Sunday, September 2, 2018

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 668th Edition

Welcome to the 668th Edition of my series.  Last night we finished our play LIFE, DEATH, AND THE SHIT IN BETWEEN.  It has been very enjoyable and really liked being part of a locally written show.  I also like being part of an independent theater group and hope to be able to continue.  I have made the announcement on social media, now I make in on here that I am debuting for the Richmond Civic Theater in Richmond, Indiana.  I am going to be playing the role of Renfield in a production of DRACULA.  While I loved doing a locally written show, I'm also very excited to be what is considered a bucket list role.  That's all for now, I'll get on with my selections for the week.

American Made (2017):  This is part two of my two-part Tom Cruise series.  Doug Liman directed this film which stars our favorite Scientologist Tom Cruise as the real-life Barry Seal who was a TWA pilot recruited by the CIA in the '80s and later gets involved with drug dealers like Pablo Escobar in piloting some drug runs.  While Barry Seal was a real person, a lot of this is loosely based on his life.  Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, Jesse Plemons, Caleb Landry Jones, Lola Kirke, Jayma Mays, Alejandro Edda, Benito Martinez, E. Roger Mitchell, Jed Rees, Fredy Yate, Mauricio Mejia, and many others co-star in this film.  Cruise carries this movie very well as Seal and while it is loosely based on his life, it is still very entertaining.  Tom also is a qualified pilot and does his own flying in the movie.  It has a great blend of action and comedy.  Going into more detail could give it away but it is a very fun and entertaining watch.

National Lampoon's Vacation (1983):  I turn to a classic comedy that introduced us the the Griswalds and starting their great misadventures.  Harold Ramis directed this film that was actually based on a short story by John Hughes called VACATION '58.  Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo star as married couple Clark and Ellen Griswold and along with their kids Rusty and Audrey, played by Anthony Michael Hall and Dana Barron, set out to go cross country to Walley World Theme Park.  Most of the family just wanted to fly but Clark just won't have it and decided they would drive.  Nothing goes as planned but Clark is determined to get there by any means necessary.  Imogene Coca, Randy Quaid, Eddie Bracken, Brian Doyle-Murray, Miriam Flynn, James Keach, Eugene Levy, Frank McRae, John Candy, Christie Brinkley, Jane Krakowski, and many others co-star in this film.  Just about all the characters are pretty memorable in this movie, especially Quaid as Cousin Eddie.   This is a comedy that still holds up today and later would have some great sequels, or are they sequels?  Either way, this is a fun watch at anytime and some of the ultimate misadventures.

Romero (1989):  Now I get a little more serious.  John Duigan directed this biopic that is based on Archbishop Oscar Romero, played by Raul Julia, who resides in El Salvador.  With all the oppression and violence taking place in the country, he finds that just believing in God is not enough and opposed the tyrannical repression that was happening much to the risk of his own life.  Richard Jordan, Eddie Velez, Ana Alicia, Tony Plana, Harold Gould, Al Ruscio, Tony Perez, Robert Viharo, Claudio Brook, Martin LaSalle, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a very informative biopic that has mostly gone from the radar.  Julia is great as the Archbishop and is a very compelling watch that is available on Amazon Prime.

I Graduated, But... (1929):  This is my silent short for the week.  A young Yasujiro Ozu directed this short film before going onto being a legendary Japanese director for such movies as EQUINOX FLOWER and TOKYO STORY.  This one centers around a recent college graduate who struggles to find a job and learns a lot through his job search.  This is still relevant today no matter what country or ear one might be from.  Japan at this time was still doing silent films and from what I understand, they did not transition to the talkies until the year after this one came out.  As I write this, I learned this was originally a feature film that was a little over an hour long but most of the footage was lost leaving only about 12 minutes and they were able to make a short film out of it which still turned out pretty good.  This is available on Filmstruck.

