Sunday, November 22, 2020

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 779th Edition


Welcome to the 779th edition of my series.  As we approach Thanksgiving this week, I'm sure most will reflect on the kind of year we have all had.  Just about everyone has had to do less, if any, of what they are used to doing each year.  For me, it was the world of theater.  Usually by now, I have done two or three shows, sometimes four but I have only gotten to do one back in July.  I was about to do my second show of the year in MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET at the Marion Civic Theater but with everything going on and the restrictions they decided to halt it for now.  I am grateful to have gotten to be in YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU back in July.  I think the hardest thing for me was my work situation.  When all this started, I thought my job would be the one thing I would not have to worry about but in late May, I learned I was wrong.  The client at Concentrix I was working for announced they were not going to continue leaving everyone having to figure out their future.  This was a job I mostly liked and had planned on spending the rest of my days there until death or retirement so it put me in a mild depression.  I took a job with another client at Concentrix but that one just did not work for me.  I made the decision to go to Navient which I believe might just work out so I don't feel as bad now.  I know the traditions of many will be halted at least for years.  I intend to just watch movies and television myself and maybe try doing some Doordash deliveries for those that are open.  With all this, I am not going to forget to be thankful.  I'm still alive, I have a more hopeful work situation, and I have my friends and family.  Okay, I'll shut up now and get to my selections for the week.

These Amazing Shadows (2011):  I start the week out with this documentary on the film industry.  Paul Mariano and Kurt Norton directed this documentary which is mostly centered around the National Film Registry and its significance including film preservation.  This includes short films, classics, newsreels, silent films, and even home movies.  There are a lot of interviews from people in the film industry including Rob Reiner, Debbie Reynolds, Leonard Maltin, John Waters, Christopher Nolan, John Singleton, Steve James, and many others.  John Waters was probably the most entertaining in some of his views on classic film.  This is a great look and homage to our wonderful film industry taking a look at the known and lesser known.

Never Look Away (2018):  Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck wrote and directed this film that takes place in Nazi era Germany and post WWII and is centered around an artist named Kurt Barnert, played by Tom Schilling.  We meet him as a child where we see his inspiration to be an artist.  He flees to West Germany where his is tormented by the experiences from his childhood while also falling in love with fellow student Ellie, played by Paula Beer, whose father is former Nazi Professor Seeband, played by Sebastian Koch.  Seeband does what he can to keep his daughter way from him.  Saskia Rosendahl, Oliver Masucci, Hanno Koffler, and many others co-star in this German film.  This is loosely based on real-life artist Gerhand Richter.  This is a three hour movie that was very sad at times and very moving at times.  If you can invest three hours and don't mind English subtitles, this is really worth a look.

The Forest For the Trees (2003):  I follow up with another German film, this one being written and directed by Maren Ade in her feature directorial debut.  Eva Lobau stars as Melanie who moves to Karlsruhe where she hopes to start fresh and is a very idealistic new teacher.  Things do not go quite as planned for her when she gets into her class finding a bunch of unruly high school kids.  She also struggles to make friends in her new town.  Daniela Holtz, Robert Schupp, and many others co-star in this German film.  This was clearly shot on a very low budget but the story and performances by Lobau make it easy to forget about the low budget.  When looking at the cover for this movie, it seems like it will be a comedy but is much deeper than that.  It is rather depressing at times to see this person do what she can to fit in and many can probably relate to this character.  This includes the idealism of a job and the insecurity of having a friend.  This is available to watch on Hoopla.

The Zoot Cat (1944):  This is my animated short for the week that feature the most famous cat and mouse duo in Tom and Jerry.  Tom makes advances toward a jive-taking female cat that get nowhere until he gets a zoot suit which makes him the cool cat.  Tom must still deal with his mouse nemesis Jerry.  This is one of the few cartoons which Tom and Jerry speak.  Tom and Jerry enthusiasts should really enjoy this one.

