Sunday, September 9, 2018

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 669th Edition

Welcome to the 669th Edition of my series.  I continue to my commute out to Richmond to play a bucket list sort of role in DRACULA as Renfield.  The dreaded days have come where the weather gets cooler which I seem to be a minority sometimes.  I know our official week one of the NFL has started but I have not thought much of it so far and no it is not because of the players kneeling during the National Anthem.  I have just been really busy with my show and unable to find a paid fantasy football league.  I will get on with my selections for the week.

Heaven (1987):  I start the week out with this documentary that was directed by Diane Keaton.  This is an documentary where a series of people are interviewed about their thoughts of the afterlife and what what is in store for us.  This is a pretty dated movie but entertaining nonetheless with the scenery and older movie footage.  it also raises some very interesting questions.  Don King is interviewed briefly in this movie.  The old movie footage is what makes this worth watch the most in my opinion and I laughed which I don't think was intended.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Why Him? (2016):  Now I go to a raunchy comedy which was directed and co-written by John Hamburg.  MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE and BREAKING BAD alum Bryan Cranston stars as Ned Fleming who owns a business and is a family man.  His daughter Stephanie, played by Zoey Deutch, invite him and the rest of the family to Silicon Valley for Christmas to meet her wealthy boyfriend Laird, played by James Franco.  Laird is a very well-meaning but socially awkward person that Ned has trouble accepting leading to the comical situations.  Megan Mullally, Griffin Gluck, Cedric the Entertainer, Zack Pearlman, Tangie Ambrose, Jee Young Han, Kaley Cuoco, Keegan-Michael Key, and many others co-star in this comedy.  There is a really amusing celebrity cameo but I will leave that to surprise.  BIG BANG THEORY fans will love Cuoco in her very amusing role.  This can be very enjoyable if not taken too seriously.  I laughed a lot when watching and I laughed when seeing it in theaters.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012):  I continue with the comedy route in a comedy which was written and directed by Lorene Scafaria where they manage to make a comedy around teh world likely ending.  It is known that an asteroid named "Matilda" is heading to earth and life as we know it will be destroyed.  Steve Carell stars as Dodge who sets out to find his high school sweetheart.  Keira Knightley stars as Penny who is looking to go back to her estranged family.  They end up taking the trip together with the intentions of helping each other but get drawn to each other.  Adam Brody, Connie Britton, Roger Aaron Brown, Rob Huebel, Nancy Carell, Mark Moses, Tonita Castro, Leslie Murphy, Rob Corddry, Kasey Campbell, Melanie Lynskey, Vince Grant, Amy Schumer, Patton Oswalt, William Peterson, T.J. Miller, Gillian Jacobs, Bob Stephenson, Derek Luke, Martin Sheen, and many others co-star in this film.  This takes place in a world that is known to be ending but people just making the most of while they are still alive instead of going through some huge panic.  It begs the question of what we would do if the world is ending.  This is a funny movie and rather moving at the same time.

Lightning Sketches (1907):  This is my animated short for the week and it is not often that I have a selection on here that is over a century old.  Film and animation pioneer J. Stuart Blackton wore and directed this very early short film.  This actually is more of a live action short showing an animator drawing something and bringing it to life through animation.  This is years before Walt Disney and Max Fleischer would revolutionize the world of animation.  Blackton also helped found one of, most likely the first movie studios in Vitagraph Studios.  This is only a couple minutes long and is available to watch on Filmstruck as well as a lot of other really early shorts.

Ivan the Terrible Part 1 (1944):  This is my Russian film for the week which was written and directed by Sergei M. Eisenstein.  This is a biopic on the known Russian Tsar who is portrayed by Nikolay Cherkasov.  This takes a look at the early rule of Ivan and all the people around him not wanting him to succeed.  This in many ways resembles a play by Shakespeare with all the conspiracy around him.  This was commissioned by Soviet ruler Joseph Stalin.  There is a sequel that was filmed shortly after this one but would not come out until 1958 and there was to be a third film but that never got off the ground and did not become the trilogy it tried to be.  The second one will come in the future but both films are available on Filmstruck.

Being There (1979):  Hal Ashby directed this film which is based on the novel by Jerzy Kosinski and is part three of my Peter Sellers trilogy.  Sellers stars as Chance who is a simple-minded gardener and has spent his life in the Washington D.C. home of an old man until the day of the old man's death.  I don't think there was ever really any explanation on why he remained sheltered in the home and appears to only have an education that involves what he watches on tv.  When the person he works for has died, Chance is sent out in the world of no knowledge of the outside world except what he has seen on television.  An accident results in him becoming an unlikely political insider whose name becomes Chauncey Gardener.  Shirley MacLaine, Melvyn Douglas, Jack Warden, Richard Dysart, Richard Basehart, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a very interesting political satire of a naive man making it into the world of politics just through his simple thought.  This is available on Filmstruck just like the first two selections of the trilogy.

Every Little Step (2008):  This is my theater documentary for the week and was directed by Adam Del Deo and James D. Stern.  This centers around auditions for the Broadway revival of A CHORUS LINE.  This takes a look at the preparation from the dancers and the decision making process of those in charge.  I think just about all theater people can relate to this movie in some way whether on the paid circuit or just simple community theater.  This is especially relating to the dancers of theater and one all dream of if in theater.  I know with me, I can only play the director.  This is a pretty good theatrical documentary showing the audition process and deserves a look.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

North By Northwest (1959):  This is part two of my two-part James Mason series.  Alfred Hitchcock directed this film which was written by Ernest Lehman.  Cary Grant stars as advertising executive Roger Thornhill who is going about his day in his own normal way until he gets mistaken for a spy and must go on the run to prove his innocence.  On the run, he meets Eve, played by Eva Marie Saint, who helps him to evade the authorities.  Mason and Martin Landau play the villains trying to kill Roger.  Jessie Royce Landis, Josephine Hutchinson, Philip Ober, Adam Williams, Edward Platt, Robert Ellenstein, Les Tremayne, and many others co-star in this film.  This is one of Hitchcock's favorite plot lines of mistaken identity.  All I will say is many are not who they appear to be in the movie and there are quite a few twists and turns.  Watching this again, I realize this might be Hitchcock's most action packed movie of his career.  It also has a really good action climax on top of Mount Rushmore and the infamous scene involving a plane.

Dead Ringer (1964):  Paul Henreid directed this film which stars Bette Davis in a dual role as twin sisters Margaret DeLorca and Edith Philips.  Margaret is at the funeral of her late husband and is joined by her estranged sister Edith who harbors a lot of resentment toward her more wealthy sister leading her to murder Margaret and assume her name.  Karl Malden co-stars as a detective who has known the sisters for a long time.  Peter Lawford, Philip Carey, Jean Hagen, George Macready, Estelle Winwood, George Chandler, and many others co-star in this film.  Davis does great in her dual role while Malden is pretty complex in his portrayal of the detective.  This is one I had not heard of and find it has gone rather overlooked through the years so hoping to get it on the radar.  This is also available to watch on Filmstruck.

The Rain Collector (2015):  I end the week with this short film which was written and directed by Isabella Wing-Davey.  This takes place in Victorian England where Celine Buckens stars as the young Vanessa who considers the ideas of what is appropriate or expected and finds purpose and maybe love through science mainly in the collecting of rain as the title implies.  Hermione Norris, Max Bennett, and Tom Mothersdale co-star in this film.  This is only about twelve minutes long and still manages to deliver a good film through the performances and direction.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime and is a great place to check out some of these overlooked short films

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Naomi Watts, the late Burt Reynolds, Matt Damon, and many others.

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