Sunday, April 11, 2021

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 799th Edition


Welcome to the 799th Edition of my series.  I hope everyone is doing well.  We are getting closer to ARSENIC AND OLD LACE at the Commons Theatre.  Below is the information so if you are in or near the area, get those tickets reserved and see a funny show.  It's been great developing this character of Teddy Brewster but really trying to become Teddy Roosevelt.  I don't have much else to say right now so I'll just get on with my selections for the week.

Paddington 2 (2017):  I start the week out with this sequel to the famous bear which was directed by Paul King.  Ben Whishaw reprises his role as the voice of Paddington who has grown into the Brown family.  He gets the idea to get a present for his Aunt Lucy, reprised by Imelda Staunton, for her 100th birthday.  He works hard to finally obtain it only to have it stolen and framing Paddington for the theft.  Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Michael Gambon, Madeleine Harris, Samuel Joslin, Hugh Grant, Julie Walters, Marie-France Alvarez, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Jim Broadbent, Brendan Gleeson, and many others co-star in this family movie.  Yes, lots of Harry Potter alums in this one.  I believe Hugh Grant might have had his most fun in a movie.  It's best to watch the predecessor first but both movies stand on their own without getting to the rehash.  It would be a good double feature to have as a family night getting to know a very compassionate bear that always tries to find the good in people.  Something that a lot of us could probably stand to do.

Eyes Wide Shut (1999):  If going in order of this list, you'll probably want to send the kids to bed with this last movie that was directed by Stanley Kubrick.  In a time when they were still married, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman would star as couple William and Alice Harford.  Alice tells William some very revealing things that upsets him sending him out for a night of sexual adventure.  He learns of a party where where the men are costumed and masked and the women are young and beautiful.  Sydney Pollack, Todd Field, Madison Eginton, Michael Doven, Sky du Mont, Julienne Davis, Marie Richardson, Thomas Gibson, Vinessa Shaw, Alan Cumming, and many others co-star in this provocative film.  I really don't know how else to describe this Kubrick film which is really the case for a lot of his work except erotic and provocative.  Kubrick can be an acquired taste at times which might be required of this one.   This one is probably not going to be for the children or the easily offended.

Autism:  the Musical (2007):  This is one of my two documentaries for this week, this one being directed by Tricia Regan.  This takes a look at five autistic children while they work together with the adults to create a musical production.  It is also much more than what is described as it goes very in-depth with these children on what they go through and how they cope with certain things.  The parents are also interviewed as they describe what is like to parent autistic children with the ups and downs.  This is a well done documentary and is inspiring in many ways.  This is an HBO documentary that really deserves a look.

The House I Live In (1945):  This is my sequel for the week which stars a young Frank Sinatra as himself.  He takes a break from the studio to go smoke and sees a handful of children chasing a smaller boy.  When he asks the kids why, they cite because of the boy's religion and Frank educates them on acceptance and how it is wrong for them to make fun of someone's religion.  It ends with a song of the title.  This is available on Amazon Prime as part of the "Prejudice films".

Follow the Fleet (1936):  This is my song and dance musical for the week which was directed by Mark Sandrich.  Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers star in their 5th of ten pairings and in this one, Fred had a Navy uniform instead of his usual tuxedo.  Astaire stars as Navy sailor Bake Baker whose old dancing partner Sherry Martin, played by Rogers, comes into town and looks to rekindle the flame.  Randolph Scott plays a fellow naval officer and has his own storyline with Harriet Nelson.  Astrid Allwyn, Betty Grable, Harry Beresford, Russell Hicks, Brooks Benedict, Lucille Ball, and many others co-star in this film.  It was good seeing a young Lucille Ball.  It also has some fun song and dance numbers to keep one's interest.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

The Misfits (1961):  John Huston directed this film that was written by Arthur Miller.  Marilyn Monroe stars as divorcee Roslyn Taber who meets over-the-hill cowboy Gay Langland, played by Clark Gable, and slowly form a relationship.  Gay struggles with his independent lifestyle of rounding up mustangs and selling them to the slaughterhouses with both the changing times and Roslyn's moral beliefs against what he is doing.  Eli Wallach and Montgomery Clift co-star as a couple of the other title characters.  Thelma Ritter, James Barton, Kevin McCarthy, Estelle Winwood, and many others co-star in this more modern-day western.  This is really my favorite movie for both Monroe and Gable and unfortunately was the last for both of them before their deaths.  It was also close to the end for Clift.  This was driven by character and script with some good ethical dilemmas.  The band of the title got their name from this and likely contributed to the name of a group that I have for occasional murder mystery plays that I named Misfit Productions.  This is available to watch on Pluto TV.

Palm Springs (2020):  I continue with this comedy which was directed and co-written by Max Barbakow.  Andy Samberg stars as Nyles who is stuck in a time loop along with a man named Roy, played by J.K. Simmons.  Christin Miloti co-stars as Sarah who becomes drawn to Nyles and inadvertently becomes caught up in the time loop where they must figure out what is going on and begin to shake things up a bit when they have to repeat.  Peter Gallagher, Meredith Hagner, Camila Mendes, Tyler Hoechlin, Chris Pang, Jacqueline Obradors, June Squibb, Tongayi Chirisa, Dale Dickey, and many others co-star in this comedy.  This delivers a lot of laughs and is a rather touching story at the same time.  There is a great dynamic with Samberg and Miloti as well as Samberg and Simmons.  This is available to watch on Hulu.

