Sunday, October 8, 2017

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 621st Edition and the Madness: 10 Years- week 1

Welcome to the 621st edition of my series.  It has been a busy week with my own job and my murder mystery TO WAKE THE DEAD but I still find time to pound in the movies.  This is also the first week of the annual contest of the Madness which comes is after this segment.  I don't have a lot more going on so I'll just get on with my selections.

Voyage of the Damned (1976):  Stuart Rosenberg directed this film that was an ensemble drama based on a real life event.  This is based on the real-life voyage of the SS St. Louis which was made for many Germans to believe they were escaping Germany but was more of a set-up than anything with Nazi Germany and a corrupt Cuban dictator.  Faye Dunaway, Oskar Werner, Lee Grant, Sam Wanamaker, Lynne Frederick, Luther Adler, Wendy Hiller, Julie Harris, Maria Schell, Jonathan Pryce, Max Von Sydow, Malcolm McDowell, Orson Welles, James Mason, Katherine Ross, Jose Ferrer, Ben Gazzara, Fernando Rey, Denholm Elliott, and many others co-star in this film.  i had never heard about this particular voyage until I found this one.  This has multiple stories as far as the ensemble characters and an important and rather overlooked part of history.

The Gateway (2015):  Now I follow up with some independent horror.  Jaron Henrie McCrea directed and co-wrote this horror movie.  Danni Smith stars as Danni who is a former hospice nurse trying to make it in a new apartment.  Things start to get strange when things start disappearing, mostly the shower curtains.  She soon discovers there is a portal in her own bathtub that has been sucking in the shower curtains that is a gateway to the unknown.  Tim Lueke, Martin Monahan, Rick Zahn, Preston C. Lawrence, and Gregory Konow co-star in this horror movie.  This was a commendable effort that likely will not be one of the most known horror movies but worth at least a look among horror fans.

First Aid (1943):  This is my comedy short for the week and is a Pete Smith Specialty.  This takes a humorous look at first aid techniques at everyday mishaps that happen around the home.  This was a pretty big short film series in this era.  These get played a lot by TCM.  This one was produced in cooperation from the Beverley Hills First Aid Unit of the American Red Cross Disaster Service.

The Jacket (2005):  John Maybury directed this psychological thriller based on a story by Tom Bleecker and Marc Rocco.  Adrien Brody stars as Gulf War veteran Jack Starks who is wrongly put into an insane asylum where a corrupt doctor puts him to a series of experimental experiments in which he gets flashbacks and visions of the future.  Keira Knighley, Kris Kristofferson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kelly Lynch, Brad Renfro, Daniel Craig, and many others co-star in this film.  This is not an easy film to watch but is a very intriguing look at a veteran and the effects of the war tied into the state of mind and the experiments he is subjected to take.  Brody does a great job and did a lot of physical preparation for the part.  This is one that requires a lot of attention and maybe multiple viewings.

The Most Dangerous Game (1932):  This is some early, I guess you could call it adventure horror.  Joel McCrea stars as Bob Rainsford who is on a luxury cabin cruiser and washed ashore on a remote island. When getting there, he finds a home run by Count Zaroff, played by Leslie Banks, who is quite welcoming it seems in his big home.  He soon finds himself in a very deadly game and hunted down by Zaroff.  Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, and Noble Johnson co-star in this thriller.  This is a pretty good action film for the time.  It is just a little over an hour and a very enjoyable hour from those who also made KING KONG the next year.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Whiplash (2014):   Damien Chazelle wrote and directed this independent film.  Miles Teller stars as young drummer Andrew who attends a very prestigious music academy in the class of the ruthless Fletcher, played by J.K. Simmons.  Fletcher will not hold back on his students to the point of verbal and a little physical abuse.  Andrew and Fletcher form a very odd relationship and rivalry that gets very intense.  Paul Reiser and future Supergirl Melissa Benoist co-star in this film.  I don't know when the last time was I saw Reiser who plays Andrew's father who begins to question his son's decision to join Fletcher's class.  This is a really good film showing how far someone will and should go to achieve greatness in the eyes of the public which can be very difficult on their personal life.  I really enjoyed the climax of the movie in a scene involving Andrew and Fletcher who do what they can to one up each other.

Designing Woman (1957):  Vincente Minelli directed this romantic comedy.  Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall star as married couple Mike and Marilla and have very little in common in their worlds as one being a sportswriter and the other being a fashion designer.  Mike goes after a crooked boxing promoter Martin Daylor who in turn goes after Mike who must leave and lie to his wife that he is out of town.  Delores Gray, Sam Levene, Tom Helmore, Mickey Shaughessy, Jesse White, Chuck Connors, Alvy Moore, and mamy others co-star in this film.  Peck does a great job showing his rare comedic side in what is billed as a romantic comedy but is much more.  Peck and Bacall work well together as the mismatched couple.  There is even a hilarious fight scene near the end as well.

