Sunday, July 22, 2018

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 662nd Edition

Welcome to the 662nd Edition of my series.  I would like to announce that I will be making my debut for the Muncie theater group Think, Dog Productions in a show called BIRTH, DEATH, AND THE SHIT IN BETWEEN.  Yes, that is the title and is a locally written play that consists of four different short plays.  This will be performed at the upstairs of the Heorot/Valhalla and more details will come at a later time.  Nothing really different is happening besides that so I will get on with my selections.

Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017):  This is part three of my Margot Robbie trilogy.  I start the week out on this biopic and the inspiration for the timeless Winnie the Pooh children's series.  Simon Curtis directed this film Domhnall Gleeson stars as A.A. Milne who is struggling to write a new story and when spending time with his son Christopher Robin, played by Will Tilston and Alex Lawther, he becomes inspired through visits through the woods and his toys to create the iconic characters known today.  Milne soon becomes quite the celebrity along with his son where Milne begins to experience a certain price of fame that changes his relationship with his son.  Robbie, Kelly MacDonald, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Shaun Dingwell, Stephen Campbell Moore, Geraldine Somerville, and many others co-star in this biopic.  There are some pretty sad moments at times and I would not go into expecting to be family entertainment on the level of the children's franchise that this movie's creation is based upon and it is not the same as the upcoming CHRISTOPHER ROBIN.  While it is sad at times, it can also be very touching.  Some might notice I get obsessed over double features and maybe a good one for this would be FINDING NEVERLAND.

Talladega Nights:  The Legend of Ricky Bobby (2006):  This is part two of my two-part Will Ferrell series.  Adam McKay directed directed and co-wrote this comedy along with Will Ferrell who stars as the title character.  This is a comedy that centers around the world of NASCAR racing where Ricky is the top ranked driver with the help of his teammate and childhood friend Cal Naughton Jr., played by John C. Reilly.  His spot is jeopardized with French Formula One driver Jean Girard, played by Sacha Baron Cohen, joins NASCAR where Ricky must face his demons.  Gary Cole, Michael Clarke Duncan, Leslie Bibb, Jane Lynch, Amy Adams, Molly Shannon Andy Richter, David Koechner, Jack McBrayer, Ian Roberts, Pat Hingle, Houston Tumlin, Grayson Russell, Ted Manson, Rob Riggle, and many others co-star in this film with some celebrity cameos as themselves.  Ferrell and Reilly are a great comedy duo which lead to STEPBROTHERS just a couple years later.  This is a really fun comedy for both racing fans and non-racing fans.  I am not a racing fan but still laughed a lot during this movie.

Still Bill (2009):  This is my music documentary for the week which takes a look at soul legend Bill Withers.  This shows his roots in West Virginia to his time in the United States Navy and then into what he is most known for in his music career.  This is a very intimate look into the musician that never really went out into the limelight much but has many known songs like AIN'T NO SUNSHINE and LEAN ON ME.  This also takes a look at his family life including his daughter Kori who is a musician and performs some songs in his home.  She actually shows a lot of talent in following her father's footsteps and shows she is a really good singer and songwriter in her own right.  I also learned of the name of the lead singer in Living Colour which is Corey Glover who briefly performs in the documentary.  This is a very simple but informative documentary on the singer.

The Fourth Dimension (1937):  This is my short film for the week which is more of a documentary and instructional short film.  This gives descriptions and demonstrations of one-dimensional, two-dimensional, and three-dimensional and then goes into graphs and photography to provide explanations and illustrations.  This was made in France and is about 10 minutes long.  It remains very interesting even today and is available to watch on Filmstruck.

The More the Merrier (1943):  George Stevens directed this film which takes place during a house shortage that happened during WWII.  Jean Arthur stars as Connie Milligan who lives alone in her apartment and offers to sublet the the apartment with the thought of it being her patriotic duty.  When getting a tenant, she expects it to be another female but instead gets the mischievous and middle-aged Benjamin Dingle, played by Charles Coburn, and in turn does his own sublet with a younger man named Joe Carter, played by Joel McCrea, which starts the romantic comedy.  Richard Gains, Bruce Bennett, Frank Sully, Donald Douglas, and many others co-star in this film.  I was not really aware of this period of the war where a housing shortage happened and this is a good story around the unfortunate event.  Coburn is very amusing as a Cupid sort of person.  McCrea is more known for his westerns but does a good job in this as the romantic comedy working well with Arthur.  This is a rather underrated comedy from this era but is every bit as good the romantic comedies I have seen from the era.

