Sunday, March 26, 2017

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 593th Edition

Welcome to the 593rd edition of my series.  I'm still busy with rehearsals and planning my birthday week in May so not much else going on right now.  I did learn that in August, September, and October Bruce Campbell has a new book coming out and is doing a book tour so I am going to look to make one of those to meet him.  Other than that, not much else happening so on with my selections.

The Producers (2005):  I start the week out with this musical remake of the 1968 which was directed by Susan Stroman and comes from Broadway where Mel Brooks wrote the additional music numbers.  Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick reprise their roles from the Broadway production as Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom.  Bialystock is a struggling producer who has just had a huge flop with a comedy version of HAMLET.  When meeting accountant Leo Bloom, he starts thinking out loud seeing that having a flop can make a lot more money than a hit if the cards are played right.  Max hears him and talks him into this scheme and find a surefire flop in SPRINGTIME FOR HITLER.  The show becomes a much bigger success than expected which puts them in legal trouble.  Uma Thurman, Will Ferrell, Gary Beach, Roger Bart, Eileen Essell, Michael McKean, David Huddleson, Debra Monk, Andrea Martin, Jon Lovitz, Richard Kind, and many others co-star or have cameos.  Also, TORCHWOOD and ARROW fans may not realize that Captain Jack and Malcolm Merlyn actor John Barrowman has a part where he sings the solo part of the song SPRINGTIME FOR HITLER.  While this does not beat the original, I still found this quite enjoyable and has become a pretty popular show to do in community theaters and I was in the chorus at the Guyer Opera House.

Citizenfour (2014):  This is my documentary for the week which was directed by Laura Poitras.  This is a documentary on Edward Snowden who is a former government employee and is known to have leaked a lot of illegal surveillance information leading to him having charges of violating the Espionage Act of 1917.  Most of the film are interviews of Snowden from the director and two reporters on what the NSA is doing like listening in on phone calls, reading e-mails, among other things.  As I look into Snowden, as of now, he has asylum in an undisclosed Russia location until 2020.  This is an eye opening documentary on a man who has been called many things like hero, traitor, patriot, whistleblower, etc.  In 2016, there was a biopic called SNOWDEN with Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Edward Snowden and has a soundtrack song from Peter Gabriel called THE VEIL.

Mr. Nobody (2009):  Jaco Van Dormael directed this futuristic drama.  Jared Leto stars as Nemo Nobody who is a 120 year old man and telling his story to a journalist, played by Daniel Mays, and his story becomes rather unclear as he tends to tell stories of different paths that could have been taken which unfold in flashback.  Sarah Polley, Diane Kruger, Linh Dan Pham, Rhys Ifans, Natasha Little, Toby Regbo, Juno Temple, Clare Stone, Allan Corduner, and many others.  It is really hard to put this one into words.  Leto does a good job playing multiple ages.  It also has some really good visuals.  This is available to watch on Instant Netflix.

The Woman in the House (1942):  This is my short film for the week which is from the Passing Parade series.  This is apparently based on a true story with the changing of names and takes a look at a woman that has the fear of people, aka anthropophobia.  Ann Richards stars as Catherine Starr who develops this phobia after her husband dies and she fears the outside world.  This is a pretty good short look at someone with this disorder in a time where this was not looked into very much so worth a look.

Fearless Hyena (1979):  This is my martial arts film for the week.  Jackie Chan directed, co-wrote, and stars as Shing Lung who lives in a remote village and whose grandfather has taught him Kung Fu.  His grandfather insists he keep it secret but just cannot resist temptation to show it to his friends.  An old enemy of his grandfather's comes into town and murders him making Lung train more to avenge the death of his grandfather.  This is Chan's directorial debut and does do some really good fight scenes.  Likely mostly of interest to fans of the Chinese martial arts world and of Chan's comedic style.  It looks like this is the first of a trilogy.

