Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 288th Edition

by shaun2000us | created - 21 May 2011 | updated - 21 May 2011 | Public

This is the 288th Edition. To see past installments, see Also, there is no order as to how these are, only to what was watched first to last.

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1. Trumbo (2007)

PG-13 | 96 min | Documentary, Biography

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71 Metascore

Through a focus on the life of Dalton Trumbo (1905-1976), this film examines the effects on individuals and families of a congressional pursuit of Hollywood Communists after World War II. ... See full summary »

Director: Peter Askin | Stars: Dalton Trumbo, Joan Allen, Brian Dennehy, Michael Douglas

Votes: 901 | Gross: $7.85M

This is the 28th link on The Chain and this one continues with Donald Sutherland who was one of the speakers of Dalton Trumbo's work. This is a documentary that is based on writer Dalton Trumbo who was one of "The Hollywood Ten" that was blacklisted from making films during the Joe McCarthy Era when they were believed to have been communists. This movie takes a look at his life after being blacklisted on his family life and the channels he had to go through to write films. He used many fake names throughout this period to write screenplays for films in the United States. In 1957, he won an Oscar for his movie THE BRAVE ONE under the name Robert Rich but could not go accept it as he was not supposed to be writing. Many actors like Michael Douglas, Liam Neeson, and Joan Allen are used to recite much of his writings. This is based on a play by his son Christopher Trumbo so I am curious to see how that is done on stage. Maybe the Muncie Civic Theater can look into this for the Studio Theater. This is a very good look at Trumbo's life and is available on Instant Netflix. Next week's link of The Chain will be one of the actors, actresses, or director of this movie.

2. 13 Going on 30 (2004)

PG-13 | 98 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

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57 Metascore

A girl makes a wish on her thirteenth birthday, and wakes up the next day as a thirty-year-old woman.

Director: Gary Winick | Stars: Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, Judy Greer, Andy Serkis

Votes: 135,342 | Gross: $57.23M

I thought this would be fitting for me since I turn 30 tomorrow and I'll even give a shout-out to my friend Ashley, who turns 30 on Monday which I am always proud to say I am older than her even if only by a day. I have lately become her unofficial photographer for her music career and hopefully I can become part of her entourage when she makes it big in the music industry. The title of this film may very well be the reverse for me but if that is true I enjoy it. This is a variation of the 1988 comedy BIG. ALIAS alum Jennifer Garner stars as Jenna who we meet as a 13 year old, played by Christa Allen, who is trying to fit into the popular crowd not understanding that her real friend was Matt who cared about her for who she is and alienates him in her quest to become "popular" and yes I use quotation marks for that word when applied to a school setting. She then tires of her childhood and wishes to be 30 and gets that wish which then enters Jennifer Garner. She must then learn how to live being transported to the age of 30 but then slowly sees the person she became after finally getting into the crowd she wanted to be a part of. Mark Ruffalo plays the grown-up Matt who has become a freelance photographer and Jenna looks to reconnect with him. The two leads really kept this going and there were some pretty comical moments like Jenna and her new teenage girl friends singing LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD. I also really like the message this movie gives. For anyone reading this that is still in grade school, please listen. Don't try to "fit in" with a crowd that makes you do stupid things to be part of the crowd like what the Jenna character did in this movie. Accept the friends you have now that are there for you and don't alienate them to try to be "popular". High school popularity no longer matters after high school and there is life after high school. I'm not anyone's parent or teacher, just someone who made these mistakes myself and hope I can convince to understand that popularity is not that important in school.

3. The Man in the Moon (1991)

PG-13 | 99 min | Drama, Romance

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A coming of age story set in the South of USA when Elvis was King.

Director: Robert Mulligan | Stars: Sam Waterston, Tess Harper, Gail Strickland, Reese Witherspoon

Votes: 13,183 | Gross: $2.85M

Now we take a look at this character driven film that takes place in '50s Louisiana. Reese Witherspoon makes her film debut as 14 year old Dani who has a beautiful older sister, a pregnant mother, and a rather strict father. Things begin to change for her when a 17 year old boy named Court, played by Jason London, moves in and she takes an immediate liking to him. LAW AND ORDER alum Sam Waterston plays her strict but very caring father Matthew who must also learn about life for a 14 year old girl. Witherspoon makes a great debut in this film and the start of a very successful career. There is not really much I can explain about the film but it is a beautiful story of growing up.

