Sunday, November 24, 2019

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 727th Edition

Welcome to the 727th Edition of my series.  I hope everyone has a good Thanksgiving and a safe black Friday for those crazy enough to get out in it.  I don't have a lot of else happening so I will just get on with my selections for the week.

Her (2013):  This is part four of my four-part Joaquin Phoenix series.  Spike Jonze wrote and directed this pretty light-hearted futuristic film.  Phoenix stars as a letter writer named Theodore who is going through a divorce and is rather lonely.  He decides to purchase the new OS1 operating system that is being billed as the first artificially intelligent operating system.  When installing it, the operating system is in the form of a female calling herself Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johansson, who seems to have a mind of her own.  Theodore becomes drawn to Samantha to the point they form a very unconventional relationship.  Amy Adams, Chris Pratt, Rooney Mara, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Matt Letscher, Olivia Wilde, Brian Cox, and many others co-star in this film.  Jonze is very amusing in his voicing of Alien Child.  The plot of this seems very absurd but it really works and Phoenix does a great job in helping that to happen.  In my four part series for Phoenix, I have included his very dark characters, even playing "himself" in I'M STILL HERE.  In this one, he is a lot lighter in his portrayal.  This does a great job of portraying a future without having to get real dark.  This is available to watch on Netflix.

The Heat Theory (1966):  This is my animated short for the week which is technically the first episode of the animated series SPACE GHOST which was an early superhero cartoon.  This is the first one where Space Ghost, voiced by Gary Owens, and his sidekicks Jan and Jace, voiced by Ginny Tyler and Tim Matheson, and their monkey Blip take on a lava monster.  This was an animated series that did 20 episodes but would live on, most notably in SPACE GHOST COAST TO COAST.

That Hamilton Woman (1941):  I saw this in part of the "Coffee and Classics" series they do at my local library.  Alexander Korda directed this film that takes place during the Napoleonic Wars.  Vivien Leigh stars as Emma who marries British ambassador William Hamilton, played by Alan Mowbray.  Things are going well until she meets Lord Horation Nelson, played by Laurence Olivier, where they form a relationship but keep being torn apart by the war.  Sara Allgood, Gladys Cooper, Henry Wilcoxon, Halliwell Hobbes, Gilbert Emery, Miles Mander, and many others co-star in this film.  This is the 3rd and last movie between Leigh and Olivier.  This is based on true events and is played out very well with Emma telling her story through the use of flashback.  This is available to watch on Criterion Channel.

Winning:  The Racing Life of Paul Newman (2015):  Adam Carolla and Nate Adams directed this documentary on Paul Newman which I guess goes without saying seeing as his name is in the title.  Most people know Paul Newman through years of great film and iconic characters but not so much for his real passion which was the world of auto racing.  I admit, I was kind of aware of it but not to the extent I learned in this movie.  When Newman was cast in the 1969 racing movie WINNING, he had to get some training for auto racing and took an actual liking to it.  He decided he wanted to continue learning and even had a pretty successful career as a driver and as an owner in the later years.  There are interviews with Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti, Jay Leno, Patrick Dempsey, Robert Redford, John Lasseter, and Robert Wagner.  While I vaguely knew of Newman as having involvement in auto racing, I did know know that Patrick Dempsey is also a professional auto racer.  Lasseter was one of the directors of CARS which has Newman as one of the voices and expresses gratitude towards Newman for helping to make it more authentic in the way of the racing.  It also goes briefly into his Newman's Own salad dressing brand and the charities it would support.  This was a very informative documentary and is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

She (1935):  Now I bring this sci-fi movie and the second selection that is the title of a feminine pronoun.  Lansing C. Holden and Irving Pichel directed this film based on a novel by H. Rider Haggard.  Randolph Scott stars as Leo Vincey who is told by his uncle of a land visited 500 years ago by his ancestor.  He sets out with family friend Horace, played by Nigel Bruce, and a guide's daughter Tanya, played by Helen Mack, to discover its land and the secret to immortality.  When getting there, they meet an immortal queen named She, played by Helen Gahagan, who believes Leo is his ancestor John Vincey.  This is kind of some pre-Indiana Jones and most notably INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM in my opinion.  There is an action climax where they evidently did not have the camera to do close up shots that I think would have made it better.  Other than that, some fun action from the era in this guilty pleasure.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

If Beale Street Could Talk (2018):  This is part two of a possible four-part Regina King series.  Barry Jenkins directed this film based on a book by James Baldwin.  Kiki Layne stars as Tish who is a 19 year old learning she is pregnant.  She also is looking to prove the innocence of her friend and lover Fonny, who is the father of her child and in jail for a rape he did not commit.  King co-stars in this movie has Tish's compassionate mother Sharon.  Teyonnah Parris, Coman Domingo, Ebony Obsidian, Michael Beach, Aunjanue Ellis, Diego Luna, Emily Rios, Ed Skrein, Finn Wittrock, Brian Tyree Henry, Dave Franco, and many others co-star in this film.  This shows a family banding together to help Tish get through her pregnancy and with legal services.  It is a pretty moving story that can make one cringe at times and is available to watch on Hulu.

Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950):  Gordon Douglas directed this film noir which is based on the novel by Horace McCoy.  James Cagney stars as gangster Ralph Cotter who leads a very violent prison break.  He gets the help of Holiday Carleton, played by Barbara Payton whose brother was part of the prison break but did not make it.  Ralph manages to lure Holiday into a life of crime and others around him.  Helena Carter, Ward Bond, Luther Adler, Barton McLane, Steve Brodie, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a more unknown Cagney film but is very compelling in the way he manages to corrupt those around him.  This is available to watch on Youtube.

Big Time (1988):  This has nothing to do with the song by Peter Gabriel.  This is part of the library series "Attack of the Movie" where each month a few librarians choose a movie which is usually maybe a b-movie or cult classic.  Librarian Luke chose this movie which is a rather unique sort of concert film with Tom Waits which was a combination of music and a bit of comedy.  This is pretty hard to put into words and probably need to be a least somewhat a fan of Waits.  This was a very intriguing experience is the best I can really say about this movie.

Walk on the Wild Side (1962):  This has nothing to do with the song by Lou Reed.  Edward Dmytryk directed this film based on a novel by Nelson Algren.  This takes place in New Orleans bordello in the 1930s.  Capucine stars as their main attaction Hallie whose rather comfortable life is disrupted by past love Dove Linklorn, played by Laurence Harvey.  Jane Fonda, Anne Baxter, Barbara Stanwyck, Joanna Moore, Richard Rust, Karl Swenson, Don Barry, and many others co-star in this film.  This is more of an ensemble piece among characters.  This is a pretty compelling film that is another one that is difficult to put into words.  This relatively unknown movie is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Wings of Desire (1987):  I end the week with this selection that I got to view as part of the Cinemuncie series so I'm pretty sure this is the first time I have included Coffee and Classics, Attack of the Movie, and Cinemuncie in one week.  Wim Wenders directed this German film for which he co-wrote.  Bruno Gans and Otto Sander star as angels Damiel and Cassiel.  They wander the West Berlin area to observe and preserve life.  Damiel sees a trapese artist in Marion, played by Solveig Dommartin, and takes a liking to her to the point that he wants to turn into a human.  Peter Falk co-stars in this movie as himself where he is working on the set of a movie and we learn a lot about him in this movie.  Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are also in this movie in a live music setting.  This would be remade into CITY OF ANGELS but could not come close to this one.  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 Regina King, and many others.

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