Sunday, January 13, 2019

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 687th Edition

Welcome to the 687th Edition of my series.  I hope everyone is having a good new year so far.  I am glad to say that I am officially done filing for my last scenes in the local movie ASTRO GIRL FROM PLANET ZOLTRAN.  I got to play the corrupt president in this movie.  I think there is still more they need to film and will keep posted of anything happening.  There is not much else going on so onto my selections for the week.

Moulin Rouge! (2001):  This is part two of a two-part Ewan McGregor series, part one of a possible Nicole Kidman trilogy, and part one of a possible two-part John Leguizamo series.  Baz Luhrman directed and co-wrote this very unusual musical.  This takes place in the year 1899 and the musical numbers are mostly music from the 20th century in which they work in very well to make me believe it was that year.  Ewan McGregor stars as Christian who is a poet making his way to Paris to and joins up with a group of Bohemians.  He goes to the nightclub of the Moulin Rouge and is mistaken for the Duke by Satine, played very well by Nicole Kidman, who is supposed to meet up with the Duke but finds Christian instead.  They slowly form a very dangerous affair as the Duke, played by Richard Roxburgh, covets Satine.  Jim Broadbent stars as Harold Zidler who runs the Moulin Rouge and is very amusing in his role, especially his cover of Madonna's LIKE A VIRGIN.  Leguizamo, Jacek Koman, Matthew Whittet, Natalie Mendoza, Lara Mulcahy, David Wenham, and many others co-star in this film.  Most who know me well enough know this is one of my favorite movies.  It is interesting how when I show this movie to friends, their first though is that Harold Zidler is the villain due to things like his outgoing personality and the kind of place he runs.  He really is not the villain and does what he must and is pretty caring towards his employees like Satine even if we may not agree with him.  My favorite scene is the scene when he covers the Queen song THE SHOW MUST GO ON and it shows more of his human side.  This also has some amazing cinematography with very good performances.

You're the Greatest, Charlie Brown (1979):  This is my animated short for the week which is technically a tv special but as I've said before this is my blog and I can define movie however I want.  We join Charles M. Schulz's world of Peanuts which centers around the Junior Olympics.  Peppermint Patty and Marcie talk Charlie Brown into joining the contest with Snoopy posing as the Masked Marvel.  They must go against the arrogant Freddy Fabulous and Charlie Brown proves to be a formidable competitor.  This is for fans of the gang and the character of Charlie Brown that so many can relate.

Daisy Kenyon (1947):  This is my romantic drama for the week which was directed by Otto Preminger and based on the novel by Elizabeth Janeway.  Joan Crawford stars as the title character who is in a relationship with an attorney named Dan O'Mara, played by Dana Andrews.  Dan refuses to get a divorce with his wife Lucille, played by Ruth Warrick, and Daisy meets returning veteran Peter, played by Henry Fonda, who she forms a relationship with but does not love.  Peggy Ann Garner, Connie Marshall, Nicholas Joy, Art Baker, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a really good movie from this era on a love triangle which goes a little above love triangle.  This is a pretty intense drama and likely pretty controversial for its time with good performances from the leads.

Runaway (1984):  This was presented at the Muncie Public Library as part of their Attack of the Movie series.  Michael Crichton wrote and directed this sci-fi film which takes place in a very not so distant future.  Tom Selleck stars as police officer Jack Ramsey whose assignment is specializing in malfunctioning robots.  He uncovers some murder happening from robots by none other than Kiss member Gene Simmons.  Cynthia Rhodes, Stan Shaw, G.W. Bailey, Joey Cramer, Anne-Marie Martin, Michael Paul Chan, and many others co-star in this sci-fi movie.  This may take place in a future but not that far and not much more advanced than it was at the time or even now.  Some might be disappointed that it does not have real fancy futuristic cinematography or technology but it makes the movie more believable in my opinion.  Crichton was mostly an author and most known for JURASSIC PARK but was known to get behind the camera some.  This is worth a look especially for sci-fi enthusiasts and if for nothing else to see Gene Simmons.

Bride of Frankenstein (1935):  James Whale directed the sequel to the 1931 classic FRANKENSTEIN.  This continues with Boris Karloff reprising his role as the creature where he is learning more about the world.  He soon even learns to speak which is something he did not do in the first one.  In this one, he has an encounter with a blind man which is a common scene in just about any adaptation of the horror classic.  The creature meets a blind hermit who is the first person that does not fear him as he does not see him and form a friendship.  A lot of what Frankenstein is about is the fear of the unknown and the blind man does not see the unknown.  When the creature, is separated he sets out in pursuit of Dr. Henry Frankenstein who is reprised by Colin Clive.  Henry is about to get his life together and is soon getting married.  Things then become more complicated when being visited by Doctor Pretorius, played by Ernest Theisger, who is even madder than Dr. Frankenstein.  The creature then demands he is made a mate and Frankenstein does not agree until Pretorius kidnaps his fiance, played by Valerie Hobson.  Elsa Lanchester plays the Bride but is billed as "?" like Karloff was in the first one.  Lanchester is credited though as playing FRANKENSTEIN author Mary Shelley who in the beginning is explaining how her story continues.  Una O'Connor, Dwight Frye, Gavin Gordon, Douglas Walton, E.E. Clive, Lucien Prival, O.P. Heggie, and many others co-star in this film.  This is probably my favorite horror franchise and even had the honor of being in a stage version where I played an evil grave digger.  In these, Frankenstein is portrayed as more of a mad scientist and even change his name from Victor to Henry which I never really understood.  This is possibly my favorite movie from classic Universal horror.

