Sunday, January 28, 2018

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 637th Edition

Welcome to the 637th Edition of my series.  Some changes happened at my workplace where I now work from home so I'm hoping to make that work and not have the commute I've had for over a decade.  Tonight is the Royal Rumble on which I have money on for both the men's battle royal and the women's battle royal but I won't know until my number comes out so that would be cool to win if I can.  Next week is the Super Bowl so not much else is going on right now so I'll just get on with my selections for the week.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010):  Edgar Wright directed this film based on the character from the graphic novels.  Michael Cera stars as the title character who is still trying to recovery from being dumped and takes an interest in a girl named Ramona Flowers, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, even when dating a younger girl in Knives Chau, played by Ellen Wong.  That part is difficult enough but Ramona has seven ex-lovers that Scott must battle and defeat to win Ramona while also being in the Battle of the Bands with his own local band.  Allison Pill, Mark Webber, Johnny Simmons, Kieran Culkan, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Chris Evans, Don McKellar, Brie Larson, Mae Whitman, Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Hader, and many others co-star in this film.  This had a lot of really good action and comedy with Cera perfectly cast as the nerdy title character and some fun video game looking fight scenes.

Elaine Stritch:  Shoot Me (2013):  This is my documentary for the week which features actress Elaine Stritch who is a Tony and Emmy award winning actress.  This mostly goes into her preparation for her one woman Broadway show and talk about aging, her alcoholism, among other things.  It also shows some footage of her stint on the sitcom 30 ROCK.  Tina Fey, James Gandolfini, Cherry Jones, Nathan Lane, Tracy Morgan, Harold Prince, John Turturro, and many others are featured in this documentary.  If you are looking for an absolute life story, this is not the one to see.  She goes into some of her past but most of the focus is on this present time.  This is a pretty insightful and entertaining documentary on someone who holds nothing back in the way of opinions.  Since this documentary was made, Elaine has passed away in the year after the release of this documentary.  This is available to watch on Netflix.

Infernal Affairs (2002):  This is my Hong film for the week which was co-directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak. Tony Leung stars as Chen Wing Yan who is an undercover cop infiltrating the Triads which is essentially the Chinese Mafia.  Andy Lau, not the same as the director, stars as Inspector Lau Kin Ming who is also a mole but one assigned by the Triad to infiltrate the police force where both are pretty much trying to uncover each other.  Anthony Wong, Eric Tsang, Kelly Chen, Sammi Cheng, Edison Chen, and many others co-star in this film.  This plot might sound a bit familiar and this is the film that would inspire the American remake in Martin Scoresese's 2006 film THE DEPARTED which is really good in its own right but credit must be given where credit is due in this modern-day classic Asian film.

The Great Library Misery (1938):  This is my comedy short for the week.  Arthur Q. Bryan stars as Mr. Smith who is looking to join the Grouch Club and tells his story of the trouble he went through in order to get a library card.  This has some really funny moments and when watching this, some will think that guy sounds like Elmer Fudd which is true, Bryan is known for the Looney Tunes icon.  I guess this was a real-life club that was featured on a radio station.

Pather Pancholi (1955):  This is my Indian film for the week which was directed by Satyajit Ray and is the first of his Apu trilogy so maybe the inspiration for the name of character on THE SIMPSONS.  Subir Banerjee plays the young Apu who is a child in a small and poor Indian family.  His father Harihar, played by Kanu Bannerjee, dreams of a better life to the point of leaving to pursue his aspirations.  Karuna Bannerjee and Uma Das Gupta co-star in this film.  This is more of a movie driven by characters and a family sticking together through the struggles.  This was a pretty moving film and if okay with subtitles really deserves a watch.  I could be using the rest of the series in the coming weeks.

