Sunday, March 15, 2020

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 743rd Edition

Welcome to the 743rd edition of my series.  While the play I am doing in Elwood YOU CAN'T IT WITH YOU will still happen, we are having to do it a little later.  I do not have exact dates as of yet but we are leaning towards the end of April to May sometime.  When the news first started coming about this Corona Virus, I never really foresaw what would happen but here we are.  I'm trying to keep an open mind about what's going on and just live my life the way I can.  To anyone that has contracted this, I wish them all well including Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson at this point.  To anyone that has died from it, my thoughts go out to the family and friends.  I also feel for those who are losing work right now with all the things that are getting cancelled, suspended, or closed.  I feel for some of the kids who are being taken out of school and mostly doing the e-learning which I know is not the ideal thing for some of the teachers and children.  It is unfortunate the mass panic that is happening.  I hope that those who have bought way too much toilet paper or anything will realize what they have done and reach out to family and friends to see if they need any of the things.  I'm fortunate that I can still work as I work at home and at least I can still do these blogs.  I'm still going to rehearsals and remain hopeful things will get better.  I think I've gone on long enough so I'll just get on with my selections for the week.

Confirmation (2016):  I start the week off with this HBO movie which is based on a true story.  Rick Famuyiwa directed this movie which is centered around the time Clarence Thomas, played by Wendell Pierce, was nominated for a position as a Supreme Court judge.  Thomas appeared to have everything going for him but things become complicated when a former colleague in Anita Hill, played by Kerry Washington, accuses him of sexual harassment when they worked together.  A lot of this focuses around the chaos going on when disagreements in the political world happen on how to handle the situation.  Greg Kinnear, Jeffrey Wright, Eric Stonestreet, Bill Irwin, Zoe Lister-Jones, Grace Gummer, Treat Williams, Dylan Baker, Erika Christensen, Alison Wright, Malcom Gets, Peter McRobbie, Kimberly Elise, Frank Hoyt Taylor, and many others co-star in this political movie.  I did not know about any of this until I came across this movie and it happened before the "#metoo" movement.  Washington does a great job as Hill and I also really liked Treat Williams as Edward Kennedy.  It really leaves us to believe who was right and wrong. Keep in mind, Thomas would become the judge so people will have an idea on how it ends but it was interesting to see what happened to get to that point.

Now is Good (2012):  Ol Parker directed this movie which is based on the novel BEFORE I DIE by Jenny Downham.  Dakota Fanning stars as Tessa whose days are unfortunately numbered due to Leukemia.  She has a list of things she is wanting to do before dying and tries to live life on her terms in her last days.  Jeremy Irvine co-stars as Adam who forms a relationship with Tessa knowing her days are numbered and hoping to help her make the most of this time.  Paddy Considine, Olivia Williams, Kaya Scodelario, Julia Ford, Julain Wadham, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a pretty moving film that is driven by the characters and script.  It does a good job showing how the people around her are trying to deal with the knowledge they do not have her much longer.

Ford V Ferrari (2019):  This is part one of a two-part Christian Bale series.  James Mangold directed this film which is based on a true story and based around the auto industry and the racing industry.  Matt Damon stars as American car designer Carroll Shelby who has to retire from auto racing but but gets the opportunity from Ford to beat the Italians at their own game.  He gets his driver friend Ken Miles, played by Christian Bale, to be his driver and while his driving skills are great, his people skills are not the best.  Jon Bernthal co-stars as Ford vice president Lee Iacocca who makes it possible for them.  Caitriona Balfe, Josh Lucas, Noah Jupe, Tracy Letts, Remo Girone, Ray McKinnon, JJ Feild, Jack McMcMullen, Corrado Invernizzi, Joe Williamson, Ian Harding, Christopher Darga, and many others co-star in this film.  This leads to the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1966 where as the title indicates are determined to defeat Ferrari.  Damon and Bale make a great team and Bernthal rounds it out as a good trio.  This movie goes at full force and delivers the goods.

Unaccustomed as we Are (1929):  This is my classic comedy short for the week which features the legendary duo of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.  Oliver invites Stan over for dinner but Mrs. Hardy is not having it.  Doing this leads to some some comical situations involving the neighbor and a cop.  This is the first of their talkies after having many silent shorts.  Fans of classic comedy should really enjoy this one.

