Sunday, July 9, 2017

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 608th Edition

Welcome to the 608th Edition of my series.  Not much else has changed this week, just the usual things so I'll just get on with my selections for the week.

Moana (2016):  I start the week out with this animated film from Disney.  This takes place in Ancient Poynesia where young Moana Waialiki, voiced by Auli'i Cravalho, learns of an ancient curse brought on Demigod Maui, voiced by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and she seeks out the the Demigod to set things right.  While reluctant at first, Moana remains very persistant and together they journey across the Pacific.  Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jermaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk, Oscar Knightley, former NFL superstar Troy Polamalu, and many others co-star in this film.  This has many good elements like a great story of forgiveness and redemption.  It also has a really good soundtrack from Opetaia Foa'i, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Mark Mancina.  The former WWF champion the Rock using his stage name of Dwayne Johnson gives a really good vocal performance in this one.  This was a pleasantly unexpected watch that came on when I was at work and nothing was working so they put on a movie.  This is available on Netflix.

Rambo (2008):  This is part two of my two-part Sylvester Stallone series and yes I went from part three to part four of a pretty famous movie series.  This came out 20 years after RAMBO III came out where Stallone once again reprises his role as John Rambo and for the first time in the Rambo franchise he takes the helm of director.  Now he is living in Thailand trying to lead a more simple life and spends time catching snakes for local entertainers and chauffeuring locals in his PT boat.  He is approached by a some Christian Missionaries lead by Michael Burnett, played by Paul Schulze, and Sarah Miller, played by Julie Benz, to rent his boat and to get them to the civil war zone of Burma to help the Karen people of the region.  Rambo reluctantly agrees to get them across and it turns out they do not know the killing machine they got that is just supposed to be a boatman taking them through the river to get to Burma.  Matthew Marsden, Graham McTavish, Reynaldo Gallegos, Jake La Botz, Tim Kang, Ken Howard, and many others co-star in this film.  I do believe this is the most intense and the most violent of the series.  This is also for me the second best of the series being behind FIRST BLOOD.  Stallone wanted to have this movie take place during a real-life conflict and when learning of what is happening in Burma that is what he wanted.  I thought through all the violence, it was also strangely moving and find we could really feel for John Rambo more than ever.

Before Sunset (2004):  After all the adventure and violence I tone it down with part two of my two-part Ethan Hawke series.  Richard Linklater directed and co-wrote this sequel to the 1995 film BEFORE SUNRISE which center around the characters of Jesse, played by Hawke, and Celine, played by Julie Delpy, who had quite then encounter in the first movie and reunite after many years when Jesse is in France with a book tour.  As Jesse is about to leave the country, they spend some time together and discuss their lives which have changed a lot since their first encounter.  This one just like the first one is centered around the deep discussions the leads have and now they are more matured from their previous encounter.  Some could find this very boring to have a movie centered mostly around the dialogue of these two people.  Others would prefer a movie like this one that is more driven by the script.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime as well as the first one so I suggest starting with that one.  If you just cannot get enough of this duo from the two movies, there was a third one in 2013 called BEFORE MIDNIGHT which is available for rental on Amazon Prime.

Visiting Italy (1951):  This is my short film for the week.  This is part of the Traveltalks series from James A. Fitzpatrick.  This gets in what it can in an 8 minute period starting at Rome at things like the Colosseum, St. Peters, a public fountain, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, among other things.  This has some really good scenery and not a bad educational look at Italy for the short amount of time used.

Men in Exile (1937):  This is my Warner B movie for the week.  Dick Purcell stars as ex-con Jimmy Carmody who is trying to live an honest life and is framed for a robbery.  An old friend of his arranges for him to go to the island of Caribo where a past does not matter.  Once there he gets caught up in a plot to overthrow the local dictator leadership.  June Travis, Victor Varconi, Olin Howland, Margaret Irving, and many others co-star in this film.  This is not a bad b-movie that Warner Brothers made a lot of that were generally shorter, more unknown casts, and unknown in general.

The Emigrants (1971):  This is my Swedish film for the week which was directed by Jan Troell so yes there is more than just the legendary Ingmar Bergman.  This takes place in the mid-19th century in a small rural village.  Max Von Sydow and Liv Ullman star as married couple Karl Oskar and Kristina who struggle to make it on a small piece of land and things do not get much better.  Along with others in the community, they decide to emigrate to the U.S. which also proves to be a struggle to survive in hopes of making it there.  Eddie Axberg, Allan Edwall, Monica Zetterlund, Hans Alfredson, and many others co-star in this film.  There is a sequel to this one called THE NEW LAND which also got a really good reception.  This is a really good look at people emigrating and the dangers it presented.  It also has some really good performances and they were able to make this a very watchable movie without putting in music.  This is available until tomorrow on TCM On-Demand.

