Sunday, December 9, 2018

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 682nd Edition


Welcome to the 682nd Edition of my series.  There is nothing really new happening at this time except I'm not liking this cold weather but I guess there is not much I can.  I'll just get on with my selections for the week.


Sisters (2015):  I start the week out with this raunchy comedy which was directed by Jason Moore and written by Paula Pell.  Tina Fey and Amy Poehler reunite as sisters Kate and Maura Ellis.  They are summoned by their parents, played by James Brolin and Dianne Wiest, to clear out their childhood bedroom as the parents decide to sell the house much to the dismay of the sisters.  They decide they need to relive their youth and throw one last party with their childhood friends which after much alcohol goes completely wrong.  Maya Rudolph, Ike Barinholtz, John Leguizamo, John Cena, Bobby Moynihan, Greta Lee, Madison Davenport, Rachel Dratch, Santino Fontana, Britt Lower, Samantha Bee, Matt Oberg, Kate McKinnon, Jon Glaser, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Chris Parnell, Paula Pell, Brian D'Arcy James, Heather Matarazzo, and many others co-star in this comedy.  This is not for everyone but I think many can relate to this film in our wanting to relive our glory.  There is a lot of immaturity among these adults in this which was the point in my opinion and I could not help but laugh.  For wrestling fans, John Cena is very amusing as the tattooed drug dealer and lead me to the belief that he did comedies like these in hopes of getting out of him boy scout image in wrestling.  I even got to relive my childhood a bit with that '90s one hit wonder hit INFORMER by Snow.  This was great to watch to have a lot of laughs if not taken too seriously.


Boo Man (1954):  This is my animated short for the week which features Casper the Friendly Ghost.  This starts out in the usual way where Casper is misunderstood for being a ghost.  He is able to see the moon through a telescope and the image he sees is a moon with a smile so wants to meet this friendly moon encounter and be captured by moon men who see him as a monster.  The moon men are in their own war with animated trees putting Casper in the middle.  This is inspired by GULLIVER'S TRAVELS.  This is said to be the best Casper short and is pretty enjoyable.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime in the "Cartoon Classics Volume 3".


The Return of Doctor X (1939):  Vincent Sherman directed this horror film.  Wayne Morris stars as Walter Garrett who is a reporter stumbling upon a murder of an actress only to find she is alive and well the next day which costs him his job.  He decides to look further into this case and stumbles onto Dr. Flegg, played by John Litel, and his strange assistant Marshall, played by none other than Humphrey Bogart in his first and only horror movie.  Rosemary Lane, Lya Lys, Huntz Hall, Charles C. Wilson, and many others co-star in this movie.  This is mostly of interest to see Bogey in this much different movie where he plays a character that was meant for Boris Karloff.  This was around a time where Bogart was playing supporting roles in gangster films and had not gotten his big break as of yet.  This is more of a Halloween oriented movie and I know I have anti-Christmas people who want things like this one.


The Return (2003):  This is my Russian film for the week which was directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev.  The lives of brothers Andrey, played by Vladimir Garin, and Ivan, played by Ivan Dobronravov, change when their estranged father Otets, played by Konstantin Lavronenko, arrives after being gone for twelve years.  Nataliya Vdovina plays the mother Mat in this film.  This was a very intriguing movie to watch and was glad that all I really knew was the basic plot that I described.  I had no idea what to expect and loved just watching this unfold like it did so I want that to be the case for others that watch this movie.


Black Christmas (1974):  This was shown at the Kennedy Branch of the Muncie Public Library during their "Attack of the Movie" series.  This would have gone along well with out annual October contest the Madness where a holiday theme was used this year.  Bob Clark directed this Canadian slasher film that happens to take place around Christmas time.  This takes place around a sorority house where the girls are planning their Christmas Break only to get strange anonymous calls and a stalker.  Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, John Saxon, Marian Waldman, Andrea Martin, Doug McGrath, Art Hindle, Lynne Griffin, and many others co-star in this film.  While this is not extremely graphic, it still has a very disturbing feel to it in they way they convey the killer.  This is a really good watch for Horror lovers and those who don't want to watch the Hallmark type movies this time of year.


