Sunday, December 22, 2019

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 731st Edition

Welcome to the 731st Edition of my series.  I hope everyone is having a good holiday however it is being celebrated.  I don't really have much happening this week so I'll just get on with my selections.

The Night Manager (2016):  I start the week out with this British mini-series.  Susanne Bier directed this intense mini-series which is based on the novel by John le Carre and adapted by David Farr.  Tom Hiddleston stars as Jonathan Pine who runs a hotel in Cairo and gets involved with a girlfriend of a local gangster.  She is soon found dead and he finds information linking to arms dealer Richard Roper, played by Hugh Laurie, and is soon approached by MI-6 agent Angela Burr, played by Olivia Colman, to infiltrate his group.  Pine does what he must to keep his cover even going through extreme measures and Burr struggles to keep afloat through her own red tape.  Elizabeth Debicki, Alistair Petrie, Michael Nardone, Hovik Keuchkerian, Adeel Akhtar, Tom Hollander, Douglas Hodge, David Harewood, Natasha Little, Antonio de la Torre, Tobias Menzies, Noah Jupe, Aure Atika, and many others co-star in this mini-series.  This is a very compelling series with Hiddleston and Laurie working very well together.  This has six episodes that are all around an hour long.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965):  This is my holiday short for the week and one I have pretty much watched on a yearly basis all my life.  Bill Melendez directed this animated movie which was written by PEANUTS author Charles M. Schulz.  Our depressed hero Charlie Brown gets worked up about the commercialism of the holiday season and seeks deeper meaning.  This is the first animated special for PEANUTS which would go onto have many more through the years.  It is also the first time that an animated special used all children to voice characters.  This is a timeless classic that has appealed to many a generation.

Pink Flamingos (1972):  Leave it to me to go from a Charlie Brown special to this absolute sleaze.  This was shown by Dennis the Librarian Menace as part of Muncie Public Library's Attack of the Movie series and as many will know this is not something for everyone.  John Waters wrote and directed this very sleazy film.  Divine stars as sleaze queen Divine who lives in a caravan with her son Crackers, played by Danny Mills, and her mother Edie, played by Edith Massey.  She is trying to live a quiet life with her family as "The Filthiest People Alive" but they have people trying to take that title from them with couple Connie and Raymond Marble, played by Mike Stole and David Lochary, where things get violent.  Mary Vivian Pearce, Cookie Mueller, Susan Walsh, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a very independent movie and has a rating of NC-17 which fully lives up to the rating.  It is really hard to describe this movie in any sort of words.  I think most will know if they fit the audience or not.  If you are offended easily, this is not the one.  Thank you Dennis for this rather daring showing.

Christmas With Holly (2012):  Now I go from what some could call porn to Hallmark.  Allan Arkush directed this holiday movie which is based on a novel by Lisa Kleypas.  Sean Faris stars as Mark Nagle who is caring for his 6 year old niece Holly, played by Josie and Lucy Gallina, whose mother died leaving her traumatized to the point of not talking.  In true Hallmark fashion, they move from the big town of Seattle into Mark's old hometown moving in with his brothers to help raise Holly.  Eloise Mumford co-stars as Maggie who buys the local toy shop in town and through her friendly store ways forms a bond with Holly in turn a budding romance with Mark.  Daniel Eric Gold, Dana Watkins, Catherine Berube, Alex Paxton-Beesley, Vanessa Matsui, Rhonda McLean, and many others co-star in this Hallmark movie.  This unfolds like a typical movie but has some really good moments in the uncle trying to be a father to his niece and having to keep learning.  The twin girls were also very good as Holly and brought a lot of sympathy and likability to the character.

