Sunday, December 20, 2020

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 783rd Edition


Welcome to the 783rd edition of my series.  I hope everyone is staying safe and will be able to have a good holiday however celebrated under the circumstances.  I'm still at trying to get this book narrated to become an audiobook which has been quite an experience and am hoping this all works out.  I will hold off on saying anything for now and just get on with my selections for the week.

The Act (2019):  This is part two of my Patricia Arquette series which will likely go to a four part series.  Nick Antosca and Michelle Dean directed this mini-series that is based on a true story.  Arquette and Joey King star as mother and daughter Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard.  Dee Dee is very overprotective but that does not cover the issues with the relationship.  She would also claim Gypsy had various diseases and then use her for sympathy for appearances to make money and whatever else needed.  Annasophia Robb, Chloe Sevigny, Calum Worthy, Denitra, Isler, Rachel Ticotin, Steve Coulter, Margo Martindale, Joshua Mikel, Dean Norris, Rhea Seehorn, Molly Ephraim, Juliette Lewis, Brook Smith, Adam Arkin, and many others co-star in this mini-series.  For those that do not know the story, I won't give anything away but it's easily accessible to find out what happened.  This has eight episodes that are each about an hour long.  This is a very tragic story and is available to watch on Hulu.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008):  This is part two of my Brad Pitt series.  David Fincher directed this film based on the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Pitt stars as Benjamin Button who is born as a man in an old body and manages to age backwards living a very unique life.  Cate Blanchett co-stars as Benjamin's lifelong friend and even love interest Daisy Williams.  Julia Ormond, Faune Chambers Watkins, Elias Koteas, Donna Duplantier, Jacob Tolano, Ed Metzger, Jason Flemying, Taraji B. Henson, Mahershala Ali, Phyllis Somerville, Elle Fanning, Jared Harris, Richmond Arquette, Tilda Swinton, and many others co-star in this film.  It's really hard to describe this beyond what I have without putting out spoilers.  I thought the highlight was the relationship between Benjamin and Daisy through the years and the changes they go through.  This is a pretty compelling film that while sad at times is rather moving.

Sid and Nancy (1986):  This is part two of my Gary Oldman series.  Alex Cox directed this biopic of Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious, played by perfection by Oldman in his career as a chameleon actor, and Nancy Spungeon, played by Chloe Webb, in their destructive relationship that ends in tragedy.  Vicious had a lot of good things going but his drug addiction leads to his downfall after attempting a solo career.  David Hayman, Andrew Schofield, Xander Berkeley, Courtney Love, Miguel Sandoval, John M. Jackson, Iggy Pop, and many others co-star in this film.  Now if looking for a story about the Sex Pistols, this is not it, that will be the documentary THE FILTH AND THE FURY.  This was also done pretty shortly after everything happened so this was not for everyone and still is not for everyone.  Different things have come out through the years that were different than what was depicted.  Oldman and Webb worked very well together as the title characters in what is really a tragic love story.

A Pink Christmas (1978):  This is my animated holiday special for the week.  This features the Pink Panther who goes around trying to get himself a big holiday dinner where just about every attempt backfires in humorous ways.  In the end, he manages to find meaning for himself on Christmas.  This is mostly a silent cartoon, Pink Panther usually was anyway, with the exception of some Christmas songs being sung.  This is about a half hour long and is available on Amazon Prime.

Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938):  This is a holiday movie in a sense as it does take place around Christmas.  George B. Seitz directed this entry of the popular comedy series that centers around the Hardy family.  Mickey Rooney reprises his role of Andy Hardy where he is trying to raise money for his last payment from a car but has a lot of trouble.  He is also juggling three girls in Polly, played by Ann Rutherford, Cynthia, played by Lana Turner, and Betsy, played by Judy Garland in her introduction with her recurring character, in looking to go the country club Christmas party.  Lewis Stone, Fay Holden, and Cecilia Parker all reprise their roles of Andy's father, mother, and sister.  Mary Howard, Gene Reynolds, Don Castle, Betty Ross Clarke, Marie Blake, George P. Breakston, Raymond Hatton, and many others co-star in this comedy.  I mean, who else has had Judy Garland, Lana Turner, and Ann Rutherford fighting for one man, I'm pretty sure only Mickey Rooney.  Young Judy was on the rise at the time but just a year later would be her iconic film of THE WIZARD OF OZ.  This is a pretty fun movie and don't really have to follow the series in order to really enjoy.

The Bishop's Wife (1947):  This is my holiday movie that has an angel which was directed by Henry Koster and based on the novel by Robert Nathan.  Cary Grant stars as the debonair angel Dudley who is sent to help Episcopal Bishop Henry Brougham, played by David Niven, in his plans for a new cathedral.  Henry starts to question Dudley's motives making him feel he is there to replace him in his family.  Loretta Young co-stars as the title character Julia who forms a close friendship with Dudley.  Monty Woolley, James Gleason, Gladys Cooper, Elsa Lanchester, Sara Haden, Karolyn Grimes, Tito Vuolo, Regis Toomey, Robert J. Anderson, and many others co-star in this angelic film.  Grimes co-stars as Henry and Julia's daughter Debby and is known as George Bailey's daughter Zuzu in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE which was out about a year before this one.  Also, anyone who watches IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE annually will easily recognize the speaking voice of Anderson who played young George and there is just no mistaking that voice.  This is a pretty touching film for the holidays from that era and is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

