Sunday, August 23, 2015
Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 510th Edition
Welcome to the 510th edition of my series. Nothing really that important to report so I'll just get onto these recommendations.
Irrational Man (2015): This is part one of a possible Woody Allen trilogy. I had never heard of this Woody Allen film until I was in Columbus, Indiana and looked to see what was playing at their non-profit movie theater the Yes Cinema. I glossed over it a little bit and liking to support this theater, I gave it shot. Allen wrote and directed film which stars Joaquin Phoenix as philosophy professor Abe who is rather burned out in life. Emma Stone co-stars as his student Jill who becomes interested in the tormented professor and forms a friendship with him. Abe comes up with a really strange and twisted plan for him to be able to live life again and be happy. This is really one that I feel the less you know, the better it becomes. I went into this really not knowing what to expect and was really quite wowed. Jamie Blackley and Parker Posey co-star in this independent film which is a pretty different Woody Allen movie.
12 and Holding (2005): Michael Cuesta directed this much darker coming of age film. Conor Donovan stars as the 12 year old Jacob whose twin brother is killed in a fire set by local bullies. This has a very profound effect on him and two of his friends. Jacob is obsessed with getting revenge with the bullies responsible for his brother's death. Jesse Camacho co-stars as Leonard who is overweight and obsessed with losing it for himself and the rest of the family making him resort to some rather extreme measures to get his mom to lose weight. Zoe Weizenbaum co-stars as Malee who tries to befriend and forms a crush with her mom's grief-stricken patient Gus, played by Jeremy Renner, which she takes to the extreme. All these are very compelling stories and all done very well. Annabella Sciorra, Jayne Atkinson, Linus Roache, Marcia DeBonis, Tom McGowan, Bruce Altman, and many others co-star in this film. The young actors do a great job in carrying this film that again is a coming of age story but a rather dark one.
Dick Tracy (1990): This is my comic book movie on the character created in the 30s by Chester Gould on a square jaw police detective and I suppose you can say this was a reboot before reboots were cool though nothing else came after this one. Warren Beatty directed and stars as the title character in this film. He is going after crime boss Big Boy Caprice who has united all the rival gangsters. Madonna co-stars as nightclub singer Breathless Mahoney and is involved in the crime scene while making advances toward Tracy. Charlie Korsmo, William Forsythe, Glenne Headly, Seymour Cassel, Charles Durning, Allen Garfield, John Schuck, Madonna, Mandy Patinkin, Paul Sorvino, Dustin Hoffman, Kathy Bates, Dick Van Dyke, Colm Meaney, Catherine O'Hara, James Caan, Michael J. Pollard, Estelle Parsons, and many others co-star or have cameos in this film. This was a very fun updated version of the Sunday comics legend. The make-up and costumes on the characters were also very good like Pacino.
Cat Concerto (1947): This is my animated short for the week which features the best and most famous cat and mouse duo of all time in Tom and Jerry. In this one, Tom is playing a piano concert and Jerry does everything possible to disrupt the concert. They had a really humorous exchange revolving around the piano and was pretty innovative. This is a pretty good 8 minutes.
A Slight Case of Murder (1938): Lloyd Bacon directed this film crime comedy. Edward G. Robinson stars as Remy Marco who was a successful bootlegger during prohibition but struggles to adjust to the repeal. He is close to bankruptcy and must also deal with an orphan living in his home, his daughter's fiance who is a state trooper, the bodies of four gangsters, and a half a million in loot that was hidden in the home. Jane Bryan, Allen Jenkins, Willard Parker, John Litel, Margaret Hamilton, George E. Stone, and many others co-star in this film. Robinson goes the comedic route in this one and does a really good job in this parody film. This is a really good, early blend of gangsters and comedy as well as a good look at someone who must adjust to their careers involving alcohol post-prohibition.
The Naked Prey (1965): Cornel Wilde directed and stars in this centering on an African safari gone wrong. Wilde plays a person in the safari expedition who encounter a tribe who are offended by this group and kill the members one by one leaving Wilde's character as the last survival and does what he can to stay alive. The scenery is great and is very authentic like the tribe was not a bunch of extras. This had a really good tension to it showing the fear of both the tribe and the man trying to survive. Wilde does a great job in carrying the film.
There Will Be Blood (2007): Paul Thomas Anderson directed this film based on the novel by Upton Sinclair. Daniel Day-Lewis stars as Daniel Sinclair who is a miner turned oilman when he strikes oil. Paul Dano co-stars as Eli Sunday whose property Sinclair struck oil and is a local preacher who wants some of that money to build a new church. Their lives clash through the years leading up to quite a climax. Paul F. Tompkins, Dillon Freasier, Ciaran Hinds, Sydney McCallister, David Willis, Kevin J. O'Connor, and many others co-star in this film. Day-Lewis does great as the many that will do whatever necessary to achieve his goals and Dano plays off of him very well. This is a great story of greed and betrayal and one that will really make one think.
