Sunday, December 23, 2018

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 684th Edition

Welcome to the 684th Edition of my series.  I hope everyone has a good holiday however celebrated.  I just want everyone to know, I welcome whatever holiday greeting one feels comfortable with or none at all.  I don't have much else happening right now so I'll just get on with my selections for the week.

Miracle on 34th Street (1994):  I start the week out with this updated version to the classic Christmas story.  Les Mayfield directed this version which kind of centers around the mother and daughter Dorey and Susan Walker, played by Elizabeth Perkins and Mara Wilson.  Despite Dorey running the annual Coles Day Parade, which is usually the Macy's Day Parade but Macy's refused to give their name for this movie, she brings up Susan in a more reality based world.  When Susan meets the newly hired store Santa, played by Richard Attenborough, that is convinced his name is Kris Kringle and that he is the real Santa Claus, she starts to wonder.  THE PRACTICE alum Dylan McDermott co-stars as their neighbor and attorney Bryan who lives in a more fantasy like world.  J.T. Walsh, James Remar, Jane Leeves, Simon Jones, William Windom, Robert Prosky, Mary McCormack, Allison Janney, Jack McGee, Horatio Sanz, and many others co-star in this movie.  What always interests me about this story is the overlooked plot which is really about an unorthodox business scheme where stores help each other but still manage to thrive.  I was in the musical version of this story which was so far my last show at Muncie Civic Theater.  While this does not match the 1947 version, this is still good for the times and still conveys the hope and faith that was intended.

Martin and Orloff (2002):  I follow with a non-holiday selection and a more adult oriented comedy.  Lawrence Blume directed this comedy which stars Ian Roberts as Martin Flam who is a very depressed marketing man who after attempting suicide is sent to a shrink.  Matt Walsh co-stars as Dr. Eric Orloff who is Martin's shrink and not much better off than him while forming an unexpected friendship.  H. Ron Benjamin, Amy Poehler, Kim Raver, Matt Besser, David Cross, Marylouise Burke, Teddy Coluca, Rachel Dratch, Tina Fey, Janeane Garofalo, and many others co-star or have cameos.  Roberts and Walsh co-wrote the script to this comedy.  Most of the actors come from the Upright Citizens Brigade group.  I honestly know nothing about the group but was delivered a lot of laughs in this very raunchy comedy.  This is very enjoyable if you can overcome that it is not very realistic and rather inappropriate at times.

The National Tree (2009):  This holiday I have been trying to include more of these kinds of movies that are tv movies and more family oriented holiday movies which are usually associated with Hallmark.  I have done some with that formula but this is the first official Hallmark movie I have done.  Graeme Campbell directed this Hallmark movie which is based on the book by David Kranes.  Brat Pack alum Andrew McCarthy stars as widowed father Corey Burdock who plants a Sitka Spruce tree in their small town for his son Rock which he was a child and is now a teen.  This tree is still going and through Rock manages to win a contest for the White House tree that they want planted in the front of the White House.  Corey reluctantly agrees for this to happen out of concern for the life of the tree but finally agrees if Rock will do it his way which is transport it themselves.  This starts a long road trip and lots of media coverage as they transport the tree.  Kari Matchett, Paula Brancati, Jayne Eastwood, Ted Atherton, Vas Saranga, Amanda Joy, Kristina Nicoll, and many others co-star in this Hallmark movie.  This has the usual sort of predictable formula though seems a little different having a father and son bonding with each other on a road trip.  This type of movie has a pretty wide audience which I think will like this one.

Nearlyweds (1957):  This is my animated short for the week which is a Popeye short.  In this one, Popeye and Bluto fight over Olive Oyl.  Popeye proposes marriage to Olive Oyl and at first she says yes but then Bluto sets out to make Popeye look bad as always making Olive have to choose.  Usual sort of formula for Popeye in his love triangle but still a fun watch.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime with "Classic Cartoons Vol. 3".

A Star is Born (1937):  A couple weeks ago I featured the latest version of this story to come out this year and this week I feature the one that started it all.  William Wellman directed this film which centers around the film industry in this version.  Janet Gaynor stars as small-town girl Esther Blodgett who decides to try her luck and go into Hollywood in hopes of making it as an actress.   When she arrives she struggles a lot until she meets seasoned actor Norman Maine, played by Fredric March.  He helps her career while also forming a relationship with her but struggles with his alcoholism and the fact that his best days are behind him.  Adolphe Menjou, May Robson, Andy Devine, Lionel Stander, and many others co-star in this film.  This one is more of an homage to Hollywood in this era.  The version that came out this year was great in my opinion but I try to give credit where it is due.  This has a similar plot but like the other versions, it works with the times it accommodates.  Other versions would be made in 1954, 1976, and this year and all have the similar plot but set to the times of that year.  This is a good one to start with and still holds up today.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Going in Style (1979):  Martin Brest directed this film which I would say is disguised as a comedy but is more of a story of getting older.  George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasburg star as three elderly friends who are mostly resigned to dying but one of them concocts a scheme to rob a bank.  It is hard to really describe it further without giving too much away but who can turn away from the trio that is named?  There are some pretty funny moments just because of their personalities but the movie is more of a character study of three men trying to come to terms with the later years of their life.  This was remade in 2017 which I have not seen but that might have given this one a little more attention.  This has stayed off the radar and had not heard of it myself until I came across it on Amazon Prime in which it is available to watch.

The Man who Invented Christmas (2017):  I bring another holiday selection for the week which was directed by Bharat Nalluri.  Dan Stevens stars as Charles Dickens and this movie takes a look at his inspiration and struggles to come up with his most famous story in A CHRISTMAS CAROL.  Miriam Margolyes, Morfydd Clark, Justin Edwards, Cosimo Fusco, David McSavage, Ian McNeice, Miles Jupp, Jonathan Pryce, Christopher Plummer, Donald Sumpter, Katie McGuinness, Anna Murphy, and many others co-star in this movie.  This is an interesting look at the inspiration to the holiday story that has probably been used the most during December.  A good double feature could be this and SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE which both depict the respective writers coming up with their most iconic stories with events happening in their own lives.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Davy Crockett and the River Pirates (1956):  This is my live action Disney for the week and is technically a two-part episode of the tv series but released it as a movie which seemed rather common from Disney at the time.  Fess Parker stars as the iconic frontiersman Davy Crockett and Buddy Ebsen co-stars as his sidekick George.  They accept a challenge from the boastful Mike Fink, played by Jeff York, in a boat race to New Orleans and later team up to take on a group of river pirates posing as Native Americans.  Kenneth Tobey, Clem Bevans, Mort Mills, Frank Richards, and many others co-star in this Disney movie.  This is a fun family movie and has the iconic theme song that just about everyone knows and have tried to sing it in a bass voice.  This is available to watch on Hoopla.

Zaat (1971):  This is my creature feature and b-movie for the week for those who don't want holiday selections and prefer a good b-movie.  This centers around a mad scientist bitter at the world and transforms himself into a mutated walking catfish to gain revenge on those he feels has wronged him.  I don't think I need to say much more.  This was featured on an episode of MST3K which gave it more exposure.  I actually checked this out on Blu-Ray at my local library so it does have a bit of a following especially those that like bad movies like this one.

The Door (2008):  I end the week with this Russian Oscar-nominated short film.  This centers around a man and a seemingly absurd act of stealing a door but learn of the desperate circumstances that leads him to stealing it.  The short film centers around the Chernobyl disaster that happened in the '80s in Russia.  This is both moving and tragic and really deserves a look.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week.

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