THE HOMESMAN – Marco Beltrami

November 24, 2014 1 comment

thehomesmanOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Homesman, based on the acclaimed novel by Glendon Swarthout, is the third film directed by the Academy Award-winning actor Tommy Lee Jones. Set in Nebraska in the late 1850s, in the earliest days of the American expansion west, it stars Hilary Swank as Mary Bee Cuddy, a middle-aged spinster from New York, a former teacher who journeyed to the Midwest seeking a new life, and a husband, but who has continually had her marriage proposals rejected. Following an especially harsh winter, three young women – Arrabella Sours (Grace Gummer), Theoline Belknapp (Miranda Otto), and Gro Svendsen (Sonja Richter) – begin to show signs of insanity due to the hardships they faced; in an effort to save the women, Mary Bee agrees to transport them across several hundred miles of rugged and dangerous terrain to Iowa, where the women of a church have agreed to take them in. To accompany and protect her on her journey, Mary Bee acquires the reluctant help of George Briggs (Jones), a disheveled claim jumper who she saves from being lynched, but who has a mysterious past of his own. Read more…

INTERSTELLAR – Hans Zimmer

November 22, 2014 5 comments

interstellarOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar is a science fiction epic on a grand scale. Set in a future where life on Earth is in jeopardy due to a series of environmental disasters, the film follows Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a former pilot turned corn farmer, whose precocious daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy) believes she is receiving messages written in dust from a ghost in her bedroom. One of these messages eventually leads Cooper to a secret NASA installation where, under the radar and away from the public eye, Professor Brand (Michael Caine) and astronauts Amelia (Anne Hathaway) and Doyle (Wes Bentley) have been working on a project to save humanity. Their plan involves piloting a ship to the space around Saturn, where friendly ‘fifth-dimensional beings’ have placed a wormhole to the far side of the galaxy. The hope is that, on the other side of the wormhole, a new planet capable of sustaining human life can be found and colonized. Read more…

THE LAST STARFIGHTER – Craig Safan

November 20, 2014 Leave a comment

laststarfighterTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Last Starfighter was a popular science-fiction adventure film for kids, directed by Nick Castle. The film tells the story of Alex Rogan (Lance Guest), an average teenage boy living in a trailer park, who passes the time playing – and getting very good – at an arcade video game called Starfighter. One day, shortly after Alex breaks the all-time record points score of the game, he is approached by Centauri (Robert Preston), the ‘inventor of the game’. Before he knows what’s happening, Alex is whisked off into outer space, where he is recruited by an alien defense force to fight in an interstellar war: it turns out that Starfighter was actually a training tool to find the best starship pilots in the galaxy, and Alex is now the last line of defense for the peace-loving people of our solar system against the threat of the evil Xur and the Ko-Dan Armada. The film was a major commercial success in 1984, and has the distinction of being one of the earliest films to use extensive CGI effects to depict its many starships and battle scenes. Not only that, but the film boasts a rousing score by the great Craig Safan, in what was one of the most significant box-office hits of his career. Read more…

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING – Jóhann Jóhannsson

November 18, 2014 1 comment

theoryofeverythingOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

In the annals of human history, it is likely that Professor Stephen Hawking will go down as one of our most important scientific figures, alongside Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. As a theoretical physicist, he is known for his contributions to the fields of cosmology, general relativity and quantum gravity, especially in the context of black holes; however, to the public at large, he is also known for being disabled, having suffered from motor neuron disease since 1963, a condition which has rendered him almost entirely incapable of voluntary movement or speech, and which gets progressively more severe each passing year. However, these overwhelming health problems have not stopped Hawking from becoming a scientific celebrity, working non-stop on his ideas and theories, making many public appearances, writing books, and even appearing in TV shows like The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory, complete with his instantly recognizable American-accented speech generating computer. Read more…

THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA – Dimitri Tiomkin

November 17, 2014 Leave a comment

oldmanandtheseaMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The Old Man and the Sea was a novel written by Ernest Hemmingway in 1951 during his stay in Cuba. Warner Brothers Studio purchased the film rights, selected Fred Zinnemann to direct, hired Paul Osborne to adapt it to the big screen and used Hemmingway as a technical consultant. When live sea filming failed and Hemmingway raged against both the script and marlin prop, Zinnemann and Osborne resigned from the project. John Sturges took over directing and at Hemmingway’s insistence Peter Viertel reworked the script. Given that this was an intimate story of a man’s personal struggle, veteran actor Spencer Tracy was hired to play the lead role of Santiago, with Felipe Pazos Jr. playing the boy Manolin. Read more…

THE MONKEY KING – Christopher Young

November 14, 2014 2 comments

monkeykingOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

In Chinese folklore and mythology, the story of The Monkey King is as important and well known as The Iliad and The Odyssey are to the Greeks, or as The Wizard of Oz is to Americans. Technically, The Monkey King is part of “Journey to the West,” one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature, which was written in the 16th century during the Ming Dynasty by Wu Cheng En. It tells the story of Sun Wukong, a monkey born from a magical stone who acquires supernatural powers. After rebelling against heaven and being imprisoned under a mountain for 500 years, he later accompanies a monk named Xuanzang on a journey to India, and subsequently brings Buddhism to ancient China. The story his been told in film and on TV several times, but never so lavishly as in this big-budget 3D Chinese film (Xi You Ji: Da Nao Tian Gong in its native language), which is directed by Pou-Soi Cheang and stars Donnie Yen and Chow-Yun Fat. It is the first of three planned movies, and is essentially the origin story – beginning with the birth of Sun Wukong and ending with his imprisonment for his crimes under the Five-Peaked Mountain. Along the way he acquires incredible powers, battling the armies of the gods and the armies of the demons to find his rightful place in the heavens. Read more…

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET – Charles Bernstein

November 13, 2014 2 comments

nightmareonelmstreetTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The world was introduced to the iconic horror movie character Freddy Krueger in 1984 in the film A Nightmare on Elm Street, written and directed by Wes Craven. Set in the fictional Midwestern town of Springwood, Ohio, the plot revolves around several teenagers who are stalked and killed in their dreams (and thus killed in reality) by Krueger, who appears to them as a horribly burned man wearing a red-and-green hooped sweater, a battered hat, and a glove with knives attached to its fingers. The teenagers are unaware of the cause of this strange phenomenon, but their parents hold a dark secret from long ago. The film starred Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, Robert Englund as Krueger, and Johnny Depp in his feature film debut, and was a massive critical success; along with John Carpenter’s Halloween, Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead, and Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street is considered one of the most influential and important horror movies of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The film spawned an astonishing eight sequels (including a crossover with Friday the 13th and a reboot in 2010), but none of them truly captured the raw, visceral terror of the original, which tapped into deep-seated fears about the nature of dreams versus reality. Read more…

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