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Archive for April, 2018

A WORLD APART – Hans Zimmer

April 26, 2018 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

As I wrote in my review for James Newton Howard’s Russkies last year, one of my favorite things about the Throwback Thirty series is the opportunity it gives me to take a look back at the very beginnings of certain composers’ careers, and examine how they started and where they came from. But first, a little background on the movie: A World Apart is an anti-Apartheid drama from the acclaimed cinematographer Chris Menges, who was making his directorial debut; it was written by Shawn Slovo, and loosely based on the lives of her parents, Ruth First and Joe Slovo. Set in South Africa in 1963, the film tells the story of Diana and Gus Roth, who are strong and determined anti-Apartheid activists. Despite being white and wealthy the Roths are frequently involved in public demonstrations and high profile political activism against the racist South African government, and as a result are often subjected to police brutality, violence, and societal ostracism – something which their pre-teen daughter Molly struggles to understand. The film stars Barbara Hershey, Jeroen Krabbé, a young Tim Roth, and a then 10-year-old Jodhi May, and was a significant critical success in Europe, winning a BAFTA for Best Screenplay, and receiving commendations at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival. Read more…

PAUL: APOSTLE OF CHRIST – Jan A.P. Kaczmarek

April 24, 2018 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

It’s interesting to note that, for quite some time now, Hollywood has been out of love with the biblical epic. It’s not that long ago than an adaptation of a bible story was a film studio annual cornerstone, guaranteed to bring in the crowds and the money. Some of the greatest and most lavish films in cinema history – Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments, Quo Vadis – drew their inspiration from the most important parts of Christian scripture, while a whole raft of others focused on ‘minor characters’ from the bible but were no less successful – Samson and Delilah, David and Bathsheba, The Robe, Sodom and Gomorrah, The Story of Ruth, Barabbas. However, at a certain point audience enthusiasm for these films dwindled away, and for many subsequent years biblical films were considered passé, a relic of the over-stuffed studio era. Read more…

ROCKY – Bill Conti

April 23, 2018 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Sylvester Stallone was enduring hard times in 1975. Despite having appeared in a few movies – including The Lords of Flatbush, Farewell My Lovely, and Death Race 2000 – he had only $100 in the bank, and was seeking to sell his dog Butkus because he could not afford to feed it. Ending up on the street was a looming possibility, which focused his resolve to engineer the big career break he needed. Seeking inspiration, Stallone found it in a famous match between heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali and underdog no-hoper Chuck Wepner, who somehow managed to take the legendary Ali to fifteen rounds. Over three nights Stallone wrote a quintessential American rags-to-riches story about a down-and-out boxer named Rocky Balboa. This is a classic underdog narrative, where we bear witness to a determined man, who through perseverance, guile and sheer force of will, overcomes all obstacles to achieve greatness. Entwined within the narrative is a surprisingly tender love story, which served to endear Rocky to audiences as a relatable and fallible hero, one of the common folk whose story informs us that anything is possible. United Artist producers Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler loved the script and bought the film rights, with Stallone leveraging its sale with the stipulation that he would star. Studio executives baulked, but when Stallone refused to blink, they acquiesced, but with a severely reduced budget of $1 million. John G. Avildsen was tasked with directing the film. Read more…

LOST IN SPACE – Christopher Lennertz

April 17, 2018 4 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Considering that American TV appears to be obsessed with nostalgic reboots, it was perhaps only a matter of time before producers began to look back even further than the 1980s for inspiration. Lost in Space was one of several TV series produced by the legendary Irwin Allen which, along with Land of the Giants, The Time Tunnel, and of course Star Trek (which was not produced by Allen), eventually came to be regarded as game-changers for science fiction television storytelling. Unlike anthology series like The Twilight Zone, Lost in Space was a sequential drama that followed the adventures of the Robinson family, who are chosen to lead an exploration to find a new planet for humans to colonize, but who become hopelessly lost in the depths of space when their mission is sabotaged by a sinister stowaway. Originally broadcast in 1965, it started out quite seriously, but gradually became sillier as it went on, concentrating much more on the antics of the stowaway Dr Zachary Smith, played by Jonathan Harris, and his relationship with the family’s youngest child Will Robinson, than the existential drama at the heart of the show. It was cancelled in 1968 after three seasons, and despite an initial attempt to re-boot it in 1998 as a movie starring William Hurt, Gary Oldman, and Matt LeBlanc, it has nevertheless remained something of a quaint relic of the 1960s – until now. Read more…

