Sunday, September 15, 2019

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 717th Edition

Welcome to the 717th Edition of my series.  I continue rehearsals for THE INTERROGATION OF BIBLICAL CHARACTERS which is coming along well so I encourage anyone in or near the Alexandria area to find a day to support it.  Information is at the end of the page.  My team the 49ers are undefeated as of right so we'll see what this week holds.  Other than that, not much is happening so I'll just get on with my selections for the week.

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002):  This is part four of my four-part Sam Rockwell series.  George Clooney directed this biopic which is based on the autobiography by Chuck Barris, played to perfection by Rockwell.  Barris is known as the host of THE GONG SHOW and before that produced shows THE DATING GAME and THE NEWLYWED GAME which were all very controversial at the time.  While these films focus on this part of his life, it mainly revolves around his claims that he was an assassin for the CIA in which those shows were like a front to him.  Clooney co-stars as the man who recruits Clooney for the CIA.  Drew Barrymore, Julia Roberts, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Cera, Jerry Weintraub, David Julian Hirsh, Robert John Burke, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Rutger Hauer, Richard Kind, James Urbaniak, and many others co-star or have cameos.  Cera, earlier in his career, plays Barris at a younger age in a beginning scene.  This remains one of my absolute favorite movies and some say that Barris made this up but I maintain it is all true.  This is available to watch on Hoopla Digital.

Rescue Dawn (2006):  This is part three of my three part Christian Bale trilogy.  This is my war movie for the week which was written and directed by Werner Herzog.  Bale stars as real-life Vietnam soldier Dieter Dengler whose plane is shot down in Laos and is taken to a prisoner camp where he is subject to torture by the Vietcong.  He meets five other prisoners where they band together and plot and escape.  Steve Zahn, Jeremy Davies, Zach Grenier, Toby Huss, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a really intense film that seems to capture the tone for Vietnam.  I venture to say with Herzog at the helm that this was not an easy movie to do and that everyone worked extremely hard.  Last week, I featured VICE which Bale gains weight in order to play Cheney and for this one, he lost a lot of weight.

Creed II (2018):  This is part one of my two-part Sylvester Stallone series.  This is my boxing film for the week which was directed by Steven Caple Jr. and co-written by Sylvester Stallone who also co-stars as his iconic character Rocky Balboa.  Michael B. Jordan reprises his role as Adonis Creed, the son of the legendary Apollo Creed, and continues to have a great career in boxing with the help of Rocky.  The other story happening in this film is Rocky's former Russian opponent Ivan Drago, reprised by Dolph Lundgren, is training his son Viktor, played by real-life boxer Florian Munteanu, to be a boxer and soon go to the United States where they look to challenge Creed for his newly won championship.  Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Russell Hornsby, Wood Harris, Milo Ventimiglia, Brigitte Nielson, and many others co-star in this film.  The nostalgia for me was off the charts getting to see what in some ways is not only a sequel to CREED but is a sequel to ROCKY IV with the return of Lundgren.  I can to a full realization after this movie on how awesome Stallone really is and I really look forward to the upcoming Rambo movie.

Pleasure Faire (1972):  This is my short film for the week which was part of Les Blank films.  This is essentially footage of the Southern California Renaissance Fair which was shot by Les Blank.  This is one that has not gotten a lot of exposure judging by no user reviews on the imdb page.   This is only about 15 minutes long and is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

The Gay Divorcee (1934):  This is my song and dance movie for the week which was directed by Mark Sandrich and is a vehicle for Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.  Before anyone gets excited about a movie in the '30s about a gay person, this uses the real definition of gay which is happy.  Ginger stars as American woman Mimi who goes to Britain seeking a divorce from her husband.  In the process, she meets American dancer Guy, played by Fred, who takes an immediate liking to Mimi.  Alice Brady, Edward Everett Horton, Erik Rhodes, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a very good vehicle for song and dance and has some pretty enjoyable numbers with a decent enough plot to stay intrigued.  This is the second of ten movies for Astaire and Rogers and is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

