Sunday, January 5, 2020

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 733rd Edition

Welcome to the 733rd edition of my series and the first of the decade.  I hope everyone is doing okay so far in this new year.  There is not a lot going on so far but next weekend is where the 49ers will play and hope for some big things.  I cannot think of anything else at this time so I'll just get on with my selections.

O.J.:  Made in America (2016):  I start the year and decade out with this documentary from the ESPN series 30 FOR 30 and is a five-part series.  Ezra Edelman directed this documentary which focuses on Orenthal James Simpson who most of us know as O.J.  This takes a look at his younger days when he rose in the world of college football for USC into the rise in the pros and fall when he went on trial for murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman.  A lot of this looks at two sides of Simpson with the charismatic guy in front of the camera and then the much darker side of him when he is not in front of the camera.  This has interviews from a lot of people including Marcia Clark, F. Lee Bailey, Carl Douglas, Mark Fuhrman, Danny Bakewell, Jim Brown, Fred Goldman, Peter Hyams, Walter Mosley, and many others.  This is shows as five episodes that are all about an hour and a half long.  This is a very intriguing and detailed documentary on a very big rise and fall of the athlete and actor who will be more known for his legal troubles.  This is available to watch on ESPN Plus.

Krampus (2015):  This is a movie I featured last week as part of my "Movie Time in the Town of Pottersville" segment and decided to use it for this week even if we're not an the holiday season anymore.   Michael Dougherty directed and co-wrote this horror comedy about the festive demon.  Emjay Anthony co-stars as Max who has always been a big believer in Christmas but becomes disillusioned over his dysfunctional family which unleashes the wrath of Krampus where the family must band together to stop the demonic force including a great take on the Gingerbread Man, voiced by Seth Green.  David Koechner co-stars as Max's Uncle Howard who is practically today's Cousin Eddie from NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION so could be a good double feature for the holidays.  Adam Scott, Toni Collette, Stefania LaVie Owen, Krista Stadler, Conchata Ferrell, Allison Tolman, and many others co-star in this horror comedy.  This was both fun and creepy at the same time and enjoyable if not taken too seriously.

Ponyo (2008):  This is my Studio Ghibli selection for the week which was written and directed by Anime icon Hayao Miyazaki.  A young boy named Sosuke, voiced by Frankie Jonas, rescues a goldfish from a bottle and names her Ponyo, voiced by Noah Cyrus, who longs to be human.  Sosuke finds Ponyo is no ordinary goldfish and together they embark on an adventure to save the world and try to fulfill Ponyo's wish of becoming human.  Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Cloris Leachman, Liam Neeson, Jennessa Rose, Lily Tomlin, Betty White, and many others provide their voices in this version.  Miyazaki has stated that his inspiration of this film was from Hans Christian Anderson's THE LITTLE MERMAID.  This is a very touching animated film and is really one that is good for the whole family.  I did start to wonder why Studio Ghibli are not on Disney Plus with it being produced by Disney.  Hopefully that network will include these in the future and I'm sure they've heard this from just about everyone.

The Firing of the Patchwork Quilt (1912):  This is my silent short for the week which does not have a credited director.  Robert Gaillard stars as Jack McCoy who is starting a new job as a train engineer.  His mother, played by Mary Maurice, learns of flaw in the track and goes to extreme measures to let her son know which involves the title.  This is an early Vitagraph film and is good to watch for historical purposes.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Houseboat (1958):  Melville Shavelson directed this comedy-drama which could also be considered a romantic comedy.  Cary Grant stars as government employee Tom Winters who is a widowed father to his three unruly children, played by Paul Peterson, Mimi Gibson, and Charles Herbert.  He gets unexpected help when Cinzia, played by Sophia Loren, comes into the picture and gets hired after the children take a liking to her.  Circumstances make them end up on a houseboat that has been badly neglected.  Harry Guardino, Martha Hyer, Eduardo Ciannelli, Murray Hamilton, Madge Kennedy, John Litel, Werner Klemperer, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a pretty decent film with what had elements that reminded me of both THE SOUND OF MUSIC and MARY POPPINS which had not been made yet.

