Sunday, February 19, 2017

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 588th Edition

Welcome to the 588th Edition of my series.  I am glad to see that we have some pretty nice February weather and hope it continues that way but I know it will get cold again.  There is not much else going on, hope to make an announcement next week but that remains to be seen.  I will now get on with my selections for the week.

Kingsman:  The Secret Service (2015):  Matthew Vaughn directed this film that is based on the comic book series THE SECRET SERVICE by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons.  Taron Egerton stars as Eggsy whose father died when he was young and is a rather troubled teen kid dealing with a really bad stepfather.  When arrested, he calls a number that he got as a child and soon meets Harry, played by Colin Firth, who reveals he knew Eggsy's father and offers him an opportunity in the secret organization called the Kingsman.  The mission they have is looking into an industrialist named Valentine, played by Samuel L. Jackson, who is planning to kill most of the population in his belief it will save the world.  Mark Strong, Jonno Davies, Jack Davenport, Mark Hamill, Sofia Boutella, Michael Caine, and many others co-star in this film.  This was a very different sort of comic book story.  It is rather fun and action packed in my opinion with some over the top violence that some will like and some will not like.  I know I enjoyed myself through this fun and unrealistic action romp.

El Camino (2008):  Erik S. Weigel directed and co-wrote this independent film.  Leo Fitzpatrick stars as Elliot who went through the foster system all of childhood and gets a call from an old friend who is dying and does shortly after they see each other.  At the funeral he meets his friend's other friends Lily and Gray, played by Elizabeth Moss and Christopher Denham, and they go on a road trip to take his ashes to Mexico, each of them having their own reason of going.  Wes Studi and Richard Gallagher also co-star in this film.  I felt
they did a good job making the most of their rather low budget with this road trip between people who do not know each other and must find themselves along the way.  I also thought the characters were well written to make the movie watchable.  This is available on

Mr. Peabody and Sherman (2014):  This is my animated and time travel movie for the week.  These were originally characters from THE ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE SHOW with the genius dog Mr. Peabody and his human adopted son Sherman and builds the WABAC Time Machine as a gift to Sherman where they go back in time for many historical moments.  Rob Minkoff directed this film bringing back the popular characters from the 60s in a more modern setting.  Ty Burrell voices the genius dog and Max Charles voices Sherman in this updated version where Sherman breaks a time travel rule forcing him and Mr. Peabody to have to fix this riff in time that was created.  Stephen Tobolowsky, Allison Janney, Dennis Haysbert, Stephe Colbert, Leslie Mann, Stanley Tucci, Lake Bell, Patrick Warburton, Tom McGrath, Mel Brooks, and many others provide their voices in this film.  I remember watching this as a kid and enjoying it.  I really believe Minkoff brought these characters back respectfully in this very fun and rather educational animated film.

Moon Trip (1957):  This is my animated short for the week.  This was the very first episode of the iconic green character which premiered on HOWDY DOODY and was popular enough for NBC to order a series for Gumby.  Art Clokey created this green humanoid character and he is known as the Father of Claymation.  In this very first episode, Gumby decides to go to the moon but finds it is not the best idea of all time prompting his parents to go to the rescue.  In an episode or two later, we are introduced to his best friend in Pokey who is an orange pony but he is not in this episode.  Also in later episodes, Gumby and friends go inside books but this one was a bit different.  My dad is more of the fan of Gumby and I learned that he took most interest in it when I was really little in things he found interesting for me to get into and he ended up enjoying it more, among other things.  This is a character that has really lived on through the generations and something that animation fans might really enjoy.

MASH (1970):  Robert Altman directed this war comedy based on the novel by Richard Hooker which would go onto become a very successful sitcom a couple years later as well as a play in which I played Captain Walt Waldowski.  The series also made a few spinoffs.  This takes place during the Korean War and is centered around the 4077 MASH unit which means Mobile Army Surgical Hospital.  Donald Sutherland stars as Hawkeye Pierce who is a new arrival to the unit proving to be a good surgeon but rebellious to authority.  The other two new arrivals are Duke Forrest, played by Tom Skerritt, and Trapper John, played by Elliott Gould.  Sally Kellerman, Robert Duvall, Rene Auberjoinois, Gary Burghoff, Fred Williamson, John Schuck, Bud Cort, and many others co-star in this film.  If all you know is the series and that instrumental theme song, you will be in for a shock learning there are some words to the song called SUICIDE IS PAINLESS sung by Johnny Mandel and written by Altman's 14 year old son Mike which is a very interesting fact to me and thought I would share.  John Schuck makes his film debut as Waldowski which is as I mentioned the character I played in the play at the now defunct Lee's Theatrical Productions.  Burghoff also makes his debut as the character Radar and would go onto reprise the role in the series making him the only actor in this film to be in the series as far as I know.  The movie in itself is really more of a situational comedy.  There is no real pro or anti war messages but people trying to make the most of such a horrible time which is roughly what the series would go onto do.

