Sunday, January 10, 2021

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 786th Edtion


Welcome to the 786th Edition of my series.  It's been quite a crazy week in this country in the political spectrum which seems to happen every week.  I still refuse to lose hope for 2021 and am trying just trying to live my own best life hoping for a better tomorrow for everyone.  That's all I'm going to say right now so I'll just get to my selections for the week.

20th Century Women (2016):  This is part two of my two-part Billy Crudup series.  Mike Mills wrote and directed this film that is like for a lack of a better word, a character study.  Annette Bening stars as single mother Dorothea Fields struggling to raise her 15 year old son Jamie, played by Lucas Jane Zumann.  As she struggles to connect with him, she enlists a couple girls in his life to help out in Julie, played by Elle Fanning, and Abbie Porter, played by Greta Gerwig.  Crudup co-stars as William who pays rent to stay at Dorothea and Jamie's home.  Alison Elliott, Thea Gill, Vitaly Andrew LeBeau, Waleed Zuaiter, Curran Walters, Alia Shawkat, Nathalie Love, Cameron Protzman, Victoria Bruno, John Billingsley, Cameron Gellman, Finnegan Seeker Bell, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a pretty good look at an unexpected family and a coming of age story at that.  This is available to watch on Netflix.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (1990):  This is part five of my five-part series.  Tom Stoppard wrote and directed this film that is a variation on the obscure HAMLET characters of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, played by Gary Oldman and Tim Roth.  They are unaware that they lead scripted lives and unable to deviate from them.  Richard Dreyfuss, Joanna Roth, Iain Glen, Donald Sumpter, Joanna Miles, and many others co-star in this film.  Dreyfuss is nearly unrecognizable as the Player, the leader of a theater troupe that encounters the the title characters a lot.  Oldman and Roth make a great duo in this movie  This does feature the characters of HAMLET including the title character but in different ways and kind of like a retelling of the story.  This is a movie I believe that is really left to interpretation and I believe one must appreciate Shakespeare to get into this movie.  This is available on Amazon Prime and Hoopla Digital.

Shotgun Freeway:  Drives Through Lost L.A. (1995):  This is one of my documentaries for the week which was directed by Morgan Neville and Harry Pallenberg.  This is a documentary that shows the social and political history of Los Angeles in terms of this town, Hollywood, crime, and even the music world.  Crime novelist James Ellroy, filmmaker John Milius, Bert Corona, Buck Henry, David Hockney, Gene Norman, Frank Wilkinson, and many other L.A. residents have interviews in the documentary.  This is a pretty good look into the world of Los Angeles and its history as well as reflections for the thoughts of the future.

Are You Ready for Marriage? (1950):  This is my short film for the week that was featured on the episode of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 for last week's feature RACKET GIRLS.  This looks at a young high school couple that are seniors in high school and think they are ready for marriage but the marriage counselor brings up questions they should continue.  This is part of the Coronet Film Series which was meant to be educational but now just cheesy as indicated that MST3K riffed on it.  This can probably be found on public domain and is on the episode mentioned which is available on Amazon Prime.

Make Way for Tomorrow (1937):  Leo McCarey directed this film based on the novel by Josephine Lawrence.  Beulah Bondi and Victor Moore star as elderly couple Lucy and Barkley Cooper who after many years have their house foreclosed.  They have five grown kids but none are really reasonable and each parent ends up living separately.  They couple ends up finding themselves a burden where they are no matter how much they try to fit into the house.  Fay Bainter, Thomas Mitchell, Porter Hall, Barbara Read, Maurice Moscovitch, Elizabeth Risdon, Minna Gombell, Louise Beavers, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a really good story and it is also quite the tearjerker in the way the kids treated the parents and remember, this was the '30s so things haven't really changed.  Bondi had been mostly a character actress and this is probably the closest she had to a starring role and was really good in this movie.  This is a very underrated movie that really deserves a look.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

