CHARIOTS OF FIRE – Vangelis

December 9, 2019 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Lauded English film producer David Puttnam was seeking a new film project, which offered sports heroism and dealt with matters of conscience. By chance he came upon the story of runner Eric Liddell, and found exactly the tale he wanted to tell. He hired screenwriter Colin Welland to adapt Liddell’s story, and he meticulous in his research of the 1924 Olympics. He crafted an Academy Award winning screenplay that provided the vehicle for Puttnam to realize his vision. Hugh Hudson was hired to direct and he decided early that he would cast young, unknown actors for the film’s major roles, with established actors in the supporting roles. He chose Ian Charleson to play Eric Liddell, Ben Cross as his rival Harold Abrahams, Nicholas Farrell as Aubrey Montague, and Nigel Havers as Lord Andrew Lindsay, while adding Sir John Gielgud, Nigel Davenport, Lindsay Anderson, Ian Holm, and Patrick Magee to the supporting cast. Read more…

BACK TO THE FUTURE, PART II – Alan Silvestri

December 5, 2019 3 comments

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The enormous critical, cultural, and financial success of Back to the Future in 1985 meant that a sequel was inevitable. In the fall of 1989 director Robert Zemeckis returned with the first of not one but two further installments, shot back-to-back and ready to continue the time traveling exploits of Marty McFly, the suburban kid from 1980s California, and his eccentric inventor friend Doc Brown, who built a time machine out of a DeLorean. The ending of the original movie saw Doc picking up Marty and his girlfriend Jennifer literally the following morning after their adventure ended, and whisking them away in his now-upgraded flying automobile, promising them that “where they’re going they don’t need roads.” Where they end up going is the year 2015, to fix a problem with Marty and Jennifer’s future children – however, while they are there, Marty’s now-elderly arch-rival Biff Tannen contrives to steal the time machine himself, resulting in the creation of an alternate-timeline 1985 where Biff is a sleazy multi-billionaire and Marty’s stepfather. To fix things, Marty and Doc must travel even further back in time, once again to 1955, where they must re-restore the original timeline without screwing up the courtship between Marty’s parents Lorraine and George, which is happening at the same time! Read more…

THE GOOD LIAR – Carter Burwell

December 3, 2019 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Good Liar is a complex thriller based on a popular novel by British author Nicholas Searle. It is directed by Bill Condon and stars Sir Ian McKellen as Roy, an elderly conman who uses his wit and sophistication to swindle women out of their inheritances and savings – a real life romance scam, as it were. For his latest target he chooses Betty McLeish (Dame Helen Mirren), a widowed former history professor who he meets via an online dating app. With the help of his long-time ‘business partner’ Vincent (Jim Carter), and despite the misgivings of Betty’s grandson Steven (Russell Tovey), Roy wheedles his way into Betty’s life, and when he discovers that her bank balance is in excess of £2 million, he redoubles his efforts at wooing her. However, before long, Roy finds himself having to face questions about his past, which lead to some shocking revelations. To disclose more would be a disservice to the story, suffice to say that the final half hour of the film goes in some completely unexpected directions that will either delight or dismay viewers, depending on how willing you are to accept plot twists so far out of left field they basically originate in the stadium parking lot. Read more…

FAME – Michael Gore

December 2, 2019 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

David De Silva, a New York City talent manager, happened to take in the 1976 production of “A Chorus Line”. The song “Nothing” triggered a creative spark when it referenced the prestigious New York High School of Performing Arts. He envisioned a film, which would speak to the dreams, trials and tribulations of ambitious young adolescent students trying to break in to the business and launch their careers. De Silva travelled to Florida the next year where he met famed playwright Christopher Gore. The two connected, he pitched his ideas, story and characters, and then hired Gore to draft a script with a working title of “Hot Lunch” for $5,000. De Silva was pleased with the script, sold the project to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer executives, who authorized $400,000 to acquire the screen rights. De Silva and Alan Marshall would produce with a generous $8 million budget and Alan Parker was hired to direct. Read more…

THE HEIRESS – Aaron Copland

November 27, 2019 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The genesis of the film lies with renown actress Olivia de Havilland who one night fell in love with the Broadway play The Heiress (1947). She sought out director William Wyler and pitched the idea of him directing her in a film adaptation of the play. Wyler, who had long admired de Havilland, jumped at the opportunity to direct her in this film. He obtained permission from Paramount studios executives to purchase the film rights from playwrights Augustus and Ruth Goetz for $250,000, and then hired them to adapt their play to the big screen. Wyler would produce and direct the film. Supporting Olivia de Havilland in the titular role would be a stellar cast which included Montgomery Clift as Morris Townsend, Ralph Richardson as Dr. Austin Sloper and Miriam Hopkins as Aunt Lavinia Penniman. The story takes place in New York City circa 1849 and centers on the life of Catherine Sloper, the shy, doting daughter of her recently widowed father Austin Sloper. She lives an insular life in luxury, content with embroidery and dutifully caring for her critical and unloving father. She is an heiress set for life as her mother bequeathed her a $10,000 a year stipend, which would increase to $30,000 once her father passes. Read more…

MARRIAGE STORY – Randy Newman

November 26, 2019 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, before he became the King of All Pixar, Randy Newman often wrote scores for sensitive, small scale dramas – titles like Parenthood, Avalon, Awakenings, and then later Pleasantville. It’s been quite a while since he scored something similar, but Marriage Story is one of those types of films. It’s a contemporary drama that, essentially, takes an intimate look at the breakdown and eventual end of a marriage, and all the absurdities, legal wranglings, and emotional challenges such an event brings. The film stars Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson as Charlie and Nicole, the couple whose relationship we witness coming to an end. Charlie is a brilliant and mercurial New York theater director, and Nicole is an actress, his muse, and the mother to their young son. As the film unfolds we see them beginning to come apart at the seams – slowly at first, and despite them having the best intentions to keep everything civil – until, eventually, all the raw emotion and suppressed anger comes flooding to the surface. Driver and Johansson are absolutely astonishing in their performances – open, multi-faceted, wholly believable, devastating – with one scene in Driver’s apartment standing as one of the best-acted single scenes I have watched in many, many years. There’s also terrific support from Alan Alda, Laura Dern, Ray Liotta, and Julie Hagerty, and a sparkling screenplay by writer-director Noah Baumbach. Read more…

MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN – Daniel Pemberton

November 19, 2019 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Motherless Brooklyn is a period drama-thriller written and directed by Edward Norton, based on the acclaimed novel by Jonathan Lethem. It’s set in New York in the 1950s and stars Norton as Lionel Essrog, a detective who has Tourette’s Syndrome, a mental disorder marked by involuntary physical and vocal tics. Essrog works for Frank Minna (Bruce Willis), the owner of a small-time neighborhood detective agency, who is shot with his own gun by unknown assailants. As Lionel and his fellow detectives start to probe further into Frank’s murder they uncover a complicated conspiracy of power, corruption, and racism that stretches all the way to the top of New York’s political structure. The film co-stars Willem Dafoe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bobby Cannavale, and Alec Baldwin, and reminds me very much of films like Chinatown, wherein a relentless underdog detective takes on the wealthy and privileged and finds that the combination of money and influence is a powerful motivator for unscrupulous men – and that they will squash anyone who gets in their way to attain them. Norton optioned the story of Motherless Brooklyn almost 20 years ago, just after the original novel was published, and it has taken this long to be able to transfer his passion project to the silver screen. Read more…