Welcome to the 543rd Edition of my series. It has been quite a week with this crazy winter weather and in Muncie it managed to have quite a snowfall but luckily I left Muncie for the weekend to be in Columbus, Indiana. The plan was to get our movie PIGFOOT 2 shot but a few factors made us realize that if we did shoot it that we would be rushing it. The weather did not help anything but we also decided that we need to get more into our characters and get to know each other more which was what last night and the weekend was for so we have rescheduled our shoot for mid-May and believe we have something really good going. Even though we did not officially get our shoot done, we did make progress. Other than that, not much else happening except I hope we get some warm weather soon and am confident we will. Now I will shut up and get to my selections.
La Dolce Vita (1960): I start the week out with this Italian film from director Federico Fellini. Marcello Mastroianni stars as Marcello who is a tabloid reporter and on a search for love and happiness. Like any Fellini, it is a very hard one to describe. It is a very non-linear film in the eyes of Marcello. It has a lot of really good imagery and Mastroianni is great as Marcello. This is one that might require multiple viewings to understand but it is a fun ride go along with for a little less than three hours.
Bon Voyage (1944): This is my war propaganda short for the week that was directed by none other than Alfred Hitchcock. John Blythe stars as Scottish RAF Sgt. John Dougall and explains through flashback how he escaped German occupied France. He also suspects that there might be an insider German agent. It was interesting to see a movie like this out of the Master of Suspense where he does employ some of his known techniques.
Pirate Radio (2009): Richard Curtis wrote and directed this film. This is a comedy but also based in part on a true story of the pirate radio movement in the '60s that I had never really heard about. Tom Sturridge stars as 17 year old Carl who has been expelled from school and is sent to live with this godfather Quentin, played by Bill Nighy, who resides on a ship of disc jockeys that broadcast from the boat to avoid laws. Kenneth Branagh co-stars as government minister Sir Alistair Dormandy who is looking to find a way to get them shut down. Philp Seymout Hoffman co-stars as brash American DJ the Count. Nick Frost, Katherine Parkinson, Chris O'Dowd, Sinead Matthews, Tom Wisdom, Gemma Arterton, Jack Davenport, Rhys Ifans, January Jones, Emma Thompson, and many others co-star in this film. This is a based on a fictional group from this era thought there were a lot of pirate radio groups trying to fight censorship. This has some really good characters and has some pretty funny moments as well. It is also a really good homage to music of the '60s. This is a good movie for some good radio and eclectic disk jockeys.
Pennies from Heaven (1936): First off, see the year and second the 1981 movie is not a remake of this one. Norman Z. McLeod directed this movie which stars Bing Crosby as recently released inmate Larry Poole who makes a promise to a prisoner executed that he will look after his family which includes his daughter Patsy, played by Edith Fellows, and her grandfather Gramp Smith, played by Donald Meek. His original intention was to end up in Venice but takes a liking to the family and Patsy sees him as a father figure. They do not live well but tries to impress the social worker Susan, played by Madge Evans, in order to get custody. Louis Armstrong has a very amusing part in the film and through Crosby received a top billing which was the first time a black man shared top willing with white actors. I found this on TCM On-Demand and found myself really sucked into this one. It is a pretty moving film with more limited musical numbers for a Bing Crosby movie.
That Evening Sun (2009): Scott Teems directed this film which is based on the short story I HATE TO SEE THAT EVENING SUN GO DOWN. Hal Holbrook stars as Abner Meecham who flees the nursing home that his attorney son Paul, played by Walton Goggins, put him in. He heads back to his farm he had always lived at only to find that a new tenant in Lonzo Choat, played by Ray McKinnon, which was rented out by his son. Lonzo has no intentions of giving up the home which starts quite a battle especially when Abner sees him abusing his wife, played by Carrie Preston, and daughter, played by Mia Wasikowski. Barry Corbin also co-stars as Abner's long-time neighbor friend and Dixie Carter, no not the owner of Impact Wrestling, co-stars as Abner's late wife in flashback scenes. This is by no means any kind of inspirational or upbeat film. It is dark to the core on the things Abner and Lonzo stooped to doing. Holbrook is nothing short of amazing in this film and rivals McKinnon very well. It also kind of leaves the viewer to consider who was in the right and in the wrong.
