Sunday, August 28, 2016

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 563rd Edition

Welcome to the 563rd Edition of my series.  This week is the start to some auditions for some shows so I'll keep everyone informed next week if anything comes from it.  Each selection has Amazon Affiliate links below it that I try to include DVD/Blu-ray, Stream rentals/purchases, and possibly novels they might be based upon.  Not much else happening this week so I will get on with my selections for the week.

Chris Rock:  Kill the Messenger (2008):  This is part one of a potential Chris Rock trilogy.  This is an HBO stand-up comedy special with the SNL alum.  Chris Rock walks the line with his comedy covering the presidential race, sex, low-paid jobs, ringtones, racism, and even the correct use of the n-word.  He is able to keep his audience entertained for 80 minutes.  This is one that if you like Chris Rock, you'll like this and if not, you probably should not watch it.  It does deliver a lot of laughs, has good comedic timing as long as you don't offend easy.

Elmer Gantry (1960):  Richard Brooks directed this film based on the novel by Sinclair Lewis.  Burt Lancaster stars as the title character who is a fast-talking, charismatic salesman/con man.  He becomes drawn into a traveling religious group lead by Sister Sharon Falconer, played by Jean Simmons, and being a preacher for the group.  Shirley Jones also co-stars as Lulu, an ex-girlfriend of Elmer's and turns prostitute.  She also tries to blackmail him threatening to publicize photos of them.  Arthur Kennedy, Dean Jagger, Patti Page, John McIntyre, Hugh Marlowe, and many others co-star in this film.  I am drawing a bit of a blank to try to put this into words.  Lancaster was possibly at his best playing the title role.  One interesting thing is that this movie came out in the same year the INHERIT THE WIND came out and both show the intensity of a fundamentalist community and the power they had in this era.  This was a very good watch and maybe a good double feature to go along with the other mentioned movie which I guess show the the hypocrisy of religion.

The Day of Rest (1939):  This is one of two short films for the week.  This is a comedy short from the Robert Benchley series.  Benchley reprises his role as Joe Doakes where he explains how Sundays are a day of rest.  It then shows him trying to get this rest but getting interrupted by people like his wife and kids, among other people.  It gives some laughs to something we can all relate to in the struggles of getting rest.

Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999):  This is my tv movie for the week which shows the rise of Bill Gates, played by Anthony Michael Hall, and Steve Jobs, played by Noah Wyle.  It shows Gates and his partner Paul Allen, played by Josh Hopkins, in the early stages of what would become Microsoft and Windows.  Jobs and his partner Steve Wozniak, played by Joey Slotnick, in the early stages of what would become Apple.  It also shows the icons when they meet and their rivalry as well as the stealing of each other's ideas hence the word "pirates".  John DiMaggio, J.G. Hertzler, Marcus Giamatti, Bodhi Elfman, Wayne Pere, and many others co-star in this film.  One of the things I like is that is it was shot some like a documentary.  I also like the humorous feel it has behind a very interesting rivalry.  I still believe Noah Wyle has done the best portrayal so far of Jobs and remember really liking him for the role when I first saw it.  Hall also shows how far he has come from his days in the Brat Pack and does a great job on Gates.  All you computer and technology nerds out there should really check this out as well as those who at least have some interest in Apple and Windows.

Last Train From Gun Hill (1959):  This is my western for the week which stars John Sturges.  Kirk Douglas stars as Marshall Matt Morgan whose wife is raped and murdered and the clue left behind is a saddle left behind which he recognizes belongs to his old friend Craig Belden, played by Anthony Quinn.  He sets off to the town of Gun Hill where Belden is a cattle baron and soon learns that it was his son Rick, played by Earl Holliman, that was one of people who killed his wife.  Craig does not like what his son did but refuses to hand him over to Matt prompting him to take on the town in his determination to take Rick to justice.  Carolyn Jones, Brad Dexter, and many others co-star in this western.  This was a very enjoyable western that was probably pretty daring for its time.  There is a lot more action than most westerns.  Another point of interest is that the wife is Indian so some racial tensions come into play.  It is a rather underrated selection in the western genre in my opinion and should get a little more exposure.