Ender's Game (2013):  Gavin Hood directed this sci-fi film based on the novel by Orson Scott Card.  This takes place in the future where planet Earth is ravaged by a group of aliens who are hellbent on annihilating the human race.  Asa Butterfield stars as the youth Ender Wiggin who is a very quiet but brilliant boy recruited by a military group lead by Colonel Graff, played by Harrison Ford, in hopes he will become the savior to humanity.  Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis, Aramis Knight, Suraj Partha, Moises Arias, and many others co-star in this sci-fi film.  I have never read the books as I am not really a reader but this was a pretty enjoyable sci-fi film that has even been endorsed by the Marines for the training in the film.  I have heard this was pretty faithful to the books and is really worth a look.

Dillinger (1973):  This has always been my favorite adaptation on the famed bank robber and I'm calling this a tribute to the late Harry Dean Stanton who recently left us. John Milius directed and wrote the screenplay to this great biopic. Warren Oates stars as Dillinger who makes his living as one of the best bank robbers of all time. Ben Johnson co-stars as Melvin Purvis who was the FBI agent determined to get Dillinger at all costs. Richard Dreyfus co-stars as Baby Face Nelson who was part of the Dillinger gang.  Michelle Phillips, Harry Dean Stanton, Geoffrey Lewis, John P. Ryan, Steve Kanaly, Frank McRae, and many others co-star in this film Oates really personifies Dillinger in this film as he looks a lot like him, has the charm but is very deadly. Some say that this make Dillinger out to be an anti-hero which I do not believe is true. I believe Dillinger was accurately portrayed as a rather charming but can turn on you very quick. Cloris Leachman plays the Lady in Red who if you know your history enough, you'll know the role she played. This is a very well-done adaptation on Dillinger where everything works and is one of my favorites.

Monsters Inc. (2001):  I end the week with this Disney Pixar film.  Pete Docter directed this film along with David Silverman and Lee Unkrich about a world where monsters must get scare children and get them to scream in order to keep the electricity going.  John Goodman stars as the voice of Sulley, one of the best scaring monsters and also has a good heart.  Soon, a little girl gets through the door and is not supposed to happen while having forbidden interaction.  Sulley and his best friend Cyclops, voiced by Billy Crystal go on the run with the girl they dub Boo, voiced by Mary Gibbs, and in the process realize things aren't as they seem.  Steve Buscemi, James Coburn, Jennifer Tilly, Bob Peterson, John Ratzenberger, Frank Oz, Bonnie Hunt, and many others co-star in this film.  This is one of the earlier Pixar films and still is a great watch with or without family.

Well, that is it for this week but continue on for the Madness segment.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Sigourney Weaver, Minnie Driver, Mark Wahlberg, and many others.


This is the annual contest in October that I take part every year.  This is a contest that I have never won and likely never will but that is okay with me.  I have through the years earned the nickname of "King of the Loophole" in which every year there is a list of names of people who fit into the theme in which you can watch anything that they have acted, directed, produced or wrote, and usually take full advantage of movies that would otherwise not belong in this contest and through the years I have been able to use ROCKY, THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, TITANIC, and many others.  I'm not really one for ratings but they tell me I have to so I use the four 6 system in tribute to the season.  I have everything grouped into categories where I first focus on wild card names, then an actor/actress/director that have multiple selections, or just by some general category so read on for what likely personifies me.


This is one of my wild cards this year of a man who is known for westerns but has partaken some in the horror genre.

Designing Woman (1957, 118 minutes, 666):  This is a romantic comedy loophole where Chuck co-stars as gangster Johnny O.

Old Yeller (1957, 83 minutes, 666):  Leave it to me to make this family oriented dog movie count in a Halloween contest but Chuck does co-star as Burn Sanderson.  I just now see that I use two of his movies from the same year.



Kong:  Skull Island (2017, 118 minutes, 666):  I would say this qualifies for our contest with Kong as well as the other creatures Kong must face in the film.

Monsters Inc. (2001, 92 minutes, 666):  Another Disney film and those monsters should make this one qualify.



Argento is a known Italian director and is a category that is a step above wild card and get me triple points.

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968, 164 minutes, 666):  This western counts this year in which Dario co-wrote the script with Sergio Leone.



Harry was a last minute addition after his unfortunate death and has done a lot to qualify like ALIEN

Dillinger (1973, 107 minutes, 6666):  Harry co-stars as one of Dillingers early partners in crime in the character Homer Van Meter.  As mentioned, this is one of my favorite movies and glad to get this in as a wild card



A Bucket of Blood (1959, 66 minutes, 666 1/2):  This Roger Corman classic should always qualify, it is billed as horror and of a meek man that turns into a killer to continue his success.  This is my favorite Corman film along with THE INTRUDER which is the only movie Corman lost money.