The Color Purple (1985):  Steven Spielberg directed this film based on the novel by Alice Walker.  This takes place in the early 1900s and centers around a black woman named Celie, played by Desreta Jackson when younger and Whoopi Goldberg in her film debut at her older age.  She is trying to overcome struggles like by an abusive father and later an abusive husband.  Danny Glover, Margaret Avery, Willard E. Pugh, Akosua Busia, Adoph Caesar, Oprah Winfrey,  Rae Dawn Chong, Dana Ivey, Bennett Guillory, Lawrence Fishburne, and many others co-star in this film.  This is also Oprah's film debut and would go onto soon have her very popular talk show.  She is really good in this film so if you do not like Oprah as a person you might check this out.  This is really difficult to describe this film except that mostly revolves around a black family through a span of 40 years and their struggles in the era.  This would also go onto become a musical in which my local theater did a great job.

Death By Hanging (1968):  This is my Japanese film for the week which was directed by Nagisa Oshima.  This is a satirical film about our feelings of the death penalty.  A Korean man named R, played by Do-Yun Yu, is to be executed for hanging but ends up surviving the hanging.  Upon the survival, the people at the prison must decide how to handle this mishap in what is actually a comedic farce.  It mostly takes place in the prison where many things happen in trying to figure out what must be done and even the interrogation on R who does not seem to remember who he is and what he has done.  This has not gotten a lot of exposure it would seem but it is available through the Criterion Collection and really worth a look.

The Bribe (1949):  Robert Z. Leonard directed this film noir based on a short story by Frederick Nebel.  Robert Taylor stars as federal agent Rigby who is in pursuit of stolen aircraft engines on a Central American island.  The main suspect is Tug Hintten, played by John Hodiak, and is drawn to his wife Elizabeth, played by Ava Gardner.  Charles Laughton and Vincent Price both add to this very complex film that is really difficult to explain further..  This is a really good tale of greed, retribution, and forbidden love.  It also has a July 4th sort of action climax that was quite different from anything I had ever seen.  This is available on TCM On-Demand for the rest of the day it looks like.

Frantic (1988):  I end the week with this crime thriller directed and co-written by Roman Polanski.  Many people might have heard of this movie through the '90s hit song ONE WEEK by Barenaked Ladies in the line "like Harrison Ford I'm getting Frantic" and if you did not know, this is the movie being referenced.  Ford stars as Dr. Richard Walker who is in Paris with his wife Sondra, played by Betty Buckley, on a medical conference.  When taking a shower, he finds that his wife has disappeared leading him into a web of intrigue and his lack of the French language does not help either.  Emmanuelle Seigner co-stars as Michelle who is a career smuggler not really knowing who she works for and helps Richard try to find her.  John Mahoney also co-stars as an embassy official.  This is a good thriller of a man in unknown territory trying to locate a loved one but not getting much help.

Well, that is it for this week but I am bringing back the Fun and Useless Facts segment.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Vanessa Redgrave, John Barrymore, Reese Witherspoon, Marilyn Monroe, Ryan Gosling, and many others.


I decided to bring this one back this week.  Keep in mind, the facts I have are interconnections and don't really mention anything about actors in the same featured films.  I'm sure there is plenty I have missed so feel free to comment other things.

Temuera Morrison (Moana) and Harrison Ford (Frantic) were in the 1998 film SIX DAYS AND SEVEN NIGHTS.

Ethan Hawke (Before Sunrise) and Max Von Sydow (The Emigrants) were in the 1999 film SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS.

Alan Tudyk (Moana) and Harrison Ford (Frantic) were in the 2013 baseball film 42.

Ethan Hawke (Before Sunset) and John Mahoney (Frantic) were in the 1994 film REALITY BITES.

Sylvester Stallone (Rambo) and Harrison Ford (Frantic) were in the 2014 action film THE EXPENDABLES 3.

Sylvester Stallone (Rambo), Danny Glover (The Color Purple) and John Mahoney (Frantic) were in the the 1998 animated film ANTZ

Ken Howard (Rambo) and Harrison Ford (Frantic) were in the 1998 film CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER.

Sylvester Stallone (Rambo) and Max Von Sydow (The Emigrants) were in the 1995 action movie JUDGE DREDD.

Max Von Sydow (The Emigrants) and Harrison Ford (Frantic) were in the 2015 film STAR WARS:  THE FORCE AWAKENS.

Ethan Hawke (Before Sunset) and Dana Ivey (The Color Purple) were in the 1985 film THE EXPLORERS.

Danny Glover (The Color Purple) and Harrison Ford (Frantic) were in the 1985 film WITNESS.

Ethan Hawke (Before Sunset) and Lawrence Fishburne (The Color Purple) were in the 2005 remake ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13.

Willard E. Pugh (The Color Purple) and Harrison Ford (Frantic) were in the 1997 film AIR FORCE ONE.

Akosua Busia (The Color Purple) and Ava Gardner (The Bribe) were in the 1985 mini-series A.D.

Dana Ivey (The Color Purple) and Harrison Ford (Frantic) were in the 1995 remake SABRINA.

Max Von Sydow (The Emigrants) and Emmanuelle Seigner (Frantic) were in the 2007 film THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY.

Lawrence Fishburne (The Color Purple) and Harrison Ford (Frantic) were in the 1979 film APOCALYPSE NOW.

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