Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 325th Edition

by shaun2000us | created - 05 Feb 2012 | updated - 05 Feb 2012 | Public

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1. Saturday Night Live: The Best of Alec Baldwin (2005 TV Special)

91 min | Documentary, Comedy

A Saturday Night Live DVD featuring the best of Alec Baldwin.

Directors: Beth McCarthy-Miller, Dave Wilson | Stars: Alec Baldwin, Fred Armisen, Nancy Carell, Meredith Deacon

Votes: 450

I guess this technically is not a movie but it's my blog and in my mind this qualifies so I'm pushing the envelope. Alec Baldwin is known as one of the best hosts of all time and they put together a few sketches they believe are his best. They did a Joe Pesci Show where he impersonates Robert De Niro and feel he has done the best of those impersonations. He also has the Tony Bennett show where he impersonates Bennett and does a great job. There is also an impersonation on Charles Nelson Reilly. We also see his famous character Pete Schweddy who came up with "Schweddy Balls". There was one Family Feud sketch I recall where his brothers were all on it I would have liked to see but there are still some good laughs on here.

2. Twisted: A Balloonamentary (2007)

79 min | Documentary

A flying octopus. A Trojan horse. Two 100-foot-tall soccer players. All made out of balloons. These are just some of the masterful creations you will see as "TWISTED: A Balloonamentary" ... See full summary »

Directors: Naomi Greenfield, Sara Taksler | Stars: Sheree Brown-Rosner, Don Caldwell, Laura Dakin, David Grist

Votes: 31

This a documentary on balloon making and features a handful of balloon artists who are very passionate about what they do. I really learned a lot on this film and did not know how much people really make a living out of this. It also features many balloon conventions in some very clever work from balloons which were actually quite amazing. One person who did it for religious reasons made Jesus on the cross. Another made a wedding dress out of white balloons. The list here is endless for balloons but what fascinated me even more was the personalities of these people. I noticed that on there is not much response to this so I'm hoping to get this on the radar. I got this on DVD from Netflix. Jon Stewart narrates an amusing animation scene.

3. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (2010)

PG | 97 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

53 Metascore

When a young owl is abducted by an evil Owl army, he must escape with new-found friends and seek the legendary Guardians to stop the menace.

Director: Zack Snyder | Stars: Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving, David Wenham, Emily Barclay

Votes: 74,900 | Gross: $55.68M

This is my animated film for the week through Fox Studios and directed by Zack Snyder. As you might have guessed this movie is centered around owls. Jim Sturgess voices Soren who comes from a good owl family but along with his brother is abducted by owls of St. Aggies who abduct young owls to brainwash them to be part of their army. He soon makes a daring escape and joins the owls of Ga'Hoole who look to stop the St. Aggies. Helen Mirren, Sam Neill, Geoffrey Rush, Hugo Weaving, and many others lend their voices to this rather compelling film. Keep in mind this is rated PG so it may not be for really young children as it has some pretty disturbing action scenes. If you can get past that though, this is very enjoyable. This is based on a comic book series.

4. Dick Tracy (1937)

Approved | 290 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

A master criminal called The Spider puts the famous detective's brother under a hypnotic spell and turns him against Dick.

Directors: Alan James, Ray Taylor | Stars: Ralph Byrd, Kay Hughes, Smiley Burnette, Lee Van Atta

Votes: 522

This is an episode of a serial in which the famed comic book detective is brought to life for the first time in a 15 episode serial which I suppose was a tv series for that era. Ralph Byrd plays the title character who throughout the serial goes against his rival the Spider. In this one he is on a burning boat and must save everyone and survive. I found this on TCM On-Demand. I really did not watch any after this but looks like this was a pretty good serial with this episode. This is based on the comic book series from Chester Gould that ran from 1031 to 1977 which was pretty groundbreaking for that era. This was pretty violent for a comic strip and the villains were always very creative. Gould also tried using the most current crime techniques to make it rather realistic.

5. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)

Not Rated | 104 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

In 1900, a young widow finds her seaside cottage is haunted and forms a unique relationship with the ghost.

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz | Stars: Gene Tierney, Rex Harrison, George Sanders, Edna Best

Votes: 14,563

This is one of my favorites from this era. Gene Tierney stars as the widowed Lucy Muir who moves her daughter and maid to a seaside cottage shortly after her husband dies. She soon learns that the house is haunted where she soon meets the former owner Captain Gregg, played very well by Rex Harrison. They soon form an unusual relationship but must decide their feelings for her when a living man named Miles, played by George Sanders, enters her life. Natalie Wood plays Lucy's daughter as a child. I really enjoyed this love story and the way Lucy and the Captain interact. There is a blend of drama and comedy in this film that make it very enjoyable.

6. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

R | 111 min | Action, Biography, Crime

86 Metascore

Bored waitress Bonnie Parker falls in love with an ex-con named Clyde Barrow and together they start a violent crime spree through the country, stealing cars and robbing banks.