Edge of the City (1957): Martin Ritt directed this film based on a story by Robert Alan Aurthur dealing with racial tensions and labor conditions. John Cassavetes stars as Axel Nordmann who is an army deserter staying in New York City and gets a job as a longshoreman as an assumed name. Sidney Poitier co-stars as Tommy Tyler who is an experienced worker forming a friendship with Axel which was rather groundbreaking in film to have an interracial relationship. Jack Warden co-stars as Charles Malik who is more the boss and has clear hatred towards Tommy for his race and that he is just as high up in the job. His treatment to his employees makes it very difficult for everyone. Ruby Dee co-stars as Tommy's wife Lucy. This is another very intense film while taking a good look at black and white in this era but was more about a troubled workplace.
The Visitor (2007): Tom McCarthy wrote and directed this independent film. Richard Jenkins stars as widowed Connecticut professor Walter. He only teaches one class, is working on a book and even trying to learn piano. He is assigned to attend a conference in New York City where he has an apartment and when going there he finds a young couple residing in the apartment. They are both immigrants in Tarek, played by Haaz Sleiman, and Zainab, played by Danai Gurira, and decides to allow them stay since he is usually not there anyways. He forms a friendship with Tarek who teaches Walter the African drum. As they are becoming good friends, Tarek gets arrested at the Subway is taken to a detention center for illegal immigrants. As Walter does what he can to get Tarek out, he meets his mother Mouna, played by Hiam Abbass, and forms a relationship with her in the process. Richard Kind and Marian Seldes co-star in the film. This is more of a character driven film than anything. This one is more upbeat than some of my other selections while there was a very bad situation. Jenkins does a very good job in his subtle performance as the professor. It is a very good movie about a man getting a new lease on life and the difficulty of the immigration system.
The Miracle Worker (1979): This is my tv movie for the week and paying tribute to Patty Duke who recently left us. Paul Aaron directed this tv movie based on the play by William Gibson. As most know, this is the story of Helen Keller, played by Melissa Gilbert, who was deaf, blind, and mute and went on to become a well known author and activist. This takes place as her as a child and her family has a really hard time teaching her anything so they seek help at the Perkins Institute which send the young and half-blind Annie Sullivan, played by Duke, to their home to get through to Helen. She takes a no nonsense approach to get through to Helen which did not always meet the satisfaction of the family. Diana Muldaur, Charles Siebert, Anne Seymour, Stanley Wells, and many others co-star in this movie. Patty Duke actually played Keller in the the 1962 version and in this movie won an Emmy award for playing Sullivan. Duke and Gilbert did a good job together and is a well-done tv movie while the 1962 version was also very good.
Southpaw (2015): I end the week with this boxing film which was directed by Antoine Fuqua. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Billy Hope who has about everything going for him with a successful boxing career, a wife, played by Rachel Mcadams, and a daughter, played by Oona Laurence. Tragedy strikes where Billy loses just about everything and must do what he can to get his life back on track and earn redemption. Forrest Whitaker co-stars as Tick who runs a local gym and helps Billy to train for his return to boxing and tries to help get his life in order. 50 Cent, Skylan Brooks, Naomie Harris, Victor Ortiz, Beau Knapp, Miguel Gomez, Dominic Colon, and many others co-star in this film. It is easy to see shades of ROCKY III in this film as in each protagonist experience tragedy leading to a loss and taking an unlikely person to help them retrain. A difference that I found was that Rocky didn't really go off the deep end the way Billy did. I really did like Gyllenhaal in this movie and does a great job as a boxer making the scenes look pretty real. These last two selections I made were more inspirational than my other selections.
