Sunday, April 30, 2017

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 598th Edition

Welcome to the 598th Edition of my series.  I am now done with THE LITTLE MERMAID.  It has been quite a journey bringing out the role of Grimsby but feel the show went really well.  I don't really know what is next so we'll just have to see.  For right now I will just get on with my selections.

Florence Foster Jenkins (2016):  Stephen Frears directed this biopic which stars Meryl Streep as the title character who in the early 20th Century became dubbed as "the world's worst opera singer".  She still persists in her dream of being at Carnegie Hall with the help of her very supportive husband St. Clair, played by Hugh Grant, and her accompanist Cosme McMoon, played by Simon Helberg.  Rebecca Ferguson, Nina Arianda, Stanley Townsend, Allan Corduner, Christian McKay, John Kavanagh, and many others co-star in this film.  I had never heard of Jenkins until this movie.  Streep brought Jenkins to life very well and a good look at this performer despite her limited talent was quite respected in the music world, maybe due to her efforts and personality.  

Ain't Them Bodies Saints (2004):  This is part four of my four part Rooney Mara series.  David Lowery wrote and directed this crime drama with a touch of a love story.  Casey Affleck stars as outlaw Bob Muldoon who is arrested when taking the rap for a crime his pregnant girlfriend Ruth, played by Mara, committed.  Bob escapes from prison setting out to find Ruth and the child he has never met but things don't go as planned when he finds she is with a lawman from their past named Patrick, played by Ben Foster.  Keith Carradine, Nate Parker, Robert Longstreet, Charles Baker, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a pretty good film with a good deep south film with good performances from the leads.  This is a crime story that centers around love.  This is available to watch on Netflix.

Rogue One (2016):  Now I bring the latest of the Star Wars saga.  Gareth Edwards directed this one which takes place after episode three and before episode four.  This movie centers around the making of the Empire's Death Star where the Rebel Alliance uncovers a possible weakness that can get it destroyed.  Our group of diverse and rather misfit characters include criminal turned Rebel Jyn Erso, played by Felicity Jones, Rebel intelligence officer Cassian Andor, played by Diego Luna, imperial droid K-2SO, played by Alan Tudyk, blind spiritual worker Chirrut Imwe, played by Donnie Yen, and mercenary Baze Malbus, played by Win Jiang.  Ben Mendelsohn, Guy Henry, Forrest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsohn, Jimmy Smits, Genevieve O'Reilly, Ian McElhinney, and many others co-star in this film.  James Earl Jones reprises his role as the voice of Darth Vader but don't expect a huge role with the character though.   Guy Henry plays the part of Governor Tarkin which becames Grand Moff Tarkin that Peter Cushing plays in STAR WARS EPISODE IV:  A NEW HOPE with Henry having a CGI replica of Cushing's face superimposed over his face.  There are also other cameos of characters to look for in this film.  I have started a rule for myself to avoid trailers as much as possible which I did for STAR WARS:  THE FORCE AWAKENS and plan to do for this years STAR WARS:  THE LAST JEDI.  I just like to see it unfold for the first time in full without really knowing too much about it.  I thought this was a very good transitional film that makes you see the fourth episode in a whole new way.  I'll just stop where I am now for those who have not seen it yet.

In the Border States (1910):  This is my silent short for the week and made in the early days of film.  D.W. Griffith directed this Civil War short film which was one of many that he directed from this era and would then go onto directed what is possibly the most revered and reviled epic of all time in A BIRTH OF A NATION which the DVD contains this film, among other Griffith shorts.  In this one, a father leaves a border state to join the Union army only to have Confederate side attack his family's home.  This is worth a watch for historical purposes in the way of the early days of cinema that helped pave the way.  Griffith is a very significant pioneer into the world of film.

The Naked City (1948):  Jules Dassin directed this film which takes place in New York and is filmed there where the murder of a model is investigated by two officers. In the investigation, they find there are a lot of shifty characters that could have been involved. It is shot some in documentary form and gives us a look at people who work on the night shift with what they have to go through.  Barry Fitzgerald, Howard Duff, Dorothy Hart, Don Taylor, Ted de Corsia, and narrated by Mark Hellinger. The filming was shot with the actors and with the people in New York and gave a pretty realistic look at New York and a murder investigation.  This is available on TCM On-Demand until May 3rd so take a look at this rather realistic and gritty film from that era.

