Sunday, February 9, 2020
Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 738th Edition
Welcome to the 738th Edition of my series. Last week, my San Francisco 49ers did not get it done like I hoped. This was a really good season though and hope they keep mostly what they have and build into next year. I have not started rehearsing yet for YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU but have worked on a few lines and trying to come up with a Russian accent. This Friday is Valentine's Day and I hope everyone enjoys the holiday however celebrated. I will get on with my selections now so I hope you all enjoy.
Eva: A-7043 (2018): I start the week out with this documentary which was presented at my local library. Ted Green directed this documentary which takes a look at Holocaust survivor Eva Kor who happened to live in a town in my state. Eva was part of the human experimentation part that they did with twins during the holocaust which were some horrid experiments done by Dr. Mengele. Eva survived but her twin sister Miriam did not survive. She became a global spokesperson and would also preach forgiveness to those that wronged her which was controversial to some including fellow survivors. I believe she did it knowing it what happened cannot be taken back and to just move forward in her life. Ed Asner narrates this very inspiring documentary. I was talking to my dad about this and he said that he got to meet her when she spoke in his town of Columbus, Indiana. Unfortunately, she died last July but left quite a legacy behind. There is another documentary called FORGIVING DR. MENGELE from 2006 which features Eva Kor which I have not seen but appears to be more about what happened at that time while this one is more about Eva Kor herself. This could make a good double feature and likely something I'll be looking into at some point. This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.
The Past (2013): Asghar Farhadi wrote and directed this French film. Ali Mosaffa stars as Ahmad who is going to see his estranged wife Marie, played by Berenice Bejo, in Paris in order to finalized divorce proceedings so that she can marry her boyfriend Samir, Tahar Rahim. When Ahmad gets there, he sees how complicated things are with the new man in Marie's life and her troubled relationship with her daughter Lucie, played by Pauline Burlet. This is one that is really driven by characters and gets pretty deep and intense at times. Farhadi is Iranian and spent time in France to learn more on the country and had to direct through a translator as he did not know the French language. It is hard to really explain this movie any further but is a very well written script with good performances and sometimes that all we need to enjoy a movie.
The 24 Hour Party People (2002): This is part one of a possible five-part Steve Coogan series. Michael Winterbottom directed this biopic on Tony Wilson, played by Coogan, who founded Factory Records along with some friends. Their biggest act would be the band Joy Division who would go onto become more known as New Order. John Thomson, Paul Popplewell, Lennie James, Shirley Henderson, Paddy Considine, Raymond Waring, Ron Cook, John Simm, Andy Serkis, Sean Harris, Rob Brydon, Simon Pegg, and many others co-star in this biopic. This is a movie full of sex, drugs and rock and roll as they say. It mostly focuses on the ups and downs of Wilson. Coogan does well working some dry humor into a rather serious story. I remember years ago when my friend Travis showed this movie to us through his Co-Op film series and I believe this is the first that we watched one summer outside at Ball State where we hung a paint tarp from the parking garage to use a projector. This British film is really worth a look and hope to put it back on the radar some.
Teeth Smile (1957): This is my short film for the week which was a very early work from Roman Polanski and the word short is an understatement. This features a man going down an exterior staircase and witnesses a woman washing at her sink. He gets a very good view and really enjoys what he sees. This is less than two minutes long and Polanski did this as an assignment at his film school in Lodz. Roman would go onto have a great career in film but had to start somewhere. This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.
Bulldog Drummond Escapes (1937): James P. Hogan directed this movie which is based on a play by Herman C. McNeile and Gerard Fairlie. Ray Milland stars as the title character who is driving home in the dark and tries to revive a woman named Phyllis, played by Heather Angel, that has fallen to the ground. He finds himself in a much deeper situation when Phyllis gets awarg with Drummond's car. Guy Standing, Reginald Denny, Porter Hall, Fay Holden, E.E. Clive, Walter Kingsford, and many others co-star in this movie. This is an iconic character from this era that was portrayed in many novels and films and I supposed one could say he was the James Bond of that era. These start from the early '20s and go into the late '60s. The actors have varied and this was Milland's only portrayal. I don't have much knowledge on the character but thought Milland was pretty fun in his role. It was also good to see Milland play a good guy as he is known for his villainous or dark roles through the years. This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.
Bay of Angels (1963): I return to France for the second time this week where Jacques Demy wrote and directed this film. Claude Mann stars in this film as bank clerk Jean Fournier whose colleague Caron, played by Paul Guers, is a gambler and gets Jean into it. When Jean starts to have some success, he develops more of an obsession for it. When at a casino, he meets a woman named Jackie, played by Jeanne Moreau, who has her own gambling addiction and they form a relationship where they rely on their luck at the roulette wheel. This is part of the French New Wave and have seen a few of their selections. So far, this is the one I like the most. The main characters kept my attention the whole way through and is a very compelling film if you don't mind subtitles. This is a great movie on love and addiction and is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.
