Sunday, August 18, 2019

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 713th Edition


Welcome to the 713th Edition of my series.  I started rehearsing for THE INTERROGATION OF BIBLICAL CHARACTERS and always enjoy doing a locally written production when I can so I'll be promoting this more in the coming weeks.  I hope everyone is having a good week, I don't have much else happening so I'll just get on with my selections for the week.


The Laramie Project (2002):  This is part two of my two-part Steve Buscemi series and also turned into a tribute to Peter Fonda who died after I watched this one.  I start the week out with this HBO movie which was directed by Moises Kaufman and based on his own play of the same name.  This is mostly a docudrama based on the aftermath of the horrid murder of Matthew Shepherd which happened in Laramie, Wyoming.    Kaufman and his group the Tectonic Theater Project did some interviews of the townspeople and got some recordings of others like in the news or court.  There is no linear plot, just people reflecting on their times with Shepherd.  Buscemi, Laura Linney, Peter Fonda, Jeremy Davies, Nestor Carbonell, Camryn Manheim, Grant Varjas, Kelli Simpkins, Clea DuVall, Frances Sternhagen, Michael Emerson, Margo Martindale, Christina Ricci, Janeane Garofalo, Joshua Jackson, Ben Foster, Lois Smith, Amy Madigan, Clancy Brown, Tom Bower, Steef Sealy, Dylan Baker, Stephen Belber, Noah Fleiss, Summer Phoenix, Bill Irwin, James Murtaugh, Richard Riehle, Terry Kinney, and many others co-star in this film.  As many know, I had the honor of getting to be in this production last month at the Center Stage.  In that one, we were a group of eight actors playing many roles and I had the honor of playing parts played Buscemi and Emerson.  This movie version was also very well done.  It was not an easy play to get through just to be in and the movie is also very emotional at times but very rewarding.  Mr. Kaufman and those involved with the Tectonic Theater Project, I thank you for putting this show together.  I think I can speak for the rest of my castmates when I say that this is the most meaningful play I have ever been a part in.  A good double feature could be to follow up with the documentary MATT SHEPHERD IS A FRIEND OF MINE.  This movie version is available on Amazon Prime.


Blackkklansman (2018):  Spike Lee directed this film that is based on a true story and is based on the book by Ron Stallworth, played by John David Washington.  Stallworth was the first black man to be a police officer as part of the Colorado Springs Police Department.  He struggles to make his way into the department where he starts out being assigned to the records room but requests undercover work.  He gets the idea to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan where he manages to talk to them on the phone and his colleague Flip Zimmerman, played by Adam Driver, goes undercover into the Klan using Stallworth's name.  Corey Hawkins, Topher Grace, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Robert John Burke, Brian Tarantina, Arthur J. Nascarella, Ken Garito, Frederick Weller, Michael Buscemi, Laura Harrier, Damaris Lewis, Nicholas Turturro, Harry Belafonte, Alec Baldwin, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a really good look at the '70s and a very interesting real-life event.  I was not aware until now that the star of the movie is the son of Denzel Washington and this Washington seems to have a promising career ahead of him.  It has moments of humor but some disturbing scenes with the KKK like them screening the movie A BIRTH OF A NATION.  Even some I know who dislike Spike Lee really liked this one.


The Expendables (2010):  Now I bring this ultimate guilty please action film which was directed and co-written by Sylvester Stallone.  Sly also stars as Barney Ross who leads a group of mercenaries that include Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lungren, Randy Couture, and Terry Crews.  Mickey Rourke also co-stars as their friend and weapons guy Tool who operates a tattoo shop.  They are hired to overthrow a ruthless Latin American general, played by David Zayas who they learn is more of a puppet to ex-CIA operative James Munroe, played by Eric Roberts, and his ruthless henchman Paine, played by Stone Cold Steve Austin.  Charisma Carpenter, Gary Daniels, Giselle Itie, and many others co-star in this film.  If that group of mercenaries, the ultimate villain duo of Eric Roberts and Steve Austin, and hot girls like Carpenter and Itie are not enough, there are also cameos from Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger who have the first ever on-screen encounter with their fellow former Planet Hollywood owner Stallone.  Willis and Schwarzenegger have more expanded roles in the next film.  Rourke also has a really cool monologue reflecting on the old times that I might use in the future for my own auditions.  I kind of feel like the wrestling world missed the boat on Eric Roberts as he could be a great heel manager.  This was such a fun movie to watch and is quite the adrenaline rush.


