Sunday, April 21, 2019

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 701st Edition

Welcome to the 701st Edition of my series.  Nothing really going on right now in my life.  I am glad to see the weather getting better and have been able to wear shorts.  The Criterion Channel finally became official recently after Filmstruck shutting down their services so I have a couple selections from it and am glad to have this as a source now.  I hope everyone has had a good Easter weekend however celebrated.  Not much else happening so I'll just get on with my selections for the week.

Green Book (2018):  I start the week out with the latest best picture winner at the Academy awards this year.  Peter Farrelly directed this film that is based on a true story.  Viggo Mortensen stars as working-class Italian-American bouncer Tony Vallelonga with the nickname Tony Lip.  He gets hired to be the driver for classical pianist Donald Shirley, played by Mahershala Ali, who is doing a tour in the deep south in the '60s where racism and segregation were on the rise.  The movie focuses on these two very different people and the slow friendship they would develop through the ups and downs of the tour.  Linda Cardellini, Sebastian Maniscalco, Dimiter D. Marinov, Mike Hatton, P.J. Byrne, Joe Cortese, Von Lewis, Don Stark, and many others co-star in this film.  Vallelonga's real-life son Nick of the same last name helped co-write the screenplay with Farrelly, his other son Frank Vallelonga plays his own uncle Rudy Vallelonga, and the real-life Rudy plays his father.  After years of directing rauchy comedies with his brother, Peter Farrelly directs his first drama and does a very good job.  Did this deserve best picture?  I don't really know, it is really just the opinion of many people in my opinion.  Personally, I wanted to see A STAR IS BORN win it but it was successful in its own right.  I noticed that some people seem to have judged this feeling it did not deserve best picture.  I watched it just looking at the movie as a whole and not really caring about the awards and found this to be a very enjoyable film based on a true story.

Theeb (2014):  Now I bring this Middle East film set in the times of WWI and takes place in Jordan.  Naji Abu Nowar directed and co-wrote this film which centers around a young Bedouin boy named Theeb, played by Jacir Eid Al-Hwietat, who is grown to grow up very fast when he loses almost everything trying to survive.  There is not much else to say toward this movie.  This is a very authentic looking film and a good story driven by the characters.  This is the first Oscar-nominated film in the country of Jordan.  This is available to watch on Hoopla Digital and deserves a look, especially foreign film buffs.

Alan Partridge (2013):  Now I go to a comedy which was directed by Declan Lowney and based on the 1997 British sitcom I'M ALAN PARTRIDGE.  Steve Coogan reprises his role of the title character who is a radio dj and and times are uncertain.  He says some things that get his colleague Pat Farrell, played by Colm Meaney, fired and in turn Pat takes the station hostage.  Alan does what he can to diffuse the situation and working to the police.  Tim Key, Karl Theobald, Nigel Lindsay, Felicity Montagu, Dustin Demri-Burns, and many others co-star int his comedy.  I will start by saying I have not seen the series but what I saw in this movie was pretty funny.  Maybe it would be best to start with the series but still can get laughs with the movie.  The movie is available to watch on Hoopla Digital, I was not able to find anything for the series besides getting it on dvd.

A Brighter Day in the Kitchen (1949):  This is my short film for the week.  This was created to help the homemakers of 1949 be more efficient in the kitchen mostly in making meals for the family.  A young Dick York co-stars in this short film long before he would become famous for playing Darrin in BEWITCHED.  This is entertaining for what it is and at the time was probably pretty informative.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime as part of the "Classic Kitchen Films".

The Swimmer (1968):  Frank Perry directed this film based on the novel by John Cheever.  Burt Lancaster stars as Ned Merrill who is the title character.  He is just returning to his suburban town and is looking to get home.  To do this, he decides to swim pool to pool from the neighbors.  Janet Langard, Janice Rule, Marge Champion, Kim Hunter, Charles Drake, House Jameson, Joan Rivers, and many others co-star in this film essentially having cameos.  I really did not know what to expect from this movie besides it being about a man who seems to love swimming.  There is far more to it than what I just said and gets to be rather deep and intense the more we learn about Ned through his interactions with his neighbors.  Lancaster does a great job of carrying the movie and worked hard to get into the physique that he has in this movie.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime and has gone onto be very underrated so let's get more exposure on this film.

The Children are Watching Us (1944):  This is my Italian film for the week which was directed by Vittorio De Sica and based on the novel by Cesare Giulio Viola who also helped write the screenplay.  This centers around the four year old Prico whose parents are not together and gets put in the middle of their feud.  This is a really good look at the point of view from a boy seeing his parents act up in their own different way.  It is really hard to go further into words about this movie but is available to watch the newer streaming app of the Criterion Channel and they do have some pretty good selections.

