Sunday, May 3, 2015

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 494th Edition

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Welcome to the 494th Edition of my series.  Tomorrow is when I start training for my new position at work which will be pretty crazy for a couple months with training having to work 4 pm to midnight but in the end I really see this working out and giving me a lot of freedom in the future.   I will now get on with this week's selections.

 photo benefits_1.jpgFriends With Benefits (2011):  I start the week out with the romantic comedy which in some ways makes fun of the cliches of romantic comedies.  Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis star as Dylan and Jamie who has just been dumped by their opposite sex partners.  Dylan is an L.A. art based director who is hired by Jamie which moves him into New York.  They hit it off pretty quick but neither want a relationship so they form a friendship with benefits which has sex but does not let it complicate things.  As this progresses, they realize that the cliches are there for a reason and must decide what is best for them.  Patricia Clarkson, Woody Harrelson, Jenna Elfman, Bryan Greenburg, Richard Jenkins, Nolan Gould, Andy Samberg, Emma Stone, and many others co-star in this film.  Timberlake and Kunis had very good chemistry and had very complex characters.  There are some very funny moments like an amusing scene where a whole group in the middle of the street sing NEW YORK, NEW YORK.  I also really liked the characters of Harrelson, Clarkson, Stone, and Samberg.  This is a more enjoyable romantic comedy in my opinion and one guys can enjoy more if there is a date night for movies.

 photo lucy_1.jpgLucy (2014):  Luc Besson wrote and directed this action movie.  Scarlett Johansson stars as the title character where she must deliver a mysterious briefcase to Mr. Jang, played Min-Sik Choi, but is captured and turned into a drug mule for a powerful synthetic drug.  The bag in her leaks where her body undergoes many changes and becomes very strong and intelligent.  She soon takes revenge on her captors with the help of Professor Norman, played by Morgan Freeman, and Police captain Pierre Del Rio, played by Amr Waked.  This is an interesting look into the world of science and the potential of what can happen.  Besson always manages to entertain me with his action movies and this is no different.  This can be quite enjoyable if not taken too seriously.

 photo wakingdead.jpgWaking the Dead (2000):  This is part one of a two-part Jennifer Connelly series.  Keith Gordon directed this independent film based on the novel by Scott Spencer.  This takes place in two eras both of which are about 10 years apart.  Billy Crudup stars as Fielding Pierce who starts out as a law student and aspiring politician.  In the process he meets and falls in love with Sarah Williams, played by Connelly, who is more the activist and the opposite of Fielding but he loves her anyway.  She is soon killed in an explosion while trying to help the Chilean resistance.  About a decade later, Fielding has become pretty successful as an attorney and is running for congress.  Things begin to get very complicated when he believes he sees Sarah being alive.  The movie goes back and forth on both eras.  Hal Holbrook, Ed Harris, Janet McTeer, Molly Parker, John Carroll Lynch, Sandra Oh, and many others co-star in this film.  I was really glad to revisit this film and is ranked up as one of my favorites.  The two stars do a great job and for me it was a very beautiful story.  I guess this can be considered a love story but one that is very complex and there is far more to it.  Just when I thought it could not get better, I hear the Peter Gabriel song MERCY STREET at the end.  They also did a good job of going between the two eras and a really good ending.  This is a very underrated gem and really deserves a look.

 photo zaca.jpgCruise of the Zaca (1952):  This is my documentary short for the week which features Errol Flynn as the narrator and host.  The Zaca is a boat in which Flynn goes along with a group of scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography on an expedition of the south seas.  He is also joined by family at this expedition like the Panama Canal.  This is mostly of interest to see this side of Errol Flynn.

 photo curtain.jpgTorn Curtain (1966):  Alfred Hitchcock directed this film which stars Paul Newman and Julie Andrews and as far as I know his only collaboration with both of them.  Newman stars as scientist and professor Michael Armstrong.   He is heading there to attend a physics conference in Stockholm and not knowing he is being accompanied by his assistant/fiance Sarah, played by Julie Andrews.   He advises her to go back to the States but she refuses and finds that he is apparently defecting to the East after the US Government cancelled a project of his.   There is far more to it than meet, s the eye and they are in danger trying to get back to the west.  It was good to see Andrews in a more serious role where she does not sing and the combination of her and Newman works pretty well.

 photo wrong.jpgShe Done Him Wrong (1933):  Lowell Sherman directs this film which stars a young Cary Grant.  Mae West stars as seductive nightclub singer Lady Lou who has a lot of friends in the nightclub including an escaped convict, played by Owen Moore, in hopes he will get back with Lady Lou.  Grant stars as Captain Cummings of the Salvation Army which Lady Lou sees as a challenge.  This is a pre-code romantic comedy and six months after this was out there was a group formed called the National Legion of Decency which cited Mae West and this film as the necessity.  I believe that Mae West has gone a bit overlooked in the modern day but had a lot of unique qualities as a comedic actress and is always pretty fun to watch and good to see some early Cary Grant.

 photo wakinglife.jpgWaking Life (2001):  Richard Linklater wrote and directed this film.  It is really hard to describe this one in words.  This is an animated movie where Wiley Wiggins stars as the main person and explores the world of dreams and the meaning behind them as well as the difference between dreams and real-life.  Some of the actors in this include Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Adam Goldberg, Nicky Katt, Lorelai Linklater, and many others.  This is a very thought provoking film with some very good dialogue as well as the animation sequences.  Like with the recent BOYHOOD, Linklater achieved a very interesting vision that could take a couple viewings.  This is available on Instant Netflix.

