Sunday, March 13, 2016

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 539th Edition

Welcome to the 539th Edition of my series.  Last night I finished MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING in my debut at the Alley Theater.  This was a good experience and hope to be able to do a show with them in their next season.  For right now I'm an unemployed community theater actor but will at some point be shooting PIGFOOT 2 and will give more details as they come.  With als that being said, I'll get to my selections for the week.

Petty Blue (2010):  I start the week out with this documentary directed by Mike Viney and narrated by Kevin Costner.  This is a biographical documentary based on four generations of the famous family of racing which spans four generations.  It starts with Lee Petty who was in many ways a pioneer of racing.  It goes into his son Richard who would become possibly the most famous and successful race car drivers of all time.  Then it touches on his son Kyle who had some success but never really had the drive his father did in racing.  He also had a bit of a country music career in the 90s.  The last of the racing petty's is Kyle's son Adam who likely had the most potential but died in a race at the age of 19 years of age.  I will be the first to admit I am not a racing fan by any means but I respect it and that it is a popular sport.  I know many speak negatively towards my football and wrestling.  Despite not watching racing, this was still very interesting and well put together.  I was never aware that Richard Petty is a second generation racer.  It also shows a very brutal crash that Lee took which ended his career and was lucky it did not end his life.  People will see that racing has come a long way if they see that crash.  It also shows that there is far more to the family than just the drivers.  It is a very uplifting and in many ways sad like with the death of Adam and the falling out of the family as far as their racing company goes.

In Search of Dr. Seuss (1994):  This is possibly part one of a Robin Williams series.  I continue with this tv movie which is in a sense a documentary with people playing that characters created by Dr. Seuss.  Kathy Najimy stars as Kathy Lane who is a reporter looking to get the story on Dr. Seuss.  She meets the Cat in the Hat, played by Matt Frewer, who helps her to find the history of Theodore Geisel who would become Dr. Seuss.  Along the way, she meets some very colorful characters played by Williams, Christopher Lloyd, Andrea Martin, David Paymer, Patrick Stewart, Billy Crystal, Howie Mandel, Eileen Brennan, Frank Welker, and many others.  This is a really informative and entertaining look into the man beyond Seuss.  It shows some of his early work like some of his art that is quite dark.  It also talks about how his books are political statements but still told very well that a child enjoys it as a children's story.

Another Year (2010):  Mike Leigh wrote and directed this comedy-drama.  Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen star as married couple Tom and Gerri who have been happily married for many years.  This focuses on a year period where they must witness their friends, family and colleagues who suffer some sort of unhappiness.  Lesley Manville, Oliver Maltman, Peter Wight, David Bradley, Philip Davis, Imelda Staunton, and many others co-star in this film.  This is well done making each situation very compelling to watch.  Manville might be the standout as Mary whose alcohol problems come full circle.  Leigh manages to make what would a lot of times be trivial situations into something quite compelling.

Water Trix (1949):  This is my short film for the week which is a Pete Smith Specialty.  This shows some really cool tricks from mostly water skiing and have some bloopers.  Charles T. Trego is the cameraman who is capturing this footage from a helicopter to show the beauty and difficulty of these water tricks.  Smith always manages to make anything fun to watch with his narration.

Mr. Moto Takes a Chance (1938):  Norman Foster directed this film which stars Peter Lorre as the title detective.  Lorre has his fourth performance as the Japanese detective.  Moto goes to Africa posing as an archaeologist while investigating a murder.  There is also a good subplot with a group of people trying to shoot a Newsreel which was a big thing in this era for people to get their news before they go to the movie theater.  Rochelle Hudson co-stars as Victoria who teams up with Moto in his investigation.  Lorre also has a great disguise as an elderly holy man.  Lorre does a good job despite not being Japanese and even has a pretty good action climax.

