Sunday, January 31, 2021

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 789th Edition


Welcome to the 789th edition of my series.  I don't really have a lot to say this week.  I did have my first read-through for ARSENIC AND OLD LACE and it looks like I'm really going to like playing my character of Teddy Roosevelt Brewster.  Other than that, I don't really have much to say so I'll just get on with my selections for the week.

Cape Fear (1991):  This is part five of my seven-part Robert De Niro series.  Martin Scorsese directed this remake of the 1962 classic which is based on the novel by John D. McDonald.  Robert De Niro stars as Max Cady who is being released from prison after 14 years and seeks revenge on his attorney that he felt wronged him.  Nick Nolte co-stars as that attorney named Sam Bowden whose life is in danger as well as his wife Leigh, played by Jessica Lange, and his daughter Danielle, played by Juliette Lewis.  Joe Don Baker, Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, Martin Balsam, Illeana Douglas, Fred Thompson, and many others co-star in this film.  Peck, Mitchum, and Balsam all were in the 1962 film and have cameos in this version being Peck's last theatrical film.  This is a really good remake in which Scorsese is able to make his own and is in some ways more of a horror film.  De Niro and Lewis have a pretty interesting dynamic in this film in their interactions.  This also keeps us on the edge of our seats.  I'll likely be looking into the original soon as a rewatch.  This is available to watch on Peacock and is one that does not require a subscription.

Soul Power (2008):  This is my documentary for the week which was directed by Jeffrey Kusama-Hinte.  This centers around the year 1974 in Africa when music producers Hugh Masekela and Stewart Levine who worked with boxing promoter Don King to put on a music festival concurrently with King's Rumble in the Jungle between Muhammed Ali and George Foreman in Zaire.  Foreman suffered some injuries that delayed the fight a couple months but the music event was something that country had not really seen.  This covers the set-up for the event and the arrival of the musicians like James Brown, Bill Withers, and B.B. King and some footage of Ali speaking of his views.  A good double feature would be to watch this along with WOODSTOCK.

Swimmers (2005):  Doug Sadler wrote and directed this independent film.  Doug Sadler wrote and directed this independent movie which stars Tara Devon Gallagher as the 11 year old Emma who has an ear problem that needs surgery but her parents cannot afford.  Unable to do her favorite pastime of swimming, Emma looks for other things to do to pass the time and befriends a troubled young woman named Merrill, played by AMERICAN HORROR STORY alum Sarah Paulson.  Robert Knott, Cherry Jones, Shawn Hatosy, Michael Mosley, Don Harvey, and many others co-star in this movie.  This tends to revolve most around its characters and each one having a rather unique situation.  It is mostly about the friendship between Emma and Merrill with them working really well together.  

Frankenstein (1910):  This is my short film for the week that has some early horror and the first time having Mary Shelley's story on the big screen.  J. Searle Dawley directed this silent film based on the Mary Shelley novel.  Augustus Phillips stars as Dr. Frankenstein who is out to create the perfect human being but creates a monster instead.  Charles Ogle is the first actor to play the Monster and has a really good look.  Mary Fuller co-stars as Frankenstein's fiance Elizabeth.  This was one of many short films that was produced by Thomas Edison when he invented his video camera.  This is good to watch for historical purposes and is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Marty (1955):  Delbert Mann directed this film and was written by Paddy Chayefsky.  Ernest Borgnine stars as local butcher Marty who is 34 and is still single which was very looked down upon in this era as you were supposed to be married and have children by then.  He decides to go to a local dance for singles dance and unexpectedly meets Clara, played by Betsy Blair, who is rather lonely herself.  They are both outcasts in a sense that fall for each other.  Esther Minciotti, Joe Mantell, Karen Steele, Jerry Paris, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a very good love story about people who are really just more everyday people that many can relate with and won best picture that year at the Academy Awards.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

The Plumber (1979):  Peter Weir wrote and directed this Australian tv movie.  Judy Morris stars as Jill Cowper who is writing her thesis at home and the plumber Max, played by Ivar Kants, arrives for a routine check.  He creeps her out a bit by saying he was in prison and other random things said.   A lot of tension builds between them but everyone else including her husband Brian, played by Robert Coleby, think he's just a simple person.  This is a very unusual horror movie with Morris and Kants working very well together in a slow but effective build-up.  It is hard to really explain this movie any further and is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

The Lighthouse (2019):  I follow up with another unconventional horror film which was directed and co-written by Robert Eggers.  Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson star as lighthouse keepers Thomas Wake and Thomas Howard.  They are alone and isolated in their area where things happen and form a lot of tension for one another.  They also have some strange hallucinations.  Valeriia Karaman and Logan Hawkes co-star in this movie.  This is more of a psychological horror film and another that is really hard to explain.  The leads work very well together in this film.  This is also available to watch on Amazon Prime.

I see a Dark Stranger (1946):  Frank Launder directed and co-wrote this film that takes place during WWII.  Deborah Kerr stars as Irish woman Bridie Quilty who has an absolute hatred for the British and wants to join the IRA but they are not welcoming.  She is instead recruited to be a German spy in her hatred of the British but as she meets British soldier David Baynes and falls in love with him, she must decide where her loyalties lie.  Liam Redmond, Marie Ault, Raymond Huntley, Brefni O'Rorke, Olga Lindo, David Ward, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a pretty compelling film with a lot of suspense, humor, and romance.  This is based on a true story and is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

The Gambler (1974):  Karel Reisz directed this film on gambling addiction.  Fresh off the success of THE GODFATHER, James Caan stars as literature professor Axel Freed whose gambling addiction hurts him personally and professionally.  Sometimes he wins but loses just as easy but cannot stop and gets him in trouble with the loan sharks he borrows from.  Paul Sorvino, Lauren Hutton, Morris Carnovsky, Jacqueline Brookes, Burt Young, Carmine Caridi, Vic Tayback, Steven Keats, M. Emmet Walsh, James Woods, Allen Rich, Stuart Margolin, Antonio Fargas, and many others co-star in this film.  Caan really puts on a good performance in his complexities of a gambling addict.  I had not heard of Lauren Hutton before this but she also gives a good performance as his girlfriend while being very easy on the eyes.  This is available to watch on Crackle.

Miss Stevens (2016):  I end the week with this character study which was directed and co-written by Julia Hart.  AMERICAN HORROR STORY alum Lily Rabe stars as teacher Miss Stevens who is talked into chaperoning three high school youths to a drama competition in Billy, played by Timothee Chalamet, Margot, played by Lili Reinhart, and Sam, played by Anthony Quintal.  The kids are all having some sort of drama while preparing but Miss Stevens is having her own issues making it difficult to be that responsible adult.  THE OFFICE alum Oscar Nunez, Rob Huebel, Jammie Patton, Tamir Yardenne, Grant Jordan, Roy Abramsohn, Virginia Louise Smith, and many others co-star in this film.  This deals with far more than preparing for a drama competition and gets pretty deep.  This was a bit of a surprise for me and was really pretty moving with well-written characters.  This is available to watch on Hoopla Digital.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which includes Robert De Niro, Willem Dafoe, Demi Moore, Joe Pesci, Jamie Foxx, Tilda Swinton, and many others.  

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