Sunday, August 25, 2019
Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 714th Edition
Welcome to the 714th Edition of my series. I'm in rehearsals for THE INTERROGATION OF BIBLICAL CHARACTERS right now. Nothing else really happening so I'll just get on with my selections for the week.
Best of Enemies: Buckley vs. Vidal (2015): I start the week out with this documentary which was co-directed by Robert Gordan and Morgan Neville. This takes a look at the 1968 series of debates that were between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley. They were on very opposite side of the spectrum with Vidal being an extreme liberal and Buckley being an extreme conservative. This reflects on the series of debates, some biographical things, and where we were then and now with politics. This is a really entertaining behind the scenes account on these two personalities that that appeared to have always stayed enemies until their deaths. This is available to watch on Hulu.
Taris (1931): I follow up with this documentary short film from Jean Vigo. This is a feature on French swimmer Jean Taris performing different acts of his swimming. Vigo uses a lot of interesting film techniques for this documentary short. This is a pretty well done ten minutes that is available on the Criterion Channel.
The Red Shoes (1948): I saw this at my local library as part of their Coffee and Classics series. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger directed this film that is based on a story by Hans Christian Anderson. Moira Shearer stars as ballerina Victoria Page who works for the authoritarian ballet impressario Boris Lermontov, played by Anton Walbrook. Victoria falls for composer Julian Crastor, played by Marius Goring, much to the dismay of Lermontov. Leonide Massine, Austin Trevor, Esmond Knight, Irene Browne, Ludmilla Tcherina, and many others co-star in this film. This has some really good ballet scenes but it is a pretty dark story. It is also a very compelling film and could be a good double feature to include along with the 2010 film BLACK SWAN.
Mr. Right (2015): Now I turn to a rather dark comedy which was directed by Paco Cabezas. Anna Kendrick stars as Martha who is really sad in her life after her boyfriend cheated on her. She meets what she believes is the perfect man named Francis, played by Sam Rockwell, but learns that he is a hitman on the run from the crime cartels that employ him. Tim Roth co-stars as Hopper who was at one time Francis's mentor but now is trying to kill him. James Ransone, Anson Mount, Michael Eklund, RZA, Katie Nehra, Jaiden Kaine, and many others co-star in this comedy. I don't know when the last time I cracked up this hard. This takes the romantic comedy genre to a whole new level. Kendrick has such natural comedic timing and Rockwell plays along perfect in this rather violent comedy. Great comedy for the adults to get together and have some great laughs.
Taxi Driver (1976): This is part two of a two-part Robert De Niro series. Martin Scorsese directed this film which stars De Niro as an unable NYC taxi driver named Travis Bickle. He works on the night shift and encounters a young girl named Iris, played by Jodie Foster, who is a 12 and a half year old prostitute. He begins to obsess over getting her out of that way of life and freeing her from her pimp Matthew, played by Harvey Keitel, going about it in a very violent way. Peter Brooks, Cybill Shepherd, Albert Brooks, Leonard Harris, and many others co-star in this film. This is the second Scorsese/De Niro collaboration and has been one of my favorites. De Niro is perfect as the obsessive Bickle and there is also the memorable scene where he is in front of a mirror with a gun. There is also that pretty funny moment where Travis tries to take Cybill Shepherd on a date but does not have the best judgment in dates. This is a pretty dark movie and is not for everyone but is a very compelling film and remains one of my favorites.
The Road to Guantanamo (2006): I see I'm doing some pretty dark selections this week and continue with this one. Mat Whitecross and Michael Winterbottom directed this film which is part documentary and part drama. This takes a look at four British Muslims who are going to Pakistan for a wedding and get captured by Northern Alliance fighters and sent to Guantanamo Bay where they are imprisoned for three years under relentless interrogation and torture being convinced they were terrorists. Keep in mind, this was just days after the 9/11 attacks. Part of this is the the people there being interviewed and other parts of it are actors. This was not an easy movie to watch but is a very important one. I had never heard of this movie until now and glad I got to see it.
