Archive for May, 2016

MIDNIGHT EXPRESS – Giorgio Moroder

May 23, 2016 1 comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1976 director Alan Parker was visiting New York on a business trip. He by chance ran into his old friend, producer Peter Guber, who asked him to review a manuscript, which was based on a true story. On his plane fight back to London he read it and became convinced that this was a story which needed to be told on film. He joined Guber and his new production company, Casablanca Filmworks, and hired Oliver Stone for what would be his first commercial screenplay. Stone delivered the goods, penning a hard-hitting, raw, uncompromising narrative full of rage, and abounding in cinematic energy. For his cast, Parker brought in Brad Davis to play Billy Hayes after negotiations with Richard Gere broke down. Joining him would be John Hurt as Max, Paolo Bonacelli as Rifki, Irene Miracle as Susan, Randy Quaid as Jimmy Booth, and Paul L. Smith as Hamidou. They would shoot the film in Malta, as the Turkish government was decidedly hostile to the project. The true-life story reveals American college student Billy Hays on holiday in Istanbul with girlfriend Susan. Quite stupidly, he straps 2 kg of hashish to his torso, which he intends to smuggle back to the United States. However, Turkey is on a terrorist alert after a recent hijacking, and he is caught when they frisk him as he prepares to board the plane. He is arrested and humiliated with a strip search. A mysterious American named Tex enters the scene and encourages Billy to cooperate with the investigation for a lesser sentence. Billy agrees and fingers the man who sold him the hashish, only to be betrayed by Tex and the Turkish police. His futile attempt to escape earns him a three-year sentence for drug possession. Later, after the prosecutor appeals the verdict, he is re-sentenced to a more severe life sentence for smuggling. Read more…

JAWS – John Williams

May 9, 2016 1 comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

As we today look back to 1975, we recognize that Jaws was a transformative film, which forever altered how the film industry would operate. Jaws inaugurated what has become known in the modern lexicon as, the Summer Blockbuster. After 1975 studio executives would thereafter conceive and fund big summer action and adventure films, which would take the public by storm, and fill studio coffers. The film was adapted from a Peter Benchley novel, which was originally conceived with the title “Leviathan Rising”, but later discarded for Jaws. It is as simple a tale as they come, man against the beast. We find the summer vacation community Amity Island plagued by a series of shark attacks, which threaten the island’s livelihood. Rogue seafarer Quint (Robert Shaw) is hired to hunt down and kill the beast with all dispatch. Accompanying him would be landlubber Police Captain Brody (Roy Scheider) and, oceanographer Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss). They wage war against this massive leviathan, which leads to Quint’s death, the loss of his boat, the Orca, and Hooper and Brody barely surviving. Well, the film was a massive commercial success, which spawned a franchise of sequels. It was also a critical success, earning four Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Film Editing, Best Sound and Best Film Score, winning three; best Film Editing, Best Sound and Best Film Score. Read more…


May 8, 2016 Leave a comment

neversettingsunOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Never-Setting Sun is a Japanese TV series, a remake of the 2009 film of the same name, both of which are based on a popular novel by Toyoko Yamasaki. The story follows Hajime Onchi, an employee of a large Japanese airline, through his work as the chairman of the employees union in the 1960s, his ascent through the company and his travels in Pakistan, Iran, and Kenya in the 1970s, and the aftermath of a 1985 plane crash in which 500 people were killed, which Onchi is charged with investigating. The 20-episode series aired on the Japanese channel WOWOW in May 2006, was directed by Toshiyuki Mizutani and Kosuke Suzuki, and has a score by the incredible Naoki Sato, chronologically the third of the nine scores he wrote in 2016. Read more…


May 6, 2016 Leave a comment

phantomofthetheatreOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Phantom of the Theatre is a Chinese horror/thriller film directed by Raymond Yip, starring Ruby Lin, Tony Yang, Simon Yam, and Huang Lei. Set in Shanghai in the 1930s, it tells the story of a group of theater actors who work to re-open a once grand and palatial playhouse which had been destroyed in a mysterious fire 13 years previously. The play’s director and young lead actress are in love, and have ambitions of stardom, but before long mysterious deaths begin occurring among the crew, leading some to believe that the vengeful spirits of the actors who died in the original fire are seeking revenge. Read more…


May 3, 2016 2 comments

nightmanagerOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Night Manager is a six-part TV drama mini-series based on John le Carré’s 1993 novel of the same name. Directed by Susanne Bier and co-produced by the BBC and American cable channel AMC, it stars Tom Hiddleston as Jonathan Pine, a former British soldier now working as the head concierge at a luxury hotel in Cairo at the height of the Arab Spring popular uprisings. Pine witnesses the brutal murder of an arms dealer’s mistress, and is advised by a friend working for MI6 in Egypt to flee; six months later, Pine is in Switzerland, again working as the head concierge at a luxury hotel in the shadow of the Matterhorn. It is here that Pine encounters Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie), a British philanthropist, and his entourage, including his wife Jed (Elizabeth Debicki) and majordomo Corkoran (Tom Hollander). After realizing that Roper has significant ties to the arms dealer back in Egypt, Pine is approached by another MI6 agent, Angela Burr (Olivia Colman), who has been investigating Roper for years. Angela offers Pine a proposition: to infiltrate the inner circle of Roper’s clandestine organization in order to bring him down from the inside, and avenge the Cairo murders. Read more…

NINO ROTA – Fathers of Film Music, Part 15

May 1, 2016 Leave a comment

Nino RotaArticle by Craig Lysy

Born: 3 December 1911, Milan, Italy.
Died: 10 April 1979.

Giovanni Rota was born to Emesta Rinaldi and Ercole Rota in Milan in the northern Italian province of Lombardy. He was blessed with the gift of a musical family, as his mother was an accomplished pianist. She took the reigns of nurturing his nascent talent, tutoring him on the piano. It became apparent to her very early on that Nino was gifted, and so he was enrolled in the Conservatory of Milan, where he studied under the auspices of Giacomo Orefice and Ildebrando Pizzetti. By the early age of twelve Nino, as he was nicknamed, had already gained the reputation as a child prodigy. His first concert work, the oratorio L’Infanzia di San Giovanni Battista (1923), which remarkably he had composed four years earlier, was warmly received in both Milan and Paris, For his next concert piece, he composed the fairy opera Il Principe Porcaro (1926), which was also well received. These successes carried him to Rome, where he studied under Alfredo Casella at the Academia di Santa Cecilia. In 1930, after just three years, he received his diploma in piano and composition. Read more…

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