Sunday, November 26, 2017

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 628th Edition

Welcome to the 628th Edition of my series.  I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving and thanks to those that had to work that day no matter what the job.  I am ranked in first place in one of my fantasy football leagues so I hope to continue my success with my 8th win in a row.  I hope everyone has a good holiday season however one might decide to celebrate.  Let's get to the selections for the week.

Impaler (2007):  I start the week out with this documentary which was directed by W. Tray White.  This is a documentary on self-proclaimed vampire Jonathan "The Impaler" Sharkey.  This mainly take a look at his announcement to run for governor in the state of Minnesota.  His platform was to help the farmers and veterans but was very clear that law breakers were to be impaled.  In this, it was also found that he is a former professional wrestler and has some connection to the Indiana area.  I had no idea I was going to see Central Indiana wrestler and wrestling promoter Don Basher who runs the Wild Championship Wrestling Outlaws promotion and while I have never worked on his shows, I have been backstage with him in my times as a ring announcer.  Basher was reflecting on the times he had with Sharkey and talked about how he helped train him in wrestling.  In my times of regularly going to wrestling shows I had never seen this guy so this was rather unexpected.  This was a rather fascinating watch of this man trying to run for political office and to listen to his strange views.

Tarts and Flowers (1950):  This is my animated short for the week which features the character Little Audrey.  In this short she meets the Gingerbread Man who is to be married to an Angel Food cake but the bride kidnapped by the Devil's Food Cake.  This was a pretty cute short film with making characters out of junk food and making Devil's Food Cake into the image of the actual Devil.  You will also see some interesting racial moments which were very common in those days.  This can be found on Amazon Prime as part of "Cartoon Classics Volume 2" which has a lot of other classic animated shorts.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977):  This is part one of a two-part Richard Dreyfuss series.  Steven Spielberg wrote and directed this Sci-Fi classic.  There are a couple different stories going on here that come together.  One is a group of research scientists lead by Claude Lacombe, played by Francois Truffaut, are investigating the strange appearance of items in remote locations and use the Kodaly method of music education as a form of communication.  The other story takes place in my own hometown of Muncie, Indiana.  Richard Dreyfuss stars as Roy Neary who has had a great life with a wife and kids and starts to become obsessed with what he thinks is paranormal activity.  This puts a complication in his marriage but feels he must figure out what is happening.  Teri Garr, Bob Balaban, Warren J. Kemmerling, Roberts Blossom, Philip Dodds, Cary Guffey, Adrienne Campbell, Lance Henrikson, Josef Sommer, Carl Weathers, and many others co-star in this film.  With Weathers, he has a small role as an mp and have heard he can only be seen in the theatrical version.  It was really cool seeing this on a bigger screen at screening at my local library.  It was also really cool seeing a movie taking place in my own town even if it did not actually get filmed there.  A production team did visit the town for local details and for props which were mostly at Roy's home.  John Williams also added to this with his music score.  This is a great Sci-Fi film where everything just works and the climax is worth it all.

Future War (1997):  This is my MST3K episode for the week.  I go to an absolute sci-fi classic to this sci-fi bomb that was well done enough to be picked up for a 1999 episode of MST3K with Mike Nelson being at the helm at this point as the imprisoned man forced to watch bad movies.  Daniel Bernhardt stars as a runaway slave from the future that was imprisoned by evil cyborg that escapes and is tracked by the cyborgs as well as dinosaurs.  He is befriended by a prostitute turned nun in Sister Ann, played by Travis Brooks Stewart.  Bernhardt in many ways resembles Van Damme and even seems to emulate his skills.  The effects on the dinosaurs were worse that some '70s movie and there is not much else to say except is is one of the few movies from the '90s to be on MST3K.

Ann Vickers (1933):  This is part one of a two-part James Stewart series.  John Cromwell directed this film based on the novel by Sinclair Lewis.  Irene Dunne stars as the title character who has the tragedy a baby dying during birth.  She tries to devote herself to making a difference and takes a job at a women's prison in hopes to improve the conditions there but finds that is not easy.  She soon forms an affair with Judge Barney Dolphin, played by Huston, who is also married.  Conrad Nagel, Bruce Cabot, Edna May Oliver, Sam Hardy, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a pre-code film and was controversial for having an affair out of wedlock which was a big deal in those days.  Dunne has a great performance as the title character.  This is a must for fans of the early cinema and pre-code.

