Sunday, April 26, 2020

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 749th Edition

Welcome to the 749th Edition of my series.  As I write from the Fortress of Solitude, once again I just want to extend thanks to all the essential workers out there whatever you have to do.  I also wish us all well as we continue to fight through the crazy times.  Even when we are able to get back out again, I will likely continue to use the backseat of my minivan like to read my books.  There is not much else happening at this time so I'll just get on with my selections.

The Mechanic (2011):  I start the week with this action movie which was directed by Simon West.  Jason Statham stars as elite hitman Arthur Bishop or as the title would indicate, a "mechanic".  He has been the best by staying detached but his latest assignment leaves him everything but detached as is looking to take revenge on those that ordered the hit.  Ben Foster co-stars as Steve McKenna who is the son of the person that Bishop had to take out and is also looking for revenge so Bishop takes him in as an apprentice to go after those responsible.  Tony Goldwyn, Donald Sutherland, Jeff Chase, Mini Anden, Lara Grice, Lance E. Nichols, and many other co-star in this action movie.  This is a remake or reboot, whatever you want to call it, to the 1972 movie of the same title that stars Charles Bronson.  I do not believe I have seen it but may look into it in the future.  This movie was good for what it was, an action movie and has some emotional depth but more importantly some cool action scenes.  This is available to watch on Showtime, the 1972 version can be seen on Amazon Prime.

Restless (2011):  Now I follow up with the same year but with a rather unusual love story which was directed by Gus Van Sant.  Mia Wasikowska stars as Annabel Cotton who is a terminally ill cancer patient trying to make the most of her last days by studying nature.  Henry Hopper also stars as Enoch who is trying to deal with the death of his parents and spends his time attending funerals and hanging out with his friend Hiroshi, played by Ryo Kase, which is the ghost of a WWII Japanese kamikaze pilot.  As they meet, they have a renewed interest to live as their time together has to be limited.  Schuyler Fisk, Lusia Strus, Jane Adams, Chin Han, Kelleen Crawford, Victor Morris, Jesse Henderson, and many others co-star in this film.  These two characters were unusual and likable enough to really keep my interests.  Thinking further, it kind of reminds me of HAROLD AND MAUDE with the similarities of Enoch in this movie and Harold from the mentioned movie that would make a really good double feature.

At Eternity's Gate (2018):  Julian Schnabel directed this biographical film based on the legendary painter Vincent Van Gogh.  Willem Dafoe plays that very painter during his time in Arles and Auvers-Sur-Oise, France where he would develop his style of painting while grappling with religion and mental illness.  It also takes a look at how Van Gogh never really got to be appreciated for his art while he was living and never had that legend status until after his death.  Oscar Isaac co-stars as Van Gogh's friend Paul Gauguin who was also a painter though had very differing philosophies of painting that a lot of this movie focused upon.  Rupert Friend also co-stars as Vincent's brother Theo.  Matthieu Amaric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Neils Arestrup, Anne Consigny, Amira Casar, Vincent Perez, Lolita Chammah, and many others co-star in this biographical film.  There are times in this movie where this made me think of a Terrence Malick movie where the cinematography was star in parts of this particular film.  I say that in where it would a lot times just show the vision that Van Gogh would have to do his painting like in the nature that he valued.  Dafoe plays Van Gogh so well as someone human doing what keeps him going which is painting.  This is also available to watch on Showtime.

By Right of Birth (1921):  This is my short film for the week though it is really a movie which was originally 45 minutes long which was considered a feature film in that era.  However, only about four minutes of that film has been found and is put together here.  Obviously we cannot really give a full judgement but did seem like a rather compelling film that focuses on a wrongful eviction of sorts.  This was produced by the Lincoln Motion Picture Company which the beginning of this makes very clear was the first producers of race movies so in other works African-American movies.  While it only lasted a few years, they did inspire a lot more ethnic movies in a time where they were usually portrayed as servants.  This is available on the Criterion Channel and on the dvd "Kino's Pioneers of African-American Cinema".

Born Innocent (1974):  This is my tv movie for the week which was directed by Donald Wrye and based on a book by Creighton Brown Burnham.  Linda Blair stars as Chris Parker who is a 14 year old running away from home only to end up in a juvenile detention where no matter where she goes, she gets abused where by her parents or her peers at the center including a disturbing rape scene in the juvenile center.  Joanna Miles co-stars as Barbara Clark who is the one care worker that sees potential in Chris and is determined to help.  Allyn Ann McLerie, Mary Murphy, Janit Baldwin, Tina Andrews, Mich Vogel, Richard Jaeckel, Kim Hunter, and many others co-star in this tv movie.  This was aired originally on NBC and was very controversial for its time especially the rape scene.  Those who are familiar with 70s tv movies will know that they usually tried to convey relevant issues for the time and were usually pretty controversial in that era.  I suppose this one is all about innocence lost.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime and as described probably not for everyone.

