Sunday, August 6, 2017

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 612th Edition

Welcome to the 612th edition of my series.  I am taking a paid week off work this work while rehearsing BURNT PART BOYS which plays at the 10 West Center for the Arts on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 and Sunday at 2:30.  For tickets, visit the website .  I've enjoyed making Fortville like a second home these last few weeks and look forward to putting on a show.  Not much else happening so I will give my selections for week.

Kill the Messenger (2014):  I start the week with this film based on a true story.  Michael Cuesta directed this film based on the book by Gary Webb, played by Jeremy Renner.  Webb was a journalist who uncovered in the '90s the CIA's past role in importing cocaine into the U.S. to help raise money for the Nicaraguan Contras' Rebel Army.  Despite a lot of pressure, Webb would go onto publish a series called DARK ALLIANCE.  Robert Patrick, Lucas Hedges, Rosemarie DeWitt, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Paz Vega, Barry Pepper, Tim Blake Nelson, Michael Kenneth Williams, Oliver Platt, Andy Garcia, Michael Sheen, Gil Bellows, Dan Futterman, Ray Liotta and many others co-star in this film.  This is a very sad and true story.  Renner might be at his best playing the dedicated journalist in this very sad but true overlooked story.  I don't want to go any further in fear I could give things away so give it a watch if possible.

The Cobweb Hotel (1936):  This is my animated short for the week from Dave Fleischer.  I will say this is a rather weird and in a way quite disturbing animated short.  This centers around a spider that runs a hotel for flies and the spider keeps them captive in a spider web.  It comes down to him messing with the wrong fly which is the "flyweight champion".  This was still very entertaining but just a bit weird which is what I like but other may not like it so much.  This is available on Youtube.

2001:  A Space Odyssey (1968):  I have seen this from time to time but never have gotten that much into it.  This was true until about a couple weeks ago when my local library did a special showing on a bigger screen.  Stanley Kubrick directed this sci-fi film that was based on the novel by Arthur C. Clarke.  It starts out with a bunch of apes, then makes one of the biggest cinematic jumps in history to a space ship mission with the very intelligent computer HAL-9000, voiced by Douglas Rain.  I realized when watching it this way that for me it has to be on a big screen.  Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Leonard Rossiter, Margaret Tyzack, Robert Beatty, Ed Bishop, Alan Gifford, Ann Gillis, and many others co-star in this film.  I will let you know, this has the entrance song for Ric Flair so yes they stole his music but I guess I'll let that go.  Watching this on a phone or computer or just an analog tv will not give the feel a big screen has.  When watching this, I started thinking of this movie as a Sci-Fi FANTASIA with the use of a lot of classical music.  It also reminded me of the later director Terrence Malick in his use of making the cinematography and music around the actors which I felt this film from Kubrick did.  The Hal-9000 is thought to be the villain of the film and I always kind of saw him as the tragic hero.  He was just programmed to focus on the mission and had to do what he had to do.  If looking for a linear film that you will understand the whole way through, this is not it.  I do feel though this is something that has things to learn after each viewing but I do not believe that anyone will fully grasp it and that was not their intention.  I also learned that at the premier, 241 people walked out of the theater while the movie was still going likely thinking wtf the whole way through which is what I still do.  The handful of people who saw the movie did not walk out of the library.  I will just in by saying that watching this the way I did was a very mesmerizing experience, especially in the last 20 minutes.  If you have only given this one view and felt dislike, maybe give it another shot, especially on a big screen if possible.

Wizards of the Lost Kingdom (1985):   This is the 10th episode of the new MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 and they picked a good one to bash and riff.  Vidal Patterson stars as boy wizard Simon whose wizard father is overthrown by the evil Shurka, played by Thom Christopher, and must find some magic ring along with some really furry white creature thing and teams up with boozy swordsman Kor, played by Bo Svenson.  I actually kind of thought riff-wise, this was the best episode of the new season.  They had a lot to go on with the bad acting, really bad special effects, costumes left a lot to be desired and really not knowing what sort of creature Simon's furry friend is supposed to be.  Not much else to say except you'll be in B-movie heaven watching this one with or without MST3K.  This is available on Netflix.

The Bad Seed (1956):  Mervyn Leroy directed this film based on the novel by William March and the play by Maxwell Anderson.  Nancy Kelly stars as Christine Penmark who is the mother to a perfectly innocent eight year old girl named Rhoda, played by Patty McCormack, but starts to realize she is a little too perfect and begins to question her on some mysterious deaths that happen around her.  Henry Jones plays the rather dim handyman that may seem slow in the head but sees right through Rhoda and she sees through him forming a bit of a rivalry.  Henry Jones, Eileen Heckart, Evelyn Varden, Paul Fix, Jesse White, and many others co-star in this creepy film.  Last October, I had the pleasure of being in the play as Emory, played by White, which was a very good show and perfect for October.  This was quite ahead of its time as this was a very taboo topic in the era of a murderous child and to add to that a murderous girl.  This one had to pass the Hayes code so wrote a rather different ending that those that have seen that play are used to.  This still holds up in the creepiness factor and can be seen on  Below is a photo of the show I was it last October in Alexandria.


