Sunday, November 29, 2020

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 780st Edition


Welcome to the 780th edition of my series.  As we come to an end on Thanksgiving weekend, I will say it has been a good weekend for me.  As of now I don't really having anything happening so I'll just get on with my selections for the week.

Tab Hunter Confidential (2015):  I start the week out with this documentary on the actor which was directed by Jeffrey Schwarz.  This focuses on the ups and downs of his career that was mostly in film but also in music in his early career.  It also discusses his struggle on hiding that he was gay, especially in the early part of his career.  Hunter was still alive during this documentary so is able to interview and reflect on his triumphs and struggles.  Debbie Reynolds, Robert Wagner, George Takei, John Waters, and many others get interviewed.  This was a really good look into Hunter's career and was quite a career he had being a matinee idol and when that wore off, he found ways to reinvent himself until he decided to retire in the early '90s.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Murder in the First (1995):  Marc Rocco directed this film which is based on a true story.  Christian Slater stars as the young and idealistic public defender James Stamphill.  Stamphill gets his first trial where he must defend Alcatraz inmate Henri Young, played by Kevin Bacon, who is being accused of first degree murder after killing a fellow inmate.  Stamphill finds that the conditions and Young's treatment is what lead to the killing and tries to expose the corrupt Alcatraz prison.  Gary Oldman, Embeth Davidtz, William H. Macy, Stephen Tobolowsky, Brad Dourif, R. Lee Ermey, Mia Kirshner, Stefan Gierasch, Kyra Sedgwick, and many others co-star in this film.  As mentioned, this is based on a true story of Henri Young and is mostly a fictional account of what happened.  This is still a very sad but also very moving story some of which is about forming a friendship.  Slater and Bacon work very well together in this film.  I also found myself comparing Henri Young to a Jean Valjean.  I don't want to give any spoilers but I would recommend looking into the real-life Henri Young.

Edgar Allan Poe:  Buried Alive (2016):  I bring another documentary, this one is an episode of the PBS series AMERICAN EXPERIENCE.  Eric Stange directed this documentary based on the famed writer, played by Denis O'Hare, who could be called "the Father of Horror" and brought us the detective story genre that so many love today.  Kathleen Turner provides the narration of the documentary and Chris Sarandon does reading of some of his stories.  Roger Corman whose best work is said to be his movies based on Poe stories is interviewed in this documentary.  This takes a look at this rather misunderstood person and take a look at him beyond his writing where he was a literary critic and even had his own paper at one time.  A great documentary on someone very significant in the literary world.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973):  This is my short selection for the week and figured this was a good time to feature this animated classic.  Bill Melendez and Phil Roman directed this animated special based on the characters of Charles M. Schultz.  Peppermint Patty, voiced by Christopher DeFaria, decides to invite herself and the other friends over to Charlie Brown's, voiced by Todd Barbee, house for Thanksgiving.  Chuck is very unprepared for this and with the help of Linus, Snoopy, and Woodstock, they try to put together what they can of a Thanksgiving.  For years, these holiday specials have been getting shown on CBS but this year they are on the Apple TV+ app.  I do not like that myself and I did not get the app.  However, I have these on dvd so I just pulled out my dvd of other PEANUTS specials.

The Most Dangerous Game (1932):  Irving Pachel and Ernest B. Schoedsack directed this action film based on a short story by Richard Connell.  Joel McCrea stars as Bob whose ship is washed ashore leaving him the lone survivor.  He ends up at a mansion with the insane hunter Zaroff, played by Leslie Banks, making just as the title implies a game with Bob and another shipwreck survivor in Eve, played by Fay Wray.  Bob and Eve must band together to survive.  Robert Armstrong, Noble Johnson, William B. Davidson, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a pretty decent action movie from this era which is a pre-code film where they could get away with a little more before that Hays code came about.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Brink of Life (1958):  This is my Swedish film for the week which was directed by who else, Ingmar Bergman.  This takes place in a maternity ward where Eva Dahlbeck, Ingrid Thulin, and Bibi Andersson as expectant mothers.  They all bond with one another in the ward and each have their own story on how they feel about motherhood.  Barbro Hiort af Ornas, Erland Josephson, Max Von Sydow, Gunner Sjoberg, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a very well done film and it gets pretty deep into the subject matter.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

