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Archive for February, 2017

THE GREAT WALL – Ramin Djawadi

February 28, 2017 2 comments

thegreatwallOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Great Wall is a Chinese action-fantasy movie directed by the great Zhang Yimou, the creator of such outstanding pieces of cinema as Raise the Red Lantern, Shanghai Triad, Hero, House of Flying Daggers, and Curse of the Golden Flower. It stars Matt Damon as William, a mercenary who, along with his compatriot Tovar (Pedro Pascal), finds himself in China during the 11th century searching for gunpowder. Circumstances lead the pair to a fortress along the Great Wall of China under the command of General Shao (Hanyu Zhang), Strategist Wang (Andy Lau), and acrobat-warrior Commander Lin-Mae (Tian Jing), who are preparing to do battle with the Tao-Tie, terrible creatures which attack the wall every 60 years. William and Tovar become embroiled in the desperate defense of the wall knowing that, if the Tao-Tie should breach the fortifications, all of China – and, eventually the world – would be threatened. It’s a fairly simple story which is steeped in Chinese mythology, and features some staggering action sequences, but its strength is in its visual splendor. Zhang is famous for his astonishing use of color, and The Great Wall is no exception; from the armor of the various different platoons of the Nameless Order, to the pageantry of the festivals and ceremonies, to a spectacular fight sequence in a tower made of stained glass, the whole film is a feast for the eyes which begs to be seen on the big screen. Read more…

SUNSET BOULEVARD – Franz Waxman

February 27, 2017 Leave a comment

sunsetboulevard100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director Billy Wilder and producer Charles Brackett created a brilliant film noir screenplay, which told the story of a once proud but now aged Hollywood actress who wished to end her seclusion and regain past glory. For the principle actors, Gloria Swanson was given the part of Norma Desmond. A young William Holden was selected for Joe Gillis and Erich von Stronheim was cast as Norma’s former husband and now butler Max von Mayerling. The story tells the tale of Joe Gillis, a young screenwriter down on his luck that drives into Desmond’s estate while fleeing a car repossesor. Norma, who has written a script to propel her comeback, hires Joe to create a screenplay. She lavishes her wealth and affection on him, which he freely and shamelessly accepts. Ultimately she falls in love with Joe and when he rejects her she shoots him. The story ends as a now elegantly dressed yet mad Norma descends her grand staircase to greet the police. Halfway down she pauses and announces proudly that she is happy to be making films again, ending with “All right, Mr. De Mille, I’m ready for my close-up.” The movie was both a commercial and critical success earning eleven Academy Award nominations, winning three for Best Screenplay, Best Art Direction and Best Film Score. Read more…

Academy Award Winners 2016

February 26, 2017 Leave a comment

hurwitz-oscarThe Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) have announced the winners of the 89th Academy Awards, honoring the best in film in 2016.

In the Best Original Score category composer Justin Hurwitz won the award for his score for director Damian Chazelle’s film La La Land, a modern day musical which celebrates the style of classic Hollywood updated to a contemporary setting. Hurwitz accepted the award by saying:

“Ok, wow! Thank you so much to the Academy. Thank you to my very, very good friend, Damian [Chazelle], I’m so glad I met you! Thank you to Marc Platt, Jordan Horowitz, Fred Berger. Thank you to everybody at Lionsgate. Thank you to all the LA musicians who played on this score. I just put notes on a page and they’re the ones who made it beautiful and sound the way it does. If I start going through names I could make, at most, twenty to thirty people happy but, I’ll make about a hundred – a couple of hundred million people really bored, so I’ll just leave it at everybody who’s work is on-screen in any way in this movie, I was looking at your work when I was scoring the picture, I was looking at what you did when I was scoring the picture, and that’s what inspired me, so thank you to everybody who worked on this movie. Thank you.”

The other nominees were Nicholas Britell for Moonlight, Mica Levi for Jackie, Dustin O’Halloran and Volker “Hauschka” Bertelmann for Lion, and Thomas Newman for Passengers.

In the Best Original Song category, the winners were Justin Hurwitz, Justin Paul, and Benj Pasek, for their song “City of Stars” from La La Land.

The other nominees were Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul for “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from La La Land, Lin-Manuel Miranda for “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana, Joshua Ralph and Gordon Sumner (Sting) for “The Empty Chair” from Jim: The James Foley Story, and Justin Timberlake, Max Martin, and Karl Johan Schuster (Shellback) for “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” from Trolls.