THE OMEN – Jerry Goldsmith

April 16, 2018 Leave a comment

theomen100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Bob Munger, a friend of Producer Harvey Bernhard of 20th Century Fox, suggested that he consider making a supernatural horror drama based on the anti-christ of the apocalypse. Bernhard was intrigued by the idea, and hired screenwriter David Seltzer to come up with a story, who exceeded Bernhard’s expectations and delivered a classic story. Richard Donner was hired to direct and he assembled a stellar cast, which included Gregory Peck as Ambassador Robert Thorn, Lee Remick as his wife Katherine, David Warner as photographer Keith Jennings, Billie Whitelaw as the sinister Mrs. Baylock, Patrick Troughton as Father Brennan, and young Harvey Stephens as Damien Thorn, he young boy at the center of the narrative. Read more…

MARY MAGDALENE – Hildur Guðnadóttir and Jóhann Jóhannsson

April 13, 2018 6 comments

Original Review by Anže Grčar

The unfortunate and unexpected passing of Jóhann Jóhannsson in early February, sent shockwaves through the film community, and lovers of modernist music at large. Not only was he flourishing and enjoying a fruitful career highlight since the indie world took his scores for mainly Denis Villeneuve-helmed films to the heart, but the death of any person at barely 48 years of age is a sad reminder of how fragile our existence can be. Jóhannsson is leaving behind a stunning body of work, ranging from independent studio albums in his native Iceland, that gained a loyal following due to their experimental sonic blends of traditional orchestration with contemporary electronic elements, to his recent film scores, which exposed so many traditional scoring aficionados to variety of post-modernist styles – all coming from an artist who always managed to encapsulate life from a different, more introverted angle that was singular only to him. Read more…

THE LIGHTHORSEMEN – Mario Millo

April 12, 2018 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Lighthorsemen was one of a series of critically acclaimed Australian films in the 1980s which looked at the experiences of that country’s soldiers during World War I and World War II, while also commenting specifically on the emergence of an Australian national culture and identity as it moved from being a British colony to attaining full independence. Capitalizing on the success of 1980’s Breaker Morant and 1981’s Gallipoli, which launched the international careers of directors Bruce Beresford and Peter Weir, The Lighthorsemen was directed by Simon Wincer and followed the experiences of four young and inexperienced Australian soldiers in a mounted brigade, fighting for the British against the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East as part of World War I. The movie culminates with an extraordinary depiction of the Battle of Beersheba, which has since come to be regarded as one of the greatest mounted infantry charges in history, and one of the finest moments of Australian military success. Read more…

A QUIET PLACE – Marco Beltrami

April 10, 2018 3 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A Quiet Place is an effective, exciting, and scary horror-thriller, directed by John Krasinski, hitherto best known as the easy-going Jim from the American version of the sitcom The Office. This film is a very different kettle of fish; it is set an indeterminate period in the future in the aftermath of an invasion by some sort of race of monsters – possibly aliens, possibly something else, it’s never quite explained. The monsters are blind but have intensely acute hearing, and attack and slaughter any living thing that makes a noise. Krasinski and his real-life wife Emily Blunt play Lee and Evelyn, a husband and wife with three children – one of whom is deaf and wears a cochlear implant – and a baby on the way. The film follows their efforts to survive – scavenging for food, maintaining their farmhouse home, and raising the children, trying to build a life in this nightmarish scenario – while all the while trying to remain utterly silent so as not to attract the monsters who roam the woods around their property. Read more…

OBSESSION – Bernard Herrmann

April 9, 2018 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Brian De Palma had long admired Alfred Hitchcock’s masterwork Vertigo, and resolved to revisit its themes with a new rendering. He convinced Paramount studio executives of his vision for a retelling, and brought in trusted writer Paul Schrader to create a screenplay. Schrader’s crafted a fine original screenplay, titled Déjà Vu, but it was so voluminous that De Palma judged it to be unfilmable. As such he truncated the third act, which was set ten years in the future to achieve a more cogent and filmable storyline. Well, Schrader was outraged, refused to make the requested changes, and the two friends had a falling out, but development of the film continued regardless, ultimately resulting in Obsession. De Palma brought is a seasoned cast, which included Cliff Robertson as Michael Courtland, Geneviève Bujold as Elizabeth Courtland/Sandra Portinari, John Lithgow as Robert Lasalle, and Stocker Fontelieu as Dr. Ellman. Read more…

