Sunday, February 3, 2019

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 690th Edition

Welcome to the 690th Edition of my series.  It's been quite a week trying to survive this weather but we are here and kicking.  We have survived January and now to get through the worst month of the year but at least it's the shortest month of the year.  I am sure to be watching the Super Bowl tonight and just enjoying the game and commercials.  I don't have much else happening right now so I'll just get on with my selections.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014):  I start the week with some live-action Disney which was directed by Miguel Arteta and based on the book by Judith Viorst.  Ed Oxenbould stars as the 12 year old title character who is and middle child of the family, played by Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Dylan Minnette, and Kerris Dorsey.  Alexander starts his morning out with gum in his hair and all kinds of other bad things happen.  He feels a lack of sympathy from his family and wishes them to have the sort of bad day that he is used to having and appears to come true.  Bella Thorne, Megan Mullally, Mekai Curtis, Lincoln Melcher, Reese Hartwig, Martha Hackett, Mary Mouser, Alex Desert, Toni Trucks, Eric Edelstein, Donald Glover, Burn Gorman, Jennifer Coolidge, and many others co-star in this movie.  This was good for what it was which was a family movie.  I thought there were some pretty funny moments that kept me engaged.  I also felt like in the end it had a pretty good message about family sticking together.

End of Watch (2012):  I featured this last week in my "Movie Night in the Town of Pottersville" segment and decided to use it in this part this week.  David Ayer wrote and directed this film which is shot in a documentary style.  Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena star as L.A. cops Brian Taylor and Mike Zavala who are partners and friends.  They have themselves filmed on their times on the job and in their personal lives much to the dismay of their colleagues.  Natalie Martinez, Anna Kendrick, David Harbour, Frank Grillo, America Ferrera, and many others co-star in this film.  This is this a very rough and gritty film that is not for everyone.  Gyllenhaal and Pena work very well together.  They did a lot of ride-alongs with actual police officers and Gyllenhaal witnessed a murder on his first ride-along.   It is a really good look about a couple cops trying to get through their shift in having to see such horrific things and maintaining their sanity.

Safe (1995):  This is the title of many movies and the most known if probably the one with Jason Statham so I'm sorry to disappoint if that is what you were expecting.  Todd Haynes wrote and directed this independent film which stars Julianne Moore as California housewife Carol White.  She seems to have quite the life with a rich husband, servants, and a nice home.  We find out that it is not simple and starts to experience things like headaches and even seizures.  The more things she learns, the more she believes it is from environmental factors.  Xander Berkeley, Dean Norris, Jodie Markell, Susan Norman, Chauncey Leopardi, Beth Grant, Peter Friedman, Kate McGregor-Stewart, James Le Gros, and many others co-star in this film.  This is one that is most driven by characters and a script.  Haynes described this movie as a horror movie for the soul and is a reasonable description of someone trying to figure out what is wrong with her when doctors and those around her seem to think she is just fine.

Fifth Column Mouse (1943):  This is my animated short for the week.  This centers around an unnamed cat who intrudes upon the idyllic life of a group of mice.  All but one of them escape to a wall hold and the cat makes a deal with the one who did not escape saying that he will not hurt him or the other mice provided they pamper him.  This proves to not be true provoking the mice to declare war.  This is one of the WWII propaganda shorts from this era and centers around the failure of appeasement.  It also makes some war references like a poster to buy war bonds.  This is available to watch on Patriotic Cartoon Classics.