The Idiot (1951):  This is my Japanese film for the week which I decided to focus again on actor Toshiro Mifune who would be 100 years of age if he was still alive.  Akira Kurasawa directed this tragic love story epic which is based on a novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky.  Masayuki Mora stars as WWII veteran Kameda who has been in an asylum for awhile and has a lot of nightmares involving death.  He travels to the island of Hokkaido where he enters into a love triangle involving a friend he met in Akama, played by Mifune, that leads to tragedy.  Masayuki Mori, Yoshiko Kuga, Takashi Shimura, and many others co-star in this film.  The version that can be obtained is nearly three hours but the original version is about an hour longer and was meant to be two parts but was cut by request of the studio.  Like the short film I featured, this has been deemed lost as print of the 265 minute version has been found.  This is the sixth collaboration of sixteen between Kurasawa and Mifune.  This is something that will require full attention and some time but is a very compelling film in the tragic love story genre.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

But I'm a Cheerleader (1999):  Jamie Babbit directed this comedy which was also satire.  Natasha Lyonne stars as Megan who has everything going for her like being a cheerleader and having a boyfriend but her friends and family suspect her of being a lesbian.  Her straight-laced parents send her to a camp in hopes of getting "cured".  When getting there, she must learn who she is and who she wants to be in life.  Cathy Moriarty, Eddie Cibrian, Clea Duvall, Melanie Lynskey, Bud Cort, Mink Stole, Michelle Williams, Rupaul, Katherine Towne, Joel Michaely, Douglas Spain, Dante Basco, Kip Pardue, Robert Pine, Rachelle Carson, Wesley Mann, Richard Moll, Julie Delpy, and many others co-star in this comedy.  If you expect about movie about actual cheerleading, this won't be the answer. This is more a satire of those camps that are supposed to teach about being straight.  This got put out in a time when being gay really was not that accepted, at least not with the people around me.  I hate to admit that being in high school when this came out, I really did not except it.  I felt this movie shows that that you just need to be who you are and if that is as a homosexual, that is okay.  I really did not think I was going to get this deep.  I found this on the Pluto TV app.

Daddy-O (1958):  I decided upon an earlier episode of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 back when still have their original host Joel Hodgson.  Usually they focus on B-movies dealing with the supernatural but on this one they chose more of a bad crime movie.  Dick Contino stars as Phil who is a trucker and nightclub singer.  He meets up with Jana, played by Sandra Giles, who challenges him to a drag race but when getting caught Phil loses his license.  After this he gets a job at a nightclub not knowing it also involves drug running.  Lots of inconsistency in this movie like shirts and cars always changing.  I think they were in the hopes of Giles becoming the next blonde bombshell but unfortunately did not happen.  The one person involved in the movie that had a big career was a man that wrote the music score and would go onto score such classics as STAR WARS and INDIANA JONES.  Yes, John Williams wrote his first music score in a feature film so really paid his dues.  The individual movie is available on Amazon Prime but the MST3K version is on Hoopla.

Santee (1973):  Now I follow up with my western for the week which was directed by Gary Nelson.  Michael Burns stars as the young Jody Deakes who finally joins up with his estranged father only to learn he is part of an outlaw gang and is killed by the bounty hunter Santee, played by Glenn Ford.  Santee takes Jody into his home along with his wife Valerie, played by Dana Wynter, and their employee John Crow, played by Jay Silverheels.  At first Jody intends to seek vengeance for his father but soon learns that Santee is a good person.  They must prepare for people of Santee's past coming for them.  Harry Townes, John Larch, Robert J. Wilke, Robert Donner, and many others co-star in this western.  This is a decent western film with some good action and a good story of unlikely family.  This is available on Amazon Prime and Hulu.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013):  This is part two of a possible Shirley MacLaine trilogy where she plays the mother of the title character.  I end the week with this comedy which was directed by Ben Stiller and based on the short story by James Thurber.  Stiller also stars Walter Mitty who has been working at his job at Life Magazine for sixteen years.  His life mostly consists of going home and to work.  He has a crush on his co-worker Cheryl, played by Kristen Wiig but cannot work up the guts to tell her.  He is also known to have daydreams which are likely the best times of his life.  He learns that his job and others are on the line to the downsizing that is happening and embarks on the biggest journey of his life in order to save his job.  Jon Daly, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn, Terence Bernie Hines, Paul Fitzgerald, Joey Slotnick, Sean Penn, Patton Oswalt, and many others co-star in this comedy.  This was a well done and even rather moving comedy that emphasizes the importance of people in jobs.  It also has a fun adventure element that keeps it going.

Well, that is it for this week but I did return with a double feature on "The Bookworm Corner".  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week.


I decided to do a double feature on this and read both books by legendary play-by-play commentator and the host of the GRILLING JR podcast.

Slobberknocker:  My Life in Wrestling by Jim Ross with Paul O'Brien (2017):  This is the first of Jim Ross' two autobiographies.  This tells the story of Jim Ross starting with his childhood focusing some on his upbringing and his love for professional wrestling.  It then goes into to his first meeting with his mentor Bill Watts who took a liking to Ross and brought him into Mid-South wrestling where Ross would do just about everything from helping to advertise and some referee work.  He is most known as one of the best play-by-play commentator but has also done a lot of work as the Vice President of Talent Relations in the WWE.  Good 'Ole JR has some great stories and was someone who paid his dues to be where he is in the industry.  This charts his ups and downs in his personal and professional lives and is able to tell it to us that makes us want to continue turning those pages.

Under the Black hat:  My Life in the WWE and Beyond (2020):  This is the second autobiography from Ross and essentially starts when he is trying to recover from Bell's Palsy and get back into the fold of WWF.  This one focuses the most on the ups and downs and there were a lot of both of his time in WWF/WWE and with Vincent K. McMahon.  This also talks a lot about his late wife Jan and the importance in his life and the she would go above and beyond for others in the business like cooking food for other wrestlers in their home and even being an earpiece.  I know how hard this was for J.R. to write in listening to his podcast GRILLING J.R., especially when he talks about when Jan dies.  He has a great perspective on many events that went on in his tenure and we learn some about his post-WWE life like his time in New Japan Pro Wrestling and becoming a play by play commentator in All Elite Wrestling.  I would find it really hard to read this book without the first one where we learn of how he started whereas this one has more focus on the corporate side.

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