BEETLEJUICE – Danny Elfman

April 5, 2018 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Beetlejuice is an irreverent supernatural comedy, one of the best of the 1980s, and is the film which introduced the world to one of the most iconic characters of the period – the ghoulish, disgusting, undead horror-for-hire played by Michael Keaton at his most madcap. The film is set in an idyllic New England town, where blissful newlyweds Adam and Barbara Maitland are renovating their dream home; unfortunately, they are killed in a car crash on their way back from the hardware store, and become ghosts, stuck haunting their home for 125 years. Some time later the home is sold to a new family, the Deetzes, comprising the insufferable and talentless artist Delia, her henpecked developer husband Charles, and his goth daughter Lydia; immediately, Delia begins ripping out the country charm of the house, replacing it with garish modern art. Desperate to save their home, the Maitlands travel to the afterlife – a dreary netherworld set up like the universe’s worst DMV office – where they are advised that they can scare out the Deetzes if they so desire. To accomplish this, the Maitlands find and hire a ‘bio-exorcist’ named Betelgeuse, who can be summoned by saying his name three times – but the perverted, irreverent ghost quickly causes more chaos then he cures. Not only that, but it quickly becomes apparent that the introverted and sensitive Lydia can actually see the ghosts… Read more…

READY PLAYER ONE – Alan Silvestri

April 3, 2018 5 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Nostalgia for the late 1970s and 1980s is massively pervasive in pop culture right now, with TV shows like Stranger Things and big screen remakes and re-imaginings of period icons like Star Wars and It proving to be massively popular with audiences across the world. The new film Ready Player One may prove to be the pinnacle of the nostalgia festival; it’s a science fiction action adventure film based on an enormously popular novel by Ernest Cline, directed by the cinematic king of the 1980s, Steven Spielberg. The film is set 50 years into the future, in the aftermath of some sort of economic collapse which has left American society in disarray. Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) is a teenage kid living in The Stacks – a futuristic trailer park from hell – who escapes from his bleak daily life by retreating to The Oasis, a virtual reality alternative universe, along with literally billions of other people all over the world. The Oasis was created years before by James Halliday (Mark Rylance), a Steve Jobs-esque wunderkind, and after he died he left instructions for a ‘quest’ in his will: somewhere hidden deep inside the Oasis are three magical keys – Easter Eggs – and the first person to find all three will inherit control of the Oasis universe, as well as Halliday’s trillion dollar fortune. As his Oasis alter-ego avatar Parzival, Wade has spent years searching for the first of the Easter Eggs, with little success; however, shortly after teaming up with another avatar named Artemis (Olivia Cooke), Wade/Parzival locates the first key – an event which brings him to the attention of Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), the unscrupulous executive of IOI, a rival tech company which wants to control and exploit the Oasis for their own gain. Read more…

JAWS – John Williams

April 2, 2018 1 comment

jaws100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

As we today look back to 1975, we recognize that Jaws was a transformative film, which forever altered how the film industry would operate. Jaws inaugurated what has become known in the modern lexicon as, the Summer Blockbuster. After 1975 studio executives would thereafter conceive and fund big summer action and adventure films, which would take the public by storm, and fill studio coffers. The film was adapted from a Peter Benchley novel, which was originally conceived with the title “Leviathan Rising”, but later discarded for Jaws. It is as simple a tale as they come, man against the beast. We find the summer vacation community Amity Island plagued by a series of shark attacks, which threaten the island’s livelihood. Rogue seafarer Quint (Robert Shaw) is hired to hunt down and kill the beast with all dispatch. Accompanying him would be landlubber Police Captain Brody (Roy Scheider) and, oceanographer Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss). They wage war against this massive leviathan, which leads to Quint’s death, the loss of his boat, the Orca, and Hooper and Brody barely surviving. Well, the film was a massive commercial success, which spawned a franchise of sequels. It was also a critical success, earning four Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Film Editing, Best Sound and Best Film Score, winning three; best Film Editing, Best Sound and Best Film Score. Read more…