Sunday, May 17, 2020
Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 752nd Edition
Welcome to the 752nd Edition of my series. I have been releasing these in the Fortress of Solitude lately but today I bring this from my local coffee place the Cup which they have open outside. All I will say for now is I hope everyone is staying safe and even enjoying getting out more if that is what they want. I will just go ahead and get to my selections for the week.
All the Way (2016): I start the week out with this political biopic which was directed by Jay Roach and based on a play by Robert Schenkkan who wrote the screenplay. This starts right after Lyndon B. Johnson, played by BREAKING BAD alum Bryan Cranston, gets the presidency after the assassination of JFK. This mainly centers around LBJ carrying on JFK's intention of passing a civil rights bill with the help of Martin Luther King Jr., played by Anthony Mackie, in a very uneasy working relationship. MLK looks to make sure that not only the bill gets passed but that it also does not get "gutted". Johnson finds that his fellow politicians will not make this easy to pass. Melissa Leo, Frank Langella, Bradley Whitford, NEWSRADIO alum Stephen Root, Todd Weeks, Ray Wise, Ken Jenkins, Dohn Norwood, Mo McRae, Marque Richardson, Aisha Hinds, Joe Morton, and many other co-star in this political film. Cranston plays LBJ to perfection and won a Tony award for when it was on stage. I think something like this would be an interesting play to be in and maybe one day it will happen. This is a pretty good humanistic look at our former president in his struggle to keep everyone on his side.
Hesher (2010): Spencer Susser directed and co-wrote this film. Devin Brochu stars as T.J., a high school freshman who lost his mother and living with his father Paul, played by THE OFFICE alum Rainn Wilson, and his rather senile grandmother, played by Piper Laurie. Paul's way of dealing with the loss of his wife is to lie around on the couch popping pills leaving T.J. to mostly do his own thing. He soon meets Hesher, played by THIRD ROCK FROM THE SUN alum Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who makes his way into T.J.'s life by bringing him along for his life of crime and moving into their home as a squatter. Natalie Portman co-stars as Nicole who is a struggling grocery story employee that befriends T.J. when she stops him from being bullied. John Carroll Lynch, Brendan Hill, Monica Staggs, Mary Elizabeth Barrett, Audrey Wasilewski, Lyle Kanouse, Frank Collison, Van Epperson, Helen Slayton-Hughes, Paul Bates, and many others co-star in this film. Part of this movie is a very moving story but there are many moments with the title character that just made me think "wtf". Levitt clearly had a lot of fun playing this part where you just cannot take your eyes off him. The soundtrack consists of mostly Metallica and Motorhead. This is available to watch on Amazon Prime and Hoopla Digital.
Shut Up and Play the Hits (2012): This is my music documentary for the week which was directed by Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern. This centers around the rock band LCD Soundsystem and the final show they played on April 2nd, 2011 at Madison Square Garden. This goes back and forth with concert footage and interview footage mostly with their lead singer James Murphy who reflects on how he got into the music game a lot older in life than others and the ramifications of having his final show. They would go onto reunite and release a new album in 2017 and perform. I admit that I really don't know a lot about this band but they did have some good music with the song I recognized which was SOMEONE GREAT. James Murphy is also a very fascinating person in the interview footage as well as the backstage footage of him preparing what he thought at the time was their last show but like wrestling, the music industry is a hard business to get away from. This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.
Billy Blazes, Esq. (1919): This is my silent comedy short for the week which is a western short. Silent comedy legend Harold Lloyd stars as the title character who confronts Crooked Charley, played by Snub Pollard, on the way he has been ruling the town of Peaceful Vale through fear and violence. Bebe Daniels co-star in this silent comedy. This is an earlier one for Lloyd and had some pretty amusing gags as the gunslinger. Lloyd is a lot of times referred to as "The Third Genius" in reference to Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton who are far more known by today's standards. I have heard that at the time Lloyd was just as popular if not more popular in the box office. This was worth about 13 minutes and is available on the Criterion Channel.
Hot Rod Girl (1956): This was a pretty popular genre in this era involving hot rods and drag racing which was directed by Leslie H. Martinson. John Smith stars as Jeff whose brother dies in a hot rod race and blames himself for what happened because he built the car and encouraged his brother to race. Chuck Connors co-stars as Detective Merrill who knows he cannot stop the dangerous hot rod racing so he is trying to get a more organized setting for it to become safer but becomes more difficult when a bad crime happens. Lori Nelson, Frank Gorshin, Dabbs Greer , and many others co-star in this hod rod movie. Gorshin would go onto be most known as the Riddler in the '60s sitcom BATMAN. This is good for what it is, a drag racing movie. This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.
The Third Secret (1964): I had not heard of this movie until my friend Larry made a post about watching and mentioning the debut of Dame Judi Dench. Charles Crichton directed this mystery film. A psychiatrist is believed to have killed himself but his daughter Catherine, played by Pamela Franklin, refuses to believe her father would ever kill himself. She enlists the help of his former patient Alex Stedman, played by Stephen Boyd, who is now a reporter to investigate the death. Jack Hawkins, Richard Attenborough, Diane Cilento, Paul Rogers, Alan Webb, Rachel Kempson, Peter Sallis, Patience Collier, Freda Jackson, Judi Dench, Peter Copley, Nigel Davenport, and many others co-star in this mystery. As mentioned, this is Dench's film debut and was the start of quite a career. It is really hard to describe this movie without just giving it away. I was able to find a free version to watch on Youtube. I have found in the past with youtube that the transfer is not always that good but this one is a really good looking copy and is really worth a look.
