Sunday, February 24, 2019

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 693rd Edition

Welcome to the 693rd Edition of my series.  In April I make my return to the world of community theater at the Marion Civic Theater where I play Lt. Kendrick in A FEW GOOD MEN.  This will be my second round of the show where a decade ago I played Corporal Howard in Greenfield so how fitting to do this again.  At the bottom, I have a photo of the show information for those in and around the Marion area.  I will get to my selections for the week.

Short Cuts (1993):  This is part one of a possible two-part Madeleine Stowe series and part one of a two-part Robert Downey Jr. series.  Robert Altman directed this film and in usual Altman fashion, it has an ensemble of characters in multiple stories.  This features nine short stories of the day to day life of residents in Los Angeles in takes of disconnection and emotional emptiness.  Andie MacDowell, Bruce Davison, Jack Lemmon, Julianne Moore, Matthew Modine, Anne Archer, Fred Ward, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Chris Penn, Lili Taylor, Tim Robbins, Lily Tomlin, Tom Waits, Frances McDormand, Peter Gallagher, Annie Ross, Lori Singer, Lyle Lovett, Buck Henry, Huey Lewis, Charles Rocket, and many others co-star in this film.  As pointed out, this is a usual ensemble drama with multiple interconnected stories and a lot of the same actors.  I think my favorite story is the one on Chris Penn who plays a pool cleaner and resentful toward his wife for her part time job as a phone sex operator.  They all interconnect to a very interesting climax at the end.

Girl, Interrupted (1999):  This is part two of a two-part Whoopi Goldberg series and part one of a possible Elizabeth Moss series.  James Mangold directed this film based on the novel by Susanna Kaysen, played by Winona Ryder.  This is based on a true story of Kaysen and an 18 month stay she had to have in a mental hospital in the '60s.  She does not feel she belongs in the mental hospital but also has a hard time understanding her mental illness.  This also focuses on the relationship with the loose cannon patient Lisa, played by Angelina Jolie which was my first meeting of her I believe.  Clea Duvall, Brittany Murphy, Jared Leto, Jeffrey Tambor, Vanessa Redgrave, Bruce Altman, Kurtwood Smith, and many others co-star in this film.  I suppose this could be considered the female version of ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST and could be a good double feature.  This does have a good ensemble cast and a really diverse characters to focus on multiple illnesses.

Bessie (2015):  Now I go to a music biopic which was directed by Dee Rees.  Queen Latifah stars as blues musician Bessie Smith who was popular in the '20s and '30s in a time that where racism was on the rise more than ever.  This focuses briefly on her childhood and into her starting as a musician into her meeting with established blues musician Ma Rainey, played by Mo'Nique, where she would rise to her own career.  Michael Kenneth Williams, Oliver Platt, Bryan Greenberg, Khandi Alexander, Mike Epps, Tory Kittles, Charles S. Dutton, Jeremie Harris, Tika Sumpter, and many others co-star in this HBO movie.  This is a pretty decent look at this world in that era with Latifah and Mo'Nique in some very good performances.  This is really worth a look for the the world of Blues.

Lions for Sale (1941):  This is my older movie short for the week.  This is part of the Sports Parade series and is filmed at a popular tourist attraction at the time Gay's Lion Farm in El Monte, California.  This shows the training and the brave men that train the lions.  This probably won't be liked much by animal rights activists.  It does have some humorous narration and some interesting footage.  This is part of the dvd of last week's feature SERGEANT YORK.

The Petrified Forest (1936):  This is my film noir for the week which was directed by Archie Mayo.  Bette Davis stars as small town girl Gabrielle who works at the family restaurant but wants nothing more than to get away.  Leslie Howard co-stars as Alan Squier who is a broke man who stumbles into town.  Humphrey Bogart plays escaped convict Duke Mantee who also ends up in the restaurant and holds the place hostage where tensions come to a halt.  Genevieve Tobin, Dick Foran, Porter Hall, Charley Grapevine, and many others co-star in this film.  This was a film that where every character had a lot interest and is great to see how things will unfold.  This is quite a classic film and maybe Bogart's best performance at least in this era of his career before he would become more of a leading man.  This is also a breakthrough film for Bogey that Howard helped him get from when they played these roles on a stage version after wanting to put the more known Edward G. Robinson in that role.

