Sunday, July 15, 2018

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 661st Edition

Welcome to the 661st Edition of my series.  I seem to be the minority when I say I don't want this weather to end but I will always feel that way.  I don't want that cold to happen but I like where I am at so I'll just try to get through it like I do every year.  There is my random thought for the day so not much else going on at the moment but there are sure to be announcements coming soon.

Hearts of Darkness:  A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1991):  I start the week off with this making of documentary which was directed by Fax Bahr and George Hickenlooper with footage done by Eleanor Coppola.  This was the making of the 1979 Vietnam classic APOCALYPSE NOW where at the time, director Francis Ford Coppola wanted his wife to do documentary footage which would be part of this documentary.  This documents the absolute struggle this movie was to get made with the issue of the casting issues, the elements, and the government of the Philippines.  This also shows the struggle of Coppola to make this movie to his vision and pretty much puts up everything he has financially to get this made with movie studios not wanting to touch this.  It could be said that Coppola was a crazed visionary in the way he went about getting this made and could also be said on THE GODFATHER, just not to the extreme of Apocalypse.  Whatever one might say, this was a very important film which helped the American Zoetrope studios in the end and does what he can to stick to his own vision and not what the producers tell him.  This was a very insightful documentary that goes a little beyond the filming and into the origins of the novel HEARTS OF DARKNESS.

Reveron (1952):  This is my documentary short for the week from Margot Banacerraf whose feature film ARAYA was featured last week so with this being on that Criterion Collection dvd, I thought I'd give this one a shot.  This takes a look at Venezuelan painter and sculptor Armando Reveron who gives insight into his work and shows him at work.  This man had some very good art and gets overlooked now.  This is also available to watch on Youtube and is a short but very good look at the artist.

The Twelve Chairs (1970):  Now I go into some comedy which was directed by Mel Brooks and based on the novel by Ilf and and Petrov which takes place in 1920s Soviet Russia.  Ron Moody stars as Vorobyaninov whose mother-in-law is on her deathbed and reveals that some valuable jewels were sewn into one of the twelve chairs that were lost during the revolution so sets out to find them along with a priest, played by Dom Deluise, and a con-artist, played by Frank Langella.  They are all out for their own gain in this comedy.  This is a more unknown Brooks film but still has some great comedic moments like the song HOPE FOR THE BEST, EXPECT THE WORST, and the characters playing their parts to perfection.  This is the first of many collaborations for Brooks and Deluise.  While not the best work of Mr. Brooks, this was still really worth a look.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (2016):  This is part two of my Margot Robbie trilogy as well as part one of a possible two-part series for Billy Bob Thornton.  Glenn Ficarra and John Requa directed this film based on the novel by Kim Baker, played by Tina Fey.  Baker decides to leave the comfort of her desk job and become an on-camera reporter in war-torn Afghanistan.  With no experience in this sort of field, she must slowly adjust to this environment to survive physically and emotionally.  Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, Alfred Molina, Christopher Abbott, Nicholas Braun, Stephen Peacocke, Sheila Vand, Evan Jonigkeit, Fahim Anwar, Josh Charles, Cherry Jones, Eli Goodman, Soledad O'Brien, Sterling K. Brown, and many others co-star in this film.  This is mostly a drama where the comedy comes from within like making the most of their dangerous lives.  Fey does a good job in her more toned down role where she is still comedic but in the way as mentioned of making the most of her situation.

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965):  This was shown at my local library in the first showing of their "Attack of the Movie" series they have going.  Russ Meyer directed this exploitation movie which is now known as a cult classic.  Tura Satana, Haji, Lori Williams all star as go-go dancers Varia, Rosie, and Billie who are out looking for fun and encounter and encounter a young couple, played by Ray Barlow and Sue Bernard, which results in the death of the man and kidnapping the girl Linda.  They also encounter a crippled old man, played by Stuart Lancaster, who has a sinister agenda of his own.  Dennis Busch and Paul Trinka also co-star in this exploitation film.  This movie is trash in just about every sense of the word but manages to be very enjoyable if not taken too seriously.