Barabbas (1961):  This is my biblical tale for the week which was directed by Richard Fleischer and directed by Par Lagerkvist.  Anthony Quinn stars as Barabbas who was chosen to be free over Jesus Christ by the public.  He would go onto be haunted by the image of Jesus for the rest of his life and continues his criminal ways only to get caught and sold into slavery.  He would go onto become a gladiator.  Arthur Kennedy, Silvana Mangano, Arthur Kennedy, Katy Jurado, Harry Andrews, Vittorio Gassman, Norman Wooland, Valentina Cortese, Jack Palance, Ernest Bornine, Arnoldo Foa, Michael Gwynn, Laurence Payne, Douglas Fowley, and many others co-star in this film.  This is obviously more of an interpretive story as the bible does not go into much detail on this character other than Pontius Pilate put him up against Christ.  It is still a pretty compelling look at who Barabbas could have been.

Key Largo (1948):  John Huston directed this crime drama which is based on a play by Maxwell Anderson.  Humphrey Bogart stars as veteran Frank McCloud who travels to the title town to honor the memory of a friend that died in WWII.  He goes to the hotel run by his friend's widow Nora, played by Lauren Bacall, and his wheelchair-bound father James, played by Lionel Barrymore, and while they welcome him, he finds the town is being lead by gangster Johnny Rocco, played by Edward G. Robinson.  Rocco takes the hotel hostage while a hurricane is happening but Frank is reluctant to act due to being disillusioned by the violence of war.  Claire Trevor, Thomas Gomez, Harry Lewis, John Rodney, Marc Lawrence, Dan Seymour, Monte Blue, William Haade, and many others co-star in this film.  This is the fourth and last teaming of Bogart and Bacall.  Bogart and Robinson also make great rivals and was a pretty intense film.  This is much later in Barrymore's career was really did suffer from arthritis.  I would like to see a play version of this done sometime.

Little Women (2019):  I decided to check out this one in the theaters on New Year's Eve making it the last movie I saw of the decade before going to get drunk at a friend's house.  While there, I was joined by my friend Tavia who had her daughter and a couple other kids with her.  Greta Gerwig directed this latest adaptation of the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott.  Saoirse Ronan stars as Jo March who reflects on her times with her sisters Meg, played by Emma Watson, Amy, played by Florence Pugh, and Beth, played by Eliza Scanlen, and their mother Marmee, played by Laura Dern.  It goes back and forth between time periods reflecting on the ups and downs within the family.  Timothee Chalamet, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, James Norton, Louis Garrel, Jayne Houdyshell, Chris Cooper, Meryl Streep, and many others co-star in this film.  There have been quite a few adaptations of this novel and may have to start checking some of these out though I've seen a couple other versions.  This was very very enjoyable and a bit different than the others.  Each sister's story was told very well with Ronan doing a good job in leading the way.  I must admit I was quite mind-blown when I later learned that Florence Pugh is the same person who portrays Soraya Knight/Paige in the movie FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY.  When this was over, I got Tavia's permission to include her in this segment and told me how she lived with multiple sisters and how she really related to this story.  I also did a double take at times in scenes involving Watson and noticed some resemblance in the two.  This is a really good period piece that is driven by the script and characters.  Expect older versions in the coming weeks.

Heroes (1977):  This marks the first movie I saw this decade and is part one of a two-part Henry Winkler series..  Jeremy Kagen directed this movie which stars HAPPY DAYS alum Henry Winkler who plays Vietnam veteran Jack Dunne.  Jack has been home for four years and still has not really adjusted to life.  While on a bus, he meets Carol, played by Sally Field, who while being annoyed by him, she starts to form a more caring attitude towards him and accompanies him when searching for some of his former Vietnam comrades.  Harrison Ford co-stars as one of them with this coming out right after his star making role as Han Solo in the first STAR WARS film.  Val Avery, Olivia Cole, Hector Elias, Dennis Burkley, Tony Burton, Michael Cavanaugh, and many others co-star in this film.  It is good to see Winkler in a top billed theatrical film role and Ford is really good in his role to portray a bitter Vietnam veteran with his range of emotions.  This has gone a bit overlooked through the years but is really worth a look.

Glee the Concert Movie (2011):  This is based on that popular tv series where the cast at the time put on a concert which was billed as a 3D concert movie but what I saw was only 2D.  This is shown as part documentary and part concert.  There are documentary scenes a little bit for the actors, then it takes a look at fans who relate to the characters.  The main actors for this movie were Dianna Agron, Chris Colfer, Lea Michelle, Darren Criss, Kevin McHale, Cory Monteith, Heather Morris, Amber Riley, Naya Rivera, Mark Sailing, Jenna Ushkowitz, and Harry Shum Jr. are the main actors in concert while recurring actress Gwyneth Paltrow makes an appearance.  This is not going to be for everyone including people who already do not like the tv series.  I did enjoy the performances and seeing the fans relate to the show and the characters.  I can always watch Heather Morris play Brittany who was always my favorite on the show.  This show did bring a lot of respect to this particular world.

