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Archive for October, 2022

JOAN OF ARC – Hugo Friedhofer

October 31, 2022 2 comments

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The impetus of the film lay with actress Ingrid Bergman who had been lobbying Hollywood for years to make the film with her in the titular role. Well, she finally secured backing by Sierra Pictures, which was created by producer Nick Meyer specifically for this film. RKO joined, Walter Wanger was assigned production, and a budget of $4.7 million was provided. Maxwell Anderson and Andrew Solt were tasked with adapting Anderson’s Broadway play “Joan of Lorraine” for the screenplay, and Victor Fleming took the reins to direct. A fine cast was assembled to support Bergman in the titular role, including; José Ferrer as the Dauphin, Charles VII, Selena Royle as Isabelle d’Arc, Robert Barrat as Jacques d’Arc, Jimmy Lyndon as Pierre d’Arc, Rand Brooks as Jean d’Arc, Frederick Worlock as John, Duke of Bedford, Colin Kieth-Johnston as Philip, Duke of Burgundy, Francis L. Sullivan as Bishop Chaucon, and Shepperd Strudwick as Father Massieu. Read more…

INDOCHINE – Patrick Doyle

October 27, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the most critically acclaimed French films of the 1990s was director Régis Wargnier’s Indochine, a sprawling and epic romantic drama set against the backdrop of the last days of French colonialism in South-East Asia in the 1930s and 40s. The film stars screen legend Catherine Deneuve as Éliane Devries, the owner of a large rubber plantation in Vietnam, whose adopted daughter Camille (Linh Dan Pham) is a member of the noble Nguyen Dynasty, which ruled the country prior to French colonization. Both Éliane and Camille live a life of wealth and blasé privilege, but things begin to change when they independently meet and fall in love with Jean-Baptiste (Vincent Pérez), a dashing lieutenant in the French navy. The fallout from this love triangle begins to tear the family apart, and eventually results in Camille becoming involved with a group of Vietnamese communist revolutionaries who dream of independence for the country. The film was a massive domestic success, winning five César Awards (and being nominated for a further seven), while also winning the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1992. Read more…

BLACK ADAM – Lorne Balfe

October 25, 2022 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The latest comic book super hero film in the DC Extended Universe is Black Adam, directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, starring Dwayne Johnson, Aldis Hodge, Sarah Shahi, Bodhi Sabongui, and Pierce Brosnan. Johnson stars as the titular character, a man from the city of Kahndaq circa 2500 BC, who helps lead a rebellion against a tyrannical king, and is endowed with magical powers by the Council of Wizards (the same wizards who gave similar powers to Shazam in another DC film). Thousands of years later Adam is brought back to life by an archaeologist who believes he can help defeat the oppressive regime currently ruling present-day Kahndaq; however, Adam’s new presence in the modern world catches the attention of the Justice Society of America (which is, apparently, different from the Justice League), and a team led by super-heroes Hawkman and Doctor Fate is dispatched to Kahndaq to determine whether Adam is a friend or a foe. The film has some potentially interesting things to say about the nature of heroism, and has some fun depicting a contemporary north African culture not usually explored in films like this, but by the end it devolves into yet another massive fight sequence between CGI avatars hurling each other through walls… ho hum. Such is the way with most DC films, although this at least does have a vein of humor in it which stops it being so dreary and self-serious. Read more…

OLIVER TWIST – Arnold Bax

October 24, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

After the success of his Charles Dickens film adaptation Great Expectations in 1946, director David Lean decided to adapt another of Dickens’ novels for his next film – Oliver Twist. He sold his idea to General Film Distributors who agreed to bank roll the film. Lean brought back as much of the same creative team as possible with Ronald Neame and Anthony Havelock-Allan in charge of production. Lean would again direct and he and Stanley Haynes wrote the screenplay. An exceptional cast was assembled, which included; John Howard Davies as Oliver Twist, Alec Guinness as Fagin, Kay Walsh as Nancy, Robert Newton as Bill Sykes, Anthony Newley as the Artful Dodger, and Diana Dors as Charlotte. Read more…

A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT – Mark Isham

October 20, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the most critically acclaimed films of 1992 was A River Runs Through It, directed by Robert Redford, adapted from the 1976 semi-autobiographical novella by Norman Maclean. The film is set in Montana in the 1920s and stars Craig Sheffer and Brad Pitt as brothers Norman and Paul Maclean, the sons of presbyterian minister John (Tom Skerritt). Norman is serious, studious, and ambitious, where Paul is reckless, habitually drunk, but creative and an excellent journalist. Despite their differences in personality, they bond over their shared love of fly fishing, which they learned from their father fishing in the Blackfoot River as children, and which they often see as a metaphor for life itself. The film follows the brothers through the Prohibition Era up to the beginnings of the Great Depression, their various romances, and society as a whole in that era. The film was praised for its direction, performances, and cinematography, the latter of which won an Oscar for the great Philippe Rousselot; it also received an Oscar nomination for Best Score, the career first for composer Mark Isham. Read more…

