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Archive for June, 2018

THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE – Roque Baños

June 20, 2018 2 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In 1989 writer-director and former Monty Python member Terry Gilliam began to develop the screenplay for a film called The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, which he was co-writing with British scribe Tony Grisoni. While Don Quixote was being finalized Gilliam and Grisoni made Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas together, and then returned to Quixote to begin shooting in 2000, with Johnny Depp and French actor Jean Rochefort in the lead roles. What transpired would eventually become one of the worst examples of ‘development hell’ in the history of cinema, as Gilliam had to abandon production an astonishing three times between 2000 and 2016, due to various issues ranging from financial mis-management to legal wranglings to actor illnesses, and even a flood which destroyed much of the set. The story of Gilliam’s tribulations while making the film even became an acclaimed documentary, Lost in La Mancha, which was released in theaters in 2002. Eventually, against all odds, the film was finally shot and completed in 2017, with Adam Driver, Jonathan Pryce, Stellan Skarsgård, and Olga Kurylenko eventually being the ones in the lead roles. Read more…

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THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK – John Williams

June 18, 2018 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The stunning success of Star Wars caused George Lucas to rethink his original vision of a single stand-alone film. He now saw opportunity for a story arc, which would span additional films. To that end, he hired veteran science fiction writer Leigh Brackett to write the next screenplay, based on his story titled The Empire Strikes Back. Lucas did not like her first draft, and when she died shortly there after of cancer, he was left to rewrite the script himself. He shifted the story into a much darker narrative, which critics today acknowledge as the best film of the franchise. Lucas did not want to direct and so brought in trusted friend Irvin Kershner, his former professor. Most of the original cast would reprise their roles; Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Kenny Baker as R2-D2, Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca, and David Prowse as Lord Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones). Joining them would be Frank Oz as Yoda, Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian, and Jeremy Bulloch as Boba Fett. Read more…

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…

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…