Sunday, February 18, 2018

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 640th Edition

Welcome to the 640th Edition of my series.  This week, I received my Moviepass card which is really pretty cool.  It is a monthly fee of about $10 and you can see one standard 2D movie at the movie theater each day.  That being said, not much else is happening now that football season is over so I'll just get on with my selections for the week.

Wayne's World 2 (1993):  I start the week out with this SNL sequel to the hit 1992 comedy WAYNE'S WORLD which mostly continues right where the first one left off.  Stephen Surjik directed this comedy where Mike Myers and Dana Carvey reprise their roles of Wayne and Garth. Wayne has a dream where he meets Jim Morrison, played by Michael A. Nickles, who tells Wayne he must put on a music festival.  He looks to put on the show with much trouble while also trying to fend away a sleazy manager, played by Christopher Walken, who is trying to woo his girl Cassandra, reprised by Tia Carrere.  Chris Farley, Ralph Brown, James Hong, Rip Taylor, Aerosmith, Lee Terguson, Heather Locklear, Bob Odenkirk, Robert Smigel, Larry Sellers, Kevin Pollak, Olivia D'Abo, Kim Basinger, Drew Barrymore, Harry Shearer, Ted McGinley, Tim Meadows, Charlton Heston, Ed O'Neill and many others co-star or have cameos.  For me and likely most other people, this does not beat the first one as I believe it is the best SNL movie they have made.  This still has its moments like a lot of really amusing parody scenes and where can you go wrong with a little Christopher Walken?

Popeye for President (1956):  This is my animated short for the week and as you might guess this centers around Popeye who in this animated short is running for president against his rival Bluto.  On election day, they are tied and the deciding vote is in Olive Oyl and must fight for her vote.  This has the usual formula when it comes to Popeye and Bluto in the fight part but the election added an interesting element to it.  This is available on Amazon Prime as part of the Cartoon Classics Volume 2 and can likely be found on Youtube.

The Birds (1963):  I came upon this one when I was housesitting for my friends Drew and Stephanie and came upon this VHS and needed something from this era.  Believe it or not, I don't know the last time I dealt with VHS so I liked this idea.  Alfred Hitchcock directed this classic horror film based on a story by Daphne Du Maurier.  Tippi Hedren stars as socialite Melanie Daniels who pursues a potential boyfriend in Mitch, played by Rod Taylor, to a small Northern California town.  Things take a bizarre turn when the birds start to attack the town and everyone outside.  Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette, Veronica Cartwright, Ethel Griffies, Charles McGraw, Lonny Chapman, and many others co-star in this film.  This is the closest Hitchcock came to doing a conventional horror film with the exception of PSYCHO I suppose.  The promo video Hitch does that was in the beginning of the VHS is very entertaining.

Let the Fire Burn (2013):  Now I bring one of two documentaries for the week.  Jason Osder which takes a look at the events that lead to a stand-off between the black liberation group MOVE and the Philadelphia Police Department.  This was a group that wanted to live more communally and got more attention by the Philadelphia with their radical movements with bullhorn speeches, unsanitary conditions, and questionable parenting.  In 1978, nine of their members were convicted of third degree murder with the killing of a police officer making them believe the police were just corrupt and years later would lead to the very sad standoff in 1985.  There is not much else to say on this one it is very sad to see nothing has been learned since these forgotten incidents.  This documentary does not take sides and takes a look at how both sides were in the wrong.

The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933):  This is my royalty selection for the week.  Alexander Korda directed this film which stars Charles Laughton as Henry VIII which takes a look at the five marriages after getting and annulment with his first wife Catherine of Aragon.  Merle Oberon, Wendie Barrie, Elsa Lanchester, Binnie Barnes, and Everley Gregg play wives 2-6 in this film and each have their own interesting story.  Robert Donat, Miles Mander, William Austin, John Loder, and many others co-star in this film.  Laughton was great as Henry and could be the best one.  It was also good to see Lanchester playing Anne of Cleves as she is mostly known as the bride BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN.  It is not a very long movie as it is a little over 90 minutes so this is not really that in depth towards each one like some may think.  I felt it covered enough ground for Henry's portrayal.  It was also the first Academy award win for Britain which helped pave the way for some of their other film.  This is available on Amazon Prime.