Gym College (1955):  This is my short film for the week and part of the Sportscope short film series.  This takes a look at the men's gymnastics team with Florida State University and takes a look at some of the events with the gymnastics as well as some of the team members.  Nothing great but good to see the earlier days of Florida State athletics.  This is available on TCM On-Demand.


The Getaway (1972):  Sam Peckinpah directed this road and heist film which is based on the novel by Jim Thompson.  Steve McQueen stars as convict Doc McCoy who has been released through the help of his loyal wife Carol, played by Ali MacGraw, through a crooked businessman, played by Ben Johnson, with political connections.  Doc is forced to do a heist which goes awry and is on the run along with Carol looking to avoid the police and those involved in the robbery.  Sally Struthers, Al Lettieri, Slim Pickens, Richard Bright, Jack Dodson, Dub Taylor, Bo Hopkins, Roy Jenson, and many others co-star in this film.  McQueen and McGraw work really well together.  We also get treated to some awesome chases and shootouts.  This is some classic action that still holds up today.


Poor Little Rich Girl (1936):  I'm sure only I would go from some violent shootout movie to a Shirley Temple musical but that is exactly what I did.  Shirley stars as Barbara who is the daughter of a rich businessman and usually watched by people who work at the house while her dad works.  It is decided for her to go to an actual school but in the process she gets lost and taken in by a couple of struggling entertainers in Jimmy and Jerry Dolan, played by Jack Haley and Alice Faye.  They see she has quite a talent so they make her part of the group.  Gloria Stuart, Michael Whalen, Sara Haden, Jane Darwell, Claude Gillingwater, Paul Stanton, Henry Armetta, and many others co-star in this.  Many will probably know Jack Haley as the Tin Man in THE WIZARD OF OZ and others likely know Stuart the most in the 1997 film TITANIC.  This might be Shirley at her best and was very enjoyable in her song and dance numbers along with Haley and Faye.  I just wish Quentin Tarantino could have worked something out with her to make a comeback role in one of his movies.  This is available to watch on TCM On-Demand.


The Remains of the Day (1993):  James Ivory directed by this film which is based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro.  Anthony Hopkins stars as Stevens who is a butler working for Lord Darlington in the events leading up to WWII, played by James Fox.  Stevens has been a very loyal worker and mostly runs the house but things change when Miss Kenton, played by Emma Thompson comes to work there.  Christopher Reeve, Hugh Grant, Peter Vaughn, Ben Chaplin, Patrick Godfrey, Peter Halliday, Michael Lonsdale, Lena Headey, and many others co-star in this film.  It is a good look at the life of a butler with Hopkins doing really well in his role.  It was also good to see Reeve in a non-Superman role before his accident that put him in a wheelchair for the remainder of his life.  This was a pretty good British drama and worth a look.


The Pearl of Death (1944):  Roy William Neill directed this adaptation of THE SIX NAPOLEONS by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle which many might guess features Sherlock Holmes.  Your deduction is correct which might make the detective proud.  Basil Rathbone plays Sherlock and Nigel Bruce plays his loyal sidekick Dr. Watson.  Sherlock must investigate a stolen pearl that was taken from a museum and finds that the pearl ties in with murders that are happening.  Dennis Hoey, Evelyn Ankers, Miles Mander, Ian Wolfe, Holmes Herbert, Mary Gordon, Rondo Hatton, and many others co-star in this film.  This was a really good mystery to follow and and some pretty good humor to go along.  This is the ninth of fourteen teamings for Rathbone and Bruce as the iconic duo.  This is only a little over an hour long and will be a good hour to use especially to those who love a classic detective story.


The Gang that Couldn't Shoot Straight (1971):  This is my mafia comedy for the week.  James Goldstone directed this movie which is based on the novel by Jimmy Breslin.  This centers around a couple of rival mafia gangs.  Jerry Orbach stars as Kid Sally who leads one of the gangs and uses a lion of all things to get what he wants like when blackmailing rival clients.  A young Robert De Niro co-stars as Mario who is a con man posing as a priest and gets caught up in the mafia war.  Leigh Taylor-Young, Jo Van Vleet, Lionel Stander, Herve Villechaize, Joe Santos, Philip Bruns, Sam Coppola, Paul Benedict, Burt Young, and many others co-star in this comedy.  This is mostly of note to see Orbach but even more to see De Niro before he really hit it big.  Also notice, this came out before THE GODFATHER and maybe the start of De Niro's future mafia roles.


