Sunday, February 12, 2017

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 587th Edition

Welcome to the 587th Edition of my series.  There is not much going this week in my world since football is now over.  I also don't have any plays going on so I'll just get on with my selections for the week so enjoy and keep reading on for Fun and Useless Facts.

The Birdcage (1996):  Mike Nichols directed this film which is based on the play LA CAGE AUX FOLLES.  Robin Williams stars nightclub owner Armand Goldman whose son Val, played by Dan Futterman, announces his engagement to his girlfriend Barbara, played by Calista Flockhart.  Armand is a gay man in a long-time relationship with his drag queen companion Albert, played by Nathan Lane, and is asked by his son to put up a false front as a straight man when meeting Barbara's extremely conservative and moralistic parents Senator Kevin Keeley and his wife Louise, played by Gene Hackman and Dianne Wiest.  Hank Azaria, Christine Baranski, Tom McGowan, Grant Heslov, Ann Cusack, and many others co-star in this comedy.  This may not be for all tastes but there are many great laughs in a gay couple doing what they can to play it straight but everything going wrong in their efforts.

One Got Fat (1963):  This is my short film for the week and the one riffed on by the Farmland Gang last week before they riffed on last week's selection of THE GIANT CLAW during Please Don't Shoot the Projectionist and I assure you all that the projectionist nor anyone else there was shot.  This is a short that talks about bicycle safety and for whatever reason, they decided to have the kids of this short film to wear monkey masks and even had tails but the rest of the body looked rather human to me.  I don't really know what else to say on this one, I don't think the safety of riding a bike really did much as I was too distracted by the cheap monkey costumes and I'm also not sure which one got fat.  This is available on Youtube.

Indiscreet (1958):  Stanley Donen directed this romantic comedy which is based on a play by Norman Krasna.  Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman reunite after their 1946 teaming of Hitchcock's NOTORIOUS and this one being more of a comedy.  Bergman stars as London based actress Anna Kalman and through her brother in law Alfred, played by Cecil Parker, she meets a work acquaintance named Philip, played by Grant.  They form a relationship despite Anna finding out that Philip is married but separated leading to come comedic deception in this comedy.  Phyllis Calvert and David Cossoff co-star in this film.  Grant and Bergman made a very fun romantic comedy duo in this rather overlooked comedy.

I Heart Huckabees (2004):  David O. Russell directed this rather complex comedy.  I'll try to give the basics as Jason Schwartzman stars as Albert who sees the same stranger in one day and becomes confused about life.  With that, he hires a pair of existentialist detectives in Bernard and Vivian, played by Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin, to help investigate the meaning behind his life.  Isabelle Huppert, Jude Law, Naomi Watts, Mark Wahlberg, Ger Duany, Darlene Hunt, Kevin Dunn, Tippi Hedren, Said Taghmaoui, Jean Smart, Jonah Hill, Talia Shire, Bob Gunton, Richard Jenkins, and many others co-star in this comedy.  In looking into this movie, I learned that not only did Shire play Schwartzman's mother but that she is his mother in real life.  Jonah Hill makes his debut in this film into a really good start to his own career.  I really enjoyed Wahlberg in his supporting role in this film.  I really don't know how to describe this offbeat comedy.  Make no mistake, this is not a romantic comedy or love story by any means.

Bachelor Mother (1939):  Garson Kanin directed this comedy which stars Ginger Rogers in her entry of the Golden Age of Film.  Rogers stars as Polly Parrish who is trying to make ends meet by working at Merlin's Department Store and is a let go as a seasonal worker.  In a chance of fate, Polly encounters a baby being abandoned at an orphanage and takes the baby in to make sure the child gets in safely but they are convinced she is the mother abandoning the baby.  They suspect it is because she does not have a job and cannot raise her child so the people at the orphanage appeals to David Merlin, played by David Niven, to give Polly her job back.  More understandings happen with what David believes is some unmotherly actions and does whatever he can to keep the mother and baby together.  Charles Coburn, Frank Albertson, E.E. Clive, and many others co-star in this romantic comedy.  I actually found myself enjoying this one.  Ginger shows she does not always have to dance and does a great job as the alleged mother who just could not stay away from a baby not hers.  Niven also complements her as the sympathetic boss and has some interesting elements of himself being a bit of a black sheep in the family company.  This is a really good romantic comedy to check out and follow up with another movie about an abandoned child who experienced a much different fate.