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014):  Matt Reeves directed this second part of the trilogy of this ape universe which follows RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES.  This takes place many years later where a virus wiped out much of the human race.  Andy Serkis reprises his role as the ape Caesar who after the last movie leads a successful revolt and now is the leader of an ape community where he tries to keep the peace but is threatened by human survivors.  Jason Clarke co-stars as Malcolm who is one of the human survivors and needs help from the apes to help the human survivors.  This causes dissension among the ape community as well as with the humans who are threatened by the apes and vice versa.  Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Kirk Acevado, Nick Thurston, Terry Notary, Karin Konoval, Judy Greer, Jon Eyez, Enrique Murciano, Larramie Doc Shaw, and many others co-star in this film.  I really enjoyed the first of this trilogy but I liked this one even more.  This movie had a lot of emotional dept for me with Serkis and Clarke trying to keep peace between the apes and humans but both sides making it more and more difficult.  I also really liked how it ended.  This is followed up by WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES.  It would be hard to see this without watching the first one and I would recommend doing the first PLANET OF THE APES from 1968 which has some references to this reboot trilogy.


Deliverance (1972):  I continue with some action in this film directed by John Boorman and based on the novel by James Dickey who also wrote the screenplay.  Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty, and Ronny Cox all star as city slicker buddies deciding to go on a canoe trip down the Cahulawassee River before it gets turned into a lake.  When getting there, they find they are among some crazed hillbillies for a lack of a better word and find themselves in the fight of their life.  I don't want to go too much further in the plot for those that haven't seen it.  The most famous scene from this movie is with the dueling banjo scene.  This is the film debut for Ned Beatty.  This has a lot of suspense and is very disturbing at times so is not for everyone.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.


Stealing Christmas (2003):  Back to the holidays and the last one for this week and this is more for the Hallmark crowd.  Gregg Champion directed this tv movie which stars Tony Danza as bank robber Jack Clayton.  When a robbery goes wrong, he escapes by putting on a Santa suit and gets away to a small town where he is mistaken by single mother Sarah, played by Lea Thompson, and her daughter Noelle, played by Angela Goethals, as the Santa that has been hired by them.  He plays along with the mistake while also casing a local bank to rob but as he forms a liking to the mother and daughter as well as local store owner Emily, played by Betty White, he starts having a crisis of conscience.  Malcolm Stewart, Damon Gregory, Gwynyth Walsh, and many others co-star in this tv movie.  This might be the first time I have ever featured Tony Danza on this list.  While this is not Hallmark, it does play like a typical Hallmark movie.  There is the single mom way too dedicated to her work and meeting a man who makes her see things differently for the first time in a long time.  This movie also kind of has a MUSIC MAN sort of feel to it in my opinion.  For those that like this type of holiday movie, this is one to check out and where can we go wrong with Tony Danza and Betty White in a holiday movie?


Sudden Fear (1952):  This is my film noir for the week which was directed by David Miller and based on the novel by Edna Sherry.  Joan Crawford stars as playwright Edna Hudson who meets and marries actor Lester Blaine only to learn that not only does he has a mistress in Irene, played by Gloria Grahame, but that they are plotting to murder her.  Knowing this, Edna is able in a subtle way to foil their plans leading to a very interesting climax.  Bruce Bennett, Virginia Hudson, and Mike Conners all co-star in this film-noir.  I have always found Grahame to be a rather underrated actress from this era.  She is probably most known as Violet in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE where she usually played the secondary female but was always pretty good at it.  This movie is very compelling and keeps our suspense throughout the movie.  This is a very dark and gritty movie from this era and a really good entry from this particular audience.


A Star is Born (2018):  I end the week with this film in which I went to the theater after joining the AMC Stubs club where I get in for $5 on Tuesdays and decided upon this one to start.  Bradley Cooper directed, co-wrote and stars in this film that has versions in 1937, 1954, and 1976.  In this version, Cooper stars as musician Jackson Maine who when passing time at a bar in the town he played discovers a young and talented singer in Ally, played by Lady Gaga.  He meets her and gets her to go along with him on his tours to sing while also forming a relationship with her to the point of marriage.  Everything is threatened as Jack's alcoholism has him on a downward spiral while Ally is experiencing the success he never really achieved.  Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay, Rafi Gavron, Anthony Ramos, Dave Chappelle, Barry Shabaka Henley, Michael D. Roberts, Michael Harney, Greg Grunberg, Drena De Niro, Eddie Griffin, Alec Baldwin, and many others co-star or have cameos.  The leads did a great job but the entire cast really makes this work as well.  I really liked Clay in his role as Ally's father and really did not know I was watching Andrew Dice Clay at the time.  I feel each version of this story has their own qualities including this one which was able to keep my attention the whole way through.  I have always been a fan of Lady Gaga despite not being a huge fan of pop music.  Cooper does great in his acting and in his singing.  This is another one that just had so much emotional depth and could be my favorite of the year.

