Sunday, December 9, 2018

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 682nd Edition

Welcome to the 682nd Edition of my series.  There is nothing really new happening at this time except I'm not liking this cold weather but I guess there is not much I can.  I'll just get on with my selections for the week.

Sisters (2015):  I start the week out with this raunchy comedy which was directed by Jason Moore and written by Paula Pell.  Tina Fey and Amy Poehler reunite as sisters Kate and Maura Ellis.  They are summoned by their parents, played by James Brolin and Dianne Wiest, to clear out their childhood bedroom as the parents decide to sell the house much to the dismay of the sisters.  They decide they need to relive their youth and throw one last party with their childhood friends which after much alcohol goes completely wrong.  Maya Rudolph, Ike Barinholtz, John Leguizamo, John Cena, Bobby Moynihan, Greta Lee, Madison Davenport, Rachel Dratch, Santino Fontana, Britt Lower, Samantha Bee, Matt Oberg, Kate McKinnon, Jon Glaser, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Chris Parnell, Paula Pell, Brian D'Arcy James, Heather Matarazzo, and many others co-star in this comedy.  This is not for everyone but I think many can relate to this film in our wanting to relive our glory.  There is a lot of immaturity among these adults in this which was the point in my opinion and I could not help but laugh.  For wrestling fans, John Cena is very amusing as the tattooed drug dealer and lead me to the belief that he did comedies like these in hopes of getting out of him boy scout image in wrestling.  I even got to relive my childhood a bit with that '90s one hit wonder hit INFORMER by Snow.  This was great to watch to have a lot of laughs if not taken too seriously.

Boo Man (1954):  This is my animated short for the week which features Casper the Friendly Ghost.  This starts out in the usual way where Casper is misunderstood for being a ghost.  He is able to see the moon through a telescope and the image he sees is a moon with a smile so wants to meet this friendly moon encounter and be captured by moon men who see him as a monster.  The moon men are in their own war with animated trees putting Casper in the middle.  This is inspired by GULLIVER'S TRAVELS.  This is said to be the best Casper short and is pretty enjoyable.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime in the "Cartoon Classics Volume 3".

The Return of Doctor X (1939):  Vincent Sherman directed this horror film.  Wayne Morris stars as Walter Garrett who is a reporter stumbling upon a murder of an actress only to find she is alive and well the next day which costs him his job.  He decides to look further into this case and stumbles onto Dr. Flegg, played by John Litel, and his strange assistant Marshall, played by none other than Humphrey Bogart in his first and only horror movie.  Rosemary Lane, Lya Lys, Huntz Hall, Charles C. Wilson, and many others co-star in this movie.  This is mostly of interest to see Bogey in this much different movie where he plays a character that was meant for Boris Karloff.  This was around a time where Bogart was playing supporting roles in gangster films and had not gotten his big break as of yet.  This is more of a Halloween oriented movie and I know I have anti-Christmas people who want things like this one.

The Return (2003):  This is my Russian film for the week which was directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev.  The lives of brothers Andrey, played by Vladimir Garin, and Ivan, played by Ivan Dobronravov, change when their estranged father Otets, played by Konstantin Lavronenko, arrives after being gone for twelve years.  Nataliya Vdovina plays the mother Mat in this film.  This was a very intriguing movie to watch and was glad that all I really knew was the basic plot that I described.  I had no idea what to expect and loved just watching this unfold like it did so I want that to be the case for others that watch this movie.