The Jungle Book (2016):  Jon Favreau directed this live action adaptation to the Rudyard Kipling story and goes along with the 1967 animated story.  Neel Sethi stars in this film as Mowgli who was abandoned as a baby and raised by wolves in the jungle.  He has always had a good life there until the tiger Shere Khan, voiced by Idris Elba, threatens the jungle for having a "man-cub" living there.  He leaves the jungle with the guidance of panther Bagheera, voiced by Ben Kingsley, and later meets the fun loving bear Baloo, voiced by Bill Murray.  Lupita Nyong'o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Walken, Garry Shandling, Sam Raimi, Dee Bradley Baker, and many others provide their voices.  I did really enjoy this version from Disney's live-action films they have started doing.  This does have some differences and I will say that I enjoy the ending to this one over the 1967 animated Disney film which kind of bothers me.  I also want to talk about the PG rating in this film and the other live action adaptations have it as well.  I have heard people complain about this and heard some people in the family talking about it.  One thing I would ask is have you never questioned other Disney films on their G ratings, especially the 90s Disney.  They are mostly family oriented but have elements of action and such that might not be for all children so when seeing the Parental Guidance rating, check and see why that is the rating.  This does have some action sequences as to be expected.  Let's face it, if THE LION KING was a story involving humans, it would at least get PG-13 seeing as it is about a murderous brother betrayal.  I've spoke enough on that, I found this to be very enjoyable with some good visuals and great storytelling.

The Eiger Sanction (1975):  Clint Eastwood directed this action film where he also stars as art history professor and collector Jonathan Hemlock.  With the name Eastwood, I'm sure many will say there has to be more to him than just being an art professor and don't worry there is a lot more to it.  He is a retired assassin being brought out of retirement to avenge a friend.  He also has experience as a mountain climber leading to a rather dangerous climax on the mountain.  George Kennedy, Vonetta McGee, Jack Cassidy, Heidi Bruhl, Thayer David, and many others co-star in this film.  I would not movie great but was some pretty fun Eastwood that had some good art, mountain climbing, and some action.  This really was worth a look on a Saturday afternoon.

Penelope (2006):  Mark Palansky directed this modern-day fairy tale story.  Christina Ricci stars as the title character who falls victim to a old family curse that has an extreme effect on her face and can only be cured by "someone of her kind".  Her parents, played by Richard E. Grant and Catherine O'Hara, try to bring in some suitors, most of which run away at the sight of her face.  James McAvoy co-stars as Max who is hired to go undercover but takes a liking to her but things are difficult when he is not what she needs to be cured.  Michael Feast, Ronni Ancona, Simon Woods, Paul Herbert, Peter Dinklage, Burn Gorman, Nick Frost, Reese Witherspoon, Russell Brand, and many others co-star in this movie.  This is a pretty enjoyable modern-day fantasy film with Ricci great in her role and O'Hara perfect as the well-meaning and overprotective mother.  This is available on Instant Netflix.

Adam's Rib (1949):  George Cukor directed this Tracy/Hepburn starring vehicle where Spencer and Katherine star as married couple Adam and Amanda Bonner.  They are both attorneys who end up on opposite sides of the law when Amanda decides to defend a woman for trying to kill her unfaithful husband and Adam is the prosecutor.  This puts obvious complications on their marriage in this what they call romantic comedy.  Judy Holliday, Tom Ewell, David Wayne, Jean Hagen, Hope Emerson, Will Wright, and many others co-star in this film.  This actually was a rather daring film for its time which takes a look at adultery, attempted murder, among other things.  Katherine Hepburn also points out a lot of interesting double standards between men and women from this era.  This is possibly the best of the Tracy and Hepburn teamings and is a very involved comedy that is far more than just a romantic comedy.

Mea Maxima Culpa:  Silence in the House of God (2012):  I have a included a lot of comedy, action, and family films this week but I'm afraid I must end on a sadder note in this documentary.  Alex Gibney directed this documentary which takes a look at the corruption within the catholic church and mainly takes a look at a Wisconsin priest from the '70s named Father Lawrence Murphy.  Murphy was a very charismatic priest who molested over 200 deaf children.  Many of these kids now grown up are interviewed and tell their stories of the horrible things that went on.  The documentary also takes a look at the cover up that go all the way up to the Vatican.  This has been a very much talked about subject and this one is a different take where a priest takes advantage of the lack of communication skills in the children to do very horrible things.  Jamey Sheridan, Chris Cooper, Ethan Hawke, and John Slattery are the voice to some of the deaf people that talk though their sign language.  This is a very eye opening documentary and always makes me sad to hear about this kind of thing in a world where people are supposed to feel safe.  This is available on HBO On-Demand.