Hook (1991):  I end the week with some Steven Spielberg in his variation of J.M. Barrie's PETER PAN.  Robin Williams stars as attorney Peter Banning not remembering his past when he was Peter Pan.  Banning is now married with some children and sometimes neglects family for his job.  He learns his kids, played by Charlie Korsmo and Amber Scott, were kidnapped by Captain Hook, played by Dustin Hoffman, looking to lure Peter back to Neverland for another showdown.  Maggie Smith co-stars as the elderly Wendy who tries to make Peter remember his past and Julia Roberts co-stars as Tinkerbell who takes him to Neverland to try to get Peter to remember who he is with help from the Lost Boys.  Bob Hoskins, Caroline Goodall, Laurel Cronin, Arthur Malet, Isaiah Robinson, Jasen Fisher, Dante Basco, Thomas Tulak, Alex Zuckerman, Ahmad Stoner, Gwyneth Paltrow, Glenn Close, Tony Burton, Nick Tate, and many others co-star in this film.  There are also some cameos from musicians like Phil Collins and David Crosby.  It was good to revisit this movie after many years and see Williams and Hoffman as rivals to one another.  It would be good to have at least the basic knowledge of the story to get the many references this movie gives to the original stories.  A good double feature for this one could be to follow up with FINDING NEVERLAND.

Well, that is it for this week.  I was considering doing the "Fun and Useless Facts" segment but decided against it due to time and just a little too much to go on with this one.  I will say thought that I have two sibling combinations in Steve and Michael Buscemi as well as Eric and Julia Roberts.  I did decided to do a segment called "The Bookworm Corner" so read on for that one.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week.



THE BOOKWORM CORNER


Magnolia Moonight by Mary Ellis (2016):  I am trying to do more reading and I found this book when I was at my local library for their monthly Coffee and Classics movie series.  They had a group of books for us attendees to choose from and this looked most interesting to me.  The book really involves two different stories.  Part of it involves private investigator Nate Price and his new wife Isabelle who finally get around to taking a honeymoon and things take a turn when Isabelle spots her ex-husband Craig gambling again finding that he is in a complicated situation.  The other story involves Nate's employee Beth Kirby who is an ex-cop turned PI and has been hired by a preacher's wife whose husband has died being ruled a suicide but believes it was murder.  Beth must also training Nate's accountant friend Michael Price to be an investigator and both look to get to the bottom of what happened to the late preacher whose church that Beth had attended when younger.  The two stories mostly alternate by chapter and both are pretty compelling.  This is the third book in a book series called "Secrets of the South Mysteries" and could be compelled to try the others in the future.  I know the title has the word "bookworm" in it and I think I would be insulting other bookworms if I said I was one.  I am trying to do more and this did keep my attention.  I did not realize this was Christian novel but it does not make heavy-handed religious references so I think just about anyone can read this book.  You can learn more about the author at the website http://www.maryellis.net and has quite a few novels that are both mystery and Amish fiction.




Sunday, August 11, 2019

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 712th Edition



Welcome to the 712th Edition of my series.  I make my return to the theater this week at the Commons Theater in Alexandria where I will be in a locally written production called THE INTERROGATION OF BIBLICAL CHARACTERS and I will be playing the role of Peter.  The show will be in October with the dates being in the photo below.  Not much else happening in my life right now so I will just get onto my selections for the week.


The Island (2005):  This was shown at my local library as part of the "We're Living in the Future" series.  This is also part one of a two-part Steve Buscemi series.  Michael Bay directed this sci-fi film set in a Dystopian future where a group of people are essentially slaves that work in a factory.  Ewan McGregor stars as Lincoln Six Echo who is beginning to question what goes on and soon discovers the truth of "The Island".  This is something everyone is told is a certain paradise but there is far more to it.  Scarlett Johansson co-stars as Jordan Two Delta who is told she is going to the Island but is informed it is not what they say it is by Lincoln prompting her to go on the run with him to figure out the truth of the facility.  Djimou Hounsou, Sean Bean, Steve Buscemi, Michael Clark Duncan, Ethan Philips, Brian Stepanek, Noa Tishby, Siobhan Flynn, and many others co-star in this sci-fi film.  This was a pretty decent sci-fi film that combines a Dystopian society and a realistic modern setting.  I know there are a lot of Bay haters out there but just put your differences aside and give this one a shot.