Pay it Forward (2000):  So far this week I have dealt with the sad, weird, bizarre, creepy, you name it but now I bring it down some and present the more feel good.  Mimi Leder directed this film based on the novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde.  Haley Joel Osment stars as Trevor who deals with an alcoholic mother Arlene, played by Helen Hunt, and his abusing and usually absent father Ricky, played by Jon Bon Jovi.  His new social studies teacher Eugene Simonet, played by Kevin Spacey, has an extra credit assignment on making the world a better place in which Trevor comes up with an interesting idea of the title where you do three people a favor and those people must do three people a favor instead of returning the favor which has very unexpected results towards his family, friends and even people he has never met.  Jay Mohr, Jim Caviezel, Angie Dickinson, David Ramsey, Gary Werntz, and many others co-star in this film.  I did not recognize actor Ramsey who also plays John Diggle in ARROW.  This is a pretty moving story that has in some ways inspired this sort of movement.  This movie can get just about any emotion and is a good watch if looking for something inspirational.

Hot Rod (1950):  This is my car movie for the week.  This takes place in a time when the fast hot rod cars were the big thing.  This centers around a father and his son.  Jimmy Lydon stars as David Langham who wants to get in hot rod craze but is not easy with his father, played by Art Baker, as the local judge and does not feel fast cars are the way to go and is hard to convince.  David finally breaks down and makes a car to race but it gets stolen and the stolen car gets traced back to him making everyone believe it was him.  This was kind of propaganda towards local racing and having a place to do it even if others do no like it.  This is referred to as one of the B movies from Warner Brothers but still a decent hour watch for classic movie buffs and car lovers.

Unfinished Song (2012):  This is part one of a possible Vanessa Redgrave trilogy.  Paul Andrew Williams wrote and directed this film which Redgrave co-stars as the elderly Marion who is part of an unconventional choir group that consists of senior citizens and lead by the energetic Elizabeth, played by Gemma Arterton.  Terence Stamp co-stars as Elizabeth's grumpy and stubborn husband Arthur who slowly gets involved with this group through the persuasion of Elizabeth.  Christopher Eccleston, Orla Hill, and many others co-star in this very inspirational film and a bit of an homage to our senior citizens.  For all you Doctor Who fans, Ecceston was the Doctor Who in 2005.  Stamp does well as a man who slowly finds a passion in himself to help with other things in his life.  I really cannot describe this much in words.  I hope there are more groups like the one in this movie. I also think this could be a really good double feature to go along with the movie THE MUSIC NEVER STOPS which is another one that shows that sometimes music is the best medicine.

The Cheyenne Social Club (1970):  This is my western for the week which was directed by none other than Gene Kelly and based on a novel by David Grubb.  James Stewart and Henry Fonda star as aging cowboys and friends John and Harley.  John gets word his brother has died and inherits the place of the title thinking he now owns a saloon.  He finds out he is very wrong when he gets there and learns it is a brothel that he inherited.  This goes against his own principals and is determined to close it but finds it has a lot of popularity in the town and making him very disliked if he closes it.  Shirley Jones, Sue Ann Langdon, Elaine Devry, Robert Middleton, Arch Johnson, Dabbs Greer, and many others co-star in this western.  This is more of a comedic western with a great duo of Stewart and Fonda with Jones added to the mix very well as essentially the manager of the brothel.  Fonda also sings in the title song.

Sausage Party (2016):  I end the week with this animation film directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon.  This centers around a grocery store where all the food products have feelings and are lead to believe that when they are bought they are lead to the exciting "Great Beyond".  Seth Rogen stars as sausage Frank who dreams of being able to be with his companion bun Brenda, voiced by Kristen Wiig.  Frank is to go to the Great Beyond but Brenda is left behind so Frank goes to great lengths to reunite but learns that there actually is no Great Beyond and the world beyond is full of horrble humans.  Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Michael Cera, James Franco, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Paul Rudd, Nick Kroll, David Krumholtz, Edward Norton, Salma Hayek, and many others co-star in this animated comedy.  I really did not know much of what to expect watching this one.  It is rated R and is rated that for a reason as this takes adult animation to a whole new level.  This is a spoof towards Disney movies.  There are some music numbers that are written by Alan Menken who is usually a writer for Disney but does his first rated R movie.  This is very funny and can be very graphic at times.  If you offend easy, this is not the one.  This is available on Netflix.

