Sunday, January 21, 2018

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 636th Edition

Welcome to the 636th Edition of my series.  Nothing really new going on at the moment but I have a few plays I have my eyes on for April so hopefully I'll be making an announcement with one of those soon.  I will get to my selections for the week.

The Croods (2013):  I start the week out with this animated film from Dreamworks and part four of my four-part Catherine Keener series.  The Croods are a family of Cavemen lead by the patriarch Grug, voiced by Nicolas Cage, who keeps the family in caves and goes by some very strict rules hoping to keep his family alive.  His daughter Eep, voiced by Emma Stone, is more free-spirited and does not like being sheltered.  Soon, their cave is destroyed and must trek through an unfamiliar world along with a resourceful human Eep meets named Guy, voiced by Ryan Reynolds.  Keener, Cloris Leachman, Clark Duke, Chris Sanders and Randy Thom provide their voices.  This was a pretty fun movie to watch and is a good one for the family to watch together as it really promotes teamwork and sticking together while also showing being overprotective may not be the answer.

Changing Lanes (2002):  This is part two of my two-part Toni Collette series.  Roger Michell directed this thriller of two men who are the last people anyone want to have problems with and they have a misunderstanding that pit them against each others.  Ben Affleck stars as hotshot attorney Gavin Banek and Samuel L. Jackson stars as insurance salesman and recovering alcoholic Doyle Gipson.  Together, they have a small wreck where Doyle wants to do everything by the book but Gavin is in a big hurry so he just bribes him and leaves while also accidentally giving Doyle a very important legal document in a legal case which he uses as leverage for Gavin.  This starts a series of very manipulative activities.  Collette, Sydney Pollack, Kim Staunton, Tina Sloan, Richard Jenkins, Ileen Getz, Jennifer Dundas, Matt Malloy, Amanda Peet, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Bruce Altman, Joe Grifasi, William Hurt, John Benjamin Hickey, Dylan Baker, Cole Hawkins and many others co-star in this film.  While being a very dark movie, when getting through it, the film really has a good message where these two men slowly realize that each of them have addictive personalities that bring out the worst in themselves.

Sicario (2015):  This is part three of my three-part Benicio Del Toro series.  Denis Villeneuve direted this film that takes a look at the world of the drug cartel.  Emily Blunt stars as idealistic FBI agent Kate Macer who is recruited to the Department of Justice special joint task force overseen by Matt Graver, played by Josh Brolin, to apprehend a big time drug lord.  She gets more than she bargained for when meeting Matt's partner Alejandro Gillick, played by Del Toro, whose methods and motivations are very questionable.  Victor Garber, John Bernthal, Daniel Kaluuya, Jeffrey Donovan, Raoul Max Trujillo, Julio Cesar Cedillo, Hank Rogerson, Bernardo Saracino, Maximiliano Hernandez, Kevin Wiggins, Edgar Arreola, Kim Larrichio, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a pretty hard movie to describe beyond what I already have described.  It shows the gray areas in the world of the drug cartel and is a pretty compelling film with a good performance from Del Toro.

Felix All Puzzled (1925):  This is my animated short for the week and a pretty old one at that which features Felix the Cat.  Obviously this is silent short and in this one, Felix is hungry but his owner is busy trying to finish a crossword puzzle and has one left which is a question that involves Russia making Felix go to Russia in order to get that answer.  Obviously if we are really technical, how does Felix get to Russia in such a quick amount of time and if he is that resourceful how did he not find anything along the way but if you are not too serious about that part, this is a pretty funny three minute short film which covers quite a bit of ground in such a short time.  This is available on anything public domain and can likely be found on Youtube.

Capricorn One (1977):  I found this when I was in the library and it seemed rather interesting so I decided to give it a shot.  Peter Hyams wrote and directed this film that centers around N.A.S.A. and in a really dark way.  James Brolin, Sam Waterston, and O.J. Simpson as astronaut trio Charles Brubaker, Peter Willis, and John Walker who are just about to go up to the first manned mission at Mars only to be pulled out of the ship right before takeoff being informed they did not have the necessary funding to fix a faulty support system.  They reluctantly take part in a plan to fake the mission and claim it really happened for purposes of the general public.  Elliot Gould co-stars as investigative journalist Robert Caulfield starts an investigation when things do not look right to him.  Brenda Vaccaro, Hal Holbrook, Karen Black, Telly Savalas, David Huddleston, David Doyle, Lee Bryant, Denise Nicholas, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a fictional film and put in during an era where conspiracy films were on the rise so they evidently needed around the space industry.  I had no idea what to expect but ended up being a pretty compelling film.