Tokyo Drifter (1966):  This is my Japanese gangster film for the week which was directed by Seijun Suzuki. Tetsuya Watari stars as Yakuza gangster Tetsu who is is trying to leave that life but finds his old rivals will not make it that simple as they attempt to assassinate him.  There is a lot more to it than just the plot which is the standard Yakuza crime thriller plot but the cinematography, the action, and the music make it so much more.  Watari also makes the movie with his really good performance.  This is a must for foreign film buffs.

The Long Way Home (2018):  This is a newer short film which was directed by Ryne and Amber Hastings and written and produced by Kerry Johnson who is a friend of mine.  Kerry is someone I have worked with a lot when I was ring announcing and is known in the independent wrestling community as wrestler "Notorious Thug" Ace Mob and takes a stab in the world of filmmaking.  Johnson's real-life daughters Yolanda and Kristina Johnson star in this movie as sisters Kim and Shea.  Shea is getting home from a party where a life-changing thing has happened to her and Kim does what she can to listen and help her sister get through it.  This is only about six minutes long but a very effective six minutes to get their point across.  This deals with some very serious issues and is a well done effort from all involved.  It was picked up by the Circle City Film Festival   Take a few minutes and go to this web address and give a view.  Hopefully they can continue these movies and maybe I get myself in a role someday.

Moonrise (1948):  Frank Borzaga directed this crime drama which is based on the novel by Theodore Strauss.  Dane Clark stars as Danny Hawkins whose father was convicted of murder and executed and continues to be looked down upon by his schoolmates for what happened to his father.  In a fight, he accidentally kills another man and is afraid to notify the police.  Gail Russell co-stars as his love interest Gilly Johnson who loves him back but wants him to come clean with the police about what happened.  Ethel Barrymore, Allyn Joslyn, Rex Ingram, Harry Morgan, Selena Royle, Harry Carey Jr., Irving Bacon, Lloyd Bridges, Charles Lane, and many others co-star in this film.  I guess this is an early look into bullying and the effects.  It is also an early look at a movie where the killing is not a simple black and white situation. 

The Little Prince (1974):  Stanley Donen directed this musical fantasy based on the story by Antoine de Saint-Exupery and the music is written by the team of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe in their final musical.  Richard Kiley stars in this musical as a stranded pilot in the desert and encounters the title character, played by Steven Warner, who is from another planet.  Joss Ackland, Clive Revill, Victor Spinetti, Graham Crowden, Bob Fosse, and Gene Wilder co-star in this musical.  This is a pretty fun musical with some good music numbers.  This has kind of an ALICE IN WONDERLAND feel in my opinion.  It is also a good family movie to watch and is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

American Pie (1999):  I end with this raunchy comedy which was directed by Paul Weitz which was the start of quite a franchise and has nothing to do with that song.  The main premise of this film is that four high school friends Jim, Oz, Finch, and Kevin, played by Jason Biggs, Chris Klein, Eddie Kaye Thomas, and Thomas Ian Nicholas, all make a pact to lose their virginity by graduation.  Seann William Scott stars as their friend Stifler and is possibly the most popular character in the franchise.  Eugene Levy co-stars as Jim's dad and is another very popular character.  Shannon Elizabeth, Alyson Hannigan, Natasha Lyonne, Chris Owen, Tara Reid, Mena Suvari, John Cho, Jennifer Coolidge, and many others co-star in this comedy.  I don't think much explanation needs to be given.  It is not for everyone but I think just about anyone who wanted to see this has by now and those who do not want to see it likely stand their ground.  If you have not seen it and are not easily offended, this is a very entertaining watch.  This is available to watch on Netflix.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Robert Downey Jr., Vincent Price, and many others. 

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