Sunday, August 19, 2018
Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 666th Edition
Welcome to the 666th Edition of my series and I'm sorry to say, nothing symbolic of the number. Next weekend is my debut show with Think, Dog Productions at the Heorot Pub and Draught House in a series of short plays that are both comedic and rather deep at times. Ticket information is located on the bottom of the series so get your tickets reserved and come out to support this independent theater group. I will get on with my selections now.
No Holds Barred (1989): I start the week out with this wrestling movie. Thomas J. Wright directed what is essentially the first movie from WWE Films. Hulk Hogan stars in this film as Rip who is pretty much playing Hulk Hogan who at this time was extremely on the rise with the WWF which most of us know now as the WWE. Kurt Fuller co-stars as ruthless tv exec Brell whose network is struggling and comes across wrestling thinking that will save his network. He does everything possible to get Rip to sign with his competition but when Rip refuses, he finds a mysterious man named Zeus, played by Tommy 'Tiny' Lister, and through Brell's ruthless ways, he coerces Rip to fight this seemingly invulnerable man in Zeus no holds barred as the title implies. Joan Severance, Mark Pellegrino, Bill Henderson, David Paymer, Patrick O'Bryan, and many others co-star. There are some cameos from people in the wrestling industry which include former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura, Mean Gene Okerlund, ring announcer Howard Finkel, referee Joseph Marella, Stan Hanson, and Bill Eadie. Hanson is very amusing in his role of the Neanderthal. Eadie is Rip's first opponent in Jake Bullet and most probably know him as Ax of the tag team Demolition. Since working at home, I have been listening to a lot of wrestler shoot interview and wrestler podcasts. Recently I started the podcast "Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard aka Brother Love and Conrad Thompson". They discuss various things on wrestling like wrestlers, pay-per-views, and other significant events. They had an episode to discuss this movie so I decided to watch the movie before listening to the episode as I had not seen this in a long time. This is more of a guilty pleasure than anything and will be most enjoyed by wrestling fans. I could also see Rifftrax taking on this movie. Lister went onto play the Zeus character for a brief period of time in wrestling feuding with Hulk Hogan and was in WCW at one point. One thing that I could not help but notice was near the end of the movie, they had a six sided wrestling ring in which TNA wrestling would use that ring many years later and when Hogan got involved with TNA, one of the first things he did was do the standard wrestling ring. Just a little irony or was it? I might as well plug the podcast which is at website http://www.mlwradio.com/something-to-wrestle-with-bruce-prichard.html and is on itunes.
Magic and Bird: A Courtship of Rivals (2010): I go from a silly wrestling movie to this basketball documentary. Ezra Edelman directed this documentary which most will infer from the title is focused on Larry Bird and Earvin "Magic" Johnson. This is a rivalry which started in the NCAA with Johnson playing for Michigan State and Bird playing for the college in my state of Indiana State and how they were very different but also very similar. It gets even bigger when they are both drafted to the NBA which at the time was struggling and these two players brought more fans back after people knowing them from the NCAA. They form a bond where they were absolute rivals and slowly become friends. I got into the NBA more around the rise of Jordan so while I was aware of these players, I was not aware of the significance of their rivalry or that they even had one of this magnitude.
Phantom Thread (2017): Paul Thomas Anderson wrote and directed this film that takes place in '50s London and centers around the fashion industry. Daniel Day-Lewis stars as renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock who has formed a very successful partnership with his sister Cyril, played by Lesley Manville. Reynolds lives under the belief he is a confirmed bachelor until a strong-willed woman named Alma, played by Vicky Krieps, comes into his life becoming his inspiration and muse. Julie Vollono, Camilla Rutherford, Gina McGee, Brian Gleeson, Eric Sigmundsson, Phyllis MacMahon, Richard Graham and many others co-star in this film. This is apparently the swan song of Day-Lewis but since he never really did much to begin with, I guess we'll never really know. If this is his last movie, this is a good one to go out on if he just feels the need to retire. Obviously this centers around a backdrop but like any good movie is more about the people, most notably the relationship between Reynolds and Cyril and then Reynolds's relationship with Alma that complicates his relationship with his sister. This is probably not for everyone but if you enjoy the work of Anderson and the last project of Anderson and Day Lewis in THERE WILL BE BLOOD, I feel this will be enjoyed.
