Sunday, June 18, 2017

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 605th Edition

Welcome to the 605th Edition of my series.  Not a lot going on this week, I had my first rehearsal last Monday for BURNT PART BOYS and get going again tomorrow.  I look forward to staying in Fortville on these nights and enjoying the walking distance of many places.  I even went to rehearsal with a slight buzz knowing I was not driving.  Nothing else happening right now so I'll just get on with my selections for the week.

Jackie (2016):  This is part two of my two-part Peter Sarsgaard series where he plays Robert Kennedy.  Pablo Larrain directed this biopic of the former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, played very well by Natalie Portman.  This centers around an interview with someone credited as "the journalist", played by Billy Crudup, though based on an interview on an article written by Theodore H. White that he did in Life magazine.  The interview takes place sometime after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, played by Caspar Phillipson, and does flashbacks to moments shortly before the assassination and her dealing with the assassination afterwards.  Greta Gerwig, John Hurt, Richard E. Grant,  John Carroll Lynch, Beth Grant, Max Casella, and many others co-star in this biopic.  If looking for something that covers a lot of ground, this is not it.  It does not go into Jackie's later life when she marries Aristotle Onassis.  It is mostly the events before and after the assassination and coping with the tragedy and to console her children.  I felt it did a pretty good job of showing her during what was likely the worst period of her life.

Jesse Stone:  Death in Paradise (2006):  This is part five of my possible seven-part Viola Davis series and I continue with this decent series of tv movies which are based on the books by Robert B. Parker.  Last week, I brought the second Jesse Stone movie in NIGHT PASSAGE, now I continue with the third movie.  This takes place in the small town of Paradise, Massachusetts with the functional alcoholic police chief Jesse Stone, played by Tom Selleck, leading the way.  The body of a 14 year old girl is found and it is up the the precinct to piece together who this person is and who killed her.  Kohl Sudduth, Orla Brady, Gary Basaraba, John Diehl, Debra Christofferson, Mae Whitman, and many others co-star in this tv movie.  Each one of these is a different murder mystery and are pretty well-made.  These are some pretty underrated movies that I think many reading would really like.  I know I referred to the character of Jesse Stone as a functional alcoholic but he still does what he can to get the job done and get justice done.  Selleck is perfectly cast as Jesse Stone and hope to get these off the radar some.  I will say that I won't be continuing with these into next week but I'm sure some other time.

Marley (2012):  This is one of two documentaries for the week.  This is based on the life of legendary reggae singer Bob Marley and his very short life.  A lot of his friends and family get interviewed to reflect on their times with Marley.  There is also a lot of very good concert footage as well as talk on his social and political activism and his religion Rastafarian.    It also goes into much of his flaws so it tries to capture everything they can in his short but very complex life.  I don't want to get too detailed with this film as I don't really want to give anything away.  I suppose if you just cannot stand Bob Marley, this movie is probably not one to watch.  If you are at least tolerable of his music, this is a really good watch.  It is available to watch on Netflix.

Puss Gets the Boot (1940):  This is my animated short for the week and is the very first film for the iconic cat and mouse Tom and Jerry.  In this short, Tom is referred to as Jasper so I don't really know when he started getting referred to as Tom and Jerry is not really given a name.  Jasper is told by someone named Mammy Two-Shoes, voiced by Lillian Randolph, that if he breaks one more thing he must go outside so the mouse Jerry does what he can to make sure he gets the boot.  I suppose there is some racist elements in this one but remember the year and Randolph went onto have quite a career.  This still has some pretty funny moments that had no dialogue but did not need it and the only dialogue was from the human character.  This is a really good start to what would become the most successful cat and mouse team of all time.