The High Cost of Living (2010): This is not one of those documentaries about a title might lead one to believe. Deborah Chow wrote and directed this film. Zach Braff stars as Henry who is a small-time drug dealer living in Canada and accidentally hits a woman named Nathalie, played by Isabelle Blais, who is also pregnant. Nathalie's life changes when her baby dies and the guilt ridden Henry involves himself in her life not letting know he is the one guilty of the hit and run accident. Patrick Labbe, Sean Lu, Anick Lemay, Mylene Savoie, Kyle Switzer, and many others co-star in this film. This is a rather hard movie to watch in some ways with Nathalie dealing with her grief and Blais playing that role so well. While it would be easy to hate Braff's character, he does play his likable Zach Braff self. This is one that is driven by the characters with the leads working very well together. This is a pretty underrated film that deserves a look.
The Fighter (1952): Some might first think I'm talking about that movie with Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg until they see the year and while this movie deals with boxing, they are both different movies. Herbert Kline directed this movie which is based on the story THE MEXICAN which was written by Jack London. This movie combines boxing and Mexican revolutionaries. Richard Conte stars as Felipe who finds he is gifted in boxing and is able to make some money in order to get the guns necessary to avenge the murder of his family. Vanessa Brown, Lee J. Cobb, Frank Silvera, Roberta Haynes, Hugh Sanders, Claire Carleton, Martin Garralaga, and many others co-star in this film I don't know how closely this follows London's material. This is a pretty decent B-movie from the era and is available to watch on Amazon Prime.
Freaky Friday (1976): This is my Disney selection for the week which was directed by Gary Nelson and based on the book by Mary Rodgers who also wrote the screenplay. Barbara Harris and Jodie Foster star as mother-daughter combo Ellen and Annabel Andrews who each think the other has the easy life and make a fateful wish one Friday morning which results in their bodies switching. Annabel is now in her mom's body and Ellen is in her daughter's body. John Astin, Patsy Kelly, Dick Van Patten, Sorrell Booke, Alan Oppenheimer, Ruth Buzzi, Kaye Ballard, Marc McClure, Marie Windsor, and many others co-star in this film. This is the first of four of these movies of the same title so this one kind of started it all. For those who are fans of Foster in her adult roles should really check some of these where she is in her teen years. This has some very comedic situations especially in the role reversal that takes place. I also like how when they do switch bodies, they don't actually interact with each other. This is a good family watch and is on Disney Plus along with the 2003 and 2018 versions. I have seen the 2003 version which stars Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsey Lohan which I felt was good in its own right and I'm sure the 2018 version accommodates to the new generation. Let's not forget the one that started it all.
Fruitvale Station (2013): Now I must bring everyone down a bit after my previous comedic selection. Ryan Coogler wrote and directed this film which is based on a true story and is his directorial debut. Michael B. Jordan stars as Oscar Grant III who only expects to celebrate the new year not knowing it would be his last day on earth when getting shot by a cop. This movie depicts his last day as well as some flashbacks. Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray, Ohna O'Reilly, Ariana Neal, and many others co-star in this film. This is rather predictable in terms of the ending and what would happen to Grant. Coogler worked with Grant's family when writing this movie. Spencer volunteered to forego her salary when funding fell through and Forest Whitaker was very instrumental in getting this film made. This is a rather simple but effective film to show someone's day in a life not knowing what is coming later.
Well, that is it for this week but I brought back my segment of "The Bookworm Corner". Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Robin Williams, and many others.
THE BOOKWORM CORNER
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (2015): Most of my reads so far have been murder mystery and wrestler autobiographies. I took an interest in this book when seeing this was part of a mini-book series at my local library which is called Women in Science Fiction. I have thought about doing this book club thing but did not really want to do a year round one so I decided to check this one out. This is the first book and is part of the "Broken Earth" trilogy with the other two books written by Jemisin. This takes place on a supercontinent called the Stillness where every few centuries, the inhabitants endure what they call the "Fifth Season" of catastrophic climate change. This is a world of many species, castes, orogenes and "comms". This follows three different female orogenes in different eras. The first one is for Essun which the book uses in second person form where she sets out to find the husband that murdered their son and took her daughter. With this character, it is essentially us that make the journey with the author saying "you" and "your" in the place of her name Essun. The second is of Damaya who is a young girl whose parents discover she is an orogene and has her taken where she is trained to controle her powers. The third is Syenite who is a rising orogene and forced to be partnered with a man named Alabaster in order to conceive a child with him. I have to admit this was quite a challenge to read and if it was not for this book club I likely would not have picked this up. This is a very complex novel that required a lot of concentration on my part. There were times where when reading this book, I would read out loud and probably looked really stupid when doing it in public but did what I had to do. This was a book club meeting at the Mark III bar in my town of Muncie ran by Anthony the librarian. My friend Dennis the Library Menace was also part of it and was able to keep me motivated. At the meeting, I mostly had to listen and some of the views made this easier for me to understand. I also picked up on things in the book that are more addressed in the other two books so I suppose I'll have to check them out at some point but may look to do an audiobook listen on this one before I do so. With my upcoming play, I will not be able to attend the next two so I will look to obtain the book for May and get going on that one. This was a rather cool experience and glad to have read something much different than I am used to reading. If reading this book, it might be a good idea to encourage other friends to read as well, then have a discussion on it.
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