Sunday, April 18, 2021

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 800th Edition, the Animation Edition


Welcome to the 800th edition of my series which focuses on animation.  I had this idea years ago for an anniversary but never really got around to it so I decided this would be the time.  I have a mixture of adult and family oriented animation for this one.  I tried to focus on independent and foreign animation and stay away from the big studios like Disney and Dreamworks.  Nothing against them and in fact I have a Disney selection for next week.  A lot of this was inspired by my dad who is quite the traditional animation enthusiast though not all these selections will be to his liking I don't think but I know some will.  Next weekend is my show ARSENIC AND OLD LACE so if you are in or near the area, I would love to see you and go to in order to get tickets.  It will be a funny show where I am playing one of my favorite parts I have had in Teddy Brewster who is convinced he is Teddy Roosevelt.   I will shut up and get to my special edition.

I Married a Strange Person! (1997):  I start the week out with Bill Plympton who directed and co-wrote this animated film.  A newlywed named Grant, voiced by Tom Larson forms a lump on his neck that gives him the ability to transform people or objects at will.  This makes his wife Keri, voiced by Charis Michelson, angry and the unscrupulous CEO of Smilecorp looks to get the lump for his own gain.  Richard Spore, Chris Cooke, and many others provide their voices in this animated film.  This is not animation for kids, nor is much of anything Plympton does.  This is violent and entertaining.  It also has a pretty good soundtrack with songs written by Maureen McElheron.  In addition to this movie, people should take a closer look at Plympton who has quite a few shorts and features that don't fail to entertain and has a rather unique animation style.  If you like him well enough, maybe consider funding one of his new upcoming movies on Kickstarter at .  This is available to watch on Tubi Tv.  

The Gumby Movie (1995):  I knew there was no way I could do an all-animated edition with one of my dad's favorite characters.  Gumby creator Art Clokey directed and co-wrote this claymation movie.  In this movie, Gumby, voiced by Dal McKennon, is in a band Gumby and the Clayboys.  He learns a lot of local farmers are struggling so he puts on a benefit concert.  The evil Blockheads look to ruin the concert by replacing the town of Clokeytown with robots.  We also get to see Gumby's best friend in the red pony Pokey as well as his other friends Prickle and Goo who must all band together to stop the Blockheads.  I think people need to watch some of the older Gumby first to get to know him and his friends and I think this will be a very enjoyable watch.  This is also the last movie for Clokey and McKennon.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Golgo 13:  The Professional (1983):  Now I bring some anime which was directed by Osamu Dezaki and based on the manga series by Takao Saito.  Duke Togo, voiced by Tetsuro Sagawa, is a professional killer with the nickname Golgo 13 and is the best there is but might have met his match after the assassination of a politician's son.  He must go against a genetically altered assassin named Snake.  Goro Naya, Toshito Fujita, Kiyoshi Kobayashi, Reiko Muto, and many others in this anime film.  I don't really know any background in the manga series but this is a pretty decent action film.  Tarantino would provide homage to this movie in the animated sequence in KILL BILL:  VOLUME 1.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926):  This is some very early animation from Germany and silent animation that was directed by Lotte Reiniger.  This is based on stories of THE ARABIAN KNIGHTS.  The title character Prince Achmed is tricked into riding a magical flying horse by a wicked sorcerer.  He manages to tame the horse and would go on many adventures.  In the process, he meets and falls in love with Princess Pari and must fight off a group of demons.  This is the earliest surviving animated feature and uses silhouette animation which uses cardboard cutouts and thin sheets of lead under the camera.  This still looks really good even by today's standards and is a very significant part of animated history.

Animal Farm (1954):  This is a British animated selection which was directed by Joy Batchelor and John Halas and based on the classic novel by George Orwell.  A group of farm animals lead a successful revolt against the farmers and an equal society was meant to be created among the animals.  However, things go awry a greedy boar mostly makes his own society among his kind and oppresses the rest sparking a war among teach other.  Gordon Heath does the narration and Maurice Denham does the voices of the animals.  Despite having animation with talking animals, this is not animation for children which at the time was controversial as some parents assumed this would be a Disney-like feature.  This is the second British animated feature after the 1945 movie HANDLING SHIPS which was also by Batchelor and Halas.  This is a statement against things like communism and socialism.  This is available to watch on Tubi Tv.  

