Sunday, July 2, 2017

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 607th Edition

Welcome to the 607th Edition of my series.  I hope everyone has a good 4th this week and hope everyone remains safe on this week of fireworks.  I'm still in rehearsals for BURNT PART BOYS which is coming along pretty well and I'm enjoying staying out there with my friends Brittany and Dakota.  Not much else is happening so I'll get on with my selections for the week.

Ratcatcher (1999):  Lynne Ramsay wrote and directed this British film.  This takes place in Glasgow in the mid-70s where there is a garbage strike.  The story centers around a pre-teen boy named James, played by William Eadie, who dreams of getting out of that poor town.  Tommy Flanagan co-stars as his father who is part of the strike and often drunk.  Mandy Matthews, Michelle Stewart, Lynn Ramsay Jr., Leanne Mullen, and many others co-star in this film.  It is a rather hard movie to describe.  It is really more centered with the characters.  This is a very bleak look at a poor part of Scotland.  It is still a pretty compelling and underrated film.  This has a rather unknown cast but Flanagan looked very familiar to me, especially the scar on his cheek and it dawned on me that he played Cicero in GLADIATOR just a year or so after this one.  This also has a good performance from the young Eadie.  This can be found on the Criterion Collection.

Knock Knock (1940):  This is my animated short for the week.  This is part of the Andy Panda series where Andy and Papa Panda have a discussion if you can really catch a bird by putting salt on its tail.  They hear a knocking at the door which turns out to be a pecking and it is where we meet Woody Woodpecker who looks to pester the pandas.  This is most notably the first cartoon for Woody Woodpecker but does not have his name yet.  I do not know the original intentions for the character for if it was their way of introducing a long-term character or if the character made enough of an impression to get his own series.  Mel Blanc providers the voices for Papa Panda and Woody Woodpecker.  This is available to see on Youtube.

The First Auto (1927):  This is my silent film, well mostly silent, for the week.  Roy Del Ruth directed this film which centers around a father and son named Hank, played by Russell Simpson, and Bob, played by Charles Emmett Mack.  Hank is a very proud owner of horses and owns many that he stables and races.  Bob is really taking to the rise of the "horseless carriages" which are more known as automobiles.  This takes place around the rise of the automobile in which most people are transitioning to but Hank has a very rough time which drives a wedge between him and his son.  A lot of this movie is comedy but it also gets rather intense at times when we see Hank kind of go off the deep end in his inability to make the transition.  I found this on TCM and was a pretty good look on what was likely a very difficult transition.  This came out right around the time of THE JAZZ SINGER and stayed silent for the most part except it did appear to make the use of sound and just a little bit of dialogue.  This was well worth a look and unexpectedly compelling.

The Woman in the Fifth (2011):  This is part one of a two-part Ethan Hawke series.  Pawel Pawlikowski directed this film based on a novel by Douglas Kennedy.  Hawke stars as American writer Tom Ricks who goes to Paris in hopes of getting his life together and to connect with his estranged wife.  He soon meets a mysterious woman named Margin, played by Kristin Scott Thomas, and they form an intense relationship which triggers a string of inexplicable events.  Joanna Kulig, Samir Guesmi, Delphine Chuillot, Julie Papillon, and many others star in this psychological thriller.  This has an interesting line between fantasy and reality.  This is more of an atmospheric drama where things change a lot with good performances out of Hawke and Thomas.  This is another one that is a bit difficult to explain without giving a lot away.  This is available to watch on the public library website .

Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970):  This is my Hammer Films selection for the week.  A group of three distinguished middle-aged men are looking for some more excitement in life and get in contact with Dracula's servant Lord Courtley, played by Ralph Bates.  They are able to restore Dracula, reprised by Christopher Lee, but they kill Courtley prompting Dracula to take revenge in an unusual way.  Geoffrey Keen, Gwen Watford, Linda Hayden, Peter Sallis, Anthony Higgins, Isla Blair, and many others co-star in this film.  This is the fifth entry into the Dracula series and a pretty decent sequel.  Not as good as the first one but still has some really good moments.

Rambo III (1988):  This is part one of a possible two-part Sylvester Stallone series.  Stallone has his third outing as John Rambo where he lives in a Buddhist temple and is visited by his former superior Colonel Trautman, reprised by Richard Crenna, who is about to embark on a dangerous mission helping the Mujaheedeen rebels to fight a Soviet invasion but Rambo turns him down.  Things change when Trautman is captured and Rambo goes in on a rescue mission at full force with help from some of the rebels.  Kurtwood Smith, Marc De Jonge, Sasson Gabai, Marcus Gilbert, and many others co-star in this action film.  This is everything that it is billed to be which is an action film.  I won't say this is better than the first two but still a pretty good entry with some really good action.

Double Indemnity (1944):  Billy Wilder directed this film noir which is based on the novel by James M. Cain.  Fred MacMurray stars as insurance salesman Walter Neff and meets the unhappily married Phyllis Dietrichson, played Barbara Stanwyck, and have an affair while plotting the murder of her husband in order to get what the title indicates.  Edward G. Robinson co-stars as insurance analyst and Walter's boss Barton Keyes who usually knows when an accident was really murder.  Porter Hall, Jean Heather, Tom Powers, Byron Barr, Richard Gaines, Fortunio Bonanova, and many others co-star in this film.  MacMurray is probably best known for his more family oriented Disney films but also played darker roles like these, especially in his early days.  This is one of those that is still compelling after all these years and watches.  Stanwyck was a great Femme Fatale in this one.  This is also a movie where the novelist was satisfied.