Black Christmas (1974):  This was shown at the Kennedy Branch of the Muncie Public Library during their "Attack of the Movie" series.  This would have gone along well with out annual October contest the Madness where a holiday theme was used this year.  Bob Clark directed this Canadian slasher film that happens to take place around Christmas time.  This takes place around a sorority house where the girls are planning their Christmas Break only to get strange anonymous calls and a stalker.  Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, John Saxon, Marian Waldman, Andrea Martin, Doug McGrath, Art Hindle, Lynne Griffin, and many others co-star in this film.  While this is not extremely graphic, it still has a very disturbing feel to it in they way they convey the killer.  This is a really good watch for Horror lovers and those who don't want to watch the Hallmark type movies this time of year.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014):  Matt Reeves directed this second part of the trilogy of this ape universe which follows RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES.  This takes place many years later where a virus wiped out much of the human race.  Andy Serkis reprises his role as the ape Caesar who after the last movie leads a successful revolt and now is the leader of an ape community where he tries to keep the peace but is threatened by human survivors.  Jason Clarke co-stars as Malcolm who is one of the human survivors and needs help from the apes to help the human survivors.  This causes dissension among the ape community as well as with the humans who are threatened by the apes and vice versa.  Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Kirk Acevado, Nick Thurston, Terry Notary, Karin Konoval, Judy Greer, Jon Eyez, Enrique Murciano, Larramie Doc Shaw, and many others co-star in this film.  I really enjoyed the first of this trilogy but I liked this one even more.  This movie had a lot of emotional dept for me with Serkis and Clarke trying to keep peace between the apes and humans but both sides making it more and more difficult.  I also really liked how it ended.  This is followed up by WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES.  It would be hard to see this without watching the first one and I would recommend doing the first PLANET OF THE APES from 1968 which has some references to this reboot trilogy.

Deliverance (1972):  I continue with some action in this film directed by John Boorman and based on the novel by James Dickey who also wrote the screenplay.  Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty, and Ronny Cox all star as city slicker buddies deciding to go on a canoe trip down the Cahulawassee River before it gets turned into a lake.  When getting there, they find they are among some crazed hillbillies for a lack of a better word and find themselves in the fight of their life.  I don't want to go too much further in the plot for those that haven't seen it.  The most famous scene from this movie is with the dueling banjo scene.  This is the film debut for Ned Beatty.  This has a lot of suspense and is very disturbing at times so is not for everyone.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Stealing Christmas (2003):  Back to the holidays and the last one for this week and this is more for the Hallmark crowd.  Gregg Champion directed this tv movie which stars Tony Danza as bank robber Jack Clayton.  When a robbery goes wrong, he escapes by putting on a Santa suit and gets away to a small town where he is mistaken by single mother Sarah, played by Lea Thompson, and her daughter Noelle, played by Angela Goethals, as the Santa that has been hired by them.  He plays along with the mistake while also casing a local bank to rob but as he forms a liking to the mother and daughter as well as local store owner Emily, played by Betty White, he starts having a crisis of conscience.  Malcolm Stewart, Damon Gregory, Gwynyth Walsh, and many others co-star in this tv movie.  This might be the first time I have ever featured Tony Danza on this list.  While this is not Hallmark, it does play like a typical Hallmark movie.  There is the single mom way too dedicated to her work and meeting a man who makes her see things differently for the first time in a long time.  This movie also kind of has a MUSIC MAN sort of feel to it in my opinion.  For those that like this type of holiday movie, this is one to check out and where can we go wrong with Tony Danza and Betty White in a holiday movie?

Sudden Fear (1952):  This is my film noir for the week which was directed by David Miller and based on the novel by Edna Sherry.  Joan Crawford stars as playwright Edna Hudson who meets and marries actor Lester Blaine only to learn that not only does he has a mistress in Irene, played by Gloria Grahame, but that they are plotting to murder her.  Knowing this, Edna is able in a subtle way to foil their plans leading to a very interesting climax.  Bruce Bennett, Virginia Hudson, and Mike Conners all co-star in this film-noir.  I have always found Grahame to be a rather underrated actress from this era.  She is probably most known as Violet in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE where she usually played the secondary female but was always pretty good at it.  This movie is very compelling and keeps our suspense throughout the movie.  This is a very dark and gritty movie from this era and a really good entry from this particular audience.