Broadway:  The Golden Age (2003):  I follow up with this documentary which looks at the world of Broadway and mostly focusing on the '60s which has been called as the title says, the Golden Age.  Rick McKay directed this documentary being a guy from Beech Grove, Indiana, he was curious to understand the world of Broadway and especially this era.  He manages to get interviews with many Broadway actors including Edie Adams, Bea Arthur, Elizabeth Ashley, Carol Channing, Hume Cronyn, Charles Durning, Fred Ebb, Ben Gazzara, Uta Hagen, Jeremy Irons, Angela Lansbury, Frank Langella, Shirley MacLaine, Jerry Orbach, Chita Rivera, and many others.  This was a pretty insightful documentary and also pretty cool that the director is from my state of Indiana in a town about an hour or so from where I live.  Broadway enthusiasts will love this one.


Sometimes in April (2005):  Raoul Peck wrote and directed this film which is based on the genocide of 1994 in Rwanda.  Idris Elba stars as Augustin who was involved with the Rwandan Armed Forces during the time it was happening and ten years later he lives in regret of what happened and is now a schoolteacher.  Debra Winger, Noah Emmerich, Pamela Nomvete, Otis Erhuero, Fraser James, and many others co-star in this film.  It is hard to describe this movie any further.  It is not for everyone as this is based on a true story and based on a very horrid period in Africa where there were countless deaths.  This could be a good double feature to go along with HOTEL RWANDA which is also based on the genocide.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.


Peeping Penguins (1937):  This is my animated short for the week which was directed by Dave Fleischer.  This centers around a group of penguins who are investigating an abandoned cabin and are warned by their mother that "curiosity killed the cat" but each go on about their curiosities anyway including the mother.  This was done before penguins became the big thing and is pretty funny.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime as part of the "Cartoon Classics Vol. 3".


Black Jack (1979):  Ken Loach directed this film that was based on the novel by Leon Garfield.  This takes place in 1750 Yorkshire where Stephen Hirst stars as Tolly who is a young boy kidnapped by a French thief of the title name, played by Jean Franval, and goes on an unexpected journey that involves traveling fairs, murder and the rescue of a young girl named Belle, played by Louise Cooper, from an asylum.  John Young, Doreen Mantle, and many others co-star in this film.  It does not look like this got much publicity until recently seeing as there are no user reviews on imdb.  This did serve as an inspiration to Wes Anderson's MOONRISE KINGDOM.  This is a pretty fun movie with some really good cinematography to boot and one at least older kids can watch.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.


Johnny Tremain (1957):  This is my live action Disney for the week.  Robert Stevenson directed this movie which was based on the novel by Esther Forbes.  This centers around the Revolutionary War and stars Hal Stalmaster as the title character who is an apprentice for a silversmith but gets a hand injury that makes him unable to continue.  Events happen that get him befriended by a group called Sons of Liberty and gets caught up in the war.  Luana Patten, Jeff York, Sebastian Cabot, Richard Beymer, Rusty Lane, Walter Sande, Whit Bissell, Walter Coy, Will Wright, and many others co-star in this Disney film.  I remember being shown this in history class when I was in middle school and remember it was pretty decent and still holds up.  It is one of those that show historic moments with a fictional character involved in the moments.  This is available to watch on Hoopla Digital to get a live action Disney watch going.


Goodbye Solo (2008):  Ramin Bahrani directed and co-wrote this independent film.  Souleymane Sy Savane stars as Solo who is a local cab driver in North Carolina trying to support his family.  Red West stars as William who is an older man getting a ride from Solo and takes a liking to William even if he doesn't seem to want the friendship.  They grow to form an unexpected friendship.  Diana Franco Galindo, Lane 'Roc' Williams, Mamadou Lam, Carmen Leyva, and many others co-star in this independent film.  This also takes a look at the changing of America and the passing of generations.  This movie really revolves around the two characters trying to get past their differences.  This shows that a good movie can be made with an unknown cast and with character development.


The Big Noise (1944):  I move to a comedy which stars the legendary comedy duo Laurel and Hardy in their later years.  Malcolm St. Clair directed this comedy Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy as Stan and Ollie who are janitors at a detective agency.  They answer a call where an inventor of a bomb named Arthur Space, played by Arthur Space, who is hiring the agency to protect him and not let the bomb to get into the wrong hands.  As some might have guessed, the janitors pass themselves off as the detectives.  Doris Merrick, Veda Ann Borg, Robert Blake, Frank Fenton, James Bush, and many others co-star.   A young Blake plays the back-talking son of the inventor.  This has been regarded as one of the worst movies ever made but I did not really see that.  It may not have been their best work and a rare feature film but it still had some pretty funny moments with a rather interesting ending.