Brave (2012):  This is my Disney Pixar selection for the week.  Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, and Steve Purcell directed this Pixar film taking place in Scotland.  Kelly MacDonald stars as Merida who is the daughter of the King and Queen, voiced by Billy Connelly and Emma Thompson, and prefers archery and adventure over the responsibility of being a princess.  Merida makes a deal with a witch, played by Julie Walters, in hopes of things getting better but have unintended consequence that she must fix.  Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Steven Cree, Patrick Doyle, John Ratzenberger, and many others provide their voices.  Pixar comes through once again which is deep down a story of a mother and daughter trying to have a better understanding of each other.  There are also a lot of humorous moments and a good one for the family to watch.

Baby Face Nelson (1957):  I came across this movie last week when doing my Fun and Useless Facts segment and became very curious to see Mickey Rooney playing Baby Face Nelson making this part one of a two-part Mickey Rooney series.  Don Siegel directed this biopic of the famed gangster which stars Rooney is a much darker role than usual.  This documents him getting out of prison and his time in the Dillinger gang.  Carolyn Jones, Cedric Hardwicke, Leo Gordon, Anthony Caruso, Jack Elam, John Hoyt, Elisha Cook Jr., Ted de Corsia, Robert Osterloh, Thayer David, Dabbs Greer, Lisa Davis, Emile Meyer, and many others co-star in this film.  From what I understand, this is not to be watched if looking for absolute historical accuracy.  It is still a pretty good story with Rooney doing very well as Nelson.  This was quite controversial in its time with people like J. Edgar Hoover believing it glorifies crime.  I was not able to find any sort of copy anywhere except watching on Youtube which is not the best transfer in the world but still watchable.

Eighth Grade (2018):  Bo Burnham wrote and directed this film in his directorial debut.  Elsie Fisher stars as Kayla Day who is an awkward and introverted teen trying to survive her last week of the eighth grade.  She expresses herself in the way of video blogs but in reality is a sullen teen quiet around her single father and peers I guess trying to find herself.  Josh Hamilton co-stars as her very patient father.  Emily Robinson, Jake Ryan, Daniel Zolghadri, Fred Hechinger, Imani Lewis, Luke Prael, Missy Yager, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a movie that I'm sure many relate to and to the youth reading this, I just want to tell you that there is life after middle and high school.  I was not Mr. Popular myself but now know how ridiculous "popularity" is within school.  Burnham is a known stand up comedian whose career started rather similar when he was a teen posting Youtube videos and from my understand it kind of a biography on him in a way except the protagonist is a girl.  Fisher has gotten a lot of recognition for her own performance in this film.  This is a very well-done film about growing up and trying to survive school having quite the reception.

Airport '77 (1977):  Jerry Jameson directed this disaster movie which is based on the novel by Arthur Hailey.  Jack Lemmon plays lead pilot Don Gallagher for a flight where Phillip Stevens, played by James Stewart, is flying in a group of V.I.P.s to the grand opening of his art collection.  Some art thieves hijack the plan and things go awry when they are trapped underwater forcing Gallagher to use his resourcefulness to save the passengers.  This has quite the all star cast in Lee Grant, Brenda Vaccaro, Joseph Cotten, Olivia de Havilland, Darren McGavin, Christopher Lee, Robert Foxworth, Robert Hooks, Monte Markham, Kathleen Quinlan, Gil Gerard, James Booth, Monica Lewis, Monica Lewis, Maidie Norman, M. Emmet Walsh, and many others.  I must admit to being guilty of stereotyping when seeing Lee is in the movie and my first thought was "Oh, he must be one of the hijackers" which was not true.  This type of movie was very popular in this movie which involves a disaster of sorts, an all-star cast, and many sub-plots.  This is also the third part of the Airport series and looks like these can be watched in any order.  I looked into the first two but they did not fit into the week due to actors and such.  If not taken too seriously, this is pretty fun and entertaining and enjoyed seeing Lemmon in a heroic role.

