Sunday, May 31, 2020

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 754th Edition

Welcome to the 754th Edition of my series.  Yesterday I got to have an actual rehearsal for YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU.  It was a great feeling to be back where I love.  On the bottom is information on the show dates which are in July.  I hope everyone is staying safe right now and I'm just going to get on with my selections for this week.

Harmontown (2014):  I start the week out with this documentary that takes a look into the television and podcast industry and is directed by Neil Berkeley.  This takes takes a look at Dan Harmon who is best known as the creator of the sitcom COMMUNITY and the popular animated series RICK AND MORTY.  He started a podcast of the title which was essentially stand up and improv comedy where he had many guests and a live audience.  When getting fired from  COMMUNITY, the podcast went weekly.  In addition to Harmon, Jeff Bryan Davis, Erin McGathy, Steve Agee, Jack Black, Matt Braunger, Allison Brie, Yvette Nicole Brown, Donald Glover, Chris Hardwick, Gillian Jacobs, Ken Jeong, Joel McHale, John Oliver, Sarah Silverman, Ben Stiller, Jason Sudeikis, and many others get interviewed mostly reflecting on their ups and downs with Harmon.  I admit, I am not an avid watcher of these shows or podcast but I can see he has quite an audience and is a pretty interesting person.  This documentary can be found on Hoopla Digitial.  This podcast which came to an end late last year can essentially be found wherever podcasts are available as well as his current podcast HARMONQUEST. (2006):  Eric Steven Stahl directed and co-wrote this satire on the world of reality television.  Mathew Botuchis stars as 17 year old Colby Bellinger who decides to get mini-cameras for his home and publicly display them on the title website which include his former Playboy centerfold Lydia, played by Rosanna Arquette, his stepdad Harvey, played by Beau Bridges, and his stepsister Audrey, played by Baelyn Neff.  They are unaware of what is happening become dismayed when they learn but go along with it when they learn of the money being made.  As the stress mounts, things start to come crashing down around them.  Shiri Appleby, Dan Castellaneta, Victor Alfieri, Tracee Ellen Ross, Doris Roberts, Hector Elizondo, Tiffany Baldwin, William Dixon, and many others co-star in this comedy.  Castellaneta is most known as the voice of Homer Simpson in THE SIMPSONS so it was cool to see him in person.  While not exactly original, I thought this was pretty well executed and kept my interest throughout.

Cloak and Dagger (1984):  Richard Franklin directed this adventure film that was written by Tom Holland and no not that guy who plays Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  This is also based on the video game of the same name.  Fresh off his E.T. success, Henry Thomas stars as Davey Osborne who is quite the gamer in the Atari world.  He witnesses a murder and accidentally comes into possession of a spy group's secret plans but no one will believe him including his father, played by Dabney Coleman.  He winds up on the run from them and teams up with his imaginary friend Jack Flack, also played by Coleman, who is a resourceful super agent.  Michael Murphy, John McIntire, Jeanette Nolan, Eloy Casados, Tim Rossovich, Robert DoQui, Shelby Leverington, Nicholas Guest, Louie Anderson, and many others co-star in this film.  Forsythe is nearly unrecognizable as the video game store employee.  This is partly a remake of the 1949 film THE WINDOW but is a very loose remake.  Early video game buffs will like this one and is a fun adventure to go on.

Keep off the Grass (1970):  This is my short film for the week and one of those Sid Davis produced "warning" film.  This is not that grass you see in the yard, this is referring to that horrid drug Marijuana and the so-called effects it has on people.  The biggest disappointment for me was on imdb, on the trivia it says "Al Pacino's film debut" but he is not even uncredited on the site and he was nowhere to be found from what I could tell.  This is available on Amazon Prime as part of the "Drugs Kill" scare films they show.