HELLRAISER – Ben Lovett

October 18, 2022 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Hellraiser franchise, which was originally adapted from Clive Barker’s acclaimed novella ‘The Hellbound Heart’ and first hit cinema screens in 1987, has one of horror’s all-time-great conceptual cornerstones; the idea that an ancient puzzle box which, once solved by unwary and unwitting souls, releases a group of demonic figures known as Cenobites, who then abduct and subject their victims to endless torture. The original film also introduced one of horror’s all-time-great antagonists, the terrifying Pinhead, an S&M demon who comes from a realm of hell where pleasure, pain, and suffering are one and the same. Unfortunately, the franchise quickly became a shadow of its initial self; the first sequel, 1988’s Hellbound, was good, and the second sequel, 1992’s Hell on Earth, was tolerable, but then the subsequent SEVEN sequels got progressively worse and worse, the intelligence levels decreasing in unison with the budgets. This new film, also called Hellraiser, is an attempt to re-ignite the franchise with a better screenplay and re-imagined Cenobites; it’s directed by David Bruckner from a screenplay by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski, stars Odessa Azion as the new protagonist Riley, and features Jamie Clayton as the new ‘Hell Priest,’ who is actually much closer to the pan-sexual and androgynous iteration of the Pinhead character from Barker’s original story. Read more…

SPRING IN A SMALL TOWN – Huang Yijun

October 17, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1947 renowned playwright and director Wu Zuguang commissioned screenwriter Li Tianji to write a screenplay to be titled “Spring in a Small Town”. Upon completion, the screenplay was presented to two production companies, Gutoi and Datong, which both declined. A third attempt with the Wen Hua Production Company was successful, and the film went into production with a very small budget as the company was near bankruptcy. Fei Mu was tasked with directing and made changes in the script to reduce the number of characters as budgetary constraints were onerous. A fine cast was assembled, which included Wei Wei as the heroine Zhōu Yùwén, Yu Shi as Yùwén’s husband Dài Lǐyán, Lei Wei as Dai Lǐyán’s childhood friend and Yùwén’s former lover Zhāng Zhìchén, Cui Chaoming as Dai and Yùwén’s loyal servant Lǎo Huáng, and Zhang Hongmei as Dai Lǐyán’s young sister Dài Xiù. Read more…

Under-the-Radar Round Up 2022, Part 3A

October 11, 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 third quarter of the year 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 five scores for projects from all over the globe, and includes a French TV miniseries set during World War I, a historical Chinese epic, a French children’s action adventure about a lost lion cub, a Spanish-language TV series about what happened to Eva Peron after she died, and a French comedy-drama about an early 20th century president with… shall we say… a few issues. Read more…

THE SPRING RIVER FLOWS EAST – Zhang Zengfan

October 10, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The film The Spring River Flows East – Yī Jiāng Chūn Shuǐ Xiàng Dōng Liú in its native language – was conceived by the director and screenplay writing team of Zheng Junli and Cai Chusheng. Its title derives from a famous line among ancient Chinese poems that uses water as a metaphor for sorrow. In the film’s story it is used to express boundless, unending sorrow, as endless as the ever-flowing river water in spring. The film was a passion project and Zheng and Cai secured financial backing from the Kunlun Film Company, which oversaw production. Zheng and Cai wrote the screenplay, would co-direct, and assembled a stellar cast, including the leading actors of the time: Bai Yang who would play Sufen, and Tao Jin who would play Zhang Zhongliang. Joining them would be Shi Xiuwen as Wang Lizhen, Shangguan Yunzhu as He Wenyuan, Yan Gongshang as Zhang Zhongliang’s father, Gao Zheng as Zhang Zhongmin and Zhou Boxum as Pang Haogong. Read more…

THE LOST KING – Alexandre Desplat

October 7, 2022 2 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

On August 22, 1485, the English king Richard III was killed at Bosworth Field, in what was the last significant battle of the Wars of the Roses, the civil war between the Houses of Lancaster and York over the fate of the British crown. Richard’s death at the age of 32 marked the end of his Plantaganet dynasty, while his conqueror became King Henry VII, and established the Tudor dynasty that resulted in the subsequent reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. What’s interesting is that, for more than 500 years, the exact whereabouts of Richard’s remains were unknown, until 2012 when an archaeological dig was commissioned, and his skeleton was finally unearthed beneath a car park in the city of Leicester. This new film, The Lost King, tells the story of how a dedicated group of professional archaeologists and enthusiastic amateurs came together to find and pay final respects to this somewhat unfairly maligned king; the film stars Sally Hawkins, Steve Coogan, and Harry Lloyd, and is directed by Stephen Frears. Read more…

1492: CONQUEST OF PARADISE – Vangelis

October 6, 2022 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The year 1992 marked the 500th anniversary of the voyage of explorer Christopher Columbus, who set sail across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain, and on October 7th 1492 became the ‘first European’ to ‘discover’ the Americas – the historical veracity of this statement remains in question, though, despite the prevailing narrative. Several projects were commissioned in Hollywood to mark the event, with director Ridley Scott’s film 1492: Conquest of Paradise being the most high profile, although it was beaten into theaters by the competing project Christopher Columbus: The Discovery by several months. This may actually have ultimately harmed the viability of Scott’s project, as it grossed just $7 million at the US box office, and is now generally considered to be one of the biggest flops of Scott’s career. The film does have an excellent cast (Gérard Depardieu, Armand Assante, Sigourney Weaver, Michael Wincott, Fernando Rey, Tcheky Karyo, Frank Langella), and boasts grand and handsome production values, but ironically it is best remembered today for its score. Read more…

LIFE WITH FATHER – Max Steiner

October 3, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Warner Brothers Studios executive Jack L Warner believed that the Broadway play “Life With Father” (1939), which had a record breaking theatrical run of 2,224 performances over 401 weeks could be successfully adapted for the big screen. He purchased the film rights and assigned production to Robert Bruckner, providing a generous $4.7 million budget. Donald Ogden Stewart was hired to adapt the play and write the screenplay, and renown director Michael Curtiz was tasked with directing. A fine cast was assembled, which included William Powell as Clarence Day Sr., Irene Dunne as Vinnie Day, and Elizabeth Taylor as Mary Skinner. Read more…