The Ghoul (1933):  Now I bring some classic horror.  T. Hayes Hunter directed this film.  An Egyptian Arab named Aga Ben Dragore, played by Harold Huth, is seeking a sacred jewel that has been stolen from an ancient tomb and a thief reveals he has sold it to Professor Henry Morlant, played by Boris Karloff, who is a fanatical Egyptologist that believes in the pagan power of the ancient Egyptian gods.  Cedric Hardwicke, Ernest Thesiger, Ralph Richardson, and many others co-star in this film.  This is some underrated Karloff and in a way a variation of THE MUMMY that Karloff also stars.  This is something that classic horror buffs should really enjoy.  This is a British film and the first sound horror film they ever did.

Logan's Run (1976):  This is my futuristic sci-fi film for the week.  Michael Anderson directed this film based on the novel by William F. Nolan.  This takes place in a seemingly idyllic society with a lot of freedom except for how long you live.  At the age of 30, one must take part in a "religious" celebration called the Carousel where lives are taken.  Michael York stars as Logan whose job is to take out the "runners", those who try to run from their fates.  He soon meets a very beautiful girl named Jessica-6, played by Jenny Agutter, and is ordered to become a runner himself to infiltrate a group called Sanctuary that she is a part of.  He finds more and more that his life is a big lie and is being double crossed while him and Jessica discover there is a far bigger world.  Richard Jordan, Roscoe Lee Browne, Farrah Fawcett, Peter Ustinov, and many others co-star in this sci-fi film.  I have always really enjoyed this sci-fi entry.  Even now, I believe the special effects are still really good.  Also, where can you go wrong with Michael York?  Later in the movie, you'll hear reference to known characters from Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical CATS and think this is before that musical even came out.  The inspiration for both appears to have come from the T.S. Eliot novel OLD POSSUM'S BOOK OF PRACTICAL CATS.  In my double feature obsession, I believe this would go along well with MINORITY REPORT, both about a man trying to uphold the created society but mostly get screwed in the end.

Let Him Have It (1991):  This is my British crime drama for the week which is based on a true story in the 1950s.  Christopher Eccleston stars as the slow-witted Derek Bentley who falls in with a group of petty criminals led by Chris Craig, played by Paul Reynolds, who has a fondness for gangster films.  Their friendship leads them to commit a crime that will change their lives forever.  Tom Courtenay, Eileen Atkins, Edward Hardwicke, Clare Holman, Ben Brazier, Serena Scott Thomas, Michael Gough, and many others co-star in this film.  I had not heard of this movie until I saw it.  It is an interesting look at the British legal system at least at the time.  If you are not aware of this, this is really good movie to check out and even look up the case which is very interesting and sad.  I hope to put this on the radar some by posting it on here.

Batman:  The Movie (1966):  This is my tribute to the late Adam West who was most known for playing the caped crusader in the 60s sitcom BATMAN and this movie that came from the series.  Adam West and Burt Ward star as Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson aka Batman and Robin.  In most episodes they deal with one of the criminals and maybe the henchman but this time the four main criminals team up which include the Joker, played by Cesar Romero, the Riddler, played by Frank Gorshin, the Penguin, played by Burgess Meredith, and Catwoman, played by Lee Meriwether.  They team up to ultimately take over the world and never give up in their scheme to get rid of the caped crusaders.  Alan Napier, Neil Hamilton, Madge Blake, and many others co-star in this film.  After the death of West, I know many who said that he was their favorite Batman.  I'm not going to say that myself, I usually like the darker portrayals like with Christian Bale and even Ben Affleck.  While I prefer the darker stories, I know there are others who prefer the comedy that this movie and the sitcom it came from had to offer.  I have also seen some friends of mine post saying West was the original Batman which is not true, maybe the first iconic and known live-action Batman but the first two were Lewis Wilson and Robert Lowery who were both in serials in the '40s which is the equivalent of what we know today as the mini-series.  This is some pretty good fun and available to watch on Netflix, it was just too bad they didn't work Yvonne Craig in as Batgirl.  I decided to use the cover from imdb and would like to know if any die-hard fans of the series can explain Batman in a red costume.

