Sunday, July 17, 2016

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 557th Edition

Welcome to the 557th edition of my series.  There is not a lot going on this week.  No announcements to make so I'll just get on with my selections.

Amour (2012):   This is part three of my four part Michael Haneke series.  Haneke wrote and directed this French film on a octogenarian couple.  Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva star as retired couple Georges and Anne.  When they are eating breakfast, Anne ends up having a stroke leading into a physical and mental decline.  Georges becomes her caretaker in respect of her wishes to not end up in a nursing home.  Isabelle Huppert co-stars as their daughter Eva.  This is a very brutally honest look at an aging couple whose love is really tested in these difficult times.  I really should not go any further into this as it will give it away.  In this journey of Haneke, I find that he tries to paint an honest portrait which may not always be upbeat but one that can really bring someone in on the ride.

My Summer of Love (2004):  Pawel Pawlikowski directed this film based on a novel by Helen Cross.  Natalie Press stars as Mona who is a working class girl and meets Tamsin, played by Emily Blunt, who is the upper class girl.  They form a friendship and even turns into more of a relationship where they try to help each other experience life more but deception comes with it.  Paddy Considine co-stars as Mona's ex-con brother Phil who is a born-again Christian and comes into play regarding the relationship of Mona and Tamsin.  It is very hard to describe this one.  It is a rather compelling, even dark drama with very good performances by the leads.  Considine's newly religious ways might even make a religious person cringe in how he goes about it.  The remote location of the film also helped its feel.  This is a very well done character driven film and really worth a look.

Big Night (1996):  This is part two of my two-part Ian Holm series.  Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci co-directed and Tucci co-wrote with Joseph Tropiano.  Tucci and Tony Shalhoub star as brothers Secundo and Primo who own a struggling Italian restaurant and gamble it all in hopes of saving the restaurant.  Holm stars as fellow restaurant owner Pascal who offers to call his musician friend to help them out.  Marc Anthony, Minnie Driver, Isabella Rossellini, Liev Schreiber, Campbell Scott, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a really good movie on running a restaurant and the struggle to keep it going while keeping integrity to their restaurant.

Bar Rac's Night Out (1937):  This is my short film for the week and is a comedy short in this Pete Smith Specialty.  Bar-Rac is a raccoon out to get food for his family but has encounters with other animals like a bobcat that might keep him from finding what he wants.  Smith's narration always adds enjoyment to these comedy shorts that might not work otherwise.  This was a fun few minutes from the point of view of a raccoon.

Anchors Aweigh (1945):  This is part one of my two-part Dean Stockwell  This is my musical for the week and the first of three teamings for Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra.  They star as sailors Joseph Bailey, played by Kelly, and Clarence Doolittle, played by Sinatra.  Like their later teamings, Sinatra plays the more innocent and naive while Kelly being the experienced one and a player to a degree.  They are sailors on leave in L.A. and both looking for love and helping a young singer, played by Kathryn Grayson, get an audition at MGM studios.  Dean Stockwell, Pamela Britton, and many others co-star in this film.  Stockwell was amusing as a child who wanted so bad to be a sailor and who lead them to his aunt Susan, played by Grayson, where Sinatra takes immediate interest and Kelly is more reluctant in his wanting to get out more into town.  Lots of fun music numbers and a pretty good story to go along.  This is the start of a good musical duo.  I found there is a dvd of all their movies that also include ON THE TOWN and TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME.

The Conformist (1970):  Bernardo Bertolucci directed this Italian film based on the novel by Alberto Moravia.  Jean-Louis Trintignant stars as Marcello who is an assassin taking a job for Mussolini and courting a beautiful young woman named Giulla, played by Stefania Sandrelli, as well as an assignment where he is to assassinate an old teacher for political reasons.  A flashback works well to tell the story of who Marcello becomes in the modern era.  This was a very well shot film with some very good visuals and a good performance out of Trintignant as the conflicted hitman.  This is available on Amazon Prime and is good for the foreign film buffs out there.

