Sunday, November 15, 2020

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 778th Edition


Welcome to the 778th Edition of my series.  Just last Sunday, I released a 15 year anniversary.  Last Monday, I had a couple things start for me.  I started new employment at Navient after almost 13 years at Concentrix.  Later that evening, I went to Marion for my first rehearsal for the musical version of MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET which is my second round of that show, first being at Muncie Civic Theater.  They needed men and at the time I was not sure of my work situation but with Navient, I'll be working days while in training so it works out.  Show dates are December 3, 4, 5, and 6 at the Marion Civic Theater so more information will come out about that in the next couple weeks.  I will get on with my selections for the week.

Vito (2011):  I start the week out with this documentary which was directed by Jeffrey Schwarz and is based on Vito Russo who was one of the founding fathers of the gay liberation movement.  Russo was one of the earlier activists for LGBT rights and would go onto write the book THE CELLULOID CLOSET which critiques the portrayal of gays in film starting from the silent era.  He would also go around hosting lectures of the same title.  He also hosted a show called OUR TIME which was geared toward the gay community.  This was a very outspoken man and rather ahead of his time.  This was a very insightful documentary that has interviews with friends and family reflecting on their times with him as well as archive interviews with Russo.  It also has some really interesting explanation to scenes of older movies that have some gay subtext.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

The Lion King (1994):  I follow up with this Disney animated selection which was directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff.  This centers around an animal kingdom which is ruled by Mufasa, voiced by James Earl Jones, who is grooming his son Simba, voiced by HOME IMPROVEMENT alum Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Matthew Broderick when older, to be the king.  Mufasa's bitter brother Scar, Jeremy Irons, is determined to become king by any means necessary when killing Mufasa and casting out Simba claiming it was his fault.  Simba has lead a care free life with his friends Timon and Pumbaa, voiced by Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella, and learns that Scar is a very ruthless ruler and must return home.  Rowan Atkinson, Niketa Calame-Harris, Jim Cummings, Whoopi Goldberg, Robert Guillaume, Moira Kelly, Madge Sinclair, Cheech Marin, Frank Welker, and many others lend their voice to this Disney classic.  This is loosely based on Shakespear's HAMLET and personally I'd rather see this than the material it is based upon.  While this is rated G, younger children may get a bit scared during some of the action scenes, mostly those involving the laughing hyenas.  This has quite a few sequels, spin-offs, and animated series.  It also has a very popular Broadway musical that I would love to see someday.  This is available to watch on Disney Plus.

Enemy (2013):  Denis Villeneuve directed this film which is based on the novel by Jose Saramago.  Jake Gyllenhaal stars in this film as history professor Adam Bell who is a rather somber man stuck in a routine.  He rents a movie and by chance sees an actor that has an uncanny resemblance.  He becomes obsessed about meeting this person and learns he uses a stage name of Daniel Saint Claire whose real name is Anthony Claire, also played by Gyllenhaal.  Anthony is also married to a woman named Helen, played by Sarah Gadon, who is several months pregnant.  Once the doppelgangers meet, their lives become intertwined.  Melanie Laurent and Isabella Rosselli co-star in this film.  Gyllenhaal is great in his dual role.  This is a rather strange movie that is rather hard to explain beyond what I already did.  

Shoe Palace Pinkus (1916):  This is my silent selection for the week and is technically a short film by today's standards, I believe it was considered more of a feature film at the time having about 45 minutes.  Ernst Lubitsch directed this silent film where he also stars as Sally Pinkus who has been expelled from school for goofing around.  He gets a job at a shoe place and slowly rises to the top when charming a rich benefactress.  This is some early work in the career of Lubitsch who would go onto direct classics like NINOTCHKA, THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER and TO BE OR NOT TO BE.  Fans of silent comedy should enjoy this one which is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.  

Naked Gun (1956):  This is my western for the week which was directed by Edward Dew and no this is not that hilarious comedy trilogy that stars Leslie Nielsen.  Willard Parker stars as Breen Matthews and is trying to get a fortune to a rightful owner only to encounter the town of Topaz dealing with people like Judge Cole, played by Billy House, who is known as "the hanging judge".  Mara Corday, Barton MacLane, Tom Brown, Veda Ann Borg, Chick Chandler, Jody McCrea, Morris Ankrum, Timothy Carey, and many others co-star in this western.  This is a pretty good b-western and some good action near the end.  This is a little over an hour and is available to watch on Crackle.  

