Sunday, November 17, 2019

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 726th Edition

Welcome to the 726th Edition of my series.  There is not much happening at this time, I've just been trying to survive the weather brought on this week.  I will just get on with my selections for the week.

I'm Still Here (2010):  This is part three of a four-part Joaquin Phoenix series.  Casey Affleck goes behind the camera to direct this "documentary" on his brother-in-law Joaquin Phoenix.  This takes a look at the time that Phoenix decided to retire from the acting industry to pursue a career in hip-hop.  The most known part of this movie was when Phoenix went on David Letterman in a very unusual interview that inspired countless imitations.  We all know this "retirement" did not last and and as far as I know he did not put out any actual albums.  In the end, it was an Andy Kaufman sort of stunt.  This lasted about a year and they did a very good job with this.  Phoenix did make some recordings and performed in some nightclubs.  I will say that words cannot describe how weird this was but yet I could not take my eyes off it.  I also believe that Todd Phillips saw this and decided that Phoenix would be perfect for his movie JOKER which I featured last week.  This is available to watch on Hoopla Digital.

Chess in Concert (2009):  This is technically an episode of GREAT PERFORMANCES but as I always say, this is my blog so I get to decide what qualifies as a movie.  This is a musical which was written by Tim Rice and Abba members Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus.  Adam Pascal and Josh Groban star as Frederick Thumper and Anatoly Sergievsky who are rivals in both chess and love.  Idina Menzel, David Bedella, Kerry Ellis, Clarke Peters, and many others co-star in this live concert musical.  This takes place during the cold war in the '80s which was around the time it was written.  I actually was not aware the song ONE NIGHT IN BANGKOK originated from this musical.  This does have some very good music numbers and performances and was very fun to watch.

The Life of David Gale (2003):  Alan Parker directed this film which really brings the death penalty into question.  Kevin Spacey stars as the title character who is a big advocate against the death penalty a and ironically convicted of murder while being sentenced to death.  Kate Winslet co-stars as reporter Bitsey Bloom who is assigned to do an interview with Gale and decides to investigate the murder a little further before he is put to death learning some disturbing things along the way.  Laura Linney, Gabriel Mann, Matt Craven, Brandy Little, Rhona Mitra, Jim Beaver, Cleo King, Melissa McCarthy, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a pretty disturbing and intriguing film that really kept me guessing.  They made very good use of flashback to learn of the character of David Gale and the people around him.  This is available on Amazon Prime.

Begone Dull Care (1949):  This is my animated short film for the week which was directed by Evelyn Lambart and Norman McLaren.  This short film uses abstract animation to music by the Oscar Peterson Trio.  The animation that is being done is called camera-less animation and is about eight minutes long.  People who are fans of abstract art and jazz music should really enjoy this one.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

My Man Godfrey (1936):  Now I bring lighter comedy to the week.  Gregory La Cava directed this classic comedy which stars William Powell as the title character.  Godfrey is a homeless man and meets socialite Irene Bullock, played by Carole Lombard, who is playing a "game" and ends up hiring him as a butler in the Bullock home.  Godfrey soon learns how rich the family is and how nutty that family is as well.  We soon learn there is a lot more to our Godrey than meets they eye.  Alice Brady, Gail Patrick, Eugene Pallette, Jean Dixon, Alan Mowbray, Mischa Auer, Pat Flaherty, Robert Light, and many others co-star in this comedy.  This has many funny moments and makes good comedy out of the imperfections of a wealthy and rather dysfunctional family.  Powell and Lombard were a real-life divorced couple and Powell suggested his own ex-wife for the role feeling their relationship was similar to the characters in the movie.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime and has options of watching it in black and white and in color.

The Killers (1964):  This is part two of a possible Ronald Reagan trilogy.  Don Siegel directed this film which is based on the book by Ernest Hemingway.  Lee Marvin and Clu Gulager star as hitmen Charlie and Lee who perform a hired job of race car driver Johnny North, played by John Cassavetes, and Charlie becomes intrigued and curious on why the the victim did not run or put up a fight.  Reagan, Angie Dickinson, Claude Akins, Norman Fell, Virginia Christine, and many others co-star in this film.  This is the second adaptation of Hemingway's novel and a remake to the movie made in 1946 which I have not seen but will look to get a hold of it at some point soon.  The biggest reason I wanted to see this one was to see Reagan in his last feature film before he would go into politics and never return to the world of acting.  This is also the only movie where Reagan played a villainous character which he apparently hated but did a pretty good job.  Obviously I cannot say one way or the other if this is better than the first movie but still found this to be quite enjoyable.  This is available to watch for free on Youtube.

