Sunday, December 8, 2019

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 729th Edition

Welcome to the 729th Edition of my series.  My 49ers suffered a close loss to the Ravens last week so I'm hoping they rebound this week.  Other than that, not much else is going on so I will just get on with my selections for the week.

Ray (2004):  This is part four of my four-part Regina King series where she plays Ray's band member and mistress Margie Hendricks.  Taylor Hackford directed this biopic which stars Jamie Foxx and the legendary blind singer Ray Charles Robinson who would go onto be known as Ray Charles.  This goes into some of the pivotal moments in his childhood into his struggle in the start of his music career where people tried to take advantage of his blindness.  It also takes a look at his rise but his problems with drugs and infidelity. Kerry Washington, Clifton Powell, Harry Lennix, Bokeem Woodbine, Aunjanae Ellis, Sharon Warren, C.J. Sanders, Curtis Armstrong, Richard Schiff, Larenz Tate, Terrence Howard, Wendell Pierce, Chris Thomas King, Thomas Jefferson Byrd, Rick Gomez, Denise Dowse, Warwick Davis, Patrick Bauchau, Robert Wisdom, Kurt Fuller, Julian Bond, Kimberly J. Ardison, Gary Grubbs, and many others co-star in this biopic.  This looks at many ups and downs of the life of Charles.  Jamie Foxx plays him to perfection.  Ray unfortunately died shortly after production and was able to sit through the first edit of the film.

Home Alone (1990):  This is the start of my holiday selections for the week.  Chris Columbus directed this holiday comedy which was written by John Hughes.  Macauley Culkin in his star-making role stars as the eight year old Kevin McCallister who gets into a scuffle with his older brother and is sent to the third floor of the house.  The entire family is set to go to Paris the next morning and running very late, they forget about Kevin they leave him at the house by himself.  While enjoying being by himself, at least a first, he discovers two burglars, played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, who are plotting to rob all the houses in the neighborhood that are off vacationing.  He takes charge of this leading to a rather violent confrontation with the criminals through some rather interesting traps that Kevin makes.  Catherine O'Hara, John Heard, Roberts Blossom, Angela Goethals, Devin Ratray, Gerry Bamman, Hilary Wolf, John Candy, Larry Hankin, Michael C. Maronna, Kristin Minter, Diana Rein, Kieran Culkin, Hope Davis, and many others co-star in this holiday comedy.  I remember this was my absolute favorite movie in my childhood when it came out and I believe this is the first time in my adult life revisiting this movie.  This was a great revisit and seeing it in a different way.  I also was not aware until now that John Williams wrote the music score.  I have to say that was some rather extreme violence, almost like cartoonish violence but still entertains if we can just suspend our disbelief for a little bit.  I know it never made me try coming up with my own traps.  This is available to watch on Disney + and I know people will wonder how it ended up on there.  This is from 20th Century Fox and Disney bought them out and now this and the sequels are on Disney +.

Christmas in Evergreen:  Letters to Santa (2018):  This is my Hallmark selection for the week and is the second of a trilogy of this title.  Jill Wagner stars as retail designer Lisa who decides to go to her old hometown of Evergreen.  She is sad to see that her favorite historic general store has been closed and with her skills she decides to help bring the store back to life in hopes they will have a buyer.  She is able to get another visitor named Kevin who is a local contractor to help him put it together.  Holly Robinson Peete, Barbara Niven, Michelle Martin, Chris Cope, BJ Harrison, Andrew Francis, Rukiya Bernard, Colin Lawrence, Marlon Kazadi, Daryl Shuttleworth, Ashley Williams, and many others co-star in this holiday movie.  This has the usual Hallmark feel with the small town, the successful person that left and this case there is more than one, and the predictable romance that goes on.  I don't really know anything of the first or third one, this was just the one I was able to get at the library that is on dvd.  Seems like typical Hallmark that its audience will enjoy.

