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Archive for August, 2016

THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS – Alexandre Desplat

August 30, 2016 5 comments

thelightbetweenoceansOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Light Between Oceans is a romantic drama set in Australia in the 1920s. Based on the novel by M. L. Stedman and directed by Derek Cianfrance, it stars Michael Fassbender as Tom Sherborne, a veteran of World War I, now working as a lighthouse keeper off the western coast of the country with his wife, Isabel (Alicia Vikander). One day, Tom rescues a baby girl, who he finds washed up in a rowboat on the rocks near his home; assuming she is the only survivor of a shipwreck, Tom and Isabel decide to informally adopt the baby – whom they name Lucy – as their own. However, years later, when they return to the Australian mainland for a brief time, the once-happy family discovers that their decision to keep Lucy on that fateful day may result in terrible repercussions for all. The film also stars Rachel Weisz and Bryan Brown, and has been the recipient of a great deal of critical acclaim in the period leading up to its release. Read more…

IS PARIS BURNING? [PARIS BRÛLE-T-IL?] – Maurice Jarre

August 29, 2016 1 comment

isparisburningMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Is Paris Burning? is based on the bestselling novel Paris brûle-t-il? by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre. Producer Paul Graetz liked the novel and secured film rights as he felt the story had to be brought to the big screen. For his passion project he hired a remarkable team to write the screenplay, which included Gore Vidal, Francis Ford Coppola, Claude Brulé, Jean Aurenche, and Pierre Bost. Graetz then brought in respected director René Clément to manage the project, and they assembled a stellar cast for the ages, which included Alain Delon as Jacques Chaba-Delmas, Jean-Paul Belmondo as Morandat/Pierrelot, Charles Boyer as Monod, Gert Fröbe as Gen. Dietrich von Choltitz, Leslie Caron as Francoise Labe, Orson Wells as Consul Raoul Nording, Kirk Douglas as General Patton, Anthony Perkins as Sergeant Warren, Simone Signoret as Café Owner, Glenn Ford as General Omar Bradley, Robert Stack as General Edwin Sibert, Billy Fick as Adolph Hitler and Yves Montand as Marcel Versini. Read more…

BEN-HUR – Marco Beltrami

August 26, 2016 8 comments

benhur-beltramiOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ was, and remains, one of the most popular and successful novels in American literature. The story recounts the life of a fictional Jewish prince, Judah Ben-Hur, in 1st century Jerusalem. Ben-Hur grows up wealthy and privileged with his childhood friend, a Roman named Messala. Years later, Messala returns home from Rome as a newly-commissioned commander in the Roman army, and his new status and increasing prejudice against Jews causes a rift between the two former friends. Messala falsely accuses Ben-Hur of attempting to assassinate a Roman prefect, and conspires to have him sent away to serve as a galley slave, while simultaneously imprisoning his mother, Miriam, and sister, Tirzah. Ben-Hur vows revenge against Messala, and spends years training himself to be a warrior and charioteer, waiting until his opportunity to achieve redemption appears. To give it its strong religious undercurrent, Wallace’s story takes place simultaneously with the life of Jesus Christ, who was born and lived during the same time period, which allows Ben-Hur and Jesus to cross paths at several moments during the formation of Christianity. Read more…

MOUNTBATTEN: THE LAST VICEROY – John Scott

August 25, 2016 Leave a comment

mountbattenthelastviceroyTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Mountbatten: The Last Viceroy was a critically acclaimed 6-part British television series, telling the astonishing life story of Louis Mountbatten, a member of the British aristocracy, and a cousin to Queen Elizabeth II. The series chronicles his life as a British statesman and naval officer; he served as the Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in South-East Asia during World War II, and afterwards was appointed Viceroy of British colonial India, where he successfully negotiated with both Mahatma Gandhi and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and oversaw the transition of power from the British Empire to the independent nations of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh in 1947. Following his work in India, Mountbatten returned to Britain, and subsequently served in the government as a senior member of the military, until he was assassinated by the Irish Republican Army in 1979. The series was directed by Tom Clegg, starred Nicol Williamson, Janet Suzman, and Ian Richardson, and had a score by the great English film composer John Scott. Read more…