Saving Mr. Banks (2013):  This is my Disney film for the week and one that goes into the making of their own 1964 film MARY POPPINS.  John Lee Hancock directed this film which stars Tom Hanks as Walt Disney who has made a promise to his daughters to get their favorite book MARY POPPINS made into a movie even if it takes 20 years just to have a meeting with the reluctant British author P.L. Travers, played by Emma Thompson.  While she finally says yes, she says no to a lot of his vision that survived the film and had to dig deep to appeal to her even going behind her back with her stubbornness.  It also goes into a flashback storyline of her as a child, played by Annie Rose Buckley, of her inspiration for her story.  Colin Farrell, Paul Giamatti, Bradley Whitford, Jason Schwartzman, B.J. Novak, Kathy Baker, Andy McPhee, Rachel Griffiths, and many others co-star in this making-of film.  In reality, Travers was never fully satisfied with the final product even being reluctant to give the rights to do a stage musical.  This was a very good making-of story even if liberties were taken for dramatic effect like a fictional visit that Disney makes to Travers's home.  It is still a very compelling story on an iconic Disney film that could be a really good family double feature having this following MARY POPPINS.

The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry (1945):  This is my film noir for the week.  George Sanders stars as Harry Quincey who is a small-town person living with his two sisters Lettie, played by Geraldine Fitzgerald, and Hester, played by Moya MacGill.  He forms a relationship with a colleague Deborah, played by Ella Raines, which brings him a lot of happiness but the selfish Lettie does what she can to stop the relationship for her own needs.  In looking into this film, I learn that MacGill is the mother of Angela Lansbury.  I always enjoy darker movies from this era and this was a pretty decent unknown film of desperation.  This is also available on Amazon Prime.

Oedipus Rex (1967):  This is my second Italian film for the week.  Pier Paolo Pasolini directed this more modern day take to the Greek tragedy which was first written by Sophocles in 428 BC.  This takes place in Italy where a baby is born a jealous father abandons the baby who is rescued by King Polybus and Queen Merope and raises him as their own and in this tale call him Edipo, played by Franco Citti.  This is a very dark film to something that is already very dark.  Most know the basic story of Oedipus Rex and what happen with his parents with this taking it to a new level.  Some might recognize Citti who played the part of Calo in THE GODFATHER.  This is another one that is available on Amazon Prime, getting my money's worth this week with that subscription.

The Big Short (2015):  I end the week with film based on the U.S. Mortgage housing crisis of 2005 which was directed by Adam McKay and based on a book by Michael Lewis.  Christian Bale stars as Michael Burry who is an ex-physician turn Scion Capital hedge fund manager and proceeds to bet against the housing markets with the banks when he believes that the housing market is on a bubble that will explode in the next few years.  In the second story, Steve Carrell co-stars as Mark Baum who is very tired of the corruption in the financial industry.  In the third story, Brad Pitt co-stars as retired investment banker Ben Rickert who decides to join a couple more small time investment bankers.  These are three stories, all based on true ones, which are parallel and come together in the end. Ryan Gosling, Peter Epstein, Marisa Tomei, Rafe Spall, John Magaro, Finn Wittrock, Melissa Leo, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a really good look at our financial situation and learned I probably could not take part in the financial industry unless a low level position.  I admit I could not explain the financial scheme which happened in the film but still very enjoyable film which is very informative but has a sense of humor to go along.  This is available on Instant Netfix.

Well, that is it for this week but have returned with my segment of "Movie Night at the Shera" so continue on.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far include Michael Haneke, Bette Davis, Sandra Bullock, and many others.


The Filth and the Fury (2000):  I had this movie on DVD from the library so I sent Shera a pic of the DVD and agreed to check this one out.  Julien Temple directed this documentary on the punk rock band the Sex Pistols.  This goes in depth with the lives of each member and how the band got together in their rise and rather quick fall but would always be known.  There are a lot of interviews with the surviving members like Johnny Rotten and a lot of archival footage most notably some really interesting animation sequences from Temples 1980 film THE GREAT ROCK 'N' ROLL SWINDLE which was more of a mockumentary from what I understand.  I will say it was probably the animation sequences that had me most intrigued but still was very interested in the film.  One of the things that Shera and me discussed was trying to understand why the band was okay showing archival footage and images but how they were darkened in the modern interviews so if anybody can lend any insight on that, be my guest.  A good double feature on this might be to follow up with the 1986 film SID AND NANCY which is a biopic on Sid Vicious with Gary Oldman playing the part to perfection.

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