Sunday, September 27, 2020

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 771st Edition


Welcome to the 771st Edition of my series.  Next week starts one of my favorite times of the year where I get to take part in our annual contest the Madness.  I am not a fall person but the one thing I do love is the Madness which we have been doing for 13 years now starting on Myspace.  Covid can't take that away from us.  Football is usually another thing I look forward to but even that I've been holding off a bit this year.  Not much else to say so I'll just get on with my selections for the week.

Unhinged (2020):  Derrick Borte directed this psychological thriller.  Caren Pistorius stars as Rachel who is a struggling single mom running late and has an encounter with a stranger, played by Russell Crowe.  She becomes the subject of his road rage wanting to teach her a "lesson" and is caught in a cat and mouse game as he not only targets her but the rest of her family.  Jimmi Simpson, Gabriel Bateman, Anne Leighton, Lucy Faust, Austin P. McKenzie, Michael Papajohn, Sylvia Grace Crim, Brett Smrz, and many others co-star in this film.  This was one of the first movies to have a wide theatrical release after the lockdown earlier in the year.  When watching this movie, I felt elements of FALLING DOWN and DUEL.  Crowe played this villainous character with no gray areas.  This is probably not for everyone but I enjoyed this, even if it was a bit far-fetched.

Skyfall (2012):  Sam Mendes directed this 007 film which stars my favorite 007 actor Daniel Craig, fight me.  Bond's life is in big danger when MI6 agents are attacked and exposed.  Judi Dench reprises her role as M and has her competence questioned when this happens making Bond the only ally she trusts despite their differences.  Javier Bardem co-stars as the mysterious Silva and goes down in a great line of Bond villains.  Naomie Harris co-stars as Bond's female ally Eve which we learn there is more to her.  Ralph Fiennes, Berenice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Ola Rapace, Helen McCrory, Nicholas Woodeson, and many others co-star in this Bond film.  This is possibly my favorite from the series.  This focuses a lot on the relationship between Bond and M and we learn more about Bond's past.  With Craig, there able been more prequel movies but this sets the stage for the world of James Bond that we have always known.  This has some great action but a lot of emotional depth.

The Station Agent (2003):  I start the week out with a couple of rather violent selections and bring it down to a simpler character driven film.  Tom McCarthy wrote and directed this independent film that stars Peter Dinklage as Finbar McBride.  He moves to a small town when inheriting a train station from a friend and intends to live in solitude.  The locals there just won't allow him to live that kind of life, mostly in hot dog vendor Joe, played by Bobby Cannavale, and painter Olivia, played by Patricia Clarkson.  They all have issues and each try to get through them together.  Michelle Williams, Paul Benjamin, Richard Kind, Lynn Cohen, Josh Pais, Raven Goodwin, John Slattery, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a movie driven by the characters and the good script.  It is hard to describe this any further than what I already have described.  This is a pretty touching film though that really deserves a look.  This is available to watch on Hoopla Digital.

The Great Library Misery (1938):  This is my comedy short for the week.  Arthur Q. Bryan stars as Mr. Smith who wants to join the Grouch Club and relays a story of his difficult to obtain a library card.  This was a popular radio program on Warner's radio station at the time.  Bryan is most known as the voice of his iconic character Elmer Fudd and is pretty amusing in this comedy short.  This is on the dvd of last week's feature THE ROARING TWENTIES.

Molly and Me (1945):  Lewis Seller directed this movie based on a novel by Frances Marion.  Gracie Fields stars as Molly Barry who is an out-of-work actress and finds work as a housekeeper by acting the role.  It turns out that the butler Peabody, played by Reginald Gardiner, is doing the same thing.  Their employee Mr. Graham, played by Monty Wooley, is very stuffy and his employees try to lighten him up.  A young Roddy McDowell plays Mr. Graham's son.  Reginald Gardiner, Natalie Schafer, Edith Barrett, Clifford Brooke, Queenie Leonard, Doris Lloyd, Patrick O'Moore, and many others co-star in this movie.  This is mostly a b-list movie in Britain.  There is some dry humor going on so you must like that type of comedy.  It is also an interesting look at wealthy life in this era.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Caged Heat (1974):  Now I bring us some women in prison from the '70s.  Jonathan Demme wrote and directed this prison movie.  This one hosted a talent show in the prison and the corrupt superintendent, played by Barbara Steele, takes exception to the humor directed at her.  Along with a sadistic doctor, they perform electroshock treatments on the prisoners, among other things.  Juanita Brown, Roberta Collins, Cheryl Smith, Crystin Sinclaire, Mickey Fox, Cynthia Songe, and many others co-star in this movie.  I don't think much explanation needs to be given here.  The talent show bit was a little different from other women in prison movies which was a rather popular genre in the '70s.  This is Demme's directorial debut before he would go onto direct movies like THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and PHILADELPHIA. 

Big Fan (2009):  Robert Siegel wrote and directed this sports comedy which takes more of a look at the fans.  Patton Oswalt stars as Paul Aufiero who is a die-hard New York Giants fan.  When meeting his idol Quantrell Bishop, played by Jonathan Hamm, he is brutally attacked and is torn on what to do in terms of turning him in.  Michael Rapaport co-stars as die-hard Eagles fan Philadelphia Phil and go at it a lot on a local sports radio show.  Kevin Corrigan, Marcia Jean Kurtz, Serafina Fiore, Gino Cafarelli, Matt Servitto, Polly Humphreys, Scott Ferrall, and many others co-star in this rather dark comedy.  This is a great movie taking a look at a very obsessive fan.  Oswalt is perfectly cast in his role of underachiever Paul whose concern in life is how the Giants do.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime and really worth a look.

The Guinea Pig (1948):  I bring another rather dated British selection.  Roy Boulting directed this movie based on the play by Warren Chetham Strode.  Before Richard Attenborough had that really bad idea to open up a park with genetically mutated dinosaurs, he had to go to an upper-class school on a scholarship.  Attenborough stars as Jack Read who struggles to fit into this new school among both the students and teachers.  Sheila Sim, Bernard Miles, Robert Flemyng, Joan Hickson, Timothy Bateson, and many others co-star in this movie.  This is another very interesting look at the British ways in this era and how school systems operated, lots of things you would not see now.  This is also known as THE OUTSIDER and is available on Amazon Prime.

Diary of a Bachelor (1964):  Sandy Howard directed what I guess is a romantic comedy.  Dagne Crane stars as Joanne who is about to marry a noted playboy named Skip, played by William Traylor.  She finds his diary and starts to read about some of his exploits making her question her decision to marry.  Each scene comes from a portion of the diary that Joanne is reading to see some of Charlie's exploits.  Joe, Silver, Arlene Golonka, Paula Stewart, Dom Deluise, and many others co-star in this comedy.  Deluise makes his film debut in this movie.  Nothing great but is a fun watch that could use a bit of an audience.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

25 Ways to Quit Smoking (1989):  I end the week with this animated short which was written and directed by Bill Plympton who also narrates this animated short.  He manages to demonstrate 25 different ways, most of which are rather extreme, to quit smoking and manages to do it in five minutes.  Plympton is an independent animator and always does rather surrealistic imagery.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel in addition to a lot of his other works that are both shorts and feature films that just recently started getting featured on Criterion.

Well, that is all for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which includes John Carpenter, Peter Jackson, , John Cusack, Lee Van Cleef, Steven Spielberg, and many others.

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