A UNITED KINGDOM – Patrick Doyle

March 10, 2017 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the things I love most about the movies is the fact that it often gives me the opportunity to learn a little bit about historical events I previously knew nothing about. Case in point: A United Kingdom, the latest film from British director Amma Asante, which is basically about the events leading up to the foundation of the Republic of Botswana. In 1947 Botswana was still known as Bechuanaland and was part of the British Empire, ruled by both a local royal family, and by a High Commissioner appointed by the British Crown. Seretse Khama, the heir to the throne, is in London studying law, and intends to return home once his studies are finished to take over from his uncle, who has acted as his regent since his father’s death. Things become more complicated when Seretse meets and falls in love with Ruth Williams, a middle class white woman; what unfolds is simultaneously a love story, a treatise on racism in the UK and Africa in the 1940s, and a political drama concerning the complicated diplomatic relationship between Britain and its Commonwealth colonies in southern Africa. The film, which was released in British cinemas in November 2016 prior to its worldwide opening in February 2017, stars David Oyelowo as Seretse, and Rosamund Pike as Ruth, and features an excellent supporting cast of British and African character actors including Vusi Kunene, Terry Pheto, Jack Davenport, Tom Felton, and Nicholas Lyndhurst. Read more…

AMERIKA – Basil Poledouris

March 9, 2017 1 comment

amerikaTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In the spring of 1987 viewers of the network TV channel ABC were treated to a 6-part mini-series imagining a horrific alternate reality for the United States where the country has been insidiously, but bloodlessly, overtaken by the Soviet Union. Amerika posits the country as being essentially a puppet state of Moscow, with the President and Congress mere figureheads for the Soviet regime; the population is kept under control by a UN peacekeeping force called the UNSSU, which is supposed to be multi-national but is in reality a Russian Communist military arm, which uses fear and intimidation tactics to suppress opposition. From out of this nightmare three heroes emerge: former politician Devin Mitford (Kris Kristofferson), who is released back into society after spending years in a labor camp for treason; administrator Peter Bradford (Robert Urich), who pretends to collaborate with the Soviets while working to bring down the regime from within; and Colonel Andrei Denisov (Sam Neill), a KGB agent becoming more and more disillusioned with his country’s politics. The series, which was written and directed by Donald Wrye, has been in the news of late after more than 20 years of relative obscurity, mainly due to the accusations of Russian influence in Donald Trump’s successful run for US President in 2016… this fiction couldn’t be happening in reality, could it? Read more…

LOGAN – Marco Beltrami

March 7, 2017 3 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Although it is technically a part of the Marvel X-Men franchise of comic book movies, Logan is a very different type of super hero film than anything else in recent history, dark, violent, and profane. Set in the year 2029, the film sees the mutant Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) aged, burnt out, and sick due to adamantium poisoning, eking out a meager existence as a limo driver on the Mexican border. He lives with albino mutant Caliban (Stephen Merchant), and cares for the very frail Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who is beginning to suffer from a degenerative brain disease and is prone to devastating psychic seizures. No mutant children have been born for several decades, and no-one knows why. Logan’s life is turned upside down by the arrival of a young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen), who is manifesting a mutation almost identical to Logan’s, and who is fleeing for her life from the agents of a biotech company, Transigen, and their ruthless head of security Pierce (Boyd Holbrook). Reluctantly, Logan agrees to ensure Laura safely arrives at a supposed safe haven in North Dakota, and so, with Professor Xavier in tow, the trio heads across the United States, trying to stay one step ahead of the ‘reavers’ who are hunting them. Read more…

