Sunday, June 14, 2015

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 500th Edition

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Welcome to the 500th Edition of my series.  I can't believe I have made it this far.  This week, I focus on movies where the characters, at least the main character, is/was a real person which is excluding the Movie Night at the Shera segment.  It does not have to be a true story and you'll see one notable one for that rule.  The main character must be going by their real name for it to qualify so no characters based on someone but changing the name.  I still made this diverse like the others so I hope you enjoy.  Thanks to all including old and new that have supported me through the years.  I will get on with my selections.

 photo fruitvale.jpgFruitvale Station (2013):  Ryan Coogler wrote and directed this film.  With all the police shootings, I guess this is a fitting one.  Michael B. Jordan stars as Oscar Grant III who wakes up on New Years Eve of 2008 and feels the needs to get his resolutions started.  He tries to be a better son to his mother, played by Octavia Spencer, a better boyfriend to his girlfriend, played by Melonie Diaz, and a better father to his daughter, played by Ariana Neal.  Throughout the day, he has encounters with friends, family, and strangers leading up to a very fateful encounter with the police at the Fruitvale BART Station in the Bay Area.  Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray, Ahna O'Reilly, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a true story and the video is even obtainable on youtube.  I don't want to go too much further into this but there is a lot of information out there on this tragic incident.  The movie does a good job of going in the life in the day of this man showing that things can change quickly.  I'm beginning to wonder if officer training needs to be improved.  Octavia Spencer cared enough about the project to forego her salary when Coogler's funding fell through.  This is available on Instant Netflix.

 photo boystown.jpgBoys Town (1938):  Norman Taurog directed this film based on the real life Boys Town founded by Father Flanagan.  Spencer Tracy stars as Father Flanagan who after hearing a convict's story, decides to start an organization to help troubled boys develop skills and a positive image of themselves.  He takes in boys from broken homes or no homes and makes them useful while overcoming the struggle of funds.  Flanagan believes there is no such thing as a bad boy but his belief becomes challenged upon the arrival of Whitey Marsh, played by Mickey Rooney.  Henry Hull also co-stars in this film.  Tracy and Rooney are really good in their roles.  I guess there were no troubled girls in those days but these days helps girls as well from what I understand.  This is a very touching story and is a place that still exists today and has expanded through the years.  Even though it was founded by a priest, it does not focus on religion but on helping people.

 photo buddyholly.jpgThe Buddy Holly Story (1978):  This is my music biopic for this edition based on the title person who had a short but very memorable career.  Gary Busey puts on a very memorable performance as the singer who was very determined to make it in the music industry but to do it on his terms.  This starts from his younger days performing local places into his rise with the Crickets and to the day the music died.  Don Stroud and Charles Martin Smith co-star as his band mates.  Busey is one of the very few these days that will make me watch a reality tv series but before he became our modern-day Socrates, he actually did a few decent films and this one at his best.  He played the legendary singer to perfection so those that only know him from his Buseyisms really need to check this one out.

 photo vampire_1.jpgShadow of the Vampire (2000):  This is the one I was referring to when I said it did not necessarily have to be true.  This is take on the filming of the classic German 1922 vampire film NOSFERATU.  John Malkovich stars as real-life director F.W. Murnau who was determined to do an adaptation of the Bram Stoker's DRACULA but his wife refused the rights so he decided to write his own version changing the names and creating the ugliest vampire in cinema history.  Willem Dafoe stars as Max Schreck who is playing the vampire Count Orlok who seems to be a little too much into his role.  Udo Kier, Cary Elwes, Catherine McCormack, Eddie Izzard and many others co-star in this film.  Malkovich and Dafoe are great for their roles.  This is a really good look at at the making of the film which I suppose we could all say it's fictional but do we really know?  A good double feature to watch might be the 1922 film NOSFERATU followed by this one.

 photo lefthanded.jpgThe Left Handed Gun (1958):  This is my western for the week which is on Billy the Kid, played by Paul Newman.  This is another which is likely more of a dramatization than a true story much like most of the westerns from this era.  Arthur Penn directed this western which is based on a play by Gore Vidal.  In this movie, Billy starts out as the simple William Bonney who is befriended and gets a job through a peaceful, religious man named Tunstall, played by Colin Keith-Johnson.  Tunstall is murdered by a group led by a corrupt sheriff.  It is this event which drives him to vengeance endangering his friends.  John Dehner co-stars as Billy the Kid's former friend who is now the sheriff and most know how that ended.  It is kind of an interesting casting of Newman as Billy the Kid and has been compared to a James Dean performance which I can see looking back.  It has also been said through historians that he was not left handed like once though.  It is still intriguing and worth a look.