We Bought a Zoo (2011):  Cameron Crowe directed and co-wrote this film based on a book by Benjamin Mee, played very well by Matt Damon.  Benjamin is a widowed single father whose wife Katherine, played by Stephanie Szostak in flashbacks, has died.  Looking to start over he decides to buy a large house after learning it is also a zoo.  He moves his kids Dylan and Rosie, played by Colin Ford and Maggie Elizabeth Jones, to this place with his daughter loving the move but his son not so happy with it.  There is already a staff there and Benjamin looks to lead the staff to restructure the zoo for reopening but finds this will be a very difficult task as the staff bands together in hopes of saving their zoo.  Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Angus Macfadyen, Elle Fanning, Patrick Fugit, John Michael Higgins, Carla Gallo, J.B. Smoove, and many others co-star in this film.  For me, this was a very moving film of the real-life Dartmoor Zoo that is still going today.  This is a selection the family can watch and possibly be moved to tears.

Vertigo (1958):  No, this has nothing to do with that U2 song which we learn Bono cannot count to the number four.  This is part three of my James Stewart trilogy which was intended to be a two-parter but then came across this Hitchcock classic that I decided to watch.  Hitchcock directed this film based on the novel by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac.  Stewart stars as retired detective John Ferguson who was forced to retire due to his acrophobia and vertigo.  Ferguson's old friend Gavin hires him to follow his wife Madeleine, played by Kim Novak, who he fears is going insane and possibly contemplating suicide.  This turns into an obsession with Ferguson over Madeleine and becomes very dangerous for them both.  Barbara Bell Geddes, Henry Jones, and many others co-star in this film.  This is the last of four collaborations between Hitchcock and Stewart.  To describe this further would be giving it away.  This was one of those that was bashed by the critics at first but is now hailed as a classic and many say Stewart's best performance.

Deadpool (2016):  Tim Miller directed this Superhero film which stars Ryan Reynolds who plays Deadpool and spent years trying to get this produced to his vision.  Reynolds stars as Wade Wilson who is a mercenary and dying of cancer until being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers and also alters his looks prompting him to come up with a costume.  He becomes a superhero, well more of an anti-hero, going after the man Ajax, played by Ed Skrein, with the reluctant help of X-Men members Colossus, played by Stefan Kapicic, and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, played by Brianna Hildebrand.  Karan Soni, Michael Benyaer, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, Taylor Hickson, Gina Carano, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a much different superhero movie than all the others that Marvel and DC have been releasing.  One thing Reynolds wanted that he got was for the movie to be rated R so that he could use more violence, profanity, and nudity.  This is also known for breaking the fourth wall where he pretty much knows he is a comic book character and takes jabs at other comic book movies as well as inside jabs at the movie studio.  A lot of parents did not notice the part was rated R and thought it would be like the others where kids can see it and were quite disappointed when that was not the case.  I did go to the theaters to sees this and recall being kind of disappointed there were not any kids at this one and to see the parents overreact.  This also has really good opening credits that mostly make fun of opening credits.  This is more than anything a comedy that make all kinds of pop culture references and many good one-liners.  I look forward to the sequel coming.

A Star is Born (1976):  Frank Pierson directed this remake of of the 1937 and 1954 films.  In 1937, Janet Gaynor stars as aspiring actress Esther trying to make it in Hollywood.  In 1954, Judy Garland stars as more of a Broadway singer.  Now we add Barbra Streisand to the mix where she stars as up and coming songstress Esther Hoffman who falls in love with has been rock star John Norman Howard, played by Kris Kristofferson.  John tries to take a backseat for Esther to shine but finds it is hard to do.  Gary Busey, Oliver Clark, Venetta Fields, Marta Heflin, Sally Kirkland, Paul Mazursky, and many others co-star in this film.  While this is a remake, I feel took a good angle to make it set apart from the others.  Streisand and Kristofferson do a great job together in what is more of a rock musical.  Each version is worth a look so maybe have a triple feature with these movies.

Children of Invention (2009):  I end the week with this independent film which was written and directed by Tze Chun.  Cindy Cheung stars as single mother Elaine Cheng who struggles to make it in life and takes part in pyramid schemes in hope she'll make some quick money.  The children Raymond and Crystal, played by Michael Chen and Crystal Chiu, are left to fend for themselves who also have interesting schemes in hopes of making money.  Stephen Gevedon, Frank Pando, Kieran Campion, Xan Li, Suzan Mikiel, Katie Kreisler, Kathleen Kwan, and many others co-star in this film.  This is more of a character driven independent film which documents the struggles of people trying to make it in life, especially the immigrants and the types of things we are willing to do.  This was a relatively unknown cast but still a very well-done and overlooked film.  This is available on the Hoopla Digital website.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Thomas Jane, Richard Dreyfuss, David Strathairn, Harry Belafante, and many others.

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