Sunday, May 6, 2018

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 651st Edition

Welcome to the 651st Edition of my series.  I remain busy with LEND ME A TENOR which goes on May 18th and 19th at the Marion Civic Theater.  Some changes have happened in the show.  I had been cast as Tito Morelli but I have struggled getting the Italian accent needed for the role.  With limited time before the show, the director asked me to switch roles and I am now the Bellhop.  With this comes both disappointment but also relief.  It is still a good role and intend to make the most of it.  It's been great having nicer weather and hope this sticks around.  All that being said, I will get on with my selections for the week.

Avengers:  Infinity War (2018):  I start the week out with this latest superhero film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I know that none of us want spoilers so I will keep this rather short.  Anthony and Joe Russo directed this installment of the MCU.  All I'm going to say as far as a description of the film is that the Avengers and their allies face their biggest threat yet in the way of Thanos, played by Josh Brolin.  Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Pine, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Zoe Saldana, Elizabeth Olsen, Karen Gillan, Paul Bettany, Sebastian Stan, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, and many others co-star in this film so just giving some rather familiar names.  I would like to say that Drax, played by Bautista, of the Guardians kind of reminds me of Mick Rory of the CW Universe.  This is the third film for the Avengers unless we count CAPTAIN AMERICA:  CIVIL WAR since that is essentially another Avengers movie, then this is the fourth.  The first one THE AVENGERS remains one of my favorite movies.  AGE OF ULTRON was enjoyable for me, just not as good and a bit unorganized at times.  This was lead into perfectly from all the other MCU movies.  If you have not seen any of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this is not the one to start with by any means.  On the other hand, if you have not seen any of the MCU, then it just may not be of interest.  As long as BLACK PANTHER has been in theaters, I venture to say this will likely stick around for quite a while and is worth a visit to the cinema.  There is it, no spoilers, no easter eggs, or cameos mentioned except of course going without saying, you must stick around through the credits.  That being said, there are still a lot of people out there after all these years who still do not seem to know this.

Primal Fear (1996):  Now I tone it down a bit for this courtroom thriller which was directed by Gregory Hoblit and based on the novel by William Diehl.  Richard Gere stars as hotshot attorney Martin Vail who decides to defend alter boy Aaron, played by Edward Norton in his motion picture debut, who is being accused of the murder of a priest.  As the trial goes on, Martin finds himself more and more over his head where the truth is very deeply buried.  Laura Linney, John Mahoney, Alfre Woodard, France McDorman, Terry O'Quinn, Andre Braugher, Steven Bauer, Joe Spano, Tony Plana, Stanley Anderson, Maura Tierney, and many others co-star in this film.  Norton makes an excellent debut and the start of quite a career.  For those that agree with that statement, we have Wil Wheaton and Leonardo DiCaprio to thank for declining this role and it being given to an unknown at the time.  This has some really good twists and turns and is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010):  Now I bring a documentary based on the street art world and directed by street artist Banksy but mostly focuses on artist Thierry Guetta aka Mr. Brainwash.  Guetta is a French immigrant living in Los Angeles.  Rhys Ifans provides the narration to this documentary.  It is really difficult to describe this film any further than what I have described because all I did was a basic part of this rather complex documentary of the independent art world.  There are other artists being featured like Space Invader, Sherpard Fairey, Ron English, and many others.  As far as I know, Banksy remains an anonymous artist and in this movie has his face blocked out and his voice changing.  This is available to watch on the Hoopla website.

Signal 30 (1959):  This is my short film for the week and a driver's education video that was shown at this time.  I really believe they tried every way possible to scare kids out of driving at this time.  It starts with a rather dramatic music score and a disclaimer saying the people were not actors, among other things.  This also has some very brutal images of people after a car crash.  I came across this on Amazon Prime when coming across "Driver's Education Scare Films" so expect some of these in the future.

