Sunday, March 12, 2017

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 591st Edition

Welcome to the 591st edition of my series.  Last week I announced that I am in THE LITTLE MERMAID at the end of April in Portland, Indiana.  I also want to announce on the week of my birthday on May 21st, I am doing 7 nights of Karaoke from Sunday to Saturday that week.  They will be in different places each night and I will have more details of that closer to time.  That's about all going on with me for now so I will get on with my selections for the week.

The Act of Killing (2012):  I start the week out with this documentary from Joshua Oppenheimer and Anonymous.  This takes a look at a group of people who were part of an Indonesian death squad in the mid-60s and then they are asked to reenact what they did through cinematic genres.  I don't really know how else to describe this rather strange documentary where Oppenheimer is trying to reopen a forgotten past.  Many of them also reflect on what they did through interviews and much of them feeling they were in the right.  They openly called themselves gangsters which meant they were free and that they were taking on communism by committing the murders they did.  Some of the scenes consisted of lavish music and dance numbers.  This was very different and while unusual it is still very informative.  There is a follow-up to this in 2014 called THE LOOK OF SILENCE which is available on Instant Netflix but this one I had to check out at the library.  It is very difficult to go further into words with this documentary so I suggest just looking to get a copy of some sort and check it out.  The sequel will probably come in the near future.

Popeye the Sailor (1933):  This is my animated short for the week which features Popeye's first animated appearance.  It is actually billed as a Betty Boop cartoon but really stars Popeye.  This is mostly Popeye singing his signature song and does the hula with Betty and also fights Bluto in order to save his Olive Oyl from being tied to the railroad tracks in a strange way.  This is a good intro to the famous sailor man and if nothing else is his and Betty Boop doing the hula.  So I guess Betty got Popeye going but then he became popular enough to go off on his own.  This can be found on Youtube.

King (1978):  This is my mini-series for the week which is based on the famed civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.  Paul Winfield stars as King which mostly goes from his start as a Southern Baptist leader who saw that just worshiping was not enough and that he was in a place that he must look to end segregation in the United States.  It goes up to his assassination which I suppose is a spoiler but I think just about everyone knows that by now.  Cicely Tyson stars as his wife Coretta who stands with her husband no matter how crazy things get.  Roscoe Lee Browne, Lonny Chapman, Ossie Davis, Cliff De Young, Ernie Hudson, and many others co-star in this mini-series.  The most known portrayal I would say is from the 2014 film SELMA which was different but covers a pretty small amount of King.  This obviously goes far more in-depth and is three episodes of over an hours= each.  It is a very well-done mini-series with Winfield doing a great job as King and one that has gone rather unknown through the years.  I think my favorite scene was during one of King's congregations, he was assaulted by a white man and instead of just having him thrown out or arrested, he worked to understand the reason for the racism.  I got this on dvd from my local library, so it is obtainable at least in that regard and is worth the four and a half hours.

Prefontaine (1997):  This is part two of my Jared Leto series.  Steve James directed this biopic on the life of runner Steve Prefontaine, played by Jared Leto.  This shows him in childhood in Oregon trying to find his way and was too short for some sports but found he had a talent of running.  He is eventually recruited in college and works to get into the Olympics.  R. Lee Ermey, Ed O'Neill, Breckin Meyer, Lindsey Crouse, Amy Locane, Laurel Holloman, Brian McGovern, Kurtwood Smith, and many others co-star in this film.  James is known for his documentaries but decides to do a biopic film and does it in a documentary style which was one thing I enjoyed about the film adding quite an authenticity.  Watching this also occurred to me that Ed O'Neill is a very underrated and versatile actor and can forget that he was Al Bundy for awhile.  This is available on Instant Netflix.

The Corn is Green (1945):  Irving Rapper directed this film that I believe takes place in the late 1800s, maybe the early 1900s.  Bette David stars as schoolteacher Lily Moffat who comes to a Welsh mining town and dismayed that the kids work in the minds.  She is determined to get them an education and forms her own local school despite opposition from the local squire, played by Nigel Bruce.  John Dall co-stars as John Dall who is the young man that Lily sees the most potential in and tries getting him educated.  Rhys Williams, Mildred Dunnock, Arthur Shields, Joan Lorring, and many others co-star in this film.  Davis shows she can still shine when she is toned down and does a great job here.  This is a really good look at the earlier days of education.

The Magnificent Seven (2016):  Antoine Fuqua directed this remake to the 1960 film and anyone criticizing that this is a remake to that movie, please remember that is also in itself a remake to 1954 Japanese classic SEVEN SAMURAI.  Denzel Washington stars in this film as Chisolm who learns that the small town of Rose Creek is being terrorized and slowly forms a group of seven diverse men that include Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Bynug-Hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, and Vincent D'Onofrio to rid the town of robber baron Bartholomew Bogue, played by Peter Sarsgaard, and his men as well as train the town to fight since they will be outnumbered.  Haley Bennett, Luke Grimes, Cam Gigandet, and many others co-star in this western remake.  This was a very compelling western to me and prefer this over its 1960 remake which seems to be a trend with me as I favor the remake of TRUE GRIT as well.  Vincent D'Onofrio the the most enjoyable of the seven in my view and is quite versatile and underrated himself.  Some might also want to punch me for saying I prefer this one over the remake but I know some agree.  I loved the action and the characters and was a fun ride in my opinion.