A Few Good Men (1992):  Rob Reiner directed this military drama which is based on the play by Aaron Sorkin who also wrote the screenplay.  Our favorite Scientologist Tom Cruise stars as Navy lawyer Lt. Daniel Kaffee who usually is able to get a plea bargain for his clients and go his merry way.  This changes when he is appointed to defend a couple marines accused of murder through the persuasion of Commander Joanne Galloway, played by Demi Moore, who convinces Kaffee there is far more to this case and find there is possible corruption and cover-up starting with Colonel Nathan R. Jessup, played by Jack Nicholson.  Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Pollak, James Marshall, J.T. Walsh, Christopher Guest, J.A. Preston, Wolfgang Bodison, Xander Berkeley, Noah Wyle, Cuba Gooding Jr., Joshua Malina, and many others co-star in this film.  Many know that I just got done being in the play where I got to play the part of Lt. Kenrick which was the role Sutherland plays and a decade ago I was in another version where I played Corporal Howard which was Wyle's renamed role of Corporal Barnes.  I first saw this before I saw the play and really enjoyed it.  The movie and play do have some differences in terms of execution.  Both versions have been enjoyable for me.  This is loosely based on a true story about Lance Corporal David Cox.  I don't want to go into details in avoidance of possibly giving things away but it is a pretty interesting story to look up.  I hope you can all handle the truth.

The Wizard of Oz (1939):  What can really be said about this film that is based on the book by L. Frank Baum?  Victor Fleming is the credited director of this film which stars Judy Garland in her most iconic role of Dorothy Gale.  A tornado hits her country home and she ends up in a land called Oz where she is informed by the the good witch Glinda, played by Billie Burke, that she must go to the wizard by following the yellow brick road.  Along her journey she must deal with the wicked witch of the west who we now know as Elphaba, played by Margaret Hamilton, thanks to the book and musical WICKED and is out for them ruby slippers that Dorothy is wearing.  Along the way she meets the Scarecrow, played by Ray Bolger, the Tin Man, played by Jack Haley, and the Cowardly Lion, played by Bert Lahr who all accompany her to her journey to Oz and in hopes of getting things they lack.  Frank Morgan, Charley Grapewin, Clara Blandick, and many others co-star in this film.  I think just about everyone has seen this movie.  I went to the library last week where my librarian friend Dennis presented this showing as part of their "Attack of the Movie" series and showed it with the Pink Floyd album DARK SIDE OF THE MOON.  As the legend goes, you start it on the third lion roar in the beginning and it is to play along with the movie.  While it is rather interesting, and I can see where some of it goes along with the movie, I don't think Pink Floyd purposely designed the album for this.  If they were doing it, I would think they would work on a double album instead of having one repeat a little over two times.  This is a timeless classic that will never go away with all the character, story and musical numbers.  This is not the first version of the chidren's book series but it is the one referenced when doing other works like the musical WICKED.  I have been in one version of this show as the Winkie General and maybe one day I'll be the lion.

The Demon (1978):  This is my Japanese film for the week and it is not some horror film that has some supernatural monster like the title might imply.  Yoshitaro Nomura directed this film where a mother of three named Kikuyo who stopped getting payments from the father of the children Sokichi and who the children knew nothing about.  When this happens, Kikuyo drops the children off with their dad and disappears.  Sokichi has a wife who is not happy about ending up with kids and the children become the pawn in a game that results in tragedy.  I must say, this is not for everyone and these parents are possibly the most deadbeat parents of all time.  It is a rather intense film and found myself thinking "wtf" the whole way through.  Despite that thought, it was a pretty compelling film that is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Quigley Down Under (1990):  I end the week with this western which was directed by Simon Wincer.  Tom Selleck stars as sharpshooter Matt Quiqley who is hired by Australian rancher Elliot Marston, played by Alan Rickman, only to find the job is not what it seems when learning he is being hired to kill Aborigines.  Laura San Giacomo co-stars as Crazy Cora who seems crazy like her nickname but as we get to know the character, we find there is a reason for what she is going through.  Chris Haywood, Tony Bonner, Roger Ward, Ben Mendelsohn, and many others co-star in this western.  I realize the Rickman plays quite the string of villains in this era with DIE HARD and ROBIN HOOD:  PRINCE OF THIEVES coming to mind.  I kind of forgot about Giacomo before watching this movie.  As I got ready to watch this, with Tom Selleck, I expected a rather comedic western.  While this does have its funny lines and moments, it is really pretty serious and violent.  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 Melissa McCarthy, and many others.

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