SAUSAGE PARTY – Christopher Lennertz and Alan Menken

August 23, 2016 2 comments

sausagepartyOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

There hasn’t been a mainstream R-rated animated film in many years – at least since the South Park boys released Team America: World Police in 2004 – which, considering the success and popularity of shows like Archer and Bojack Horseman on television, seems to be something of an anomaly. Thankfully, that balance may be redressed with the success of Sausage Party, the brainchild of screenwriters Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Jonah Hill, Kyle Hunter, and Ariel Shaffir, and directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon. The film follows the adventures of a sausage named Frank who lives in Shopwell’s supermarket. He is in love with Brenda, a hot dog bun, and together they dream of being taken to ‘the great beyond’ when they are bought by one of the supermarket’s patrons. Unfortunately, an unexpected incident leaves Frank and Brenda stranded on the wrong side of the supermarket, and they must team up with a Jewish bagel, a Muslim lavash, and a sexy taco named Teresa, in order to get home. Meanwhile, Frank’s friends Barry and Carl have been successfully taken to ‘the great beyond’, but quickly realize that all their preconceptions about supermarket heaven have been terribly, terribly wrong. Read more…

HENRY V – William Walton

August 22, 2016 1 comment

henryv-walton100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

It was WWII and Great Britain was in the midst of her greatest struggle as the Allies prepared for the 1944 Normandy invasion. Prime Minister Winston Churchill exhorted Laurence Olivier to fashion a film to rally and boost British morale for what he envisioned to be her finest moment – taking the offence to the Nazi’s and liberating France. For Olivier this became a passion project, which consumed him. After William Wyler turned down his offer to direct, Olivier took an unprecedented and audacious move – he would assume the roles of producer, director and actor! He cast himself in the titular role and surrounded himself with a fine cast, which included Renee Asherson as Princess Katherine, Robert Newton as Ancient Pistol, Leslie Banks as the Chorus, Felix Aylmer as the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Robert Helpmann as the Bishop of Ely. Olivier’s vision was clear from the very beginning; he would maintain fidelity to the original Shakespeare play although he would stylize it for the cinematic presentation. Read more…

PETE’S DRAGON – Daniel Hart

August 19, 2016 2 comments

petesdragonOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Pete’s Dragon is a new Disney remake of its own original 1977 film, a musical which starred Helen Reddy, Jim Dale, Mickey Rooney, and an entirely cartoon dragon, and which was nominated for an Oscar for its iconic original song, “Candle on the Water.” The new version, written and directed by David Lowery, is a very different, less comical take on the story. It follows the adventures of a young boy named Pete (Oakes Fegley), whose parents are killed in a car accident on a road trip, but who escapes without injury and flees into the woods. Pete spends the next six years living in the wild, where he is looked after by a huge, green, friendly dragon, a local legend in the area, whom Pete names Elliott. However, Pete’s idyllic life in the forest is interrupted when he is discovered by the young daughter of a forestry service ranger and taken back into civilization; meanwhile Elliott, who misses his young friend, ventures out of the woods and into town, where his existence risks being revealed to the townsfolk. It’s a lovely, sentimental, heartwarming film about childhood friendships, families, and respect of nature; it co-stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, Oona Laurence, and Robert Redford, and has been lauded by critics as a warm and appealing family film. Read more…

THE BOY WHO COULD FLY – Bruce Broughton

August 18, 2016 Leave a comment

boywhocouldfly-vareseTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Boy Who Could Fly was a popular family drama, written and directed by Nick Castle, about a friendship that helps two children overcome deep emotional wounds. Lucy Deakins stars as Millie, a 14-year old girl who makes friends with Eric (Jay Underwood), the similarly-aged boy next door, after the suicide of her terminally ill father. Eric has autism, and lives with his alcoholic uncle (Fred Gwynne), because both his parents were killed in a plane crash when he was much younger. Despite Eric’s verbal inability to communicate, the two teenagers nevertheless seem to help each other deal with their personal issues, but before long a series of unusual events lead Millie to think that, somehow, Eric has the ability to fly. The film was both a critical and popular success at the box office in the late summer of 1986 (it subsequently won the prestigious Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film); it co-starred Bonnie Bedelia, Fred Savage, and Colleen Dewhurst, and had its sense of magic enhanced immeasurably by Bruce Broughton’s gorgeous score. Read more…

