Sunday, January 3, 2016

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 529th Edition

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Welcome to the 529th Edition of my series and the first of the new year.  I saw a lot of friends posting on what a bad year they had in 2015 hoping that 2016 is much better.  I really hope it is better.  I've never really reflected at the end of the year and in the end referred to it as bad.  Everybody is going to have some downs which is unfortunately a part of life.  I guess I just like to reflect on positive things that happen to me and maybe I am more of a day to day thinker.  I have been trying to manage a bit of a cold and while I'm not 100%, I am a lot better.  Okay, enough about me, I'll just get on with my selections.

 photo threekings.jpgThree Kings (1999):  David O. Russell directed this post- Persian Gulf War film.  George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube, and Spike Jonze are a group of soldiders who find a map that appears to lead them to finding gold that was stolen from Kuwait.  In their journey, they come across a group of Iraqi rebels who could really use their help changing their lives forever.  Cliff Curtis, Nora Dunn, Jamie Kennedy, Said Taghmaoui, Mykelti Williamson, Holt McCallany, Judy Greer, Jim Gaffigan, and many others co-star in this film.  Also look for Doug Jones as one of the dead soldiers in the beginning.  Russell did a great job in this film.  Apparently Russell and Clooney did not have a very good working relationship behind the scenes but Clooney still manages to give a good performance in a pretty versatile role.  It is a good war movie which has comedic moments at the right times and was able to keep me engaged very well not knowing what to expect.

 photo criminal.jpgA Criminal is Born (1938):  This is my short film for the week which is a part of the "Crime Does Not Pay" series.  In this one, a group of kids who are ignored by their parents go on a crime spree.  A bit dated but not a bad showing of giving the parents the message to give children attention since juvenile delinquency existed in this era as well as the modern day.  These were parents who were pretty much more dedicated to their careers than parenting.  This is a pretty good series from that era.

 photo producers.jpgThe Producers (1967):  Mel Brooks directed and wrote Broadway spoof that started it all which includes a musical version.  Zero Mostel stars as struggling theater producer Max Bialystock.  Soon, he meets accountant Leo Bloom, played by Gene Wilder, who finds a way to make a fortune by producing a big flop.  Max jumps at the idea while Leo is more reluctant but hates his job so he goes ahead and teams with Max.  They find the musical SPRINGTIME FOR HITLER, hire the worst director and actors sure to produce a flop but ends up becoming unexpectedly successful making the scheme backfire in a legal way.  Dick Shawn, Kenneth Mars, Lee Meredith, Christopher Hewett, Andreas Voutsinas, and many others co-star in this comedy.  This ranks pretty high among the world of comedy and is a classic from Brooks.  I was in the chorus for the musical in 2012 in my Guyer Opera House debut and Muncie Civic Theater will be doing it in February.  This one started it all and has some really hilarious moments so this is a perfect selection for a comedy night.

 photo sympathy.jpgSympathy for Delicious (2010):  Mark Ruffalo makes his directorial debut in this independent movie written by Christopher Thornton.  Thornton also stars as paralyzed DJ Dean O'Dwyer and Ruffalo co-star as Father Joe Roselli.  Roselli invites O'Dwyer to the world of faith-healing while discovering that he has the ability to heal but not himself.  As Dean gets to know this power, he joins a band pretty much using his gift for personal gain for those who attend the show.  Juliette Lewis, Orlando Bloom, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, James Karen, John Carroll Lynch, and many others co-star in this film.  It is a pretty good directorial debut for Ruffalo and Thornton is a paraplegic himself who feels there are not good roles for them but writing a good one for himself.  This is an interesting look into the world of healing and I suppose the dark side of it no matter how much a priest's intentions were at the time.

 photo wrongman_1.jpgThe Wrong Man (1956):  This is part two of a two-part Vera Miles series and part one of a possible Henry Fonda series.  "The Master of Suspence" Alfred Hitchcock directed this film and was a rather different one for him in which is based on a bizarre but true story.  Henry Fonda stars as Manny who is a bassist for a night club band as well as being a husband and father to two boys.  When at a bank simply seeing what he can take out in the way of a loan, he is mistaken for a man that held the bank up.  He cooperates with the police feeling he has nothing to hide but the more he cooperates, the guiltier he looks.  Vera Miles co-stars as his wife Rose who is equally affected by what is happening psychologically.  Anthony Quayle, Harold Stone, and Charles Cooper co-star in this film.  This stays very true to Hitchcock with the element of an actual true story that still has a lot of suspense.  Hitchcock does the prologue at the beginning which is the only time Hitchcock speaks in his movies.

