Sunday, February 28, 2016

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 537th Edition

Welcome to the 537th Edition of my series.  I started my rehearsals for MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING and on the bottom I replaced the end with details of information for the show and where to buy tickets.  Tonight are the Oscars so we'll see if this is the night Leo will win the Oscar and judging from the way award shows have been going this year, I believe he will get it this year.  I don't have a lot more to say so I'll just get on with my selections for this week.

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls:  How the Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'N' Roll Saved Hollywood (2003):  I start out with this documentary which is part three of my three-part William H. Macy series where he is the narrator.  This is based on a novel by Peter Biskind which takes a look at the '70s movement in Hollywood.  This was a time where movies focused a lot on counter-culture and where the director was the star of the movie.   The main directors of focus are Martin Scorsese, Arthur Penn, John Schlesinger, Sam Peckinpah, Roger Corman, Roman Polanski, Robert Altman, Francis Ford Coppola, Bob Rafelson, Warren Beatty, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Warren Beatty, among others.  it also has interviews with many of the survivors from this era in Hollywood.  I never really knew what a significant period this was in film. This is a very entertaining and informative look at the film industry.

Plane Nuts (1933):  This is my classic short for the week.  It focuses on a on a lot Vaudeville routines and big dance numbers.  The main point of interest is of Ted Healy and the Three Stooges before the Stooges came to popularity while Nealy did not seem to be very known beyond Vaudeville.  The Stooges would go onto do a lot better things but show some early signs in this one.  They were in last week's selection DANCING LADY.  It is of worth to see for early Stooges.

Harvey (1950):  Henry Koster directed this adaptation of the play by Mary Chase.  James Stewart stars as Elwood P. Dowd whose best friend is a tall rabbit named Harvey that only he can see.  His sister and niece Veta and Myrtle Mae, played by Josephine Hull and Victoria Horne, have a hard time keeping friends with others with them always seeing Elwood as insane because of his rabbit friend.  When Veta tries to have Elwood committed to a mental institution, misunderstandings happen that get her committed instead.  This has always been one of my favorites from this era and find Elwood P. Dowd is one of the best characters in film history.  I always say if more people had a friend like Harvey, this world would be a better place.  I suppose you could call this the lighter version of DONNIE DARKO and maybe that can be a double feature for some.

David Copperfield (1999):  This is my BBC selection for the week and no this is not about the magician even if it features a Pre-Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe but even with him the movie has nothing to do with magic.  This is based on the classic Charles Dickens novel.  Radcliffe plays Copperfield during childhood and by Ciaran McMenamin in his young adult years.  During childhood, David lives a pretty ideal life having a really good relationship with his mom but the simplicity changes when his mom marries the very strict Murdstone, played by Trevor Eve.  When David's mother dies, he is sent to work at a very young age to a factory.  I suppose there are a lot of similarities to OLIVER TWIST in the way of a young boy forced to grow up and learn to survive and fight adversity.  Pauline Fox, Pauline Quirke, Maggie Smith, Michael Elphick, Zoe Wanamaker, Ian McKellan, Bob Hoskins, Imelda Staunton, Ian McNeice, Nicholas Lyndhurst, Tom Wilkinson, and many others co-star in this tv movie.  I think this is my favorite BBC mini-series I have seen so far though favor this story in the period of David Copperfield's childhood but still does very well to the finish.  Radcliffe makes his film debut in this series while co-starring with a few that would be part of the Harry Potter series.  Those who like Dickens and period pieces really should give this a shot.

Trouble Man (1972):  I continue with some Blaxploitation and I guess this is fitting being the end of Black History Month, I'll let the readers decide that one.  Robert Hooks stars as private investigator Mr. T who is hired to "fix" things but appears to get set up in the gang wars with the police trying to bring him down as they don't like Mr. T.  He is able to stay cool through it all with his swagger.  There is not a lot more to say but that this is one of the better Blaxploitation movies out there and Hooks is very enjoyable as Mr. T.

Freedom's Fury (2006):  This is my second documentary for the week which is directed by Colin K. Gray and Megan Raney.  Mark Spitz narrates this film which is centered around a water polo match in the 1956 Olympics between Hungary and Russia which is considered to be the bloodiest game in Olympic history.  What the documentary goes into is the events that lead to how this game came to be.  This has some interviews with survivors from that game reflecting on these times.  This was a very informative documentary on a part of history that never gets talked about much.  I also like when they go into the history of water polo in Hungary.

