Sunday, May 21, 2017

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 601st Edition

Welcome to the 601st edition of my series.  This evening kicks off my birthday week where I am having Shaun's 7 Night Karaoke Madness where I start out at Monty's in Chesterfield which starts around 8.  There is an event page on Facebook with that title where you can find the rest of my locations.  I would also like to announce that in August I am to be in the musical THE BURNT PART BOYS in Fortville, In which will be my first show in that town.  Not much else to touch upon so I will just get on with my selections.

Hustle and Flow (2005):  Craig Brewer wrote and directed this film that takes a look into the rap and hip hop scene.  Terrence Howard stars as Memphis pimp Djay who wants to get out of that lifestyle and looks to get into the rap scene.  When seeing an old friend Key, played by Anthony Anderson, he finds that Key has the necessary sources to help him with his dream.  Taryn Manning, Taraji P. Henson, D.J. Qualls, Ludacris, Paula Jai Parker, Elise Neal, Isaac Hayes, and many others co-star in this film.  I'm not a huge rap person, though not necessarily against it, but I thought this was pretty inspirational.  I also really liked seeing they way they made the most with the little that they had in the way of a studio.  Howard has a star-making performance in this film about a pimp trying to better himself.  The song IT'S HARD OUT THERE FOR A PIMP which was performed by the Three 6 Mafia won an Oscar for best song.  If you can at least tolerate rap, this is a pretty good watch.  This might make a good double feature to go along with BEGIN AGAIN which also features unorthodox methods about getting music out.

Drunk Driving (1939):  This is my short film for the week and is part of the Crime Doesn't Pay series that MGM did in this era.  Usually these consist of rather obvious crimes but this one is a little different.  Dick Purcell stars as up and coming businessman John Jones who drinks too much and has no idea how it can impair operating heavy machinery.  This is available on TCM On-Demand through their website and is worth a look at something that still resonates today.

The Way we Were (1973):  Sydney Pollack directed this film which was written by Arthur Laurents.  This takes place during they McCarthy era during WWII where Hubbell, played by Robert Redford, and Katie, played by Barbra Streisand, meet and form a relationship despite their extreme political differences which makes it very complicated through the years.  Bradford Dillman, Lois Chiles, Patrick O'Neal, Viveca Lindfors, Allyn Ann McLerie, Herb Edelman, Diana Ewing, Sally Kirkland, Marcia Mae Jones, James Woods, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a really good story of polar opposites trying to co-exist in a relationship.  Redford and Streisand are great together and this also takes a look at the film industry during the McCarthy era later in the film which was another really good element.  This could be a really good date night selection.

Brooklyn (2015):  This is part one of my two-part Donmhall Gleeson series.  John Crowley directed this film which is based on the novel by Colm Toibin.  This takes place in '50s Brooklyn which stars Saoirse Ronan as Irish immigrant Eilis Lacey who goes to Brooklyn under the sponsorship of Father Flood, played by Jim Broadbent, who is a fellow immigrant.  At first, she has a hard time adjusting but starts finding herself there and soon meets and falls in love with a local person named Tony, played by Emory Cohen.  Things happen that make her go back to her Irish town and having to choose between two countries.  Gleeson, Julie Walters, Emily Bett Rickards, Eve Macklin, Nora-Jane Noone, Mary O'Driscoll, Samantha Munro, Jessica Pare, Alain Goulem, and many others co-star in this film.  I thought this was a very likable and rather underrated film.  I have never rooted for a relationship more than I have with Eilis and Tony as I really liked both of them.

The Beast of Hollow Mountain (1956):  This is the 5th episode of the new MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 where Jonah Tom Servo and Crow are forced to watch this sci-fi western b-movie.  Guy Madison stars as Jimmy Ryan who is an American cowboy living in Mexico.  Soon, people start dying and learn there is a dinosaur killing others.  Not much more description needed I don't think.  It's really more of a western and then about 3/4ths of the way through we learn there is some really badly animated dinosaur out there wreaking havoc.  This is available on Netflix and please watch this without MST3K at your own risk.

Safe House (2012):  This is part two of my possible five part Sam Shepard series.  Daniel Espinosa directed this action film for the week.  Ryan Reynolds stars as young and idealistic CIA agent Matt Weston who is assigned to man a safe house in Cape Town, South Africa and soon a very wanted fugitive in Tobin Frost, played by Denzel Washington, is captured and placed there.  Shortly after, enemies of Frost are after him and they must form an alliance to stay alive.  As the film goes along, we learn of far deeper conspiracies at place.  Shepard, Vera Farminga, Brendan Gleeson, Ruben Blades, Nora Arnezeder, Robert Patrick, Liam Cunningham, Tracie Thoms, and many others co-star in this film.  This is nothing really new but still a fun and entertaining watch with Washington playing the anti-hero very well and Reynolds as the bored agent wanting more action but must be careful of his wishes.  This could be good for a guys night.

