Sunday, August 21, 2016

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 562nd Edition

Welcome to the 562nd Edition of my series.  Not too much else going on right now, planning my way back into theater which something will likely happen soon and will let know as it comes.  Also just waiting for the real season of football and close to joining a fantasy football league.  I am also trying this Draft Kings this NFL season and I'll see how I fare there.  My cousin suggest using Amazon Affiliates so I'm giving it a go, you'll see links to get these featured movies right below the description.  For now that is all so onto my selections.

Troubadours (2011):  I start the week out with this music documentary and one of my two documentaries for the week.  This takes a look at the folk music and songwriter movement mainly of the 60s and 70s and musicians like James Taylor, Carole King, Elton John, David Crosby, Jackson Browne, even Steve Martin, and many others.  It also centers around the nightclub the Troubadour in Hollywood which helped get many of the now big artists their exposure and has many people from the entertainment industry reflecting on their times at the club.  It mostly focuses on Taylor and King but still has a lot of other insightful information.  Unfortunately, the documentary does not seem to have gotten much exposure but is obtainable on dvd like where I checked it out at my local library.

The Lady (2011):  Luc Besson directed this film that is based on a true story.  Michelle Yeoh stars as Aung San Suu Kyi who is from Burma but lives in England with her husband Michael Aris, played by David Thewlis.  In the late '80s, the health of Aung's mother is deteriorating so she is forced back to Burma.  When there, witnesses a lot of oppression in her country and looks to promote political reform by running for office.  When there, she must make a lot of sacrifices for her cause.  Much of the focus of the film is the strong marriage of Aug and Michael who are kept apart a lot but never lose their love for each other.  I have seen Yeoh many times in action and martial arts films and did a good job in this new direction she took.  Even with Luc Besson, who directed one of my favorites in LEON:  THE PROFESSIONAL, I have usually seen action and sometimes sci-fi films and he took a different direction as well.  I thought this was a very well done film and can be inspiring in this film on someone who stands up for what she believes in and never gives up.  This is another one that did not get a lot of exposure, at least here in the United States and is worth a look.

Born to Controversy:  The Roddy Piper Story (2006):  Here is my second documentary for the week which is a WWE documentary on the legendary "Rowdy" Roddy Piper.  This goes into his childhood a bit and how he was forced to grow up pretty fast and then mostly talks about his wrestling career and some on his acting career, most notably his sci-fi film THEY LIVE which was directed by John Carpenter who is interviewed in this documentary.  Mostly talks about how he is one of the best on the microphone and much of his "Piper's Pit" segments like the most famous one with Jimmy Snuka which I understand was all ad-libbed including him hitting Snuka with a coconut.  It also goes into his famous feuds with people like Hulk Hogan.  Many of his peers like Hogan, Ricky Steamboat, Ric Flair, Bobby Heenan, Jerry Lawler, and many others reflect on their times with Hot Rod.  This is mostly going to be enjoyed by someone who is a wrestling fan.  This is one that is available on WWE network and how they like to remind us all the time, only $9.99 a month which is the greatest idea of all time in my opinion.  The DVD consists of a lot of classic matches with Hogan, Flair, Bret Hart, and many others.

So You Won't Squak (1941):  This is my comedy short for the week which stars Buster Keaton.  Keaton stars as Eddie who is a handyman at a speakeasy and mistaken as another mobster.  When this happens, he is caught in rather comedic situations where mobsters unsuccessfully try to kill him even though he does not even seem to know his life is on the line.  Mostly of worth to see later shorts of Buster in the talkie era.  He made a lot of shorts early in his career but then went onto make some classic silent feature comedies.  This was a series of shorts from Columbia Pictures which are mostly of worth to see Keaton but unfortunately not his best work by any means.  I know he struggled some with alcohol problems in the 40s and this might have been what he had to do for work.  This is on a dvd called "The Buster Keaton Collection" which has nine other shorts, many say this is the best of them.

20, 000 Years in Sing Sing (1932):  This is my prison film for the week which was directed by Michael Curtiz.  Spencer Tracy stars as British hoodlum Tommy Connors who is sentenced to Sing Sing prison.  He is a very cocky prisoner but the warden, played by Arthur Byron, slowly gets through and changes him.  This focuses a lot between this relationship between Tommy and the in-corrupt warden and it is sad I have to use that adjective to describe the warden seeing as many movies seem to make the warden corrupt.  Bette Davis co-stars as Tommy's love interest Fay who becomes a very significant part of the film in the climax.  This is pretty good and early Tracy and Davis and as far as I know is their only time working together though I could be wrong.  This is a pretty decent prison film with quite a climax.