Well, that is it for this week but continue on for the return of "Fun and Useless Facts".  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Kathy Bates, Vanessa Redgrave, Sally Field, Ray Milland, Alfred Hitchcock, Zoe Saldana, Yasujiro Ozu, and many others.


I return with this segment and as always I look into actors from different movies to connect so I don't do much interconnections.  I'm sure there is plenty I have missed so if you have anything to lend, place it in the comments.

Jeremy Renner (Kill the Messenger) and Paul Rudd (Sausage Party) fought on Team Cap in the 2016 film CAPTAIN AMERICA:  CIVIL WAR as Hawkeye and Ant-man.

Nancy Kelly (Bad Seed) and Henry Fonda (The Cheyenne Social Club) were in the 1939 film JESSE JAMES.

Jeremy Renner (Kill the Messenger) and Gemma Arterton (Unfinished Song) are the title characters in the 2013 movie HANSEL AND GRETEL:  WITCH HUNTERS.

Henry Jones (Bad Seed) and James Stewart (The Cheyenne Social Club) were in the 1958 film VERTIGO.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Kill the Messenger) and Michael Cera (Sausage Party) were in the 2010 film SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD.

Bo Svenson (Wizard of the Lost Kingdom) and Eileen Heckart (Bad Seed were in the 1986 film HEARTBREAK RIDGE.

Paz Vega (Kill the Messenger) and Jonah Hill (Sausage Party) were in the 2006 film 10 ITEMS OR LESS.

Jesse White (Bad Seed) and James Stewart (The Cheyenne Social Club) were in the 1950 film HARVEY.

Barry Pepper (Kill the Messenger) and Edward Norton (Sausage Party) were in the 2002 film 25TH HOUR.

Kevin Spacey (Pay it Forward) plays Superman's main rival Lex Luthor in the 2006 film SUPERMAN RETURNS.  Terence Stamp (Unfinished Song) plays Superman's Kryptonian rival General Zod in the 1978 film SUPERMAN and the 1980 sequel SUPERMAN II.  Stamp also plays Superman's biological father Jor-El in the tv series SMALLVILLE.  Michael Daingerfield (Sausage Party) plays Superman's most dangerous enemy in Darkseid in the tv series SMALLVILLE.

Barry Pepper (Kill the Messenger) and Kevin Spacey (Pay it Forward) were in the 2010 film CASINO JACK.

Jeannetta Arnette (Pay it Forward), Seth Rogen (Sausage Party), James Franco (Sausage Party), Danny McBride (Sausage Party), Craig Robinson (Sausage Party), Bill Hader (Sausage Party)

Tim Blake Nelson (Kill the Messenger) and Edward Norton (Sausage Party) were in the 2008 film THE INCREDIBLE HULK.

Kevin Spacey (Pay it Forward) plays Clarence Darrow in the 1991 tv movie DARROW.  Henry Fonda (The Cheyenne Social Club) plays Darrow in the 1974 tv movie CLARENCE DARROW.

Tim Blake Nelson (Kill the Messenger) and Jim Caviezel (Pay it Forward) were in the 1998 war film THE THIN RED LINE.

David Ramsey (Pay it Forward) and Dabbs Greer (The Cheyenne Social Club) were in the 1997 action movie CON AIR

Oliver Platt (Kill the Messenger), Michael Cera (Sausage Party), and Bill Hader (Sausage Party) were in the 2009 comedy YEAR ONE.

Michael Cera (Sausage Party) auditioned for the role of Cole Sear in the 1999 film THE SIXTH SENSE which would ultimately go to Haley Joel Osment (Pay it Forward)

Oliver Platt (Kill the Messenger), Michael Sheen (Kill the Messenger) and Patty McCormack were in the 2008 film FROST/NIXON.

Haley Joel Osment (Pay it Forward) does the voice of Mowgli in the 2003 sequel THE JUNGLE BOOK 2.  Ian James Corlett (Sausage Party) does the voice of Mowgli in the English version of the Russian film ADVENTURES OF MOWGLI.

Ray Liotta (Kill the Messenger) and James Franco (Sausage Party) were in the 2010 comedy DATE NIGHT.

Shirley Jones (The Cheyenne Social Club) and Jonah Hill (Sausage Party) were in the 2006 comedy GRANDMA'S BOY.

Ray Liotta (Kill the Messenger) and Seth Rogen (Sausage Party) were in the 2009 comedy OBSERVE AND REPORT.

Mimi Leder (Pay it Forward director) directed Vanessa Redgrave (Unfinished Song) in the 1998 film DEEP IMPACT.

Andy Garcia (Kill the Messenger) and Angie Dickinson (Pay it Forward) were in the 2001 film OCEAN'S ELEVEN.

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