Fury (1936):  I decided to try do a two-part series for Spencer Tracy where last week I included a Tracy/Hepburn comedy, now I continue with a more serious and earlier film.  Fritz Lang directed this film based on a play by Norman Krasna.  Tracy stars as Joe Wilson who has everything go for him with being engaged to his girlfriend Katherine, played by Sylvia Sidney, until Joe is mistaken for a wanted murderer and becomes the victim of a lynch mob attack.  Through this attack, he fakes his death and looks to exact his revenge through a frame-up since he is "dead" anyways.  Walter Abel, Bruce Cabot, Edward Ellis, Walter Brennan, Frank Albertson, and many others co-star in this film.  Also, the dog in this film is named Terry and are correct if you ask if that is the same dog that played Toto in THE WIZARD OF OZ.  This was a pretty good and rather unknown film showing how usually reasonable people can become very ruthless through assumption.

Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies (2014):  How do I even describe this one?  A wrestling promotion encounters a group of zombies.  This movie features known wrestlers Roddy Piper, Shane Douglas, Matt Hardy, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and Kurt Angle who all play themselves.  There is a bit of a plot where Shane Douglas accidentally kills another wrestler in the ring with a piledriver and that wrestler's brother sells his soul to raise the undead.  This is a Kickstarter funded film and most of the actors were actual independent wrestlers like Reba Sky, Taya Parker, Sylvester Terkay, Thomas Rodman, among others.  I was reading that they were really wanting Dennis Rodman but that he couldn't do it so they settled on his lookalike Thomas.  Another thing I found interesting that the most compelling person in the film was Adrienne Fischer as Sarah who is not even a wrestler and assistant writer to this movie.  It is enjoyable if not taken too seriously and came out before Matt Hardy became his amazing gimmick "Broken" Matt Hardy.  This is available on Amazon Prime.

Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison (1951):  This is my prison film for the week which was directed and written by Crane Wilbur.  This was written long before Johnny Cash immortalized the Folsom Prison in his song FOLSOM PRISON BLUES.  This takes a look at the California prison before its 1944 reformation makeover.  Ted de Corsia stars as the sadistic warden Ben Rickey who makes his prison very unpleasant and inhumane all around.  He resents his new assistant Mark Benson, played by David Brian, who does not share his beliefs and is more about helping the inmate.  Steve Cochran, Philip Carey, Scott Forbes, Michael Tolan, and many others co-star in this film.  This was in a long series of Warner Brothers films that take a look at prison conditions.  This is a pretty compelling film that works with a relatively unknown cast.

Road to Hong Kong (1962):  Now I bring a comedy written and directed by Norman Panama and the last of the "Road to" movies that star the comedy team of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope.  They reprise their roles as con men Harry Turner and Chester Babcock who find themselves on the wrong side of a secret organization out for world domination and must keep a formula out of enemy hands.  Joan Collins, Robert Morley, Walter Gotell, Dorothy Lamour, Dean Martin, David Niven, Peter Sellers, Frank Sinatra, and many others co-star or have cameos in this sci-fi comedy.  This is the 7th and last of the road movies between hope and Crosby which started with ROAD TO SINGAPORE which was in 1940 so they lasted for quite a few years and went out pretty well with this one.

The Dollface Slasher (2015):  I end the week with this horror short which stars my Facebook friend and fellow Madness contestant Kelsey Zukowski.  Hilary and Soloman Rothman wrote and directed this short film which stars Zukowski as Kelly who has a date night with her boyfriend Jason, played by Soloman, and they watch a horror film much to her dismay as she hates horror films which is the absolute opposite of Kelsey herself.  Little do they know they are living their own horror film when an actual slasher is in town.  They do a good job with this 15 minute film and you should also check out Kelsey's website which has a lot more of her work as a rising star in the horror world and has some of her modeling work.  This is also available on Amazon Prime.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Edward G. Robinson, and many others.

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