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CLIFFS OF FREEDOM – George Kallis

March 22, 2019 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Romeo and Juliet story has been told over and over again in cinema; Cliffs of Freedom is the latest re-working of that classic tale of star-crossed lovers, but instead of Montagues and Capulets, we have Greeks and Turks facing off in a sweeping historical epic drama of love and conflict. The film is set in 1821 during the Greek War for Independence against the Ottoman Empire, and focuses on Anna Christina, a Greek peasant girl who is in love with Tariq, a colonel in the Turkish army whose career is on the rise even as he is unnerved by his country’s violent response to the Greek nationalistic uprising. As tensions mount and political divisions lead to all-out war, Anna Christina and Tariq struggle to keep their relationship alive. The film is directed by Van Ling, a special effects genius making his feature debut, and is based on a popular novel by Marianne Metropoulos; it stars Tania Raymonde and Jan Uddin as the central pair, and has a surprisingly rich supporting cast including Christopher Plummer, Patti LuPone, Billy Zane, Lance Henriksen, and Raza Jaffrey. Unfortunately the film came and went from cinemas like lightning (despite its trailer playing every night for what felt like weeks during the NBC late night news broadcast in Los Angeles), meaning that the film’s lasting legacy might be its score, by George Kallis. Read more…

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THE FLY II – Christopher Young

March 21, 2019 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

David Cronenberg’s horror classic The Fly was such a critical and commercial success in 1986 that 20th Century Fox and Brooksfilms green-lit a sequel almost immediately. The Fly II was written by Frank Darabont and Mick Garris, and directed by Chris Walas, who supervised the first film’s makeup effects, and won an Academy Award for his grotesque efforts. The film is set several months after the events of the first one, and begins when Veronica (Geena Davis’s character from the first movie) gives birth to a baby, the son of Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum’s character). The baby was conceived after Seth began mutating into a fly, and Veronica dies in childbirth, but the infant – who is named Martin – initially appears to be healthy. Martin grows up in a laboratory owned by Anton Bartok (Lee Richardson), the scientist-businessmen who funded Seth’s research, but before long it becomes clear that Martin is different – he possesses a genius-level intellect, has incredible reflexes, and grows faster than a normal human, so much so that by the age of five he has the mental capacity of a 25-year-old man, and looks like Eric Stoltz. Eventually, Martin begins to question his life and existence, and slowly begins to learn some unnerving truths about Bartok, especially when he starts to exhibit some of the same fly-related symptoms as his father… Read more…

ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL – Tom Holkenborg

March 19, 2019 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Hollywood’s increasing interest in bringing new versions of Japanese anime titles to an American audience continues with the release of Alita: Battle Angel, adapted from the eponymous 1990s comic book series by Yukito Kishiro. The film was written and produced by James Cameron, who originally intended to direct the project himself when it was first announced in 2003, but after sitting in ‘development hell’ for well over a decade, it was eventually helmed by Robert Rodriguez. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic future and focuses on Alita (Rosa Salazar), a female cyborg who has lost all her memories and is found in a junkyard by cybernetics doctor Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz). Ido rebuilds Alita and takes care of her like she is his daughter; eventually, however, Alita discovers that she has immense strength and fighting skills, which leads to her becoming a bounty hunter, and eventually learning more about her past. The film co-stars Oscar winners Mahershala Ali and Jennifer Connelly, and has been a surprisingly popular critical and commercial success, overcoming the film’s misleading marketing that entirely omits the significant sports movie plot, as well as its potential for trips to the ‘uncanny valley’ in terms of Alita’s look and design. Read more…

