Sunday, February 17, 2019

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 692nd Edition

Welcome to the 692nd Edition of my series.  I hope everyone had a good Valentine's Day or Singles Awareness Day however celebrated.  I have some things going soon and will likely announce it next week as well as this week on social media.  I don't have much else going on so I'll just get on with my selections for the week.

September 11 (2002):  I start the week out with what is essentially an experimental film made shortly after the infamous tragic day of the title which happened in the year 2001.  This is a movie of 11 short films that take place in different countries and the effects the terrorist attacks had on the respective country.  Yousseff Chahine, Amos Gitai, Shohei Imamura, Alejandro G. Inarritu, Claude Lelouch, Ken Loach, Samira Makhmalbaf, Mira Nair, Idrissa Ouedraogo, Sean Penn, and Danis Tanovic are the 1l directors on hand for this film for each country.  The diverse group of actors include Nour El-Sherif, Dzana Pinjo, Keren Mor, Liron Levo, Tomer Russo, Tanvi Aszmi, Taleb Adlah, Maryann Towne, Ernest Borgnine, Tomoro Taguchi, Kumiko Aso, and many others.  This was a pretty well put together film where each story was very different and some worked better than others.  For me, my favorite was the one from Ouedraogo which was in the small country of Burkina Faso but everyone is bound to have their own favorite.  This does not have excessive 9/11 footage, more the feelings of those affected in some way.  This is available to watch on Kanopy.

C.R.A.Z.Y. (2005):  I follow up with a French-Canadian film which was directed and co-written by Jean-Marc Vallee.  This takes place in the '60s and '70s and centers around the character of Zach, played by Emille Vallee as a child and by Marc-Andre Grondin as a teen, who was born on Christmas Day in a devout Catholic family and has a hard time fitting in with his other siblings.  He tries to deal with his homosexuality and has a hard time getting accepted by his conservative father, played by Michael Cote, and takes refuge in his music that includes Pink Floyd, David Bowie, and the Rolling Stones.  Danielle Proulx, Pierre-Luc Brillant, Maxime Tremblay, Alex Gravel, Mariloup Wolfe, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a character driven film and a coming of age film in a sense.  It also has a very good soundtrack to go along with the movie.  The characters are all very well-written and really deserves a look.

The Long Walk Home (1990):  This is part one of a possible two-part Whoopi Goldberg series.  Richard Pearce directed this film which takes place in Montgomery, Alabama and during Martin Luther King's bus boycott.  Goldberg stars as Odessa who works as a maid for Norman and Miriam Thompson, played by A-TEAM alum Dwight Schultz and Sissy Spacek.  Odessa decides to go along with the boycott and walks to her work which is a long walk.  Slowly Miriam becomes sympathetic to her employee.  Ving Rhames, Dylan Baker, Erika Alexander, Lexi Randall, Jason Weaver, Crystal Robbins, Schuyler Fisk, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a good look at the affect of a black woman who feels the need to fight for her rights and the sacrifice made to make it happen.  This was a very bad time in this era and the movie conveys the racial tensions very well.  It is also very rare to see Schultz in top billing for a feature film and is most known for playing Murdock in the popular '80s action series THE A-TEAM.

Count Me Out (1938):  This is my animated short for the week which features '30s Merry Melodies character Egghead.  In this one, Egghead takes interest in boxing and decides to learn it even if he has not athletic or fight experience.  Things get more difficult when he takes on the champion Biff Stew.  This is a more unknown character but still a pretty amusing short.  This is a must for classic animation buffs and I'm sure it can be found on Youtube.

Shaft (1971):  Now I bring in the Blaxploitation genre and possibly the best one which was directed by Gordon Parks and based on the novel by Ernest Tidyman who also co-wrote the screenplay.  Richard Roundtree stars as the suave private detective John Shaft who reluctantly takes job from crime boss Bumpy Jonas,  played by Moses Gunn, to find his kidnapped daughter and the character of Bumpy is a loose basing on real-life black gangster Bumpy Johnson.  Taking the job puts him in the middle of a gang war that only Shaft can stop.  Charles Cioffi, Christopher St. John, Lawrence Pressman, Victor Arnold, and many others co-star.  This is also highlighted by a great soundtrack written by Isaac Hayes including but not limited to the theme song.  Interestingly enough, John Shaft was white in the novel but Parks felt this would be good for the Blaxploitation genre and decided upon Roundtree.  This has inspired a couple sequels and the 2000 movie of the same name that stars Samuel L. Jackson which I think is more of a passing the torch continuation rather than a remake or reboot.  There is also set to be a new one in 2019 where Jackson plays Shaft working with his son John Shaft Jr.  This is a very fun and iconic film in the action genre.