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask (1972):  Woody Allen directed and co-stars in this comedy.  This is a parody on just what the title is saying and uses different sketches to get across its point. It starts out in medieval times where Woody plays a court jester who is having an affair with the queen but finds out the hilarious way that the king keeps the queen from having sex. We also have a sketch with Gene Wilder who is a psychiatrist who falls in love with a sheep that his client was already in love with. The best one in my opinion was with John Carradine playing a Victor Frankenstein type character who brings to life a giant body part that wreaks havoc all over the place. The last one shows all the hard-working sperm in our body and what they must do to reproduce where Woody plays the reluctant sperm.  Lou Jacobi, Louise Lasser, Anthony Quayle, Tony Randall, Lynn Redgrave, Burt Reyolds, Jack Barry, Heather MacRae, Regis Philbon, Geoffrey Holder, and many others co-star or have cameos in this film.  This movie and TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN are probably my two favorite Woody Allen films and they are both very underrated so maybe that is a good double feature to have sometime.

The Help (2011):  This is part two of a two-part Emma Stone series and part one of a possible five-part Viola Davis series.  Tate Taylor directed and wrote the screenplay based on the novel from Kathryn Stockett.  This movie takes place in the 1960s Mississippi when racial segregation was at its worst. Emma Stone stars as Skeeter who is an aspiring author who has grown up there but does not agree with the racial views of most and decides she wants to write a book interviewing black maids from their point of view.  Viola Davis stars as Abileen who is the first to step up to get interviewing much to the dismay of the other maids. Octavia Spencer, who won many Best Supporting Actress awards, co-stars as Minny who reluctantly agrees to contribute information but is soon more on board than anyone. This movie takes a very good look at the maids from this time period and their treatment. Skeeter could be considered a minority in her own right for not sharing the ideas of much of her family and sees them as more than just maids.  Bryce Dallas Howard co-stars as Hilly who does everything possible to keep segregation going. She is in some ways the villain of the film but more in ignorance maybe because of the way she was raised. Jessica Chastain, Cicely Tyson, Sissy Spacek, Allison Janney, Anna Camp, Chris Lowell, Brian Kerwin, Mary Steenburgen, David Oyelowo, Dana Ivey, Nelsan Ellis and many others co-star in this film.  I found this to be a very moving film and also quite well done in their look at segregation coming from the point of view of the maids.

The Harder they Fall (1956):  Mark Robson directed this film which is based on a novel by Budd Schulberg.  Humphrey Bogart stars as washed up sportswriter Eddie Willis who is desperate to make money and is hired by crooked boxing promoter Nick Benko, played by Rod Steiger, to act as public relations for his new fighter Toro Moreno, played by Mike Lane.  Eddie soon learns that while Moreno has all the looks, he is too clumsy to ever make it as a legit fighter and is exploited by Nick to have the delusion of how great he is only to eventually lead to a humiliating fall which makes Eddie have to choose between the money and ethics.  Jan Sterling, Max Baer, Jack Albertson, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a very interesting look into this era of boxing into a possibly crooked world.  This is loosely based on boxer Primo Carnera who is believed to have won bouts upon promoters paying opponents which has never been proven and the real Carnera successfully sued for this portrayal.  This is also Bogart's very last movie and went onto die the next year.  It is good to see that Bogart got to end his film career with something of this nature and maybe even one of his best performances.  That being said, this does not have to be looked at as being seen just because it's Bogey's last film but was one of many good ones.

A Room With a View (1985):  I end the week on this period piece which was directed by James Ivory and based on the novel by E.M. Forster.  Helena Bonham Carter stars as Lucy Honeychurch who is a young girl in Florence, Italy along with her Chaperone and cousin Charlotte, played by Maggie Smith.  She finds love with the rather free-spirited George, played by Julian Sands, but accepts a marriage proposal from the more respectable and wealthy Cecil, played by Daniel Day-Lewis, while she cannot let go of her feelings for George.  Denholm Elliott, Simon Callow, Patrick Godfrey, Judi Dench, Fabia Drake, Rosemary Leach, Rupert Graves, and many others co-star in this period film.  This is a pretty different role for Day-Lewis as the proper and snobbish gentleman, especially in his looks.  This also captures the period feel very well with a good array of characters.  Sands is also very good in this film and is a rather underrated actor.

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

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