Sunday, May 13, 2018

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 652nd Edition

Welcome to the 652nd Edition of my series.  LEND ME A TENOR takes the stage on May 18th and 19th at the Marion Civic Theater.  Tickets are $10 and the show is at 8 pm so just message me or comment here for any questions.  I am taking this week off work to prepare for the show so should be a pretty good week.  I hope everyone is having a good Mother's Day so far however one might celebrate.  Not much else happening right now so I will just get on with my selections for the week.

Supermensch:  The Legend of Shep Gordon (2013):  I start the week out with this showbiz documentary on what some might say is the unsung hero of the entertainment industry.  Mike Myers and Beth Aala direct this documentary which takes a look at Hollywood manager Shep Gordon.  In his younger days, he moved to L.A. after college and through chance became a music producer through an encounter with Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.  He would become the long-time manager of Alice Cooper helping him become the artist he is known for today.  He would also make his way into the film industry and even the cooking industry helping in the world of celebrity chefs.  This has many of his peers that he has helped and respect him.  I thought this was a very enjoyable documentary on a relatively unknown man in the entertainment industry who has helped a lot of known people in their careers.

Buyer Beware (1940):  This is my short film for the week and is part of the "Crime Does Not Pay" series.  This is about a couple of drug store owners dealing in stolen goods and the price it has of supporting the criminals and the lack of quality control for customers.  We have Les and George who own a store together and are having financial difficulties.  Les gets the idea to get their merchandise at a lower price knowing they are stolen and while very reluctant goes alone even when suspecting they are stolen.  This comes at a very high price in the end.  This was pretty good, a couple of relatively everyday people that just want to get out of their financial troubles going about it the wrong way.  I always enjoy this series and a good entry here.

Blondie (1938):  Frank R. Strayer directed this comedy based on the long-time comic strip of the same name by Chic Young that is still going today and is the first of a long-running movie series that went until 1950 and had 28 films.  Penny Singleton stars as Blondie who is about to celebrate her 5th wedding anniversary with her husband Dagwood, played by Arthur Lake.  Dagwood has all kinds of plans to surprise his wife both trouble on the job complicate things leading to some comical scheming.  Larry Simms, Ann Doran, Dorothy Moore, Gene Lockhart, Jonathan Hale, and many others co-star in this comedy.  I don't have much knowledge on the background of the comic strip but I felt this was a pretty enjoyable comedy from this era that got a lot of laughs.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

The Room (2003):  Yes, this is my first time seeing what has become a cult classic.  Tommy Wiseau wrote, directed, stars, and produced this film.  Wiseau stars as Johnny who is successful in his career and is very happy with his fiancee Lisa, played by Juliette Danielle.  What he does not know is that Lisa is getting bored and is having an affair with his best friend Mark, played by Greg Sestero.  Carolyn Minnott, Robyn Paris, Philip Haldiman, and many others co-star in this movie.  I really do not know what to say about this movie which was supposed to be a drama but gets to be more of a comedy.  I have come to see Wiseau as like an Ed Wood of our time being inexperienced and untalented but can't help but get behind with the effort of what they did whether it was Wood or Wiseau.  This is likely an everyday guy who just wanted to make a movie and made a very noble effort in getting this movie made.  This had some pretty bad acting, some absurd dialogue, among other things that make a bad movie.  Watching this had me thinking "WTF" just about the whole way through but I could not take my eyes off it.  The 2017 film THE DISASTER ARTIST is a movie that is based on the filming of this movie with Franco playing Wiseau.  This movie should probably get watched first and this might be better watched among a group of friends to enjoy together.

Murder She Said (1961):  This is the first film version to feature Agatha Christie's iconic character Miss Marple, played by Margaret Rutherford, who would become most known for this character.  Miss Marple would seem like just the everyday person but after witnessing a murder on the train, she is not being believed so she takes it upon herself to investigate.  Arthur Kennedy, Muriel Pavlov, James Robertson Justice, and many others co-star in this film.  This was a pretty enjoyable murder mystery in my opinion and a good way to start their own series.  Mostly for fans of these kinds of murder mysteries from the era.

