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Archive for March, 2016

JEAN DE FLORETTE – Jean-Claude Petit

March 31, 2016 Leave a comment

jeandefloretteTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Jean de Florette is one of the most critically acclaimed and important French films of the 20th century. Directed by Claude Berri and adapted from the novel by Marcel Pagnol, it stars three of France’s most prominent actors of the era – Gérard Depardieu, Daniel Auteuil, and Yves Montand. Montand and Auteuil play César and Ugolin, uncle and nephew, impoverished farmers in Provence shortly after the end of World War I. They covet the neighboring farm owned by the Cadoret family, especially its abundant water, provided by a natural spring on the property. When ownership of the Cadoret farm transfers to Jean (Depardieu), a city tax collector and hunchback with a young daughter named Manon, César and Ugolin see an opportunity to seize the farm for themselves, and embark on a series of schemes designed to turn the community against Jean and drive him away. The film was a massive success, and saw audiences connecting with its universal themes of jealousy and greed, while simultaneously being charmed by cinematographer Bruno Nuytten’s gorgeous photography of the French landscape. The film received eight César and ten BAFTA nominations, winning a total of five, and was largely responsible for the tourist boom in Provence during the 1980s and 90s, especially among the British. Read more…

BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE – Hans Zimmer and Tom Holkenborg

March 29, 2016 10 comments

batmanvsupermanOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

In an attempt to compete with Marvel and their cadre of interlocking super-hero pictures, DC Comics have begun to develop their own version of a cinematic universe. It began with Man of Steel in 2013, director Zack Snyder’s re-imagining of the Superman story, and continues with this second film, which sees the introduction of Batman and several other DC characters into a single, shared story space, setting up what will eventually become the Justice League. Rather than continuing Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice takes yet another fresh look at Gotham’s cowl-wearing warrior, replacing Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne with Ben Affleck and Michael Caine’s Alfred with Jeremy Irons. The film inserts Wayne into the immediate aftermath of the finale of Man of Steel by having him witness the conclusive fight between Superman (Henry Cavill) and General Zod over Metropolis, and the devastation that accompanied it, from the ground. Jump forward 18 months, and Wayne has committed himself to exposing Superman as an unstoppable threat to humanity. Meanwhile, Superman’s alter-ego, newspaperman Clark Kent, has become concerned with Batman’s personal brand of vigilante justice in nearby Gotham, and resolves to expose him. However, unbeknownst to either Kent or Wayne, their mutual plans are being manipulated by technology mogul Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), who has megalomaniacal tendencies of his own, and wants both Batman and Superman out of his way. Read more…

BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID – Burt Bacharach

March 28, 2016 Leave a comment

butchcassidyandthesundancekidMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

For screenplay writer William Goldman, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” was a passion project. He first came upon the story of Cassidy and Longbaugh in the late 1950s, was fascinated by the men, and felt it was a story that needed to be brought to the big screen. Richard Zanuck of 20th Century Fox saw gold when he read the script and purchased the rights for an astounding $400,000! He tasked John Foreman to produce and George Roy Hill to direct. A stellar cast was brought in, which included; Paul Newman (Butch Cassidy), Robert Redford (The Sundance Kid), Katherine Ross (Etta Place), Jeff Corey (Sheriff Bledsoe, and Strother Martin (Percy Garris). Read more…

MISCONDUCT – Federico Jusid

March 25, 2016 Leave a comment

misconductOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Had Misconduct been made in the 1990s, it would have been one of the most anticipated films of the year, such is its stellar cast and genre. A legal thriller set in the high stakes world of the pharmaceutical industry, it stars Anthony Hopkins and Al Pacino as, respectively, a pharma exec and the owner of a law company, who both attempt to manipulate young litigator Josh Duhamel as he prosecutes Hopkins’s company for corruption. Unfortunately the film – which is directed by Japanese-American filmmaker Shintaro Shimosawa, and also stars Alice Eve, Malin Åkerman, and Julia Stiles – has been consigned to the dreaded ‘limited release/video-on-demand simultaneous release’ list where movies go to die, a very undignified fate for two of the greatest screen actors of their generation. Read more…

WHERE THE RIVER RUNS BLACK – James Horner

March 24, 2016 2 comments

wheretheriverrunsblackTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In 1986, despite having achieved a great deal of popularity and success for his large scale orchestral scores, James Horner entered what many call his ‘experimental synth’ phase, such was the film music zeitgeist at the time. It lasted several years, in parallel with many of his more traditional symphonic works, and encompassed such scores as The Name of the Rose, Red Heat, Vibes, My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys, and Thunderheart, but appears to have begun in earnest with this one: a little-known drama called Where the River Runs Black. The film was directed by Christopher Cain (father of TV Superman Dean Cain), and tells the story of a young orphan boy named Lazaro, who grows up feral in the Amazon jungle, but is eventually found and sent to live at a Catholic mission with a kind priest, Father O’Reilly, played by Charles Durning. O’Reilly cares for the boy, and teaches him to speak, and for a while it seems as though Lazaro’s life is settled; however, through a set of coincidental circumstances, Lazaro meets a local businessman and recognizes him as the man who murdered his mother when he was just six years old. Read more…

