Sunday, July 23, 2017
Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 610th Edition
Welcome to the 610th Edition of my series. I have just remained busy with my show BURNT PART BOYS which happens in Fortville, Indiana at the 10 West Center for the Arts on August 11th, 12th, and the 13th. Other than that there is nothing else out of the norm happening so I'll just get to my selections.
America Beyond the Color Line with Henry Louis Gate Jr. (2002): I start the week out with this PBS documentary, well more of a mini-series. Professor Gates goes around to examine race relations from past, present, and future. He interviews multiple people both famous and non-famous to look into how much race relations have changed through the years and finds they both have changed and in some ways have not changed. People being interviewed include Maya Angelou, Don Cheadle, Morgan Freeman, Quincy Jones, Alicia Keys, Samuel L. Jackson, Nia Long, Chris Tucker, and many others. He takes a look at neighborhoods, slums, and even the world of Hollywood to look at multiple forms of racism that we might not think about as much and how far things have come. The last episode is dedicated to the world of Hollywood and talks most about how it is in the present. I would have liked to have seen more talked about past Hollywood but still interesting to watch. Unfortunately, I don't think racism will ever end but we must still try to make progress. This has four episodes of about an hour each. I guess featuring this, I did not do much to help the cause in my remaining selections though I do have a black superhero in Batwing.
Ireland: "The Emerald Isle" (1934): This is my documentary short for the week and like last week, i chose one from the Traveltalk series. Last week, they visited Italy and the one featured this week takes a look at Ireland. It takes a look at the countryside at some farms and villages, then goes to Hope Castle. This is a very colorful look at a little bit of Ireland and is about eight minutes long and still available on TCM On-Demand.
The Deer Hunter (1978): Michael Cimino directed this film and if you are looking for a movie all about deer hunting, this might not be the one. This takes place in a small industrial town in Pennsylvania among a group of friends, some of which are being called to Vietnam. Robert De Niro stars as Michael who is one of those being called as well as Nick, played by Christopher Walken, and Steve, played by John Savage. John Cazale, Meryl Streep, George Dzundza, Chuck Aspegren, Shirley Stoler, Rutanya Alda, and many others co-star in this film. Aspegren was not an actor but a foreman of the steel mill in that local town they visited and took a liking to him giving him a role. Walken is great as the man who the war seems to have had the most impact upon. This takes a look at not only the effects of those who must experience it but also among those close to them. Unfortunately, Cazale died shortly after the filming of this movie during his short but very significant career. This is not an easy one to watch by any means but still a very compelling film that is worth its three hours. De Niro has said this was the most physically exhausting film he has done.
Grand Piano (2013): This is part two of my John Cusack trilogy and part one of a two-part Elijah Wood series. Eugenio Mira directed this film that was written by Damien Chazelle. Elijah Wood stars as pianist Tom Selznick who has not performed a show in a few years likely due to his stage fright. As he performs, his life is threatened from a man, played by Cusack, who tells him he will be shot if one wrong note is played. Kerry Bishe, Tasmin Egerton, Allen Leech, Don McManus, Alex Winter, and many others co-star in this thriller. This movie did have its flaws but it was still entertaining nonetheless with Wood really good as the protagonist. If the name Alex Winter sounds so familiar, he is the Bill in the Bill and Ted movies so I thought that part was worth it to see a rather rare feature film appearance. I feel they could have really developed this movie a lot better if they had maybe another 30 minutes as I felt this was a bit too short for what they did.
Johnny Guitar (1954): This is my western for the week and one I'm glad to revisit every once in a while. Joan Crawford stars as Vienna who is a saloon owner and group of local townfolks lead by Emma Small, played by Merceds McCambridge, and frame Vienna for murder and bank robbery. Vienna and her small posse behind her stand up to these people leading to some violence. Sterling Hayden co-stars as Johnny Guitar who comes into town hoping for a saloon job to play his guitar but we learn he is not who he seems. Scott Brady, Ward Bond, Ben Cooper, Ernest Borgnine, John Carradine, Royal Dano, and many others co-star in this film. I have always enjoyed this western. I always liked Sterling Hayden and the rare female rivalry didn't hurt any. Apparently Crawford did not get along well with Hayden or McCambridge which is nothing new but still a great western. This is available on Amazon Prime.
