Sunday, April 12, 2020

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 747th Edition

Welcome to the 747th Edition of my series.  I hope all is well in these times that we are in right now and staying safe.  I also hope that those either out of work or not making as much will be okay in the long run.  I hope we all just help each other however we can.  I just continue to make the most of all this knowing that we will be able to get back out there.  I know I will be performing the play YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU at some point and that I will be back to my everyday life of going to the karaoke bar, coffee shops, the library, to name a few.  For those of you out of work or not able to make as much I would like to extend the offer to message me if Doordash is in the area and I will send a link to try signing up with.  I would also like to remind everyone that later today at 5 pm Eastern time the radio play TREASURE ISLAND airs on and I play the roles of Black Dog, Captain Smollet, and Tom Morgan.  I will shut up now and get on with my selections for the week.

Hidden Figures (2016):  Theodore Melfi directed this film which is based on the novel by Margot Lee Shetterly.  Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae star as a group of friends that are a group of African-Americans working at NASA in the '60s where they were still looking to get a man in space after Russia got their first man into space.  They are mathematicians and despite their intelligence they are still having a hard time being taken seriously because they were women and black.  Kirsten Dunst, Kevin Costner, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge, Glen Powell, Kimberly Quinn, Olek Krupa, Kurt Krause, Ken Strunk, Lidya Jewett, Donna Biscoe, Ariana Neal, Saniyya Sidney, Zani Jones Mbayise, and many others co-star in this film.  This takes a look at both the rise of NASA and addressing segregation.  It is a very inspirational film that takes place in a very significant time in our history that address many other issues within it.

The Mule (2018):  Clint Eastwood directed and stars in this film based on a true story.  Clint stars as Earl Stone who is broke, alone and facing foreclosure of his business.  He accepts a job where as far as he knows he is just simply driving but does not know until later that he is the drug courier for the Mexican drug cartel. Bradley Cooper co-stars as DEA agent Colin Banks who is hot on the trail of the cartel.  In addition to Earl having trouble in being involved with drugs, he has also alienated his family and hopes to make amends before the law catches up with him.  Dianne Wiest, Michael Pena, Cesar De Leon, Laurence Fishburne, Jackie Prucha, Richard Herd, Alison Eastwood, Kinsley Isla Dillon, Taissa Farminga, Austin Freeman, Victor Rasuk, Robert LaSardo, Saul Huezo, Eugene Cordero, Noel Gugliemi, Andy Garcia, Clifton Collins Jr., and many others co-star in this.  Alison Eastwood is the daughter of Clint and plays his daughter in the movie.  This is a true story based on WWII veteran Leo Sharp who was an 80 year old man that became a drug mule but the name was changed and in this movie the protagonist was a Korean War veteran. This was based on a New York Times article THE SINALOA CARTEL'S 90-YEAR-OLD DRUG MULE by Sam Dolnick.  This was a very compelling story and done as only Clint Eastwood can do.  A good double feature could be to watch this along with MARIA FULL OF GRACE which also features an unlikely drug mule.  I also would not mind seeing a documentary on the real-life subject of the movie.

Win Win (2011):  Now I bring a sports movie which is really more of a movie that centers around a sport.  Tom McCarthy directed and co-wrote this film which stars Paul Giamatti as Mike Flaherty who is a struggling attorney and the coach of the struggling high school wrestling coach.  He meets the grandson of a client named Kyle, played by Alex Shaffer, whose mother is in rehab and takes him into his family.  It turns out that Kyle is a very good wrestler and the answer for his struggling team but Mike's rather shady dealing come to haunt him with the boy's mother, played by Melanie Lynskey, comes into town.  Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Jeffrey Tambor, Burt Young, Margo Martindale, David Thompson, Nina Arianda, Marcia Haufrecht, Clare Foley, and many others co-star in this film.  This is more of a character study than anything in my opinion.  It is really hard to describe further than what I did as it is a rather complex film that takes a look at some rather gray areas.  This is worth a look and is a really good journey.

How to Keep a Job (1949):  This is my short film for the week which is part of the Coronet film series which was a set of instructional videos from this era but are mostly entertainment by today's standards.  This centers around a job interviewer where the potential employer does not like how his interviewee criticizes his former employer and tells the story of an employee that does just enough to get by in the job.  While this is a bit dated, it does hold some truth to it.  This is available to watch on Youtube and is only about 11 minutes.