The Most Dangerous Game (1932, 63 minutes, 66 1/2);  This is my earliest selections from the creators of KING KONG which would come out the next year.  This is where people end up on an island only to be hunted.  This is another that is billed as horror so should count.


Jennifer is not a wild card in this but I found a couple movies on my list with her so I decided to dedicate a category to her.

House at the End of the Street (2012, 101 minutes, 66 1/2):  Jennifer plays a girl who moves into a new home with her mom, played by Elizabeth Shue, and befriends the mysterious neighbor whose parents died in the house years before.  More of a psychological thriller but has horror elements and billed as horror.

X-Men:  Apocalypse (2016, 144 minutes, 66 1/2):  Jennifer reprises her role as Raven aka Mystique where she becomes more of a hero which usually does not happen in other comics and is more of a villain.



John is a wild card this year and the most used one.  Someone I did not really know anything about until he became a wild card name and was in quite a few movies on my list to watch.

Broadway Idiot (2013, 80 minutes, 666):  This is a documentary of the making of the Broadway Musical AMERICAN IDIOT based on the album from Green Day.  John stars in the original cast of this production as Johnny.

Olive Kitteridge:  Incoming Tide (2014, 57 minutes, 666):  This is the second episode of a four part mini-series where John co-stars as Olive's grown son.  A great loophole selection.

Olive Kitteridge:  A Different Road (2014, 55 minutes, 666):  This is the 3rd episode of the mini-series in which John is in so I can count it for this contest.

Olive Kitteridge:  Security (2014, 62 minutes, 666):  This is the last of the four episodes in which John is still in to make this count.  He was not in the first episode so I'll be honest and not try to get it to count.  This is a selection that would normally not count for this contest but does this year.

Short Term 12 (2013, 96 minutes, 666 1/2):  This is another loophole from John in which Brie Larson stars and John co-stars in a movie centering around a youth residential treatment facility.

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016, 104 minutes 666):  This is a more conventional selection as it is horror where a girl is saved after a car accident and is apparently in a world that was affected by a chemical attack.  This was a pretty enjoyable film which was mostly with John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Gallagher Jr. carried this very well in the home but did not know how to feel about the ending.

Whatever Works (2009):  This comedy directed by Woody Allen and starring Larry David counts due to John having a part in the film.



Lucio is also a known Italian horror director and is a name that gets the triple bonus points.

The Psychic (1977, 90 minutes, 66 1/2):  This is more of a mystery and is enough to qualify for the Madness but no explanation needed for this year.



Malcolm is a wild card this year and might have one or two more selections in the Madness.

Voyage of the Damned (1976, 155 minutes, 66 1/2):  This film based on the 1939 voyage of the SS St. Louis counts this year due to Malcolm's part in the film.



The MAD ABOUT YOU alum is a wild card this year likely due to his work in the Alien series.

Whiplash (2014, 107 minutes 666 1/2):  Paul Reiser is in this movie so I am using this one as a loophole this year.


This is one of the names I can use as a wild card for the triple points.  This is a more unconventional name as he is a film composer but has worked on movies like CARRIE and other horror films.

Blow Out (1981, 107 minutes, 666):  This is something that might qualify but would require justification.  This year, the only justification I need is Pino wrote the music score in this Hitchcockian thriller directed by Brian De Palma and starring our favorite Scientologist John Travolta.



The Gateway (2015, 74 minutes, 66):  This independent horror film has a portal in a home at the bath tub that always sucks in shower curtains.



The Jacket (2005, 103 minutes, 666):  I feel this is a dark enough mystery with some scientific testing on Adrian Brody and the drugs that made him not know reality from fantasy.



Wrong Turn (2003, 84 minutes, 666):  I enjoy revisiting this horror film every so often but have not seen the sequels so maybe next year I'll focus on those.



Viola is not a wild card but does have a couple of selections so I decided to have a category for her.

Ender's Game (2013, 114 minutes, 666):  This is sci-fi and feel it is dark enough to qualify with the alien race that wants to wipe out humanity.

Suicide Squad (2016, 123 minutes, 66 1/2):  This comic book movie with lots of mixed opinions.  It was entertaining to me while not great.  I felt Jared Leto had a no win situation in his portrayal of the Joker.  I still prefer the Michael Rowe Deadshot in ARROW to Will Smith's in this one.  It should qualify, Batman does make appearances and the characters like Killer Croc should make this one qualify.



Winona is a wild card this year likely for her work in the Alien series and she has been in Halloween oriented films like BEETLEJUICE and FRANKENWEENIE.

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (2009, 98 minutes, 66 1/2):  This is quite the loophole here being a romantic comedy with a supporting part with Winona that makes me able to count this movie.



Wicked Little Things (2006, 94 minutes, 66):  This is about a town where a mine accident trapped many children alive many years ago but live on in this horror film with Scout Taylor-Compton and Chloe Grace Moretz.


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