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Archive for March, 2021

THE RECKONING – Christopher Drake

March 30, 2021 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Reckoning is a medieval horror movie written and directed by British filmmaker Neil Marshall, whose previous works include Dog Soldiers, The Descent, Doomsday, the re-boot of Hellboy, and several of the best episodes of Game of Thrones. The film is set in England in 1665 and stars Charlotte Kirk as Grace Haverstock, a young mother whose husband commits suicide after contracting the bubonic plague. When Grace rebuffs the advances of her late husband’s business partner Pendleton (Steven Waddington) – he wants both her property AND her body – Pendleton uses his influence to exact a sadistic revenge, accusing Grace of witchcraft. Before long Grace finds herself imprisoned and at the mercy of England’s most ruthless witch-hunter, Judge Moorcroft (Sean Pertwee), who forces her to endure endless physical and emotional torture, while she maintains her innocence. It’s a parable of the sort of horrific misogyny women have had to deal with for centuries, dressed up as light torture porn, but it’s done fairly brisk business since its premiere as a video-on-demand in February 2021. Read more…

THE NUN’S STORY – Franz Waxman

March 29, 2021 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director Fred Zinnemann was intrigued by Kathryn Hulme’s best-selling novel “The Nun’s Story (1956) and purchased the film rights. To his dismay, he could not obtain financial backing from any studio as they all felt that the lack of action would not resonate with audiences. All this changed dramatically when Audrey Hepburn decided she wanted to take on the role of Gaby Van der Mal. A bidding war ensued with Warner Brothers prevailing. Henry Blanke was hired to produce the film with a 3.5 million budget. Robert Anderson was tasked with adapting the novel and writing the screenplay. Zinnemann would direct and he assembled a fine cast. Joining Hepburn would be Peter Finch as Dr. Fortunati, Dame Edith Evans as Mother Emmanuel and Dame Peggy Ashcroft as Mother Mathilde. Read more…

TOURS DU MONDE, TOURS DU CIEL – Georges Delerue

March 25, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Tours du Monde, Tours du Ciel was a groundbreaking 10-part French documentary series broadcast on the La Sept network in 1991. Like the similarly-themed Cosmos, which was presented by Carl Sagan on American television in 1980, it attempted to tell the history of astronomy, from the prehistoric era to the classical Greeks and Romans, through the work of Copernicus and Galileo and Kepler, to the present day, as scientists around the world continue to seek to unlock the secrets of the universe by observing the sky. The series featured interviews with numerous contemporary astronomers and scientists, interspersed with archaeological footage, and spectacular imagery of space; it was directed by Robert Pansard-Besson, and is still recognized today as one of the most important French-language scientific documentaries of all time. Read more…

THE COURIER – Abel Korzeniowski

March 23, 2021 6 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Courier is an old-fashioned slow burn Cold War spy thriller in the classic John Le Carré mold, directed by Dominic Cooke. The film tells the true story of Greville Wynne, a middle-class English businessman who is recruited by both the CIA and MI6 to act as a go-between in their dealings with Oleg Penkovsky, a high-ranking official in Soviet military intelligence who wants to defect to the west. Wynne is instrumental in obtaining information about the Soviet nuclear missile programme, helping Penkovsky smuggle details out of Moscow and back to London; the intelligence he gathers is crucial to ending the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, but it comes at great personal cost to Wynne and his family. The film is anchored by a brilliant lead performance from Benedict Cumberbatch as Wynne, a typical everyman who is thrust almost against his will into a world of espionage that he knows nothing about; he is ably supported by Merab Ninidze as Penkovsky, Jessie Buckley as Wynne’s long-suffering wife Sheila, and Rachel Brosnahan and Angus Wright as Wynne’s secret service handlers. Read more…

FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS – Victor Young

March 22, 2021 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

American novelist Ernest Hemmingway’s latest novel “For Whom The Bell Tolls” (1940) offered a potent commentary on the Spanish Civil War, which many studios believed could be adapted to the big screen. However, Hemmingway’s demand of $100,000 for the film rights, and control of selecting the principal actors was a non-starter. Paramount however, thought differently having successfully produced his earlier novel “A Farewell to Arms” (1932), which agreed to pay an astounding $150,000 for the film rights and acceded to Hemmingway’s demand that he would choose the two leads – Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman. After Cecil B. DeMille dropped out of producing and directing the film, Sam Wood took over the reins, and would produce and direct the film with a budget of $3 million. He brought in Louis Bromfield to rework the existing script, with Dudley Nichols finally completing the screen play. An exceptional cast was assembled including Gary Cooper as Robert Jordan, Ingrid Bergman as Maria, Akim Tamiroff as Pablo, Katina Paxinou as Pilar, and Joseph Calleia as El Sordo. Read more…

