Sunday, June 28, 2015
Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 502nd Edition
Welcome to the 502nd Edition of my series. Not too much happening right now especially working 2nd shift. I am making the most of it and grateful to be in the new position that I am in. I believe that in time I will have my day shift and return to the world of theater. I am not unhappy with things. I will not get on with my selections for the week.
The American President (1995): Rob Reiner directed this film based on a screenplay by Aaron Sorkin which is in a sense a political romantic comedy. Michael Douglas stars as widowed president Andrew Shepherd who mostly has the American public behind him and the next election appears locked. Things change when he meets environmental lobbyist Sydney Ellen Wade, played by Annette Bening, and takes a liking to her to the point of finally getting a date. Andy's political opponent Senator Bob Rumson, played by Richard Dreyfus, looks to use this against him by attacking his character as well as Sydney's. Martin Sheen, Michael J. Fox, Anna Deavere Smith, Samantha Mathis, Shawna Waldron, David Paymer, Nina Siemaszko, Wendie Malick, Beau Billingslea, Gail Strickland, Joshua Malina, John Mahoney, and many others co-star in this film. Douglas was good in a more toned down and good-hearted role and worked very well with Bening and even Shawna Waldron who was his supportive daughter. This would likely be favored from Democrats more than Republicans. This would not be a bad selection for a date night.
I Shot Andy Warhol (1996): Mary Harron directed this biopic on Valerie Solanas, played by Lili Taylor, who did just what the title said. She was a radical in the 60s who held nothing back about her hatred of men in her "Scum" manifesto. She also wrote a play called UP YOUR ASS in which she wanted Andy Warhol, played by Jared Harris, to produce but ignored her leading into the title. Martha Plimpton, Lothaire Bluteau, Anna Levine, Peter Friedman, Tahnee Welch, Jamie Harrold, Donovan Leitch Jr., Michael Imperioli, Reg Rogers, Bill Sage, Jill Hennessey, Stephen Dorff, and many others co-star. Dorff was very good as the transvestite Candy Darling. This was originally going to be a documentary but filmmakers could not find much footage or very many people to interview so they based it on the book by Jeremiah Newton. I just recently watched BASQUIAT which actually came out in the same year which was based on Warhol's protege of the title. Both movies have the qualities and could make for a good double feature.
Rendition (2007): This is part one of a two part Peter Sarsgaard series. Gavin Hood directed this CIA film. A terrorist bomb kills an American envoy in a foreign country. The investigation leads to an Egyptian named Anwar, played by Omar Metwally, who lives in America. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Douglas Freeman who is a CIA operative observing the investigation and witnesses torture and is at odds with what he should do being in a foreign country. Reese Witherspoon co-stars as Isabella who is the wife of Anwar and is looking for information on her husband which no one is giving. Peter Sarsgaard, Meryl Streep, Alan Arkin, Igal Naor, J.K. Simmons, Simon Abkarian, Bob Gunton, and many others co-star in this film. This was based on a true story of Khalid El-Masri, who was mistaken for a terrorist with a similar name. This is a pretty compelling story with well written characters.
See Holland Before it Gets Too Big (1969): This is my short for the week. A man with a guitar and sketchpad travel through Holland on a bike. He does many sketches of sights he sees and also sees the vision of the woman that he puts into them. He tries to figure out if she is real or a figment of his imagination. It was an interesting short film that had great locales for the country.
The Circus (1928): This is my silent film for the week which was a comedy from the legendary Charlie Chaplin who also wrote and directed the film. Chaplin plays his usual character of the Tramp. He is mistaken for a pickpocket and when running from the police, he stumbles onto a circus where he is in front of an audience and makes them laugh more than anyone. The ringmaster hires him on only to discover that he can only be unintentionally funny so he looks to put him into situations that will get laughs. The tramp also falls for the owner's acrobatic daughter but another performer comes into the picture making him feel he must compete. This is one of Chaplin's more unknown films. This came out shortly after talkies started but Chaplin decided to stick to silents. There is a scene that is part of the bonus features and has been put out there where someone appears to be talking on what seems to be a cell phone. I am sorry to spoil your thoughts on time travel but it was found to be a 1924 Siemans hearing aid. Chaplin has never spoken much on this film and maybe due to his studio burning down during production and among other things lead to a nervous breakdown. It is still a good production and has many funny moments.