The Last Waltz (1978):  Last week I featured the rock documentary AIN'T IN IT FOR MY HEALTH which centered around The Band member Levon Helm in his later years.  This week, I feature this concert film which features the last concert by the Band and directed by Martin Scorsese.  This combines interview with the members of the Band and has concert footage.  They also have a lot of peers from the industry including Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Ringo Starr, Paul Butterfield, Dr. John, Van Morrison, Ronnie Hawkins, Muddy Waters, and Ronnie Wood.  This is regarded as one of the best, if not the best, concert films of all time.  Scorsese does a great job with this one.  I have come to be a fan of member Robbie Robertson's solo work and is good to see this farewell concert of theirs.  This would be a really good double feature to start with this one, then follow it with the one mentioned that I did last week which shows Levon Helm's life after this was all over.  This one is available to watch on Amazon Prime.


The 716th (2018):  I end the week with this sci-fi short film which was written and directed by Andrew Bowen.  Bowen also co-stars as Doc and along with his friend fellow medic colleague Ash, played by John Asher, they become unlikely heroes looking to rescue a pair of injured infantry soldiers while having no experience in combat.  Drew Curtis, Steven Huff, Lauren McFall, and Taj Speights all co-star in this short film.  This is a pretty fun and humorous sci-fi short that is available to watch on Amazon Prime and I think has some potential to turn into a feature film.

Well, that is it for this week but stay tuned for my "Movie Time in the Town of Pottersville" segment.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Christina Ricci, Alec Baldwin, Sylvester Stallone, and many others.


MOVIE TIME IN THE TOWN OF POTTERSVILLE


Freddy's Dead:  The Final Nightmare (1991):  I went and hung out with my friends Stephanie and Drew last week and Steph decided she wanted to put in a movie deciding upon this one.  I had not seen it so I decided to stay and watch this one.  This is the 6th in this NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET franchise which was directed by Rachel Talalay.  Robert Englund reprises his role of Freddy and continues to terrorize the older kids in their dreams but an unexpected connection could mean his doom.  Lisa Zane, Leslie Deane, Ricky Dean Logan, Breckin Meyer, Yaphet Kotto, and many others co-star in this final part of the series, I mean the title says final so it is right?  As most know, they would go onto to do more with the Freddy Krueger character where Englund would play his iconic character a couple more times.  Look for some cameos with Roseanne Barr, Tom Arnold, Johnny Depp, and even Alice Cooper.  There are also some moments where 3-D glasses are provided but Stephanie could not find hers so we weren't able to watch those scenes.  This is pretty enjoyable if not taken too seriously.  As I was leaving, I believe Stephanie was about to watch the fourth one but I needed to go home and get some sleep.




Sunday, August 4, 2019

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 711th Edition


Welcome to the 711th Edition of my series and no I have not been visiting any 7/11 stores since there are none around me as far as I know.  There is not really much else going on right now but I'm sure things will change at some point so I will just get on with my selections for the week.


Xanadu (1980):  This was shown as part of the Attack of the Movie series that they do every month at our local library though this was shown a couple weeks ago and chosen by Librarian Luke.  Robert Greenwald directed this really unusual musical.  Michael Beck stars as struggling artist Sonny Malone who meets his muse in Kira, played by Olivia Newton-John, and becomes friends with retired musician Danny McGuire, played by Gene Kelly in his last movie, where they form a partnership to open the title location.  James Sloyan, Dimitra Arliss, Fred McCarren, Renn Woods, and many others co-star in this musical.  When this first came out, this was quite the flop.  It is a very cheesy film which includes the music and the very outdated special effects but things like these make this into more of cult classic for today.  This also has been done in community theater.  If you haven't experienced this, then see the magic and just believe.


Toy Story 4 (2019):  After our last movie in 2010 and a few Pixar shorts, Josh Cooley directs our fourth film in the franchise which I guess is pretty easy to guess with the number in the title.  In the first three, the toys were under Andy until he gave them to another little girl named Bonnie, voiced by Madeleine McGraw, and that is where we pick up from in this movie.  Woody, reprised by Tom Hanks, and the gang embark on a road trip with Bonnie and her parents.  Joining them is Bonnie's newly created toy Forky, voiced by Tony Hale, which is really a plastic spork but is a toy as far as Bonnie is concerned.  As always, Woody embarks on quite the journey showing his loyalty as a toy.  Tim Allen also reprises his role as Buzz Lightyear.  Annie Potts, Keegan-Michael Key, Christina Hendricks, Jordan Peele, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Jay Hernandez, Lori Allen, Joan Cusack, Bonnie Hunt, Kristen Schaal, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Blake Clark, June Squibb, Carl Weathers, Lila Sage Bromley, Jeff Garlin, Estelle Harris, and many others co-star in this sequel.  I would have never recognized Reeves in his role.  Don Rickles uses archive sound to reprise his role as Mr. Potato Head.  This is a great continuation of this wonderful and timeless franchise that I won't go into too much detail but had better go see soon to avoid the spoilers.  This was worth my trip to the movie theater.


