Sunday, May 5, 2019

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 703rd Edition

Welcome to the 703rd Edition of my series.  I guess I should have something from the STAR WARS franchise but as usual with holidays did not really think it through.  I don't really having anything going at this time so I'll just give my selections for the week.

The Wizard (1989):  I saw this at my local library where they were showing this movie for its 30th anniversary.  Todd Holland directed this movie which stars WONDER YEARS alum Fred Savage as Corey Woods who runs away with his mentally unstable younger brother Jimmy, played by Luke Edwards.  Jimmy is determined to get to California so Corey decides to help his brother get there.  Along the way they meet a girl named Haley, played by Jenny Lewis, who decides to tag with them and they soon learn that Jimmy is quite the natural at video games which are games on the original Nintendo system.  They also learn of a video game championship that they believe Jimmy can win so they set out to make it to that championship.  Wendy Phillips, Beau Bridges, Christian Slater, Beth Grant, Jackey Vinson, Frank McRae, and many others co-star in this movie.  Also look for a very young Tobey Maguire.  Vinson's antagonist character Lucas kind of the character Johnny Lawrence in THE KARATE KID.  I kind of liked the scenes with Bridges and Slater as father and son looking for Corey and Jimmy but also playing Nintendo along the way and was pretty comical watching Bridges play.  I had not revisited this movie until it was shown at the library.  I still had vague memories of this movie and how cool it was at the time.  I now see it was a big advertisement for Nintendo and mostly to promote SUPER MARIO BROS 3 which had not come out yet.  It also has a pretty good message about how a family can be torn apart through divorce and tragedy.  This was good to revisit and bring back some memories.

Trumbo (2015):  Now I go the biopic route in this film that was directed by Jay Roach and based on a book by Bruce Cook.  Bryan Cranston stars as screenwriter Dalton Trumbo who was caught in the middle of the Red Scare that was going on at the time and along with many others was blacklisted in Hollywood for his beliefs.  This takes a look at the paranoia happening at the time of him getting blacklisted where he continued to write under alias names to the point of winning a couple Academy Awards under different names.  It also shows the toll it takes on his wife and kids in his need to keep going in Hollywood.  Michael Stuhlberg, Elle Fanning, John Goodman, Stephen Root, David Maldonado, John Getz, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, David James Elliott Toby Nichols, Madison Wolfe, James DuMont, Alan Tudyk, Louis C.K., Richard Portnow, Roger Bart, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Meghan Wolfe, Mitchell Zakocs, Mattie Liptak, Becca Nicole Preston, Dean O'Gorman, Chritian Berkel, Rick Kelly, and many others co-star in this film.  Cranston is great as Trumbo and Mirren is also very good as gossip columnist Hedda Hopper.  It is also a very good look at a dark time in Hollywood and in the country in general.  This would be a good double feature to watch along with the 2005 film GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK which is about broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow's crusade against Joe McCarthy's Red Scare.

Serenades (2001):  Mojgan Khadem directed and co-wrote this Australian drama. Alice Haines stars as Jila who is the daughter of an Aboriginal mother and Afghan father and grows up with her mother's family and through a kind missionary.  Things happen where she must live with her devout Muslim father and wants to marry her childhood friend, played by Aden Young, but is forced into a loveless marriage from her father.  David Gulpulil, Nick Lathouris, Rodney Afif, Netta Yashchin, and many others co-star in this film.  It is hard to describe this much further.  It is a beautiful film in its scenery and the story on forbidden love.  This may not have an all star cast but their actors rise the the occasion and is driven by its well written script so hopefully this gets it more exposure.

Musical Mountaineers (1939):  This is my animated short for the week which features Betty Boop.  I came across this last week when researching my selection of OUR HOSPITALITY which was one of last week's features and a parody on the real-life Hatfield/McCoy feud.  In this short, Betty runs out of gas in a place called Feud County where she is mistaken for a Hatfield by some hostile hillbillies who are won over by her singing and dancing.  This was a pretty fun few minutes that also parody the real-life Hatfields and McCoys that fought each other during the Civil War era.  I was able to find this on Youtube.

