Sunday, December 3, 2017

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 629th Edition

Welcome to the 630th Edition of my series.  I hope everyone has a good holiday season.  There is not a lot going on for me at the moment.  I lost my game in Fantasy football last week after a 7 game win streak.  I have clinched a playoff spot so I at least have that going for me.  Unfortunately, my real team of the 49ers have struggled to no end.  I don't have much else to say so onto the selections for the week.

1922 (2017):  I start the week out with this film which was directed by Zak Hilditch and based on the novel by Stephen King.  This obviously takes place in the year of 1922 and centers around a struggling farm.  Thomas Jane stars as Wilfred James who lives on the farm with his wife Arlette, played by Molly Parker, and teenage son Henry, played by Dylan Schmid.  The married couple have a disagreement when Arlette looks to sell the ranch.  Wilfred is able to convince his son to conspire to murder Arlette.  A lot of this movie deals with the aftermath where Wilfred must deal with his conscious in what he has done.  Neal McDonough, Kaitlyn Bernard, Tanya Champoux, Brian D'Arcy James, Bob Fraser, Eric Keenleyside, Patrick Keating, and many others co-star in this film.  Jane is nearly unrecognizable in my opinion in the way he looks.  This is a King story that is more driven by the characters.  It kind of reminds me of an Edgar Allen Poe story in some ways in the way of dealing with guilt.  This is available as an Netflix Original.

City of Brigham Young (1944):  This is my short film for the week.  This is part of the Traveltalks series and a brief tour of Salt Lake City, Utah which is pretty much synonymous with Brigham Young.  It shows many of the landmarks that mostly tie in with the Mormon religion.  This is a pretty informative look at the town in about ten minutes.

The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928):  This is my silent film for the week and my favorite silent film so I was very excited when TCM had this movie playing.  Carl Theodore Dreyer directed this historical film which centers around the trial of Joan of Arc, played by Maria Falconetti, where historical trial documents were used to piece this movie together.  It is really hard to put into words.  I've always seen this on big screens and may not have the same effect on a smaller screen.  This has some really surreal imagery and and very interesting close-up shots of the actors.  I have watched a few silent films through the years and this was really the only one that just absolutely kept my attention with both the images and the music score which was added later and a score that has varied in many versions.

Uncovered:  The War on Iraq (2004):  This is my documentary for the week.  Robert Greenwald directed this political documentary that takes a look at the aftermath of 9/11 and the events that lead us to the war in Iraq.  This takes a look at how deceptive the government appeared to be in getting us into Iraq.  This does not have the Michael Moore tactics in it but more of a look at testimony and documents.  Another interesting element is that most of the people being interviewed being against the war are mostly conservatives who did not agree with Bush at this time.  There is not much more to explain except this is a really good political documentary to give a watch.

Jaws (1975):  This is part two of my two-part Richard Dreyfus series and yes last week was his other Spielberg of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND which was a couple years after this one.   Spielberg directed this horror film based on the novel by Peter Benchley.  This takes place in a New England beach resort where a giant great white shark arrives wreaking havoc on the beach.  To go after the shark three mismatched people includling the local sheriff Martin Brody, played by Roy Scheider, a marine biologist named Matt Hooper, played by Dreyfuss, and grizzled shark hunter Quint, played by Robert Shaw.  Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Carl Gottlieb, Jeffrey Kramer, Susan Backlinie, and many others co-star in this film.  This was a really good trio to watch and a pretty suspenseful film with the very famous music score from John Williams.  This at the time was billed as the movie that made people scare to go in the water.  This is available to watch on Netflix as well as the sequels.

The Notorious Bettie Page (2005):  I don't know anyone else that would have a list that includes Joan of Arc and Bettie Page, oh that's right, me.  Mary Harron directed this biopic which stars Gretchen Mol as '50s pin-up model Bettie Page who was going for an acting career but ended up doing some very controversial photos instead.  This takes a look at her later years of childhood in her very strict religious upbringing to her rise as a pin-up model which became the subject of a Senate investigation with the controversial bondage photos that she did as well as some adult short films which was at this time very unheard of so long before Larry Flynt went on his own first amendment crusade for his magazine Hustler.  Chris Bauer, Jared Harris, Sarah Paulson, Cara Seymour, David Strathairn, Lili Taylor, John Collum, Austin Pendleton, Norman Reedus, Max Casella, and many others co-star in this movie.  This is a pretty decent HBO movie where some may or may not be familiar with Bettie who is one of the first sex icons in America.  .

