Sunday, December 1, 2019

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 728th Edition

Welcome to the 728th Edition of my series.  I hope everyone has had a good thanksgiving weekend and that it is the start for a good holiday season for however celebrated.  I'm still in awe of the 49ers and they play they done this year and hope it continues.  There is not much else happening for me right now so I'll just get on with my selections for the week.

Down to Earth (2001):  This is part three of my four-part Regina King series.  The Weitz brothers directed this variation of HERE COMES MR. JORDAN and HEAVEN CAN WAIT.  Chris Rock stars as struggling comedian Lance Barton who is trying to make it into the world of comedy but is unable to win over an audience.  Things seem to be looking up until he dies unexpectedly.  It turns out this was an error from up above so is offered the body of a wealthy older man named Charles Wellington, played by Brian Rhodes, until they find him a better body.  When in this body, he begins to see the corrupt man that Wellington is and tries to make up for his misdeeds.  King, Chazz Palminteri, Eugene Levy, Frankie Faison, Mark Addy, Greg Germann, Jennifer Coolidge, Wanda Sykes, John Cho, and many others co-star in this comedy.  People might need to be a fan of Rock to really enjoy this movie and it might be a role he relates to some in his early career.  There are some pretty funny moments with the cast and I thought Palminteri and Levy made a good heavenly team.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Once Brothers (2010):  I follow up with this documentary which is technically an episode of the ESPN series 30 FOR 30.  Michael Tolajian directed this documentary which takes a look at former NBA players Vlade Divac and Drazen Petrovic.  This documents their early days when they were teammates on the Yugoslavian team which also included Toni Kucoc and Dino Radja who are both interviewed.  It then talks about they time they both made the NBA and the different paths they took.  The most important element of the documentary is the falling out between these friends when there is a civil war in Yugoslavia and they were part of opposite countries.  Unfortunately, they never got to bury the hatchet when Petrovic was killed in a car accident in 1993.  Divac provides the narration and reflects on the ups and downs of those times.  This was a very well done documentary while very sad at the same time.  I really did not know much about these guys until I watched this documentary.  One of my favorite scenes was in the modern times when Vlade and Magic Johnson sat down and had a reflective conversation.  This is available on ESPN + and is really worth a watch as well as many other episodes.

The Christmas Chronicles (2018):  This is the first of the holiday selections.  Clay Kaytis directed this holiday film which stars Judah Lewis and Darby Camp star as siblings Teddy and Kate who are looking to catch Santa Claus on camera and unexpectedly go on a journey where they must help Santa, played by Kurt Russell.  Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Oliver Hudson, Vella Lovell, Jameson Kraemer, Martin Roach, Lamorne Morris, Steven Van Zandt, and many others co-star in this future holiday classic.  Van Zandt is very amusing in his cameo appearance.  This is a very fun holiday movie that I think just about anyone can enjoy.  It has a lot of comedic moments and does good showing siblings trying to work together.  This is available to watch on Netflix.

Big Business (1929):  This is my silent comedy short for the week and is kind of a holiday selection.  This features the legendary comedy duo of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy where they are Christmas Tree Salesmen.  They get into an argument with a prospective customer and destruction ensues with comedic results.  They decided to stick to silent for this one even though talkies were getting started.  Maybe due to the budget or just something they preferred, I don't have any information with that one.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949):  This is my Disney selection for the week.  This features two different short stories made into one.  The first is THE WIND AND THE WILLOWS by Kenneth Grahame where J. Thaddeus Toad gets into quite a bit of trouble and is up to his friends Badger, Rat, and Mole to save him.  The other story is Washington Irving's THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW where schoolmaster Ichabod Crane tries to win the affections of Katrina but is made difficult by town bully Brom Bones which I'm pretty sure they modeled into the character of Gaston in their much later film BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.  He also has to deal with a mysterious Headless Horseman.  This is not quite that Tim Burton tale.  Both of these are good family entertainment and a little over an hour long.  This is available to watch on Disney +.

