Sunday, February 7, 2016

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 534th Edition

Welcome to the 534th Edition of my series.  I have announced that in March I am to be in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING in Anderson at the Alley Theater.  Now I announce that also in March I will be shooting for a web series called PIGFOOT 2:  THE SQUEAKUEL for the group Ruckus-Ray productions as a hippie cameraman.  More details to come soon as we will try to get as much exposure as we can.  This evening I will be watching the Super Bowl and really just want to see a good game.  That's about all for now so I will just get on with my selections for the week.

Inequality for All (2013):  I start the week out with this documentary directed by Jacob Kornbluth.  Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich explores the widening economic gap within the United States of America.  This is a very informative documentary that is done in an entertaining way.  Reich also has a good way of explaining things that even a non-political person like me can understand.  This is something that everyone should take a look at whether you are Democrat or Republican.

Feline Follies (1919):  This is my animated short for the week.  This is considered the first Felix the Cat cartoon though Felix is referred to as Master Tom who is like a ladies' man cat.  When he is lured away, mice mess up the house.  Mostly to watch for historical reasons like the introduction of Felix the Cat and a silent cartoon short that is fairly entertaining.  This can be found on Youtube.

An American in Paris (1951):  This is my musical for the week which was directed by Vincente Minnelli and written by Alan Jay Lerner with the music being wrote by the Gershwins.  Gene Kelly stars as struggling American painter Jerry Mulligan who is living in Paris.  An heiress Milo Roberts, played by Nina Foch, see him displaying his art and takes an interest in him.  In turn, he falls for French girl Lise, played by Leslie Caron in her film debut, but she is engaged to a cabaret singer.  Oscar Levant is also very amusing as Jerry's friend Adam who is a struggling pianist.  Minnelli at the time was going through a divorce with Judy Garland which some of the time left Gene Kelly to do the direction.  It also has a famous climax scene referred to as "The Climatic Ballet" which was an amazing dance sequence.  This is one of my favorite musicals from this era.

Bringing Down the House (2003):  Adam Shankman directed this comedy of a lawyer and a convict for a lack of a better comedy description.  Martin plays Peter Sanderson who is the attorney who is now divorced and does not see his kids much due to his job dedication.  He begins a chat with another woman who is a fellow attorney at least that is what she says.  This great female attorney turns out to be escaped convict Charlene, played by Queen Latifah, who is trying to get him to help her get her name cleared saying she did not commit the crime she was accused of doing.  When this happens, Peter's life turns upside down in a comedic way.  Eugene Levy, Joan Plowright, Jean Smart, Kimberly J. Brown, Angus T. Jones, Missi Pyle, Michael Rosenbaum, Betty White, Steve Harris, and many others co-star in this comedy.  This was not the greatest comedy in the world but still a lot of fun with Martin and Latifah being a good duo coming from two different worlds.  Levy was also very funny in his role and how can anything go wrong with Betty White?

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970):  This is possibly part one of a two-part Charlton Heston series.  Ted Post directed this sequel to the 1968 cult classic PLANET OF THE APES.  James Franciscus stars as Brent who is an astronaut on a mission to find and rescue Taylor, reprised by Heston.  In his search he meets the mute and beautiful Nova, reprised by Linda Harrison, who leads him to meet with apes Cornelius and Zera, played by David Watson instead of Roddy McDowell and Kim Hunter.  They look to lead him in the right direction to find Taylor where he soon discovers that there are a group of mutated and telepathic humans living underground which are really just as ruthless as the apes.  Maurice Evans, Paul Richards, Victor Buono, James Gregory, Jeff Corey, Natalie Trundy, Thomas Gomez, and many others co-star in this more bleak sequel.  This is the only one of the series that McDowell was not in which also includes a tv series.  This by no means beats the first one but is a pretty good continuation of the series though it is probably good to start with the first one and maybe just have night on the planet of the apes.

Last Cup:  The Road to the World Series of Beer Pong (2008):  This is my second documentary for the week into a much funner and more irrelevant topic though professional Beer Pong players might not like my description of "irrelevant".  This follows a few players as they train and compete in the 2007 World Series of Beer Pong and yes this is a real thing.  This became popular among college frat houses and has clearly gone beyond having an annual tournament in Las Vegas with a five figure prize.  I played this a few times in my younger days and I know I could never make it that level or any level for that matter since I really sucked at that game so I actually had some envy towards these people who have pretty much dedicated their lives to this game.  These are my favorite kinds of documentaries where they have an unorthodox event like this one and do good interviews towards those very passionate about itas well as people from all walks of life.  For those interested, the website to look into getting involved is which happens in July of this year.  If this results into someone entering and winning the $50,000 first prize I believe I am entitled to a cut of the winnings.  If anyone is interesting, I would really suggest working on your skills.  Also, if the entry fee is too much, this website does have information on the satellite tournaments which have a much less fee and if winning one of those, that will win a spot at the World Series of Beer Pong.

