Sunday, April 25, 2021

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 801st Edition


Welcome to the 801st edition of my series.  Today is the last performance of ARSENIC AND OLD LACE.  It has been a great experience and will be hard to see this go.  I don't have much else to say right now so I will just get on with my selections.

Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018):  I start the week out with this Pixar sequel of WRECK-IT RALPH which is directed by Phil Johnston and Rich Moore.  John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman reprise their roles of Ralph and Vanellope.  Ralph inadvertently causes Vanellope's arcade game to break making them set out on the internet to get the money necessary to save the game.  Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Alfred Molina, Ed O'Neill, Sean Giambrone, Flula Borg, Timothy Simons, Ali Wong, Horatio Sanz, June Squibb, John Dimaggio, Jason Mantzoukas, and many others co-star in this animated sequel.  I really enjoyed this world of the internet that was created that made references to just about everything and had kind of the behind the scenes.  This also has a lot of cameos from the Disney Plus universe.  This is available to watch on Disney Plus.

Sixteen Candles (1984):  John Hughes wrote and directed this Brat Pack comedy.  Molly Ringwald stars as Samantha who is having her 16th birthday but her family forgets and her day just gets worse.  Sam has a crush on the popular senior Jake, played by Michael Schoeffling, who is taken and has one of the geeks, played by Anthony Michael Hall, that has a crush on her.  Justin Henry, Haviland Morris, Gedde Watanabe, Paul Dooley, Carlin Glynn, Blanche Baker, Edward Andrews, Billie Bird, Carole Cook, Max Showalter, Liane Curtis, John Cusack, Joan Cusack, Brian Doyle-Murray, and many others co-star in this comedy.  This is a very funny coming of age movie that has remained iconic.  Hall is perfectly cast as "The Geek".  This is the directorial debut for Hughes.  

Gloria (2013):  This is my Chilean film of the week which was directed and co-written by Sebastian Lelio.  Paulina Garcia stars as Gloria who is a free-spirited older woman and has been divorced for more than ten years.  She meets a man named Rodolfo, played by Sergio Hernandez, who is a naval officer recently divorced and forms a relationship with him.  He comes with a lot of baggage and makes their relationship complicated.  Alejandro Goic, Eyal Meyer, Marcela Said, and many others co-star in this film.  This is more of a character study on the title character and it is easy to get behind her.  This is available to watch on HBO Max.

What's a Nice Girl Like You doing in a Place Like This (1963):  This is my short film for the week which was directed and written by Martin Scorsese.  This is Scorsese's first film which was a student film.  This centers around a writer named Algernon who buys a picture of a boat and through his obsession makes normal life impossible.  It is hard to explain but is the start to what would become a great career.  This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Animal Crackers (1930):  Victor Heerman directed this comedy that stars the Marx Brothers.  Groucho stars as African explorer Captain Spaulding who is having a party thrown for him.  Groucho, along with Chico, Harpo, and Zeppo set out to find the painting for him.  Lillian Roth, Margaret Dumont, Louis Sorin, Hal Thompson, Margaret Irving, and many others co-star in this comedy.  This started as a play and then was made into this movie that was early in the careers of the Marx Brothers.  There is not a lot more to describe besides that it is the Marx Brothers and their usual antics.

Mister Roberts (1955):  This is my navy comedy for the week which was directed by John Ford and Mervyn Leroy and based on the novel by Thomas Heggen.  This takes place during WWII on a US cargo ship.  Henry Fonda stars as Douglas Roberts who is on a ship and longs to get into the action of the war but continues to get denied by his captain, played by James Cagney, who is a bit of a Captain Bligh figure.  William Powell in his last role adds to the comedy as the doctor of the ship and Jack Lemmon steals the movie as the hapless Ensign Frank Pulver.  Betsy Palmer, Ward Bond, Philip Carey, Nick Adams, Perry Lopez, Ken Curtis, Robert Roark, Harry Carey Jr., Patrick Wayne, and many others co-star in this comedy.  While this was funny, it is also a pretty realistic look at the Navy from my understanding.  This has a great blend of comedy and drama and might make a good double feature to go along with MASH.  This is available to watch on HBO Max.

The United States Vs. Billie Holiday (2021):  Lee Daniels directed this film based on the novel CHASING THE SCREAM by Johann Hari.  This centers around the  later days of music legend Billie Holiday, played by Andra Day, during  the time of her controversial of her song STRANGE FRUIT and was the target of the Federal Department of Narcotics lead by Harry Anslinger, played by Garrett Hedlund.  Trevante Rhodes co-stars as black agent Jimmy Fletcher who is assigned to bring down Holiday but started questioning the ethics of what he was doing while also having an affair with her.  Natasha Lyonne, Miss Lawrence, Dusan Dukic, Erik LaRay Harvey, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Evan Ross and many others co-star in this film.  Day plays Holiday very well and is able to keep this movie going.  This is not a very upbeat biopic so use your judgment there.  This is available to watch on Hulu.

Germany Year Zero (1948):  Roberto Rossellini directed and wrote this German film that takes place in post WWII Berlin.  Edmund Moeschke stars as Edmund Kohler who is a young boy forced to grow up fast as he works to support his struggling family.  He runs into a former teacher, played by Erich Guhne, who he hopes will help support him but the former teacher seems to have his own motives.  This is a pretty good coming of age story about a young boy in post WWII Germany and still adjusting after the war.  This is available to watch on HBO Max and the Criterion Collection.

2001:  A Space Odyssey (1968):  Stanley Kubrick directed this sci-fi film based on the novel by Arthur C. Clarke who also wrote the screenplay.  This is a story of evolution which consists of the biggest time jump in cinematic history.  This consists of a space mission to find the origins of man with the help of intelligent supercomputer Hal 9000, voiced by Douglas Rain, who is programmed to do whatever necessary to accomplish the mission.  Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Daniel Richter, Leonard Rossiter, Margaret Tyzack, Robert Beatty, Sean Sullivan, and many others co-star in this film.  The plot really doesn't cover anything, this is more of a visual masterpiece.  This is not a movie to just watch on a computer or a cell phone.  This really is meant most for a big screen and is mesmerizing to watch.  This is available to watch on HBO Max.

Fearless (1993):  I end the week with this film directed by Peter Weir and based on the novel by Rafael Yglesias who also co-wrote the screenplay.  Jeff Bridges stars as Max Klein who survives a plane crash with only a literal scratch and becomes a changed person.  He feels like nothing can hurt him and makes his marriage with his wife Laura, played by Isabella Rossellini, and his son Jonah, played by Spencer Vrooman.  Max tries to help fellow survivor Carla, played by Rosie Perez, who is guilt ridden over the death of her son.  Tom Hulce, John Turturro, Deirdre O'Connell, Benicio Del Toro, John de Lancie, Debra Monk, Rance Howard, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a very underrated performance from Bridges who was fabulous in his role.  This is a pretty moving film on the effects of surviving something very extreme and hope to get it back on the radar.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Amy Adams, Will Ferrell, Burt Reynolds, Alan Ladd, and many others.

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