Sunday, August 2, 2015
Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 507th Edition
Welcome to the 507th Edition of my series. With all the craziness in this world, I'm grateful that I can put this out every Sunday so I'll just get on with the recommendations.
Tales of Ordinary Madness (1981): Marco Ferrari directed this film based on the book ERECTIONS, EJACULATIONS, EXHIBITIONS, AND GENERAL TALES OF ORDINARY MADNESS by Charles Bukowski. Ben Gazzara stars as Charles Serking which is mostly based on Charles Bukowski. He is an alcoholic and sex addicted writer travelling through Los Angeles. He meets a gorgeous self-destructive prostitute named Cass, played by Ornella Muti, and ends up falling in love with her. Susan Tyrell also co-stars in this film. As the book title suggests, this is not a family film. This is a more unknown adaptation compared to the 1987 film BARFLY when Mickey Rourke played Charles but this one is still very compelling. I like both movies and Gazzara does a great job as Charles in this movie. Fans of Bukowski will really enjoy this film and a good triple feature could be this, BARFLY, and FACTOTUM which stars Matt Dillon as an alter-ego of Bukowski.
House of Sand and Fog (2003): Vadim Perelman directed this film based on the novel by Andre Debus III. Jennifer Connelly stars as Kathy who has already been abandoned by her husband and then is evicted from her home saying that a business tax was not paid which she says should not be there. Ben Kingsley stars as Behrani who is the patriarch of an immigrant family and appears to have had a pretty high stature in Iran but must start over in the States. He decides to buy the home at a very low price with the intention of selling it in the future for a profit. Kathy still cannot accept that she lost the home and tries to get it back leading into tragic events. Ron Eldard co-stars as Lester who is a sheriff's deputy and sympathetic towards Kathy's situation. Frances Fisher, Kim Dickens, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Jonathan Ahdout, Carols Gomez, and many others co-star in this film. This is not the most upbeat film of all time but it is very thought provoking with some very good performances.
Evita (1996): This is part two of a two-part Jonathan Pryce series. Alan Parker directed this musical adaptation that was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Madonna stars as Evita Duarte who was at first a B-movie actress and met Juan Peron, played by Jonathan Pryce, who was the president of Argentina becoming one of the most beloved and hated women in Argentina history. This is a mostly singing musical having very little dialogue. Antonio Banderas co-stars as Che who is a narrator in a sense and I really liked his vocals. Jimmy Nail and Andrea Corr co-star in this musical. Madonna shines very well as the title character. There are a lot of good music numbers and is worth a look to the fans of musicals, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Madonna.
First in War (1932): This is my comedy short for the week which stars the more unknown comedic actor Charley Chase who had a few successful silents and did mostly short films from my understanding. He is an Army sergeant who is an aspiring songwriter but struggles to get his work out. He finally is able to sell his song to the President of the Republican Party of Nicarania to be their national anthem and not knowing the president is a wanted man which lead to some pretty funny moments. Chase's style of comedy was comedy of embarrassment. Fans of classic comedy should really look into Charley Chase who had a lot of good two-reelers.
Little Big Man (1970): Arthur Penn directed this western comedy based on the novel by Thomas Berger. Dustin Hoffman stars as Jack Crabb who is a 121 year old man who is interviewed and reflects on his times that he was raised by indians, becoming a con man, becoming a gunslinger, and being a scout for General Custer, played by Richard Mulligan, during Little Big Horn. Faye Dunaway, Chief Dan George, Martin Balsam, Jeff Corey, Kelly Jean Peters, William Hickey, Alan Oppenheimer, M. Emmet Walsh, all have parts in this comedy. While it is billed as a comedy and has some very comedic moments, it is a tragic comedy. Dustin Hoffman does great as Crabb through the years and make-up artist Dick Smith does a great job on Hoffman to make him look 121 years of age. This does do a good job of referencing historical events kind of like FORREST GUMP years later.