Daffy- the Commando (1943): This is my animated short for the week and I bring some good old WWII propaganda from this era. As most will probably guess, this one features Daffy Duck. Daffy goes behind enemy lines to disrupt Colonel Von Vulture and even Hitler. These were some pretty bold shorts in this era. This is very entertaining with the really good use of Rotoscope on realistic image of Hitler. This is available on Amazon Prime as part of the "Patriotic Cartoon Classics" and is easily found on Youtube.
Every-Night Dreams (1933): This is my Japanese film for the week and my silent film for the week. Mikio Naruse directed this film which centers around single mother Omitsu who works at a Ginza bar entertaining docked sailors to make ends meet. Her estranged husband and father of her child Mizuhara returns promising to find work to support his wife and son but finds the job market is very difficult. I don't really know what the film situation was like in Japan in this era. The first talkie was here in our own country in 1927 of THE JAZZ SINGER while in Japan, they did not accommodate to these ways until 1930 so they were still putting out silents at this time. If into silent film, this is a really good one to watch and is only a little over an hour. This is available to watch on Filmstruck.
Badlands (1973): Terrence Malick makes his directorial film in this movie about young love in which he also wrote. Sissy Spacek stars as Holly, an impressionable teen that has a rather difficult relationship with her father, played by Warren Oates. She soon meets twenty-something Kit, played by Martin Sheen, and form a relationship while being on a killing spree as they try evading the law. This could be Malick's most linear film of his career but still puts a lot of emphasis on his cinematography that his movies are most known for. I suppose this could be a rather toned down version of what years later would become NATURAL BORN KILLERS which is more of a satire. Sheen and Spacek work well together as lovers on the lam. This is also available to watch on Filmstruck.
Baby Driver (2017): I continue with some violence. Edgar Wright wrote and directed this heist film. Ansel Elgort stars in this film as the partially hearing impaired Baby who is in debt to crime boss Doc, played by Kevin Spacey, and must use his talents as a getaway driver in heists always doing it to his music. As far as Baby knows, he works off his debt and is ready to continue his crime-free life with his new girlfriend Debora, played by Lily James, but finds it not that simple when being coerced into doing one more job which is the one that does not go planned. Jon Hamm, Elza Gonzalez, Jon Bernthal, Jamie Foxx, Flea, Paul Williams, CJ Jones, and many others co-star in this film. Elgort is good as the music obsessed youngster who does not fit into a crime group. This has a really good soundtrack and some really good action along with some dark comedy in this really fun action film.
Adventures of a Dentist (1965): This is my Russian selection for the week which was directed by Elem Klimov and based on a play by Aleksandr Volodin. A young dentist named Chesnokov, played by Andrey Myagkov, finds that he has an ability to remove a tooth without pain which at first people look highly upon but his colleagues soon fear their future and look to ruin him. This has some really funny moments and was controversial for its time with a lot of anti-communist messages and in turn had a very limited release and still is hard to come by as I understand it is not available on video or DVD. It is available to watch on Filmstruck.
The Magician (1958): I leave Russia to go to Sweden and visit the man likely synonymous with Swedish film-making in Ingmar Bergman who wrote and directed this Swedish film. Max Von Sydow stars as Dr. Vogler who is the leader of the touring 19th Century magic group Vogler's Magnetic Health Theater. When arriving in Stockholm, the leading townspeople are suspicious of their work and demand that a sample of their act be performed before doing the whole show. Ingrid Thulin, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Naima Wifstrand, Bengt Ekerot, Bibi Anderson, Gertrud Fridh, Lars Ekborg, and many others co-star in this film. Bergman is known for movies that focus on the existential crisis, most notably THE SEVENTH SEAL but this one goes away from that and has more of a comedic and disturbing battle of wits. This is also available to watch on Filmstruck.
Pupil (2013): I end the week on this live-action short film. Chung Ki Chan directed this short film which was written by Christopher Browne. Eugenia Yuan stars as a struggling artist trying to fulfill her dreams while experiencing traumatic events. She is soon forced to see the world in new ways. Yuan is the only person in the movie and she conveys through her emotions and movement but not through dialogue. Her performance and the cinematography contribute to this compelling 13 minute film and is available to watch on Amazon Prime.
Well, that is it for this week. Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Renee Zellweger, Peter Sellers, and many others.