ZOOTOPIA – Michael Giacchino

March 22, 2016 Leave a comment

zootopiaOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Zootopia is the latest animated film from Walt Disney, directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore. A comedy-crime caper with undertones that explore themes of racism, xenophobia, and political corruption (yes, really!), the film follows the adventures of Judy Hopps, an ambitious rabbit who wants to become the first leporine police officer in Zootopia, a city populated entirely by anthropomorphic animals. Before long Judy is embroiled in a case in which several animals have been reported as going missing and “turning savage,” reverting back to the old ways of predators and their prey. To solve the case, Judy must team up with a wisecracking and streetwise fox named Nick Wilde, find the missing persons, and discover how and why the animals are devolving to their “natural state”. The film features the voices of Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, and J.K. Simmons, and has an original score by Michael Giacchino. Read more…

THE LION IN WINTER – John Barry

March 21, 2016 2 comments

lioninwinterMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer Joe Levine had a contract with Peter O’Toole and was looking for a film to again showcase his talent. He found the vehicle in the Broadway play “The Lion In Winter” by James Goldman that offered dramatic dialogue, which would play to O’Toole’s thespian strengths. Anthony Harvey was brought in to direct the film and they hired an amazing cast to support Peter O’Toole (King Henry II), which included Katherine Hepburn (Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine), their three sons, Anthony Hopkins (Richard), John Castle (Geoffrey), and Nigel Terry (John). Also joining was Jane Morrow (Henry’s mistress Alais) and Timothy Dalton (King Philip II of France). Hopkins and Dalton were both making their screen acting debuts. Read more…

GUARDIAN OF THE SPIRIT [SEIREI NO MAMORIBITO] – Naoki Sato

March 19, 2016 Leave a comment

guardianofthespiritOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Guardian of the Spirit is a 4-episode live-action Japanese television miniseries which aired on the NHK network in March and April 2016. Directed by Keiji Kataoka, it is an adaptation of a popular series of historical action-fantasy novels by author Nahaoko Uehashi, and tells the story of a mysterious spear-wielding warrior named Balsa who, shortly after arriving in the New Yogo Kingdom, saves the life of Prince Chagum from a thinly veiled assassination attempt. When it is revealed that the attempt was ordered by Chagum’s own father, Emperor Mikado, Balsa is hired to protect him; as they travel together, Balsa’s complicated past begins to come to light, and they uncover Chagum’s mysterious connection to a legendary water spirit with the power to destroy the kingdom. Read more…

10 CLOVERFIELD LANE – Bear McCreary

March 18, 2016 3 comments

10cloverfieldlaneOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

A ‘spiritual successor’ to the 2008 film Cloverfield, 10 Cloverfield Lane is the directorial debut of Dan Trachtenberg. It stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Michelle, a young woman who, after breaking up with her boyfriend and then crashing her car, wakes up in an underground bunker, chained to the wall, and with a broken leg. The well-stocked and surprisingly comfortable bunker is owned by Howard (John Goodman), a survivalist and doomsday prepper, who gradually explains that some sort of ‘attack’ has occurred outside, rendering the atmosphere toxic, and that he brought her to his bunker after finding her crashed car, saving her life. Michelle also meets Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr.), one of Howard’s neighbors, who fought his way into the bunker after the supposed attack occurred. Over time, the three of them learn to coexist in their tense proximity, despite Howard’s paranoia and unstable personality, but soon events cause Michelle to wonder whether Howard’s claims about the outside world are true. Read more…

F/X – Bill Conti

March 17, 2016 Leave a comment

fxTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

F/X is an action-thriller directed by Robert Mandel, starring Australian actor Bryan Brown as Rollie Tyler, a Hollywood movie special effects expert. Rollie is approached by the US Justice Department to fake the death of a Mafia informant (Jerry Orbach), so that he can enter the witness protection program and, later, testify against his former mob bosses. Of course, as generally tends to happen in films like this, Rollie gets double-crossed by the people who hired him, and he must exploit his unique talents to clear his name and unmask those behind the conspiracy. The film co-stars Brian Dennehy, Diane Venora, Cliff De Young, and Mason Adams, and was enough of a critical and commercial success to allow for a 1991 sequel, F/X2: The Deadly Art of Illusion, and a short lived 1990s TV spinoff. Read more…

