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Archive for April, 2022

THE BAD GUYS – Daniel Pemberton

April 29, 2022 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Bad Guys is a new animated adventure comedy from Dreamworks, directed by Pierre Perifel, based on a popular children’s book series by Aaron Blabey. It is set in a world of anthropomorphic animals and focuses on a criminal gang of traditionally ‘bad’ animals – a wolf, a snake, a spider, a shark, and a piranha. The gang is wildly successful at pulling off elaborate heists, but when their latest scheme goes badly awry, they are finally caught. To avoid a prison sentence, the outlaws must pull off their most challenging con yet – becoming model citizens. Under the tutelage of their mentor, Professor Marmalade, the gang sets out to fool the world that they’re turning good – but things are not what they seem, and soon the gang is involved in a high energy adventure. The film has a really good voice cast including Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, and Awkwafina, and has an original score by the outstanding British composer Daniel Pemberton. Read more…

YEAR OF THE COMET – Hummie Mann

April 28, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the more little-known ‘mainstream’ films of 1992 is Year of the Comet, directed by Peter Yates and written by William Goldman, who was inspired to write it because of a desire to combine two of his personal loves: red wine and traveling. His script first hit Hollywood in 1978, and originally Goldman wanted Robert Redford and Glenda Jackson to star as the leads in what he envisioned as a ‘romantic adventure comedy thriller’ in the vein of Charade, wherein the protagonists embark on a chase from London to the Scottish Highlands to the French Riviera, in search of the most valuable bottle of wine in history. The title of the project relates to the year the McGuffin wine was bottled, 1811, which was known for the Great Comet of 1811, and also as one of the best years in history for European viticulture. The film sat un-made for almost 15 years, until eventually Goldman was able to leverage his success off the back of writing The Princess Bride and Misery and put it into production; Timothy Daly and Penelope Ann Miller were eventually cast as the leading pair, but despite some handsome production values and lovely location shooting, the film was a box office disaster, a critical flop, and almost immediately sank into obscurity. Read more…

FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE – James Newton Howard

April 26, 2022 2 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS PLOT SPOILERS. IF YOU HAVE NOT YET SEEN THE FILM, YOU MIGHT WANT TO CONSIDER WAITING UNTIL AFTER YOU HAVE DONE SO TO READ IT.

The latest cinematic entry in J. K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, after eight Harry Potter films, and the first two entries in the Fantastic Beasts prequel series, comes this eleventh film, subtitled The Secrets of Dumbledore. Like the first two Fantastic Beasts films, it follows the adventures of the magizoologist Newt Scamander, who becomes increasingly embroiled in the power struggle being waged between the wizard Albus Dumbledore, and the dark sorcerer Gellert Grindelwald, who wants to assert wizarding dominance over the non-magical ‘muggle’ world. The Secrets of Dumbledore picks up immediately where The Crimes of Grindelwald left off, with Grindelwald amassing an army of followers – including the orphaned Credence Barebone, who is actually a descendant of the Dumbledore family – while Dumbledore and Scamander travel from Berlin to Bhutan and beyond to try to stop him being elected as the Supreme Head of the International Confederation of Wizards. Eddie Redmayne reprises his role as Newt, Jude Law again plays Dumbledore, and Mads Mikkelsen replaces the scandal-plagued Johnny Depp as Grindelwald; these are joined by regular supporting cast members Dan Fogler, Ezra Miller, and Alison Sudol, while Callum Turner as Newt’s brother Theseus and Jessica Williams as American witch Lally Hicks see their roles significantly increased. Read more…

THE LETTER – Max Steiner

April 25, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1924 author W. Somerset Maugham wrote a short story titled “The Letter” based on a story he heard while traveling to Singapore. Impressed with its reception, Maugham adapted the story into a stage play, which resulted in 338 performances in London, and 107 on Broadway. Paramount purchased the film rights and produced a film in 1929, which underperformed. Warner Brothers believed they could do better, and so purchased the film rights from Paramount in 1938. Hal B. Wallis was assigned production and Howard E. Koch was hired to write the screenplay, and William Wyler was given the reins to direct. A fine cast was brought in, which included Bette Davis as Leslie Crosbie, Herbert Marshall as Robert Crosbie, James Stephenson as Howard Joyce, Frieda Inescort as Dorothy Joyce, and Gale Sondergaard as Mrs. Hammond. Of note is that Mrs. Hammond was changed from a Chinese wife to an Eurasian to satisfy the Hays Code, which prohibited miscegenation. Read more…