Well, that is it for this week with this segment but have returned with my "Fun and Useless Facts" segment so continue on reading.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week.


FUN AND USELESS FACTS

This is a segment I use from time to time when I feel I have enough to work with and I have time to write.  I don't usually feature anything from actors in the same featured movies unless there might be another person from another involved so my first movie featured could have all kinds of inner connections but that is not what this is about.  In doing this, I am sure there are plenty I have missed so please feel free to chime in a let me know of others.

Tina Fey (Sisters) and Alec Baldwin (A Star is Born) starred in the NBC sitcom 30 ROCK.


Tina Fey (Sisters), Madison Davenport (Sisters), and Betty White (Stealing Christmas) all do American voices for the Studio Ghibli anime film PONYO.

Tina Fey (Sisters) and Lady Gaga (A Star is Born) were in the 2014 movie MUPPETS MOST WANTED.

Dianne Wiest (Sisters) and Jack Palance (Sudden Fear) were in the 1994 comedy COPS AND ROBBERSONS.

James Brolin (Sisters) and Margot Kidder (Black Christmas) play a married couple in the 1979 horror movie THE AMITYVILLE HORROR.


James Brolin (Sisters) and Ronny Cox (Deliverance) were in the 1977 movie THE CAR.

Amy Poehler (Sisters) and Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born) were in the 2001 comedy WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER and Netflix comedy series WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER:  FIRST DAY OF CAMP.


Humphrey Bogart (The Return of Doctor X) and Gloria Grahame (Sudden Fear) were in the 1950 film IN A LONELY PLACE.


Humphrey Bogart (The Return of the Doctor X) and Bruce Bennett (Sudden Fear) worked together in the 1943 film SAHARA, the 1947 film DARK PASSAGE, and the 1948 film THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE that I am aware of, there could be more I suppose.

Keir Dullea (Black Christmas) and Alec Baldwin (A Star is Born) were in the 2006 film THE GOOD SHEPHERD.

Margot Kidder (Black Christmas) and Ned Beatty (Deliverance) were in the superhero movie SUPERMAN in 1978 and SUPERMAN II in 1980.

Andrea Martin (Black Christmas) and Karin Konoval (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) were in the 2006 remake of this week's feature BLACK CHRISTMAS.

Keri Russell (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and Greg Grunberg (A Star is Born) were in the WB series FELICITY.


Kirk Acevedo (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and Ron Rifkin (A Star is Born) were in the 2000 film BOILER ROOM.

Terry Notary (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born) were in the 2018 film AVENGERS:  INFINITY WAR.

Gary Oldman (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and Ned Beatty (Delieverance) were in the 1989 film CHATTAHOOCHEE.

Gary Oldman (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) plays Dracula in the 1994 film BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA and Jack Palance (Sudden Fear) plays DRACULA in the 1974 tv movie DRACULA.


Judy Greer (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and Sam Elliott (A Star is Born) were in the 2015 comedy GRANDMA.

Judy Greer (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and Andrew Dice Clay (A Star is Born) had cameo roles in the 2015 comedy ENTOURAGE based on the HBO series.

Sam Elliott (A Star is Born) was forced to drop out of the 1982 tv movie THE AMBUSH MURDERS and was replaced by James Brolin (Sisters).




Thursday, December 6, 2018

Official Trailer for the Inspirational Drama "Breakthrough"


20th Century Fox recently released the official trailer for their upcoming release of "Breakthrough". The film stars Chrissy Metz, Josh Lucas, Topher Grace, Mike Colter, Marcel Ruiz, Sam Trammell and Dennis Haysbert.

"Breakthrough" hits theaters Easter 2019.

