Monday, January 6, 2014
Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 425th Edition
Welcome to the 425th Edition and the first one of the new year. I hope everyone is having a good 2014 so far and continues to do so. With all the snow coming in, I decided to bring some movie recommendations for the week. This evening I will be snowed in and watching my team the 49ers taking on the Packers. I fear the 49ers playing in the Green Bay weather but can still pull if off. I will now bring your recommendations for the week.
GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (2012): I start the week out with this documentary on the first ever all-female wrestling promotion that lasted from 1986-1990. A wrestling fan named David McLane had a vision of an all-female wrestling promotion and along with Jackie Stallone, yes the mother of Slyvester, founded this wrestling promotion. This shows that this started out as an audition where it was something for women but they had no idea what they were getting into until they got there that it was wrestling. These were women who were mostly actresses, models, and dancers who then decided to go ahead and use this in hopes to help their career. The trainer at the time to train these very inexperienced women was Mando Guerrero who is a part of the famed wrestling family. Mando is not nearly as known as the others, most notably Eddie, but I have seen him on some AWA shows and really liked the way he worked so these women were in pretty good hands. It then goes to reflect about the start of the show where they created many interesting characters with rather over-the-top storylines as well as many rap videos in the vain of the Chicago Bears' SUPERBOWL SHUFFLE. There were many of the women reflecting from their times then and now like Mt. Fiji, Matilda the Hun, Hollywood, Godiva, Big Bad Mama, Tina Ferrari, among a few others. Tina Ferrari would go onto become Ivory in the WWF/WWE and is the only one from this that went to that promotion. Dee Booher who was Matilda the Hun went onto wrestle after that but I don't really know the background as to what she did. This was a very popular show but due to business reasons, it had to be cancelled. David McLane has attempted to repeat this success and in 2000 brought a promotion called Women of Wrestling that was rather short lived. I have heard that it was brought back but appears to be to a limited audience. So going back to the documentary, as soon as I saw this title and that I could watch it on Instant Netflix, as a wrestling fan I jumped right at it. It is a very well-done documentary and even an important time in the world of wrestling. I really believe this is something which can be enjoyed by wrestling fans and non-wrestling fans.
Beware of Mr. Baker (2012): I continue with another documentary where I go from the world of wrestling to the world of rock. This documentary focuses on Ginger Baker who is most known for being the drummer in the bands Cream and Blind Faith and consided by many of his peers to be the best drummer of all time but just not as known today as much as his bandmate Eric Clapton. Journalist Jay Bulgar goes to Africa where Baker is now living and tries to get an interview out of him. Baker is clearly a bit anti-social but goes along with it and held back no opinions of his wild days of drugs and rock 'n roll. He was also a very innovative drummer but at the time did not get the sort of credit he deserved and with his life style he does not have much to show for it financially. This also has much of his peers and bandmates like Eric Clapton reflecting on their times with him on how very innovative his style was but that he was also very self-destructive. There are some family members who are in on this like his son who always had a very difficult relationship with his father. This also shows some very good work he did with musicians in Africa. In all, Baker is a very difficult person and quite bitter about a lot of things but someone very important in the music industry. Bulger does a great job in trying to get more exposure to this man. I was aware of Ginger Baker but really knew nothing at all about him until I watched this documentary. I came across this movie when I was at my Dad's and is available on Showtime On-Demand.
Mildred Pierce (2011): I continue with this HBO mini-series which I guess you could call it a remake of the 1945 film but is quite a bit different and expands on that movie. This is more based on the 1941 novel by James M. Cain in which the original movie put a murder mystery spin on it whereas this movie does not really have that element. Kate Winslet plays the title character in this movie who catches her husband Bert, played by Brian F. O'Byrne, with another woman and throws him out becoming a single mother to her 11 year old daughter Veda, played very well by Morgan Pierce, and her 7 year old daughter Ray, played by Quinn McColgan. She then must find a job but has a very hard time finding one due to her lack of experience and does not want to take something that is "beneath her". She finally breaks down and takes a job as a waitress which would build experience so that she can open her own restaurant in the future. Much of this movie is on the dysfunctional relationship between Mildred and Veda. Veda was very conniving to her mother and too smart for her own good. The older Veda is played by Evan Rachel Wood who I have playing Ashley in THE RISE AND FALL OF SHAUN BERKEY and also did a great job. Guy Pierce, Melissa Leo, James Le Gros, Mare Winningham, Hope Davis, Mark Margolis and many others co-star in this mini-series. Todd Haynes directed this mini-series and did a great job with the authentic feel and the casting. Winslet was very good as the title character. I have seen the 1945 film and is one of the best movies I have seen from that era but try not to judge this upon that movie as this is more based on the novel than the movie. This is available on HBO On-Demand and was really worth it.
