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Archive for June, 2022

A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN – Hans Zimmer

June 30, 2022 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the most popular comedy-drama films of 1992 was A League of Their Own, a film about baseball and how there is no crying in said sport. Set in 1943, the film tells a fictionalized account of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), which was established when the outbreak of World War II shut down Major League Baseball and the men all went off to fight the Nazis in Europe. With sexism and misogyny rampant in American society at the time, the women who sign up to play are faced with obstacles at every turn – one of whom is Jimmy Dugan, the old ball player who is reluctantly hired to coach them – but though tenacity and friendship, the women of the Rockford Peaches get to live out their sporting dreams. The film was directed by Penny Marshall from a screenplay by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, and had a fantastic cast including Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Lori Petty, Jon Lovitz, David Strathairn, Garry Marshall, and Bill Pullman; it was also a great hit, grossing more than $130 million at the box office, and spawning a popular soundtrack album that included two successful singles. Read more…

Under-the-Radar Round Up 2022, Part 2A

June 29, 2022 Leave a comment

Life has returned to world cinema in 2022 following the easing of the COVID-19 global pandemic, and at the end of the second quarter of the year I’m absolutely delighted to present the latest installment in my on-going series of articles looking at the best under-the-radar scores from around the world. This article covers five scores for projects from all over the globe, and includes two French comedy dramas, an animated fantasy from Germany, a Filipino revenge thriller, and a Dutch adventure for children! Read more…

RANDOM HARVEST – Herbert Stothart

June 27, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The genesis of the film arose in 1940 when MGM Head Story Editor Kenneth MacKenna was advised to evaluate renown novelist James Hilton’s latest book, “Random Harvest” for a possible film adaptation. The story resonated with MGM executives as the Battle of Britain raged and the studio purchased the film rights in November 1940 for $65,000. Sidney Franklin was placed in charge of production with a $1.21 million budget, Mervyn LeRoy was tasked with directing, and screenwriters Arthur Wimperis, George Froeschel and Claudine West were hired to adapt the novel. A fine cast was assembled, which included Ronald Coleman as Charles Rainier (Smithy), Greer Garson as Paula Ridgeway/Margaret Hanson, Philip Dorn as Dr. Jonathan Benet, and Susan Peters as Kitty Chilcet. Read more…

FIRST LOVE – George Kallis

June 24, 2022 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

First Love is a romantic drama film, written and directed by A. J. Edwards, starring young heartthrob actor Hero Fiennes Tiffin (nephew of actors Ralph and Joseph Fiennes). The film tells parallel stories of two relationships within the Albright family, initially following son Jim (Tiffin) a senior in high school, who experiences the highs and lows of his first love with Ann (Sydney Park) prior their respective departures to college. Meanwhile Jim’s parents Kay (Kruger) and Glenn (Jeffrey Donovan) are dealing with the fallout of the 2008 financial collapse, as Glenn has been fired from his job and struggles to find work. These two stories intertwine and mirror each other, offering an interesting juxtaposition between teenage infatuation, and the realities of what it takes to make an adult relationship survive under immense stress. The film has been generally well-received, despite it being very much aimed at the ‘teen romance’ market, with all the familiar beats and story conceits that entails. Read more…

DAMAGE – Zbigniew Preisner

June 23, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Damage was one of the most critically acclaimed dramas of 1992. Directed by the great French filmmaker Louis Malle, and adapted from a popular novel by Josephine Hart, it starred Jeremy Irons as Stephen Fleming, a doctor and a British member of Parliament, who falls passionately in love with Anna, his son’s fiancée. Despite the dangers of discovery, and their age difference, Stephen and Anna’s affair continues over many months, until eventually it threatens to tear both their lives and his career apart. The film co-starred Juliet Binoche, Miranda Richardson, Rupert Graves, and the great Leslie Caron, and quickly became notorious for its uninhibited sex scenes, thematic allusions to taboo topics such as incest and suicide, and the deeply committed performances from the cast. Miranda Richardson was especially lauded, received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Stephen’s scorned wife Ingrid, and took home the BAFTA in the same category. Read more…

LIGHTYEAR – Michael Giacchino

June 21, 2022 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In November 1995 the upstart studio Pixar released the film Toy Story, and kick-started a revolution in animated filmmaking. Within years most of the main studios had their own animation departments and were churning out massive amounts of content for kids, but the origins of the boom all traced back to a simple story of a little boy, his toy cowboy, and his toy astronaut. That astronaut was, of course, named Buzz Lightyear, and the in-movie conceit was that he was an action figure from a movie in that universe that none us of had seen: we just had to accept that it was real. Well, now Pixar have actually made that movie – the Buzz Lightyear origin story that the toy in Toy Story is based on! It’s a classic sci-fi adventure in which Buzz, a hotshot Space Ranger astronaut in Star Command, becomes marooned on an apparently hostile alien planet after suffering the effects of time dilation on his space craft, and has to find a way back home – all while confronting a threat in the form of the evil Emperor Zurg. The film is directed by Angus MacLane and has a voice cast that includes Chris Evans, Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn, James Brolin, and Taika Waititi, with Evans replacing Tim Allen as the voice of Buzz. Read more…