Lion (2016):  Garth Davis directed this film which was based on the autobiography by Saroo Brierley, played by Sunny Pawar as a child and Dev Patel in his adult years.  This starts with Saroo as a 5 year old boy in a poor community in India.  On a trip with his older brother, he ends up alone and trapped on a moving train in which he became lost.  He survives many horrible struggles until being adopted by a really nice couple in Australia, played by David Wenham and Nicole Kidman.  In his adult years, he has established a pretty good life for himself but feels the need to locate the family he had left which proves to be a very difficult task and begins to consume him as he has left his family in the dark.  Abhishek Bharate, Priyanka Bose, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Rooney Mara, Deepti Naval, and many others co-star in this film.  I was not sure what to expect but did remember my Facebook friend Tasha cited this as her favorite movie of the year.  This was a very moving film for me and the one that moved me the most this week.  I also liked the footage of the actual people at the credits.  A very good movie for the year and appears to be a pretty overlooked one as well.

The Loves of Hercules (1960):  This is the eight episode of the new MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000.  Married couple Mickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield star in this film with Hartitay as Hercules and Mansfield in a dual role of Queen Deianira and Hippolyta.  I am really not sure how to describe this movie.  What we know is we have Hercules and other people are trying to manipulate him and we have some monsters.  I also know that the strength did not show very well with Hargitay which is one of the main things they riffed about so we get some good laughs in some of those scenes.  Just remember it for what it is, an episode of MST3K.  Also for you LAW AND ORDER fans out there, SVU alum Mariska Hargitay is the daughter of the starring married couple.

Will Ferrell:  You're Welcome America- A Final Night With George W. Bush (2009):  I end the week with this live HBO special which stars Will Ferrell as our former president reflecting on his life and on his time in office.  I really thought Ferrell did a really good job of impersonating Bush and keeping the crowd active.  His younger brother Patrick plays a secret service agent and gets a few laughs of his own.  I even think those who do not like Ferrell might enjoy this one.  I find that Ferrell is pretty versatile with his comedy and it shows here.  I felt he captured Bush's mannerisms very well even doing that thing Bush does with his eyes.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Well that is it for this week, but I do have two other segments in Movie Night at the Shera and TV time so continue on.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes the Rock, Sylvester Stallone, Ethan Hawke, and many others.


Unfaithful (2002):  This was more like Movie day at the Shera and she had this recorded which I had recalled seeing but had been awhile.  Adrian Lyne directed this movie which stars Richard Gere and Diane Lane as married couple Edward and Connie Summer and as the title indicates you can likely guess that one of them is unfaithful in this marriage.  This is true and it is Connie who has an encounter with a stranger named Paul, played by Olivier Martinez, which has very disastrous consequences.  Erik Per Sullivan, Michelle Monaghan, Chad Lowe, Erich Anderson, Kate Burton, Margaret Colin, Dominic Chianese, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a pretty dark film on the effects of an extramarital affair and the things people might potentially do.  I also really like how it ended and I feel like most movies I see that involve extramarital affairs usually have the man doing it so I liked that they had the woman doing the affair this time.


GLOW (2017):  I don't usually reflect on tv shows on here but after my 3 day binge of this show I just had to do this one.  The writers of ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch wrote this series which is based on the 80s wrestling show GORGEOUS LADIES OF WRESTLING.  Allison Brie stars as struggling actress Ruth Wilder who is informed of an audition only to learn it is for a ladies wrestling show called Glow.  Marc Maron stars as the director Sam Sylvia and also co-stars Betty Gilpin, Sydelle Noel, Britney Young, Britt Baron, Kimmy Gatewood, Rebekka Johnson, Sunita Mani, Kate Nash, Marianna Palka, Gayle Rankin, Kia Stevens, Ellen Wong, Chris Lowell, and many others co-star in this series.  Stevens is the only one of the ladies who is an actual wrestler and has worked in TNA as Awesome Kong and briefly in WWE as Kharma and have to admit that I did not recognize her until I started writing this summary.  This is a fictional take on the 80s series though most of the characters are loosely based on people involed with GLOW in the 80s.  This particular season shows the struggle of putting together this very daring wrestling show.  There are a lot of wrestling cameos in the show including John Hennigan aka John Morrison and Johnny Mundo, Brodus Clay, Carlito, Alex Riley, Joey Ryan, Christopher Daniels, and Frankie Kazarian.  Also, Brooke Hogan has a guest appearance as a night club manager.  I understand that Chavo Guerrero Jr. helped train the ladies for the wrestling and he is the nephew of their actual trainer Mando Guerrero.  This also is a great homage to the 80s with many good references to the era and a really good '80s soundtrack.  Now I want to address the non-wrestling crowd.  I feel the show is more oriented towards the characters than it is wrestling so I believe the non-wrestling crowd can get behind these people and their struggle trying to get something off the ground.  The similarity I see to OITNB is the very diverse array of women.  This is a Netflix series and is 10 episodes of about 30 minutes each so pretty easy to get through.  I also seem to have gotten my friends Brittany and Dakota into this show.  I also recommend the documentary GLOW:  THE STORY OF THE GORGEOUS LADIES OF WRESTLING which is also on Netflix and maybe watch that before the show.  I am assuming they will have a season two and look foward to what that brings.

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