Well that is it for this week but I have brought back my Fun and Useless Facts segment so continue on reading.  Tell me what you like and dislke and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Samuel L. Jackson, Allison Janney, Donald Sutherland, and many others.


I decided to bring this back after some people expressed how much they liked it.  Doing this just depends on the time I have that week and how much I have to go on like if I have a lot of documentaries and foreign films then I won't be able to do a lot.

Mike Nichols (The Birdcage director) directed Dustin Hoffman (I Heart Huckabees) in the 1967 film THE GRADUATE.

Dustin Hoffman (I Heart Huckabees) was considered for the role of Gandhi in the 1982 film GANDHI which would ultimately go to Ben Kingsley (The Jungle Book).  I think this was the right decision.  Another thing Hoffman and Kingsley have in common is Dustin Hoffman (I Heart Huckabees) plays mobster Meyer Lansky in the 2005 movie THE LOST CITY and Ben Kingsley (The Jungle Book) plays Lanskly in the 1991 film BUGSY.

Bill Murray (The Jungle Book) and Richard E. Grant (Penelope) both provide voices in the 2006 movie GARFIELD 2.

Robin Williams (The Birdcage) was a teacher to Ethan Hawke (Mea Maxima Culpa) in the 1989 film DEAD POETS SOCIETY.

Cary Grant (Indiscreet) and Katherine Hepburn (Adam's Rib) teamed up romantically for the 1935 film SYLVIA SCARLETT, the 1938 films HOLIDAY and BRINGING UP BABY, and the 1940 comedy THE PHILADELPHIA STORY.

Christopher Walken (The Jungle Book), Christina Ricci (Penelope) and Michael Feast (Penelope) were in the 1999 film SLEEPY HOLLOW.

Robin Williams (The Birdcage) and Christopher Walken (The Jungle Book) star in the 2006 comedy MAN OF THE YEAR.

Ingrid Bergman (Indiscreet) and Spencer Tracy (Adam's Rib) were in the 1941 film DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE where Bergman was the love interest to the Jekyll side of Tracy.

Jon Favreau (The Jungle Book director) directed Peter Dinklage (Penelope) in the 2003 comedy ELF.

Robin Williams (The Birdcage), Jude Law (I Heart Huckabees), and Ben Kingsley (The Jungle Book) were in the 2001 Sci-fi film A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE.  Williams had more of a cameo as the voice of Dr. Know.  Kingsley also provides a voice of a specialist.  Jude Law (I Heart Huckabees) and Ben Kingsley (The Jungle Book) were in the 2011 film HUGO.  Jude Law (I Heart Huckabees) plays Dr. Watson in the 2009 film SHERLOCK HOLMES and the 2011 film SHERLOCK HOLMES:  A GAME OF SHADOWS.  Ben Kingsley plays Watson in the 1988 film WITHOUT A CLUE.

Jason Schwartzman (I Heart Huckabees) and Bill Murray (The Jungle Book) have worked together quite a few times in the 1998 film RUSHMORE, the 2007 film THE DARJEELING LIMITED, the 2009 film FANTASTIC MR. FOX, the 2012 film MOONRISE KINGDOM, the 2012 film A GLIMPSE INSIDE THE MIND OF CHARLES SWAN III, the 2014 film THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, and the 2015 special A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS.  Jude Law (I Heart Huckabees) co-stars in THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL.

Idris Elba (The Jungle Book) and Burn Gorman (Penelope) were in the 2013 film PACIFIC RIM.

Robin Williams (The Birdcage) and Dustin Hoffman (I Heart Huckabees) were Peter Pan and Captain Hook in the 1991 film HOOK.

