Sunday, May 22, 2016

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 549th Edition

Welcome to the 549th Edition of my series.  I will say that today is my birthday and was the last day of MURDER IN THE GAZEBO.  I am grateful to the Goldspace theater for allowing me the opportunity to be in their show.  Right now I still have my two movie projects so I am staying busy.  Enough about me for now, let's get on with my selections.

Going Upriver:  The Long War of John Kerry (2004):  I start the week out with this political documentary on John Kerry who at the time this was filmed was a Democratic presidential candidate going against George W. Bush.  This documentary is based on the book by Douglas Brinkley and documents his time in Vietnam and when he was discharged taking part in peace movements trying to end the war.  This is shown through interviews and archival footage of the events.  I will be the first to admit that I really am not a political guy but this was a very well done and informative documentary on a war that went on way too long.  I am sure that if you hate John Kerry, this documentary is not the one to watch, otherwise this should be checked out.

The Lookout (2007):  This is part one of a possible Matthew Goode trilogy.  This is my heist film for the week which was directed and written by Scott Frank in his directorial debut.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Chris who was at one point a promising high school athlete but things changed right after graduation when he got into a tragic car accident.  Years later, he has a job as a janitor in the bank.  He gets befriended by a gang leader named Gary, played by Matthew Goode, who looks to reel him into a bank heist at his own bank and does so with a girl named Luvlee, played by Isla Fisher.  Jeff Daniels co-stars as Chris's blind roommate Lewis who dreams of owning a restaurant and becomes a significant part of the film later.  Bruce McGill, Alex Borstein, Carla Gugino, Alberta Watson, Sergio Di Zio, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a pretty clever heist film with a good performance out of Gordon-Levitt and has some really good narration.

The Warrior (2001):  This is my Indian film for the week but is not one of those cheesy Bollywood movies.  Asif Kapadia directed and co-wrote this film that takes place in feudal India in the state of Rajasthan.  Irrfan Khan stars Lafcadia who has been the town enforcer there for many years and has carried out all his orders from a cruel and sadistic lord.  He finally has a crisis of conscience and decides to renounce his ways but becomes the hunted through the Himalayan mountains.  This movie does have moments of violence but it is not really an action movie.  It is really more conveyed through the emotions of Rajasthan and really beautiful scenery.  This is available on Instant Netflix and is a really good watch.

How to Behave (1936):  This is my short film for the week which is part of the Robert Benchley comedic shorts.  Benchley stars as a newspaper columnist who gets a call from a couple guys who disagree on a topic and look to get his advice on the right thing to do.  He goes onto give them some other advice on etiquette which goes into comedic scenes with the advice he is giving.  This is a pretty entertaining ten minutes in one of the earlier ones in the Robert Benchley series.

Killer's Kiss (1955):  This is part two of my two-part Stanley Kubrick series and an even earlier Kubrick selection than last week's.  Mr. Kubrick did a little bit of everything in his career and this was his stab at the film noir genre.  Jamie Smith stars as washed up boxer Davey Gordon who is near the end of his career.  He saves a taxi dancer named Gloria, played by Irene Kane, from her lover and violent employer Vincent, played by Ralph Silvera.  This obviously does not sit with with her employer who looks to get revenge while Davey becomes interested in Gloria.  This is shot really well dealing some with flashback.  This would be considered a minor film from Kubrick but a really good start.  This is actually on the Criterion Collection dvd of THE KILLING which I featured last week.

The Glass Bottom Boat (1966):  This is my spy parody for the week.  Frank Tashlin directed this comedy which stars Doris Day who stars as Jennifer Nelson.  She is the daughter of Axel Norstrom, played by Arthur Godfrey, who runs a tourist operation and will sometimes be a mermaid for her father.  One day when she is a mermaid she gets hooked by a fishing pole from Bruce, played by Rod Taylor, who is fishing her and accidentally reels her in as well as pulling off her costume.  She soon learns that Bruce is the big boss at a research lab.  They begin to become friends even forming a relationship but Bruce's friend General Wallace Bleeker, played by Edward Andrews, suspects that Jennifer is a Russian spy leading to a lot of really funny misunderstandings.  John McGiver, Paul Lynde, Eric Fleming, Dom Deluise, Dick Martin, Alice Pearce, George Tobias, and many others co-star in this comedy.  One interesting fact is that in the opening credits, there is a song called SOFT AS THE STARTLIGHT which was written by Joe Lubin and Jerome Howard.  Jerome Howard was actually Curly Howard of the Three Stooges.  This is a pretty good comedy which showcase quite a few comedians from that era.

The Hateful Eight (2015):  Now I bring Quentin Tarantino's latest and his 8th film.  This is a western which takes place during a blizzard in Wyoming where a few very different people end up taking refuge in a Haberdashery.  Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demian Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, and Bruce Dern play the title characters who just could not co-exist leading to some violent confrontations.  James Parks, Zoe Bell, Gene Jones, Craig Stark, Belina Owino, and even Channing Tatum also co-star in some flashback scenes.  This is a really well done who-done-it which does not have a lot of real violent scenes but the violence is very emphasized when there is some.  It was good to see many QT alums working well together in a well done story.  I don't think I'll call this my favorite Tarantino film but was very enjoyable in my estimation.

The Mummy (1959):  I decided to use the one from Hammer Films.  Hammer director Terence Fisher directed this adaptation of the Mummy which stars Christopher Lee as the title character whose name is Kharis.  A group of archaeologists lead by John Banning, played by Peter Cushing, who come upon the tomb of Ananka, played by Yvonne Furneaux in flashbacks while playing another character in the modern era, and when this happens they awaken Kharis who was a high priest.  This is good for fans of classic horror with Lee playing a very good mummy in the modern day and his character in flashbacks.  This is based on Universal mummy films in the 40s and not the 1932 film with the same title.

Bugsy Malone (1976):  Earlier I had a parody on spy movies and now I have a parody on gangster movies.  Alan Parker wrote and directed this musical parody on gangsters which is an all-child cast starring a young Scott Baio in the title role.  This is a world inhibited by children and instead of bullets, they use "splurge guns" which shoot out cream.  A 13 year old Jodie Foster also co-stars as nightclub singer Tallulah.  Paul Williams wrote the music score and the music numbers which he actually sings the numbers among other adults who dub the children.  It was a very clever concept to have a world that only children lived in and then making parody of gangster films.  The kids actually did a good job and is harmless fun for the family.

Visas and Virtue (1997):  Like last week, I decided to end with a short film.  Chris Tashima directed, co-wrote and stars in this short which is based on a true story.  Tashima stars as Japanese diplomat Sempo Sugihara who is residing in Lithuania during WWII and illegally gives visas to many Jews to save them from being arrested.  He has to decide to follow orders or risk everything to save others.  It is a very informative and well-done short on an unknown hero from that era.

Well, that is all for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Robin Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Alec Guinness and many others.

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