Sunday, July 28, 2019

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 710th Edition

Welcome to the the 710th Edition of my series.  Today is the last performance for THE LARAMIE PROJECT.  It is at 2:30 if you are in or near the Lebanon, Indiana area.  This has been a more humbling project for me and so glad to have been a part of it.  I'm sure there is more to come with me and I will keep updated as it comes along.  Nothing else really happening so I'll just get on with my selections.

Newsies (1992):  I start the week out with this Disney musical which was directed by Kenny Ortega.  This takes place in 1899 New York where a group of kids lead by Jack Kelly, played by a young Christian Bale, make their money by selling newspapers.  Joseph Pulitzer, played by Robert Duvall, places a raise in price which makes it difficult more difficult for the newsboys causing them strike even though the kids are already poor.  David Moscow, Luke Edwards, Max Casella, Gabriel Damon, Marty Belafsky, Arvie Lowe Jr., Aaron Lohr, Bill Pullman, Ann-Margret, Michael Lerner, Kevin Tighe, and many others co-star in this musical.  This was originally a critical and commercial flow that has gained quite the cult following through the years.  It is also a really good look at good look at this era in this profession.  It has also found its way to Broadway and now has been done by community theaters.

My Kid Could Paint That (2007):  I follow up with this documentary which was directed by Amir Bar-Lev.  This centers around the Olmstead family, most notably around their four year old daughter Marla who the parents discovered is quite the painter and comes into some very unexpected success with her painting.  This looks at the sudden fame as well as the price of the fame when people start questioning the validity of the child being able to make the paintings.  This a very unbiased documentary where even the director questions what is going on and his own vision on the documentary.  This is a very interesting documentary on the art world.

Life in the Doghouse (2018):  I follow up with another documentary with this one being directed by Ron Davis.  This takes a look at the gay couple Ron Danta and Danny Robertson whose home is a rescue and adoption home for dogs.  This goes into their meeting and how they came about making their home a home for many dogs as well as getting these dogs out for adoption.  It focuses on their struggles on the business and their health.  These guys in some ways reminded me of the couple in the movie BEST IN SHOW played by Michael McKean and John Michael Higgins so this could be a really good double feature.  Both movies named are for dog lovers everywhere and this one is available to watch on Netflix.

A Boring Afternoon (1964):  This is my Czechoslovakian short film for the week which was directed by Ivan Passer.  This shows a rather typical day at a pub that take a look at a variety of their customers.  This is pretty entertaining with some well written characters put into about fifteen minutes.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Bitter Rice (1949):  This is my Italian film for the week which was directed by Giuseppe De Santis.  Vittorio Gassman and Doris Dowling star as criminals Walter and Francesca who are on the run and end up in a rice field where Francesca joins a group of women rice workers while Walter and her plan their next crime.  Silvana Mangano and Raf Vallone also co-star in this film.  Part of this is a statement towards the working conditions.  It is also a very compelling look at crime, love, murder, and betrayal.  This is something for fans of the foreign film genre.

Patterns (1956):  Fielder Cook directed this film that was written by TWILIGHT ZONE writer Rod Serling except this was more the real zone and not in that twilight zone.  Van Heflin stars as Fred Staples who has been hired at a large New York corporation.  As soon as he arrives, he starts to feel the tension and soon learns he is to succeed the veteran employee Bill Briggs who is nearing his retirement.  Their boss Walter, played by Everett Sloane is doing what he can to drive Bill out in a resignation.  Beatrice Straight, Elizabeth Wilson, Joanna Roos, Andrew Duggan, Jack Livesey, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a very underrated film that takes place in the corporate world.  Heflin, Begley, and Sloane have a great dynamic with each other.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Fighting With My Family (2019):  Stephen Merchant wrote and directed this biopic centering around the Knight family in Britain which are a wrestling family and has its main focus on the kids Saraya, played by Florence Pugh, and Zak, played by Jack Lowden.  Saraya would go on to become who we know as Paige in the World Wrestling Entertainment.  Zach on the other hand did not get to go to the mainstream like his sister.  Nick Frost and Lena Headey co-star as their parents Ricky and Julia Knight.  Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson produced this film and co-stars as himself.  Olivia Bernstone, Leah Harvey, Jack Gouldbourne, Elroy Powell, Hannah Rae, Julia Davis, Vince Vaughn, Ellie Gonsalves, and many others co-star in this film.  There are also a lot of WWE wrestlers who have cameos.  This is a really good biopic and has a lot of comedy to go along with this really inspiring story.  I really liked how it gave us a look at the "journeyman" wrestler which is what Zak was considered and how significant they are even if they did not make the mainstream.  Us wrestling fans know the extended Samoan family, the Guerrero family, and the Von Erich family but this is one no one ever thinks of and they have just as interesting of a story as the ones named.  This could also be just as compelling as a documentary especially the people the Knight family trained including a blind kid.  I feel any wrestling and non-wrestling fan can enjoy this for the comedy and inspiration.

