Sunday, March 25, 2018

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 645th Edition

Welcome to the 645th Edition of my series.  I'm still in my rehearsals for ON GOLDEN POND so not much else going on right now.  I'm still enjoying the work from home life.  I'm hoping the warm weather comes really soon.  With all that said, I'll just get to my selections for the week.

Thomas Jefferson:  A View from the Mountain (1995):  I start the week out with this PBS documentary that features our third president.  This movie goes more into his home life and him being a slave owner while seeming to have anti-slavery viewpoints.  This shows some handwritten letters, original manuscripts, deeds, period newspapers, among other things.  It also takes a look at his relationship and affair with his slave Sally Hemings.  Edward Herrmann, Sissy Spacek, Danny Glover, and Robert Prosky all provide voices to the historical figures.  This is more of an analysis on why Jefferson had slaves but did not like slavery and multiple historians commenting on their views of Jefferson.  This was a pretty good look at our former president and writer of the Declaration of Independence.

20 Feet From Stardom (2013):  I'm the only person that I know that can go from a political documentary to a music documentary with such ease  Morgan Neville directed this documentary that takes a look at the background singers that we hear in songs all the time but have no idea of who they are.  This documentary takes a look at the backup singers of popular musicians and their importance to the industry.  It shows some of them who desire more of a career and others who are content being in the background instead of the spotlight.  There are interviews with both the background and feature singers.  This gave a really good look at the unsung heroes of the industry that may not be very well known by the public but respected within the industry.

Alive Day Memories:  Home From Iraq (2007):  This is my last documentary for the week which centers around Iraq war.  James Gandolfini interviews a handful of men and women who are back from the war and have come back an amputee of some sort.  Each one of them goes into detail on their account of what happened and how the war has affected them which is some very mixed opinions.  There are some very graphic photos from the war and very eye opening of what goes on in the war.  There is not much more to be touched upon but is an HBO produced documentary.

Droopy Leprechaun (1958):  This is my animated short for the week which has the rare appearance of Droopy the dog in my blog.  I guess this should have gone on last week's edition with St. Patrick's day being last week but I'll just throw everyone off.  In this one Droopy gets a leprechaun hat and Spike mistakes Droopy for a real leprechaun leading to some pretty funny moments.

The Music Man (1962):  This is my musical for the week.  Morton DaCosta directed this movie based on the musical by Meredith Willson.  Robert Preston stars as con man Harold Hill who is posing as a professor of music goes to a small Iowa town convincing them they need a marching band.  He intends to get everyone to pay for instruments and then hightail it out of town but some of the townsfolk, especially Marion, played by Shirley Jones, makes him reconsider his motives.  A young Ron Howard co-stars as Winthrop.  Buddy Hackett, Hermione Gingold, Paul Ford, Charles Lane, and many others co-star in this musical.  This is a very popular show among the community theater world and has always been one I pretty well enjoyed.  I have been cast in it twice but for different reasons I had to pull out of the show.  Preston is great as Hill and originated the part on Broadway and a rare thing at this time for the Broadway actor to get the part which was not in the original plans as they looked for a bigger name and had Cary Grant but declined and Preston got the role.  This has some really good music numbers and is just fun to watch so please give Iowa a try.

Peg O' My Heart (1933):  I suppose this could be compared to MY FAIR LADY or the later 1938 film PYGMALION which would inspire the musical I just named.  Marion Davies stars as Peg who along with her father Pat, played by J. Farrell MacDonald, enjoy a simple life in a small fishing village.  Soon, the proper Sir Gerald, played by Onslow Stevens, informs Pat that Peg is the heir to the estate of her late Grandfather but has a price.  She must go live in England for three years and learn to be a proper lady and Pat must never see her again which Pat does not tell her after sending her to England.  Once getting there, her struggle is to adjust to this proper life.  Juliette Compton, Irene Browne, Tyrell Davis Allan Mowbray, and many others co-star in this film.  Davies does a real good job as the girl who loves fishing.  Her name does not live onto the modern times as much as some and was a girlfriend to William Randolph Hearst.  I understand that her portrayal in CITIZEN KANE is one of the main reasons Hearst went after Orson Welles to not get the movie made.  This is a really good watch and a rather overlooked film.

The Accountant (2016):  This is part one of a possible two-part J.K. Simmons series.  Gavin O'Connor directed this film which stars Ben Affleck as the title character who is a little more than an accountant.  Affleck stars as Christian Wolff who is I assume autistic and has quite the expertise for numbers working for some of the most dangerous criminal organizations and has the treasury department closing in on his activities and when discovering the truth about his latest client which is a robotics company, he takes action racking up the body count with his training he has received.  Simmons, Anna Kendrick, John Lithgow, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Tambor, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Jean Smart and many others co-star in this film.  I know there are a lot of debates out there about who would win between Batman and the Punisher and we kind of get that in a sense with Affleck being the latest Batman and Bernthal being the latest Punisher in the Netflix Marvel world.  Honestly, I didn't really follow the story very well but was still enamored by the characters and the action.

Tarzan's Secret Treasure (1941):  I decided to bring in the man of the jungle this week.  Richard Thorpe directed this film featuring the Edgar Rice Burroughs characters Tarzan and Jane, reprised by Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan in their 5th of six outings and the second one for Johnny Sheffield as Boy.  This has them in the jungle joined by some greedy hunters looking for some treasure.  Reginald Owen, Barry Fitzgerald, Tom Conway, Philip Dorn, and many others co-star in this film.  This one seemed to have more action than I remember from the others.  This also has some really good footage of the animals in the jungle.

Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967):  John Huston directed this film which is based on the novel by Carson McCullers.  Marlon Brando stars as US army Major Penderton and Elizabeth Taylor co-stars as his lusty wife Leonora.  As far as I know, this is their only teaming and am not going to look into it right now.  They are in a very unhappy marriage with Penderton doing what he can to move up the ranks and having repressed homosexual thoughts. Brian Keith, Julie Harris, Irvin Dugan, Robert Forster, and many others co-star in this film.  It is hard to really go into detail about this rather complex, controversial and daring film.  As imdb puts it, it is a "bizarre tale of sex, betrayal, and perversion at a military post" which really says it all.  I had never heard of this movie until I came across it on TCM and was really glad to be introduced to it.  This could be a really good double feature to go along with Brando's LAST TANGO IN PARIS.

Cop Car (2015):  I follow up and end the week with a pretty dark film that is not for everyone.  Jon Watts directed and co-wrote this film.  James Freedson- Jackson and Hays Wellford star as Travis and Harrison who are a couple 10 year old boys that come across an abandoned police car and happens to have keys so they could not resist temptation but to drive it.  Things get really dangerous for them when small town Sheriff Kretzer, played the the Center of the Acting Universe Kevin Bacon, is looking for the car and get caught up in a deadly game of cat and mouse they did not foresee.  Shea Whigham and Camryn Manheim co-star in this film.  Listen for Bacon's wife Kyra Sedgwick as the dispatch voice of the movie.  Bacon shows he can play a villain really well so since I'm on a double feature kick, this could be a good double feature to THE RIVER WILD.  This was a rather simple movie that is carried by the characters and the scenery.  Some could get turned away by the violence but if able to get past that, this could be a really good watch.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Bruce Greenwood, Jon Heder, Forest Whitaker, Orson Welles, John Barrymore, and many others.

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