Sunday, June 3, 2018
Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 655th Edition
Welcome to the 655th Edition of my series. I find myself in one of those times that I really hate which is having to accept that your vehicle's days are numbered and have to think about another vehicle. The one nice thing is I do not have to drive to work now so I'm trying to be positive about it and know things will work out. Last week for my birthday, my dad bought me a year subscription for the streaming service Filmstruck. This mostly features movies from TCM and from Criterion and am really enjoying my latest option, especially towards the older movies. There are also a couple selections from it on this list and encourage looking into that service.
Across the Universe (2007): Julie Taymor directed this musical which centers around music from the Beatles. This take place in the '60s during the Vietnam era Jude, played by Jim Sturgess, meets and falls in love with Lucy, played by Evan Rachel Wood, so yes they used names from Beatles songs. This centers around a group of anti-war friends when one of them is drafted to Vietnam. Joe Anderson, Dana Fuchs, Martin Luther, T.V. Carpio, Dylan Baker, Linda Emond, Lynn Cohen, Bill Irwin, Joe Cocker, Bono, Eddie Izzard, and many others co-star or have cameos in this film. This is set mostly to the anti-war movement of the '60s and does a good job of incorporating the Beatles music into the film. I suppose if you just don't like the Beatles, this is not one to see. This is mostly a film on the counter-culture from this era. Keep in mind that the surviving Beatles which are Paul and Ringo did enjoy this film. Could be a good double feature to go along with SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB band which had other people singing their music but is most of a bad musical classic that is entertaining. This one was entertaining and was an actual good musical.
Band of Brothers (2001): I go from a film that focuses a lot on the anti-war movement towards Vietnam to a WWII mini-series that I would not call pro-war but a story of an actual military unit. Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks produced this HBO series which takes a look at the military unit Easy Company from its beginnings through a lot of other ups and downs throughout the war. Damian Lewis, Scott Grimes, Ron Livingston, Shane Taylor, Donnie Wahlberg, Peter Youngblood Hills, Matthew Leitch, Nicholas Aaron, Philip Barantini, Michael Cudlitz, Dexter Fletcher, Rick Gomez, Neal McDonaugh, Dale Dye, Michael Fassbender, Frank John Hughes, Kirk Acevedo, Tom Hardy, Jason O'Mara, Simon Pegg, Colin Hanks, David Schwimmer, Dominic Cooper, Jimmy Fallon, and many others co-star in this mini-series, many of which before they were known. This consists of about 10 episodes that are all around an hour long. Most episodes start out with interviews of the actual soldiers being portrayed which I thought was a really good element. I don't feel this is either pro or anti war but a really good look at the ups and downs of a military unit making the most of their surroundings. This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.
A United Kingdom (2016): I go from a true story on an WWII army unit to a true story on African royalty and a real-life forbidden relationship around the same era. Amma Asante directed this biopic which stars David Oyelowo as Seretse Khama who is the prince of Bechuanaland and is studying law in Britain before his ascension to the throne. While there, he meets and falls in love with British clerk and white woman Ruth Williams, played by Rosamund Pike. When finally going to Africa, their interracial relationship is not well received and must fight for their rights to be together. Tom Felton, Jack Davenport, Laura Carmichael, Terry Pheto, Jessica Oyelowo, Nicholas Lyndhurst, Arnold Oceng, Anastasia Hille, Charlotte Hope, Theo Landey, Abena Ayiyor, Jack Lowden, Nicholas Rowe, and many others co-star in this film. I was never aware of this story until I saw the movie and had never heard of this relationship. This was a pretty good history love story that was well cast and one on not giving up.
The Luckiest Guy in the World (1947): This is my short film for the week which is from the "Crime Does Not Pay" series which I find usually takes an everyday person in over their heads driving them to crime. Barry Nelson stars as Charlie Vurn who is always looking for his "big score" and likes to bet on horses. He also owes his bookies and "borrows" from his accounts at work leading to quite the climax with a really good ending. This is actually the last entry in the "Crime Does Not Pay" series which was a pretty good series that can be found on DVD and get featured a lot on TCM.
King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962): As I was housesitting last week for my friends Stephanie and Drew, I took full advantage of their VHS they recently obtained to watch this monster film. A pharmaceutical company goes to Farou Island to capture King Kong to bring him to Japan for publicity purposes where he escapes and battles a recently released Godzilla. This is the first movie where Godzilla takes on another creature and would have many battles through the years with rivals like Mothra and King Ghidorah but this is kind of what started it. Like all of them, the actual fight is the best part and was a pretty good and rather intense fight. I had seen some of the others but had not seen this one yet and was a pretty fun one to watch.
