THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY – Alexandra Harwood

June 5, 2018 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the things the British do very well is make old fashioned romantic dramas. There have been dozens of them over the years, often with oddball titles, starring young starlets in period dress, who are swept off their feet by a dashing chap who is invariably coming back from, or heading off to, a war. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is one of those films; it’s adapted from a popular novel by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, and is directed by Mike Newell, who is an old hand at this sort of thing. It stars Lily James as Juliet, a successful author in post-war London who takes up an offer to visit Guernsey – an island in the English Channel – after she receives a letter from the titular society, inviting her to speak. Upon arrival, Juliet soon becomes involved in a romance with a handsome and rugged farmer (Michael Huisman), despite being engaged to an American GI back in the London, while simultaneously getting drawn into a mystery involving the disappearance of a young girl named Elizabeth years previously. The reason this is especially noteworthy is because Guernsey was one of the only places in the UK occupied by Nazi forces during World War II, and Elizabeth disappeared at the height of the occupation. Read more…

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SUPERMAN – John Williams

June 4, 2018 2 comments

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1973 producers Ilya Salkind and Pierre Spengler believed it was time to bring a classic super hero to the big screen. After protracted negotiations with DC Comics, they secured film rights to produce two Superman movies, which they would shoot back to back. A number of screenwriters were hired and let go before until a team comprised of Mario Puzo, David Newman, Leslie Newman and Robert Benton took up the project. Yet Salkind and Spengler were still not satisfied and so hired Tom Mankiewiicz to do the final rewrite, which was completed in July 1976. Thematic for the film was taking the long and tortuous road to hire a director and cast. Richard Donner finally won out over nine other directors. As for the titular role, almost all of the leading men of the day were either turned down, or showed no interest. As such, Spengler decided to cast an unknown, and after over 200 auditions, newcomer Christopher Reeve won the part – bu it was felt he was too skinny. Rather than wear a muscle suit, Reeve went on a weight-lifting regimen, adding a massive 24 pounds of muscle. Joining the cast would be Marlon Brando as Jor-El, Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor, Ned Beatty as Otis, Jackie Cooper as Perry White, Glenn Ford as Jonathan Kent, Phyllis Thaxter as Martha Kent, Margot Kidder as Lois Lane, and Valerie Perrine as Eve Teschmacher. Read more…

RAMBO III – Jerry Goldsmith

May 31, 2018 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Sylvester Stallone’s position as one of the decade’s most bankable Hollywood stars continued in 1988 with Rambo III, the third film about the exploits of John Rambo, a bitter and damaged Vietnam-era Special Forces veteran who keeps getting dragged back into war zones no matter how much he tries to live a quiet life. Directed by Peter MacDonald and written by Stallone himself with Sheldon Lettitch, Rambo III begins with Rambo being visited by his old army colonel Sam Trautman (Richard Crenna), who tries to recruit him for a covert special ops mission to bring weapons to mujahedeen freedom fighters battling the Soviets in Afghanistan. Rambo refuses, but is eventually drawn into the conflict anyway weeks later when he learns that the mission was a disaster, and Trautman is now being held captive by a the sadistic Soviet colonel Alexei Zaysen (Marc de Jonge). Vowing to rescue his friend and bring him home, Rambo travels to the region alone, intending to wage a one-man war on the kidnappers. Read more…

SOLO – John Powell

May 29, 2018 4 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS PLOT SPOILERS. IF YOU HAVE NOT YET SEEN THE FILM, YOU MIGHT WANT TO CONSIDER WAITING UNTIL AFTER YOU HAVE DONE SO TO READ IT.