Dead Man Walking (1995):  This is part two of a two-part R. Lee Ermey series.  I am sorry to say this is not a movie about the Undertaker.  Tim Robbins goes behind the camera on this one as the director of this film which is based on the book by Sister Helen Prejean who is portrayed by Susan Sarandon in this film.  Sister Prejean is a New Orleans nun who befriends death row inmate Matthew Poncelet, played by Sean Penn, who is getting closer to execution and tries to help him spiritually while also getting a stay of execution.  Ermey, Robert Prosky, Raymond J. Barry, Celia Weston, Lois Smith, Scott Wilson, Roberta Maxwell, Margo Martindale, Larry Pine, Clancy Brown, Peter Sarsgaard, Jack Black, Jon Abrahams, and many others co-star in this film.  Robbins was able to make a very compassionate film about a dark subject matter.  Sarandon and Penn work well together in their interactions.  This does have some pretty disturbing scenes depicting the crimes but if you can get past that, this is a very moving film based on a true story.

Well, that is it for this section but I have three other segments that involve book and film so read on.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Nicole Kidman, Rosalind Russell, Allison Janney, and many others.


The Goonies (1985):  This was actually watched on New Year's Day at Shera's house but decided to put it off until this week when doing my "Fun and Useless Facts" segment.  Shera asked me to get a cabbage to start the new year so I went ahead and got one and joined her and her friend Brent as the food got made and watched this '80s classic.  Richard Donner directed this film where Steven Spielberg gets a writer credit for the story and Chris Columbus gets the writer credit for the screenplay so quite the collaboration going on here.  Sean Astin and Josh Brolin star as brothers Mikey and Brand Walsh whose home is up for foreclosure and set out to save their home when finding a treasure map.  They are joined by their friends played by Jeff Cohen, Corey Feldman, Kerri Green, Martha Plimpton, and Jonathan Ke Quan.  Ke Quan is likely most known for being Short Round in INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM which came out around the same time and is probably the most amusing in this movie with his inventions.  They must get past villains Mama Fratelli, played by Anne Ramsey, and her sons Jake and Francis, played by Robert Davi and Joe Pantoliano.  John Matuszak co-stars as the memorable character Sloth.  This group of villains is based on Ma Barker and her sons.  It was good to revisit this popular '80s classic which shows us that Samwise and Thanos are brothers.


The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey (2012):  This was also viewed last week but put off to this week.  A couple weeks ago, Stephanie and me were looking for a 3D blu-ray to rent and take to her parents' home to watch on their state of the art system but were unable to find anything.  Knowing how much she is into these movies, I found this one at the library so we tried again.  Many will be shocked to learn this is my first time to see any of these as the LOTR films comes as a bit of a mixed bag for me and never really became a favorite of mine.  These movies based on the book by J.R.R. Tolkien come from director Peter Jackson and take place before LORD OF THE RINGS telling the story of hobbit Bilbo Baggins, played by Martin Freeman while also played by Ian Holm in a cameo of scenes of him reflecting on his younger days as well as Elijah Wood having a cameo as Frodo.  Bilbo is approached by Gandalf, reprised by Ian McKellan, to take the journey with a group of dwarves led by the legendary warrior Thorin Oakenshield, played by Richard Armitage, to Lonely Mountain.  Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Dean O'Gorman, Aidan Turner, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Andy Serkis, Manu Bennett, Lee Pace, Benedict Cumberbatch, and many others co-star in this film.  I had no idea what to really expect but I found myself actually enjoying this movie and the 3D element was pretty cool as well.  Tolkien's LORD OF THE RINGS was an actual book trilogy but this story was expanded by Jackson to be a trilogy.  I'll try to get the other two watched at some point, likely with Stephanie and am actually wanting to view them now.


Buseyisms:  Gary Busey's Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth by Gary Busey and Steffanie Sampson (2018):  I decided to add a new segment and yes that is Roddy McDowell as the Bookwork in the '60s BATMAN sitcom.  I admit I am extremely far from being a book worm though I am trying to read more.  My mom bought me this book for Christmas knowing what a fan I am of our modern day philosopher Gary Busey.  This book is an autobiographical book on Busey's life starting at childhood, his rise into acting, his addictions and recovery, and the life-changing motorcycle accident.  He also has a glossary of what he calls Buseyisms which for those who have never watched him are anagrams he makes into works like the title for example and even motivation meaning "moving our thoughts into victory and truth in overcoming negativity" as well as many other profound things.  I first took note of Busey in the 2003 Comedy Central reality show I'M WITH BUSEY which entertained me to the extreme.  Many people I know dismiss him for his outlandish personality which I find very enjoyable and if you can get past his weirdness, he is really a very insightful person.  I'm not usually big on reality television but Busey is very much an exception.  His co-author Steffanie Sampson is his wife who talked him into writing a book about his complex life.  This is a very insightful and inspirational book that I was able to read in a fairly quick manner.

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