Sunday, January 25, 2015

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 480th Edition

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Welcome to the 480th Edition of my series.  This is a pretty cool number and hard to believe in 20 weeks from now I will have the 500th Edition.  Don't worry, I won't be doing any kind of countdown.  I will get to my recommendations for the week.

 photo candelabra.jpgBehind the Candelabra (2013):  This is part four of my Matt Damon series.  Steven Soderbergh directed this movie based on the autobiography with Scott Thorson, played by Damon, which centers around his relationship with legendary pianist and entertainer Liberace, played by Michael Douglas.  When Thorson first meets Liberace he is a fairly modest and timid man but falls in wealth and excess.  Scott is shut out from the outside world by Liberace who always prefers to stay home and gets some plastic surgery at the recommendation of Liberace.  He soon begins to rebel and Liberace finds another lover getting Scott mostly kicked to the curb.  Scott Bakula, Debbie Reynolds, Dan Aykroyd, Rob Lowe, David Koechner, and many others co-star in this HBO movie.  Douglas does a great job as Liberace and I hardly recognized him.  Other performances were good as well and this movie is available on HBO On-Demand

 photo queen.jpgThe Queen (2006):  I go from the flamboyant world of Liberace to our queen of England.  Stephen Frears directed this film where they deal with the aftermath of the death of Princess Diana.  Helen Mirren plays Queen Elizabeth and decides to have her family lay low with the death of Diana and deal with the matter privately within the family.  The public does not like that the royal family have not addressed the public about the situation which makes matters difficult for newly elected Prime Minister Tony Blair, played by Michael Sheen.  James Cromwell, Alex Jennings, Helen McCrory, and many others co-star.  Mirren does a really good as the queen.  Frears does a very good job of putting it together with footage of Diana and even portraying that the royal family are human.

 photo girl_1.jpgThe Girl by the Lake (2007):  This is my Italian movie for the week.  Andrea Molaioli directed this film based on the novel by Karin Fossum.  Toni Servillo stars as police commissioner Sanzio who is called upon to investigate the murder of a young girl in an Italian town.  Sanzio has his own problems like an ill wife who no longer recognizes and does not know how to tell his daughter.  He also investigates the murder and has a lot of suspects as well as uncovers a lot of secrets in his murder investigation.  This is a really good murder mystery and will keep you guessing.

 photo chip.jpgChip 'an Dale (1947):  This is my animated Disney short for the week.  Donald Duck is looking for a log for his fire and the one he tries to get have two chipmunks of the title.  When he takes the piece of wood, their acorns are part of it and do what they can to get their acorn stash back.  This was the first starring vehicle for Chip and Dale who would become very popular and even that cartoon series I watched CHIP AND DALE'S RESCUE RANGERS.  This is easily worth a look and very enjoyable one.

 photo chan.jpgCharlie Chan in Paris (1935):  Our Asian detective, played by American actor Warner Oland, is in Paris where he is hired to investigate forged bonds but his undercover agent is killed and must investigate a murder instead.  Keye Luke, an actual Asian, makes his debut in the series as Lee who helps his dad investigate the murder and scams happening in Paris.  Keye Luke also adds a good element of the father/son relationship.  This is a very interesting climax through the Paris sewers and a really good twist.  This is part of a Charlie Chan boxed set my dad got me for Christmas.

 photo helter.jpgHelter Skelter (1976):  Tom Gries directed this tv movie which is centered around the investigation of the Sharon Tate murder among others which were done by the women of Charles Manson's, played by Steve Railsback, hippie cult.  George DiCenzo plays the prosecutor Vincent Buliosi who was looking to get Charles Manson charged with the actual murders even though he did not do the direct kill.  Nancy Wolfe was very creepy as Manson woman Susan Atkins.  This was a really good tv movie showing the investigation of a very bizarre time.  I have never understood why Charles Manson is so revered for what he did and the way people buy shirts and stuff but I guess that is just me.  Railsback plays the part of Manson to perfection.  This is not for everyone but very compelling if you have a good stomach.

 photo tears.jpgToo Late For Tears (1949):  This is from the Film Noir boxed set my dad got me and on there this is called KILLER BAIT but imdb refers to this title.  Lizabeth Scott and Arthur Kennedy star as married couple Jane and Alan Palmer who are just driving down the road and a speeding car throws out a bag of a lot of money which ends up in their car.  They disagree over what to do with the money where Alan is looking to turn it over but Jane persuades him to keep it and shows a lot of traits making her a femme fatale.  Dan Duryea plays Danny Fuller who claims the money is his.  This is really my favorite genre from this era and this was very enjoyable.

 photo glory_1.jpgFor Greater Glory:  The True Story of Cristiada (2012):  Dean Wright directed this chronicle on the Mexican war the Cristeros War which happened from 1926 to 1929.  Mexican president Calles, played by Ruben Blades, decides to ban Catholicism which provokes a group of religious people who form a militia to fight the government.  Andy Garcia stars as former general Enrique Gorostieta who is an atheist but fights with the locals for their freedom.  Mauricio Kuri, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Oscar Isaac, Peter O'Toole, Nestor Carbonell, Eva Longoria, Bruce Greenwood, Bruce McGill, and many others co-star in this film.  I was not aware of this time period and was pretty informative with Garcia giving a good performance as the general.  It is sad that religious oppression happens on both sides where in some places religion is a requirement but on this one it is banned.  It is hard to find that happy medium in this world.  I really thought this was very compelling and thought provoking.

