Sunday, August 9, 2020

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 764th Edition

Welcome to the 764th Edition of my series.  I started a new contest courtesy of my local library called Filmopoley where each space has a different category of what should go there.  As I release this today I am now at 16 spaces out of 40 and this contest goes for a year.  I can also complete additional boards so this is a contest I could very well win.  I hope all are able to remain safe and let's try being nice to one another.  We're all in this together as they say in HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL.  I think I've said enough so I'll just get on with my selections.

The Music Never Stopped (2011):  Jim Kohlberg directed this film which is based on the essay THE LAST HIPPIE by Oliver Sacks which is part of his book AN ANTHROPOLOGIST ON MARS.  J.K. Simmons stars as Henry Sawyer whose estranged son Gabriel, played by Lou Taylor Pucci, suffers from a brain tumor which prevents him from forming new music while also leaving him socially distant.  Julia Ormond co-stars as music therapist Dianne Daley who finds that the best way to trigger Gabriel is through the music he loves which is most notably the Grateful Dead.  Henry is determined to reconnect with his son and must tolerate and embrace the music he has hated in order to understand his son better.  Cara Seymour, James Urbaniak, Scott Adsit, Peggy Gormley, Tammy Blanchard, Josh Segarra, Xander Johnson, Mia Maestro, and many others co-star in this film.  I think I am ready to call this one of my favorite movies.  I love that it is able to pay homage to a father/son relationship, music therapy, and even the Grateful Dead.  I believe Simmons put on his best performance as a father who must rethink some of what he has always believed in order to understand his son better.  This is a very moving story and is a great look at music therapy.

Parenthood (1989):  This is part two of my Joaquin Phoenix series where he is still going by the name Leaf.  Ron Howard directed this film which takes a look at the Buckman family and looks at different sets of the family as well as the parenting that goes along with it.  Jason Robards co-stars as Frank who is the patriarch of the family with his kids Gil, played by Steve Martin, Helen, played by Dianne Wiest, Susan, played by Harley Jane Kozak, and Larry, played by Tom Hulce, each of which are in their own parenting and life situation.  Rick Moranis, Martha Plimpton, Keanu Reeves, Dennis Dugan, Eileen Ryan, Jasen Fisher, Paul Linke, Alison Porter, Ivyann Schwan, Lowell Ganz, Rance Howard, Max Elliott Slade, Clint Howard, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a really good ensemble movie that has a really good blend of drama and comedy.  I am sure that just about any parent, son, and daughter can relate to this movie somewhere.

Candy (2006):  Neil Armfield stars in this film which is based on the novel by Luke Davies.  Heath Ledger and Abbie Cornish star as Australian couple Dan and Candy.  Dan is a poet and heroin addict and falls for the art student Candy who gravitates toward his bohemian lifestyle as well as his heroin addiction.  Geoffrey Rush, Tom Budge, Roberto Meza Mont, Tony Martin, Noni Hazlehurst, Tara Morice, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a really good look at the ups and downs of a drug addicted couple and the things they would do to survive.  This is more of a character study and hard to really describe any further than I have without giving it away.  Ledger and Cornish were great together.  I believe a really good double feature would be this and Al Pacino's 1971 breakthrough movie THE PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK.  This is available to watch on apps like Tubi and the Roku Channel, both of which are free with ads.

The Horse (1973):  This is my short film for the week which was directed by Charles Burnett.  This centers around a white farming family who have a horse being put down.  A young black boy named William is tending to this horse until his father gets there to do the deed.  William is trying to care for the horse in its last moments.  This was able to keep my interest while being rather strange.  This is a film Burnett made while in UCLA before he would go onto a fairly successful directorial career.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

The Cat's Paw (1934):  Sam Taylor directed this political comedy.  Harold Lloyd stars as Ezekial Cobb who has been raised in China by his missionary father and sent to America to seek a wife.  Naive to the American ways, corrupt politicians recruit him as a dummy candidate assuming he has no chance to win.  Their plan backfires and goes on a rather extreme reform crusade.  Una Merkel, George Barbier, Nat Pendleton, Grace Bradley, Alan Dinehart, Grant Mitchell, E. Alyn Warren, Warren Hymer, J. Farrell Macdonald, Edwin Maxwell, Frank Sheridan, Fuzzy Knight, Vince Barnett, and many others co-star in this comedy.  I thought I knew where this was going but I was quite wrong.  This is a bit darker than most of Lloyds' comedies.  Lloyd was known as one of the legendary silent comedians who is a bit underrated by today's standards in my opinion and probably had a more successful transition from silent to talkies than most from that era.  He is known for his crazy stunts which you will not get in this one.  This is a pretty interesting political satire which I thought would be like the 1939 classic MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON but was not quite what happened though could still be a good double feature.  This is also available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Theirs is the Glory (1946):  Brian Desmond Hurst directed what is essentially a documentary.  This takes a look at the involvement of the British 1st Airborne Division with the Battle of Arnhem.  This has some narration by Leo Genn but is not a documentary that have interviews of people reflecting on the times.  This was a reenactment that uses veterans from that battle so no professional actors were used.  This was quite a project to take on and would go onto be made into an actual movie in 1977 called A BRIDGE TOO FAR.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime and could be a double feature with the movie mentioned.