 photo mesrine.jpgMesrine (2008):  This is my French selection for the week which is actually two different movies but since they were made in the same year I counted as one.  What is featured this week are MESRINE PART 1:  KILLER INSTINCT and MESRINE PART 2:  PUBLIC ENEMY.  Vincent Cassel stars as the real-life French gangster Jacques Mesrine where the first movie was based on his own autobiograpy.  The first part shows Mesrine just before getting into his criminal life to to his rise before become French Public Enemy number one.  This shows a lot of his bank robberies as well as prison breaks.  The second film shows him when he is at the top, loving the publicity but is being pursued even further.  Cecile De France, Gerard Depardieu, Gilles Lellouche, Roy Dupuis, Elena Anaya, Ludivine, Sagnier, Mathieu Amalric, Samuel Le Bihan, and many others co-star in these films.  I had never heard anything about this person until I found these movies.  Vincent Cassel was very good in the title role and enjoyed Depardieu a lot as well.  These are both very compelling friends and in some ways is France's answer to SCARFACE personality wise for the two main characters.

 photo gentleman.jpgGentleman Jim (1942):  This is my sports selection for the week which is based on earlier boxer Jim Corbett whose career was from the late 1800s to the early 1900s.  Roaul Walsh directed this film which stars Errol Flynn as the legendary boxer.  He starts out as an extroverted banker who ended up in a gym and spars some in boxing and they see some natural ability in him where he is then trained to be a boxer.  He becomes a very accomplished but conceited fighter whose benefactors try to bring him down.  Ward Bond in a more notable role in his career plays John L. Sullivan who is at the time a champion and Corbett's biggest challenge.  Alexis Smith, Jack Carson, Alan Hale, and many others co-star in this film.  Flynn did a really good job of learning Corbett's fight style and looked very good in the ring though I have heard that Corbett was not as outgoing as portrayed in the film.  This is still a good look at boxing in the earlier days where there were less rules like limited rounds.

 photo robroy.jpgRob Roy (1995):  Liam Neeson stars as 18th Century Scotsman Robert Roy MacGregor who is a cattle herdsman trying to lead his small town and family into a better future by borrow money to buy cattle but gets stolen.  He is forced to become a Robin Hood figure to protect his family from a group of conniving British people led by Montrose, played by John Hurt, and his conniving henchman Archibald Cunningham, played very well by Tim Roth.  Jessica Lange is also good as Rob Roy's wife who is trying to keep things together.  Eric Stoltz, Brian Cox, Brian McCardie, Jason Flemying, and many others co-star in this film.  Neeson is a great presence as the title character and has some really good scenery to go along with it.  It also has possibly one of the best sword fight scenes at the end.

 photo jesus.jpgJesus Christ Superstar (1973):  This is my musical for the week which focuses on our savior.  Norman Jewison directed film based on the rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber.  Ted Neeley plays Jesus Christ in his last six days and is told through the eyes of Judas, played by Carl Anderson.  The story is told in a rather anachronistic manner and focuses on the dissatisfaction of Judas with the direction he is steering his disciples.   Yvonne Elliman, Barry Dennen, Larry Marshall, Josh Mostel, Paul Thomas, and many others co-star in this film.  Much of the actors appear to have more of a music background which works since this is all singing.  I have always favored this one over Stephen Schwarz's GODSPELL even though I do usually like his work.  This is a darker take on the story so it is not for everyone but I thought it was a pretty compelling film with great performances from Neeley and Anderson.

 photo hunger_1.jpgHunger (2008):  Steve McQueen makes his directorial debut and for those that don't know, this is a black man so not the actor.  Michael Fassbender stars as Bobby Sands who is with the IRA and ends up in a Northern Ireland prison where he feels he is a political prisoner.  He becomes upset with the prison conditions and leads a hunger strike in 1981 in hopes the treatment will get better.  Stuart Graham, Brian Milligan, Liam McMahon, Karen Hassan, Liam Cunningham, and many others co-star in this film.  Fassbender plays the part very well and has a great scene with the priest played by Cunningham.  This is not the easiest movie to watch but is very realistic and is the start of a good directorial career for McQueen who would go onto direct the very powerful 12 YEARS A SLAVE.

Well, that is it for this week but I do have the segments of Fun and Useless Facts and Movie Night at the Shera.  Let me know what you like and dislike.  Thanks again everyone for the wonderful support through the years.  Stay tuned for next week which so far includes Steve Carell, James Caan, and many others.

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This one focuses on the ten movies above and not the Movie Night at the Shera segment below. segment below.  Keep in mind I don't focus on much with actors in the same movie.

Willem Dafoe (Shadow of the Vampire) and Brian McCardie (Rob Roy) were in the 1997 movie SPEED 2.

-Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station) will be playing Human Torch in the upcoming superhero film THE FANTASTIC FOUR.  This has been a rather controversial casting mostly due to his race and the first time a black man has played that character.
-Kevin Durand (Fruitvale Station) plays villain Fred Dukes aka the Blob in the 2009 movie X-MEN ORIGINS:  WOLVERINE.
-Chad Michael Murray (Fruitvale Station) plays SSR agent Jack Thompson on the tv series AGENT CARTER.
-Willem Dafoe (Shadow of the Vampire) plays Norman Osborn aka the Green Goblin in the 2002 film SPIDER-MAN.
-Tim Roth (Rob Roy) plays villain Emil Blonsky in the 2009 film THE INCREDIBLE HULK.
-Brian Cox (Rob Roy) plays William Stryker in the 2003 film X-MEN 2
-Jason Flyming (Rob Roy) plays Azazel in the 2011 film X-MEN:  FIRST CLASS.
-Michael Fassbender (Hunger) plays Magneto in X-MEN:  FIRST CLASS and X-MEN:  DAYS OF FUTURE PAST.

