Sunday, March 29, 2020

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 745th Edition

Welcome to the 745th Edition of my series.  I just want to start by saying thank you to all those essential workers out there in the front lines.  In general, I wish us all well and to anyone out there that has the Covid-19 virus, I'm just calling it as it is and not using beer or country names to nickname it, I wish a full recovery.  To everyone in general, please try to think rationally and think of others in these crazy times.  For me, it has not been easy before mostly forced to be an introvert but I hold out home one day at a time for us being able to return our everyday life where for me I'll be doing plays, singing karaoke and writing this at a coffee place.  I would also like to make an announcement.  While we unfortunately cannot go to the theater but next Sunday we can bring a little theater into out homes.  The radio play TREASURE ISLAND that I was a part of in the beginning of the year is to air on the radio next Sunday on April 5th and on Sundays April 12th and 19th.  This will be broadcast on the Richmond, Indiana station of 91.5 and their website is which has various ways to listen to it on the website and an app.  This will be at 5 pm on all three days.

Michael Collins (1996):  I start the week off with this historical biopic which was directed by Neil Jordan.  Liam Neeson stars as the Irish revolutionary who would go onto lead a guerrilla war against the UK for their freedom and help to found the Irish Free State in 1922.  Alan Rickman co-stars as Eamon De Valera who was also a very significant and controversial part of Ireland in this era.  Julia Roberts, Ian Hart, Aidan Quinn, Jer O'Leary, Mike Dwyer, Sean McGinley, Gary Whelan, Stephen Rea, Frank Laverty, Stuart Graham, Brendan Gleeson, Gerard McSorley, Owen Roe, Ian McElhinney, Charles Dance, and many others co-star in this biopic.  This was a pretty compelling biopic on someone who does not really get discussed as much as other revolutionaries.  Of course, liberties are taken for dramatic effect.  Neeson brings the role to live very well and the rest of the cast were also very good.  This was really worth a look and then maybe look into the real person after this movie.

La La Land (2016):  Now I bring this homage to the world of Hollywood and jazz music which was written and directed by Damien Chazelle.  Ryan Gosling stars as jazz musician Sebastian and Emma Stone stars as aspiring actress Mia.  They are both struggling to get where they want to be in their careers.  They soon meet and are able to relate some to one another and form a relationship.  J.K. Simmons, Rosemarie DeWitt, John Legend, Terry Walters, Callie Hernandez, Jessica Rothe, Sonoya Mizuno, Claudine Claudio, Jason Fuchs, Olivia Hamilton, Anna Chavelle, Marius De Vries, Finn Wittrock, Josh Pence, Nicole Coulon, Damon Gupton, Meagan Fay, Tom Everett Scott, and many others co-star in this film.  I forgot to mention that is this a musical and has some really good numbers.  It also has a very amusing opening scene that took song and dance to a new level in my opinion.  This is the third teaming of Gosling and Stone so as of now they have a trilogy.  This also takes a look at the difficulty of a relationship that happens between two very busy people who can't always see each other.  

Ocean's Eight (2018):  Gary Ross directed and co-wrote this heist comedy.  Sandra Bullock stars as Debbie Oceans who is the sister of Danny from the OCEANS trilogy that had numbers 11, 12, and 13.  Debbie is just getting paroled and forms an all female team with her friend Lou, played by Cate Blanchett, in order to pull off a heist at the Met Gala in New York City.  The rest of this gang involves Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna, Awkwafina, and Sarah Paulson who each have their own role in the heist.  Elliott Gould, Richard Armitage, Charlotte Kirk, Dakota Fanning, Whitney White, Damian Young, Gideon Glick, James Corden, Marlo Thomas, Dana Ivey, and many others co-star in this comedy.  I really like the original OCEAN'S 11 movie with the Rat Pack and the remake I thought was decent but was never a die-hard fan of the series.  This to me was very entertaining and in times like we are in now that is what I need.

Drug Addiction (1951):  This is my short film for the week which most can likely guess is regarding drug addiction.  The story involves a straight A student going off the deep end with drugs.  It started with Marijuana and was a gateway to Heroin.  Some of the information of what is in the drugs was pretty good but this is more entertainment as opposed to being educational at the time.  I think we know more now than we do then but does make for some entertainment and is available on Amazon Prime as part of the "Drugs Kill!" series.

Six of a Kind (1934):  Leo McCarey directed this comedy which stars Charles Ruggles and Mary Boland as married couple J. Pinkham and Flora Whinney who are going on a road trip and Flora decides to hire a couple to go along to share the expenses.  She rethinks her decision when George Burns and Gracie Allen come along with their Great Dane.  W.C. Fields and Alison Skipworth round out the six where fields plays the Sheriff and Skipworth is kind of a foil.  This movie manages to feature three different comedy teams for the era and I was surprised at how much I laughed, especially at Burns and Allen.  Most probably know Burns for in his later years but shows some really good work when he was younger.  This is just a little over an hour long and delivers so much laughs in that hour.

