Archive

Archive for June, 2018

HEREDITARY – Colin Stetson

June 15, 2018 2 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In the days and weeks after it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, Hereditary quickly became one of the most anticipated and critically lauded horror films in years. It marks the feature debut of writer-director Ari Aster, and is a devastating familial drama dressed up as a psychological chiller. Toni Collette plays Annie Graham, wife to Steve (Gabriel Byrne) and mother to teenage children Charlie (Milly Shapiro) and Peter (Alex Wolff), and the story begins in the aftermath of her mother Ellen’s death. Ellen was a secretive and somewhat unpleasant woman, and her passing initially comes as something of a relief to the family; however, before long, strange things begin occurring in the Graham household, many of which appear to be centered around young Charlie, who has a withdrawn and moody personality of her own. As the events become more and more disturbing, dark secrets from the family’s past begin to emerge, culminating in a shocking ending, bathed in blood and fire. Read more…

Advertisements

RED HEAT – James Horner

June 14, 2018 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The action comedy buddy-cop movie reached new heights in the summer of 1988 with the release of Red Heat, which was a vehicle for the increasing box office power of action star Arnold Schwarzenegger. In this film directed by Walter Hill, Schwarzenegger plays Ivan Danko, a captain in the Moscow police, whose partner is killed by drug dealer and crime boss Rostavili (Ed O’Ross). Rostavili flees to the United States and disappears into the Chicago underworld; he is arrested by local cop Art Ridzik (Jim Belushi) in connection with several murders, and Danko arrives from Moscow to oversee his extradition back to the Soviet Union. However, when Rostavili escapes again, Danko and Ridzik are paired with each other as partners and tasked with catching him again and bringing him to justice. In addition to the usual fight scenes where Schwarzenegger was able to show off his impressive physique, Red Heat was interesting because of its Cold War overtones. In 1988 the Berlin Wall was still up, the Soviet Union was still a world superpower, and the idea of pairing a traditional wise-cracking donut-munching beat cop with a stoic, by-the-book Soviet detective allowed the filmmakers to use them as a microcosm to explore the political tensions of the era, as well as to inject some fish-out-of-water social commentary as Danko observes and criticizes American consumerism and decadence from a communist point of view. Read more…

MARY SHELLEY – Amelia Warner

June 12, 2018 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The British author Mary Shelley, who lived from 1797 to 1851, is best known today for her Gothic novel ‘Frankenstein,’ one of the most influential books of all time, and which has come to be regarded as the first true science fiction story. The romantic drama film Mary Shelley takes an extended look at Shelley’s early life, especially the exalted scholarly circles in which she moved; as the daughter of philosopher William Godwin she had an in-depth classical education, her circle of friends included the poet Lord Byron and the early horror novelist John Polidori, and she was married to poet Percy Shelley, all of whom were significant influences on the story she conceived one stormy night on the banks of Lake Geneva in 1818. The film stars Elle Fanning, Douglas Booth, and Tom Sturridge, and is directed by Haifaa al-Mansour, the world’s first female Saudi Arabian film maker, whose previous work includes the critically acclaimed 2012 drama Wadjda. Read more…

STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE – Jerry Goldsmith

June 11, 2018 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The rebirth of the science fiction genre with Star Wars in 1977, and the continued success of the Star Trek series in syndication, convinced Paramount Studio to begin work on a feature film. In 1978, Paramount assembled the largest press conference held at the studio since the 1950s to announce that double Academy Award winning director Robert Wise would direct a $15 million film adaptation of the television series. The film in the finest tradition of Star Trek is a classic morality play, which speaks to a universal and transcendent yearning shared by all cultures, namely La Ricerca di Dio – the quest for God. The story line reveals the menace of a massive energy cloud of enormous power on a set course to Earth. Admiral James Kirk reassumes command of a newly refitted Enterprise and leads a desperate mission to save humanity. But all is not as it seems as we see Kirk discover that he faces a first contact encounter with an entity of insurmountable power programmed to a singular purpose – to find its creator. By maintaining fidelity to the fundamental Federation principles of seeking out new life forms in the spirit of peace and understanding, Kirk, using his usual guile and experience, is able to overcome technological, linguistic and conceptual challenges and establish a dialogue. With Spock’s assistance, he ultimately succeeds in potentiating within the mechanistic alien entity a spiritual epiphany, which catalyzes a breath-taking transformation, thereby saving the Earth. The film was slow paced, cerebral and ponderous, yet never the less became a huge commercial success. It earned Paramount three times its production costs, there-by setting the stage for a second film. Goldsmith was also honored with Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for best score. Regretfully, he failed to win. Read more…