Stopping the Show (1932): This is my animated short for the week which features Betty Boop and which I believe is the first Betty Boop cartoon so if I'm wrong, just let me know in the comments. This takes place in the movie theater setting where we first see a noose reel which is a parody towards the newsreel, then a cartoon with Bimbo and Koko the Clown, then we get Betty who impersonates singers like Fanny Brice and Maurice Chevalier. One of the funny elements was seeing the audience members. The other animation was pretty good. This was a good introduction to Betty Boop who would become very iconic in the years to come.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947): With the rise of the new Ben Stiller movie, I thought it would be appropriate to include this movie. This is based on a short story by James Thurber brought to life by director Norman Z. McLeod. Danny Kaye stars as the title character who works for a pulp magazine and has a lot of heroic daydreams. He then becomes part of an actual conspiracy wondering what is real and what is not real. This is a pretty good comedy with fun dream sequences. Virginia Mayo, Boris Karloff, and Ann Rutherford all co-star in this film. Karloff is very amusing in his comedic role. Thurber has said that he absolutely hated the movie and Kaye's portrayal but was a big minority. I have heard good things about the newer version but have not seen it yet but will look to eventually.
Black Girl (1966): This is my foreign film for the week. This is part two of my two-part Ousmane Sembene series. Sembene was an African filmmaker and in both movies so far he focuses on the hardships of the poor. Last week I featured MANDABI which was about a man in Africa trying to get money for his money order. This one features actress Mbissine Therese Diop as Diouana who is a Senegal woman who takes a job with a family in France. She is made constantly aware of her race and mistreated by her employers. She must contemplate her own future with this employment. This is really more of a character study with a good performance from Diop. This is available on Instant Netflix.
12 Angry Men (1954): This is actually an episode of the tv series STUDIO ONE but since it is my blog, I will feature it if I want. This is a teleplay on the story that would become a feature film in 1957. Robert Cummings plays juror #8 who is on a jury for a murder trial and looks to convince the 11 others that that there is reasonable doubt. This is a pretty well done hour long show. The 1957 film would top it but this still has some good moments and performances. George Voskovec and Joseph Sweeney were the only two actors from this show to be in the film.
Shrek the Musical (2013): This is my live Broadway selection for the week. This is based on the hit 2001 film of the ogre and his donkey friend rescuing a princess and finding that he loves her. This has a lot of other characters like Pinocchio, White Rabbit, the three pigs, and many others. Brian d'Arcy James plays Shrek and does a very good job in his role. Sutton Foster was also very good as Princess Fiona and has her own secret where they do a good job in her transformation scenes. John Tartaglia was a lot of fun as Pinocchio. Jeanine Tesori wrote the musical numbers and were pretty good. This is available on Instant Netflix.
Romeo and Juliet (1968): Now I bring you Shakespeare and my favorite Shakespeare play as well as my favorite movie adaptation to Shakespeare. This is really the original tragic love story in my opinion. Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey star as the title character who are each part of feuding families. Romeo is a Montague while Juliet is a Capulet and they meet in forbidden love. I had the pleasure of being in this play over the summer which was an abridged version but was still a good play. I played the part of Paris who is hoping to marry Juliet. In watching this movie again, there was a part in the play that was not in the movie which I really liked doing but there was also a scene in the movie where Paris encounters Juliet near the end that would have been a good scene. Whiting and Hussey work very well together and do a great job. A young Michael York co-stars as Tybalt who does not like the Montagues at all. There is also a very good music number called WHAT IS A YOUTH which is sung at the party and I lobbied to sing it for our play but I was not successful. Most at least know the basics of this story. It has violence, betrayal, deception, romance, action, among other things and is a very good version to watch.
Peter and Ben (2008): I decided to end this week with this documentary short film from England. Peter is a reclusive man in a remote area who finds an abandoned sheep in which he takes in and names him Ben. Peter raised Ben but then realized this sheep was too much like a dog and saw a need to look into getting the sheep back with the flock. This is a really good 10 minute short film. It is available on Comcast On-Demand in the free movies section on the Film Festival category.
Well, that is it for this week. Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week.