Cactus Flower (1969):  I follow up with another comedy that I came across that sounded interesting enough and is directed by Gene Saks.  Walter Matthau stars as dentist Dr. Julian Watson and is in a relationship with Toni Simmons, played by Goldie Hawn.  Toni is under the belief that she cannot marry Julian because he is married and has three kids but this is a lie that Julian uses so that he does not have to commit.  He finally decides he wants to be with Toni and claims he will be divorcing his wife.  While Toni likes this, she also wants to meet this "wife" so Julian enlists his loyal nurse and receptionist Stephanie Dickinson, played by Ingrid Bergman.  Jack Weston, Rick Lenz, Vito Scotti, Irene Hervey, Eve Bruce, and many others co-star in this comedy.  This was a pretty intriguing comedy which shows us the price of a lie and how far it can go.  It was with very funny results in this movie with a very early role for Hawn who won Best Supporting Actress and would go onto have a great career.  

Eddie the Eagle (2015):  This is my sports movie for the week which is based on a true story.  Dexter Fletcher directed this film which stars Taron Egerton as 1988 Winter Olympics ski jumper Eddie Edwards.  This shows how Eddie was never much of an athlete but it never let him stop him from his goals of one day being in the Olympics.  He found that what he wanted was the very difficult sport of ski jumping where most of them started at a young age in childhood but Eddie persisted.  Hugh Jackman co-stars as Bronson Peary who was a ski jumper when he was younger and reluctantly agrees to train Eddie after he Bronson sees he just will not give up no matter how unlikely it seems.  Jo Hartley, Keith Allen, Tom Costello, Mark Benton, Tim McInnery, Edvin Endre, Mads Sjogard Patterson, Marc Benjamin, Iris Berben, Rune Temte, Daniel Ings, Jim Broadbent, Christopher Walken, and many others co-star in this very inspirational underdog film.  This was a very moving film and as mentioned on another one, with times like they are, sometimes we need movies like this one.  The soundtrack to this movie was great and goes along so well with the movie.  Egerton and Jackman work very well together.  This was one where it was so easy to get behind Edwards and took that difficult journey with him.  A good double feature to go along with this one could be RUDY.

Rear Window (1954):  Alfred Hitchcock directed this film based on the short story by Cornell Woolrich.  James Stewart stars as photographer L.B. "Jeff" Jefferies who is wheelchair bound and stuck in his apartment until he gets better.  Having nothing better to do, he finds that he can spy on activities outside of the rear window.  In one of the apartments, Jeff is convinced he has witnessed a murder.  With the help of his girlfriend Lisa, played by Grace Kelly, his visiting nurse Stella, played by Thelma Ritter, and his cop friend Thomas Doyle, played by Wendell Corey, they manage to slowly put together what has happened.  Raymond Burr, Judith Evelyn, Ross Bagdasarian, Sara Berner, Frank Cady, Jesslyn Fax, and many others co-star in this film.  This combines suspense with a good amount of dark humor that only the "Master of Suspense" can bring us.  I admit that I relate to Jeff just a little bit as I work from my home and am rather observant out my bedroom window seeing people go by or sometimes critters.  This is quite the classic leading up to a great climax.

The Last Picture Show (1971):  Peter Bogdanovich directed this classic coming of age film which is based on the novel by Larry McMurtry.  This centers around two good friends in Sonny and Duane, played by Timothy Bottoms and Jeff Bridges, who are about to graduate in a small West Texas town where they feel is going nowhere.  Each of them are dealing with their own relationship issues, where they are going in life and with each other.  Cybill Shepherd, Ben Johnson, Cloris Leachman, Ellen Burstyn, Eileen Brennan, Clu Gulager, Sam Bottoms, Sharon Ullrick, Randy Quaid, and many others co-star in this film.  This is really hard to explain as it really just centers around the characters and story.  It has a really good black and white look that goes along very well with the story of the struggle of a  small-town life that is still relevant today.  This is available to watch on Criterion Channel.

The Founder (2016):  I end the week with this biopic on Ray Kroc which was directed by John Lee Hancock.  Michael Keaton stars as Kroc who is a travelling salesman and comes across a very innovative restaurant run by a couple brothers Dick and Mac McDonald, played by Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch.  This was the start of what we now know as McDonald's.  Kroc gets the idea to franchise what they are doing and in turn mostly screws over the brothers.  Laura Dern, Linda Cardellini, B.J. Novak, Patrick Wilson, Justin Randell Brooke, Griff Furst, Wilbur Fitzgerald, David De Vries, Andrew Benator, Cara Mantella, and many others co-star in this film.  This is really one of my favorite movies.  This is a very compelling look at the world of McDonald's and it is interesting how parallel their rise is to that of Facebook.  Keaton plays the part of hustler and salesman Ray Kroc very well.  A good companion piece to this movie is the documentary THE REAL FOUNDER which centers around Dick McDonald and is available on Amazon Prime.  A really good double feature on this one is with THE SOCIAL NETWORK where as mentioned they are very parallel to one another.