Plot Synopsis:

BREAKTHROUGH is based on the inspirational true story of one mother's unfaltering love in the face of impossible odds. When Joyce Smith's adopted son John falls through an icy Missouri lake, all hope seems lost. But as John lies lifeless, Joyce refuses to give up. Her steadfast belief inspires those around her to continue to pray for John's recovery, even in the face of every case history and scientific prediction. From producer DeVon Franklin (Miracles from Heaven) and adapted for the screen by Grant Nieporte (Seven Pounds) from Joyce Smith's own book, BREAKTHROUGH is an enthralling reminder that faith and love can create a mountain of hope, and sometimes even a miracle.

"Breakthrough": Official Trailer

Teaser Trailer for the Upcoming Drama "After"


Aviron Pictures recently released the teaser trailer for their upcoming film "After". The film is based on the best selling novel by Anna Todd and stars Josephine Langford and Hero Fiennes Tiffin.

"After" hits theaters on April 12th.

Plot Synopsis:

Based on Anna Todd's best-selling novel which became a publishing sensation on fan fiction sharing site Wattpad, AFTER follows Tessa (Langford), a dedicated student, dutiful daughter and loyal girlfriend to her high school sweetheart, as she enters her first semester in college. Armed with grand ambitions for her future, her guarded world opens up when she meets the dark and mysteious Hardin Scott (Tiffin), a magnetic, brooding rebel who makes her question all she thought she knew about herself and what she wants out of life.

"After": Teaser Trailer

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 681st Edition


Welcome to the 681st Edition of my series.  This week I start including holiday films and not all of my selections will be holiday films.  I have heard discussions from some saying there are holiday films and films that take place on the holidays.  As far as I'm concerned they are all holiday films.  I finally signed myself up for Hulu when I saw a deal that has Hulu has .99 a month for 12 months and made one selection this week.  It was also very upsetting that Filmstruck shut their services down.  There is not much else going on so I'll get on with my selections.


Ashby (2015):  I start the week out with this crime comedy, maybe even buddy comedy which was suggested by my friend Stephanie which she insisted on watching while I was over.  I had not heard of this movie and I admit she got my attention when saying Mickey Rourke.  Tony McNamara directed this film which stars Nat Wolff as Ed Wallis who is the new kid in town having trouble fitting in and forms an unlikely friendship with his neighbor Ashby, played by Rourke, when having an assignment to do a paper on an older person.  Ashby is a retired CIA assassin who is terminally ill trying to make peace with God and starting to question an assignment he did leading to vengeance of former bosses.  Emma Roberts, Sarah Silverman, Kevin Dunn, Zachary Knighton, Michael Lerner, John Enos III, and many others co-star in this film.  This could also be described as a coming of age comedy and an approaching death comedy/drama.  Rourke has a more comedic role than usual and does well as the retired assassin questioning the morality of what he has done personally and professionally.  Rourke and Wolff work well together to make this movie work.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime and is worth a look.


Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011):  Rupert Wyatt directed this latest reboot of the franchise and is the start of a great reboot after much mixed opinions of Tim Burton's remake in 2001. As the title indicates, this focuses on their rise. James Franco stars in this film as Will Rodman who creates a drug which gives apes more human-like intelligence. He soon raises an ape named Caesar, played by Andy Serkis, like a child along with his girlfriend Caroline, played by Freida Pinto. After eight years, Caesar is taken from his human family and put in a sanctuary among other apes who are being abused by the unscrupulous employees. He soon leads a revolt where he is able to get the fellow apes the drug he has been exposed to leading into a violent fight of man against apes.  John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, David Oyelowo, Tyler Labine, Jamie Harris, Karin Konoval, Terry Notary, Richard Ridings, Christopher Gordon, Devyn Dalton, Jay Caputo, and many others co-star in this film. In the 1968 film PLANET OF THE APES as well as the rest of that particular series, the humans are portrayed more as the protagonists and the simians are more the villains with the exception of Cornelius and Zera and in this film it is more the other way around where you are really for these apes. This movie had some great special effects and some really good action scenes. It also makes some references from the original film.   There is a mid-credit scene but I did not pick up on the significance so if someone can explain be my guest.  A good double feature could be the original 1968 film to pick of on references on this one which is a great entry into the franchise.


