Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 323rd Edition

by shaun2000us | created - 22 Jan 2012 | updated - 22 Jan 2012 | Public

This is a weekly series I write. To see other editions and an "honorable mention", go to

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1. Crank (2006)

R | 88 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

57 Metascore

Professional assassin Chev Chelios learns his rival has injected him with a poison that will kill him if his heart rate drops.

Directors: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor | Stars: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Carlos Sanz, Jose Pablo Cantillo

Votes: 214,091 | Gross: $27.83M

Starting the week out with this adrenaline rush of a film. Jason Statham stars in this film as assassin Chev Chelios who has been poisoned by his rival Verona, played by Jose Pablo Cantillo, and learns he must keep moving to stay alive while he seeks revenge and a cure. Amy Smart plays his loyal girlfriend Eve and Dwight Yoakam plays his doctor who advises him to keep moving. This is one of those that if you can just suspend your disbelief a bit this is a very fun action film that never stops.

2. Blue Valentine (2010)

R | 112 min | Drama, Romance

81 Metascore

The relationship of a contemporary married couple, charting their evolution over a span of years by cross-cutting between time periods.

Director: Derek Cianfrance | Stars: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, John Doman, Faith Wladyka

Votes: 161,483 | Gross: $9.74M

Derek Cianfrance directed and co-wrote this film which stars Ryan Gosling and DAWSON'S CREEK alum Michelle Williams. Gosling stars as Dean and Williams stars as Cindy who are a struggling married couple. It jumps around in time periods showing them in their current marriage, when they first meet, and other times of their relationship. It also goes into the home lives of the characters of which affect them later in life. This movie is a great portrait of a contemporary married couple with great performances from the leads where there was a lot of improvisation that the director wanted. This is a great independent film which is hard to describe but great to watch. Cianfrance took many years to get this movie finalized as he made many draft modifications and did some documentaries for funding to get this finished product.

3. The Pledge (I) (2001)

R | 124 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

71 Metascore

A retiring police chief pledges to catch the killer of a young child.

Director: Sean Penn | Stars: Jack Nicholson, Benicio Del Toro, Patricia Clarkson, Beau Daniels

Votes: 47,401 | Gross: $19.72M

This is part two of my two-part Jack Nicholson series where last week I used him in a comedy for AS GOOD AS IT GETS but here gets a more serious role. Sean Penn directed this movie which stars stars Nicholson as Jerry Black who is a cop on the eve of his retirement. He soon learns of the murder of a little girl and promises the parents that he will find the murderer. He soon learns there is a serial killer at play and dedicates his life to finding that killer after feeling that the person arrested was not the killer. He then moves into the mountains where the murders take place hoping to find the killer. He then forms a relationship with a local named Lori, played by Penn's then wife Robin Wright, and her daughter who appears to be a target of the killer. This movie has some great performances from Nicholson and has quite a cast involving Aaron Eckhart, Benicio Del Toro, Helen Mirren, Mickey Rourke and many others. Most who know me know that I am a big fan of Mickey Rourke and he is very good in his small part as a janitor whose daughter was killed. In his biography, it notes that Rourke was very grateful to Nicholson for "taking a step back" to allow his performance. I thought the movie was very well done but was not sure what to think on what was such an unsettling ending I thought. It is still a pretty good movie though and a good performance from a more toned-down Nicholson.

4. The Mad Doctor (1933)

Approved | 7 min | Animation, Short, Comedy

Mickey must save Pluto from a mad doctor's lair.

Director: David Hand | Stars: Pinto Colvig, Walt Disney

Votes: 827

This my animation short for the week that came from a DVD that my Dad got me for Christmas which shows many animation shorts from the 30s from the many animation studios and this one features the iconic Mickey Mouse and his dog Pluto. Pluto is soon abducted by a mad scientist who intends to put his head on the head of a chicken. Mickey soon tries to rescue Pluto but has a lot of trouble. This one has lot of funny moments and also rather disturbing at times but is a very entertaining Mickey short.

5. Roxie Hart (1942)

Approved | 75 min | Comedy, Crime, Romance

Roxie Hart signs a murder confession in order to attract publicity for her dancing career as dames don't swing in Cook County. Will everything go as planned?

Director: William A. Wellman | Stars: Ginger Rogers, Adolphe Menjou, George Montgomery, Lynne Overman

Votes: 1,403

Ginger Rogers played the title character who is most known for the musical CHICAGO. This takes place in the town of Chicago of which publicity is of much importance. Roxie has admitted to a murder and her attorney Billy Flynn, played by Adolphe Menjou, who does everything he can to swing the story to get the publicity and to win the hearts of jurors. This movie is actually based on a true story and this movie was probably pretty controversial for its time with the strict guidelines by movie companies. People looking for a musical will not get it here but this movie was very entertaining and had some great dialogue with Rogers playing the part of Roxie very well with this story inspiring the musical we have come to love today.

6. Thunderbirds Are GO (1966)

G | 93 min | Action, Sci-Fi

Zero-X, a manned exploration mission crashes during lift-off on its maiden flight. Two years later an investigative committee finally concludes sabotage, and decides to call on the services... See full summary »

Director: David Lane | Stars: Sylvia Anderson, Ray Barrett, Alexander Davion, Peter Dyneley

Votes: 1,673

This is based on the tv series of which uses puppetry as the characters. This is a sci-fi film of which a family of pilots who must investigate a sabotaged mission. Being based on the tv series, it may be easier for those who have seen it to know the characters better but this was greatly filmed even by today's standards with the use of puppetry. This is available on Instant Netflix.

7. Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

PG-13 | 111 min | Drama

87 Metascore

A rebellious young man with a troubled past comes to a new town, finding friends and enemies.

Director: Nicholas Ray | Stars: James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, Jim Backus

Votes: 72,239

This is one of the dvds my Dad got me for Christmas. This is the 2nd of the three movies with James Dean. James Dean comes from the town of Fairmount, Indiana which is about an hour from me and every year there is a big car festival out there where people from all over the United States come out. In this movie he plays Jim Stark who is the new kid in town that has a troubled past. Immediately, people start trouble with him and challenge him to things like knife fights and a game of "chicken" where he feels he must prove he is not one. He soon finds live with Judy, played by Natalie Wood, who has a troubled life as well with her family. Sal Mineo plays Plato who befriends Jim but also has his own troubles being bullied which makes him react in violent ways. These three people come together as friends and leads to quite a climax in the end. The three stars did a very good job and are all known for all dying at a very young age. Jim Backus, who is most known for voicing the iconic Mr. Magoo, plays Jim's father. Look for a young Dennis Hopper as one of the local gang members. Nicholas Ray directed this film and rode around with some gangs to get an understanding of them. This movie does show a lot about effects of bullying, especially towards the character of Plato. The first time I saw this was as a kid, it was shown in the Paramount Theater in Anderson when my Dad took me to see it. I saw it years later on a big screen at Muncie Civic Theater which was shown during a film festival. It is quite the classic and still holds up.

8. Roxanne (1987)

PG | 107 min | Comedy, Romance

73 Metascore

The large-nosed C.D. Bales is in love with the beautiful Roxanne; she falls for his personality but another man's looks.

Director: Fred Schepisi | Stars: Steve Martin, Daryl Hannah, Rick Rossovich, Shelley Duvall

Votes: 35,875 | Gross: $40.05M

Steve Martin stars in this film and he wrote the screenplay which was a modern day adaptation to the play CYRANNO DE BERGERAC written by Edmond Rostand. Martin stars as C.D. Bales who is the head of his local fire department and is a very charming man but has a very big nose. Daryl Hannah plays the title character who C.D. takes an immediate liking to and she really likes him for his personality but also likes the new fireman Chris, played by Rick Rossovich, for his looks. When watching this, I found it very fitting where the character of Chris makes a reference saying that he likes the 49ers, not so much the giants and they are the teams that play tonight. This is a great comedy that while a love story is involved, it goes way beyond the term "chick flick". It opens with a hilarious fight scene with another great verbal exchange in the bar. Shelley Duvall, Fred Willard, and Damon Wayans co-star in this film. This is possibly one of best works of Steve Martin who was great as C.D. but also wrote a very funny and moving screenplay.

9. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)

Not Rated | 108 min | Comedy, Drama

63 Metascore

A couple's attitudes are challenged when their daughter introduces them to her African American fiancé.

Director: Stanley Kramer | Stars: Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn, Katharine Houghton

Votes: 33,250 | Gross: $56.70M

This is part one of a two-part Katherine Hepburn series. This is another of the great DVDs my Dad got me for Christmas. This is part of the Stanley Kramer DVD collection and a very groundbreaking film for its time. Katherine Houghton, in her film debut, stars as Joey Drayton who comes home to introduce her parents to her fiance John, played by Sidney Poitier, who is black and Joey is white. This movie was during the rise of segregation of the blacks and whites so while it is still looked down upon some in today's society, it's not nearly as bad as this time period. Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn play Joey's parents whose beliefs are challenged when this unexpected event occurs and John tells the parents that for him to marry her, he must have their approval. To add to the complications, John's parents come to visit who also do not know of the interracial relationship and must also try to adjust to this news. Houghton is the actual niece of Hepburn. This is the last of many teamings between the iconic duo of Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn and the last movie for Tracy who died days after this movie was done. This movie really did a lot for the segregation of that time period. When this movie was made, interracial marriage was illegal in 14 states but lots of changes were made after this film. Some of the younger generations might not understand the significance today but remember, when this was made it was very controversial where people who watched it had to analyze their beliefs.

10. Lombardi (2010 TV Movie)

90 min | Documentary

A documentary based on the football legend Vince Lombardi who took the Green Bay Packers to 2 straight Super Bowl Victories.

Stars: Lionel Aldridge, Vicki Aldridge, Colonel Earl 'Red' Blaik, Tom Brookshier

Votes: 138

I end with this documentary which I felt was quite fitting being near the Super Bowl. This is an HBO documentary which tells the story of the legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi. This talks about his childhood up to his death. There is interviews by his widowed wife, children, and players. On my last entry, I discussed the prejudice that blacks had to deal with and in this one I found interesting that he dealt with his own prejudice about him being of Italian descent but made him more open-minded. Much of his players commented on his methods to get the best out of them but also commented on how caring he was towards them. I don't remember which player but they talked on this about how one of his black players wanted to marry a white woman and actually asked his blessing in which Lombardi had no problems with it. Like my last entry, it mentioned how interracial marriage was illegal in some states. At the time, Lombardi took some heat from his superiors for giving this approval showing how far we have come. This obviously talks about his days with the New York Giants, then his two Superbowls with the Packers, and his last days with the Redskins but it goes far beyond that and is very informative. This is available on Comcast On-Demand through the HBO documentaries.