Sunday, September 3, 2017

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 616th Edition

Welcome to the 616th Edition of my series.  I hope everyone has a good Labor Day, I'm celebrating by working tomorrow.  I am glad to say that it looks like I have my cast together for the upcoming murder mystery TO WAKE THE DEAD which will be on October 20th and 21st at the Muncie Amvets.  I'm also excited about football starting on Thursday and I hope I have a good year and make some money.

Lemmy (2010):  I start the week out out with this music documentary which was directed by Greg Olliver and Wes Orshoski.  This takes a look at revered heavy metal musician Lemmy Kilmister who was the lead singer for the band Motorhead which gave influence to bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Anthax, and many others.  This takes a look at the earlier part of his career in the band Hawkwind and then forming Motorhead.  If you are like me, you never really knew much about them until they started doing the music for wrestler Triple H.  Even if you do not like metal, I believe this can be a pretty enjoyable documentary with Lemmy being a very interesting person.  This is available to watch on Netflix.

The Other Fellow (1937):  This is my short film for the week which features Edgar Kennedy giving a very early and comedic look at driving safety.  Kennedy plays various roles in this comedic short.  He is not very known today but was kind of a jack of all trades during his career starting out as a boxer and finding himself in a career as a comic doing a lot of short films and doing supporting roles in feature films.  This is available to watch on Youtube.

Sunset Boulevard (1950):  Billy Wilder directed this look at a darker side of Hollywood and possibly the first to really do so.  William Holden stars as struggling screenwriter Joe Gillis who soon ends up at the home of silent star Norma Desmond, played by Gloria Swanson.  Desmond is now a has-been who cannot let go of her stardom and is still deluded that she will rise to the top again.  Norma gets Joe to write a script that will star her but becomes a very destructive working relationship.  Erich Von Stroheim co-stars as Max the butler who lives in Norma's home and helps Norma in her delusion of fame.  Nancy Olson and Jack Webb co-star in this film.  Many celebrities play themselves like Cecil B. DeMille, Hedda Hopper, Buster Keaton, among others.  This movie has been one of my favorites from this era which still really lives on to this day.  This movie has some of the best movie lines of all time.  This is a really great story but feel if I go on any further I will ruin things and we would not want that to happen.  This is possibly the best movie about Hollywood.  It was also turned into a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and while I have never seen it I have been known to sing the title song on karaoke.  This is available on Netflix.

Homeward Bound:  The Incredible Journey (1993):  This is my Disney movie for the week which was directed by Duwayne Dunham and based on the novel by Sheila Burnford.  A family must movie where the stepdad, played by Robert Hays, must take a job in another town and feels the pets, which include an aging dog named Shadow, voiced by Don Ameche, a younger dog named Chance, voiced by Michael J. Fox, and a cat named Chance, voiced by Sally Field, would not have enough room in their new place so they drop them off at a family member's farm.  Shortly after they get there, they decide they must journey to find their family so they escape from the farm and set off on a really long journey home.  Kim Griest, Veronica Lauren, Jean Smart, and many others co-star in the human world.  Also, Big Bird voice Carroll Spinney has an uncredited voice of another dog.  This is a remake of the 1963 film AN INCREDIBLE JOURNEY, also by Disney where it relied on narration instead of putting voices to the animals.  This is still a really good one to watch and is really one for the family.  I have found that lost animal movies are the hardest for me to watch and there were many moments where I actually teared up in some of the dangerous obstacles these animals had to go through so get you might want some Kleenexes.  I have not seen the original but might need to wait a bit before I do see it.  This is available on Netflix.

The Christmas that Almost Wasn't (1966):  This is my episode of the MST3K reboot for the week and I know I'm probably supposed to wait until Christmas to do this one but I know there are all year round Christmas enthusiasts out there who would appreciate this type of selection.  Rossano Brazzi directed this holiday movie and probably saw how bad the 1959 movie SANTA CLAUS was and then a few years he must have seen the 1964 movie SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS and then thought he could do something much better.  In this one, Christmas is in jeopardy when an anti-Christmas businessman named Phineas Prune, played by Brazzi himself, manages to take over the deed at the North Pole and forces Santa to pay a very high amount of rent on Christmas Eve or he'd have to leave and the elves could not do what they needed.  I guess they had nowhere else to go.  Santa seeks out an attorney who wrote him a memorable letter as a child and enlists his help in saving the North Pole and Christmas.  There is not much more to say except if on holidays you are looking for a good Christmas B-movie besides the named titles, this is another one to check out.  It may not top SANTA CLAUS but is still very watchable.  This like the rest of MST3K is available on Netflix.