I Lost My Body (2019):  Jeremy Clapin directed this French animated film which is based on the novel by Guillaume Laurant who also co-wrote the film.  This centers around a severed hand looking for its body after escaping its fate in a Parisian laboratory.  We also see flashbacks of its original body in pizza boy Naoufel, voiced by Hakim Faris, and his love for Gabrielle, voiced by Victoire Du Bois.  Patrick d'Assumcao, Deborah Grail, and many others lend their voices to this animated film.  This is a very clever animated film and it is also a rather beautiful story at the same time.  This has been in production since 2011 and finally got it made.  This is available to watch on Netflix and is really worth a look.

The Chase (1946):  Arthur Ripley directed this film noir which is based on the novel by Cornell Woolrich.  Robert Cummings stars as unemployed vet Chuck Scott who does a simple good deed by finding a wallet and tracking down who it belongs to.  He returns it to Eddie Roman, played by Steve Cochran, who is grateful toward Chuck and gives him a job as a chauffeur.  What Chuck learns is that Steve is a gangster with a lot of enemies.  Michele Morgan co-stars as Chuck's unhappy wife Lorna who asks Chuck to help her escape the marriage.  Lloyd Corrigan, Jack Holt, Don Wilson, James Westerfield, Peter Lorre, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a rather surreal film that has gone rather overlooked through the years.  Nothing is at all what it seems, even when see seem to know what everything is with the movie.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel. 

Dr. No (1962):  Terence Young directed this film based on the novel by Ian Fleming that would be the start of a very long-running franchise.  Sean Connery takes on the role of British agent James Bond who must investigate the disappearance of a colleague and teams up with Quarrel, played by John Kitzmuller, and his CIA ally Felix Leiter, played by Jack Lord.  Ursula Andress stars as Bond girl Honey Ryder whose look is rather iconic.  Joseph Wiseman co-stars as the title character who is behind all the crimes happening.  Bernard Lee, Anthony Dawson, Zena Marshall, Eunice Gayson, Lois Maxwell, Peter Burton, Marguerite LeWars, and many others co-star in this action film.  Technically, the first on-screen appearance of James Bond was on the tv series CLIMAX! in the episode CASINO ROYALE where Barry Nelson plays Jimmy Bond.  That is actually the reason they could not start with Fleming's first Bond novel and had to start with this one and would many years later introduce my favorite Bond in Daniel Craig which was essentially a prequel.  Jack Lord would be the start of recurring character Felix Leiter who has been portrayed in many different ways through the years.  R.I.P. Mr. Connery and Alex Trebek who may not have ever met but had quite the rivalry in SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE on the Celebrity Jeopardy segments.

Trash (2014):  I end the week with this film which was directed by Stephen Daldry and based on the novel by Andy Mulligan.  Rickson Tevez, Eduardo Luis, and Gabriel Weinstein star as Brazilian teens who typically go through trash hoping to find useful items thrown out and come across a wallet which they learn is very important when learning of the sizable reward.  They become unlikely whistleblowers when going after corruption.  Martin Sheen and Rooney Mara become allies to the boys.  Wagner Moura, Selton Mello, Stepan Nercessian, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a very eye-opening film and also inspirational in some ways.  This shows kids who could have easily benefited and look the other way but decide they must do what they feel is right.  This is another that I hope to get on the radar a bit.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Christian Slater, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Steve McQueen, Shirley MacLaine, Ving Rhames, Bob Hope, Faye Dunaway, and many others.

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