The Vampire (1945):  This is my documentary short for the week which comes from France.  Jean Painleve directed this this short that is not about an actual vampire that feeds on us even though it does have footage of the classic silent film NOSFERATU.  It is about a vampire bat and how it lives.  It has some rather disturbing footage of a vampire bat in a cage with a guinea pig both literally and figuratively.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Our Daily Bread (1934):  King Vidor directed this film on people banding together during the depression.  Tom Keene and Karen Morley star as John and Mary who are both hit very hard by the depression.  They decide to go to the country and manage to set up a farming community in a socialist environment.  They experience a lot of hardship with the elements, drought, and even each other at times.  John Qualen, Barbara Pepper, Addison Richards, Lloyd Ingraham, Henry Hall, Nellie Nichols, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a really good look at a desperate group forming their own community in a very difficult time in our era.  The relatively unknown cast makes this work very well and is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

It Happened One Christmas (1977):  This is a tv holiday movie that is a remake or maybe reworking of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE.  Donald Wrye directed this tv movie where Marlo Thomas stars as Mary Bailey Hatch who dreams of leaving her small town of Bedford Falls but circumstances keep her in town.  She ends up marrying a man named George Hatch, played by Wayne Rogers, and have a great life for themselves along with some kids.  Things happen that couple get Mary into trouble and an angel named Clara, played by Cloris Leachman, is sent down to help Mary see she is not a failure.  Orson Welles co-stars as the town villain Mr. Potter.  Barney Martin, Karen Carlson, Dick O'Neill, Doris Roberts, Richard Dysart, Archie Hahn, Christopher Guest, Gino Conforti, Morgan Upton, and many others co-star in this tv movie.  I'm sure for those who have seen its predecessor, one big change is the gender reversal on the characters of Mary and George and having a woman angel instead of the male, though the personalities are very similar.  IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE is a holiday favorite of mine and knew this was not going to top it.  I still enjoyed this variation though of the holiday classic which is also available on Amazon Prime.

An Extremely Goofy Movie (2000):  This is my Disney movie for the week which is a sequel to A GOOFY MOVIE.  Max, voiced by Jason Marsden, has graduated high school and is going to college also in hopes to get into the X-Games.  Things take a turn for the worst when Goofy, voiced by Bill Farmer, loses his job and needs an education to find something else.  He decides to join his son at college much to Max's dismay.  Jeff Bennett, Brad Garrett, Vicki Lewis, Bebe Neuwirth, Rob Paulsen, Pauly Shore, and many others provide their voices in this Disney sequel.  Not quite the original but still is a lot of fun and laughs with father and son in college together.  This is available to watch on Disney Plus.

Santa Claus (1959):  This is a mostly annual watch for me nowadays.  When watching it, I just keet watching and throughout this movie, I'm just thinking WTF but yet I cannot keep my eyes off of it.  There are many things I learn when watching this movie.  For starters, Santa does not have elves, he has child labor from all over the world in which sing very annoying music.  Also, he is apparently at another planet and have reindeer which are made up of what looks like Styrofoam and can only last for so long.  We also learn that Santa and Satan are rivals in which Satan tries every year to ruin Christmas and sends his very inept dance-loving minion Pitch who is told he would be punished with ice cream if he fails.  Now to add to that, we learn that after Merlin was done helping King Arthur, he decided to go work for Santa Claus.  Jose Elias Moreno stars as Santa in this movie and has probably been an a lot of really good Mexican films but will only be known by this one.  I don't really know what was going through the minds of those involved when this was being made but was bad enough to become a great holiday tradition and I actually prefer this over Santa Claus Conquers the Martians but that is a good double feature.

Placido (1961):  This is my Spanish holiday movie for the week.  Luis Garcia Berlanga directed this film which takes place in a small Spanish town.  This centers around a social experiment on Christmas Eve where each wealthy household has a homeless person dining with them that night.  It is there we meet that title character, played by Cassen, whose family is forced to stay in a public lavatory because of the lack of money for rent.   Jose Luis Lopez Vazquez, Elvira Quintilla, Manuel Alexandre, and many others co-star in this holiday movie.  This is a pretty touching film and for those who are looking for something different to watch for the holidays, maybe this is where to start.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Mountains of the Moon (1990):  I end the week with this period piece which was directed by Bob Rafelson and based on the novel by William Harrison.  Patrick Bergin and Iain Glen star as Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke who lead an expedition in the mid-1850s to Central America to find the source of the Nile River.  This takes a look at their meeting up to their own falling out and the hardships of the expedition.  Richard E. Grant, Fiona Shaw, John Savident, James Villiers, Adrian Rawlins, Peter Vaughan, Delroy Lindo, Bernard Hill, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a really good period piece that is based on a true story.  This is one that has gone overlooked but really deserves a look.

Well, that is all for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week.

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