Welcome to the 788th edition of my series. I hope everyone is staying safe in these unusual times. I would like to make the announcement that on the days of April 23-25, I am going to be in the cast of ARSENIC AND OLD LACE where I am playing the role of Teddy Roosevelt Brewster. This will be in Alexandria, Indiana and excited to have gotten that part as it is the part I actually pursued. I'll be updating this in the coming weeks but for now I'll just get to my selections.
Raging Bull (1980): This is part five of my seven part Robert De Niro series. Martin Scorsese directed this boxing film which is based on the autobiography of Jake LaMotta, played by De Niro. This takes a look at both LaMotta's professional life as a boxer and his personal life. He was known to obliterate opponents but in his home life his temper and violent tendencies would be his downfall. Joe Pesci co-stars as Jake's brother Joey who managed Jake and tried to keep him in line. Cathy Moriarty, Frank Vincent, Nicholas Colasanto, Theresa Saldana, Mario Gallo, Frank Adonis, Michael Badalucco, and many others co-star in this biopic. De Niro was amazing as LaMotta and did a lot of preparation which even included entering three boxing matches. This was also a project that De Niro had been working on getting made for a few years ago before he persistently convinced Scorsese to direct. This is the first of many times that De Niro and Pesci would work together. A good double feature would be to watch this along with ROCKY and have the contrast of these boxing movies where one was very inspirational while this one was more dark and intense.
This is Spinal Tap (1984): Now I bring something more fun in this iconic mockumentary which was directed by Rob Reiner who stars as the director of the documentary so a director playing the director. This centers around the a comeback tour of the metal band Spinal Tap which consists of Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer. Tony Hendra, Bruno Kirby, Ed Begley Jr., Danny Kortchmar, Fran Drescher, Patrick McNee, Dana Carvey, Billy Crystal, Paul Benedict, Paul Shaffer, Anjelica Huston, Fred Willard and many others co-star in this comedy. While this was a comedy, the members of the band were really quite talented and enjoyable in the music they played. Carvey and Crystal both have early roles as the mimes in one of the scenes. Years later, Guest would go onto direct his own really good mockumentaries that I'm sure he drew from this experience including A MIGHT WIND that could be a really good double feature.
Medicine for Melancholy (2008): Now I go the more independent route in this film written and directed by Barry Jenkins in his directorial debut. Wyatt Cenac and Tracey Heggins star as Micah and Jo form a relationship after a one night stand. This takes a look at a 24 hour period of the San Franciscans dealing with the conundrums of being a minority in a rapidly gentrifying city. This is more of a character driven movie where each have their own beliefs on being a minority. This is hard to really explain much further but is rather though provoking in its dialogue.
The Hole (1962): This is my animated short for the week which was directed by John Hubley. Dizzy Gillespie and George Matthews provide the voices of two New York construction workers. Like the last selection, this also revolves around discussion and for them it was over things like the nature of accidents on the job and the possibility of nuclear was so gets rather intense. Gillespie is known for his jazz music and this is actually an acting debut for him in film. This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.
A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate (1923): This is my silent film for the week which was written and directed by Charles Chaplin in his directorial debut for United Artists. Edna Purviance stars as Marie St. Claire who believes she has been stood up by her artist fiance Jean, played by Carl Miller, and goes to Paris alone. A year later, she is the mistress to the wealthy Pierre Revel, played by Adolphe Menjou, but runs into Jean forcing her to rethink her situation. Clarence Geldart, Lydia Knott, Charles K. French, and many others co-star in this film. Those not familiar with this which, including myself before I came across it, likely notice in this description that this does not appear to be typical Chaplin. There is no tramp and the movie is a drama. The opening title card let know right away from Chaplin that this is not a typical film from him and that he would not be appearing though he does have a bit role but nothing to stick out upon. This was a failure at the time and would go onto put on a new score and cut that would come out in 1977. This is also available to watch on the Criterion Channel.
The Monster Maker (1944): Now I turn to some b-movie horror which was directed by Sam Newfield. J. Carrol Naish stars as mad scientist Dr. Markoff concocts a formula which injects an acromegaly virus into people and causes them to be hideously deformed. He uses it on concert pianist Lawrence, played by Ralph Morgan, in hopes of getting closer to his daughter Patricia, played by Wanda McCay. Tara Birell, Terry Frost, Glenn Strange, Alexander Pollard, Sam Flint, and many others co-star in this sci-fi horror movie. This is very low-budget but pretty enjoyable horror movie. Naish does well as the mad scientist and Morgan does well in his role as the pianist experiencing deformity. This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.
Uncut Gems (2019): Benny and Josh Safdie co-wote and co-directed this crime film. Adam Sandler stars as New York City jeweler Howard Ratner who gambling debts are mounting which effects his family and is trying to survive. He thinks he has hit it bit when discovering a rare and uncut rock but must deal with the consequences of his past actions. Idina Menzel, Keith William Richards, Tommy Kominik, Lakeith Stanfield, Pom Klementieff, Julia Fox, Paloma Elsesser, Mike Francesca, Kevin Garnett, Jonathan Aranbayev, Jacob Dylan Igielski, Eric Bogosian, Judd Hirsch, and many others co-star in this film. I realized that I included movies from known comedians in Chaplin and now Adam Sandler in very atypical films for them. This was a very different kind of movie for Sandler which might have a little of his personality but he takes this one to a new level in what was actually a good performance. This is available to watch on Netflix.
Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954): Now I bring a prison film which was directed by Don Siegel. Neville Brand stars as inmate James V. Dunn who leads a protest of the living conditions, substandard food, and brutal guards. Emile Meyer co-stars as the warden who mostly agrees with what Dunn is saying but is limited by his superiors on what he can do in order to get the prison back into control. Frank Faylen, Leo Gordon, Robert Osterloh, Paul Frees, Alvy Moore, Dabbs Greer, Whit Bissell, James Anderson, Carleton Young, and many others co-star in this prison film. Producer Walter Wanger had just done four months for shooting a man he suspected of having an affair with his wife and wanted this made to show the brutal conditions of what he witnessed. This was filmed at Folsom State prison and even used people incarcerated as inmates. This was a very popular genre for its time but I think this might be the most intense one I have seen.
Storm Boy (1976): Now I go a more lighter and family oriented selection which was directed by Henri Safran and based on the novel by Colin Thiele. Greg Rowe stars as Mick and nicknamed "storm boy" by Fingerbone Bill, played by David Gulpilil, an aboriginal loner that Mick befriends. Mick lives with his father Tom, played by Peter Cummins, on an isolated island leaving Mick rather lonely as well as uneducated. He becomes very dismayed when he see hunters killing pelicans and even forms a bond with one he calls Mr. Percival. This is a very touching coming of age story in some ways about acceptance. This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.
Logan (2017): I end the week with this superhero film which was directed by James Mangold. Hugh Jackman reprises his role as an aging Wolverine whose healing powers are starting to dwindle. He also cares for an ailing Professor X, reprised by Patrick Stewart, and works as a chauffeur. This takes place in the near future in a time where mutants have mostly died off and is asked to drive a young mutant girl named Laura, played by Dafne Keen, to the Canadian border to join a group of fellow mutants. He reluctantly takes the job and slowly sees how powerful and similar Laura is to him. Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Richard E. Grant, Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal, Quincy Fouse, Reynaldo Gallegos, Krzysztof Soszynski, Stephen Dunlevy, Daniel Bernhardt, Ryan Sturz, and many others co-star in this film. A couple other Wolverine movies were attempted that just fell a bit short but this one they really got it right. I liked how in this movie, comic book stories exist in the real world where Logan will say are very exaggerated, kind of like how people describe the stories of their respective profession. While the other X-Men movies are somewhat family oriented, at least with older kids, this one is rated R and is very violent compared to the others where Wolverine actually kills with those claws. While this is the most violent of the X-Men oriented movies, it is also the most moving of them.
Well, that is all for this week but I did bring a triple feature of the "Movie Time in the Town of Pottersville" segment. Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Robert De Niro, Sarah Paulson, Ernest Borgnine, and many others.
Usually, we do this at Stephanie's house but this time we relocated at her father's house to watch this reboot trilogy over the course of a couple nights that consisted of the last two weekends.
Godzilla (2014): Gareth Edwards directed this reboot of the iconic Japanese creature. Aaron Taylor-Johnson stars as Ford Brody who must go to Japan to help his estranged father Joe, played by Bryan Cranston, to figure out the truth of an incident that resulted in the loss of his wife Sandra. They discover the rebirth of some very deadly creatures and realize their only hope might just be in Godzilla, the King of the Monsters. The issue is that much of humanity does not understand that Godzilla is their ally while Godzilla fights off the other creatures. Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, Carson Bolde, CJ Adams, Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn, Richard T. Jones, Victor Rasuk, Patrick Sabongui, and many others co-star in this film. This was a really good updated version of the franchise with a good-looking Godzilla. There is also a lot of good action and special effects for this creature feature.
Kong: Skull Island (2017): Jordan Vogt-Roberts directed this reboot of the giant ape. A group of Vietnamese soldiers and scientists agree to go to an uninhabited island when convinced by monster chasers Bill and Houston, played by John Goodman and Corey Hawkins, to go there under the guise of geological research. They get more than they bargain for when coming upon a group of creatures as well as King Kong himself. Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson co-star as James and Mason who are the more sensible ones on the island and understand that Kong is an ally. Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly, John Ortiz, Tian Jang, Toby Kebbell, Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham, Thomas Mann, Eugene Cordero, Marc Evan Johnson, Will Brittain, Miyavi, Richard Jenkins, and many others co-star in this creature feature. It looks like we are getting another franchise like in the older days and like what Marvel does. I still prefer the 2005 film KING KONG but this still has its moments and is enjoyable to watch. Watch for the end credit scene at the end.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): This is the third of the current Monsterverse which was directed by Michael Dougherty. In this one, we are introduced to the other Kaiju in Mothra, King Ghidorah and Rodan. The agency Monarch must band together to contain these monsters and understand they need Godzilla and Mothra to take out Ghidorah. Kyle Chandler, Millie Bobby Brown, Ken Watanabe, Ziyi Zhang, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O'Shea Jackson Jr., David Strathairn, Anthony Ramos, Elizabeth Faith Ludlow, Jonathan Howard, CCH Pounder, Joe Morton, and many others co-star in this film. What more needs to be said here? It was good to see some of those other creatures be introduced into the verse, I really liked how Mothra was presented. I would say before watching this movie, that you might want to watch some of the older ones first to get to know these other creatures more. This year we will get to see the rematch of Godzilla and King Kong.