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WE’RE NO ANGELS – George Fenton

September 19, 2019 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

We’re No Angels was a loose remake of a 1955 Humphrey Bogart film of the same name, which was itself adapted from a French play, La Cuisine des Anges, by Albert Husson. The film is set in the 1930s and stars Robert De Niro and Sean Penn as Ned and Jim, two amiable convicts who inadvertently escape from jail when they are caught up in a plot masterminded by Bobby, a vicious killer played by James Russo. The convicts eventually find themselves in a small upstate New York town near the Canada–US border, where Ned and Jim are mistaken for a pair of priests expected at the local monastery. Circumstances are such that crossing the town bridge into Canada is extremely difficult, so Ned and Jim decide to play the long game and embrace the misunderstanding until the time is right. However, as Ned and Jim spend more time in the town, they find themselves forming real bonds with the locals, especially a beautiful single mother played by Demi Moore, and soon they begin to wonder whether they have a shot at genuine redemption. The film was written by David Mamet and directed by Neil Jordan, but was unfortunately a massive box office flop, grossing just $10.5 million on a $20 million budget. Read more…

DOWNTON ABBEY – John Lunn

September 17, 2019 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

For those who have been living under a rock for a decade, Downton Abbey is a British drama series charting the lives and loves of the aristocratic Crawley family and their various staff and servants, all of whom reside in the titular estate in northern England in the 1910s. It’s a blend of domestic drama, historical and political intrigue, and scandalous romance, dressed up with upper-class British pageantry, and it was wildly popular and successful both domestically and in the United States, where fascination with the royal family and the landed gentry remains as popular as ever. In combination with Harry Potter it re-kindled the late-blooming career of Dame Maggie Smith, and made household names of character actors like Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle, and Joanne Froggatt, all of whom were nominated for a ton of Emmys, BAFTAs, and Golden Globes between them. This new film, which is being released four years after the series ended, is set in 1927 and focuses on the activities in and around the Abbey as they prepare for a visit from King George V and his wife, Queen Mary of Teck. Read more…

OLD GRINGO – Lee Holdridge

September 12, 2019 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Old Gringo was intended to be a lavish Mexican epic film marking the English-language debut of Argentine filmmaker Luis Puenzo, whose film La Historia Oficial had won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 1985. It was based on an acclaimed novel by Carlos Fuentes and starred Gregory Peck as Ambrose Bierce, an ageing acclaimed writer who moves to Mexico just prior to the outbreak of the Revolution in 1910. Bierce is dying of a terminal illness, but keeps it secret as he wants to end his days on his own terms. He befriends a revolutionary named Arroyo (Jimmy Smits), and also crosses paths with an American schoolteacher named Harriet (Jane Fonda), and as the violence escalates so does his friendship with Arroyo, something which is complicated by the romantic feelings they both have for Harriet. Old Gringo tries to tackle numerous weighty subjects simultaneously – the politics of the Mexican Revolution, the regrets of old age, the concept of legacy and fame, a love triangle – but the consensus was that it tried to take on a little bit too much; Roger Ebert, in his review, wrote that ‘there is a potentially wonderful story at the heart of Old Gringo, but the movie never finds it. The screenplay blasts away in every direction except the bulls-eye. It’s heavy on disconnected episodes, light on drama and storytelling.’ The whole thing was a critical and commercial failure, and Puenzo never made another film in English. Read more…

IT: CHAPTER TWO – Benjamin Wallfisch

September 10, 2019 4 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Director Andy Muschietti’s adaptation of the classic Stephen King horror novel It was an enormous, unexpected success when it hit cinemas in the late summer of 2017. For a generation prior Tim Curry’s 1990 portrayal of Pennywise, the murderous shape-shifting entity terrorizing the residents of a small New England town, was the gold standard, but Bill Skarsgård’s new take on the character looks destined to become just as iconic. Off the back of his performance It became the second-highest grossing R-rated horror movie of all time (after The Exorcist), and re-kindled interest in King’s stories by becoming the highest grossing adaptation of one of his novels, knocking 1999’s The Green Mile into second place. It also made stars of its cast of excellent teenage actors, including Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, and Sophia Lillis. Read more…

BLACK RAIN – Hans Zimmer

September 5, 2019 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

I’ve written this sentence about other scores before, so I apologize for the repetitiveness, but I think it’s important to acknowledge the fact that there are very few scores in the world that you can point to as being a literal turning point in the history of film music. Black Rain is one of them. The film itself is not especially famous these days, despite actually being rather good. The film stars Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia as Nick Conklin and Charlie Vincent, two New York City cops who witness a murder in a bar and arrest the assailant. The killer is a man named Sato (Yusaku Matsuda), who is a member of the Japanese Yakuza crime syndicate. Sato is extradited to Japan, and Nick and Charlie agree to accompany the gangster back to Osaka for his murder trial. However, when they arrive at the airport, Sato’s fellow Yakuza free him from police custody by tricking Nick, which brings shame and tension to the already fraught relationship between Nick and his Japanese counterpart, Detective Masahiro (Ken Takakura). Determined to find Sato at any cost, Nick enters the dangerous underworld of Japanese organized crime. The film was directed by Ridley Scott, and was a box office success, combining a classic cop thriller revenge story with one of the first mainstream American depictions of Japanese Yakuza gangster culture. Read more…

READY OR NOT – Brian Tyler

August 30, 2019 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Ready or Not is a fun, exciting, uproariously gory action-horror movie underpinned by a vein of black comedy. It stars Aussie actress Samara Weaving as Grace, who is about to marry Alex, the man of her dreams, the heir to the Le Domas family fortune, whose wealth comes from a multi-generational board game dynasty. However, on their wedding night, Alex reveals that his family has a tradition whereby anyone newly marrying into the family has to play a game, the nature of which is written on a card drawn from a mysterious antique box, and is unknown to everyone until the moment it is drawn. When Grace draws ‘hide and seek’ it triggers a desperate struggle for survival as the other family members – compelled by the threat of an ancient curse – have to hunt and kill Grace before dawn breaks. The film is directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, and co-stars Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien, Henry Czerny, and Andie MacDowell. Read more…

MURDERERS AMONG US: THE SIMON WIESENTHAL STORY – Bill Conti

August 29, 2019 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Simon Wiesenthal had quite an amazing life. Born into a Jewish family in Austria in 1908, he was captured and sent to a concentration camp after the outbreak of World War II; after surviving against terrible odds, Wiesenthal spent the rest of his life as one of the world’s most famous ‘Nazi hunters,’ tracking down and gathering information on fugitive Nazi war criminals so that they could be brought to trial. He was involved as a key witness in the Nuremberg Trials, and instrumental in the 1960 capture of Adolf Eichmann, one of the major organizers of the Holocaust who personally sent hundreds of thousands of people to die in Auschwitz. Wiesenthal was also a writer and philanthropist, and lent his name to a research and human rights center in Los Angeles. He died in 2005, but not before this acclaimed TV movie of his life was released on HBO in 1989. The film was directed by Brian Gibson and starred Ben Kingsley in the titular role, with support from Craig T. Nelson, Anton Lesser, Paul Freeman, and Renée Soutendijk as Simon’s wife Cyla. Read more…