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Archive for March, 2017

ANGEL HEART – Trevor Jones

March 16, 2017 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Angel Heart is a neo-noir mystery-thriller with elements of psychological horror, written and directed by Alan Parker, based on the novel Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg. Set in the 1950s, the film stars Mickey Rourke as Harry Angel, a hard-boiled New York private detective who is hired by a mysterious businessman named Cyphre (Robert De Niro) to track down Johnny Favorite, a musician who Cyphre helped become successful before World War II, but who has been missing for more than a decade. The trail leads Angel from New York to New Orleans, where he becomes embroiled in a labyrinthine plot of sex, murder, betrayal, and occult voodoo symbolism, which leads him to question his own sanity. The film was not especially well-received when it was first released, and was more notorious at the time for the fact that it cast 19-year-old Lisa Bonet – best known as the wholesome Denise on The Cosby Show – as a sultry Cajun nymphomaniac named Epiphany who has a torrid love scene with Rourke. However, time has been kind to the movie, and it is well-respected today for its sweat-soaked Southern Gothic atmosphere, intelligent screenplay, compelling lead performances, and impressive visual style. Read more…

VICEROY’S HOUSE – A. R. Rahman

March 14, 2017 4 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There have been quite a few films made about the independence and subsequent separation of India into three countries – India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh – towards the end of the British Empire. Mountbatten: The Last Viceroy from 1986 looked at the events from the point of view of Lord Louis Mountbatten, the final British ruler of the country prior to independence in 1947. Jinnah from 1998 was a fairly straightforward biopic of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the leader of the Pakistani independence movement. Partition from 2007 took a more personal view, looking at the lives of family members who were separated along religious lines. The new film Viceroy’s House, directed by Anglo-Indian filmmaker Gurinder Chadha, is yet another look at these important events, but this time from the point of view of the members of Mountbatten’s household, who witness the historic transfer of power, and the political and social upheaval of the period, from front row seats. The film – which has been described as having an Upstairs-Downstairs, or Downton Abbey feel – stars Hugh Bonneville and Gillian Anderson as Lord and Lady Mountbatten, and Manish Dayal and Huma Qureshi as Jeet and Alia, members of Mountbatten’s staff who fall in love, and has support from a plethora of British character actors, including Michael Gambon, Simon Callow, and the late great Om Puri. Read more…

A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE – Alex North

March 13, 2017 1 comment

astreetcarnameddesire100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Elia Kazan had achieved widespread critical acclaim while directing Tennessee Williams’ play “A Streetcar Named Desire” on Broadway. At the bidding of Williams, he was exhorted to duplicate this success on the big screen. Warner Brothers bought into the idea and purchased the film rights with the proviso that Williams himself write the screenplay. Since Kazan was already quite familiar and comfortable with the Broadway cast, most of them were brought in to reprise their roles, including Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski, Kim Hunter as Stella Kowalski and Karl Malden as Harold “Mitch” Mitchell. Studio executives however vetoed the talented Jessica Tandy from the Broadway cast for the lead actress role of Blanche DuBois, preferring to add the star power of Vivian Leigh. Read more…

A UNITED KINGDOM – Patrick Doyle

March 10, 2017 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the things I love most about the movies is the fact that it often gives me the opportunity to learn a little bit about historical events I previously knew nothing about. Case in point: A United Kingdom, the latest film from British director Amma Asante, which is basically about the events leading up to the foundation of the Republic of Botswana. In 1947 Botswana was still known as Bechuanaland and was part of the British Empire, ruled by both a local royal family, and by a High Commissioner appointed by the British Crown. Seretse Khama, the heir to the throne, is in London studying law, and intends to return home once his studies are finished to take over from his uncle, who has acted as his regent since his father’s death. Things become more complicated when Seretse meets and falls in love with Ruth Williams, a middle class white woman; what unfolds is simultaneously a love story, a treatise on racism in the UK and Africa in the 1940s, and a political drama concerning the complicated diplomatic relationship between Britain and its Commonwealth colonies in southern Africa. The film, which was released in British cinemas in November 2016 prior to its worldwide opening in February 2017, stars David Oyelowo as Seretse, and Rosamund Pike as Ruth, and features an excellent supporting cast of British and African character actors including Vusi Kunene, Terry Pheto, Jack Davenport, Tom Felton, and Nicholas Lyndhurst. Read more…

