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DANGEROUS LIAISONS – George Fenton

February 28, 2019 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Dangerous Liaisons was originally a stage play by British playwright Christopher Hampton, whose work was an ambitious attempt to adapt Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’s classic 1782 novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses for modern audiences through the Royal Shakespeare Company. It is a dark drama about seduction and revenge set in France in the years immediately preceding the Revolution. Two aristocrats, the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont, conspire together to ruin the lives of various former lovers for no other reason than to satisfy their own amusement and petty jealousies; eventually, they fixate on the virginal Cécile de Volanges, who is engaged to Merteuil’s former lover, and Madame de Tourvel, the devoutly religious wife of one of Valmont’s supposed friends. What transpires is a damning exposé of the insouciance of the rich, who use wealth and sexuality as weapons, and indulge in selfish whims and fancies with no regard for the destruction it causes to those around them. Hampton re-wrote his play for the big screen in 1988, where it was directed with lavish decadence by Stephen Frears. Glenn Close starred as the merciless Merteuil, John Malkovich was suave as the predatory Valmont, and Michelle Pfeiffer and Uma Thurman suffered as the unwitting subjects of their ploy. Both Close and Pfeiffer received Oscar nominations for their performances, and the film was a critical success, winning three Academy Awards, picking up two more nominations, and inspiring an updated version – Cruel Intentions – set in New York in 1999. Read more…

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HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U – Bear McCreary

February 27, 2019 2 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Blumhouse’s low-budget comedy horror slasher film Happy Death Day was an unexpected critical and commercial success in 2017. Audiences really connected with it’s appealing cast, knowing and witty sense of humor, plentiful scares, and clever mix of genres – perhaps the best description of the film was ‘Groundhog Day meets Scream’. The film starred Jessica Rothe as Tree, a university student who is stalked around campus and eventually murdered by someone wearing a ‘baby mask’ similar to those worn by her school’s mascot. The twist comes by way of the fact that Tree is caught in a time loop, and every time she dies she wakes up again that same morning in her dorm room, fated to continue this cycle of being murdered again and again until she finds out who the killer is. In this sequel, which is again directed by Christopher Landon, Tree finds herself caught in the time loop for a second time – despite her having solved her own murder at the end of the first film – but this time is required to team up with a group of experimental science students who appear to have created a parallel universe where Tree’s killer still exists. The film co-stars Israel Broussard, Phi Vu, Ruby Modine, and Suraj Sharma from Life of Pi. Read more…

JURASSIC PARK – John Williams

February 25, 2019 2 comments

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Steven Spielberg became aware of Michael Crichton’s novel Jurassic Park as the two collaborated on the television series E.R. A bidding war for the rights ensued, with Spielberg and Universal Pictures prevailing over Warner Brothers and Tim Burton, Columbia Pictures and Richard Donner, James Cameron and Joe Dante. Kathleen Kennedy and Gerald Molen would produce the film with Spielberg directing. Spielberg understood the challenges he faced bring the dinosaurs to life and sought at all costs to not repeat the technical nightmare he experienced in Jaws. He turned to George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic Company to create groundbreaking computer –generated imagery and ended up making history. Crichton was hired to adapt his novel to the screen but Spielberg was unsatisfied with the violence. Malia Scotch Marmo was tasked with the rewrite in late 1991, but she also did not satisfy Spielberg’s vision. Universal executives brought in Casey Silver and David Koepp who ultimately crafted the script used in the film. A fine cast was assembled with Sam Neill securing the role of Alan Grant after William Hurt and Harrison Ford both declined. Joining him would be Laura Dern as Ellie Sattler, Jeff Goldblum as Ian Malcolm, Richard Attenborough as John Hammond, Bob Peck as Robert Muldoon, Samuel Jackson as Ray Arnold, B.D. Wong as Henry Wu, and Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello as Hammond’s niece and nephew Lex and Tim. Read more…

Academy Award Winners 2018

February 24, 2019 Leave a comment

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) have announced the winners of the 91st Academy Awards, honoring the best in film in 2018.

