Sunday, April 16, 2017

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 596th Edition

Welcome to the 596th Edition of my series.  I hope everyone has a good Easter in however they decide to spend it or not spend it.  It has been a pretty busy week with my own work and for rehearsals for THE LITTLE MERMAID.  Other things that happened is that April the giraffe finally gave birth and was very intrigued on how obsessive many got over this and some even getting upset they did not see the live birth.  It was also a weekend were many of my friends went to Comic Con so I hope they had a good time.  I will get on with the selections for the week.

The Elephant Man (1980):  I start the week out with this classic David Lynch film which is based on a book by Sir Frederick Treves, played by Anthony Hopkins, who was a Victorian era surgeon and came upon a freak show that had a heavily publicized "Elephant Man".  John Hurt stars as John Merrick who was a freak show attraction due to his facial deformation and who Frederick discovers becoming very sympathetic for how he is being exploited taking him away from the show and giving him a place to live in the hospital where he is treated more like a human being.  Anne Bancroft, John Gielgud, Wendy Hiller, Wendy Hiller, Freddie Jones, Kenny Baker, and many others are in this film.  This is a very moving and sad film with very good performances and direction out of Lynch.  It also does not cease to be a little disturbing at times.  An interesting fact about this film is that Mel Brooks was an executive producer responsible for hiring David Lynch and obtaining permission to film in black and white.  He purposely went uncredited due to his reputation for spoof comedy and not wanting people to get the wrong idea for this film.

The Fall (2006):  Tarsem directed this film which is a remake of a 1981 Bulgariain film called YO HO HO.  This is is based in 1920s Los Angeles where Lee Pace stars as Roy Walker who is an injured movie stuntman and bedridden in the hospital.  He soon forms an unlikely friendship with a a young girl named Alexandria, played by Catinca Untaru, who has a broken arm and per her request Roy tells her an elaborate story five very diverse men, even Charles Darwin, who come together to kill a corrupt provincial governor.  This creates a fantasy world to tell the story while between chapters we see how serious the situation really is.  Justine Waddell, Lee Pace, Kim Ulyenbroek, Sean Gilder, Emil Hostina, Jeetu Verma, Leo Bill, Marcus Wesley, and many others co-star in this film.  I really had no idea what to expect when watching this film but really thought this was a very well done film towing the line between fantasy and reality.  It also has a relatively unknown cast that does well and Lee Pace is the only one I knew a little bit about from his show PUSHING DAISIES.  I have never seen its predecessor YO HO HO which does not appear to have gotten much distribution as even imdb does not have any user reviews of it.  I would be curious to check this one out which is what I sometimes see as the benefit of a remake.

The Music Never Stopped (2011):  Jim Kohlberg directed this film which is based on an essay called THE LAST HIPPIE which was written by Oliver Sacks.  This movie really centers around a troubled family through a couple of decades.  J.K. Simmons stars Henry Sawyer who tries to bond with his estranged son Gabriel, played by Lou Taylor Pucci, who has a brain tumor which not malignant, does make him forget things.  It goes back and forth through the modern era and flashes back to the earlier time period that lead to the falling out of Henry and Gabriel.  Henry realizes he must accommodate to the rock music he hates but his son loves to reconnect with him especially the Grateful Dead which was a source of their falling out.  Cara Seymour co-stars as Henry's wife Helen who is in the middle and just wants her husband and son to reconnect.  Julia Ormond, Scott Adsit, James Urbaniak, Max Antisell, Peggy Gormley, Tammy Blanchard, Mia Maestro, Josh Segarra, Xander Johnson, and many others co-star in this film.  I really felt this was J.K. Simmons' best performance as the father who realizes his own ways are just not working and Pucci was also great as his son.  I found it to be a very inspirational story and I also felt it was a bit of an homage at the rather unknown music therapy which is used in this film when Henry sees no other therapy is working and comes across a music therapist to help out.  It also has a great rock soundtrack to go along with the beautiful and inspirational film.

The Brave Engineer (1950):  This is my Disney animated short film of the week which gets away from their usual characters of Mickey, Donald, and Goofy and gives a bit of a history lesson.  This talks about train engineer Casey Jones who is determined to get his cargo to its destination no matter the obstacles placed in front of him.  If you're anything like me, the first time you heard of Casey Jones was through that Grateful Dead song where Casey was driving that train and was also high of cocaine which I suppose maybe he was a bit high in this animated short in overcoming his obstacles.  This was on the dvd of last week's feature SO DEAR TO MY HEART and can also be seen on Youtube.

Faust (1926):  This is my silent horror film for the week which was directed by legendary silent film director F.W. Murnau.  This is a battle between God and the Devil where Mephisto, played by Emil Jannings, makes a wager with God that he can corrupt the soul of Faust, played by Gosta Ekmann, an elderly Alchemist.  Camilla Horn, Hanna Ralph, William Dieterle, Werner Fuetterer, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a very well-shot film even by today's standards.  It has a very well-done creepy feel that they were able to do long before CGI came around.  Some may find F.W. Murnau familiar and some may have heard of him from the movie SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE where he is portrayed by John Malkovich in the likely fictional making of Murnau's most known film NOSFERATU where he still has not been topped for having the ugliest vampire of all time.  Also, Emil Jannings is briefly portrayed in Tarantino's INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS by Hilmar Eichhorn.  This is something for horror buffs and silent buffs alike.  As good as this movie is, it never got copyrighted so it is on the public domain and can be seen on the website .