Railroaded! (1947):  Anthony Mann directed this crime drama which stars Jane Randolph as femme fatale Clara Calhoun who works for a beauty salon is able to get her mob boyfriend Duke Martin, played by John Ireland, to stage a robbery but things go wrong and they arrange to frame their driver Steve, played by Ed Kelly, which is not believed by his sister Rosie, played by Sheila Ryan.  Hugh Beaumont co-stars as homicide detective Mickey Ferguson who investigates the murder but believes Steve is guilty despite his attraction to Rosie.  Clancy Cooper, Hermine Sterler, Keefe Brasselle, and many others co-star in this film noir.  This is a pretty good B list film noir that is worth a look.

The Virgin Suicides (1999):  Sofia Coppola directed this film which is based on the novel by Jeffrey Eugenides.  A group of male friends become obsessed and curious about five sisters, played by Kirsten Dunst, A.J. Cook, Hanna Hall, Leslie Hayman, and Chelse Swain, that are mostly sheltered by their strict and overprotective parents, played by James Woods and Kathleen Turner.  Josh Hartnett, Robert Schwartzman, Jonathan Tucker, Hayden Christensen, Michael Pare, Scott Glenn, Danny DeVito, and many others co-star in this film while Giovanni Ribisi was the voice of the narrator.  This is one of those that is really hard to put into words.  It takes place in '70s in the suburbs of Detroit and shows a certain darkness of the suburban life and what can happen with overprotective parenting.  I'll just end it with the title really says it all so this is not for the faint of heart.

M (1951):  Joseph Losey directed this American remake to the 1931 classic of the same name.  There is a child killer on the loose which sends the town into an obvious panic.  The increased police investigation into the murders is interfering with criminal activities of the mob making them decide to find the killer and put him into their own trial.  David Wayne, Howard Da Silva, Martin Gabel, Luther Adler, Steve Brodie, Raymond Burr, Glenn Anders, Norman Lloyd, Walter Burke, John Miljan, Roy Engel, Janine Perreau, Leonard Bremen, and many others co-star in this remake.  Sure, this does not beat the original classic but this still stands well as a remake.  If I am not mistaken, they showed more of a police investigation in this one than the original.  i don't really want to give any more away on this fil.  It has a very atmospheric feel and is also very well shot.  This would be worth a double feature to watch the 1931 version and this version.

The Honeymoon Killers (1970):  Leonard Kastle wrote and directed this crime film which is based on the true story of Raymond Fernandez, played by Tony Lo Bianco and Martha Beck, played by Shirley Stoler, who were also known as the "Lonely Hearts Killers" in the '40s.  They meet through a lonely hearts club and end up going around posing as siblings and swindling other women out of money as well as murder eventually.  Mary Jane Higby, Doris Roberts, Kip McArdle, Marilyn Chris, and many others co-star in this film.  Kastle felt that a lot of these kind of movies were too glamorous for example BONNIE AND CLYDE and was determined to make a more authentic looking movie of a criminal couple.  The actors cast looked more like everyday people than actors and the movie's black and white tone really helped as well.  This is another one I had not heard of but came across it when it was on TCM On-Demand and was immediately drawn to it.

The Greatest Showman (2017):  I end the week with this newer musical based on the life of Phineas Taylor Barnum who we know as showman P.T. Barnum, played very well by Hugh Jackman.  Michael Gracey directed this film which shows Barnum being orphaned and penniless to his crazy ideas that would become a spectacle changing the face of show business but also slowly alienates his family with his show.  Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Austyn Johnson, Cameron Seely, Keala Settle, Sam Humphrey, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Eric Anderson, Ellis Rubin, Skylar Dunn, Daniel Everidge, Daniel Son, Paul Sparks, Will Swenson, and many others co-star in this film.  I went to the theaters to see this one and got sucked in right from the beginning.  Justin Paul and Benj Pasek wrote the music numbers and did a great job as well as the performances from the actors.  The costumes were very good making the freaks look very real.  I can't say enough good things about this musical of the visionary and showman P.T. Barnum.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Toni Collette, Robin Wright, and many others.

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