Sunday, September 8, 2019

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 716th Edition

Welcome to the 716th Edition of my series.  Good to see my football Sundays are back.  While I was unable to find a fantasy football league, I'm trying my luck with Fanduel to see how that goes.  Also, last night my mom and I were shown on an episode of RESTAURANT IMPOSSIBLE on the Food Network where my mom and I were shown a couple times along with a brief snippet my mom had with the manger.  This was the episode that happened at the Retro Cafe in my town of Muncie, Indiana.  I'm still in rehearsals for THE INTERROGATION OF BIBLICAL CHARACTERS so I hope those in and around the area are able to attend.  I will get on with my selections for the week.

Vice (2018):  This is part three of my four-part Sam Rockwell series and part two of a possible Christian Bale four-part series.  Adam McKay wrote and directed this political film which stars Bale as our former vice president Dick Cheney and mostly revolves around his life and career in politics.  Rockwell co-stars as former president George W. Bush.  This portrays Cheney has quietly wielding his power in the political world.  Amy Adams co-stars as Dick's wife Lynne who has equal aspirations of her political husband.  Steve Carell, Allison Pill, Eddie Marsan, Justin Kirk, LisaGay Hamilton, Jesse Plemons, Bill Camp, Don McManus, Lily Rabe, Shea Whigham, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Tyler Perry, and many others co-star in this film.  When most people think Dick Cheney, I doubt they would even think of Christian Bale but Bale shows is usual dedication by gaining the necessary weight as well as other things to capture the look of Cheney.  McKay employed an interesting directing style that included the unorthodox narration and some rather dark comedy.

Epic (2013):  This is one of three animated selections for the week.  Chris Wedge directed this animated film from Blue Sky which is inspired the book THE LEAF MEN AND THE BRAVE GOOD BUGS by William Joyce.  Amanda Seyfried stars as M.K. who is visiting her father Bomba, voiced by Jason Sudeikis.  Bomba is a very eccentric scientist who has some rather illogical beliefs which drives M.K. nuts but when she is shrunk by the mortally wounded Queen Tara, voiced by Beyonce, and discovers that a world of tiny people and other creatures exist.  She is also asked to finish a task and does so with the help of Leafman warrior Ronin, voiced by Colin Farrell, and the less experienced Nod, voiced by Josh Hutcherson.  Blake Anderson, Aziz Ansari, John DiMaggio, Troy Evans, Helen Hong, Kelly Keaton, Emma Kenney, Kyle Kinane, Pitbull, Christoph Waltz, Thomas F. Wilson, Steven Tyler, and many others provider their voices to this animated movie.  Aerosmith's Steven Tyler was very amusing in his small role.  This is a pretty fun family movie focusing on saving a forest and a troubled father/daughter relationship.

Grave of the Fireflies (1988):  This is my Anime selection for the week which I watched as part of the Cinemuncie film series that have in my local library.  This is some earlier Stuido Ghibli which was directed by Isao Takahata and based on a novel by Akiyuki Nosaka.  This takes place in WWII Japan where the nuclear bomb has been dropped where siblings Seita and Satsuko are on their own struggling to survive.  This is ranked by many as one of the best in the Anime genre and they did it by having mostly a drama instead of the sci-fi/fantasy that we see a lot through Anime.  We watched the version with the Japanese language and English subtitles.  I had seen it but it had been awhile and it was really cool seeing this on a bigger screen.  Dennis, the guy who runs Cinemuncie, prepared us by putting boxes of Kleenexes on the tables.  This is a very compelling and sad story that shows the effects of war.

Pay Day (1922):  This is my silent film short for the week which was directed by and stars silent comedy legend Charlie Chaplin.  Charlie plays a bricklayer who is very good at his job and when he gets paid he tries to hide it from his wife to enjoy his money while doing comedic things to avoid his wife.  Edna Purviance, Mack Swain, and Syd Chaplin all co-star in this short film.  This is Chaplin's final short film before his very successful transition into feature film.  This is also one of the few where he was not the Tramp though is mostly dressed that way.  This has some pretty funny moments in the 21 minutes and is available on the Criterion Channel.

Death By Hanging (1968):  This is my second Japanese film for the week which was co-written and directed by Nagima Oshima.  This shows a Korean man being executed by hanging but the man ends up surviving the execution.  For the next two hours, the employees at the prison discuss what they should do with this man now that he survived.  This is a another very dark comedy and one that likely would not work in today's world.  This is a very obvious anti-death penalty satire and is really quite funny if you can get past the dark comedy this movie has.