Jabberwocky (1977):  Monty Python members Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin decided to do their own project which also includes Terry Jones in a cameo after their hit film MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL and a couple years before they would all get together for their other film LIFE OF BRIAN.  Gilliam directed this film which is based on a poem by Lewis Carroll who is most known for ALICE IN WONDERLAND.  This is a comedy which takes place in the medieval times where Palin stars as peasant Dennis Cooper whose father has died and when going through town and through a series of misfortunes, he is mistaken as the one meant to kill a horrible monster.  Warren Mitchell, Rodney Bewes, Gilliam, Jones, Deborah Fallender, David Prowse, and many others co-star in this film.  This does not top the other two films that I named off but still a fun and low-budget medieval comedy.  I had not heard of this until I found it at the library so they do have some unexpected gems at times.

Who Am I This Time? (1982):  This is technically an episode from a series called AMERICAN PLAYHOUSE but as always, I make the rules so I can decided what qualifies as a movie.  I chose this after hearing about the death of its director Jonathan Demme and it is based on a short story by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.  This takes a look into the world of community theater so it really hit home with me, especially just getting done with a show myself.  A young Susan Sarandon stars as a telephone company employee named Helene who has just come to town and the director of a local upcoming show really likes her look and sees her as Stella in their production of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE.  She has no acting experience but she is encouraged to try which is what community theater is all about having people make their debut and learn through weeks of rehearsing.  Christopher Walken co-stars as local hardware employee Harry who is a very shy man unless he is in a play and he gets cast as Stanley in the show.  While they both work together, they slowly form a relationship where they help get each other out of their shells in different ways.  It is only about an hour long and the video transfer was not great.  It was still worth watching to see younger versions of Sarandon and Walken working together.  It was also a good homage to community theater and the hard work it takes.  This is available on Amazon Prime.

Roman Holiday (1953):  William Wyler directed this romantic comedy which starred Audrey Hepburn in her first starring role. Audrey Hepburn plays Princess Ann, a princess in Rome who does not like her structured life as the princess and sets out to see the world. Gregory Peck plays Joe, a reporter who finds her drunk and forms a relationship with her pretending ignorance over her identity with intentions to write a big story about the princess.  Eddie Albert adds some comic relief as Joe's photographer to get good photos for their big story.  Peck does good in more of a romantic comedy lead that usually Cary Grant would do in this era.  Hepburn also does great in her first starring role.  This is a really good romantic comedy that classic film buffs will love.

The Time Travellers (1964):  This comes from the third episode of the new MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000.  This consists of a group of scientists that manage to open a portal though it looks like a picture frame.  They go through that picture frame and learn they are 127 years into the future.  There they are attacked by a group of mutated humans but rescued by a group of scientists that inform them that much of earth was destroyed by nuclear war.  These humans also have some really unusual robots if that is what you want to call them.  Hard to describe this any further but Jonah, Tom Servo, and Crow have a great time with this one.

Wild (2014):  Jean-Marc Vallee directed this film which was based on a memoir by Cheryl Strayed, played by Reese Witherspoon.  After a dissolution of marriage and the death of her mother, played by Laura Dern, Cheryl gets into some very reckless behavior with sex and drugs.  She realizes this is not good and sets out on a soul searching journey with a hike of over a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail.  Thomas Sadoski, Keene McRae, Michiel Huisman, W. Earl Brown, Brian Van Holt, and many others co-star in this film.  The young Cheryl is played by Strayed's actual daughter Bobbi Strayed Lindstrom.  This shows the struggles and triumphs very well in this story of redemption.  Reese gives this movie everything she has to play Strayed in a role I know was not easy and she wanted Witherspoon to play her.  It is an inspirational film to a point but it is not one for the family.  The movie held nothing back in her reckless behavior that lead to her rash decision.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week.

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