Sunday, June 14, 2020

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 756th Edition

Welcome to the 756th Edition of my series.  I hope we're all staying safe right now.  In less than a month, we put on our play YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU at the Elwood Opera House.  The dates for this are July 7th, 8th, and 9th which is a Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  Yes, usually a play is put on the weekend, maybe a Thursday but in this situation our director wanted to keep the original cast together that was supposed to perform in April and this was the only way to do it so I'm thankful for that.  I'll have more information in the coming weeks so for now I'll just get on with my selections for the week.

Sharp Objects (2018):  I start the week out with this HBO mini-series.  Jean-Marc Vallee directed this mini-series which was based on the book by Gillian Flynn who might be most known for GONE GIRL.  Amy Adams stars as reporter Camille Preaker who is sent to her small town to cover a brutal murder.  While there, she must also confront her psychological demons as she relives her past while trying to get to the bottom of the murders.  She must also face her mother Adora, played by Patricia Clarkson, and tries to get to know the sister she barely knows in Amma, played by Eliza Scanlen.  Chris Messina, Matt Craven, Henry Czerny, Taylor John Smith, Madison Davenport, Miguel Sandoval, Sophia Lillis, Lulu Wilson, Elizabeth Perkins, David Sullivan, Violet Brinson, April Brinson, and many others co-star in this mini-series.  This consists of eight episodes, all of which are around an hour.  This is not one of the easiest things to watch and is not for everyone with some of the images that are shown.  If you can get past that, this does unfold very well with the eight episodes.  Led Zeppelin fans will enjoy the soundtrack as their music gets used a lot in this series.  This was Flynn's first book which Stephen King gave praise.

Magic in the Moonlight (2014):  This is part one of a possible two-part Emma Stone series.  Woody Allen wrote and directed this romantic comedy.  Colin First stars as Stanley who works as a magician under the name Wei Ling Soo.  He also specializes in exposing fraudulent mediums and sets his sights on celebrated spiritualist Sophie Baker, played by Emma Stone.  He finds that he is difficult to expose and wonder if she might be for real.  He also starts to fall in love with her.  Marcia Gay Harden, Jacki Weaver, Simon McBurney, Catherine McCormack, Eileen Atkins, Erica Leerhsen, Jeremy Shamos, Hamish Linklater, and many others co-star in this comedy.  Firth and Stone work well together and I liked the idea of a romantic comedy have two people from interesting professions.  The persona of Wei Ling Soo is a reference to Chung Ling Soo whose real name was William Ellsworth Robinson and was similar in trying to debunk psychics in the late 1800s to the early 1900s.  This takes place in an era when it was more acceptable for Americans and British to take on these personas.

Cinderella Man (2014):  This is likely the start of a series for both Paul Giamatti and Renee Zellweger.  Ron Howard directed this biopic on depression era boxer James J. Braddock, played by Russell Crowe.  This takes place in the '30s at a time when his career seemed to be over and struggled to find work to support his family.  He finds himself getting a second chance at his boxing career and has a very celebrated comeback in boxing.  Renee Zellweger co-stars as Jim's supportive wife Mae and Paul Giamatti co-stars as his loyal manager.  Paddy Considine, Craig Bierko, Bruce McGill, David Huband, Connor Price, Ariel Waller, Patrick Louis, Rosemarie Dewitt, Linda Kash, Nicholas Campbell, Clint Howard, and many others co-star in this sports biopic.  DeWitt is the actual granddaughter of Braddock and is the daughter of Braddock's daughter Rosemarie.  Crowe gave everything he had in a rather literal way as he separated a shoulder and suffered concussions while doing boxing sequences.  In the end this is a beautiful story of redemption and overcoming the odds in a ROCKY kind of story that is actually true.

What About Prejudice (1959):  This is my short film for the week and is an early look at bullying and prejudice which go hand and hand in some ways.  A group of high school kids hear about a new kid named Bruce and have been told not to associate with him.  An incident happens that make these kids rethink their prejudice about him.  While a little dated, this is still relevant today.  The George character is never seen and is not even clear on the supposed issues.  I think they just want to take a look at pre-judgment in general.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime as part of the "Prejudice Films".

