Sunday, September 4, 2016
Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 564th Edition
Welcome to the 564th Edition of my series. I hope everyone is having a good Memorial Day weekend. Tomorrow night I have my Fantasy Football draft and get to look forward to the NFL regular season starting on Thursday night. Other than that, nothing else really happening so on with my selections which is the start of the last month before the Madness.
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004): I start the week out with this comedy which was directed by Adam Mckay and co-written by him and Will Ferrell who stars as the title character. This takes place in the '70s in San Diego where Ron Burgundy is the top rated newsman in a male dominated field. The tv station decides to go the diversity route by hiring a new female anchor in Veronica Corningstone, played by Christina Applegate, which changes Ron's world both personally and professionally. Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, and David Koechner are quite fun as Ron's friends at the news station. Fred Willard, Chris Parnell, Seth Rogen, Danny Trejo, Jack Black, Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, Missi Pyle, Tim Robbins, Vince Vaughn, and many others co-star or have cameos. I recall when this first came out, I did not care much for it. Maybe it was because it was not that usual Will Ferrell kind of role and a more toned down character which as I watch now was still just as funny. The supporting cast also gets a lot of laughs and really become a very good ensemble comedy team. I one time saw David Koechner come to my own town of Muncie to do a one man comedy show at the Muncie Civic Theater which was a great show to say the least. This is a great comedy on the '70s news industry that has stayed with its fans through the years.
Top Five (2014): This is part two of my Chris Rock trilogy. This is in all likelihood the first time I have ever featured two movies where both had an SNL alum as its star. Chris Rock wrote and directed this comedy which takes a look into the world of a comedian trying to do something different. Rock stars as Andre Allen who is trying to do more serious roles and ones he feels are more meaningful. He is also being talked into getting married on reality tv with his fiancee Erica, played by Gabrielle Union, while being interviewed by Chelsea Brown, played by Rosario Dawson, who makes him confront his past and even his future. J.B. Smoove, Romany Malco, Cedric the Entertainer, Sherri Shepherd, Tracy Morgan, Luis Guzman, Kevin Hart, and many others co-star and have cameos in this comedy. Rock mostly plays himself but still interested me. I saw this as someone who is trying to move on from what they are most known for but the public not really letting them which bothers me sometimes that we don't seem to let anyone move on with their careers.
The Real Dirt on Farmer John (2005): This is my documentary for the week. Watching this I really did not know what to expect and came to really enjoy this. This centers around farmer John Peterson who tells the story of the farm that has been with this family through many years and the rises and falls it has had since his inheritance of the farm. There are interviews with many friends and family reflecting on the events that have gone on and what they have had to do to stay afloat in the struggling economy. At times it is rather depressing but at the same rather inspirational in the way he never really gave up through all the down times. It is also inspirational in the way he got many people interested in helping him make it into a successful organic far. He also has a very likable mother who was one of the biggest reasons he never gave up on the small town farm. This is available on the website hoopla.com and is great for both farmers and non-farmers.
Dog Daze (1939): This is my short film for the week which features the kids of OUR GANG. The gang owes money to someone and concoct money scheme by rounding up stray dogs for a reward but it nearly gets them in trouble when they are mistaken for dognapping. Much of our friends like Alfalfa, Spanky, Buckwheat, and Darla return. This is the first produced by MGM and did not go over as well to their fans but still have some laughs.
Sybil (1976): This is one of two mini-series being featured this week. A young Sally Field stars as the title character who admits to having blackouts and is soon diagnosed with having multiple personality disorder with 16 different personalities. Joanne Woodward co-stars as Dr. Wilbur who dedicates herself to help treat her disorder by getting to know the personalities. There are some rather disturbing moments in this movie, most notably in the childhood flashbacks with her abusive mother. Brad Davis, Martine Bartlett, Charles Lane, and many others co-star in this mini-series. Field does very well in one of her more unknown movies. Woodward also does well as the psychiatrist and was on the other side in the 1957 film THE THREE FACES OF EVE. It is a little over three hours so at that time maybe a couple 90 minute episodes. This was worth the three hours and a very compelling film based on a true story.
