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Archive for November, 2018

DEAD RINGERS – Howard Shore

November 29, 2018 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

As a follow-up to the massively successful and popular The Fly, Canadian director David Cronenberg chose Dead Ringers, adapted from the novel ‘Twins’ by Bari Wood and Jack Geasland, to be his next film. The film stars Jeremy Irons playing a duel role as Elliot and Beverly Mantle, identical twin brothers, both gynecologists, who run a successful medical practice in Toronto. The more charming and confident Elliot seduces women who come to him for fertility treatment, and ‘shares’ them with the more shy and introverted Beverly, without the women realizing that they are sleeping with two different men. Things change when a new patient, actress Claire Niveau (Geneviève Bujold), comes to their clinic. Claire is extremely sexually liberated, but is also addicted to prescription drugs; despite this, Beverly falls in love with her, and is shattered when she finds out about their duplicity and breaks off the relationship. Before long, Beverly’s world is crumbling in a mass of drug abuse, paranoid delusions, and horrific visions of mutated female genitalia – which causes Elliot to take drastic action to save him. Read more…

CREED II – Ludwig Göransson

November 28, 2018 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The unexpected critical and commercial success of Creed, the seventh movie in the enduring Rocky franchise that began in 1976, made a sequel inevitable. However, whereas the Rocky movies mostly got progressively worse as the series went on (who can forget Rocky’s robot butler in Rocky IV?), the two Creed movies have maintained their high quality through a combination of excellent writing, directing, acting, and emotional content, as well as some sensationally choreographed and realistic fight sequences. Michael B. Jordan continues in the title role as Adonis Creed, the son of former heavyweight champion Apollo Creed. The past comes back to haunt Adonis when Viktor Drago, the son of Ivan Drago – the man who killed his father in the ring – challenges him to a fight. To rise to the occasion, Adonis again calls on Rocky Balboa to train him – but Rocky is reluctant to get involved in the fight, fearing that the son will suffer the same fate as the father. Sylvester Stallone returns to play Rocky for the eighth time, Dolph Lundgren reprises his iconic role as Ivan, Tessa Thompson plays Adonis’s fiancée Bianca, and Romanian actor Florin Munteanu debuts as the man-mountain Viktor. The film is directed by Steven Caple Jr., taking over the reigns from Ryan Coogler, and has an original score by Ludwig Göransson. Read more…

CINEMA PARADISO – Ennio Morricone

November 26, 2018 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

As a young small town Sicilian boy, director Giuseppe Tornatore fell in love with the cinema where he would spend hours every day insatiably viewing films. With the advent of television and the VCR, many believed that the days of the town cinema were numbered. This film abounds with nostalgia as Tornatore explores his movie going memories and how they affected his life. Drawing from his own life experiences, he crafted a screenplay, which secured the financial backing of the French production company Les Films Ariane. A fine cast was assembled, which included; Philippe Noiret as Alfredo, Salvatore Cascio as Salvatore Di Vita (child), Marco Leonardo as Salvatore Di Vita (adolescent), Jacques Perrin as Salvatore Di Vita (adult), Agnese Nano as Elena Mendola (young), Leopoldo Trieste as Father Adelfio, Antonella Attili as Maria (young), Pupella Maggio as Maria (adult) and Isa Danieli as Ana. Salvatore Di Vita, aka Toto, is a precocious kid who falls in love with movies shown at his town’s theater, Cinema Paradiso. It comes to pass that he worms his way into the heart of projectionist Alfredo, who befriends him and takes him on as his apprentice. Over time Salvatore masters the projector and often runs it himself. So great is his love of movies that he buys a movie camera and begins making his own home movies. Tragedy strikes one night when the Cinema Paradiso catches fire and burns down, with Salvatore saving Alfredo’s life, but not before he is badly burned and blinded. Read more…

FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD – James Newton Howard

November 24, 2018 5 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

J. K. Rowling’s Wizarding World is expanding further beyond the confines of Harry Potter with Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the second movie in a planned series of five which looks at the life of a wizard who lived more than 60 years before Harry was even born. It builds on the events seen in the 2016 film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and follows Newt Scamander, a magical zoologist who cares for a vast array of curious creatures. Having been integral in the capturing of the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald at the end of the first film, Newt is unexpectedly called back into action again after Grindelwald escapes and flees to Paris. Responding to a personal plea from Albus Dumbledore, his former teacher at Hogwarts Wizarding School, Newt is tasked with stopping Grindelwald from amassing an army of followers – something which brings him back into contact with numerous figures from his past, including the Obscurial Credence Barebone, who was believed to have died during the events in New York, but who is rumored to have survived . The film stars Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Johnny Depp, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, and Ezra Miller, and is directed by David Yates; this is now the sixth ‘Wizarding Film’ Yates has helmed. Read more…

GORILLAS IN THE MIST – Maurice Jarre

November 21, 2018 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Dian Fossey was a conservationist and animal expert whose special focus was to study and protect African mountain gorillas. Having been inspired by another famous anthropologist, Louis Leakey, Fossey left her job in San Francisco and relocated to the remote jungles of Congo and Rwanda, where she established a research center in order to study these endangered creatures. As the years passed Fossey made several important breakthroughs and became world famous for her work, but also made many enemies, including poachers who hunted for gorilla artifacts, and members of the Rwandan government who opposed her increasingly violent responses to the poaching. Eventually, after more than twenty years working in Africa, Fossey was found dead in her cabin, apparently having been murdered; her assailants still have never been positively identified or tried. The film Gorillas in the Mist tells the true story of Fossey’s life and death; it stars Sigourney Weaver in the lead role, features Bryan Brown and Julie Harris in supporting roles, and is directed by Michael Apted. Read more…

THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB – Roque Baños

November 20, 2018 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Back in the early 2000s Steig Larsson’s Swedish-language novel Män Som Hatar Kvinnor – translated into English as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – was a bonafide phenomenon. It introduced the world to the character Lisbeth Salander, the socially awkward punk computer hacker who became an unlikely crusader for women’s justice, enacting revenge upon men who hate women, while getting involved in a labyrinthine plot of murder, sex, and death. Sadly, Larsson didn’t live to see his success – he died of a heart attack before the novels were even published – and so obviously he did not live to see his works transition to the big screen either. Adaptations of his three Salander novels (Män Som Hatar Kvinnor, Flickan Som Lekte Med Elden/The Girl Who Played With Fire, and Luftslottet Som Sprängdes/The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest) were made in Sweden starring Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist, and became instant international successes; an American remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo then emerged in 2011, directed by David Fincher and starring Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig. Unfortunately, that film was not as successful as many hoped, and plans for English-language adaptations of Fire and Hornet’s Nest were shelved. However, the series has now been revived by Uruguayan director Fede Álvarez in the shape of The Girl in the Spider’s Web, which is an adaptation of the fourth Salander novel Det Som Inte Dödar Oss, which was written by David Lagercrantz. Read more…

THE MISSION – Ennio Morricone

November 19, 2018 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer David Putnam and director Roland Joffe were seeking to sustain the acclaim of their last collaboration, The Killing Fields (1984), and so recruited renowned screenwriter Robert Bolt to compose a compelling historical drama. The independent British production company Goldcrest Films financed the project, providing a generous budget, and a fine cast was assembled, which included Robert De Niro as Captain Rodrigo Mendoza, Jeremy Irons as Father Gabriel, Ray McAnally as Cardinal Altamirano, Aidan Quinn as Felipe Mendoza, Cherie Lunghi as Carlotta, Ronald Pickup as Don Hatar, Chuck Low as Don Cabeza and Liam Neeson as Father John Fielding. The film offers a classic morality play, which explores the tragic events surrounding the 1750 Treaty of Madrid. The Spanish and Portuguese are warring along the Brazil and Paraguayan border and the treaty ended the conflict by requiring Spain to cede territory south and east of the Rio Uruguay to Portugal. This would require the seven Jesuit missionaries to leave and place the Guarani inhabitants in peril as Portugal, unlike Spain, used slavery to man their plantations. The film opens in 1740 with Jesuit missionary Father Gabriel seeking to convert the Guarani to Catholicism. The opening scene of a Jesuit cast over the waterfall tied to a cross reveals the Guarani’s hostility to outsiders. He is joined by slaver Rodrigo Mendoza who seeks repentance following the murder of his brother, who he caught sleeping with his fiancée. Father Gabriel gains the trust of the Guarani through his oboe playing and they over time convert. Rodrigo finds new meaning to his life, abandons weapons, and commits to joining the priesthood. Read more…