The Villain (1979):  I can honestly say I knew nothing of this western comedy until I came across it in the library and discovering that Kirk Douglas and Arnold Schwarzenegger were in a movie together so how could I resist?   Hal Needham directed this film where Douglas stars as Cactus Jack Slade who believes he is the meanest man in the West and is hired to steal a strongbox full of money.  Ann-Margret co-stars as Charming Jones who sets out to collect this money to get it back to her father and is being protected by Handsome Stranger, played by the former governor of California.  Paul Lynde, Foster Brooks, Ruth Buzzi, Jack Elam, Strother Martin, Mel Tillis, and many others co-star in this western comedy.  This is essentially a live action Wile E. Coyote/Road Runner film where Slade has about as much success as the coyote in his pursuit of Charming and Handsome.  This is a pretty fun movie to watch if not taken too seriously and is Arnold's only comedy.  Much of us know of the known duo of Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster but don't know the underrated duo of Douglas and Schwarzenegger.

The Winning Season (2009):  This is my sports comedy for the week and part two of my Rooney Mara series and have not determined if I will continue that one into next week.  Jim Strouse wrote and directed this sports film that takes place in my own state of Indiana which is very heavy on basketball.  Sam Rockwell stars as Bill who was at one time a really good player in high school and college but appears to have succumbed to alcohol in his later days keeping him from having any real career in basketball.  He ends up working at a local restaurant where he washes dishes and buses tables and encounters his former classmate Terry, played by Rob Corddry, who is now the principal at the local high school and is offered a shot at redemption by coaching the girls basketball team which is very underdeveloped.  The team cannot stand Bill at first but slowly take a liking to him and are inspired to become a better and winning team.  Mara, Emily Rios, Emma Roberts, Jessica Hecht, Connor Paolo, Meagan Witri, Melanie Hinkle, Shana Dowdeswell, Shareeka Epps, Margo Martindale, and many others co-star in this film.  While there is some inspiration to this film, it really focuses more on the comedy where Rockwell has some really good comedic timing as the has-been coach.  It was also cool to see references to the state of Indiana in this movie.

Reptilicus (1961):  This is my B-movie for the week which was featured on the new MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000.  A prehistoric monster gets awakened and scientists must look to destroy it.  Some guy named Sidney W. Pink wrote and directed this really bad but fun film that has a poorly photographed creature.  This is a monster movie from Denmark.  The new MST3K is now available on Netflix and this is the first episode of the new season.  Jonah Ray stars as Jonah Heston is the new man imprisoned on a ship to watch really bad movies with his robot friends Tom Servo, voiced by Baron Vaughn, Crow, voiced by Hampton Young, and Gypsy, voiced by Rebecca Hanson.  The villains at least in this episode are played by Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt.  I think Jonah is going to be a good one to follow the originals of Joel and Mike.  There were some funny moments during the movie and when they were taking a break like the song "Everybody has a monster they're afraid of in their nation".  There are a few other differences I notice like the robots having their own movements like Tom Servo kind of flying around whereas Joel and Mike would carry them out of the theater.  This and the entire series is available on Netflix and will likely start using these regularly.

We're No Angels (1955):  Michael Curtiz directs this film based on the play by Albert Husson.  Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray, and Peter Ustinov play escaped convicts Joseph, Albert, and Jules, who are looking to get out some money and clothes by robbing a store and then travel by ship to another place.  The store they rob is run by Felix, played by Leo G. Carroll, and his wife, played by Gloria Talbott, and daughter, played by Joan Bennett.  Basil Rathbone co-stars as Andre which is the cousin of Felix and the actual owner of the store who is not a very nice person.  The convicts soon take a liking to the family and decide to help them for the holidays, especially from the annoying Andre.  The family even starts to like them even knowing they are escaped convicts.  This is a very rare comedic performance from Bogart and I felt did very well along with the others.  This is also a good holiday film that many people do not realize.  I also believe it is quite possibly my favorite comedy from this era.

Nocturnal Animals (2016):  I end the week with this psychological thriller which was directed by Tom Ford and based on a novel by Austin Wright.  I will try to explain this the best I can.  Amy Adams stars as Susan Morrow who is a very successful gallery owner and receives a book manuscript from her ex-husband Edward, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, that he asks her to read.  She starts to become consumed by the story which is dedicated to her and it appears to hit rather close to home where we see her in the real world as well as the story where the lines between fantasy and reality become blurred.  Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Ellie Bamber, Armie Hammer, Karl Glusman, Robert Aramayo, Laura Linney, Andrea Riseborough, Michael Sheen, Jena Malone, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a very intriguing film which really requires a lot of attention.  At first I thought I had a basic idea where it was going but I was dead wrong.  It would be hard to really go into this without giving it away.

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

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