Sunday, July 3, 2016

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 555th Edition

Welcome to the 555th Edition of my series.  I hope everyone has a good July 4th tomorrow.  not a lot of new things going on in my life right now except my usual routine so I'll just get on with my selections for the week.

Hearts in Atlantis (2001):  This is my tribute to Anton Yelchin who recently left this world.  Scott Hicks directed this movie based on the novel by Stephen King which one might say is his own coming of age tale and I feel on the lines of THE GREEN MILE having a more inspirational feel that the scary feel that King has been known to give.  Yelchin stars as the 11 year old Bobby who is living with his bitter and widowed mother Liz, played by Hope Davis.  Anthony Hopkins stars as Ted who is a new tenant within their home and befriends Bobby while having distrust with his mother but she tolerates it as she has to work a lot.  They form a friendship and share secrets notably of Ted's mysterious past.  Mika Boorem, David Morse, Alan Tudyk, Tom Bower, Celia Weston, Adam LeFevre, Will Rothhaar, Timothy Reifsnyder, Deirdre O'Connell, and many others co-star in this film.  This was a pretty good tale and a young Yelchin shows that he had what it takes to make it, it was just too bad that his life had to be cut short.  This was driven a lot by the character development and nostalgic atmosphere.

The Quiet American (1958):  Joseph Mankiewicz directed this film based on the novel by Graham Greene.  This takes place in 1952 Saigon where Audie Murphy stars as an American economist credited as "The American" who is working for an international aid organization and gets caught up in a love triangle with British reporter Thomas Fowler, played by Michael Redgrave, with a Vietnamese woman named Phuong, played by Georgia Moll which leads to a lot of other dangerous complications.  Claude Dauphin, Bruce Cabot, and many others co-star in this film.  From what I have read, if you are a fan of the novel, this may not be something you like.  Having not read the novel and even seeing the 2002 remake, I was rather intrigued by the movie.  There were good performances especially by Murphy and it kept my interest pretty well.  I also realize there are a lot of Redgraves out there, I had never heard of Michael.  I have come to believe that writing another movie based on a novel is not a remake, but a different version of the novel but that's just me.

Strange Glory (1938):  This is my short film for the week.  This takes place during the Civil War where General Ulysses Grant, played by Jack Grey, carries out the "Tennessee Plan" which was a very significant event for the north.  Fay Helm co-stars as Anna Ella Carroll who was a confidante for President Lincoln, played by Frank McGlynn Sr., and claims authorship for the plan pressing her claim 20 years later as Lincoln never credited anyone for the plan.  This is a rather unknown part of Civil War history and worth a look.

Spectre (2015):  I bring the latest James Bond outing to this edition.  Sam Mendes directed this film with Daniel Craig in his 4th and possibly his last outing as 007.  SPECTRE was the terrorist organization used in most of the Connery era and his usual rival would be Blofeld which has been played by actors like Telly Savalas, Donald Pleasance, and Charles Gray and would be parodied as Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers series using most of Pleasance's looks.  Now Christoph Waltz plays Blofeld in a more early story on Blofeld and SPECTRE.  On the other end, Ralph Fiennes reprises his role of M as he tries to keep his organization together.  Ben Whishaw and Naomie Harris reprise their parts of Q and Moneypenny as they covertly help Bond behind M's back.  Lea Seydoux, Monica Bellucci, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christiansen, and many others co-star in this film.  This movie has had some mixed opinions, I was able to enjoy myself, maybe because I'm a fan of Craig as Bond and claim that he will play me in THE RISE AND FALL OF SHAUN BERKEY.  As much as I love Craig in the role, I understand him wanting to get out of it, I know he has had some injuries and such on the set.  I thought the movie had some really good action and I also really liked seeing M in action for a change which came more at the climax of the film.  This by no means topped the last one of SKYFALL or CASINO ROYALE but thought it could still be enjoyed.

I Never Sang for my Father (1970):  As I was looking for something from this era, I was checking out what was available on TCM On-Demand and found my unexpected gem for the week.  Gilbert Cates directed this film based on a play by Robert Anderson.  Gene Hackman stars as Gene Garrison who is a widowed man in New York in a long distance relationship with his girlfriend in California.  While he wants to move to California, he feels guilty leaving his father Tom, played by Melvyn Douglas, even though they have never really gotten along.  Estelle Parsons co-stars as Alice, Gene's sister who was disowned by their father in her marrying a Jew and advises Gene to get away.  Dorothy Stickney co-stars as the matriarch of the family in her last role.  This is a very well written drama of a dysfunctional family, mostly the father and son relationship and the son still trying to please his father.  I had never heard of this one until I found it and was a really good find for me.    Hackman and Douglas worked very well with Parsons being a really good added element.  This was a very human drama and hope to get this on the radar more.