4. Apocalypse Now (1979)

R | 147 min | Drama, War

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94 Metascore

During the Vietnam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade Colonel who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe.

Director: Francis Ford Coppola | Stars: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Frederic Forrest

Votes: 500,824 | Gross: $83.47M

This is my Vietnam film for the week which was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and based on the novel HEARTS OF DARKNESS by Joseph Conrad. Martin Sheen stars as Captain Benjamin Willard who is very burned out from the war. Willard is sent on a secret mission to kill the very decorated American Colonel Kurtz, played by Marlon Brando, who has defected and lives on an island in Cambodia where he is seen as a god. In the journey to get there, he has a lot of difficult things to get through. Robert Duvall is the standout in his part as Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore. Other young actors like Laurence Fishburne, Harrison Ford, Dennis Hopper, Frederic Forrest, Sam Bottoms, among others co-star. Sheen nearly died of Malaria when shooting this film. The very beginning really does a good job setting the mood for the movie with the song THE END by the Doors and then goes right to Willard getting high on drugs. Fishburne lied about his age to be in this movie as he was only 14 during the start of filming. This is by no means for everyone and some consider it far-fetched. As a story, it is a bit far-fetched but I do believe the characterizations were pretty authentic. This is likely Coppola's most difficult movie he ever filmed with the weather elements, trying to cast his parts, and the difficulty he had working with Brando. Fortunately, the finished project became one of the most important films in history. I actually watched the Redux version which really seems unnecessary. This was originally a stage play with Boris Karloff as Colonel Kurtz. Here is another idea for a Muncie Civic Studio Theater show.

5. The Return of Frank James (1940)

Approved | 92 min | Crime, History, Western

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Frank James continues to avoid arrest in order to take revenge on the Ford brothers for their murder of his brother Jesse.

Director: Fritz Lang | Stars: Henry Fonda, Gene Tierney, Jackie Cooper, Henry Hull

Votes: 2,315

This is my tribute to the late Jackie Cooper who co-stars as Frank's little buddy Clem. Fritz Lang directed this sequel of the 1939 film JESSE JAMES. Henry Fonda reprises his role as Frank James who learns of Jesse's assassination by James Gang members Bob and Charlie Ford. He then returns to take revenge on his brother's murder in this revenge western. If you are looking for historical accuracy, this is not it besides maybe the theatrical reenactments from the Ford brothers. Most know that Frank James never sought any vengeance for the murder of his brother. Gene Tierney makes her film debut as a female reporter and John Carradine plays Bob Ford. This is mostly of interest to western fans and it was a pretty fun fictional story though my favorite portrayal of the James brothers would come in 2007 in THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD which is likely the most accurate portrayal of Jesse James and Frank James who was in his last days of the gang in this film.

6. Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931)

TV-PG | 86 min | Drama, Romance, Adventure

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On the South Pacific island of Bora Bora, a young couple's love is threatened when the tribal chief declares the girl a sacred virgin.

Director: F.W. Murnau | Stars: Anne Chevalier, Matahi, Hitu, Bill Bambridge

Votes: 3,906

This is my silent film of the week and F.W. Murnau's last movie. This is about a fisherman in the Bora Bora Lagoon named Matahi who falls in love with Reri. However, Reri is chosen to be the holy maid and becomes as the title says "tabu" so she cannot be touched or the lover will die. They love each other so much so they run away but must adjust to a more civilized society. This was a great way for the legendary Murnau to go out and is a great love

7. Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010 Video)

PG-13 | 75 min | Animation, Action, Crime

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There's a mystery afoot in Gotham City, and Batman must go toe-to-toe with a mysterious vigilante, who goes by the name of Red Hood. Subsequently, old wounds reopen and old, once buried memories come into the light.

