Sunday, April 6, 2014

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 438th Edition

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Welcome to the 438th Edition of my long-running series.  Tonight, I will be heading to Buffalo Wild Wings in Anderson to check out WRESTLEMANIA 30.  Not a lot going on right now so I will just get to my recommendations for the week.

 photo cazale.jpgI Knew It Was You:  Rediscovering John Cazale (2009):  This is part five of my Al Pacino series and my documentary short for the week.  This HBO documentary pays tribute to actor John Cazale who was in five movies in the 70s which include THE GODFATHER, THE CONVERSATION, THE GODFATHER PART II, DOG DAY AFTERNOON, and THE DEER HUNTER all of which were nominated for Best Picture and died at an early age of bone cancer making him remain very unknown.  He is probably best remembered as Fredo Corleone in the Godfather films.  This is a tribute to the actor where many of his co-workers, friends, and even fans show their admiration for his work.  Steve Buscemi, Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Francis Ford Coppola, Richard Dreyfus, Sidney Lumet, Robert De Niro, Gene Hackman, and many others reflect on their thoughts of Cazale.  This takes a look at his career in theater and film and into his death.  People like Pacino and Streep cite he was an inspiration to them and that they learned a lot as actors from Cazale.  People really need to know this actor more and is a great tribute.  It is too bad that he died so early and would have likely had a big career.

 photo pines.jpgThe Place Beyond the Pines (2012):  Derek Cianfrance directed and co-wrote this film.  Ryan Gosling stars as Luke who is a motorcycle rider and tours a lot.  When returning to Synecdoche, he learns that his former lover Romina, played by Eva Mendes has a child which is his.  He then leaves that lifestyle in an effort to stay in town and provide for his son.  He then turns to bank robbery in order to get his money after learning that it was not easy for him to find a job.  Bradley Cooper co-stars as Avery who is a rookie cop trying to do good among a corrupt police force.  The encounter they have with each other changes the lives of many people throughout the years.  Ben Mendelsohn, Rose Byrne, Harris Yulin, Bruce Greenwood, Ray Liotta, Dane Dehaan, and many others co-star in this very compelling drama.  I felt this was a very well done film and unfolded in a great way that I really did not know what to expect.  The heist scenes are also very well done as well as the performances.

 photo perversion.jpgPerversion for Profit (1965):  This is another documentary short, this one more of a propaganda one that I found on TCM and recorded.   News reporter George Putnam narrates on things like porn magazines, smut peddlers, and other things that are decaying our society and how they are being sold in stores.  It also shows how this can lead into things like Homosexuality, bondage, rape, sadomasochism, and even drugs.  Most of the most famous porn magazines were not out yet like Penthouse and Hustler but I did find Playboy was out at that time but did not get mentioned.  This is a very interesting piece of propaganda that is just laughable today.

 photo clown.jpgThe Clown (1953):  Robert Z. Leonard directed this remake to 1931 classic THE CHAMP where the difference is that the 1931 film is about a boxer and this one features a clown.  Red Skelton stars as Dodo Delwyn who is reduced to performing in burlesque and amusement park shows due to his drinking problems.  Tim Considine co-stars as his son Dink who idolizes his father but is more of a father to Dodo than anything trying to keep him in line.  Skelton is known for his comic talent and in this movie he plays a funny person but a more serious role which I felt he pulled off very well.  Considine was great as his son.  This is a very moving story where Skelton shows his comic skills but also shows some range into drama.

 photo pocahontas.jpgPocahontas (1995):  This is my Disney film of the week which came out during my favorite Disney era of the 90s.  Disney tells the story of the real-life Indian girl of the title, voiced by Irene Bedard and sung by Judy Kuhn.  She is part of the Algonquin tribe and is a rather free-spirited girl whose father is making her marry the warrior of the family and does not want to marry.  Mel Gibson voices John Smith who is part of a group of English sailors and soldiers going into the "new world" lead by the corrupt Governor Ratcliffe, voiced by David Ogden Stiers.  Pocahontas and John Smith soon meet and form a relationship though on much different sides which are in danger of war which the two try to prevent.  A lot of people cite this as very historically inaccurate but I don't think it's any more inaccurate than other stories being told.  I believe a lot of this is a good statement towards the fearing of the unknown where the white man feared the indian tribe and vice versa.  It also really focuses on the price of hatred like with the song SAVAGES which was sung by both sides.  There are also a lot of other really good musical numbers written by the great team of Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz.  Gibson also does a really good job and has a pretty good singing voice.  This is really my favorite of this era I cite as my favorite Disney era.  Christian Bale, Linda Hunt, and Billy Connolly also lend their voices to this film.  This is available on Instant Netflix.  Unfortunately, the Instant Netflix version does not have IF I NEVER KNEW YOU except on the soundtrack version at the end. 

