Sunday, August 4, 2019

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 711th Edition

Welcome to the 711th Edition of my series and no I have not been visiting any 7/11 stores since there are none around me as far as I know.  There is not really much else going on right now but I'm sure things will change at some point so I will just get on with my selections for the week.

Xanadu (1980):  This was shown as part of the Attack of the Movie series that they do every month at our local library though this was shown a couple weeks ago and chosen by Librarian Luke.  Robert Greenwald directed this really unusual musical.  Michael Beck stars as struggling artist Sonny Malone who meets his muse in Kira, played by Olivia Newton-John, and becomes friends with retired musician Danny McGuire, played by Gene Kelly in his last movie, where they form a partnership to open the title location.  James Sloyan, Dimitra Arliss, Fred McCarren, Renn Woods, and many others co-star in this musical.  When this first came out, this was quite the flop.  It is a very cheesy film which includes the music and the very outdated special effects but things like these make this into more of cult classic for today.  This also has been done in community theater.  If you haven't experienced this, then see the magic and just believe.

Toy Story 4 (2019):  After our last movie in 2010 and a few Pixar shorts, Josh Cooley directs our fourth film in the franchise which I guess is pretty easy to guess with the number in the title.  In the first three, the toys were under Andy until he gave them to another little girl named Bonnie, voiced by Madeleine McGraw, and that is where we pick up from in this movie.  Woody, reprised by Tom Hanks, and the gang embark on a road trip with Bonnie and her parents.  Joining them is Bonnie's newly created toy Forky, voiced by Tony Hale, which is really a plastic spork but is a toy as far as Bonnie is concerned.  As always, Woody embarks on quite the journey showing his loyalty as a toy.  Tim Allen also reprises his role as Buzz Lightyear.  Annie Potts, Keegan-Michael Key, Christina Hendricks, Jordan Peele, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Jay Hernandez, Lori Allen, Joan Cusack, Bonnie Hunt, Kristen Schaal, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Blake Clark, June Squibb, Carl Weathers, Lila Sage Bromley, Jeff Garlin, Estelle Harris, and many others co-star in this sequel.  I would have never recognized Reeves in his role.  Don Rickles uses archive sound to reprise his role as Mr. Potato Head.  This is a great continuation of this wonderful and timeless franchise that I won't go into too much detail but had better go see soon to avoid the spoilers.  This was worth my trip to the movie theater.

Arthur Newman (2012):  Dante Ariola directed this movie which I guess could be considered coming of age for a couple of adults.  Colin Firth stars as Wallace Avery who feels nothing in his life is going well so decides to fake his death and start a new life becoming a man named Arthur Newman.  While on his road trip in his new life, he encounters a troubled girl named Mike, played by Emily Blunt, who is also trying to escape her past.  Lucas Hedges, Anne Heche, M. Emmet Walsh, Kristin Lehman, Philip Troy Linger, and many others co-star in this film.  This is more of a feel good sort of movie where the two main characters must reevaluate their lives.  Another interesting fact is that Firth and Blunt are British and both playing Americans.  This is available to watch on Hoopla.

24 Hours in the Life of a Clown (1946):  This is my short film for the week which was directed by French director Jean-Pierre Melville.  This is a documentary short in a sense which features a couple of real-life clowns in Beby and Maiss and their life in the circus as well as other times in their life.  This is the debut for Melville and the start to quite a career in the world of French film.  This is about 18 minutes long and available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

She Done Him Wrong (1933):  Lowell Sherman directed this pre-code film which stars Mae West who also co-wrote.  West co-stars as seductive nightclub singer Lady Lou and problems arise when her criminal boyfriend Chick Clark, played by Owen Moore, escapes prison to see her with the thought that she has been faithful.  This is not the case but local temperance league leader Captain Cummings, played by a young Cary Grant, is there to help.  Gilbert Roland, Noah Beery, David Landau, Louise Beavers, and many others co-star in this comedy.  Mae West was a sort of pioneer for the women in film and is very ahead of her time in the roles she would play.  Also of note was a very young version of Cary Grant who would be quite the leading man but had to hold his own with Mae West in this one.  This is available to watch on Hoopla Digital.

Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972):  Werner Herzog directed this historical film which takes place in 16th Century Spain.  Klaus Kinski stars as the ruthless Aguirre who helps to lead a Spanish expedition in search of wealth and gold.   Helena Rojo, Ray Guerra, Peter Berling, Cecilia Rivera, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a hard movie to really describe.  People who know Herzog might understand.  This is very minimal in the way of dialogue and focuses most on the expedition, the cinematography, and the treatment of those on the expedition.  This is a very compelling film but is nto upbeat or inspirational by any means.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Ain't In it for my Health:  A Film about Levon Helm (2010):  This is my rock documentary for the week which was directed by Jacob Hatley.  For those that do not know Levon Helm was a member of the legendary band ironically called the Band.  This focuses on his life in his older age where he continues to perform and is working on his first studio album in 25 years.  This goes into some history with the Band and the bitterness he seems to have toward them.  He never went onto a life of wealth after splitting which shows in his way of life.  It also shows how most musicians are doing it for money when possible but mostly out of love.  Looks for a cameo from Billy Bob Thornton.  This is a really good look at a rock star in his later years.  This could be a good double feature to go along with THE LAST WALTZ.  This is available to watch on Hoopla Digital.

Seconds (1966):  This is my sci-fi film for the week which was directed by John Frankenheimer and based on the book by David Ely.  John Randolph stars as Arthur Hamilton who finds no purpose in his middle-aged life and gets an unexpected call that could change everything.  He agrees to an extreme procedure which will deem Hamilton as dead and start a whole new life.  He reenters the world as Tony Wilson, now played by Rock Hudson who is now a successful artist with the coaching of the powers-that-be.  He soon learns though that this new life comes at a price.  Frances Reid, Jeff Corey, Will Geer, Richard Anderson, Khigh Dhiegh, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a much different role for Hudson who rises to the challenge.  I realized this has a similar premise to my other feature ARTHUR NEWMAN but this one is far more extreme and dark in its faking of death.  This was one of those that was a flop at first which grew into a cult classic and as Frankenheimer says, "the only movie, really, that's gone from failure to classic without being a success."  I don't usually quote on here but I was amused by that one.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951):  This was another library showing from the Cinemuncie series that was put on by Librarian Dennis.  Robert Wise directed this sci-fi film which stars Michael Rennie as the alien Klaatu who arrives on earth looking to deliver an important message to all the nations.  When getting there, he finds that his message will not be easy as the military and others take an immediate fear of Klaatu.  With the help of his robot friend Gort, he looks to get the message out in hopes of helping us Earthlings.  Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlowe, Sam Jaffe, Billy Gray, Frances Bavier, and many others co-star in this sci-fi film.  Many may recognize Bavier as Aunt Bea from THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW.  This is said by many to be one of the best sci-fi films from that era and I tend to agree.  This also had some pretty good special effects for the time that still stand and a very good music score from Bernard Herrmann.  This is one that works on many levels and is still relevant today.

Cameraperson (2016):  I end the week on this documentary which was directed by Kirsten Johnson.  Johnson has worked for years behind the camera as a cinematographer for documentaries and manages to put together clips to show the journey of her work that has been done in many a country.  This is very well put together though might want to see of her other work to understand what she is doing in this one.  It is hard to really describe any further except this is very well put together and deserves a look.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Scarlett Johansson, and many others.

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