Sunday, April 23, 2017

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 597th Edition

Welcome to the 597th Edition of my series.  This week is a pretty big week for me.  This Thursday our production of THE LITTLE MERMAID opens.  It goes from Thursday to Sunday with Thursday and Friday being a 7 pm, Saturday being a 2 pm and 7 pm, and Sunday at 2 pm.  Details for ordering on on the flying I have linked at the bottom.  That is about all I'll be doing so let's get on with my selections for the week.

Freedom Writers (2007):  I start the week out with this film based on a true story.  Richard LaGravenese directed this film based on THE FREEDOM WRITER'S DIARY by Erin Gruwell, played by Hilary Swank, and her students.  Swank stars as the idealistic Gruwell who has just gotten out of school and ready to get on with her career being given freshman and sophomore English with kids as part of something called the voluntary integration program.  This makes the schools more diverse than ever and the teachers feel that this program makes schools worse and most at the school just assume these kids will not going anywhere which really challenges the idealistic Gruwell.  She slowly finds a way to connect this very diverse group of kids which makes everyone a minority and there was a lot of racial tension between each of the races.  Patrick Dempsey, Scott Glenn, Imelda Staunton, April L. Hernandez, Mario, Kristin Herrera, Deance Wyatt, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a very moving film of a teacher who not only educates a group of "unteachable students" but is able to turn this group into more like a family and does not give up when met with resistance by her higher-ups.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011):  This is part three of my four part Rooney Mara series.  David Fincher directed the American version of the popular novel by Stieg Larsson.  The man who will play me in THE RISE AND FALL OF SHAUN BERKEY Daniel Craig stars as journalist Mikael Blomkvist who has hit a low point in his journalist career and is hired by the wealthy patriarch Henrik Vanger, played by Christopher Plummer, to investigate the disappearance of a family member 40 years ago.  He is aided by a pierced and tattooed computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander, played by Mara, and they learn a lot more they bargained for in a web of family corruption.  Stellan Skarsgard, Steven Berkoff, Robin Wright, Yorick van Wageningen, Joely Richardson, Goran Visnjic, Julian Sands, and many others co-star in this film.  This was a film first made in Sweden in 2009 that is based on the book and this is as what people call the American remake.  Both versions are very good though in Sweden they covered the entire book trilogy where Fincher did not and I am surprised, they did not make a project of this and seen nothing coming of the other two books.  Craig and Rooney are great together with some great scenery and a really good music score from Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor.  I think both versions of these movies can make a good double feature.

Edtv (1999):  Now I follow up to this satire on reality tv which was directed by Ron Howard.  Matthew McConaughey stars as video store clerk Ed who agrees to have his life filmed for a reality series for a struggling network.  At first he seems to enjoy it but slowly sees his life spiral out of control.  His brother Ray, played by Woody Harrelson, becomes jealous of Ed's attention he is getting as well as Ed getting his girl Shari, played by Jenna Elfman.  Shari is not liking the cameras around which puts a strain in their relationship.   The rest of his family is also getting turned upside down in this comedy.  Sally Kirkland, Martin Landau, Adam Goldberg, Ellen Degenerous, Rob Reiner, Dennis Hopper, Gedde Watanabe, Geoffrey Blake, Merrin Dungey, Ian Gomez, Arianna Huffington, Larry Jenkins, Elizabeth Hurley, Rob Reiner, Clint Howard, Jennifer Elise Cox, Harry Shearer, Michael Moore, Kathleen Marshall, Azura Skye, Christian Kane, and many others co-star and have cameos.  This came out right before reality tv got on the rise that it is on today and does a great job showing the effects on people when they no longer have a private life.  It drew unfair comparisons to the 1998 film THE TRUMAN SHOW which was more of a fantasy film that dealt with reality tv in a very unusual way.  It is also a good movie but both of these stand on their own ground and could make for a good double feature.

Gumbasia (1955):  This is my animated short for the week which is the first in the way of claymation.  Art Clokey created this three minute film while studying at the University of Southern California and is meant to be a clay parody to the Disney film FANTASIA.  Keep in mind, Clokey would go onto create the very iconic character of Gumby and set forth the style of clay animation which is something my dad has always been a big fan.  This was the start of quite a career that would set forth the classic series GUMBY as well as DAVEY AND GOLIATH.  When this was made, Samuel Engel, who was president of the Motion Pictures Producers Association, was very intrigued by this that he helped finance Clokey for the pilot films for Gumby.  This is available on Youtube.

