Sunday, April 9, 2017
Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 595th Edition
Welcome to the 595th Edition of my series. It has been a pretty busy week with work and my show THE LITTLE MERMAID which is at the end of April. There is a flyer on the end of this blog for ordering tickets and dates for the show. With all that, I will get to my selections for the week.
Obvious Child (2014): Gillian Robespierre directed and co-wrote this comedy that I start the week out with. Jenny Slate stars as Donna Stern who is a 20 something local comedian trying to make it big. In the beginning she gets dumped by her boyfriend and shortly after has a one night stand with someone in the bar named Max, played by Jake Lacy. This results in her getting pregnant and must decide what she wants in life. Paul Briganti, Gaby Hoffman, Richard Kind, Stephen Singer, David Cross, and many others co-star in this film. This is not just any romantic comedy or comedy for that matter. It is not always real easy to watch in its rather brutally honest story. There were some very funny parts and some emotional scenes. It is really hard to describe without giving things away but different that other movies I have seen.
Karol: The Man Who Became Pope (2005): I follow up with this biopic on Karol Wojtyla, played by Piotr Adamczyk, who would go onto be the very known Pope John Paul II. This traces his younger days in Poland when involved in the war effort against Nazi Germany. It soon goes into his religious conversion where he becomes a priest up until being elected pope at 58 years old. Malgorzata Bela, Ken Duken, Violante Placido, Matt Craven, Kenneth Welsh, Raoul Bova, and many others co-star in this biopic directed by Giacomo Battiato. This is a fascinating look at the iconic pope. There is also a really good music score from Ennio Morricone. This was originally a mini-series but was delayed when John Paul II died shortly after filming.
No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo and Vilmos (2008): This is my documentary for the week which is based on the friendship and partnership of cinematographers Laszlo Kovacs and Vilmos Zsigmond as well as the impact they have had on the cinema world. This talks about them filming the Soviet crackdown of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution which was pretty groundbreaking and daring at the time into them going into Hollywood. This mostly shows some of their work and interviews with others in the film industry. This is a good look at people who are very important but might be overlooked a lot in the film industry besides those who work with them. This is available to watch on http://www.hoopladigital.com and is a must for film buffs.
The Luckiest Guy in the World (1947): This is one of my two short films for the week and no this has nothing to do with Lou Gehrig. In fact this is part of the Crime Doesn't Pay series of short films and I understand this is the last one. Barry Nelson stars as Charles Vurn who is a compulsive gambler in debt to just about anyone and gets himself deeper and deeper after an accident happens. This is more of a short Film Noir more than anything and possibly one of the best short films for this era. I found this on TCM On-Demand but it is no longer there. I tried to find it on Youtube but could not find it there either.
6 Day Bike Rider (1934): Lloyd Bacon directed this comedy which stars comedy star from the era Joe E. Brown as small town everyman Wilfred Simpson. He becomes annoyed when his girl Phyllis, played by Maxine Doyle, turns her attention to cyclist Harry St. Clair, played by Gordon Westcott. After she turns him down, he decides to working on his own cycling skills and enters a bike race to some really hilarious complications before and during the race. This was a pretty good B-comedy. I believe Joe E. Brown possibly has the most unique look in film and is mostly known for his much later comedy in a supporting role in SOME LIKE IT HOT.
Psycho (1960): This is part two of my two-part Anthony Perkins series. Alfred Hitchcock directed this classic horror film based on the novel by Robert Bloch. Anthony Perkins gives an iconic performance as the Norman Bates who manages the Bates Motel which is in a very remote area. Norman is a very quiet and timid man whose life seems to be domineered by his mother. Things start when Marion Crane, played by Janet Leigh, goes on the run and takes refuge at the motel leading into some life changing events for her and a few people close to her. Vera Miles, John Gavin, and Martin Balsam co-star in this infamous film. Most people already know the story so I'm not going to go too in-depth for those who have not seen it but will after reading this summary. This movie has lead into a few sequels, a remake and a pretty successful current tv series. It has the very famous shower scene. and the very memorable performance from Perkins which is unfortunately the only role he is known for and while this is possibly his best, he did a lot more admirable work. Another really great part of this movie is the music score by Bernard Herrmann which comprises of all stringed instruments and contributed to the creepy feel of the film. This is based loosely on real-life serial killer Ed Gein which was has been the inspiration for many. This has also inspired some sequels and a rather popular tv series in BATES MOTEL. A great double feature would be this film and the 2012 film HITCHCOCK which is based on his efforts to get this movie made and went through some extreme measures to get this movie made when no one really wanted to help him.
So Dear to My Heart (1948): This is my Disney film for the week which has live action and some animation from time to time. This takes place out in the country where Bobby Driscoll stars as Jeremiah who is a 12 year old boy. When some new lambs are born, one of them is black and without any real pun being intended is literally the black sheep that everyone likes to talk about. Jeremiah, through much persuasion with his Granny Kincaid, played by Beaulah Bondi, is able to adopt this black lamb and names him Danny like the legendary horse Dan Patch who makes a cameo in this movie. There are also a few animation sequences which involve the Wise Old Owl who seems to appear when Jeremiah has a hard time making a decision. Burl Ives also co-stars as Uncle Hiram and is very enjoyable in his role. This is a pretty good and heart warming tale. I suppose this could also be considered racist seeing as the black lamb is the one that the rest hate but we won't get that deep.
Side Effects (2013): This is part one of a possible Rooney Mara series. Steven Soderbergh directed this thriller that was written by Scott Z. Burns. Mara stars as Emily who experiences some bouts of depression and has suicidal tendencies. Her therapist Dr. Jonathan Banks, played by Jude Law, prescribes her an experimental drug which ends up having some unexpected side effects as the title implies. Catherine Zeta-Jones, Channing Tatum, Polly Draper, David Costabile, Mamie Gummer, Vinessa Shaw, Devin Ratray, and many others co-star in this film. I watched this knowing about what I described and I am glad I saw it that way so that is as far as I will go with the plot. Mara and Law are great as patient and psychiatrist. This was a pretty well-crafted film with lots of twists and turns.
Blood and Black Lace (1964): This is my Giallo film for the week which was directed by Mario Bava. A shadowy killer is out killing fashion models. Just about everyone is a suspect and might have reason to knock off all these beautiful women. This is a thriller mystery and a really good entry for Giallo which is what they call Italian horror films. This is a one of the earlier ones and is a very stylish film with a good plot. Cameron Mitchell, Eva Bartok, Mary Arden, Lea Lander, Harriet Medin, and many others co-star in this film. It is hard to really describe this film except that in this subgenre of horror, they have a lot of mystery and less supernatural horror. Bava is probably one of the most known directors in the genre. This is not for everyone but horror fans will likely embrace some of these.
Blind Vaysha (2016): I end the week with this animated short film which was directed that Theodore Ushev based on a story by Georgi Gospodinov. This talks about a young girl named Vaysha who has a very unusual sense of sight in which in her left eye she only sees the past and in her right eye she only sees the future. So as the word blind in the title implies, she is blind to the present. It is a pretty clever 8 minute film that was nominated for an Oscar which is not a big deal to me but still deserving of its nomination.
Well, that is it this week. Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Anne Bancroft, and many others.