The Incredibles (2004):  This is part two of my two-part Holly Hunter series.  I brought some Pixar for the week which was directed and written by Brad Bird.  This takes place in a world among superheroes where they cannot be superheroes any longer.  Craig T. Nelson and Holly Hunter star as Bob and Helen Parr who met as superheroes Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl but are now forced to live a suburban lifestyle and have children with their own superpowers in Violet, voiced by Sarah Vowell, Dash, voiced by Spencer Fox, and newborn Jack-Jack, voiced by Eli Fucile and Maeve Andrews.  Circumstances force them into action and are joined by Violet and Dash on their first adventure when the villain Syndrome is seeking vengeance on Mr. Incredible from something in the past.  Samuel L. Jackson, Dominique Louis, Wallace Shawn, Lou Romano, Elizabeth Pena, Bud Luckey, Jean Sincere, Kimberly Adair, John Ratzenberger, and many others lend their voices to this film.  This is a very clever superhero film taking where superheroes could not live the lives they wanted and had to adjust to suburban life.  They recently had a sequel that took awhile but was worth the wait.  I will let know there is no mid or end credit scenes.


Santa and the Fairy Snow Queen (1951):  This is my short film that is the start of some holiday selections.  One of Santa's "brownies", which is another word for elves and no I don't have any explanation on the reason for the change of word, Snoopy introduces the story of the fairy snow queen who brings toys to life only to have Santa tell her they must become inanimate objects again.  Keep in mind, this was included as the short film in a RIFFTRAX episode that included SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS.  This is just really weird to say the least but might make you laugh with all the bad acting and dialogue and the extremely annoying Snoopy which is not that beloved beagle.  This is also available on Amazon Prime with "Classic Christmas Shorts".


A Christmas Carol (1938):  Edwin L. Martin directed this version of the classic Charles Dickens novel and is possibly the most beloved movie version.  Reginald Owen stars as the miser Ebenezer Scrooge who does not like Christmas and considers it a humbug.  He is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley, played by Leo G. Carroll, who worse than he was and warns that he must change his ways.  To help him, Scrooge will be visited by three ghosts to show his past, present, and future.  Gene Lockhart, Kathleen Lockhart, Terry Kilburn, Barry MacKay, Lynne Carver, Lionel Braham, Ann Rutherford, D'Arcy Corrigan, Ronald Sinclair, and many others co-star in this film.  Owen does a great transition when he begins to embrace Christmas.  I guess I gave a spoiler but I think just about everyone knows this story.  I have been in two versions of this story on stage but now hope to one day be able to play the role of Marley.


Period of Adjustment (1962):  George Roy Hill directed this film that is based on the play by Tennesse Williams and is a holiday film.  This centers around two couples.  One is George and Isabel Haverstick, played by Jim Hutton and Jane Fonda, who have just gotten married after barely knowing each other.  The other is Ralph and Dorothea Bates, played by Anthony Franciosa and Lois Nettleton, who have just separated.  George and Ralph are longtime friends from their days in the Korean war and George turns to Ralph when needing to stay.  Both marriages are having trouble and all must examine how they are to move on in their lives.  John McGiver, Jack Albertson, Mabel Albertson, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a rare romantic comedy turn for Tennessee Williiams and one where the characters managed to keep my attention through some pretty funny moments and a well written script.


Columbus (2017):  Kogonada wrote and directed this independent film.  John Cho stars as Jin who is a Korean born man finding himself in Columbus, Indiana where his architect father is in a coma.  He soon meets a local girl named Casey who is not far into adulthood and feels she needs to stay to be with her mother, a recovering addict.  Parker Posey, Michelle Forbes, Rory Culkin, Erin Allegretti, Shani Salyers Styles, Reen Vogel, Roselyn R. Ross, Lindsey Shope, Caitlin Ewald, Jim Dougherty, and many others co-star in this film.  This was filmed and takes place in my dad's town of Columbus, Indiana which has become like a second home to me.  Him and my stepmom moved there from Anderson when I was about 18 or 19.  I did not know if I would like the move at first with having to drive longer but I can see how much Dad embraces living there and I have made some friends there myself.  Columbus is also the town where I first started ring announcing in wrestling.  This is the feature directorial debut of Kogonada and is a very well done film driving by the characters.  Columbus, Indiana is known for its architecture which is emphasized in this movie.  My dad is a tour guide in Columbus and really enjoys doing the tours and learning about his town.  He could probably give commentary on the architecture just watching this movie.  I thank all involved who came to Columbus, Indiana to do this movie. I just wish I could have been in it.  This is available to watch on Hulu.