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957):  This is my western for the week which was directed by John Sturges and a take to the legend of Wyatt Earp.  Burt Lancaster plays the famed lawman who made a name for himself in Dodge City, Kansas but leaves to join his brothers in Tombstone, Arizona hoping to lead a more simple life which we all know that was not to happen and lead to the famed shootout between the Earps and the Clanton gang.  Part of this movie is based on the meeting between Wyatt Earp and the outlaw Doc Holiday, played by Kirk Douglas, where they form an unlikely alliance and Doc would join Wyatt in Tombstone to help the Earps in the shootout.  John Hudson, DeForest Kelley, and Martin Milner co-star as Wyatt's brothers Virgil, Morgan, and James where I learned where wrestler Rtruth learned the phrase Little Jimmy after they called their youngest brother James that name.  John Ireland, Rhonda Fleming, Jo Van Fleet, Lyle Betger, Frank Faylen, Dennis Hopper, and many others co-star in this film.  This is differently told than TOMBSTONE which is the one my generation remembers the most.  It is not the most historically accurate film of all time like in this movie, they made the gunfight far longer than what it really was which was actually about 30 seconds.  It was still a good take on the legend with Lancaster and Douglas as a really good combination in their uneasy alliance which becomes friendship which is different than in a lot of portrayals where they usually have been best friends.

Ex Machina (2015):  Alex Garland wrote and directed this sci-fi film.  Domhnall Gleeson stars as young programmer Caleb who wins a competition to spend a week at a private mountain retreat owned by his reclusive boss Nathan, played by Oscar Isaac.  When arriving, he learns that the reason he was brought there was for Nathan's artificial intelligence creation Ava, played by Alicia Vikander, which is the first successful A.I. creation.  Caleb is to interact with Ava as part of an experiment to see if he can relate to Ava knowing she is A.I.  The longer he stays, the more dark secrets he comes across.  Sonoya Mizuno co-stars as Nathan's housemate Kyoko who also becomes significant to the story.  This is a really good independent Sci-fi film that has a really good script as well as the special effects being very well done.  Vakander does a really good job as the A.I. as well as the rest of the cast.  The movie leads to a really good climax.  Garland makes his directorial debut in this film that could be considered a sleeper for the year.

Zombie (1979):  This is my Giallo zombie movie for the week which was directed by Lucio Fulci that I recorded from the El Rey network.  A zombie is found on a boat off the New York coast.  This causes journalist Peter West, played by Ian McCulloch, and Ann, played by Tisa Farrow, whose father is a scientist to travel to an island and find that a disease is turning islanders into zombies.  I think these zombies might actually qualify for the ugliest zombies in film.  This does have some really good bits of gore.  The title of this is ZOMBI 2 and is not really a sequel of any sort except that it served as a sequel to DAWN OF THE DEAD but did not really reflect from that film.  This is a must for zombie enthusiasts out there.

A Girl in the River:  the Price of Forgiveness (2015):  When I arrived in Columbus, Indiana on Friday I decided to check out the Yes Cinema to see this year's Oscar nominated documentary shorts and one of those would be my 10th selection choosing this to be the one that stuck with me the most.  This is a documentary in Pakistan directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and the third documentary this week.  This is a documentary showing how a lot of women are killed in the name of "honor".  In this instance, they take a look at an 18 year old girl who married who she wanted instead of an arranged marriage by her father and is shot and left for dead by those closest to her.  She actually survives this murder attempt to tell the tale of what lead to the shooting and the aftermath with her very supportive in-law family.  This was a very powerful tale that centered some around the Quran which was explored some.  There was a police officer who appeared to be a very good person and while being Islam did not believe the Quran called for killing like many seem to think.  It also showed a rather strange legal system in Pakistan.  This is about 40 minutes long and really deserves a look once it goes public or if you can find a theater showing of these nominations which is really worth going to see.

Well that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Johnny Depp, William H. Macy, and many others.

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