Well, that is it for this week but continue on for the return of "Fun and Useless Facts".  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Jessica Chastain, and many more.


I don't usually do this but obviously I have a little more time and I had enough people to go on to get some good facts.  Many of my selections have actors who have worked together before and after so I avoided any of those.

Julia Roberts (Michael Collins) and Dakota Fanning (Ocean's 8) were in the 2006 movie CHARLOTTE'S WEB.

Julia Roberts (Michael Collins) and J.K. Simmons (La La Land) were in the 2001 movie THE MEXICAN.

Julia Roberts (Michael Collins) and Tim McInnerny (Eddie the Eagle) were in the 1999 romantic comedy NOTTING HILL.

Liam Neeson (Michael Collins) evades Patrick Wilson (The Founder) in the 2010 movie THE A-TEAM.

Liam Neeson (Michael Collins), Josh Pence (La La Land), and Rihanna (Ocean's 8) were in the 2012 sci-fi movie BATTLESHIP.

Liam Neeson (Michael Collins), Josh Pence (La La Land) and Anne Hathaway (Ocean's 8) were in the superhero film THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.  Neeson and Pence play older and younger versions of Ra's Al Ghul.

Liam Neeson (Michael Collins) and Sandra Bullock (Ocean's 8) are in the 2000 movie GUN SHY.

Liam Neeson (Michael Collins) and Jim Broadbent (Eddie the Eagle) were in the 2002 film GANGS OF NEW YORK.

Aidan Quinn (Michael Collins) and Sandra Bullock (Ocean's 8) are in the 1998 movie PRACTICAL MAGIC.

Aidan Quinn (Michael Collins), Dakota Fanning (Ocean's 8), and Christopher Walken (Eddie the Eagle) are in the 2005 movie NINE LIVES.

Aidan Quinn (Michael Collins) and Helena Bonham Carter (Ocean's 8) were in the 1994 film MARY SHELLEY'S FRANKENSTEIN.

Alan Rickman (Michael Collins) and Helena Bonham Carter (Ocean's 8) are in the 2007 musical SWEENEY TODD:  THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET.

Gerard McSorley (Michael Collins) and Cate Blanchett (Ocean's 8) are in the 2003 film VERONICA GUERIN

Stephen Rea (Michael Collins) and Jim Broadbent (Eddie the Eagle) were in the 1992 film THE CRYING GAME.

Ryan Gosling (La La Land) and Sandra Bullock (Ocean's 8) were in the 2002 movie MURDER BY NUMBERS and formed a relationship for about a year.

Emma Stone (La La Land), Damian Young (Ocean's 8) and Michael Keaton (The Founder) were in the 2014 film BIRDMAN:  OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE).

J.K. Simmons (La La Land) and Cate Blanchett (Ocean's 8) are in the 2000 film THE GIFT.

Rosemarie DeWitt (La La Land) and Anne Hathaway (Ocean's 8) are sisters in the 2008 film RACHEL GETTING MARRIED.

Sonoya Mizuno (La La Land) and Awkwafina (Ocean's 8) were in the 2018 movie CRAZY RICH ASIANS.

Anne Hathaway (Ocean's 8) asks Hugh Jackman (Eddie the Eagle) to care for her daughter in the 2012 musical LES MISERABLES.

Anne Hathaway (Ocean's 8) and Ellen Burstyn (The Last Picture Show) were in the 2014 film INTERSTELLAR.

Anne Hathaway (Ocean's 8) and Randy Quaid (The Last Picture Show) were in the 2005 film BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN.

Mindy Kaling (Ocean's 8) and B.J. Novak (The Founder) were in the popular sitcom THE OFFICE and were in a relationship.  They also have a child together.

Elliott Gould (Ocean's 8) was in a 1985 episode of GEORGE BURNS COMEDY WEEK which features George Burns (Six of a Kind).

Damian Young (Ocean's 8) and Hugh Jackman (Eddie the Eagle) were in last week's 2017 musical THE GREATEST SHOWMAN.

George Burns (Six of a Kind) and Walther Matthau (Cactus Flower) were in the 1975 comedy THE SUNSHINE BOYS.

Walter Matthau (Cactus Flower) and James Stewart (Rear Window) served in the US Army Air Force, 8th Air Force, 453rd Bombardment Group in England.

Rick Lenz (Cactus Flower) and Raymond Burr (Rear Window) were in the tv movie PERRY MASON:  THE CASE OF THE TELLTALE TALK SHOW HOST.

Rick Lenz (Cactus Flower) and James Stewart (Rear Window) were in the 1976 western THE SHOOTIST.

Christopher Walken (Eddie the Eagle) and Michael Keaton (The Founder) were in the 1992 superhero film BATMAN RETURNS.

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