F For Fake (1973):  This movie now has a place in history for being the last movie I watched on Filmstruck before they decided to shut down their services.  This is my documentary for the week which was directed by Orson Welles.  This documentary takes a look at fraud and fakery.  One of the subjects is on art forger Elmyr de Hory and his own biographer Clifford Irving who also wrote a fraudulent autobiography on Howard Hughes.  Welles also focuses on his own fakery like his infamous radio broadcast of WAR OF THE WORLDS.  I don't really know how to describe this documentary, if that is even what we call it.  This is an interesting look at the world of questionable value of authenticity.  Welles weaves this together in a way that only he can and just at least expect to be entertained.


Ikiru (1952):  This is my Japanese film for the week and was presented at the Carnegie branch of Muncie Public library for the monthly Cinemania series.  Akira Kurosawa directed this film about a dying man trying to find meaning in life.  Takashi Shimura stars as civil servant Kanji Watanabe who has been a very dedicated employee for many years and finds out he has terminal cancer.  He feels he must live life to the fullest and do something meaningful in life before his death.  In some ways this is inspirational in living life to the fullest but there is also some very interesting social commentary with the people around him and their reactions.  Shimura is a very known actor in a lot of Kurasawa films and carries this film very well to bring us in through his journey.


MOVIE TIME IN THE TOWN OF POTTERSVILLE


National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989):  Visiting Stephanie and Drew lead to this unexpected selection when Steph wanted to watch something and we agreed on this holiday comedy.  Jeremiah Chechik directed this film which was directed by John Hughes.   This is the third in the vacation series where Chevy Chase and Beverley D'Angelo reprise their roles of Clark and Ellen Griswold with their children being played by THE BIG BANG THEORY star Johnny Galecki and Juliette Lewis.  This one, the vacation stays at home while the Griswolds decide to host Christmas and Clark has his usual bad luck being worsened by family guests like Cousin Eddie, played by Randy Quaid, who contributes the most to the dysfunctional family.  Some of the best stuff in this comedy is Clark trying to get his Christmas lights going at his home and go beyond everyone else.  John Randolph, Diane Ladd, E.G. Marshall, Doris Roberts, Miriam Flynn, William Hickey, Mae Questel, Sam McMurray, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Nicholas Guest, Brian-Doyle Murray, and many others co-star in this comedy.  This is quite possibly the best Christmas comedy out there and good for those who don't like the Christmas sap which I admit this time of year I'm kind of a sucker for it.  Spend Christmas the Griswold way.

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



Sunday, November 25, 2018

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 680th Edition


Welcome to the 680th Edition of my series.  I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving however celebrated and those that went out on Black Friday stayed safe.  I had a pretty good week on Thanksgiving.  Nothing else really going on so I'll just get on with my selections for the week.


Music Instinct:  Science and Song (2009):  I start the week out with this PBS documentary which was directed by Elena Mannes.  Audra McDonald narrates this documentary which takes a look at the studies of how music moves the human organism.  Musicians Bobby McFerrin, Yo-Yo-Ma, and Jarvis Cocker contribute and help in the findings as well as many research experts in the field.  There is not much more I can do to describe this film.  It is a pretty fascinating look on the correlation of music and science.


Won't Back Down (2012):  This is part one of a possible Holly Hunter trilogy.  Daniel Barnz directed and co-wrote this film on the flaws on an inner-city school.  Maggie Gyllenhaal stars as single mother Jamie whose daughter Malia, played by Emily Alyn Lind, is struggling in school and feels they are not making any efforts to make things better.  She sees the one caring teacher is Nona, played by Viola Davis, and enlists her help to start a school of her own while Nona has a son with his own problems.  Hunter, Oscar Isaac, Rosie Perez, Dante Brown, Lance Reddick, Ving Rhames, Bill Nunn, Ned Eisenberg, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, and many others co-star.  There is not really any suspense in this movie and is quite predictable which is to be expected.  It is a very inspirational movie of people coming together to overcome a flawed system.  It also takes a good look at the common issue of dyslexia that children have and the dealing or lack thereof on it.


