Sunday, March 8, 2020

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 742nd Edition

Welcome to the 742nd Edition of my series.  It's been nice seeing the weather getting warmer.  Nothing really new happening besides me being in my show.  With all that I'll just get on with my selections for the week.

Misery Loves Comedy (2015):  This is part five of my five-part Steve Coogan documentary where he gets interviewed a bit in this comedy.  Kevin Pollak directed this documentary which features many people with experience in stand-up comedy and interviews them mostly on what drives them.  It also talks on how misery can lead to comedy.   Jason Alexander, Judd Apatow, Lewis Black, James L. Brooks, Rob Brydon, Bobby Cannavale, Larry David, Jimmy Fallon, Jon Favreau, Jim Gaffigan, Janeane Garofalo, Kevin Smith, Whoopi Goldberg, Christopher Guest, Tom Hanks, Chris Harwick, Penn Jillette, David Koechner, Lisa Kudrow, Richard Lewis, William H. Macy, Robert Smigel, Marc Maron, Stephen Merchant, Kevin Nealon, Freddie Prinze Jr., Matthew Perry, Andy Richter, Jason Reitman, Amy Schumer, Sam Rockwell, Bob Saget, Martin Short, and many others get interviewed.  I thought this was a pretty insightful documentary which can really give aspiring comedians ideas of where to start.  They also pay tribute some to late comedians like Richard Pryor, George Carlin, and even Freddie Prinze Sr.  This is the first time the Freddie Prinze Jr. has discussed his father publicly.  I have found that stand-up is not something for me I don't think but respect those that give it their all on that stage.  This is available to watch on Hoopla Digital.

Maxwell's Demon (1968):  This is my short film selection for the week.  Hollis Frampton directed this short film where a man does movements intended to demonstrate Maxwell's theory about gas molecules.  I honestly do not know what exactly this is meant to accomplish.  This was just more interesting in a visual way with the waves of sound to go along.  This is only about four minutes long and is available on the Criterion Channel.

Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975):  This was presented at my local library as part of the Cinemuncie series.  Peter Weir directed this film which is based on the novel by Joan Lindsey.  This takes place at a girls' school in Australia where three students and a teacher vanish without a trace and we see the effects of those at the school.  Rachel Roberts, Helen Morse, Tony Llewellyn-Jones, Anne-Louise Lambert, Karen Robson, Jane Vallis, Christine Schuler, and many others co-star in this film.  It is really hard to explain this one.  It was really cool seeing this on a bigger screen that was presented at the library.  This have very subtle overtones of horror without really showing anything that would be interpreted as horror.  This was a really good showing and really deserves a look.  This is also available on the Criterion Channel.

Act of Love (1980):  Jud Taylor directed this tv movie which is based on the book by Judith Paige Mitchell.  Ron Howard stars as Leon who is part of a family that lives in the country and is asked by his now quadriplegic brother Joe, played by a young Mickey Rourke, to kill him.  Yes, you read that right, Ron Howard and Mickey Rourke play brothers.  Robert Fox, David Spielberg, Jacquline Brookes, Gail Youngs, Mary Kay Place, Peter Michael Goetz, Peter Hobbs, Kent Williams, Chris Mulkey, David Faustino, and many others co-star in this tv movie.  I unexpectedly came across this on Amazon Prime and found Mickey Rourke was in this.  As a fan of Rourke, I had never heard of this very early movie in Rourke's career so I just could not resist this one.  This was just a little before his breakthrough 1981 film of BODY HEAT.  This was a very look at euthanasia and mercy killings and the gray areas that come along.  I likely would have never watched this had I not noticed Rourke but glad I got to give this unknown tv movie a watch.  As mentioned, this is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936):  Frank Capra directed this comedy classic which places Gary Cooper in his classic unlikely hero role.  Cooper stars as Longfellow Deeds who is a simple, small-town person very popular among his community.  He comes into a really big inheritance and must go to New York to claim it.  It is there that he becomes the target of scammers trying to take advantage of his good nature.  Jean Arthur co-stars as reporter Babe Bennett who also tries to scam him for an article in the sensationalist paper she works for.  She poses as a damsel in distress type but slowly starts to see Deeds is just a good person becoming more reluctant.  George Bancroft, Lionel Stander, Douglass Dumbrille, Raymond Walburn, H.B. Warner, Ruth Donnelly, Walter Catlett, and many others co-star in this inspiring comedy.  Capra always has really good messages in his films and with this one is really that money is not everything.  A man content in his way of life and things change when learning of a distant relative dying things change when he realizes the horrors of the world with the money.  A classic comedy that remains very relevant today which should have a big watch.  This is available to watch on Crackle.