John Malkovich (Shadow of the Vampire) and Tim Roth (Rob Roy) are in the 1993 tv movie HEARTS OF DARKNESS.

Spencer Tracy (Boys Town) portrays the title characters in the the 1941 film DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE.  John Malkovich (Shadow of the Vampire) plays Jekyll and Hyde in the 1996 film MARY REILLY.  Udo Kier (Shadow of the Vampire) plays Dr. Henry Jekyll in the 1981 movie THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MISS OSBOURNE.  Jason Flyming plays Jekyll and Hyde in the 2003 movie THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN.

Paul Newman (The Left Handed Gun) and Alexis Smith (Gentleman Jim) were in the 1959 film THE YOUNG PHILADEPHIANS.

Willem Dafoe (Shadow of the Vampire) plays Jesus Christ in the 1988 film THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST.  Ted Neeley plays the part in this week's feature JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR.

Gerard Depardieu (Mesrine) plays Porthos in the 1998 film THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK.  Alan Hale (Gentleman Jim) plays Porthos in the 1939 version of THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK.

Octavia Spencer (Fruitvale Station) and John Malkovich (Shadow of the Vampire) were in the 1999 film BEING JOHN MALKOVICH which is one of my favorites.

Cary Elwes (Shadow of the Vampire) plays Robin Hood in the 1993 comedy ROBIN HOOD:  MEN IN TIGHTS.  Errol Flynn (Gentleman Jim) plays Robin Hood in the 1938 film ROBIN HOOD.

Paul Newman (The Left Handed Gun) and Jack Carson (Gentleman Jim) were brothers in the 1958 film CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF.

Gary Busey (The Buddy Holly Story) and Liam Neeson (Rob Roy) are in the movie adaptation of the 2015 movie ENTOURAGE as themselves.

Willem Dafoe (Shadow of the Vampire) and Brian Cox (Rob Roy) are in the 2009 animated movie FANTASTIC MR. FOX

Octavia Spencer (Fruitvale Station) and Willem Dafoe (Shadow of the Vampire) were in the 2002 film SPIDER-MAN.

Spencer Tracy (Boys Town) and Ward Bond (Gentleman Jim) were in the 1936 film FURY were Bond was an extra.

John Malkovich (Shadow of the Vampire) and Gerard Depardieu (Mesrine) co-star as two of the musketeers in the 1998 THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK.  They also co-star as Javert and Jean Valjean in the 2000 mini-series LES MISERABLES.  They were also in the 2002 film NAPOLEON.

Kevin Durand (Fruitvale Station) plays Little John in the 2010 film ROBIN HOOD.  Alan Hale (Gentleman Jim) plays the part in the 1938 film ROBIN HOOD.

John Malkovich (Shadow of the Vampire) and Josh Mostel (Jesus Christ Superstar) were in the 1998 film ROUNDERS.

Don Stroud (The Gary Busey Story) and Ted Neeley (Jesus Christ Superstar) were in the 2012 film DJANGO UNCHAINED.

Willem Dafoe (Shadow of the Vampire) and Gerard DePardieu (Mesrine) were in the 2006 film PARIS, JE T'AIME.

Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station) and Cary Elwes (Shadow of the Vampire) provide the voices of Cyborg and Aquaman in the 2013 animated movie JUSTICE LEAGUE:  THE FLASHPOINT PARADOX.

Willem Dafoe (Shadow of the Vampire) and Mathieu Amalric (Mesrine) were in the 2014 film THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL.

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 photo planet_1.jpgDawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014):  So this is from last Sunday night that I hung out at her house and through it all we looked at the On-Demand of ATT, if that is what it is called, and when I suggested that to be our watch I was surprised at Shera's agreement but very glad.  We had both seen RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES but neither of us had seen this sequel.  Andy Serkis reprises his role as the advanced ape Caesar who is now the leader in a forest area among many other apes.  Humans soon discover how advanced they are where they threaten war with the apes.  Caesar tries to keep the peace and works with humans played by Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, and Kodi Smit-McPhee who Caesar sees are good people.  Unfortunately, he is the only one of the apes who were at one time exposed to good people so it is hard for the others to trust them especially Kopa, voiced by Toby Kebbell, who starts his own rebellion.  Gary Oldman, Kirk Acevedo, Judy Greer, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a good sequel to a very good reboot of the films.  It has some great action plus some pretty good CGI effects to add.  I also thought the way it ended was pretty well done.

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