Sunday, September 23, 2018
Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 671st Edition
Welcome to the 671st Edition of my series. It's been some busy times with work and rehearsing in preparation for my role as Renfield in DRACULA. It has been a lot of fun though and continue to memorize all that dialogue. I will have more information in the future on that show. I don't really have much else happening so I'll just get on with my selections.
Boogie Nights (1997): This is part two of my two-part series dedicated to the late Burt Reynolds. Last week I used one of his much later independent films in THE LAST MOVIE STAR. Now I use the movie that some might say made him relevant again. Paul Thomas Anderson wrote and directed this film that takes centers around the adult film industry or to put in simpler terms porn. A young Mark Wahlberg stars as Eddie Adams who works as a busboy in a nightclub until he gets discovered by adult film directed Jack Horner, played by Reynolds. Eddie make the decision to become an adult film actor coining the name Dirk Diggler. While humble in the beginning, he succumbs to a world of drugs and to his own ego. Julianne Moore, Heather Graham, Luis Guzman, John C. Reilly, Nicole Ari Parker, Don Cheadle, William H. Macy, Nina Hartley, Joanna Gleason, Ricky Jay, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Melora Walters, Michael Jace, Philip Baker Hall, Thomas Jane, Michael Penn, Robert Downey Sr., Alfred Molina, Tom Lenk, and many others co-star in this film. I always enjoy Graham the most as Rollergirl but the whole cast excels very well. In looking further into this, I have found that Burt regretted doing this film even though he won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Academy award. This is based on adult film star John Holmes. I found this to be a very enjoyable film and had a great array of characters that are really part of a family through all their ups and downs. This is available to watch on Netflix.
Toni Erdmann (2016): This is my German film for the week which was written and directed by Maren Ade. This centers around the father/daughter relationship between Winfried, played by Peter Simonischek, and his daughter Ines, played by Sandra Huller. Ines is a very hard working person and has a hard time with her practical joker father. Winfried enters into the picture again as an alter-ego of the movie title claiming to be a life coach. Michael Wittenborn, Thomas Loibl, Trystan Putter, Ingrid Bisu, Hadewych Minis, Lucy Russell, Victoria Cocias, Alexandru Papadopol, and many others co-star in this film. This was a pretty moving film about a father and daughter. At the same time, it had some really funny moments, especially with Simonischek in his alter-ego as well as the climax of the film. This should draw an equal amount of laughs and tears.
Small, Beautifully Moving Parts (2011): Annie J. Howell and Lisa Robinson wrote and directed this independent comedy. Anna Margaret Hollyman stars as technological geek Sarah Sparks who is experiencing her first pregnancy and having a lot of anxiety despite the excitement of her boyfriend Leon, played by Andre Howell. She decides to take a road trip alone in search of her estranged mother which she feels is the source of her anxiety. Sarah Rafferty, Annie J. Howell, Allison Black, Nisha Ganatra, Jane Pickett, Mary Beth Peil, and many others co-star in this comedy. I found this to be pretty funny, especially in the way they worked in the technology. I'm sure that many mothers can relate when they were pregnant for their own first time. This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.
Cartoons on Tour (1915): I'm continuing my much older which have all been the combination of animation and live action. Film pioneer Raoul Barre wrote and directed this early short film which shows a father and daughter in a vehicle together reading the printed GROUCH CHASER cartoons in the paper which come to life as they read. I never really thought a lot of this until I started watching these short films, but I guess I assumed the Disney was the first to combine live action and animation. This won came from Edison Studios which Thomas Edison created after inventing his moving camera. There are a lot of these available to watch on Filmstruck under Cartoon Roots. These will spark a lot of interest.