A Christmas Carol (1938):  I had to bring the Dickens classic at some point this month so I chose this one which was directed by Edwin Marin.  Reginald Owen plays the miser Ebenezer Scrooge in this movie so as the basic story goes, Scrooge is a very bitter man, especially on the holidays and gets a visit from the ghost of his late business partner Jacob Marley, played by Leo G. Carroll, who informs him he will be visited by three ghosts of the past, present and future in hopes it will make him a better man.  Gene Lockhart, Kathleen Lockhart, Terry Kilburn, Barry MacKay, Lynne Carver, Lionel Braham, Ann Rutherford, D'Arcy Corrigan, Ronald Sinclair, and many others co-star in this holiday classic.  I think most people know this story by now.  This is a very popular version and is well done.  Lionel Barrymore was originally to play the role as he had done so in radio productions for many years but had to back out because of illness and found a suitable replacement in his friend Owen.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018):  I'll take a break from the holiday selections for this western comedy brought to us by the Coen Brothers.  This is told in six different tales of life and violence in the old west starting with the title character, played by Tim Blake Nelson who is a singing gunslinger.  We also have tales of a bank robber, traveling impresario, an elderly prospector, a wagon train, and a couple bounty hunters.  Willie Watson, Clancy Brown, Danny McCarthy, David Krumholtz, Tim DeZarn, E.E. Bell, Alejandro Patino, Tom Proctor, Matthew Willig, J.J. Dashnaw, James Franco, Stephen Root, Ralph Ineson, Mike Watson, Brian Brown, Ryan Brown, Richard Bucher, Jesse Luken, Andrew Cullen, Austin Rising, Liam Neeson, Harry Melling, Jiji Hise, Paul Rae, Tom Waits, Sam Dillon, Bill Heck, Zoe Kazan, Grainger Hines, Jefferson Mays, Prudence Wright Holmes, Eric Petersen, Jonjo O'neill, Brendan Gleeson, Saul Rubinek, Tyne Daly, Chelcie Ross, and many others co-star in this western comedy.  I really enjoyed this western film with the comedy, action, and even musical numbers involved.  Some stories were better than others and in some ways is a parody and homage to the older westerns.  This is available to watch on Netflix.

A Night Before Christmas (1942):  Lloyd Bacon directed this holiday comedy which is based on a play by Laura and S.J. Perelman.  Edward G. Robinson, Broderick Crawford, and Jack Carson star as three ex-cons who decide to buy a luggage shop in order to rob the bank next door.  They come into some unexpected success legitimately through the shop and reconsider their plan but must deal with escaped criminal Leo Dexter, played by Anthony Quinn.  Jane Wyman, Edward Brophy, Harry Davenport, John Qualen, Barbara Jo Allen, Grant Mitchell, Jackie Gleason, Andrew Tombes, and many others co-star in this comedy.  This is a pretty good movie for the holidays that does not get extremely sentimental.  Robinson does well showing his comedic side.  This also seems to be a statement towards the difficulties that ex-cons face in the real world, most notably the workforce.  As the photo indicates, this is also known as LARCENY INC.

Prancer (1989):  John Hancock directed this family holiday movie.  Rebecca Harrell Tickell stars as the eight year old Jessica Riggs who comes across an injured reindeer and through her own deductions becomes convinced this is Santa's famed reindeer Prancer.  She hinds the reindeer in the family barn but must do what she can to hide him from her father, played by Sam Elliott, who would not like the idea of a reindeer in his barn.  Cloris Leachman, Abe Vigoda, Michael Constantine, Rutanya Alda, Ariana Richards, Mark Rolston, Johnny Galecki, and many others co-star in this underrated holiday film.  This is a good tale of a struggling family on the farm.  It is also a pretty moving story where we could get behind that reindeer that was apparently one of Santa's.  This is a good one for the family and is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

The Breaking Point (1950):  I movie into a film noir which was directed by Michael Curtiz and based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway.  John Garfield stars as boat captain and family man Harry Morgan, who is struggling financially and is drawn into criminal activity in order to keep his payments on the boat while his wife and kids worry.  Patricia Neal, Phyllis Thaxter, Joano Hernandez, Wallace Ford, Edmon Ryan, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a pretty dark film and is suspenseful throughout.  It is really hard to describe this movie further than what I already have so far but is a very compelling film that deserves a look.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Alice (1988):  I end the week with this selection which was part of the Cinemuncie series at my local library which we were told all year would be a mystery selection from Dennis the Librarian Menace.  Many of us went in anticipation of what he would choose and he chose this Czechoslovakian film to the point of going into the place this has always held in his heart since childhood when he first saw it.  Jan Svankmajer directed this really weird take towards Lewis Carroll's ALICE IN WONDERLAND.  Kristyna Kohoutova stars as Alice and is the only actor in this whole film and all the characters were done through stop-motion animation through the use of various objects and dolls.  The White Rabbit may have been the most creepy rabbit in film history.  Anyone who knows about Svankmajer will know that stop-motion animation has always been his specialty.  This is more adult oriented than other adaptations of the classic story.  Those who attended this event were very intrigued by this film.  I look forward to next year for the Cinemuncie series.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week and Happy Holidays everyone and everyone can use whatever holiday greeting they would like to use.

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