The Homecoming (1973):  Peter Hall directed this film based on the play by Harold Pinter who wrote the screenplay.  This film of psychological warfare takes place in London and it stays within the family.  Michael Jayston stars as Teddy who is visiting his family after nine years along with his wife Ruth, played by Vivien Merchant, who becomes intrigued by the psychological warfare proving a worthy opponent.  Paul Rogers co-stars as the patriarch of the family that brings out the worst in everyone.  Ian Holm, Cyril Cusack, and Terence Rigby co-star in this film.  This is mostly driven by the script and is not upbeat by any means.  It is still a very intriguing film that deserves a watch.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Collection.

The Maltese Falcon (1941):  This is my film noir for the week which was directed by John Huston and based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett.  Humphrey Bogart stars as private detective Sam Spade who gets caught up in all kinds of deception as he investigates people after a priceless statuette which could be connected to the murder of his partner.  Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Gladys George, Barton MacLane, Sydney Greenstreet, Ward Bond, Jerome Cowan, Elisha Cook Jr., Lee Patrick, and many others co-star in this film noir.  Greenstreet makes his film debut in this movie after many years of performing on stage.  This is one of the most iconic of the film noir genre and helped Bogart become more of a leading man.  It can be a bit hard to follow at times but is still worth a look for all the colorful characters and the atmospheric tone.  This is available to watch on HBO Max.

Reel Paradise (2005):  I end the week with this documentary that was directed by Steve James.  This centers around film producer John Pierson, who takes his wife and two kids to live in Fiji for a year.  John decides to run a very remote movie theater and do free showings of movies while there.  This shows his adjustment to the country as well as his family's triumphs and struggles that are some with the theater but outside of it as well.  This is also a good look at integration and the friendships that were formed while they were there.  This is a very intriguing documentary on a light subject matter.

Well, that is it for this week but continue on for the return of my segment "The Bookworm Corner".  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which is the 800th edition.  I'm doing a bit of a special edition for it that I think you'll all like.


I have been putting this together for quite awhile now and as explained in one of the summaries, this really started in the Dollar Tree when I was looking into their book section.  They have a really good section and at the time, the fourth of the series stood out so I bought it not knowing then that it was part of a series.  Author Christina Dodd managed to created a town called Virtue Falls in the state of Washington which is the title of the first of the series.  Each book usually centers around characters coming into town while continuing stories of the other residents, mostly Kateri Kwinault who I believe could have a tv series out of the character.  When finishing these books, I realized there are really stories about redemption and being able to move forward.  These books have mystery, suspense, humor, and romance, among other things and were some very enjoyable reads to do.

Virtue Falls (2015):  This is the start of the series. This centers around the character of the rather socially inept but brilliant geologist Elizabeth Banner whose mother was brutally murdered when she was four years old.  Her father Charles, also a geologist, was convicted of the murder but years later comes to believe he is innocent of the murders and a serial killer is out killing that is believed to be connected to Elizabeth's mother.  Helping her is her ex-husband Garik Jacobson who is on the outs with the FBI and regretful of his past deeds and must work with Elizabeth to help figure out who is at large.  This has some really good characters with some good suspense built into it making me want to figure out more and more what is going to happen into a really good climax as well as a satisfying end.

Obsession Falls (2016):  This is the second book of this series.  This one starts outside of the city where Taylor Summers witnesses the possibly murder of a child so she distracts the killers and saves the life of this boy.  In return, she loses everything from her career, reputation, and identity.  She finds refuge in Virtue Falls where she has made a life for herself but her past catches up with her where she finds herself in the middle of a rivalry.  There is a character in this book named Kennedy McManus whose description is "built like a WWE wrestler" so liked the wrestling reference there and was a very interesting character.  This includes some of the characters from the first book and is a very good continuation while being a different story.

Because I'm Watching (2017): This is the third book in the series.  This one introduces Virtue Falls citizens Jacob Denisov and Madeline Hewitson.  Madeline, aka Maddie, has gone through a lot in her life including a dorm massacre and the murder of her husband with people thinking she did it.  She's haunted by a monster only she seems to be able to see.  Jacob is a veteran living with a lot of regret for things that happened and stays reclusive not wanting to see anyone and just hoping to die.  Things change with Maddie drives her car through his home forcing him to get out.  He slowly sees that is far more to Maddie than meets the eye and looks to help her giving him more purpose.  This has some of the other characters from the first couple of books while introducing these two main characters.  I think this one is my favorite of the four which is essentially a love story between two very tortured souls that find reason to keep going in life.

The Woman Who Couldn't Scream by Christina Dodd (2017):  This is honestly my introduction into the Virtue Falls series not knowing this is the fourth in a four-part series.  I was just looking for a book to read at the dollar tree and this looked interesting enough to pay only a buck.  Turns out this was very worth it.  This book mostly centers around the characters of Sheriff Katari Kwinault who is the first female sheriff in Virtue Falls.  Arriving into town is her old friend Merida Falcon who has a new name and is unable to speak but clearly has quite a past which catches up to her in Virtue Falls as she seeks revenge for what has happened to her.  As Katari is trying to get used to this sheriff gig, lots of murders are taking place.  This is a pretty suspenseful novel with a great diversity of characters with lots of twists and turns.  After getting this done, I set out to get the first three novels from Amazon to read and after I read them, I reread this one.

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