Cluny Brown (1946): Ernst Lubisch directed this film based on the novel by Margery Sharp. Jennifer Jones stars as the title character who has expectations of who she is supposed to be as a lady but remains free spirited. Her uncle sends her off to work as a servant at an English country estate where she meets charming Czech writer Adam Belinski who seems as unconventional as her while Cluny also takes interest in shopkeeper Mr. Wilson, played by Richard Haydn. Peter Lawford, Helen Walker, Reginald Gardiner, Reginald Owen, C. Aubrey Smith, Una O'Connor, and many others co-star in this film. Jennifer Jones does not seem to get her due from the modern era like some actresses but she had her own talent and does great in this film as the title character. This was a very amusing and touching movie to watch and is really worth a look. This is available to watch on Filmstruck.
Sabata (1969): This is my western for the week and is the Spaghetti western. Gianfranco Parolini directed and co-wrote this film. Lee Van Cleef stars as master gunfighter Sabata who arrives in a small Texas town foiling a bank robbery only to find it was staged by the town leaders. When blackmailing Stengal, played by Franco Ressel, he sends various thugs to kill Sabata including the conflicted Banjo, played by William Berger. I felt the character Banjo was the most enjoyable part of the movie. Ignazio Spalla, Linda Veras, Claudio Undari, and many others co-star in this western. This is the first of a trilogy in which the sequel would have Yul Brynner as Sabata and the third one would have Van Cleef return. Van Cleef usually played antagonist characters in westerns but was enjoyed as the protagonist in this very action packed western.
The Fits (2015): Anna Rose Holmer directed and co-wrote this independent film which centers around 11 year old tomboy Toni, played by Royalty Hightower. Toni becomes enamored with a dance troupe in trying to fit in but an outbreak of fainting spells that is unknown starts to happen. Alexis Neblett, Lauren Gibson, Da'sean Minor, Inayah Rodgers, Makyla Burnam, Antonio A.B. Grant Jr., and many others co-star in this independent film. It is really hard to put this one into words. The dance group was a real-life dance group in Cincinnati. This is a psychological movie that feel they left for the audience to interpret what was happening. It is an interesting watch and available to watch on Hoopla Digital.
A Dolls House (1959): This is my tv movie for the week which at the time was a live telecast. George Schaefer directed this movie that is based on the play by Henrik Ibsen. Julie Harris and Christopher Plummer star as wealthy couple Nora and Torvald Helmer. Torvald is a bank manager that is struggling financially and Nora is trying to save them from financial troubles by doing things behind her husband's back. Hume Cronyn, Eileen Heckart, Jason Robards, Richard Thomas, Walter Slezak, and many others co-star in what is essentially live theater. This is a pretty compelling story on a live couple and was well performed in this live environment. I know now, the live musical tv showings has gotten onto the rise. I don't know how common this was in the era but venture to say it was not done often. This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.
Neutron: The Atomic Superman (1962): This is my Rifftrax movie for the week. This was a time that Mexican wrestler superhero movies were on the rise, usually with people like El Santo, the Blue Demon and Mil Mascaras. Evil scientist Dr. Caronte, also has a Mexican wrestling mask which seemed rare for villains of these sorts of movies, is trying to revive the brains of three scientists and it is up for our hero Neutron to stop this from happening. Do I really need to go any further? I was not able to find any information of this Neutron guy and his wrestling background or on Dr. Caronte who is essentially a Rudo which is the term for a bad guy in Mexican wrestling. It appears these were just created characters going off the rise of these types of movies at the time. If anyone has any other information, feel free to share. The highlight of the movie is Dr. Caronte's midget henchman. This is available on Amazon Prime with or without Rifftrax commentary.
An American in England: An Animated Short Film (2018): I end the week with this animated short film which was written and directed by Ibnul Jaif Farabi. This is a three minute short which documents the misadventures of an American going to England and trying to push it with his freedom. This obviously doesn't take long to watch and is a pretty clever and entertaining three minutes. This 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 Catherine Keener, Martin Scorsese, James Earl Jones, Mia Farrow, Guillermo Del Toro, John Waters, Ingmar Bergman, Michael Moriarty, and many others.