Director: Brandon Vietti | Stars: Bruce Greenwood, Jensen Ackles, John DiMaggio, Neil Patrick Harris

Votes: 44,057

This is part one of a Neil Patrick Harris series that I know will have two parts but possibly four parts. There is already a franchise boot being planned but I think this is the only reboot that is really needed. This is a great animated superhero movie that holds its own with just about all the Batmans out there right now. Batman goes up against one of his biggest challenges of the title character Red Hood. Red Hood is part vigilante and part criminal who unlike Batman, killing is an option. When the Joker gets into the fold, he sees familiarity in Red Hood and learns the disturbing truth. There is great use of flashback to Bruce Wayne's younger life. Neil Patrick Harris does the voice of Dick Grayson who was once Robin as a youngster but now uses the name Nightwing. Anything else I say gives this away so I'll stop now. This is great for anyone who love the superhero genre and this is available through Instant Netflix.

8. Anastasia (1956)

Unrated | 105 min | Biography, Drama, History

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An opportunistic Russian businessman tries to pass a mysterious impostor as the Grand Duchess Anastasia. But she is so convincing in her performance that even the biggest skeptics believe her.

Director: Anatole Litvak | Stars: Ingrid Bergman, Yul Brynner, Helen Hayes, Akim Tamiroff

Votes: 6,382

This is my tribute to Arthur Laurents who wrote the screenplay for this film. Many remember that animated movie from the 90s which was very good but yes it has been made into a movie in the past. Yul Brynner plays opportunistic Russian businessman Bounine who is looking for someone to pass as the grand duchess Anastasia who is thought to be dead. Ingrid Bergman plays the destitute and suicidal Anna who is taken in by Bounine when he believes she resembles Anastasia. He then coaches her in order to pass her off and the more she learns of the part the more people believe she may be the real person. They must then pass her off the the Empress, who must then decide if she is the real person. This is actually based on a true story but I'll leave it to everyone to do the research. This was a very compelling story with good performances. This is available on Instant Netflix. My mom had the pleasure of getting to see Yul Brynner in a stage version of THE KING AND I and will never watch another version since seeing that version. My friend Sean actually did a wood painting of Brynner and Deborah Kerr for the film version of THE KING AND I which I bought for my mom. Sean is an artist on the rise and hope he can hit it big like Ashley in her singing.

9. The Cross and the Switchblade (1970)

GP | 106 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

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Crusading minister gets involved in the lives of members of a New York City street gang.

Director: Don Murray | Stars: Pat Boone, Erik Estrada, Jacqueline Giroux, Jo-Ann Robinson

Votes: 846

This is my tribute to the late Reverend David Wilkerson whose autobiography this film is based upon and who Pat Boone plays in this movie. Boone plays a reverend who had it in mind that anyone can be saved, even gang members. He goes around letting everyone know that Jesus loves them and had a lot of guts going face to face with these gang members to try to save them. A young CHIPS alum Erik Estrada plays Nicky Cruz who was pretty much the leader and the toughest to convince to find God but Wilkerson never gave up. Boone did pretty good in his part and it was great seeing this true story of a man who had to have a lot of bravery to do what he did. This movie has been shown a lot in juvenile detention centers. This is also available on Instant Netflix.

10. Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth (1992)

Unrated | 100 min | Adventure, Family, Fantasy

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In the midst of another rampage by Godzilla, Mothra emerges to save the human race from Battra.

Director: Takao Okawara | Stars: Tetsuya Bessho, Satomi Kobayashi, Takehiro Murata, Saburô Shinoda

Votes: 3,250

I end this week with these two Japanese icons battling it out once again in this Toho film. I'll give a brief history of these icons. Godzilla is a metaphor for the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and was the result of nuclear bombings. Since the beginning, there have been rather various ways in which Godzilla has been created and has been portrayed in different ways but here was the giant, destructive lizard. Mothra is a giant moth who usually starts out as a larva and becomes the moth and has done battle with some of the biggest monsters and is usually the heroic one. In this film, Godzilla is created as a result of us destroying the world and Godzilla is the result of it. When a team of archaeologists search to find the cause of happenings, they meet two very little girls which are referred to as Cosmos and are the ones who communicate with Mothra. Here, they give their services by bringing Mothra out of her egg. Mothra has her hands full however with another monster named Battra. This is for those who enjoy this genre of film. I'm not going to go into the human characters since they are not usually as important in these movies except that their carelessness is what brings upon monsters like Godzilla. This is a pretty decent entry into the Toho series. Special effects are not CGI-like but I feel these take more effort than CGI. This is also available on Instant Netflix.