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Archive for July, 2019

DOMINO – Pino Donaggio

July 31, 2019 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Once upon a time, Brian de Palma was one of the most respected directors in Hollywood. From the late 1970s, all the way up through the mid 1990s, he made a series of critically acclaimed and commercially successful dramas, action movies, and thrillers, many of which starred the most popular box office draws of the day. Films like Obsession, Carrie, The Fury, Dressed to Kill, Scarface, Body Double, The Untouchables, Carlito’s Way, Mission Impossible. These films won Oscars, and took home prestigious trophies from film festivals in Berlin and Venice. However, recently, the luster has begun to wear off of De Palma’s career; he hasn’t directed a real box office success since 1996, and with each successive film dropping further and further down the prestige pecking order, he now finds himself consigned to making films like this one – Domino – a terrorism-themed thriller which apparently had its budget slashed during filming, and was edited against the director’s wishes during post-production to such an extent that the finished product barely makes sense. The film, such as it is, stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau from Game of Thrones as a detective from Denmark seeking vengeance for the murder of his partner, apparently at the hands of an ISIS militant. Although he can clearly still attract top notch casts to work with – Domino co-stars Guy Pearce and Carice van Houten – De Palma’s work here has been critically mauled, and has suffered the further ignominy of being consigned to ‘straight to streaming’ VOD services. How the mighty have fallen. Read more…

THE LION KING – Hans Zimmer

July 26, 2019 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Nants ingonyama bagithi baba! Sithi q!uhm, ingonyama. Nants ingonyama bagithi baba! Sithi q!uhm, ingonyama; Siyo n!qoba; Ingonyama nengw’enamabala, ingonyama nengw’enamabala…

When Lebo M’s plaintive cry in his native Zulu rang out across the savannah, informing the animals of the plain that a newborn lion, destined for greatness, had been born, one of the most memorable moments in film music history was born along with him. The Lion King, originally directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, did pretty brisk business at the box office when it was released in the summer of 1994, raking in almost $1 billion at the global box office, and quickly becoming an enormous cultural phenomenon too. The film spawned a massively successful stage show that ran for many years on Broadway, several animated spinoffs, and single-handedly introduced the phrase ‘hakuna matata’ into the American lexicon. With Disney in the middle of making live-action versions of several of their classic animated films – we have already had Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, among others – it stands to reason that The Lion King would be in line for the same treatment, given the improvements in digital computer technology since the original was released. Read more…

PARENTHOOD – Randy Newman

July 25, 2019 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Parenthood was a successful and popular comedy-drama film directed by Ron Howard, based on the actual child-rearing experiences of Howard and his screenwriting partners Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, who between them had 17 children in 1989. The film starred Steve Martin and Mary Steenburgen as married couple Gil and Karen Buckman, and looks at the various trials and tribulations of their extended family, especially as the story relates to parent-child relationships, romantic problems, sibling rivalries, and the pressures that careers have on family lives. The film had an outstanding supporting ensemble cast, including Jason Robards, Rick Moranis, Tom Hulce, Martha Plimpton, 25-year-old Keanu Reeves, 15-year-old Joaquin Phoenix, and Dianne Weist, who received a Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination for her performance. It is also worth noting that, more than 20 years later, the movie was loosely adapted into a popular TV series of the same name, which ran on the NBC network for six seasons, although many of the characters and situations were different. Read more…

MIDSOMMAR – Bobby Krlic

July 23, 2019 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Although horror movies are pervasive and very popular in cinematic culture, one particular sub-genre of horror is not explored with as much frequency as others, and that is ‘folk horror,’ where the crux of the plot is derived from characters’ adherences to ancient pagan rituals in an otherwise contemporary setting. The most popular and well-known of these prior to this year was probably the 1973 British film The Wicker Man (we’re forgetting the risible Nicolas Cage remake), but director Ari Aster’s Midsommar looks set to challenge its status as the pre-eminent example of its genre. Whereas Aster’s debut film Hereditary explored the dark corners of devil worship in contemporary America, Midsommar takes place in the bright sunshine of Sweden. Florence Pugh plays Dani, a college student struggling to cope with the murder-suicide of her sister and parents, and whose boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) is distant and disinterested. Christian and two of his friends, Mark and Josh, are invited by another friend, Pelle, to spend the summer at Pelle’s home in Sweden; Pelle grew up on a small isolated commune, and his family continues to observe ancient ‘midsummer’ rituals. Despite his initial reluctance, Christian allows Dani to come with them, and before long the friends are happily taking part in psychedelic mushroom trips, experiencing the commune’s curious customs, and wearing a nice line in white linen smocks. Of course, as always happens in films like this, the charming quaintness quickly descends into chaos, as the true nature of the commune and its inhabitants is revealed. Read more…