Well, that is it for this week though I did bring back my "Fun and Useless Facts" segment. Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Sandra Bullock, Woody Allen, Parker Posey, and many others.
FUN AND USELESS FACTS
Keep in mind that I did not do any inter-connections like in PIRATE RADIO where much of the cast has worked together before. I put some photos into this one but could not get them to go side by side to save my life so please forgive the organization.
Jake Gyllenhaal (Southpaw) plays Hal in the 2005 film PROOF. My Facebook friend Ryan played the part in a version at the Muncie Civic Studio Theater.
Richard Curtis (Pirate Radio director) directed Rachel McAdams (Southpaw) in the 2013 movie ABOUT TIME.
Bing Crosby (Pennies from Heaven) plays Mark Twain in the 1970 tv movie SWING OUT, SWEET LAND. Hal Holbrook (That Evening Sun) plays Twain in the one man show MARK TWAIN TONIGHT in which I had the pleasure to see at Emens Auditorium in Muncie. Jack Warden (Edge of the City) plays Twain in the 1984 tv movie HELEN KELLER: THE MIRACLE CONTINUES. I could not find a photo of Warden as Twain.
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Pirate Radio) played Austin in the play TRUE WEST on Broadway in 2000. My Facebook friend Sean just finished playing the part at the Heorot bar in Muncie where my mom co-starred in a well-done production.
Walton Goggins (That Evening Sun) was in the FX series THE SHIELD as part of the Strike Team. Forrest Whitaker (Southpaw) was on the show as an Internal Affairs officer trying to bring down the corrupt group but stoops to their own methods.
Tom Wisdom (Pirate Radio) played Paris in the 2013 movie ROMEO AND JULIET. In the same year, I played that character in a production in Farmland.
Hal Holbrook (That Evening Sun) and Jack Warden (Edge of the City) were in the 1976 film ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN.
Gemma Arterton (Pirate Radio) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Southpaw) were in the 2010 movie PRINCE OF PERSIA.
Hal Holbrook (That Evening Sun) and Patty Duke (The Miracle Worker) were in the 1984 mini series GEORGE WASHINGTON where Holbrook plays John Adams and Duke plays Martha Washington.
Hal Holbrook (That Evening Sun) and Forest Whitaker (Southpaw) were in the 1985 mini-series NORTH AND SOUTH.
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Pirate Radio) and Carrie Preston (That Evening Sun) were in the 2008 film DOUBT.
Jack Warden (Edge of the City) plays Juror # 7 in the 1957 film 12 ANGRY MEN. My Uncle Cal recently made his theatrical debut as that part in his town of Sarasota, Florida.
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Pirate Radio) and Rachel McAdams (Southpaw) were in the 2014 film A MOST WANTED MAN.
Jack Warden (Edge of the City) and Charles Siebert (The Miracle Worker) were in the 1979 movie ...AND JUSTICE FOR ALL.
Kenneth Branagh (Pirate Radio) and Marian Seldes (The Visitor) were in the 1998 film CELEBRITY.
Sidney Poitier (Edge of the City) and Marian Seldes (The Visitor) were in the 1965 movie THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD.
Kenneth Branagh (Pirate Radio) plays Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 2005 tv movie WARM SPRINGS. My Facebook friend Jim played FDR in a 2008 version of ANNIE at the Anderson Mainstage Theater where I played his cabinet member Cordell Hull.
Tom McCarthy (The Visitor director) directed Rachel McAdams (Southpaw) in the 2015 film SPOTLIGHT.
Bill Nighy (Pirate Radio) and Naomie Harris (Southpaw) were in the PIRATES OF THE CARRIBBEAN series.
Marian Seldes (The Visitor) and Dominic Colon (Southpaw) were in the 2007 film AUGUST RUSH.