THE BLACK SWAN – Alfred Newman

June 20, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Following the massive success of Warner Brothers The Sea Hawk in 1940, 20th Century Fox Studios decided to cash in on the 1932 Rafael Sabatini novel The Black Swan. Production chief Darryl F. Zanuck purchased the film rights as the perfect new adventure for the studio’s star actor Tyrone Power. Robert Bassler was placed in charge of production and provided a budget of $1.494 million. Henry King was tasked with directing, and Ben Hecht and Seton I. Miller hired to adapt the novel and write the screenplay. A stellar cast was assembled, which included Tyrone Power as Jaime Waring, Maureen O’Hara as Lady Margaret Denby, Laird Cregar as Henry Morgan, Thomas Mitchell as Tom Blue, George Sanders as Billy Leech, Anthony Quinn as Wogan and Edward Ashley as Roger Ingram. Read more…

PATRIOT GAMES – James Horner

June 16, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Patriot Games was the second film to feature the character Jack Ryan, the CIA analyst and protagonist of a series of novels by Tom Clancy. He first appeared on screen in 1990 in The Hunt for Red October, played by Alec Baldwin, and returns in this second installment played by Harrison Ford. The film is directed by Philip Noyce and is, in my opinion, one of the best political action-thrillers of the 1990s. The story begins with Ryan on vacation in London with his family, where he inadvertently foils a plot to assassinate a member of the British royal family by an Irish paramilitary group, the ULA, a radical offshoot of the IRA Irish Republican Army. With the ringleader dead and the other terrorists in custody, Ryan is given an honorary knighthood by the Queen, and returns home a hero – but things become much more serious when Sean Miller, the brother of the killed ULA leader, is broken out of prison, and vows to exact revenge on Ryan. The film co-stars Anne Archer, Patrick Bergin, James Earl Jones, Richard Harris, Samuel L. Jackson, and a young Sean Bean, and is a terrific tale that offers an overview of Irish republican politics in the 1980s and 90s, a high level examination of ‘the troubles,’ combined with some excellent action and suspense. Read more…

JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION – Michael Giacchino

June 14, 2022 4 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Pitched as the third and final part of the Jurassic World trilogy, and the sixth film overall in the series which began back in 1993 with the original Jurassic Park, Dominion is the film where – finally – the two main casts of this long-lasting dinosaur disaster franchise come together for an exciting, combined adventure. The film is set several years after the end of the last one, Fallen Kingdom, and finds Owen and Claire, former employees of the Jurassic World park, now working to protect the dinosaurs that are living free in the world. They are also the surrogate parents of the clone child Maisie Lockwood – until she is kidnapped by a mysterious group that wants to exploit her unique DNA. Meanwhile, Ellie Sattler reconnects with her former partner, paleontologist Alan Grant – from whom she has been mostly estranged since the events of Jurassic Park – to ask him to help her find the source of a plague of mutant locusts which is devastating crops, and which appears to contain dinosaur DNA. The two groups come together when the two plot strands – Maisie’s kidnappers, and the source of the genetically modified locusts – leads them all to Biosyn, a successful tech company owned by the enigmatic Lewis Dodgson that runs a dinosaur habitat high in the Dolomite mountains, and where scientist Ian Malcolm – another veteran of the original Jurassic Park – now also works. Read more…

BAMBI – Frank Churchill and Edward H. Plumb

June 13, 2022 1 comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Walt Disney was in dire financial straits with his last two films, Pinocchio and Fantasia, both under-performing at the box office. He needed a hit to reverse the company’s sliding fortunes when he came across the 1923 novel “Bambi, A Life in The Woods” by Felix Salten. The novel offered violence, sexual conquest, betrayal, and blood-and-guts action by cutthroats and murderers, yet after sifting out all its unsavory elements, it spawned an idea of a family film that centered on a young fawn named Bambi. Disney purchased the film rights in 1937 and personally took charge of production with an $858,000 budget. He insisted that the voices of children be used to speak for the many forest animals instead of adults speaking as children. It would take a team of six writers led by Perce Pearce, three years, with countless revisions, to finally draft a screenplay that met Disney’s expectations. David Hand was tasked with direction, and the voice cast included Bobby Stewart as Baby Bambi, Donnie Dunagan as Young Bambi, Hardie Albright as Adolescent Bambi and John Sutherland as Young Adult Bambi. Joining them would be Peter Behn as Young Thumper, Tim Davis as Adolescent Thumper and Same Edwards as Young Adult Thumper, Paula Winslowe as Bambi’s Mother, Will Wright as Friend Owl, Cammie King as Young Faline and Ann Gillis as Young Adult Faline. Read more…

