Sunday, June 7, 2020
Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 755th Edition
Welcome to the 755th Edition of my series. I hope everyone is staying safe out there in these times and getting along with one another. I don't really have much to say so let's just get to my selections for the week.
Black Book (2006): I start the week out with this Dutch WWII film which was directed by Paul Verhoeven. Carice van Houten stars as Dutch-Jewish singer Rachel Stein who is in hiding from the Nazi regime and joins a Dutch resistance group. She agrees to infiltrate a a Nazi group while falling in love with Muntze, played by Sebastian Koch, who does not support the war. Thom Hoffman, Halina Reijn, Waldemar Kobus, Derek de Lint, Christian Berkel, Matthias Schoenaerts, and many others co-star in this film. I am trying to describe this film but it is far too complicated to be put into words. This is a very complex, compelling film and is at times very disturbing. This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.
The To Do List (2013): Now I follow up with this rather raunchy comedy which was written and directed by Maggie Carey. Aubrey Plaza stars as Brandy Klark who is graduating high school and has excelled academically but not sexually and with the pressures she makes herself a list of things to accomplish before going to college with her ultimate goal being to seduce the popular and sexy Rusty Waters, played by Scott Porter. Johnny Simmons, Bill Hader, Alia Shawkat, Sarah Steele, Rachel Bilson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Andy Samberg, Donald Glover, Connie Britton, Clark Gregg, Adam Pally, and many others co-star in this comedy. One thing I have to say is if we ever need someone to play Jack Nicholson in a biopic it should be Bill Hader. This takes place in 1993 and has a really good '90s feel to it that will bring back a few memories. This does have some pretty funny moments and even a good message in the end.
Coup De Torchan (1981): Bertrand Tavernier directed this film which is based on a novel by Jim Thompson. This takes place in a French African colony where Philippe Noiret stars as Lucien Cordier who is a village cop. As a cop, he is humiliated by many in the village including his unhappy wife Huguette, played by Stephane Audran. He has also been very lenient towards everyone in the town but finally gets set off and turns into an exterminating angel of sorts. Isabelle Huppert, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Eddy Mitchell, Guy Marchand, and many others co-star in this film. What else can I really say about this one? This was a very interesting dark comedy. On the surface, it's about revenge but it is so much more and worth a look.
Hot Biskits (1931): This is my short film for the week which was written and directed by Spencer Williams. Williams also co-stars in this short where we see the rivalry between two men in a comedic game of mini-golf. This was written for the black cinema and Williams is likely most known as Andy in the tv series THE AMOS 'N' ANDY SHOW. These kinds of movies were likely the best chance actors had to get roles where they were not servants and is an important part of cinematic history. This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.
Scarlet Street (1945): This is part one of a possible Edward G. Robinson trilogy. Fritz Lang directed this film which is based on a novel by Georges de La Fouchardiere. Edward G. Robinson stars as Chris Cross who has worked as a cashier for many years and likse to paint on the side. He is also in an unhappy marriage and meets the younger Kitty, played by Joan Bennett. She mistakes Chris for having a lot of money and uses him in a scheme to the advice of her boyfriend Johnny, played by Dan Duryea, which leads to disastrous results. Margaret Lindsay, Rosalind Ivan, Jess Barker, Charles Kemper, Anita Sharp-Bolster, Samuel S. Hinds, Vladimir Sokoloff, Arthur Loft, Russell Hicks, and many others co-star in this film. This is a remake of Jean Renoir's LA CHIENNE This is my favorite movie of Edward G. Robinson's where he starts out as a very simple man in a mid-life crisis and is set off when he believes he has the love of a younger woman but learns he was used. This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.
2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (1967): Jean-Luc Godard directed this this French film which is based as part of the French New Wave. Marina Vlady stars as Juliette Jeanson who is a housewife but also does prostitution in order to make extra money. Anny Duperny co-stars in this film. This is part of a trilogy that Godard did that year that consider of WEEK END and LA CHINOISE and are all regarded as stylistically and socially radical. This is shot more like a documentary from the point of view of Juliette and her struggles in life. It is a very good commentary on the times. This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.
Minding the Gap (2018): This is my documentary for the week which was directed by Bing Liu. This takes a look at a group of young friends in Rockford, Illinois that have come together through their love of skateboarding and we see their struggles in everyday life as they face adult responsibilities. This is a pretty compelling documentary that takes a look at everyday people and their lives which were mostly reflecting on their family lives and how that shaped them into who they are today. It is hard to really describe this any further than what I have so just give it a watch and is available to watch on Hulu.