Limite (1931):  This is my Brazilian and silent film for the week which was written and directed by Mario Peixoto and was the only movie he ever directed.  This centers around three people in a boat which were two women and a man all remembering their past.  They struggle in their existence while in this drifting boat.  Olga Breno, Tatiana Rey, and Raul Schnoor star as these people.  Most other countries likely did not have the technology like our country to have sound so many would remain silent for a while longer.  This is a pretty compelling film that silent buffs should check out.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Murder She Said (1961):  George Pollock directed this murder mystery based on the novel by Agatha Christie.  Margaret Rutherford stars as one of Christie's most known characters in Miss Marple who witnesses a murder happen while she is on a train that occurs in a crossing train.  When trying to tell the police, Marple does her own investigation leading her work as a maid for a wealthy family.  Arthur Kennedy, Muriel Pavlow, James Robertson Justice, Thorley Walters, Charles Tingwell, Conrad Phillips, Ronald Howard, Joan Hickson, and many others co-star in this murder mystery.  This is the first on-screen appearance for the Miss Marple character in which the casting of Rutherford was not favored by Christie at first until they met one another and became friends.  This is a pretty good murder mystery which a very fun elderly character in Miss Marple.  This is available to watch on Hoopla Digital.

Anomalisa (2015):  Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson directed this stop-animation film.  David Thewlis stars in this movie as the voice of Michael Stone who is being called to speak at a conference on account of his book about customer service.  He has lived a mundane life in a rather unhappy marriage but connects with a woman named Lisa, voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh, who gives him the spark in life he has not had in a long time.  Tom Noonan co-stars as "everyone else" which was many characters both male and female.  People first need to keep in mind, this is Kaufman and this is his first animated movie.  He made this his own just like everything else he does.  This is a good look at human existence.  It is one of those that has to be seen to really be explained.

Monster on the Campus (1958):  This is my horror b-movie for the week which was directed by Jack Arnold.  Arthur Franz stars as Professor Donald Blake who acquires the specimen of a prehistoric fish.  It is found that the fish was exposed to gamma radiation and makes him an ape-like creature.  Joanna Moore, Judson Pratt, Nancy Walters, Troy Donahue, Phil Harvey, Helen Westcott, Whit Bissell, and many others co-star in this b-movie.  What more do I need to say about this on the description I gave?  This is a pretty fun watch and decent enough story to be enjoyable for fans of classic horror.

El Topo (1970):  Alejandro Jodorowsky wrote and directed this western and I use the word rather loosely.  Jodorowsky also stars as the title character who wanders through the western world in a spiritual journey while encountering many bizarre characters.  Brontis Jodorowsky, Alfonso Arau, and many others co-star in this film.  I will say that this movie is not for everyone.  I don't know if the word "bizarre" really covers this film.  I really cannot provide much of a description that has elements of western and religion.  It also has a lot of surrealistic imagery.  Many celebrities including John Lennon, David Lynch, Samuel Fuller, Bob Dylan, Marilyn Manson, and Peter Gabriel have cited really liking this movie.  This was apparently the inspiration for Peter Gabriel for the album THE LAMB LIES DOWN ON BROADWAY which came out when he was with Genesis.  John Lennon helped a lot with the distribution to make this the worldwide film it is today.  

Beach Rats (2017):  I end the week with this independent coming of age film.  Eliza Hittman wrote and directed this movie.  Harris Dickinson stars as Brooklyn teen Frankie who struggles with his bleak home life, his self-identity, and a potential relationship with a girl while also meeting men online.  Madeline Weinstein, Kate Hodge, Neal Huff, Harrison Sheehan, and many others co-star in this film.  This is more of a character driven film with an unknown cast making the most of the script.  I am sure many can relate to Frankie's struggle in life.  This is available to watch on Hulu.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which includes Kevin Bacon, Joel McCrea, Ingmar Bergman, Sean Connery, Rooney Mara, and many others.

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