Sunday, February 14, 2021

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 791st Edition


Welcome to the 791st Edition of my series.  I hope everyone is having a good Valentine's Day however celebrated and this week we also have President's Day tomorrow which unfortunately I don't have tomorrow off at work.  Also, on Wednesday we have Ash Wednesday so please wish any friends or family members with the Ash variation in their name a Happy Ash Wednesday.  That's enough for now so I'll just get on with my selections for the week.

Once Upon a Time in America (1984):  This is part seven of my seven part Robert De Niro series.  I start the week out with this mafia epic which was directed by Sergio Leone and based on the novel THE HOODS by Harry Grey.  De Niro stars as Noodles, an aging gangster who returns to Manhattan after 30 years and looks back on those times of his regrets and those he loved.  This shows how things started in his youth into the much later days.  James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern, Treat Williams, Tuesday Weld, Burt Ward, Joe Pesci, Danny Aiello, William Forsythe, Darlanne Fluegel, Larry Rapp, Robert Harper, Richard Bright, Mario Brega, Angelo Florio, Brian Bloom, Noah Moazezi, James Russo, Paul Herman, Marcia Jean Kurtz, Estelle Harris, Jennifer Connelly, Louise Fletcher, and many others co-star in this film.  Connelly was around 12 years old when she played the younger version of McGovern's character and is her first feature role.  After directed many western epics, he decided to end his directorial career with a Mafia film.  This is loosely based on the life of the author Grey.  An attention span is absolutely required to watch this film which is three hours and 49 minutes.  There are edited versions out there but this is really the one to see.  I remember seeing Woods in an interview one time and saying how this is Leone's best movie and how he wishes he was not in this movie so it didn't sound like he was bragging.  This has quite the story and cast and has gone onto be a rather underrated mafia film.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011):  I started out a little heavy, now I get a little lighter.  Lasse Hallstrom directed this film based on the novel by Paul Torday.  Ewan McGregor stars as fisheries expert Alfred Jones is consulted by financial adviser Harriet, played by Emily Blunt, on helping with a project to bring fly fishing into the desert.  This is a project being bankrolled by the wealthy Sheikh Muhammed, played by Amr Waked, who believes this can benefit the lives of his people.  Alfred is reluctant in the beginning feeling it is not possible but starts to come around.  Kristin Scott Thomas, Catherine Steadman, Tom Mison, Rachael Stirling, Tom Beard, Jill Baker, Conleth Hill, Alex Taylor-McDowell, Peter Wight, and many others co-star in this film of really about people coming together.  Thomas does a good job of being the comic relief of this movie as a press secretary of the Prime Minister who is looking to get the project publicity to help relations with the Islamic world.  This is a nice feel good story with a good story and performances.

You Cannot Kill David Arquette (2020):  This is my documentary for the week which was directed David Darg and Price James.  This obviously focuses on the actor in the title known for being from a pretty big acting family, his role in the SCREAM franchise, and his part in the wrestling comedy READY TO RUMBLE which lead to him being in World Championship Wrestling in 2000 for publicity purposes.  What he is known most for is winning the world championship and "disgracing" wrestling by doing this.  This has haunted him through the years and decided he wanted to make a return to wrestling on the independent circuit I guess to get redemption of sorts.  In 2018, he decided to get some legitimate wrestling training to make a run in the independent circuit where he actually won the respect of some of his friends.  This also features people in his family expressing their concerns like his wife and oldest daughter.  This also features his ex-wife Courteney Cox who remain friends it appears in the post-marriage.  We also see his siblings Patricia, Rosanna, and Richmond Arquette.  I admit, there were times where I was just like wtf but yet I couldn't take my eyes off it.  Most notably on his taking a booking in a backyard wrestling promotion and working in Mexico with some "Luchadores" where they would randomly wrestle in the middle of the street.  Anyone who has information on that one, feel free to educate me.  This was a very intriguing documentary and has a very catchy title tune by the Black Math Experiment.  To those who still think that Arquette "disgraced" wrestling in 2000, keep in mind, he was not in favor of winning the championship but this was how it was booked by the controversial Vince Russo so everyone had to go along with it.  He also donated his salary to the families of the late Owen Hart, Brian Pillman, and the paraplegic Darren Drozdov.  This is available to watch on Hulu.

