Archive for November, 2014


November 29, 2014 11 comments

hungergamesmockingjay1Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The third movie in the massively popular Hunger Games franchise based on the novels by Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay is the first part of the epic finale to the story of Katniss Everdeen and her efforts to overthrow the cruel and corrupt government of Panem. It picks up immediately after the events of the second film, Catching Fire, and finds Katniss, having destroyed the hunger games dome built to stage the ‘quarter quell’, being rescued by the rebels and taken to District 13, the stronghold previously thought to be in ruins, but which is actually under the control of rebel leader Alma Coin. Katniss’s actions have instigated an uprising in the other districts, inspiring the ruthless President Snow to retaliate with sadistic military action; not only that, Snow has taken Katniss’s friend Peeta Mullark prisoner, and is using him to spread propaganda against Katniss. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, and Donald Sutherland, is directed by Francis Lawrence, and sees composer James Newton Howard returning for the third time. Read more…

SUPERGIRL – Jerry Goldsmith

November 26, 2014 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Supergirl was envisaged as a spin-off, capitalizing on the enormous success of the Christopher Reeve Superman franchise. Originally created in 1959 by Otto Binder and Al Plastino, the character was a popular but under-utilized member of the DC Comics family until this, her first big-screen appearance in 1984. Directed by Jeannot Szwarc from a screenplay by David Odell, the film starred Helen Slater as Clark Kent’s cousin Kara, an inhabitant of Argo City, the last surviving remnant of the planet Krypton following its destruction in the first reel of Superman: The Movie. When Kara’s teacher and mentor Zaltar (Peter O’Toole) accidentally allows a special and exceptionally powerful jewel called the Omegahedron to travel to Earth, Kara follows it, intending to retrieve it and bring it home; once there, she finds she has acquired powers similar to that of her cousin, which she must use to stop an evil witch named Selena (Faye Dunaway), who has found the Omegahedron and intends to use it to increase her powers. Read more…

THE HOMESMAN – Marco Beltrami

November 24, 2014 3 comments

thehomesmanOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Homesman, based on the acclaimed novel by Glendon Swarthout, is the third film directed by the Academy Award-winning actor Tommy Lee Jones. Set in Nebraska in the late 1850s, in the earliest days of the American expansion west, it stars Hilary Swank as Mary Bee Cuddy, a middle-aged spinster from New York, a former teacher who journeyed to the Midwest seeking a new life, and a husband, but who has continually had her marriage proposals rejected. Following an especially harsh winter, three young women – Arrabella Sours (Grace Gummer), Theoline Belknapp (Miranda Otto), and Gro Svendsen (Sonja Richter) – begin to show signs of insanity due to the hardships they faced; in an effort to save the women, Mary Bee agrees to transport them across several hundred miles of rugged and dangerous terrain to Iowa, where the women of a church have agreed to take them in. To accompany and protect her on her journey, Mary Bee acquires the reluctant help of George Briggs (Jones), a disheveled claim jumper who she saves from being lynched, but who has a mysterious past of his own. Read more…


November 22, 2014 7 comments

interstellarOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar is a science fiction epic on a grand scale. Set in a future where life on Earth is in jeopardy due to a series of environmental disasters, the film follows Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a former pilot turned corn farmer, whose precocious daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy) believes she is receiving messages written in dust from a ghost in her bedroom. One of these messages eventually leads Cooper to a secret NASA installation where, under the radar and away from the public eye, Professor Brand (Michael Caine) and astronauts Amelia (Anne Hathaway) and Doyle (Wes Bentley) have been working on a project to save humanity. Their plan involves piloting a ship to the space around Saturn, where friendly ‘fifth-dimensional beings’ have placed a wormhole to the far side of the galaxy. The hope is that, on the other side of the wormhole, a new planet capable of sustaining human life can be found and colonized. Read more…