Batman: Bad Blood (2016): I decided to go the animated DC route. Batman/Bruce Wayne, voiced by Jason O'Mara, has gone missing where Alfred, voiced by James Garrett, does what he can to cover and while usually Nightwing, Dick Grayson, voiced by Sean Maher, takes the suit of Batman in order to cover in that regard. Grayson is joined by Bruce's son Damien aka Robin, voiced by Stuart Allen. They are joined by the mysterious Batwoman, voiced by Yvonne Strahovski, as well as Batwing, voiced by Gaius Charles. Morena Baccarin, Steve Blum, John Dimaggio, Ernie Hudson, Vanessa Marshall, Bruce Thomas, and many others co-star in this animated movie. I have not read this comic so I don't really have that to go on. I really enjoyed what I saw in this film. I had not heard of the character Batwing but looked him up and has been used in the comics and as far as I know the first time used as an animated character. This has some really good action and a good showcase of the supporting people in the Batman world.
Kid Glove Killer (1942): Fred Zinneman makes his directorial debut with this crime drama. Van Heflin stars as criminologist Gordon McKay who along with his assistant Jane, played by Marsha Hunt, investigate the murder of the mayor which leads into quite a conspiracy. Lee Bowman, Samuel S. Hinds, Eddie Quillan, Cathy Lewis, and many others co-star in this movie. This is a pretty good debut for Zinneman and a pretty good B movie. This is a good look into the earlier times of forensics and has a good blend of drama and comedy.
Up (2009): This is my Disney Pixar movie for the week that was directed Pete Docter and Bob Peterson. This centers around the 78 year old man Carl Fredrickson, voiced by Edward Asner, who as a child and his childhood friend turned wife Elle always wanted to explore South America and the forbidden Paradise Falls. Many years later, Elle passes and Carl finally sets off to Paradise Falls in his home which is being pulled by 500 balloons. He is joined by boy scout named Russell, played by Jordan Nagel, where things don't go quite as expected meeting a talking dog and an unusual bird. Christopher Plummer, Bob Peterson, Delroy Lindo, John Ratzenberger, Jess Harnell, and many others provide their voices in this film. This is a great movie about self-discovery and that an unexpected journey to the intended is not always a bad thing. I do not believe Rick Astley will let anyone borrow this one, he'll lend you any of his other Pixar collection, just not this one. This is a really good one for the family.
Trompie (1975): This is my South African film for the week. Andre Laubscher stars as Trompie who is a mischievous boy and has a series of misadventures along with some other friends. This has some pretty funny moments of a boy who mostly means well but goes too far. The movie centers most around Trompie and the other characters as well as Trompie's antics. This does not appear to have gotten a lot in the way of publicity and it still does not get the publicity. On imdb, there are no user reviews and there are usually at least some on that site. It is available to watch on Amazon Prime but also does not have any reviews posted. That tells me that it has not gotten much exposure but if you have Amazon Prime, you can help it get some exposure as a decent foreign film. It is also available to watch on hoopladigital.com which is like a universal public library website that has a lot of selection in movies, shows, books, and audiobooks.
Get Off My Cloud (2013): I end the the week with a music video so in other words a short film which I suppose it technically not one but I made the rules so I can call whatever I want a movie. I have never done a music video but as my AMERICA'S GOT TALENT buddy Sid Yiddish asked me to check this out as he makes an appearance in this video. This is a song by the band the Squids. The video takes place in an apartment complex about 3 am and a neighbor pleads with them to turn down that music racket going on in their apartment. I admit I don't really know a lot about this band but it is a fun song and a pretty funny video that is only about three minutes long so this one can be found on youtube and look for throat singer and SHAMELESS guest star Sid Yiddish.
Well, that is all for this week. Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes John Cusack, Elijah Wood, Carey Mulligan, Joel McCrea, Orson Welles, Rosario Dawson, and many others.