84 CHARING CROSS ROAD – George Fenton

February 24, 2017 Leave a comment

84charingcrossroadTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

84 Charing Cross Road is a genteel British period drama directed by David Hugh Jones, based on the semi-autobiographical novel by American author Helene Hanff. The film stars Anne Bancroft as Hanff, and tells the story of the long-distance friendship that develops between her and antiquarian bookseller Frank Doel (Anthony Hopkins), who manages a shop at the titular address in London in 1949. The film is little more than a quiet character study, a snapshot of life on opposite sides of the Atlantic in the period immediately after World War II, but the story has proved to be immensely popular: the original novel was a best seller, the subsequent Broadway stage play was a smash hit, and this screen adaptation was a critical darling in the UK; Anne Bancroft won a BAFTA for her leading role, and the film was BAFTA-nominated for its screenplay, and for Judi Dench’s supporting role as Frank’s wife, Nora. Read more…

IFMCA Award Winners 2016

February 23, 2017 Leave a comment

johannjohannsson-ifmcaINTERNATIONAL FILM MUSIC CRITICS ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF 2016 IFMCA AWARDS; “ARRIVAL” TAKES SCORE OF THE YEAR, JUSTIN HURWITZ AND “LA LA LAND” WINS THREE OTHERS

The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) announces its list of winners for excellence in musical scoring in 2016, in the 2016 IFMCA Awards.

The award for Score of the Year goes to Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson for his work on the critically acclaimed science fiction drama “Arrival,” directed by Denis Villeneuve, starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. IFMCA member Jon Broxton said that “Jóhannsson’s approach to solving the film’s musical problems [is] absolutely fascinating, and the way he was able to musically convey some of the film’s more challenging cerebral ideas involving language and communication is astonishingly accomplished,” while IFMCA member Daniel Schweiger said that Jóhannsson “brilliantly captures both a sense of wonder and fear with beholding the mind-boggling, verbally-scrambled unknown, as whale cry motifs join with alternately moaning and chattering voices, backed by a strong orchestral sound that serves as a powerful universal musical translator in a way that’s both harmonically understandable, and profoundly strange.” This is the first IFMCA Award win of Jóhannsson’s career, him having previously been nominated for Best Original Score for a Drama Film for “The Theory of Everything” in 2014. Read more…

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A CURE FOR WELLNESS – Benjamin Wallfisch

February 21, 2017 1 comment

acureforwellnessOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

A Cure for Wellness is the latest film from Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski. It’s a creepy, paranoia-infused horror-thriller starring Dane De Haan as Lockhart, a young and ambitious Wall Street stockbroker who is sent to an idyllic but mysterious ‘wellness center’ in the Swiss Alps to retrieve his company’s CEO, who has been spending time there, and who has sent a troubling letter home to the executives. Upon arrival, Lockhart meets the wellness center’s owner and chief medical officer Heinrich Volmer (Jason Isaacs), some of the patients (Celia Imrie, Ashok Mandanna), and a strange young girl named Hannah (Mia Goth), but when he tries to leave the facility he is involved in a serious car crash. Forced to recuperate at the facility with a badly broken leg, Lockhart soon discovers some troubling information about the history of the place, and quickly comes to believe that things are not as they seem. It’s a visually startling and quite beautiful film which drips with atmosphere, and is very reminiscent of many of the European paranoia-thrillers of the 1970s set in murderous hospitals, especially those by directors like Dario Argento. It’s also completely bat-shit insane in the best possible way, with a denouement that takes grand guignol to violent extremes. Read more…

THE RED PONY – Aaron Copland

February 20, 2017 Leave a comment

redpony100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In the 1940s Republic Pictures was struggling to find its place in the sun, and so made a concerted effort to gain equal status with the major studios of the day. To that end they began to take on serious dramas with renowned directors. Producer-Director Lewis Milestone was hired to bring George Steinbeck’s short story series The Red Pony to the big screen. Steinbeck himself was hired to write the screenplay as the multiple story lines had to be blended into a cogent narrative. Milestone brought in a splendid cast which included Myrna Loy as Alice Tiflin, Robert Mitchum as Billy Buck, Louis Calhern as Grandfather, Sheppherd Strudwick as Fred Tiflin, Peter Miles as Tom Tiflin, and Margaret Hamilton as Teacher. The story is classic Americana, set in the 1930s, and takes place in the Salinas Valley ranching communities of central California. A young boy Tom is gifted a red pony colt by his father Fred. The two are not close and Fred hopes that the gift will strengthen the father-son bond. But instead of seeking help from his father, Tom instead asks stableman Billy to help assist him in caring for the pony and in its training. Read more…