Sunday, September 13, 2020

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 769th Edition

Welcome to the 769th Edition of my series.  I hope everyone is remaining safe out there.  I don't have a lot to say so I'll just get on with my selections for the week.

The Irishman (2019):  Martin Scorsese directed this film based on the book I HEARD YOU PAINT HOUSES by Charles Brandt and reunites with Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci for the first time since 1995.  De Niro stars as Frank Sheeran who reflects on his times in the mafia, most notably the Bufalino family, and his friendship with Jimmy Hoffa, played by Al Pacino, and Russell Bufalino, played by Pesci.  Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin, Stephen Graham, Stephanie Kurtzuba, Jack Huston, Katherine Narducci, Jesse Plemons, Domenick Lombardozzi, Paul Herman, Gary Basaraba, Marin Ireland, Lucy Gallina, Welker White, Louis Cancelmi, Bo Dietl, Sebastian Maniscalno, Aleksa Palladino, Steven Van Zandt, Jim Norton, Daniel Jenkins, Kevin O'Rourke, Jake Hoffman, Paul Ben-Victor, and many others co-star in this film.  It was good to see Scorsese, De Niro, and Pesci return to their mob roots.  Pesci has mostly been in retirement and has been said that Scorsese had to be very persistent in getting Pesci in this movie saying he refused many times before finally giving in.  Pacino was a really good Hoffa and it was good to see him join the world of Scorsese.  I admit, I was not really familiar with these people besides Hoffa.  This is not a short movie by any means but I enjoyed the three and a half hours spent watching this mafia epic.  This is available to watch on Netflix.

Dope (2015):  Rick Famuyiwa wrote directed this coming of age film.  Shameik Moore stars as Malcolm, who along with his Jib, played by Tony Revolori, and Diggy, played by Kiersey Clemons, are a group of nerds and love their '90s rap and hip-hop.  They get invited to a party where things happen that put them on some misadventures and put their college future in jeopardy.  Kimberly Elise, ASAP Rocky, Quincy Brown, Blake Anderson, Amin Joseph, Chanel Iman, Ricky Harris, Rick Fox, Bruce Beatty, Zoe Kravitz, Roger Guenveur Smith, Allen Maldonado, Ashton Moio, Lidia Porto, LaKeith Stanfield, Tyga, Forest Whitaker and many others co-star in this film.  This does pay some good homage to '90s rap and hip-hop.  This has a really good blend of drama and comedy and really has a good message on escaping stereotype.

Uncle Buck (1989):  John Hughes wrote and directed this comedy.  John Hughes stars as Buck whose brother Bob, played by Garrett M. Brown, and his wife Cindy, played by Elaine Bromka, have a family emergency and must turn to Buck to watch their three kids even if he may not be the most ideal person to watch kids.  He does not have trouble with the younger kids in Miles, played by Macauley Culkin, and Maizy, played by Gaby Hoffman, but has a really hard time dealing with the teenage Tia, played by Jean Louisa Kelly.  Amy Madigan, Laurie Metcalf, Jay Underwood, Brian Tarantina, Mike Starr, Suzanne Shephert, Anna Chlumsky, and many others co-star in this comedy.  Chlumsky has a bit role and would reunite her and Culkin in MY GIRL.  Candy is cast perfectly in the role of Buck while also hearing of people like Jack Nicholson and Joe Pesci being considered for this role which would have been interesting I suppose but can't imagine anyone else but John Candy.  Some scenes with Culkin would inspire Hughes to cast him in his movie HOME ALONE the next year as young Jigsaw making Culkin an iconic child star.  Candy does make some epic pancakes for pancake lovers out there.  This is a lot of fun and is mostly a family watch if you don't mind some profanity.

Revolt of the Toys (1945):  This is my stop-animation short for the week that features Czech animator Hermina Tyrvola who was the first female Czech animator.  This is very clearly anti-Nazi propaganda where a very clever toymaker is able to fight hardship with his toys.  This is one that is not featured on the imdb website but is on Youtube.  Tyrlova appears to be an unsung hero in the world of animation, especially stop-motion and hope to get her some recognition.