Director: Arthur Penn | Stars: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard, Gene Hackman

Votes: 96,506

Arthur Penn directed this account of the famed robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Warren Beatty played the part of Clyde and Faye Dunaway plays Bonnie. Gene Hackman plays Clyde's brother Buck and Estelle Parsons plays his wife Blanche. Michael J. Pollard plays C.W. Moss who was their getaway driver. Together they went on quite the crime spree during the depression and focuses on the love affair between the two characters. Gene Wilder makes his film debut in a small part as someone who gets picked up by the gang. This is considered by many to be one of the best films of all time and started kind of an anti-hero approach with other films like with DILLINGER and BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID. The film is quite romanticized but has quite a bit of historical accuracy with it. The leads were great and the film entertains throughout.

7. Suspicion (1941)

Not Rated | 99 min | Mystery, Thriller

83 Metascore

A shy young heiress marries a charming gentleman, and soon begins to suspect he is planning to murder her.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine, Cedric Hardwicke, Nigel Bruce

Votes: 29,825 | Gross: $4.50M

This is part two of what will likely be a two part Alfred Hitchcock series. Joan Fontaine stars as Lina who is a shy Englishwoman who falls for a charming man named Johnnie, played by Cary Grant. Soon after they meet, they get married but the marriage becomes quite difficult when Lina begins to suspect her husband will kill her. Fontaine was very good as the suspicious wife and Grant plays his part very well. Like much of Hitchcock, it combines suspense with dark comedy very well. The only issue with this film is the ending of which Hitchcock was forced to use due to the strict censorship standards but I won't reveal anything so that you can all find out for yourselves and you should because it's still a great film.

8. Persona (1966)

Not Rated | 83 min | Drama, Thriller

86 Metascore

A nurse is put in charge of a mute actress and finds that their personae are melding together.

Director: Ingmar Bergman | Stars: Bibi Andersson, Liv Ullmann, Margaretha Krook, Gunnar Björnstrand

Votes: 90,794

This is the Co-Op film series selection for the week that was presented by Travis last Tuesday. Ingmar Bergman directed this Swedish film which stars Liv Ullmann who plays an actress named Elizabeth Vogler who will not talk. Bibi Anderson stars as Alma, the nurse assigned to help Elizabeth. Alma soon begins to confess her secrets to Elizabeth who she feels is a great listener with her lack of talking but soon finds her personality being submerged into Elizabeth's persona. This is a film of which is not for everyone and for those who watch it will continue to have questions but that is the beauty of the film. Both actresses work so well together. This is something that if you're brought in, you cannot let go. This may also demand multiple viewings. When Travis chooses his films, he likes to challenge his audience and really succeeded on this one. On Tuesday, he will be presenting the 2008 film ATONEMENT so if you're in the area, come out to Bracken Library for a free movie.

9. The Last Survivor (2010)

Not Rated | 92 min | Documentary, History

The Last Survivor presents the stories of genocide survivors and their struggle to make sense of tragedy. They work to educate, motivate and promulgate a civic response to mass atrocity ... See full summary »

Directors: Michael Kleiman, Michael Pertnoy

Votes: 32

This is my second documentary for this week. While the first one is more fun and upbeat, this one is quite sad but inspirational. This movie looks at a handful of survivors from the Holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda, Darfur, and Congo who become advocates for a better future. They give a great first-hand experience of the horrible things they went through but how they came to be survivors. I am hoping that I can get this on the radar as I see it has not had a lot of distribution but it is very obtainable. If you go on, it gives a lot of information about the film and even a place to donate to the cause. This documentary is available on the website and I have Snag Films as an app on my Roku player where people who love documentaries can find some very good ones.

10. Fright Night (1985)

R | 106 min | Horror, Thriller

62 Metascore

A teenager discovers that the newcomer in his neighborhood is a vampire, so he turns to an actor in a television horror show for help dealing with the undead.

Director: Tom Holland | Stars: Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse, Roddy McDowall

Votes: 55,581 | Gross: $24.92M

I end this week with this classic vampire comedy which still gives some chills. William Ragsdale stars as high school student Charley who is a vampire film buff and learns that his new next-door neighbor is a vampire. When Charley tries to tell people, no one will believe him, even his girlfriend Amy, played by MARRIED...WITH CHILDREN alum Amanda Bearse. He soon turns to washed up actor Peter Vincent, played very well by Roddy McDowell, who hosts Charley's favorite show of the movie title where Charley believes he really is that person. He finally agrees to help Charley for the money even if he does not agree but soon sees the truth. Chris Sarandon plays the vampire Jerry Dandridge who is not one of those vampires who sparkles or looks for love with Kristen Stewart. Dandridge is a vampire who is charming, but very ruthless and actually kills people. This is a classic from the 80s and a great entry into the vampire genre.

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