Smart Blonde (1937):  This is my B comedy for the week and is part of a series of film from 1937-1939 from Warner Brothers.  These are murder mystery comedies where Glenda Farrell stars as Torchy Blane who is a female reporter always out to solve a murder alongside of police lover Steve McBride, played by Barton MacLane.  Wini Shaw, Addison Richards, Robert Paige, Craig Reynolds, Jane Wyman, Tom Kennedy, and many others co-star in this film.  Kennedy is the only actor to appear in all nine films of the series.  In this one, they investigate the murder of an investor who just bought a popular nightclub.  This is a pretty decent murder mystery and the first I have seen of this series.  They all seem to be around an hour long and much are available on tcm On-Demand until April 28th.  These are some pretty fun characters and funny moments in serious situations.

Shaft's Big Score (1972):  This is the first sequel of the 1971 Blaxploitation hit SHAFT.  Richard Roundtree reprises his role as private detective John Shaft.  In this one, Shaft must investigate the murder of his friend which leads him into a gang war.  I saw a description that described this as the Blaxploitation answer to James Bond which is really true.  This has the women, action, chase scenes for a pretty fun action film with Roundtree up to the game as Shaft.  DAYS OF OUR LIVES fans might be interesting to see Joseph Mascolo who was most known for playing Stefano on the show and is a villain in this movie.  There are actually four of this films, three with Roundtree and years later when Samuel L. Jackson took over the role and surprised they didn't make a franchise out of it.

Cry Wilderness (1987):  This is the second episode of the new MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000.  Jonah, Crow, and Tom Servo were forced to watch this B-movie that deals some with Bigfoot and not sure the point on the rest.  Jay Schlossberg-Cohen directed and co-wrote this movie with Philip Yordan and the biggest accomplishment for this movie is that it got exposure through the new MST3K.  We have a young boy who knows Bigfoot really well and Bigfoot of all people or creatures, whatever you want to call him, gives the boy a message that his father is in danger but no one seems to believe that he knows Bigfoot.  In some ways, this reminds me of the movie I was in at Columbus, IN where I played a character who was convinced that Sasquatches are peaceful creatures and this movie does try to convey that.  This is available on Netflix.

Autumn Leaves (1956):  I found this on TCM On-Demand and was quite intrigued by the description.  Robert Aldrich directed this film which stars Joan Crawford as Millicent Wetherby who is a middle aged woman intending to stay single until she meets the younger and charismatic Burt Hanson, played by Cliff Robertson, who wins her over and marries her.  Millicent slowly sees that he might be deranged and soon meets Virginia, played by Vera Miles, who claims to be his wife.  Lorne Greene, Ruth Donnelly, Shepperd Strudwick, and many others co-star in this film.  Many will know Robertson for his much later work as Uncle Ben in the 2002 film SPIDER-MAN.  There is far more to the description so I won't go any further into it except that it is an earlier look at mental illness.  This is available to watch on TCM On-Demand until April 28th.

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976):  John Carpenter directed this action film and ranks up as one of my favorites in that genre.  Precinct 13 is mostly abandoned and is due to be closed.  They hold a few criminals there for transit and the staff must fight off a very ruthless gang.  A few people in the police force and a death row inmate all try to do the impossible.  This was a low-budget film that works to no end.  It also has some very good and brutal action scenes.  It also has some really good characters like death row inmate Napoleon Wilson, played by Darwin Jostin, who seems like a fairly nice person and does what he can to help against the ruthless gang.  John Carpenter wrote his own music score and it is a simple yet very effective score that he wrote.  The performances from fairly unknown actors like Austin Stoker, Darwin Joston, Tony Burton, and Charles Cyphers were very good.  This in an unsung classic and deserves a watch for those who like a good action film.

Spa Night (2016):  I end the week with this independent film which was written and directed by Andrew Ahn.  Joe Seo stars in this film as the teenage David who is the son of a Korean immigrant family which is really struggling prompting him to take a job at a spa.  He also must figure out his sexuality when seeing men at the spa.  Haerry Kim, Tae Song, Angie Kim, and many others co-star in this rather bleak coming of age film which I will say is not for everyone.  A lot of it deals with David struggling with his closeted feeling but also takes a good look at a struggling family who were fairly well off with their restaurant but all dealt with the closing in different ways.  This is available to watch on Instant Netflix and has the rating of Unrated.

Well, that is it for the week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Meryl Streep, Rooney Mara, and many others.  If you are near the Portland, Indiana area, consider checking out this musical I am in which I play the part of Grimsby.

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