Fallen Angel (1945):  This is my film noir for the week.  Otto Preminger directed this film which stars Dana Andrews as a con man named Eric who makes his way to a small town who becomes interested in a waitress named Stella, played by Linda Darnell, who does not seem to have much interest and believes that if he has more money, she would take more interest in him.  He soon meets a woman named June Mills, played by Alice Faye, who takes an interest in him much to the dismay of her sister, played by Anne Revere.  Things heat up when a local murder happens.  If I talk to much about this movie, I would probably be giving a lot away.  I have found that my favorite genre from this era seems to be the Film Noir, especially those from 20th Century Fox.  These movies were always quite realistic and much darker than most from that era.  They also for the time did quite a bit of pushing the envelope.  This is a very well done film with people who may be unknown today but still have a lot of talent.  This is a must for those into this genre.

Memoirs of a Geisha (2005):  Rob Marshall directed this film based on the novel by Arthur Golden.  This centers around Chiyo, played by Suzuka Ohgo, who is a 9 year old being sold to a Geisha house in Kyoto, Japan and forced to work in servitude until it is determined she can be of high enough quality to service the clientele through conversation, song and dance.  After many years of training, Chiyo becomes Sayuri, the most celebrated of Japan's Geishas.  She is living a great life until WWII threatens to disrupt the peace.  Michelle Yeoh co-stars as her mentor Mameha and Gong Li co-stars as geisha Hatsumomo who Sayuri finds is very conniving and manipulative.  Togo Igawa, Mako, Ken Watanabe, and many others co-star in this film.  I found this to be a very moving film.  I'm sure some have noted that those actresses of Ziyi, Yeoh, and Li are Chinese which is something I looked past aand they went through a lot of Geisha training to prepare for their roles.  Ziyi Zhang has been my celebrity crush for many years and does great as the main character in this film.  John Williams wrote the music score and writes a really good Asian sounding score and I heard that he is the one who wanted to score the film which was the first time he asked to do a music score.  I am someone that has not read the book so I do not have that to go on so I just enjoyed the film.

The Mouse on the Moon (1963):  Richard Lester directed this sequel to THE MOUSE THAT ROARED and is based on the novel by Michael Pertwee.  This takes place in the tiny country of Grand Fenwick which has had a problem with hot water for many years.  Ron Moody stars as Prime Minister Rupert Mountjoy who looks to get foreign aid from the United States by saying they are starting a space program.  Their scientist is building a rocket to get to the moon and the U.S. and Russia are looking to compete as well.  Margaret Rutherford, Bernard Cribbins, David Kossoff, Terry-Thomas, and many others co-star in this comedy.  Keep in mind, the real life moon landing did not happen for another six years.  While we are missing Peter Sellers from the first film and his three roles, Moody is very suitable as the Prime Minister.  It is also a great political satire and many funny moments of a country trying to get better plumbing.  This actually ranks high for me on British comedies.

The Pirates of Penzance (1980):  I end the week with this live Gilbert and Sullivan musical.  Rex Smith stars as Frederic who has his 21st birthday and is released from his apprenticeship from a zany band of pirates and falls in love with Mabel, played by Linda Ronstadt in a very rare acting appearance.  When the Pirate King, played by a young Kevin Kline, shows up to call on an old debt, Frederic must choose between loyalty and love.  This is considered a comic opera and is not really for everyone which in some ways includes me.  I did enjoy seeing a young Kevin Kline in his role and some pretty fun music numbers.  It is also good to watch Linda Ronstadt in her acting debut.  The dvd transfer is not great which they are up front before it starts.  Fans of the opera will really enjoy this classic from Gilbert and Sullivan.

Well, that is it for this week but continue on for my special segment "Movie Time in the Theater of Aneris".  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Daniel Day-Lewis, and many others.


The Book of Eli (2010):  This occurred on Wednesday evening after quite a trip to the local Goodwill store with my friends Sirena and Gary at their house.  The origin of the name came from another time I did the segment and wanted a clever name for it and for some reason it occurred to me to spell Sirena's name backwards.  Since then, she has named her cat that name and has kind of stuck.  She was on a kick of watching this film and wanted to do a viewing with me.  I had seen it but had been awhile so I accepted.  Denzel Washington gets rare double time in my blog in the post-apocalypse tale as he was jsut featured in the western THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN.  The Hughes Brothers directed this rather violent film.  Denzel Washington stars as the title character who is a drifter possessing a book that could hold the key to save humankind. He soon encounters a mobster named Carnegie, played by Gary Oldman, who takes his own interest in the book and tries to get it for himself. Mila Kunis stars as Solara who is sent to get the book but ends up joining Eli instead.  Jennifer Beals, Michael Gambon, Tom Waits, and Malcolm McDowell co-star in this film.  Gary Oldman was great as the villain and really blew Sirena's mind when I revealed to her that he was the same guy that plays Sirius Black in the Harry Potter films.   It was worth a much longer than expected trip to Goodwill to watch this movie with some friends and I'm sure there will be more in the future for this segment.

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