84 CHARING CROSS ROAD – George Fenton

February 24, 2017 Leave a comment

84charingcrossroadTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

84 Charing Cross Road is a genteel British period drama directed by David Hugh Jones, based on the semi-autobiographical novel by American author Helene Hanff. The film stars Anne Bancroft as Hanff, and tells the story of the long-distance friendship that develops between her and antiquarian bookseller Frank Doel (Anthony Hopkins), who manages a shop at the titular address in London in 1949. The film is little more than a quiet character study, a snapshot of life on opposite sides of the Atlantic in the period immediately after World War II, but the story has proved to be immensely popular: the original novel was a best seller, the subsequent Broadway stage play was a smash hit, and this screen adaptation was a critical darling in the UK; Anne Bancroft won a BAFTA for her leading role, and the film was BAFTA-nominated for its screenplay, and for Judi Dench’s supporting role as Frank’s wife, Nora. Read more…

IFMCA Award Winners 2016

February 23, 2017 Leave a comment

johannjohannsson-ifmcaINTERNATIONAL FILM MUSIC CRITICS ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF 2016 IFMCA AWARDS; “ARRIVAL” TAKES SCORE OF THE YEAR, JUSTIN HURWITZ AND “LA LA LAND” WINS THREE OTHERS

The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) announces its list of winners for excellence in musical scoring in 2016, in the 2016 IFMCA Awards.

The award for Score of the Year goes to Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson for his work on the critically acclaimed science fiction drama “Arrival,” directed by Denis Villeneuve, starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. IFMCA member Jon Broxton said that “Jóhannsson’s approach to solving the film’s musical problems [is] absolutely fascinating, and the way he was able to musically convey some of the film’s more challenging cerebral ideas involving language and communication is astonishingly accomplished,” while IFMCA member Daniel Schweiger said that Jóhannsson “brilliantly captures both a sense of wonder and fear with beholding the mind-boggling, verbally-scrambled unknown, as whale cry motifs join with alternately moaning and chattering voices, backed by a strong orchestral sound that serves as a powerful universal musical translator in a way that’s both harmonically understandable, and profoundly strange.” This is the first IFMCA Award win of Jóhannsson’s career, him having previously been nominated for Best Original Score for a Drama Film for “The Theory of Everything” in 2014. Read more…

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A CURE FOR WELLNESS – Benjamin Wallfisch

February 21, 2017 1 comment

acureforwellnessOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

A Cure for Wellness is the latest film from Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski. It’s a creepy, paranoia-infused horror-thriller starring Dane De Haan as Lockhart, a young and ambitious Wall Street stockbroker who is sent to an idyllic but mysterious ‘wellness center’ in the Swiss Alps to retrieve his company’s CEO, who has been spending time there, and who has sent a troubling letter home to the executives. Upon arrival, Lockhart meets the wellness center’s owner and chief medical officer Heinrich Volmer (Jason Isaacs), some of the patients (Celia Imrie, Ashok Mandanna), and a strange young girl named Hannah (Mia Goth), but when he tries to leave the facility he is involved in a serious car crash. Forced to recuperate at the facility with a badly broken leg, Lockhart soon discovers some troubling information about the history of the place, and quickly comes to believe that things are not as they seem. It’s a visually startling and quite beautiful film which drips with atmosphere, and is very reminiscent of many of the European paranoia-thrillers of the 1970s set in murderous hospitals, especially those by directors like Dario Argento. It’s also completely bat-shit insane in the best possible way, with a denouement that takes grand guignol to violent extremes. Read more…