My Friend Angela played the part of Violet in a stage musical version of 9 TO 5 at the Muncie Civic Theater.  Lily Tomlin (I Heart Huckabees) played Violet in the 1980 film 9 TO 5.  Angela also has a role in common with Katherine Hepburn (Adam's Rib) as Amanda in THE GLASS MENAGERIE.   Hepburn played the part in a 1973 tv movie and Angela plays the part next weekend at the Alley Theater in Anderson, Indiana.  For details, visit the website of

Gene Hackman (The Birdcage) and Clint Eastwood (The Eiger Sanction) have worked together in the 1992 film THE UNFORGIVEN and the 1997 film ABSOLUTE POWER.

Idris Elba (The Jungle Book) and Michael Feast (Penelope) were in 1998 film PROMETHEUS.

Jonah Hill (I Heart Huckabees) accompanies his rock idol Russell Brand (Penelope) in the 2010 film GET HIM TO THE GREEK.  They were also in the 2008 film FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL where Brand plays the same character.

Gene Hackman (The Birdcage) and Kevin Dunn (I Heart Huckabees) were in the 1988 film MISSISSIPPI BURNING.

Naomi Watts (I Heart Huckabees) and Bill Murray (The Jungle Book) were in the 2014 film ST. VINCENT.

Gene Hackman (The Birdcage) and Dustin Hoffman (I Heart Huckabees) were in the 2003 film RUNAWAY JURY.

Ger Duany (I Heart Huckabees) and Reese Witherspoon (Penelope) were in the 2014 film THE GOOD LIE.

Dianne Wiest (The Birdcage) and Scarlett Johansson (The Jungle Book) were in the 1998 film THE HORSE WHISPERER.

Kevin Dunn (I Heart Huckabees) and Scarlett Johansson (The Jungle Book) were in the 2008 film VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA.

Hank Azaria (The Birdcage) and Ethan Hawke (Mea Maxima Culpa) were in the 1998 film GREAT EXPECTATIONS.

Cary Grant (Indiscreet) and Ginger Rogers (Bachelor Mother) are love interests in the 1952 film MONKEE BUSINESS.  Charles Coburn (Bachelor Mother) also co-stars.

Tippi Hedren (I Heart Huckabees) and Christina Ricci (Penelope) were in the 1998 movie I WOKE UP EARLY THE DAY I DIED which was some found script by Ed Wood that had never been done.

Hank Azaria (The Birdcage) and Kevin Dunn (I Heart Huckabees) were in the 1998 movie GODZILLA.

Cary Grant (Indiscreet) and David Niven (Bachelor Mother) were in the 1947 film THE BISHOP'S WIFE.

Kevin Dunn (I Heart Huckabees) and Christina Ricci (Penelope) were in the 1998 film SMALL SOLDIERS.

Christine Baranski (The Birdcage) and Reese Witherspoon (Penelope) were in the 1999 film CRUEL INTENTIONS.

Dustin Hoffman (I Heart Huckabees) and Thayer David (The Eiger Sanction) were in the 1970 film LITTLE BIG MAN.

Frank Albertson (Bachelor Mother) and Spencer Tracy (Adam's Rib) were in the 1936 film FURY.

Christine Baranski (The Birdcage) and Christina Ricci (Penelope) were in the 1993 movie ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES.

Talia Shire (I Heart Huckabees) and Thayer David (The Eiger Sanction) were in the 1976 film ROCKY.

Tom McGowan (The Birdcage) and Scarlett Johansson (The Jungle Book) were in the 2001 film GHOST WORLD.

Dustin Hoffman (I Heart Huckabees), Scarlett Johansson (The Jungle Book) and Russell Peters (The Jungle Book) were in the 2004 film CHEF.

Tom McGowan (The Birdcage) and Clint Eastwood (The Eiger Sanction) were in the 1999 movie TRUE CRIME which Eastwood also directed.

Kevin Dunn (I Heart Huckabees) and Ben Kingsley (The Jungle Book) were in the 1993 political comedy DAVE.

Grant Heslov (The Birdcage) and Bill Murray (The Jungle Book) were in the 2014 film THE MONUMENTS MEN.

Dustin Hoffman (I Heart Huckabees) plays Captain Hook in the 1991 film HOOK.  Christopher Walken (The Jungle Book) plays Hook in the 2014 live tv movie PETER PAN LIVE.

Cary Grant (Indiscreet) and George Kennedy (The Eiger Sanction) were in the 1963 film Charade.

Ann Cusack (The Birdcage) and Naomi Watts (I Heart Huckabees) were Sub Girl and Jet Girl in the 1995 movie TANK GIRL.

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