Rob Roy:  The Highland Rogue (1953):  This is my Disney selection for the week.  Most people when they think of Robert Roy MacGregor think of that 1995 film with Liam Neeson.  In this one, Richard Todd stars as Rob Roy who is a Scottish Highland leader fighting for his freedom from the British who see Rob as a nuisance.  Glynis Johns stars as his wife Helen who stands by him through it all.  Michael Gough and Finlay Currie also co-star in this Disney film.  Granted, I prefer the darker 1995 film but this is still enjoyable.  This is done well enough to be a good action film for the family to watch.  Richard Todd does a great job as the Scottish outlaw.  This movie and its 1995 version are both available on the library website which has been a pretty good source for me lately.

Dirty Pretty Things (2002):  This is my British film for the week.  Stephen Frears directed this film which was written by Steven Knight.  Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as illegal Nigerian immigrant Okwe who works as a hotel receptionist but is a doctor where he is from which also comes into play illegally.  He comes upon an illegal scheme by his boss Juan, played by Sergi Lopez, who gives him a very tempting offer that could lead to his freedom or to disaster.  Audrey Tautou co-stars in her first English speaking role as Senay who is also an illegal looking for her own freedom through Juan's scheme.  Sophie Okonedo, Benedict Wong, and Zlatko Buric co-star in this film.  This was a sleeper hit from that year.  It was a pretty realistic film with some good performances.  This crime drama is available on Instant Netflix and will keep you the whole way through.

Le Samourai (1967):  This is my French film for the week which was directed by Jean-Pierre Melville.  Alain Delon stars as hitman Jef Costello.  He is usually very careful and precise at his job but one job left witnesses and him trying to maintain an alibi which gets him more and more into a corner.  Francois Perier is the police commissioner determined to prove he is a killer.  Jef also must watch for his employers who do not like the idea of him being questioned by the police even if he was released.  This movie has been an inspiration to many including Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, and John Woo.  This might actually be my favorite French film I have seen from this era.  Delon is great as Costello and Melville does a really good job of not using much dialogue but still making it work like in the beginning.

In the Future (2016):  It's been a pretty busy week with my show and work so I decided to end with a short film.  Courtney Jines directed and wrote this short.  Wendy McColm stars as Max who narrates her very underwhelming life from the future.  This was a Sundance Ignite Fellowship winner in 2016.  It is really pretty clever and a very interesting three minutes.  This is available at the website so give it a look and some of the other short films on that website.

Well, that is it for the week but continue to read for the return of my Movie Night at the Shera segment.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Elizabeth Banks, Kristen Bell and many others.


Trainwreck (2015):  I ended up on Tuesday not having a rehearsal so I texted Shera to see about a movie night and she texted back with this asking if I had the new Amy Schumer movie so I figured she was referring to this one and I went along.  I made a rare rental at a Redbox machine to get this and then soon her over to The Shera.  Judd Apatow directed this raunchy romantic comedy which Schumer actually wrote.  She also stars as someone named Amy who is a writer that is a commitment phobic woman who must rethink what she has been taught in her new assignment of interviewing sports doctor Aaron, played by Bill Hader, despite knowing nothing about sports.  Aaron begins to like her and wants a relationship with her making her rethink her views on monogamy.  Some might say that the title reflects the movie and while it did not end up being one of my favorites, we were both still quite amused.  There were a lot of cameos from athletes and actors playing themselves and others.  I was rather intrigued and really did not know what to think when seeing John Cena and thinking I hope those Make-A-Wish kids that look up to him do not see this movie.  I was also very surprised when her daughter was in the room with us and actually knew his entrance song.  From what I could gather, she has seen some Youtube videos of Cena.  While I'm not really a basketball fan these days, Lebron James was a lot of fun as himself and a friend of Aaron.  I also liked Colin Quinn as her dad and the one who put the thoughts into Amy's head about relationships.  The movie had a very mixed reaction and the roles were kind of reversed in terms of the type of character Schumer played which is usually the man with that personality.  If you are not looking for something real serious and don't get offended to easily, this might be a good watch one night.

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