November 20, 2014 Leave a comment

laststarfighterTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Last Starfighter was a popular science-fiction adventure film for kids, directed by Nick Castle. The film tells the story of Alex Rogan (Lance Guest), an average teenage boy living in a trailer park, who passes the time playing – and getting very good – at an arcade video game called Starfighter. One day, shortly after Alex breaks the all-time record points score of the game, he is approached by Centauri (Robert Preston), the ‘inventor of the game’. Before he knows what’s happening, Alex is whisked off into outer space, where he is recruited by an alien defense force to fight in an interstellar war: it turns out that Starfighter was actually a training tool to find the best starship pilots in the galaxy, and Alex is now the last line of defense for the peace-loving people of our solar system against the threat of the evil Xur and the Ko-Dan Armada. The film was a major commercial success in 1984, and has the distinction of being one of the earliest films to use extensive CGI effects to depict its many starships and battle scenes. Not only that, but the film boasts a rousing score by the great Craig Safan, in what was one of the most significant box-office hits of his career. Read more…


November 18, 2014 1 comment

theoryofeverythingOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

In the annals of human history, it is likely that Professor Stephen Hawking will go down as one of our most important scientific figures, alongside Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. As a theoretical physicist, he is known for his contributions to the fields of cosmology, general relativity and quantum gravity, especially in the context of black holes; however, to the public at large, he is also known for being disabled, having suffered from motor neuron disease since 1963, a condition which has rendered him almost entirely incapable of voluntary movement or speech, and which gets progressively more severe each passing year. However, these overwhelming health problems have not stopped Hawking from becoming a scientific celebrity, working non-stop on his ideas and theories, making many public appearances, writing books, and even appearing in TV shows like The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory, complete with his instantly recognizable American-accented speech generating computer. Read more…

THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA – Dimitri Tiomkin

November 17, 2014 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

The Old Man and the Sea was a novel written by Ernest Hemmingway in 1951 during his stay in Cuba. Warner Brothers Studio purchased the film rights, selected Fred Zinnemann to direct, hired Paul Osborne to adapt it to the big screen and used Hemmingway as a technical consultant. When live sea filming failed and Hemmingway raged against both the script and marlin prop, Zinnemann and Osborne resigned from the project. John Sturges took over directing and at Hemmingway’s insistence Peter Viertel reworked the script. Given that this was an intimate story of a man’s personal struggle, veteran actor Spencer Tracy was hired to play the lead role of Santiago, with Felipe Pazos Jr. playing the boy Manolin. Read more…

THE MONKEY KING – Christopher Young

November 14, 2014 5 comments

monkeykingOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

In Chinese folklore and mythology, the story of The Monkey King is as important and well known as The Iliad and The Odyssey are to the Greeks, or as The Wizard of Oz is to Americans. Technically, The Monkey King is part of “Journey to the West,” one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature, which was written in the 16th century during the Ming Dynasty by Wu Cheng En. It tells the story of Sun Wukong, a monkey born from a magical stone who acquires supernatural powers. After rebelling against heaven and being imprisoned under a mountain for 500 years, he later accompanies a monk named Xuanzang on a journey to India, and subsequently brings Buddhism to ancient China. The story his been told in film and on TV several times, but never so lavishly as in this big-budget 3D Chinese film (Xi You Ji: Da Nao Tian Gong in its native language), which is directed by Pou-Soi Cheang and stars Donnie Yen and Chow-Yun Fat. It is the first of three planned movies, and is essentially the origin story – beginning with the birth of Sun Wukong and ending with his imprisonment for his crimes under the Five-Peaked Mountain. Along the way he acquires incredible powers, battling the armies of the gods and the armies of the demons to find his rightful place in the heavens. Read more…


November 13, 2014 4 comments

nightmareonelmstreetTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The world was introduced to the iconic horror movie character Freddy Krueger in 1984 in the film A Nightmare on Elm Street, written and directed by Wes Craven. Set in the fictional Midwestern town of Springwood, Ohio, the plot revolves around several teenagers who are stalked and killed in their dreams (and thus killed in reality) by Krueger, who appears to them as a horribly burned man wearing a red-and-green hooped sweater, a battered hat, and a glove with knives attached to its fingers. The teenagers are unaware of the cause of this strange phenomenon, but their parents hold a dark secret from long ago. The film starred Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, Robert Englund as Krueger, and Johnny Depp in his feature film debut, and was a massive critical success; along with John Carpenter’s Halloween, Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead, and Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street is considered one of the most influential and important horror movies of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The film spawned an astonishing eight sequels (including a crossover with Friday the 13th and a reboot in 2010), but none of them truly captured the raw, visceral terror of the original, which tapped into deep-seated fears about the nature of dreams versus reality. Read more…