Working (1982):  Technically, this is an episode of the tv series AMERICAN PLAYHOUSE but I make the rules on the blog and get to decide if it qualifies as a movie.  Kirk Browning and Steven Schwartz directed this musical which Schwartz wrote the music for and based on the novel by Studs Terkel who is also in the movie as the host.  This takes a look at the working class people of America and their feelings toward their profession as well as one that is a housewife.  This has quite the all-star cast in Barry Bostwick, Scatman Crothers, Vernee Watson, Billy Jayne, Barbara Barrie, Charles Haid, Beth Howland, Barbara Hershey, Eileen Brennan, Rita Moreno, James Taylor, Lynne Thigpen, Edie McClurg, Didi Conn, Charles Durning, Matt Landers, Patti Labelle, Mark Neely, David Patrick Kelly, and many others co-star in this musical.  This does not have a linear plot but it was still enjoyable to see the various characters and how they felt about their professions some surprising on liking and disliking what they do.  There are also some good musical numbers, most notably the song FATHERS AND SONS.  This is one of my Dad's favorites and this is a musical I would like to be in someday.


Pete's Haunted House (1926):  This is an early animation short that combines animation and live action.  Walter Lentz created this cartoon which features Pete the Pup and Lentz is also in the short.  Lentz decides to play some Halloween pranks on Pete but proves to hold his own against his animator.  I have watched a few of these lately and this is the first I have seen the characters interact.  This is available to watch on Filmstruck until they shut down the services this week on the 29th.


The Night of the Hunter (1955):  This is part two of a possible Robert Mitchum trilogy.  Charles Laughton directed his first and only film which is based on the novel by Davis Grubb.  Mitchum stars in his rather iconic role of Harry Powell who claims to be a man of god but is really very evil.  He marries gullible widow Willa, played by Shelley Winters, whose children John and Pearl, played by Billy Chapin and Sally Jane Bruce, possess $10,000 that Harry is aware of and does what he can to get the money.  Silent film legend Lillian Gish co-stars in this film as Rachel Cooper who the children turn to for refuge and does what she can to protect them.  James Gleason, Evelyn Varden, Peter Graves, Don Beddoe, and Gloria Castillo co-star in this film.  This was a very daring film for this era and Laughton originally offered the role to Gary Cooper who would decline fearing it would be detrimental to his career.  For those that know Winters for her sleazy mother roles should check this out as she is far more reserved but does a great job.  This is available to watch on Filmstruck until it shuts down on Thursday.


A Colt is my Passport (1967):  This is my Japanese film for the week which was directed by Takashi Nomura and based on a novel by Shinji Fujiwara.  Jo Shishido stars as hitman Kamimura who is hired to kill a mob boss and when doing so puts him and his driver Shun wanted by rival gang members.  Kamimura does what he can to keep himself and his driver alive.  This is many ways reminded me of a western, most notably a spaghetti western.  This starts with the music score sounding like something that Ennio Morricone would have written and the vendetta from the protagonist kind of resembles someone from a western.  The climax is what really made me see this as a western but is instead a Japanese crime film.  I was at my dad's house when watching this and he joined me about half-way and seemed to enjoy it even though he's not much for foreign language films.  This is also available to watch on Filmstruck.


Faces Places (2017):  This is my second documentary for the week which was done by the team of director Agnes Varda and photographer JR.  They journey around France on a special art project where they take photographs of everyday people then posting them as murals in their local towns.  What sticks out the most though is the friendship of the duo who are close friends despite being very different people.  This is available to watch on Netflix.


Curse of Frankenstein (1957):  This is my favorite entry of the Hammer Films and my favorite adaptation on the classic Mary Shelley novel.  Terence Fisher directed this film and Peter Cushing stars as Dr. Victor Frankenstein who decides to create a man using body parts he acquires.  When he is able to create this life, things do not go nearly as planned and a lot of tragedy happens.  Christopher Lee co-stars as the creature and is his only portrayal of the Creature of Frankenstein as far as I know.  Robert Urquhart stars as Paul who is a partner to Victor and begins to become concerned for the safety of his fiancee Elizabeth, played by Hazel Court.  I feel Cushing played the best Victor Frankenstein in film.  I have always enjoyed the story of Frankenstein and I liked that his had a more creepy feel to it than others.  I had the pleasure to be in a theatrical version of Frankenstein and is one of my favorite things that I have done.  This is also available to watch on Filmstruck.


