Sunday, October 1, 2017

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 620th Edition

Welcome to the 620th Edition of my series.  This week kicks off one of two things I look forward to in the fall which is the annual movie and tv watching contest the Madness.  This is our ten year anniversary and glad to say I've been part of it from the beginning.  The other thing I look forward to is football, other than that I'm not one of them fall people.  In the Madness, I am known as the King of the Loopholes where a list of names is given where I can watch anything from them so you'll find next week what I'm doing.

Kong:  Skull Island (2017):  I start the week out with this reboot of the King Kong franchise.  Jordan Vogt-Roberts directed this film which stars John Goodman as a monster chaser named Bill Randa who manages to get funded a trip to an unexplored island by the U.S. Government citing "geological research".  A group of military and scientists go to this island and encounter many very dangerous creatures including Kong.  Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, Corey Hawkins, John Ortiz, Tian Jing, Toby Kebbell, Shea Whigham, Richard Jenkins, and many others co-star in this film.  For me, my favorite Kong film in the 2005 film KING KONG from Peter Jackson.  I felt there were some pretty good characters and creatures.  I also liked the resourcefulness of Kong in this film.  Looks like we'll be seeing a lot of the other monsters in the future.

Wrong Turn (2003):  Rob Schmidt directed this film that was the first of a pretty big franchise.  Desmond Harrington stars as Chris who is on a business trip and crashes into another vehicle which he meets a group of five friends including BUFFY alum Eliza Dushku and Jeremy Sisto.  This happens in the middle of nowhere where they try to find help but find a group of cannibalistic mountain men instead and must fight for survival.  Emmanuelle Chriqui, Kevin Zegers, Lindy Booth, and many others co-star in this film.  I have always liked this one so I'm glad to revisit it from time to time, I know seeing Dushku makes it a lot easier.  It is a pretty compelling and gory horror film.  The mountain men were very well done and were quite creepy.  Worth a look if you can get past the violence.

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (2009):  Rebecca Miller directed this film that is based on her own novel.  Robin Wright stars as Pippa Lee, played by Madeline McNulty, Blake Lively in flashback scenes where she is younger, whose much older husband Herb, played by Alan Arkin, must move to a retirement community which makes things more difficult for Pippa when she must adjust to a new world.  Mike Binder, Winona Ryder, Ryan McDonald, Cornel West, Maria Bello, Zoe Kazan, Tim Guinee, Drew Beasley, Shirley Knight, Keanu Reeves, Julianne Moore, Monica Belucci, and many others co-star in this film.  I thought this did a good job of going back and forth in flashback with the three Pippa Lee actresses cast pretty well.  This is available to watch on the Hoopla Digital website.

A Day at the Zoo (1939):  This is my animated short for the week which was directed by Tex Avery.  We are taken through a tour of the zoo in a very humorous way.  We get to see a stool pigeon, and Alcatraz jailbird, and a lion that gets poked fun at a lot despite advice from the narrator telling this guy he should stop.  This can be found on youtube and it can be found on Amazon Prime as part of Cartoon Classics Volume 2 which have about three hours worth of classic animated shorts.

Old Yeller (1957):  This is my dog film for the week and has gone onto become quite the live action classic from Disney.  Tommy Kirk stars as Travis Coates who is left to take care of the family ranch while his father Jim, played by Fess Parker, is off on a cattle drive in the 1860s.  His mother Katie, played by Dorothy McGuire, and younger brother Arliss, played by Kevin Corcoran, are also on this ranch when a stray yellow mongrel dog comes onto the property.  Travis does not like this dog but his younger brother does so their mother decides to let him stay and Yeller soon earns the respect of Travis.  Chuck Connors and Beverly Washburn co-star in this dog classic.  Most people know by now how things end so just be prepared.  This is one for the family and is also available to watch on the Hoopla Digital website.

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968):  This is my western for the week which was directed by Sergio Leone.  Claudia Cardinale stars as Jill McBain whose family was slaughtered and goes after the prime suspect of Cheyenne, played by Jason Robards, who did not do it and offers to help her find the real killer in Frank, played by Henry Fonda in a very rare villain turn.  Also after Frank is a harmonica playing gunman, played by Charles Bronson, who has his own beef with Frank.  Paolo Stoppa, Woody Strode, Jack Elam, Keenan Wynn, Frank Wolff, and Lionel Stander all co-star in this Spaghetti Western.  This was a more slow-paced western than others but the characters, scenery, dialogue and Ennio Morricone music score made this work to no end into a really good climax at the end.  It's hard to really describe this but a really good and unusual western with Fonda playing an absolutely ruthless villain.

Whatever Works (2009):  Now I turn to a comedy which was written and directed by Woody Allen and stars CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM alum Larry David as the very cynical and atheistic Boris who always wants an audience to express his viewpoints, even to the audience themselves.  His life changes when a naive southern runaway named Melodie, played by Evan Rachel Wood, who Boris tries to get out of his apartment but it was not happening where they slowly form a relationship to the point of marriage.  Things get complicated with Melodie's parents, played by Patricia Clarkson and Ed Begley Jr., track her down and question her unusual marriage.  Adam Brooks, Lyle Kanouse, Michael McKean, Samantha Bee, John Gallagher Jr., Jessica Hecht, and many others co-star in this comedy.  I guess this is not really for everyone.  Some may say they don't like Woody, some may say they don't like Larry.  I feel if you are a fan of Larry David, this will be a very enjoyable one to watch.  For me it did deliver a lot of laughs.

A Bucket of Blood (1959):  This is another one I love to revisit from time to time.  Roger Corman directed this movie that takes place most of the time in a coffee shop centered around artistic regulars.  Dick Miller stars as Walter Paisley who works at this place as a busboy and is jealous of the artists that always get featured.  Things change when he accidentally kills his landlady's cat and decides to cover it in plaster which gets him seen by the people at the cafe as the great sculptor.  With this new popularity comes them wanting more and continues to put out his art while others begin to disappear.  Miller is really good as the meek waiter and wannabe artist who does what he believes he must to continue his new found popularity.  It is a really good horror comedy and Corman's best work in my opinion.  This is only about an hour long but an enjoyable one.  This is available on Amazon Prime.

The Psychic (1977):  Lucio Fulci directed and co-wrote this Giallo film.  Jennifer O'Neill stars in this mystery as the clairvoyant Virginia Ducci.  She has visions that lead her to discovering a murder which gets her husband Francesco charged with murder where she must embark on an investigation to find the real murderer.  Gabriele Ferzetti, Marc Porel, Ida Galli, and many others co-star in this what is more psychological thriller than horror.  It does have some very suspenseful moments to keep us guessing.  This is available on the Hoopla Digital website.

Blow Out (1981):  I end the week with another mystery thriller with this one being written and directed by Brian De Palma.  A young John Travolta stars as movie sound recordist Jack who when going out looking for some sounds and gets a vehicle going into the water and tries to piece together what he recorded.  Through this, he unravels a political conspiracy.  Nancy Allen co-stars as Sally who was in the car when Jack saved her and is also in a lot of danger.  John Lithgow, Dennis Franz, J. Patrick McNamara, and many others co-star in this film.  De Palma does a great job in what many call a Hitchcockian thriller.  De Palma makes it his own in my opinion and keeps it from being a Hitchcock ripoff.  Quentin Tarantino liked Travolta in this movie so much that he cast him in his 1994 hit PULP FICTION.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Faye Dunaway, Keira Knightley, J.K. Simmons, Lauren Bacall, Harry Dean Stanton, and many others.

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