Sunday, February 26, 2017
Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 589th Edition
Welcome to the 589th Edition of my series. Tonight are the annual Academy Awards where we award achievement in film. I usually look forward to this but I just don't think I'm going to watch them this year and just keep up with winners on the internet. I'm afraid this will follow suit of other award shows this year and winners will use it as their political platform which I would rather not see. I am in no way boycotting them, just not for me this year and hey, maybe I'm wrong about what will be spoken of this evening. I would also like to make an announcement that on the week of my birthday from May 21st to the 27th, I am having seven nights of karaoke so more details to come at a later time. With all that, I will just get on with my selections for the week.
The Sheik (2014): I start the week out with this documentary. This is a documentary based on Khosrow Vaziri who must of us know as the legendary wrestler the Iron Sheik. This starts from the early days of the Sheik when he was an accomplished wrestler in Iran and then escaped there to come to the United States. It also goes into his days as an Olympic coach for the states into his start into professional wrestling into Verne Gagne's American Wrestling Association in Minnesota where he would first just be a basic wrestler until making a life changing turn as an Iranian heel aka bad guy. The documentary itself was filmed between 2006 to 2014 which goes into the ups and downs of his life both professionally and personally and mainly takes a look into his drug problems and how that affected everyone around him until he finally got clean after many years. He also did similarly like what George Takei did and became an social media sensation. This is a pretty moving and insightful documentary. I always know how it was important for him to lose his championship to Hulk Hogan but I was not aware of the level of significance until I saw this one. This is available on Instant Netflix.
Carnival Day (1936): I follow up this week with my musical short for the week. As you might guess, this all takes place at a carnival. Henry Armetta stars as Tony who is the balloon man and stumbles upon a scheme happening at the carnival. Nothing great but an okay 16 minutes with some pretty good music performances in the short time.
Never a Dull Moment (1968): This is my live-action Disney for the week. Dick Van Dyke stars as actor Jack Albany who has a fateful encounter with a mobster that believes Jack is killer Ace. Fearing for his life, Jack plays along and agrees to meet up with Leo Smooth, played by Edward G. Robinson, and is in the performance for his life in a very literal way. Dorothy Provine, Henry Silva, Tony Bill, Slim Pickens, Jack Elam, and many others co-star in this comedy. DVD made this pretty enjoyable and Robinson was good in his later role. This is some good and silly Disney and might be worth a look.
Friends and Crocodiles (2005): This is my BBC film for the week. Stephen Poliakoff wrote and directed this film which stars Damian Lewis as maverick entrepreneur Paul Reynolds and Jodhi May as Lizzie Thomas who would be Paul's off and on employee for 20 years. This shows the relationship between these two through the years when they first met and Paul asked her to be his secretary. It also shows the change through the years starting in the Thatcher era up to the rise of the electronic age. It shows how they drift apart but always seem to find each other in all these years and reconcile whatever differences they have had. Robert Lindsay, Patrick Malahide, Eddie Marsan, Allen Corduner, Chris Larkin, and many others co-star in this film. It is a rather hard movie to describe as some might already have picked up upon with my description. The character Paul can be compared some to Jay Gatsby from THE GREAT GATSBY. There are also some very interesting characters that work for Paul. I thought the performances were very good and a pretty good film on adapting to change that happens along with the rises and falls these characters have.
The Heiress (1949): William Wyler directed this film which stars Olivia de Havilland as the title character. She plays Catherine Sloper who is the daughter of the very successful and widowed Dr. Sloper, played by Ralph Richardson, and is very shy and socially awkward. At a family party, Catherine meets Morris Townsend, played by Montgomery Clift, who takes an interest in her, something she has never experienced but falls in love quickly with him. They plan to get married but Dr. Sloper believes Morris to be a fortune hunter and does what he can to stop them from getting married. Miriam Hopkins, Vanessa Brown, Betty Linley, Ray Collins, and many others co-star in this romantic drama. This was a rather daring film for its era and is a pretty dark story of love.
Virunga (2014): This is my second documentary for the week which was directed by Orlando von Einsiedel. This centers around the Congo at Virunga National Park. In this park lies some of the last of the mountain gorillas and a group of park rangers doing what they can to protect them from militia, poachers, among others. In 2012, a rebel group called M23 formed and posed a big threat to what they have worked for at the park as well as the British oil company SOCO international which seems only interested in the oil there. The protection of the gorillas was just a part of this documentary and the main thing it talks about is the civil war happening in Africa. This is also available on Instant Netflix and is a very compelling watch.
The Hills Have Eyes (1977): Wes Craven wrote and directed this this horror film in his early career. A family is on vacation and have the misfortune of their car breaking down in an area closed to the public inhabited by violent savages on the attack. Janus Blythe, Virginia Vincent, Michael Berryman, Dee Wallace, Robert Houston, Suze Lanier-Bramlett, and many others star in this cult classic. Berryman's unusual look and character Pluto have made him quite an icon through the years. This has a very low-budget and chilling fear and sometimes low-budget is all that is needed to be scary since it is more realistic looking in the middle of nowhere. This one is available on the website hoopladigital.com and is a must for the horror fans out there.
King Jack (2015): Felix Thompson wrote and directed this independent film which centers around the teenage Jack, played by Charlie Plummer. Jack has a lot going on in his life and mainly has to deal with a rather violent bully in Shane, played by Danny Flaherty, and even his older brother Tom, played by Christian Madsen, who does not always treat his younger brother very well. On top of it all, his younger cousin Ben, played by Cory Nichols, has to stay a few times and Jack must look after him much to his dismay. Erin Davie, Yainis Ynoa, Chloe Levine, Melvin Mogoli, and many others co-star in this film. I guess you could call this a coming of age tale though it is a pretty dark one. It shows growing up in a lower-class neighborhood and the difficulties presented as well as the effects of bullying. This is a pretty good film that is more driven by characters more than anything else and works well with the relatively unknown cast. This is available on both instant Netflix and the Hoopla cite I mentioned on the previous selection.
The Magnificent Yankee (1950): This is my biopic for the week which was directed by John Sturges and based on American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes, played by Louis Calhern, and based on the book by Francis Biddle. This mostly takes place from Holmes's start in law and his marriage to Fanny, played by Ann Harding. This goes up to when he became a supreme court justice and through quite a few presidential administrations. Eduard Franz, Philip Ober, Ian Wolfe, and many others co-star in this biopic. This is a really good look at a justice who always stood up for his beliefs and is just as relevant now as it was when it was made. This is also based on a play by Emmet Lavery and has a really good look at a marriage through its ups and downs but of them staying loyal to each other. This is really worth a look especially for history buffs.
Mr. Hublot (2013): I end the week with this animated short that takes place in a futuristic world and is written and directed by Alexandre Espigares and Laurent Witz. Mr. Hublot is a withdrawn and OCD man who seems reclusive to his home. He soon encounters a stray robotic pet in which he takes in which is very life changing for Mr. Hublot who must adjust to this new pet that is very invasive. This is some pretty good animation and the robotic pet was done very well making him pretty believable essentially being a dog. This is a very enjoyable 11 minutes to watch. This one is available on Amazon Prime.
Well, that is it for this week. Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Peter Fonda, Samuel L. Jackson, and many others.