Sunday, May 7, 2017

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 599th Edition

Welcome to the 599th Edition of my series.  It is hard to believe I am just one away from number 600, I can't believe it either.  In two weeks, I am having my event Shaun's 7 Night Karaoke Madness from May 21st- 27th and will have it at a different place each night.  This is my Birthday week and if anyone lives close to the Muncie/Anderson area, just look up Shaun's 7 Night Karaoke Madness on Facebook and it should come right up.  With that being said, I will get on with my selections for the week.

Beaches (1988):  I start the week out with what many will call a chick flick.  Garry Marshall directed this film which is based on the novel by Iris Rainer.  This charts a female friendship through the years with all the ups and downs and no matter how far they are apart, something continues to bring them together.  Barbara Hershey and Bette Midler star as rich girl Hillary Essex and struggling entertainer CC Bloom who meet as children, played by Marcie Leeds and Mayim Bialik, with very little in common except the need for a friend their age.  John Heard, Spalding Gray, Lainie Kazan, James Read, and many others co-star in this film.  The two leads were very well cast in their roles.  This also introduced Midler's song WIND BENEATH MY WINGS which is on this soundtrack.  This is a great watch for girl's night and men can likely get a woman on their good side with this movie.

One Day in September (1999):  Now I go to this documentary that shows a very dark time in our history and our Olympic history.  Kevin MacDonald directed this documentary which is narrated by Michael Douglas which talks about the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich where the Palestinian terrorist group Black September who took Israeli athletes hostage.  This documentary has a lot of footage as well as interviews of those involved that include a surviving terrorist and how the police force were able to botch the operation.  This gets to the point with footage and survivor interviews and even a good soundtrack from the era to go along with it.  This is a very informative documentary and maybe follow it up with MUNICH if having a double feature.

The Children of Huang Shi (2008):  Roger Spottiswoode directed this film that is based on a true story which centers around the Japanese occupation of China in 1937 which was a part of the Chinese civil war.  Jonathan Rhys Meyers stars as British journalist George Hogg who lead a group of sixty orphaned Chinese boys for 500 miles across the snow-bound Liu Pan Shan mountains to safety on the edge of the Mongolian desert.  He also had the help of Chinese resistance leader Chen, played by Chow Yun-Fat, brave nurse Lee, played by Radha Mitchell, and aristocrat Wang, played by Michelle Yeoh.  This is a pretty moving story of a rather unknown time in our history.

The Little Ranger (1938):  This is my classic short for the week which feature of child friends from OUR GANG.  This takes place around a movie theater where Alfalfa is waiting for Darla not knowing she is with Butch so Alfalfa settles for Muggsy and then enters a fantasy world where he is in a western with his rival Butch.  Buckwheat and Porky are also featured in the film.  This is the first film in the series which is through MGM and played in the movie theaters before the feature film and is worth about 10 minutes to check out.  I would love to see the short film brought back into the movie theaters instead of endless previews.

Loss of Innocence (1961):  Lewis Gilbert directed this film which is based on a novel by Rumer Godden.  I guess for a lack of a better phrase this is a coming of age tale but a very complex one.  Susannah York stars as the British 16 year old Joss Grey whose family is visiting France and her mother falls ill ending up in the hospital and the four children stay at a hotel run by Madame Zisi, played by Danielle Darrieux, after her love Eliot, played by Kenneth More, talks her into letting the children stay.  He forms a friendship with the kids and forms an attraction to Joss which went both ways.  Through the film we learn more and more about Eliot making the film more interesting.  It is really hard to describe the film except that is is a character driven film with a good story as well as good performances and has gone onto become rather underrated through the years.  Also called THE GREENGAGE SUMMER.  This is available on TCM On-Demand until Tuesday.

He Walked by Night (1948):  This is my film noir for the week which like last week's THE NAKED CITY, this is told in a semi-documentary style and is also based on real events.  This centers around the manhunt of a cop killer who has killed many cops and is always able to blend in to not be caught in very clever ways.  Richard Basehart, Scott Brady, Roy Roberts, Whit Bissell, Jack Webb, James Cardwell, and many others co-star in this film noir.  I do not want to go too far into the description because I don't really want to give things away.  This is a very gritty film from this era that unfolds into a rather violent climax for the time.  This film started the this genre we have today and is a very important and underrated film.

