Sunday, April 3, 2016

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 542nd Edition

Welcome to the 542nd Edition of my series.  I have a lot going on next weekend and will announce things as they progress.  For today, I have some Roller Derby and WRESTLEMANIA to go see so I'll just get on with my recommendations for the week.

The Social Network (2010):  I start this week with the dramatization on how our favorite and least favorite social networking site Facebook came to be.  David Fincher directed this film with the screenplay written by Aaron Sorkin based on the novel by Ben Mesrich.  Jesse Eisenberg stars as Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg who after some discussion creates a social networking site that would go on to be called Facebook.  With this comes a lot of success but comes a lot of legal and personal complications when fellow Harvard twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, played by Armie Hammer and Josh Pence, sue Zuckerberg saying that he stole their idea and his own co-founding partner Eduardo Saverin, played by Andrew Garfield, saying he was screwed out of the partnership.  Justin Timberlake co-stars as Napster founder Sean Parker who takes a lot of interest in the success of Facebook.  Rooney Mara, Max Minghella, Rashida Jones, Malese Jow, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a very strange but true life film.  I know liberties were taken but have seen some documentaries that talked about the very things that happened in the film.

Tell Them Anything You Want:  A Portrait of Maurice Sendak (2009):  This is my documentary short for the week which was directed by Lance Bangs and Spike Jonze and a tribute to children's writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak who is most known for his book that was made into a hit film WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE.  These are mostly interviews with Sendak where he talks on some of his books and life as well as his inspirations.  It is interesting that his rather dark reality lead into the writing of much of these books and he is really a rather tortured soul but still likable.  This is a really good watch but may not be the best for children to watch.

Reality Bites (1994):  Ben Stiller directed and co-stars in this film of Generation X friends struggling to make it post graduation.  Winona Ryder stars as valedictorian graduate Lelaina Pierce who struggles to find work in her field.  She creates a video documenting her friends Troy, played by Ethan Hawke, who is a slacker musician, Vickie, played by Janeane Garofalo, who is the manager of Gap, and their other slacker friend Sammy, played by Steve Zahn.  Lalaina meets yuppie video exec Michael, played by Stiller, who takes her home video to the MTV like station which turns out to be a much different vision than he had but a financial opportunity.  She must decide what is right between Michael's ambition or Troy's philosophical musings.  Swoosi Kurtz, Joe Don Baker, Renee Zellweger, John Mahoney, Andy Dick, Keith David, Karen Duffy, David Spade, Jeanne Tripplehorn, and many others have mostly cameos in the film.  This was a good tale of Gen-X life with some good performances and a good soundtrack.

Booked for Safekeeping (1960):  This is my educational short for the week which was written and directed by George C. Stoney.  This is apparently a training video for the police on how to handle someone who is mentally ill.  It urges the way to handle them with patience and calmness and with violence being a very last resort.  This is a pretty decent short documentary that might be worth a watch.  This is available to watch on Youtube.

White Bondage (1937):  Don't let title fool you and also take note of the year.  This takes place in the Depression era south where sharecroppers band together to take on the corrupt and abusive bosses.  Gordon Oliver stars as Dave Graydon who is a reporter infiltrating the organization of corrupt cotton gin owner Trent Talcott, played by Joe King.  Jean Muir, Howard Phillips, and Harry Davenport.  This is mostly a b-movie but still a pretty well-written one that is about 60 minutes long.  It is a good look at the Depression era and its hardships.

The Lovers (1958):  This is my French film for the week.  Louis Malle directed this film which focuses on a rather unhappy marriage.  Jeanne Moreau stars as Jeanne who is a bored housewife whose husband is usually at work.  She goes to Paris a lot with her friend Maggy and to see her polo-playing lover Raoul.  Her husband demands that she invite them over to their home and she breaks down along the way.  These were the days before the great Triple A and cell phones existed where Jeanne was stranded in the middle of nowhere.  She is picked up by a young man named Bernard, played by Jean-Marc Bory, who she asks to take her home where they take quite a liking together making Jeanne decide what she wants in life.  This was a very controversial film in its time where a Cleveland theater owner in the 60s was charged with and convicted of possessing and exhibiting obscene film showing how far we have come through the years.  This is a very well-written film with very good characters and a really good performance from Moreau who manages to bring a lot of sympathy to her character.