Bend of the River (1952):  This is my western for the week and the second of eight collaborations between director Anthony Mann and his star James Stewart who stars as Glyn McLyntock.  Glyn has a rather questionable past as well as his friend Emerson Cole, played by Arthur Kennedy, who agree to lead a wagon-train load of homesteaders from Missouri to the Oregon territory.  They must deal with the attacks from the Shoshone Indians and with Cole who organizes a mutiny to get some of the supplies for profit.  Rock Hudson, Jay C. Flippen, Julie Adams, Lori Nelson, Chubby Johnson, Harry Morgan, Frances Bavier, Jack Lambert, Royal Dano, and many others co-star in this western.  This was an earlier film for Hudson who was just getting going.  He co-stars as Trey Wilson which was my favorite one in this movie and is really a Doc Holiday type being a gambler and gunslinger.  Supposedly, James Stewart was bitter that Hudson received a bigger applause at the premier and would never work with him or speak to him again.  They did not ever do another movie together, I haven't found much info one way or the other if that is the reason.  This is considered to be Stewart's transition from playing those George Bailey type characters to playing more violent and ruthless characters.  This has some great scenery, characters, and action and is well worth a watch.

Winged Migration (2001):  I have told this story on a few occasions how I came about seeing this for the first time.  It was years ago when I was with my dad and stepmom and dad insisted on going to a theater in his town of Columbus at the time called Key's Cinema I believe which was an independent theater..  I was along for the ride and he kept us in the dark about what we were seeing.  When arriving, I find we are about to watch some movie about birds and I'm thinking "what am I doing here" which is probably what Dad was expecting and why he would not tell me anything.  I went along and as I'm watching I was surprised by how much I was enjoying it.  It is a documentary filming birds on all seven continents when migrating.  This took about three years to film and was amazed by the footage that everyone got.  In addition to the amazing footage, there was also a very good music score and soundtrack by Bruno Coulais that went along perfectly with the birds.  There is occasional narration but the bird footage and the music score alone make this work just fine.  If it could not get any better, it ends with a Nick Cave song.  Jacques Perrin directed this film and accomplished an amazing while underrated documentary.

Well, that is it for this week but I do have my "Movie Night at the Shera" segment.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Jessica Chastain, and many others.


Devil's Knot (2013):  I was back at my friend Shera's house and we were looking for something to watch on Netflix and she got the idea to put in Morgan Freeman and this came up.  We had not heard of it but could tell it was about the West Memphis Three.  As we got further into it, I was not sure why this movie came up as Freeman was not in it but oh well.  Atom Egoyan directed this movie about the horrific murder of three young children and the accused being convicted under questionable evidence.  The three "devil-worshiping teens arrested were Damian Echols, played by James Hamrick, Jason Baldwin, played by Seth Meriwether, and Jessie Misskelley, played by Kris Higgins.  Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth, Alessandro Nivola, Amy Ryan, Robert Baker, Collette Wolfe, Rex Linn, Bruce Greenwood, and many others co-star.  Neither of us had heard of the movie but we were familiar with the documentaries PARADISE LOST in 1996, PARADISE LOST 2:  REVELATIONS in 2000, and PARADISE LOST 3:  PURGATORY in 2011 so this came maybe a couple years after the third documentary.  I thought this did a pretty good job of presenting this story and mostly followed what I saw of the documentaries.  It centers more around Witherspoon who plays the mother of one of the victims and Firth who plays private investigator Ron Lax who did not buy the story of the three kids doing the murders and did what he could to help.  I know only so much ground can really be covered and there were a couple times that I thought they might have taken liberties.  While watching this movie, I decided to look up the producers and see what kind of involvement the real WM3 had and found that the ones credited were Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley but not Damian Echols.  I looked further into this later in the evening and found that Echols did not want any part of it.  He apparently looked at the script and felt there were inaccuracies and apparently had a falling out with Baldwin who apparently tried to address the inaccuracies as much as possible having the attitude that the movie was getting made with or without them.  The movie was decent but do feel that if watching the movie, the documentaries need to be watched at some point.  In the end, we were glad to have watched this and had a discussion on the whole WM3 case.

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