Sunday, April 5, 2020

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 746th Edition

Welcome to the 746th Edition of my series.  I mostly write this in "The Fortress of Solitude" aka the back seat of my mini-van.  It's always hard for me to write in my actual home so I found a suitable alternative for right now as we live in these times.  I want to once again thank all the workers that are still out there and hope they all stay safe.  Also to those that have that virus, I hope for you all make a full recovery and to those that have died my thoughts go out to the family and friends.  Today was supposed to be closing night for YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU but they do intend to still put on the show.  I would like to announce that at 5 pm today the radio play TREASURE ISLAND from Richmond Radioworks is getting broadcast on .  I am the voice of Black Dog, Captain Smollett and Tom Morgan.  If you cannot listen today, there are two more Sundays after this at the same time.  Also on Wednesday at 4:30 I am a guest on the show VIRTUAL TEA TIME with my friend Amy which will be on Facebook Live.  I continue to make the most of these crazy times and hold out hope knowing I will get to be in the play that was supposed to be this weekend and that I will get to do all the other things that have been temporarily taken from me.  To those out of a job, I hope things work out in the end.  I will shut up now and get on with my selections.

Molly's Game (2017):  Aaron Sorkin directed this film based on the book by Molly Bloom, played by Jessica Chastain.  Bloom was an Olympic skier and afterwards ended up in a job where she would go onto run a very high stakes poker game.  This would involve Hollywood stars, sports stars, and many others including unbeknownst to her the Russian mob and it would also lead to a big arrest.  Idris Elba co-stars as her attorney Charlie Jaffey who reluctantly took on her case but would learn there is far more to her than just what was in the tabloids.  Kevin Costner co-stars as Molly's rather overbearing father.  Michael Cera, Jeremy Strong, Chris O'Dowd, J.C. MacKenzie, Brian D'arcy James, Bill Camp, Graham Greene, Justin Kirk, Angela Gots, Natalie Krill, Stephanie Herfield, Madison McKinley, Samantha Isler, Piper Howell, Rachel Skarsten, and many others co-star in this film.  The real-life Bloom wanted Chastain to play her in the movie which was a good choice in my opinion.  Sorkin makes his directorial debut where he still writes the screenplay.  This was pretty fun and well paced movie that takes a look at a rather bizarre true story.

Mirai (2018):  This is my anime selection for the week.  Mamoru Hosoda wrote and directed this animated film.  This centers around a four year old boy named Kun, voiced by Jaden Waldman, whose world changes when he gets a baby sister named Mirai, voiced by Victoria Grace.  He gets very jealous of the attention that his little sister is getting and that he is used to getting.  When going to the backyard, he finds himself in a magical world where he gets to meet his sister when she was older and other family members when they were younger helping him come to terms with his younger sister.  Rebecca Hall, John Cho, Daniel Day Kim, Crispin Freeman, Stephanie Sheh, and many others provide their voices in the American version.  This was actually a very beautifully done film with the animation and the story.  I'm sure many parents can relate to this situation when bringing in a second child.  This is a very moving and thoughtful story that I think the whole family can enjoy.

The World According to Sesame Street (2006):  This is my documentary for the week which was directed by Linda Goldstein Knowlton and Linda Hawkins Costigan.  This takes a look at the very popular PBS children's show SESAME STREET as the title of this documentary would indicate.  This documentary takes a look at the co-production of the series in developing countries like Bangladesh, Kosovo, and South Africa.  They still use the characters that we have in the United States but have their own characters to develop in accordance to the country.  This show was originally developed for children in the urban area that had limited education and that mission lives on in these other countries.  If looking for a history of SESEME STREET in general, this is not it.  There are highlights of the show but this is mostly a look at the Seseme Productions and their efforts to get their show on in these countries and accommodate to their needs.

Judge for a Day (1935):  This is my short film for the week and decided to do some classic animation featuring Betty Boop.  Betty is getting annoyed with people out there she feels are being inconsiderate in public.  Shen then imagines herself as a judge giving the punishments out to these people into some very comical punishments.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime as part of "Betty Boop Vol. 1"

Hardcore (1979):  Paul Schrader wrote and directed this film.  George C. Scott stars as conservative businessman Jake VanDorn whose daughter was missing from a church youth convention trip and hires private investigator Andy Mast, played by Peter Boyle to find her.  What Andy finds is a cheap X-rated video with his daughter and when Jake sees this he sets out to find her himself.  This takes him into the pornographic underworld in his search.  Season Hubley, Dick Sargent, Gary Graham, Marc Alaimo, Leslie Ackerman, Paul Marin, Hal Williams, Bibi Besch, TraceyWalter, and many others co-star in this film.  I had never heard of this before I came across it and sparked my interest very quickly.  This is by no means for everyone and is rather disturbing at times.  This is still a very compelling look into the porn industry is this era.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

The Pride of the Yankees (1942):  This is my sports movie for the week and quite the classic at that.  Sam Wood directed this biopic on baseball legend Lou Gehrig, played by Gary Cooper.  This starts a little into his childhood and into his rise in baseball when going to the Yankees.  This goes into his personal and professional career where he would play 2130 games in a row until his fall when he learned of a deadly nerve disease which we now happen to call "Lou Gehrig's Disease".  Theresa Wright co-stars as his wife Eleanor and Babe Ruth plays his legendary self.  Walter Brennan, Dan Duryea, Elsa Janssen, Ludwig Stossel, Virginia Gilmore, Ernie Adams, Pierre Watkin, Harry Harvey, and many others co-star in this film.  I think most know from this movie the famous "luckiest man alive" speech that Gehrig made during his farewell to baseball.  Cooper brought Gehrig to life very well and knew how to play up the everyday person that finds success.

