Sunday, May 27, 2018

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 654th Edition

Welcome to the 654th Edition of my series.  I hope everyone has a good holiday however celebrated.  I had my first week in a few months that did not involve theater so while good to have a break, I'm still in search of the right project to get back in soon.  That being said I'll just keep this short and get on with my selections for the week.

True Story (2015):  Rupert Goold directed this film that is based on the book by Michael Finkel which once again teams up James Franco and Jonah Hill but in more of a drama this time.  Hill plays real-life journalist Finkel who disgraced himself in an article for the New York Times and learns of an accused murderer named Christian Longo, played by Franco, is arrested and was using his name.  Finkel sees this as an opportunity for redemption and interviews Longo ultimately seeing that it could be a book.  They form a bond where Finkel agrees to teach Longo how to write in return for his story but nothing is as it appears.  Felicity Jones co-stars as Finkel's concerned wife Jill who worries what this story is doing to him personally.  Ethan Suplee, Maria Dizzia, Robert John Burke, Byron Jennings, Gretchen Mol, Betty Gilpin, Seth Barrish, and many others co-star in this film. I thought Franco and Hill worked well together in this film.  This is not one for everyone but I think true crime fans will really enjoy this very compelling film that kept me guessing and intrigued.  This could be a good double feature to IN COLD BLOOD.

Brewster McCloud (1970):  Robert Altman directed this really interesting fantasy comedy.  Bud Cort stars as the reclusive title character living in the fallout shelter at the Astrodome and looking to build a pair of wings in order to fly away with the help of his guardian angel Louise, played by Sally Kellerman.  Michael Murphy, William Windom, Shelley Duvall, Rene Auberjonois, Stacy Keach, John Schuck, Margaret Hamilton, Jennifer Salt, and many others co-star in this film.  Much of the Altman alums are part of this film and if you do not know what I am saying just check the casts of a lot of his movies.  It is really hard to put this one into any words but is a very intriguing film of a loner.  Auberjonois is very amusing as the Lecturer and is a rather underrated actor.  What drew me to this movie is seeing Margaret Hamilton in a much later role.  If you do not know who she is, all I really have to say is the Wicked Witch of the West in THE WIZARD OF OZ which they even do a little homage to the film.  While she had mostly a cameo, she was still very entertaining in this movie.  If looking for something different, this can be a good candidate.

Dating:  Do's and Don'ts (1949):  This is my short film for the week and comes from the ever entertaining Coronet Films.  This takes a look at a teen named Woody who is about to date for the first time and we get advice from the narrator on how to choose a date, how to ask, and the whole nine yards.  This is a series of instructional videos from this era that are just entertaining by today's standards.  MST3K and Rifftrax have been known to use a lot o these in their opening short films.  These are all public domain and usually findable through Youtube so just watch some of these to see what I'm talking about when I say these are entertaining and no longer what one would take as "instructional".

The Finest Hours (2016):  This is part two of my two-part Eric Bana series.  Craig Gillespie directed this film that is based on the novel by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman which is based on a true story that takes place in February of 1952 in New England.  A coast guard station gets a distress signal from the SS Pendleton which is rapidly sinking and a ship lead by Bernie, played by Chris Pine, leads a rescue mission despite warnings from the community on its danger.  Bana, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Holliday Grainger, John Ortiz, Kyle Gallner, John Magaro, Graham McTavish, Michael Raymond-James, Beau Knapp, Josh Stewart, Abraham Benrubi, Rachel Brosnahan, Keiynan Lonsdale, and many others co-star in this film.  I thought this was a pretty decent rescue drama of the community pulling together for their loved ones.

Angel (1937):  Ernst Lubitsch directed this film based on the play by Melchior Lengyel.  Marlene Dietrich stars as Lady Maria Barker who is in a marriage with British diplomat Sir Frederick Barker, played by Herbert Marshall, and feels neglected in the marriage.  Frederick sees this and schedules a well-needed vacation where Maria meets the charming Anthony Halton, played by Melvyn Douglas, to the point that she falls in love.  Edward Everett Horton, Ernest Cossart, Laura Hope Crews, and many others co-star in this film.  I suppose this is one of the "pre-code" films from this era and a pretty daring movie for its time having an extra-marital affair and all.

