Sunday, July 19, 2020

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 761st Edition

Welcome to the 761st edition of my series.  I hope everyone is staying safe in these unusual times.  I also hope everyone is finding some way to make the most of these unusual times.  Last night, I got to see my best friend do what she does best, besides mothering, and see her at a live music show so those are the ways I'm making the most of these unusual times.  I think I've said enough so I'll just get to my selections.

The White Princess (2017):  I start the week out with this mini-series on Royalty.  Jamie Payne and Alex Kalymnios directed this mini-series which is based on the novel by Philippa Gregory.  This is based on the story of Elizabeth of York, played by Jodie Comer, and Henry VII, played by Jacob Collins-Levy.  This shows all the power plays between each other and the families.  Rebecca Benson, Richard Dillane, Michelle Fairley, Kenneth Cranham, Nicholas Audsley, Essie Davis, Caroline Goodall, Adrian Rawlins, Joanne Whalley, Susie Trayling, and many others co-star in this mini-series.  This was shown on Starz and is eight episodes long with each being around an hour.  It is hard to really describe for me to describe this any further.  I really loved the opening sequence of the episodes.  I will say that as I was watching this, I kind of started thinking of the royal families as being the original mafia in a sense.  This is a sequel to THE WHITE QUEEN which has the same author and was on as a mini-series in 2013 on the BBC network.

Me, Myself, and Irene (2000):  This is part six of my Renee Zellweger series and in doing this, I have created a trilogy for Jim Carrey as well with my Paul Giamatti features I have had in the last couple weeks.  The Farrelly Brothers directed this comedy which stars Carrey as a Rhode Island state trooper named Charlie who has been getting walked on by those around him and soon develops a split personality named Hank.  Zellweger stars as the title character who is put on the run and Charlie is assigned to return her to upstate New York until they find that corrupt cops are after him.  Anthony Anderson, Mongo Brownlee, Jerod Mixon, Chris Cooper, Michael Bowman, Richard Jenkins, Robert Forster, Mike Cerrone, Rob Moran, Daniel Greene, Tony Cox, Zen Gesner, Steve Sweeney, Traylor Howard, Anna Kournikova, Cam Neely, Lin Shaye, Kate Forster, and many others co-star in this film though some you might have to watch the credits to see in the very clever closing credit sequence.  Anderson, Brownlee, and Mixon are very amusing as Charlie's getto speaking but extremely intelligent sons.  I have always found this to be very enjoyable with Carrey being great in his more dual role and I know some that have said they hate Jim Carrey but like this one.

American Splendor (2003):  This is part six of my Paul Giamatti series.  Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini directed this film based on Harvey Pekar's comic book series of the title and his more personal graphic novel OUR CANCER YEAR.  Pekar plays himself in interview segments and is also played by Giamatti.  Pekar is an everyday struggling American in Cleveland working as a file clerk and collecting records.  He meets underground comic artist Robert Crumb, played by James Urbaniak, and gets the idea to do an underground graphic novel on himself which becomes quite successful.  Hope Davis co-stars as his wife Joyce.  Sylvia Kauders, Charles Eduardos, Judah Friedlander, Robert Pulcini, Donal Logue, Molly Shannon, Josh Hutcherson, and many others co-star in this film while Joyce and Harvey's friend Toby Radloff play themselves in interview segments.  I actually got to meet Harvey Pekar once when he came to my town of Muncie to speak at Ball State University and talks about his life in the world of underground comics.  This was a few months before his death.  This was a very clever film combining documentary footage and a feature film.  A really good double feature could include this and the documentary CRUMB which is about Robert Crumb.

Guerille Talks (1978):  This is my short film for the week which was directed by Vivienne Dick.  This has interview footage of eight women which were essentially Dick's test subjects much of which are associated with the punk music scene.  This is various examples of female self-definition which was part of the "no wave" period.  This was an underground filmmaking movement that was mostly on the Lower East Side of New York City.  Maybe before checking this out, look into this particular era of film and Vivienne Dick's background.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

You Can't Take it With You (1938):  Frank Capra directed this comedy that is based on the play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart.  James Stewart stars as Tony Kirby who is the Vice President of his father's business and falls in love with his employee Alice Sycamore, played by Jean Arthur.  Tony has been used to the work and money with this greedy father Anthony, played by Edward Arnold.  When meeting Alice's family, he finds a rather offbeat and eccentric family who are not really about money and more about enjoying life no matter how unusual.  Lionel Barrymore co-stars as Martin Vanderhof who is the patriarch of the household and refuses to give into Anthony's business demands.  Mischa Auer, Ann Miller, Spring Byington, Samuel S. Hinds, Donald Meek, H.B. Warner, Halliwell Hobbes, Dub Taylor, Mary Forbes, Lillian Yarbo, Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson, Charles Lane, Harry Davenport, Ward Bond, and many others co-star in this film.  As just about everyone knows, I was recently in the play where I got to play the Russian dance instructor Kolenkov.  This version takes most of the play and is rewritten a bit to put the Frank Capra spin on it and to likely to make Stewart into more of the star of the film as opposed to being more of a supporting role in the play.  This still has some great social messages that can resonate with just about any era.

