Sunday, May 26, 2019

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 706th Edition

Welcome to the 706th Edition of my series.  It's good to finally see some nice weather for a change.  I hope everyone enjoys their Memorial Day weekend however celebrated.  I don't have much going on at this time so I will just get on with my selections for the week.

Hands of Stone (2016):  This is part two of my Robert De Niro series that could go six parts.  Jonathan Jakubowicz directed and wrote this biopic which is based on boxer Roberto Duran, played by Edgar Ramirez, and his legendary manager Ray Arcel, played by De Niro.  This is mostly based on their relationship that lead to a championship bout with Sugar Ray Leonard, played by Usher Raymond, but also based on their personal lives.  Ruben Blades, Ana de Armas, Ellen Barkin, John Turturro, Oscar Jaenada, Jurnee Smollet-Bell, Ilza Ponko, Anthony Molinari, Rick Avery, Robb Skyler, Joe Urla, Eliud Kauffman, Reg E. Cathey, and many others co-star in this film.  I thought this was a good boxing film that focused well on the two main people in Duran and Arcel in their troubled lives.  This would be a good double feature to watch along with De Niro's RAGING BULL where I learned when filming that movie, De Niro met Arcel in which he portrayed.

Doggone Tired (1949):  This is my animated short for the week which was directed by Tex Avery.  This centers around a very energetic hunting dog who needs his sleep to be ready for rabbit hunting.  A very clever rabbit does what he can to keep the dog awake.  There is a little bit of human dialogue, otherwise everything between the animals is non-verbal and the rabbit's actions toward the dog with the dog's reactions do all the talking necessary.  Lots of interesting cartoon violence and lots of humor in this animated short.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime as part of the "Cartoon Classics Vol. 3" series.

In Harm's Way (1965):  I saw this in a showing of the "Coffee and Classics" series at my local library.  Otto Preminger directed this film that is based on the novel by James Bassett.  This centers around WWII where John Wayne stars as U.S. Naval Captain Rock Torrey who must reprimand his friend Cammander Paul Eddington, played by Kirk Douglas after Pearl Harbor.  Eddington later gets a chance to prove himself again the Japanese.  The movie mostly centers around the friendship of to characters as well as Rock with his love interest in military nurse Maggie, played by Patricia Neal, and him trying to connect with his son Jere, played by Brandon De Wilde, who is now in the military and has not seen since he was a little kid.  Tom Tryon, Paula Prentiss, Jill Haworth, Dana Andrews, Stanley Holloway, Burgess Meredith, Franchot Tone, Patrick O'Neal, Carroll O'Connor, James Mitchum, George Kennedy, Bruce Cabot, Barbara Bouchet, Tod Andrews, Larry Hagman, Henry Fonda, and many others co-star in this film.  De Wilde is probably most known as the boy from the classic western SHANE.  This is Wayne's last black and white film.  This is pretty good movie centered around the navy but really around the characters.  There are some pretty intense scenes in the movie and is not always easy to watch which I feel in some ways should be that way in war films.  This could be good to have a double feature with FROM HERE TO ETERNITY.

The Simpsons Movie (2007):  This is part two of my two-part Hank Azaria series.  This very popular and long running animated series gets the movie treatment.  Homer, voiced by Dan Castellaneta, accidentally pollutes the town's water supply which results in a dome being put over Springfield and with him and the rest of the family, voiced by Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, and Yeardley Smith, become fugitives.  Corrupt EPA boss Russ Cargill, voiced by Albert Brooks, looks to take advantage of the situation by destroying Springfield.  Azaria, Harry Shearer, Pamela Hayden, Tress MacNeille, Marcia Wallace, Russi Taylor, Maggie Roswell, Joe Mantegna, and many others provide their voices.  To enjoy this, you must be a fan of the series.  I have always been a casual fan but enjoy it when I see it usually and thought this was a fun movie that some could say was just an extra episode.

An Inn in Tokyo (1935):  This is my silent film for the week which was directed by Yasujiro Ozu.  Takeshi Samamoto stars as Kihachi who is a single and unemployed father with two sons and struggling to find work.  Through his struggles, he manages to hit it off with a cafe owner and begins to rethink his life.  This is a statement on the struggle of the common man and has been a common theme in our own country and can happen anywhere else we go.  I am also sure some will see the year and not be able to believe this is a silent film.  In the United States, we were well into the "talkie" films with some exception to Charlie Chaplin.  Japan had started doing them in 1930 but I don't think they had the budget or technology to do them regularly so they made a lot more in the '30s period.  Regardless of whether or not they talk in this movie, it is still a very compelling film that stays relevant today.  This can be found on the Criterion Collection.

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (2001):  This is my second one that was featured at the Muncie Public Library as part of their "Attack of the Movie" series.  Larry Blamire wrote and directed this film that is essentially an homage to the old B-movies.  Blamire also stars as scientist Dr. Paul Armstrong who along with his wife, played by Fay Masterson must look to save the world and find an Atmospherium.  There is also an alien couple, played by Andrew Parks and Susan McConnell, and a mad scientist, played by Brian Howe, who are after it for the own reasons.  Jennifer Blaire, Dan Conroy, Robert Deveau, and Darrin Reed co-star in this comedy.  I had never heard of this until it was presented.  Blamire and the cast do a great job of making this into a bad movie and was extremely funny and enjoyable.  Blaire was also very amusing as Animala and clearly had a very fun time.   Much of the cast was very experienced and had to put a lot of effort to be bad enough to achieve the vision of a B-movie.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime and really deserves to get more exposure.

The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978):  This was another presentation from Muncie Public Library showing what is technically the second STAR WARS movie.  My last selection was meant to look like a bad movie that is funny, this one is just unintentionally funny and so bad that it is rather enjoyable.  Han Solo, played by Harrison Ford, and Chewbacca, played by Peter Mayhew, are trying to get to Chewbacca's planet Kashyyyk for Life Day which is the equivalent of Christmas in this universe but get themselves into a battle with the empire.  The other storyline going on involves Chewbacca's wife, son, and father who await Chewy to get home so we have some wookies talking to each other a lot but have no subtitles to know what they are saying.  This is the only time we would ever see these particular wookies in a STAR WARS film.  Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Carrie Fisher, Kenny Baker, and James Earl Jones reprise their roles from the 1977 film.  There is also an animated sequence that introduces Boba Fett which might be the best part of this movie.  Bea Arthur, Art Carney, Diahann Carroll, Harvey Korman, and even Jefferson Starship have cameos in this movie with some of them having musical numbers as well as Carrie Fisher.  George Lucas has seen to it that any copies found need to be destroyed so this is not one that will be included on any of the boxed sets of the STAR WARS franchise.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016):  Tim Burton directed this fantasy film which is based on the book by Ransom Riggs.  Asa Butterfield stars as Jacob whose grandfather, played by Terence Stamp, has been telling stories to him all his life that seem impossible but learns these stories might be true.  He finally meets the title character, played by Eva Green, who runs a home of youth that have special abilities which is in danger from others that use their powers for evil.  Jacob learns that he is not as normal as he thought and that his own "peculiarity" is what they need to save them.  Ella Purnell, Judi Dench, Samuel L. Jackson, Rupert Everett, Allison Janney, Chris O'Dowd, Finlay MacMillan, Lauren McCrostie, Georgia Perberton, Milo Parker, Raffiella Chapman, Pixie Davies, O-Lan Jones, and many others co-star in this film.  I have not read the book so I cannot judge on account of that but still a pretty enjoyable fantasy movie in my opinion with really good visuals set against an interesting WWII backdrop.

The Burglar (1957):  This is my film noir for the week which was directed by Paul Wendkos and based on the novel by David Goodis.  Dan Duryea stars as professional burglar Nat Harbin who along with his associates rob a wealthy spiritualist.  Most of the movie is dealing with the aftermath of this crime on on both the criminal and cop sides.  Jayne Mansfield, Martha Vickers, Peter Capell, Mickey Shaughnessy, and many others co-star in this crime drama.  This has not gotten much attention through the years.  I did feel that it captures the tension very well with the characters and has some good twists in there.  This really is worth a look and is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

The Favourite (2018):  This is my royalty biopic for the week which was directed by Yorgos Lanthimos.  In the early 18th Century England, a frail Queen Anne, played by Olivia Colman, occupies the country while her close friend Lady Sarah, played by Rachel Weisz, governs the country.  Emma Stone co-stars as Abigail who is a new servant that Sarah takes under her wing but soon form a bit of a rivalry toward the Queen.  James Smith, Nicholas Hoult, Mark Gatiss, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a very interesting look at royalty showing they are high class but act no different than anyone else is what I took from this film.  There are some very obscene scenes and may not be for everyone as I did this "wtf" at times.  It is still a very compelling film with good performances and Colman, Weisz, and Stone being a very good trio.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week.

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