Gigi (1958):  This is my musical for the week which was directed by Vincente Minnelli .  Leslie Caron stars as the title character who is part of a 1900s upper class society where her mother and aunt are trying to teach her to be proper but is far too free-spirited to be that way.  Louis Jourdan co-stars as Gaston who is part of a very wealthy family and takes interest in Gigi but must get through their differences.  Maurice Chevalier, Hermione Gingold, Eva Gabor, Jacques Bergerac, Isabel Jeans, John Abbott, and many others co-star in this musical.  This is a pretty fun and rather underrated musical from this era with some good numbers from Lerner and Loewe.

Norma Rae (1979):  Now I bring a more serious movie that is based on a true story.  Martin Ritt directed this film that takes a look at poor working conditions.  Sally Field stars as the title character who is a small town single mother and like most people in that town works at a textile mill.  She does not like the way people get treats and meets union organizer Reuben, played by Ron Leibman.  She immediately likes the idea of a union and agrees to work with him to organize a union much to the dismay of the higher-ups.  Beau Bridges, Pat Hingle, Barbara Baxley, Gail Strickland, Morgan Paull, and many others co-star in this film.  This is based on Crystal Lee Sutton who worked very hard to get a union in the local mill.  This is a really good look at working conditions and still can resonate today.

Sid Yiddish (2014):  This is another short film which features my fellow AMERICA'S GOT TALENT alum.  Ryan Buckley directed this short film about actor and musician Sid Yiddish who most would know by his AGT appearance as a throat singer.  This goes into months leading into his 50th birthday and part of it is singing HAPPY BIRTHDAY to his mother.  He also demonstrates his throat singing ability and goes into some of his past.  We also hear from his friend Monk 9 who is very interesting himself.  I was on AMERICA'S GOT TALENT with him in the 2011 show where I probably interacted with him the most and we have kept in touch through Facebook.  This can be seen on Vimeo through the link and is only about 16 minutes long.  He is a very fascinating person so get to know him a bit through that link.

Sorry, Wrong Number (1948):  This is my film noir for the week which was directed by Anatole Litvak and based on a radio play by Lucille Fletcher.  Barbara Stanwyck stars as the invalid Leona Stevenson who is making a phone call and appears to have gotten the wrong line where she believes she is hearing a murder plot.  Her husband Henry, played by Burt Lancaster, is late and the servants have the night off leaving her all alone as she starts to piece things together through flashbacks.  Ann Richards, Wendell Corey, Harold Vermilyea, Ed Begley, Leif Erickson, William Conrad, John Bromfield, Jimmy Hunt, Dorothy Neumann, and many others co-star in this film.  I had not heard of this until I found it but it is a very suspenseful and daring movie from this era.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel and could make a good double feature to go along with Hitchcock's REAR WINDOW.

Fritz the Cat (1972):  This is my animated movie for the week and is not animation for the family.  Ralph Bakshi directed this animated film which is based on characters by Robert Crumb.  Skip Hinnant provides the voice to the title cat who is a very sex-obsessed cat from the '60s.  He's a university student wandering through the town and meeting up with the Black Panthers and Hell's Angels.  Rosetta LeNoire also provides her voice.  I don't know how else to describe this as there is no real plot.  This is very politically incorrect and holds the feat of being the first ever animated movie with an X rating.  Robert Crumb hated what Bakshi brought to his creations to the point of suing for his name to be taken from the credits.  I still could not help but enjoy though watching it with a wft attitude.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime but those who offend easy probably should not watch.


Booksmart (2019):  I end the week and combine my selection with my segment.  I was over at Stephanie's house and she was looking for something to watch and asked if I wanted see this one.  This was on my list but had not seen it yet so I went along.  Olivia Wilde goes behind the camera to make her directorial debut in this comedy that Stephanie described as "SUPERBAD but with girls".  Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein star as long-time friends Amy and Molly who are approaching high school graduation.  They have the whole world in front of them and have worked hard all their lives but find they even those that did not do as much are still getting into big colleges.  This sets off Molly who advises her friend that they need to have the night of their lives before graduation.  Jason Sudeikis co-stars as the principle and turns out to be the coolest principal ever.  Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte, Victoria Ruesga, Mason Gooding, Skyler Gisondo, Diana Silvers, Molly Gordon, Billie Lourd, Eduardo Franco, and many others co-star in this comedy.  While this was very raunchy and may be inappropriate to some, I also felt they had a really good message about how gossip can spread.  It can really make someone understood if they do not have the full story.  Dever and Feldstein are hilarious together and has a very clever animation sequence.  This is available to watch on Hulu.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Christian Bale and James Stewart.

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