Archive for September, 2015

BLACK MASS – Tom Holkenborg

September 27, 2015 1 comment

blackmassOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

James “Whitey” Bulger was a notorious and violent mobster who, basically, was the leading figure in organized crime on the south side of Boston, Massachusetts, throughout the 1970s and 80s, allegedly personally committing dozens of murders and being involved in everything from drug smuggling and racketeering to illegally exporting arms for the IRA. Throughout this time, however, Bulger was also an informant for the FBI, which turned a blind eye to Bulger’s own criminal activities, in exchange for the information he provided about other organized crime families in the area. This all changed in 1994, when a new district attorney decided to go after Bulger, who then fled the city. For the next 16 years Bulger remained in hiding, until he was finally captured in 2011 outside his apartment in Santa Monica, California, and was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment. The movie Black Mass, directed by Scott Cooper, tells Bulger’s life story; it stars Johnny Depp in a return-to-form performance as Bulger, Joel Edgerton as his FBI contact John Connelly, Benedict Cumberbatch as Bulger’s brother William, the former president of the Massachusetts State Senate, and has a superb supporting cast including Kevin Bacon, Dakota Johnson, Corey Stoll, Peter Sarsgaard, and Jesse Plemons from Breaking Bad. Read more…


September 24, 2015 1 comment

rambofirstbloodpart2THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Following the massive success of the original First Blood movie in 1982, it was inevitable that a sequel would be forthcoming. Rambo: First Blood Part II once again saw Sylvester Stallone returning to one of his most iconic roles as former United States Special Forces commando John Rambo. Having spent a year in prison as punishment for his part in the events of the first film, Rambo is visited by his old commanding officer, Colonel Trautman (Richard Crenna), and offered a deal – in exchange for being pardoned by the government, Rambo must return to Vietnam and investigate reports of American soldiers still being held captive by the Viet Cong. However, as Rambo arrives in Southeast Asia, all hell breaks loose, and the one-man army finds himself waging war not only against the Vietnamese, but against a group of corrupt Soviets who are funding them. The film was directed by George P. Cosmatos from a screenplay by James Cameron, co-stars Charles Napier, Steven Berkoff, and Julia Nickson as a local intelligence agent, and was an even greater commercial success than the original, becoming one of the most iconic action movies of the 1980s. Read more…

SICARIO – Jóhann Jóhannsson

September 22, 2015 1 comment

sicarioOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The rise to power of the Mexican drug cartels has caused immeasurable damage to the cities of northern Mexico over the last couple of decades, as rival groups battle to control the distribution of illegal narcotics across the border and into the United States. Murder, extortion, kidnapping, and corruption are all becoming increasingly commonplace, leaving the good people of border cities like Tijuana, Mexicali, Nogales, and Nuevo Laredo fearful for their lives in the face of the deadly violence all around them. Most dangerous of all is the city of Juárez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, which in the past decade has become the headquarters of the Sinaloa cartel, who notoriously leave the headless corpses of their dead enemies dangling from bridges in the city. The new movie Sicario, directed by Denis Villeneuve, is an uncensored journey into that world from the point of view of FBI agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt), who is asked to join a special team by mysterious government official Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), and his equally mysterious advisor Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), with a view to apprehending one of Juárez’s most powerful and notorious bosses. Read more…

FIRST BLOOD – Jerry Goldsmith

September 21, 2015 1 comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

First Blood was adapted from the David Morrell in 1972 novel of the same name, although an alternative ending was shot that preserved the story’s protagonist for future tales. Sylvester Stallone plays John J. Rambo, a Vietnam War veteran who gained honor and distinction serving as a member of the elite United States Special Forces, for which he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Yet all is not well as he is haunted by the horrors of war and cannot find inner peace as he tries to adapt to civilian life. As Rambo hikes through Hope, Washington, to visit a friend he arouses the interests of the xenophobic local Sheriff, William Teasel (Brian Dennehy), who promptly escorts him out of town. Outraged as his treatment as he has not done anything wrong, Rambo returns to the town; Teasel takes his return as a personal affront and promptly arrests him on false charges. When Rambo is further disrespected and physically abused by Teasel’s minions he snaps and switches into his special forces combat mode with predictable and devastating consequences for his abusers. After pummeling his abusers, he escapes the jail and then flees on a motorcycle to the safety of the woods. Teasel, of course, organizes a hunting party to bring Rambo in “to face justice.” What follows is a rampage of killing and destruction as Rambo brings Teasel and his city to the brink of defeat. Thanks to the timely intervention of his commanding officer Colonel Trautman (Richard Crenna), Rambo’s release and free passage is negotiated to save the town further carnage. The movie served as a potent commentary on the alienation and estrangement felt by many of our soldiers as they returned from a deeply unpopular war and attempted to re-assimilate into society. Read more…