 photo likecrazy.jpgLike Crazy (2011):  This is my love story of the week which was directed and co-wrote by Drake Doremus.  Felicity Jones stars as British student Anna who goes to a college in Los Angeles and meets American student Jacob, played by Anton Yelchin.  It does not take long for them to fall in love but Anna's American Visa keeps them from living happily ever after when she has to go back to Britain after violating her student visa for staying longer than she is supposed to stay.  Once apart, they must analyze if the relationship is worth the distance.  Jennifer Lawrence, Charlie Bewley, Alex Kingston, Oliver Muirhead, Finola Hughes, Chris Messina, Ben York Jones, and many others co-star in this film.  Ben York Jones helped write the screenplay.  This is a pretty good take on young lovers and working through the hardship of things like distance.  There are also very good performances from the leads that drive the movie very well.

 photo streetfighter.jpgThe Streetfighter (1974):  This is my Japanese movie for the week and was viewed at Muncie Public Library as a part of the Cinemuncie series.  Martial arts star Sonny Chiba stars as Terry who is a mercenary being hired by a mob boss to kidnap the daughter of a late and rich businessman.  They do not agree on his price and try to kill him prompting him to protect the girl he was supposed to kidnap.  This has quite a bit of cheesy moments but also a lot of ultra violence to the point of having an X rating at one point in the United States.  This is followed by some sequels and for those who have not seen these movies might have heard about them in the movie TRUE ROMANCE.  For those who think Chiba sounds familiar, Quentin Tarantino cast him as Hattori Hanzo in KILL BILL.  Usually when thinking of Japan, one might think of their samurai films, horror films, action films, and their animation but I cannot think of a lot when it comes to martial arts in Japan.

 photo pacificrim.jpgPacific Rim (2013):  Guillermo Del Toro directed and co-wrote this film which I suppose is an homage to the Japanese monsters out there.  I originally meant to include this in the Madness but did not get to it so I'll just make a selection for this week.  This is a world where humankind is at war with monsters referred to as Kaijus which is a termed used in a lot of the Japanese monster movies.  To combat these, massive robots called Jaegers are invented which are controlled by two pilots.  Our last hope is washed up pilot Raleigh, played by Charlie Hunman, and untested trainee Mako, played by Rinko Kikuchi.  Idris Elba, Diego Klattenhoff, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Max Martini, Robert Kazinsky, Clifton Collins Jr., Ron Perlman, Brad William Henke, and many others co-star in this sci-fi film.  Del Toro does a pretty good job in this having some good action scenes and special effects.  This is a pretty fun one to watch with a pretty good concept to go along with it.

 photo ballgame.jpgTake Me Out to the Ballgame (1949):  This is my musical for the week which was directed by Busby Berkeley.  As one might guess, this is a movie which involves baseball.  This is the second of three teamings of Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra while being joined by Jules Munshin on some numbers.  In this movie, they play baseball stars Eddie and Denny who are Vaudevillians during the offseason.  The team gets word of a new owner by the name of K.C. Griffin and find out the hard way that this is a woman, played by Esther Williams.  Denny and Eddie fight some over her while Eddie has trouble with some gamblers.  Edward Arnold and Betty Garrett co-star in this musical.  Williams is known for her aquatic musicals in which she does a little bit in this movie.  This has some pretty fun music numbers with the great team of Kelly and Sinatra.  It is also a good homage to the earlier days of baseball.  This is available on Instant Netflix.

 photo leviathan.jpgLeviathan (2014):  I end the week with this Russian film which was directed and co-wrote by Andrey Zvyagintsev.  This takes place in a coastal town where a family patriarch named Kolya, played by Aleksey Serebryakov, who is fighting the corrupt mayor, played by Roman Madyanov who is about to have their home demolished and their land taken.  He turns to his old friend Dmitry, played by Vladimir Vdovichenkov, who is now an attorney.  Elena Lyadova, Anna Ukolova, Aleksey Rozin, and Sergey Pokhodaev all co-star in this film.  This is not an upbeat film by any means.  The local community brings us with them very well in their fight against corruption.  There is also a lot of emotional depth in this film.  If you can do subtitles, then this is a good watch.