Sergeant York (1941):  This is my war film biopic for the week which was directed by Howard Hawks.  Gary Cooper stars as country boy and sharpshooter Alvin York who is drafted to World War I and while reluctant to join due to his religious principles, he joins and goes onto become a war hero from that war.  The first part of the movie is mostly on him as a southern boy and shows his good shooting.  The next part focuses on him getting through the war and manages to capture many Germans using a tactic from his hunting.  Walter Brennan, Joan Leslie, George Tobias, Stanley Ridges, Margaret Wycherly, Ward Bond, Noah Beery Jr., June Lockhart, Dickie Moore, Clem Bevans, Howard Da Silva, Charles Trowbridge, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a pretty moving war movie which is essentially a biopic.  The real-life Alvin York never had anything done on his accomplishments until this movie was done and even then only allowed this movie to be made if Cooper played the role with Cooper himself feeling he was too old but decided to do it upon meeting York.  I also just want to voice that character actor Ward Bond should get a documentary done about him.

Breathe (2017):  I follow with another true story which was directed by Andy Serkis in his directorial debut.  Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy star as married couple Robin and Diana Cavendish who are quite the adventurers but things change when Robin is diagnosed with Polio at the age of 28 years old.  He is given a short time to live until Diana's twin brothers, both played by Tom Hollander, and their inventor friend Teddy, played by Hugh Bonneville, make an invention that gets Robin out of the hospital and is still able to have his adventures.  Ed Speleers, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Miranda Raison, Camilla Rutherford, Jonathan Hyde, Amit Shah, David Wilmot, Diana Rigg, and many others co-star in this film.  Robin and Diana Cavendish's son Jonathan Cavendish is the real-life son of the couple and a friend of Serkis.  This is both sad and moving at the same time and Serkis makes a good directorial debut.  This takes place in the '50s and were some very groundbreaking times in the medical profession.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976):  This is my western for the week which was directed by Clint Eastwood and based on the book by Forrest Carter.  Eastwood also stars as the title character who is a Missouri farmer and seeks vengeance on a group of Union soldiers after they murder his family.  With the intentions of working alone, he gets joined by a few others including a Cherokee Indian named Lone Watie, played by Chief Dan George, and Laura Lee, played by Sondra Locke.  Bill McKinney, John Vernon, Paula Trueman, Sam Bottoms, Geraldine Keams, Woodrow Parfrey, Joyce Jameson, Sheb Wooley, Royal Dano, and many others co-star in this western.  Eastwood was up to the game in front of and behind the camera with a good array of supporting characters and action in the Civil War era.

Godzilla Raids Again (1955):  This is my Japanese film for the week and the first sequel after the 1954 classic GODZILLA.  The Iconic kaiju continues to wreak havoc all over Osaka while doing battle with new monster Anguirus which is a mutated ankylosaurus dinosaur.  I don't really see any need to go into the plot among the humans as the two Kaiju are the stars of the film.  Anguirus would go onto do a handful of other movies in the later years and was more of an ally to Godzilla in his many battles.  Fans of this genre will enjoy and a decent sequel.

Twister (1996):  I end the week with this natural disaster film which was directed by Jan de Bont and co-written by Michael Crichton.  Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt stars as estranged married couple Bill and Jo Harding who are also a couple of storm chasers.  Bill has moved on with his life as a tv weatherman and is in another relationship and goes to town in hopes of getting Jo to sign the divorce papers but gets roped in when a tornado hits town.  Cary Elwes co-stars as their rival Dr. Jonas Miller who is the biggest reason that Bill rejoins the group during the disaster in town.  Jami Gerts, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lois Smith, Alan Ruck, Sean Whalen, Todd Field, Joey Slotnick, Wendle Josepher, Jeremy Davies, Zach Grenier, Anthony Rapp, Abraham Benrubi, Jake Busey, Richard Lineback, Rusty Schwimmer, Alexa Vega, and many others co-star in this film.  This is not something that was going to win any awards and is more of a summer blockbuster than anything.  Watching this again made me forget how enjoyable this movie really is with the action going on and the characters.

Well, that is all for this week but I did return with my "Movie Night in the Town of Pottersville" segment.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Julianne Moore, Winona Ryder, Oliver Platt, Bette Davis, and many others.


A Quiet Place (2018):  I had this movie in my possession at the time and thought this was a Steph sort of film so I messaged her that night and was up for watching in her Pottersville home.  John Krasinski goes behind the camera as director and writer while also starring in this low-budget horror film.  This takes place in a post-apocalyptic world full of creatures who hunt others upon sound.  Krasinski stars in this film as Lee Abbott who along with his wife Evelyn, played by Krasinski's real-life girlfriend Emily Blunt, try to protect their three kids, played by Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, and Cade Woodward, and many remain as silent as possible to avoid the creatures.  This movie is in many ways a silent film where the family communicates a lot with sign language while actress Simmonds is a real-life deaf person and use subtitles for the signing.  This was a very compelling and admirable effort from Krasinski and was considered by many to be the best horror film of 2018.  I always respect when actors take on low-budget projects like these and hope Krasinski will continue work like this one.

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