Ballad of a Soldier (1959):  This is my Russian film for the week.  Grigoriy Chukhray directed this war film that takes place during WWII and centers around Russian soldier Private Alyosha Skvortsov, played by Vladamir Ivashov, who commits a very heroic act decides that he wants to take a two-week leave to visit his mother instead of the award he is about to receive.  On his journey to get home, he meets a crippled soldier and then later meets and falls in love.  This is a very powerful film and I will let know it is rather anti-war looking at the horrors in a lot of flashback scenes and with the ending.  This is another one available to watch on Filmstruck.

Watership Down (1978):  Martin Rosen directed this animated which is based on novel by Richard Adams.  This centers around a group of rabbits that seek out a new colony that is free of tyranny and meet a lot of violence along the way.  John Hurt, Richard Briers, John Bennett, Ralph Richardson, Terence Rigby, Roy Kinnear, Denholm Elliott, Lynn Farleigh, Zero Mostel, Harry Andrews, Hannah Gordon, Nigel Hawthorne, Clifton Jones, Michael Hordern, Joss Ackland, and many others provide their voice in this animated classic.  As you read in the beginning, this may be animated, it may have rabbits but is is not really geared towards children.  It does have a PG rating and older kids might be able to see it.  It is very dark but at the same so is a lot of Disney in my opinion.  This might be a good double feature to watch along with ANIMAL FARM.

Herbie Hancock:  Possibilities (2006):  This is my music documentary for the week and focuses on the creation of his album of the title.  This takes a look at the making of his songs and the collaboration of other musicians that he is working with on the album.  Some of these artists include Christina Aguilera, Trey Anastasio, Brian Eno, Lisa Hannigan, Damien Rice, Angelique Kidjo, Jonny Lang, Annie Lennox, John Mayer, Carlos Santana, Paul Simon, Sting, Wayne Shorter, and Joss Stone.  If one is looking for his life story, this is not the one.  I really liked seeing how they interact and how open minded that Hancock is with other artists and how diverse the artists were that he was working with.  I admit to having limited knowledge on the work of Herbie Hancock but this gave me an even bigger respect for the artist.  This is available to watch on Hoopla.

Letter from Siberia (1958):  In a sense this is a documentary which was directed by Chris Marker.  It obviously takes a look at Siberia and its culture.  Also within it is a pretty funny parody advertisement on the uses of Reindeer and an animated sequence on mammoths.  The narration from Georges Rouquier also adds to this movie that is about an hour long.  it is mostly a documentary with imagery along with some narration.  I don't feel I can explain this any further but it an interesting watch.  This is also available to watch on Filmstruck.

Lolita (1962):  This is part two of my possible Peter Sellers trilogy and a possible two-part James Mason series.  Stanley Kubrick directed this film which is based on the novel by Vladimir Nabokov.  James Mason stars as Professor Humbert Humbert, yes that is his first and last name, who rents a room from single mother Charlotte Haze, played by Shelley Winters.  She is the single mother of the 14 year old Delores aka Lolita, played by Sue Lyon, who Humbert forms a very unhealthy fixation.  Sellers co-stars as Clare Quilty who has his own motivations toward Lolita.  Gary Cockrell, Lois Maxwell, Cec Linder, Shirley Douglas, Marianne Stone, and many others co-star in this film.  Lyon makes her film debut and makes a very good one 14 year old nymphet.  Unfortunately, she did not have a big career and understand she has some issues with depression eventually just walking away from acting.  This was a very daring film to make in this era and while we knew how wrong Mason was, we stayed with him through the film in his crime.  Sellers was maybe the comic relief in his many disguises he did.  I really like this one and I also liked the 1997 version which have elements that I might favor in this one and elements I favor in the newer one.  They are both great versions and could make for a good double feature.  This version is available to watch on Filmstruck.

Moe Goes to the Beach (2018):  I end the week with this animated short.  Ibnul Jaif Farbi wrote and directed this animated short film.  This centers around an otter named Moe who lives by roadside where there is all kinds of litter and traffic.  When seeing a book about the beach, he sees photos making it look like it is a very clean and beautiful place so sets out for the beach.  This has no dialogue but is still a very good seven minutes.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

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

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