Sunday, January 26, 2020
Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 736th Edition
Welcome to the 736th Edition of my series. I am excited for the super bowl next week which features my team the San Francisco 49ers and hope to see them continue their winning ways. I'm even okay with the halftime show of Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, I'm sure that will be a lot of fun. I would also like to announce that I am going to be making my debut at the Attic Theater in Elwood, Indiana where I am to play Boris Kolenkhov in the comedy YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU in April. I will get more details in the coming weeks but for now I will get on with my selections.
Blessed is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh (2008): I start the week out with this documentary which was directed by Robert Grossman. Senesh was a Hungarian poet during WWII who was part of a group that parachuted in Yugoslavia to assist anti-nazi forces. She was captured and tortured before being put to death. Joan Allen does the voice of Hannah's mother in this documentary of someone from this era that not as talked about but is very significant. This has interviews of friends and family as well as those who fought beside her during this time.
Unstoppable (2010): This is part three of my four-part Denzel Washington series. Tony Scott directed this film that is based on a true story. A runaway train carrying cargo of toxic chemicals is on the loose where veteran engineer Frank and his conductor Will, played by Chris Pine, are in a separate locomotive and put their lives on the line to chase the train and save the town. Rosario Dawson, Ethan Suplee, Kevin Dunn, Kevin Corrigan, Kevin Chapman, Lew Temple, T.J. Miller, Jessy, Schram, David Warshofsky, Andy Umberger, Elizabeth Mathis, Meagan Tandy, Dylan Bruce, Jeff Hochendoner, and many others co-star in this film. I had no idea what to expect in this movie except it was an action movie of sorts with Washington and Pine. I assumed it would be some cop movie but I was wrong. It is really a rather inspiring story of these guys trying to do right even if their lives are on the line. I also really liked how the community came together in their support for them. I was pleasantly surprised by this movie.
Bird (1988): Some might think this is about basketball legend Larry Bird but I'm sorry to disappoint that is not who this is about. This is my music biopic for the week which was directed by Clint Eastwood. Forrest Whitaker stars as famous jazz musician Charlie "Yardbird" Parker who rises to fame in New York City with his innovative ways of jazz but also gets a drug addiction. Diane Venora co-stars as his wife Chan who tries to support him in his career as well as help him with his drug problem. Michael Zelniker, Samuel E. Wright, Keith David, Michael McGuire, James Handy, Damon Whitaker, Morgan Nagler, Arlen Dean Snyder, Sam Robards, Bill Cobbs, Tony Todd, Tony Cox, and many others co-star in this film. Damon Whitaker is the nephew of Forrest and plays Parker as a child. This focuses pretty equally on his music and drug problem so it can be very sad at times. Whitaker does a great job at Parker who was very significant in the Jazz world.
Film (1965): This is my silent short for the week which was directed by Samuel Beckett and Alan Schneider. This is a silent short that stars silent film legend Buster Keaton who is silent comedy legend but this one is not so much a comedy. Keaton is trying to evade the observation of an all-seeing eye. This is hard to really explain and I just accidentally came across this but was intrigued right away. This is silent to the core in terms of dialogue and even music. I suppose a music score would have been nice but it was good to see this later work of Keaton doing a more dramatic role. This is available to watch on Youtube.
The Mayor of Hell (1933): This is part two of my James Cagney trilogy. Archie Mayo directed this film which stars Cagney as gangster turned deputy commissioner Patsy Gargan. He goes to a state reformatory which is for teen criminals and does not like the authoritarian way it is run and along with nurse Dorothy, played by Madge Evans, makes changes to show kids more meaning in their life. Gargan's gangster past comes to haunt him and everything he works for gets jeopardized. Arthur Byron, Allen Jenkins, Dudley Digges, Frankie Darro, Sheila Terry, Robert Barrat, Allen 'Farina' Hoskins, Harold Huber, Dorothy Peterson, G. Pat Collins, Edwin Maxwell, and many others co-star in this film. This was remade in 1938 as CRIME SCHOOL with Humphrey Bogart and was the start of the Dead End Kids if I'm not mistaken. While Cagney had top billing, it was centered around a teenage gang and most notably the headstrong Jimmy, played by Darro. This is a much earlier role from Cagney and is worth a look.
