Archive for October, 2012

CLOUD ATLAS – Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil

October 29, 2012 8 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Trying to write a brief synopsis of Cloud Atlas is an exercise in futility, given that it is one of the most dense, multi-layered, and complicated – but brilliant – films in several years, but I’ll give it a go. It’s based on David Mitchell’s sprawling 2004 novel, and at it’s core is a story about humanity’s continual yearning for freedom in all its forms, the way in which the threads of life are interlinked across time and space, and how the smallest gestures in one lifetime can have enormous and profound effects on generations to come. The film spans six separate time periods across multiple geographical locations, and even different genres. Contrary to appearances, these disparate elements all do connect with each other, having been expertly woven together by directors Andy and Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer, who worked separately on three segments each, which were then edited together to form the final cut of the film. It stars an ensemble cast including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw, Susan Sarandon and Hugh Grant, all of whom play multiple roles across the different stories, under varying applications of hair, false noses and prosthetic teeth. Read more…

A WALK IN THE CLOUDS – Maurice Jarre

October 26, 2012 3 comments


Original Review by Craig Lysy

The screenplay for A Walk in the Clouds was adapted and updated from the original 1942 Italian film Quattro Passi Fra Le Nuvole. In this incarnation the setting is California following the end of WWII. Paul Sutton (Keanu Reeves), a veteran adapting to civilian life, boards a bus and by chance meets Victoria Aragon (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon). She is headed home from college to help her family with the autumnal grape harvest of their estate called Las Nubes, or “the clouds.” Victoria is unmarried and with child and fears for her fate when she breaks the news to her traditionalist and old world Mexican father Alberto (Giancario Giannini). A sympathetic Paul proposes to masquerade as her husband in order to assist her in her time of need. As fate would have it, Paul and Victoria fall in love, weathering countless obstacles, including Alberto’s fierce opposition in the process. A crisis that threatens Las Nubes overcomes all opposition and serves to bring the lovers and family together for the quintessential happy ending. While not a critical success, the movie resonated with the public and also earned Maurice Jarre a Golden Globe win for best Film Score. Read more…

LINCOLN – John Williams

October 23, 2012 3 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In the annals of American political history, virtually no-one is as universally admired, revered and respected as Abraham Lincoln. Born into relative poverty in Kentucky in 1809, Lincoln rose from being a simple country lawyer to being elected the 16th President of the United States in 1860. During the course of his presidency Lincoln essentially re-defined the United States as we know it today, successfully defeating the Confederacy in the four-year Civil War, issuing the Emancipation Proclamation that essentially ended slavery in the country, and delivering the Gettysburg Address, one of the most famous political speeches of all time. He was re-elected in 1864 but, as we all know, was assassinated by actor John Wilkes Booth while watching a play in a Washington DC theatre in April 1865, before he could fully establish his second term. There have been many films over the years featuring Lincoln as a central figure, but director Steven Spielberg’s film – simply titled “Lincoln” – is a straightforward biopic of the man’s life and achievements. The film stars Daniel Day Lewis in the eponymous role, and features a stellar supporting cast including Sally Field as Lincoln’s wife Mary Todd, Tommy Lee Jones as republican leader Thaddeus Stevens, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Lincoln’s son Robert, David Strathairn as secretary of state William Seward, and Jackie Earle Haley, James Spader, John Hawkes, Jared Harris and Hal Holbrook in smaller roles. Read more…


October 22, 2012 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Wir Wollten Aufs Meer (Shores of Hope) is a German-language drama/thriller directed by Toke Constantin Hebbeln and starring Alexander Fehling, August Diehl and Sylvester Groth, all of whom featured in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. Set in East Germany before the wall came down, the film follows the lives of two friends, Cornelis and Andreas, who work as longshoremen on the docks at the port of Rostock, but dream of going to sea, and escaping their country’s crushing communist regime. However, their friendship is put to the test when the Stasi, the East German secret police, approach the pair, asking them to spy on their foreman, Matze, who is suspected to be planning a daring bolt for freedom. Faced with mounting pressure from the government, Cornelis and Andreas must make a terrible decision: can they betray their principles and their consciences and report Matze’s activities to the authorities, knowing full well that he will likely be sent to prison for life, if doing so increases their own chances of a better life? Read more…