Funny Face (1957): This is my second musical for the week which was directed by Stanley Donen. This is the first and only teaming for Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn. Astaire plays fashion photographer Dick Avery who decides to do an impromptu fashion shoot at a book store without really asked Jo, played by Hepburn, who works at the bookstore and the place is a mess by the time they are done. Dick stays around to help Jo clean up and sees potential in her to be a model. It is not something she really wants but says yes when learning she will be able to go to Paris for the first time. Kay Thompson co-stars as the chief editor Maggie Prescott who is reluctant at first but likes that she is different. Hepburn does a good job with the singing and dancing showing us a much different talent for her. I also felt the brought something different to an Astaire film working with Hepburn. The Gershwins wrote much of the music numbers including the title track. Leonard Gershe and Roger Edens wrote some of the music as well and also did a good job. This was a very good gem to come across and is worth a look.
Babel (2006): Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu directed this film where there are four interlocking stories that happen and they are all in different parts of the world. This deals with families from Morocco, America, Japan and Mexico where a tragic event ties it altogether. This is one where I won't give away any plot details because it could give things away and feel this is best watched with a lack of knowledge. Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Alex Jennings, Elle Fanning, Nathan Gamble, Gael Garcia Bernal, Adriana Barraza, Clifton Collins Jr., Michael Pena, Rinko Kikuchi, Koji Yakusho, and many others co-star in this film. This is a very compelling film showing how we really are not a lot different in the world. This might be my favorite of these types of movies where there are different interconnecting stories. This is one I feel has a great reward in the end.
The Gnome-Mobile (1967): This is my Disney film for the week and a live-action one. Walter Brennan stars as eccentric millionaire D.J. Mulrooney who along with his grandchildren Rodney and Elizabeth and credited as "The Mary Poppins Kids" Matthew Garber and Karen Dotrice stumble upon a group of gnomes when meeting gnome Jasper, played by Tom Lowell. Brennan also plays Jasper's grandfather Gnobby who has lost his will to live and Jasper is trying to help him get it back. Ed Wynn and Charles Lane co-star in this film. This is a good that is more for the family and is a fun one to watch. After Garber being on the rise as a child in Disney, this was sadly his last as he died a few years later. There could be a good double feature of this and MARY POPPINS on some family night.
Band of Angels (1957): Raoul Walsh directed this rather interesting civil war drama. Yvonne De Carlo stars as Amantha Starr who has grown up as a southern belle with the belief her father is a rich plantation owner. Things come crumbling around her when her father dies and learns that he lived off borrowed money and that her mother was a slave which then made her a slave. She is actually sold and bought by Hamish Bond, played by Clark Gable, who slowly fall in love him but not knowing of his dark past. Sidney Poitier and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. co-star in this film. I'm not sure if anything like this happened in the days of slavery but had an interesting premise. This movie struggled a lot at the time being compared to the 1939 classic GONE WITH THE WIND but i don't really feel it is a very fair comparison and it does stand on its own if you can but GWTW aside for a little bit.
Joe (2013): I end the week with this drama directed by David Gordon Green based on the novel by Larry Brown. Nicolas Cage stars as Joe who is an ex-con running a business of forest laborers. He takes in a 15 year old named Gary, played by Tye Sheridan, and employs him seeing that he is a very hard worker. We see the Gary is really the only level headed one of his family and is forced to grow up fast and support the family. He also has an abusive and alcoholic father which Joe beings to notice more and more finding it hard to hold back his own violent temper. Gary Poulter, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Adriene Mishler, and many others co-star in this film. Poulter was actually a homeless man that Green cast as he likes to cast local people and actually died shortly after filming was over. This was more of a character driven film carried so well by Cage and Sheridan. I know Cage has made some bad choices through the years and this is not one of them. This is available on Instant Netflix.
Well, that is it for this week. Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which includes Christopher Walken, Alan Tudyk, and many others. I brought back my Fun and Useless Facts segment so read on.