Well, that is it for this week but I did decide to bring back my "Fun and Useless Facts" segment.  Tell me what you like and dislike.  Stay tuned for next week which so far includes William H. Macy, Zoe Saldona, Richard Gere, and many others co-star in this film.

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I bring back this segment for the week.  As always, I don't focus much on actors within the movie but use interconnections so enjoy.

George Clooney (Three Kings) plays Danny Ocean in the trilogy OCEAN'S 11, 12, and 13 in 2001, 2004, and 2007.  Frank Sinatra (Take Me Out to the Ballgame) plays Danny Ocean in the 1960 film OCEAN'S 11.

George Clooney (Three Kings) and Juliette Lewis (Sympathy For Delicious) were in the 1996 movie FROM DUSK TILL DAWN.

George Clooney (Three Kings) and Alex Kingston (Like Crazy) worked together on the tv series ER.

Said Taghmaoui (Three Kings) and Jennifer Lawrence (Like Crazy) were in the 2013 film AMERICAN HUSTLE.

Said Taghmaoui (Three Kings) and Ron Perlman (Pacific Rim) were in the 2011 movie CONAN THE BARBARIAN.

Judy Greer (Three Kings) and Orlando Bloom (Sympathy For Delicious) were siblings in the 2005 film ELIZABETHTOWN.

Judy Greer (Three Kings), Jim Gaffigan (Sympathy For Delicious) and Mark Ruffalo (Sympathy For Delicious) were in the 2005 comedy 13 GOING ON 30.

Doug Jones (Three Kings) and Ron Perlman (Pacific Rim) have played Abe Sapien and Hellboy in the live action and animated HELLBOY movies.

Doug Jones (Three Kings) was directed by Guillermo Del Toro (Pacific Rim director) in the 2006 film PAN'S LABYRINTH.

Nora Dunn (Three Kings) and Juliette Lewis (Sympathy For Delicious) were in the 2006 movie THE DARWIN AWARDS.

Spike Jonze (Three Kings) directed Mark Ruffalo (Sympathy For Delicious) in the 2009 film WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE.

Mark Wahlberg (Three Kings) and Juliette Lewis (Sympathy For Delicious) were in the 1995 movie THE BASKETBALL DIARIES.

Mark Wahlberg (Three Kings) and John Carroll Lynch (Sympathy For Delicious) were in the 2015 comedy TED 2.

Holt McCallany (Three Kings), Anton Yelchin (Like Crazy), and Alex Kingston (Like Crazy) were in the 2006 film ALPHA DOG.

Mykelti Williamson (Three Kings) and Brad William Henke (Pacific Rim) were in the 2004 film THE ASSASSINATION OF RICHARD NIXON.

Eddy Waller (A Criminal is Born) and Henry Fonda (The Wrong Man) were in the 1940 film THE GRAPES OF WRATH.

Mark Ruffalo (Sympathy For Delicious) and Rinko Kikuchi (Pacific Rim) were in the 2008 film THE BROTHERS BLOOM.

Anton Yelchin (Like Crazy) and Idris Elba (Pacific Rim) will be in the upcoming 2016 film STAR TREK BEYOND.

Anton Yelchin (Like Crazy) and Clifton Collins Jr. (Pacific Rim) were in the 2009 film STAR TREK.

-Doug Jones (Three Kings) was Silver Surfer in the 2007 movie FANTASTIC FOUR:  RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER.
-Mark Ruffalo (Sympathy For Delicious) plays Bruce Banner aka the Hulk in the Marvel Universe since the 2012 film THE AVENGERS.
-Jennifer Lawrence (Like Crazy) plays Mystique in the later X-Men movies starting with the 2011 film X-MEN:  FIRST CLASS.
-Idris Elba (Pacific Rim) plays Asgard resident Heimdall in the Thor series starting with the 2011 film THOR.

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