CLASS ACTION – James Horner

March 18, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Class Action is a courtroom drama directed by Michael Apted, starring Gene Hackman and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. Hackman plays Jedidiah Ward, a liberal civil rights lawyer who is hired to file a lawsuit against a major auto manufacturer whose station wagons have a dangerous design flaw. The case becomes more complicated for him when he discovers that his daughter Maggie (Mastrantonio) is representing the firm he’s suing; Jedidiah and Maggie have been estranged for many years ever since she discovered that he was cheating on his wife, her mother. The film is intended to be an indictment of corporate greed, specifically companies which weigh financial risk against public interest, while also providing a father-daughter redemption story. The film co-stars Colin Friels, Joanna Merlin, and Laurence Fishburne, and has a score by James Horner. Read more…

Academy Award Nominations 2020

March 15, 2021 Leave a comment

oscarstatuette The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) have announced the nominations for the 93rd Academy Awards, honoring the best in film in 2020.

In the Best Original Score category, the nominees are:

  • TERENCE BLANCHARD for Da 5 Bloods
  • JAMES NEWTON HOWARD for News of the World
  • EMILE MOSSERI for Minari
  • TRENT REZNOR and ATTICUS ROSS for Mank
  • TRENT REZNOR, ATTICUS ROSS, and JON BATISTE for Soul

These are the first Oscar nominations for Mosseri and Batiste. It is the second nomination for Blanchard, the seventh Best Score nomination for Howard (in addition to his two nominations for Best Song), and the second and third nominations respectively for Reznor and Ross, who previously won for The Social Network in 2010.

In the Best Original Song category, the nominees are:

  • SAVAN KOTECHA, MAX GRAHN (FAT MAX GSUS), and RICKARD GÖRANSSON for “Húsavík” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
  • LESLIE ODOM JR. and SAM ASHWORTH for “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami
  • DANIEL PEMBERTON and CELESTE WAITE for “Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7
  • DIANE WARREN and LAURA PAUSINI for “Io Sì (Seen)” from The Life Ahead
  • GABRIELLA WILSON (H.E.R.), DERNST EMILE II (D’MILE), and TIARA THOMAS for “Fight For You” from Judas and the Black Messiah

The winners of the 93rd Academy Awards will be announced on April 25, 2021.

Categories: News Tags: , ,

RED RIVER – Dimitri Tiomkin

March 15, 2021 1 comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer-Director Howard Hawks had long desired to make a Western and finally found his vehicle after reading “The Chisolm Trail” (1946) by Borden Chase in the Saturday Evening post. He secured Monterey Productions to fund the project, providing a generous budget of $2.7 million. This was a passion project, and so Hawks decided to both produce and direct the film. He tasked Chase to adapt his novel and Charles Schnee assisted in writing the screenplay. A stellar cast was hired, which included John Wayne as Thomas Dunson, Montgomery Clift making his acting debut as Matt Garth, Walter Brennan as Nadine Groot, Joane Dru as Tess Millay, and John Ireland as Cherry Valance. Read more…

MINARI – Emile Mosseri

March 12, 2021 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the most critically acclaimed films of late 2020 and early 2021 is Minari, written and directed by Lee Isaac Chung. The film is set in the 1980s and tells the story of a family of South Korean immigrants who move to rural Arkansas and try to create their own ‘American dream’. It’s a fairly simple story about the ups and downs of life; how immigrant families try (and sometimes fail) to integrate themselves into American culture, the stresses of how trying to start and grow a business affects personal lives, health problems within multi-generational homes, and much more besides. The ‘minari’ of the title relates to the eponymous leafy vegetable plant ubiquitous in Korean cuisine, and which in this instance acts as a metaphor for something foreign planting roots and growing in a new environment. It’s leading cast – Steven Yeun, Ye-Ri Han, 8-year old Alan Kim, 73-year-old Korean acting legend Yuh-Jung Youn – have all been the subject of great praise and lots of awards buzz, as has its score, by relative newcomer Emile Mosseri. Read more…

SHIPWRECKED – Patrick Doyle

March 11, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Despite writing what is generally considered to be one of the greatest debut scores in film music history in 1989 for Henry V, Patrick Doyle was for some reason slow to capitalize on this success. His sophomore work was not for another prestigious drama or major studio feature, but was instead for this film: Shipwrecked, a sort-of Norwegian version of Treasure Island or Robinson Crusoe. The film was adapted from the popular series of historical novels by Oluf Vilhelm Falck-Ytter about the character Hakon Hakonsen, a young Norwegian boy in the 1850s who takes a job as a cabin boy on a ship to support his family, and subsequently has a number of fantastic adventures on the high seas. The film was directed by Nils Gaup, stars Stian Smestad, Louisa Haigh, and Gabriel Byrne, and was released by Walt Disney in the United States in 1991 several months after it was released to general critical and popular acclaim in its home country. Read more…

BAFTA Nominations 2020

March 9, 2021 Leave a comment

baftaThe British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has announced the nominations for the 74th British Academy Film Awards, honoring the best in film in 2020.

