Sunday, April 14, 2019

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 700th Edition

Welcome to the 700th edition of my series.  What a number to have in the number 700.  Sometimes I make a bit of a theme but this year I just did it like I do every week  I have finished with A FEW GOOD MEN.  This was a great experience and thank everyone involved with the show.  Now I move onto normal life again for now but I will keep everyone posted as I look to make my way into a show.  For now I'll just give the selections for the week.

Slavery and the Making of America (2005):  I start the weekend out with this documentary mini-series brought to us by viewers like us on PBS.  This covers the subject of slavery which started in the British Colonies up to Civil War reconstruction.  This covers many things like our former president and declaration writer Thomas Jefferson and him seemingly against slavery but continued to be an owner which was analyzed by various historians.  It also covers former slaves like Frederick Douglas, Harriet Jacobs, Louis Hughes, Solomon Northup who the movie 12 YEARS A SLAVE was based upon, among many others.  Morgan Freeman narrates this documentary and features Joan Collins, Carl Lumbly, and many others as the reenactors.  This has four episodes that are each around an hour long and covering various things on the issue of slavery.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Betty Boop and Grampy (1935):  This is my animated short for the week which obviously features Betty Boop as well as her Grampy.  Betty gets a message to come to his home so she walks over there singing and is joined by various other people as she walks who seem to know that is the place to be at that time.  This is some pretty fun classic animation and is available on Amazon Prime as part of "Betty Boop Vol. 1".

Suddenly, Last Summer (1959):  This was presented last week at my local library as part of their Coffee and Classics series.  Joseph L. Mankiewics directed this film which the screenplay was written by Gore Vidal and Tennessee Williams and based on the play by Williams.  Montgomery Clift stars as Dr. Cukrowicz who is a psycho-surgeon and is offered a lot of funding from the wealthy Violet Venable, played by Katherine Hepburn.  Mrs. Venable's only son has died while on vacation with her niece Catherine, played by Elizabeth Taylor, and wants her niece's memories to be lobotomized in order to cover up the truth making Cukrowicz investigate the circumstances.  Albert Dekker, Mercedes McCambridge, Gary Raymond, Mavis Villiers, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a very deep and intense film which has quite a cast and was likely a subject that was touched much in the way of film.  Clift was addicted to drugs and alcohol at this time and was nearly fired but Taylor said she would not do the movie without him.  I have also heard a lot of the addiction started after a car wreck.

First Man (2018):  Damien Chazelle directed this biopic which was based on the book by James R. Hanson.  Ryan Gosling stars as astronaut Neil Armstrong from the years of 1961 to 1969 where he would become the first man to walk on the moon.  This takes a look at both the professional and personal life of Armstrong at that time and the difficult of balancing his career and family.  It also shows the difficulty for his wife Janet, played by Claire Foy, not knowing if her husband would be back for survival and raising kids on her own at times.  Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll, Patrick Fugit, Christopher Abbott, Ciaran Hinds, Olivia Hamilton, Pablo Schneider, Shea Whigham, Lukas Haas, Ethan Embry, Brian d'Arcy James, and many others co-star in this biopic.  This is a pretty decent biopic depicting the life of a man that would go onto make history.  Armstrong's sons have spoken very highly of this film saying it is a very accurate portrait of their parents.

Last Hurrah of Chivalry (1979):  This is my Hong Kong martial arts film for the week which was an early directorial effort for John Woo who would go onto direct a lot of action movies that would use guns and in this one he uses martial arts and swords.  This features a son who is looking to avenge the murder of his father and hires two assassins that are master swordsman.  With this movie there is a lot of violence, betrayal and deception that happens.  This is kind of a precursor for Woo and the violence he would use in his later movies that was a work of art in many ways.  This is a very good story with good action and characters.

Peter Gabriel:  Still Growing Up Live and Unwrapped (2005):  This is my music live perforance and documentary for the week.  While at rehearsal for my show, I joined my castmate Burke to go get something to eat and saw he had a pretty big bag of dvds and saw he had quite a bit of Peter Gabriel and one I had not seen yet.  This has both a concert of the 2004 "Still Growing Up" tour and has a documentary with interviews from band members.  I have the dvd of the "Growing Up" tour which happened the year before this one and had the honor of seeing him in concert.  This has some awesome concert footage and a very insightful documentary.  Just about everyone knows me well enough knows I am a big fan of Peter Gabriel.  I have been since around middle school which was very weird.  I started out being intrigued by his music videos and then really got enhanced one day when I was at my dad's house, he had a music player called the DMX and the song GAMES WITHOUT FRONTIERS came on.  This was the first time I had heard the song and one I did not need a video to see a video to really enjoy the song.  I think this event was what propelled me to become the fan I am today.  If all you know Peter through is his song SLEDGEHAMMER, I suggest watching this to see his very broad array of songs.

Maybe I'll Come Home in the Spring (1971):  This is my tv movie for the week which was directed by Joseph Sargent.  A young Sally Field stars as Dennie who is coming home after running away from home to join the hippie lifestyle.  In the return to her suburban home, she finds that things are very difficult with her parents, played by Jackie Cooper and Eleanor Parker, disapproving of what she did and not try to understand.  She also has a sister Susie, played by Lane Bradbury, who is heading into Dennie's footsteps.  David Carradine co-stars as Dennie's ex-lover Flack who she was with in her hippie days and trying to reconnect.  Field is good in one of her early and more unknown roles.  It is a pretty good look at the difficulty in fitting in which happens in more than one way for Dennie.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Dirty Grandpa (2016):  Now I turn to some raunchy comedy which was directed by Dan Mazer.  Zac Efron stars as the uptight Jason whose grandfather Dick, played by Robert De Niro, wants Jason to drive him to Florida for Spring Break after his wife dies.  Jason has a hard time dealing with his grandfather who is chasing the younger girls.  Zoey Deutch, Aubrey Plaza, Jason Mantzoukas, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Hough, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, Brandon Mychal Smith, Jake Picking, Michael Hudson, Adam Pally, Mo Collins, Henry Zebrowski, Danny Glover, and many others co-star in this comedy.  Fans of the raunchy comedy genre should love this one.  De Niro is a lot of fun as the title character and if nothing else, him singing Ice Cube's IT WAS A GOOD DAY made this truly worth watching.

There was Once a King... (1955):  This is my Czechoslavakian film for the week which was directed by Borivoj Zeman.  Jan Werich stars as the selfish and self-centered King Ja I who is barely tolerated by his subjects.  When asking his three daughters how much they love him, one gets banished for saying "more than salt" not knowing she was trying to compliment him.  His arrogance then leads him to gather all the salt in the kingdom and destroy it but slowly learns through an "herb woman" how to be a good king.  This was really a pretty funny movie about royalty and does not appear to have gotten much released as there are not fan reviews on imdb but it is available now on Amazon Prime.

Henry Fool (1997):  I end with this movie which was written and directed by Hal Hartley.  James Ubaniak stars as Simon Grim who is a socially inept garbage man.  He is soon befriended by the title character, played by Thomas Jay Ryan, who is a very charismatic but talentless writer and brings out a writing talent in Simon which Simon would take farther than Henry ever would.  As Simon becomes a controversial Nobel Price novelist, Henry would descent into alcohol.  Parker Posey, Maria Porter, James Saito, Kevin Corrigan, Liam Aiken, Miho Nikaido, and many others co-star in this film.  This was a very well done and interesting film that was driven by the script and actors.  Urbaniak and Ryan worked very well together and the underrated Posey was great as always.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Viggo Mortensen, and many others

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