Archive for May, 2020

TOTAL RECALL – Jerry Goldsmith

May 28, 2020 2 comments


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Total Recall is one of my all-time favorite sci-fi action films, and is one of the best movies Arnold Schwarzenegger ever made. Adapted from the short story ‘We Can Remember It For You Wholesale’ by Philip K. Dick, it was the third English-language film from Dutch director Paul Verhoeven, following Flesh + Blood in 1985 and Robocop in 1987, and continued his explorations of American consumerism and capitalism through thinly-veiled satire, dressed up with large-scale action sequences. The film is set in a future time period where humans have colonized other planets, and have invented technology that allows ‘false memories’ to be implanted into the mind. Schwarzenegger plays Doug Quaid, a regular blue collar worker who has vivid recurring dreams of visiting Mars. One day Quaid decides to visit Rekall, a company which implants memories of vacations in people who have never been on them. However, the process goes wrong, and Quaid learns that he has already had his memory wiped; he is, in fact, a deep-cover elite secret agent with ties to Vilos Cohaagen, the corrupt and ruthless governor of the Mars Colony. Before long Quaid is knee deep in an inter-planetary adventure involving shady secret organizations and underground resistance movements seeking to overthrow the Martian government. The film co-stars Rachel Ticotin, Ronny Cox, Michael Ironside, and a pre-Basic Instinct Sharon Stone, and was a massive hit with both critics and audiences, who praised its clever story, vivid action sequences, impressive (if occasionally gory) special effects, and mind-bending distortions of what is real and what isn’t. Read more…


May 26, 2020 1 comment

Over the past decade or so, Alexandre Desplat has cemented his status amongst the world’s most respected film composers with a series of scores for major studio films in the United States. He has been nominated for eleven Academy Awards – for The Queen (2006), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), The King’s Speech (2010), Argo (2012), Philomena (2013), The Imitation Game (2014), The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), The Shape of Water (2017), Isle of Dogs (2018), and Little Women (2019) – winning twice. However, much of his early work in his native France remains relatively unknown to wider audiences – something this article intends to rectify!

In this third installment of Alexandre Desplat: En Français, we take a look at five scores Desplat wrote during the first half of the 2000s, just as he was starting to make in-roads into the international film music scene. Read more…


May 21, 2020 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Following the massive success of Back to the Future in 1985, director Robert Zemeckis shot a pair of sequels back-to-back, both of which continued the time traveling exploits of Marty McFly, the suburban kid from 1980s California, and his eccentric inventor friend Doc Brown, who built a time machine out of a DeLorean. Back to the Future II was less of an icon than the original, but has since proven prescient with its vision of a dystopian alternate world where Marty’s nemesis Biff Tannen becomes a Donald Trump-like multi-billionaire. The ending of the second movie saw the 1985 version of Doc, and the DeLorean, being hit by lightning and sent back in time to Hill Valley in 1885, when it was a newly-build town in the Old West. However, Marty discovers some devastating news about his friend’s fate, and manages to convince the 1955 version of Doc to send him back in time too. Marty finds Doc happily working as a blacksmith, unaware of his future, but before long the pair starts getting into trouble, with Marty encountering both his own great-grandparents, and running afoul of one of Biff’s ancestors, the ruthless gunslinger Mad Dog Tannen. With time running out to save the day and finally return home, one final issue arises when Doc falls in love with Clara Clayton, a beautiful schoolteacher played by Mary Steenburgen. Read more…

THE WILLOUGHBYS – Mark Mothersbaugh

May 19, 2020 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The importance of family is the thematic driving force behind The Willoughbys, a new CGI animated comedy from director Kris Pearn, which premiered on Netflix in April 2020. The film is based on a popular book by author Lois Lowry and follows the adventures of the four Willoughby children – intelligent Tim, precociously talented Jane, and a pair of creepy twin boys both called Barnaby – who conspire to rid themselves of their neglectful and disinterested parents after they find an abandoned baby, but are ordered to get rid of it. After tricking their parents into going on an insanely dangerous European vacation, the Willoughby’s are shocked to find that a Nanny has been hired to look after them; Tim immediately distrusts the Nanny as being in league with his parents, and does everything to thwart her plans. However, there is more to Nanny than meets the eye, and before long a plan is in motion to find their now-missing parents and keep the family together. The film has an excellent voice cast, including Will Forte, Maya Rudolph, Martin Short, Jane Krakowski, and Ricky Gervais, and has been quite well received by critics as a wholesome story that blends slapstick comedy hi-jinks with warm sentiment and heart. Read more…

