Sunday, March 8, 2015

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 486th Edition

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Welcome to the 486th Edition of my series.  I have just finished the murder mystery dinner theater.  Despite all the trials and tribulations, we ended up with a good and funny show.  I hope to be able to do it again sometime.  I took part more than ever on the casting element since my mom was the one who was asked to do it.  I will get to my selections for the week.

 photo melancholia.jpgMelancholia (2011):  I start the week out with this film written and directed by Lars Von Trier.  Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg play sisters Justine and Claire who have a rather strained relationship.  Justine has just gotten married and even then struggles to find happiness.  While they both have struggles in life, a planet of the title is coming toward Earth.  TRUE BLOOD alum Alexander Skarsgard, Charlotte Rampling, John Hurt, Kiefer Sutherland, Udo Kier, Stellan Skarsgard, and others co-star in this drama.  This is a very fascinating film and there are a lot things Von Trier leaves to the viewer and is one that you must give full attention.  I feel it can be rewarded if given that full attention but is a difficult one to really explain.  This is part of Von Trier's "Trilogy of Depression" which starts with ANTICHRIST which my friend Chris has already shown me and I find it is inevitable that we will watch both volumes of NYMPHOMANIAC.  This is available on Instant Netflix.

 photo people.jpgThe People Speak (2009):  This is part 10 of the 10 part Matt Damon series.  This is a documentary that is from the History Channel.  This is based on Howard Zinn's book A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES where he speaks in front of a crowd and talks about the more dark side of history that schools do not usually share.  He looks at America's struggle with war, class, race, women's rights, and other things.  He discusses many known historical events like the American Revolution, Columbus's so-called discovery of America, and many others.  Many actors take part in this where they read passages from people involved in the events.  Matt Damon, Sean Penn, Kerry Washington, Viggo Mortenson, Marisa Tomei, Morgan Freeman, Josh Brolin, Rosario Dawson, Sandra Oh, Michael Ealy, Don Cheadle, Benjamin Bratt, Danny Glover, David Strathairn, Jasmine Guy, Pink, Q'orianka Kilcher, John Legend, Harris Yulin, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, Bob Dylan, Christina Kirk, and Daryl McDaniels read passages or perform musical numbers.  It was a pretty insightful documentary and had some really good historical songs as well including Pink's DEAR MR. PRESIDENT.

 photo stepup.jpgStep Up (2006):  This is the more inspirational and formulaic film of the week.  Channing Tatum stars as Tyler Gage who is an inner city youth who has some legal trouble and along with some friends vandalize an art school.  For this he must do janitorial stuff as community service but keep in mind he has a dancing talent that does not get out much.  Jenna Dewan Tatum co-stars as Nora who is a student at this high school and is preparing for a big dance concert and her partner gets injured.  She discovers Tyler dancing and takes him as a rehearsal partner after talking director Gordon, played by Rachel Griffiths, into letting him fill in.  I think you can all determine what happens after that.  It is a quite predictable but that is to be expected in a movie like this one.  Every once in a while I like to check something like this out to show there is hope.  Damaine Radcliff, De'Shawn Washington, Mario, Josh Henderson, Alyson Stoner, Heavy D, Deirdre Lovejoy, and many others co-star in this film.  This movie did a good job of building up to the climax and the leads from different walks of life worked very well together.

 photo 50e324ad-c24a-43e1-ab3b-628f3d464709.pngNew Shoes (1936):  This is my short film for the week.  This is rather strange where a couple has just bought shoes and are beginning to fall in love and we also learn that the shoes have feelings too and they also seem to be falling in love.  This is a 10 minute short that has musical numbers from shoes.  Really weird but still interesting to watch.

 photo spy.jpgThe Spy Who Loved Me (1977):  I decided to go the Bond route.  Roger Moore stars in this one and I know he can be hit or miss but this one in my opinion is the biggest hit.  Agent 007 must investigate the disappearance of a submarine.  He teams with female KGB agent Anya Amasova aka XXX, played by Barbara Bach, where the tension with different agencies and romance comes in very well.  Their investigation leads to a plan by Karl Stromberg, played by Curd Jurgens, who has a plan to make a world that is all underwater.  They must stop him and his strong but clumsy henchman Jaws, played by Richard Kiel.  Caroline Munro, Walter Gotell, Geoffrey Keen, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn, and many others co-star in this film. There is a lot of really good action and the set is really good, especially some of the traps possessed by Stromberg.  Moore was given a good script on this one and really ran with it.

 photo editor.jpgNight Editor (1946):  This is part of a Bad Girls Film Noir boxed set.  William Gargan stars as Lt. Tony Cochrane who has an affair with socialite Jill Merrill, played by Janis Carter.  When they are in a car together, they witness a murder but cannot tell anyone without revealing the fact they are each having an extramarital affair.  Tony becomes the investigator and has a lot of decisions he must make.  This is a pretty clever b-movie film noir that is worth the hour and has a really good femme fatale.

 photo torino.jpgGran Torino (2008):  This is part two of a three part Clint Eastwood series.  Clint Eastwood directed this film and stars as Korean war veteran Walt Kowalski who lives in a neighborhood among many Asian families, mostly Hmong.  Descriptions describe Walt as prejudice and bigoted but I believe that is the wrong word.  I think he hates what he has to see.  Things change in his life when a teenage neighbor named Thao, played by Bee Vang, tries to steal his prized possession of his car.  He begins to see that the teen is among peer pressure from a Hmong gang which consisted of his own cousin.  When Walt does a good deed that helps the family, they feel they owe him and he decides to help Thao towards the right path in life.  Christopher Carley, Ahney Her, Brian Haley, Geraldine Hughes, Dreama Walker, Brian Howe, John Carroll Lynch, William Hill, Brooke Chia Thao, and many others co-star in this film.  This is among my favorite movies.  Eastwood and Vang worked very well together.  It was also very moving with Eastwood doing what he can for someone he did not like at first leading into a great climax.  I find this to possibly be Eastwood's best work.