The Whole Town's Talking (1935):  This is part two of a possible Edward G. Robinson series.  John Ford directed this movie that is a comedy and a drama.  Edward G. Robinson stars as a clerk Arthur Ferguson Jones who is a pretty simple man who gets arrested due to his resemblance to notorious criminal Manion, also played by Robinson.  After getting released due to a case of mistaken identity, Manion learns of his look-alike and takes advantage of the situation.  Jean Arthur, Arthur Hohl, Arthur Byron, Wallace Ford, Donald Meek, Donald Meek, Etienne Girardot, Edward Brophy, Paul Harvey, and many others co-star in this crime comedy.  I'm sure there was a running joke on the set of all the Arthurs in this movie.  Robinson is great showing his comedic side in his dual role and Arthur was very amusing as Jones' love interest Wilhelmina.  Last week I cited the feature of SCARLET STREET as my favorite Robinson film and while that is still true, this one gets close.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971):  John Schlesinger directed this film about a polyamourous relationship.  Murray Head stars as free-spirited artist Bob and maintains an open love triangle with two lovers in middle aged doctor Daniel Hirsh, played by Peter Finch, and frustrated office worker Alex, played by Glenda Jackson.  Peggy Ashcroft, Tony Britton, Maurice Denham, Vivian Pickles, Frank Windsor, Thomas Baptiste, and many others co-star in this film.  This is hard to put into words much further except the obvious controversy this likely got at the time especially with the homosexual relationship.  Head is most known his hit song ONE NIGHT IN BANGKOK which came from the musical chess and as I'm researching him, I learned his younger brother is Anthony Head of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER FAME.  Finch would go onto tell us to get mad and to open a window and yell "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" in his iconic role of Howard Beale in NETWORK.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime and is worth a look.

The Last Cowboy (2003):  This is my Hallmark tv movie for the week which was directed by Joyce Chopra.  Lance Henriksen, kind of looking like Tom Berenger, stars as rancher Will Cooper whose father has just died and struggles to keep his ranch going along with his long-time foreman and friend Amos, plaeyd by M.C. Gainey.  His estranged daughter Jake, played by 90210 alum Jennie Garth, returns for her grandfather's funeral and clashes with her father on how to save the ranch.  Bradley Cooper, Dylan Wagner, Muse Watson, John Vargas, Eugene Osment, Kelly Connell, Kim Robillard, and many others co-star in this tv movie.  I guess this is Hallmark's answer to a western.  This takes place in typical Hallmark fashion and is pretty predictable.  Gainey was very amusing as Amos and playing a nicer role than usual and does very well at it.  It is a feel-good movie more than anything else and the Hallmark crowd will really like it.

Olivia (1951):  Jacqueline Audry directed this French film which is based on the novel by Dorothy Bussy.  This takes place in the late 19th Century at which takes place at a finishing school which is essentially a girls' school.  Marie-Clare Olivia stars as the title character and becomes the obsession of both Mademoiselle Julie, played by Edwige Feuillere and Mademoiselle Cara, played by Simone Simon.  This is one that is really hard for me to explain.  It is an early look at lesbianism.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel and is worth a look.

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965):  Martin Ritt directed this Cold War film which is based on the novel by John le Carre.  Richard Burton stars as British spy Alec Leamas who is sent to East Germany supposedly to defect but really to get information.  As Alec gets deeper, he starts to question what the purpose of the mission is that he is being sent.  Claire Bloom, Oskar Werner, Sam Wanamaker, George Voskovec, Rupert Davies, Cyril Cusack, Peter Van Eyck, Michael Hordern, Robert Hardy, Bernard Lee, and many others co-star in this spy film.  This is a much darker spy film and does not have the James Bond kind of fun.  Burton is perfect as the cynical spy questioning everything in his life.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Man Up (2015):  I end the week with this romantic comedy which was directed by Ben Palmer.  Lake Bell stars as the single Nancy who after a misunderstanding is mistaken for the blind date of Jack, played by Simon Pegg.  Instead of saying she is not the one, she just goes along for the ride and they are about the have the night of their lives.  Rory Kinnear, Ken Stott, Harriett Walter, Olivia Williams, Sharon Horgan, Ophelia Lovibond, Stephen Campbell Moore, Keir Charles, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Robert Wilfort, Paul Thornley, Henry Lloyd-Hughes, and many others co-star in this comedy.  I was pleasantly surprised by this movie.  In the basic sense, it is a romantic comedy but it is so much more.  Both of the leads were very funny and likable that I strongly got behind them as a couple.