STRANGER THINGS – Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein

August 16, 2016 3 comments

strangerthingsOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Nostalgia for the 1980s appears to have peaked during the summer of 2016. Mainstream films, TV shows, and their musical accompaniments are all relishing their trips down amnesia lane, digging up thirty years worth of long-forgotten pop culture references, busting out with outdated lingo, and embracing the questionable fashion choices that defined the decade. Children’s adventure movies were especially popular in the 1980s, and it is that sub-genre that the Netflix original series Stranger Things lovingly emulates. Set in suburban Indiana in 1983, the show begins with the disappearance of a 12-year-old boy named Will Byers (Noah Schnapp); as his mother Joyce (Winona Ryder) panics, the local police department led by Sheriff Jim Hopper (David Harbour) begins a formal investigation. Meanwhile, Will’s nerdy Dungeons-and-Dragons-playing friends (Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin) begin their own investigation – and before long the boys are knee-deep in an extraordinary mystery involving top-secret government experiments, terrifying supernatural forces, and a strange little girl named Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) who appears to display psychokinetic abilities. Read more…

THE SONG OF BERNADETTE – Alfred Newman

August 15, 2016 Leave a comment

songofbernadette100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer William Perlberg of 20th Century Fox saw opportunity for the studio after reading the novel “The Song Of Bernadette” (1942) by Franz Werfel, and so resolved to bring this inspired and miraculous story to the big screen. Henry King was hired to direct and veteran screenwriter George Seaton tasked with writing the screenplay. For the actors, a nationwide talent search found 24 year old Jennifer Jones, who was selected to play the title character of Bernadette Soubirous. Supporting actors included Vincent Price in perhaps his finest performance as (Prosecutor Vital Dutour), Aubrey Mather (Mayor Lacade), Charles Dingle (Chief of Police Jocomet), Charles Bickford (Dean of Lourdes) and Gladys Cooper (Sister Therese Vauzous). The film was made in 1943, as the world suffered under the dark pall of Nazism. Its narrative offers an intimate venerative, and sympathetic accounting of a young peasant girl, who one day beholds, a miraculous vision of a refulgent “Beautiful Lady”. We bear witness to her stirring and remarkable journey of faith and courage, as well as a commentary against the banality of government, the skepticism of science and the dogmatism of organized religion. Bernadette’s sincerity, innocence, and purity of heart eventually overcome all critics, skeptics, and obstacles. A shrine is eventually built to commemorate the miracle of her vision of Mary, and she spends her final days secluded in a nunnery, suffering from a very painful form of tuberculosis of the bone, from which she succumbed at the young age of 35. The film was both a commercial and critical success, earning an astounding twelve Academy Award nominations, winning four for, Best Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and best Musical Score. Read more…

HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE – Moniker

August 12, 2016 4 comments

huntforthewilderpeopleOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is the latest film from Kiwi writer-director Taika Waititi, who enjoyed popular success with his previous films Boy and What We Do in the Shadows, and is now hard at work on his latest film, the marvel super hero sequel Thor Ragnarok. Based on the iconic 1986 book ‘Wild Pork and Watercress’ by bestselling New Zealand author Barry Crump, the film stars young Julian Dennison as Ricky Baker, a rebellious and delinquent teenage boy who has bounced around from foster home to foster home in New Zealand’s social services system, and has now found himself placed at a rural farm belonging to the kindly Bella (Rima te Wiata) and her grizzled, crotchety husband Hec (Sam Neill). Ricky, who is sarcastic and defiant and fancies himself as a gangster rapper, is initially reluctant to embrace his new life on the edge of the wilderness, but soon finds himself becoming happy in his new home. However, a tragic event forces Ricky and Hec to flee from the farm and into the bush, where Hec’s survival skills allow them to remain safe, despite Ricky’s near-constant complaining. Unfortunately, the police mistakenly believe that Hec – who has a mysterious past – has kidnapped Ricky, and soon the pair are on the lam, running from the authorities who don’t understand that the unlikely pair are changing each other for the better. Read more…