Nothing Sacred (1937):  William Wellman directed this screwball comedy which stars Carole Lombard as small-town girl Hazel Flagg who gets news she is dying of radium poisoning only to learn it is not true.  New York reporter Wally Cook, played by Fredric March, comes to town looking for the story not knowing that the story is not true and Hazel decides to keep the lie going to get publicity.  Charles Winninger, Walter Connolly, Sig Ruman, Margaret Hamilton, and many others co-star in this film.  This walks the line between comedy and drama.  An interesting scene to me was when they went to a wrestling show and Wally comments that what they are doing is fake.  This might have been a bit controversial during its time and is really worth a look.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime and

Hair (1979):  This is my musical for the week which was directed by Milos Forman and based on the musical by Galt MacDermot, Gerome Ragni, and James Rado.  John Savage stars as Claude Bukowski who leaves the family ranch in Oklahoma wanting to see New York before going into the army.  He meets a group of hippies lead by Berger, played by Treat Williams, who take him into their group.  Beverley D'Angelo, Annie Golden, Dorsey Wright, Richard Bright, Nicholas Ray, Charlotte Rae, Michael Jeter, Nell Carter, and many others co-star in this musical.  I don't really know how to describe this movie except a group of hippie friends trying to make the most of life and spread love I guess.  I have seen this done on stage a handful of times, a couple times where they did the nude scene which this movie does not have.  I also noticed how the script for the movie had a bit of a rewrite, most notably the character of Claude.  The movie also has a weird but intriguing ending.  It also has a lot of fun music numbers with Williams in one of his best roles.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime so put on this movie and let that sunshine in.

Crazy Rich Asians (2018):  Jon M. Chu directed this romantic comedy based on the novel by Kevin Kwan.  Constance Wu stars as Chinese-American professor Rachel Chu who is in a relationship with a Singapore man named Nick, played by Henry Golding.  Nick's best friend is getting married and takes Rachel to Singapore to meet his very wealthy family and finds that much of his family, most notably his mother played by Michelle Yeoh, does not approve of her.  Gemma Chan, Lisa Lu, Awkwafina, Harry Shum Jr., Ken Jeong, Sonoya Mizuno, Chris Pang, Jimmy O. Yang, and many others co-star in this comedy.  This is not going to be for everyone and if looking for suspense, this is not really it.  I still was able to enjoy the clash of social class and culture within this romantic comedy and could be good for a date night.

Maigret Sets a Trap (1958):  This is my French film for the week which was directed by Jean Delannoy and based on the novel by Georges Simenon.  Jean Gabin stars as Inspector Maigret who does not buy into the suspect in custody for a serial killer and decides to investigate further.  He goes very deep into the case almost by any means necessary to find the real killer.  Annie Girardot, Jean Debucourt, Paulette Dubost, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a character that has lived on a lot through the years in book, film, television, radio, and comics and has had a recent series..  Gabin fits the role very well and is the first of three times he would play the character.  This is a pretty gritty and intriguing film and has a rather intense climax. Good for the foreign film buffs out there.

Tim (1979):  Michael Pate directed this film which is based on the novel by Colleen McCullough.  A young Mel Gibson stars in this film as the title character Tim Melville who is a mentally handicapped, I believe autism by today's standards but don't quote me on that, young man and does labor work for people at homes.  He meets an woman named Mary, played by Piper Laurie, who is much older than him and she decides to hire him to do work at her home.  She takes a liking to Tim and start becoming friends as well as teaching him to read which was never done in the family.  This came out around the time Mel Gibson's breakthrough film MAD MAX came out and the director of this film got word of his performance in that movie to cast Gibson in post production.  This did not become the big hit film that MAD MAX did but was still a well done film driven by the script and performances.  Gibson and Laurie worked very well together and this is a very moving film.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime and on Hoopla and really deserves a watch.

My Winnipeg (2007):  I end the week on this documentary which was shown at the Carnegie Branch of the Muncie Public Library on Thursday as part of the Cinemuncie series.  Guy Maddin directed this documentary about his hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba which he narrates with his vision hence the title.  Part of this movie is recounting events that affected him, his family, and the town as a whole.  He also recounts moments of his childhood through the use of actors except his mother who plays herself and are possibly some most interesting moments in the movie.  It is hard to explain this movie except it is done at mostly Maddin's point of view where he weaves fact and fantasy together.  It is kind of a humorous but dark outlook on his town.  I had to brave the cold and the coming snow but was worth getting out to see this at the library.

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

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