Well, that is it for this week but I do have the return of "Fun and Useless Facts".  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Emma Stone, Johnny Depp, Martin Scorsese, Edward G. Robins, and many others.


I'm bringing this segment back for the week as I had enough to work with and some time.  As always, I focus on connections from different movies instead of actors in the same movie unless there is another person to connect them.  I'm sure there are plenty more and I stopped at number 25 so feel free to comment other connections.

Amy Adams (Sharp Objects) is forced to work for FBI agent Bradley Cooper (The Last Cowboy) in the 2013 film AMERICAN HUSTLE.

Amy Adams (Sharp Objects) and Russell Crowe (Cinderella Man) were in the 2013 superhero movie MAN OF STEEL.

Patricia Clarkson (Sharp Objects) and Emma Stone (Magic in the Moonlight) were mother and daughter in the 2010 comedy EASY A and they were in the 2011 comedy FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS.

Patricia Clarkson (Sharp Objects) and Chris Messina (Sharp Objects) were directed by Woody Allen (Magic in the Moonlight director) in the 2008 comedy VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA.

Henry Czerny (Sharp Objects) and Bradley Cooper (The Last Cowboy) were in the 2010 movie THE A-TEAM.

Madison Davenport (Sharp Objects) and Russell Crowe (Cinderella Man) were in the 2014 movie NOAH.

Woody Allen (Magic in the Moonlight director) and Claire Bloom (The Spy Who Came in from the Cold) were in the 1989 comedy CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS which Allen also directed.

Colin Firth (Magic in the Moonlight) and Renee Zellweger (Cinderella Man) are a couple in the BRIDGET JONES trilogy.

Colin Firth (Magic in the Moonlight) and Claire Bloom (The Spy Who Came in from the Cold) were in the 2010 film THE KINGS SPEECH.

Emma Stone (Magic in the Moonlight) and Paul Giamatti (Cinderella Man) are in the 2014 superhero movie THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2.

Emma Stone (Magic in the Moonlight) and Rosemarie DeWitt (Cinderella Man) were in the 2016 musical LA LA LAND.

Emma Stone (Magic in the Moonlight) and Bradley Cooper (Cinderella Man) were in the 2008 rock comedy THE ROCKER.

Marcia Gay Harden (Magic in the Moonlight), Jacki Weaver (Magic in the Moonlight), and Paul Giamatti (Cinderella Man) and in the 2013 movie PARKLAND.

Jacki Weaver (Magic in the Moonlight) and Bradley Cooper (The Last Cowboy) were in the 2012 film THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK.

Simon McBurney (Magic in the Moonlight), Eileen Atkins (Magic in the Moonlight) and Russell Crowe (Cinderella Man) were in the 2010 film ROBIN HOOD.

Eileen Atkins (Magic in the Moonlight) and Renee Zellweger (Cinderella Man) are in the 2003 film COLD MOUNTAIN.

Craig Bierko (Cinderella Man) and Lake Bell (Man Up) had stints in the legal series BOSTON LEGAL.

Paddy Considine (Cinderella Man) and Simon Pegg (Man Up) were in the 2007 comedy HOT FUZZ and the 2013 comedy THE WORLD'S END.

Renee Zellweger (Cinderella Man) and Lance Henriksen (The Last Cowboy) were in the 2008 western APPALOOSA.

Renee Zellweger (Cinderella Man) and Bradley Cooper (The Last Cowboy) were in the 2009 horror movie CASE 39 and were in a relationship.

Russell Crowe (Cinderella Man) and Lance Henriksen (The Last Cowboy) were in the 1995 western THE QUICK AND THE DEAD.

Bruce McGill (Cinderella Man) and Muse Watson (The Last Cowboy) were in the 1997 film ROSEWOOD.

Jean Arthur (The Whole Town's Talking) plays Alice the 1938 classic comedy YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU.  My Facebook friend Rebecca plays the role in our upcoming play of the same name at the Elwood Opera House in Elwood.

Bradley Cooper (The Last Cowboy) and Ophelia Lovibond (Man Up) were in the 2014 superhero film GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.

Richard Burton (The Spy Who Came in the Cold) plays George in the 1966 film WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF.  One of my biggest supporters Jim Hunter played the role in a stage version of the same name at the Anderson Mainstage Theatre.

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