Rain (1932):  Lewis Milestone is the uncredited director and is based on a play by John Colton and Clarence Randolph.  This centers around an island on the South Pacific where a missionary ship arrives.  Joan Crawford stars as Sadie who is a prostitute and soon Mr. Davidson, played by Walter Huston, confronts Sadie on her evil ways and tries to offer her salvation.  William Gargan, Guy Kibbee, Beulah Bondi, Matt Moore, Walter Catlett, and many others co-star in this film.  This was made in the pre-code era so a bit daring for the era.  This was a very early film in Crawford's career.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

The Thomas Crown Affair (1968):  Now I bring this heist classic which was directed by Norman Jewison.  Steve McQueen stars as the title character who is a successful and wealthy businessman and believes he has pulled off the perfect heist.  Faye Dunaway co-stars as Vicki Anderson who is an insurance investigator called to recover the haul and immediately suspects Thomas Crown.  They start to see each other socially even though they know who each other are.  Paul Burke, Biff McGuire, Addison Powell, Astrid Heeren, Gordon Pinsent, Yaphet Kotto, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a very tense and stylist film with McQueen and Dunaway working very well together.  This also has the very iconic movie song THE WINDMILLS OF YOUR MIND by Noel Harrison.  This is available to watch on Hoopla Digital.

Stripes (1981):  Ivan Reitman directed this military comedy.  Bill Murray stars as John Winger who in one day quits his job and gets dumped by his girlfriend.  He learns of army enlistment and talks his buddy Russell Ziskey, played by Harold Ramis, into joining him.  Also joining in the fun is John Candy who has also enlisted.  Warren Oates co-stars as the drill instructor who is at odds with John.  P.J. Soles, Sean Young, John Candy, John Larroquette, John Diehl, Lance LeGault, Judge Reinhold, Antone Pagan, William Lucking, Fran Ryan, Joe Flaherty, Nick Toth, Dave Thomas, Bill Paxton, and many others co-star or have small parts in this comedy.  Paxton has a bit role of a soldier.  Another thing of note is the both Legault and Lucking were both in the A-TEAM as Decker and Lynch who at different times were after the team.  I don't know if Murray and Ramis would have been able to fight ghosts in their future had they not gone to boot camp first so we must give credit where it is due in that regard.  If not taken too seriously, this can be very enjoyed, if nothing else to see Murray, Ramis, and Candy in boot camp.

My Name is Julia Ross (1945):  This is my film noir for the week which was directed by Joseph H. Lewis and based on the novel by Anthony Gilbert.  Nina Foch stars as Julia who gets a job through an employment agency with a wealthy widow in Mrs. Hughes, played by May Whitty, and goes to live in her home.  A couple days later she awakens in a new home and under a different identity.  She must piece together what is happening and prove she is who she says she is.  George Macready, Roland Varno, Anita Sharp- Bolster, and Doris Lloyd co-star in this thriller.  This is considered one of those B-list film noirs but feels like much more.  This is a very suspenseful story with a good performance from Foch.  This is just a little over and hour and really worth that hour.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Goldfinger (1964):  This is my homage to actress Honor Blackman who recently left us and I decided to feature her in her iconic role of Pussy Galore.  Guy Hamilton directed this film which is the third James Bond movie and based on the novel by Ian Fleming.  Sean Connery stars as Agent 007 James Bond and ends up in Fort Knox where her learns that Auric Goldfinger, played by Gert Frobe, has a very sinister plot to contaminate the Fort Knox gold reserve and destroy the world economy.  Blackman co-stars as mentioned as Pussy Galore who is the pilot of Goldfinger and former wrestler Harold Sakata co-stars as Goldfinger's mute henchman and has a rather unique weapon for killing.  Shirley Eaton, Tania Mallet, Bernard Lee, Martin Benson, Cec Linder, Lois Maxwell, Bill Nagy, Michael Mellinger, Nadja Regin, Burt Kwouk, Desmond Llewelyn, Margaret Nolan, and many others co-star in this Bond film.  I'm about to say the word iconic for the second time in this paragraph but I believe this is the most iconic bond movie of all time with Pussy Galore, "golden girl" Jill Masterson, Odd Job's deadly hat, the table scene, and so many others.  There has also been the rumor that Shirley Eaton actually died from gold paint which is just a rumor.  This available to watch on Amazon Prime.

The Hot Spot (1990):  I end the week on this neo noir which was directed by Dennis Hopper and based on the book by Charles Williams.  Don Johnson stars as Harry Madox who is a drifter that ends up in a small Texas town.  He gets a job as a used car salesman where he has a very lustful affair with the boss' wife Dolly, played by Jennifer Connelly, but is in love with Gloria, played by Jennifer Connelly, who is the accountant as the used car place.  While he wants to be with Gloria, he continues to be blackmailed by Dolly.  Charles Martin Smith, William Sadler, Jerry Hardin, Barry Corbin, Leon Rippy, Jack Nance, Virgil Frye, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a pretty intense movie that I found I could not really describe any further without giving out spoilers.  A good double feature might be to watch this along with RED ROCK WEST which has a similar feel and both have gone onto be pretty underrated.  I was able to find this available on the Pluto TV app On-Demand.

