Sunday, July 1, 2018

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 659th Edition

Welcome to the 659th Edition of my series.  I hope everyone has a good July 4th however it might be celebrated.  I'm just living my usual life but I want to take some time to let everyone know to tune into JEOPARDY this week if possible.  My friend and fellow community theater Scott is at this time a three-time winner on that show and will continue tomorrow so tune into see if he can continue his winning ways.  There is a photo of him at the end.  That's all I have to say for now so I'll just get to my selections for the week.

Welcome to Sarajevo (1997):  This is part five of my five-part Woody Harrelson series.  Michael Winterbottom directed this film based on the novel by Michael Nicholson, played by Stephen Dillane.  This is based on a true story based around the Bosnian war in Sarajevo.  Henderson is a British journalist and Harrelson plays American journalist Jimmy Flynn who are both covering the story and Nicholson getting involved with a local orphanage trying to get one of the kids to Britain.  Marisa Tomei, Kerry Fox, Goran Visnjic, James Nesbitt, Emily Lloyd, Juliet Aubrey, and many others co-star in this film.  This is one that did not get much publicity.  It is a pretty compelling real life story that might not have gotten much publicity.  This is a pretty good war film that deserves a look.

City on Fire (1987):  Ringo Lam directed this action film which stars Chow Yun-Fat as undercover cop Ko Chow.  Chow is about to resign but is asked to do one more undercover assignment by infiltrating a gang of jewel robbers led by Fu, played by Danny Lee.  Not only must he maintain his identity in the gang but also has a lot of police that believe he is a criminal.  Yueh Sun, Carrie Ng, Roy Cheung, Elvis Tsui, Bo-San Chow, and many others co-star in this film.  I saw this in my high school days when I was renting Asian movies on a weekly basis.  I thought for the longest time this was a John Woo film with Chow and Lee co-starring in Woo's THE KILLER and prove to be a good duo once again in forming an unlikely friendship.  This movie is the inspiration on Quentin Tarantino's RESERVOIR DOGS and there are some similar scenes though both movies stand apart from each other though could be a good double feature.  This is available to watch on Filmstruck.

Fish Tank (2009):  Andrea Arnold wrote and directed this gritty drama.  Katie Jarvis stars as aggressive and street smart 15 year old Mia.  She lives in Essex and is expelled from school while awaiting admission to a referrals unit.  Things change when her mom Joanne, played by Kierston Wareing, starts dating a guy named Connor, played by Michael Fassbender, while forming an uneasy friendship with him. Rebecca Griffiths and Harry Treadaway co-star in this film.  This is more driven around characters and the very dysfunctional family.  Jarvis makes her debut in this film and I read got the part when spotted in a fight with her boyfriend and was offered the role.  This was a really good pre-Magneto and Bilbo Baggins role for Fassbender who at the time was a star on the rise.  This is hard to watch at times but is still a pretty compelling film that is very bleak and harsh.  This is availalbe to watch on Filmstruck.

Porky's Railroad (1937):  This is my animated short for the week which is an early appearance for our favorite pig.  Porky is the engineer of the most pathetic train in the fleet and is told he will be replaced with a far more advanced train called Silver Fish.  He is not ready to give up and accepts the challenge for the race with Porky using his intelligence in hopes of beating the other.  This is a pretty clever early short and is available on Amazon Prime in part of Cartoon Classics Vol. 2 and can likely be found on Youtube.

Bicycle Thieves (1948):  Vittorio De Sica directed this Italian classic based on the novel by Luigi Bartolini.  Lamberto Maggiorani stars as Antonio Ricci who is living in post war Italy which is practically in a depression.  He finds a good job which requires him to get a bike but the bike gets stolen and sets out with his son Bruno, played by Enzo Staiola.  This is another very gritty film that show the harsh realities of life for some and puts the main focus on the characters.  Like my selection of FISH TANK, it is not very upbeat and can be very difficult to watch at times but remains relevant no matter what country it gets watched from and no matter which era we are living in at the time.  It is hard to put this one into further words but this is available to watch on Filmstruck.

