Sunday, January 6, 2019

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 686th Edition

Welcome to the 686th Edition of my series.  This is my first post of the new year and hope everyone is enjoying their new year so far.  Nothing really new happening in my life right now so I'll just get on with my selections.

Toy Story 2 (1999):  I start the new year out with the Disney Pixar sequel which was directed by John Lasseter, Ash Brannon, and Lee Unkrich.  In this one, Andy, voiced by John Morris, is away at a summer camp and Woody, reprised by Tom Hanks, gets taken by a greedy toy store owner named Al, voiced by Wayne Knight.  Woody learns that he is the last part of a collection for a short lived series called "Woody's Roundup" where he meets Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl, voiced by Joan Cusack, and Stinky Pete the Prospector, voiced by Kelsey Grammar, who are all to be sold to Japan for a very large payment to Al.  Buzz Lightyear, reprised by Tim Allen, leads the other toys to rescue Woody and bring him back to his rightful owner.  Don Rickles, Jim Varney, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Annie Potts, Estelle Harris, R. Lee Ermey, Laurie Metcalf, Jonathan Harris, Jodi Benson, Joe Ranft, Andrew Stanton, Bob Bergen, Rodger Bumpass, and many others co-star in this film.  Only in this scenario do we ever get to see Tom Hanks and Tim Allen starring together.  This is a really good continuation of the first TOY STORY and not a rehash sequel like some tend to do.  This might also make some feel really guilty of getting rid of their toys.  There is a part four coming out later this year and have high hopes for it.  This is a really fun family watch and also has a lot of emotional depth as well.

Blade Runner (1982):  I continue with this sci-fi classic which was directed by Ridley Scott and based on the novel by Philip K. Dick.  Harrison Ford stars as blade runner Rick Deckard and is the equivalent of a police officer.  This takes place in a dystopian future where synthetic humans known as replicants have been created and after things go wrong they are to be "retired" which is another word for killed.  Deckard is a burnt out cop who reluctantly agrees to go after a group of fugitive replicants lead by Roy Batty, played by Rutger Hauer.  When meeting Rachael, played by Sean Young, Deckard concludes she is a replicant believing she is human and his job becomes more complicated when forming a relationship with her.  Edward James Olmos, M. Emmet Walsh, Daryl Hannah, William Sanderson, Brion James, Joe Turkel, Joanna Cassidy, James Hong, Morgan Paull, Kevin Thompson, and many others co-star in this film.  I would also like to add that this movie takes place in the year 2019 and this was not purposely done to end up on my first post of the year, it just happened happened that way.  This sci-fi film is a very compelling and deep film which is an examination of the impact of technology on human society.  I think this is one of those movies that has become more and more popular through time.

Shallow Grave (1994):  This is part one of a two-part Ewan McGregor series.  Now I turn to a more unknown movie with this really interesting British crime film was directed by Danny Boyle.  Christopher Eccleston, Kerry Fox, and Ewan McGregor all co-star as roommates who bring in a flatmate that ends up dead and end up discovering a huge stash of cash.  They all have different ideas on how to handle the situation which leads to problems with other criminals but more between each other.  Ken Stott, Keith Allen, Colin McCredie, and many others co-star in this crime film.  There are a lot of dark comedy elements to this movie.  I think what interested me the most is the change in all three of the main characters.  For Boyle, this was his motion picture that he directed, he had directed tv movies and mini-series but this was the first feature film and would go onto do things like TRAINSPOTTING, 28 DAYS LATER, and SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE which would go onto quite a bit of popularity.  This was a really good start and remains a pretty underrated film that deserves a look.

All This and Rabbit Stew (1941):  This is my animated short for the week which features Bugs Bunny.  Usually Bugs goes against hunter Elmer Fudd but in this one goes against an unnamed black hunter which as far as I know was the only appearance of this character.  Please correct me if I'm wrong.  This is an interesting watch for historical purposes as this is part of the "Censored 11" which happened in 1968 where they were banned from syndication due to the racist elements.  This is clearly a very stereotypical portrayal of a black man but these were different times when these came out.  These are likely only going to be put out through public domain.  This is available to watch on Youtube.

Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936):  John Cromwell directed this film based on a book by Frances Hodgson Walpole.  Freddie Bartholomew stars as American boy Ceddie who learns he is the long-lost heir of a British fortune and is sent to live with the cold and unsentimental grandfather the Earl of Dorincourt, played by C. Aubrey Smith.  Ceddie is a very friendly and accepting young boy who does not know of his grandfather's personality and the Earl cannot help but take a liking to his grandchild slowly bringing out a better side in his personality.  Delores Costello, Guy Kibbee, Henry Stevenston, Mickey Rooney, Constance Collier, Una O'Connor, Jackie Searl, Jessie Ralph, and many others co-star in this film.  I am not always into films taking place in this era but found this to be a pretty moving story with a lot of really good characters to add to the enjoyment.

Blacula (1972):  This is Blaxploitation's answer to the vampire genre.  William Crane directed this vampire film which stars William Marshall as the African prince Mamuwalde in the 18th century.  Mamuwalde goes to see Count Dracula, played by Charles Macauley, in hopes he can help him with the slave trade but instead turns Mamuwalde into a vampire dubbing him Blacula and imprisons him in a tomb.  In the modern-day, some antique collectors buy the coffin not knowing an imprisoned vampire was in the coffin.  When they open it, the vampire becomes loose and wreaking havoc all over town.  Vonetta McGee, Denise Nicholas, Thalmus Rasulala, Gordon Pinsent, Elisha Cook Jr., and many others co-star in this film.  Marshall was likely most known for this role and would later go onto be the King of Cartoons in the tv series PEE WEE'S PLAYHOUSE.  This follows the classic Bram Stoker novel to a certain extent.  This is really better than it should be, especially with Macauley's performance as the title character.  If you like vampire movies and have not seen this one, keep an open mind and give it a shot.

Batman vs. Two-Face (2017):  This is my second animated selection for the week.  Adam West and Burt Ward reprise their roles of Batman and Robin from the popular '60s sitcom which is their second and last animated appearance.  As far as I know, the sitcom never had the character of Harvey Dent, voiced by William Shatner, who becomes mutilated in a lab accident and embarks on a crime spree.  Julie Newmar reprises her role as Catwoman who plays a rather significant role.  Jeff Bergman, Sirena Irwin, Thomas Lennon, Lee Meriwether, William Salyers, Lynne Marie Stewart, Jim Ward, Steven Weber, Wally Wingert, and many others co-star in this animated movie.  Meriwether plays Catwoman in the 1966 movie based on the television sitcom.  This is an homage to the '60s sitcom so is a rather campy but fun Batman movie that gives reference to just about all the villains from the show in some way.  I was also amazed at how Ward manages to keep his youthful voice when playing Robin.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Downhill Racer (1969):  Michael Ritchie directed this skiing film.  Gene Hackman stars as U.S. Olympic Ski team coach Eugene Claire who is trying to get together his ski team after his top player gets injured.  Robert Redford stars as skier David Chappellet who is a very good skier not much of a team player team player like Claire wants.  Camilla Sparv, Jim McMullan, Kathleen Crowley, Dabney Coleman, Karl McMullan Vogler, and many others star in this sports film.  This is a really good look at the world of skiiing and the various people involved.  It comes down to a really good climax skiing climax.  This is some very good early Hackman and early Redford that deserve a look.

Hondo (1953):  This is my western for the week.  John Farrow directed this western based on a story by Louis L'Amour.  John Wayne stars as army scout Hondo Lane who stumbles into a town that is Apache territory.  He meets inhabitants Angie and Johnny, played by Geraldine Page and Lee Aaker, who are mother and son and believe they are safe with the Apache treaty.  Hondo knows better and does what he can to protect them.  Ward Bond, Michael Pate, James Arness, Rodolfo Acosta, Leo Gordon, Tom Irish, Paul Fix, and many others co-star in this film.  The dog in this movie was the original screen Lassie.  This was originally shot in 3-D.  This is a pretty decent western with some good blend of action and romance with Wayne on the top of his game with Page making a good film debut.

The Giver (2014):  I end the week with this sci-fi film and realize I have done quite bit in the way of sci-fi and fantasy this week.  Phillip Noyce directed this film which is based on a novel by Lois Lowry.  This takes place in a Utopian type of society where it is a community without war, pain, and suffering but not of free will.  Upon graduation, teens are chosen for their new line of work.  Brenton Thwaites stars as Jonas who is leaving childhood and chosen to the rare world of Receiver of Memories.  Jeff Bridges co-stars as the title character who gives Jonas memories before the even the Ruin happened making Jonas learn of feelings like love and fear.  As Jonas learns more, he finds there is a more sinister plan at hand.  Meryl Streep, Alexander Skarsgard, Odeya Rush, Cameron Monaghan, Taylor Swift, Emma Tremblay, and many others co-star in this film.  Streep is the head of the Elders and is the villain in this movie.  This is a pretty interesting watch and cannot judge it upon the novel as I have not read it.  Bridges has tried for a long time to get this movie off the ground and in the '90s was going to cast his father Lloyd Bridges as the Giver.