Darby O'Gill and the Little People (1959):  This is my live action Disney film for the week. Albert Sharpe stars as Darby O'Gill who is an Irishman who always tells stories of leprechauns and his leprechaun friend King Brian who always have a friendly rivalry with each other.  He needs Brian's help to save his daughter Katie, played by Janet Munro, from a wicked spirit.  A pre-James Bond Sean Connery co-stars as Michael who becomes the new caretaker and forms and interest in his daughter where we hear some rare singing from Connery.  It was a pretty fun film but I'm glad Darby did not try to mess with the leprechaun from the horror films which I believe is the son of King Brian.

A Lost Lady (1934):  This is part one of a possible two-part Barbara Stanwyck series.  She stars as Marian who is about to get married but dies making her very bitter.  While on a walk, she falls and breaks her ankle and is rescued by a man named Dan Forrester, played by a pre-wizard Frank Morgan.  He goes to see her every day accepting her bitterness and when about to be released he asks her to marry him and she accepts though makes it clear she does not love him or if she will.  Ricardo Cortez co-stars as Frank Ellinger who works for Dan with him and Marian taking a liking to each other.  Lyle Talbot, Phillip Reed, Hobart Cavanaugh, and many others co-star.  Pretty good b-list movie from MGM with good performances and only about an hour long.

The Darjeeling Limited (2007):  Wes Anderson directed and co-wrote this comedy with Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman.  Schwartzman stars in the movie as Jack and joins his brothers Francis and Peter, played by Owen Wilson and Adrian Brody, on a train trip in India organized by Francis in hopes they will be able to bond and get along a year after their father's death and are hoping to bond with their mother.  Each of them have their own ways of coping with his death.  Amara Karan, Wallace Wolodarsky, Irrfan Khan, Bill Murray, Anjelica Huston, Natalie Portman, and many others co-star in this film.  There are both funny and even sad moments in this film.  It uses Anderson's usual quirky style which some like and some do not like.  This was something different in my mind and the three leads were enjoyable to watch and each brought something different to the table.  If you just don't like Anderson, I doubt this will be much different.

Westworld (1973):  Michael Crichton wrote and directed this film.  Long before Crichton created JURASSIC PARK, he created a world that included the wild west and medieval times and realistic robots.  Richard Benjamin and James Brolin star as Peter Martin and John Blane who go to this and decide to live the old west.  Unfortunately though these realistic robots got to be a little too realistic and Yul Bryner plays a robot gunslinger looking to settle a score with Peter.  Dick Van Patten, Alan Oppenheimer, Dick Van Patten, and many others co-star in this film.  It is some pretty clever sci-fi showing what could happen if we are not careful.  This was also something different for Bryner playing an unemotional robot in which John Carpenter has cited using the "indestructible" nature in his iconic character Michael Myers in HALLOWEEN and Arnold Schwarzenegger has also cited using his character as an inspiration for his own character of the Terminator.  What also brings to question is can John Carpenter successfully be sued for plagiarism the way he sued Luc Besson for plagiarizing his movie ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK.  It also inspired a rather popular tv series of the same name so see where it all starts.  All that aside, this is a rather underrated sci-fi film that is still available on TCM On-Demand but leaves Tuesday.

Doctor Strange (2016):  I end the week with this Marvel superhero film and I realize I have dealt a lot in the supernatural this week, at least more than usual.  Scott Derrickson directed this film which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange who is a very talented, if not arrogant neurosurgeon and has a life changing moment when he is in a bad car accident which makes him lose the use of his hands which are obviously the most important part of his career.  In his spiritual quest, he is drawn into a world of mysticism where he learns of the world of mystical arts and alternate dimensions where he learns his craft to become a protector of the universe.  Mads Mikkelsen co-stars as the villain Kaecilius who a very bitter former pupil that trained where Strange trains.  Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Tilda Swinton, Michael Stuhlberg, Benjamin Bratt, and many others co-star.  Cumberbatch was well cast as Dr. Strange in my opinion.  This is a very well done film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and will be interesting to see how much he gets worked into the Avengers.  Stay through the credits for two end scenes.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Sir Ian McKellan, Brad Pitt, and many others.

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