A Face in the Crowd (1957): Elia Kazan directed this film which was written by Budd Schulberg. Andy Griffith makes his film debut as Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes who is actually discovered while spending time in jail when radio person Marcia Jeffries, played by Patricia Neal, goes there to interview inmates and finds that Rhodes is a decent singer and very amusing to listen to. He gets to host his own radio show where he becomes very popular for saying many things people want to hear. He then gets a tv show where everyone is at the palm of his hand becoming corrupted by his rise to fame. Walter Mathau co-stars as writer Mel Miller who begins to see right through Lonesome. Lee Remick and Anthony Franciosa also co-star in this film. I had seen this before and thought "I will never look at Andy Griffith in the same way again" and that remains true. Just think "Andy Griffith driven to insanity" and you will see he is so much more than Andy Taylor and Ben Matlock. I believe he gives his best performance in this film. The movie itself is also rather ahead of its time kind of like when the 1976 film NETWORK came out. The character of Lonesome Rhodes is essentially a reality tv star before the phrase even existed. This is a very underrated film that everyone should see.
Koyaanisqatsi (1982): Godfrey Reggio directed this film which is in a sense a documentary which was produced by Francis Ford Coppola. The movie is a long montage of photos to go along with a music score written by Philip Glass. The footage features images of nature and reality and the relationship between them. It shows the effect that man has had on the landscapre. It is done without any kind of narration but it still is very effective. The photos were put together very well with a really good score written by Glass. This is one I hope to get on the radar. This is followed by POWAQQATSI and NAQOYQATSI which I have not seen but suppose I should.
Django (1966): This is my spagetti western for the week which was directed and co-wrote by Sergio Corbucci. Franco Nero plays the title character who is a drifter coming into town dragging a coffin along with him. This town has a couple feuding parties of a group of Mexican bandits and a group of sadistic vigilantes which he gets into the middle. Nero does a good job as the anti-hero. It has some fun and over the top violence. It is the inspiration for Tarantino's DJANGO UNCHAINED and is reprising his own role in the upcoming DJANGO LIVES. I found this on the El Ray network so if they are still showing it, you might take a look.
Untamed Youth (1957): I believe this is the first time I have ever used Mamie Van Doren on my list. She stars as Penny and along with her sister Jane, played by Lori Nelson, are arrested for the horrible crime of hitch-hiking along their way to Los Angeles. They must choose between 30 days in jail or work on an agriculture farm so they choose the work. They find that the person who runs things mistreats them. Keep in mind, this is a b-movie which was more entertaining than anything like the music numbers which are some of the first Rock 'N Roll numbers in film. Many probably aren't sure who Van Doren is but sounds familiar so just to let know many including myself heard of her for the first time in Tarantino's PULP FICTION when Vincent and Mia are at the restaurant where servers are characters. Mia believes there are two Marilyn Monroes but Vincent lets her know that the other one is Mamie Van Doren. She was signed by Universal who tried to make her into their Marilyn Monroe. She ended up doing mostly b-movies but did get to be in a pretty high profile film TEACHER'S PET with Clark Gable. She still remains a sex symbol from that era.
The Judge (2014): I end with this law film which was directed by David Dobkin. Robert Downey Jr. is a very successful big city lawyer named Hank. He learns of his mother's death and returns to his small town home in Indiana where his father Joseph is the judge in the small town. His father is soon suspected of murder forcing him to stay and defend his estranged father. In setting out to learn the truth of what happens, he also reconnects with his family and others in the town. Vera Farminga, Billy Bob Thornton, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jeremy Strong, Leighton Meester, Ken Howard, Balthazar Getty, and many others co-star in this film. The best part of this movie is the interaction of Downey and Duvall who are great as the father and son. I also felt it was a good and moving portrait on a dysfunctional family.
Well, that is it for this week but I did bring the Fun and Useless Facts segment.. Tell me what you like and dislike. Stay tuned for next week which so far includes Keira Knightley, more Peter Sarsgaard, and many others.
FUN AND USELESS FACTS
Keep in mind, these are mostly facts from actors in different movies and usually don't look at what people within the movies have in common. If you have more to lend, knock yourself out.
Michael Douglas (The American President) is pursued by Robert Duvall (The Judge) in the 1993 film FALLING DOWN.