Odds Against Tomorrow (1959):  Now for my heist film for the week which was directed by Robert Wise and based on the novel by William P. McGivern.  Ed Begley Sr. stars as Dave Burke who is looking to hire a couple people to help him in a bank robbery.  He is able to hire ex-con Earle Slater, played by Robert Ryan, and gambler and nightclub singer Johnny Ingram, played by Harry Belafonte.  Like all heist films, they are designed to be simple go in and out, get the money, no one gets hurt but we all know it's never that simple.  The issue here is that Earle is very prejudiced towards blacks which deepens the tension between him and Johnny.  Shelley Winters, Gloria Grahame, Will Kuluva, Richard Bright, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a rather overlooked film.  Belafonte shows his acting and singing talent in this one and it's tojo bad that Robert Ryan is not as known as some of the actors of this era.  I always thought he was a pretty good character actor.

A Holiday for Love (1996):  I finally bring a holiday movie this week which while not a Hallmark movie, it is geared to that sort of crowd.  Tim Matheson stars as corporate man Jake who is sent to a small town to assess the local factory that just about everyone in town either works for or has as family member working there and assess it to decide who he must cut for downsizing purposes.  His job gets harder as he gets to know and fall in love with factory worker and single mother Emma, played by Melissa Gilbert, but is unable to tell her his true intentions of what he is to do.  Michelle Trachtenberg co-stars as Emma's mature pre-teen daughter Noelle.  Travis Tritt, Bernard Behrens, Chris Makepeace, Gordon Pinsent, Richard Waugh, Roger Dunn, and many others co-star in this tv movie.  This is a rather predictable but still enjoyable tv movie for those that enjoy this type of holiday movie.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975):  Milos Forman directed this film based on the novel by Ken Kesey.  Jack Nicholson stars as R.P. McMurphy who ends up in a mental institution after pleading insanity.  When getting there, he immediately forms a rivalry with the oppressive Nurse Ratched and  gets a group of scared patients to go along with him.  Danny Devito, Christopher Lloyd, Will Sampson, Vincent Schiavelli, Brad Dourif, and many others co-star in this film.  This might just be the ultimate insane asylum film.  It is a bit difficult to describe this in much detail as it really centers around the characters.  The author apparently never watched this movie and was bitter about them butchering the movie.  I don't have the novel to judge by but this movie is always a great watch to me and is one that I would love to be in a play version in the future.  This was a pretty authentic looking film, even having actual mental patients as extras.

Jackie Chan's Project A (1983):  I end the week with this martial arts film and an early one for the legendary Jackie Chan who also directs.  This takes place in the late 19th century in British rule Hong Kong where a group of pirates look to take over.  Chan stars as coast guard member Dragon Ma who is determined to stop the pirates from invading.  Martial arts star Sammo Hung also co-stars in this film.  For me, Chan has always been a bit of a mixed bag.  Sometimes I feel his comedy is a bit much but this one was more enjoyable for me.  I usually favor Jet Li and Donnie Yen in the martial arts world but this entry is also very enjoyable as well as its sequel.  This is mostly for fans of the Hong Kong martial arts genre.

Well, that is it for this week but I did add a segment which I call "Holiday Time" that has a couple holiday specials I took the time to watch.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Daniel Bruhl, Laura Linney, Christopher Lee, Paul Muni, and many others.


Michael Bolton's Big, Sexy Valentines Day Special (2017):  I know it says Valentine's day in the title but this is kind of like a NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS in the way that it plays into two holidays.  In the mentioned film, we have Jack Skellington who gets burned out with Halloween and discovers the Christmas world.  In this hour long Netflix special, Santa's elves have made too many toys and there are not enough children for the distribution so he needs Michael Bolton's help to inspire people to make love and conceive many babies and what better day than Valentine's Day.  In turn, Michael puts on a telethon in hopes of saving Christmas.  This has quite the cast that includes Andy Samberg, Adam Scott, Fred Armison, Chris Parnell, Maya Rudolph, Will Forte, Sarah Stahl, Grey DeLisle, Brooke Shields, Louis Anderson, Sinbad, Sarah Silverman, Bob Saget, and many others.  many people I know have been very close minded when I mention this and for a long time I just couldn't stand Mr. Bolton but he has struck comedic gold in this one.  This will be one for me to watch for Christmas and Valentine's Day.  This is available on Netflix.

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965):  This is the more traditional and known selection out there that is a tradition for me but the other one will be too now.  I think we just about all know this timeless classic.  Charlie Brown becomes overwhelmed with the commercialism of Christmas.  He takes the role of director for the school pageant to show that Christmas is more than just gifts.  As we know, there is the element of the tree Charlie buys as well as Linus explaining the true meaning of Christmas.  All of our other friends like like Snoopy, Lucy, Schroeder, Peppermint Patty, Pigpen, and many others.  Not much else really needs to be explained on this absolute classic that still carries an extremely relevant message.

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