FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF – Ira Newborn

September 29, 2016 Leave a comment

ferrisbuellersdayoffTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

If you ask anyone who grew up in the 1980s to name the sausage king of Chicago, chances are they will immediately reply Abe Froman, such is the enduring legacy of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. A raucous comedy written and directed by John Hughes – hot off the success of Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Weird Science – the film stars Matthew Broderick as the eponymous hero, a smart-mouthed high school slacker who fakes an illness to take a day off school; after convincing his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) and his uptight best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) to join him, they take Cameron’s father’s beloved Ferrari into Chicago for a day of mischief. However, high school teacher Mr. Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) is wise to Ferris’s antics, and is determined to put a stop to his delinquency once and for all. The film was an enormous critical and popular success, raking in millions of dollars at the box office over the summer of 1986, and making a star of its charismatic young leading man, while many of the film’s scenes and catchphrases became cultural touchstones for American kids. Personally, however, I have never been a huge fan of the film; I always found Ferris and his antics to be annoyingly egotistical, completely oblivious to the genuine protestations of his friends regarding his behavior, although I do find some of the set-pieces and one liners to be pretty amusing. Read more…

SNOWDEN – Craig Armstrong

September 27, 2016 Leave a comment

snowdenOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Director Oliver Stone has been making films about American politics for more than 30 years, ruminating on the events and repercussions of American wars (Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July, Heaven & Earth), looking at the lives of Presidents (Nixon, JFK, W.), or exposing significant events in recent US history (World Trade Center). His most recent film falls into that latter category, and revolves around the life of Edward Snowden, a brilliant computer scientist who worked for the CIA and the NSA until 2013, when he leaked classified information to the Guardian newspaper about the extent of the US government’s numerous global surveillance programs. Opinion about Snowden remains polarized. Some consider him to be a hero and a patriot, whose disclosures about the US’s use of mass surveillance on its own citizens rightfully bring to light the issues of government transparency and an individual’s right to privacy; others consider him to be a criminal and a traitor, whose illegal actions jeopardized national security and put lives at risk. This smart, timely film stars Joseph Gordon Levitt as Snowden, and has a strong supporting cast of character actors including Shailene Woodley, Zachary Quinto, Melissa Leo, Tom Wilkinson, Rhys Ifans, and Nicolas Cage. Read more…

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN – James Horner and Simon Franglen

September 23, 2016 2 comments

magnificentseven2016Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The death of James Horner in June 2015, in a plane crash at the age of 61, was one of the most shocking events to hit the film music community in many, many years. It wasn’t just the fact that Horner was seemingly on the verge of a comeback, having written several classical pieces and new scores in the preceding year, and having signed to write several new works (Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge, Zhang Yimou’s The Great Wall, and several Avatar sequels among them); it was the suddenness, the randomness of it all, coming completely out of the blue with no time to prepare for a film music world without him. At the time, once the immediate grief and concern for his family had been addressed, thoughts naturally turned to his musical legacy, and all the great music he was yet to write, and which we would now never get to hear. As it turns out, Horner had one last gift to share – the score for director Antoine Fuqua’s remake of the great western The Magnificent Seven, starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, and Ethan Hawke as three members of a gang of gun-slinging heroes who team up to protect a town from ruthless industrialist Peter Sarsgaard, who is forcibly removing the inhabitants of a small Old West community for his own nefarious purposes. Read more…

LINK – Jerry Goldsmith

September 22, 2016 Leave a comment

linkTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Despite being generally regarded as one of the most brilliant and groundbreaking composers in the history of cinema, Jerry Goldsmith scored some absolute stinkers when it came to the quality of the actual movies themselves. The 1980s was particularly fertile ground for terrible films; the decade saw him working on such ignominious titles as The Challenge, Baby: The Secret of Lost Legend, King Solomon’s Mines, Rent-a-Cop, and Warlock, but perhaps no film sums up this rather unfortunate aspect to his legacy as Link, a movie about a monkey that embarks on a killing spree. The film was directed by Richard Franklin, for whom Goldsmith scored Psycho II in 1983, and starred Elizabeth Shue as Jane, a young American anthropology student, who travels to England to work with a brilliant but reclusive professor (Terence Stamp) at his remote Victorian mansion/research facility. However, once Jane gets to know the mansion’s simian inhabitants, she begins to notice unusual events occurring, and suspects that an aged orangutan named Link, who is basically the facility’s butler, may be responsible… Read more…