The Wronged Man (2010):  This is my tv movie for the week.  Tom Mcloughlin directed this movie which is based on a true story.  Julia Ormond stars as Janet Gregory who is a paralegal and single mother taking interest in the case of a rape conviction of African-American man Calvin Willis, played by Matershala Ali whose first name is much longer in the credits, and believes in his innocence.  She struggles to find an attorney to handle the case so she takes it upon herself in a 20 year battle.  Lisa Arrindell, Bruce McKinnon, Omar J. Dorsey, Rhoda Griffis, and many others co-star in this movie.  A lot of this takes a look at the bond formed between Janet and Calvin and overcoming their own differences with each other through these long years.  It also convey's Janet's own life struggles very well.  This is pretty predictable but it is to be expected and the journey to get to the predictable ending was very moving.

The Narrow Margin (1952):  Richard Fleischer directed this film noir based on an unpublished story by Martin Goldsmith and Jack Leonard.  Marie Windsor stars as mob widow Frankie Neall who is ready to testify against the mob under the protection of unwilling cop Walter Brown, played by Charles McGraw.  They are both on a train and still on the run from mobsters leading to a really good twist.  Jacqueline White, Gordon Gebert, Queenie Leonard, David Clarke, and many others co-star in this film noir.  This is a pretty compelling and action packed film from this era.  It is regarded by many to be the best B-movie of all time from this genre and made quite a bit of money for being regarded as a B-movie.  This does still go overlooked as well as the actors Charles McGraw and Marie Windsor.  This is still available on TCM On-Demand but it is on its last day.

Lonesome Jim (2005):  Steve Buscemi directed this independent film which was written by Jim Strouse.  Casey Affleck stars as the title character and the title says it all.  He was out in New York City but had a hard time out there and ends up going back to his hometown of Indiana, more on that later.  He goes back to his very dysfunctional family and meets a good hearted nurse named Anika, played by Liv Tyler, forming a relationship with her while struggling with what he wants in life.  Kevin Corrigan, Mary Kay Place, Seymour Cassel, Mark Boone Junior, Jack Rovello, and many others co-star in this film.  This was mostly filmed in Goshen, Indiana which is where my dad is from and where a I have a lot of family in or near the area.  I am disappointed that I did not know anything about this or I'd have looked to get myself in as an extra or maybe even more.  As I looked further into this, I found that the writer Strouse is from that town.  This was a mostly character driven film and kept me engaged throughout the film with the good script and performances, just not the most upbeat movie of all time.

Slaughterhouse-Five (1972):  This is part one of a possible two-part George Roy Hill series.  Hill directed this film which is based on the sci-fi novel by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.  Michael Sacks stars as Billy Pilgrim who is "unstuck in time" living through three periods of his life.  One is as a GI in the military, the second is as an optometrist in New York, and the third is as an abductee on a planet with a starlet named Montana Wildhack, played by Valerie Perrine.  Each time jump has a parallel transition of a similar time in one of the other lives.  Ron Leibman, Eugene Roche, Holly Near, Perry King, Kevin Conway, and many others co-star star.  Other that what I have explained, it is really hard to explain any further.  It is a very thought provoking film that does require full attention.  There is also a scene that takes the Nazi swastika to a whole new level.  This is available to watch on the Hoopla Digital website.

The Breadwinner (2017):  I end the week with this independent animated film that was directed by Nora Twomey and based on the book by Deborah Ellis.  This takes place in the Taliban run Afghanistan where a young girl named Parvana, voiced by Saara Chaudry, must step up in the family when her father is wrongfully arrested.  This leaves no men in the family and a woman could not go out unless accompanied by a man so Parvana cuts her hair to look like a boy in order to support her family.  Soma Chhaya, Noorin Gulamgaus, Laara Sadiq, Ali Badshah, and many others provide their voices in the film.  This had some really good animation which was either the traditional paper animation or is was low-key computer animation.  Either way, it had that nice traditional feel to it.  It is a very sad story but inspirational in some ways of a family trying to make the most of living in such horrid times.  Watching animated movies like these make me appreciate more of what we have.  This is available on Netflix.

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

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