A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014):  Scott Frank directed this action film based on the novel by Lawrence Block.  Liam Neeson stars as private investigator Matthew Scudder who is hired by a drug kingpin to find the who kidnapped and murdered his wife.  His investigation leads him deeper than what he wanted when finding these things have happened more than once.  Boyd Holbrook, Dan Stevens, Brian Bradley, Danielle Rose Russell, and many others co-star in this film.  This is an action film but is also a very intriguing mystery and while we get to see a lot of that great Liam Neeson violence, we also see a good performance as the private investigator.  In the beginning, it has quite an action scene which is significant for later in the film.

A Picture of Dorian Gray (1945):  Albert Lewin directed this film based on the novel by Oscar Wilde.  It is more centered around the character of Lord Henry Wotton, played by George Sanders.  Henry meets the title character, played by Hurd Hatfield, who is posing for a painting for his artist friend Basil, played by Lowell Gilmore.  Henry advises Dorian that he needs to seek pleasure in life and talks about the loss of youth making Dorian wish that the painting could age but he could stay young.  His wish gets granted where he begins to stay young while everyone else ages but the painting slowly reveals his corruption.  Donna Reed, Angela Lansbury, Peter Lawford, and many others co-star in this film. Sanders does a great job as the main character and narrator which essentially brings out the corruption in Dorian.  Hatfield does a very good job playing a mostly unemotional character but cannot think of anything else he did in his career.  This has good Victorian London feel to it.  I had the pleasure of watching this on a bigger screen at my local library which was really worth the watch.  This still holds onto it's creepy and disturbing factor.

Bugsy (1991):  Barry Levinson directed this biopic on the tempered New York mobster Ben "Bugsy" Siegel, played by Warren Beatty,  who had a nickname of Bugsy that should not be said right in front of him.  He also spends a lot of time in Hollywood with his mistress Virginia Hill, played by Annette Bening, and has a vision of creating a gambling haven in Nevada where he helps to create Vegas but uses a lot more money for his dream that he should which anger fellow mobsters.  Harvey Keitel, Ben Kingsley, Elliott Gould, Joe Mantegna, Bebe Neuwirth, Kimberly McCullough, Andy Romano, Robert Beltran, Bill Graham, Wendie Malick, and many others co-star in this film.  Beatty plays the part to perfection and his credit toward Vegas is a bit exaggerated from my understanding but was a big part of it.  I've always been interested in this era of the mafia and this movie does not disappoint.

Bloody Mama (1970):  I decided to do another true crime movie this time directed by Roger Corman.  Shelley Winters stars as Ma Barker who lead her four sons on a crime spree in the depression era.  Don Stroud, Bruce Dern, Robert Walden, and a very young Robert De Niro play her four sons, each of which have problem of some sort and none can get away from their mother.  Pat Hingle, Diane Varsi, Alex Nicol, Scatman Crothers, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a pretty unconventional crime film but it does do a pretty good job of not glorifying the criminals.  Winters does great at the very unlikable Ma Barker and the sons follow suit very well.  It is also of interest to see a young Dern and De Niro before they became the stars later in their career.  There is also a very violent climatic shootout.  Now in the later years, it has been said that the matriarch of the Barker family had no involvement in crime.  I don't think it has been proven one way or another and has been said that J. Edgar Hoover started the myth.  Still an entertaining and rather dark film.

Beasts of No Nation (2015):  I end the week with some more violence, this being in a civil war country of Ghana.  Cary Fukunaga directed this film based on the novel by Uzodinma Iweala.  Abraham Attah stars as Agu whose family is located in a "buffer zone" and when escaping ends up along coming across a group called NDF led by a man named Commandment, played by Idris Elba, who takes Agu under his wings and trains him to be a child soldier.  Attah and Elba put on great performances in this film of a very sad country.  This is the first Netflix produced feature film after putting out a few tv shows.  It had a very authentic look and feel to it being shot in the country and the many locals cast in the film.  This is still available on Netflix.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Kirsten Dunst, Will Rogers, Maggie Smith, Peter Cushing, and many others.

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