Sunday, March 14, 2021

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 795th Edition


Welcome to the 795th Edition of my series.  I have information now for ARSENIC AND OLD LACE at the bottom of the page that gives dates, times, and prices so I hope to see some of you from the the area come out and see this show.  I don't really have much else to say right now so I'll just get on with my selections for the week.

Whiplash (2013):  Last week I featured the short version of this movie from 2013 in my "The Shorter End of the Stick" segment, now I bring the feature.  Damien Chazelle wrote and directed this film.  Miles Teller stars as Andrew whose passion is in drumming and joins a music conservatory.  When enrolling, he learns the instructor Fletcher, played by J.K. Simmons, is operates a lot of fear and intimidation to the point of abuse.  Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist, Austin Stowell, Chris Mulkey, Damon Gupton, Suanne Spoke, and many others co-star in this film.  Simmons plays his role to perfection and Teller is also very good as Andrew who can also be a bit unlikable at times as his main focus is drumming.  This is a very compelling movie all the way through and I love the climax scene at the end.  

Waking the Dead (2000):  Keith Gordon directed this film which is based on the novel by Scott Spencer.  Billy Crudup stars as aspiring politician Fielding Pierce in the early '70s and meets Sarah, played by Jennifer Connelly who he falls in love with despite their opposite beliefs.  Sarah is very idealistic dedicating her life to helping others and is killed in a car crash.  Nine years later, Fielding in the middle of an election and is convinced he is seeing Sarah which starts to cloud his judgment politically.  Molly Parker, Janet McTeer, Hal Holbrook, Ed Harris, Ivonne Coll, Maxine Guess, Paul Hipp, Lawrence Dane, Larry Marshall, John Carroll Lynch, Sandra Oh, and many others co-star in this film.  This goes back and forth on both time periods and works very well.  Crudup and Connelly work very well together to make this a very dark but at the same time very beautiful story.  If it couldn't get any better, the soundtrack contains MERCY STREET by Peter Gabriel.  This is a very underrated film that I hope gets more exposure.

Fightville (2011):  This is my documentary for the week which was directed by Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker.  This takes a look at a mixed martial arts league and training center in southern Louisiana.  These people are being trained to fight and many hope to become bigger.  I have always been more of a casual MMA guy and will admit I really don't know a lot about it.  I will say though that this is a very compelling documentary to take a look at where it is more about the fighters than the sport.  CLOCKWORK ORANGE fans will love watching one of the fighters whose gimmick kind of surrounds around that movie.  It also shows the owner of the league and the hard work he has to do in order to get tickets out there.

The Dancing Pig (1907):  This is my silent short for the week.  This was about a humongous pig which was really just a man in the outfit.  This is a rather strange short film that was done in France that is apparently based on a Vaudeville act.  This is only about four minutes long and is available to watch on Youtube and is worth a little wft moment in the day.

My Foolish Heart (1949):  This is part two of my possible Dana Andrews trilogy.  Mark Robson directed this this film based on the short story UNCLE WIGGILY IN CONNECTICUT by J.D. Salinger.  Susan Hayward stars as Eloise Winters who as she is hitting rock bottom reflects on her relationship with Walt Dreiser, played by Andrews.  Kent Smith, Lois Wheeler, Jessie Royce Landis, Robert Keith, Gigi Perreau, Karin Booth, and many others co-star in this film.  This does a good use at flashback showing the events leading up to the split.  This is the only work that Salinger allowed to have adapted and apparently was very disappointed in this movie that he never allowed his other books to be adapted, most notably CATCHER IN THE RYE.  I don't know the story at all to be able to judge it that way so it was a pretty good story to me.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Zachariah (1971):  George Englund directed this western film that in unconventional in every sense of the word.  John Rubinstein and a young Don Johnson star as friends Zachariah and Matthew and set out to be gunslingers.  They join up with a gang called the Crackers, played by Country Joe and the Fish, who play a lot of music and like to rob banks but aren't very good at robbing banks.  Zachariah and Matthew start to fall out and form more of a rivalry.  Patricia Quinn, Dick Van Patten, Robert Ball, Elvin Jones, Doug Kershaw, William Challee, the band James Gang, and many others co-star in this rock western.  This has a lot of surrealistic imagery, electric guitars, and much more where I thought wtf a lot but couldn't help but watch.  This is available to watch on Youtube.

I Care a Lot (2020):  J Blakeson wrote and directed this dark comedy.  Rosamund Pike stars as Marla Grayson who is a very crooked legal guardian that drains the savings of elderly wards.  When taking on Jennifer Peterson, played by Dianne Wiest, she finds that she meets her match when learning of some unexpected connections.  Peter Dinklage, Elza Gonzalez, Chris Messina, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Macon Blair, Alicia Witt, Damian Young, Nicholas Logan, Liz Eng, and many others co-star in this film.  Unfortunately, this has met a lot of hate according to imdb on a lot of the user reviews.  I don't really understand why, I just enjoyed this for what it was which was satire and a dark comedy.  Maybe it was more of a guilty pleasure, I don't really know but I was quite enthralled by this movie.  This is available to watch on Netflix.

Over the Edge (1979):  Jonathan Kaplan directed this film about a group of rebellious teenagers in the small town of New Granada.  Michael Eric Kramer stars as Carl who has a very difficult relationship with his parents and is part of a gang that turns to petty crime to kill their boredom.  The adults in town don't make things much easier careers and business interests and provoke quite the rebellion.  A young Matt Dillon makes his film debut at 14 years of age as Richie who is essentially the leader of the group.  Pamela Ludwig, Vincent Spano, Harry Northup, Andy Romano, Ellen Geer, Tiger Thompson, and many others co-star in this very dark coming of age film.  Apparently Matt Dillon had no real interest in acting but went to the audition anyway in order to skip school.  I'd say this was the start of quite a career.  This was also the main inspiration for Nirvana's biggest hit song SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT and Kurt Cobain has cited how much he related to this movie.  This left a very uneasy feeling in me but I suppose that was the goal.