The Hired Hand (1971):  This is my western for the week which was directed by Peter Fonda.  Fonda also stars as Harry Collings who has been a drifter with his friend Arch, played by Warren Oates, for a long time and decides to return to his home where his estranged wife Hannah, played by Verna Bloom, lives.  She reluctantly allows Harry and Arch to stay as farm hands and Harry must decide where his loyalties lie.  Servern Darden, Ann Doran, Ted Markland, Owen Orr, and many others co-star in thsi western.  It is hard to go much further with his without giving it away.  It has pretty limited violence but still has a good story and is a rather underrated one for my favorite Fonda in Peter.  I found this one to watch on Youtube.

Christmas Comes to Canaan (2011):  This is my Hallmark movie for the week.  Neill Fearnley directed this Hallmark movie which stars Billy Ray Cyrus as widowed father Daniel Burton.  His son Bobber, played by Liam James, needs extensive orthopedic therapy.  Rodney, played by Matt Ward, who Daniel took in as his own and is now a successful writer being able to pay for Daniel and Bobber to get the therapy in California.  While they, they meet his therapist Briony, played by Gina Holden, who they both take a liking to while Daniel really hits it off with her.  We do find though his heart, as well as his daughter's, is still a bit achy and breaky for his late wife so a relationship could prove to be difficult .   Emily Tennant, Jacob Blair, Julian Christopher, Malcolm Stewart, and many others co-star in this movie.  I'm usually into the more dark and suspenseful but every once in awhile I just want a nice little heartwarming movie like this one.  This is quite predictable and Hallmark lovers should really like this one.  One element I really liked about this movie though is the small town element and a town coming together when needed.

Pickup on South Street (1953):  I get a bit darker on this selection.  Samuel Fuller directed this film noir.  Richard Widmark stars as pickpocket Skip McCoy who picks the purse of Candy, played by Jean Peters, not knowing that he has a microfilm for a communist scheme.  Thelma Ritter, Murvyn Vye, Richard Kiley, Willis Bouchey, and many others co-star in this film.  Ritter is very amusing as police informant Moe.  This is something that needs to be followed closely as many characters that are involved and none really seem to trust each other very much.  This is another I found on Youtube and is really worth a look.

Some of My Best Friends Are... (1971):  Mervyn Nelson directed and co-wrote this movie that took on a very taboo subject in this era.  This is as holiday movie in a sense in the way it takes place on Christmas Eve.  It takes place in a Greenwich Village gay bar called Blue Jay where a group of gays meet up knowing they can be themselves and not hide their sexuality.  James Murdock, Paul Blake, Carleton Carpenter, Candy Darling, Jeff Davis, Fannie Flagg, Joe George, Gil Gerard, Uva Harden, Rue McClanahan, and many others co-star in this movie.  This is more of a character driven movie and has multiple stories.  It is rather ahead of its time and is worth a look to see gay life in this era.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Killer Joe (2011):  For those tired of my holiday selections, I end the week with this much more bleak selection.  William Friedkin directed this film which is based on the play by Tracy Letts who wrote the screenplay.  Emile Hirsch stars as small town drug dealer Chris who is in debt with some people.  He learns of a very sizable inheritance he can get when his mother dies and is told of a hitman named Joe Cooper, played by Matthew McConaughey, who leads a double life as a hitman and police detective.  When the deed is done, Chris does not have the money he thought he would have to pay off Joe and agrees to allow him to have his sister Dottie, played by Juno Temple, as a retainer.  Thomas Haden Church, Gina Gershon, Marc Macaulay, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a family that is as dysfunctional as it gets and is by no means a movie for everything with its dark, violent, and even sexual overtones.  McConaughey is great as the title character and this this ranks up in my favorite selections in film and my favorite of his.  I really hope that a theater near me will be daring enough to put this on as a play.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike but just know, there will be a handful of holiday selections this month so be prepared.  Stay tuned for next week.

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