Harvey (1950):  Henry Koster directed this comedy which is based on the play by Mary Chase.  James Stewart stars as Elwood P. Dowd whose best friend is a very tall rabbit named Harvey that only he can see.  He lives with his sister Veta and niece Myrtle Mae, played by Josephine Hull and Victoria Horne, who are frustrated the way Elwood drives people away through his claims of having a rabbit friend named Harvey.  They try to get him committed but through misunderstanding, Veta gets committed instead.  Jesse White, Cecil Kellaway, Charles Drake, Peggy Dow, Nana Bryant, Wallace Ford, and many others co-star in this film.  This remains one of my favorite comedies and laugh a lot during this film.  I have been known to use the monologue near the end that is made by the cab driver.  This last time I watched it I started to realized that part of the message this conveys is to take a look in the mirror when questioning one's sanity.  Many thought of Elwood as insane for his claims of seeing a rabbit even though he was the friendliest and most laid back character in the film.  This is possibly one of the best comedies from that era and really deserves a watch.

I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978):  Robert Zemeckis directed this comedy which is based around the time the Beatles were set to debut on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW.  This is based around a group of friends who are obsessed with the band and are determined to see the show and meet the Beatles even if they don't have tickets.  Nancy Allen, Bobby Di Cicco, Marc McClure, Theresa Saldana, Eddie Deezen, Christian Juttner, Will Jordan, Read Morgan, Claude Earl Jones, James Houghton, and many others co-star in this comedy.  This is the directorial debut for Zemeckis and does a good job of capturing the tones of the Beatles fans who seem very over the top but that is the way they were at the time when the Beatles first came into town.  This is a very underrated movie that started a great career for Zemeckis.

Juno (2007):  Jason Reitman directed this comedy which was written by Diablo Cody.  Ellen Page stars as the high school title character and discovers she is pregnant with her best friend Paulie Bleeker, played by Michael Cera.  She decides to put this baby up for adoption with a married couple named Mark and Vanessa Loring, played by Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner, who are unable to have kids and want one.  Allison Janney, J.K. Simmons, Olivia Thirlby, Eileen Pedde, Rainn Wilson, Candice King, and many others co-star in this film.  For fans of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, Candice King who was Candice Accola at the time, has a bit role as one of the lab students before she would become Caroline on that series and their two spin-off shows.  Page does a great job as a young girl trying to deal with a life changing situation.  This is most driven by the characters.  I know when it first came out, I felt it got judged on account of the awards it "didn't deserve".  I try not to focus on that aspect of a movie and watch it for the movie which I found to be a good comedy-drama.

The Furies (1950):  This is my western for the week which was directed by Anthony Mann and based on the novel by Niven Busch.  Barbara Stanwyck stars as heiress Vance Jeffords whose father T.C., played by Walter Huston, is a very successful and tyrannical ranch farmer.  Wendell Corey co-stars as saloon owner Rip Darrow who is an enemy of T.C. and tends to drive a wedge between Vance and T.C.  Judith Anderson, Gilbert Roland, Thomas Gomez, Beulah Bondi, Albert Dekker, John Bromfield, Wallace Ford, and many others co-star in this western.  This is Huston's last feature film.  This is a really hard movie to put into words.  This is not very upbeat and the people are rather unlikable through their greed and betrayal.  It is still a pretty compelling and fascinating western that I do not feel is a conventional western.

Day and Night (2010):  I end the week on this short from Pixar which was directed by Teddy Newton.  This portrays the daytime and nighttime as creature-like and show their daily rivalry but try to find a way to get along.  There is no actual dialogue but was not needed as the emotion was conveyed by the two characters without it.  This is part of the DVD and Blu-Ray of TOY STORY 3 and is a pretty good six minutes.

Well, that is it for this week but I did return with "The Bookworm Corner".  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Julia Roberts, Christian Bale, Sylvester Stallone, Fred Astaire, and many others.


The Twenty Dollar Bill by Elmore Hammes (2007):  I now go the local route where I decided to seek out an author that I know.  I have had the pleasure of working with Elmore in a couple plays at the Anderson Mainstage Theater and on the side he has done some independent novels.  This is something pretty different where the focal point of the story is a 20 dollar bill and each place the bill ends up at.  This is a series of various characters that have ended up with the bill in some way or another.  This has no linear story and once the bill leaves one person, we do not know what happens to them.  This is still a very clever book though which essentially has some diverse short stories on each chapter with the characters.  I got this from Amazon which has pretty low prices with the Kindle or the paperback.  I will try to support local writers like Elmore more in the future.

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