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Archive for October, 2017

HAPPY DEATH DAY – Bear McCreary

October 31, 2017 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

If ever you’ve wanted to see the 1990s movie Groundhog Day re-imagined as a serial killer horror thriller, then Happy Death Day is the film for you. It’s a fun, imaginative little slice of mischief in which Tree, a young female college student, finds herself living the same day over and over again – her birthday – and being murdered at the end of it by a deranged killer in a baby mask. She wakes up again the following morning in the dorm room of her sheepish one night stand, and slowly comes to realize that she must solve her own murder if she is to escape this endless time-loop of blood and death. The film, which was directed by Christopher Landon and stars Jessica Rothe and Israel Broussard, is self-aware and tongue-in cheek, with enough playful humor to keep things light, but enough creepiness to make it an effective whodunit, especially when the hooded and masked killer is on screen. Read more…

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THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE – Dimitri Tiomkin

October 30, 2017 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director Anthony Mann of El Cid fame sought to reprise his success with another ancient epic, this time set in the waning days of the Roman Empire. He assembled a stellar cast that included Sophia Loren (Lucilla), Alec Guinness (Marcus Aurelius), Stephen Boyd (Livius), Christopher Plummer (Commodus), James Mason (Tiomedes) and Omar Sharif as Sohamus. Regretfully, the film was less epic and more a wooden documentary as it plodded through its three-hour plus running time. The story centers on the intrigue and contest for love and power in the court of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. After the emperor is assassinated, a power mad, vain and unstable Commodus assumes the throne and begins a reign of terror, ultimately banishing all who earned his disfavor including Livius, Lucilla and Tiomedes. The film was a commercial failure bringing in only 20% of its 19 million dollar production costs. The score however achieved critical success being nominated by both the Academy of Motion Pictures and The Golden Globes. Tiomkin succeeded in winning a well-deserved Golden Globe. Read more…

ONLY THE BRAVE – Joseph Trapanese

October 27, 2017 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Since I moved to the United States in 2005 I’ve developed a deep admiration for firefighters, especially the ones who deal with brushfires. I’ve seen first hand here in California how devastating wildfires can be; bone dry vegetation, coupled with strong winds, and difficult terrain, can lead to terrifyingly enormous fires that can march across miles and miles of ground, turning entire communities into ash. Just last week more than 6,000 homes were lost and dozens of people were killed in a wildfire north of San Francisco – and it’s not just California. Recent fires in Spain and Portugal, and in Australia, have shown us how deadly nature can be. Director Joseph Kosinski’s film Only the Brave honors the men and women on these front lines by telling the largely true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a group of elite firefighters who in 2003 risked everything to protect a town in Arizona from a historic wildfire. The film stars Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Jeff Bridges, James Badge Dale, Taylor Kitsch, and Jennifer Connelly, and has an original score by composer Joseph Trapanese. Read more…

LIONHEART – Jerry Goldsmith

October 26, 2017 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Lionheart is a perfect example of how a film studio can utterly ruin a film’s commercial success with poor distribution. A rousing historical action-adventure, the film is loosely based on the story of the Children’s Crusade of the year 1212, in which children from all over Europe adopted the cause of King Richard the Lionheart to protect Christianity from Muslim invaders. This story concentrates specifically on a young knight named Robert (Eric Stoltz), who finds himself becoming the protector of a group of children who are being threatened by the evil ‘Black Prince’ (Gabriel Byrne), a former crusader who became disillusioned with his cause and is now selling children into slavery. The film was an epic and lavish production – it was directed by the great Franklin Schaffner, was written by Menno Meyjes, and executive produced by Francis Ford Coppola – but it was hamstrung by its own production company, Orion Pictures, who delayed and delayed the film and eventually only released it in cinemas in Canada in the late summer of 1987 (it didn’t play in the United States at all). As a result, the film is virtually unknown these days, and is likely best remembered for Jerry Goldsmith’s rousing, epic score. Read more…

THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US – Ramin Djawadi

October 24, 2017 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Mountain Between Us is an unusual mix of genres, being described in the mainstream press as a ‘survival drama/action thriller/romance’. Directed by Palestinian filmmaker Haby Abu-Assad making his American debut, and based on a popular novel by Charles Martin, the film stars Idris Elba and Kate Winslet as two strangers – he a surgeon heading to perform an operation, she on the way to her wedding – who agree to share a small plane charter flight out of Idaho to the East Coast. When the plane goes down in bad weather in a remote mountain range, and with the pilot having been killed in the crash, the pair must summon all their reserves of strength and resilience to survive. Read more…

CLEOPATRA – Alex North

October 23, 2017 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

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…

GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN – Carter Burwell

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…