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Archive for October, 2015

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE – Christopher Young

October 29, 2015 1 comment

nightmareonelmstreet2THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In the wake of the massive, and unexpected, success of A Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984, New Line Cinema realized they had a potential franchise on their hands. Audiences had responded very positively to Freddy Krueger, the wisecracking maniac with a striped sweater and a gloved hand full of knives who kills people in their dreams. Despite him having apparently been vanquished at the end of the first film, they found a way to bring him back for a sequel, and A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge got the green light for release on Halloween weekend, 1985, under the direction of veteran Jack Sholder. With the exception of Robert Englund as Freddy, the film featured an all-new cast, focusing on Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton), a teenage boy who moves into a new house with his family, without realizing that it is the same house where Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) fought Freddy years previously. Before long, Jesse is having nightmares about being stranded on a school bus with two girls and being stalked by a deformed killer; Jesse and his friends soon uncover information regarding Freddy’s legacy, but things quickly turn violent, and it becomes apparent that, instead of Freddy murdering people in their dreams, he is actually possessing Jesse’s body so that he can carry out murders in the real world. Read more…

CRIMSON PEAK – Fernando Velázquez

October 27, 2015 Leave a comment

crimsonpeakOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

This is not a ghost story. It’s a story with ghosts in it.

Director Guillermo del Toro’s latest film, Crimson Peak, is a love letter to the great Gothic horror stories of the 1800s, inspired by authors like Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, and Mary Shelley, as well as Charlotte Brontë’s classic Jane Eyre. Mia Wasikowska stars as Edith Cushing, the headstrong heiress to a Buffalo NY mining company, who is swept off her feet in the aftermath of a family tragedy by a dashing British nobleman, Lord Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). After relocating to the Sharpe ancestral home, the crumbling Allerdale Hall in the north of England, Edith finds herself in unfamiliar surroundings, having to deal not only with the dilapidated building – which seems to literally bleed from the walls due to the red clay on which it stands – but also with Thomas’s aloof sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain), who seems to be hiding sinister motivations. Worst of all, however, is the fact that Edith has been able to see ghosts since her childhood, and Allerdale Hall is full of them, all warning her to stay away… Read more…

THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN – Franz Waxman

October 26, 2015 Leave a comment

brideoffrankenstein100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Due to the tremendous commercial success of Frankenstein in 1931, Universal Studios was highly motivated to film a sequel. However, director James Whale was not interested preferring to pursue other projects, going on to make The Old Dark House in 1932 and The Invisible Man in 1933. Ultimately, he succumbed after four relentless years of badgering, and agreed to direct The Bride of Frankenstein for release in 1935. He brought in trusted screenwriters John Balderston and William Hurlbut to write the script for “The Return of Frankenstein” and he was given a budget of $300,000. Over time the story evolved leading it to be retitled “The Bride of Frankenstein”. Boris Karloff would reprise the role of the monster, while Colin Cleve would return as Henry Frankenstein. Joining them would be Valerie Hobson as Elizabeth, Ernest Thesiger as Doctor Pretorius, Elsa Lanchester as the Monster’s bride, Glavin Gordon as Lord Byron, Douglas Walton as Percy Bysshe Shelley, Dwight Frye as Karl Glutz, and Una O’Connor as Minnie. The story opens on a stormy night with Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron commending Mary Shelley on the success of her novel “Frankenstein”. She thanks them and then discloses that there was much more to be said regarding the story and we shift to the fiery ending of the first film. We discover that the monster and Henry Frankenstein have apparently survived. After recuperating, Henry meets with Dr. Pretorius who reveals his successful experiments creating homunculi. They decide to collaborate in the audacious creation of a mate for Frankenstein’s monster. After much intrigue they succeed in creating the monster’s bride only to see him shattered as she summarily rejects him. The monster is unable to bear this fate and in a fit of rage destroys the laboratory killing himself and his intended bride. The film was a commercial success earning $2 million or five times its production costs of $397,000. It was also critically praised yet secured only one Academy Award nomination for Best Sound Recording. Read more…

COMMANDO – James Horner

October 22, 2015 Leave a comment

commandoTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were cinematic rivals throughout the 1980s, going toe-to-toe through a series of increasingly spectacular action movies, as they tried to out-shoot, out-fight, and out-muscle each other to the top of the box office charts. 1985 was arguably the year their battle commenced, as it saw the release of Stallone’s Rambo: First Blood Part II, and Schwarzenegger’s Commando, the first movie in which the Austrian Oak starred as a contemporary human being, after playing a fantasy warrior in the Conan series, and an unstoppable cyborg in The Terminator. Directed by journeyman Mark L. Lester, Commando saw Schwarzenegger playing John Matrix, a retired elite Black Ops commando who is forced back into action when Arius, the exiled South American dictator he helped depose, kidnaps his daughter, intending to blackmail Matrix into restoring Arius to power. The film, which also starred Rae Dawn Chong, Dan Hedaya, Vernon Wells, and an 8-year-old Alyssa Milano, was critically lambasted, but was a commercial success, and helped initiate Schwarzenegger’s career as a heroic leading man. Read more…

