Sunday, June 19, 2016

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 553rd Edition

Welcome to the 553rd Edition of my series.  I hope everyone is having a good Father's Day.  This Friday, I will be working at John Dillinger's Birthday Celebration as the doorman and the show will have some live music and burlesque so I'm sure it will be a good time.  Not a lot else going on right now although I will say that I have joined the Planet Fitness craze.  At first I was not very motivated but now stay a little longer by going on one of the bikes and watch an episode of a television show, sad I know.  Other than that, not much else is happening so I'll just get on with my selections.

Swimming With Sharks (1994):  George Huang wrote and directed this film which doubles as a comedy and a thriller almost.  George Huang directed this film on a Hollywood studio.  Frank Whaley stars as young writer named Guy who becomes an assistant to a big time movie producer is Buddy Ackerman, played by Kevin Spacey.  Ackerman is that boss that is everyone's worst nightmare and drives Guy to the point of him kidnapping him.  Michelle Forbes, Benicio Del Toro, T.E. Russell, Roy Dotrice, and many others co-star in this film.  This is filmed with the kidnapping, then flashes back to the events which lead up to it.  This is mostly a satire to the dark side of Hollywood.  Huang based Ackerman on producer Joel Silver who is used to work for.  This is a very cleverly written film that is hard to really label with genre except maybe drama with a good amount of dark comedy to go along with it.

Cemetery Junction (2010):  Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant wrote, directed, and co-starred in this film that takes place in a suburb in the 1970s United Kingdom.  Christian Cooke stars as Freddie who does not want to follow the footsteps of his father, played by Gervais, in a factory and takes a job selling insurance.  He also runs into his childhood love Julie, played by Felicity Jones, who is engaged to his co-worker and the daughter of his boss, played by Ralph Fiennes.  He struggles in his job and with the approval of his family.  He also sees that Julie is not happy and looks to reconnect with her.  Tom Hughes, Matthew Goode, Jack Doolan, Steve Speirs, Burn Gorham, Emily Watson, and many others co-star in this film.  This was a pretty good surprise for me in this I guess coming of age movie.  It has some believable characters as well as really good dialogue.

Tyrannosaur (2011):  This is part four of my potential six part Paddy Considine series.  Considine took to directing and writing this one and did not go in front of the camera.  Peter Mullen stars as Joseph who is a man plagued by violence and rage.  He meets a woman named Hannah, played by Olivia Colman, who works at a Christian charity shop and prays for him when she encounters him at her place of work.  They form a friendship discovering they both have secrets in that she is in a very abusive marriage with her husband James, played by Eddie Marsan.  It is really hard to go in depth into this film.  It is one that is driven mostly by character.  It is not upbeat at all and is by no means or everyone.  Also if you are expecting dinosaurs, this also is not it and in fact I really don't know the reason behind the title.  It is still very well written and a very good effort by Considine.  This is available on the website

The House of Tomorrow (1949):  This is my animated short for the week from director Tex Avery.  This is a much different animated short where a family is looking into a dream house and has all kinds of very innovative features.  In a way, this could be considered a precursor to THE JETSONS.  It has very funny narration.  It is part of the dvd of last week's feature MR. BLANDINGS BUILDS HIS DREAM HOME.

Borderline (1930):  This is my silent film for the week which was directed by Kenneth MacPherson who either did not have what he needed for talkies or just did not want to make the transition like some.  This is a very early look at interracial relations and adultery.  Eslanda Robeson stars as Adah and as they make very clear in the credits and titles "a negro woman".  She is married to Pete, played by Paul Robeson who was Eslanda's real-life husband, but is having an affair with a white man named Thorne, played by Gavin Arthur, who is also married.  This makes Thorne's wife Astrid, played by Hilda Doolittle, go off the deep end leading to tragedy.  This was a bit hard to follow with the lack of inter-titles.  Still pretty intriguing and was influential to future filmmakers.  There were a lot of rather innovative cinematic techniques as well.  It is also of work for the early work of Paul Robeson who I believe helped make it easier for blacks to get roles in film.