Hanzo the Razor:  The Snare (1973):  This is the second of the trilogy featuring the Japanese detective Hanzo Itami, the first of which I featured a couple weeks ago.  Shintaro Katsu plays the detective who in some ways could be compared to Detective Harry Callahan with using his own methods to try solving the crime.  A woman is found dead and his investigation leads to a temple priestess who he believes is involved prompting his to use his sexual and torture methods to get the necessary information.  As I mentioned when featuring this first one, this is not for everyone and there is one more after this one.  I found this one to be more provocative that the first one.  These are all available to watch on Filmstruck.

Blood In, Blood Out (1993):  This is part two of my two-part Billy Bob Thornton series which is an earlier part to Thornton's career where he has a small but significant role.  Taylor Hackford directed this film centers around three gang member relatives in Miklo, played by Damian Chapa, and his brothers Cruz and Paco, played by Jesse Borrego and Benjamin Bratt.  All three of these people go different routes in life causing a lot of tension within themselves and their family.  Thornton, Enrique Castillo, Victor Rivers, Delroy Lindo, Tow Towles, Carlos Carrasco, Teddy Wilson, Raymond Cruz, Valente Rodriguez, Lanny Flaherty, Ving Rhames, Danny Trejo, Richard Masur, and many others co-star in this film.  This is loosely based on the life of poet Jimmy Santiago Baca who co-wrote the screenplay.  I had not heard of this going in but then became pleasantly surprised.  This is very well acted and well shot with a really good story to go along and was really worth the three hours.  Here's an unknown gem to get on the radar.

Cleopatra Jones (1973):  This is my Blaxplotation film for the week which was directed by Jack Starrett.  Tamara Dobson stars as the title character who is a U.S. special agent assigned to crack down on drug trafficking.  Shelley Winters is her usual self in her later years and co-stars as drug lord Mommy who is furious at Cleopatra for burning a Turkish poppy field.  Bernie Casey, Brenda Sykes, Antonio Fargas, Dan Frazer, Bill McKinney, Stafford Morgan, Michael Warren, and many others co-star in this movie.  Like my other '70s selection, this also has its limited audience.  If you are not familiar with the Blaxploitation genre, this is likely not the one to watch.  However, fans of the genre and not taking it too seriously should enjoy this movie with some good action and a good music score along with a really cool title character.  The most amusing thing for me was seeing Winters playing a drug lord.  This is available to watch on Filmstruck. 

The Greatest Show on Earth (1952):  Cecil B. DeMille directed this film centered around life in a circus.  Charlton Heston stars as circus manager Brad Braden whose circus is struggling and must bring in renowned trapeze artist The Great Sebastian, played by Cornel Wilde, which makes his girlfriend Holly, played by Betty Hutton, lose her top spot she had just won.  James Stewart also co-stars as Buttons the Clown, a good-hearted person who seems to have a bit of a dark past and could be one of Stewart's best performances in my opinion.  Dorothy Lamour, Gloria Grahame, Henry Wilcoxon, Lyle Bettger, Emmett Kelly, Frank Wilcox, and many others co-star.  Much of the performers were from the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus which is what this film is meant to promote.  This is a good and fun look at life in the circus and could have a good double feature with the more recent THE GREATEST SHOWMAN.

The Girl on the Mat (2016):  I end the week with this short film  which was directed by my own Facebook friend Robert Joseph Butler.  Julie Kline stars as Hayden who is a wrestler for her high school team and has accomplished a lot as a female wrestler in a male world.  She struggles with the difficult relationship he has with her mother, played by Aphrodite Nikolovski, as well as her mother's health.  Robert had messaged me wanting me to check this out and while I meant to check it out, I forgot but he reminded me last week so I knew I could not let him down this time as he has been a good supporter of mine.  Robert also did not let me down with this very well acted and directed short film that is about a half hour which centers around high school wrestling but is more about a mother/daughter relationship.  This was filmed in Michigan and they clearly have some talent up there.  This can be seen on . 

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Gael Garcia Bernal, Al Pacino, and many others.

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