LETHAL WEAPON – Michael Kamen, Eric Clapton, and David Sanborn

March 23, 2017 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Although it was pre-dated by films like 48 HRS., Lethal Weapon is the film which for me best defines the 1980s buddy-cop movie sub-genre. It’s a thrilling, action-packed, funny, surprisingly moving film written by Shane Black and directed by Richard Donner, starring Mel Gibson as Martin Riggs, a loose-cannon LAPD cop and former Vietnam War sniper with a suicidal streak after the death of his wife. In an attempt to rein him in, Riggs is assigned a new partner in the shape of Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover), a cranky, by-the-book homicide department veteran with a wife and three kids at home, and who doesn’t tolerate Riggs’s increasingly off-the-wall antics. However, things become more difficult for the new partners when they become embroiled in a plot which links the death of a woman who committed suicide by jumping from a high rise with a gang of vicious drug dealers, and which becomes personal when it is revealed that the drug dealers may be men from Riggs’s past. The film co-starred Mitchell Ryan, Gary Busey, Tom Atkins, Steve Kahan, and Darlene Love, and was an enormous box-office smash, grossing more than $65 million in the United States alone. Read more…

DEBBIE WISEMAN: LIVE AT THE BARBICAN – Debbie Wiseman

March 21, 2017 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Despite me having been one of her strongest and most vocal supporters for the past 20 years, the music of Debbie Wiseman is still grossly underappreciated. For those who don’t know her, Wiseman was born in London in May 1963. She studied at the Trinity College of Music, and took lessons in piano and composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, studying with the noted Hammer horror composer Buxton Orr. She began her career writing for British television, including popular shows such as The Upper Hand, and made her first foray into film in 1994, with her score for the Oscar-nominated drama Tom & Viv. Since then, Wiseman’s career has encompassed such successful and acclaimed films as Haunted, Wilde, Tom’s Midnight Garden, Arsène Lupin, and Lesbian Vampire Killers. She also remains prolific on television, having written music for numerous popular and critically lauded series and TV movies, notably the acclaimed dramas The Death of Yugoslavia and Warriors (both of which were nominated for Royal Television Society Awards for their music), Othello, Judge John Deed, Jekyll, Land Girls, Father Brown, and Wolf Hall. Read more…

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL – Bernard Herrmann

March 20, 2017 2 comments

thedaytheearthstoodstill100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer Julian Blaustein had long sought to make a film that would serve as a metaphor for the dark pall of fear and suspicion, which had fallen over humanity following the onset of the Atomic Age. Unfortunately after reviewing over 200 scripts he was unable to find one that suited him. He managed to obtain backing from Fox Studio Executive Darryl F. Zanuck to hire screenwriter Edmund North to adapt the short story Farewell to the Master (1940) by Harry Bates. From the story Blaustein saw opportunity arise for thoughtful moral commentary against armed conflict. He also hoped that the story’s nuanced subliminal parallels between the alien visitor Klaatu and Jesus Christ would help drive home the message. Veteran director Robert Wise was brought in to manage the project, and a fine cast was selected, including; Michael Rennie as Klaatu, Patricia Neal as Helen Benson, Billy Gray as Bobby Benson, Hugh Marlowe as Tom Stephens and Sam Jaffe as Professor Jacob Barnhardt. Read more…

KONG: SKULL ISLAND – Henry Jackman

March 17, 2017 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

As the granddaddy of all monster movies, King Kong has an enormous legacy and is a major touchstone in cinematic history. Ever since Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack first brought the giant ape to the silver screen in 1933 his presence has loomed large over the genre, with multiple remakes and adaptations over the subsequent 70-plus years. The latest film to join the pantheon is Kong: Skull Island, directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, which is set in the 1970s just as the Vietnam War is coming to an end. U.S. government agent Bill Randa (John Goodman) acquires funding to lead an expedition to the mythical Skull Island on the pretence of conducting a geological survey, but who is actually searching for evidence of long-forgotten mythological giant monsters. Accompanying him on the trip are a platoon of US army soldiers led by Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), British SAS veteran and expert tracker James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), and photojournalist Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), among others. However, once they arrive on the island, the adventurers quickly encounter much more than they bargained for in the shape of a 100-foot tall bipedal ape known as Kong; before long they are fighting for their lives, not only from the protective Kong, but from the numerous other creatures who live on – and below – the mysterious island. Read more…

ANGEL HEART – Trevor Jones

March 16, 2017 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Angel Heart is a neo-noir mystery-thriller with elements of psychological horror, written and directed by Alan Parker, based on the novel Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg. Set in the 1950s, the film stars Mickey Rourke as Harry Angel, a hard-boiled New York private detective who is hired by a mysterious businessman named Cyphre (Robert De Niro) to track down Johnny Favorite, a musician who Cyphre helped become successful before World War II, but who has been missing for more than a decade. The trail leads Angel from New York to New Orleans, where he becomes embroiled in a labyrinthine plot of sex, murder, betrayal, and occult voodoo symbolism, which leads him to question his own sanity. The film was not especially well-received when it was first released, and was more notorious at the time for the fact that it cast 19-year-old Lisa Bonet – best known as the wholesome Denise on The Cosby Show – as a sultry Cajun nymphomaniac named Epiphany who has a torrid love scene with Rourke. However, time has been kind to the movie, and it is well-respected today for its sweat-soaked Southern Gothic atmosphere, intelligent screenplay, compelling lead performances, and impressive visual style. Read more…

VICEROY’S HOUSE – A. R. Rahman

March 14, 2017 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There have been quite a few films made about the independence and subsequent separation of India into three countries – India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh – towards the end of the British Empire. Mountbatten: The Last Viceroy from 1986 looked at the events from the point of view of Lord Louis Mountbatten, the final British ruler of the country prior to independence in 1947. Jinnah from 1998 was a fairly straightforward biopic of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the leader of the Pakistani independence movement. Partition from 2007 took a more personal view, looking at the lives of family members who were separated along religious lines. The new film Viceroy’s House, directed by Anglo-Indian filmmaker Gurinder Chadha, is yet another look at these important events, but this time from the point of view of the members of Mountbatten’s household, who witness the historic transfer of power, and the political and social upheaval of the period, from front row seats. The film – which has been described as having an Upstairs-Downstairs, or Downton Abbey feel – stars Hugh Bonneville and Gillian Anderson as Lord and Lady Mountbatten, and Manish Dayal and Huma Qureshi as Jeet and Alia, members of Mountbatten’s staff who fall in love, and has support from a plethora of British character actors, including Michael Gambon, Simon Callow, and the late great Om Puri. Read more…

A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE – Alex North

March 13, 2017 1 comment

astreetcarnameddesire100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Elia Kazan had achieved widespread critical acclaim while directing Tennessee Williams’ play “A Streetcar Named Desire” on Broadway. At the bidding of Williams, he was exhorted to duplicate this success on the big screen. Warner Brothers bought into the idea and purchased the film rights with the proviso that Williams himself write the screenplay. Since Kazan was already quite familiar and comfortable with the Broadway cast, most of them were brought in to reprise their roles, including Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski, Kim Hunter as Stella Kowalski and Karl Malden as Harold “Mitch” Mitchell. Studio executives however vetoed the talented Jessica Tandy from the Broadway cast for the lead actress role of Blanche DuBois, preferring to add the star power of Vivian Leigh. Read more…