Well, that is it for this week but continue on for my returning "Fun and Useless Facts" segment.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Denzel Washington, Michael Keaton, and many others.


I haven't done this for awhile so I thought I'd start the new year out with this segment.  As always, I look at the interconnections, not so much actors within the same movie.  I am sure there are plenty of others to use so feel free to comment if I have missed something.

O.J. Simpson (O.J.:  Made in America) and Olivia Cole (Heroes) were in the 1977 mini-series ROOTS.

Adam Scott (Krampus), Laura Dern (Little Women), and Meryl Streep (Little Women) are in the HBO series BIG LITTLE LIES.

Adam Scott (Krampus) and Cate Blanchett (Ponyo) were in the 2004 film THE AVIATOR.

Stefania LaVie Owen (Krampus) and Saoirse Ronan (Little Women) are in the 2009 film THE LOVELY BONES.

David Koechner (Krampus) and Matt Damon (Ponyo) were in the 2013 HBO movie BEHIND THE CANDELABRA

Cate Blanchett (Ponyo) and Saoirse Ronan (Little Women) are in the 2011 film HANNA.

Cate Blanchett (Ponyo) and Harrison Ford (Heroes) were in the 2008 movie INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL.

Liam Neeson (Ponyo) and Harrison Ford (Heroes) were in the 2002 movie K-19:  THE WIDOWMAKER.

Liam Neeson (Ponyo) was a part of the STAR WARS prequel trilogy where he plays Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn.  Harrison Ford (Heroes) was in the original trilogy and is part of the newer STAR WARS trilogy where he plays the anti-hero Han Solo.  Laura Dern (Little Women) is in the newer one STAR WARS:  EPISODE VIII- THE LAST JEDI as Vice Admiral Holdo so I managed to get people from each trilogy.

Liam Neeson (Ponyo) and Florence Pugh (Little Women) were in the 2018 movie THE COMMUTER.

Tina Fey (Ponyo) and Saoirse Ronan (Little Women) were in the 2014 film MUPPETS MOST WANTED.

Matt Damon (Ponyo) and Tracy Letts (Little Women) were in the 2019 film FORD V FERRARI.

Matt Damon (Ponyo) and Chris Cooper (Little Women) were in the 2002 film THE BOURNE IDENTITY.

Matt Damon (Ponyo) and Gwyneth Paltrow (Glee) were in the 1999 film THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY.

Lily Tomlin (Ponyo) and Meryl Streep (Little Women) were in the 2006 animated movie THE ANT BULLY.

Cary Grant (Houseboat) declined the role of Linus Larrabee in the 1954 comedy SABRINA which would ultimately go to Humphrey Bogart (Key Largo).

Sophia Loren (Houseboat), Michael Gwynn (Barabbas) and Norman Wooland (Barabbas) were in the 1964 film THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE.

Martha Hyer (Houseboat) and Humphrey Bogart (Key Largo) were in the 1954 comedy SABRINA.'

Harry Guardino (Houseboat) plays Barabbas in the 1961 film KING OF KINGS.  Anthony Quinn plays the character in this week's feature BARABBAS.

Eduardo Ciannelli (Houseboat) and Humphrey Bogart (Key Largo) were in the 1944 film PASSAGE TO MARSEILLE

Arthur Kennedy (Barabbas) and Edward G. Robinson (Key Largo) were in the 1964 western CHEYENNE AUTUMN.

Valentina Cortese (Barabbas) and Humphrey Bogart (Key Largo) were in the 1954 film THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA.

Humphrey Bogart (Key Largo) plays Linus Larrabee in the 1954 film SABRINA.  Harrison Ford (Heroes) plays that character in the 1995 remake of the same title.

Chris Cooper (Little Women) and Gwyneth Paltrow (Glee the Concert) were in the 1998 film GREAT EXPECTATIONS.

Tony Burton (Heroes) and Gwyneth Paltrow (Glee the Concert) were in the 1991 film HOOK.

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