Sunday, February 14, 2016

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 535th Edition

Welcome to the 535th Edition of my series.  I'm ready for this snow and cold weather to end but it will never stop me from putting this out.  Now I start post-football life and nothing else really going on for now so I'll just get to my selections.

Cry-Baby (1990):  I start the week out with this comedy out from John Waters who wrote and directed.  A young Johnny Depp stars as Cry-Baby who is a Drape which is essentially a form of a greaser and falls for the good girl Allison, played by Amy Locane, who is part of the "square" group wanting to be bad.  Allison's square boyfriend Baldwin, played by Stephen Mailer, becomes jealous and causes a scene getting Cry-Baby in trouble to put in juvenile detention.  Susan Tyrell, Polly Bergen, Iggy Pop, Ricki Lake, Traci Lords, Kim McGuire, Darren E. Burrows, Kim Webb, Troy Donahue, Mike Stole, Joe Dallesandro, Joey Heatherton, David Nelson, Patricia Hearst, Willem Dafoe, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a really good spoof on Elvis movies and Juvenile Delinquency scare films of the '50s.  It was also interesting how they portrayed the "squares" as the more vicious group.  There are a lot of fun musical numbers and did become a broadway musical.  This is available on HBO On-Demand.

Bo Burnham:  Words, Words, Words (2010):  This is my live special for the week.  The young comedian getting famous off youtube gets his first one hour stand-up special.  He walks the line on many topics and some through song.  He gets into more everyday topics and limits his political and celebrity humor.  This is an hour worth a look if you don't offend too easy.  Looks like this prodigy sensation is just getting started.

Oleanna (1994):  This is part one of a two possibly three-part William H. Macy series.  David Mamet wrote and directed this screenplay based on his play.  Macy stars as Professor John who is looking to get tenure at his job.  He is confronted by his student Carol, played by Debra Eisenstadt, who is failing his course and first seems to just be looking for help in terms of understanding.  It quickly escalates into accusations of sexual harassment.  Besides Extras, these are the only two people in the film.  I once tried out for it at Muncie Civic Theater years ago where I was originally there for reading purposes but took interest but did not get the part which I can see I was too young for but maybe another five years or so.  The two actors work real good together leaving us viewers to analyze the truth of what they are saying.

Symphony in Slang (1951):  This is my animated short from Tex Avery.  A man is at the gates of heaven and has a hard time explaining his story to the saints above who have a hard time understanding his modern-day slang which has not seemed to have changed much after.  As he explains his story, the saints imagine it in a very literal way.  This was a pretty inventive and unique animated short that I'm sure can be found on Youtube.

Prison Break (1938):  This is my b-list crime drama for the week and is not that hit tv series.  Barton MacLane stars as Joaquin Shannon who is wrongly charged with manslaughter and sentenced to prison.  He tries to lay low in prison but fellow prisoner Red, played by Ward Bond, does not make that easy.  He finally gets his parole when he helps to stop a prison break but finds that it is very difficult to find work as a parolee.  This is kind of a modern-day LES MISERABLES of a man who does what he can to move on but cannot not with his parole.  MacLane and Bond do a really good job in their having bigger roles than usual.  This was watched on a classic movie app I found on my Dad's Roku but don't really remember what it is called.

The Last American Hero (1973):  A young Jeff Bridges stars as Elroy Jackson Jr. who has always been part of the moonshine business but leaves hoping to go into car racing.  He starts out in underground leagues that are mostly no rules and then works his way into NASCAR.   Valerie Perrine, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Ned Beatty, Gary Busey, Art Lund, Ed Lauter, Lane Smith, and many others co-star in this sports drama.  This is based on a true story but a mostly fictionalized account.  Bridges is very good as Johnson and it is good to see Gary Busey as his brother.  The real Junior Johnson served as a technical adviser for the film and they did do a really good job on the racing scenes.  This is also a good look at small-town America.  This is available on FX Retro on Comcast On-Demand.