National Lampoon's Animal House (1978):  After that selection, I'm sure you're ready for someone to make you laugh.  This is part two of my Kevin Bacon trilogy where he makes his film debut.  John Landis directed this iconic comedy.  John Belushi stars as John Blutarsky who is the leader of the Delta Tau Chi Fraternity which has been the thorn in the side for Dean Vernon Wormer, played by John Vernon.  Wormer enlists the help of frat house Delta House to put them to an end but the misfits will do what they can to keep their own fraternity going.  Bacon, Tom Hulce, Stephen Furst, Mark Metcalf, Mary Louise Weller, Martha Smith, James Daughton, Douglas Kenney, Karen Allen, James Widdoes, Tim Matheson, Peter Riegert, Bruce McGill, Donald Sutherland, Cesare Danova, Verna Bloom, Sarah Holcomb, Eliza Roberts, and many others co-star in this frat comedy.  This is one that has lived on through the generations and has not been topped by all the other raunchy college comedies that have been put out through the years.  For those looking for some clean comedy, this is not it.

1917 (2019):  This is my war film for the week which was directed and co-written by Sam Mendes.  George Mackay and Dean-Charles Chapman star as WWI Lance Corporals Schofield and Blake who are sent to take a message to a colonel to pull out of an attack that is meant to be a trap that will likely kill thousands including Blake's brother.  They make a dangerous trek into through enemy territory in hope of saving many lives.  Daniel Mays, Colin Firth, Pip Carter, Andy Apollo, Paul Tinto, Josef Davies, Billy Postlethwaite, Gabriel Akuwudike, Andrew Scott, Spike Leighton, Gerran Howell, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, Adrian Scarborough, Richard Madden, and many others co-star in this film.  Mendez wrote this in tribute to his grandfather's experiences in WWI.  This is kind of on the lines of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and could make a good double feature.  This is a very well shot story and is even quite moving at times.

Bambi (1942):  Now I turn to some classic Disney animation which was directed by David Hand.  This centers around the newborn deer Bambi and going through lessons in life with his other animal friends Thumper who is a rabbit and Flower who is a skunk.  Sam Edwards, Ann Gillis, Otis Harlan, Sterling Holloway, Cammie King Conlon, Mary Lansing, Fred Shields, Will Wright, and many others provide their voices in this film.  This might have been one of the first family movies to really deal with death so this can be a tearjerker at times.  This also has some animation that still stands today.  I also watched its sequel BAMBI II, well more of a midquel, which goes along with this pretty well and transitions from young Bambi into Adult Bambi which has a lot that was left out.  This can teach a lot of lessons and has a similar feel to the later Disney film in THE LION KING that deals with life lessons.  This is available to watch on Disney Plus.

Hi, Mom (1970):  This is part two of my Robert De Niro series that I think will maybe go four parts.  Barry Levinson directed this comedy which stars a very young De Niro who stars as Vietnam veteran John Rubin.  Rubin moves into Greenwich Village into a rundown flat.  He finds he has a lot of access to filming homes across from him so he gets a camera and looks to film things "peeping tom" style.  He then joins a radical black power group.  Charles Durning, Allen Garfield, Lara Parker, Jennifer Salt, Paul Bartel, Gerrit Graham, and many others co-star in this comedy.  I don't really know much how to explain this movie.  It is of interest to see a young De Niro before he would hook up with Scorsese.  This is a pretty dark comedy and can be offensive to those that offend easy.  I found this on Youtube and is really worth a look.

Cutie and the Boxer (2013):  I end the week with this documentary which was direceted by Zachary Heinzerling.  This takes a look at artist Ushio Shinohara and his wife Noriko in their 40 year marriage.  This takes a look at Ushio's unusual art and Noriko finding her own identity in art.  This takes a look at the ups and downs of the marriage with a lot of their financial struggles through the years.  This is a really good look at a long-time married couple and the life of an artist.  This is available to watch on the Roku Channel.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Kevin Bacon, Robert De Niro, Kirk Douglas, and many others.

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