 photo voyage_1.jpgThe Last Voyage (1960):  Andrew L. Stone wrote and directed this disaster film.  Robert Stack stars as Cliff Henderson who is with his wife and four year old daughter on a ship called the SS Claridon.  They plan to get retire this ship but instead an explosion in the engine room makes the ship start to slowly sink.  Cliff races to save his wife Laurie, played by Dorothy Malone, who is stuck in the wreckage while also keeping their daughter safe.  George Sanders, Woody Strode, Edmond O'Brien, Jack Kruschen, and many others co-star in this film.  This is not a bad disaster film and has a better story than others from the genre that was popular in this era.

 photo ashes.jpgAshes and Diamonds (1958):  This is my Polish film of the week which was directed by Andrzej Wajda and based on a novel by Jerzy Andrzejewski.  This takes place right after WWII is over where Zbigniew Cybulski stars as Maciek who is assigned to kill a political leader but after a couple unsuccessful attempts, begins to have second throughts.  In this is also a very good love story.  It is a really good story and has very well-written characters.  It is a must for foreign film buffs.

 photo spectacular.jpgThe Spectacular Now (2013):  I end the week with this independent film directed by James Ponsoldt based on the novel by Tim Tharp.  Miles Teller stars as Sutter who is a high school senior and lives in the now with no real future plans.  He always has his whiskey and is always at a party of some kind.  One night he ends up in the middle of the lawn and wakes up to a girl named Aimee, played Shailene Woodley, who is opposite to his personality and has future plans and is into things like Sci-fi and anime.  While they are very different, they are also drawn together but Sutter has a hard time understanding why she would want to be with someone like him.  Brie Larson, Masam Holden, Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a really good film driven by characters.  I have never read the book and usually do not read so I cannot judge this movie in comparison to the book.  This is also more than a coming of age film or a teen movie.  The characters make this very watchable and is available on Amazon Prime.

Well, that is it for the week but I decided to bring back my Fun and Useless Facts segment for the week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Ricky Gervais, Lucille Ball, Sydney Poitier, Jennifer Lawrence, and many others.

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I decided to use this one again.  It is mostly an inter-connections between movies and most do not include actors in the same movie.  If you pick up on anything I did not post, be my guest and post some facts in the comments.

Jesper Christensen (Melancholia) and Sean Penn (The People Speak) were in the 2005 film THE INTERPRETER.

Stellan Skarsgard (Melancholia) and Matt Damon (The People Speak) were in the 1997 film GOOD WILL HUNTING.

Stellan Skarsgard (Melancholia) and Morgan Freeman (The People Speak) were in the 1997 film AMISTAD.

Stellan Skarsgard (Melancholia) and Don Cheadle (The People Speak) are in the upcoming 2015 film AVENGERS:  AGE OF ULTRON.

Kiefer Sutherland (Melancholia), David Strathairn (The People Speak), and Sean Penn (The People Speak) were in the 1986 film AT CLOSE RANGE.

Kiefer Sutherland (Melancholia) and Viggo Mortensen (The People Speak) were in the 1990 movie YOUNG GUNS II.

Kiefer Sutherland (Melancholia) and Benjamin Bratt (The People Speak) were in the 2014 mini-series 24:  LIVE ANOTHER DAY.

Kiefer Sutherland (Melancholia) and Danny Glover (The People Speak) were in the 2012 tv series TOUCH.

John Hurt (Melancholia) provides the voice of Aragon in the 1978 movie THE LORD OF THE RINGS.  Viggo Mortensen (The People Speak) plays Aragon in Peter Jackson's trilogy of the same name.

Matt Damon (The People Speak), Josh Brolin (The People Speak), and Shailene Woodley (The Spectacular Now) were in the 2010 film TRUE GRIT.

Matt Damon (The People Speak) was directed by Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino) in the 2009 film INVICTUS.

Matt Damon (The People Speak) and Deirdre Lovejoy (Step Up) were in the 1999 film THE INCREDIBLE MR. RIPLEY.

Matt Damon (The People Speak) and Brian Haley (Gran Torino) were in the 2006 film THE DEPARTED.

Sean Penn (The People Speak) was directed by Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino) in the 2003 film MYSTIC RIVER.

Morgan Freeman (The People Speak) and Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino) have worked together many times in the movies  UNFORGIVEN, MILLION DOLLAR BABY, and INVICTUS.

Morgan Freeman (The People Speak) and Channing Tatum (Step Up) were in the 2014 film THE LEGO MOVIE.

Danny Glover (The People Speak) and Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino) were in the 1979 film ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ.

David Strathairn (The People Speak) plays Theseus in the 1999 film A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM.  Desmond Llewelyn (The Spy Who Loved Me) plays Theseus in the 1947 tv movie of the same name which never seems to have gotten exposure besides an airing on tv.

Marisa Tomei (The People Speak) and John Carroll Lynch (Gran Torino) were in the 2011 film CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE.

Roger Moore (The Spy Who Loved Me) plays the Saint Simon Templar in the 60s tv series THE SAINT.  George Sanders (The Last Voyage) plays the part in the movies from the 40s.

Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino) was apparently asked to play James Bond in the 1969 Bond movie ON HER MAJESTY's SECRET SERVICE but declined knowing he was not right for the part.  I usually do stuff on interconnections between actors in different featured movies but found this one interesting.

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