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Archive for June, 2019

HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS – James Horner

June 27, 2019 5 comments

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the most popular and successful children’s adventure films of 1989, Honey I Shrunk the Kids starred Rick Moranis as Wayne Szalinsky, a scientist and inventor who makes a machine capable of shrinking objects down to miniscule size. One day, Wayne accidentally shrinks his son Nick, his daughter Amy, and the two brothers who live next door, and throws them out in the trash. Stranded at the bottom of their back yard – which, due to their size, is now the equivalent of several miles away from their house and looks like the Amazon rain forest– the children must fight their way through this jungle of plants and enormous insects in order to return home; meanwhile, Wayne has realized what he has done, and desperately begins searching for his kids so he can restore them to their regular size. The film co-starred Thomas Brown, Amy O’Neill, Robert Oliveri, and Jared Rushton as the kids, and marked the directorial debut of Joe Johnston, a special effects genius who had previously worked on several Star Wars and Indiana Jones films. Read more…

INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE – John Williams

June 20, 2019 2 comments

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The third movie in director Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones series was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and whereas 1984’s Temple of Doom was a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark, Last Crusade was a direct sequel, set just two years later in 1938. Harrison Ford returns as the titular archaeologist-adventurer, who is sent off on a globe-trotting escapade when he receives news from American billionaire Walter Donovan (Julian Glover) that his long-estranged father Henry Jones (Sean Connery) has gone missing while searching for the holy grail. Jones teams up with his old friends and colleagues Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott) and Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) on the quest to find his father, and quickly becomes embroiled in a vast labyrinthine plot involving ancient myths and legends, a brotherhood of religious warriors, way too many Nazis, and a beautiful Austrian art professor named Elsa Schneider (Alison Doody) to whom there is more than meets the eye. The whole thing is a delight from start to finish, with several wonderfully exciting action set pieces, and beautiful location settings, but the cornerstone of the film is the father-and-son chemistry between Ford and Connery, whose outward gruffness and constant bickering masks a deep love and affection. Whereas Ford is an all-action matinee idol hero, Connery is a slightly bumbling academic, more at home with books and libraries than punching Nazis in the face, but who is still able to make his son feel like a 12-year old when he calls him ‘junior’. Read more…

CHERNOBYL – Hildur Guðnadóttir

June 19, 2019 6 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

On April 26, 1986, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, close to the Ukraine-Belarus border in what was then the Soviet Union, suffered a catastrophic accident in which one of the plant’s four nuclear reactor cores exploded. The explosion started a fire and released massive amounts of nuclear radiation into the atmosphere and across most of Eastern Europe; it entirely irradiated the nearby city of Pripyat and, although official totals are much lower, may have directly and indirectly lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. The new mini-series Chernobyl, produced jointly by HBO in the United States and Sky in the UK, is a detailed look at what happened: the events leading up to the disaster, the work of the emergency services in the immediate aftermath, the work of the scientists tasked with finding out what happened, and the fates of those directly affected. Many people have taken Chernobyl to be a cautionary tale about the dangers of nuclear power, but director Johan Renck and screenwriter Craig Mazin say that is not what the show is about at all. Instead, it’s supposed to be a damning indictment of government corruption, lies, and abuse of power, with parallels echoing the current situation involving global warming and climate change. Read more…