 photo world-1.jpgThe Lost World (1925):  This is my silent film for the week which is based on the novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Before there was JURASSIC PARK, we had this novel from Doyle who is most known for the iconic character of Sherlock Holmes.  Wallace Beery stars as Professor Challenger who leads an expedition to a South African country where they find a world of dinosaurs still exist.  In some ways this is kind of a pre-KING KONG and if watching both of there you will understand what I am saying.  The animation on the dinosaurs was pretty believable looking which was stop-motion animation.  Doyle got to see this movie and really liked this adaptation to his novel.  This is available on the Roku app Premier and is really worth a look.

 photo rhine.jpgWatch on the Rhine (1943):  Herman Shumlin directed this film based on a play by Lillian Hellman.  Paul Lukas and Bette Davis star as married couple Kurt and Sara Muller who return to Washington D.C. with their three kids after 18 years in Europe.  Kurt is working for an anti-Nazi group in Germany and is discovered by a Romanian count which leads into some life changing decisions by the family.  This was out around of the time of Fascism and the rise of the Nazis.  This has a great message on how these times senselessly made life difficult.  Lukas was very good as Kurt and I really don't know much else about him though he won the first ever Golden Globe Best Actor in a motion picture for his performances here.  Davis quickly took the role feeling it is a very important film and was very anti-nazi herself and plays a more toned down role in this one in a career known for villainous characters or rather dark characters.  This is a very good film from this era that goes a bit unnoticed today. 

 photo fish.jpgFish Story (2009):  This is my Japanese movie for the week which talks about punk music and the apocalypse.  In the year 2012, a comet is set to hit the earth threatening to end civilization on Earth.  A music store remains open during these dark times and insists that a song from a very obscure band that came out 37 years ago will save the world.  It then flashes back to this punk band in 1975 that came out a year before the Sex Pistols as many will let know.  This movie flashes back to the older eras to the world of now and is a pretty good light-hearted apocalyptic film which also pays a good homage to the world of punk music.  I really don't have much other explanation except what I just described so if you are okay with English subtitles, check this one out.

 photo bunny.jpgBunny Lake is Missing (1965):  Otto Preminger directed this psychological thriller.  Carol Lynley stars as Ann Lake who settles in England with her daughter Bunny.  When picking her up at the preschool, she is nowhere to be found and there is no records of her registration leading the police to wonder if the daughter actually exists.  Laurence Olivier co-stars as Superintendent Newhouse who leads the investigation towards trying to find the daughter of if she even exists.  This is a very suspenseful and well-done film that makes guessing rather difficult.  This is available on the app Crackle.

 photo lions.jpgFour Lions (2010):  Christopher Morris directed and co-wrote this very interesting satire.  This comedy takes a look at four Islamic Brits who want to become jihadists of the first order.  In their wanting to become terrorists it also shows their ideologies clashing leading to some disagreements and even tragedy.  It is a movie that I felt very bad laughing but could not really help it as it was a very well done satire and statement towards terrorism showing the stupidity of it.  Quite possibly the most funny and weird scene of the movie involves a bird.  This is available on Instant Netflix until tomorrow but hopefully it will come back.  This is a very clever comedy that really does not cross any lines in my opinion that it could have with its topic of terrorism.

Well, that is it for this week.  Stay tuned for next week which so far includes more Al Pacino, Matt Damon, Clint Eastwood, James Cagney, Sean Penn, Judy Garland, Nicolas Cage, and many others.

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