A Little Princess (1995):  Alfonso Cuaron directed this film based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  Liesel Matthews stars as young Sara Crewe who is living a great life in India with her father Richard, played by Liam Cunningham.  Unfortunately, Richard is called into WWI and Sara must go live in a boarding school in New York.  While there Sara clashes with the cruel and selfish headmistress Miss Minchin, played by Eleanor Bron, who tries to get Sara to behave the way she wants.  Things get complicated when Richard becomes presumed dead.  Rusty Schwimmer, Arthur Malet, Vanessa Chester, Errol Sitahal, Heather DeLoach, Taylor Fry, Camilla Belle, Lauren Blumenfeld, Kelsey Mulrooney, Kaitlin Cullum, Alison Moir, Time Winters, Vincent Schiavelli, and many others co-star in this film.  I have always enjoyed this movie.  '90s kids might recognize DeLoach who plays the role of Ermengarde as the bee girl in the music video for Blind Melon's NO RAIN.  This is a very touching film where we are rooting for Sara through and through with an ending that never ceases to tear me up a bit.  I also started to see that this has a subtle message about how war can tear a family apart.  This is a remake to a 1939 movie of the same name that stars Shirley Temple which is okay but I must favor this version from Cuaron.

Annie Hall (1977):  Woody Allen directed this comedy and also stars as comedian Alvy Singer who reflects on the demise of his relationship with nightclub singer Annie Hall, played by Diane Keaton.  He reflects on his relationship in a way that only Allen can do.  This explores many things like his childhood, his Jewish guilt, and the troubled relationship with his parents.  Tony Roberts, Carol Kane, Paul Simon, Shelley Duvall, Janet Margolin, Colleen Dewhurst, Christopher Walken, John Glover, Jeff Goldblum, Shelley Hack, Beverly D'Angelo, Tracey Walter, Sigourney Weaver, and many others co-star or have bit roles in this comedy.  Also, look for Truman Capote in a bit role as someone who won a Truman Capote look-a-like contest.  This is an acquired taste that is not for everyone.  I have always enjoyed this and really like the way it breaks the fourth wall on many occasions.

21 Days Together (1940):  Basil Dean directed this film noir.  Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh star as lovers Larry and Wanda.  Wanda's estranged husband Wallen, played by Esme Percy, comes into the picture trying to blackmail her and Larry accidentally kills him in a fight.  Another man gets arrested for the killing and while they are on the verge of getting married, they are waiting for the outcome of the trial where Larry will confess if the man is convicted.  Leslie Banks, Francis L. Sullivan, David Horne, William Dewhurst, Robert Newton, and many others co-star in this crime drama.  This is a pretty decent crime drama with a good story and a good amount of suspense.  This is available to watch on both Amazon Prime and the Criterion Channel.

Pottersville (2017):  I decided to end the week with this Netflix holiday movie which was directed by Seth Henrikson.  Michael Shannon stars as local store owner Maynard who is going through some things that drives him to drink and puts on a gorilla outfit making people mistake him for Bigfoot.  This starts a media spectacle where Maynard continues to play along as it is helping the struggling small town of Pottersville.  Judy Greer, Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks, Thomas Lennon, Ian McShane, Michael Torpey, Greta Lee, Blake Perlman, and many others co-star in this holiday classic.  This has a small Hallmarkish feel to it but is also quite the comedy and has some rather strange moments at the time.  Shannon plays a lot lighter role than usual as the store owner trying to keep his town together.  This is an homage to IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE in some ways.  This is available to watch on Netflix.

Well that is it for this week but I did bring back my segment of "Movie Time in the Town of Pottersville" which was not the same Pottersville of the movie I watched.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Kate Winslet, Patricia Arquette, Gary Oldman, W.C. Fields, Marilyn Monroe, and many others.


Bad Santa (2003):  I decided to hit up Stephanie and thought maybe she'd be up for a raunchy holiday comedy and I was right so I took this dvd over to watch with her and Drew.  Terry Zwigoff directed this holiday crime comedy.  Billy Bob Thornton stars as miserable conman Willie who every year at Christmas, he poses as Santa at a mall with his partner Marcus, played by Tony Cox, to rob the department store.  Willie in all his drinking ways starts to have a crisis of conscience when he meets a young boy, played by Brett Kelly, who is convinced he is the real Santa.  GILMORE GIRLS alum Lauren Graham co-stars as Willie's bartender love interest Sue.  Lauren Tom, Bernie Mac, John Ritter, Ajay Naidu, Lorna Scott, Harrison Bieker, Alex Borstein, Billy Gardell, Bryan Callen, Octavia Spencer, Cloris Leachman, and many others co-star in this comedy.  This is as politically incorrect as it gets and is probably not going to be an ideal movie to watch with the family so I suggest waiting until the kids are in bed before watching this one.  I still laughed very hard at this movie with Thornton just perfectly cast as the alcoholic conman.  I was glad to have done this after Stephanie told me that she just really needed a comedy and I think we all could use a little comedy in these crazy times.

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