Sunday, April 17, 2016

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 544th Edition

Welcome to the 544th Edition of my series.  Nothing really new going on in my life right now but will update on the acting projects as they come along like our film project PIGFOOT 2.  I am glad to see the weather getting much nicer.  I will just get to my selections for the week.

Minions (2015):  I start the week out with some animation and this spin-off of the DESPICABLE ME films and the ever so popular Minions, all voiced by Pierre Coffin who work for Gru, who does have an appearance and reprised by Steve Carell.  This movie is kind of a back story on the minions and how they came to be and them looking for the perfect villain to work for.  They are eventually recruited by villain Scarlet Overkill, voiced by Sandra Bullock, in her attempt to take over the world.   Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Steve Coogan, Jennifer Saunders, Geoffrey Rush, and many others provide their voices.  This did not beat the DESPICABLE ME films but still found it enjoyable with the documentary like story.  There is also a good part that takes place at Villain Con.  Good way to start the week in my opinion.

The Tortoise and the Hare (1935):  I continue with animation with this animated short of the famed tale which is from Disney.  In this their names are Toby Tortoise and Max Hare with the story of them getting into a race and the hare believing he has it won with his speed but his cockiness proves to be his downfall.  I remember as a kid being in a version of this called THE CROSS COUNTRY RACE.  This was a pretty fun 9 minutes of a really good race.  The character of Max Hare is said to be the inspiration for Warner Brothers' iconic Bugs Bunny.

The Front (1976):  This is part one of a possible Woody Allen trilogy series.  Martin Ritt directed this comedy which takes a jab at the Hollywood blacklist period.  Allen stars as Howard Prince who is a cashier in the '50s with friends in Hollywood.  His writer friend Alfred Miller, played by Michael Murphy, has gotten himself on the blacklist and knows that using an alias name will not help so he enlists Prince to pose as the writer while he continues to write.  He begins to be successful even to the point of taking on other writers but must rethink what he is doing when he sees how it effects everyone around him.   Zero Mostel, Andrea Marcovicci, David Margulies, Danny Aiello, and many others co-star in this film.  This was a rather personal project for Ritt and writer Walter Bernstein, both of which were on the McCarthy era blacklist.  Also the actors Zero Mostel, Herschel Bernardi, Lloyd Gough, and Joshua Shelley were on the blacklist which the credits actually show at the end.  This was a very clever comedy that came from a really dark period in history.

Best in Show (2000):  This is my mockumentary for the week which was directed by Christopher Guest who co-wrote the script along with Eugene Levy and both of which co-star.  This takes place at the annual Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show where various dog owners prepare their dogs in hopes of winning.  There is quite the array of owners and dogs, each of which adding their amusing take to the film.  Parker Posey, Michael Hitchcock, Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, John Michael Higgins, Patrick Cranshaw, and Jennifer Coolidge play the owners of dogs.  Posey and Hitchock who play a married couple probably entertained me the most of the owners.  Fred Willard and Jim Piddock play the commentators with Willard making the ultimate color commentator that I believe all commentators should be more like.  Jay Brazeau, Lewis Arquette, Bob Balaban, Will Sasso, Jane Lynch, Ed Begley Jr., and many others co-star.  This delivered a lot of laughs to me and was a really good possible behind the scenes film.  This is available on Instant Netflix.

Swamp Water (1956):  Jean Renoir directed this film.  Dana Andrews stars as Ben who goes out through a dangerous swamp looking for his dog and encounters a fugitive named Tom, played by Walter Brennan who is on the run for a murder charge.  He also meets Tom's outcast daughter Julie, played by Anne Baxter, and forms a relationship with her.  Ben and Tom form a partnership but the town begins to get suspicious.  Walter Huston, Ward Bond, John Carradine, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a pretty good and overlooked drama with a good story and performances as well as scenery.  I found this on FX Retro with Comcast On-Demand.