Sunday in New York (1963):  I follow up with this romantic comedy which was directed by Peter Tewksbury and based on the play by Norman Krasna.  This comedy centers on siblings Eileen, played by Jane Fonda, and Adam, played by Cliff Robertson, who both are in rather complicated relationships.  Eileen has just broken up with her boyfriend Russ, played by Robert Culp, and goes to visit her brother.  While there, she meets a man named Mike, played by Rod Taylor, who they meet on a bus and literally become connected to each other.  With Adam, he has a girlfriend in Mona, played by Jo Morrow, whose relationship is difficult due to his job as an airline pilot and his always being on call.  Things get even funner when Russ comes into the picture.  This did have some good laughs and I thought the best scenes were the ones where Adam and Mona try to meet up but his job gets in the way.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers:  The Movie (1995):  Yes, I am featuring this movie adaptation of the '90s children series.  This is the original incarnation of the group which I have found has evolved many times.  A lot of this movie revolves around the mentor of the Power Rangers Zordon, played by Nicholas Bell, whose old enemy Ivan Ooze who has been trapped in some egg for many years but finally becomes free.  Things seem hopeless at first when Ooze takes the power from them but they find some way to go back in time to do something or other and are helped by some hot Xena-like girl in the prehistoric era named Dulcea, played by Gabrielle Fitzpatrick, who knows Zordon and Ooze very well.  Original actors Karan Ashley, Johnny Yong Bosch, Steve Cardenas, Jason David Frank, Amy Jo Johnson, and David Yost reprise their roles.  When this was on, I was in middle school so I didn't really know a lot my age that was really into this show though I'll admit watching it from time to time for my crush on Pink Ranger, played by Johnson.  This is more of a guilty pleasure than anything and a way to relive your childhood.  It is pretty entertaining if you are not too serious.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Macao (1952):  Only I would from from featuring the Power Rangers to a movie starring Robert Mitchum.  Josef Von Sternberg directed this crime drama.  Mitchum stars as American Nick Cochran who is in the the country of Macao looking for a crime lord, played by Brad Dexter.  He meets a fellow American and night club singer in Julie, played by Jane Russell, who has a lot more to her and teams with Cochran not really knowing who to trust.  William Bendix also co-stars as salesman Laurence Trumble who leads some comic relief.  Gloria Grahame and Thomas Gomez co-star in this film.  The three leads make this rather convoluted movie watchable especially with Russell and Mitchum working really well together.

Midnight Express (1978):  No, this movie is not about that famous tag team in wrestling.  Alan Parker directed this film based on the autobiography by Billy Hayes and Oliver Stone wrote the screenplay.  Brad Davis stars as the real-life Billy Hayes who is a college student in Turkey and gets arrested for trying to smuggle Hashish through the airport.  He gets put into a really brutal prison in Turkey where he is sentenced to four years so is prepared to serve and take some torture that is given there.  When he has just a couple months left, the Turkish system changes and the new judges decide to give him a much longer sentence.  John Hurt and Randy Quaid play a couple fellow inmates who try to help him survive and plan an escape when they realize they won't just get released.  Giorgio Moroder wrote a really good music score that went perfectly along with the film.  Davis is very good as Hayes.  This is a really good film based on a true story and trying to make the most of a horrid situation.  Keep in mind, Billy Hayes is still alive today and was able to write a book about it.  This is one that has kind of fallen off the radar and I really don't know a lot about Brad Davis but was really glad to see this and maybe get it on the radar again.

4 Minute Mile (2014):  I end the week with this independent film that takes a look at track and field.  Kelly Blatz stars as Drew who is a teen that lives with his single mom Claire, played by Kim Basinger, and his drug dealing brother Wes, played by Cam Gigandet.  Richard Jenkins co-stars as Coleman who is a former track coach and rather reclusive and angry at the world.  Coleman sees potential in Drew as a track star and looks to train him in order to get a college scholarship and to get him out of his situation knowing his brother is very dangerous.  Analeigh Tipton and Rhys Coiro co-star in this film.  This is a very moving film on two people from different generations who have mostly hit rock bottom.  There are some very good performances like from Blatz who is rather unknown at least to me.  Gigandet was also very good as Wes and throughout the movie made me want to punch him.  This is available on Netflix for streaming and was a very pleasant surprise for me.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Reese Witherspoon, Kate Winslet, and many others.

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