AGNES OF GOD – Georges Delerue

September 17, 2015 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

After he won the Oscar for Best Original Score in 1979 for A Little Romance, it appeared that the great French composer Georges Delerue would make the leap from the prestigious European films for which he was known, and begin a career scoring prestigious Hollywood fare. After all, Delerue was the musical voice of the French New Wave, the composer of choice for directors like François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, and Alain Resnais, whose collaborations included such landmark works as Hiroshima Mon Amour in 1959, Shoot the Piano Player in 1960, Jules et Jim in 1962, Le Mépris in 1963, Les Deux Anglaises et le Continent in 1971, Une Belle Fille Comme Moi in 1972, and La Nuit Américaine in 1973. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened at all. Hollywood seemed to be completely at a loss with what to do to with Delerue, and instead of him being asked to score serious, worthy films, he ended up writing music for films that were, to put it mildly, deeply beneath him. Between 1980 and the summer of 1985 Delerue wrote music for such forgettable fare as Richard’s Things, Rich and Famous, and The Black Stallion Returns, and even had the ignominy of having his score for Something Wicked This Way Comes rejected by the studio. Thankfully, one person who appreciated his talent and knew what he could bring to the table was director Norman Jewison, who approached Delerue to score his serious religious drama, Agnes of God, in 1985. Read more…

NO ESCAPE – Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders

September 15, 2015 1 comment

noescapeOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

No Escape is an action/thriller/drama directed by John Erik Dowdle, starring Owen Wilson as American businessman Jack Dwyer, who arrives in Southeast Asia to begin a new life with his wife Annie (Lake Bell) and their two young daughters. As his company plans to improve the region’s water quality, the family quickly learns that they’re right in the middle of a political uprising, a situation which reaches boiling point when armed rebels attack the hotel where they’re staying, ordered to kill any foreigners that they encounter. Desperate to survive amid the utter chaos, Jack must find a way to save himself and his loved ones from the violence erupting all around them. The film, which also stars Pierce Brosnan, has unfortunately opened to largely negative reviews, many of which call the film “xenophobic,” “borderline offensive,” and “unpleasant” – the latter of which could also apply to Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders’s difficult original score. Read more…


September 10, 2015 Leave a comment

peeweesbigadventureTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The story of how Tim Burton and Danny Elfman met has probably been turned into an urban myth, Chinese whispers-style, by now, but here’s my understanding of how it went down. In 1984, Burton was an aspiring filmmaker, a former animator for Disney who worked as an artist on films such as The Fox and the Hound, The Black Cauldron, and Tron, and who had impressed many with his animated short film Frankenweenie. One fan of Frankenweenie was actor and comedian Paul Reubens, who actively sought Burton out to direct Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, the planned big-screen spinoff of his popular Pee-Wee Herman character, which has become a cult-success on stage. Burton was a fan of the theatrical rock band Oingo Boingo and its charismatic lead singer Danny Elfman and, when it came time to decide on a musical direction for Pee-Wee, he approached Elfman to offer him the gig. Unknown to Burton, Elfman had basically grown up as a ‘film music fanboy’, having a special affinity for the work of Bernard Herrmann, and jumped at the chance to work in the genre that had fascinated him all his life. The rest, as they say, is history. Read more…

JEROME MOROSS – Fathers of Film Music, Part 12

September 1, 2015 Leave a comment

Jerome MorossArticle by Craig Lysy

Born: 1 August 1913, New York City, New York
Died: 25 July 1983

Jerome Moross was born in Brooklyn, the second of three sons of a family of Jewish émigrés from Russia. Although his parents were not musicians, it became clear very early that he was gifted. He began playing the piano by age five and composing pieces by the age of eight. His parents recognized his talent and enrolled him in the DeWitt Clinton High School for the Performing Arts in Manhattan. It was here that young Jerome would first meet and strike up a lifelong friendship with Bernard Herrmann, who was two years his senior. Although Herrmann struggled with his studies, Moross possessed a keen intellect and advanced academically at a phenomenal rate, gaining promotions four times. He graduated from high school at the age of 14 – a most impressive achievement. Moross and Herrmann both had an affinity for the avant-garde modernist music that was burgeoning in the 1920s, and they pursued it together. In time they formed a trio with Hermann’s young brother, Louis, who played the cello, and they made a modest living, securing paying engagements around town. Read more…