The Mark of Zorro (1920):  This is my silent movie for the week and as far as I know, the first movie version of the iconic Zorro.  Fred Niblo directed this adaption of the story by Johnston McCulley.  Douglas Fairbanks stars as Don Diego Vega who returns to his home in Old Spanish California to find that the people have been oppressed mostly by Captain Juan Ramon, played by Robert McKim.  What the down does not know is that Diego leads a double life as the masked Robin Hood like figure Zorro who is out to find the corruption happening in his town.  Margarite De La Motte, Noah Beery, Charles Hill Mailes, and many others co-star in this film.  I don't think much else needs to be said.  I personally prefer the 1940 remake but this version is still enjoyable.  This is the character that inspired the superhero genre in some ways in terms of the dual identity.  I have been known to don this outfit for Halloween and even went to see THE LEGEND OF ZORRO dressed as Zorro.  This is a very timeless character that I feel will always be relevant.  Fairbanks is up to the game and does some pretty daring stunts, especially towards the action climax.  This is available on the Hoopla website and actually has a pretty good transfer unlike some from this era.

Kes (1969):  Ken Loach directed this British film based on the novel by Barry Hines.  David Bradley stars as Billy Casper who is a young boy that gets bullied at school and does not have a very good home life.  His only escape in life is through his pet kestrel falcon he names Kes.  Freddie Fletcher, Lynne Perrie, Colin Welland, Brian Glover, and many others co-star in this film.  They make the most of their limited budget in this mostly character driven film.  Bradley does very well as Bradley and is able to carry this film very well.  This brutally honest character piece has gone rather overlooked but really deserves a look if looking to take a break from big budget film.

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982):  Carl Reiner directed and co-stars this film noir parody which combines their filming working their way in with other iconic films from the '50s.  Steve Martin stars as private eye Rigby Reardon.  He is hired by dame Juliet Forrest, played by Rachel Ward, whose father dies in what is being called an accident but she thinks otherwise.  From there, Rigby has encounters with many character from the '40s and '50s films where Martin works seamlessly with people like Alan Ladd, Barbara Stanwyck, Humphrey Bogart, Veronica Lake, and many others in this black and white film.   Another moment of interest for this film is that it is the final movie of costume designer Edith Head who worked on a lot of films from the Golden Age showing a lot of her earlier designs.  Martin does great in one of his earlier movies and Carl Reiner clearly worked very hard to pull of this very clever parody.  As a fan of these classic films, this was very fun to watch and delivers a lot of laughs.

The Red Shoes (1948):  This is my ballet film for the week which was directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen.  Moira Shearer stars as young ballerina Victoria Page who is part of the authoritarian rule of ballet impressario Boris Lermontov, played by Anton Walbrook, and forms a relationship with idealistic composer Julian Craster, played by Marius Goring, much to the dismay of Lermontov.  Irene Browne, Leonide Massine, Ludmilla Tcherina, Robert Helpmann, Albert Basserman, and many others co-star in this film.  I don't really know how much this is to the Andersen story, I'm guessing it is a loose basing.  This has some very good performances and has some really good ballet footage going to a very interesting climax.

The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1968):  This is my musical for the week which was directed by Charles Walters and based on the play by Richard Morris.  Debbie Reynolds stars as the title character who is probably most known from the 1997 film TITANIC where Kathy Bates plays Molly Brown.  This movie obviously goes more in depth into the life of Molly Brown from her childhood days living in the mountains to leaving them to meet and marry Johnny Brown, played by Harve Presnell, becoming more of a societal woman.  Ed Begley, Jack Kruschen, Hermione Baddeley, and many others co-star in this musical.  Meredith Willson wrote the music for this film and has some really good numbers.  Presnell does really well as Johnny and would go onto be more of a character actor being most known as the wealthy father in FARGO.  Reynolds also shines in her own Oscar nominated performance.  Musical fans should really enjoy this fun musical.

Midnight Run (1988):  I end the week with this buddy comedy directed by Martin Brest.  Robert De Niro stars as bounty hunter Jack Walsh who is hired to pick up bail jumper Jonathan Mardukas, played by Charles Grodin.  Mardukas stole a lot of money from the mafia and Walsh gets in over his head when he finds that both the mafia, the FBI, and even a rival bounty hunter are out for him.  Yaphet Kotto, John Ashton, Dennis Farina, Joe Pantaliano, Wendy Phillips, Danielle DuClos, Philip Baker Hall, and many others co-star in this comedy.  De Niro and Grodin work great together as very mismatched people that slowly become friends.  There is a great blend of action and comedy to keep just about anyone engaged.  This is a pretty overlooked comedy from De Niro and would be a great double feature to go along with the 2003 film THE RUNDOWN.

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

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