Sunday, June 28, 2020

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 758th Edition

Welcome to the 758th Edition of my series.  Next week is the week of our play YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU at the Elwood Opera House.  To those in and around the area the show is on July 7th, 8th, and 9th at 7 pm and tickets are $8.  The show is happening on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday which is unusual for theater but it was the only way to keep the original cast together that we had earlier in the year.  I am grateful for this and I recall thinking there was just going to inevitably be dropouts in the cast but our directed was able to think outside the box and keep it.  Tickets are are available at .

Judy (2019):  This is part three of my Renee Zellweger series where she takes the helm as the legendary Judy Garland.  Rupert Goold directed this biopic based on the stage play END OF THE RAINBOW by Peter Quilter.  This takes place much later in Judy's life where she gets booked for a series of sold-out shows in London at the Talk to the Town nightclub.  As she prepares for the shows, she battles with management, reminisces with fans and friends, and shows her romance with Mickey Deans, played by Finn Wittrock, who would go onto be her fifth husband.  There are also flashbacks of her younger days that shape Judy, played by Darci Shaw in her younger days, into the person she is to become during the modern part of the film.  Jessie Buckley, Rufus Sewell, Michael Gambon, Richard Cordery, Royce Pierreson, Andy Nyman, Bella Ramsey, Lewin Lloyd, Tom Durant Pritchard, John Dagleish, Adrian Lukis, Gemma-Leah Devereux, and many others co-star in this biopic.  Zellweger is nearly unrecognizable as Garland as we mostly see Judy Garland in this role instead of Zellweger.  I learned that this is based as a stage play so this would be interesting to see and maybe be a part of someday.

Private Parts (1997):  This is part three of my Paul Giamatti series.  I go from an actor biopic to the biopic of the controversial disc jockey Howard Stern, played by himself.  Betty Thomas directed this film based on Stern's book of the same name.  This starts out in his childhood with the difficult relationship he had with his father and his inspiration to be on the radio.  We then see him in college as he is trying to find himself in the radio world and meets his wife Allison, played by Mary McCormack.  We finally see him when he meets his partners Robin Quivers, played by herself, and Fred Norris, played by himself, where they would break all the rules in radio.  Giamatti, Carol Alt, Richard Portnow, Kelly Bishop, Henry Goodman, Jonathan Hadary, Allison Janney, Michael Murphy, James Murtaugh, Reni Santoni, Lee Wilkof, Melanie Good, Amber Smith, Althea Cassidy, Jenna Jameson, Bobby Boriello, Matt Friedman, Leslie Bibb, and many others co-star in this biopic while there are many cameos from people playing themselves.  This is a really good look at the early days of Stern before his big rise.  Stern has some amusing narration throughout the film and is has a lot of laughs.

The Salvation (2014):  Last week, I brought the violent western APPALOOSA, now I bring this violent western.  Kristian Levring directed and co-wrote this western.  Mads Mikkelson stars as European settler Jon Jensen who has welcomed his wife and son to 1870s America only for them to be murdered.  He takes his revenge on the murderers only to find one of them was the brother of local land baron Henry Delarue, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who seeks vengeance on Jenson.  Jon must also fight the local townspeople who are afraid to stand up to Morgan.  Eva Green, Mikael Persbrandt, Douglas Henshall, Michael Raymond-James, Jonathan Pryce, Alexander Arnold, Nanna Oland Fabricius, and many others co-star in this western.  This western really engaged me and found it to be strangely moving through all the violence.  I also really liked the dynamic between Mikkelson and Green who plays a character who cannot speak but does such a good job conveying her emotions.

Mercy, the Mummy Mumbled (1918):  This is my silent short comedy for the week which was directed by R.W. Phillips.  A professor of Egyptology seeks a mummy for experimentation so a young man devises a plan to give what he wants in order to win the professor's daughter.  The film could only be saved so much so it gets very scrambled at times but that even leads to some more interesting stuff in the short.  This is part of the early African-American film movement and is really quite funny.  This is available on the Criterion Collection.