Changeling (2008):  I continue this unintentional trend of doing movies based on real events.  Clint Eastwood directed this one movie that takes place in the '20s Los Angeles.  Angelina Jolie stars as the hard working single mother Christine who comes home one day only to find that her son, played by Gattlin Griffith, has disappeared.  After five months, she gets a call that her boy has been found and after the public reunion, she finds that even the the boy claims to be her son, that he really is not her son.  She becomes at odds with the LAPD who will not believe her.  John Malkovich stars as a Reverend Gustav Briegleb who not only preaches about God but also takes part in his community and looks to uncover police corruption which he finds in Christine's story.  Michael Kelly, Colm Feore, Jeffrey Donovan, Riki Lindhorne, Dale Dickey, Amy Ryan, Denis O'Hare, and many others co-star.  Lindhorne is most known as the Garfunkel in the female comedy duo Garfunkel and Oates.  I was not sure what to expect out of this but is really went beyond my expectations.  I really love the work of Clint Eastwood and feel he deserves all the credit.  The movie centers around an abduction but it goes much deeper into that in this very disturbing true story that is not for everyone.  This is available on Instant Netflix.

Face of Fire (1959):  Albert Band directed this film that is based on a short story by Stephen Crane called THE MONSTER.  James Whitmore stars as Monk Johnson who is a handyman employed by the successful Dr. Ned Trescott, played by Cameron Mitchell, and is close to their son Jimmie, played by Miko Oscard, as well as being respected by the town for his good nature personality.  A fire at the Trescott home happens with Monk able to save Jimmie from the fire and while Monk survived, his face became very disfigured.  When this happens, the town turns on him and now believe he is scary for his disfigured looks.  Ned also loses the community respect and business for standing by Monk.  Bettye Ackerman, Royal Dano, Robert F. Simon, Richard Erdman, Howard Smith, Lois Maxwell, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a really good story on the fear of the unknown and a story of prejudice that can go beyond race.  Whitmore is probably most known as Brooks in THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION much later in his career and is absolutely great in this one.  I find that in many ways it is a more realistic version of FRANKENSTEIN but the "monster" of the story is just a human trying to be accepted and Frankenstein in this situation is Dr. Trescott who is just trying to stand by the man that saved the live of his son.  I came upon this unexpected gem on TCM On-Demand and is available until May 11th so if you have it or can get a copy, it is a great one to watch and maybe have a double feature with THE ELEPHANT MAN.

Avalanche (1978):  This is the fourth episode of the new MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000.  Usually they watch something in sci-fi or some sort of creature feature but this time they watched nothing of the supernatural and just a bad skiing movie.  Through their careers, Rock Hudson and Mia Farrow made a lot of good choices in film but this is not one of them and our MST3K friends make this known.  This takes place at a ski resort and and an avalanche hits.  The special effects were really bad just like everything else making this a good choice to punch Jonah.  In this episode, Neil Patrick Harris makes a guest appearance and has a Dr. Horrible reunion in a way with Felicia Day and they even sing a song.  This is available on Netflix.

Mr. Holmes (2015):  I end the week with this film on the famed detective in his later years.  Bill Condon directed this film based on the novel by Mitch Cullin.  Ian McKellan stars as Sherlock Holmes in his later years where he is experiencing dementia and tries to remember his final case, which is shown in flashback, and tries to explain his story to a young boy, played by Milo Parker, who is the son of his housekeeper, played by Laura Linney.  Hiroyuki Sanada, Hattie Morahan, Patrick Kennedy, Roger Allam, Phil Davis, Frances de la Tour, John Sessions, Nicholas Rowe, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a pretty clever take on Holmes in my opinion and the film is rather melancholy at times.  It also has a lot of common references of Sherlock Holmes so a little knowledge will help.  It was still a compelling story on an aging Holmes whose memories are a bit more scattered.  This could go along with YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES in a double feature.  McKellan is really good as Holmes and Parker is also good as the boy Roger who is very deductive in his own right.  This is 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 Emma Stone, Lon Chaney Jr., Halle Berry, Uma Thurman, and many others.

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