MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON – Michael Small

March 26, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Mountains of the Moon is an adventure-drama directed by Bob Rafelson, based on the novel Burton and Speke by William Harrison. A passion project for the director, it starred Patrick Bergin and Iain Glen as the real-life explorers Richard Francis Burton and John Hanning Speke, and is a dramatic chronicle of their expedition to Central Africa in 1857 which culminated in Speke’s discovery of the source of the River Nile. Although it was well received when it originally opened in February 1990 – it was described as ‘an epic of sweep and intimacy’ by Peter Travers in Rolling Stone – it is virtually unknown today, which is a shame because it is a film of genuine visual grandeur (it boasts cinematography by Roger Deakins), and has a terrific supporting cast including Richard E. Grant, Fiona Shaw, Omar Sharif, and Delroy Lindo in a very early role. Read more…

THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE – Max Steiner

March 25, 2020 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Warner Brothers Studio executives saw the success of Paramount Studio’s Lives of a Bengal Lancer in 1935 and decided to cash in on the British Empire Adventure Tales genre. It was decided that their vehicle would be a retelling of the epic charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War. Screenplay writer Michael Jacoby’s script for the story found favor with the studio and was purchased, although Rowland Leigh was brought in to make some edits. Samuel Bischoff and Hal Wallis were given the reigns to produce the film with a generous $1.33 million budget. Michael Curtiz was tasked with directing and a stellar cast was assembled, including Errol Flynn as Major Geoffrey Vickers, Olivia de Havilland as Elsa Campbell, Patric Knowles as Captain Perry Vickers, Henry Stephensen as Sir Charles Macefield, Nigel Bruce as Sir Benjamin Warrenton, Donald Crisp as Colonel Campbell, David Niven as Captain Randall, Robert Barrat as Count Igor Volonoff, and C. Henry Gordon as Surat Khan. Read more…

Under-the-Radar Round Up 2020, Part I

March 24, 2020 3 comments

With the COVID-19 Coronavirus having decimated the 2020 theatrical movie schedule, as well as the general mood of the world, good music is more important than ever when it comes to getting us all through these difficult times. As such (and as I did last year under much different circumstances) I am very pleased to present the latest installment in my ongoing series of articles looking at the best “under the radar” scores from around the world – this time concentrating on the first quarter of 2020!

The titles include romantic comedies from both China and Vietnam, children’s fantasy films from both Germany and France, a serious drama from Japan, a period murder-mystery from Australia, and a children’s adventure from the Netherlands. I heartily recommend all of these scores to anyone who needs some outstanding film music to ease them though their quarantine period! Read more…

JOE VERSUS THE VOLCANO – Georges Delerue

March 12, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

After receiving his first Oscar nomination for Big in 1988, but before he became an established box office draw with titles like Sleepless in Seattle and Philadelphia, Tom Hanks spent a couple of years trying to find his niche. One of the projects he tried which never took off was Joe Versus the Volcano, a highly peculiar comedy written and directed by John Patrick Shanley. Hanks plays Joe Banks, a luckless everyman who works a terrible dead-end job and is chronically sick. One day Joe is told he is dying of a mysterious and incurable rare disease, and accepts a financial offer from billionaire Samuel Graynamore (Lloyd Bridges) – he can live like a king for a short period, but then has to travel to a South Pacific island and throw himself into a volcano to appease the superstitious natives. With nothing to lose, Joe agrees, but when he meets and falls in love with Patricia (Meg Ryan), Graynamore’s daughter, who is captaining the yacht taking him to the island, he realizes he may have something to live for after all. The film was a critical and commercial flop when it was first released, but has become something of a cult film in the intervening years, receiving praise for its offbeat tone and sweet nature, and for the fact that this was the first on-screen pairing of Hanks and Ryan, who would go on to be Hollywood’s romantic comedy golden couple. Read more…

EMMA – Isobel Waller-Bridge and David Schweitzer

March 10, 2020 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

What a year it has been for the Waller-Bridge sisters. Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the actress and writer, won Emmys and Golden Globes and BAFTAs galore for her work on the second season of the brilliant BBC comedy series Fleabag, and also for her work as the creator of the drama series Killing Eve, before being hired to polish the screenplay for the upcoming James Bond film No Time to Die. Now Phoebe’s composer sister, Isobel Waller-Bridge, has followed up her own success writing the ironic choral music for Fleabag with this wonderful period score for a new literary adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma. Waller-Bridge has teamed up with another English composer, David Schweitzer, a child prodigy who has a massive amount of experience writing for documentaries and animated TV series, and contributing additional music on shows like The White Princess, Vanity Fair, Victoria, and The Crown. With the possible exception of Fleabag, this is the most high profile above-the-title score of both composers’ careers, and if the music here is anything to go by, we will be hearing lots from them in the future. Read more…

DOWNHILL – Volker Bertelmann

March 6, 2020 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Downhill is an English-language remake of the Swedish film Force Majeure, which was written and directed by Ruben Östlund and was nominated for a Golden Globe for best foreign language film. The remake, which is directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, stars Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Pete and Billie, a married American couple on a skiing vacation in Austria with their children. One day, while the family is having lunch at an outdoor restaurant, a controlled avalanche takes place on a nearby mountain; the snow comes perilously close to their table, to such an extent that Billie genuinely believes she is going to die. Pete, however, grabs his phone and runs away, apparently abandoning his family to save himself. Everyone survives, but this one incident proves to be the trigger for a different kind of avalanche – where simmering tensions in the marriage suddenly come roaring the surface. The film is a perfect blend of comedy and drama, and is anchored by winning performances by both Ferrell and Louis-Dreyfus, who somehow manage to make the film’s potentially jarring tonal shifts seem natural. Read more…

THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER – Basil Poledouris

March 5, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The character Jack Ryan is ubiquitous in American popular culture. He was created by author Tom Clancy and starred in a series of ‘techno-thriller’ spy novels, the first of which was published in 1984. Depending on how old you are, most people associate two actors with the character: either Harrison Ford, who played him on the big screen in the films Patriot Games in 1992 and Clear and Present Danger in 1994, or John Krasinski, who currently plays him on the small screen in the eponymous Amazon TV series. However, Ryan’s first appearance was actually in this film: The Hunt for Red October, which was released in theaters in the spring of 1990. Here Ryan is played by Alec Baldwin, and the plot of the film revolves around Marko Ramius (Sean Connery), the captain of the nuclear-capable Soviet submarine Red October, which has disappeared while on maneuvers in the north Atlantic. When it is eventually re-discovered, the CIA realizes that the Red October is headed directly for the US eastern seaboard, and immediately fears that an attack is imminent. However Ryan, a respected intelligence analyst, offers a different theory: that Ramius is actually trying to defect. So begins a cat and mouse game between the CIA, the KGB, Ryan, and Ramius, in which each of them is trying to uncover the truth before the incident sparks World War III. The film was directed by John McTiernan, and has an excellent supporting cast including Scott Glenn, Sam Neill, James Earl Jones, Tim Curry, and a young Stellan Skarsgård. Read more…