HIGH SPIRITS – George Fenton

November 15, 2018 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There are some movies where, when you see their plot summary written down, you wonder how they ever got made. One of those is the 1988 movie High Spirits, a bizarre comedy-adventure-romance about Irish ghosts. The film stars Peter O’Toole as Plunkett, the owner of a dilapidated castle in Ireland who comes up with a money-making scheme whereby he will convert the castle into a hotel, pretend that it is ‘the most haunted castle in Europe,’ and sell the idea to gullible American tourists. The scam is a success and the first group of unsuspecting vacationers – Steve Guttenberg, Beverly d’Angelo, Peter Gallagher, Jennifer Tilly – arrives, beguiled by the tales of Gaelic ghosties. However, to everyone’s utter shock, two real ghosts (played by Liam Neeson and Daryl Hannah) actually appear, and start becoming romantically attracted to two of the holidaymakers. The film was written and directed by Neil Jordan, the man behind such serious works as The Company of Wolves and Mona Lisa, and who would later go on to direct The Crying Game, Interview With the Vampire, and Michael Collins. Read more…

SUSPIRIA – Thom Yorke

November 13, 2018 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Giallo – a popular Italian cinematic sub-genre comprising dark, violent, erotic horror and thriller films – arguably reached its creative peak in 1977 with the release of director Dario Argento’s Suspiria. The story followed a young American dancer named Susie Bannion, who arrives in Berlin to audition for a world-renowned ballet company. However, as she becomes more involved in the work of the company and the lives of the dancers, she begins to realize that the studio is a front for a coven of powerful evil witches. The original Suspiria was a groundbreaking success, and is now considered one of the greatest examples of its genre. This new film, directed by Luca Guadagnino as a follow-up to Call Me By Your Name, takes the story of the original film and its grisly violence and adds a new level of socially aware commentary about female empowerment and politics. It stars Dakota Johnson as Susie, the naïve and wide-eyed all-American girl whose descent into fear and madness is charted by the film, and features Tilda Swinton and Mia Goth in supporting roles. Read more…

AGNES OF GOD – Georges Delerue

November 5, 2018 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

John Pielmeier’s play 1979 Agnes of God was both a commercial and critical success, achieving a respectable run on Broadway. Norman Jewison convinced Columbia Pictures that the story had big screen potential, and secured backing for the project. He would both produce and direct the film, and brought in Pielmeier to adapt his play for the cinema. Crucial to the film’s success would be finding three actresses to fill the trio of roles on which the story unfolds. Jane Fonda was cast as Dr. Martha Livingston. Joining her would be Anne Bancroft as Mother Superior Miriam Ruth, and Meg Tilly as Sister Agnes Devereaux. The film offers a murder mystery where science and faith intersect and clash. The story reveals nuns rushing from evening prayers to Sister Agnes’s room in answer to her screaming. They discover her bleeding profusely and a dead baby lying in a basket strangled by its umbilical cord. The court assigns Dr. Livingston to assess Sister Agnes for competency to stand trial. A clash of wills unfolds between Dr. Livingston efforts to discover the truth, and Mother Superior efforts to protect her niece, who she believes is innocent. What results is a classic confrontation of science and faith, with both sides working with the best of intentions. Read more…

FIRST MAN – Justin Hurwitz

November 2, 2018 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Since almost the beginning of human civilization, man has had a special relationship with the moon. For millennia it fascinated and lured thinkers and scholars, all of whom theorized about what was up there, what it was made of, how did it get there, and – eventually – whether we would ever visit it. Many of those questions were answered on July 20, 1969, when three brave American astronauts – Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins – touched down on the lunar surface as part of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission, and Armstrong himself became the first human in history to set foot on our celestial partner in the sky. Director Damien Chazelle’s film First Man tells the story of these events, with Ryan Gosling playing Armstrong, Claire Foy playing his wife Janet, and character actors such as Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll, Ciarán Hinds, Christopher Abbott, Patrick Fugit, and Lukas Haas in supporting roles. Read more…