Sunday, November 10, 2019

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 725th Edition

Welcome to the 725 edition of my series and the the 14 year anniversary of this blog.  I know, I can't believe it either.   However, I have to say that for the first time this year I took a break for about a month or so when I was in THE LARAMIE PROJECT and just didn't have enough time to dedicate to this.  I just want to thank all the old and new readers and hope you'll all stick around.

Let the Right One In (2008):  I start the week out with this Swedish vampire film which was directed by Tomas Alfredson and based on the novel by John Ajvide Linqvist who also wrote the screenplay.  Kare Hedebrant stars as the 12 year old and bullied Oskar who meets and falls in love a girl named Eli, played by Lina Leandersson.  Eli is a seemingly 12 years old as well but became a vampire at that age and she helps Oskar to stand up to the bullies while maintaining their unusual relationship.  Some could say this is about young love but I feel it goes much deeper than just that and goes deep than just some vampire movie.  I watched this last week as part of the Cinemuncie series at my local library which prompted a very in-depth discussion.  While this is very violent and gory, it also has an amount of beauty to it as well.  It is very hard to put into words further than I have described so I suggest just watching it.

Similarities Between Length and Speed (1937):  This is my educational short for the week.  Jean Painleve directed this short explaining the relationship of size in organisms.  This includes things like why rabbits don't get as big as an elephant.  Painleve recorded this to be presented at the Paris Museum's 1937 international expedition.  This is a pretty insightful 10 minutes and is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Bedtime for Bonzo (1951):  This is part one of a possible Ronald Reagan trilogy.  Long before Reagan became our president, he was in movies.  Reagan stars as Professor Peter Boyd who goes to extreme measures to win approval from her fiancee's father who is also the Dean of where he is working.  The Deal learns that Boyd's father had a criminal past and fears the same thing for future grandchildren.  Boyd decides to take in a chimpanzee named Bonzo from the lab to prove the nature vs. nurture question on how one's environment effects behavior.  Diana Lynn co-stars as Jane who Peter hires to help with Bonzo.  Walter Slezak, Lucille Barkley, Jesse White, Herbert Heyes, Herb Vigran, Harry Tyler, Edward Clar, and many others co-star in this comedy.  This is a bit absurd at times but is still really funny.  This was also presented at my local library.  The next year there was a sequel called BONZO GOES TO COLLEGE but I think an even better sequel would be decades later with RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES.

We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011):  Lynne Ramsay directed this film which was based on a novel by Lionel Shriver.  Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly star as married couple Eva and Franklin who are the parents of the troubled Kevin, played by Rock Duer, Jasper Newell, and Ezra Miller at various times of his life.  Eva is driven to the edge by her son's behavior while Franklin is more oblivious to it and is not treated as bad by Kevin.  Ashley Gerasimovich, Siobhan Fallon Hogan, Alex Manette, and many others co-star in this film.  This movie jumps around in the way of timelines and mostly from Eva's point of view and her dealing with her disrespectful son leading up to quite a climax.  This is not always easy to watch and furthers my point that I do not want kids.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

The Medusa Touch (1978):  I bring another very dark film which was directed by Jack Gold and based on the novel by Peter Van Greenaway.  Lino Ventura stars as detective-inspector Brunel who is investigating the attempted killing on John Morlar, played by Richard Burton, which put him into a coma but should have never survived.  Brunel learns that Morlar claims to have had telekinetic powers and the ability to cause disasters to happen.  Lee Remick co-stars as Morlar's psychiatrist Dr. Zonfeld who Morlar spoke to the most about his abilities.  Harry Andrews, Alan Badel, Marie-Christine Barrault, Jeremy Brett, Michael Hordern, Gordon Jackson, Michael Byrne, Derek Jacobi, and many others co-star in this film.  This uses the format of flashbacks while Brunel is investigating what happened.  I feel this British psychological thriller has been overlooked through the years and unfolds very well as we slowly learn about Morlar.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

The King of Kong:  A Fistful of Quarters (2007):  Seth Gordon directed this documentary on the rather cutthroat world of classic arcade gaming.  This mostly centers around legendary gamer Billy Mitchell and the everyday guy Steve Wiebe.  Mitchell is known to hold a record for DONKEY KONG for many years.  When Wiebe got laid off in his job, he took the game up and obsessively tried to break the record.  When finally doing so, Mitchell and the arcade community find a way to not make it count.  Wiebe continues to pursue it while putting out the challenge to Mitchell.  I always love documentaries like these and the dedication of those involved.  This is a very fun and compelling documentary to watch.

Angel on my Shoulder (1946):  Archie Mayo directed this film based on a story by Harry Segall.  Paul Muni stars in this movie as gangster Eddie Kagle who is murdered by a trusted lieutenant and is sent to hell.  Claude Rains co-stars as the Devil who goes by the name Nick and sees that he is an exact double for a respected judge.  He has Eddie go into the judge's body and in return he'd get to avenge his murder but he has a crisis of conscience when doubling the body and falling in love with the judge's fiance Barbara, played by Anne Baxter.  Onslow Stevens, George Cleveland, Erskine Sanford, Marion Martin, Hardie Albright, and many others co-star in this film.  The look of the world of Hell was really good by Harry Redmond Jr.  I have always said that Muni has gone onto be very underrated and is great in his dual role in this film and Rains is fun as the Devil.  This is available to watch on Hoopla Digital.

Mulan:  Rise of a Warrior (2009):  This is my biopic for the week which was directed by Jingle Ma and Wei Dong.  This is the story of a woman in early China named Mulan, played by Wei Zhao, whose father, played by Rongguang Yu, is drafted to the military but is too sick so she takes his place and poses as a man with the risk she could be executed if caught.  In time, she gains the respect of those around her and develops some leadership skills.  Kun Chen, Jaycee Chan, Jiao Xu, Jun Hu, Angel Liu, and many others co-star in this film.  Jaycee Chan is the son of Jackie Chan and is a spitting image of his father.  Thanks to Disney, just about everyone knows who Mulan is by now.  This movie does not have those great musical numbers or comical dragon.  This is a more serious approach to the Asian historical figure and a pretty compelling watch.

The Last Wave (1977):  Peter Weir directed this and co-wrote this dark mystery film that takes place in Australia.  Richard Chaimberlain stars as attorney David Burton who is called to defend five Aborigines for a ritual murder and discovers he shares a connection to them.  He uncovers the truth about the tribe and has some very bizarre dreams.  Olivia Hamnett, David Gulpilil, Peter Carroll, and many others co-star in this film.  This is had to really put into words.  This is a pretty dark and disturbing film.  This is another one that has gone a bit overlooked through the years but really deserves a watch.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Joker (2019):  This is part two of a possible four-part Joaquin Phoenix series.  I end the week with this supervillain origin story that could really start a trend on the genre.  Todd Phillips directed and co-wrote this story which stars Phoenix as Arthur Fleck who is an aspiring stand-up comedian and works as a clown.  He struggles in his aspirations in stand-up with his mental issues and the way he is treated by society.  He goes into a downward spiral that leads to murder and would become Batman's main rival.  Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Shea Whigham, Bill Camp, Glenn Fleshler, Leigh Gill, Josh Pais, Marc Maron, Sondra James, Murphy Guyer, Douglas Hodge, Dante Pereira-Olson, Carrie Louise Putrello, and many others co-star in this film.  This does take place in Gotham City and even deals within the Batman universe.  Phoenix adds to the great Jokers out there and found this to be a well done origin story.  This deals with an interesting line of fantasy and reality.  This could be a good double feature to watch with THE KING OF COMEDY where De Niro kind of switches roles.

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

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