How To Be Single (2016):  Who but me would go from a inspirational and classic sports movie to a modern raunchy comedy?  Christian Ditter directed this comedy based on the book by Liz Tuccillo.  This centers around four young female adults navigating love and relationships in New York.  Dakota Johnson stars as Alice who is taking a "break" from her relationship with her boyfriend to see what it is like to be on her own.  She gets a job and becomes friends with her wild co-worker Robin, played by Rebel Wilson, who tries to put some fun into Alice's life.  Leslie Man co-stars as Alice's older sister Meg who is determined to be a mother and has her own relationship issues to deal with.  GLOW star Allison Brie co-stars Lucy which is the one I probably relate to the most.  She hangs out at the bar next door with her laptop and is looking for the right man and has an algorithm to finding that man.  As most might guess, the part I relate to is having a laptop at a bar where sometimes I write this.  I remember one time meeting my friend Ricky Ruckus and when getting there said "I recognized you by the laptop".  Damon Wayans Jr., Anders Holm, Nicholas Braun, Jack Lacy, Jason Mantzoukas, Colin Jost, Sarah Ramos, Vanessa Rubio, and many others co-star in this comedy.  This is probably a good selection for Girl's Night.  If taking this too seriously, it will not be liked.  Just watch it for what it is which is a raunchy comedy and a lot of fun in my opinion.

The Hangman (1959):  Now I bring a western which was directed by Michael Curtiz.  Robert Taylor stars as U.S. Marshall Mackenzie Bovard who is after a robbery suspect and ends up in a small town in pursuit of his fugitive.  Fess Parker co-stars as the sheriff in this small town but does not seem eager to help Bovard capture Johnny Bishop, played by Jack Lord, who is a very liked person in the town.  Tina Louise, Gene Evans, Mickey Shaughnessy, James Westerfield, Mabel Albertson, Betty Lynn, and many others co-star in this western.  This is a pretty decent story of a man who must rethink his ways of black and white when he finds that the person he is after is a respected member of the community.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime and is worth a look especially for western lovers.

Hud (1963):  Martin Ritt directed this film which is based on the novel by Larry McMurtry.  Paul Newman stars as Hud Bannon who is a very loose cannon and reckless in life.  He has a very bitter relationship with his father Homer, played by Melvyn Douglas, whose values did not pass onto his son.  Brandone De Wilde co-stars as Hud's nephew Lonnie who idolizes his uncle but slowly sees recklessness that drives him away.  Patricia Neal, Whit Bissell, Crahan Denton, John Ashley, Val Avery, George Petrie, and many others co-star in this classic.  This is driven by the characters and performances.  This is a portrait of a man that ruins everything and everyone around him with Newman capturing the role perfectly.  Last week I featured THE LAST PICTURE SHOW which was also written by McMurtry and both have a similar feel like life in a small Texas town.  These two could make a really good double feature.

Grease 2 (1982):  I end the week with this classic bad musical that was really pretty enjoyable.  Maxwell Caulfield stars as Michael who is the cousin of Sandy from the first movie.  Michael is a straight-laced guy going to Rydell High and takes interest in Stephanie, played by a young Michelle Pfeiffer, of the Pink Ladies.  She is resistant toward him so he must look to prove he is cool to win her over.  Lorna Luft, Maureen Teefy, Pamela Adlon, Adrian Zmed, Peter Frechette, Christopher McDonald, Leif Green, Didi Conn, Sid Caesar, Dody Goodman, Tab Hunter, Dick Patterson, Eddie Deezen, Matt Lattanzi, and many others co-star in this musical.  This is kind of a gender role-reversal from the first one.  Luft is the daughter of Judy Garland and makes her feature film debut.  I believe Christopher McDonald is one of the best character actors out there and really paid his dues and hammed it up in this one.  This also has some rather ridiculous but amusing musical numbers.  I guess if you are a die hard fan of the first one, this will be hard to watch but this could be one to have a bad musical party and include this for a fun night.  I don't understand why they never adapt this one to stage.

Well, that is it for this week but keep on ready for my segment "The Bookworm Corner".  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Kevin Costner and Clint Eastwood.


First Wish by J. Wolf Scott (2011):  This centers around the character of Isabella Carson we meet as a child and has an imaginary friend named Desdemona.  She remains the alter-ego of Isabella but an encounter with a fallen star gives her the opportunity to become her own person.  As the years go by, they both have their own lives but still remain corrected through their dreams and circumstances draw them back home to the small town of Collinsville.  I bought this book last September when I was at the annual Washington Street festival in Muncie.  The author is a local person in my town so when I was ready to get back to reading I decided it was time for novel.  This book has fantasy elements as far as the imaginary friends but other than that it was more of a drama.  It was also a very compelling story and managed to read it in a couple weeks.  The author has a website of and has quite a bit of books to choose from so maybe I'll get me another book at the next Washington Street festival.  I also ask for a part when the movie gets made.

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