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975):  Milos Forman directed this classic film based on the novel by Ken Kesey and based on the play by Dale Wasserman.  Jack Nicholson stars in one of his most iconic roles as R.P. McMurphy who pleads insanity and ends up in a ward for the mentally unstable.  McMurphy tries to band the inmates together to rebel against the authoritarian rule of Nurse Ratched, played by Louise Fletcher.  Christopher Lloyd, Danny DeVito, Sydney Lassick, Vincent Schiavelli, Brad Dourif, Mews Small, and many others co-star in this film.  Nothing really needs to be explained by this classic film.  Kesey himself did not like this moving saying they butchered his book, but the general public did not share that opinion.  Nicholson and Fletcher worked really well off each other.  This is available to watch on Netflix and I would recommend watching the more recent mini-series RATCHED which is a prequel about Mildred Ratched and how she would become the mean nurse.  

He Named Me Malala (2015):  This is my second documentary for the week which was directed by Davis Guggenheim.  This takes a look at the young Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai whose efforts got her attacked by the Taliban but miraculously survived.  Instead of just living in fear, she stepped up her efforts to fight for women's rights which mostly focused on education rights.  She would go onto become the youngest winner of a Nobel Prize.  This is a very compelling documentary on someone I had not heard of but someone that we need more of in our world.  What else can be said here, just go and seek this out.

Rififi (1955):  Jules Dassin directed this French film which was based on the novel by Auguste Le Breton.  Jean Servais stars as ex-con Tony le Stephanois who is just getting out of prison.  He meets up with a couple of  his friends who offer him a spot in a jewel heist and reluctantly accepts.  They bring in a safecracker named Cesar, played by Dassin, and plan the perfect crime except the human element comes into play.  This gives a really good look at the planning for what they are calling the perfect crime including a rather long scene that has no dialogue.  This covers just about every base.  Dassin was blacklisted in the states at this time during the "Red Scare" so he went onto France to make this classic heist film.

Yojimbo (1961):  I go from France to Japan with this Samurai epic and there are no blacklisted Americans in this one.  Akira Kurosawa directed this samurai film which stars Toshiro Mifune as ronin Sanjuro.  He comes into a town which is divided by two gangs so he decides to play one side against each other.  This movie inspired quite a bit of other movies like A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS and LAST MAN STANDING.  Mifune plays his part to perfection and is very entertaining.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel and is worth a look.


Hereditary (2018):  I end the week with selection from my "Movie Time in the Town of Pottersville series."  After insisting all October that we watch movies that I had listed, I owed it to Stephanie to watch something she wanted so I accepted this selection.  Ari Aster wrote and directed this horror film.  Toni Collette stars as Annie whose mother has just died and everyone in the family handles it in a different manner.  Annie and her daughter Charlie, played by Milly Shapiro, are dealing with the supernatural.  Her son Peter, played by Alex Wolff mostly tries to suppress his feelings while her husband Steve, played by Gabriel Byrne, is just trying to hold it together and skeptical of the supernatural.   Mallory Bechtel, Jake Brown, Ann Dowd, Brock McKinney, and many others co-star in this film.  This is Aster's feature directorial debut.  This was a pretty chilling thriller that was a good script.  I likely would not watch as much horror if it was not for Stephanie so I'm usually glad to go into Pottersville and watch something.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Well, that is it for this week but I do have one more selection from "Movie Time in the Town of Pottersville" so keep on going.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week.

The Nun (2018):  We watched this on Friday night when Steph hit me up to get some pizzas at the Guardian and then when I got there she insisted on this one so I accepted.  Corin Hardy directed this film which was a spin-off and prequel from THE CONJURING films.  Demian Bichir stars as Father Burke who is investigating a suicide from a nun that hung herself.  He is joined by Sister Irene, played by Taissa Farmiga, who is on the threshold of her final vows.  They uncover an unholy secret that risks their lives and faith.  Jonas Bloquet, Bonnie Aarons, Ingrid Bisu, Charlotte Hope, and many others co-star in this film.  I have seen the first CONJURING but it's been awhile.  Stephanie cited that it was not nearly as good with James Wan not being the director.  I guess I need to revisit these movies soon.

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