JANE EYRE – Bernard Herrmann

May 18, 2020 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1941 independent producer David O. Selznick hired director John Houseman to write the script for his next project, a retelling of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel, Jane Eyre; ultimately the screenplay was realized thanks to the collaboration of fellow director Robert Stevenson and writer Aldous Huxley. However, at this point of his career, Selznick was tired and seeking a respite from producing films. As such he sold production rights for Jane Eyre and several other films to William Goetz of 20th Century Fox. Kenneth MacGowan and Orson Welles were assigned to produce the film and Robert Stevenson was tasked with directing. Welles would star as Edward Rochester with Joan Fontaine as Jane Eyre. Joining them would be a fine cast which included Margaret O’Brien as Adele Verans, Peggy Ann Garner as young Jane Eyre, John Sutton as Dr. Rivers, Sara Allgood as Bessie, Agnes Moorhead as Mrs. Reed and Elizabeth Taylor as Helen Burns. Read more…

ANOTHER 48 HRS. – James Horner

May 14, 2020 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The 1980s buddy-cop movie trend arguably began in 1982 with the film 48 Hrs., which paired gruff homicide detective Jack Cates (played by Nick Nolte) with smart-mouthed street criminal Reggie Hammond (played by Eddie Murphy, making his big screen debut). The mismatched duo had two days to find the men responsible for the murder of two of Jack’s colleagues – hence the title of the film – and the confrontational dynamic between the two leads led to box office gold; the film grossed almost $80 million in the US, launched Eddie Murphy’s movie career, and paved the way for future movies in the buddy-cop genre, notably Lethal Weapon. Nine years later Nolte and Murphy re-teamed with director Walter Hill for Another 48 Hrs., a somewhat belated sequel. In this story, Jack is accused of murder after killing a suspect while trying to capture ‘The Iceman,’ a vicious San Francisco drug lord. Meanwhile, Reggie is due to be released from prison, but discovers that the Iceman has put a bounty on his head, although Reggie doesn’t know why. To solve their mutual problems with the Iceman, Jack teams up with Reggie once more – to save Reggie’s life, and to clear Jack’s name and prove his innocence. Read more…

ROBOT JOX – Frédéric Talgorn

May 7, 2020 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The cinematic sub-genre of ‘enormous things fighting each other’ has a small but storied history. The Japanese do it best, with their myriad of monstrous kaiju in the enduring Godzilla series. Michael Bay’s risible Transformers movies made a ton of money at the box office but remain mindless, brain-dead Hollywood products. Director Guillermo del Toro tried to pump some life back into genre with yet more robots when he produced Pacific Rim in 2013, and did so to some acclaim, even though I personally didn’t care for them. However, one of the least-known efforts in the genre is this one: Robot Jox, which actually predates all the American entries. Written and directed by Stuart Gordon, the film is set in a post-apocalyptic future where traditional warfare has been outlawed and, instead, giant machines fight international battles to settle territorial disputes. The film follows the adventures of Achilles (Gary Graham), one of the ‘jox’ pilots who controls these robots in a series of gladiatorial encounters, and who is called on to take part in a vital contest against a Russian opponent for the fate of Alaska. Read more…

BAD EDUCATION – Michael Abels

May 6, 2020 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Bad Education is a true-life political drama set in the American school system. Based on the New York magazine article “The Bad Superintendent” by Robert Kolker, it exposes the largest public school embezzlement scam in American history, which occurred in a small town on Long Island, New York, in 2002. The focus is on two individuals – Frank Tassone, the superintendent of the school district, and his assistant, Pam Gluckin – who between them embezzled $7.1 million dollars from the school board finances, until their misdeeds were uncovered by a tenacious high school reporter who found discrepancies in the budget. The film stars Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney, Ray Romano, and Geraldine Viswanathan, and was a major critical success when it premiered on HBO in the United States in April 2020. The film is directed by Cory Finley, and has a score by composer Michael Abels. Read more…