In the years since Disney bought the rights to Lucasfilm from Twentieth Century Fox, the Star Wars universe has grown exponentially. Not only have we had two films in the official sequel trilogy – The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi – but a number of side projects have also been greenlit, all expanding on the history and mythology of the franchise. The first of those ‘Star Wars stories’ was Rogue One in 2016, which looked at the events of how the Rebel Alliance came to possess the plans to the original Death Star, and eventually came to be seen as an immediate prequel to the first 1977 movie. Further movies are in development, including ones which would explore the origins of characters such as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Lando Calrissian, and Boba Fett. But, before all that, we have this movie: Solo, which looks at the early life of everyone’s favorite scoundrel and scruffy-looking nerf herder. The basic story of Han Solo’s life have long been known: he was an orphan and petty criminal on his home planet, Corellia, and eventually became an intergalactic smuggler, picking up a partner in the shape of the wookiee Chewbacca, and a ship in the shape of the Millennium Falcon, along the way – winning the latter in a card game from fellow smuggler and handsome playboy Lando Calrissian. What Solo does is look at the detail: his life on Corellia, the people he knew there at the time, how he first meets Chewbacca, how he acquires the Falcon, and what adventures he embarks up on during those first journeys among the stars. Read more…

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND – John Williams

May 28, 2018 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Since his youth, Steven Spielberg had aspired to create a feature length science fiction film. His 1970 short story Experiences was his initial conception, which explored teenagers witnessing a wondrous “meteor shower light show” in the night sky. He pitched his idea and secured backing from Columbia Studios to proceed with “Watch the Skies”. Rewrites caused delays, and it was decided that he proceed with another project first, “Jaws”. The enormous financial success of “Jaws” resulted in Columbia Studios granting him significant creative control, which allowed for the development of the science fiction film he had always dreamed of. The script was written by Spielberg, but had input and additional refinements by several screenwriters. The title was changed to its final form as a derivation of ufologist J. Allen Hynek’s classification methodology for “close encounters”. Spielberg assembled a fine cast anchored by “Jaws” star Richard Dreyfuss as Roy Neary, Francois Truffault as Claude Lacombe, Melinda Dillon as Jillian Guiler, Teri Garr as Veronica Neary, and Cary Guffey as Barry Guiler. Read more…

THE MIRACLE SEASON – Roque Baños

May 25, 2018 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The very curious American phenomenon of turning schoolchildren into sporting heroes has resulted in some fine films, but the whole concept is still somewhat alien to me. When I was growing up in the UK, there were (more or less) three team sports which dominated the national consciousness: football/soccer, cricket, and rugby. Of those, soccer is really the only equivalent sport which Brits follow with a level of passionate interest that is similar to the way Americans follow their big four sports here – American football, basketball, baseball, and ice hockey. Some of you may be interested to learn that I played ‘high school soccer,’ both at ymy school, Newfield, and for my boy scout team, St. Paul’s, and knowing that American readers may now be imagining that I played in front of crowds of hundreds, possibly thousands, in the same way that ‘high school football’ or ‘high school basketball’ players do in the States. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Despite the almost religious zeal with which people in the UK follow professional sports, their college and high school equivalents mean absolutely nothing – no one watches, and no one cares, because we are children, simply getting a bit of exercise and having some fun playing an organized sport, and are viewed as such. We don’t make the news. We don’t sign multi-million dollar contracts at age 14. We’re kids. The biggest crowd I played in front of was probably 30 people, most of whom were the parents of players. It is for this reason that films like The Miracle Season still feel slightly ridiculous to me. Read more…

WILLOW – James Horner

May 24, 2018 2 comments

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Willow is a high fantasy film, which takes well-loved genre tropes from Lord of the Rings and elsewhere, and casts them in an adventure filled with magic, monsters, evil queens, beautiful princesses, soaring romance, daring sword fights, and much much more. Written by Bob Dolman from a story by George Lucas, and directed by Ron Howard, Willow is the story of a newborn baby prophesized to bring about the downfall of the evil witch Queen Bavmorda; to prevent the prophecy from coming to pass Bavmorda imprisons all expectant mothers, but after it is born, the baby is smuggled out of Bavmorda’s castle by a midwife, and eventually finds its way into the hands of Willow Ufgood, a Nelwyn (dwarf) farmer and aspiring magician. Determined to protect the baby, Willow journeys far from his home, and eventually finds himself in the company of a roguish swordfighter named Madmartigan, the good witch Fin Raziel, and a pair of mischievous woodland sprites. As the story progresses they all become involved in a large scale war between Bavmorda’s army and those who oppose her, while Bavmorda’s daughter Sorsha and the fearsome General Kael continue to hunt for the baby. The film stars Warwick Davis, Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley, and Jean Marsh, and has a spectacular original score by James Horner. Read more…