Well, that is it for this week but I decided to start the year out with the "Fun and Useless Facts" segment.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Nicole Kidman, Joan Crawford, Boris Karloff, Emma Thompson, and many others.


I decided to start the year with this segment.  As always, I focused more on connections between actors in other movies rather that interconnections.  There are plenty I could use from Pixar but decided not to go that far.  I am sure there are plenty of other connections and feel free to comment.

Tom Hanks (Toy Story 2) and Meryl Streep (The Giver) were in the 2017 film THE POST.

Tom Hanks (Toy Story 2) and Daryl Hannah (Blade Runner) were lovers in the 1984 comedy SPLASH.  Charles Macauley (Blacula) co-stars as the president.

Tom Hanks (Toy Story 2) and Ewan McGregor (Shallow Grave) were in the 2009 movie ANGELS AND DEMONS.

Tom Hanks (Toy Story 2) and Ken Stott (Shallow Grave) were in the 2007 film CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR.

Joan Cusack (Toy Story 2) and Harrison Ford (Blade Runner) were in the 1988 comedy WORKING GIRL.

Joan Cusack (Toy Story 2) and Cameron Monaghan (The Giver) were in the popular Showtime series SHAMELESS.

Joan Cusack (Toy Story 2) and Jeff Bridges (The Giver) were in the 1999 movie ARLINGTON ROAD.

Kelsey Grammar (Toy Story 2) and Harrison Ford (Blade Runner) were in the 2014 action movie THE EXPENDABLES 3.

John Ratzenberger (Toy Story 2) and Gene Hackman (Downhill Racer) were in the 1977 film A BRIDGE TOO FAR, the 1978 and 1980 SUPERMAN movies, and the 1981 film REDS.

Laurie Metcalf (Toy Story 2) and Odeya Rush (The Giver) were in the 2017 film LADY BIRD.

R. Lee Ermey (Toy Story 2) and Gene Hackman (Downhill Racer) were in the 1988 film MISSISSIPPI BURNING.

Tim Allen (Toy Story 2) and M. Emmet Walsh (Blade Runner) were in the 2004 holiday movie CHRISTMAS WITH THE KRANKS.

Wayne Knight (Toy Story 2) and James Hong (Blade Runnder) were in the 2008 animated movie KUNG FU PANDA.

Harrison Ford (Blade Runner) and Gene Hackman (Downhill Racer) were in the 1974 film THE CONVERSATION.

Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner) and Katie Holmes (The Giver) were in the 2005 superhero film BATMAN BEGINS.

M. Emmet Walsh (Blade Runnder) and Gene Hackman (Downhill Racer) were in the 1998 movie TWILIGHT and no not the vampire movie of the same name.

M. Emmet Walsh (Blade Runner) and Meryl Streep (The Giver) were in the 1982 film SILKWOOD.

M. Emmet Walsh (Blade Runner) and Robert Redford (Downhill Racer) were in the 1980 movie BRUBAKER.

M. Emmet Walsh (Blade Runner) and Charles Macaulay (Blacula) were in the 1977 disaster movie AIRPORT '77.

Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner) and Gene Hackman (Downhill Racer) were in the 1989 movie THE PACKAGE.

Ewan McGregor (Shallow Grave) and Meryl Streep (The Giver) were in the 2013 film AUGUST:  OSAGE COUNTY.

Guy Kibbee (Little Lord Fauntleroy) and John Wayne (Hondo) were in the 1948 film 3 GODFATHERS.

Mickey Rooney (Little Lord Fauntleroy) and Elisha Cook Jr. (Blacula) were in the 1957 movie BABY FACE NELSON which I am now curious to see as Rooney plays the famed bank robber in the title character.

Burt Ward plays Dick Grayson with the alter ego of Robin in this week's feature BATMAN VS.TWO FACE as well as various live-action and animated series.  Brenton Thwaites (The Giver) plays Dick Grayson with the alter egos of Robin and Nightwing in the newer series TITANS.

John Wayne (Hondo) plays lawman Rooster Cogburn in the 1969 film TRUE GRIT and the 1975 film ROOSTER COGBURN.  Jeff Bridges (The Giver) plays Rooster Cogburn in the 2010 film TRUE GRIT.

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