BIG – Howard Shore

June 7, 2018 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Big was one of the most popular and successful comedies of 1988 – in fact, of the 1980s as a whole – and was, in many ways, the film which made Tom Hanks a bonafide box office star. Directed by Penny Marshall from a screenplay by Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg, Big is the story of childhood wish fulfillment, in which a regular 12 year old boy from New Jersey named Josh Baskin makes a wish ‘to be big’ on an old fortune teller machine at a traveling carnival, and then wakes up the following morning transformed into a 30 year old man (Hanks). After having terrified his mother, who believes that adult Josh is actually a kidnapper holding her son for ransom, he calls on his best friend Billy (Jared Rushton) for help, and together they travel to Manhattan to track down the carnival – only to be told that it will take months for the paperwork to come through. In the meantime, through a fortuitous set of circumstances, Josh manages to get a job at a toy company, working for the gruff but kindly Mr. MacMillan (Robert Loggia). He impresses his new colleagues – including the beautiful Susan (Elizabeth Perkins), who soon falls for Josh’s ‘child-like’ charm – but as much as Josh begins to enjoy his new adult life, he continues to search for the fortune teller machine so he can return home. Read more…

THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY – Alexandra Harwood

June 5, 2018 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the things the British do very well is make old fashioned romantic dramas. There have been dozens of them over the years, often with oddball titles, starring young starlets in period dress, who are swept off their feet by a dashing chap who is invariably coming back from, or heading off to, a war. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is one of those films; it’s adapted from a popular novel by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, and is directed by Mike Newell, who is an old hand at this sort of thing. It stars Lily James as Juliet, a successful author in post-war London who takes up an offer to visit Guernsey – an island in the English Channel – after she receives a letter from the titular society, inviting her to speak. Upon arrival, Juliet soon becomes involved in a romance with a handsome and rugged farmer (Michael Huisman), despite being engaged to an American GI back in the London, while simultaneously getting drawn into a mystery involving the disappearance of a young girl named Elizabeth years previously. The reason this is especially noteworthy is because Guernsey was one of the only places in the UK occupied by Nazi forces during World War II, and Elizabeth disappeared at the height of the occupation. Read more…

SUPERMAN – John Williams

June 4, 2018 2 comments

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1973 producers Ilya Salkind and Pierre Spengler believed it was time to bring a classic super hero to the big screen. After protracted negotiations with DC Comics, they secured film rights to produce two Superman movies, which they would shoot back to back. A number of screenwriters were hired and let go before until a team comprised of Mario Puzo, David Newman, Leslie Newman and Robert Benton took up the project. Yet Salkind and Spengler were still not satisfied and so hired Tom Mankiewiicz to do the final rewrite, which was completed in July 1976. Thematic for the film was taking the long and tortuous road to hire a director and cast. Richard Donner finally won out over nine other directors. As for the titular role, almost all of the leading men of the day were either turned down, or showed no interest. As such, Spengler decided to cast an unknown, and after over 200 auditions, newcomer Christopher Reeve won the part – bu it was felt he was too skinny. Rather than wear a muscle suit, Reeve went on a weight-lifting regimen, adding a massive 24 pounds of muscle. Joining the cast would be Marlon Brando as Jor-El, Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor, Ned Beatty as Otis, Jackie Cooper as Perry White, Glenn Ford as Jonathan Kent, Phyllis Thaxter as Martha Kent, Margot Kidder as Lois Lane, and Valerie Perrine as Eve Teschmacher. Read more…