MAIKA – Christopher Wong

June 10, 2022 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Maika, subtitled The Girl from Another Galaxy, is a Vietnamese children’s sci-fi adventure drama, directed by Ham Tran, starring Diep Anh Chu, Kim Nha, Ngoc Tuong, and Phu Truong Lai. The film follows the adventures of an 8-year-old boy named Hung, who is grieving the loss of his mother. After a meteor falls to earth, he meets an alien girl from a distant planet named Maika, who is searching for her lost friend. The alien helps Hung make new friends and heal a broken heart – but Maika is being followed by sinister forces, and Hung must help Maika avoid them so she can return home. The film is being touted as the first ever Vietnamese sci-fi film for children, and normally I would review this as part of my ‘under the radar’ series, but the film has actually been released in a number of theaters in the United States too (especially in cities with large Vietnamese populations), which means I can use this as an opportunity to also talk about its score, which was written by Christopher Wong. Read more…

FAR AND AWAY – John Williams

June 9, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Far and Away is a romanticized film about the American immigrant experience, specifically those who came from Ireland seeking their fortune in the new world in the 1890s, while the country was still recovering from the great potato famine several decades previously. The film stars Tom Cruise as Joseph Donnelly, a poor farmer from rural Ireland who meets Shannon Christie (Nicole Kidman), the privileged daughter of his father’s landlord, and they bond over their shared plans to emigrate to America. The film then follows the travails of the couple as they travel from Ireland to Boston, fall in with a local gang boss, and get involved in everything from bare knuckle boxing to prostitution simply to survive; the ultimate aim is for them to travel from Boston to Oklahoma to take part in a so-called ‘land race,’ the winner of which is given a plot of land and a shot at the American dream. The film co-starred Thomas Gibson, Robert Prosky, Colm Meaney, and Cyril Cusack alongside Cruise and Kidman, and was written by Bob Dolman and directed by Ron Howard – the same duo who made Willow in 1988. Read more…

TOP GUN: MAVERICK – Lorne Balfe, Harold Faltermeyer, Lady Gaga, and Hans Zimmer

June 7, 2022 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In the summer of 1986 the world fell head over heels in love for Maverick, Goose, Iceman, and the men and women of Top Gun – the Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program of the United States Navy, which trains some of the best military combat pilots in the world. With its combination of intense jet fighter action, macho camaraderie, and steamy romance, the film was a massive box office blockbuster, and cemented its star Tom Cruise as one of Hollywood’s premiere leading men – a position he continues to hold, more than 35 years later. Fans of the film have been clamoring for a sequel for decades, and production on it finally began in May 2018, with an intended release date of July 2019 – but it was pushed back and back and back, initially to June 2020, then December 2020, then July 2021, then November 2021, due to the combined impact of re-shoots, the COVID pandemic, and then a clogged schedule. It eventually hit cinemas at the end of May 2022 – almost four years to the day since they started making it – but it was more than worth the wait: reviews were stellar, both from audiences and critics, and at the time of writing it has already grossed $291.6 million at the US box office alone. Read more…

THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS – Bernard Herrmann

June 6, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director Orson Welles had for some time desired to bring Booth Tarkington’s 1918 novel The Magnificent Ambersons to the big screen, a story that offered a wistful view of a dying American aristocracy. In order to gain RKO studio backing, he renegotiated his contract and granted the studio final cut rights. With their blessings, he oversaw production with a $854,000, which ballooned to over $1.18 million. He would also write the screenplay, and personally direct the film. A fine cast was assembled, which included Joseph Cotton as Eugene Morgan, Dolores Costello as Isabel Amberson Minafer, Anne Baxter as Lucy Morgan, Tim Holt as George Amberson Minafer, Agnes Moorhead as Fanny Minafer, and Orson Welles as the narrator. Read more…

UNLAWFUL ENTRY – James Horner

June 2, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Unlawful Entry was one of a spate of home invasion movies that hit theaters in the early 1990s. Directed by Jonathan Kaplan from a screenplay by Lewis Colick and Ken Friedman, the film starred Kurt Russell and Madeleine Stowe as Michael and Karen Carr, a happy couple living in an upscale part of Los Angeles. One night an intruder enters their home and attacks Karen before escaping; one of the police officers who responds to their 911 call is Pete Davis (Ray Liotta), who is friendly and helpful and goes out of his way to install a good security system in the house. However, what initially appears to be a kind gesture quickly turns sinister when Pete develops an unhealthy fixation on Karen, and begins to stalk her. The film, which co-starred Roger E. Mosley and Ken Lerner, was a commercial success, and was especially praised for Ray Liotta’s compelling and terrifying performance as the unhinged Pete. Read more…