DEAD POETS SOCIETY – Maurice Jarre

June 13, 2019 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There have been a lot of great movies about inspirational teachers over the years, from Goodbye Mr. Chips in 1939 (and its musical remake in 1969), to Dangerous Minds and Mr. Holland’s Opus in the 1990s, but for my money the best of them all is Dead Poets Society. Directed by Peter Weir and written by Tom Schulman, the film is set at an elite all-male New England prep school in 1959, a stuffy establishment whose school motto – tradition, honor, discipline, excellence – tells you everything you need to know about the faculty. Everything changes when a new English teacher, John Keating, joins the school, bringing with him a brash and innovative philosophy that teaches students to think for themselves. Keating has a particular influence on a group of seven young men who, having been inspired by Keating’s love of classic poetry, form the eponymous society and begin to embrace their lives, loves, and ambitions more than they had ever done before. The film is anchored by an utterly astonishing lead performance by Robin Williams as Keating, who brings depth and emotion and sincerity and manic energy to what is, to my mind, the greatest role of his entire career. The young men of the society are also superb, notably Robert Sean Leonard as a boy whose passion for acting is constantly crushed by his overbearing father, and Ethan Hawke, who overcomes his crippling shyness as a result of Keating’s encouragement. Read more…

GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS – Bear McCreary

June 12, 2019 3 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Ever since he first appeared on film in 1954 in director Ishiro Honda’s classic film Gojira, the gigantic amphibious reptile known in the West as Godzilla has become something of an icon, an instantly recognizable element of Japanese pop culture. Godzilla has appeared in an astonishing 32 films in Japan, plus a number of associated video games, novels, comic books, and television shows, but did not make his American debut until the 1998 film directed by Roland Emmerich. When that film was a comparative financial flop, audiences would have to wait a further 16 years for director Gareth Edwards’s 2014 film of the same name. The success of that film solidified Warner Brother’s plans for a future franchise, and now we have the first sequel – Godzilla: King of the Monsters – directed by Michael Dougherty from a screenplay by Dougherty, Max Borenstein, and Zach Shields. Read more…

WINGS – J. S. Zamecnik

June 10, 2019 Leave a comment

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Original Review by Craig Lysy

John Monk Saunders served in the US Air Corp during WWI as a flight instructor in Florida. He had lifelong regrets that he was never able to serve his country in combat, and so conceived a story, which would allow him to realize that ambition in film. He pitched his idea to producer Jessie Lasky who was unreceptive due to the logistics required to film aerial combat. Yet Saunders would not be denied and secured support from the War Department, which included 220 planes, and airmen, artillery, tanks, trucks and troops. Lasky was impressed and decided to proceed with his Famous Players-Lasky company financing the project and Paramount Studio securing distribution rights. A massive budget of $2 million was budgeted and Louis Lighton and Hope Loring were hired to write the screenplay. Lasky and four others would produce the film, and William Wellman was tasked with directing as he was the only director in Hollywood who had actual combat pilot experience. Securing a cast was an adventure however when Paramount’s greatest star Clara Bow, demanded a rewrite stating “Wings is a man’s picture and I am just the whipped cream on top of the pie”. Her demands were met and the story evolved into a war time romance. She would star as Mary Preston, with Charles “Buddy” Rogers as Jack Powell, Richard Arlen as David Armstrong, Gary Cooper as Cadet White, and Jobyna Ralston as Sylvia Lewis. Read more…

LONESOME DOVE – Basil Poledouris

June 6, 2019 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Lonesome Dove, an epic western mini-series based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Larry McMurtry, was one of the television successes of the year after it premiered on CBS in the spring of 1989. Directed by Simon Wincer and starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones, and set in the closing years of the Old West, the story focused on the relationship between Gus (Duvall) and Call (Jones), two retired Texas Rangers who decide to leave their quiet town on the Mexican border and drive a herd of cattle north to Montana. McMurtry’s original novel – which explores themes of old age, death, unrequited love, and friendship – was based on a screenplay that he had co-written with Peter Bogdanovich for a movie that was intended to star John Wayne, James Stewart, and Henry Fonda, but the project collapsed when John Ford advised Wayne to reject the script. Prior to its airing, the ‘classic western’ was considered to be a virtually dead genre, but Lonesome Dove almost singlehandedly re-vitalized it. The series drew staggering viewership numbers of more than 20 million homes, went on to win 7 Emmys from 18 nominations (including Best Director and a slew of technical awards), and paved the way for the cinematic resurrection of the genre with Kevin Costner’s Dances With Wolves in 1990 and Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven in 1992. Read more…