In the Best Original Score category composer Ludwig Göransson won the award for his score for the box office blockbuster Marvel super hero movie Black Panther. In accepting his award, Göransson said:

“Um, wow. Thank you, Ryan Coogler. Ryan… Ryan, working with you has been an incredible honor. I remember twelve years ago we were sitting in our dorm at USC writing the score for your first short film, and we’re here twelve years later, you know, celebrating one of the most important cinematic moments in history. I want to share this award with all the incredible African artists I worked with on the score – Baba Maal, Massamba Diop, Magatte Saw – and all the classical musicians in London that recorded on the score. And everyone… I also want to share this award with my mom, and dad, and sister – they insisted I play guitar- and my wife Serena, I love you so much. Thank you!”

The other nominees were Terence Blanchard for Blackkklansman, Nicholas Britell for If Beale Street Could Talk, Alexandre Desplat for Isle of Dogs, and Marc Shaiman for Mary Poppins Returns.

In the Best Original Song category, the winners were Stefani Germanotta (Lady Gaga), Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, and Andrew Wyatt for “Shallow” from A Star is Born.

The other nominees were Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, Mark Spears (Sounwave), Anthony Tiffith, and Solana Rowe (SZA) for “All the Stars” from Black Panther; David Rawlings and Gillian Welch for “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs; Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman for “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns; and Diane Warren for “I’ll Fight” from RGB.

THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST – John Williams

February 22, 2019 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Accidental Tourist is a romantic drama film directed by Lawrence Kasdan, adapted from the acclaimed novel by Anne Tyler. It stars William Hurt as Macon Leary, an introverted travel writer whose relationship with his wife Sarah (Kathleen Turner) begins to break down after the death of their son. Sarah eventually leaves him and moves out, pending a divorce, and when Macon breaks his leg after tripping over his disobedient dog and falling down the stairs, he moves back into his childhood home with his eccentric siblings to recuperate. After a while, Macon hires the quirky Muriel Pritchett (Geena Davis) as a dog obedience trainer; despite the enormous differences in their personalities, a spark of attraction develops between the two, and they begin a relationship. However, Macon’s new life is thrown into turmoil when Sarah returns, wanting to re-kindle their marriage, forcing Macon to make some difficult decisions. The film was an enormous critical success, earning Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, and winning Geena Davis an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Read more…

IFMCA Award Winners 2018

February 21, 2019 Leave a comment

INTERNATIONAL FILM MUSIC CRITICS ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF 2018 IFMCA AWARDS; “SOLO” TAKES SCORE OF THE YEAR, MULTIPLE WINS FOR JOHN POWELL, JAMES NEWTON HOWARD

The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) announces its list of winners for excellence in musical scoring in 2018, in the 2018 IFMCA Awards.

The award for Score of the Year goes to British composer John Powell for his score for the Star Wars spin-off story “Solo,” which looked at the early life of the legendary rogue and intergalactic smuggler Han Solo. The film was directed by Ron Howard, and starred Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, and Donald Glover. In describing the score, IFMCA members Asier Senarriaga and Óscar Giménez called Solo “a spectacular score that combines the classic ideas of Williams with the talent of Powell,” and proclaimed it “the score of the year,” while IFMCA member Jon Broxton – speaking about the score’s multitude of recurring character themes – said that the way Powell “incorporates all the thematic complexity into his score is masterful, but best of all is the way he allows them to develop organically; this is not just a rigid leitmotif score where mathematics trumps emotion. Instead, Powell engages in sensible and appropriate development, meaning that when the emotional outbursts do come, they pack a real wallop, and satisfy both the heart and the brain in equal measure.” Read more…

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COLD PURSUIT – George Fenton

February 19, 2019 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In the late 1990s – which, to my shock and dismay, is now almost 20 years ago – I truly thought George Fenton was on the verge of becoming one of the truly great Hollywood A-lister composers. He had already picked up a handful of Oscar nominations for scores like Gandhi and Cry Freedom, Dangerous Liaisons and The Fisher King; he scored a string of popular successes, like Groundhog Day, Final Analysis, and You’ve Got Mail; and then he unleashed a 1-2-3 punch of magnificent romantic drama scores with Ever After, Dangerous Beauty, and Anna and the King at the very end of the millennium. This, coupled with his small-screen success scoring acclaimed nature documentaries for the BBC such as Blue Planet, seemed to indicate that he would be a major player for years to come. However, inexplicably, and despite and occasional sporadic box office hit, the prestige assignments began to dry up. He is still working, of course, but the level of acclaim and visibility he once enjoyed has diminished enormously, and I am at a loss to explain why, because he clearly still has the talent and creativity he always had. Read more…