Akeelah and the Bee (2006):  This is my more inspirational film for the week.  Doug Atchison wrote and directed this film that take place in South Los Angeles.  Keke Palmer stars as Akeelah who is an eleven year old inner city girl that gets in trouble and through a threat by the principal, she takes part in the school spelling bee in which she wins.  She is encouraged by the principal to take part in the Scripps Spelling Bee in which they are participating in for the first time.  For Principal Welch, played by Curtis Armstrong, it is more about bring publicity to his very struggling school and enlists his friend and former spelling bee champion Dr. Larabee, played by Laurence Fishburne, to coach Akeelah.  Angela Bassett, J.R. Villarreal, Sean Michael Afable, Sahara Ware, Lee Thompson Young, Julito McCullum, Erica Hubbard, Eddie Steeples, and many others co-star in this film.  This was pretty formulaic but still very inspiring seeing a inner city girl struggle in a far bigger world that she is used to.  It is also really good seeing how the community all comes together for someone of their own.  This is available to watch on the Hoopla Digital website.

Our Town (1940):  Sam Wood directed this film adaptation to the play by Thornton Wilder who also co-wrote the screenplay.  This takes place in the small town of Grover's Corner, New Hampshire and narrated by town druggist Mr. Morgan, played by Frank Craven, who tells the story of his town as well as the everyday people in the small town.  This mostly centers around the Webb and Gibbs family that live next door to each other with the son George Gibbs, played by William Holden, and the daughter Emily Webb, played by Martha Scott, who have been friends since childhood start to fall in love.  Fay Bainter, Beulah Bondi, Thomas Mitchell, Guy Kibbee, Stuart Erwin, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a good small town story with a pretty well-done film adaptation with a rather disturbing climax.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime and on Hoopla Digital.

The Big Sick (2017):  This is part one of a two-part David Alan Grier series.  Michael Showalter directed this film which was written by Kumail Nanjiana, played by himself, and Emily V. Gordon, played by Zoe Kazan.  Kumail Nanjiani stars as struggling stand-up comedian trying to go further.  At a show one night, he meets grad student Emily and they form a relationship but the clash of cultures make things very difficult.  Things change when Emily gets put into a medically induced coma and must consider what he wants for himself.  He goes to the hospital and slowly wins over her parents, played by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter, while balancing his own life.  He must also consider the pressure his family puts on him to marry someone of his parents' choosing.  Grier, Anupam Kher, Zenobia Shroff, Adeel Akhtar, Bo Burnham, and many others co-star in this comedy-drama.  This is based on a true story but did make a loose basing of their relationship.  This has a really good amount of comedy and drama in this clash of cultures film.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Laserblast (1978):  This is my MST3K selection for the week.  Kim Milford stars as teen Billy Duncan who comes across an alien weapon which transforms him into a killer and must deal with dinosaur looking aliens who are trying to get their weapon back.  Cheryl Smith, Gianni Russo, Dennis Burkley, Eddie Deezen, Keenan Wynn, Roddy McDowell, and many others co-star in this sci-fi movie.  This episode had Michael J. Nelson as the host where much of their jokes come from the two and a half star review that Leonard Maltin gave it while naming of more well-done movies that got either that amount of lower.  This is the last episode produced by Comedy Central and is available on Netflix.

Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (1980):  I end the week with this documentary short which was kind of selected as the result of a chain reaction so to speak.  Two weeks ago I featured the documentary LIFE ITSELF which was about film critic Roger Ebert where I learn of one of his favorite movies in the 1978 documentary GATES OF HEAVEN which I featured last week in which director Errol Morris made putting himself on the map with a lot of help from Ebert giving it the publicity it needed.  When looking more into that movie, I learn that the very versatile filmmaker Werner Herzog tells Errol that if he is able to get that movie completed that he would eat his own shoe.  Les Blank directed this documentary where before GATES OF HEAVEN premiers, Herzog keeps his word by eating his shoe.  Also through this really interesting stunt, he also talks to the crowd and encourages other aspiring filmmakers to take the risks so this is both funny and profound at the same time.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime and is only about twenty minutes long.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week.

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