Archive for November, 2013

PHILOMENA – Alexandre Desplat

November 27, 2013 1 comment

philomenaOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

In 2009 former BBC journalist and British Labour party political advisor Martin Sixsmith wrote the non-fiction book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, about the forcible separation of a mother and child by the nuns of an Irish convent, and the subsequent attempts of the mother and child to contact one another. This book has now been adapted by director Stephen Frears and writer Steve Coogan into the film Philomena, which charts the odd-couple relationship between Sixsmith and Lee as they journey to the United States to try to track down her son, and provides an interesting and damning look at the topic of the forced adoptions practiced by the Roman Catholic Church in the 1950s. The film stars writer Coogan as Sixsmith, Dame Judi Dench as Philomena, and has an original score by Alexandre Desplat, who previously worked with director Frears on the films The Queen, Cheri and Tamara Drewe. Read more…


November 22, 2013 2 comments

instructionsnotincludedOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Instructions Not Included – or, to give it its correct Spanish title, No Se Aceptan Devoluciones – is a Mexican comedy-drama film directed by and starring Eugenio Derbez which, contrary to all expectations, became an enormous box office success when it first hit cinemas in August 2013. At the time of writing is the fourth highest-grossing foreign language film of all time at the US Box Office with almost $45 million, just behind such acclaimed works as Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Life is Beautiful and Hero. Derbez, who is an enormous star in his native Mexico, plays Valentín, an Acapulco playboy whose freewheeling lifestyle is thrown into turmoil when a one-night stand shows up on his doorstep, and leaves their baby – Maggie – behind. Valentín and Maggie travel to Los Angeles to try to find the baby’s mother, but as the years go by the pair develop an unexpectedly strong bond, as fatherhood forces Valentín to abandon his reckless ways and become a responsible parent. However, as is always the case in these sorts of films, circumstances threaten to break father and daughter apart… Read more…

THE BOOK THIEF – John Williams

November 16, 2013 2 comments

bookthiefOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Book Thief, based on the popular novel by Markus Zusak, is a World War II drama set in Germany about the power of the written word. Young Sophie Nélisse stars as the lead character, Liesel, who is sent to live with foster parents (Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson), just as the specter of war looms over the country and Nazism begins to take hold. Through her innocent eyes Liesel begins to witness the first months of what would be eventually become the Holocaust, but through the compassion of her new parents, their imparted love of books and literature, and her friendship with of a young Jewish man named Max, she finds a way to deal with the atrocities that are starting to take place in her community. The film is directed by Brian Percival, best known for his work on the critically acclaimed TV series Downton Abbey, and has a score by the legendary John Williams. Read more…

IN EINEM WILDEN LAND – Karim Sebastian Elias

November 15, 2013 Leave a comment

ineinemwildenlandOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Germany has a surprisingly rich heritage of making films set in the American wild west – not so much spaghetti westerns as sauerkraut westerns – many of them adaptations of novels by Karl May about the adventures of Apache Winnetou, starring Pierre Brice and scored by Martin Böttcher. In Einem Wilden Land is a big-budget TV movie directed by Rainer Matsutani, starring Benno Fürmann, Darron Mayer and Nadja Uhl, which premiered on the German network SAT-1 in November. It follows the adventures of a family of German immigrants making a new life for themselves in the American West in the mid-19th century. Read more…

ENDER’S GAME – Steve Jablonsky

November 10, 2013 1 comment

endersgameOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Ender’s Game is a science fiction drama based on the highly acclaimed, hugely influential 1985 novel by Orson Scott Card. In the years after a devastating attack on Earth by an alien race known as the Formics, the human race has devised a strategy to prevent future attacks: a battle school designed to discover and train massively talented children to control the Earth’s defenses – children apparently have the capacity to learn and adapt to new situations and technological advances better than adults. Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) is one of these talented children, and the film follows him after he is chosen to take part in the elite military program by Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford), as the threat of a second attack by the Formics looms ever larger. The film, which is directed by Gavin Hood and also stars Ben Kingsley, Hailee Steinfeld, Viola Davis and Abigail Breslin, has some important points to make about the nature of war, manipulation and propaganda, and is visually stunning, but prior to its release became embroiled in controversy following the revelation about some of Card’s political beliefs, and may have suffered slightly at the box office as a result, leaving the possibility of an ongoing franchise doubtful. Read more…

QUAI D’ORSAY – Philippe Sarde

November 8, 2013 Leave a comment

quaidorsayOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Quai d’Orsay is a French satirical comedy from director Bertrand Tavernier, based on a comic book by Abel Lanzac and starring Thierry Lhermitte as Alexandre de Vorms, a fictional French foreign minister who is a thinly-veiled charicature of the real-life politician Dominique de Villepin. It portrays de Vorms as a pretentious, shallow buffoon, whose political career is continually saved via the intervention of his aide and lead speech-writer Arthur (Raphaël Personnaz), who continually steps in to stop his boss from making a fool of himself at official functions. Quai d’Orsay represents the ninth collaboration between director Tavernier and composer Philippe Sarde. The ironic and rhythmic score was recorded in Paris, orchestrated and conducted by Dominic Spagnolo, and features a number of local musicians including Ridardo Del Fra (bass), Jean Pierlot (percussion), Fréderic Couderd (saxophone) and Raphaël Didjaman (didgeridoo). Read more…

FREE BIRDS – Dominic Lewis

November 8, 2013 2 comments

freebirdsOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

There aren’t many films about Thanksgiving, that most peculiar of American holidays where families gather together to show how thankful they are for everything they have in life by eating enormous meals and watching American football on TV. For those who don’t know, the holiday originated with the original pilgrims who emigrated to the continent from Europe, and who were so inadequately prepared for life on a new continent that they almost starved to death in their first winter, until they were saved by the local natives, who basically showed them how to hunt and plant crops and not die. The pilgrims were so thankful that they almost immediately began a 200-year systematic eradication of Native American life and culture, but that’s another matter entirely; nowadays, the holiday is most closely associated with mass consumption of the humble turkey, which were plentiful during pilgrim times. Free Birds is most likely the first film to feature a cast of anthropomorphic animated turkeys, but you can’t have a Thanksgiving film without those tasty tryptophan-enhanced morsels, and so here we are… Read more…

VENUS IN FUR – Alexandre Desplat

November 8, 2013 1 comment

venusinfurOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Venus in Fur, a French-Polish co-production, is Roman Polanski’s big-screen adaptation of David Ives’s play, an erotic comedy-drama about the unusual relationship that develops between a theater director and a needy, manipulative actress during the audition process for a production of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s classic story of sexuality, desire and masochism, Venus in Furs. The film, which stars Mathieu Almaric as the director and Emmanuelle Seigner as the actress, explores the shifts in power between the pair as the relationship between those creating the play begins to mirror the one between the characters in the story itself. Read more…