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FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD – James Newton Howard

November 24, 2018 3 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

J. K. Rowling’s Wizarding World is expanding further beyond the confines of Harry Potter with Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the second movie in a planned series of five which looks at the life of a wizard who lived more than 60 years before Harry was even born. It builds on the events seen in the 2016 film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and follows Newt Scamander, a magical zoologist who cares for a vast array of curious creatures. Having been integral in the capturing of the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald at the end of the first film, Newt is unexpectedly called back into action again after Grindelwald escapes and flees to Paris. Responding to a personal plea from Albus Dumbledore, his former teacher at Hogwarts Wizarding School, Newt is tasked with stopping Grindelwald from amassing an army of followers – something which brings him back into contact with numerous figures from his past, including the Obscurial Credence Barebone, who was believed to have died during the events in New York, but who is rumored to have survived . The film stars Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Johnny Depp, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, and Ezra Miller, and is directed by David Yates; this is now the sixth ‘Wizarding Film’ Yates has helmed. Read more…

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GORILLAS IN THE MIST – Maurice Jarre

November 21, 2018 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Dian Fossey was a conservationist and animal expert whose special focus was to study and protect African mountain gorillas. Having been inspired by another famous anthropologist, Louis Leakey, Fossey left her job in San Francisco and relocated to the remote jungles of Congo and Rwanda, where she established a research center in order to study these endangered creatures. As the years passed Fossey made several important breakthroughs and became world famous for her work, but also made many enemies, including poachers who hunted for gorilla artifacts, and members of the Rwandan government who opposed her increasingly violent responses to the poaching. Eventually, after more than twenty years working in Africa, Fossey was found dead in her cabin, apparently having been murdered; her assailants still have never been positively identified or tried. The film Gorillas in the Mist tells the true story of Fossey’s life and death; it stars Sigourney Weaver in the lead role, features Bryan Brown and Julie Harris in supporting roles, and is directed by Michael Apted. Read more…

THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB – Roque Baños

November 20, 2018 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Back in the early 2000s Steig Larsson’s Swedish-language novel Män Som Hatar Kvinnor – translated into English as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – was a bonafide phenomenon. It introduced the world to the character Lisbeth Salander, the socially awkward punk computer hacker who became an unlikely crusader for women’s justice, enacting revenge upon men who hate women, while getting involved in a labyrinthine plot of murder, sex, and death. Sadly, Larsson didn’t live to see his success – he died of a heart attack before the novels were even published – and so obviously he did not live to see his works transition to the big screen either. Adaptations of his three Salander novels (Män Som Hatar Kvinnor, Flickan Som Lekte Med Elden/The Girl Who Played With Fire, and Luftslottet Som Sprängdes/The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest) were made in Sweden starring Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist, and became instant international successes; an American remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo then emerged in 2011, directed by David Fincher and starring Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig. Unfortunately, that film was not as successful as many hoped, and plans for English-language adaptations of Fire and Hornet’s Nest were shelved. However, the series has now been revived by Uruguayan director Fede Álvarez in the shape of The Girl in the Spider’s Web, which is an adaptation of the fourth Salander novel Det Som Inte Dödar Oss, which was written by David Lagercrantz. Read more…