Devil's Playground (2002): This is my second documentary for the week which was directed by Lucy Walker. This takes a look at some Amish communities and mostly their youth when they experience Rumspringa. For those that do not know, when they turn 16 they get to experience life for the first time after spending most of their time working and at church services. They are out in public and having parties that usually involve alcohol and possibly drugs. They also get to drive cars whereas they usually have a horse and buggy. As time goes on, they must decide if they want to join the church and continue living the Amish way of life. This takes a look at a variety of kids in their experience. It takes a look at the overlooked drug problems and other things like depression among the Amish. A lot of this was shot in the northern part of Indiana where I have family. There is also some footage in Sarasota, Florida where my Uncle Cal and Aunt Marcia around fall and winter and then live back in Northern Indiana around the spring and summer seasons so I thought that was cool to see. This is a rare look into the Amish community as they are big on privacy and takes a look at a very diverse group.
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974): This is an homage to Jerry Stiller who plays the dispatcher in this movie and recently left us. Joseph Sargent directed this film based on the novel by John Godey. Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, Hector Elizondo, and HOME IMPROVEMENT alum Earl Hindman team up as a group of criminals to hijack a New York subway train. Walter Matthau stars as wisecracking Lt. Zach Garber who is a transit cop and the main communication with the hijackers and NYPD. He does what he can to lead the charge and get the passengers to safety. James Broderick, Dick O'Neill, Lee Wallace, Tom Pedi, Nathan George, Rudy Bond, Kenneth McMillan, EVERYBODY LOVE RAYMOND alum Doris Roberts, Julius Harris, and many others co-star in this action film. Hindman is known as Wilson in HOME IMPROVEMENT whose face was always hidden. This is a very gritty and compelling action film that works on many levels. This is available to watch on Hoopla Digital.
Shockproof (1949): This is my film noir for the week which was directed by Douglas Sirk. Patricia Knight stars as Jenny Marsh who gets paroled from prison for killing a man. Cornel Wilde stars as her parole officer Griff Marat who is determined to help her go straight even with her criminal boyfriend Harry, played by John Baragrey, interfering. As time goes on, Griff begins to fall for Jenny which can be detrimental to his future. Esther Minciotti, Howard St. John, Russell Collins, Charles Bates, and many others co-star in this film. This is a bit unrealistic at times but is still worth watching. I think it could have been better with a better ending but that's just my opinion. This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.
Shoplifters (2018): I end the week with this Japanese film which was written and directed by Hirokazu Koreeda. This centers around a family that resorts to shoplifting to make ends meet. Lily Franky and Sakuro Ando star as married couple Osamu and Nobuyo who see over a non-biological family. They resort to shoplifting to make ends meet and survive. They find a little girl named Yuri, played by Miyu Sasaki, who is alone and they take in at least for the night. When about to return her to her home, they find evidence of abuse and keep her. Kirin Kiki, Maya Matsuoka, Jyo Kairi, and many others co-star in this film. This is a good portrait of a family that appears to have come together out of survival. It is rather sad at times but also moving on how much they care for one another despite their questionable choices. This is available to watch on Hulu.
Well, that is it for this week, continue on for my segment "Movie Time in the Town of Pottersville" where I continue to pay homage to Jerry Stiller. Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Rosario Dawson, Samuel L. Jackson, Zooey Deschanel, Alfred Hitchcock, Charles Bronson, and many others.
MOVIE TIME IN THE TOWN OF POTTERSVILLE
Hairspray (1988): Knowing that I would be watching this really soon, I hit up Stephanie to see if she had the dvd. I was under the impression she did but I was wrong and responded with "I wish I did". When I received this on dvd and we were out and about I asked if she'd be interested in watching it so I went home to get it. John Waters wrote and directed this comedy. A young Ricki Lake stars as the pleasantly plump Tracy Turnblad who wants to be a regular on the Corny Collins Dance Show which I suppose is the equivalent of AMERICAN BANDSTAND. She finds it tough at first with her size but makes her way into the show and then looks to become an advocate for integration to allow the black race to be on the show. Divine co-stars as Tracy's supportive mother Edna and Stiller co-stars as Tracy's father Wilbur. Sonny Bono, Debbie Harry, Colleen Fitzpatrick, Michael St. Gerard, Mink Stole, Shawn Thompson, Ric Ocasek, Pia Zadora, and many others co-star in this comedy. This would give way to the popular musical we know today. This one is a bit darker so I know a few who have cited dislike towards this version but credit must be given where due. In the end, this is about fighting for what you believe in and that is what Tracy Turnblad exemplifies. This was an enjoyable watch and her seven year old son walked in from time to time and was curious about the filmmaking process so we gave him a bit of an education on things like editing a movie and a little bit of a process on being in a movie.
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