The Housemaid (1960): Ki-Young Kim wrote and directed this very daring Korean film. A piano teacher named Mr. Kim and his wife decide to hire a housemaid at their home and soon get far more than they bargained for. Mr. Kim gives into temptation and has an affair with the employee where her psychotic personality slowly comes out as she targets the entire family. This is not for everyone and is very disturbing at times. It shows the wrongdoing of just about everyone in the home. This has always been one of my favorites. It was remade in 2010 but it just did not capture what this one did for me. Martin Scorsese helped to fund the complete restoration and is worth the restoration. This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.
Quicksand (1950): Irving Pachel directed this film noir. Mickey Rooney gets his turn in this genre where he stars as car mechanic Dan Brady who is just about to have a hot date with Vera, played by Jeanne Cagney, but is unable to get the money to do the things he wants to impress her. He decides to take $20 from his employer under the belief that he'll be able to replace it before the auditor gets there but the auditor gets there earlier than expected. His attempts to replace the money get him deeper in debt and crime. Peter Lorre, Barbara Bates, Taylor Holmes, Art Smith, Wally Cassell, Richard Lane, and many others co-star in this film. This was a much later role for Lorre who co-financed the film along with Rooney. It was good seeing Rooney in a darker role after being known so much for Andy Hardy. This unknown gem is available to watch on Amazon Prime.
Wendy and Lucy (2008): Kelly Reichardt directed this film that I believe qualifies as a character study. DAWSON'S CREEK alum Michelle Williams stars as Wendy who is an Indiana girl in Oregon as a drifter with her dog Lucy. She is setting out to go to Alaska hearing there are a lot of jobs but her car breaks down and Lucy disappears as she sets out to find her making her situation even more dire. Will Oldham, Wally Dalton, John Robinson, Will Patton, and many others co-star in this film. This is not a very upbeat movie and I'm sure many out there struggling can relate to this character. This movie was independent to the core but worked very well with the low budget. There was even mention of my own hometown of Muncie. Williams did everything she could get prepare and get into the role of a homeless person. This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.
Well, that is it for this week but continue on for my segment "Movie Time in the Town of Pottersville". Tell me what you like and what you dislike and stay tuned for next week.
MOVIE TIME IN THE TOWN OF POTTERSVILLE
The Hobbit Trilogy (2012, 2013, 2014): Stephanie is a big fan of J.R.R. Tolkien so really likes these movies as well as the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy all of which directed by Peter Jackson. She likes these stories so much to the point she took the name Oakenshield as her own after dwarf leader Thorin Oakenshield, played by Richard Armitage She is also a fan of the books and is getting her son into the LOTR books as they have been reading them together. I don't mind the LOTR series but I never really got into them like others did so I did not watch these in the beginning. A while back, Stephanie had the idea to watch these so I went along with it and we watched the first one. I found myself liking it a lot more than the LOTR series as I thought there was more to that one and I seem to be a minority among the Tolkien fans. We kind of lost track of this and never continued in our series but she messaged me saying we need to watch the second one. While ready I decided we also need to watch the first one and she agreed so last Sunday we found time to get the first one watched. She did not have the other two so with the library open for pickup now I got the other two which we watched at her house on Friday night. The three stories in the film series consist of AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG, and THE BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES. Martin Freeman stars as hobbit Bilbo Baggins who reluctantly joins a group of dwarfs as they set out to the Lonely Mountain for the dwarfs to reclaim their home and the gold from the dragon Smaug. Joining them is the wizard Gandalf, reprised by Sir Ian McKellan. They also encounter some elves and humans as they must take on the Orcs. Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Dean O'Gorman, Aidan Turner, John Callen, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Adam Brown, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Sylvester McCoy, Barry Humphries, Lee Pace, Manu Bennett, Conan Stephens, John Rawls, Stephen Ure, Benedict Cumberbatch, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Mikael Persbrandt, Luke Evans, Stephen Fry, Ryan Gage, John Bell, Craig Hall, Billy Connelly, Andy Serkis, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood, Lawrence Makoare, Ben Mitchell, Stephen Colbert, and many others co-star or have cameos. While LORD OF THE RINGS was written as a trilogy, the novel to this was really one book but Jackson decided to expand so I don't know what was or was not in the book. I know some characters were wrote into these movies. Jackson and his New Zealand crew put everything they had into this epic trilogy. I did enjoy these more than LOTR as I have mentioned. I was also impressed by the soundtrack in addition to Howard Shore like Ed Sheeran's song I SEE FIRE and THE LAST GOODBYE by LOTR alum Billy Boyd. I have gone on long enough so I'll shut up now.
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