In Time (2011):  This is my futuristic film for the week which was directed by Andrew Nicol.  This takes place in a world where aging stops at the age of 25 and where currency lasts in the form of time where the rich are essentially immortal and the rest try to get whatever time they can.  Justin Timberlake stars as Will who is one of the ordinary people that struggle to survive and is accused of murder.  To get away, he takes a hostage in a rich man's daughter named Sylvia, played by Amanda Seyfriend.  As they get to know each other, she begins to understand the struggle of others while she has mostly had nothing to worry about.  Olivia Wilde, Shyloh Oostwald, Johnny Galecki, Cillian Murphy, Vincent Kartheiser, and many others co-star in this sci-fi film.  It is a pretty interesting premise and different from the sequels and reboots that continue to come out.  There is some good action and performances to keep this going.  Also of interest to see parents and their children mostly look the same age since aging stops like Olivia Wilde is Timberlake's mother even though in real life she is younger and Kartheiser is Seyfried's rich father and they are about the same age.

Diary of a Country Priest (1951):  Robert Bresson directed this French film based on the novel by Georges Bernanos.  Claude Laydu stars as a very idealistic young priest who arrives to be the local parish priest.  He finds that he is not really wanted there while dealing with a stomach disease but still tries to help his dwellers.  This is more of a character study on the young priest with a really good performance by Laydu which I understand is his debut.  It is a very good look at one man's faith and struggle.

Afternoon Delight (2013):  Jill Soloway wrote and directed this independent comedy-drama.  Kathryn Hahn stars as Rachel who is a stay at home mom and bored with the preschool auctions and lackluster sex life.  Some friends take her to a strip club where she meets a stripper named McKenna, played by Juno Temple, and they form an unlikely friendship to the point that Rachel takes in McKenna as a live in nanny in hopes of saving her from the life she lives.  Jane Lynch, Jessica St. Clair, Sawyer Ever, Josh Radnor, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a dramedy in every sense of the word and can be depressing at times.  Hahn and Temple play off each other pretty well.  It was a pretty enjoyable movie about trying to change a life for someone and the effects it has on everyone around them.  This is available on

Wait Until Dark (1967):  This is my psychological thriller for the week brought to us by director Terence Young and based on the play by Frederick Knott.  Audrey Hepburn stars as the recently blinded Susy whose husband Sam, played by Efrem Zimbalist Jr., agrees to hold a doll for a woman he does not know but turns out there is a lot more to that doll.  With Sam off on a business trip, a group of criminals, played by Alan Arkin, Richard Crenna, and Jack Weston, are out to find this doll which contains heroin but underestimate the resourcefulness of Susy who while may not have sight, has enhanced her other senses.  With the help of her youth neighbor Gloria, played by Julie Herrod, she looks to survive these criminals.  Arkin is very good as the ruthless Roat and is able to blackmail the more amateur criminals into taking part in the crime to get the doll.  There were a lot of actors out there not willing to play this kind of villain.  I believe this is Hepburn's best performance and her last film for about 9 years after taking time off to raise her children.  Also look for a very young Robby Benson who makes his first appearance at age 10 as a child throwing a football in an early airport scene and would go onto be most known as the voice of the Beast in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.  This is a horror film and is scarier than just about any other horror film dealing with the supernatural.

The Seventh Continent (1989):  This is part one of a possible four-part Michael Haneke series.  Michael Haneke directed this Austrian film in his feature film directorial debut.  Dieter Berner, Birgit Doll, and Leni Tanzer star as the Schober family who are father, mother, and daughter.  This was a European family looking to move to Australia but get caught up in their daily routine as we learn more about them.  I really had no idea what to expect, what seems like a rather ordinary family but slowly learn otherwise up to a bizarre ending.  Haneke has said this was based on an article he read.  This was a very disturbing film that got to me quite a bit especially a scene involving fish, I know you want to see this movie to see what I am talking about.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Max Von Sydow, Albert Finney, and many others.

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