Sunday, June 21, 2020

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 757th Edition

Welcome to the 757th Edition of my series.  I hope we're all remaining safe.  I wish all the fathers out there including my own a Happy Father's Day.  We are getting closer and closer to YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU which is on July 7th, 8th, and 9th and the Elwood Opera House in Elwood, Indiana.  Tickets are $8 each and the show is at 7 pm, reserve your seats at .  This is a hilarious show with a great message so come get some laughs.

Chernobyl (2019):  I start the week out with this HBO mini-series which was directed by Johan Renck and created by Craig Mazin.  This is based on a true story that centers around the Chernobyl power plant in the Soviet Union where in 1986 there was a huge explosion.  Men and women all had to band together to investigate the cause and figure out what had to be done to contain it so that it did not become worse.  Stellan Skarsgard, Jared Harris, and Emily Watson mostly lead the investigation and try to figure out what must be done.  Jessie Buckley, Adam Nagaitis, Paul Ritter, Robert Emms, Sam Troughton, Karl Davies, Michael Socha, Laura Elphinstone, Jan Ricica, Adrian Rawlins, Alan Williams, Con O'Neill, Dougie McMeekin, Ralph Ineson, Donald Sumpter, Michael McElhatton, and many others co-star in this mini-series.  This is not easy to watch nor should be that way.  This was a very scary time but still a very compelling series which deserves a look.

Irrational Man (2015):  This is part two of my two-part Emma Stone series which is now part one of a possible Joaquin Phoenix series.  Like last week's Stone selection, this is also directed and written by Woody Allen and was a rather different kind of movie for him.  Emma Stone stars as college student Jill Pollard who forms a friendship with her outcast professor Abe Lucas, played by Phoenix.  When they are in a diner, they overhear a conversation in which Abe comes up with a plan that will change their lives forever.  Jamie Blackley, Parker Posey, Betsy Aidem, Ethan Phillips, and many others co-star in his film.  I remember when this first came out, I saw this being shown in the local independent theater in my dad's hometown and briefly checked it out without getting in depth and was just very compelled with this very unusual story.  I saw someone describe this as a philosophical noir which is a very good description.

Donnie Brasco (1997):  This is part two of my Paul Giamatti series where he has a bit role in this earlier film of his as an F.B.I. technician.  Mike Newell directed this gangster film which is based on the autobiography by Joseph D. Pistone, played by Johnny Depp.  Pistone is going undercover as a New York Jeweler named Donnie Brasco and befriends veteran gangster Lefty Ruggiero, played by Al Pacino.  With this, he is able to infiltrate his way into a mafia faction lead by Sonny Black, played by Michael Madsen, but his work forces him to alienate his wife and children who barely know him.  Anne Heche, Bruno Kirby, James Russo, Zeljko Ivanek, Gerry Becker, Robert Miano, Brian Tarantina, Rocco Sisto, Zach Grenier, Gretchen Mol, Larry Romano, Tim Blake Nelson, and many others co-star in this mafia film.  This is a very good look at an undercover agent and what must be done to keep cover like mostly becoming them.  Pacino and Depp are great together and perfectly cast in their roles.  Ranks up high among gangster movies.

The Big Shave (1967):  This is my short film for the week which is an early directorial effort Martin Scorsese.  A young man played by actor Peter Bernuth who is shaving as the title indicates.  When he gets done, he starts to cut himself in the face.  Scorsese has described this as a film about the after effects of the Vietnam War.  It is only about five minutes long and is quite bizarre.  This was not Scorsese's first work but is close as he was slowly becoming one of the most versatile directors in the film industry.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel as well as some other Scorsese short films.

Whirlpool (1934):  Roy William Neill directed this early film noir.  Jack Holt stars as Buck Rankin who is to marry local girl Helen, played by Lila Lee, and plays to end his life of crime.  A fight that results in death get Buck arrested and sentenced to twenty years for manslaughter while Helen was pregnant for their daughter.  Buck wanted Helen to move on with her life so he makes up a letter claiming he drowned while trying to escape.  Twenty years later, Buck makes a new life for himself as a man named Duke Sheldon and becomes a nightclub owner with mob ties.  Jean Arthur co-stars and Sandra who is a reporter and is able to recognized Duke from old photos making him rethink what he must do in life.  Donald Cook, Allen Jenkins, John Miljan, Rita La Roy, Oscar Apfel, Willard Robertson, Ward Bond, and many others co-star in this film.  This is kind of a breakthrough role for Arthur who would have a great career in film.  It is also a good story that takes place in two eras.  This is also available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