The Cow (1969):  This is my Iranian film for the week which was inspired by last week's feature THE SALESMAN which features a clip of this movie.  Dariush Mehrjui directed this film that takes place in a small and desolate village where a man named Masht owns a cow and is very attached to it.  When he has to go away, his cow dies unexpectedly making the other villagers fear telling him so they tell him his cow ran away.  Masht does not believe this and grieves by slowly starting to act like the cow.  While this may seem absurd, this is a pretty moving film and many in those countries consider the cow to be sacred.  Unfortunately this does not appear to be easy to find except for a copy on Youtube that is hit or miss.  I found this is available with a service called Fandor which requires a subscription but might consider it.


Mac and Me (1988):  This is the first episode of the new MST3K season that started on Thanksgiving so I decided to end the week with this E.T. ripoff.  A little E.T. like alien escapes from NASA but gets separated from his family and friends a wheelchair bound boy named Eric, played by Jade Calegory.  The look of the aliens was very laughable and has interesting early product placement most notably by McDonalds and Coca-Cola.  The aliens seem to really thrive on Coke and wondered sometimes what would happen if they drank Pepsi.  While a bad movie, this has attained a cult status and got picked up by MST3K as the first episode in their new season which is available to watch on Netflix.

Well, that is it for this week.  Stay tuned for next week which so far includes Mickey Rourke, Andy Serkis, and many others.



Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Deadpool is Back with "Once Upon a Deadpool" this Holiday Season


20th Century Fox recently released the official trailer for the PG-13 release of "Deadpool 2" called "Once Upon a Deadpool". The film stars Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, T.J. Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, Jack Kesy and Fred Savage.

"Once Upon a Deadpool opens for a limited engagement on December 12th.

Press Release:

To kick off the holiday season, the (sometimes) good guy in red is delivering the official trailer for ONCE UPON A DEADPOOL from 20th Century Fox! Audiences of almost all ages will soon be able to enjoy the Merc with the Mouth's reimagining of Deadpool 2 filtered through the prism of childlike innocence.

"Fox has been asking for a PG-13 basically since the start in 2006," Ryan Reynolds told Deadline. "I've said no since 2006. Now, this one time, I said 'Yes' on two conditions. First, a portion of the proceeds had to go to charity. Second, I wanted to kidnap Fred Savage. The second condition took some explaining..."

Fred Savage will join Reynolds in new scenes for ONCE UPON A DEADPOOL in an homage to Savage's starring role in the 1987 bedtime-story classic THE PRINCESS BRIDE. Fred remarked, "while my participation in this film was anything but voluntary, I am happy to learn that Fudge Cancer will be the beneficiary of this shameless cash grab"

For every ticket sold, $1 will go to the charity Fudge Cancer - previously known as Fuck Cancer, who have graciously changed their name to be more PG-13 friendly for the 12 days of ONCE UPON A DEAD POOL'S release.

"Once Upon A Deadpool": Official Trailer

New Trailer and Poster for the Upcoming Thriller "Serenity"


Aviron Pictures recently released the second official trailer and poster for the upcoming thriller "Serenity". The film stars Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey, Academy Award winner Anne Hathaway, Jason Clarke, Djimon Hounsou, Jeremy Strong and Diane Lane.

"Serenity" hits theaters on October 19th.

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

Plot Synopsis:

From the creative mind of Oscar nominee Steven Knight comes a daringly original, sexy, stylized thriller. Baker Dill (Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey) is a fishing boat captain leading tours off a tranquil, tropical enclave called Plymouth Island. His quiet life is shattered, however, when his ex-wife Karen (Academy Award winner Anne Hathaway) tracks him down with a desperate plea for help. She begs Dill to save her - and their young son - from her new, violent husband (Jason Clarke) by taking him out to sea on a fishing excursion, only to throw him to the sharks and leave him for dead. Karen's appearance thrusts Dill back into a life he'd tried to forget, and as he struggles between right and wrong, his world is plunged into a new reality that may not be all that it seems.

"Serenity": Official Trailer #2