A Woman's Face (1938):  This is my Swedish film for the week which was directed by Gustaf Molander and based on the play by Francis de Croisset.  Ingrid Bergman stars as Anna Holm who has always lead a life of crime and has a disfigured face.  A chance encounter with a plastic surgeon, played by Anders Henrikson, and agrees to help fix her face.  When this happens, she becomes the governess to a family and has very criminal intentions at first but has a change of heart.  Tore Svennberg, Georg Rydeberg, Gunnar Sjoberg, Hilda Borgstrom, Karen Kavli, and many others co-star in this film.  This would be remade in America in 1941 with Joan Crawford in the lead role.  This is a pretty moving story and is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Funny Girl (1968):  This is one of two musicals for the week which is pretty rare for me.  William Wyler directed this musical with the music written by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill and written by Isobel Lennart.  Barbra Streisand stars as Fanny Brice who was a famed singer and comedienne.  This charts her rise as a Ziegfeld girl who was rather different from the other dancers and managed to win the audience over through her comedy and singing abilities and was determined to make it in show business somehow.  This also focuses on her relationship with Nick Arnstein, played by Omar Sharif.  Kay Medford, Anne Francis, Walter Pidgeon, Mae Questel, Gerald Mohr, Frank Faylen, Gertrude Flynn, and many others co-star in this musical.  Streisand originated this role on Broadway and makes her film debut in this one.  This is a very well done musical with some great music numbers like PEOPLE and DON'T RAIN ON MY PARADE.  Musical lovers should really enjoy this one.

House of Flying Daggers (2004):  Yimou Zhang directed this martial arts film that branches into fantasy and into a love story.  Zhang Ziyi stars as Mei who is a blind girl and part of a rebel group of the title name.  She is arrested by a cop named Leo, played by Andy Lau.  He sends Officer Jin, played by Takeshi Kaneshiro, undercover to investigate this group starting with breaking Mei out of jail and earning the trust of the group.  Everything is far more complicated than it seems and we are in for all kinds of twists and turns.  This movie worked for me on so many levels from the acting, fight choreography, the love story, and the cinematography.  This might be my favorite in martial arts movies and is altogether a beautiful film.  This is available to watch for free on the Crackle app.

Bonnie's Kids (1972):  I have an Aunt Bonnie who has a couple kids but they are nothing like the kids in this movie.  Tiffany Bolling and Robin Mattison star as sisters Ellie and Myra who kill their abusive stepdad and go on the run taking refuge with their wealthy uncle.  When there, they have a change of personality and start living life on the wild side when finding $400,000 in stolen loot. Steve Sandor, Scott Brady, Alex Rocco, Max Showalter, Leo Gordon, Lenore Stevens, Timothy Brown, and many others co-star in this movie.  Quentin Tarantino's bit "The Bonnie Situation" in PULP FICTION was inspired by this movie.  This is pretty enjoyable if not taken too seriously.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

State Fair (1945):  This is my second musical for the week and this one comes from Rodgers and Hammerstein and centers around the state fair in Iowa.  Walter Lang directed this musical which centers around the Frake family.  The patriarch Abel, played by Charles Winninger, is determined to win the pig judging contest for his beloved Blue Boy.  His wife Margy, played by Jeanne Crain, is in her own pie contest at the fair.  Their kids Melissa and Wayne, played by Fay Bainter and Dick Haymes, manage to each find love at the fair.  Dana Andrews, Vivian Blaine, Donald Meek, Frank McHugh, Percy Kilbride, Harry Morgan, Jane Nigh, William Marshall, Phil Brown, and many others co-star in this musical.  Andrews is mostly known for his Film Noir roles, at least to me, so it was nice to a change of pace in this one.  I was in the chorus for this musical years ago at the Muncie Civic Theater.  This is a pretty upbeat musical and can be enjoyed by the family.

Cravings from Within (2019):  I end the week with this horror short film which was written and directed by Dina McNeil.  A family take a camping trip which takes a turn for the worst.  Ryan McNeil, Maddey Pierson, Duke McNeil, and Kyla Russell star in this short film.  I did find this to be a very well done short film but I will also say that it is not for everyone as described with the key word horror.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime and on Vimeo.  This does not appear to have gotten much exposure as of yet so let's help these people out and give about seven minutes of your time if you are a horror fan or at least tolerant.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Hugh Jackman, Glenn Close, Jennifer Connelly, James Cagney, and many others.

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