EDDIE THE EAGLE – Matthew Margeson

March 15, 2016 1 comment

eddietheeagleOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The 1988 Winter Olympics are the first ones I remember consciously watching. Four years after Torvill and Dean stunned the world in Sarajevo, Calgary’s snowy spectacle gave us indelible memories of the Jamaican bobsled team, Katarina Witt and the Battle of the Brians on the skating rink, the all-conquering Alberto Tomba “La Bomba” on the ski slopes, and of course Eddie the Eagle. Michael “Eddie” Edwards was a fairly decent downhill skier, but it was his efforts in ski jumping that brought him to the attention of the world; despite a desperate lack of funds, terrible nearsightedness which forced him to wear thick bottle-bottom glasses when he jumped, and the disapproval of the sport’s governing body, Edwards took part anyway, competing as the only British ski jumper at the games. He finished dead last in his two events, a significant distance behind the athletes who finished second last – Bernat Sola of Spain, and Todd Gillman of Canada, for trivia fans – both of whom had more than double his score. In most other countries, Edwards would not have been a sports star, but the British love a plucky loser almost as much as they love a world champion winner, and so he was taken to their hearts, and for a brief time became a genuine celebrity, a true example of the Olympic ethos that it is not the winning, but the taking part, that counts. Read more…

THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE – Elmer Bernstein

March 14, 2016 Leave a comment

thoroughlymodernmillieMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Julie Andrews was the toast of Hollywood in the 1960s and her success in Mary Poppins (1964) and The Sound of Music (1966) made her the most popular and highest paid actress of the day. Universal Studios and producer Ross Hunter sought to capitalize on her popularity and so decided to adapt the British musical “Chrysanthemum” (1956) for her next musical. Richard Morris was hired to write the screenplay and George Roy Hill tasked with directing the film. Hill brought in a fine ensemble to support Julie Andrews (Millie Dillmount), which included Mary Tyler Moore (Dorothy Brown), James Fox (Jimmy Smith), John Gavin (Trevor Graydon), Carol Channing (Muzzy van Hossmere) and Beatrice Lillie (Mrs. Meers). Read more…

DAD’S ARMY – Charlie Mole

March 11, 2016 2 comments

dadsarmyOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

“Who do you think you are kidding, Mr. Hitler, if you think we’re on the run? We are the boys who will stop your little game, we are the boys who will make you think again. ‘Cos who do you think you are kidding, Mr. Hitler, if you think old England’s done?”

For Brits of a certain generation, the lyrics to the theme tune from Dad’s Army will have a warm, nostalgic appeal. A massively popular sitcom which began airing in 1968 and ran until 1977, Dad’s Army was set in the small English coastal town of Walmington-on-Sea at the height of World War II, and followed the comic adventures of the members of its Home Guard, a volunteer force made up of men too old to perform standard military service, but who would provide the first line of defense in the event of a German invasion. The show’s characters and their catchphrases have become part of the British cultural lexicon, including the pompous and officious Captain Mainwaring (“stupid boy!”), the laconic Sergeant Wilson, the naïve Private Pike, the dour and pessimistic Private Frazer (“we’re all doomed!”), the sweet and introverted Private Godfrey, and the brave but habitually accident-prone Lance Corporal Jones. Read more…

HIGHLANDER – Michael Kamen

March 10, 2016 1 comment

highlanderTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Despite only being a modest hit when it was first released during the early months of 1986, Highlander has gone on to be a cult classic, and is now considered one of the most influential and well regarded sci-fi action movies of the decade. Directed by Russell Mulcahy, the film stars Christopher Lambert as Conor MacLeod, born in Scotland in the year 1518, who gradually discovers that he is an ‘immortal’, one of many such men who are destined to fight one another across time, and who can only be killed by complete decapitation. When one immortal decapitates another, the survivor receives a transfer of power called a “quickening,” and eventually, after all the immortals have battled until there is only one left alive, the last survivor will receive “the prize” of immense knowledge about the nature of the universe. After receiving training and education from Spanish nobleman Ramirez (Sean Connery), a fellow immortal, MacLeod gradually battles his way to 1980s New York, where he lives under the assumed identity of an antiquities dealer named Russell Nash. However, a string of beheadings in the city brings MacLeod into contact with NYPD detective Brenda Wyatt (Roxanne Hart) and – worst of all – the evil immortal Kurgan (Clancy Brown), who will stop at nothing to claim the Prize for himself. Read more…

TALE OF A LAKE (JÄRVEN TARINA) – Panu Aaltio

March 8, 2016 1 comment

taleofalakeOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

A sequel of sorts to the 2012 film Tale of a Forest [Metsän Tarina], Tale of a Lake – or, to give it its original name, Järven Tarina – is a feature-length nature documentary from Finland directed by Marko Röhr and Kim Saarniluoto. According to the press which accompanies the soundtrack, the documentary focuses on the thousands of lakes and rivers in Finland with stories that follow birds, fish and their spawn, and examine the lives of critically endangered seal pups. Featuring the narration of Samuli Edelmann, and the voice of Johanna Kurkela as the mystical water spirit Ahitar, the film was described as “an emotional journey and a breathtaking travelogue” when it opened to general critical acclaim in cinemas in Scandinavia in the early months of 2016. Read more…