Archive for October, 2017

CLEOPATRA – Alex North

October 23, 2017 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

20th Century Fox had descended into financial troubles in the late 1950s due to a string of poorly performing films. They decided to regain the glory of their past by remaking one of their prior gems – the 1917 film Cleopatra . They needed a producer to bring the film to fruition, and when veteran Walter Wanger approached the studio to tell the story of Cleopatra, an astounding synergy was realized. He tasked Joseph Mankiewicz with directing, and Ranald MacDougall and Sidney Buchman joined him in fashioning the script. Mankiewicz’s original conception was to make two, three-hour films; Caesar and Cleopatra, and Anthony and Cleopatra. He was however overruled by the studio who insisted on a single film. A cast for the ages was assembled with Elizabeth Taylor playing the titular role of Cleopatra. Supporting her would be Richard Burton as Marc Anthony, Rex Harrison as Julius Caesar, Roddy McDowell as Octavian, and Martin Landau as Rufio. Read more…



October 17, 2017 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Over the past one hundred years or so since his creation, the character Winnie the Pooh has grown from humble origins to become a worldwide commercial phenomenon, the latter courtesy of the Disney company which purchased the intellectual rights in 1966. A good-natured, honey-loving, perpetually befuddled yellow bear, Pooh and his friends have been beloved childhood staples for generations, but few are aware of his origins. Director Simon Curtis’s period drama film Goodbye Christopher Robin explores them, looking at how British author A. A. Milne created the characters based on the interactions he had with his young son Christopher, whose collection of stuffed animals provided inspiration for his literature. The subsequent popularity of the books ‘Winnie the Pooh’ and ‘The House at Pooh Corner’ turned Milne into something of a household name, and provided a small degree of comfort to an England still dealing with the after-effects of World War I – but, ironically, made Milne’s relationship with his son more difficult. The film stars Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, and Kelly MacDonald, and has an original score by Carter Burwell. Read more…

HOW THE WEST WAS WON – Alfred Newman

October 16, 2017 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

MGM Studios, in an effort to regain its former glory, embarked on a sweeping multi-generational tale, an epic story so grand in its storytelling that three directors would be needed to shoot its five vignettes. The film drew inspiration from a Life magazine photo essay titled “How the West Was Won”. Producer Bernard Smith hired James R. Webb to write a screenplay with a massive canvass and Henry Hathaway was tasked with directing three of the vignettes; The Rivers (1839), The Plains (1851) and The Outlaws (1889). John Ford would direct The Civil War (1861–1865) segment, and George Marshall would direct The Railroad (1868). A massive stellar cast was hired, which many consider to be the greatest assembly of stars ever hired for a single project; Carroll Baker as Eve Prescott, Agnes Moorhead as Rebecca Prescott, Karl Malden as Zebulon Prescott, Debbie Reynolds as Lilith Prescott, Lee Cobb as Lou Ramsey, Henry Fonda as Jethro Stewart, Carolyn Jones as Julie Rawlings, Gregory Peck as Cleve Van Valen, George Peppard as Zeb Rawlings, Robert Preston as Roger Morgan, John Wayne as General William Tecumseh Sherman, Richard Widmark as Mike King, Walter Brennan as Colonel Jeb Hawkins, Raymond Massey as President Abraham Lincoln, and Harry Morgan as General Ulysses S. Grant. Read more…


October 13, 2017 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

It seems appropriate that, in a year where the comic book super hero Wonder Woman made such an important and groundbreaking splash at the US box office, there should also be a small independent film about the creation of the character. While many are aware of Wonder Woman’s status as an iconic figure of female empowerment through the big and small screen portrayals of her by actresses Lynda Carter and Gal Gadot, it’s important to remember that she has been around since the 1940s, and that her origins are… shall we say, slightly unconventional. Wonder Woman was created by William Moulton Marston using the pen name Charles Moulton. In public, Moulton was an acclaimed psychologist and writer who, notably, invented the polygraph lie detector. In private, however, Moulton was in a long term consensual relationship with two women – Elizabeth Holloway and Olive Byrne – who were also in a lesbian relationship with each other. Not only that, both Holloway and Byrne were early pioneers of the feminism movement that began under Margaret Sanger, while Marston was an enthusiastic practitioner of sexual bondage, dominance and submission, the themes of which often crossed over into his writing. Director Angela Robinson’s film Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, which stars Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall, and Bella Heathcote, explores the relationship between Marston, Holloway and Byrne, and how their alternative dynamic resulted in the creation of a super-hero who endures to this day. Read more…


October 12, 2017 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Is there a more beloved, more quotable 1980s movie than The Princess Bride? If we’re talking about pop culture consciousness, then director Rob Reiner’s 1987 romantic-comedy-fantasy-adventure may be the cream of the crop. Based on the novel by William Goldman, the film is basically a story about a grandfather reading to his sick grandson, and the way in which great literature can inspire us, enthrall us, and move us in equal measure. In the film’s framing story, the grandfather (Peter Falk) reads the story of The Princess Bride to his computer game-obsessed grandson (Fred Savage), and the tale unfolds before us: it’s a classic adventure about a handsome and heroic stable boy named Wesley (Cary Elwes), who falls in love with the beautiful Buttercup (Robin Wright); years later, with Buttercup betrothed to be married to the odious Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon), Westley must team up with a gang of adventurers to save her. Read more…

BLADE RUNNER 2049 – Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer

October 10, 2017 4 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The 1982 science fiction film Blade Runner is considered a landmark of the genre, a thoughtful and thought-provoking look at the nature of humanity, dressed up with groundbreaking visual effects and a revolutionary neo-noir style. Now, 35 years later, the film’s long-awaited sequel Blade Runner 2049 has finally arrived after what feels like an eternity in development, with a new director in the shape of Denis Villeneuve, and with original director Ridley Scott acting as executive producer. Without wanting to give too much of the plot away, the film stars Ryan Gosling as a ‘blade runner’ named K, a futuristic cop hunting down the last few old-model ‘replicants,’ incredibly lifelike synthetic humanoids who have been designed to work as slaves for real humans, and whose rebellion formed the plot of the first movie. Since then, newer-model replicants have become a stable part of society, but when K discovers a long-buried secret that has the potential to change the world, he finds himself trying to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), the protagonist of the first film, who has been missing for decades. Read more…


October 4, 2017 1 comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

I have a confession to make, and I’m not sure how well it’s going to go over. It may be OK, or it may cause me to lose some respect in the eyes of my readers, but it’s something I have to get off my chest. OK… here goes. My name is Jon Broxton and I have never played Donkey Kong. Or Super Mario Bros., or The Legend of Zelda, or any of those classic Nintendo games that are such a staple of contemporary popular culture. Growing up, I wasn’t a gamer at all, and while I was of course aware of all the various characters, I never had the experience of actually playing them, which meant that for most of my life they didn’t mean a whole lot to me. I have since become much more aware of their impact and legacy, which is how I know that Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is one of the most important game titles to be released in 2017. Read more…