Love and Mercy (2014):  Bill Pohlad directed this biopic based on the Beach Boys member Brian Wilson.  This takes place in two eras.  In the '60s, Paul Dano plays Wilson in a time that was a little later for the band and had a vision to be progressive and create a very unique album while battling psychological issues and an abusive father.  The other era is the '80s where John Cusack plays Wilson where he is broken and confused while under the watch of his "therapist" Dr. Eugene Landy, played by Paul Giamatti.  Elizabeth Banks co-stars in the '80s era as Melinda Ledbetter who meets and falls in love with Wilson while noticing that Dr. Landy is not helping him and looks to take action.  Jake Abel, Kenny Wormald, Brett Davern, Graham Rogers, Erin Darke, Joanna Going, Bill Camp, and many others co-star in this biopic.  I thought that both eras were very well done with the two actors complementing each others very well.  I never really know the kinds of problems Brian Wilson had and disagreements with the band on ideas for his songs.  Wilson did have some very innovative music techniques which are also shown in the '60s era.  I was reading where the real Brian Wilson was on hand and really at one point believed Giamatti was Landy.  This was a rather different sort of music biopic.

Carousel (1956):  This is my musical for the week and I suppose another heavenly selection for the week.  Henry King directed this adaptation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.   Gordon MacRae stars as Billy Bigelow who has been dead for 15 years.  When entering the pearly gates he refuses his chance to go back to earth for one day but hears that there is problems within his family and looks for a second chance.  He must explain his story to the gatekeeper, played by Gene Lockhart, to see if he can go back to Earth for a day.  Shirley Jones co-stars as Julie who is his widowed wife.  Cameron Mitchell, Susan Luckey, Claramae Turner, Audrey Christie, and many others co-star in this musical.  Of all the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals I have seen, this one might be my favorite.  This one is not nearly as upbeat as a lot of their work and has one of the better stories in my opinion as well as well-written music.  Even Richard Rodgers cites this as his favorite work.  This is available for streaming on Netflix.

Circus of Fear (1966):  This is my British film for the week and is also known as PSYCHO-CIRCUS.  This is billed as horror but I see it as more of a murder mystery, I think the horror label might have just been given due to Christopher Lee being in it and the cover I thought was a bit misleading.  This is where the police are investigating a robbery and murder and the investigation leads to the circus.  Leading the investigation is Elliot, played by Leo Genn.  Christopher Lee co-stars as Gregor, a facially scarred lion tamer who wears a mask.   Margaret Lee, Suzy Kendall, Klaus Kinski,   There are a lot of rather interesting characters to this mystery.  This also has some pretty good circus footage.  I found this one on the website Hoopla which is a website where people sign up through their library membership.

A Mighty Heart (2007):  I end the week with another movie based on a true story.  Michael Winterbottom directed this film based on the book by Mariane Pearl, played by Angelina Jolie possibly at her best.  This is based on the mostly known story of Daniel Pearl, played by Dan Futterman, who along with his wife Mariane are reporters and go to Pakistan.  When there, Daniel does not return home Mariane initiates a search to find him and learns he was kidnapped by Islamic terrorists.  Archie Panjabi, Denis O'Hare, Irrfan Khan, Will Patton, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a pretty well-done adaptation on this tragic story.  It shows the courage and dedication of a wife in very difficult times which Jolie brought across very well.

Well, that is it for this week but continue to read for the returning "Fun and Useless Facts" segment.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Robin Williams, Joan Crawford, more William H. Macy, and many others.


These are a few facts I found and did not focus on actors from the same movie unless there was one from another movie like the John Waters alums for example.  If you find some I missed, please go ahead and comment.

Johnny Depp (Cry-Baby) and Angelina Jolie (A Mighty Heart) star in the 2010 movie THE TOURIST.

William H. Macy (Oleanna), Jeff Bridges (The Last American Hero), and Ed Lauter (The Last American Hero) were in the 2003 film SEABISCUIT.

Johnny Depp (Cry-Baby) and Christopher Lee (Circus of Fear) play son and father in the 2005 film CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY.  They are also both in CORPSE BRIDE which came out the same year as well as the 1999 film SLEEPY HOLLOW, the 2010 film ALICE IN WONDERLAND, and the 2012 film DARK SHADOWS all of which directed by Tim Burton.

Jeff Bridges (The Last American Hero) is a fan of Brian Wilson who was depicted in this week's feature LOVE AND MERCY.

Johnny Depp (Cry-Baby) and Gary Busey (The Last American Hero) were in the 1998 film FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS.

Ned Beatty (The Last American Hero) and Christopher Lee (Circus of Fear) were in the 1979 film 1941.

Johnny Depp (Cry -Baby) and Ned Beatty (The Last American Hero) were in the 2011 animated film RANGO.

William H. Macy (Oleanna) stars in the tv series SHAMELESS and Ed Lauter (The Last American Hero) was a recurring character.