The Front Line (1965):  This is documentary short film for the week which shows the day in a life of a cashier at a grocery story.  It is interesting to see how far we have come in the later years through the advance of technology.  The process of the cash register really looked pretty complicated.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime as part of "Supermarket Films"

Bringing Up Baby (1938):  Howard Hawks directed this screwball comedy based on a short story by Hagar Wilde.  Cary Grant stars as paleontologist David Huxley whose goal in life is to complete his brontosaurus skeleton which is so close but is missing a bone.  He is also excited about his upcoming marriage with his assistant Alice, played by Virginia Walker, and getting a one million dollar donation for his museum.  Things get complicated when he meets the free-spirited and scatterbrained Susan Vance, played by Katherine Hepburn, and ends up going on a lot of hilarious misadventures with her.  Charles Ruggles, Walter Catlett, Barry Fitzgerald, May Robson, Fritz Feld, Leona Roberts, George Irving, Tala Birell, and many others co-star in this film.  This is possibly a favorite of mine in the world of screwball and romantic comedies.  I know it is my favorite Katherine Hepburn movie and was her first time working in a comedy.  Grant and Hepburn were comedic gold in the second of their four movies together.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

The Bushwhackers (1952):  I'm sorry to those who are hoping for a biopic on the '80s WWF tag team of the Bushwhackers.  This is a western which was directed by Rod Amateau.  John Ireland stars as Civil War veteran Jeff Waring who ends up in Independence, Missouri.  He vows to never pick up again but this gets tested by the ruthless rancher Artemus Taylor, played by Lon Chaney Jr., and his henchman that mistreat people in the community.  Wayne Morris, Laurence Tierney, Dorothy Malone, Myrna Dell, Frank Marlowe, Jack Elam, and many others co-star in this western.  This is a pretty decent B-western and with Dell's character Norah Taylor, I realize that there are not very many deadly female villains in westerns in this era.  Most of them come from the Film Noir femme fatales.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Demolition (2015):  Another title of an '80s WWF tag team which is coincidence and not intentional.  Jean-Marc Vallee directed this film that is essentially dealing with grief.  Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Davis whose wife dies in a car accident.  After being shorted his product at a vending machine, he decides to write a complaint letter which is followed by a series letters in which customer service worker Karen, played by Naomi Watts, takes an interest and contacts him eventually forming a relationship.  Chris Cooper, Judah Lewis, C.J. Wilson, Polly Draper, Malachy Cleary, Debra Monk, Heather Lind, Wass Stevens, Blaire Brooks, Ben Cole, Brendan Dooling, James Colby, Alfredo Narciso, and many others co-star in this film.  Gyllenhaal puts on a great performance as the widowed husband and in the way he deals with his grief which gets rather extreme at times.  

Cabin in the Sky (1943):  This is my musical for the week which was directed by Vincente Minelli with an all-black cast.  Eddie "Rochester" Anderson stars as compulsive gambler Little Joe Jackson who is shot and killed.  His wife Petunia, played by Ethel Waters, pleads for her husband to get another chance so is visited by The General, played by Kenneth Spencer, and Lucifer Jr., played by Rex Ingram, and is given time to redeem himself being tempted by each figure into good and bad.  Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong, John Bubbles, Oscar Polk, Mantan Moreland, Willie West, Butterfly McQueen, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a very fun movie that has a pretty good message.  This boasts quite the cast and is really worth a watch.  This is available to watch on Hoopla Digital.

Dr. Strangelove or:  How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964):  Stanley Kubrick directed this classic dark comedy which is based on the book RED LIGHT by Peter George.  Sterling Hayden stars as General Jack D. Ripper who orders a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union without the knowledge of his superiors leaving them to deal with possible nuclear war.  Peter Sellers has three roles in Captain Mandrake, President Muffley, and the title character Dr. Strangelove.  George C. Scott, Keenan Wynn, Slim Pickens, Peter Bull, James Earl Jones, Tracy Reed, Jack Creley, and many others co-star in this film.  Jones makes his film debut in this comedy.  This has many very memorable moments and has held up for many years.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Toy Story 3 (2010):  Lee Unkrich directed this sequel to the popular Pixar franchise.  The gang is back including Woody, reprised by Tom Hanks, and Buzz Lightyear, reprised by Tim Allen.  Andy, voiced by John Morris, is off to college now and while intending to put the toys in storage, they accidentally get taken to a daycare where they get played with toddlers and meet some new friends.  They also set out to escape the daycare center to get back to Andy's house  Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Estelle Harris, Jodi Benson, Emily Hahn, Laurie Metcalf, Blake Clark, Teddy Newton, Bud Luckey, Bea Miller, Timothy Dalton, Kristen Schaal, Jeff Garlin, John Cygan, Jeff Pidgeon, Whoopi Goldberg, R. Lee Ermey, Richard Kind, and many others provide voices in this Pixar film.  This makes a lot of us feel bad for letting go of our toys.  This was a very good sequel showing what can happen to toys in transition.  A good double feature would be this and THE BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER which has a similar premise of objects fearing they will be let go.  This is available to watch on Disney Plus.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Jason Robards, Margot Robbie, Marisa Tomei, Christopher Plummer, and many others co-star in this film.

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