15th.

For more information on this film, you can visit the film's official Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/InSearchofFellini/

Plot Synopsis:

In this coming-of-age adventure, Lucy (Ksenia Solo), a small-town girl from Ohio, discovers the delightfully bizarre films of the legendary Italian filmmaker, Federico Fellini and sets off on a journey across Italy to find him. Also starring Maria Bello and Mary Lynn Rajskub.

"In Search of Fellini": Official Trailer

Thursday, August 17, 2017

"Dave Made A Maze" Review by Tim Hellman


'DAVE MADE A MAZE': Four and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

An indie horror-comedy adventure about a struggling artist that somehow magically creates a giant maze in his living room, that's contained inside a small cardboard fort. When he gets lost in the dangerous labyrinth, his girlfriend leads a team of their friends into the maze to rescue him. The film was directed by debut feature filmmaker Bill Watterson, and it was written by Watterson and Steven Sears (a debut feature screenwriter). The movie stars Nick Thune, Meera Rohit Kumbhani, Adam Busch, James Urbaniak, Frank Caeti, Scott Narver, Stephanie Allynee, John Hennigan and Kirsten Vangsness. I found the film to be extremely original, bizarrely inventive, beautiful to look at, and quite amusing.

Dave (Thune) is a frustrated artist that feels like he hasn't created anything significant in his life, even though he's now over 30-years-old. While creating a cardboard fort in his living room, Dave somehow (magically) creates a gigantic maze inside it. The maze is full of deadly booby traps and vicious creatures, including a monstrous minotaur (Hennigan). When Dave gets lost in the maze, his girlfriend, Annie (Kumbhani), leads a team of their friends into the cardboard fort to find him (against Dave's warnings).

The movie is definitely unique and creative, but it's also surprisingly beautiful to watch at times. The filmmakers really made the most of their budget. It's kind of a horror movie, but it's never really gory or even truly violent. You'll have to see it to know what I mean for sure, but I've seen far worse on Adult Swim (and even network TV). The actors are all funny in it, and well cast, and the story is kind of sweet hearted even. I had a fun time watching it, from the opening credits scene (which is also impressively creative) on. I think most film fans, looking for something different, will have an equally good time watching it too.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sofia Coppola's "The Beguiled" Lands on DVD and Blu-Ray


Universal Pictures Home Entertainment recently send us information their upcoming DVD/Blu-Ray release of Sofia Coppola's "The Beguiled". The film stars Colin Farrell (In Bruges), Academy Award® winner Nicole Kidman (Big Little Lies) Golden Globe Award® nominee Kirsten Dunst (Fargo) and Elle Fanning (Maleficent).

Special features on the DVD and Blu-Ray includes A Shift in Perspective (Filmmakers and cast discuss how this version of The Beguiled is a departure from the novel of the same name and its earlier film adaptation. Screenwriter/director Sofia Coppola describes how the talented cast helped bring her vision to life.) and A Southern Style (Discover how costumes, hair, and many other elements came together to create an immersive experience not only for the audience but also for the actors.).

"The Beguiled" hits VOD on September 26th and retail on October 10th.

Press Release:

AcademyAward® winner Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation) unleashes the atmospheric thriller The Beguiled, coming to Digital on September 26, 2017, and Blu-ray™, DVD and On Demand on October 10, 2017, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. The winner of the Best Director award (Sofia Coppola) at the 2017 Cannes International Film Festival, the Focus Features film showcases exceptional performances by the outstanding ensemble cast of Golden Globe Award® winner Colin Farrell (In Bruges), Academy Award® winner Nicole Kidman (Big Little Lies) Golden Globe Award® nominee Kirsten Dunst (Fargo), Elle Fanning (Maleficent), Oona Laurence (Bad Moms), Angourie Rice (Spider-Man: Homecoming), Addison Riecke (The Thundermans), and Emma Howard (Transparent).

The Beguiledunfolds during the Civil War, at a Southern girls' boarding school. Its sheltered young women take in an injured enemy soldier. As they provide refuge and tend to his wounds, the house is taken over with sexual tension and dangerous rivalries, and taboos are broken in an unexpected turn of events.

Featuring never-before-seen content, The Beguiledon Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital comes packed with exclusive featurettes taking viewers behind the scenes of the alluring and intense drama and exploring Sofia Coppola's unique vision.

Blue Underground Invites You to go "Down" on DVD and Blu-Ray



Blue Underground recently send us over information for their upcoming release of "Down". The film is the English remake of Dick Mass' "The Lift". Mass also directs the film starring James Marshall (Twin Peaks), Naomi Watts (Mulholland Dr, Twin Peaks) Eric Thal (The Puppet Masters), Michael Ironside (SCANNERS), Edward Herrmann (THE LOST BOYS), Dan Hedaya (COMMANDO), and Ron Perlman (HELLBOY).

Special features on the DVD and Blu-Ray includes Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Dick Maas and Stunt Coordinator Willem de Beukelaer, The Making Of DOWN, Behind-the-Scenes Footage [Blu-ray Exclusive], Theatrical Trailer, Teaser Trailers, Poster & Still Gallery and BONUS Collectable Booklet with new essay by author Michael Gingold.

"Down" hits retail on October 10th.

Press Release:

You May Want to Take the Stairs

When the express elevators in New York City's 102-story Millennium Building start to malfunction, elevator mechanics Mark (James Marshall of TWIN PEAKS) and Jeff (Eric Thal of THE PUPPET MASTERS) are sent to find the cause. After a series of gruesome and deadly accidents occur, Mark joins forces with spunky reporter Jennifer (Naomi Watts of THE RING), who's on the hunt for a juicy story. As the death toll rises and the building is sealed off amid claims of terrorism, Mark and Jennifer attempt to unravel the horrifying secret behind the mysterious behavior of the bloodthirsty lift before it takes them - and the entire city - DOWN!

Michael Ironside (SCANNERS), Edward Herrmann (THE LOST BOYS), Dan Hedaya (COMMANDO), and Ron Perlman (HELLBOY) co-star in this big-budget remake of THE LIFT helmed by original Writer/Director Dick Maas(AMSTERDAMNED). Previously released on home video in a cropped full-frame transfer as THE SHAFT, Blue Underground is now proud to present DOWN in a brand-new widescreen 2K restoration from the original negative, approved by Dick Maas!