A PLACE IN THE SUN – Franz Waxman

March 6, 2017 Leave a comment

aplaceinthesun100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The film was adapted from a 1925 novel “An American Tragedy” by Theodore Dreiser. Director George Stevens hired Michael Wilson and Harry Brown for the screenplay, and assembled a stellar cast to at last bring this tragic story to life. George Stevens (Montgomery Clift), Angela Vickers (Elizabeth Taylor) and Alice Tripp (Shelley Winters) were hired as the principles and paired with a great cast of supporting players. The film centers on George Eastman, a poor man raised by an evangelical mother, who is tragically undone by his own actions. He leaves Chicago dirt poor, determined to make a name for himself working in the company of his wealthy Uncle in California. While there he begins dating Alice, a girl he met in the plant. All seems fine until he becomes completely enamored with Angela, a drop dead gorgeous socialite whom he meets at a party. He abandons Alice without a thought and begins dating Angela. The two fall in love, yet things begin to unravel when Alice discloses to George that she is pregnant. When she threatens a public disclosure if he does not marry her, George feels cornered and so devises a plot to murder her. When the time comes to strike through a staged boat accident, his conscience prevails and he relents only to see Alice drown anyway by accident. He survives, but inexplicably fails to report her death to the authorities. As such, although innocent, circumstantial evidence and his own guilty behavior make authorities suspicious. His arrest comes just as Angela’s father grants him permission to marry his daughter. He is then tried and sentenced to death in the electric chair. Read more…

GET OUT – Michael Abels

March 3, 2017 3 comments

getoutOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Get Out, from writer-director Jordan Peele, is a horror movie with a contemporary twist, providing a different look at the genre while commenting on the all-too-contemporary issues facing young African-American men. The film stars Daniel Kaluuya as Chris, a black man who agrees to spend the weekend visiting the parents of his white girlfriend, Rose (Alison Williams). Upon arriving, he meets his potential in-laws (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener), and for a while everything seems normal in their little slice of suburban heaven, but before long Chris starts noticing strange behavior among the guests at a party, and among the hired help, and begins to feel that something is terribly, terribly wrong. The film has been praised both for its subversion of genre clichés, and for its unflinching look at racial and social issues in modern American society, with special acclaim being afforded to Peele, who one critic said has “created a work that addresses the myriad levels of racism, pays homage to some great horror films, carves out its own creative path, has a distinctive visual style – and is flat-out funny as well”. Read more…

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS – Angelo Badalamenti

March 2, 2017 1 comment

nightmareonelmstreet3THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

As a way of continuing to capitalize on the unexpected success and popularity of the first two films in the series, the producers of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise continued the story of the maniacal mass murderer Freddy Krueger in 1987’s third film, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Directed by Chuck Russell, the film stars Patricia Arquette as Kristen, a young woman who dreams of Freddy (Robert Englund), and who is subsequently sent to a psychiatric hospital when the wounds from her encounter with Freddy are mistaken for a suicide attempt. At the hospital Kristen meets her fellow patients, a doctor named Gordon (Craig Wasson), and a trainee therapist, who turns out to be Nancy (Heather Langenkamp), from the original Nightmare on Elm Street movie. Gradually the patients begin to realize that they are the surviving children of the parents who killed Freddy in real life, and that he is now trying to finish off the job. Read more…

THE GREAT WALL – Ramin Djawadi

February 28, 2017 2 comments

thegreatwallOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Great Wall is a Chinese action-fantasy movie directed by the great Zhang Yimou, the creator of such outstanding pieces of cinema as Raise the Red Lantern, Shanghai Triad, Hero, House of Flying Daggers, and Curse of the Golden Flower. It stars Matt Damon as William, a mercenary who, along with his compatriot Tovar (Pedro Pascal), finds himself in China during the 11th century searching for gunpowder. Circumstances lead the pair to a fortress along the Great Wall of China under the command of General Shao (Hanyu Zhang), Strategist Wang (Andy Lau), and acrobat-warrior Commander Lin-Mae (Tian Jing), who are preparing to do battle with the Tao-Tie, terrible creatures which attack the wall every 60 years. William and Tovar become embroiled in the desperate defense of the wall knowing that, if the Tao-Tie should breach the fortifications, all of China – and, eventually the world – would be threatened. It’s a fairly simple story which is steeped in Chinese mythology, and features some staggering action sequences, but its strength is in its visual splendor. Zhang is famous for his astonishing use of color, and The Great Wall is no exception; from the armor of the various different platoons of the Nameless Order, to the pageantry of the festivals and ceremonies, to a spectacular fight sequence in a tower made of stained glass, the whole film is a feast for the eyes which begs to be seen on the big screen. Read more…