HOWARDS END – Richard Robbins

April 21, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In the 1980s and early 1990s the producing-directing team of James Ivory and Ismail Merchant made a series of films based on classic late Victorian-era British novels, including several by the great E. M. Forster, whose examinations of the hypocrisy of the British class system made him one of the most acclaimed novelists of his generation. Howards End was the third Forster adaptation by Merchant-Ivory Productions, after A Room With a View in 1985, and Maurice in 1987, and it’s generally considered to be one of the best films they ever made, and one of the best films of the 1990s. It’s a film about society, class, warring families, and life in Edwardian London, with the titular country house serving as the prominent location around which all the drama unfolds. The film stars Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham-Carter, Anthony Hopkins, and Vanessa Redgrave, and was an enormous critical success, eventually going on to be nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and with Thompson winning Best Actress. Read more…

THE GREAT DICTATOR – Charles Chaplin and Meredith Willson

April 18, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The genesis of The Great Dictator film arose when renowned producer-director Alexander Korda pointed out to Charlie Chaplin that he bore a striking resemblance to Adolf Hitler. Chaplin’s research revealed that they were born withing a week of each other, were approximately the same height and weight, and both emerged from poverty during their early life to achieve success. An additional stimulus to make the film came from German director Leni Riefenstahl’s 1935 film Triumph of Will, which made a comic impression on Chaplin. The film would be Chaplin’s first all-talking all-sound film and he decided to finance it with his own production company, allocating a $2 million budget. He would also direct, write the screenplay, jointly compose the score, and star in the film. For his cast, Chaplin would play the Jewish barber and Adenoid Hynkel – the Great Dictator. Joining him would be Paulette Goddard as Hannah, Jack Oakie as, Henry Daniell as Benzino Napolini, Reginald Gardiner as Commander Schultz, Billy Gilbert as Herring, and Maurice Moscovich as Mr. Jaeckel. Read more…

THUNDERHEART – James Horner

April 14, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Thunderheart is a serious, interesting murder-mystery thriller, directed by Michael Apted from an original screenplay by John Fusco. The film stars Val Kilmer as FBI agent Ray Levoi, who is sent to a Native American reservation in South Dakota to lead the investigation into the murder of a tribal council member; Levoi is of Sioux heritage, but has no connection to his tribe and his ancestry, and is reluctant to go. However, once he arrives on the reservation, he becomes increasingly convinced that a cover-up is happening, involving local authorities, an apparently dangerous militia group, and even members of the US government. The film co-stars Sam Shepard, Graham Greene, and Fred Ward, and was a modest box office hit, while also receiving critical acclaim for its tone, pacing, performances, and sympathetic portrayal of contemporary issues in Native American communities. Read more…

THE SOUND OF VIOLET – Conrad Pope

April 12, 2022 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Sound of Violet is a new indie romantic comedy/drama, starring Cason Thomas, Cora Cleary, Kaelon Christopher, Jan d’Arcy, and Malcolm J. West. The film is about a young autistic man named Shawn who meets and falls in love with Violet, the girl of his dreams – except that, because of his mental illness, he doesn’t pick up on the ‘clues’ that she is actually a prostitute looking for a ticket out of her trapped life. The film was written and directed by Allen Wolf, based on his own award-winning novel, and is his sophomore directorial effort following his mainstream debut film In My Sleep in 2010. Read more…

JEZEBEL – Max Steiner

April 11, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Warner Brothers executives were seeking a vehicle to showcase their star Bette Davis following her 1935 Oscar win for Dangerous. They believed they found their story with the 1933 play Jezebel by Owen Davis. William Wyler was tasked with production with a $1.25 million budget, and would also direct. The team of Clements Ripley, Abem Finkel and John Huston were hired to write the screenplay and a stellar cast was assembled, including Bette Davis as Julie Marsden, Henry Fonda as Preston Dillard, George Brent as Buck Cantrell, Donald Crisp as Dr. Livingston, Fay Bainter as Aunt Belle Massey, Margaret Lindsay as Amy Bradford Dillard and Richard Cromwell as Ted Dillard. Read more…