Animal Crackers (1930):  This was part of the "Coffee and Classics" series that my local library does.  Now I go to some classic comedy which feature the Marx Brothers in Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo.  Groucho stars as famed African explorer Captain Spalding.  While there, a painting gets stolen and the Marx Brothers look to get it back in a way only they can do it.  Lillian Roth, Margaret Dumont, Louis Sorin, Margaret Irving, and many others co-star in this comedy.  It is hard to really describe movies that have the Marx Brothers.  Each one kind of have their place within the film and do non-stop gags and one-liners throughout.  One should get plenty of laughs, even many years after the movie.

Donkey Skin (1970):  Jacques Demy directed this French fantasy based on a fairy tale by Charles Perrault.  Catherine Deneuve stars as the Princess whose mother has just died and leaving her father the King to find another woman to marry.  The King insists on marrying his daughter which she does not want but goes along until the Lily Fairy steps in being her social conscious.  She helps the princess in an unorthodox way to escape from the kingdom.  Jean Marais, Jacques Perrin, Micheline Presle, Delphine Seyrig, Fernand Ledoux, Henri Cremieux, Sacha Pitoeff, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a very compelling and interesting variation of the Cinderella story.   The performances, scenery and costumes are great and this is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Flirting (1991):  I end the week with this Australian coming of age film that takes place in the '60s and was directed by John Duigan.  Noah Taylor stars as Danny who has been sent to a boarding school and finds it tough to fit into the school.  He soon meets an African girl named Thandiwe, played by a young Thandie Newton, and they form an inter-relational relationship where they look to overcome their authoritarian staff as well as the peers.  Nicole Kidman has an early role in this film as well as Naomi Watts.  For STAR WARS fans, actress Femi Taylor has a small role as Thandiwe's mother and she is most known as the character of Oola in RETURN OF THE JEDI.  Les Hill, Jeff Truman, Marshall Napier, Kym Wilson, and many others co-star in this film.   This was a good look at two people very out of place and find each other.  Also good to see Kidman, Watts, and Newton before they became big, at least in the states.

Well, that is it for this week but continue on for my returning segment of "Movie Time in the Town of Pottersville".  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Gene Kelly, Keanu Reeves, Emily Blunt, and many others.


John Wick (2014):  I confess, I had never seen any of this franchise but have heard some good things on it.  I was at the library and this title just jumped out at me and figured this could be fate.  As I was leaving, I got a hold of Stephanie and was about to head to her place.  She messaged me seeing if I could get the second Hobbit movie but they were already closing so I let know I had this one so we settled.  Chad Shahelski directed this action film which stars Keanu Reeves as the title character.  John Wick is a former hit man experiencing the untimely death of his wife and gets a very unwelcome visit from Russian gangsters from his past.  They attack him and take everything from him prompting John to go back to his killer ways.  Michael Nvqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Adrianne Palicki, Toby Moore, Bridget Moynihan, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Bridget Regan, Keith Jardine, Kevin Nash, and many others co-star in this action film.  This is not for everyone but anyone looking for an adrenaline rush should really enjoy this.  This is also a really good role for Keanu Reeves and has lead to quite the franchise so I may very well look into the other two in the coming weeks.

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