Sunday, May 1, 2016

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 546th Edition

Welcome to the 546th Edition of my series.  Nothing really new happening right now except for last week's announcement of my play MURDER IN THE GAZEBO and managed to rope my mom into the show when a part became open.  That is all I can think of for right now so I will just get on with my selections.

Woody Allen:  A Documentary (2012):  This is part three of my Woody Allen trilogy where I finish a documentary centered around him.  This is two parts long and goes briefly into his childhood, to his days in comedy nightclubs, into his film career and everything else around it.  He gives reflections on much of his films from early to late into his career.  There are a lot of his alums that also reflect on their experience of working with Woody.  This gives some very interesting insight and no matter what one might think of him, he has always done what he has wanted to do and not worry about haters or popularity in general.  This is available on Instant Netflix.

Donald's Tire Troubles (1943):  This is my Disney short for the week which as you might have guessed involves Donald Duck.  We have all that time driving down the road and all of a sudden we have a flat tire.  Donald manages to take the difficulty of changing of a tire to a whole new level.  Simple but very effective routine that Donald makes very entertaining and rather relating.

Last of the Mohicans (1936):  First of all, notice the year, this is not the well known Daniel Day-Lewis film from 1992 which is based on a novel by James Fenimore Cooper.  Randolph Scott stars as Hawkeye who is a colonial scout during the French and Indian War.  It is hard to explain so I will just use one from imdb which is "As Alice and Cora Munro attempt to find their father, a British officer in the French and Indian War, they are set upon by French soldiers and their cohorts, Huron tribesman led by the evil Magua.  Fighting to rescue the women the women are Chingachgook and his son Uncas, the last of the Mohican tribe, and their white ally, the frontiersman Hawkeye."  Binnie Barnes, Henry Wilcoxan, Bruce Cabot, and many others co-star in this film.  I will say I have not seen the 1992 version but will eventually, it is on my list for some point.  I do notice that Randolph Scott and Daniel Day-Lewis play the part quite differently where Randolph is more happy go lucky as opposed to the more intense Daniel.  This could be a good double feature to check out.

Amores Perros (2000):  Alejandro G. Innarritu directed this Mexican film that involves three interconnected stories that are connected to a car wreck.  Gael Garcia Bernal stars as Octavio who is looking to get his sister in law away from his abusive brother and after seeing a friend get involved with dog fighting, he decides to enter his own dog in order to raise the money.  Goya Toledo co-stars as Valeria who is a model that has been crippled and deals with her dog that is endangered.  Emilio Echevarria co-stars as El Chiva who is a homeless man who cares for dogs and has been a hitman.  This is the first of Innarritu's "Trilogy of Death" which is followed by 21 GRAMS and BABEL.  This is not real easy to watch, especially those who are dog lovers.  It is a very compelling look into what humans might stoop to in order to get what they want.  I thought the best story was with El Chivo but the rest was very compelling and disturbing like with Octavio hating the ways of his abusing brother but stooping to his own lows in order to get his sister in law out of the situation.

Hellbenders (1967):  This is part two of my Joseph Cotten trilogy in which last week I featured him in Hitchcock's SHADOW OF A DOUBT.  This is my western for the week which was directed Sergio Corbucci and written by Albert Band.  This takes place in post Civil War era where Cotten stars as the ruthless Confederate Colonel Jonas who along with his sons and a beautiful prostitute is still determined to fight a civil war by stealing money and organizing a new Confederate army to take on the Union Army.  This movie has a lot of action and a lot of tension within the ranks where the characters are not real black and white as to who is good and bad.  This is a selection for the first Quentin Tarantino Festival in 1996.  This is available on Amazon Prime.