Tucker:  The man and his Dream (1988):  This starts one of three biopics for this week.  Francis Ford Coppola directs this film based on aspiring car manufacturer Preston Tucker, played by Jeff Bridges.  Shortly after WWII, he comes up with a design for cars that no one has seen.  With the help of his friend Abe, played by Martin Landau, he was able to get the necessary funding for a factory.  With all his efforts, he finds that his vision is not a very easy one.  Joan Allen, Christian Slater, Frederic Forrest, Mako, Nina Siemaszko, Elias Koteas, Dean Stockwell, and many others co-star in this film.  This is very inspirational while being frustrating.  It is a good look at Preston Tucker with Jeff Bridges playing the part well.

Infra-man (1975):  I suppose this could be referred to as my Hong Kong superhero movie of the week.  Danny Lee stars as Rayma who volunteers his services to Professor Chang to become the bionic superhero of the title.  In the process, he must save the world from Princess Dragon Mom, played by Terry Liu.  The effects in this movie were very cheesy, I believe even for then so if you take that kind of thing very seriously, this might not be for you to watch.  For the Power Ranger fans out there, I am pretty sure they got a lot of their inspiration from this movie if that says anything.  As far as I know, this is the only Infra-Man movie and that no sequels came from this.  It is still rather enjoyable to watch and have seen Lee in a couple Chow Yun- Fat films.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Straight Outta Compton (2015):  This is the second of my three biopics for the week.  F. Gary Gray directed this film based on the rap group N.W.A. which consisted of Easy E, played by Jason Mitchell, Dr. Dre, played by Corey Hawkins, Ice Cube, played by O'Shea Jackson which is Ice Cube's son, and the lesser known members DJ Yella, played by Neil Brown Jr., and MC Ren, played by Aldis Hodge.  They were rather revolutionary in the world of rap making the Gangsta Rap genre popular and not really afraid to say anything they felt about authority and society.  They got quite popular but egos and other disagreements tore them apart.  This takes place from their forming of the group into their breakup with Easy E, Ice Cube, and Dr. Dre pursuing their own projects developing a bit of a feud in their music.  Marlon Yates, R. Marcos Taylor, Carra Patterson, Sheldon Smith, Keith Stanfield, Paul Giamatti, and many others co-star in the film.  This was a period of rap that I actually liked and realize that this is my favorite period and why I have not been into rap through the years.  This was a brutally honest portrait of the iconic group, some of the things I knew of and some I did not know.  I really knew nothing of these actors but were all perfectly cast especially Jackson as Ice Cube and me thinking how much he does look like Cube then I learn later that he is the son of Ice Cube.  I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed it and was worth the two and a half hours.

Lust For Life (1956):  This is my third of my biopics for the week where I go from auto manufacturer, a rap group, to a famed painter of the 1800s.  I suppose all three of these have in common that of lots of controversy they caused for the things they did.  Vincente Minnelli directed this film based on painter Vincent Van Gogh, played by Kirk Douglas, whose most known work is A STARRY NIGHT which I believe just about everyone has seen at some point.  He decides to do paintings and becomes very tortured in his failures in life with his art and relationships.  He had quite a vision for paintings but no one really understood and in fact it is true how his work became popular after he died.  James Donald co-starred as Vincent's brother Theo who was the one good thing Vincent had in his life.  Anthony Quinn co-stars as fellow artist Paul Gauguin who respected each other's work but still had a lot of disagreements.  Douglas plays Van Gogh very well showing how he slowly turns into a very tortured artist and is a pretty good tribute to the now very popular artist.

Intermission (2003):  I end the week with this extremely dark crime comedy.  John Crowley directed this film of multiple stories that come together involving a rather bizarre kidnapping plot which was written by Mark O'Rowe.  This is one that I really have a hard time putting into words without giving things away.  Colin Farrell, Cillian Murphy, Brian F. O'Byrne, Kelly MacDonald, Colm Meaney, Deirdre O'Kane, Michael MeElhatton, Shirley Henderson, and many others co-star in this film.  I think my favorite parts of the movie are those with Meaney as a cocky detective who really wanted to show himself in a reality series.  That being said, there are still some very interesting stories that all come together in the end.  As I said, this is a very dark comedy and even felt guilty enjoying it at times.

Well, that is all for this week.  Stay tuned for next week which so far includes Rachel McAdams, Naomi Watts, Julia Roberts, and many others.

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