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VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE – Marco Beltrami

October 19, 2021 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A slightly belated sequel to the fun but curiously overlooked original, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is the black sheep of the Marvel Cinematic Universe family – although this is likely to be change as the characters are absorbed into the mainstream MCU going forward. The film picks up the story immediately after the events of the first film, and sees San Francisco journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) living his new life in the company of the wisecracking brain-munching alien symbiote Venom, who now shares Eddie’s body – and occasionally takes over control of it, giving Eddie super-human powers. The plot of the film revolves around Eddie’s relationship with the incarcerated serial killer Cletus Kasady, played by Woody Harrelson, who appeared in the first film’s post-credits scene. After some exposition backstory involving Kasady’s adolescence in a home for unwanted children, and his relationship with Frances (Naomi Harris) – a young girl who has the power to generate a ‘sonic scream’ – the main crux of the story involves Kasady being infected by a second symbiote, named Carnage, breaking out of prison during his execution, and rampaging across the city – with only Eddie and Venom able to stop him. The film co-stars Michelle Williams and Stephen Graham, and is directed by actor and motion capture pioneer Andy Serkis. Read more…

ABOVE AND BEYOND – Hugo Friedhofer

October 18, 2021 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Hollywood screenwriter Beirne Lay Jr., a retired USAF bombardier, gained fame after the war for his screenplay to the 1949 film 12 O’Clock High. In 1951 he conceived a new screenplay for a WWII story he felt needed to be told. To that end he met with Air Force General Curtis LeMay, commander of the Strategic Air Command (SAC). He suggested a new film that would explore the experiences of Colonel Paul Tibbets, the commander of the historic 509th Composite Group, which was responsible for dropping the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima during WWII. LeMay fully supported this, gave his consent, and Lay provided his outline to screenwriters Melvin Frank and Norman Panama who collaborated with USAF technical advisors Lt. Colonel Charles F.H. Begg, Major Norman W. Ray and Major James B. Bean to write the screenplay. With USAF backing Frank and Panama impressed MGM studio executives with their story, and they were given reins to produce the film with a budget of $1.4 million. Frank and Panama would also take on co-director duties and a fine cast was hired, including Robert Taylor as Tibbets, Eleanor Tibbets as Lucy Tibbets, and James Whitmore as Major Bill Uanna. Read more…

SHATTERED – Alan Silvestri

October 14, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Shattered is a twisty-turny psychological thriller written and directed by Wolfgang Petersen, based on the popular novel ‘The Plastic Nightmare’ by Richard Neely. The film stars Tom Berenger as Dan Merrick, a successful architect who is involved in a major car accident with his wife Judith (Greta Scacchi). Judith survives relatively unharmed, but Dan suffers major injuries and brain trauma, including amnesia, and needs plastic surgery. As he recuperates at home afterwards, with the help of his friend Jeb (Corbin Bernsen) and Jeb’s wife Jenny (Joanne Whalley), Dan slowly starts to feel that things are not quite what they appear to be, and begins to make some inquiries into his own past. These inquiries eventually lead Dan to private detective Gus Klein (Bob Hoskins), whose explosive revelations change Dan’s life forever. Read more…

THE STARLING – Benjamin Wallfisch

October 12, 2021 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Starling is a comedy-drama film from Netflix, directed by Theodore Melfi, starring Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, and Kevin Kline. The film is an examination of the grief suffered by the parents after the loss of a child; McCarthy and O’Dowd play Lily and Jack, a husband and wife couple whose new baby dies of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, which results in Jack having a nervous breakdown and requiring a stay in a mental health facility. As Lily focuses all her attention on Jack, preparing for his imminent return home, she neglects her own mental health needs; to compound matters, a starling has made a nest in a tree in their back garden, which starts to dive-bomb and attack her every time she comes near it. Eventually, things change for the better for Lily when she meets Larry Fine (Kline), a former psychologist turned veterinarian, who becomes an unexpected confidant. Read more…

THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE – Roy Webb

October 11, 2021 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Renowned producer David O. Selznick saw opportunity for a riveting, suspenseful murder thriller film based on the 1933 novel Some Must Watch by Ethel Lina White. He purchased the film rights, and envisioned Ingrid Bergman in the lead role. His plans for production however never came to fruition as he was forced to sell the film rights to RKO Pictures in 1946 to cover the massive cost overruns of his passion project, Duel In The Sun. RKO executives gave the green light to proceed with Dore Schary placed in charge of production, and provided a modest budget of $750,000. Robert Siodmak was tasked with directing, and screenwriter Mel Dinelli was hired to adapt the novel, which resulted in a change in the film’s title, as well as shifting its setting from England to New England. A fine cast was assembled, which included Dorothy McGuire as Helen, George Brent as Professor Albert Warren, Ethel Barrymore as Mrs. Warren, Kent Smith as Dr. Arthur Parry, and Gordon Oliver as Steven Warren. Read more…

SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY – Kris Bowers

October 8, 2021 Leave a comment

Original Review by Christopher Garner

Twenty-five years ago Michael Jordan shared the big screen with the Looney Tunes for a film that was lackluster (at best), yet is fondly remembered by a lot of people of a certain age. Now we get the sequel, in which a fictional Lebron James (played by the actual Lebron James) and his fictional son Dom (played by Cedric Joe) are sucked into a virtual multiverse of Warner Brothers properties by an evil artificial intelligence named Al-G Rhythm (played by Don Cheadle). James runs into the Looney Tunes and enlists them to play in a basketball game that will somehow determine the outcome of the film. Director Malcolm D. Lee is usually associated with comedies steeped in African American culture like Girl’s Trip, Undercover Brother, and The Best Man, rather than live action/animation hybrid films for children. This film has not fared well critically. It made $160 million worldwide, but with a budget of $150 million, it can’t exactly be termed a financial success either. Read more…

RICOCHET – Alan Silvestri

October 7, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Ricochet is an action-thriller directed by Russell Mulcahy, starring Denzel Washington, John Lithgow, Ice-T, Kevin Pollak, and Lindsay Wagner. Washington plays Nick Styles, an LAPD cop, who becomes a hero when he subdues and arrests a violent hitman named Earl Blake Talbot (Lithgow) during a hostage standoff. Years later, Styles is now a successful Los Angeles district attorney, but everything changes when Blake – who has now aligned himself with a group of neo-Nazis in the Aryan Brotherhood – escapes from prison and embarks on a violent and destructive revenge plot against the man who he claims destroyed his life. Ice-T plays Odessa, Styles’s former childhood friend who is now a drug dealer, and the whole thing culminates in a fight to the death atop Los Angeles’s iconic Watts Towers. The original screenplay, as written by Fred Dekker, was pitched as a Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry sequel, but it was rejected for being ‘too grim,’ and was eventually re-worked by Steven E. de Souza and Menno Meyjes as a vehicle for Washington. Read more…

NO TIME TO DIE – Hans Zimmer

October 5, 2021 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

After what feels like an eternity, wherein the film suffered delay after delay after delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 25th James Bond film No Time To Die has finally reached cinemas. It marks the end of the journey for Daniel Craig as 007 – he will be replaced by a new actor before the next film is released, whenever that may be – and also marks the climax to the arc of a series of films that began with Casino Royale in 2006 and which actually presents a fairly linear narrative across multiple films, something the Bond franchise had never attempted to do before. The film picks up the story almost immediately after the events shown in Spectre, and sees Bond travelling in Italy with Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), the psychiatrist who helped him capture his arch-nemesis Blofeld (Christoph Waltz). However, an apparent betrayal sends Bond into a tailspin and into retirement – he’s leaving MI6 and the spy game for good. Years later, Bond is coaxed out of retirement by his old CIA colleague Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) after a top secret scientist goes missing, and before long Bond is facing off against a new adversary in the shape of terrorist Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek), while teaming up with a new Double-0 agent (Lashana Lynch) who views Bond as a broken, misogynistic relic from the past. The film is directed by Cary Fukunaga, and was written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Fukunaga, and the great Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who was brought in to give the screenplay a contemporary edge. Read more…

SAMSON AND DELILAH – Victor Young

October 4, 2021 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The genesis of the film began in 1934 when Paramount Studios announced that it would follow-up its lavish 1934 production of Cleopatra with the biblical romance tale of Samson and Delilah. Film rights to the libretto of the 1877 opera Samson and Delila by Camille Saint-Saëns was purchased. It would however take twelve years for renowned producer-director Cecil B. DeMille to finally get the project off the ground. He secured a budget of $3.0 million and hired Jesse L. Lasky Jr., Fredric M. Frank, and Harold Lamb to write the screenplay drawing upon biblical references as well as the 1926 novel Samson the Nazarite by Ze’ve Jabotinsky. DeMille would also direct and after some casting drama finally secured Victor Mature to star as Samson. Joining him would be a fine cast, including Hedy Lamarr as Delilah, George Sanders as The Saran of Gaza, Angela Lansbury as Semadar, and Henry Wilcoxon as Ahtur. Read more…

ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING – Siddhartha Khosla

October 1, 2021 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Only Murders in the Building is a highbrow TV comedy-drama series from Hulu, set in the world of ‘true crime podcasting’. The show stars Steve Martin and Martin Short as Charles and Oliver, a reclusive former TV actor and a failed Broadway producer, respectively, who live in an exclusive New York apartment building. They are both fans of true crime podcasts and, when a young man named Tim Kono is apparently murdered in their building, they come together to make a podcast of their own, and begin investigating Tim’s death. However, things become more complicated when a third party, a young woman named Mabel (Selena Gomez), also shows interest in Tim’s death, and joins the podcast gang. There is more to Mabel than meets the eye, and before long the trio is knee-deep in a conspiracy more dangerous than they ever expected. The show co-stars Nathan Lane and Amy Ryan, and was created by Martin and screenwriter John Hoffman along with Dan Fogelman, the producer of the hit NBC drama series This Is Us. Read more…

RAMBLING ROSE – Elmer Bernstein

September 30, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Rambling Rose is a romantic drama period film directed by Martha Coolidge, based on the 1972 novel of the same name by Calder Willingham. The film is told in flashback by Buddy Hillyer (John Heard), who returns to his childhood home in Georgia and remembers his life growing up there during the Great Depression. Young Buddy (Lukas Haas) lives comfortably in a big house with his parents (Robert Duvall and Diane Ladd); however, everything is thrown into turmoil following the arrival of Rose (Laura Dern), an orphaned young woman who comes to work for the family. Rose is happy and free-spirited, but exceptionally promiscuous, and her sexual dalliances with several members of the family, as well as other people in town, brings all manner of troubles to the Hillyer family door. The film was a critical success that year, culminating in both Dern and Ladd – daughter and mother in real life – being nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, the first ever mother-daughter duo to be nominated for Oscars for the same film. Read more…

OF MICE AND MEN – Aaron Copland

September 27, 2021 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1938 producer Lewis Milestone saw opportunity after witnessing John Steinbeck’s play Of Mice and Men achieve a milestone of 207 Broadway theatrical performances, and win the prestigious New York Drama Critics’ Circle award in 1938. He convinced Hal Roach Studios and United Artists Studios to fund and distribute the film. Milestone would also direct the and tasked screenwriter Eugene Solow in adapting the play and original novella for the big screen. A fine cast was assembled, which included Burgess Meredith as George, Betty Field as Mae, Lon Chaney Jr. as Lennie, Charles Bickford as Slim, Noah Beery Jr. as Whit, and Bob Steele as Curley. Read more…

THE MAN IN THE MOON – James Newton Howard

September 23, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Man in the Moon is an emotional coming-of-age drama, written by Jenny Wingfield, and directed by Robert Mulligan – the final film of the man behind such classics as To Kill a Mockingbird and Summer of ‘42. The film stars Reese Witherspoon in her big-screen debut as Dani Trant, a teenage girl growing up in rural Louisiana in the 1950s. The film plots her life over the course of a summer, as she deals with her relationship with her parents and her siblings, her emerging sexuality, family tragedies, and especially her feelings for an older boy named Court who moves into the farm next door. The film co-stars Sam Waterston, Tess Harper, Gail Strickland, and Jason London, and was one of the most acclaimed films of its type in 1991; Roger Ebert called it “a wonderful movie … a victory of tone and mood, like a poem,” and praised Witherspoon’s breakout performance. Read more…

Under-the-Radar Round Up 2021, Part 3B

September 22, 2021 Leave a comment

2021 is already more than half way done and, as the world of mainstream blockbuster cinema and film music continues to recover from the COVID-19 Coronavirus, we must again look to smaller international features not as reliant on massive theatrical releases to discover the best new soundtracks. As such I am very pleased to present the second part of my third installment (for this calendar year) in my ongoing series of articles looking at the best “under the radar” scores from around the world.

The five titles included here are again a mixed bag of styles, genres, and national origins, and include quirky comedy from Finland, a children’s fantasy-comedy from Germany, a serious religious drama from Greece scored by a Pole, a Japanese animated adventure, and a French comedy-drama about the creation of the first modern restaurant! Read more…

OUR TOWN – Aaron Copland

September 20, 2021 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Renowned producer Sol Lester was impressed by the run of 338 Broadway theatrical performances of the 1938 Pulitzer Prize winning play Our Town by Thornton Wilder. He believed its poignant story could be successfully adapted to the big screen and decided to oversee production with his company Sol Lester Productions. Screenwriters Harry Chandlee and Frank Craven were hired to collaborate with author Thornton Wilder in adapting the play, which presented challenges given that it was performed on a nearly empty stage, and the main character dies. To adapt the play, they made the creative decision to add indoor and outdoor scenery, narration, and the third Act was altered to have a dream sequence, which would allow the main character Emily to live. Sam Wood was tasked with directing and a fine cast was assembled, which included William Holden as George Gibbs, Martha Scott as Emily Webb, Thomas Mitchell as Dr. Frank Gibbs, and Fay Bainter as Mrs. Julia Gibbs. Read more…