Carol (2015):  Todd Haynes directed this film based on novel THE PRICE OF SALT by Patricia Highsmith.  Rooney Mara stars as Therese who is an aspiring photographer and a department store worker in '50s New York.  While working, she meets Carol, played by Cate Blanchett, who is herself in a ratehr loveless marriage.  They soon form a rather deep connection to the point of a relationship breaking Carol from the marriage but her husband, played by Kyle Chandler, questioning her competence as a mother as their relationship comes to light.  Sarah Paulson, Jake Lacy, John Magaro, Cory Michael Smith, Kevin Crowley, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a good look on a female relationship from this era and how it was pretty much forbidden.  Mara and Blanchett were great together with Chandler complementing them as the bitter husband.  The book was actually written in the 50s so that was sure to bring controversy and another point of interest is that this is from the same author that wrote STRANGERS ON A TRAIN which would become my favorite Hitchcock film as well as the novel THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY.

The Red House (1947):  I came across this when I checked out a big boxed set of '40s films from the library.  Delmer Daves directed this rather atmospheric film.  Edward G. Robinson stars as Pete who along with his sister Ellen, played by Judith Anderson, have raised Meg, played by Allene Roberts, as their own since she was a baby and her parents left.  Meg is now older and insists her friend Nath, played by Lon McCallister help with chores.  When Nath starts taking a shortcut, it agitates Pete who has been holding back secrets of a red house which brings out a darker side of the character.  This is another one that is hard to put into words but is a rather disturbing and unknown film.  The dvd transfer is actually not very good but it kind of works toward the atmospheric feel of the movie.  It is worth a look for fans of this era.

Rocky III (1982):  Sylvester Stallone wrote, directed and reprises his role as Rocky Balboa in this sequel.  He is now the champion with a few successful title defenses until his most dangerous challenger in the ruthless Clubber Lang, played by Mr. T, comes about and against the wishes of his manager Mick, reprised by Burgess Meredith, he accepts the challenge and loses.  He also loses his longtime manager in Mick and has lost most hope until his former rival Apollo Creed, reprised by Carl Weathers, offers his services to Rocky to train for a rematch and train him on other things he feels Mick overlooked.  Talia Shire and Burt Young reprise their roles as sister and brother Adrian and Paulie.  Also, Hulk Hogan before the big rise of Hulkamania makes a cameo as a wrestler named Thunderlips who takes on Rocky in a charity wrestler vs. boxer match.  One thing I noticed is that he does a lot more wrestling in this movie than I have seen in most of his WWF and WCW matches.  This is a very enjoyable entry to the series in my opinion.  I liked seeing Rocky and Apollo aligned with each other this time after the first couple films.  As Mr. T would say I pity the fool who won't watch the Rocky series.  Also, I really believe Mr. T and Carl Weathers should get parts in the next EXPENDABLES film if they have one.

Valley of the Dragons (1961):  This is my sci-fi guilty pleasure of the week.  Cesare Danova and and Sean McClory star as a couple of guys in late 1800s Algeria who are about to duel with each others but soon until some sort of wind that transforms them into a new world inhibited by cavemen and dinosaurs.  They find they must put their differences aside to figure out what is going on and how to get back to where they were.  The title is a bit misleading in my opinion as there really weren't any dragons, just dinosaurs and lizards.  This movie uses stock footage of ONE MILLION B.C. and RODAN.  Nothing great but enjoyable if not taken seriously and if you can forgive the misleading title.

Prinz Ratte (2011):  I end the week with this animated short film brought from Albert Radl.  This is a German animated short that centers around a rat who takes a liking to the princess in this fairy tale world.  This has no dialogue so it is conveyed through actions which I find are pretty easy to follow.  There is really some emotional depth where we really can get behind this rat who wants a human girl.  This is available through an Amazon Prime subscription and is a very enjoyable few minutes.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far include Paul Rudd, Rosario Dawson, Sally Field, Cary Grant, Doris Day and many others.

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