A Star is Born (2018):  I end the week with this film in which I went to the theater after joining the AMC Stubs club where I get in for $5 on Tuesdays and decided upon this one to start.  Bradley Cooper directed, co-wrote and stars in this film that has versions in 1937, 1954, and 1976.  In this version, Cooper stars as musician Jackson Maine who when passing time at a bar in the town he played discovers a young and talented singer in Ally, played by Lady Gaga.  He meets her and gets her to go along with him on his tours to sing while also forming a relationship with her to the point of marriage.  Everything is threatened as Jack's alcoholism has him on a downward spiral while Ally is experiencing the success he never really achieved.  Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay, Rafi Gavron, Anthony Ramos, Dave Chappelle, Barry Shabaka Henley, Michael D. Roberts, Michael Harney, Greg Grunberg, Drena De Niro, Eddie Griffin, Alec Baldwin, and many others co-star or have cameos.  The leads did a great job but the entire cast really makes this work as well.  I really liked Clay in his role as Ally's father and really did not know I was watching Andrew Dice Clay at the time.  I feel each version of this story has their own qualities including this one which was able to keep my attention the whole way through.  I have always been a fan of Lady Gaga despite not being a huge fan of pop music.  Cooper does great in his acting and in his singing.  This is another one that just had so much emotional depth and could be my favorite of the year.

Well, that is it for this week with this segment but have returned with my "Fun and Useless Facts" segment so continue on reading.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week.


This is a segment I use from time to time when I feel I have enough to work with and I have time to write.  I don't usually feature anything from actors in the same featured movies unless there might be another person from another involved so my first movie featured could have all kinds of inner connections but that is not what this is about.  In doing this, I am sure there are plenty I have missed so please feel free to chime in a let me know of others.

Tina Fey (Sisters) and Alec Baldwin (A Star is Born) starred in the NBC sitcom 30 ROCK.

Tina Fey (Sisters), Madison Davenport (Sisters), and Betty White (Stealing Christmas) all do American voices for the Studio Ghibli anime film PONYO.

Tina Fey (Sisters) and Lady Gaga (A Star is Born) were in the 2014 movie MUPPETS MOST WANTED.

Dianne Wiest (Sisters) and Jack Palance (Sudden Fear) were in the 1994 comedy COPS AND ROBBERSONS.

James Brolin (Sisters) and Margot Kidder (Black Christmas) play a married couple in the 1979 horror movie THE AMITYVILLE HORROR.

James Brolin (Sisters) and Ronny Cox (Deliverance) were in the 1977 movie THE CAR.

Amy Poehler (Sisters) and Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born) were in the 2001 comedy WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER and Netflix comedy series WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER:  FIRST DAY OF CAMP.

Humphrey Bogart (The Return of Doctor X) and Gloria Grahame (Sudden Fear) were in the 1950 film IN A LONELY PLACE.

Humphrey Bogart (The Return of the Doctor X) and Bruce Bennett (Sudden Fear) worked together in the 1943 film SAHARA, the 1947 film DARK PASSAGE, and the 1948 film THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE that I am aware of, there could be more I suppose.

Keir Dullea (Black Christmas) and Alec Baldwin (A Star is Born) were in the 2006 film THE GOOD SHEPHERD.

Margot Kidder (Black Christmas) and Ned Beatty (Deliverance) were in the superhero movie SUPERMAN in 1978 and SUPERMAN II in 1980.

Andrea Martin (Black Christmas) and Karin Konoval (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) were in the 2006 remake of this week's feature BLACK CHRISTMAS.

Keri Russell (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and Greg Grunberg (A Star is Born) were in the WB series FELICITY.

Kirk Acevedo (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and Ron Rifkin (A Star is Born) were in the 2000 film BOILER ROOM.

Terry Notary (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born) were in the 2018 film AVENGERS:  INFINITY WAR.

Gary Oldman (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and Ned Beatty (Delieverance) were in the 1989 film CHATTAHOOCHEE.

Gary Oldman (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) plays Dracula in the 1994 film BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA and Jack Palance (Sudden Fear) plays DRACULA in the 1974 tv movie DRACULA.

Judy Greer (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and Sam Elliott (A Star is Born) were in the 2015 comedy GRANDMA.

Judy Greer (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and Andrew Dice Clay (A Star is Born) had cameo roles in the 2015 comedy ENTOURAGE based on the HBO series.

Sam Elliott (A Star is Born) was forced to drop out of the 1982 tv movie THE AMBUSH MURDERS and was replaced by James Brolin (Sisters).

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