Sunday, May 10, 2020

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 751st Edition

Welcome to the 751st Edition of my series.  As I bring this to you all from the Fortress of Solitude, I just want to wish a Happy Mother's Day however celebrated.  I hope we are all staying safe out there and just continuing to think rationally.  That is about all I have for now so I'll just get on with my selections for the week.

Mifune:  The Last Samurai (2015):  I decided to do a part four on this Toshiro Mifune series I have been doing by featuring a documentary about him and was directed by Steven Okazaki and narrated by Keanu Reeves.  This centers around the legendary Japanese actor which start from his beginnings to his days in the military and how he got into film.  It also talks a lot about the working relationship between himself and director Akira Kurasowa where they worked together a lot including likely the most known being SEVEN SAMURAI.  Filmmakers Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese give their thoughts on the man that would influence their careers in many ways.  This also includes interviews from those still alive that worked with him and his family.  I also learned that he was apparently considered heavily for Obi-Wan Kenobi in STAR WARS but was advised against it by his American agent which I think could have been awesome.  This is a very insightful documentary to look at the ups and downs of the legend.  This is available on the Criterion Channel.

Cashback (2006):  Sean Ellis wrote and directed what I guess is a romantic comedy but is not that simple.  Sean Biggerstaff stars as Ben Willis who is an art student and is going through a going through a painful breakup where he develops insomnia.  He decides to take a job on the night shift at a local supermarket where he learns he can freeze time which helps in his art.  Emilia Fox co-stars as Ben's co-worker Sharon who he starts to develop a crush upon.  Michelle Ryan, Jay Bowen, Shaun Evans, Stuart Goodwin, Michael Dixon, and many others co-star in this film.  There are parts of this movie that seem wrong on so many levels but Ben's narration and likability make it not so wrong.  In fact, it is really a beautiful movie on love and loss.  I have to say that I relate a lot to the character of Sharon and they way she avoids looking at clocks while at work which is something I have always been known for with those that have sat around me in the building I work.  It helped when the soundtrack included my Frankie Goes to Hollywood's son THE POWER OF LOVE which I believe is better than their biggest hit RELAX and glad to see it featured in film.  This relatively unknown cast manages to really make this movie work.

The Red Violin (1998):  Francois Girard directed and co-wrote this film that takes place in different eras.  We start out in present day Montreal where the star of the movie, which is literally the red violin, is being auctioned off and then we see flashbacks starting in 17th Century Italy of its origins and where it would end up through the years in various countries.  Jean-Luc Bideau, Wolfgang Bock, Johannes Silberschneider, Jason Flemyng, Greta Scacchi, David Gant, Sai-Kit Yung, Sylvia Chang, Hong Tao, Samuel L. Jackson, Xiaoshuai Wang, Colm Feore, Monique Mercure, Don McKellar, Julian Richings, Russell Yuen, Sandra Oh, Paula de Vasconcelos, and many others co-star in the ensemble drama.  It is really hard to describe this movie more than I have as it does have multiple stories that involve the title character for a lack of a better word.  This requires a lot of attention but was really worth a look.  This is available to watch on the TUBI app.

Mammals (1962):  This is my short film for the week which was directed by Roman Polanski.  This is a variation on the story WAITING FOR GADOT which feature a couple friends trying to survive in the ice and snow and have a few disagreements.  This was Polanski's attempt at a silent film and would be the last of his short films before he would work on his feature KNIFE IN THE WATER.  This is entertaining for what it is and was the start of a great career for Polanski.  This is available on the Criterion Channel.

Secrets (1933):  Frank Borzage directed this film based on a play by Rudolph Besier and May Edginson.  Mary Pickford stars as Mary Marlowe who comes from a wealthy family and is being forced into marrying a man she does not love.  The man she falls in love with is John Carlton, played by Leslie Howard, a clerk at the bank that her father runs.  When learning of this John gets fired and sets out to make a new life in California where Mary decides to run away from home and join him.  They get married and try to make it on a ranch while having a family.  This takes a look at 20 years of ups and downs of their married life.  C. Aubrey Smith, Blanche Friderici, Doris Lloyd, Herbert Evans, Ned Sparks, and many others co-star in this film.  This does not start out as a western but becomes one as they move to a cattle ranch and take on people stealing from them.  This is Mary Pickford's last movie and goes out very well working well with Leslie Howard who I feel is rather underrated by today's standards.  This is also available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Another Man's Poison (1951):  I follow up with this film noir which was directed by Irving Rapper and based on a play by Leslie Sands.  Bette Davis stars as mystery writer Janet Preston who gets caught up in a web of murderous deception.  Gary Merrill co-stars as George Bates who claims to be a partner in crime of Janet's husband and ends up posing as her husband much to her dismay starting quite the cat and mouse game to get him out.  Emlyn Williams, Anthony Steel, Barbara Murray, Reginald Beckwith, and many others co-star in this film.  Bette is as mean as ever in this film as she seems to have met her match.  Lots of twists and turns in this rather clever and compelling film.  This is available on Amazon Prime.