In the Best Original Music category, which is named in memory of the film director Anthony Asquith, the nominees are:

  • JAMES NEWTON HOWARD for News of the World
  • EMILE MOSSERI for Minari
  • TRENT REZNOR and ATTICUS ROSS for Mank
  • TRENT REZNOR, ATTICUS ROSS, and JON BATISTE for Soul
  • ANTHONY WILLIS for Promising Young Woman

This is the second BAFTA nomination for Howard, who was previously nominated for “The Dark Knight” in 2008, and the second and third nominations each for both Reznor and Ross, who were previously nominated for “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” in 2011. It is the first nomination for Mosseri, Batiste, and Willis.

The winners of the 74th BAFTA Awards will be announced on 11 April, 2021.

Categories: News Tags: ,

RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON – James Newton Howard

March 9, 2021 2 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The first of Disney’s two animated films scheduled to be released in 2021, Raya and the Last Dragon is a fantasy adventure set in an alternate-reality version of Southeast Asia. In this universe, humans have been hunted by creatures called druuns for generations, but are now protected by a magical orb created by dragons – with the caveat being that the dragons all turned to stone once they created the orb. Raya is the daughter of Benja, the powerful tribal chief who guards the orb, but during a feast celebration Raya is tricked into revealing the location of the orb to the daughter of a different tribal leader, who is jealous of Benja’s power. The resulting fight leads to the orb being almost destroyed, and the threat of the druuns returning. Wanting to make amends and save her people, Raya sets off on a quest to locate Sisu, the mythical last dragon, and the only one which did not turn to stone, in the hope that it can help create a new orb. The film was directed by Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada, and features a voice cast of almost entirely East Asian and Southeast Asian actors, including Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Benedict Wong, and Sandra Oh. Read more…

MOBY DICK – Philip Sainton

March 8, 2021 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

For three years director John Huston had long sought to bring Herman Melville’s classic 1851 novel Moby Dick to the big screen. Studios were resistant because the story was depressing, had no female roles, nor romance, which they believed would not resonate with the public. Ever tenacious, Huston finally secured backing by United Artists, the Mirsch brothers and Moulin Productions with the caveat that a big-name actor had to play Captain Ahab. A budget of $2.0 million was provided, which would include shooting in the Irish Sea. Huston would direct and tasked Ray Bradbury with adapting the novel, with some edits provided by Huston. To fill the “Big-name stipulation, Huston cast Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab, a decision criticized as a miscast by critics and later, Peck himself. Joining him would be Richard Basehart as Ishmael, Leo Genn as Starbuck, Orson Welles as Father Mapple, and Friedrich von Ledebur as Queequeg. Read more…

ENNIO MORRICONE REVIEWS, Part XI

March 6, 2021 Leave a comment

In this eleventh installment of my series looking at the early careers of iconic composers, we take a look at seven of the dozens of scores written by the legendary Ennio Morricone in 1971. The titles covered here include a trio of historical films – one romance, one comedy, one serious drama – plus an action comedy about aerobatics, a left wing sociopolitical drama, a challenging giallo thriller score, and one last great Sergio Leone western.
Read more…

THE NEVERENDING STORY II: THE NEXT CHAPTER – Robert Folk

March 4, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A belated sequel to the original 1984 classic fantasy film, The Neverending Story II is based partially on the second part of Michael Ende’s original novel, albeit with a significantly altered ending. Jonathan Brandis takes over from Barret Oliver as Bastian, who returns to the land of Fantasia via the titular book in order to seek advice on courage. Before long Bastian is again drawn into a new adventure alongside Atreyu (Kenny Morrison taking over from Noah Hathaway), the Childlike Empress (Alexandra Johnes taking over from Tami Stronach), and Falkor the Luck Dragon, as they seek to stop an evil sorceress called Xayide from destroying the world. The film was directed by Scottish filmmaker George T. Miller, and has an original score by Robert Folk. Read more…