Christopher Robin (2018):  Marc Forster directed this film which is an update to the classic story by A.A. Milne.  Ewan McGregor stars as a grown Christopher Robin who is now a successful businessman but has little time for his wife Evelyn, played by Hayley Atwell, and Madeline, played by Bronte Carmichael.  Christopher runs into his old pal Winnie the Pooh, voiced by Jim Cummings, who takes him back to Hundred Acre Woods and tries to help him rediscover the joys of life.  Mark Gatliss, Brad Garrett, Oliver Ford Davies, Nick Mohammed, Peter Capaldi, Sophie Okonedo, Toby Jones, Ronke Adekoluejo, Adrian Scarborough, Roger Ashton-Griffiths, Ken Nwosu, and many others co-star or provide their voices.  Obviously to watch this, one needs at least some knowledge to the Winnie the Pooh stories which are some timeless classics.  The year before, they put out a movie called GOODBYE, CHRISTOPHER ROBIN which was more of a biopic that focuses on the relationship between the author and his son who just happened to be named Christopher Robin.  I noticed in this movie the relationship between Christopher and his daughter kind of parallels that movie a bit in that the father is just too dedicated to his work.  In the end, I really enjoyed the update to the classic stories that I grew up with and this is available on Netflix and Disney Plus though surprised Netflix still carries it.

Black River (1957):  This is my Japanese film for the week which was directed by Masaki Kobayashi.  This takes place in post-WWII era Japan.  This focuses on a love triangle between an idealistic college student, his girlfriend, and a petty criminal.  What is really being focused upon is the corruption on and around U.S. military bases as well as the lack of social values that would lead to the things happening.  That being said, this is about far more than just the love triangle.  It is really hard to explain the movie beyond what I already have explained it.  This is one for the foreign film buffs and is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981):  This was presented at my local library as part of a 2 pm movie showing that is going on every Tuesday this month.  Steven Spielberg directed this classic adventure film which was written by George Lucas, Philip Kaufman, and Lawrence Kasdan.  Harrison Ford stars as the very adventurous archaeologist Indiana Jones who is looking for the Ark of the Covenant in the jungles of South Africa.  He must go against a group of Nazis and his enemy Belloq, played by Paul Freeman, who are also after it but for more sinister reasons.  Karen Allen co-stars as Indy's old flame Marion who reluctantly teams up him when getting caught in the middle.  Ronald Lacey, John Rhys-Davies, Denholm Elliot, Alfred Molina, Vic Tablian, Don Fellows, William Hootkins, and many others co-star in this film.  This was the start to quite a series that would for years be a trilogy but then released was the Crystal Skull.  It would also spawn the rather popular tv series THE YOUNG INDIANA JONES CHRONICLES.  Ford was already an icon as Han Solo but would become even more with this character.  I don't know where Indiana Jones learned to be so resourceful but this is a very fun adventure to go along.

A Kiss Before Dying (1956):  Gerd Oswald directed this film noir which is based on the Ira Levin.  Robert Wagner stars as Ruthless college student Bud Corliss who takes interest in Dorothy Kinship, played by Joanne Woodward, whose father has a big mining fortune.  He learns she is pregnant and believes she will be disinherited due to it being out of wedlock and stages her suicide.  Virginia Leith co-stars as Dorothy's sister Ellen who does not buy into the suicide.  Jeffrey Hunter, Mary Astor, George Macready, Robert Quarry, Howard Petrie, Bill Walker, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a pretty dark movie and Wagner is villainous to the core.  A lot of times with the film-noir genre, there is a femme fatale and getting a man to do the dirty work but with this one, Wagner does it all. This was really worth a look and is available on Amazon Prime.

Dandelion (2004):  I end the week with this independent film which was directed by Mark Milgard.  Vincent Kartheiser stars as the troubled 16 year old Mason who is very distant with his family.  He meets and falls in love with Danny, played by Taryn Manning, who also has a lot of problems in her life and just come together.  Arliss Howard, Mare Winningham, Blake Heron, Michelle Forbes, Marshall Bell, Shawn Reaves, Robert Blanche, and many others co-star in this film.  This in a sense is a love story between two rather outcast people.  It also shows the facade of others around them and how everyone has problems of some sort.  This is one of those that is really hard to explain.  Kartheiser and Manning work very well together and have seen more of Kartheiser lately in my latest re-binge of ANGEL.  This is a good small-town movie and a nice unorthodox sort of love story.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Kerry Washington, and many others.

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