Gentleman's Agreement (1947): Elia Kazan directed this film which was based on the novel by Laura Z. Hobson. Gregory Peck stars as reporter Philip Schuyler Green who is given an assignment to do an article on anti-semitism in America. At first he is reluctant to take the assignment not knowing how to approach it but decides to pose as a Jewish person to experience the degree of racism and prejudice of Jewish people. Dorothy McGuire co-stars as Kathy Lacy who is the niece of the publisher and forms a relationship with him but their relationship is affected when she does not really understand Green's vision of what he wants to do. John Garfield, Celeste Holm, Anne Revere, June Havoc, Albert Dekker, Jane Wyatt, Dean Stockwell, Nicholas Joy, Sam Jaffe, Harold Vermilyea, and many others co-star in this film. This is still very relevant today and while may be a bit outdated with the Jewish prejudice but can be applied to any other prejudice of today.
Dolemite (1975): This is my Blaxploitation selection for the week which was inspired by the recent Netflix hit DOLEMITE IS MY NAME which I intend to see but wanted to check this one out first. D'urville Martin directed this blaxploitation classic and also co-stars as an enemy of the title character. Rudy Ray Moore stars as Dolemite who is a pimp and serving time but gets released to go after the man who set him up as well as some corrupt cops. He gets a little help in the way of some female warriors who know martial arts. This is a character that Moore developed as part of some stand-up comedy routines he was doing and then turned it into this movie. This is not for everyone and must understand the genre of Blaxploitation to really get through this movie which have quite a bit of stereotypes. If you can get past all that, this is pretty entertaining and a real guilty pleasure. The mentioned Netflix movie is about the making of this movie from my understanding. This movie is available on Amazon Prime so I recommend seeing this before the Netflix movie.
Captain Marvel (2019): Now I bring the Marvel Cinematic Universe to this edition. Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck directed this superhero film which stars Brie Larson as Carol Danvers who would become Captain Marvel and eventually help the Avengers in their fight against Thanos. This one is more of an origin story for both her and even S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson, and Phil Coulson, played by Clark Gregg. Danvers is an Air Force pilot who crashes an experimental plane and things happen that give her the powers to become Captain Marvel. She is eventually trained as a member of the Starforce Military under the command of Yon-Rogg, played by Jude Law. Marvel ends up on earth and uncovers much of her past while teaming with Fury and Coulson. Ben Mendelsohn, Annette Bening, Djimon Hounsou, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Rune Temte, Algenis Perez Soto, Mckenna Grace, Akira Akbar, Matthew Maher, Chuku Modu, Vik Sahay, Colin Ford, Kenneth Mitchell, London Fuller, and many others co-star in this film. Stan Lee has a cameo and would pass away while they were editing. This went out with some rather mixed reactions from fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While this was not my favorite I thought it was very enjoyable. I liked the origin story they did and even having Nick Fury when he was younger. I thought they had some really good action scenes. I also liked the '90s era it took place in and lots of reference to the grunge scene of the era that I grew up on. This is available to watch on Disney Plus.
Giant (1956): This is part one of a possible two-part Elizabeth Taylor series. George Stevens directed this western epic which is based on the novel by Edna Ferber. Rock Hudson stars as Texas rancher Bick Benedict who goes to a Maryland farm to buy a prized horse and while there he meets and falls in love with their daughter Leslie, played by Taylor. They eventually marry and have a family. This movie spans from two generations where Bick has a rivalry with his employee turned tycoon Jett Rink, played by our own Indiana resident James Dean. Carroll Baker, Jane Withers, Mercedes McCambridge, Chill Wills, Dennis Hopper, Sal Mineo, Rod Taylor, Judith Evelyn, Earl Holliman, and many others co-star in this film. This is not a conventional western in the sense of gun battles and other things one might expect. This centers around a ranch so I guess that is why it gets the western label. This is my favorite of the James Dean trilogy and loved the evolution of the film through the generations, especially with Hudson's character who has one of the best fight scenes in film. James Dean would die in a car crash having to have someone double for him for a few lines near the end. There is so much to like about this movie in my opinion and is worth the three hours. A good double feature might be to watch this followed by the much darker THERE WILL BE BLOOD which also deals with the discovery of oil.
Cobb (1994): I end the week with this biopic which was directed by Ron Shelton and based on a book and article by Al Stump, played by Robert Wuhl. Tommy Lee Jones stars as aging baseball legend Ty Cobb who hires Stump to help write his autobiography. Cobb had a reputation of being very feared and despised and as Stump gets to know Cobb, he finds the the general public is right. Cobb is demanding the story be told in his own way while Stump is secretly writing a more truthful story. Lolita Davidovich, Ned Bellamy, Scott Burkholder, Lou Myers, William Utay, J. Kenneth Campbell, Rhoda Griffis, Bradley Whitford, and many others co-star in this film. Also look for legendary pitcher Roger Clemens who plays a pitcher in one of the games and look for a bit role from Jimmy Buffett. Some sports films are done in an inspirational way but this is not an inspirational film by any means. Jones does play the role to perfection and is a more underrated performance of his career.