THE IMITATION GAME – Alexandre Desplat

November 11, 2014 2 comments

imitationgameOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Alan Turing was a British mathematician who was highly influential in the development of computer science and artificial intelligence. During World War II, Turing worked for the British Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, and was responsible for creating ‘Christopher’, an electromechanical machine that cracked the codes of the German Enigma machine, and in turn enabled the Allies to defeat the Nazis in several crucial battles. Winston Churchill said that Turing made the single biggest contribution to the Allied victory in the war against Nazi Germany, and that his work shortened the war in Europe by as many as four years. The Imitation Game is the story of Turing’s life, and follows him through his work in WWII and beyond, where it is revealed that, in addition to unearthing German secrets, Turing had some secrets of his own. The film is directed by Danish director Morten Tyldum, stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, and has an original score by the ever-busy Alexandre Desplat, the fourth of his five scores written in 2014. Read more…


November 6, 2014 1 comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Terminator is one of the most acclaimed and important science fiction action movies ever made. Written and directed by James Cameron – then a fresh-faced 29-year-old making his mainstream debut after spending his apprenticeship working with Roger Corman’s New World Pictures – it took inspiration from the classic genre writings of people like Harland Ellison, and told the story of a young woman named Sarah Connor, who when the film begins is living a mundane life in suburban America in 1984. Connor’s world is turned upside down when a Terminator, an unstoppable human/robot cyborg assassin, is sent back in time from the year 2029 to murder her. She is saved by Kyle Reese, who explains that he was also sent back in time on the orders of John Connor, the leader of a group of resistance fighters on the brink of victory against the machine army that took over the world following a nuclear holocaust, and who is Sarah’s future son. The Terminator’s mission is to kill Sarah before John is born; Kyle’s mission is to protect her. The film was a massive success at the box office, reaping in almost $80 million from its paltry $6.5 million budget, and made stars of its young cast, which included Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose career was subsequently launched into the cinematic stratosphere. Read more…

FURY – Steven Price

November 3, 2014 Leave a comment

furyOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Fury is a World War II action-drama written and directed by David Ayer, about the crew of an armored Sherman tank during the final days of the European Theatre. As the Allies make their final push toward Berlin, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) commands the tank and her experienced crew (Shia LaBeouf, Jon Bernthal, Michael Peña), but are forced to replace their gunner, previously killed in action, with a recently enlisted Army typist, Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) who, it transpires, has never even seen the inside of a tank before, let alone experienced the ravages of war. As Wardaddy and the crew of Fury are tasked with carrying out a deadly mission behind enemy lines, outnumbered and outgunned, we experience the horrors of conflict through Norman’s eyes. Read more…

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MIKLÓS RÓZSA – Fathers of Film Music, Part 6

November 1, 2014 2 comments

Miklós RózsaArticle by Craig Lysy

Born: 18 April 1907, Budapest, Hungary.
Died: 27 July 1995

Miklós Rózsa was born to upper class parents who resided in Budapest during the waning years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His mother, Regina Berkovits, was an accomplished pianist who had studied with pupils of Franz Liszt, while his father, Gyula, was a prominent industrialist. Both had a love for classical music, traditional folk songs and instilled in Miklós a love of music. His maternal uncle Lajos Berkovits, an accomplished violinist with the Budapest Opera, presented him with his first instrument, a violin at the age of five. Rózsa began formal study under Lajos Berkovits (a pupil of Hubay), which also included training with both the viola and piano. By age eight he was already composing original works and performing in public, which included a movement from a Mozart violin concerto where he dressed as Mozart, and also as conductor of a children’s orchestra where he turned in a splendid performance of Haydn’s Toy Symphony. Read more…