Sunday, March 1, 2020

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 741st Edition

Welcome to the 741st Edition of my series.  Good to know that today is the start of March so I hope some warm weather starts to come very soon.  I'm still in rehearsals for YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU and it's fixing to be a really good show.  There is not much else happening right now so I'll just get on with my selections for the week.

Toni Morrison:  The Pieces I Am (2019):  I star the week out with this documentary which was directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders.  Obviously, this is a documentary done on author Toni Morrison who is reflecting on her personal and professional life.  She also talks about the thought process and themes of her novels which were very ground-breaking for the African-American race.  This was presented at my local library and I have to admit I had not really ever head of Toni Morrison.  There are interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Walter Mosley, Fran Lebowitz, and many others.  The only work I was familiar with was BELOVED which was made into a movie.  This was a very inspirational documentary and unfortunately Morrison died a little over a month after the release of this movie.  This is available to watch on Hulu.

The Two Popes (2019):  Now I go from the writing world and civil rights in a sense to the religious world which was directed by Fernando Meirelles.  Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce star as Pope Benedict and Pope Francis where they must overcome their differences politically and form an unlikely friendship when looking to find common ground to forge a new path for the catholic church.  Some scenes go into flashback as they discuss their past and what lead them to where they are now.  Juan Minujin, Luis Gnecco, Cristina Banegas, Renato Scarpa, Sidney Cole, and many others co-star in this film.  Hopkins and Pryce work well together as the title characters and Pryce is dead on in his resemblance of Pope Francis.  This is mostly driven through dialogue with some use of flashback and is a pretty moving film no matter the religious affiliation.  This is available to watch on Netflix.

The Look of Love (2013):  This is part four of my five-part Steve Coogan series.  Now I go into another movie based on a true story which is based on Paul Raymond, played by Coogan, who was regarded as the British Hugh Hefner.  Michael Winterbottom directed this biopic which is based on the book MEMBERS ONLY:  THE LIFE AND TIMES OF PAUL RAYMOND by Paul Willets.  Raymond would go onto create a porn magazine and put on some interesting shows.  The movie is more focused on the relationship with his troubled daughter Debbie, played by Imogen Pitts.  Anna Friel, Stephen Fry, Kieran O'Brien, Shirley Henderson, Tasmin Egerton, and many others co-star in this biopic.  What a contrast in the types of people my first three selections are based upon.  This was another person I really knew nothing about but found this person was able to stand out on his own with the Hugh Hefners and Larry Flynts of the world.  Maybe a good double feature would be to watch this movie along with THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT.

Grand Canyonscope (1954):  This is my animated short film film the week from Disney.  Charles A. Nichols directed this short film which features Donald Duck.  Donald, voiced by Clarence Nash, is on a Grand Canyon tour and gives Ranger Woodlore, voiced by Bill Thompson, a very hard time on the tour.  This leads to some very comical situations within a seven minute period.  This is Donald Duck at his finest and is available to watch on Disney Plus.

Carnival in Flanders (1935):  Now I go for some comedy in France which deals with comedy on a dark subject.  Jacques Feydar directed this film which is based on the Spanish invasion of Flanders.  In this movie, the village of Boom in Flanders learns of a Spanish Duke coming into town where they come up with a comical scheme in hopes of preserving the peace.  That's really the best explanation I have to give.  There are a couple scenes that are hard to watch but there are a lot of really funny scenes.  This is not for everyone but fans of the foreign cinema should give this a watch.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Inherit the Wind (1960):  This is part two of my two-part Spencer Tracy series and one of my favorites.  Stanley Kramer directed this film which is based on the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial.  Dick York stars as Bertram Cates who is a teacher getting arrested in a small and very religious town for teaching evolution in his classroom.  The town gets fundamentalist prosecutor Matthew Brady, played by Fredric March, while reporter E.K. Hornbeck, played by Gene Kelly, and his paper get famous attorney Henry Drummond, played by Tracy, to defend Cates.  Donna Anderson, Claude Akins, Elliot Reid, Paul Hartman, Philip Coolidge, Jimmy Boyd, Noah Beery Jr., Norman Fell, and many others co-star in this film.  This may seem absurd to some but this really happened where someone gets arrested for teaching evolution so we have come pretty far.  This is still pretty relevant today where some who call themselves religious may need to consider their own actions and how they treat people.  I got to be in this as a play where I played the crazed bible salesman Elijah which was not a character in this movie.  This is York's final feature film before going onto be on BEWITCHED.  We also get to see two Dr. Jekylls going at it in a courtroom.  So much to enjoy about this movie which is available on Amazon Prime.