Star Wars:  Episode IV - A New Hope (1977):  I decided to pay tribute to Kenny Baker who recently left us and is known for being the durable droid R2-D2.  This is the first part of what would become a pop culture phenomenon. George Lucas wrote and directed this Sci-fi tale where we meet many of our friends like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Princess Leia, C-3P0, R2-D2, Chewbacca, and many others. Mark Hamill plays Luke who is a farmhand but really wants to join the Jedi and become a fighter. He finally gets his chance when he joins the elderly Obi-Wan, played by Alec Guinness, and teams up with outlaw Han Solo, a star-making performance from Harrison Ford, and Chewbacca, played by Peter Mayhew, as well as the droids C-3PO, played by Anthony Daniels, and R2-D2, played by Baker.  This diverse grou of people must go and rescue Princess Leia, played by Carrie Fisher, who is captured by Darth Vader, who is the leader at the Death Star.  I think just about anyone who has wanted to see this film has by now.  Last year started a whole new resurgence in Star Wars with Episode 7 and many other upcoming films like some that will be based on characters.  In researching this film, I also learned that Baker and Daniels apparently did not get along very well even though they worked together all the time as the main droids.

Testament of Youth (2014):  This is part two of a two-part Alicia Vikander series.  James Kent directed this biographical film based on the autobiography of Vera Brittain, played by Vikander.  This takes place during the backdrop of WWI where Vera is a very independent woman who through much trouble is finally able to study at Oxford and would go onto become a famous writer at least after this story of her life takes place.  Soon, WWI gets them where her brother Edward, played by Taron Egerton, and her fiance Roland, played by Kit Harrington are sent to the front lines of the war while she decides to become a war nurse.  Colin Morgan, Dominic West, Emily Watson, Joanna Scanlan, Miranda Richardson, Nicholas Farrell, Hayley Atwell, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a pretty good look fro the perspective of Vera and how it affected her life and all the lives around her.  Vikander is great in her role as well as the other performances.  I see I have focused on two significant female activists this week in Brittain and Aung San Suu Kyi from THE LADY so maybe a good double feature.

Love in the Afternoon (1957):  I guess is my romantic comedy for that week if that is what this is called.  Billy Wilder directed this film which sees the teaming of Gary Cooper and Audrey Hepburn.  Gary Cooper stars as American playboy Frank Flannagan who is staying in Paris.  Hepburn co-stars as Ariane whose father Claude, played by Maurice Chevalier, is a private detective being hired to investigate if a client's wife is having an affair with Frank.  She overhears the client threatening violence and goes to warn Frank who immediately takes an interest in her.  This is a later performance from Cooper who was criticized for playing a 50 something womanizer saying he was miscast but i thought he brought a lot to the role and had a really good dynamic with with the much different and younger Hepburn.  Chevalier was also good as the detective father.  Like the teaming of Spencer Tracy and Bette Davis, I'm pretty sure this is the only one of Hepburn and Cooper but I'm not going to look up so that something can correct me if I'm wrong.

Mothra (1961):  This is my Japanese monster film for the week which was shown in theaters through Rifftrax but was not able to make that so I made a rental through Amazon Prime.  Ishiro Honda directed this film that introduced us to the giant moth.  In this film, some shipwreck survivors are on Beiru Island.  They find many strange things like Asian twins that are only about a foot tall so unscrupulous people on the journey abduct them to exploit them for money in a Vaudeville act.  What they do not know is that the beautiful singing brings out Mothra who hears their cry.  Some of the more honest people try to help the girls get back to Mothra so that she does do too much damage to the town.  Mothra would go onto battle other legendary monsters like Godzilla and King Ghidorah.  There is a showing of this in select theaters on Tuesday brought to us by Rifftrax.  This is one of the better movies they riff but still rather bizarre.

Wuthering Heights (1992):  I end the week with this version of the classic novel by Emily Bronte.  Peter Kosminski directed this version of the film which stars Ralph Fiennes as the iconic character Heathcliff who as a child is adopted into the Earnshaw family whose daughter Catherine, played by Juliette Binoche, falls in love with him even though they are foster siblings.  Their love is forbidden for many reasons and Catherine goes onto marry the more high class Edgar Linton, played by Simon Shepherd, which makes Heathcliff obsessed with vengeance that goes into the next generation.  Janet McTeer, Sophie Ward, Jeremy Northam, Jason Riddington, Simon Ward, and many others co-star in this film.  I have never read the book and have only seen the 1939 adaptation which was quite different if I'm not mistaken but has been awhile.  I have heard from many this is the most faithful adaptation and the first to use the two generations that come from the book.  Binoche plays a dual role as Catherine Earnshaw and in the next generation part as Cathy Linton and does well in her dual role.  Decent period drama if into this genre.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, and many others.

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