La Strada (1954):  This is my Italian film for the week which was directed and co-written by Federico Fellini.  Giuletta Masina stars in this film as Gelsomina who is sold to traveling showman Zampano, played by Anthony Quinn, by her family for 10,000 lire.  Gelsomina endures Zampano's mistreatment as they go on the road to perform for small crowds in hopes they will give money to watch.  They eventually join a circus where Gelsomina meets a tightrope walker referred to as the Fool, played by Richard Basehart, who makes her question her choices.  This is a good look at traveling performers which are in a sense starving artists as we would refer to these days.  Masina and Quinn work very well together as very uneasy traveling partners.  This is available to watch on 

Taken (2008):  I end the week with this adrenaline rush and the perfect showing of Liam Neeson's violent tendencies.  Pierre Moral directed this action film which was co-written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen.  Neeson stars as retired CIA agent Bryan Mills whose daughter Kim, played by Maggie Grace, is kidnapped in her visit to Paris by an Albanian gang of human traffickers.  There is not much to say except they took the wrong girl when Bryan goes to Paris and sets out to find his daughter showing no mercy to those involved.  Leland Orser, Jon Gries, Famke Janssen, Xander Berkeley, David Warshofsky, Holly Valance, Katie Cassidy, Olivier Rabourdin, and many others co-star in this action film.  Neeson is the one actor that I will just make absolute sure I don't make angry and this was the movie that really cemented this image even though he had done action movies before this one.  This is the perfect movie for a guys' night.  One interesting fact I found is that the theatrical version is PG-13 and the dvd has another version that skips rated R and goes right to unrated.

Well, that is it for this week but I am bringing back my "fun and useless facts" segment for the week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which includes Laura Dern, Jessica Chastain, Frances McDormand, Harold Lloyd, Gene Wilder, Dana Andrews, and many others.


J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) and Jennifer Connelly (Waking the Dead) are in the 2019 superhero film SPIDER-MAN:  HOMECOMING.

J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) and Jon Gries (Taken) were in the 2006 film THE ASTRONAUT FARMER.

Melissa Benoist (Whiplash) and Katie Cassidy (Taken) are superheroines in the CWDC universe playing Supergirl and the Black Canary with Benoist being mainly on SUPERGIRL and Cassidy being mainly on ARROW.

Chris Mulkey (Whiplash) and Ed Harris (Waking the Dead) are in the 2003 movie RADIO.

Chris Mulkey (Whiplash) and David Warshofsky (Taken) were in the 2013 film CAPTAIN PHILLIPS.

Miles Teller (Whiplash) and Jennifer Connelly (Waking the Dead) are in the upcoming 2021 sequel TOP GUN:  MAVERICK.

Miles Teller (Whiplash) and Janet McTeer (Waking the Dead) are in the 2015 sci-fi movie THE DIVERGENT SERIES:  INSURGENT.

Miles Teller (Whiplash), Sandra Oh (Waking the Dead), and Dianne Wiest (I Care a Lot) were in the 2010 film RABBIT HOLE.

Ed Harris (Waking the Dead) and Xander Berkeley (Taken) were in the 1995 film APOLLO 13.

Billy Crudup (Waking the Dead) and David Warshofsky (Taken) were in the 2009 film PUBLIC ENEMIES.

Jennifer Connelly (Waking the Dead) and Don Johnson (Zachariah) were in the 1990 film THE HOT SPOT.

Jennifer Connelly (Waking the Dead) and Elza Gonzalez (I Care a Lot) were in the 2019 film ALITA:  BATTLE ANGEL.

Hal Holbrook (Waking the Dead) and David Warshofsky (Taken) were in the 2012 film LINCOLN.

John Carroll Lynch (Waking the Dead) and Liam Neeson (Taken) were in the 2015 comedy sequel TED 2.

John Carroll Lynch (Waking the Dead) and Matt Dillon (Edge of Glory) were in the 1996 film BEAUTIFUL GIRLS.

John Carroll Lynch (Waking the Dead) and Damian Young (I Care a Lot) were in the 2020 film THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7.

Sandra Oh (Waking the Dead) and Damian Young (I Care a Lot) were in the 2016 movie CATFIGHT.

Don Johnson (Zachariah) was in an episode of MIAMI VICE with Liam Neeson (Taken)

Rosamund Pike (I Care a Lot) was in the 2002 Bond movie DIE ANOTHER DAY.  Famke Janssen was in the 1995 Bond movie GOLDENEYE.  Both were Bond girls in the Brosnan era.

Rosamund Pike (I Care a Lot) and Liam Neeson (Taken) were in the 2012 movie WRATH OF THE TITANS.

Peter Dinklage (I Care a Lot) and Famke Janssen (Taken) were in the 2014 superhero film X-MEN:  DAYS OF FUTURE PAST.

Chris Messina (I Care a Lot) and Famke Janssen (Taken) were in the 1998 film ROUNDERS where Messina makes his film debut.

Isiah Whitlock Jr. (I Care a Lot) and Leland Orser (Taken) were in the 2019 movie CORPORATE ANIMALS.

Andy Romano (Over the Edge) and Anthony Quinn (La Strada) were in the 1991 movie MOBSTERS.

Anthony Quinn (La Strada) plays Zeus in the tv series HERCULES:  THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS.  Liam Neeson plays Zeus in the 2010 movie CLASH OF THE TITANS and the 2012 sequel WRATH OF THE TITANS.

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