ARGO – Alexandre Desplat

October 19, 2012 2 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979 saw 52 American diplomats being held for over a year by Iranian authorities after the American embassy in Tehran was stormed by students and military officials, in the wider context of the Iranian Revolution that ousted the pro-western Shah of Iran, and brought Ayatollah Khomeini to power. Most people know that the public crisis was eventually ended diplomatically by the outgoing President Jimmy Carter, but what people didn’t know – at least, until documents were declassified in the 1990s – is that six embassy staffers escaped from the building before it was taken by the revolutionaries, and spent months hiding at the Canadian Ambassador’s house until they were dramatically rescued by a CIA operative working with a Hollywood makeup artist. This hitherto-unknown story is the basis of Argo, the latest film from actor-director Ben Affleck.

Affleck himself stars as CIA special agent Tony Mendez who, in collaboration with his boss Jack O’Donnell (Bryan Cranston), Oscar-winning makeup artist John Chambers (John Goodman), and crotchety studio producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin), comes up with an outlandish plan Read more…


October 17, 2012 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Warner Brothers had long been attracted to the idea of filming a tale of the legendary lover Don Juan. After six years and countless revisions, screenwriter George Oppenheimer finally completed a script that satisfied Warner Brothers executives. Director Vincent Sherman was able to secure a fine cast that included the mercurial Errol Flynn (Don Juan de Maraña), Viveca Lindfors (Queen Margaret), Alan Hale (Leporello) and Robert Douglas (Duke de Lorca). The story concerns Don Juan de Maraña, Spain’s ambassador to the English court, who has damaged the prestige of the Spanish King with his blatant and insatiable womanizing. Discredited in diplomatic circles, Don Juan attempts to restore his standing after he meets the beautiful Queen Margaret, with whom he falls in love for the first time of his life. Although Margaret is trapped in a loveless marriage with King Philip III, she strives to resist Don Juan’s alluring and seductive advances. In a bold move to restore his honor Don Juan uncovers a plot by the King’s ruthless minister Duke de Lorca, to usurp the King’s authority. Regretfully he is outmaneuvered after De Lorca intimidates the cowardly king into compliance and threatens to execute the Margaret. Yet all is not lost as Don Juan with the assistance of his servant Leporello, fencing master Don Serafino, and court jester Sebastian have the last word. In a series of fierce battles he saves the day with an epic final sword duel with Duke de Lorca. The film was a critical success earning two Oscars, but only a modest commercial success. Read more…


October 15, 2012 4 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

On December 26th 2004 a massive 9.1 earthquake struck off the coast of the island of Sumatra, causing a colossal tsunami tidal wave to spread violently across the Indian Ocean. Countries such as Sri Lanka, Thailand and India were severely damaged by the effects of the tsunami, but the country of Indonesia was affected most, with some 131,000 people confirmed killed in its immediate aftermath, and hundreds of thousands more left homeless, and forced to deal with the disease and poverty that inevitably followed. Almost eight years later, the tsunami is generally considered one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recorded history, having already been classified as the largest earthquake for over 40 years, and the third largest on record. Director Juan Antonio Bayona’s film The Impossible – known as Lo Imposible in Spanish speaking countries – stars Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts as Henry and Maria, a normal family who happen to be on vacation in the country at the time the tsunami strikes, and who get caught up in the horrific tragedy. It is through their eyes, their plight, and their struggle to survive that we witness the devastating events unfold. Read more…

HALO 4 – Neil Davidge

October 12, 2012 Leave a comment


Original Review by Joseph W. Bat

It is strange to think today that video games are billion-dollar franchises. The gamer of today definitely knows of the Halo series of games. It was with Halo 2 & Halo 3 we saw arguably for the first time how games could be marketed as a blockbuster event like a big budget Hollywood film. Having early beginnings on Mac and PC, Halo made its debut on Microsoft’s at the time new video game console XBOX. And it has been home to it ever since. The original trilogy as it will be known now, created by developer Bungie Studios, brought a huge community together. It would spawn fan fiction, several novels, short films, and even catching the eye of Hollywood to develop a feature film. It isn’t often a hugely successful series like Halo changes creative hands, but that is exactly what Halo 4 is. Read more…

THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER – Erich Wolfgang Korngold

October 11, 2012 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

The Prince and the Pauper was Mark Twain’s first effort to write a historical fiction novel. Director William Keighley had screenwriter Laird Doyle adapt the tale for film and hired swashbuckler star Errol Flynn (Miles Hendon) to head his cast, which included Claude Raines (Lord Hertford) and the twins Billy and Bobby Mauch. The story involves the birth of two boys who share both an uncommon resemblance and destiny: the pauper Tom and prince Edward. As a kid, Tom would often sneak into the palace garden and play with the prince. One day they change clothes with each other and are discovered by the guards, which eject the prince who they assumed, was a pauper. As the two boys struggle with their new lives, King Henry VIII dies leaving Tom under the malevolent control of Lord Hertford the duty of assuming the throne. With the assistance of mercenary Miles Hendon, Edward succeeds in interrupting the coronation and regaining his standing as rightful heir. The film did not achieve critical success but was never the less a commercial success. Read more…

LOOPER – Nathan Johnson

October 9, 2012 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Looper is a high-concept science fiction action movie, directed by Rian Johnson and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt. The film takes the concept of time-travel and mixes it with organized crime; in the future, when the mob wants to take someone out, they use the newly invented but highly illegal time-travel technology to send someone back in time, whereupon they are immediately killed by a Looper – an assassin in the past. Joe (Gordon-Levitt) is one such looper, and is good at his job – until he realizes that his latest victim, just sent back in time, is the future version of himself… Critics have called Looper one of the most intriguing science-fiction movies in several years, and young director Rian Johnson is quickly becoming heralded as a new and exciting cinematic visionary. Read more…

THE MASTER – Jonny Greenwood

October 4, 2012 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Despite living in Los Angeles, and despite being a very casual acquaintance of someone who I know for a fact is one, I know very little about Scientology. You occasionally see them set up on Hollywood Boulevard, offering ‘stress tests’ to unsuspecting tourists, and you hear odd stories about Tom Cruise in the tabloid news, but beyond that my actual knowledge of the details of the late L. Ron Hubbard’s much-derided ‘celebrity religion’ is sketchy at best – little more than lurid tales of science fiction, aliens, past lives, and the like. In Paul Thomas Anderson’s film The Master, the word ‘scientology’ is never uttered, but it’s clear what is going on, and the film is a less-than-pretty expose of the origins of the religion. Read more…


October 3, 2012 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director Michael Wadleigh chose to adapt Whitley Strieber’s novel Wolfen to film, as he believed it afforded him an opportunity to infuse depth and intelligence into the horror genre. The story is a mytho-historical tale that reveals the existence of a hidden intelligent species called Wolfen that have co-existed with humans for centuries. After a city cop (Albert Finney) is assigned to solve a horrific set of violent murders, he gradually unravels the mystery that are the Wolfen who will now do anything to ensure their anonymity. Replete with Indian legend and folklore about wolf spirits, the story was heralded for its sophistication and effort to elevate the horror genre. Regretfully, the film ran seriously over budget and Wadleigh was fired and never allowed to complete his vision. The film was not a commercial success, however critics acknowledged it as an unusual and ambitious effort. Read more…


October 1, 2012 2 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A couple of years ago I wrote a review of the soundtrack for the film Gamer, by Geoff Zanelli and Robb Williamson, in which I posted my now-famous ‘polar bear with a migraine’ photo, and basically called it was one of the worst film scores I have ever heard in my life. Despite hating the music for that particular film, I was very careful not to criticize the composer himself, who was clearly providing exactly what the director and producer of that film wanted in terms music – which just happened to be music I cannot tolerate. A lot of us tend to forget, myself included sometimes, that a film composer’s primary motivation is to support with music the director’s vision of the film being made, and any secondary life the music takes on apart from the film is entirely inconsequential to the reason the music exists in the first place. A composer might be asked to write grating and grinding electronics for one film, as Zanelli was on Gamer, and a less-experienced critic might call him a hack, or whatever other derogatory terms spring to mind. But all composers, by necessity, have to be versatile, and Geoff Zanelli’s versatility and talent is highlighted by his work on The Odd Life of Timothy Green, a film score at the other end of the musical spectrum from Gamer as it is possible to be. Read more…