Sunday, March 27, 2016

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 541st Edition

Welcome to this week's edition of my series.  I hope everyone is having a good Easter.  I don't really having anything new going on at the moment so I'll just get to my selections for the week.

JFK:  3 Shots that Changed America (2009):  I start out the week with this two-part documentary from the history channel.  The entire documentary is footage put together and a lot of never before seen footage on the assassination and the aftermath of it dealing with all the conspiracy theories that are out there.  There is no narration and there is also no current interviews of people close to the situation.  It also goes into things like the shooting of Oliver Stone's film JFK and footage of the real Jim Garrison.  It is very well put together and compelling without the narration.

Habeas Corpus (1928):  I follow up with this silent comedy short from the team of Laurel and Hardy.  a mad scientist hires them to dig up bodies in a cemetery for his experiments.  When trying to get to the cemetery, all kinds of mishaps happen.  There are some really funny moments like them trying to get over the rock wall.  This is the first Laurel and Hardy film to use sound effects.  They are really more known for their talkies and this might be their most known silent.

Experiment Perilous (1944):  George Brent stars as Dr. Huntington Bailey who has an encounter with a woman named Cissie, played by Olive Blakeney, who says she is visiting her brother Nick, played by Paul Lukas, and his wife Allida, played by Hedy Lamarr.  He soon learns that she died and decides to meet Nick and Allida himself.  When arriving, he becomes suspicious of Nick's treatment of his wife and Nick is trying to get his wife committed for being crazy.  He starts to fall for Allida and tries to free her from her husband leading to a rather violent climax.  This is a pretty decent melodrama that is worth a look from classic movie buffs.

Undefeated (2011):  This is my sports documentary for the week which was directed by Daniel Lindsey and T.J. Martin.  This chronicles a high school football team the Manassas Tigers who are an inner-city Memphis school.  This is a very underfunded and underprivileged school who even got hired out as a practice team for more successful schools.  A lot of this focuses on Coach Bill Courtney who stepped into the coaching job for no pay and found different ways of funding and looked to do what he could to make the team more successful as well as the students.  This is a very moving documentary and always good to know that there are good people like Bill Courtney in this world.  This would be a really good double feature to go along with the basketball documentary HOOP DREAMS both of which are available to watch on streaming.

Fahrenheit 451 (1966):  This is part two of a two-part Julie Christie series.  Francois Truffaut directed this film based on the sci-fi novel by Ray Bradbury.  This takes place in a very bleak future where books are banned by the government with the fear they promote free thinking.  It is also a society where houses are fireproof and the job of a firefighter is to burn books so in other words they start fires instead of putting them out.  Oskar Werner stars as firefighter Guy Montag who does his job while others like his wife Linda, played by Christie, are drugged into compliancy and getting their info from wall-length television screens.  Guy has an encounter with a woman named Clarisse, also played by Christie, who makes him rethink his views and his job.  Soon after he meets Clarisse, he starts to keep confiscated books.  Cyril Cusack also co-stars in this film.  This was shown by the Muncie Public Library through the Bookworms and Brews Book Club where much of them had read this book then watched the movie.  I was not one that read the book, I just decided to go see the movie and makes me wonder if I am kind of like Linda seeing as I don't read that much and I have a big screen television.  I also say that Linda is the worst wife ever and just watch the movie and you might understand.  Christie does a really good job in her dual role.  For some reason it also reminded me of REPO:  THE GENETIC OPERA maybe in the way that the protagonist in each one is trying to obey society and do their job but a conflict of interest gets in the way.  Maybe with that being said that can be a double feature that I am obsessed with trying to come up with.

Jurassic World (2015):  So I bring this latest continuation of the series starting with Michael Crichton's novel JURASSIC PARK.  Many years after the failure of Jurassic Park, other people decide they will open up the site as a theme park.  They decide to get inventive by creating a genetically modified new breed of dinosaur that is not only very violent but turned out to be very resourceful by escaping and wreaking havoc on the park.  Chris Pratt stars as Owen who works for the park as a raptor trainer forming a rather special bond with them.  Bryce Dallas Howard stars as Claire who is a high up person at Jurassic World who realizes the mistakes made and looks to help Owen save the place.  Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson co-star as Claire's nephews who are there for the park but then fight for survival so in the end it was kind of a similar setup to the first one.  Irrfan Khan, Vincent D'Onofrio, Omar Sy, Judy Greer, BD Wong, and many others co-stars in this film.  This by no means tops the original but I did like the premise and had a lot of fun with it.  BD Wong is the only one from the original to return to this movie.  Maybe make a double feature of JURASSIC PARK going into this one.  I believe there are sequels in the work so hopefully we can get Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, and Sam Neill in the future but this was still did it for me maybe enhanced by my big screen television.

