Sunday, June 2, 2019

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 707th Edition

Welcome to the 707th Edition of my series.  I would like to announce that I am going to be in the play THE LARAMIE PROJECT at the Center Stage Community Theater in Lebanon, Indiana.  I am known to make commutes to be in plays but this is one I would usually say is out of my radius but a friend of mine in Anderson who was in the show reached out to me letting me know there is one more role and that I could ride with him if I get the part and that is how I'm getting to rehearsals.  Info on the show is on the bottom.  That is all I really have going on at this time so I will just get on with my selections for the week.

Warrior (2011):  This is part one of a possible two-part Joel Edgerton series.  Gavin O'Connor directed and co-wrote this film that centers around the world of mixed martial arts.  The story centers around a broken family that involves brothers Brendan and Tommy Conlon, played by Edgerton and Tom Hardy, and their father Paddy.  Tommy is a former marine with a haunted past and returns home enlisting his father to train him for an MMA tournament.  Brendan has his life more together but is struggling financially and takes fights to make extra money in addition to being a school teacher and finds his way into the tournament.  Jennifer Morrison, Frank Grillo, Kevin Dunn, Maximiliano Hernandez, Denzel Whitaker, Noah Emmerich, Kurt Angle, and many others co-star in this film.  Former WWE champion and olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle has a cameo as the Russian fighter Koba so is an American gold medalist playing a Russian.  MMA was the backdrop but in the end, it was more about trying to reconnect with family and people coming together in support.

Robin Hood Makes Good (1939):  This is my animated short for the week.  This centers around a trio of squirrels who like to play Robin Hood.  The littlest one always has to be the villain even though he wants to be the hero.  An actual fox captures the other two where the youngest squirrel must play Robin Hood to rescue his friends.  This was pretty entertaining and I am pretty sure these squirrels came before the famous chipmunks Chip and Dale.  This is available on Amazon Prime on "Cartoon Classics Vol. 3" and can likely be found on Youtube.

New York, New York (1977):  This is part three of my Robert De Niro series that is intended to go six parts.  Martin Scorsese directed this film on the music industry.  Robert De Niro stars as ambitious saxophone player Jimmy Doyle and Liza Minelli stars as a singer named Francine Evans who meet on V-J day and form a very up and down relationship along with their successful music careers that at times are what divide them.  Lionel Stander, Mary Kay Place, Barry Primer, Clarence Clemons, Diahnne Abbott, Frank Sivero, Casey Kasem, and many others co-star in this film.  Scorsese had this very well framed to look like the period it was to be in at the time.  De Niro learned the saxophone for this movie and it shows very well.  This also brings us the iconic title theme song from Fred Ebb and John Kander which I didn't know this was the movie that brought us this song.  That song was not the original song and the one originally wrote was scrapped at the insistence of De Niro which brought us the NEW YORK, NEW YORK song that I think just about everyone knows so a similar story to the song HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS from MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS.  De Niro and Minelli work very well together and a pretty good film on music and relationships.

Four Lions (2010):  Chris Morris wrote and directed this very dark comedy.  Riz Ahmed, Kayvan Novak, Nigel Lindsey, Arsher Ali, and Adeel Akhtar star in this film as a group of British Jihadists that are all disgruntled about something in their country and look to commit an act of terror.  The only problem is they are very incompetent in being terrorists.  Julia Davis, Craig Parkinson, Preeya Kalidas, Waleed Elgadi, Alex MacQueen, Benedict Cumberbatch, and many others co-star in this dark comedy.  This is not for everyone but is very funny if not offended easy.  There were times I thought "wtf" but yet could not take my eyes off of it and in the end I just laughed.  This is a very interesting satire that is available to watch on Hoopla Digital.

Street of Shame (1956):  This is one of two Japanese films featured this this week's edition.  Kenji Mizoguchi directed this film based on a novel by Yoshiko Shibaki.  This centers around a group of prostitutes in a Japanese brothel who at this time are working legally but learn there is a good chance that prostitution will be banned.  They each have different stories when considering what they can do if they are no longer able to do the jobs they have done.  This is a really good and even heartbreaking film that focuses on the characters trying to figure out how they will transition if prostitution becomes illegal.  They are all portrayed as decent people just making a living.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Mission:  Impossible (1996):  Brian De Palma directed this film based on the popular tv series and what started a very popular film franchise.  Tom Cruise stars as American agent Ethan Hunt who was on an assignment gone wrong and framed for the murders of members of his team.  Hunt, with a new team, must do what he can to clear his name.  Jon Voight, Emmanuelle Beart, Henry Czerny, Jean Reno, Ving Rhames, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vanessa Redgrave, Ingeborga Dapkunaite, Andreas Wisniewski, and many others co-star in this action film.  As stated, this is the start of what has become quite the franchise.  This is hard to explain without really giving away too much.  It can be rather convoluted but I can give that a pass with all the enjoyment I get from the action.

The Young Boss (1958):  This is my second Japanese film for the week.  Kiyoshi Saeki directed this Japanese film which centers around twins that were separated by birth under the belief that twins bring bad luck to the family.  One of them is raised in a family of peace and the other by the Yakuza only to reunite years later.  I can see that this never really had much of a release judging by no user reviews or rating on imdb.  This is a pretty compelling film which is available on Amazon Prime but appears to have been buried as even that does not have anything in the way of reviews so maybe we can make a cult classic out of this one.

Incredibles 2 (2018):  Brad Bird wrote and directed this long awaited sequel of the popular 2004 Pixar film.  We join the Parr family of Bob, Helen, Violett, Dash, and Jack-Jack, played by Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, and Eli Fucile, who still live in a world where superheroes are illegal.  They have an opportunity to prove to the world when Elastigirl is hired to try solving the mystery of the identity of a villain named Screenslaver.  Bob is left with the hardest job of his life in a stay at home dad while learning of baby Jack-Jack's powers which are some of the funniest scenes in my opinion.  Soon, things get difficult for Helen and the rest of the family inevitably must join in on the action.  Catherine Keener, Samuel L. Jackson, Sophia Bush, Phil Lamarr, Isabella Rossellini, Jonathan Banks, John Ratzenberger, Nicholas Bird, Paul Eiding, Barry Bostwick, Jere Burns, and many others co-star in this film.  I feel this is a great sequel and has its own really good story that is not really a rehash to the first one.  Like the first one, it is a very good story of family banding together in difficult times.  I will let everyone know that there is no end credit scene.  I recall staying in the theater waiting around but never happening.  This is available to watch on Netflix.

Skin Game (1971):  This is my western comedy for the week which was directed by Paul Bogart.  James Garner and Louis Gossett Jr. star as con man duo Quincy Drew and Jason O'Rourke.  Their scheme is Quincy posing as a slave dealer and selling off Jason who is really a free man.  They make their money and Jason goes escapes back into freedom.  Susan Clark, Brenda Sykes, Edward Asner, Andrew Duggan, Henry Jones, Neva Patterson, Parley Baer, George Tyne, and many others co-star in this comedy.  I realize that in this week, I have this movie and my other selection of FOUR LIONS that make comedy out of very taboo topics but manage to make it work and make it enjoyable.  Garner and Gossett make a great team that goes unknown today and probably could have done more.  This would be a really good double feature to have with the more known 1974 western comedy BLAZING SADDLES.

Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine (2014):  Upon joining the cast of THE LARAMIE PROJECT, we were asked to watch this documentary.  Michele Josue directed this documentary about her friend Matt Shepard who was a gay man attending the University of Wyoming and murdered in 1998 in a hate crime murder.  She goes around interviewing those closest to him including his family and friends who reflect on the ups and downs of Matt's short but memorable life and the awareness that came after this horrific incident.  For those who do not know, the play I am in is also based on this murder and the aftermath of it.  This is a very emotional but rewarding watch with Josue doing a great job putting this together.  This would be a good double feature to follow up with the 2002 movie THE LARAMIE PROJECT and to come see my show if possible.  This is available to watch on Hulu.

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 De Niro, Sylvester Stallone and many others and no I don't have any movies that feature both De Niro and Stallone.

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