Archive for May, 2015

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD – Tom Holkenborg

May 31, 2015 3 comments

madmaxfuryroadOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

It’s been 30 years since the end of director George Miller’s original Mad Max trilogy – comprising Mad Max (1979), The Road Warrior (1981) and Beyond Thunderdome (1985) – which starred Mel Gibson as a former Australian highway patrol officer in a dystopian post-apocalyptic society, who gradually loses the last vestiges of his humanity as a result of his run-ins with various lawless biker gangs and opportunistic self-proclaimed leaders. Miller’s films were noted for their simple plotting, the monosyllabic central character, and the creative visual concept design, as well as for their mind-bogglingly spectacular chase sequences and car stunts, some of which are regularly cited amongst the most impressive ever filmed, and Fury Road continues the trend. In this latest film, which appears to continue the chronological adventures of Max, Tom Hardy takes over from Mel Gibson in the lead role; here, he finds himself involved in the civil war that develops between Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), the fearsome leader of a clan-like cult known as the War Boys, and Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), the driver of a heavily armored War Rig gasoline tanker, who escapes from Joe’s Citadel with his five wives – women specially selected for breeding – and intends to take them to safety in a mythical ‘green place’ beyond Joe’s control. Read more…

TOMORROWLAND – Michael Giacchino

May 29, 2015 1 comment

tomorrowlandOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Tomorrowland is a family fantasy-adventure film about the power of dreams and imagination. Directed by Brad Bird, it stars George Clooney as Frank Walker, a genius inventor who, as a child, was transported to a mysterious parallel universe known as Tomorrowland with the help of a young girl named Athena (Raffey Cassidy), and a magical iconic pin badge. Years later, Frank joins forces with a rebellious but cheerful genius teenager named Casey (Britt Robertson), who has also come into possession of a Tomorrowland pin, in order to avert a possible catastrophe. However, forces are in play who do not want Frank and Casey to succeed. To reveal more of the film’s plot would do it a disservice, but it wouldn’t be revealing too much to say that Tomorrowland is very much a reflection of Walt Disney’s own personal philosophies about science, technology, imagination, and optimism, as can be seen in his theme park attractions in Disneyland in California, and Epcot in Florida. This celebration of youthful enthusiasm, curiosity about the environment around us, and the ways in which humanity can come together to make the world a better place, is the driving force of the film, which espouses a hopeful worldview limited only by what we can imagine is possible. The film is an enjoyable romp, and a visual triumph, anchored by Clooney’s laconic good natured central performance. Read more…


May 25, 2015 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Legendary producer David O. Selznick wanted to make a film, which demonstrated his patriotic support for the war effort. However, he was adamant that he did not want to make a traditional war movie. As such he personally adapted the screenplay from the 1943 novel “Since You Went Away: Letters to a Soldier from His Wife” by Margaret Buell Wilder. Selznick hired veteran director John Cromwell with whom he had collaborated on nine prior films, and then assembled a quality cast including; Claudette Colbert (Mrs. Anne Hilton), Jennifer Jones (Jane Deborah Hilton), Joseph Cotton (Lieutenant Commander Tony Willett), Shirley Temple (Bridget ‘Brig’ Hilton), Monty Woolley (Colonel William G. Smollett) and Lionel Barrymore as Clergyman. The movie is set in a typical American town located near a military base, where people with loved ones serving in the armed forces struggle to cope with their absence. The main storyline concerns Anne, a housewife whose husband is fighting overseas. She struggles with his absence as she tries to meet the challenges of youthful romance from their two daughters who are growing into womanhood. The film overflows with sentimentality against the somber backdrop of families coping with grief, loneliness or fear for the future. I believe Selznick achieved his ambition, as the film was both a commercial and critical success, earning nine Academy Award nominations, winning one for Best Score. Read more…

A VIEW TO A KILL – John Barry

May 14, 2015 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A View to a Kill is the fourteenth official film in the James Bond canon, and the seventh and last to star Roger Moore as the fictional British secret agent. In this wide ranging story which spans the globe from Siberia to Paris to San Francisco, Bond locks horns with the psychopathic industrialist Max Zorin, played by Christopher Walken, who hatches a plan to destroy Silicon Valley in order to gain a monopoly in the worldwide microchip market. Bond is assisted in his assignment by wealthy geologist Stacey Sutton, played by Tanya Roberts, who helps uncover Zorin’s dastardly plan after he tries to strong-arm her into selling her family’s oil company, and there is the usual cast of supporting characters, evil henchmen, beautiful women, and ingenious gadgets. The film was directed by John Glen, co-stars Patrick Macnee and singer Grace Jones, and has an original score by John Barry, the tenth of his eleven works in the series. Read more…