 photo wagon.jpgPaint Your Wagon (1969):  Joshua Logan directed this musical from Lerner-Loewe musical.  Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin become unlikely prospector partners in a California gold mining town.  A polygamist comes to town and agrees to sell off his wife Elizabeth, played by Jean Seberg, in which both of the partners end up sharing.  They also kidnap a group of prostitutes and form a brothel to make money in their town.  Lerner and Loewe have written some pretty good musicals like CAMELOT, MY FAIR LADY and BRIGADOON which have been adapted for the stage but I have not ever seen any theaters try this one.  This is Eastwood's musical debut and as far as I know his only one and rather amusing to hear him sing.  Harve Presnell and Ray Walston both add a lot to the movie and it is too bad Presnell mostly became a rather unknown character actor after this era.  This is nothing great and could have stood to have some time taken off but still does entertain.

 photo jack_1.jpgI'm All Right Jack (1959):  This is my British comedy for the week.  Ian Carmichael stars as Stanley Windrush who has just gotten out of the war and enters the work force but finds he must start out at the bottom.  Communist shop steward Fred Kite, played by Peter Sellers in a star making role, takes him under his wing while he is being used a pawn between Kite and management.  Terry-Thomas, Richard Attenborough, Dennis Price, and Margaret Rutherford also co-star.  This is a really good satire towards the British workforce and good for those who like British humor.

 photo croupier.jpgCroupier (1998):  I end the week with another British film that was more of a drama and one that helped Clive Owen's career.  Mike Hodges directed this film which stars Owen as struggling writer Jack Manfred who takes a casino job as a croupier even though he has a gambling addiction.  He slowly gets drawn into the casino world which makes his relationship with his girlfriend Marion, played by Gina McKee.  He is also drawn to a gambler named Jani, played by Alex Kingston.  She informs him that she is in debt to a lot of people and approaches Jack to be the inside man at the casino.  He must now consider the offer and the odds as well as getting odds for his new novel.  This is a pretty complex film with a good story and performances.  Owen does a great job as Jack and has an interesting blonde look in the beginning film.  I also like the narration that he provides.  This is available on Instant Netflix and really deserves a look.

Well, that is it for this week but i did bring back the Fun and Useless Facts segment so continue to read.  Stay tuned for next week which includes Daniel Day-Lewis, Al Pacino, more Jennifer Connelly, Judy Garland, Kate Winslet, and many others.

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I decided to bring back this segment and I'm sure there are plenty of things left out so feel free to point out anything I might have missed.

Justin Timberlake (Friends With Benefits) and Clint Eastwood (Paint Your Wagon) are in the 2012 film TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE.

Justin Timberlake (Friends With Benefits) and Morgan Freeman (Lucy) were in the 2005 movie EDISON FORCE.

Patricia Clarkson (Friends With Benefits) and Scarlett Johansson (Lucy) were in the 2008 film VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA.

Patricia Clarkson (Friends With Benefits) and Clint Eastwood (Paint Your Wagon) were in the 1988 film THE DEAD POOL.

Richard Jenkins (Friends With Benefits) and Scarlett Johnansson (Lucy) were in the 2001 film THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE.

Woody Harrelson (Friends With Benefits) and Billy Crudup (Waking the Dead) were in 1998 film THE HI-LO COUNTRY.

Woody Harrelson (Friends With Benefits), Jenna Elfman (Friends With Benefits) and Adam Goldberg (Waking Life) were in the the 1999 movie EDTV.

Scarlett Johansson (Lucy) will be playing my friend Shera in my biopic THE RISE AND FALL OF SHAUN BERKEY.

Morgan Freeman (Lucy) and Clint Eastwood (Paint Your Wagon) were in the 1992 film UNFORGIVEN, the 2004 film MILLION DOLLAR BABY, and the 2009 film INVICTUS

Morgan Freeman (Lucy) and Ed Harris (Waking the Dead) were in the 2007 film GONE BABY GONE

Morgan Freeman (Lucy) and Nicky Katt (Waking Life) were in the 2008 film THE DARK KNIGHT where Katt is uncredited.

Jennifer Connelly (Waking the Dead), Ed Harris (Waking the Dead) and Adam Goldberg (Waking Life) are in the 2006 film A BEAUTIFUL MIND.

Hal Holbrook (Waking the Dead) is the boss of Clint Eastwood (Paint Your Wagon) in the 1973 film MAGNUM FORCE.

Ed Harris (Waking the Dead) and Clint Eastwood (Paint Your Wagon) were in the 1997 movie ABSOLUTE POWER.

Molly Parker (Waking the Dead) and Clive Owen (Croupier) were in the 2012 movie HEMINGWAY AND GELHORN.

John Carroll Lynch (Waking the Dead) and Clint Eastwood (Paint Your Wagon) were in the 2008 film GRAN TORINO.

John Carroll Lynch (Waking the Dead) and Harve Presnell (Paint Your Wagon) were in the 1996 film FARGO.

Hal Holbrook (Waking the Dead) plays the Stage Manager in the 1977 tv movie OUR TOWN.  Paul Newman plays the part in the 2003 tv movie OUR TOWN.

Alfred Hitchcock (Torn Curtain) directed Cary Grant (She Done Him Wrong) in the 1941 film SUSPICION, the 1946 film NOTORIOUS, the 1955 film TO CATCH A THIEF, and the 1959 film NORTH BY NORTHWEST.

Paul Newman (Torn Curtain) and Lee Marvin (Paint Your Wagon) were in the 1972 film POCKET MONEY.

Nicky Katt (Waking Life) and Clive Owen (Croupier) were in the 2005 film SIN CITY.

Cary Grant (She Done Him Wrong) declined the role of Michael Armstrong in this week's feature TORN CURTAIN which would ultimately go to Paul Newman.

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