Sunday, May 14, 2017

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 600th Edition

Welcome to the 600th Edition of my series.  It's hard to believe I have made it this far.  I have a bit of a theme going on here where each movie features an actor or actress that has played a character in the Batman universe.  Each actor featured has played a different Batman character and while I have Halle Berry, she is not the one featured as I say her movie CATWOMAN does not count.  I am sticking to the lives action movies and tv shows thought the years that start with the 60s sitcom BATMAN.  I also want to take time to wish the mothers a Happy Mothers Day today as I put this out so I suppose this might get overshadowed by Mothers Day posts.  I also want to thank everyone for their support though the years from the Myspace years until now.  Next week starts my big karaoke week so look up "Shaun's 7 Night Karaoke Madness" on Facebook if you want to join me at any time.  I will get on with my selections for the week so in addition to being Mother's Day, it is also the 600th Edition of my series.

La La Land (2016):  I start with the actor J.K. Simmons who has a supporting role and will be the next Commissioner James Gordon in the upcoming DC Universe films including THE BATMAN.  Damien Chazelle wrote and directed this contemporary hit musical that a lot of people loved but that many other really hated which is to be expected in a hyped award winning film like this one.  Ryan Gosling stars as Sebastian who is a jazz musician that plays in bars but has bigger dreams and Emma Stone stars as Mia who is an aspiring actress serving lattes to the Hollywood stars while trying to catch her own break in Hollywood.  Callie Hernandez, Jessica Rothe, Sonoya Mizuno, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jason Fuchs, John Legend, Tom Everett Scott, and many others co-star in this film.  Legend is usually a singer and a piano player and learned to play guitar for this film.  Sometimes I wonder if I made a film if I really would want it to win a lot of awards.  Now if it was to happen I probably would embrace it but sometimes I find that the awards are its downfall as others might judge it as not deserving of the awards.  I think I would just want to see how the fans feel and that is what matters most.  I believed the hype and really enjoyed the story and the music of it as well as the ending.

Of Mice and Men (1939):  The actor I feature in this film is Burgess Meredith who would go onto be the iconic Batman villain the Penguin in the popular '60s sitcom BATMAN.  Lewis Milestone directed this adaptation of the Steinbeck novel. Burgess Meredith stars as George and Lon Chaney Jr. stars as Lennie. They are migrant workers in depression era American. Lennie is very strong but very slow in the mind while George is his guardian who tries to protect him from exploitation.  Betty Field, Charles Bickford, Roman Bohnen, Bob Steele, Noah Beery Jr., and many others co-star. This came out in a year that gave all kinds of big titles where this one probably was not as recognized as others. The next year, there was an adaptation to Steinbeck's novel THE GRAPES OF WRATH and I liked this one better. Both the leads were great in their performances. Both of these stories by Steinback take place in the depression where the pursuance of the American Dream becomes very difficult. This movie was very well done and ranks up with much of the films of the era but has gone onto become quite underrated.

The Small Back Room (1949):  The actor featured here is Michael Gough who would go onto play Bruce Wayne's butler and guardian Alfred in the Batman films that featured Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, and George Clooney.  Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger co-directed this WWII drama based on the novel by Nigel Balchin.  David Farrar stars as Sammy Rice who is a British Scientist working for a "back room" team in London during WWII and also struggles with alcholism.  He is brought in by Captain Stuart, played by Gough, to solve the problems of booby-trapped explosive devices being dropped by Nazi bombers.  Kathleen Byron, Jack Hawkins, Leslie Banks, Cyril Cusack, and many others co-star in this film.  It is also called HOUR OF GLORY.  This is a pretty good and suspenseful film with Farrar great as the scientist trying to do the job but has a hard time with alcohol and pills due to injuries sustained.

Monster's Ball (2001):  The actor featured in this film is Heath Ledger who would go onto have a very unexpectedly popular performance as Batman's main rival the Joker.  Marc Forster directed this rather unusual love story.  Billy Bob Thornton stars as Hank who is a small town prison guard and falls in love with Leticia, played by Halle Berry, whose husband was the last person that Hank executed on death row.  They both are brought together after experiencing tragedy within their families.  Peter Boyle co-stars as Hank's bigoted father whose values have gone down some to Hank and he must reexamine his beliefs in this interracial relationship.  Ledger, Sean Combs, Marcus Lyle Brown, Mos Def, John McConnell, and many others co-star in this film.  Berry is great in this film and has not matched this Oscar winning performance since that time  This is a rather melancholy but can be beautiful at the same time.  I don't even know if what these two have is necessarily love or if all they have is each other and the things they end up having in common.  I also really like the way it ends.

Mars Needs Women (1967):  The actress featured in this B-movie is Yvonne Craig who played BATGIRL as a recurring character in the 1966 sitcom BATMAN.  Larry Buchanon wrote and directed this B-movie where martians led by Dop, played by Tommy Kirk, end up on Earth in search of women just as the title implies.  This is mostly for B-movie buffs and a group of friends to get together.  As far as I know, MST3K or Rifftrax have not picked this one up but is one they would have a field day with.

Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003):  The actress featured in this film is Uma Thurman who plays villain Poison Ivy in the 1997 movie BATMAN AND ROBIN.  This is also an homage to actor Michael Parks who plays recurring character Earl McGraw in many works by Tarantino and recently left this world and I just happened to have a movie of his featured.  Quentin Tarantino wrote and directed this homage to many things.  Thurman stars as the Bride who was part of a group of assassins, played by Lucy Liu, Michael Madsen, Vivica A. Fox, and David Carradine, but is betrayed and left for dead.  She ends up being in a coma for four years and when she awakens, she sets out for revenge in what is the first of two films.  There are a lot of inspirations for this film that include LADY SNOWBLOOD with the exaggerated violence, GAME OF DEATH for a later outfit that Thurman wears, and even GREEN HORNET for the Kato masks that are worn.  Japanese martial arts legend Sonny Chiba has a cameo as sword maker Hattori Hanzo.  There is also a really good animation sequence that talks about Lucy Liu's character's past.  Julie Dreyfus, and many others co-star in this film.  There is also a good fight scene that takes place in a home that is also very entertaining.  This one pays homage more to the samurai films and the second one is more of a western homage with some martial arts.  There is supposedly a part three in the works but I do not have any details on that one.  This is Carradine's best role in years and does a great job as well as Thurman.  This one is very fun with some great action sequences and a good soundtrack.

Anna Lucasta (1958):  The actress featured in this film is Eartha Kitt who would go onto play Catwoman in the 1966 sitcom BATMAN.  Eartha stars in the title role of this film.  Anna is banished by her self-righteous father, played by Rex Ingram, for her wild ways and soon meets up with sailor Danny Johnson, played by Sammy Davis Jr.  She is finally brought back home by her father but when she finally finds a good suitor, the father looks to sabotage their relationship.  This is a remake of a 1949 film where Paulette Godard stars and this reworks it into a dysfunctional black family.  The biggest points of interest are the scenes where Kitt and Davis are working together where he is fun for her but not really interested in making a more honest woman out of Anna.  In what I have seen Davis, I find he is my favorite of the Rat Pack.

About Time (2013):  The actress featured in this film is Margot Robbie who recently played Harley Quinn in SUICIDE SQUAD and has a supporting role in this film.  This is also part one of a possible two-part series with Domhnall Gleeson.  Richard Curtis wrote and directed this love story that also involves time travel.  Gleeson stars as Tim who is informed by his father, played by Bill Nighy, that the men in the family can travel through time so I am sorry ladies, I guess the one who came up with this curse or gift was very sexist.  When learning this, he finds that while he cannot change history, he can change personal things that happen in his life.  Tim decides that he wants to make the world a better place by getting a girlfriend and meets and falls in love with Mary, played by Rachel McAdams.  The time travel ends up making the relationship more complicated.  Lydia Wilson, Lindsay Duncan, Richard Cordery, Joshua McGuire, Tom Hollander, Will Merrick, Richard Griffiths, and many others also co-star in the film.  This romantic comedy has a pretty good twist with the time travel and Tim's obsession in making everything right.  Also has a pretty cool soundtrack that includes Nick Cave and T.A.T.U. but among others.

The Glass House (1972):  The actor featured in this tv movie is Billy Dee Williams who plays Harvey Dent in the 1989 film BATMAN.  Tim Burton had intended on him become Two-Face in a later movie but never happened after Burton left the franchise.  Williams finally got his opportunity this year as the voice of Two-Face in the animated hit THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE.  This is a tv movie that was directed by Tom Gries and based on a story by Truman Capote and Wyatt Cooper.  This is a prison story that centers around the characters of Jonathan Paige, played by Alan Alda, and Hugo Slocum, played by Vic Morrow.  Jonathan is a college professor who is in jail for a year for manslaughter and in his inexperience in prison finds it will be the longest year of his life if he survives it.  Hugo is a new and idealistic guard who wants to make a better system but the warden does not go along with the changes.  Clu Gulanger, Dean Jagger, Roy Jenson, Alan Vint, Luke Askew, and many others co-star in this tv movie.  This is a pretty good look at prison life and was actually shot in a prison with much of the extras being real prisoners.  This is some pretty underrated work from Alda who is most known for the hit series MASH.  The only place I could really find this was on youtube.

Out of the Furnace (2013):  I end the week with Christian Bale who plays Batman in the Christopher Nolan trilogy.  This is also part one of a potential five-part Sam Shepard series.   Scott Cooper directed and co-wrote this crime drama which stars Bale as Russell Baze who lives in the economically depressed Rust Belt.  He finds that his brother Rodney, played by Casey Affleck, has disappeared and also finds that he was involved in a local crime ring lead by local criminal Harlan DeGroat, played by Woody Harrelson.  Russell feels that law enforcement is not getting things done so he seeks justice himself.  Zoe Saldana, Sam Shepard, Tom Bower, Willem Dafoe, Forest Whitaker, and many others co-star in this film.  Harrelson was mean to the core and had no redeeming features about him.  Bale and Affleck were also really good as brothers and really was not aware they had teamed up.  This is in no way an upbeat film but quite compelling for some tastes of film.  Also a good look at a run down town so go check out this cast in action.