Mon Oncle (1958):  This is my French comedy for the week which was directed by Jacques Tati who also stars as Monsieur Hulot.  Hulot is a socially awkward yet very likable man who gets a job working for his brother-in-law Charles Arpel, played by Jean-Pierre Zola.  He is also very adored by his nephew and has a hard time fitting into the comical technologically advanced home of his family.  Adrienne Servantie, Betty Schneider, and many others co-star in this French film.  This is a very funny and light-hearted film that is driven by its script and by the physical comedy of Hulot who does not say much but conveys himself very well through movement.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Across 110th Street (1972):  Barry Shear directed this film which is based on the novel by Wally Ferris.  Yaphet Kotto and Anthony Quinn star as very mismatched NYPD cops Lieutenant Pope and Captain Matelli who must team up to prevent a local gang war happening.  Paul Benjamin, Antonio Fargas, Anthony Franciosa, Andrea Frierson, Joe George, Paul Harris, Gloria Hendry, Richard Ward, Burt Young, and many others co-star in this film.  This has elements that could lead one to believe this is Blaxploitation but goes pretty well beyond that genre.  This does a great job of splitting time between the gangsters and the police officers leading into a good action climax.  It also has a really good soundtrack from Bobby Womack.  I also learned that Quinn was originally just supposed to be executive producer but took the role of Matelli when other actors including John Wayne turned down the role.  I would have liked to have seen Wayne in a role like this one but it probably went against all his standards as the Duke.  Either way, good watch from this era for those that enjoys this genre.

Avengers:  Endgame (2019):  This is part two of my Jeremy Renner trilogy and part one of a two-part Mark Ruffalo series.  I decided I'd better just make my rare trip to the movie theater to avoid the spoilers, even the small ones.  I will continue to honor this no spoiler rule so I will not be going into the plot except that it continues from last year's AVENGERS:  INFINITY WAR.  I have really enjoyed this Marvel Cinematic Universe series that has been put together so well that leads to what now might be my favorite in this one.  For me, this was absolutely awesome and so worth the three hours though I didn't know that was such a big deal as I saw many three hour jokes being made before and after this came out.  I'm also not even going to go into the actors except the ones mentioned as part of a series.  Spoilers are slowly abounding so if you do not want to see spoilers I suggest getting to the movie.  If you've never seen anything from the MCU, then watching this will have you very lost.  If that is the case, maybe it is time to give these a chance starting with 2008 film IRON MAN that was the first of 21 movies leading to this epic conclusion that that part of it.

Les Miserables (1952):  Lewis Milestone directed this adaptation of the Victor Hugo novel.  Michael Rennie stars as Jean Valjean who was arrested for stealing a loaf of bread in a desperate attempt to help is family and is finally being paroled after a decade of hard labor.  Upon his release, he finds it impossible to find work with his status as a convict and with the help of a very noble priest, played by Edmund Gwenn, he is able to start a whole new life while having to violate his parole.  Robert Newton co-stars as police officer Javert whose view of the law is very black and white and relentlessly pursues Valjean.  Debra Paget, Sylvia Sidney, Cameron Mitchell, James Robertson Justice, Joseph Wiseman, and many others co-star in this film.  Rennie is likely most known a Klaatu in the 1951 Sci-Fi classic THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL and has a more underrated performance in this film.  If you have seen any other versions or read the book, you will pretty much know what happens.  This was put out long before that musical that we love today came out which is one of my favorite musicals and is a really good version has went onto become more unknown.

The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974):  This is my tv movie for the week which was directed by John Korty and based on the novel by Ernest J. Gaines.  Cicely Tyson stars as the 110 year old Jane Pittman whose life interests journalist Quentin Lerner, played by Michael Murphy, to pursue her for an interview.  This flashbacks from her younger days as a former slave into her days into the modern era of the movie which was during segregation.  Richard Dysart, Will Hare, Katherine Helmond, Dudley Knight, Rod Perry, Roy Poole, and many others co-star in this tv movie.  This was a very good tv movie that can rank with any other other feature films.  Tyson plays the title character to perfection in all of her featured eras.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime and is really worth a look.

Only Yesterday (1991):  I end the week with some Anime from Studio Ghibli.  Isao Takahata directed this film which is based on the Manga by Hotaru Okamoto and Yuuko Tone.  This centers around the 27 year old office worker Taeko who is visiting her family in the countryside.  We also get to know Taeko as in her childhood through flashbacks while she rethinks her city lifestyle.  Daisy Ridley, Dev Patel, Alison Fernandez, Hope Levy, Shephanie Sheh, Madeleine Yen, Jaden Betts, Grey Griffin, Tara Strong, and many others lend their voice to the American version.  Usually when we think Anime, we think of action, sci-fi, and fantasy.  This is more coming of age anime that is more drama than anything.  This is still a very good Anime selection showing that any genre can be done.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Brad Pitt, Harold Lloyd, Eli Wallach, Keira Knightley, and many others.

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