Fantastic Planet (1973):  This is my French animated movie for the week which is more adult animation and based on a novel by Stefan Wul.  This takes place on a planet called Ygam which is dominated by giant blue aliens called Draags and the slaves are what we call Oms which are much smaller and human like creatures.  This centers around an Om named Terr which is a pet but he escapes as he gets older and encounters a group of other Oms that are being sought after.  They look to plan a revolt against the Draags.  This is some very unknown and interesting sci-fi animation.  I had never heard of this until I came across it at my local library.  Fans of dark animation should really enjoy this one.

Wonder Woman (2017):  This is my superhero movie for the week which was directed by Patty Jenkins.  Gal Gadot reprises her part as the Amazon in this origin story.  This starts on a sheltered island of warrior women where Diana meets a pilot named Steve Trevor, played by Chris Pine, during WWII who explains the war happening around them and making Diana decide she wants to leave with him convinced she can help stop the war.  She takes on a much deeper threat and learns about her abilities in her help in the war efforts.  Connie Nielson, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Said Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner, Eugene Brave Rock, Lucy Davis, Elena Anaya, Lilly Aspell, Emily Carey, and many others co-star in this film.  I thought this was a pretty good entry into the DC Universe and really like Gadot as Wonder Woman.  I'm sure many have seen this one and this is the most subjective genre in film and television so the phrase "cannot impress everyone" is quite the understatement.  For me, it was some really good action and origin story as well as being a lot of fun.

Jack Frost (1965):  This is my MST3K selection for the week where they are to watch a Russian fairy tale.  I don't even know where to start with this one.  This is about a young woman with a tyrannical mother and has to go along with many really strange trials to be with her man who is at one point transformed into a bear and goes against some really ruthless trees.  To be fair, this is more oriented towards children and Russia has some pretty strange fairy tale movies which I learned after watching their version of THE LITTLE MERMAID which was made in the '70s.  The actual title more this movie is FROSTY and JACK FROST is the name for the English dubbed version so maybe if I saw the Russian version it would be a bit better.  Either way, this is available to watch on Netflix like many other episodes of MST3K.

Angels in the Outfield (1951):  This is my baseball movie for the week and no you are not seeing the incorrect year.  Many will remember that fun 1994 movie which is a remake though both have fairly different stories like the remake focuses on the California Angels while this featured one takes a look at a struggling Pittsburgh Pirates team.  It also has a different variation of a rather silmilar storyline.  Paul Douglas stars as Coach Guffy McGovern who coachesthe struggling team.  Janet Leigh co-stars as reporter Jennifer Paige who is assigned an article on why the Pirates are struggling so much and ties it into their rather verbally abusive manager.  Soon Guffy hears voices of angels which promise him wins if he mends his ways.  Keenan Wynn, Donna Corcoran, Lewis Stone, Spring Byington, and many others co-star in this baseball comedy.  Both versions are both funny while being rather touching at the same time.

Point Break (1991):  I end the week with this action packed guilty pleasure and what I now call the pre-FAST AND THE FURIOUS, more on that later.  Kathryn Bigelow directed this film which stars Keanu Reeves as F.B.I. agent Johnny Utah who has just joined an L.A. unit.  His partner is none other than Gary Busey who plays Pappas and has been investigating a series of bank robberies of a group what wears the masks of former presidents.  For certain reasons, he believes they are surfers and suggests Johnny infiltrate a group of surfers.  Patrick Swayze co-stars as the care-free Bodhi who leads this group and Johnny gets more drawn into his lifestyle.  Lori Petty, John C. McGinley, James Le Gros, Anthony Kiedis, Lee Tergeson, and many others co-star in this surfing crime movie.  About my comparison to THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, I mostly say this because the relationship between Johnny Utah and Bodhi kind of reminded me of the iconic duo of Paul Walker and Vin Diesel which was a cop infiltrating a crime ring.  This was a pretty enjoyable way to close out this edition.  I mean we get Gary Busey, surfing action, bank robbing, I don't think we could ask for much more and maybe have a double feature following up with the first of the Fast franchise to maybe understand my comparison.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Ving Rhames, Philip Baker Hall, and many others.

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