Arthur Newman (2012):  Dante Ariola directed this movie which I guess could be considered coming of age for a couple of adults.  Colin Firth stars as Wallace Avery who feels nothing in his life is going well so decides to fake his death and start a new life becoming a man named Arthur Newman.  While on his road trip in his new life, he encounters a troubled girl named Mike, played by Emily Blunt, who is also trying to escape her past.  Lucas Hedges, Anne Heche, M. Emmet Walsh, Kristin Lehman, Philip Troy Linger, and many others co-star in this film.  This is more of a feel good sort of movie where the two main characters must reevaluate their lives.  Another interesting fact is that Firth and Blunt are British and both playing Americans.  This is available to watch on Hoopla.


24 Hours in the Life of a Clown (1946):  This is my short film for the week which was directed by French director Jean-Pierre Melville.  This is a documentary short in a sense which features a couple of real-life clowns in Beby and Maiss and their life in the circus as well as other times in their life.  This is the debut for Melville and the start to quite a career in the world of French film.  This is about 18 minutes long and available to watch on the Criterion Channel.


She Done Him Wrong (1933):  Lowell Sherman directed this pre-code film which stars Mae West who also co-wrote.  West co-stars as seductive nightclub singer Lady Lou and problems arise when her criminal boyfriend Chick Clark, played by Owen Moore, escapes prison to see her with the thought that she has been faithful.  This is not the case but local temperance league leader Captain Cummings, played by a young Cary Grant, is there to help.  Gilbert Roland, Noah Beery, David Landau, Louise Beavers, and many others co-star in this comedy.  Mae West was a sort of pioneer for the women in film and is very ahead of her time in the roles she would play.  Also of note was a very young version of Cary Grant who would be quite the leading man but had to hold his own with Mae West in this one.  This is available to watch on Hoopla Digital.


Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972):  Werner Herzog directed this historical film which takes place in 16th Century Spain.  Klaus Kinski stars as the ruthless Aguirre who helps to lead a Spanish expedition in search of wealth and gold.   Helena Rojo, Ray Guerra, Peter Berling, Cecilia Rivera, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a hard movie to really describe.  People who know Herzog might understand.  This is very minimal in the way of dialogue and focuses most on the expedition, the cinematography, and the treatment of those on the expedition.  This is a very compelling film but is nto upbeat or inspirational by any means.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.


Ain't In it for my Health:  A Film about Levon Helm (2010):  This is my rock documentary for the week which was directed by Jacob Hatley.  For those that do not know Levon Helm was a member of the legendary band ironically called the Band.  This focuses on his life in his older age where he continues to perform and is working on his first studio album in 25 years.  This goes into some history with the Band and the bitterness he seems to have toward them.  He never went onto a life of wealth after splitting which shows in his way of life.  It also shows how most musicians are doing it for money when possible but mostly out of love.  Looks for a cameo from Billy Bob Thornton.  This is a really good look at a rock star in his later years.  This could be a good double feature to go along with THE LAST WALTZ.  This is available to watch on Hoopla Digital.


Seconds (1966):  This is my sci-fi film for the week which was directed by John Frankenheimer and based on the book by David Ely.  John Randolph stars as Arthur Hamilton who finds no purpose in his middle-aged life and gets an unexpected call that could change everything.  He agrees to an extreme procedure which will deem Hamilton as dead and start a whole new life.  He reenters the world as Tony Wilson, now played by Rock Hudson who is now a successful artist with the coaching of the powers-that-be.  He soon learns though that this new life comes at a price.  Frances Reid, Jeff Corey, Will Geer, Richard Anderson, Khigh Dhiegh, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a much different role for Hudson who rises to the challenge.  I realized this has a similar premise to my other feature ARTHUR NEWMAN but this one is far more extreme and dark in its faking of death.  This was one of those that was a flop at first which grew into a cult classic and as Frankenheimer says, "the only movie, really, that's gone from failure to classic without being a success."  I don't usually quote on here but I was amused by that one.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.