Michael Douglas (The American President) and Robert Downey Jr. (The Judge) were in the 2000 film WONDER BOYS.
Annette Bening (The American President) and Robert Duvall (The Judge) were in the 2003 film OPEN RANGE.
Annette Bening (The American President) and Robert Downey Jr. (The Judge) were in the 1999 movie IN DREAMS.
Martin Sheen (The American President) and Robert Duvall (The Judge) were in the 1979 film APOCALYPSE NOW.
Martin Sheen (The American President), Bob Gunton (Rendition), Walter Matthau (A Face in the Crowd), and Vincent D'Onofrio (The Judge) were in the 1991 film JFK. Sheen is uncredited as the narrator. This might be the first time since doing this that I managed to find four people from different movies in one movie.
-Martin Sheen (The American President) plays Uncle Ben in the 2012 film THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.
-J.K. Simmons (Rendition) plays editor J. Jonah Jameson in the Sam Raimi trilogy who is out to expose Spider-Man while paying Peter Parker to get photos. He has the perfect look and voice as he also voices the character in cartoons when necessary.
-Vincent D'Onofrio plays Kingpin in the Netflix series DAREDEVIL. Kingpin is a common enemy to Spider-Man, just not in film but in the comics.
Martin Sheen (The American President) and Vera Farminga (The Judge) were in the 2006 film THE DEPARTED.
Samantha Mathis (The American President), Bill Sage (I Shot Andy Warhol), and Reese Witherspoon (Rendition) were in the 2000 film AMERICAN PSYCHO.
Samantha Mathis (The American President) and Bob Gunton (Rendition) were in the 1996 action movie BROKEN ARROW.
David Paymer (The American President) and Robert Downey Jr. (The Judge) were in the 1993 film HEART AND SOULS.
David Paymer (The American President) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Rendition) were in the 1991 comedy CITY SLICKERS.
Gail Strickland (The American President) and Reese Witherspoon (Rendition) were in the 1991 film THE MAN IN THE MOON.
John Mahoney (The American President) and Lili Taylor (I Shot Andy Warhol) were in the 1989 film SAY ANYTHING...
Anna Deavere Smith (The American President) and Bill Sage (I Shot Andy Warhol) have both been in the series NURSE JACKIE.
Nina Siemaszko (The American President) and Bob Gunton (Rendition) were in the 1992 tv movie SINATRA.
Jared Harris (I Shot Andy Warhol) and Robert Downey Jr. (The Judge) are longtime rivals Professor Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes in the 2011 film SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS.
Jared Harris (I Shot Andy Warhol) and Billy Bob Thornton (The Judge) were in the 1995 film DEAD MAN.
Jared Harris (I Shot Andy Warhol), Jamie Harrold (I Shot Andy Warhol), and Robert Downey Jr. (The Judge) were in the 1994 film NATURAL BORN KILLERS.
Lili Taylor (I Shot Andy Warhol) and Vera Farminga (The Judge) were in the 2013 film THE CONJURING.
Jake Gyllenhaal (Rendition) and Robert Downey Jr. (The Judge) were in the 2007 film ZODIAC.
Jake Gyllenhaal (Rendition) had a childhood crush on Martha Plimpton (I Shot Andy Warhol).
J.K. Simmons (Rendition) and Billy Bob Thornton (The Judge) were in the 2006 film THE ASTRONAUT FARMER.
J.K. Simmons (Rendition) and Vera Farminga (The Judge) are in the 2009 film UP IN THE AIR.
Bob Gunton (Rendition) and Vincent D'Onofrio (The Judge) are partners in crime in the new Netflix series DAREDEVIL.
Bob Gunton (Rendition) and Robert Downey Jr. (The Judge) were in the 1987 movie THE PICK-UP ARTIST.
Meryl Streep (Rendition) and Vera Farminga (The Judge) were in the 2004 movie THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE.
Charlie Chaplin (The Circus) is portrayed by Robert Downey Jr. (The Judge) in the 1992 film CHAPLIN.
Walter Matthau (A Face in the Crowd) plays coach Morris Buttermaker in the 1976 comedy THE BAD NEWS BEARS. Billy Bob Thornton (The Judge) plays the part in the 2005 remake of the same title.
Lee Remick (A Face in the Crowd) and Robert Duvall (The Judge) were lovers in the 1979 mini-series IKE: THE WAR YEARS.