FUN AND USELESS FACTS
I brought this back. I'm sure there are plenty I have missed so if you want to comment be my guest. Keep in mind though that I didn't connect actors and directors in the same movie.
Ron Eldard (House of Sand and Fog), Dustin Hoffman (Little Big Man), and Brad Pitt (Babel) were in the 1996 film SLEEPERS.
Ron Eldard (House of Sand and Fog) and Elle Fanning (Babel) were in the 2011 film SUPER 8.
Frances Fisher (House of Sand and Fog) and Micahel Pena (Babel) were in the 2011 film THE LINCOLN LAWYER.
Frances Fisher (House of Sand and Fog) and Nicolas Cage (Joe) were in the 2000 movie GONE IN 60 SECONDS.
Frances Fisher (House of Sand and Fog) plays Ella Van Heemstra in the 2000 tv movie THE AUDREY HEPBURN STORY which is the mother of Audrey Hepburn (Funny Face).
Frances Fisher (House of Sand and Fog) and Willia Hickey (Little Big Man) were in the 1989 film PINK CADILLAC.
Kim Dickens (House of Sand and Fog) and Cate Blanchett (Babel) were in the 2000 film THE GIFT.
Carlos Gomez (House of Sand and Fog) and Antonio Banderas (Evita) were in the 1995 film DESPERADO.
Carlos Gomez (House of Sand and Fog) and Nathan Gamble (Babel) were in the 2014 film DOLPHIN TALE 2.
Jennifer Connelly (House of Sand and Fog) and Alan Oppenheimer (Little Big Man) were in the 2009 animated film 9.
Jennifer Connelly (House of Sand and Fog) and Elle Fanning (Babel) were in the 2007 film RESERVATION ROAD.
Alan Parker (Evita director) directed Nicolas Cage (Joe) in the 1984 film BIRDY.
Madonna (Evita) and Dustin Hoffman (Little Big Man) are in the 1990 film DICK TRACY.
Madonna (Evita) mentions Fred Astaire (Funny Face) in her hit song VOGUE.
Madonna (Evita) plays Evita Peron in this week's feature EVITA. Faye Dunaway (Little Big Man) plays Evita Peron in the 1981 tv movie EVITA PERON.
Antonio Banderas (Evita) and Brad Pitt (Babel) were vampires in the 1994 film INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE: THE VAMPIRE CHRONICLES.
Faye Dunaway (Little Big Man) and Clifton Collins Jr. (Babel) were in the 2002 film THE RULES OF ATTRACTION.
Faye Dunaway (Little Big Man) and Fred Astaire (Funny Face) were in the 1974 disaster movie THE TOWERING INFERNO.
Martin Balsam (Little Big Man) and Audrey Hepburn (Funny Face) were in the 1961 film BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S.
Alan Oppenheimer (Little Big Man) provides the voice of butler Alfred Pennyworth in the 2009 animated movie SUPERMAN/BATMAN: PUBLIC ENEMIES. Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Band of Angels) provides the voice of Alfred in most of the animated series including BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES.
Dustin Hoffman (Little Big Man) and Brenda Isaacs Booth (Joe) were in the 1991 film HOOK.
Audrey Hepburn (Funny Face) plays Maid Marion in the 1976 film ROBIN AND MARIAN. Cate Blanchett (Babel) plays Marion Loxley in the 2010 film ROBIN HOOD.
Audrey Hepburn (Funny Face) and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Band of Angels) were in the 1967 film WAIT UNTIL DARK.
Michael Pena (Babel) and Nicolas Cage (Joe) were in the 2006 film WORLD TRADE CENTER.
Brad Pitt (Babel) and Tye Sheridan (Joe) were father and son in the 2011 film THE TREE OF LIFE.
Ed Wynn (The Gnome-Mobile) and Sidney Poitier (Band of Angels) were in the 1965 film THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD.