Sunday, July 21, 2019

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 709th Edition

Welcome to the 709th Edition of my series.  I'm back after taking a break due to my lack of time but now that the first weekend is out of the way, I have more time.  We still have one more weekend of THE LARAMIE PROJECT so if you are in or near the area, I encourage you to come see this amazing show.  It's been a lot of hard work which paid off.  With my return, I treat you to some "Fun and Useless Facts."  I will get on with my selections.

The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015):  I star the week out with this biopic which was directed by Matt Brown and based on the book by Robert Kanigel.  Dev Patel stars as Indian man Srinvasa Ramanujan who had a natural talent with numbers and is accepted to a school in Britain where he meets mathematics G.H. Hardy, played by Jeremy Irons.  Hardy sees a lot of potential in Ramanujan but both must deal with prejudice within the university and an upcoming war.  Malcolm Snider, Stephen Fry, Devika Bhise, Toby Jones, Jeremy Northam, and many others co-star in this film.  I had never heard of this person but is very significant to the world so I am glad this was made.  Patel and Irons work well together and is a very compelling film that deserves a look.

The Untouchables (1987):  This is part five of my six part Robert De Niro series where Bobby D. plays the infamous Chicago mobster Al Capone.  This unexpectedly became a tribute to actor Billy Drago who recently left us and plays Frank Nitti in this film.  Brian De Palma directed this adaptation on the rivalry between Agent Eliot Ness, played by Kevin Costner, and Al Capone.  Ness finds that he works among a lot of corruption so assembles his own team of that includes aging beat cop Jim Malone, played by Sean Connery, rookie George Stone, played by Andy Garcia, and FBI accountant Oscar Wallace, played by Charles Martin Smith.  Richard Bradford, Jack Kehoe, Brad Sullivan, Billy Drago, Patricia Clarkson, and many others co-star in this Prohibition era film.  This was one of my childhood favorites and has always had a place in my heart.  If looking for absolute historical accuracy, you will not really get it here, I can already point out some things and I'm sure the same can be said of the popular tv series in the '60s.  This is still some good entertainment with some enjoyable characters and really good action scenes.

Star Trek:  First Contact (1996):  I saw this at my local library during "Picard Day" where they gave a special showing to this movie based on STAR TREK:  THE NEXT GENERATION and directed by Jonathan Frakes who plays Commander Riker.  Captain Picard, played by Patrick Stewart, leads his crew back in time to stop the Borg from preventing Earth's first contact with an alien species.  James Cromwell co-stars as Zefram Cochrane who the Enterprise crew is trying to save.  Alfre Woodard, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Alice Krige, Neal McDonough, Marnie McPhail, Dwight Schultz, Adam Scott, and many other co-star in this movie.  I will be the first to admit that I do not qualify as a Trekkie or Trekker as some say.  I have never really had anything against it and was aware of most of the characters going into it as my mom always watched this show.   This was a pretty good film adaptation that developed the characters pretty well if one has not seen the series and Cromwell is a lot of fun as Cochrane.

Porky's Duck Hunt (1937):  This is my animated short for the week which as the title implies, features Porky the Pig on a duck hunt.  This is also the debut of Daffy Duck who does what he can to make it difficult for Porky.  In some ways, you could say this was kind of in the vein of what would be Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny with Daffy being more Bugs like in his actions.  Both characters would really evolve but this is a good early look for the two.

1776 (1972):  I decided to get a little patriotic on this one.  Peter H. Hunt directed this musical dramatization of how the Declaration of Independence came to be and is based on the book by Peter Stone with the music written by Sherman Edwards.  Congressmen John Adams, played by William Daniels, and Benjamin Franklin, played by Howard Da Silva, don't get along well but have in common that they want to be free of British rule and coerce Thomas Jefferson, played by Ken Howard, into writing the Declaration.  They must convince all 13 states that this is the right thing to do even though news of the Revolutionary War looks rather bleak.  Donald Madden, John Cullum, Roy Poole, David Ford, Blythe Danner, Virginia Vestoff, Howard Caine, Stephen Nathan, James Noble, and many others co-star in this musical.  I have had the honor of being in this musical myself where I got to play Samuel Chase.  Like my feature of THE UNTOUCHABLES, if you are looking for absolute historical accuracy, this would not be the one.  Much of the quotes of the men have been found and this is one of the rare movies to feature some of these other people who were in congress at the time.  Much of the characterizations were fictionalized but made our story more compelling to watch.  This musical has always had a place in my heart being a different sort of musical in my opinion with some really enjoyable music numbers.  I would say, check this out, then get your tickets to see HAMILTON but those are some pretty high priced tickets and if someone wants to get me tickets I will not turn it down.

The Uninvited (1944):  Lewis Allen directed this ghost story which is based on the novel by Dorothy Macardle.  Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey star as siblings Roderick and Pamela Fitzgerald who move into a home that has been abandoned for many years not knowing the history of the home.  They slowly learn the house is haunted and uncover a mystery regarding the granddaughter, played by Gail Russell, of the owner, played by Donald Crisp.  Cornelia Otis Skinner, Dorothy Stickney, Alan Napier, and many others star in this horror film.  This is a very interesting and complex ghost story.  This has some really good twists as we get through the movie.  This also has some really good special effects that hold up today even if they are not CGI.  Fans of the genre whether being ghost or horror should really check this one out.

Ingrid Goes West (2017):  Matt Spicer directed and co-wrote this film regarding social media stalking.  Aubrey Plaza stars as social media stalker Ingrid Thorne who has a history of forming friendships with people she finds on Instagram and never ends well.  The latest is Instagram star Taylor Sloane, played by Elizabeth Olsen, whose life Ingrid admires and manages to use extreme measures in order to meet her and become friends.  The friendship seems promising but slowly begins to see Ingrid is not who she appears to be.  O'Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell, Billy Magnussen, Pom Klementieff, Hannah Pearl Utt, Angelica Amor, Meredith Hagner, and many others co-star in this film.  This is an interesting satire towards the world of social media.  This has funny moments but is very disturbing and uncomfortable at times.  This is available to watch on Hulu.

The Million Pound Note (1954):  Now I turn to some British comedy which was directed by Ronald Neame and based on a short story by Mark Twain.  Gregory Peck stars as penniless American sailor Henry Adams and encounters a couple aristocrat brothers in Oliver and Roderick Montpelier, played by Ronald Squire and Wilfrid Hyde-White.  The brothers give Henry a note that he later learns is a million pounds.  Joyce Grenfell, A.E. Matthews, Maurice Denham, Brian Oulton, John Slater, Hugh Wakefield, and many others co-star in this comedy.  This is a pretty good social commentary on a man coming into sudden wealth.  It is rare to see a movie based on Mark Twain without his usual characters Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.  It is also good to see Peck in a more comedic role and does very good.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969):  I go from British comedy to the Hammer Films of British horror.  Peter Cushing reprises his role of Baron Frankenstein in his fifth outing of the Hammer series as the character.  Frankenstein is able to blackmail a younger doctor named Karl, played by Simon Ward, into kidnapping the mentally sick Dr. Brandt, played by George Pravada, in order to perform the first transplant surgery.  Veronica Carlson, Freddie Jones, Thorley Walters, Maxine Audley, and many othes co-star in this film.  This is a pretty good adaptation of the classic story by Mary Shelley where Frankenstein is as crooked as ever to achieve what is trying to achieve and managing to hurt others along the way.  This has some pretty disturbing moments and some good performances.  This is a pretty enjoyable entry which does not necessarily have to be started from the beginning.

Spider-Man:  Far From Home (2019):  I end this week with the latest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe which was directed by Jon Watts.  Tom Holland reprises his role of the awkward teen Peter Parker who slings his webs as Spider-Man.  This picks up after the events that take place after AVENGERS:  ENDGAME where a new threat in town arrives presenting quite a challenge to Peter in him trying to find himself in a world where he is an awkward teen and a superhero.  Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel L. Jackson, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Tony Revolori, Angourie Rice, Remy Hii, Martin Starr, J.B. Smoove, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Cobie Smulders, Numan Acar, Zach Barack, Zoha Rahman, Yasmin Mwanza, Joshua Sinclair-Evans, Peter Billingsley, and many others co-star in this superhero film.  I thought this was a really good look at the Spider-Man character where his real identity of Peter Parker was more significant as well as the friends and allies around him.  Gyllenhaal complements this movie very well in his role as Mysterio.  This marks the end of Phase 3 in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  This has a great blend of action, comedy, and drama and was just fun all around.  Many people in the theater left as soon as they saw that first credit.  Haven't we learned yet, you always stay until the end of the credits in these movies.

Well, that is it for this week but I did come back with the "Fun and Useless Facts" segment.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Christian Bale, and many others.


I figured since I took a month or so off, it would only be right to return with this segment.  As always, I focus most on selection to selections rather than people that are in the same movie featured.  In the mid-credit scene of SPIDER-MAN:  FAR FROM HOME, there is an actor that makes a cameo that I did not mention in the summary nor did I mention on this segment.  I am sure there are plenty of other facts so I welcome anything in the comments but please refrain from mentioning the actor in the mid-credit cameo.

Jeremy Irons (The Man Who Knew Infinity) and Kevin Costner (The Untouchables) play father figures to the title superheroes in the 2016 superhero movie BATMAN V SUPERMAN:  DAWN OF JUSTICE.

Howard Da Silva (1776) and Ray Milland (The Uninvited) were in the 1945 film THE LOST WEEKEND.

Sean Connery (The Untouchables) and Alan Napier (The Uninvited) were in the 1964 film MARNIE.

Neal McDonough (Star Trek:  First Contact) and Cobie Smulders (Spider-Man:  Far From Home) were in the 2004 movie WALKING TALL.

Jeremy Northam (The Man Who Knew Infinity) and Ken Howard (1776) were in the 1995 movie THE NET.

Ray Milland (The Uninvited) and Peter Cushing (Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed) were in the 1984 movie SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE MASKS OF DEATH.

Robert De Niro (The Untouchables) and Blythe Danner (1776) play husband and wife in the comedy trilogy of the 2000 movie MEET THE PARENTS, the 2004 movie MEET THE FOCKERS, and the 2010 movie LITTLE FOCKERS.

San Shella (The Man Who Knew Infinity) and Sean Connery (The Untouchables) were in the 2003 movie THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN.

Robert De Niro (The Untouchables) and Samuel L. Jackson (Spider-Man:  Far From Home) were partners in crime in the 1997 crime comedy JACKIE BROWN and they were in the 1990 film GOODFELLAS.

Toby Jones (The Man Who Knew Infinity) and Neal McDonough (Star Trek:  First Contact) were in the 2011 superhero film CAPTAIN AMERICA:  THE FIRST AVENGER.

Robert De Niro (The Untouchables) has Gregory Peck (The Million Pound Note) as an attorney in the 1991 film CAPE FEAR.  Peck stars in the 1962 version.

Jack Kehoe (The Man Who Knew Infinty) and Marisa Tomei (Spider-Man:  Far From Home) were in the 1994 movie THE PAPER.

Sean Connery (The Untouchables) plays King Richard in the 1991 film ROBIN HOOD:  PRINCE OF THIEVES.  Patrick Stewart (Star Trek:  First Contact) plays King Richard in the 1993 comedy ROBIN HOOD:  MEN IN TIGHTS.

Jeremy Irons (The Man Who Knew Infinity) and Samuel L. Jackson (Spider-Man:  Far From Home) were in the 1995 action film DIE HARD:  WITH A VENGEANCE.

Robert De Niro (The Untouchables) and Ken Howard (1776) were in the 2015 movie JOY which was Howard's last movie before his death.

Brent Spiner (Star Trek:  First Contact) plays John Adams in the 1997-1998 Broadway revival 1776.  William Daniels plays Adams in this week's feature 1776.  My Facebook friend Mark played John Adams in a 2014 version of 1776 at the Belfry Theater where I got to co-star as Samuel Chase and reprised that role in a version at the Anderson Mainstage Theatre.

Toby Jones (The Man Who Knew Infinity) and Freddie Jones (Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed) are real-life son and father.

Kevin Costner (The Untouchables) and Neal McDonough (Star Trek:  First Contact) are in the 2006 film THE GUARDIAN.

Jeremy Irons (The Man Who Knew Infinity) and Robert De Niro (The Untouchables) were in the 1986 film THE MISSION.

Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek:  First Contact) and James Noble (1776) were in the 1963-1982 soap opera tv series THE DOCTORS

Jeremy Irons (The Man Who Knew Infinity) and Leo Leyden (1776) were in the 1990 film REVERSAL OF FORTUNE.

Howard Da Silva (1776) and Ruth Hussey (The Uninvited) were in the 1949 film THE GREAT GATSBY.

John Slater (The Million Pound Note) and Peter Cushing (Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed) were in the 1958 film VIOLENT PLAYGROUND.

Robert De Niro (The Untouchables) and Ray Milland (The Uninvited) were in the 1976 movie THE LAST TYCOON.

Blythe Danner (1776) and Martin Starr (Spider-Man:  Far From Home) were in the 2015 film I'LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS.

Billy Magnussen (Ingrid Goes West) and Marisa Tomei (Spider-Man:  Far From Home) were in the 2015 film THE BIG SHORT.

Jeremy Irons (The Man Who Knew Infinity) plays Alfred in the latest DC cinematic universe starting with BATMAN V SUPERMAN:  DAWN OF JUSTICE.  Alan Napier (The Uninvited) plays Alfred in the popular sitcom from the '60s.

Patrick Stewart (Star Trek:  First Contact) and Gregory Peck (The Million Pound Note) were in the 1998 mini-series MOBY DICK.  Stewart plays Captain Ahab in this one and Peck plays Ahab

Elizabeth Olsen (Ingrid Goes West) and Tom Holland (Spider-Man:  Far From Home) are on different teams in the 2016 film CAPTAIN AMERICA:  CIVIL WAR but are on the same said in the 2018 film AVENGERS:  INFINITY WAR and the 2019 film AVENGERS:  ENDGAME.

Robert De Niro (The Untouchables) and Aubrey Plaza (Ingrid Goes West) are in the 2016 comedy BAD GRANDPA.

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