WOLF HALL – Debbie Wiseman

May 12, 2015 Leave a comment

wolfhallOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The name Cromwell is a notorious one in British history. Oliver Cromwell briefly turned the monarchy into a republic when he overthrew King Charles I in 1649, and he and his son Richard Cromwell ruled the country for six years during the so-called ‘Interregnum’ period, before Charles II was restored to the throne. Less well-known, but no less important, was Oliver’s ancestor Thomas Cromwell, who served as chief minister to King Henry VIII for eight years in the 1530s. Cromwell played a pivotal role in the formation of the Church of England, which was initiated by Henry’s desire to divorce his first wife Catherine of Aragon, due to her failure to provide him with a male heir, and instead marry the apparently more fertile Anne Boleyn; Pope Clement VII would not allow the divorce, forcing Henry to break away and form his own church. Unfortunately, Cromwell proved to be a controversial and divisive figure who made many powerful enemies, and he was eventually arrested and executed on a litany of trumped-up charges in 1540. The BBC TV costume drama Wolf Hall, based on the historical novel by Hilary Mantel, chronicles the rise and fall of Cromwell through the corridors of power. Read more…

RED SONJA – Ennio Morricone

May 7, 2015 1 comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Cashing in on the popular success of Conan the Barbarian and the various other sword-and-sorcery epics of the early 1980s was Red Sonja, the tale of a barbarian warrior princess, based on the original story by Robert Howard, the creator of Conan, and directed by Richard Fleischer. The film starred Brigitte Nielsen, the Danish supermodel and future wife of Sylvester Stallone in her first acting job, in the title role as a woman seeking vengeance upon those who murdered her parents, while simultaneously embarking on a quest to find a magical talisman whose power could destroy the world. Despite the presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger in a supporting role as the legendary swordsman Lord Kalidor, the film was critically decimated, receiving brickbats for its acting, writing, direction, and wooden action sequences. In fact, possibly the only member of the cast and crew of Red Sonja to escape unscathed was the legendary composer Ennio Morricone, who unexpectedly found himself scoring the movie. Read more…

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON – Brian Tyler and Danny Elfman

May 5, 2015 8 comments

avengersageofultronOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The latest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Avengers: Age of Ultron, the eleventh film in the series since the first Iron Man film in 2008, and the second film featuring all the main characters after the first Avengers movie in 2012. Directed by Joss Whedon, the film sees the six heroes – Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) – teaming up to take on Ultron (James Spader), a sentient robot created as part of an Earth defense system by Stark, which achieves consciousness and decides that the only way to save the Earth is to eradicate humanity. It’s a visual extravaganza, filled with spectacular special effects, complicated action sequences, and plenty of witty banter between the protagonists, as well as a host of cameos from earlier Marvel films, and the introduction of several new characters which will play larger roles in future movies. Read more…

DAVID RAKSIN – Fathers of Film Music, Part 10

May 1, 2015 Leave a comment

David RaksinArticle by Craig Lysy

Born: 4 August 1912, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Died: 9 August 2004.

David Raksin was of Russian Jewish heritage; the eldest of three sons born in Philadelphia after his parents had emigrated to America. He was blessed with a musical family as his father Isidore played the clarinet professionally while also writing and conducting music for silent films. Isidore encouraged his son’s nascent talents and instructed him in both the piano and woodwinds. Well, young David was a quick study and by age twelve he had formed his own dance band, which he later expanded for broadcasting on the local CBS radio station, WCAU. During high school his talent earned him steady employment playing the clarinet for professional dance bands. Remarkably, he taught himself orchestration and received a bona fide Bachelors of Fine Arts degree. Upon graduation he enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania to study composition under Harl McDonald. He paid for his education by playing in society bands and radio orchestras. He also both arranged and conducted the first programs of improvised jazz at football games, for which he won several prizes. Read more…