October 20, 2016 Leave a comment

peggysuegotmarriedTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Although he is best known for his epic gangster Godfather trilogy, and for the classic war movie Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola has made many other movies in his career, and some of them are much less dramatic and shocking. One of those is the 1986 film Peggy Sue Got Married, a romantic comedy-drama wish fulfillment-fantasy written by husband and wife team Jerry Leichtling and Arlene Sarner. Kathleen Turner stars as Peggy Sue Bodell, who attends her 25-year high school reunion shortly after separating from her unfaithful husband Charlie (Nicolas Cage), her former high school sweetheart. Peggy Sue regrets many of the decisions she made in her life, such as getting pregnant by Charlie in high school, and feels that her circumstances would be different if she had the chance to do it over again. Peggy Sue faints at the reunion, and when she wakes up she magically finds herself in 1960, back in high school, and with the chance to right the wrongs of the past. The film, which co-starred Barry Miller, Catherine Hicks, Joan Allen, and a 24-year-old Jim Carrey, was both a commercial and a critical success, and was nominated for three Academy Awards, including one for Turner as Best Actress. The film also features an original score by the legendary John Barry, the second and last of his collaborations with Coppola after The Cotton Club in 1984. Read more…


October 18, 2016 1 comment

birthofanationOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

In 1915 the pioneering film director D. W. Griffith released The Birth of a Nation, which he had adapted from the novel The Clansman by T. F. Dixon Jr. Looking back on it now, it is clearly one of the most groundbreaking and important films ever made, but at the same time it is one of the most abhorrent too. Despite being a silent film shot in black and white, it broke ground in terms of cinematic artistry; Griffith essentially invented many of the filmmaking tools we take for granted today, including pans and zooms, close-ups, cross-cut editing in order to tell parallel stories simultaneously, and choreographed action sequences. It also featured one of the first ever commissioned film scores, written by composer Joseph Carl Breil. As a technological achievement, the original Birth of a Nation is an absolute masterpiece. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most racist films in the history of cinema. To boil it down to its nuts and bolts, it’s a heroic tale about the Ku Klux Klan, who become righteous freedom fighters in the aftermath of the Civil War, saving the noble white folk in the south from the “insolent niggers” from the north, most of whom were played by white actors in eye-rolling, mugging blackface. Time has not been kind to Griffith’s film, and rightfully so; today most film scholars praise its technological achievements, but utterly denounce its content, although Roger Ebert did write of it: “The Birth of a Nation is not a bad film because it argues for evil. Like Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will, it is a great film that argues for evil. To understand how it does so is to learn a great deal about film, and even something about evil”. Read more…


October 15, 2016 1 comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Legendary producer-director Cecil B. DeMille, who at 72 was nearing the end of a great career, sought to reclaim past glory with a film that would serve as his crowning achievement. After much thought, he found his answer, in his past. He announced to the world in 1952 of his intention to remake his 1923 film, “The Ten Commandments.” DeMille stated that his retelling of the story would focus exclusively on the life of Moses. This epic film’s preparation took five years, with the script alone requiring three years to write, and the actual filming taking two years. DeMille insisted on a timeless script and so hired a quartet of screenplay writers headed by Aeneas MacKenzie to accomplish the task. The team drew upon three contemporary novels; “Prince Of Egypt” by Dorothy Clarke Wilson, “Pillar Of Fire” by Reverend J. H. Ingraham and “On Eagle’s Wing” by Reverend A. E. Southon. Lastly, DeMille insisted on historical accuracy and fidelity to the ancient texts, which included the works of Philo, Josephus, Eusebius, The Midrash and The Holy Scriptures. Read more…


October 14, 2016 1 comment

missperegrineshomeforpeculiarchildrenOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is the latest fantasy film from director Tim Burton. The film was adapted by Jane Goldman from the 2011 novel by Ransom Riggs, and stars Asa Butterfield as Jacob, a young man who, throughout his life, has been regaled with tall tales about his grandfather’s childhood at a home for “special children”. After his grandfather is killed by a mysterious monstrous creature, Jacob is compelled to visit Wales and seek out the home; eventually, Jacob discovers the house, its owner Miss Peregrine (Eva Green), and the children who still reside there – all of whom have mutations or abilities which make them unique. Gradually, Jacob learns the secrets of the house and its inhabitants, and the constant dangers they face from outside forces who want to obtain the powers of the ‘peculiars’ for their own ends. The film co-stars Ella Purnell, Samuel L. Jackson, and Judi Dench, and has been a popular success at the box-office, where audiences have responded well to Tim Burton’s eye-popping visual style. Read more…

ROUND MIDNIGHT – Herbie Hancock

October 13, 2016 1 comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

During the 1980s the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made some truly baffling decisions with regard to the Oscar for Best Original Score. In 1980 Michael Gore’s light pop score for Fame beat out The Empire Strikes Back. In 1981 Vangelis’s one-theme electronic noodling on Chariots of Fire somehow defeated Raiders of the Lost Ark. In 1988 Dave Grusin won for The Milagro Beanfield War – a film and score which, at least amongst my casual acquaintances, virtually no-one has seen or heard. Perhaps the strangest decision, however, came in 1986 when jazz composer and musician Herbie Hancock won for his score for Round Midnight, beating composers of such eminence as James Horner, Jerry Goldsmith, and Ennio Morricone, whose losing score for The Mission was not only the best score of 1986, but is on the list of the best scores ever written. Read more…


October 11, 2016 Leave a comment

girlonthetrainOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Girl on the Train was one of the best-selling and most controversial novels of 2015, a psychological thriller about the murder of a beautiful young woman, and the mystery surrounding her death; the inevitable film version stars Emily Blunt in the lead role as Rachel Watson, whose life fell apart when she separated from her husband Tom (Justin Theroux), due to a combination of his infidelity, their inability to conceive a child, and her increasing alcoholism. A year later, Tom is happily re-married to Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), and has a young daughter; Rachel, however, is unable to let go, and repeatedly turns up at her old house, which she passes every day on the train during her morning commute. Rachel also fantasizes about Megan and Scott (Haley Bennett and Luke Evans), a seemingly perfect couple who live two houses away from Tom and Anna, and who she also sees from her train carriage. Things come to a head when Megan disappears and Rachel, who blacked out from drinking on the day of her disappearance, genuinely believes she may have had something to do with it. The film was directed by Tate Taylor, written by Erin Cressida Wilson from Paula Hawkins’s novel, and has an original score by Danny Elfman. Read more…

RAN – Tôru Takemitsu

October 10, 2016 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Ran, which translates as Chaos, was a passion project for the legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, and most critics believe it to be his last great film. He had envisioned the film for many years, and he even made detailed paintings of the castles and sets he hoped to one day construct. He began writing the screenplay in 1976 but production was delayed by Tōhō Studios executives who balked at the estimated $5 million price tag, which would have made it the most expensive Japanese film ever made. The fact that his last film, Dodes’kaden, was a box office flop also served to harden studio resistance. Fortunately the great success of his film Kagemusha restored studio confidence in Kurosawa, and he was able to forge a partnership, securing funds from French producer Serge Silberman. There are recognizable parallels between Ran and Shakespeare’s King Lear, although Kurosawa related that the similarities did not become apparent to him until after he had conceived his script. Ran was Kurosawa’s last great epic film, one that offers a classic morality play, which affirms the truism that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. We are offered an excruciating tragedy, which reveals deception, envy, treachery, betrayal and hubris. Read more…