The Women (1939): George Cukor directed this film based on the play by Clare Boothe Luce. Norma Shearer stars as Mary Haines who learns that her husband Stephen is having an affair with shopgirl Crystal Allen, played by Joan Crawford. She goes to a ranch in Reno meeting other women who are in similar situations whiles also analyzing the future of her marriage. Rosalind Russell, Mary Boland, Paulette Goddard, Joan Fontaine, Lucile Watson, Phyllis Povah, Virginia Weidler, Marjorie Main, Virginia Grey, Ruth Hussey, and many others co-star in this film. Notice that I named off a bunch of women and that is because this has an all-woman cast. I would like to comment on Virginia Weidler who plays Mary's daughter and find that she is my favorite child actor from this era going onto become rather underrated in my opinion. This was a very clever film with quite a bit of comedy. This came into the golden year of film as some say so it might have been lost in the shuffle but still joins the elite films of that year. This is available to watch on Filmstruck.
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018): This is part one of a possible four part Woody Harrelson series. I decided to get out and use my Moviepass for this prequel to the iconic character brought to life by Harrison Ford. Ron Howard takes the helm of director and Alden Ehrenreich stars as the young Han Solo where we see him becoming the man we know through his meetings with friends like Lando Calrissian, played by Donald Glover, and the Wookie that would become his best friend in Chewbacca, played by Joonas Suotomo. Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Paul Bettany, Jon Favreau, Erin Kellyman, Linda Hunt, Warwick Davis, Clint Howard, and many others co-star or have cameos. Ahrenreich captures the character of Han Sol very well and Glover steals all scenes he is in as young Calrissian so I'm sure we can expect movies for him in the future. I don't really want to give too much away as I try to approach these with a little knowledge possible. I thought this was well done and pays respect to all the other STAR WARS films while making this one its own.
Drunken Angel (1948): Akira Kurosawa directed this Japanese crime drama in post-war Japan. Toshiro Mifune stars as small-time gangster Matsunaga who goes to see an alcoholic doctor named Sanada, played by Takashi Shimura, after battle with rival criminals. Sanada diagnoses Matsunaga with Tuberculosis and convinces him to get treatment for it. They form an uneasy friendship while Matsunaga still has to battle rival gangsters. Shimura is likely most known from Kurosawa's IKIRU. This is the first of many collaborations between Kurosawa and Mifune. Mifune is more known as the rough looking samurai but pulls off the clean cut gangster very well. This manages to takes different genres like noir, gangster, and odd couple and make a really good movie out of it. This is also available on Filmstruck.
The Last Man on Earth (1964): Ubaldo Ragona directed this horror film based on the novel I AM LEGEND by Richard Matheson. Vincent Price stars as Dr. Robert Morgan who appears to be the lone survivor of a plague that turned many into vampire/zombie like creatures that Morgan takes it upon himself to kill. Soon, he meets Ruth Collins, played by Franca Bettoia, who is contaminated and is on the verge of turning until he discovers his blood cures her. They look to save the world but find it is not that simple due to Morgan's reputation. Price does a great job carrying a lot of this movie by himself though there are flashback scenes before the plague happened. This has been remade a couple of times but just cannot match this one in my opinion. This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.
Krisha (2015): I end the week with this film which was directed and written by Trey Edward Shults and also co-stars. Krisha Fairchild stars as the title character who has been estranged from her family for a decade and finally returns for a Thanksgiving dinner with hopes that she will be able to reconnect with everyone including her son, played by Shults. As she tries to connect with her family, past demons come back to haunt her. Alex Dobrenko, Chris Doubek, Bryan Casserly, Chase Joliet, Augustine Frizzell, Olivia Grace Applegate, Bill Wise, and and many others co-star in this film. This has a pretty unknown cast but still manages to work very well. I really liked that a middle-aged woman was cast to star as this type of character. Most of the people in this movie are actual family and based on a real family situation so I know it had to be difficult to film among the family members. There is also a very interesting fantasy vs. reality element to this movie. This is not an easy movie to watch but really forces you to think and is pretty compelling. This is available to watch on Amazon Prime and hope to this this movie more exposure.
Well, that is it for this week. Tell me what you like and what you dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Parker Posey, Woody Harrelson, and many others.