The Foundling (1940):  This is my Russian film for the week which was directed by Tatyana Lukashevich.  Veronika Lebedeva stars in this film as little Natasha who manages to leave the house and go on some adventures around town.  Through her wandering around town, she meets many new friends of both adults and children who take to her personality.  There is not much else to say to describe this movie.  I had heard that this was made to show what Russia was like before the got involved in WWII.  Whatever the statement being made, it is a pretty good family film with some funny moments.  This is available to watch on the Hoopla Digital website.

Give Me Liberty (2019):  Kirill Mikhanovsky directed this independent film.  Chris Galust stars as a medical transport driver named Vic who while very hard-headed, he could not help but risk his job to help a group of rowdy seniors and a Russian boxer get to a funeral.  While trying to do this, he struggles with main roads being closed off for protests and an ALS client named Tracy, played by Lauren 'Lolo' Spencer, who is being brought along for the ride against her wishes.  Darya Ekamasova, Jehonathan Guzman, and many others co-star in this film.  This cast is a group of non-professional actors, more like non-actors, to be in this movie which brought a lot to all these characters.  This is the third selection in a row where there is some sort of Russian element at play.  This can be tough to watch at times with the struggles of some of these characters but it is also pretty comical at times.

Club Paradise (1945):  Christy Cabanne directed this movie which is based on the story PARTY GIRL by John Faxon.  Doris Merrick stars as the Julie who tires of her domineering father and decides to get out of the house.  She falls for a man Danny, played by Robert Lowery, who is playing off her being very naive leading her down a bad path.  Constance Worth, Isabel Jewell, Wanda McKay, Nestor Paiva, Byron Foulger, Lyle Talbot, and many others co-star in this B-movie picture.  This is a pretty decent and suspenseful film that was really worth about an hour watch.  Many seem to like to pair with Film Noir classic DETOUR which came out the same year.  This is also known as SENSATION HUNTERS.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Les Miserables (1978):  Glenn Jordan directed this adaptation to the classic novel by Victor Hugo.  Richard Jordan takes the helm of Jean Valjean who resorts to theft when stealing bread for his impoverished family and is sentenced to very hard labor in prison which lasts 19 years.  When finally getting out, he struggles to find work until meeting a very noble priest who give Valjean what he needs to start a new life.  As he tries to lead a decent life, he can never escape the ruthless cop Javert, played by Anthony Perkins, whose view of the law is a very extreme black and white way.  Cyril Cusack, Claude Dauphin, John Gielgud, Ian Holm, Celia Johnson, Joyce Redman, Flora Robson, Christopher Guard, Caroline Langrishe, Angela Pleasance, and many others co-star in this tv movie.  I thought this was a very well-done version of the classic novel.  Many really only know Perkins as Norman Bates in PSYCHO but he really was a lot more than that character and shows his range here as Javert.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime though it does appear to be edited.  The movie is supposed to be two and a half hours and the version on Prime is a little over two hours.  Through the versions I have seen including the musical, I couldn't really think of what could have been cut.  If I was to ever be in the musical, I'd likely go for Javert.

Being John Malkovich (1999):  I end the week with one of my absolute favorite movies.  Spike Jonze directed this film which was written by Charlie Kaufman.  John Cusack stars as struggling puppeteer Craig Schwartz who must take a job as a file clerk.  When there, he discovers a portal where he can go inside the mind of John Malkovich, played by himself, and then get dumped on the New Jersey turnpike.  Cameron Diaz co-stars as his animal lover wife and Catherine Keener co-stars as Craig's co-worker Maxine who both have different interests after learning of Craig's discovery.  Ned Bellamy, Octavia Spencer, Mary Kay Place, Orson Bean, Willie Garson, W. Earl Brown, Charlie Sheen, and many others co-star.  I have no idea what was going through Kaufman's mind to come up with a plot where people find a portal to the brain of John Malkovich but I sure am grateful he came up with it.  This was very bizarre to say the least and while comedic, it was very dark, especially the character of Craig Schwartz who takes puppeteering to a new level.  I have always been very enthralled by this movie and seem to pick up on different things on each watch like what I never really caught in the ending that I saw this time.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Renee Zellweger, Billy Bob Thornton, Jack Lemmon, Jamie Lee Curtis, and many others.

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