An Unfinished Life (2005):  Lasse Hallstrom directed this character driven film.  Jennifer Lopez stars as Jean who gets out of a relationship with her abusive boyfriend Gary, played by Damian Lewis, along with her daughter Griff, played by Becca Gardner.  Her and her daughter have nowhere to go so Jean decides to take her daughter to the Wyoming ranch of her father in law Einer, played by Robert Redford, who has bitter feelings toward her blaming her for his son's death.  He reluctantly takes her in for the sake of his granddaughter that he had not met.  Morgan Freeman co-stars as Einer's friend Mitch who lives on the ranch and struggles after being attacked by a bear.  Josh Lucas and Camryn Manheim co-star in this film.  This is a really good movie on small town life.  This also has a really good message of forgiveness without really having to shove it down your throat as well as good performances and a good script.  This is also available on Amazon Prime.

A Taste of Honey (1961):  Tony Richardson directed and co-wrote this film.  Rita Tushingham stars as Jo who is a teen living with her drunk mother, played by Dora Bryan, in Northern England.  When her mother decides to marry, Jo is out on the streets and meets a young gay man named Geoffrey, played by Murray Melvin, who is also adrift and they decide to live together.  Also what happened to Jo was that she had a one night stand with a black sailor named Jimmy and is now pregnant and Geoffrey is trying to help her through these times.  This deals with a lot of taboos in those days like an interracial relationship and with homosexuality.  Like my last selection, this is a bit of a coming of age film.  It does very well with a rather unknown cast who made the most of the well-written script.

Baby Mama (2008):  Michael McCullers wrote and directed this comedy teaming up Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.  Fey stars as successful businesswoman Kate who is single and decides she wants a child but learns she only has a million to shot of getting pregnant.  She decides to hire a surrogate to carry her child and decides to go with working class girl Angie, played by Poehler.  Things get complicated when Angie has nowhere to go and ends up staying at Angie's where their personality differences clash, among other complications.  Greg Kinnear, Steve Martin, Dax Shepard, Romany Malco, Sigourney Weaver, Steve Martin, Maura Tierney, Holland Taylor, James Rebhorn, and many others co-star in this comedy.  Steve Martin is enjoyable as Kate's boss.  This is a rather harmless comedy in my opinion and the stars worked well together.  Nothing great but enjoyable if you like the two leads.

The Uninvited (1944):  This is part two of a possible Ray Milland trilogy.  This is my horror selection for the week which was directed by Lewis Allen.  Milland and Ruth Hussey star as brother and sister Roderick and Pamela Fitzgerald who move into an abandoned home that is said to be haunted but the Fitzgeralds don't buy the stories and take it.  Shortly after moving in they begin to hear strange sounds and find everyone else was right about it being haunted.  They decide to try to solve the mystery of what happened in the haunted house.  Donald Crisp, Alan Napier, Gail Russell, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a very atmospheric film and has a good story.  One of the early ghost stories and some refer to this as one of the first serious ghost stories in Hollywood.  This really deserves a look.

Furious 7 (2015):  I end the week with the latest of the Furious series and the one where Paul Walker died in the middle of filming.  Vin Diesel returns as Dominic Toretto who thought his criminal life was over but Deckard Shaw, played by Jason Statham, is out to avenge his crippled brother Owen by targeting Dom and the rest of the team.  Paul Walker returns as Brian who is now living a more normal life with his wife Mia, played by Jordana Brewster, and child.  The team get back together to stop Shaw as well as a terrorist team lead by Jakande, played by Djimon Hounsou.  Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and Nathalie Emmanual join the fight while being recruited by an unorthodox agent named Mr. Nobody, played by Kurt Russell.  Lucas Black, John Brotherton, Tony Jaa, Ronda Rousey, and many others have parts in this film.  It was interesting to see Statham on the villain side for a change.  Walker died in the middle of the filming causing some rewrites and his brother being a stand in at times.  There is also a really good send off at the end of the movie for Walker.  One thing I noticed for the first time is that this is possibly the most loyal group of friends in film.  I understand they are doing an 8, I kind of feel this is a good way to end but we will see what they do.  If you liked the previous ones, this will be very enjoyable to watch.  You also must be able to suspend disbelief with some of the action scenes.

Well, that is all for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Madonna, Myrna Loy, Claire Danes, more Joseph Cotten, and many others.

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