A Hard Day's Night (1964): Richard Lester directed this film where the Beatles play themselves in some misadventures in getting from Liverpool to London to get to a television broadcast to perform. A couple of the storylines are Paul's grandfather getting into some mischief and Ringo going missing. Norman Rossington, Victor Spinetti, and Anna Quayle co-star in this film and also look for a young Phil Collins in the audience near the end. This is a fun movie that works in the music of the title album and is a must for people who are at least casual Beatles fans.
Pickpocket (1959): This is my French film for the week. Robert Bresson wrote and directed this film which stars Martin LaSalle as Michel who does what the title says. He has just been released from prison for thievery. His mother dies and he goes back to pickpocketing for a means of survival. He does begin to question if his luck will run out but cannot stop his compulsion. This was a very controversial film for its time. Finland banned it until 1965 for the authentic instruction on how to pickpocket. LaSalle does a really good job in his film debut. It is a good look at compulsion and might take a couple viewings.
The Way (2010): This is part one of a Martin Sheen series that might go three or four parts. I end the week with this more independent film. Emilio Estevez directed this film based on the novel by Jack Hitt and has a cameo in flashbacks as the late son of the main character. Emilio's father Martin Sheen co-stars as Tom who is a doctor whose son dies while walking the Pyrenees in a storm. He goes to France to collect his remains and decides to take the long walk of Camino de Santiago and is joined by unlikely group of people which include a Dutchman named Joost, played by Yorick Van Wageningen, a Canadian named Sarah, played by Deborah Kara Unger, and an Irish writer named Jack, played by James Nesbitt which are different people who try to co-exist among each other. Tcheky Karyo also co-stars in this film. I did not know a lot about this movie going in but was a very pleasant surprise. Sheen and the others work very well together. This is one of those that is more driven by the characters which I seem to have a lot of this week. This underrated gem can be found on Instant Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Well, that is it for this week. Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Meryl Streep, more Woody Allen, more Martin Sheen, James Cagney, Robert Redford, and many others. Continue to read for "Fun and Useless Facts".
FUN AND USELESS FACTS
I'm sure they are many I missed and keep in mind, I don't use people in the same movies and use actors in different movies.
Woody Allen (Irrational Man director) directed Glenne Headly (Dick Tracy) in a bit part in the 1985 film THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO.
Woody Allen (Irrational Man director) and John Schuck (Dick Tracy) in the 2001 film THE CURSE OF THE JADE SCORPION.
Woody Allen (Irrational Man director), Madonna (Dick Tracy), Kathy Bates (Dick Tracy) in the 1991 film SHADOWS AND FOG.
Woody Allen (Irrational Man director) directed Kathy Bates (Dick Tracy) in the 2011 film MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
Woody Allen (Irrational Man director) and Anna Quayle (A Hard Day's Night) were in the 1967 James Bond spoof CASINO ROYALE.
Woody Allen (Irrational Man director) directed James Nesbitt (The Way) in the 2005 film MATCH POINT.
Emma Stone (Irrational Man) and Martin Sheen (The Way) were in the 2012 film THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.
Joaquin Phoenix (Irrational Man) and Kevin J. O'Connor (There Will Be Blood) were in the 2012 film THE MASTER.
Parker Posey (Irrational Man) and Catherine O'Hara (Dick Tracy) were in the 1996 film WAITING FOR GUFFMAN, the 2000 film BEST IN SHOW, 2003 film A MIGHTY WIND and the 2006 film FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION. All these are the Christopher Guest mockumentary comedies.
Michael Cuesta (12 and Holding director) directed Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood) in the 2001 film L.I.E.
Conor Donovan (12 and Holding) and Martin Sheen (The Way) were in the 2006 film THE DEPARTED.
Tom McGowan (12 and Holding), Colm Meaney (Dick Tracy) and Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood) were in the 1992 film THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS.
Bruce Altman (12 and Holding) and Al Pacino (Dick Tracy) were in the 1992 film GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS.
John Schuck (Dick Tracy) plays Walt "Painless Pole" Waldowski in the 1970 film MASH. I played the part in a 2007 production at Lee's Theatrical Productions.
Al Pacino (Dick Tracy) declined the part of Captain Willard in the 1979 film APOCALYPSE NOW which would ultimately go to Martin Sheen (The Way).
Al Pacino (Dick Tracy), William Forsythe (Dick Tracy), and Deborah Kara Unger (The Way) were in the 2007 movie 88 MINUTES.
Dustin Hoffman (Dick Tracy) was the narrator/father in the first telecast of the 1971 animated tv movie THE POINT. Ringo Starr (A Hard Days Night) voiced the part in the home video release which is the version you will find today.
Dustin Hoffman (Dick Tracy) and Kevin J. O'Connor (There Will Be Blood) were in the 1992 movie HERO.
Madonna (Dick Tracy) and George Harrison (There Will Be Blood) were in the 1986 movie SHANGHAI SURPRISE.
Dick Van Dyke (Dick Tracy) and Anna Quayle (A Hard Day's Night) were in the 1968 film CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG.
Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood) and Martin Sheen (The Way) were in the 1982 film GANDHI.
Martin Sheen (The Way) auditioned for the part of Michael Corleone in the 1972 film THE GODFATHER which would ultimately go to Al Pacino (The Godfather).