Trainspotting (1996):  Danny Boyle directed this film based on the novel by Irvine Welsh which has become a cult classic.  Ewan McGregor, in his breakthrough performance stars as heroin addict Mark Renton who looks to give up his habit and shows how it effects his family and friends around him.  Ewan Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Kevin McKidd, Robert Carlyle, Kelly MacDonald, Peter Mullan, James Cosmo, Eileen Nicholas, Susan Vidler, Shirley Henderson, and many others co-star in this British film.  This is a very low-budget film that is mostly character driven with some very good performances.  There is some dark comedy to this but there are also some hard to watch scenes but that is to be expected on a film that takes a look at the drug scene.

The Young and the Damned (1950):  My last selection takes a look at the Scottish drug scene and this selection takes a look at juvenile delinquency in Mexico.  Luis Bunuel directed this film that centers around a boy named Pedro, played by Estela Inda, who sees too much from more experienced delinquent El Jaibo, played by Roberto Cobo, and must decide what he must to as well as survive.  It does not help that Pedro's mother resents and mostly rejects him which seems to drive him to the life of crime he is leading.  This is a good look on delinquency and what can lead to it which probably was not shown that much in the Mexican film scene but Bunuel does a great job in this film that is significant no matter the time period and the place one is from.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Johnny Dangerously (1984):  This is my spoof film for the week which was directed by Amy Heckerling and is a '30s gangster spoof.  A young Michael Keaton stars as the usually honest Johnny Kelly who turns to a life of crime when his mother has medical bills that he cannot afford and becomes the title character of Johnny Dangerously.  Peter Boyle co-stars as Johnny's mentor Jocko and Joe Piscopo co-stars as Johnny's rival Danny.  Marilu Henner, Maureen Stapleton, Griffin Dunne, Glynnis O'Connor, Dom Deluise, Danny Devito, Ray Walston, Dick Butkus, Alan Hale Jr., Byron Thomas, and many others co-star or have cameos.  This is very fun to watch and have some really funny gags and can be enjoyed if not taken too seriously.

Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967):  This is my musical for the week which was directed by George Roy Hill and I go from the '30s to the '20s scene.  Julie Andrews stars as Millie who moves to the much new world of New York City looking for a different life.  Mary Tyler Moore also stars as Miss Dorothy Brown, a naive aspiring actress.  They meet when they move into the Priscilla hotel which is run by Mrs. Meers, played by Beatrice Little, who is not who she seems and runs a white slavery ring.  James Fox, Carol Channing, John Gavin, Jack Soo, Pat Morita, and many others co-star in this film.  I have always been very intrigued by this show.  Jack Soo and a pre-Mr. Miyagi Pat Morita, in his film debut, play the servants of Mrs. Meers and are very politically incorrect in doing so as well as Japanese.  I have seen this on stage a couple of times which I have always enjoyed this rather dark story that seems upbeat.  If offended easy, you might not want to see this but for some good musical entertainment with Julie, this could be a really good selection.

Dunkirk (2017):  I end the week with this WWII film which was directed and written by Christopher Nolan.  This takes place during the Battle of France where allied soldiers from the British Empire and France look to evacuate in Dunkirk, France and were stopped by German forces where a very fierce battle ensues.  Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D'Arcy, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branaugh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, and many others co-star in this film.  Michael Caine has an spoken cameo appearance in the film where he is heard over the phone.  This was a rather different kind of war film and could be described as an experimental film.  There was dialogue when needed but this really revolves around the action, cinematography, and music and flows very well in my opinion.  This could be a good double feature to the 2013 film ALL IS LOST which also relies less on dialogue and more on action.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Evan Rachel Wood, James McAvoy, Rosamund Pike, and many others.

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