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Archive for September, 2017

FATAL ATTRACTION – Maurice Jarre

September 28, 2017 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the smash hit movies of 1987 was the thriller Fatal Attraction, the film which made a multitude of men think twice abut cheating on their wives, and which gave rise to the term ‘bunny boiler’. Directed by Adrian Lyne, and based on the 1980 British film ‘Diversion’ written by James Dearden, the film starred Michael Douglas as Dan Gallagher, a successful lawyer, happily married to his wife Beth (Anne Archer). One weekend, while his family is away, Dan has an unplanned one-night stand with Alex Forrest (Glenn Close), a publishing company executive. Immediately regretful of his infidelity, Dan insists that the night was a one-off and a mistake, and vows never to see Alex again, but she refuses to accept it, and continues to pressure Dan into a relationship. In the months that follow Alex becomes gradually more and more deranged, her obsession with Dan gradually turning to violence and murder. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Director, and Best Actress, but failed to win any, although the legacy of the film is arguably greater than those to which it lost (notably The Last Emperor and Moonstruck). Read more…

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BATTLE OF THE SEXES – Nicholas Britell

September 27, 2017 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

I’ve been a tennis fan for much of my life, both playing it and watching it. Since I began following the sport in earnest in the mid 1980s, men’s and women’s tennis has, over time, become more equal, with increasingly similar prize money, air time, and sponsorship deals for the elites in both games. Perhaps most importantly, the respect given to female tennis players has increased over time, such that they are for the most part seen as being on a par with their male counterparts. This was not always the case; back in 1973 55-year old Bobby Riggs, a genuinely great former champion who won both Wimbledon and the US Open in 1939, made a series of sexist and misogynist remarks about female tennis players of the era, and challenged the then world number one woman, 29-year-old Billie Jean King, to an exhibition game dubbed ‘the Battle of the Sexes’. This new film, directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris and starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell, is the story of that game, and how its outcome changed the perception of women’s professional sport forever. Read more…

MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY – Bronislau Kaper

September 25, 2017 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Following the stunning success of the remake of the epic Ben-Hur in 1959, MGM studio executives decided to draw water from the same well, accepting director John Sturges’ suggestion of a remake of their classic 1935 film Mutiny on the Bounty. Producer Aaron Rosenberg was tasked with bringing the film to fruition, and on Sturges’ advice hired Marlon Brando to provide the necessary star power. Veteran director Carol Reed was chosen to manage the film and a fine cast was hired to support Brando in his role as Lieutenant Fletcher Christian, including the renown Trevor Howard as Captain Bligh, Richard Harris as seaman John Mills, Hugh Griffith as seaman Alexander Smith, Richard Haydn as Botanist William Brown and Tarita Teripaia as Princess Maimiti. The studio granted a truly massive budget of $14 million dollars that would include local filming on Tahiti and building a $750,000 replica of the Bounty. Trouble however arose quickly due to an ever-evolving script, which included six screenplays that were rejected by the mercurial Brando. The film was to be shot over one year, but thanks to Brando’s rewrites, reshoots and prima dona tirades, Reed quit and production ended up taking three years to film! Read more…

WOJCIECH KILAR REVIEWS – 1964-2007

September 24, 2017 Leave a comment

In this latest installment of the new irregular series looking at the career of some film music’s most iconic composers, we travel to Poland to look at the work of one of film music’s most unsung geniuses, Wojciech Kilar.

Wojciech Kilar was born in Lvov, Ukraine, when it was still part of Poland, in July 1932, but moved to Katowice in Silesia in 1948 with his father, a gynecologist, and his mother, an actress. Kilar studied at the State Higher School of Music in Katowice under composer and pianist Władysława Markiewiczówna, at the State Higher School of Music in Kraków under composer and pianist Bolesław Woytowicz, and then in Paris with the legendary Nadia Boulanger in the late 1950s. Upon his return to Poland, Kilar and fellow composers Henryk Górecki and Krzysztof Penderecki led an avant-garde music movement in the 1960s, during which time he wrote several acclaimed classical works.