Well, that is it for this week but I did bring back my "Fun and Useless Facts segment" for the week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Sylvester Stallone, Tom Hanks, and many others.


I return with this segment as I had enough names to go on and have the time for in these current times.  As always, I focus on people in opposite movies being featured and not so much people within the same movie.  I stopped at a certain amount so feel free to comment on others you might see.

Kevin Costner (Hidden Figures) and Clint Eastwood (The Mule) are on opposite sides of the law in the 1993 film A PERFECT WORLD.

Kevin Costner (Hidden Figures) and John Candy (Stripes) were in the 1991 film JFK.

Kevin Costner (Hidden Figures), Andy Garcia (The Mule), Sean Connery (Goldfinger), and Charles Martin Smith (The Hot Spot) make all four members of the title group in the 1987 film THE UNTOUCHABLES.

Kevin Costner (Hidden Figures), Robert LaSardo (The Mule), and Dennis Hopper (The Hot Spot director) were  in the 1995 movie WATERWORLD.

Kevin Costner (Hidden Figures) and Sean Young (Stripes) have an affair in the 1987 movie NO WAY OUT.

Kevin Costner (Hidden Figures) and Laurence Fishburne (The Mule) in the 2013 superhero film MAN OF STEEL and the 2016 follow-up BATMAN V SUPERMAN:  DAWN OF JUSTICE.

Aldis Hodge (Hidden Figures) was signed to a label by Paul Giamatti (Win Win) in the 2015 film STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON.

Kimberly Quinn (Hidden Figures) and Bill Murray (Stripes) were in the 2014 comedy ST. VINCENT.

Mahershala Ali (Hidden Figures) and Bradley Cooper (The Mule) were in the 2012 film THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES.

Michael Pena (The Mule) and Bobby Cannavale (Win Win) were in the 2015 superhero film ANT-MAN and the 2018 sequel ANT-MAN AND THE WASP.  Lawrence Fishburne (The Mule) was also in the 2018 film.

Laurence Fishburne (The Mule) and Dennis Hooper (The Hot Spot director) were in the 1979 war film APOCALPYSE NOW.

Richard Herd (The Mule) and John Candy (Stripes) were in the 1987 comedy PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES.

Richard Herd (The Mule) and P.J. Soles (Stripes) were in the 1980 comedy PRIVATE BENJAMIN.

Bradley Cooper (The Mule) and Jeffrey Tambor (Win Win) were in the comedy trilogy of THE HANGOVER.  Paul Giamatti (Win Win) was in the second one.

Clint Eastwood (The Mule) directed Amy Ryan (Win Win) in the 2008 film CHANGELING.

Clint Eastwood (The Mule) directed Melanie Lynskey (Win Win) and Tom McCarthy (Win Win director) in the 2006 war film FLAGS OF OUR FATHER.

Clint Eastwood (The Mule) directed Michael Pena (Win Win) and Margo Martindale (Win Win) in the 2004 boxing film MILLION DOLLAR BABY.

Clint Eastwood (The Mule) directed Nina Arianda (Win Win) in the 2019 film RICHARD JEWELL.

Clint Eastwood (The Mule) and Fran Ryan (Stripes) were in the 1985 western PALE RIDER.

Dianne Wiest (The Mule) and Amy Ryan (Win Win) were in the 2007 comedy DAN IN REAL LIFE.

Dianne Wiest (The Mule) and Margo Martindale (Win Win) were in the 1998 witch comedy PRACTICAL MAGIC.

Clifton Collins Jr. (The Mule) and Amy Ryan (Win Win) were in the 2005 film CAPOTE.

Clifton Collins Jr. (The Mule) and Faye Dunaway (The Thomas Crown Affair) were in the 2002 film THE RULES OF ATTRACTION.

Robert LaSardo (The Mule) and Jack Weston (The Thomas Crown Affair) were in the 1988 movie SHORT CIRCUIT 2 which was Weston's last movie.

Margo Martindale (Win Win) and Jennifer Connelly (The Hot Spot) were in the 1991 movie THE ROCKETEER.

Joan Crawford (Rain) was played by Faye Dunaway (The Thomas Crown Affair) in the 1981 movie MOMMIE DEAREST.

Steve McQueen (The Thomas Crown Affair) declined the role of Harry Callahan in the 1971 film DIRTY HARRY which would ultimately go to Clint Eastwood.

Jack Weston (The Thomas Crown Affair) and Antone Pagan (Stripes) were in the 1987 film DIRTY DANCING.

John Diehl (Stripes) and Don Johnson (The Hot Spot) were in the '80s cop series MIAMI VICE.

Sean Connery (Goldfinger) declined the role of Thomas Crown in this week's feature THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR which would ultimately go to Steve McQueen.

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