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Archive for August, 2019

READY OR NOT – Brian Tyler

August 30, 2019 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Ready or Not is a fun, exciting, uproariously gory action-horror movie underpinned by a vein of black comedy. It stars Aussie actress Samara Weaving as Grace, who is about to marry Alex, the man of her dreams, the heir to the Le Domas family fortune, whose wealth comes from a multi-generational board game dynasty. However, on their wedding night, Alex reveals that his family has a tradition whereby anyone newly marrying into the family has to play a game, the nature of which is written on a card drawn from a mysterious antique box, and is unknown to everyone until the moment it is drawn. When Grace draws ‘hide and seek’ it triggers a desperate struggle for survival as the other family members – compelled by the threat of an ancient curse – have to hunt and kill Grace before dawn breaks. The film is directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, and co-stars Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien, Henry Czerny, and Andie MacDowell. Read more…

MURDERERS AMONG US: THE SIMON WIESENTHAL STORY – Bill Conti

August 29, 2019 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Simon Wiesenthal had quite an amazing life. Born into a Jewish family in Austria in 1908, he was captured and sent to a concentration camp after the outbreak of World War II; after surviving against terrible odds, Wiesenthal spent the rest of his life as one of the world’s most famous ‘Nazi hunters,’ tracking down and gathering information on fugitive Nazi war criminals so that they could be brought to trial. He was involved as a key witness in the Nuremberg Trials, and instrumental in the 1960 capture of Adolf Eichmann, one of the major organizers of the Holocaust who personally sent hundreds of thousands of people to die in Auschwitz. Wiesenthal was also a writer and philanthropist, and lent his name to a research and human rights center in Los Angeles. He died in 2005, but not before this acclaimed TV movie of his life was released on HBO in 1989. The film was directed by Brian Gibson and starred Ben Kingsley in the titular role, with support from Craig T. Nelson, Anton Lesser, Paul Freeman, and Renée Soutendijk as Simon’s wife Cyla. Read more…

SEA OF LOVE – Trevor Jones

August 15, 2019 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review byJonathan Broxton

Sea of Love was a slightly sordid murder-mystery thriller directed by Harold Becker. Al Pacino stars as Frank Keller, a burned-out alcoholic New York City police detective who finds himself involved in the case of a serial killer, who finds victims through the singles column in a newspaper. As the bodies rack up and the investigation continues, Keller meets Helen (Ellen Barkin), the sexy manager of an upscale shoe store, who he meets on the job during a sting operation to identify potential suspects. Against his better judgment Keller embarks on a relationship with Helen – until the evidence begins to support the idea that Helen is the killer. The film co-starred John Goodman and Michael Rooker and was a box office success; critically, it was favorably compared with similar movies like Body Heat and Jagged Edge, and now fits comfortably into the ‘femme fatale’ genre that also includes movies like Basic Instinct. By the way, the title of the film is a reference to the 1959 song of the same name by Phil Phillips with the Twilights; the killer has a calling card where a 45RPM LP of the song is left playing in the victim’s home after the crime. Read more…

DORA AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD – John Debney and Germaine Franco

August 14, 2019 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Little Dora Márquez has been charming young children for almost 20 years as part of her immensely popular Nickelodeon TV series Dora the Explorer. Dora, an animated seven-year-old Latina girl, gets into numerous adventures over the course of the series, accompanied by her faithful monkey friend Boots, and in the process teaches kids geography, mathematics, problem solving, and basic Spanish language skills. Dora has been translated into dozens of languages and has been broadcast all over the world, but now she makes her big-screen debut in this new film, Dora and the Lost City of Gold, from director James Bobin. In it, Dora has been re-imagined as a precocious but socially awkward teenager who – after spending most of her life growing up in the jungle with her adventurous parents – is sent to attend an urban high school. However, when her parents go missing, Dora enlists several of her new high school pals to help her solve the mysteries of an ancient Incan civilization, and save her family. The film stars Isabela Moner in the title role, and features Eugenio Derbez, Michael Peña, and Eva Longoria in the supporting cast. Read more…

Under-the-Radar Round Up 2019, Part II

August 10, 2019 1 comment

As I have done for the past several years, I am pleased to present the second installment in my ongoing series of articles looking at the best “under the radar” scores from around the world. Rather than grouping the scores on a geographical basis, this year I decided to again simply present the scores in a random order, and so this second batch includes reviews of five more disparate scores from the first six months of the year – including a German apocalyptic drama, an Australian horror movie, a Spanish animated film about a surrealist filmmaker, a French drama about religion and pig farming, and a sweeping romance set in the German film industry in the 1960s! Read more…

THE PACKAGE – James Newton Howard

August 8, 2019 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Package was an enjoyably tense political action-thriller directed by Andrew Davis from a screenplay by John Bishop. Gene Hackman stars as a US Special Forces army sergeant named Gallagher who is tasked with transporting a deserter named Boyette, played by Tommy Lee Jones, from West Berlin to the United States to stand trial. However, Boyette escapes en-route, and Gallagher quickly finds that he is being used as a pawn in a larger conspiracy: to assassinate the president of the Soviet Union and ultimately stop a disarmament treaty between the United States and the Soviets from being signed. The film co-starred Joanna Cassidy, John Heard, Dennis Franz, and Pam Grier, and was in many ways a dry-run for The Fugitive, which director Davis would make four years later with many of the same cast and crew. The Package has many of the same plot points as The Fugitive – a prisoner who escapes from custody, action sequences in Chicago, a dogged and righteous law enforcement operative tracking him down – which makes it an interesting comparison piece to Davis’s great, Oscar-winning classic. Read more…

THE ABYSS – Alan Silvestri

August 1, 2019 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review byJonathan Broxton

The third and best of 1989’s claustrophobic underwater action thrillers, The Abyss was director James Cameron’s long-awaited follow up to Aliens. It stars Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Bud and Lindsey Brigman, an estranged husband-and-wife who work on a hi-tech underwater oil drilling platform which sits along the lip of a massive marine trench deep beneath the Caribbean Sea. When a military submarine sinks in mysterious circumstances near the platform, the government sends a team of Navy SEALS in to investigate, using the platform as a base of operations. There is immediate tension between the rough-and-ready oil drillers and the aggressive and testosterone-fuelled soldiers, and this is exacerbated even more when they encounter a mysterious creature that can seemingly manipulate and control water. The film co-starred Michael Biehn, J. C. Quinn, and Leo Burmester, and was both a critical success and a box office hit; it received special attention for its then-groundbreaking use of CGI special effects, which won its creative team an Academy Award. However, the film production itself was notoriously troubled; the shoot went massively over-budget, and the actors were subjected to near-torturous conditions by Cameron, who made them spend literally hours on end in freezing cold underwater temperatures. Cameron also spent a great deal of time editing the film, removing whole swathes of footage to try to create a more coherent cut, including the original ending which featured enormous special FX shots of tsunamis (although much of this was restored in a subsequent director’s cut). Read more…