For Your Eyes Only (1981):  Last week, I featured Connery's Bond film Thunderball and this week I follow up with some Roger Moore and possibly the best of his era.  Moore plays Agent 007 where he is assigned to recover a communication device called the ATAC before the Russians get to it.  He meets up with Melina Havelock, played by Carole Bouquet and one of my favorite Bond girls, whose parents were brutally murdered playing into Bond's assignment.  He also gets in the middle of a feud between Kristatos, played by Julian Glover, and Milos Columbo, played by Topol, who each accuse each other of having connections to the Russians.  Lynn-Holly Johnson, Cassandra Harris, Lois Maxwell, Desmond Llewelyn, Walter Gotell, Charles Dance, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a more realistic one after all the sci-fi elements others like MOONRAKER had and is just a good spy and action film with some beautiful women like Bouquet, dangerous villains and other colorful characters.

The Wonderful Urge (1948):  I bring a romantic comedy for the week.  Tyrone Power stars as investigative reporter Thomas Jefferson Tyler who has been writing less than flattering things about grocery store heiress Sara Farley, played by Gene Tierney.  He finally meets her in person and does not let her know who he really is and gets to know her in a more different light.  He's about to publish a more positive article on her but she learns who he truly is and gets her own revenge by claiming they got married making him try to prove that was not true but I guess that info was hard to come across in those days.  Gene Lockhart, Chill Wills, and many others co-star in this what I believe it called a screwball comedy.  This was a pretty good comedy of manipulation that did get some laughs from me.  I guess this is a remake of LOVE IS NEWS from 1937 also starring Tyrone Power which I have not seen but just watching this movie was enjoyable and maybe I'll look into the original in the future.

Lemora:  A Child's Tale of the Supernatural (1973):  This is my vampire tale for the week which was directed and co-written by Richard Blackburn.  Cheryl Smith stars as the young Lila Lee who is returning to her hometown to see her dying father.  She encounters a group of vampires and is rescued by the mysterious Lemora, played by Lesley Gibb, and is unclear to Lila if she is trying to protect her or manipulate her.  Soon, she learns the truth that Lemora is a vampire.  I came across this on TCM and had never heard anything about it.  This is a really good and atmospheric vampire film with really good performances out of the leads and has a real good low-budget feel.  This was banned by the Catholic Film Board in what some might say are some anti-catholic scenes and was never released in the United States until the '90s.  This is one that is just real hard to describe and has to be seen.

The Peanuts Movie (2015):  I end the week with this updated version of the classic cartoon series by Charles Schulz putting them into the world of computer animation for the first time.  Steve Martino directed this film which was written by Craig and Bryan Schulz who are the son and grandson of Charles.  The two main plot points of the film are Snoopy in his heroic battle against the Red Baron and even bringing out Joe Cool at one point and Charlie Brown, voiced by Noah Schnapp, trying to pursue the Little Red Haired Girl but is hindered by his shyness and lack of confidence.  All the original gang is back like Linus, Lucy, Peppermint Patty, Sally, Schroeder, Violet, Pigpen, and many others.  Rebecca Bloom, Anastasia Bredikhina, Francesca Capaldi, Kristen Chenoweth, Alexander Garfin, Noah Johnston, Venus Schultheis, Mariel Sheets, Madisyn Shipman, A.J. Trece, Marelik Walker, and many others lend their voices to the characters.  They use archival sounds of Bill Melendez for Snoopy.  The father and son team of Craig and Bryan Schulz remained very respectful of their patriarch while making into their own.  I was a bit skeptical of the computer animation at first but found that it worked just fine.  It's kind of a Peanuts for the new generation.  I will say that if you have not seen anything of Charlie Brown and as Mr. T would say I pity the fool who hasn't, then you need to look into the early works first to understand the many great references within this film.  Charles Schulz was the first people to have actual children to voice the characters and the Schulz family stuck to the tradition which I also thought was great.  This is one that any family can watch with their kids and not worry about adult innuendos while still being entertaining to children and adults.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Federico Fellini, Alfred Hitchcock, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bing Crosby, and many others.

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