The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951):  This was another library showing from the Cinemuncie series that was put on by Librarian Dennis.  Robert Wise directed this sci-fi film which stars Michael Rennie as the alien Klaatu who arrives on earth looking to deliver an important message to all the nations.  When getting there, he finds that his message will not be easy as the military and others take an immediate fear of Klaatu.  With the help of his robot friend Gort, he looks to get the message out in hopes of helping us Earthlings.  Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlowe, Sam Jaffe, Billy Gray, Frances Bavier, and many others co-star in this sci-fi film.  Many may recognize Bavier as Aunt Bea from THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW.  This is said by many to be one of the best sci-fi films from that era and I tend to agree.  This also had some pretty good special effects for the time that still stand and a very good music score from Bernard Herrmann.  This is one that works on many levels and is still relevant today.


Cameraperson (2016):  I end the week on this documentary which was directed by Kirsten Johnson.  Johnson has worked for years behind the camera as a cinematographer for documentaries and manages to put together clips to show the journey of her work that has been done in many a country.  This is very well put together though might want to see of her other work to understand what she is doing in this one.  It is hard to really describe any further except this is very well put together and deserves a look.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Scarlett Johansson, and many others.




Sunday, July 28, 2019

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 710th Edition


Welcome to the the 710th Edition of my series.  Today is the last performance for THE LARAMIE PROJECT.  It is at 2:30 if you are in or near the Lebanon, Indiana area.  This has been a more humbling project for me and so glad to have been a part of it.  I'm sure there is more to come with me and I will keep updated as it comes along.  Nothing else really happening so I'll just get on with my selections.


Newsies (1992):  I start the week out with this Disney musical which was directed by Kenny Ortega.  This takes place in 1899 New York where a group of kids lead by Jack Kelly, played by a young Christian Bale, make their money by selling newspapers.  Joseph Pulitzer, played by Robert Duvall, places a raise in price which makes it difficult more difficult for the newsboys causing them strike even though the kids are already poor.  David Moscow, Luke Edwards, Max Casella, Gabriel Damon, Marty Belafsky, Arvie Lowe Jr., Aaron Lohr, Bill Pullman, Ann-Margret, Michael Lerner, Kevin Tighe, and many others co-star in this musical.  This was originally a critical and commercial flow that has gained quite the cult following through the years.  It is also a really good look at good look at this era in this profession.  It has also found its way to Broadway and now has been done by community theaters.


My Kid Could Paint That (2007):  I follow up with this documentary which was directed by Amir Bar-Lev.  This centers around the Olmstead family, most notably around their four year old daughter Marla who the parents discovered is quite the painter and comes into some very unexpected success with her painting.  This looks at the sudden fame as well as the price of the fame when people start questioning the validity of the child being able to make the paintings.  This a very unbiased documentary where even the director questions what is going on and his own vision on the documentary.  This is a very interesting documentary on the art world.


Life in the Doghouse (2018):  I follow up with another documentary with this one being directed by Ron Davis.  This takes a look at the gay couple Ron Danta and Danny Robertson whose home is a rescue and adoption home for dogs.  This goes into their meeting and how they came about making their home a home for many dogs as well as getting these dogs out for adoption.  It focuses on their struggles on the business and their health.  These guys in some ways reminded me of the couple in the movie BEST IN SHOW played by Michael McKean and John Michael Higgins so this could be a really good double feature.  Both movies named are for dog lovers everywhere and this one is available to watch on Netflix.


A Boring Afternoon (1964):  This is my Czechoslovakian short film for the week which was directed by Ivan Passer.  This shows a rather typical day at a pub that take a look at a variety of their customers.  This is pretty entertaining with some well written characters put into about fifteen minutes.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.


Bitter Rice (1949):  This is my Italian film for the week which was directed by Giuseppe De Santis.  Vittorio Gassman and Doris Dowling star as criminals Walter and Francesca who are on the run and end up in a rice field where Francesca joins a group of women rice workers while Walter and her plan their next crime.  Silvana Mangano and Raf Vallone also co-star in this film.  Part of this is a statement towards the working conditions.  It is also a very compelling look at crime, love, murder, and betrayal.  This is something for fans of the foreign film genre.


Patterns (1956):  Fielder Cook directed this film that was written by TWILIGHT ZONE writer Rod Serling except this was more the real zone and not in that twilight zone.  Van Heflin stars as Fred Staples who has been hired at a large New York corporation.  As soon as he arrives, he starts to feel the tension and soon learns he is to succeed the veteran employee Bill Briggs who is nearing his retirement.  Their boss Walter, played by Everett Sloane is doing what he can to drive Bill out in a resignation.  Beatrice Straight, Elizabeth Wilson, Joanna Roos, Andrew Duggan, Jack Livesey, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a very underrated film that takes place in the corporate world.  Heflin, Begley, and Sloane have a great dynamic with each other.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.