THE NIGHT OF – Jeff Russo

September 20, 2016 Leave a comment

thenightofOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Night Of is one of the more critically acclaimed TV dramas of 2016. It’s an American remake of the 2008 British drama series Criminal Justice, and was adapted for broadcast on HBO by Richard Price and Steven Zaillian, the director/screenwriter behind such excellent films as Schindler’s List, Searching for Bobby Fischer, Moneyball, and many others. Essentially, the show is an unflinchingly realistic look at the American justice system as seen through the eyes of Nasir Khan (Riz Ahmed), a Pakistani-American college student accused of murdering a girl in New York City. As Naz makes his way through the system he encounters numerous individuals who have control over his destiny: the lead detective on his case (Bill Camp), a scrappy ambulance-chasing lawyer (John Turturro), the dogged district attorney seeking a conviction (Jeannie Berlin), a hardened prisoner who takes Naz under his wing and teaches him how to survive in jail (Michael Kenneth Williams), and an idealistic young defense attorney (Amara Karan) who shares Naz’s ethnic heritage. But the show is more than simply a murder-of-the-month whodunit; Zaillian and Price use Naz’s story to spotlight the unfairness, harshness, and occasional corruption of the justice system, as well as the cultural and political overtones of being a Muslim man accused of murder in contemporary America. Read more…

CROCODILE DUNDEE – Peter Best

September 15, 2016 Leave a comment

crocodiledundeeTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Up north in the Never-Never, where the land is harsh and bare, lives a mighty hunter named Mick Dundee, who can dance like Fred Astaire.

In the late summer of 1986 the world went crazy for an Australian comedian and actor named Paul Hogan and his cinematic creation, Michael J. “Crocodile” Dundee. A fish-out-of-water comedy with a healthy dose of unconventional romance, Crocodile Dundee made a bonafide star out of its rough-and-tumble leading man, with his salty catchphrases and easy charm. The film’s plot is a fairly straightforward one: New York magazine reporter Sue Charlton (Linda Kozlowski) travels to the remote Northern Territory in Australia to interview bushman Mick Dundee, the subject of many tall tales regarding his adventures in the outback. After experiencing first hand Mick’s prowess and survival skills, Sue invites Mick to travel back with her to New York to “continue the story”. Upon his arrival in the Big Apple, Dundee finds himself bemused by the local customs, but quickly wins over everyone he meets – the lone exception being Sue’s sarcastic and arrogant fiancé Richard (Mark Blum), who belittles and patronizes Mick at every opportunity. Of course, as is always the way of things in movies like this, Sue and Mick begin to fall for each other… Read more…

KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS – Dario Marianelli

September 14, 2016 Leave a comment

kuboandthetwostringsOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Kubo and the Two Strings is the latest animated film from the outstanding Laika studio, whose previous efforts include such films as Coraline, Paranorman, and The Boxtrolls. The film is directed by Travis Knight and is set in a village in feudal Japan, where a young boy named Kubo practices the ancient art of origami, which he is able to magically manipulate by playing his shamisen, a three-stringed musical instrument similar to a guitar or banjo. Kubo’s father is dead, and his mother, who is ill, warns him about the dangers posed by his grandfather, the Moon King, and his aunts, the Sisters; they stole one of his eyes when he was a baby, and they covet the other one. Circumstances force Kubo to embark on a dangerous quest to search for his father’s armor, which he believes will protect him; he is accompanied on his journey by a magical monkey, and a half-man half-beetle samurai warrior who has no memory of his previous life. As they journey across the land, facing various dangers as they search for the armor, they are pursued by the Sisters, who will stop and nothing to thwart Kubo’s plans. The film – which has been the recipient of a great deal of critical acclaim – features the voices of Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, George Takei, and Game of Thrones’s Art Parkinson as Kubo, and has an original score by the Oscar-winning Italian composer Dario Marianelli. Read more…