Master of the Flying Guillotine (1976): This was shown as part of the "Attack of the Movie" series at my local library. This is my martial arts movie for the week which was filmed in Taiwan. This is a showdown featuring a martial arts expert known as the "One Armed Boxer" who kills a couple disciples of a blind Kung Fu master. That Kung Fu master has a rather weird weapon that involves a guillotine just like the title implies and targets all one armed men with it until he gets to the right one armed man. Take this for what it's worth being very silly action and special effects, and whatever else, and will be rather enjoyable if not taken too seriously. Technically this is a sequel to the movie ONE ARMED BOXER but this can be watched first unless you decide to see the first one, maybe I will seek it out sometime.
The Wife (2017): Bjorn Runge directed this film which is based on the novel by Meg Wolitzer. Jonathan Pryce stars as author Joe Castleman, played by Harry Lloyd in flashbacks, who is set to receive of Nobel Prize for his work over the years. Glenn Close stars as his wife Joan, played by Close's real-life daughter Annie Starke in flashbacks, who starts to reflect on her marriage in the past and current state. Max Irons, Christian Slater, Elizabeth McGovern, Johan Widerberg, and many others co-star in this film. Irons who plays the son of the married couple is the son of actor Jeremy Irons. This is a pretty complex and compelling story that I don't really want to give too much away. It does a great job of going back and forth with the earlier era to the modern one.
East of Eden (1955): Elia Kazan directed this film based on the novel by John Steinbeck. Indiana legend James Dean stars as Cal Trask who is a troubled and maybe confused young man in the Salinas Valley in the time of WWI. Cal has a lot of sibling rivalry with his brother Aron, played by Richard Davalos, over the love of their religious father Adam, played by Raymond Massey. They are also both after the same girl in Abra, played by Julie Harris. Burl Ives, Jo Van Vleet, Albert Dekker, Lois Smith, and many others co-star in this film. There is a lot more to this than just sibling rivalry. As most know, this is one of three feature films that Dean was in before his untimely death. This is the only movie that he personally viewed in its entirety. Dean's personally and method acting played off on his character perfectly and has been said that Steinbeck visited the set and felt Dean was cast perfectly as Cal. It has also been said that Dean and Massey did not get along well which Kazan was fine with due to the characters in the film being the same way. It captures the tension very well and is a pretty intense film at times.
Old Man (2012): I end the week on this animated short film. Leah Shore directed this short and is centered around a conversation between Canadian author Marlin Marynick and the infamous Charles Manson which had never been heard. In this conversation, Shore has some very interesting animation around the conversation which to be expected is interesting it itself. It is only about five minutes long and is available on the Criterion Collection.
Well, that is it for this week but read further for my newer segment "The Bookworm Corner". Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Christian Bale, Pierce Brosnan, Hugh Jackman, and many others.
THE BOOKWORM CORNER
Hail to the Chin: Further Confessions of a B Movie Actor by Bruce Campbell (2017): I was working on a long-term project that was going to have a post similar to what I do every week but have decided against it and will now just start posting things I have already written or the books I finish in my goal to become more of a reader so this week I decided on an autobiography from Bruce. This is the second autobiography from Bruce, the first being IF CHINS COULD KILL: CONFESSIONS OF A B-MOVIE ACTOR and this picks up right where this one left off. Obviously, the first one should be read first and both books lead very entertaining insight into Bruce's life and has a lot of advice for the world of independent film. Unfortunately, I did not get to meet him on his book tour and I'm sure one day I will meet him. For those that do not know Mr. Campbell, he is most know for Ash in the EVIL DEAD series which includes two of that very name as well as ARMY OF DARKNESS and ASH VS. THE EVIL DEAD. He was also in the popular series BURN NOTICE. My favorite work of his is the movie BUBBA HO-TEP.
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