Fighting With My Family (2019):  Stephen Merchant wrote and directed this biopic centering around the Knight family in Britain which are a wrestling family and has its main focus on the kids Saraya, played by Florence Pugh, and Zak, played by Jack Lowden.  Saraya would go on to become who we know as Paige in the World Wrestling Entertainment.  Zach on the other hand did not get to go to the mainstream like his sister.  Nick Frost and Lena Headey co-star as their parents Ricky and Julia Knight.  Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson produced this film and co-stars as himself.  Olivia Bernstone, Leah Harvey, Jack Gouldbourne, Elroy Powell, Hannah Rae, Julia Davis, Vince Vaughn, Ellie Gonsalves, and many others co-star in this film.  There are also a lot of WWE wrestlers who have cameos.  This is a really good biopic and has a lot of comedy to go along with this really inspiring story.  I really liked how it gave us a look at the "journeyman" wrestler which is what Zak was considered and how significant they are even if they did not make the mainstream.  Us wrestling fans know the extended Samoan family, the Guerrero family, and the Von Erich family but this is one no one ever thinks of and they have just as interesting of a story as the ones named.  This could also be just as compelling as a documentary especially the people the Knight family trained including a blind kid.  I feel any wrestling and non-wrestling fan can enjoy this for the comedy and inspiration.


Animal Crackers (1930):  This was part of the "Coffee and Classics" series that my local library does.  Now I go to some classic comedy which feature the Marx Brothers in Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo.  Groucho stars as famed African explorer Captain Spalding.  While there, a painting gets stolen and the Marx Brothers look to get it back in a way only they can do it.  Lillian Roth, Margaret Dumont, Louis Sorin, Margaret Irving, and many others co-star in this comedy.  It is hard to really describe movies that have the Marx Brothers.  Each one kind of have their place within the film and do non-stop gags and one-liners throughout.  One should get plenty of laughs, even many years after the movie.


Donkey Skin (1970):  Jacques Demy directed this French fantasy based on a fairy tale by Charles Perrault.  Catherine Deneuve stars as the Princess whose mother has just died and leaving her father the King to find another woman to marry.  The King insists on marrying his daughter which she does not want but goes along until the Lily Fairy steps in being her social conscious.  She helps the princess in an unorthodox way to escape from the kingdom.  Jean Marais, Jacques Perrin, Micheline Presle, Delphine Seyrig, Fernand Ledoux, Henri Cremieux, Sacha Pitoeff, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a very compelling and interesting variation of the Cinderella story.   The performances, scenery and costumes are great and this is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.


Flirting (1991):  I end the week with this Australian coming of age film that takes place in the '60s and was directed by John Duigan.  Noah Taylor stars as Danny who has been sent to a boarding school and finds it tough to fit into the school.  He soon meets an African girl named Thandiwe, played by a young Thandie Newton, and they form an inter-relational relationship where they look to overcome their authoritarian staff as well as the peers.  Nicole Kidman has an early role in this film as well as Naomi Watts.  For STAR WARS fans, actress Femi Taylor has a small role as Thandiwe's mother and she is most known as the character of Oola in RETURN OF THE JEDI.  Les Hill, Jeff Truman, Marshall Napier, Kym Wilson, and many others co-star in this film.   This was a good look at two people very out of place and find each other.  Also good to see Kidman, Watts, and Newton before they became big, at least in the states.

Well, that is it for this week but continue on for my returning segment of "Movie Time in the Town of Pottersville".  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Gene Kelly, Keanu Reeves, Emily Blunt, and many others.



MOVIE TIME IN THE TOWN OF POTTERSVILLE

John Wick (2014):  I confess, I had never seen any of this franchise but have heard some good things on it.  I was at the library and this title just jumped out at me and figured this could be fate.  As I was leaving, I got a hold of Stephanie and was about to head to her place.  She messaged me seeing if I could get the second Hobbit movie but they were already closing so I let know I had this one so we settled.  Chad Shahelski directed this action film which stars Keanu Reeves as the title character.  John Wick is a former hit man experiencing the untimely death of his wife and gets a very unwelcome visit from Russian gangsters from his past.  They attack him and take everything from him prompting John to go back to his killer ways.  Michael Nvqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Adrianne Palicki, Toby Moore, Bridget Moynihan, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Bridget Regan, Keith Jardine, Kevin Nash, and many others co-star in this action film.  This is not for everyone but anyone looking for an adrenaline rush should really enjoy this.  This is also a really good role for Keanu Reeves and has lead to quite the franchise so I may very well look into the other two in the coming weeks.