Well, that is it for this week but I am bringing back my Fun and Useless Facts segment so continue on with these facts.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Terrence Howard, Robert Redford, and many others.


This is the segment I do from time to time.  Mostly have people from different featured films that were in a movie together but do others.  I usually do not focus on actors in the same movies unless there is another involved from one of the others.  I'm not making a list for Batman since that has already been established but will feature people in the same movies.  There are probably many I have missed so feel free to comment.

Ryan Gosling (La La Land), Finn Wittrock (La La Land), Marcus Lyle Brown (Monster's Ball), and Christian Bale (Out of the Furnace) were in the 2015 film THE BIG SHORT.

Ryan Gosling (La La Land) and Rachel McAdams (About Time) were in the 2004 film THE NOTEBOOK and were lovers in a rather forbidden love.

Emma Stone (La La Land) and Woody Harrelson (Out of the Furnace) were in the 2009 zombie comedy ZOMBIELAND.

Emma Stone (La La Land) and Rachel McAdams (About Time) were in the 2015 movie ALOHA.

Emma Stone (La La Land) was to star as Jess in the 2015 movie FOCUS which would ultimately go to MARGOT ROBBIE (About Time).

Emma Stone (La La Land), Halle Berry (Monster's Ball), Uma Thurman (Kill Bill) were in the 2013 movie MOVIE 43.

Sonoya Mizuno (La La Land) and Domhnall Gleeson (About Time) were in the 2014 sci-fi film EX-MACHINA.

J.K. Simmons (La La Land) plays J. Jonah Jameson and Willem Dafoe (Out of the Furnace) plays Norman Osborne aka Green Goblin in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy.  Simmons would also go onto voice the role in many of Marvel's animated series.  They are also to both be in the upcoming 2017 film JUSTICE LEAGUE.

J.K. Simmons (La La Land) and Billy Bob Thornton (Monster's Ball) were in the 2006 film THE ASTRONAUT FARMER.

J.K. Simmons (La La Land) and John McConnell (Monster's Ball) were in the 2004 comedy THE LADYKILLERS.

Burgess Meredith (Of Mice and Men), Yvonne Craig (Mars Needs Women), and Eartha Kitt (Anna Lucasta) were in the the 1966 sitcom BATMAN as recurring characters.

Burgess Meredith (Of Mice and Men) and Daryl Hannah (Kill Bill) were grandfather and granddaughter in the 1993 film GRUMPY OLD MEN and its 1995 sequel GRUMPIER OLD MEN

Lon Chaney Jr. (Of Mice and Men) plays Frankenstein's monster in the 1942 film THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN.  Peter Boyle (Monster's Ball) plays the monster in the 1974 film YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN.

Michael Gough (Of Mice and Men) and Billy Dee Williams (The Glass House) were in the 1989 film BATMAN.

Michael Gough (Of Mice and Men), Vivica A. Fox (Kill Bill) and Uma Thurman (Kill Bill) were in the 1997 movie BATMAN AND ROBIN.

Billy Bob Thornton (Monster's Ball) and Bill Nighy (About Time) were in the 2003 film LOVE ACTUALLY.

Billy Bob Thornton (Monster's Ball) and Michael Madsen (Kill Bill) were in the 1996 movie THE WINNER.

Heath Ledger (Monster's Ball) and Christian Bale were in the 2008 film THE DARK KNIGHT as the Joker and Batman.  They also played different forms of Bob Dylan in the 2007 film I'M NOT THERE.

Mos Def (Monster's Ball) and Sean Combs (Monster's Ball) made an appearance in the 2010 "documentary" I'M STILL HERE which was directed by Casey Affleck (Out of the Furnace).

John McConnell (Monster's Ball) and Zoe Saldana (Out of the Furnace) were in the 2010 movie COLOMBIANA.

John McConnell (Monster's Ball), Michael Bowen (Kill Bill) and Michael Parks (Kill Bill) were in the 2012 film DJANGO UNCHAINED which was directed by Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill director)

Halle Berry (Monster's Ball) and Michael Madsen (Kill Bill) were in the 2002 Bond film DIE ANOTHER DAY.

Halle Berry (Monster's Ball) and Eartha Kitt (Anna Lucasta) were in the 1992 movie BOOMERANG.

Michael Parks (Kill Bill), Sam Shepard (Out of the Furnace), and Casey Affleck (Out of the Furnace) were in the 2007 film THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD which many know is one of my favorite movies.

Lydia Wilson (About Time) and Zoe Saldana (Out of the Furnace) were in the 2016 film STAR TREK BEYOND.

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