Hook Line and Sinker (1930):  Edward Cline directed this comedy which stars Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey as a couple fast talking insurance salesmen.  They soon meet Mary, played by Dorothy Lee, who is running away from her wealth mother and agree to help her run a hotel that she owns.  When finding out it is abandoned they launch an unorthodox way of getting it going.  Ralf Harolde, Jobyna Howland, Natalie Moorhead, Hugh Herbert, George F. Marion, Stanley Fields, William B. Davidson, and many others co-star in this comedy.  This features the rather forgotten comedy duo of Wheeler and Woolsey who started out in Vaudeville and did a lot of movies from the late 1920s up until Woolsey's 1938 death.  This was the first encounter I have had with these guys and they hold their own among the other comedy groups of this era like Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, and the Marx Brothers despite not having their fame.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Invention for Destruction (1958):  This is my Czechoslovakian film for the week which was directed by Karel Zeman and based on a various works by Jules Verne.  This combines animation with live-action where an evil millionaire named Artigas, played by Miroslav Holub, to use a super-explosive device to conquer the world from his headquarters inside an enormous volcano. It is hard to really explain this film any further.  This is a very well done and fascinating film.  I knew when I saw it was from Czechoslovakia that it would really hold my interest.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Cold War (2018):  Powel Pawlikowski directed this love story set in France and Poland.  Tomasz Kot stars music director Wiktor who takes a liking to auditioning singer Zula, played by Joanna Kulig, and fall in love with one another in very impossible times through many years.  Wiktor tries to convince Zula to flee from communist Poland into France.  Borys Szyc, Agata Kulesza, Cedric Kahn, Jeanne Balibar, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a really good look into the cold war era and a really good love story.  This is another one that is hard to explain as it is a very complex film.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

D.O.A. (1949):  This is my film noir for the week which was directed by Rudolph Mate.  Edmond O'Brien as Frank Bigelow who learns he has taken a deadly poison that has no antidote.  In his last week of life, he investigates who was guilty of this murder and why.  Pamela Britton, Luther Adler, Beverly Garland, Lynn Baggett, William Ching, Neville Brand, Laurette Luez, Jess Kirkpatrick, Cay Forester, and many others co-star in this film noir.  This is one of the most iconic of the film noir genre.  This is also available to watch on Amazon Prime and still holds up by today's standards.

Victim (1961):  Basil Dearden directed this film which was written by Janet Green and John McCormick.  Dirk Bogarde stars as Melville Farr who is a married attorney investigating a blackmail scheme after a gay man commits suicide in his car.  This takes place in England during a time when homosexuality was illegal.  John Barrie co-stars as Detective Inspector Harris who helps Farr track down the blackmailer and considers the anti-sodomy laws as a license to blackmailers.  Sylvia Sims, Dennis Price, Anthony Nicholls, Peter Copley, Norman Bird, Peter McEnery, Donald Churchill, Derren Nesbitt, John Cairney, Alan MacNaughtan, Nigel Stock, and many others co-star in this film.  This was rather ahead of its time and tackles a very taboo topic in this era.  This was illegal in England and here in the states and this was a really good message towards the subject at the time.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Chattahoochee (1989):  I end the week with this film that takes place in a mental hospital.  Mick Jackson directed this film which stars Gary Oldman as Korean War veteran Emmett Foley who has a breakdown and is sentenced to the Chattahoochie State Mental Hospital.  When there, he finds that the doctors are mistreating the patients to the point of murder and tries to stand up for them.  Dennis Hopper, Frances McDormand, Pamela Reed, Ned Beatty, M. Emmet Walsh, and many others co-star in this film.  If expecting what you hear in that Alan Jackson song of the same name, this is not it.  This is a very intense film and is based on a true story.  I suppose a good double feature would be to watch this along with ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST and keep in mind they both stand apart on their own.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Well, that is it for this week but continue on for my "Movie Night in the Town of Pottersville" segment.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week.


Swiss Army Man (2016):  One night I was home and insisted to Stephanie we have a movie night which she accepted and when getting to her house, she insisted on watching this one.  I remembered seeing some of it so agreed to see the entire thing and how can you say no to Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe.  Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert co-directed and co-wrote this independent film.  Dano stars as Paul who is stranded on a desert island and is planning to kill himself.  He stops when he discovers a dead body washed ashore and names him Manny, played by Radcliffe, only to learn that he can talk at least in his own mind.  Together they embark on a journey for Paul to get home.  Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Antonia Ribero, Timothy Eulich, and Richard Gross co-star in this film.  Radcliffe shows he is far more than Harry Potter and cites this as his favorite movie that he has done.  This is one that some have loved and some have hated but either way, it remains very memorable.  On the surface there is a lot of fart humor which can turn some off but if you can get that past it is very deep film of an existential journey or a descent into madness.  This is available to watch on Netflix.

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