THE MISSION – Ennio Morricone

November 19, 2018 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer David Putnam and director Roland Joffe were seeking to sustain the acclaim of their last collaboration, The Killing Fields (1984), and so recruited renowned screenwriter Robert Bolt to compose a compelling historical drama. The independent British production company Goldcrest Films financed the project, providing a generous budget, and a fine cast was assembled, which included Robert De Niro as Captain Rodrigo Mendoza, Jeremy Irons as Father Gabriel, Ray McAnally as Cardinal Altamirano, Aidan Quinn as Felipe Mendoza, Cherie Lunghi as Carlotta, Ronald Pickup as Don Hatar, Chuck Low as Don Cabeza and Liam Neeson as Father John Fielding. The film offers a classic morality play, which explores the tragic events surrounding the 1750 Treaty of Madrid. The Spanish and Portuguese are warring along the Brazil and Paraguayan border and the treaty ended the conflict by requiring Spain to cede territory south and east of the Rio Uruguay to Portugal. This would require the seven Jesuit missionaries to leave and place the Guarani inhabitants in peril as Portugal, unlike Spain, used slavery to man their plantations. The film opens in 1740 with Jesuit missionary Father Gabriel seeking to convert the Guarani to Catholicism. The opening scene of a Jesuit cast over the waterfall tied to a cross reveals the Guarani’s hostility to outsiders. He is joined by slaver Rodrigo Mendoza who seeks repentance following the murder of his brother, who he caught sleeping with his fiancée. Father Gabriel gains the trust of the Guarani through his oboe playing and they over time convert. Rodrigo finds new meaning to his life, abandons weapons, and commits to joining the priesthood. Read more…

HIGH SPIRITS – George Fenton

November 15, 2018 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There are some movies where, when you see their plot summary written down, you wonder how they ever got made. One of those is the 1988 movie High Spirits, a bizarre comedy-adventure-romance about Irish ghosts. The film stars Peter O’Toole as Plunkett, the owner of a dilapidated castle in Ireland who comes up with a money-making scheme whereby he will convert the castle into a hotel, pretend that it is ‘the most haunted castle in Europe,’ and sell the idea to gullible American tourists. The scam is a success and the first group of unsuspecting vacationers – Steve Guttenberg, Beverly d’Angelo, Peter Gallagher, Jennifer Tilly – arrives, beguiled by the tales of Gaelic ghosties. However, to everyone’s utter shock, two real ghosts (played by Liam Neeson and Daryl Hannah) actually appear, and start becoming romantically attracted to two of the holidaymakers. The film was written and directed by Neil Jordan, the man behind such serious works as The Company of Wolves and Mona Lisa, and who would later go on to direct The Crying Game, Interview With the Vampire, and Michael Collins. Read more…

SUSPIRIA – Thom Yorke

November 13, 2018 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Giallo – a popular Italian cinematic sub-genre comprising dark, violent, erotic horror and thriller films – arguably reached its creative peak in 1977 with the release of director Dario Argento’s Suspiria. The story followed a young American dancer named Susie Bannion, who arrives in Berlin to audition for a world-renowned ballet company. However, as she becomes more involved in the work of the company and the lives of the dancers, she begins to realize that the studio is a front for a coven of powerful evil witches. The original Suspiria was a groundbreaking success, and is now considered one of the greatest examples of its genre. This new film, directed by Luca Guadagnino as a follow-up to Call Me By Your Name, takes the story of the original film and its grisly violence and adds a new level of socially aware commentary about female empowerment and politics. It stars Dakota Johnson as Susie, the naïve and wide-eyed all-American girl whose descent into fear and madness is charted by the film, and features Tilda Swinton and Mia Goth in supporting roles. Read more…

AGNES OF GOD – Georges Delerue

November 5, 2018 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

John Pielmeier’s play 1979 Agnes of God was both a commercial and critical success, achieving a respectable run on Broadway. Norman Jewison convinced Columbia Pictures that the story had big screen potential, and secured backing for the project. He would both produce and direct the film, and brought in Pielmeier to adapt his play for the cinema. Crucial to the film’s success would be finding three actresses to fill the trio of roles on which the story unfolds. Jane Fonda was cast as Dr. Martha Livingston. Joining her would be Anne Bancroft as Mother Superior Miriam Ruth, and Meg Tilly as Sister Agnes Devereaux. The film offers a murder mystery where science and faith intersect and clash. The story reveals nuns rushing from evening prayers to Sister Agnes’s room in answer to her screaming. They discover her bleeding profusely and a dead baby lying in a basket strangled by its umbilical cord. The court assigns Dr. Livingston to assess Sister Agnes for competency to stand trial. A clash of wills unfolds between Dr. Livingston efforts to discover the truth, and Mother Superior efforts to protect her niece, who she believes is innocent. What results is a classic confrontation of science and faith, with both sides working with the best of intentions. Read more…