Hale County This Morning, This Evening (2018):  This is my second documentary for the week which was directed by RaMell Ross.  This takes a look at a black community in Hale Country, Alabama at their struggles and dreams.  This is not a real linear sort of documentary and centers a lot around the photography of the area.  I guess in some ways it is like a Terrance Malick movie.  This is beautifully shot and has some great images but is difficult to describe further.  This is also on Amazon Prime.

You Were Never Lovelier (1942):  Now I bring my song and dance selection for the week which was directed by William A. Seiter.  This takes place in Buenos Aires which stars Rita Hayworth as Maria who is the second daughter to the wealthy Eduardo Acuna, played by Adolphe Menjou.  There are four daughters and Eduardo requires his daughters to marry in the order of their age and his older daughter gets married but Maria does not seem to have much desire to marry much to the dismay of the younger two daughters.  Fred Astaire stars as Robert Davis who is an American dancer and is looking for work.  Eduardo allows Robert to work for him if he will play suitor to marry him but then leave her as he does not approve.  Isobel Elsom, Leslie Brooks, Adele Mara, Gus Schilling, and many others co-star in this musical.  I thought Leslie Brookes and Adele Mara were the most entertaining part of this movie as the younger daughters.  This may be a bit dated as far as marriage tradition but is a pretty entertaining romantic comedy.  Astaire has said that Hayworth was his favorite dance partner and they make a great dance team in this film.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Griffin and Phoenix (1976):  Last week, I featured the 2006 remake to this tv movie so I thought I'd bring the original this week.  Daryl Duke directed this tv movie which stars Peter Falk as Geoffrey Griffin who is given a terminal diagnosis that he has no more than a couple years to live.  He decides to attend a university class on the psychology of dying where he meets Sarah Phoenix, played by Jill Clayburgh, and slowly form a relationship no knowing that he has her on terminal illness.  Dorothy Tristan, Ben Hammer, George Chandler, Milton Parsons, John Harkins, Sally Kirkland, and many others co-star in this tv movie.  This is a pretty good love story on making the most out the last days of life.  This is a story that is both sad and beautiful with good performances out of the leads.  The only way I could find to watch this was on Youtube and was worth a look.

...First Do No Harm (1997):  I end the week with another tv movie which was directed by Jim Abrahams.  Meryl Streep stars as Lori Reimuller whose son Robbie, played by Seth Adkins, is diagnosed with epilepsy after having seizures.  The hospital prescribes some medicine but they do not seem to be getting any better so Lori does her own research and learns of a diet that could help but is met with resistance among those at the hospital.  Fred Ward, Margo Martindale, Allison Janney, Leo Burmeister, Sean McCann, Tom Butler, and many others co-star in this tv movie.  Abrahams is known for his comedy direction like last week's feature AIRPLANE but this was a more personal project for him with his own son having epilepsy and was helped by the Ketogenic diet that was emphasized in this movie.  This is also based on a true story.  This is not easy to watch at times to see a child suffer so much but is also very inspiration in the determination of Lori to get her son the help he needs.

Well, that is it for this week but continue on for my segment "Movie Time in the Town of Pottersville".  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Melissa Leo, Natalie Portman, Harold Lloyd, Judi Dench, and many others.


Doctor Sleep (2019):  I went and hung out with Stephanie at her house this week when she invited me over to watch this one.  I had not seen it yet so I went on over their to hang with my friend who is a big fan of Stephen King who novel this is based upon.  Mike Flanagan directed this film based on the King novel and is a sequel to Stephen King's THE SHINING.  Ewan McGregor stars as a grown Dan Torrance who must protect a young girl with similar powers to his own named Abra Stone, played by Kyleigh Curran, from a cult known as the True Knot which prey on children with powers to remain immortal.  Rebecca Ferguson, Cliff Curtis, Zahn McClarnon Emily Alyn Lind, Selena Anduze, Robert Longstreet, Catherine Parker, Met Clark, Zackary Momoh, Jocelin Donahue, Carl Lumbly, Henry Thomas, Bruce Greenwood, Sallye Hooks, Alex Essoe, Roger Dale Floyd, Jacob Tremblay, and many others co-star in this horror film.  I have not read the book version and this is more of a sequel to the 1980 version of THE SHINING which was directed by Kubrick and Flanagan did what he could to respect the novel and the 1980 movie from what I understand.  This was a pretty compelling watch that pays some homage to its predecessor while making the movie their own.

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