Kilar scored his first film in 1959, and went on to write music from some of Poland’s most acclaimed directors, including Krzysztof Kieślowski, Krzysztof Zanussi, Kazimierz Kutz, and Andrzej Wajda. He worked on over 100 titles in his home country, but he did not score an major English-language film until Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1992.

In addition to his film work, Kilar’s classical output includes such masterworks as Krzesany (1974), a symphonic poem for orchestra, inspired by the “highlander” music of the Tatra mountains region of southern Poland; Exodus (1979), a religious choral piece used in the trailers for Schindler’s List, and others such as Prelude and Christmas Carol (1972), Mount Kościelec 1909 (1976), Angelus (1984), Orawa (1986), and Choralvorspiel (1988). His third, fourth and fifth symphonies – the September Symphony (2003), the Symphony of Motion (2005) and the Advent Symphony (2007) – were among his last major completed works. Kilar died on December 29, 2013, at his home in Katowice, after a battle with cancer, aged 81. Read more…

VICTORIA & ABDUL – Thomas Newman

September 22, 2017 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There has long been a cinematic fascination with the life of Queen Victoria, who reigned in the United Kingdom from 1837 until 1901; numerous actresses have portrayed her, both on the big and the small screen, but for contemporary audiences the quintessential Victoria is the one played by Dame Judi Dench. She first played the role in 1997’s Mrs. Brown, which examined the controversial relationship between the long-widowed queen and her Scottish equerry John Brown, which ended with Brown’s death in 1883. This new film, directed by Stephen Frears, is essentially a sequel to Mrs. Brown, and again stars Dench as the much loved monarch. It picks up Victoria’s story in 1887, and focuses on another unusual relationship Victoria developed with a different manservant; however, rather than being a Scottish gamekeeper, her new confidante was an Indian Muslim named Abdul Karim, played by Ali Fazal. Cue the scandals in the palaces of London and the halls of Westminster. Read more…

TULIP FEVER – Danny Elfman

September 19, 2017 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The tale of Tulip Fever is a long and sad one in terms of the way the film has been treated by its distributor. It’s an adaptation of the enormously popular novel by Deborah Moggach, directed by Justin Chadwick, and written by the great Tom Stoppard. Set in the Netherlands in the 17th century, during the period of the tulip mania (when the Dutch economy was almost ruined by the enormous inflation, then the sudden collapse, of the price of tulips), the film tells the story of an impoverished artist who falls in love with a young but unhappily married woman after he is commissioned to paint her portrait by her husband, a rich and powerful flower merchant. The film stars Dane De Haan, Alicia Vikander, and Christophe Waltz, and was originally scheduled for release in late 2015, in order to prime itself for a run at that’s year’s Academy Awards. However, for some reason, the film was delayed and delayed and delayed by the distributor, Harvey Weinstein. Release dates came and went until the film finally dragged itself into cinemas in a limited release in August 2017, almost two years after it was first scheduled to appear; virtually no-one went to see it, and it was a critical disaster, with one writer memorably describing it as ‘a floral-scented fiasco that is so lifeless you can barely feel a pulse.’ Read more…

BEN-HUR – Miklós Rózsa

September 18, 2017 4 comments

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

As a new decade dawned, MGM studio executives began searching for a grand tale to bring to the screen. They decided in 1952 to cast their lot with a remake of their epic 1925 silent film, Ben-Hur. The film’s source material would again reference Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. It would take six years before producer Sam Zimbalist could bring the project to fruition. It required twelve versions of the script, from four different writers, to finally satisfy the demands of director William Wyler. Casting was also challenging as over 5,000 people needed to be hired for minor roles and extras. The studio spared no expense, ultimately providing Wyler with an astounding $15 million budget. Charlton Heston secured the titular role of Judah Ben-Hur and was supported by a fine cast, which included Stephen Boyd as Messala, Jack Hawkins as Quintus Arius, Haya Harareet as Esther, Martha Scott as Miriam, Sam Jaffe as Simonides, Hugh Griffith as Sheik Ilderim, Cathy O’Donnell as Tirzah, Frank Thring as Pontius Pilate, and Finlay Currie as Balthazar narrator. Read more…