THE LOST CITY – Pinar Toprak

April 8, 2022 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Lost City is a fun throwback action-adventure romcom directed by the Nee brothers Adam and Aaron, who co-wrote the screenplay with Oren Uziel and Dana Fox, from a story conceived by Seth Gordon. It’s an intentional homage to 1980s movies like Romancing the Stone, and stars Sandra Bullock as Loretta Sage, a depressed romance novelist who is kidnapped by a multi-billionaire played by Daniel Radcliffe; he believes that her latest book contains genuine archaeological information that will help him locate a long-lost treasure, missing for generations on a remote island. However, Loretta’s airheaded book cover model Alan (Channing Tatum) – who adopts a Fabio-esque persona and the pseudonym Dash McMahon – tracks Loretta to the island and embarks on a daring rescue mission that takes the mis-matched couple on an epic journey through the island’s jungles. The film is a light, breezy, funny, entertaining romp, featuring some terrific physical comedy from Bullock, and a hilarious cameo from Brad Pitt as an ex-Navy SEAL turned CIA operative hired to help Alan find Loretta. It received popular acclaim from audiences and critics, who mostly enjoyed the central relationship between Bullock and Tatum, and praised their screwball chemistry. Read more…

BASIC INSTINCT – Jerry Goldsmith

April 7, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Basic Instinct was one of the most commercially successful but socially controversial films of 1992. A murder-mystery thriller with strong sexual content, the film was written by Joe Eszterhas and directed by Paul Verhoeven. Michael Douglas starred as San Francisco police detective Nick Curran, who becomes involved in an intense sexual relationship with Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone), a mysterious and confident novelist, despite the fact that she is the prime suspect in the murder of her wealthy rock star boyfriend, who was stabbed to death with an ice pick while in flagrante. The film, which co-starred George Dzundza and Jeanne Tripplehorn, was controversial for several reasons – for its depiction of the ‘heroic detective’ as an amoral cocaine addict, for its brutal violence (including the opening murder and a subsequent rape sequence), and especially for its explicit sexual content, which included the now notorious scene where Sharon Stone flashes her vagina at police officers during an interrogation. Of course there had been successful mainstream erotic thrillers before – Dressed to Kill, Body Heat, Nine ½ Weeks, Fatal Attraction, and Jagged Edge, which Eszterhas also wrote – but Basic Instinct caught a wave of popularity and social zeitgeist, becoming one of the biggest grossing films of the year, and catapulting Sharon Stone to stardom. Read more…

Under-the-Radar Round Up 2022, Part 1

April 5, 2022 Leave a comment

The new year has hopefully brought a new lease of life to world cinema, and at the end of the first quarter of 2022 I’m absolutely delighted to present the latest instalment in my on-going series of articles looking at the best under-the-radar scores from around the world. This article covers nine scores for projects from all over the globe, and includes dramatic TV series from Kuwait and Japan, an exploration of childhood nostalgia and a contemporary action-thriller from France, a giallo thriller from Italy, a fantasy epic from Russia, a religious drama from Spain, and an intimate drama from Denmark, among others! Read more…

BLACK PATCH – Jerry Goldsmith

April 4, 2022 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The genesis of the film lay with producer-director-writer-actor George Montgomery best known for his work in the Western genre. In February 1957 he announced his latest project, “Decision At Sundown” based on an original screenplay by Leo Gordon. The title was later changed to “Black Patch”. His own production company Montgomery Productions would finance the project, with Allen Miller tasked with production as well as directing. A fine cast was assembled with Montgomery starring as Marshall Clay Morgan. Joining him would be Sebastian Cabot as Frenchy De Vere, Diane Brewster as Helen Danner, Tom Pittman as Flytrap (Carl), Leo Gordon as Hank Danner, House Peters Jr. as Holman Lynn Cartwright as Kitty and Jorge Trevino as Pedoline. Read more…

THE OUTFIT – Alexandre Desplat

April 1, 2022 4 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Outfit is the directorial debut of the Oscar winning screenwriter Graham Moore, who took home the golden boy for the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game in 2014. The film is set in Chicago in the 1950s, and stars Mark Rylance as Leonard Burling, an English tailor who runs a store in a neighborhood protected by the Irish mob. Leonard’s store is overrun one night by Richie, the son of mob boss Roy Boyle, and Boyle’s chief enforcer Francis, with Ritchie having been shot by a rival gang. So begins an edge-of-seat thriller involving FBI informants, secret tapes, personal bitterness and rivalries, double-crosses, and murders, as Leonard tries to negotiate his way out of his difficult circumstances, outwit the mobsters who all seem to have hidden agendas, and make it to morning alive. The film is anchored by a bravura performance by Rylance, who has received plaudits from critics, and is ably supported by Zoe Deutsch, Dylan O’Brien, Johnny Flynn, and Simon Russell Beale. Read more…