Mr. Church (2016):  I have had some pretty dark selections so far which I usually favor that sort of thing but sometimes I just want something much lighter and sentimental which comes in the form of this movie.  Bruce Beresford directed this film which was based on a short story called THE COOK WHO CAME TO LIVE WITH US and stars Eddie Murphy as the title character.  Mr. Church is a cook and seems to be just a jack of all trades when he is appointed to cook for the terminally ill Marie, played by Natascha McElhone, and her daughter Charlie, played by Britt Robinson and Natalie Coughlin in the younger years.  This was supposed to be a six month arrangement which was the estimated time that Marie had to live but it spanned many years and becomes more of a friend and family member.  Xavier Samuel, Lucy Fry, Christian Madsen, McKenna Grace, Madison Wolfe, Lincoln Melcher, and many others co-star in this film.  Madsen is the son of actor Michael Madsen and is very obvious.  This is a very touching movie and shows how little things can a make a difference in the lives of others.  Murphy does very well in this role which was his first movie in four years.  This is available to watch on Netflix.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954):  This is my second musical for the week which was directed by Stanley Donen with the musical numbers written by Gene de Paul and Johnny Mercer.  Howard Keel stars as Adam Pontipee who lives in the backwoods with six other brothers and is the oldest of them all.  He goes into town in search of a wife and finds one that very day in Milly, played by Jane Powell, who he convinces to marry him that very day.  The other brothers decide they want a woman in their lives and go about it by essentially kidnapping the women they liked.  Russ Tamblyn, Tommy Rall, Marc Platt, Jane Powell, Julie Newmar, Betty Carr, Ruta Lee, Ian Wolfe, and many others co-star in this musical.  This is a bit dated by today's standards and these sort of methods would not likely go over well when looking for love.  Either way, it was still a pretty well done movie with some good musical numbers which might have made the movie most watchable.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Boxcar Bertha (1972):  Now I bring some early Martin Scorsese with Roger Corman as the producer and loosely based on a book by Ben L. Reitman called SISTER OF THE ROAD.  Barbara Hershey stars as Bertha Thompson who was a labor organizer during the Depression and meets union man "Big" Bill Shelley, played by David Carradine.  Together, they band together to take on a corrupt railroad while becoming criminals in the process.  Barry Primus, John Carradine, Bernie Casey, Victor Argo, Harry Northup, and many others co-star in this film.  As far as I know this is the only time that David Carradine has done a movie with his father John but I could be wrong so I welcome any corrections.  This comes fresh after Corman's gangster film BLOODY MAMA and wanted to follow up with another female gangster sort of movie.  This does give a good look at the Depression era and the kinds of things people would do in order to survive.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Seven Seconds (2018):  This is part one of my possible four-part Regina King series.  I end the week on this mini-series so technically not a movie but as I said on my second selection, my blog, my rules.  Racial tensions hit in the Jersey area when an African American teen is hit and critically injured on his bike by a cop.  This officer happens to be part of a corrupt unit that could be comparable to the Strike Team on the FX series THE SHIELD and they do what they must to cover up the crime.  Clare-Hope Ashitey plays the main character in troubled prosecuting attorney KJ Harper who is assigned the investigation of the crime and later a trial.  She gets help in detective Joe 'Fish' Rinaldi in her investigation but have trouble coexisting at first.  Russell Hornsby and Regina King also co-star as the boys parents whose lives are changed forever and each handle it in different ways.  Beau Knapp, David Lyons, Raul Castillo, Patrick Murney, Zachary Momoh, Michelle Veintimilla, Nadia Alexander, Jeremy Davidson, Coley Speaks, Adriana DeMeo, Corey Champagne, Lesli Margherita, Fredric Lehne, Gretchen Mol, David Zayas, and many others co-star in this mini-series.  Lyons plays his role well as a corrupt cop being extremely unlikable and really having no redeeming qualities.  This is ten episodes long with each being around an hour.  This is a good look at how lives can change with a tragedy for both friends, family, and just those involved like the investigators.  This is available to watch on Netflix.

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.


Wicked Ways by Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush (2014):  I obtained this book when I was at a movie viewing at the library and those attended got to pick a book and this one sounded the most compelling to me and with my wanting to start reading I figured I'd just give that a shot.  This story centers around surburban wife and mother Elizabeth Gaines Ellis whose husband and other people have died seemingly after she wished them dead.  A distant cousin named Ravinia hires a private investigator looking to find Elizabeth to let know what is going on with Elizabeth.  I found this to be a very compelling story that kept my interest and tried to read a chapter every day of the 400+ page book.  I see there are more books in the Wicked series that have various characters so could be something I look into in the future.

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