Zoolander (2001):  This is part one of a two-part Will Ferrell series.  Ben Stiller directed and co-wrote this comedy which has gone onto be a cult classic in its own right.  Stiller also co-stars as the confident but clueless male model Derek Zoolander whose world crumbles around him when he loses his male model of the year award to his rival Hansel, played by Owen Wilson.  In his times of despair, he thinks that his new offer from fashion guru Mugatu, played by Ferrell, will have him on the rise again only to learn that he is being brainwashed to assassinate the president of Malaysia and must look to prevent the incident with his new friends.  Christine Taylor, Milla Jovovich, Jerry Stiller, David Duchovny, Jon Voight, Judah Friedlander, Nathan Lee Graham, Asio Highsmith, Alexander Skarsgard, Vince Vaughn, Andy Dick, and many others co-star in this film along with many celebrity cameos of people playing themselves.  This is a great take towards the world of modeling along with a really good soundtrack and clever plotline.

Feet First (1930):  This is part two of my two-part Harold Lloyd series where I take a look at one of his later films as in one of his talkies.  Lloyd stars as Harold who is am ambitious shoe salesman and claims to be a leather tycoon to a girl he meets named Barbara, played by Barbara Kent, only to learn she is the daughter of his boss.  He uses very comedic means to hide his real circumstances which leads into quite the climax which might top the one he did in his 1923 film SAFETY LAST.  Robert McWade, Lillian Leighton, Henry Hall, Noah Young, and many others co-star in this comedy.  To enjoy this, I think one must be into classic comedy and have a understanding of Harold Lloyd so maybe start with some of his underrated silent comedy and transition to this one.  This, among other many other works of Lloyd, is available on FilmStruck which is becoming a very frequently used source since my dad bought me the year subscription for my birthday.

The Fearless Freaks (2005):  This is my music documentary for the week which is based on the alternative rock band the Flaming Lips and directed by Bradley Beesley.  This was a band formed in Oklahoma City in 1983 which slowly worked the way into the mainstream through their experimental and progressive music.  This take a look at various members of the band which was mainly Wayne Coyne and his family.  I liked how he worked at the local Long John Silver's for a few years while still being in the band.   This band truly paid their dues to get where they are in the music scene.  Some of the songs people might know are SHE DON'T USE JELLY and DO YOU REALIZE.  I did not know much on the band but enjoyed seeing this documentary on the evolution of the band through the years.  I started listening to them more on Spotify after seeing this documentary.  Fans of the Flaming Lips will enjoy this movie and if you are not aware of who they are, maybe it's time to give this one a look.

Knute Rockne:  All-American (1940):  This is my sports movie for the week which was directed by Lloyd Bacon and takes place in my own state of Indiana.  Pat O'Brien stars as the real-life Knute Rockne who got to play for Notre Dame football and would go onto become their legendary coach.  This takes a look at the close relationship with his player George Gipp aka the Gipper, played by our future president Ronald Reagan, the incarnation of the Four Horsemen, yes, I'm sad to say the wrestling faction that started out with Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Ole Anderson, and J.J. Dillon was not the first to use that name, and using the innovative use of dance to form plays which is still used today.  Gale Page, Donald Crisp, Albert Basserman, John Litel, Henry O'Neill, Owen Davis Jr., John Qualen, Dorothy Tree, Johnny Sheffield, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a good and early sports biopic which was filmed on location which would not happen again until 1983 when filming RUDY which might make a good double feature for the Notre Dame fans out there.

Cake (2014):  I close the week out with this comedy-drama about dealing with loss which was directed by Daniel Barnz.  FRIENDS alum Jennifer Aniston stars as Claire Bennett who has dealt with a lot of tragedy and becomes fascinated with the suicide of fellow support group member Nina, played by Anna Kendrick, while also hallucinating her to talk with.  Sam Worthington co-stars as Nina's widowed husband Roy and forms a relationship with hi while they both deal with the tragedies.  Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy, Adriana Barraza, Mamie Gummer, Chris Messina, Lucy Punch, Britt Robertson, Misty Upham, and many others co-star in this film.  Aniston gives possibly her best performance in this film.  I will warn for those only watching for Macy that he has a significant role but is more of a cameo.  This is a great look at dealing with grief and the effects of those around them.  Thereis not much more I can say without giving this away except that it is really driven by the characters.

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

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