The Shaggy D.A. (1976):  This is my Disney film for the week and follow-up or sequel to the 1959 film THE SHAGGY DOG.  Dean Jones stars as Wilby Daniels who is a grown man and was played by Tommy Kirk in the 1959 film.  He is now an attorney and against the corrupt practices of current district attorney John Slade, played by Keenan Wynn, so he decides to run for district attorney.  Complicating matters is the cursed ring from his past which turns him into that shaggy dog.  Tim Conway, Suzanne Pleshette, Jo Anne Worley, Dick Van Patten, and many others co-star in this film.  With my recent interest in going to see roller derby, I enjoyed the roller derby scene and notice how the local league I go see does not have the angled track which is understandable since they are volunteers and the skating rink is their best place.  This is a good for the family to watch and not a bad follow-up which could make a good double feature to watch with the family.

Les Miserables (2012):  This is part four of my Eddie Redmayne series which may end this week or next.  Tom Hooper directed this popular musical adaptation to the classic novel from Victor Hugo.  Hugh Jackman stars as Jean ValJean who is getting paroled from prison after 20 years for stealing a loaf of bread.  He finds that it is hard to move on with his life and breaks his parole to start a whole new one.  He is running a factory and meets his worker Fantine, played by Anne Hathaway, and sees how she has been mistreated at work and outside of work.  He agrees to help raise her daughter Cosette, played by Amanda Seyfried in her grown years.  In the process, he has the ruthless policeman Javert, played by Russell Crowe, on his trail and later they both get caught up in the French Revolution.  Sacha Baran Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Banks, and many others co-star in this film.  The original Jean ValJean of the stage Colm Wilkinson plays the noble priest early in the film who helps Valjean start his new life.  Jackman was great as ValJean and finally exposing to everyone the musical theater actor that he is.  Hathaway has a small part but shines to no end especially on her singing I DREAMED A DREAM.  Crowe has an unusual voice and the first time I watched it I did not like him singing but then the more I watch it, I believe his voice really fit his character.  This one of my favorite musicals and thought Hooper did a really good job bringing it to the screen.  I hope one day to be in this musical and one I would accept chorus but want Javert.

Anne of the Thousand Days (1969):  Charles Jarrott directed this royalty film for the week which is centered around the relationship of Henry VIII, played by Richard Burton, and his second of six wives Anne Boleyn, played by Genevieve Bujold.  The movie starts where Henry is still married to Katherine, played by Irene Papas, and bears him a daughter instead of the son he is very obsessed about.  He is also in a very loveless marriage that he is in more for political reasons.  He is able to work his way to divorcing Katherine and then marries Anne Boleyn who he does like but in the end is unable to bore him a son and gives his the future Queen Elizabeth, played by Katherine Blake.  After this, Henry doubts Anne's abilities to give his that son he wants and starts to have his eyes on his other future wife Jane Seymour, played by Lesley Paterson.  Anthony Quayle, John Colicos, Michael Hordern, and many others co-star in this film.  Most who at least know basic history know Anne Boleyn's end but I will leave that spoiler out of this one.  I was pretty compelled by this film and like it better than a lot of royalty movies I have seen.  There were some great scenery and costumes and fairly accurate from what we have learned in history.

Rock Around the Clock (1956):  This is my rock and roll film for the week.  Johnny Johnston stars as big band promoter Steve Hollis and is pretty much between jobs goes to a small town dance to discover Bill Haley and His Comets, which play themselves.  He looks to get them famous beyond the small town but his ex who is a booking agent conspires against their success.  Other 50s bands include the Platters, Ernie Freeman Combo, and Tony Martinez and His Band.  If looking for historical accuracy on the discovery of Rock and Roll, this really not it as this is rather fictionalized.  It can still be of interest for fans of '50s Rock and Roll and the feel it has in this movie.

Room (2015):  I end the week with this very emotional and inspiring film.  Lenny Abrahamson directed this film based on the novel by Emma Donoghue who also wrote the screenplay.  Brie Larson stars as Joy who has been trapped with her now 5 year old son Jack, played by Jacob Tremblay, in a small room being held captive.  She tries to make the most of what they have by creating a fantasy world called Room to help Jack get through not being a able to leave but making a decent life for him.  As time goes on, the boy becomes more curious about the outside world and Joy concocts an escape plan to get out.  Sean Bridgers, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, Matt Gordon and many others co-star.  Larson is great in this film and Tremblay is able to make Jack a very likable 5 year old boy.  I read that Larson did a lot of preparation by isolating herself for a month in a house with limited technology.  I don't want to get into too much detail but there were times where I would shed tears but at the same time was a very rewarding film to watch.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Imelda Staunton, Vanessa Redgrave, W.C. Fields, and many others.

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