Dov'e La Liberta...? (1954):  This is my Italian film for the week which was directed by Roberto Rossellini.  Italian comedic actor Toto stars Salvatore who is being paroled after 22 years of being in prison.  In the outside world, he finds it is a much different world and decides he would rather go back to prison where he felt more appreciated.  This is the first time I had ever seen this actor but really took a liking to him.  This was a really well done and clever comedy making a serious situation into comedy as there are a lot out there who have gotten used to prison life.  This is available on Amazon Prime.

Trevor (1994):  This is my second short film for the week.  Peggy Rajski directed this film centering on a young boy named Trevor, played by Brett Barsky.  This takes place in the 70s in Bible Belt, USA where after hitting puberty finds that he is homosexual.  When this happens, he becomes resented among friends, family and his priest.  Taking place in the '70s, being gay was not very accepted and in the '90s when it was made it was not accepted so a rather daring film to do.  Stephen Tobolowsky co-stars in this film as the priest.  This was really good and I believe that schools should have kids watch this to educate a bit.  I know I was very ignorant of it growing up and wish I had been more educated.  This is also available on Amazon Prime and is worth about 20 minutes of your time.

Thunderball (1965):  I continue with some action and some early James Bond.  Terence Young directed this Bond film with Sean Connery in his 4th outing as 007.  The terrorist organization SPECTRE has stolen two warheads so Bond must head to Nassau to recover them going against SPECTRE member Largo, played by Adolfo Celi.  He also meets the beautiful Domino, played by Claudine Auger, who is in the middle of what is happening.  Luciana Paluzzi, Rik Van Nutter, Martine Beswick, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn, Lois Maxwell, and many others co-star in this film.  I have always favored this one in the Connery era.  Maybe one reason is I always had a crush on Domino.  I also liked the underwater action sequences that went on.  There is also a really good theme song sung by Tom Jones and in my opinion is his best song.  This is available on Amazon Prime but looks like until Thursday so get some Bond in before it goes away if you have Amazon Prime.

The Frighteners (1996):  I end the week with this horror comedy directed and co-written by Peter Jackson.  Michael J. Fox stars as psychic investigator Frank Bannister who has the abilities to see and communicate with ghosts including a couple he uses to con people.  Things begin to get more serious when more people are dying by a grim reaper type.  When this happens, he begins to investigate and stop them from happening.   John Astin, Chi McBride, and Jim Fyfe are all very amusing as Frank's ghost friends.  Trini Alvarado, Peter Dobson, Dee Wallace, Jake Busey, R. Lee Ermey, Melanie Lynskey, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a really well crafted horror comedy that did bring a lot of laughs and has some really good effects on the ghosts.  This is some really good earlier work from Jackson that is great to watch during Halloween and good for the rest of the year if you are looking for this genre.

Well, that is it for this week though continue to read for my returning Movie Night at the Shera segment.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Rooney Mara, Winona Ryder, and many others.


The Hunger Games:  Mockingjay:  Part 2 (2015):  We decided to have one of these nights again and we agreed on this movie when she named off movies she had not seen and neither had I.  Francis Lawrence directed this finale to the series based on the novels by Suzanne Collins.  Jennifer Lawrence reprises her role as Katniss who tries to return Peeta, played by Josh Hutcherson, to his normal state while leading a rebellion against the Capital.  She also has her own personal goal to assassinate President Snow, played by Donald Sutherland, to help return peace to the Districts of Panem.  Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Willow Shields, Sam Claflin, Jeffrey Wright, Jena Malone, Stanley Tucci, Wes Chatham, and many others co-star in this finale.  I was more into the first two movies of this series.  I still enjoyed this continuation of this series.  These movies made me fall in love with Jennifer Lawrence who I felt was perfect for the role.  I will say that I wish that Jena Malone had a bigger part in this one as Johanna Mason who was a notable character in CATCHING FIRE.  I really believe if Collins had foreseen Malone doing so well with that character she might have made the character a bigger part of the story in the MOCKINGJAY films.  In the end, Shera seemed to really enjoy this movie herself so was worth the rare Redbox rental.  Maybe it's time though to resume trying to get her to watch BUBBA HO-TEP with me.

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