Saints and Strangers (2015):  This is my mini-series for the week which was directed by Paul A. Edwards.  This tells the story of the Pilgrims and the first year in America from the Mayflower.  Vincent Kartheiser stars as William Bradford who struggles to keep the peace with the pilgrims and with the natives.  This shows the struggles of both sides and how they both made wrong decisions while trying to work together at the same time.  Kalani Queypo, Tatanka Means, Kennan Arrison, Michael Greyeyes, Ron Livingston, Raoul Max Trujillo, Tamer Burjaq, Brian F. OByrne, Ray Stevenson, Melissa Haiden, Roxane Hayward, Bianca Simone Mannie, Natascha McElhone, Julian Stone, and many others co-star in this Starz mini-series.  This has two episodes that are both around an hour and a half long.  This is a pretty compelling and believable portrait on what would be the start of Thanksgiving that does not take sides with anyone.

Happy Go Lovely (1951):  H. Bruce Humberstone directed this musical comedy.  Cesar Romero stars as John Frost who the head of a theater group and is trying to get a musical produced but has no backers.  Vera-Ellen stars as his dancer Janet who meets the very wealthy B.G. Bruno, played by David Niven, but a misunderstanding leader her to mistake him for a newspaper reporter leading to some comical moments in the movie.  Diane Hart, Gordon Jackson, Sandra Dorne, Joyce Carey, John Laurie, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a pretty good look at the theater industry with a lot of laughs along the way.  The musical numbers are more from within the play within the movie.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Kramer Vs. Kramer (1979):  Robert Benton directed this film which is based on the novel by Avery Corman.  Dustin Hoffman stars as Ted Kramer who is a career man that thinks he has it all with a wife and son.  That is until his wife Joanna, played by Meryl Streep decides to leave him and leaves their son Billy, played by Justin Henry, with him.  Ted must adjust to this new life as a single father which proves to be difficult personally and professionally but gets help from his neighbor Margaret, played by Jane Alexander, who was friends with Joanna before she left.  As Ted starts to be fulfilled as a father, Joanna comes back into their life and looks to get custody for herself leading to a trial.  Howard Duff, George Coe, Jobeth Williams, Howland Chaimberland, and many others co-star in this film.  Hoffman and Henry work very well together as father and son.  This is a really good look at a custody battle in this era and this was before people could have ladder matches to decide custody.  I also really liked the friendship between Ted and Margaret where they just remained friends out of circumstance.  This is a very moving film and unfortunately I'm sure many can relate.  This is available to watch on Crackle.

The Tuskegee Airmen (1995):  I end the week with this HBO movie which was directed by Robert Markowitz.  This takes place during WWII which takes a look at a black unit of people training to be in a fighter pilot program in a time where segregation was rampant and would become the very significant 332nd Fighter Group.  Lawrence Fishburne stars as Hannibal Lee who is looking to win acceptance and respect from the military while also trying to overcome prejudice.  Allen Payne, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Courtney B. Vance, Andre Braugher, Christopher McDonald, Daniel Hugh Kelly, John Lithgow, Cuba Gooding Jr., Mekhi Phifer, and many others co-star in this HBO movie.  This is a pretty moving and inspiring film based on a true story and takes a good look at racial relations at that time which may seem ridiculous at times but is very true.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Well, that is it for this week but continue on for the return of "Movie Time in the Town of Pottersville".  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Steve Coogan, and many others.


The Girl in the Crawlspace (2018):  I spent my Friday this weekend hanging out with my best friend Stephanie.  This was a movie that was partly shot in a town near me called Farmland which even features people that I know from the theater world including my friend Tom Cherry who gets top billing in this movie.  John Oak Dalton wrote and directed this horror movie which stars Erin R. Ryan as Jill who has been held prisoner in a crawlspace and escaped from there in trying to deal with it while also finding the killer.  This also features my friends Clifford Lowe, Joe Skeen, Jeff Shull and Jeff Rapkin.  As we were watching this, we both knew the area quite well like Stephanie commenting on where a video store was that her family once owned.  I pointed out the park I recognized where I was  When I found this was on Amazon Prime, I wanted to watch it but not until Steph was able to watch it with me so last Friday presented us the opportunity.  This is a pretty decent low-budget horror and we both had an enjoyable watch.

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