The Red House (1947):  This is part three of my Edward G. Robinson trilogy.  Delmer Daves directed this film which was based on the novel by George Agnew Chamberlain.  Robinson stars as Pete Morgan who along with his sister Ellen, played by Judith Anderson have been raising their adopted daughter Meg, played by Allene Roberts, on a farm.  Meg talks her friend Nath into helping with farming chores as Pete has trouble with his wooden leg.  Meg finds that Pete seems to have been hiding secrets after the way he warns Nath to not take a shortcut through an abandoned house.  Rory Calhoun, Julie London, Ona Munson, Harry Shannon, Arthur Space, and many others co-star in this film.  Throughout his career, Robinson mastered playing the gangster role but he also mastered playing characters very disturbed and secretive with this falling into that category.  This has gone onto be a bit overlooked through the years but is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Beeswax (2009):  Andrew Bujalski wrote and directed this independent film.  Real-life twins Tilly and Maggie Hatcher star as sisters Jeannie and Lauren, one is a paraplegic.  They must deal with changes with Lauren considering a move overseas and Jeannie deals with conflicts with her business partner that could lead to a lawsuit.  Alex Karpovsky, David Zellner, Kyle Henry, Bryan Poyser, Nathan Zellner, and many others co-star in this independent film.  In looking into this movie, this is part of the Mumblecore movement which I had not heard of until now.  In this situation, the director used non-professional actors and a small crew.  This shows naturalistic conversation and lives that I felt really worked.  This is an interesting movement that I might try looking into further.

A Force of One (1979):  This is my martial arts movie for the week which was directed by Paul Aaron.  Action star Chuck Norris stars as karate champ and instructor Matt Logan who is enlisted by the police when agents are getting killed by someone that appears to know martial arts.  Jennifer O'Neill, Clu Gulager, Ron O'Neal, Eric Laneuville, Clint Ritchie, Pepe Serna, Ray Vitte, and many others co-star in this movie.  I don't think I need to explain much more that I what I did.  It is good for what it is which is a martial arts movie with Chuck Norris.  This is a fun movie to see with a group of friends with nothing else to do.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Le Silence de La Mer (1949):  Jean-Pierre Melville directed this French film which is based on a book by Vercors whose real name is Jean Bruller.  This takes place in a small-town in Nazi occupied France where Jean-Marie Robain and Nicole Stephane star as an uncle and adult niece whose home is commandeered for their officer Lt. Werner von Ebrennac to live in as long as he is conducting Nazi business.  The unnamed uncle and niece appear to sit in silent protest while the officer tries to connect with them and then bids them a good night.  This is a difficult one to really explain but it does a great job of conveying the tension and fear of these people in trying to understand what the officer wants but avoiding verbal talk.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel and is worth a look.

Appaloosa (2008):  I end the week with this western and part two of my Renee Zellweger series.  Ed Harris directed and co-wrote this western based on the novel by Robert B. Parker.  Harris also stars in this western as Marshall Virgil Cole.  Cole and his most loyal deputy Everett Hitch, played by Viggo Mortensen, and hired by the title town to go after the newly arrived Randall Bragg, played by Jeremy Irons.  Zellweger co-stars as the recently widowed Allison French who Cole falls for but may be more to her than meets the eye.  James Gammon, Timothy Spall, Tom Bower, Ariadna Gil, Mike Watson, Rex Linn, Corby Griesenbeck, Lance Henrikson, Adam Nelson, and many others co-star in this western.  This western had it all with some great action, drama, lots of gray areas in characters, and a little romance.  Western fans will love this and I think even the non-western fans can get into this one.

Well, that is it for this week but I did return with my segment "The Bookworm Corner".  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Renee Zellweger, and many others.


Blood Red Turns Dollar Green (2016, 2017):  This is a book trilogy which was written by Paul O'Brien with the first one having the title and the other two are A SHOOT and THE HURTING CIRCUS.  This takes place in the wrestling world during the territory days of wrestling within the National Wrestling Council which is the equivalent of the National Wrestling Alliance.  One character this story centers around is Danno Long who is and promoter in the New York territory and has a potential champion in the wrestler Babu and has to go through other means for this to happen.  This also centers around the character Lenny Lane who is a lifelong wrestling fan who becomes Danno's driver but evolves a lot throughout the series.  This is a series that combines the wrestling world and the crime world as there is a lot of murder and betrayal going on in this series.  This is a very well-written series of books that take place from the late '60s to the early '80s.  This whole trilogy of books is essentially one story.  Some things may happen in the first book and aren't fully revealed until the second or third book.  I do know if these characters were meant to be based on anyone.  I am not going to do a book by book description or I will just give a lot away.  This is a great page turner, and a really good look into the earlier days of wrestling.

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