Well, that is it for this week but I did return with my "Fun and Useless Facts" segment. Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Denzel Washington, James Cagney, and many others.
FUN AND USELESS FACTS
As always, I focus on connections between movies and not so much actors within the same movie. Also, CAPTAIN MARVEL has a middle and end credit scene and did not include anyone that only appeared in that particular scene. As always, I'm sure there is plenty I missed so please leave anything you see in the comments.
Denzel Washington (Unstoppable) and Samuel L. Jackson (Captain Marvel) were in the 1990 film MO' BETTER BLUES.
Joan Allen (Blessed is the Match) and Brie Larson (Captain Marvel) were in the 2015 film ROOM.
Kevin Dunn (Unstoppable) and Tommy Lee Jones (Cobb) were in the 1998 animated movie SMALL SOLDIERS.
Joan Allen (Blessed is the Match) and Kevin Dunn (Unstoppable) were in the 1995 movies NIXON and MAD LOVE.
Kevin Chapman (Unstoppable) was in the 2003 film MYSTIC RIVER which was directed by Clint Eastwood (Bird director)
Joan Allen (Blessed is the Match) and David Warshofsky (Unstoppable) were in the 1997 action film FACE/OFF which is still one of my favorites.
David Warshofsky (Unstoppable) and Tommy Lee Jones (Cobb) were in the 2012 biopic LINCOLN.
Forest Whitaker (Bird) and Jude Law (Captain Marvel) were in the 2010 movie REPO MEN.
David Warshofsky (Unstoppable) and Forrest Whitacker (Bird) were in the 2014 movie TAKEN 3
Forest Whitaker (Bird) and Tommy Lee Jones (Cobb) were in the 1994 action movie BLOWN AWAY.
Andy Umbarger (Unstoppable) and Samuel L. Jackson (Captain Marvel) were in the 2005 film COACH CARTER.
Keith David (Bird) and Tommy Lee Jones (Cobb) were in the 1997 movie VOLCANO.
Denzel Washington (Unstoppable) and Forest Whitaker (Captain Marvel) were in the 2007 film THE GREAT DEBATORS
James Handy (Bird) and Samuel L. Jackson (Captain Marvel) were in the 2000 film UNBREAKABLE.
Lew Temple (Unstoppable) and Morgan Nagler (Bird) were in the 2005 film DOMINO.
Sam Robards (Bird) and Jude Law (Captain Marvel) were in the 2001 film A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE.
Rosario Dawson (Unstoppable) and Tony Todd (Bird) were in the the 2019 animated superhero movies REIGN OF THE SUPERMEN and THE DEATH AND RETURN OF SUPERMAN where Dawson voiced Wonder Woman and Todd voiced the powerful villain Darkseid.
Clint Eastwood (Bird director) and Tommy Lee Jones (Cobb) flew in a space mission in the 2000 movie SPACE COWBOYS in which Eastwood also directed.
Kevin Dunn (Unstoppable) and Tony Todd (Bird) were in the 2009 action movie TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN.
Alan Jenkins (The Mayor of Hell) and Rock Hudson (Giant) were in the 1959 comedy PILLOW TALK.
Denzel Washington (Unstoppable) and Dean Stockwell (Gentleman's Agreement) were in the 2004 remake of THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE.
Gregory Peck (Gentleman's Agreement) was considered for the role of James Ferraday in the 1968 film ICE STATION ZEBRA which would ultimately go to Rock Hudson (Giant)
Kevin Corrigan (Unstoppable), Samuel L. Jackson (Captain Marvel), and Dennis Hopper (Giant) were in the 1993 film TRUE ROMANCE.
Anne Revere (Gentleman's Agreement) and Elizabeth Taylor (Giant) were in the 1944 film NATIONAL VELVET and the 1951 film A PLACE IN THE SUN.
James Cagney (The Mayor of Hell) and Samuel L. Jackson (Captain Marvel) were in the 1981 film RAGTIME where Jackson had a bit role early in his career.
Albert Dekker (Gentleman's Agreement) and James Dean (Giant) were in the 1955 film EAST OF EDEN.
Forest Whitaker (Bird) and Ben Mendelsohn (Captain Marvel) were in the the 2016 film ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY.
Dean Stockwell (Gentleman's Agreement) and Dennis Hopper (Giant) were in the 1986 film BLUE VELVET.
at 2:31 PM