The Point (1971):  This is some televised animation which was directed by Fred Wolf and co-written by Harry Nilsson who wrote the soundtrack.  This centers around a kingdom where everyone has a pointed head except a young boy named Oblio, voiced by Mike Lookinland, whose head is rounded.  He is a pretty liked figure in his community except from the evil Count, voiced by Lennie Weinrib, is jealous of his popularity and manages to have Oblio exiled to Pointless Forest.  Oblio and his faithful dog Arrow set out in Pointless Forest and learn a lot through the unusual figures they encounter.  Ringo Starr voices the father in the beginning and provides the narration.  Nilsson always found ways to be successful without touring and some may know his song ME AND MY ARROW.  This is kind of a psychedelic variation of ALICE IN WONDERLAND but stands on its own with having such a great message and story and this one is something the family can watch.  I first saw this when I was much younger when my dad had a copy of this and I'd watch it there sometimes when I'd go over there.  I didn't know until years later that Harry Nilsson wrote the soundtrack so an underrated animated soundtrack in that regard.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

To Your Last Death (2019):  I was looking for something from this era and this seemed interesting to me.  Jason Axinn directed this animated horror movie which comes elements of things like SAW, HEAVY METAL, and even a little GROUNDHOG DAY I suppose.  A young woman named Miriam DeKalb takes on her evil father Cyrus, voiced by Ray Wise, and a powerful entity known as Gamemaster, voiced by Morena Baccarin, in order to save her siblings.  William Shatner, Bill Moseley, Damien C. Haas, Mark Whitten, Benjamin Siemon, Florence Hartigan, and many others co-star in this animated film.  This is not for everyone whether for the violence or the animation style.  This did manage to keep my attention pretty well and was entertaining to me.  This is another one that is not for the children.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Johnny the Giant Killer (1950):  Jean Image and Charles Frank directed this animated movie.  The title character Johnny sets out to rid the land of an evil giant but the giant uses a device to reduce him to the size of a bee.  Luckily, a group of bees welcome him into the group and are willing to help Johnny take on this giant and get Johnny back to normal size.  This is totally different that JACK AND THE BEANSTALK and is a rather underrated selection that is only about an hour long.

Heavy Traffic (1973):  I knew if I was going to focus on independent animation, I could not leave Ralph Bakshi out of this.  Bakshi wrote and directed this animated film that has a little bit of live action but not much.  This centers around an underground comic writer whose name is Michael Corleone, voiced by Joseph Kaufmann, strangely enough.  He struggles to come up with ideas and usually gets them from the harsh and gritty world around him.  He also falls into the excesses of life.  Frank DeKova, Lillian Adams, and many others provide their voices.  I really can't describe this any further than what I have so far.  This is definitely a movie that is not for kids.  This is likely a more personal project for Bakshi as this centers around an underground comic writer.  It is also politically incorrect to the core so a heads up there.  I was only able to find this on Youtube.

Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don't Come Back) (1980):  These are some of my childhood friends and figured how can I not include something from Peanuts on this edition?  This is the fourth of the theatrical productions from these movies.  Bill Melendez directed this animated movie with co-director Phil Roman and based on the story and characters by Charles Schulz.  Charlie, Linus, Peppermint Patty, and Marcie go to France as exchange students.  They are joined by Snoopy and Woodstock who are into their own entertaining adventures.  Charlie is concerned by a letter received by a mysterious French girl but does not seem welcome on the plateau.  Arrin Skelley, Daniel Anderson, Patricia Patts, Casey Carlson, and many others provide their voices.  This is a very decent animated movie that is funny, moving, and has a really good climax scene.  This is the first Peanuts production where we hear the adults actually speak and see them unlike in the past of "wa wa wa".  Fans of the others characters might be a little disappointed as they are mostly in the beginning before the four leave off for Europe.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which includes Taraji P. Henson, John Cusack, Martin Scorsese, Jack Lemmon, Stanley Kubrick, Jeff Bridges, and many others.

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