THE RED PONY – Aaron Copland

February 20, 2017 Leave a comment

redpony100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In the 1940s Republic Pictures was struggling to find its place in the sun, and so made a concerted effort to gain equal status with the major studios of the day. To that end they began to take on serious dramas with renowned directors. Producer-Director Lewis Milestone was hired to bring George Steinbeck’s short story series The Red Pony to the big screen. Steinbeck himself was hired to write the screenplay as the multiple story lines had to be blended into a cogent narrative. Milestone brought in a splendid cast which included Myrna Loy as Alice Tiflin, Robert Mitchum as Billy Buck, Louis Calhern as Grandfather, Sheppherd Strudwick as Fred Tiflin, Peter Miles as Tom Tiflin, and Margaret Hamilton as Teacher. The story is classic Americana, set in the 1930s, and takes place in the Salinas Valley ranching communities of central California. A young boy Tom is gifted a red pony colt by his father Fred. The two are not close and Fred hopes that the gift will strengthen the father-son bond. But instead of seeking help from his father, Tom instead asks stableman Billy to help assist him in caring for the pony and in its training. Read more…

THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE – Lorne Balfe

February 17, 2017 1 comment

legobatmanmovieOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Considering the combined box office success of both the Batman movies, and the 2015 Lego Movie, as well as the fact that the former character enjoyed a memorable extended plastic cameo in the latter, it was almost inevitable that the caped crusader would get his own Lego spinoff. Directed by Chris McKay, the film takes a fairly standard animated movie plot trope – Batman having to drop the ‘lone vigilante’ persona and work with his friends to stop the Joker – and surrounds it with a never-ending stream of pop culture references, in-jokes, cameos, and one-liners, some of which come so thick and fast that they barely have time to register as being funny before the next gag hits. Parts of The Lego Batman Movie are genuinely brilliant, creative and clever, and very funny, but the whole thing feels like a movie designed by a hyperactive six year old on way too much sugar. Visually, the movie veers from being astonishingly good to being a brain-smashing mess, while the action sequences feel like they are edited with an average shot length of less than a second. It’s a movie which, by the end, has relentlessly hammered you into submission, and left you gasping for breath and crawling for the exit. Read more…

BAFTA Winners 2016

February 12, 2017 Leave a comment

hurwitz-baftaThe British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) have announced the winners of the 70th British Academy Film Awards, honoring the best in film in 2016.

In the Best Original Score category composer Justin Hurwitz won the award for his score for the contemporary screen music La La Land. In accepting his award, Hurwitz said:

“Thank you to the Academy. I wanted to share this as well with our incredible lyricists, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who wrote all the words. I remember talking a couple of years ago to somebody who came to the BAFTAs as a part of a movie that had multiple nominations and they were saying that one of the coolest things was getting to know other people who worked on the movie who you may not have known, and that’s not the experience I’m having because this was such an unusually collaborative movie where from the very beginning we were working under one roof, and I got to see these other artists work up close. I got to see Mary Zophres designing the costumes, and watch the Wascos work, and watch Linus (Sandgren) shoot it, and I was constantly inspired by the work of these other artists, which is a cool experience for a composer in general, but to see it under the direction of Damian (Chazelle), who’s so masterful, is really something I’ll never forget. This is very cool trophy, by the way, I really like it. Beautiful Thank you!”

The other nominees were Jóhann Jóhannsson for Arrival, Abel Korzeniowski for Nocturnal Animals, Mica Levi for Jackie, and Dustin O’Halloran and Volker “Hauschka” Bertelmann for Lion.

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NEWTOWN – Fil Eisler

February 11, 2017 3 comments

newtownOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Friday, December 14, 2012, began as a fairly standard day in Newtown, Connecticut. People getting up, eating breakfast with their families, and heading to work. Moms and dads dropping their kids off at school. This all changed at 9:35am when a mentally ill young man named Adam Lanza stole a shotgun, murdered his mother, and then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School, where he subsequently shot and killed 26 other people – most of them children aged six and seven – before turning the gun on himself. The incident was the deadliest mass shooting at a high school or grade school, and the third-deadliest mass shooting by a single person in American history – and yet, despite public outcry, despite the catastrophic numbers of dead children, the Government of then-President Barack Obama was unable to pass stricter laws on gun ownership. It remains ridiculously easy for Americans to buy these sorts of deadly weapons, and as such future tragedies like this remain a distinct possibility. These events, and their aftermath, are examined in detail in the harrowing documentary feature Newtown, directed by Kim A. Snyder. Read more…