 photo tristana.jpgTristana (1970):  This is my foreign film for the week which is directed by Luis Bunuel.  Catherine Deneuve stars as the title character whose mother has died and is entrusted to the guardianship of the respected and older Don Lope, played by Fernando Rey.  He refers to himself as her father but has a weakness for women and also forms a relationship with her.  Tristana has another man who she actually loves in Horacio, played by Franco Nero, but finds that a relationship with him will be really complicated with her situation.  it is a very compelling film where we see what can happen in a class like system and even shows the price of bitterness leading into a pretty good climax.  It is hard to describe this any further but foreign film buffs should really take a look at it and if you are tolerant of subtitles.  This is available on Instant Netflix.

 photo franklin.jpgBenjamin Franklin (2002):  I end the week with this PBS documentary of the man who we know from the $100 bill and some witty one liners.  This documentary goes far more in-depth starting with his childhood where he was the youngest of 17 children.  It goes into his early life where he self-taught himself many things like in journalism, science, and inventions.  It also goes into his rise as a known inventor, diplomat, and even politician.  It also goes into where he was able to convince France to help us in the Revolutionary War to become who we are today.  This was a man of many trades helping with electricity, protection from lightning, our country, and many other things.  I could go on and on about this man who would qualify to become a Jack of all Trades.  The part that surprised me the most was his invention of the Glass Harmonica which was used by many well known composers like Mozart, Beethoven, and Handel.  Since doing 1776, I have become more interested in political figures from this era and like the way they have actors reflecting on some of the historical moments.  Colm Feore, Dylan Baker, and Anthony Heald have contributions to this documentary.  It is a very informative documentary which gave me a lot of new information and was a good watch.  I will look to do these kinds of documentaries more often.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes more Matt Damon, Frank Sinatra, Woody Allen, Catherine Keener, and many others.  Continue to read for a new segment.

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Last Friday night after work, I decided to hang out with my friend and fellow karaoke junkie Chris who always has very interesting movie suggestions so allowed him to choose for our movie night.  He gave three very diverse selections of things he has been suggesting for a while now.  Here are the three.

 photo confederate.jpgC.S.A.:  The Confederate States of America (2004):  This was our first viewing Kevin Willmont directed this very politically incorrect mockumentary which is kind of shot like something from PBS and has fake commercials.  This takes place in an alternate modern-day world where the south had won the Civil War.  It is a world where things like slavery still exist and links historical references in a different way like a movie about the fall of Lincoln since he lost the war from real-life director D.W. Griffith and shot like his silent films even with the title cards.  This is not for everyone but is a very interesting look on how the this world might have been if the south had won.  this should be taken for what it is which is satire and to not take it the wrong way.  Keep in mind those commercials were actual products from segregation era of out time.  This is available on Instant Netflix.

 photo carnival.jpgThe Devil's Carnival (2012):  Our second feature is only about an hour and quite a bit different but still quite bizarre.  Darren Lynn Bousman directed this very dark musical where lost souls enter a version of hell which is in a very weird carnival.  Many lost souls find their way like with a kleptomaniac, a concerned father, and a gullible teenager.  This is based on three stories from AESOP'S FABLES including THE DEVIL AND HIS DUE, THE DOG AND ITS REFLECTION, and THE SCORPION AND THE FROG.  Terrance Zdunich portrays Lucifer and is who makes it all happen.  It is from the same director of REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA and has alums Paul Sorvino, Alexa Vega, Bill Moseley, and Nivek Ogre as well as newcomers Sean Patrick Flannery, Jessica Lowndes, Emilie Autumn, among many others.  There are some really good musical number and very dark imagery.  Chris let me know there is to be a sequel soon.  This is also available on Instant Netflix.

 photo carnival.jpgAntichrist (2009):  Chris has been on me for awhile to watch this one and he made this our final viewing.  Lars Von Trier directed this horror film which was pretty much a psychological horror film.  I never really looked into the background of this movie so with this title, I was mostly expecting all kinds of satanism, maybe some sort of demons but found I was quite wrong.  As I learned, this is more of an experimental art film.  Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg star as a married couple and are credited as He and She.  They must deal with the grief of losing a child who jumped out a window while they were having sex in another room.  The wife becomes very depressed and her psychiatrist husband decides to take her home in attempt to treat her depression even though it is against the rules to treat loved ones.  They decide to go to a remote cabin in the woods where they look to confront their fears.  These two actors carry most of the film where they experience a lot of lust and violence.  It is quite hard to put this in words, it really holds nothing back as Chris told me.  It also does a really good job portraying someone going through withdrawal of anti-depression pills as she became very dependent upon.  There are some very graphic scenes in terms of sex and violence as well as some very bizarre imagery.  This is by no means for everyone but I was very compelled by the story and the imagery.  Dafoe and Gainsbourg work so well together and carry the film well.  If you are easily offended and don't have a great stomach, this is not for you.  For those who find this interesting, it is available on Instant Netflix

I pretty much was prepared for some pretty unusual selections and Chris did not disappoint.  I know many people would not have gotten through this whole triple feature but hope to do this again sometime.  This is finally the end for this week.

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