AMERIKA – Basil Poledouris

March 9, 2017 1 comment

amerikaTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In the spring of 1987 viewers of the network TV channel ABC were treated to a 6-part mini-series imagining a horrific alternate reality for the United States where the country has been insidiously, but bloodlessly, overtaken by the Soviet Union. Amerika posits the country as being essentially a puppet state of Moscow, with the President and Congress mere figureheads for the Soviet regime; the population is kept under control by a UN peacekeeping force called the UNSSU, which is supposed to be multi-national but is in reality a Russian Communist military arm, which uses fear and intimidation tactics to suppress opposition. From out of this nightmare three heroes emerge: former politician Devin Mitford (Kris Kristofferson), who is released back into society after spending years in a labor camp for treason; administrator Peter Bradford (Robert Urich), who pretends to collaborate with the Soviets while working to bring down the regime from within; and Colonel Andrei Denisov (Sam Neill), a KGB agent becoming more and more disillusioned with his country’s politics. The series, which was written and directed by Donald Wrye, has been in the news of late after more than 20 years of relative obscurity, mainly due to the accusations of Russian influence in Donald Trump’s successful run for US President in 2016… this fiction couldn’t be happening in reality, could it? Read more…

LOGAN – Marco Beltrami

March 7, 2017 3 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Although it is technically a part of the Marvel X-Men franchise of comic book movies, Logan is a very different type of super hero film than anything else in recent history, dark, violent, and profane. Set in the year 2029, the film sees the mutant Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) aged, burnt out, and sick due to adamantium poisoning, eking out a meager existence as a limo driver on the Mexican border. He lives with albino mutant Caliban (Stephen Merchant), and cares for the very frail Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who is beginning to suffer from a degenerative brain disease and is prone to devastating psychic seizures. No mutant children have been born for several decades, and no-one knows why. Logan’s life is turned upside down by the arrival of a young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen), who is manifesting a mutation almost identical to Logan’s, and who is fleeing for her life from the agents of a biotech company, Transigen, and their ruthless head of security Pierce (Boyd Holbrook). Reluctantly, Logan agrees to ensure Laura safely arrives at a supposed safe haven in North Dakota, and so, with Professor Xavier in tow, the trio heads across the United States, trying to stay one step ahead of the ‘reavers’ who are hunting them. Read more…

A PLACE IN THE SUN – Franz Waxman

March 6, 2017 Leave a comment

aplaceinthesun100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The film was adapted from a 1925 novel “An American Tragedy” by Theodore Dreiser. Director George Stevens hired Michael Wilson and Harry Brown for the screenplay, and assembled a stellar cast to at last bring this tragic story to life. George Stevens (Montgomery Clift), Angela Vickers (Elizabeth Taylor) and Alice Tripp (Shelley Winters) were hired as the principles and paired with a great cast of supporting players. The film centers on George Eastman, a poor man raised by an evangelical mother, who is tragically undone by his own actions. He leaves Chicago dirt poor, determined to make a name for himself working in the company of his wealthy Uncle in California. While there he begins dating Alice, a girl he met in the plant. All seems fine until he becomes completely enamored with Angela, a drop dead gorgeous socialite whom he meets at a party. He abandons Alice without a thought and begins dating Angela. The two fall in love, yet things begin to unravel when Alice discloses to George that she is pregnant. When she threatens a public disclosure if he does not marry her, George feels cornered and so devises a plot to murder her. When the time comes to strike through a staged boat accident, his conscience prevails and he relents only to see Alice drown anyway by accident. He survives, but inexplicably fails to report her death to the authorities. As such, although innocent, circumstantial evidence and his own guilty behavior make authorities suspicious. His arrest comes just as Angela’s father grants him permission to marry his daughter. He is then tried and sentenced to death in the electric chair. Read more…