Sebastiane (1976):  This is another film that has its audience but reader discretion is advised in this Latin spoke British film.  Paul Humfress and Derek Jarman directed this film and based on the events of the life of Saint Sebastian, played by Leonardo Treviglio, who is a Christian man refusing to give into the advances of his superior Severus, played by Barney James.  This takes place in Roman times during the 4th century.  One of the things that intrigued me and heightened my curiosity is that it is rated X so as I was saying, reader discretion is advised.  This was targeted to a gay audience and was very controversial with its homoeroticism which they did nothing to hide.  I suppose this could be compared to what came out three years later with CALIGULA.  If this sounds like your type of movie, it is available on Filmstruck as I used that a lot this week.

The French Way (1945):  I am continuing my foreign language selection with this French film and give more of a comedy on this one.  Jacques de Baroncelli directed this French film which stars Josephine Baker as Cabaret star Zazu.  The main element of the story is the forbidden relationship of young lovers Barnard and Claire, played by Georges Marchal and Micheline Presle, whose parents are still in a feud over a disagreement they have about Napoleon.  Zazu moves into an apartment near them and is enlisted by the father to distract Barnard while she has her own ideas.  This is more of a comedy and a rather fascinating actress during the time.  Baker was known as a black actress and with the difficulty of getting parts in the states, she moves to France and becomes quite the star.  This is not very long and does have some pretty funny moments like the feuding parents.  This is also available to watch on Filmstruck.

The Exterminating Angel (1962):  Luis Bunuel directed this Mexican film that is a rather dark comedy to say the least.  This centers around an upper-class dinner party where the guests find themselves mysteriously unable to leave the home.  As the days go on, they consider why they are in the sort of state they are in while also slowly crumbling around each other.  Silvia Pinal, Enrique Rambal, Claudio Brook, Jacqueline Andere, Rosa Elena Durgel, Lucy Gallardo, Ofelia Guilmain, Tito Junco, and many others co-star in this film.  This has a lot of very interesting imagery in it while also having some hidden biblical and political messages.  Much of this movie kind of leaves it to the viewer to decide things.  This is also one that will spark quite a debate.  My local library showed this last week and unforunately something came up and I had to leave in the middle of the movie but it is available to watch on Filmstruck so I was able to finish.

Hara-Kiri:  Death of a Samurai (2011):  I see I have focused a lot on foreign films this week and featured movies from Britain, China, Italy, France, Mexico, and now Japan.  Takashi Miike directed this samurai film based on a novel by Yasuhiko Yakiguchi.  Ebizo Ichikawa stars as destitute samurai Hanshiro who asks for asks to commit Hara-kara, which is a suicide ritual among the samurai for those that do not already know, at the estate of feudal lord Kageyu.  Kageyu is reluctant for this to happen so wants to know his reason and discover that it goes much deeper.  Naoto Takenaka, Hikari Matsuzaki, Eita, Hirofumi Arai, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a remake of a 1962 film called HARAKIRI which I have not seen so maybe I will seek this out depending on how easy it is to obtain.  This is in some ways like a samurai film-noir.  This is a very good story of revenge and honor which leads to a really good climax.

Loving Vincent (2017):  I end the week with this animated film which was directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman this film that used oil paintings for their animation.  This starts in a year after the death of artist Vincent Van Gogh, voiced by Robert Gulaczyk.  A young man named Armand, voiced by Douglas Booth, is sent to deliver a letter to his now late brother Theo, voiced by Bartlomiej Sroka, and begins an investigation on Vincent's death resulting in flashback to see his life.  Josh Burdett, Holly Earl, Robin Hodges, Chris O'Dowd, John Sessions, Helen McCrory, Eleanor Tomlinson, Aidan Turner, Saoirse Ronan, and many others co-star in this film.  This was a really good depiction on the famed artist.  This was also really well done with the oil painting frames that are used for the animation which used Van Gogh's technique and took 100 painters to do the 65,000 frames.  We have plenty of computer animation to turn to but maybe take a break sometime and check out this amazing effort.  This is available on the Hoopla Digital website.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Philip Baker Hall, Allison Janney, Emily Watson, Harold Lloyd, and many others.

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