BRIDGE OF SPIES – Thomas Newman

October 20, 2015 Leave a comment

bridgeofspiesOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Steven Spielberg’s latest film, Bridge of Spies, is a cold war thriller set in 1957 starring Tom Hanks as James Donovan, an insurance lawyer who is unexpectedly hired by the US Government to represent Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), an unassuming middle-aged artist accused of being a Russian spy. Although the evidence against Abel is overwhelming – and even though Abel himself does not deny the charges – Donovan mounts a spirited defense, arguing that the US constitution affords everyone due process to a fair trial. Months later, Donovan is called upon once again when a U-2 spy plane operating over Russia is shot down, and its young pilot is arrested by the Soviets. Realizing that Abel can be used as a bargaining chip, the CIA sends Donovan to East Berlin, just as the Wall is being erected, to negotiate a trade. The screenplay, by Matt Charman, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, is based on real events, and allows the narrative to unfold at a measured pace. This is a film about conversations, negotiations, political ideologies, and ethical dilemmas, and there is nary an action sequence in the entire film, which will alienate those who need more ‘stuff happening’, but which drew me into its intricacies. Tom Hanks is superb in the lead role, serious and honorable, while Mark Rylance is relaxed and unexpectedly funny in his role as the accused spy with an artistic flair. The film is also notable for another reason: it’s the first Steven Spielberg film in 30 years not to feature a John Williams score. Read more…

THINGS TO COME – Arthur Bliss

October 19, 2015 Leave a comment

thingstocome100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

H. G. Wells published his novel The Shape Of Things To Come in 1933 and it immediately resonated with the public. Producer Alexander Korda was coming off the success of his last film, The Private Lives of Henry VIII, and recognized an opportunity to cash in on the popularity of Wells’s latest book. He purchased the film rights, but Wells imposed significant contractual constraints, which ensured he maintained creative control and wrote the screenplay. Korda tasked William Cameron Menzies with directing and brought in a stellar cast, which included Raymond Massey as John and Oswald Cabal, Edward Chapman as Pippa and Raymond Passworthy, Ralph Richardson as Rudolf – the Boss, Margaretta Scott as Roxana Black and Rowena Cabal, Cedric Hardwicke as Theotocopulos, Naurice Braddell as Dr. Edward Harding, Pearl Argyle as Catherine Cabal, and Sophie Stewart as Mrs. Cabal. The story paints a grim tale of a catastrophic World War, which commences in 1940 and rages for decades. After a plague pandemic in 1966 wipes out most of the populace, civilization collapses and people return to an agrarian life in small towns. It comes to pass that one day an advanced aircraft lands in one of the communities and brings news that an organization is restoring civilization to communities such as this. Civilization is reborn and an advanced society re-emerges with humanity living in grand underground cities. Yet there are those that remember the Great War, and on the eve of the first manned spaceflight to the Moon, these Luddites rebel against the new social order. The film had only modest commercial success and in the end did not cover its production costs of 260,000 pounds. Critics, however, hailed it as a masterpiece and it has served as an iconic example of thoughtful and provocative and science fiction. Read more…

SUFFRAGETTE – Alexandre Desplat

October 16, 2015 1 comment

suffragetteOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Women in the United Kingdom did not receive the right to vote until 1928. The issue of universal suffrage had been a parliamentary hot potato since at least 1872, and had dominated the political lives of several of the country’s leaders at the time, most notably King George V, and prime ministers David Lloyd George and Herbert Henry Asquith, all of whom were vehemently opposed to it. Things came to a head following the formation of the influential Women’s Social and Political Union, which had shifted sentiments in favor of women’s suffrage by 1906, but was equally criticized for its militant and sometimes violent campaign. Most commentators credit two women with changing the minds of British politicians: Emmeline Pankhurst, the leader of the WSPU (and the British equivalent of Susan B. Anthony), and Emily Davison, who intentionally walked in front of, and was subsequently trampled and killed by, the King’s horse Anmer during the running of the 1913 Epsom Derby horse race. Director Sarah Gavron’s film Suffragette tells the story of the movement from the point of view of the fictional Maud Watts, who joins the WSPU at the height of its influence, and becomes deeply involved in its activities. It stars Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham-Carter, and Meryl Streep as Pankhurst, and is the first real ‘Oscar bait’ film of 2015. Read more…