LEGENDS OF THE FALL – James Horner

March 18, 2019 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Having just finished the comedy Leaving Normal, director Edward Zwick decided to change direction and film an epic historical drama, which showcased the talent of rising star Brad Pitt as a romantic leading man. To that end he found the perfect vehicle in the 1978 novella Legends of the Fall by Jim Harrison. His production company Bedford Falls purchased the film rights with TriStar Pictures agreeing to distribute. Zwick, William Wittliff and Marshal Herskovist would produce the film, with Zwick directing. He hired screenwriters Susan Shilliday and William D. Wittliff to adapt the story for the big screen and brought in an outstanding cast, which included Brad Pitt as Tristan Ludlow, Anthony Hopkins as Colonel William Ludlow, Aiden Quinn as Alfred Ludlow, Henry Thomas as Samuel Ludlow, and Juilia Ormond as Susannah Fincannon. The film is set in the territory of Montana circa 1890 when Colonel William Ludlow resigns his commission, loathe to continue his part in the army’s cruel betrayal and slaughter of native Americans. He settles on a ranch in a remote part of Montana where he and his wife Isabel live a tranquil existence in peace. Isabel bears him three sons – Tristan, Alfred, and Samuel – but ends up leaving him as she is unable to bear the isolation and long harsh winters, which forces William to raise the boys himself. Almost 20 years later, the the now-grown Samuel returns home to the ranch with his fiancé Susannah, but this is a harbinger of sorrow as it precipitates a series of tragic events which fracture the family and set brother against brother as they compete for her affections. Read more…

CAPTAIN MARVEL – Pinar Toprak

March 12, 2019 2 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Captain Marvel is being touted as a game-changing film in a number of important ways. As the 21st official entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe series of films that began with Iron Man in 2008, it’s the first to be led by a female protagonist, and the first to have a female director, with Anna Boden co-directing alongside Ryan Fleck. In an era where the promotion of woman-centric films and female filmmakers has been such a major issue in Hollywood this is encouraging, but it’s also sobering that this is such news, by way of the fact that this hasn’t been done before. Assuming that Captain Marvel is the gigantic box office hit that many expect it to be, going forward one would hope that male and female filmmakers are given the same opportunities to succeed as each other, in an environment where talent and creativity are more important than gender, and where female protagonists in films are just part of the norm and not rare events that need to be singled out for special praise. Read more…

ON GOLDEN POND – Dave Grusin

March 11, 2019 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Jane Fonda was an avid reader, and happened to come across the novel On Golden Pond by Ernest Thompson. She was captivated by the story and bought the film rights, intending for her father Henry Fonda to play the lead role of Norman Thayer. She secured financial backing for the film from Lord Grade, of the British studio ITC Entertainment. Bruce Gilbert was assigned to produce the film, and Mark Rydell was tasked with directing. Jane Fonda had always intended that this film would be a father-daughter endeavor, and so her father Henry Fonda was hired to play Norman Thayer, while she would play the estranged daughter Chelsea. The story’s father-daughter estrangement mirrored the real-life relationship of Jane and her father and ultimately proved to be cathartic, in that it restored their relationship. Joining them would be Katherine Hepburn as Ethel Thayer, Doug McKeon and Billy Ray, Dabney Coleman as Bill Ray, and William Lanteau as Charlie Martin. Read more…

DANGEROUS LIAISONS – George Fenton

February 28, 2019 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Dangerous Liaisons was originally a stage play by British playwright Christopher Hampton, whose work was an ambitious attempt to adapt Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’s classic 1782 novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses for modern audiences through the Royal Shakespeare Company. It is a dark drama about seduction and revenge set in France in the years immediately preceding the Revolution. Two aristocrats, the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont, conspire together to ruin the lives of various former lovers for no other reason than to satisfy their own amusement and petty jealousies; eventually, they fixate on the virginal Cécile de Volanges, who is engaged to Merteuil’s former lover, and Madame de Tourvel, the devoutly religious wife of one of Valmont’s supposed friends. What transpires is a damning exposé of the insouciance of the rich, who use wealth and sexuality as weapons, and indulge in selfish whims and fancies with no regard for the destruction it causes to those around them. Hampton re-wrote his play for the big screen in 1988, where it was directed with lavish decadence by Stephen Frears. Glenn Close starred as the merciless Merteuil, John Malkovich was suave as the predatory Valmont, and Michelle Pfeiffer and Uma Thurman suffered as the unwitting subjects of their ploy. Both Close and Pfeiffer received Oscar nominations for their performances, and the film was a critical success, winning three Academy Awards, picking up two more nominations, and inspiring an updated version – Cruel Intentions – set in New York in 1999. Read more…