THE FLY – Howard Shore

August 11, 2016 Leave a comment

theflyTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Fly is one of the greatest horror films ever made, a masterpiece of so-called ‘body horror’ and a cautionary tale about science gone wrong. Based on a short story by George Langelaan and directed by David Cronenberg, the film stars Jeff Goldblum as Seth Brundle, a brilliant but desperately eccentric scientist working on a teleportation device in an attempt to solve the world’s transportation problems. Brundle meets reporter Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) when she comes to his laboratory to interview him, and the two develop a mutual attraction which blossoms into a romantic relationship. However, Brundle is frustrated with his lack of progress with the device, and rushes into trying new and increasingly dangerous experiments in order to speed up the process. One day, despite Veronica’s protestations, he tests the device on himself; after successfully jumping from one teleportation pod to another, he declares his machine a triumph – but, unknown to Brundle, a common house fly found its way into the machine with him. Now, having had his human DNA merged with that of the fly at a cellular level, Brundle begins to slowly, grotesquely, mutate, with terrible consequences for all. Read more…

SUICIDE SQUAD – Steven Price

August 9, 2016 4 comments

suicidesquadOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

It’s looking increasingly likely that, in future years, we will be able to pinpoint the summer of 2016 as the moment the super hero genre reached its tipping point. After years of success and box office gold, especially from Marvel’s stable of characters, this year’s entries have been almost unanimously slammed from a critical point of view. Although they continued to resonate financially, and although Deadpool was fun, films like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Captain America: Civil War, and X-Men Apocalypse bore the brunt of the jabs and barbs from professionals, who criticized each film’s poor writing, over-reliance on CGI fight sequences, and over-stuffed casts. Suicide Squad, the latest in the Warner Brothers/DC series of movies is, from my point of view, the nadir: a boring, badly-written, clichéd mess of a film that suffered from so much post-production tinkering that it rendered the final cut virtually incomprehensible. Written and directed by David Ayer, and set in the same universe as Zack Snyder’s new Batman and Superman films, it follows the fortunes of a group of incarcerated super-villains who are brought out of imprisonment by a shadowy government agency and forced to work together to battle an existential threat to humanity. The film stars Will Smith as crack assassin Deadshot, Jared Leto as the psychotic Joker, and Margot Robbie as his equally deranged paramour Harley Quinn, plus Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courteney, Jay Rodriguez, Cara Delevingne, and Viola Davis in supporting roles. Read more…

CASABLANCA – Max Steiner

August 8, 2016 2 comments

casablanca100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In January of 1942 story editor Irene Diamond became enamored with the unproduced stage play “Everybody Comes to Ricks” by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison. She convinced Warner Brothers producer Hal B. Wallis to purchase the film rights, and brothers Julius and Philip Epstein were brought in to write the screenplay. Wallis was unable to secure William Wyler to direct, and so turned to his friend Michael Curtiz to manage the project. They brought in one of the most notable casts of the day with Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine, Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lund, Paul Henreid as Victor Laszlo, Claude Reins as Captain Louis Renault, Conrad Veidt as Major Henrich Strasser, Sydney Greenstreet as Signor Ferrari, Peter Lorre as Signor Ugarte and Dooley Wilson as Sam. Read more…

RUDOLF THE BLACK CAT [RUDORUFU TO IPPAIATTENA] – Naoki Sato

August 5, 2016 Leave a comment

rudolftheblackcatOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Rudolf the Black Cat is a Japanese animated family adventure film directed by Kunihiko Yuyama and Motonori Sakakibara. It follows the adventures of a suburban ‘indoor kitten’ named Rudolf, who has always longed to roam the streets of his little neighborhood. However, when Rudolf gets his wish and is accidentally abandoned miles away from his home in an unfamiliar big city by his owner, he must team up with a street cat called Gottalot in order to find his way back home. Read more…