Fosse/Verdon (2019):  This is my mini-series for the week that is not technically a movie but my rules so I'm calling it a movie even if I can't do so on Filmopoly.  Thomas Kail and Steven Levenson created this mini-series that was also had episodes directed by Adam Bernstein, Minkie Spiro, and Jessica Yu.  This takes a look at the ups and downs of the personal and professional relationship between choreographer/director Bob Fosse, played by Sam Rockwell, and Broadway legend Gwen Verdon, played by Michelle Williams.  It was a very unique relationship to say the least that lasted many years where they were married but separated and while they had their problems they needed one another to have the kinds of careers they had.  Norbert Leo Butz, Aya Cash, Margaret Qualley, Jake Lacy, Paloma Garcia Lee, Ari Brand, Heather Lang, Justin Gazzillo, Nate Corddry, Kelli Barrett, Bianca Marroquin, Rick Holmes, Blake Baumgartner, Juliet Brett, Mylinda Hull, Julie Klausner, Adrienne Lovette, Anthony Rosenthal, Chandler Head, Evan Handler, Paul Reiser, Ahmad Simmons, Tyler Hanes, A.J. Holmes, Lin-Manuel Meranda, Ethan Slater, and many others co-star in this mini-series.  This is eight episodes long and covers quite a bit of their lives and does jump around some with the times.  This holds nothing back and is a really good look at a significant duo in the world of Broadway musicals that they helped bring to the surface like CHICAGO.  This was done on the FX network and is available to watch on Hulu.

Day of Wrath (1943):  This is my Danish film for the week which was selected from the Chance Bucket by Dennis the Librarian Menace on Filmopoley.  Carl Theodore Dreyer directed this film that takes place during the witchcraft.  Lisbeth Movin stars as Anne who is the wife of an aging priest and falls in love with his son.  Things happen that the pastor's mother accuses Anne of witchcraft where she must do what she can to prove her innocence which was a very difficult thing.  This takes place during a very dark time in history with the witchcraft trials and this goes very deep into the subject.  It is hard to describe this any further but it is on the Criterion Channel and is really worth a look.

Mad Bull (1977):  This is my wrestling movie for the week which was directed by Walter Doniger and Len Steckler.  Alex Karras stars as professional wrestler Iago "Mad Bull" Karkus who falls in love with a woman named Christina, played by Susan Anspach, and finally gives him meaning outside of the crazy life of wrestling.  He is also dealing with a wrestler who is really wanting to hurt him and someone trying to kill him.  Nicholas Colasanto, Elisha Cook Jr., Danny Dayton, Steve Sandor, Titos Vandis, Tracey Walter, Dennis Burkley, Eddra Gale, H.B. Haggerty, Ernie Hudson, Harry Landers, K.C. Martel, Mike Mazurki, Eddie Quillan, and many others co-star in this movie.  Also, look for the late Regis Philbin who recently left us in a small role.  Karras is most known for playing Mongo on BLAZING SADDLES and the father on WEBSTER.  Fans of the early episodes of CHEERS will enjoy Colasanto who is most known as Coach in the first season of the series.  What was interesting to me is that they really exposed wrestling as a work which was a rather taboo thing to do in this era.  This is more of a guilty pleasure than anything and may not be for people who cannot stand wrestling.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Nightingale (2014):  I end the week with this HBO movie that is driven by one person besides a couple voices in the background.  Elliott Lester directed this film which stars David Oyelowo as Iraq war veteran Peter Snowden who is recording a video blog of a murder confession.  As the movie goes on, he is clearly very disturbed in the things that he does and talks about while filming his video.  Oyelowo does a great job in carrying this movie and just conveying his emotions throughout the movie.  This is one that I can't really explain any further without giving away but is a very compelling film of one man.  One of my bucket list goals is to one day being in a one or two person play and envy when someone can pull it off like they did in this movie.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Joaquin Phoenix, Cameron Diaz, Sam Neill, Buster Keaton, Ingrid Bergman, and many others.

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