5 Against the House (1955):  Phil Karlson directed this heist film which was based on an article written by Jack Finney.  This is the story of four vets, played by Guy Madison, Brian Keith, Alvy Moore, and Kerwin Matthews, decide to pull off a crime that is said to be impossible which makes Al, played by Madison, to pull it off but also give the money back.  Things become complicated with Brick, played by Keith, when he has no intentions of returning the money.  Kim Novak co-stars as a cabaret singer that goes along with them in their scheme.  William Conrad, Jean Willes, and many others co-star in this film.  This is an earlier example of the heist film, especially the casino heist which would be made popular a few years later in 1960 with OCEAN'S 11.  This was worth a look and is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Purple Noon (1960):  Rene Clement directed this French film based on Patricia Highsmith's novel THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY which many years later would become very famous through the 1999 movie that starred Matt Damon.  Alain Delon stars as Tom Ripley who is quite the charming criminal and con artist.  Ripley is sent to Europe to get Philippe Greenleaf back to the United States but Greenleaf has no intention of going and they stay there where Ripley becomes very fixated on him and Greenleaf's girlfriend Marge, played by Marie Laforet, in a very dangerous way.  Erno Crisa, Frank Latimore, Ave Ninchi, Elvire Popesco, and many others co-star in this film.  Delon plays the title character to perfection and the locales filmed are great.  This is a really good adaptation of the novel and is the first feature film of the Tom Ripley character who would get used a lot through the years.  This is also available on the Criterion Channel.

Cinderella (2015):  Kenneth Branaugh directed this live action version of the timeless tale.  Lily James stars as the good-hearted Ella, later to be named Cinderella, who must live with her mean stepmother, played by Cate Blanchett, and her stepsisters Drisella and Anastasia, played by Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger.  She is nothing more than their unappreciated servant but soon Ella meets the Prince, played by Richard Madden, and looks to go to the ball where everyone in town is invited.  Helena Bonham Carter co-stars as the Fairy Godmother who uses her powers to get Cinderella ready for the ball.  Nonso Anozie, Stellan Skarsgard, Derek Jacobi, Ben Chaplin, Hayley Atwell, Rob Brydon, Jana Perez, Alex MacQueen, Tom Edden, Gareth Mason, Paul Hunter, Eloise Webb, and many others co-star in this film.  I thought this was a pretty adaptation of the classic story.  I really enjoyed the special effects of getting Cinderella to the ball and Carter as the Fairy Godmother.  I also really liked the interaction of Cinderella and her stepmother.

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time (1975):  John Trent directed this comedy in which the title really says it all.  Anthony Newley stars as Sweeney, no not Sweeney Todd, who is willing to do whatever it takes to win back his ex-wife Georgina, played by Stefanie Powers, even to the point of kidnapping.  A couple inept cops, played by John Candy and Lawrence Dane, look to make sense of it all.  Isaac Hayes, Lloyd Bochner, Yvonne De Carlo, Henry Ramer, and many others co-star in this comedy.  This can be fun if not taken too seriously.  Hayes is rather amusing as Sweeney's artistic friend and is of worth to see a very young John Candy in his first feature role.  It also has one of those cool animated openings that a lot of '70s movies tended to have.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Confidential Report (1955):  Orson Welles wrote and directed this film which is also known as MR. ARKADIN, in which Welles plays the title role.  Robert Arden stars as fortune hunter Guy Van Stratten who investigates the past of the mysterious Gregory Arkadin, which places him in grave danger.  Michael Redgrave, Patricia Medina, Akim Tamiroff, Mischa Auer, Paola Mori, Katina Paxinou, Gregoire Aslan, Peter van Eyck, Suzanne Flon, Jack Watling, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a movie that got released to many edits with this one said to be based on one of Welles' earlier edits.  The highlight of this movie in my opinion other than the story are the way it was shot.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel with a couple other versions.

Falling Down (1993):  I decided on a curveball to end the week with the recent death of Joel Schumacher who directed this film.  Michael Douglas stars as as fairly ordinary man who is trying to get home to see his estranged wife, played by Barbara Hershey, and daughter, played by Joey Singer, for his daughter's birthday.  This starts with him getting frustrated in a traffic jam and just leaves his car with the decision to walk home.  Along the way, the man credited as D-fens sees the flaws in society and goes on an unplanned crime spree against those who confront him.  Robert Duvall co-stars as Sergeant Prendergast who is a cop close to retirement but sees the connections in the crimes happening but his colleagues will not listen.  Rachel Ticotin, Tuesday Weld, Frederic Forrest, Lois Smith, Ebbe Roe Smith, Michael Paul Chan, Raymond J. Barry, D.W. Moffett, Steve Park, Kimberly Scott, James Keane, Macon McCalman, Richard Montoya, John Fleck, Brent Hinkley, Deedee Pfeiffer, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Al Mancini, Jack Betts, John Diehl, Amy Morton, and many others co-star in this film.  This has kind of gained a status of cult classic through the years.  This was one of my youth favorites so I was glad to revisit this one.  Douglas has said this is his best performance and I tend to agree.  This is a really good look at a man's slowly declining mental state.

Well, that is it for this week, stay tuned for next week which so far includes Jim Carrey, Ryan Gosling, Henry Fonda, Eva Marie Saint, and many others.

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