The Killer is Loose (1956):  This is my film noir for the week which was directed by Budd Boetticher.  Joseph Cotten stars as Detective Sam Wagner accidentally kills the wife of bank robber Leon Poole, played by Wendell Corey.  Poole is arrested and sent to prison but escapes prison seeking revenge on Wagner for what he did by targeting his own wife Lila, played by Rhonda Fleming.  Alan Hale Jr., Michael Pate, John Larch, John Beradino, Virginia Christine, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a rather overlooked film noir and is pretty intense and suspenseful all through the movie.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime and a more gritty movie from this era.

Loving (2016):  Jeff Nichols wrote and directed this film that is based on a true story.  Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga star as interracial couple Richard and Mildred Loving who get married in D.C. in 1958 but when they go back to their state of Virginia, they get arrested because interracial marriage was against the law in that state.  Through the years, they fight for their rights to the point of going to the supreme court.  Michael Shannon, Terri Abney, Alano Miller, Chris Greene, Benjamin Booker, Sharon Lockwood, Marton Csokas, Nick Kroll, and many others co-star in this film.  This went onto become a pretty underrated film with two stars who remain that way.  This is rather relevant for today seeing as in our time, we fought for gay marriage but at this time some states outlawed interracial marriage and later generations will probably see something and think "gay marriage was illegal" while we have this to go on and a supreme court decision that might have had a small part in our marriage rights for the future other than just the interracial marriage they fought for.

Robinson Crusoe (1954):  Luis Bunuel directed this adaptation of the Daniel Dafoe novel.  Dan O'Herlihy stars as Crusoe who was a British aristocrat shipwrecked on a deserted island in the 1600s.  He does what he can to survive whiles having limited resources on the island.  Jaime Fernandez co-stars as Friday whose life Robinson saves and they slowly become friends.  Bunuel is known for his surreal style of directing which is very limited in this one.  O'Herlihy and Fernandez work really well together in this film and carry it very well.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Wake in Fright (1971):  This is my Australian film for the week.  Ted Kotcheff directed this film based on the novel by Kenneth Cook.  Gary Bond stars as schoolteacher John Grant who is on vacation and gets himself into a bad gambling debt which gets him marooned by the townspeople.  He slowly descends into madness through the townspeople.  Donald Pleasence, Chips Rafferty, Sylvia Kay, Jack Thompson, and many others co-star in this film.  This is hard to really describe.  This is a pretty dark and disturbing film but also rather compelling.  This is one that is driven by the script and the actors.  This is rather graphic at times and is not for everyone.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

It's Not You It's Me (2013):  I end the week with this horror-comedy short film which was directed by Matt Spicer.  Gillian Jacobs stars in this short a young woman in a relationship where she seems to get easily annoyed by her boyfriend, played by Fran Kranz, through the sounds he makes.  Rob Huebel, Ithamar Enriquez, and Travis Nicholson co-star in this short.  This is one where I should not say much before I spoil.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime and is only about twelve minutes long.

Well, that is it for this week but I do have my segment of "The Bookworm Corner".  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Sylvester Stallone, John Cho, Shia Labeouf, Buster Keaton, and many others.


The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena (2016):  This is the latest book I completed from my reading kick I've gotten on lately.  I found this book when I attended the Coffee and Classics series at my local library.  They let us choose a free book and this looked the most interesting to me.  This centers around married couple Marco and Anne who are hanging out at their next-door neighbors only to learn that a horrid crime has been committed.  No one is really who they seem as twists happen at about each chapter which really made me want to see what happens next.  This is another where I don't want to give too much away as it would lead to some serious spoilers.  This book does not waste any time and gets right to the point in the first chapter.  While suspenseful, it is also a pretty easy book to read, at least for someone who is not much of a reader like myself.

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