Johnny Depp (Cry-Baby) and William H. Macy (Oleanna) were in the 1993 film BENNY AND JOON.  Also, Depp plays Ichabod Crane in the 1999 film SLEEPY HOLLOW and Macy played Crane in the tv animated movie THE NIGHT OF THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN in the same year.

Lane Smith (The Last American Hero) plays Richard Nixon in the 1989 tv movie THE FINAL DAYS.  John Cusack (Love and Mercy) plays Nixon in the 2013 film LEE DANIELS' THE BUTLER.

Johnny Depp (Cry-Baby) and Gregory Walcott (The Last American Hero) were in the 1994 film ED WOOD where Walcott has a cameo and was in Wood's PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE.

William H. Macy (Oleanna) and John Cusack (Love and Mercy) were in the 1991 film SHADOWS AND FOG.

Susan Tyrell (Cry-Baby) and Jeff Bridges (The Last American Hero) were in the 1972 film FAT CITY and the 2003 film MASKED AND ANONYMOUS.

John Cusack (Love and Mercy) was considered for Hunter S. Thompson aka Raoul Duke in the 1998 film FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS which would ultimately go to Johnny Depp (Cry-Baby)

Susan Tyrell (Cry-Baby) and John Cusack (Love and Mercy) were in the 1988 film TAPEHEADS.

Gary Busey (The Last American Hero), Joanna Going (Love and Mercy), and Will Patton (A Mighty Heart) were in the 2005 tv mini-series INTO THE WEST.

Johnny Depp (Cry-Baby) and Paul Giamatti (Love and Mercy) were in the 1997 film DONNIE BRASCO.

Ed Lauter (The Last American Hero) and Cameron Mitchell (Carousel) both had stints in the 1976 mini-series HOW THE WEST WAS WON.

Johnny Depp (Cry-Baby) and Bill Camp (Love and Mercy) were in the 2009 film PUBLIC ENEMIES and the 2015 film BLACK MASS.

Ward Bond (Prison Break) and Gene Lockhart (Carousel) were in the 1948 film JOAN OF ARC.

Iggy Pop (Cry-Baby) and Paul Giamatti (Love and Mercy) were in the 2007 action film SHOOT 'EM UP.

Jeff Bridges (The Last American Hero) and Christopher Lee (Circus of Fear) were in the 1982 animated film THE LAST UNICORN.

Traci Lords (Cry-Baby) and Elizabeth Banks (Love and Mercy) were in the 2008 comedy ZACH AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO.

Jeff Bridges (The Last American Hero) and Dan Futterman (A Mighty Heart) were in the 1991 film THE FISHER KING.

Willem Dafoe (Cry-Baby) and Jeff Bridges (The Last American Hero) were in the 1980 western HEAVEN'S GATE which Dafoe is uncredited.

John Cusack (Love and Mercy) and Angelina Jolie (A Mighty Heart) were in the 1999 film PUSHING TIN.

Willem Dafoe (Cry-Baby) and Elizabeth Banks (Love and Mercy) were in the Sam Raimi SPIDER-MAN trilogy.

Paul Giamatti (Love and Mercy) and Archie Panjabi (A Mighty Heart) are in the 2015 movie SAN ANDREAS.

Mink Stole (Cry-Baby) and Gary Busey (The Last American Hero) were in the 1997 film LOST HIGHWAY.

Christopher Lee (Circus of Fear) was in the 1979 movie NUTCRACKER FANTASY as Uncle Drosselmeyer.  This is the only role that I can say I played twice which was in 2006 in a ballet version and in 2011 in my first paid acting gig.

Darren E. Burrows (Cry-Baby) and Lane Smith (The Last American Hero) were in the 1998 movie THE HI-LO COUNTRY.

Gordon MacRae (Carousel) plays Curly in the 1955 film OKLAHOMA.  My Facebook friend Corby played the part in a 2008 version at the Muncie Civic Theater which I co-starred as Slim.

Troy Donahue (Cry-Baby) and John Cusack (Love and Mercy) were in the 1984 movie GRANDVIEW U.S.A.

Paul Giamatti (Love and Mercy) plays Friar Laurence in the 2013 movie ROMEO AND JULIET.  My Facebook friend Bob played the part in a 2013 version in Farmland where I played Paris.

Stephen Mailer (Cry-Baby) and Bill Camp (Love and Mercy) were in the 1990 film REVERSAL OF FORTUNE.

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