LICENCE TO KILL – Michael Kamen

July 18, 2019 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The second – and last – James Bond film to star Timothy Dalton was 1989’s Licence to Kill, directed by John Glen from a screenplay by Michael G. Wilson and Richard Maibaum. I have long been of the opinion that Dalton was a hugely underrated Bond who should have been given more opportunities to succeed and develop his gritty version of the character, and that Licence to Kill is one of the best of the entire series. In it, Bond finds himself disavowed by British secret service agency MI6 and ‘going rogue’ after his best friend, CIA agent Felix Leiter, and his new bride Della are viciously attacked on their wedding day. The perpetrator is Franz Sanchez, a drug lord and ruthless cartel boss in a fictional Central American country; seeking personal vengeance, Bond teams up with Pam Bouvier, an ex Army-pilot with a vendetta against Sanchez of her own, and crosses paths with two very different members of Sanchez’s entourage: the beautiful Lupe Lamora, and the sadistic henchman Dario. The film co-stars Robert Davi, Carey Lowell, Talisa Soto, and a very young Benicio del Toro, but unfortunately the film was not a commercial success; adjusted for inflation. It remains the lowest-grossing Bond film of all time, something which, sadly, hastened to the end of Dalton’s tenure and his subsequent replacement with Pierce Brosnan in Goldeneye in 1995. Read more…

SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME – Michael Giacchino

July 17, 2019 3 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

With Avengers Endgame having smashed almost every box office record in existence, it was always going to be difficult for Marvel to build on that movie’s enormous success. The two-part Avengers finale was one of those rare things that is both a commercial and cultural touchstone; it also marked the end of the ‘Third Phase’ of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in which the existential threat of Thanos was finally eliminated, and the circle of movies that began with Iron Man in 2008 ended with Iron Man’s death. Spider-Man: Far From Home, despite being officially the last part of Phase III and the 23rd Marvel film overall, is actually something of a coda, acting both as a rumination on the events of Endgame and as a bridge to the Phase IV series which is scheduled to begin in 2020; it also seems to have successfully maintained the interest that peaked with Avengers, enjoying huge box office takings and good critical reviews. The film is set 8 months after Endgame and again stars Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man; he is still coming to terms with Tony Stark’s death and longs just to be a normal teenager again. As such, he agrees to go on a trip to Europe with his high school classmates, including his potential girlfriend MJ (Zendaya); unfortunately, Peter can’t escape from his responsibilities even there, and is called upon by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to assist a multi-dimensional warrior named Quentin Beck/Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) in saving the world from creatures that wreak havoc by controlling the power of the four elements. The film is directed by Jon Watts and has an original score by Michael Giacchino. Read more…

GOOD OMENS – David Arnold

July 12, 2019 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

I have been a fan of the late great British author Sir Terry Pratchett ever since I was a kid. Titles like The Color of Magic, The Light Fantastic, Mort, and Pyramids were among my most treasured literary discoveries in the 1980s and 90s; the combination of fantasy, science-fiction, and historical adventure with a distinctly Pythonesque brand of English humor and wit appealed to my sensibility greatly. Interestingly, and perhaps surprisingly, very few of his works have been translated into film or television projects, and even fewer of them have been seen outside of the UK, which means that while he remains massively popular at home, he is something of an unknown quantity to the rest of the world. This is why I’m so pleased that Good Omens has been so well received; it’s a 6-part TV adaptation of the novel Pratchett wrote with sci-fi author Neil Gaiman in 1990, and is a comedy about the end of the world. Michael Sheen and David Tennant star as Aziraphale, an angel, and Crowley, a demon, who have been living on Earth since the beginning of time as the official representatives of God and Satan. When they learn that the son of Satan has been born – an event which will in time trigger the apocalypse – Aziraphale and Crowley team up to stop it happening. It turns out that, over the millennia, the pair have become unlikely friends, and are not willing to give up their pleasant and comfortable lives in England – even if Armageddon is part of God’s ineffable plan. Read more…