The Talk of the Town (1942): George Stevens directed this film which is a touch of comedy and drama on a man on the run from the law after being framed. Cary Grant stars as Leopold Dilg who is a factory head and framed for arson and the murder of a foreman. He is reluctantly hidden from his childhood friend Nora, played by Jean Arthur, in her rental home which the renowned Professor Lightcap, played by Ronald Colman, is residing so she tries to hide Leopold from his as well as the authorities. Through this, Leopold looks to win Nora's affections and prove his innocence. Edgar Buchanon, Glenda Farrell, Rex Ingram, and many others co-star in this film. Grant, Arthur, and Colman make a good trio. This is a more overlooked film of Gary Grant in which I came across through a boxed set. This is a film that has a little of everything like comedy, drama, mystery, romance, and suspense.
On Moonlight Bay (1951): This is one of two musicals I am featuring for the week. Roy Del Ruth directed this film which centers around the Winfield family moving into a small town in Indiana. Doris Day stars as Marjorie whose interests lie more in things like baseball. For certain reasons she must learn how to act like a lady and soon meets William Sherman, played by Gordon MacRae, who she takes a liking to but in the WWI era has unconventional ideas like not believing in marriage which does not sit well with her father George, played by Leon Ames. I was really hoping that Day would just stick to baseball and maybe in a few years enter what would be the professional women's league but in a movie from this era which has her and MacRae, we know that cannot happen. Not the greatest movie but decent numbers, taking place in my state of Indiana, and MacRae's radical viewpoints made this watchable for me.
Murderland (2009): This is the second mini-series I feature this week. This centers around a brutal murder and is from the point of view of Douglas Hain, played by Robbie Coltrane, who is the lead detective of the murder, Carrie, played by Bel Powley, who is the daughter of the victim, and Carol, played by Amanda Hale, who is the victim. This is told in three 45 minute episodes and takes place in the time of the events leading into the murder and years later when it has still gone unsolved. This is a very compelling and rather disturbing story which connects very well. The characters were rather flawed but still likable and ones you can really get behind. This is a British crime drama that deserves a lot more exposure than it got so if into murder mysteries, this would be a great watch.
Huckleberry Finn (1974): This is my second musical of the week which is one based on the classic story by Mark Twain with the music written by Richard and Robert Sherman. Jeff East stars as Huck, the rambunctious boy who escapes from his abusive father, played by Gary Merrill, and sails down the Mississippi River on a raft with his friend and runaway slave Jim, played by Paul Winfield. Huck tries to help Jim escape to freedom while on some adventures and dealing with con men the King and the Duke, played by Harvey Korman and David Wayne. A few years ago I was in the chorus of a musical version called BIG RIVER. East and Winfield were a good combination as well as Korman and Wayne were good together as partners in crime. The version I was in was better music wise but this is still harmless fun for the family on a Sunday afternoon.
Troy (2004): Wolfgang Peterson directed this film based on Homer's THE ILIAD. This depicts the war between Troy and Sparta after Paris, played by Orlando Bloom, convinces Helen of Sparta, played by Diane Kruger, to leave her husband Menelaus, played by Brendan Gleeson, for him. This was not really the only thing that started it but the icing on the cake anyways. Brad Pitt stars as Achilles who leads the Spartans against Troy. Eric Bana co-stars as Hector who leads Athens and is the brother of Paris. Brian Cox, Julian Glover, Sean Bean, Julie Christie, Peter O'Toole, Saffron Burrows, Garrett Hedlund, Rose Byrne, former WCW wrestler Tyler Mane, former WWE wrestler Nathan Jones, and many others. I am not going to pretend I have any sort of expertise towards THE ILIAD so I don't really know how faithful this is to the story. I did enjoy what was put on like the action scenes and the fight between Achilles and Hector. The scene that always sticks out for me is a conversation between Achilles and his rival king Priam, played by O'Toole. I also thought it was a pretty realistic portrayal on how these events could have happened.
Well, that is all for this week. Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Chris Rock, the late Gene Wilder, Kate Winslet, and many others.