RED SPARROW – James Newton Howard

March 6, 2018 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A cold war-style espionage thriller with a decidedly contemporary twist, Red Sparrow is a showcase of acting for Jennifer Lawrence. In it she plays Dominika Egorova, a prima ballerina with the Kirov in Moscow, dancing in order to provide for her sick mother. When an on-stage accident ends her performance career, and it becomes likely that her mother’s life-saving treatments will end, Dominika is recruited to a secret espionage organization within the Russian government that trains young men and women to be ‘sparrows’ – deep cover operatives highly skilled at physical and emotional manipulation, with an emphasis on sex. Before long, Dominika is sent to make contact with a CIA agent who has a source within the Russian government; her mission – to get close to the agent, and discover the identity of the mole. The film is directed by Francis Lawrence, who directed Jennifer in three Hunger Games movies, and is adapted from a popular novel by Jason Matthews; it co-stars Joel Edgerton, Jeremy Irons, Charlotte Rampling, and Matthias Schoenaerts, and has an original score by James Newton Howard. Read more…



March 5, 2018 3 comments


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer Joe Levine had a contract with Peter O’Toole and was looking for a film to again showcase his talent. He found the vehicle in the Broadway play “The Lion In Winter” by James Goldman that offered dramatic dialogue, which would play to O’Toole’s thespian strengths. Anthony Harvey was brought in to direct the film and they hired an amazing cast to support Peter O’Toole (King Henry II), which included Katherine Hepburn (Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine), their three sons, Anthony Hopkins (Richard), John Castle (Geoffrey), and Nigel Terry (John). Also joining was Jane Morrow (Henry’s mistress Alais) and Timothy Dalton (King Philip II of France). Hopkins and Dalton were both making their screen acting debuts. Read more…

Academy Award Winners 2017

March 4, 2018 Leave a comment

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) have announced the winners of the 90th Academy Awards, honoring the best in film in 2017.

In the Best Original Score category composer Alexandre Desplat won the award for his score for director Guillermo del Toro’s romantic fantasy film The Shape of Water. In accepting his award, Desplat said:

Merci, c’est fantastique. I‘m very grateful to the Academy. My mother is also turning 90 this year so I think she’ll be very happy tonight! Yes, she’s Greek, by the way! Now, Guillermo, thank you, you know, thank you for the letting the music be the voice of your characters and convey the beautiful melancholy of love. That’s for you. I wish to thank Miles Dale, Fox Searchlight, and the music department at Fox. All the musicians who played on the score and those downstairs here, and I wish to thank queen Renee Fleming, Laura Engel, Ray Costa, my friend Katz, and Solrey you elevate my music, everything I write by your musical genius, thank you, but this is not for you, it’s for our daughters Ninou and Antonia. Thank you!

The other nominees were Carter Burwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, Jonny Greenwood for Phantom Thread, John Williams for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Hans Zimmer for Dunkirk.

In the Best Original Song category, the winners were Kristin Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez their song “Remember Me” from Coco.

The other nominees were Mary J. Blige, Raphael Saadiq, and Taura Stinson for “Mighty River” from Mudbound; Benj Pasek and Justin Paul for “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman; Sufjan Stevens for “Mystery of Love” from Call Me By Your Name; and Diane Warren and Lonnie Lynn Jr. (Common) for “Stand Up For Something” from Marshall.

EMPIRE OF THE SUN – John Williams

March 1, 2018 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

By the end of 1986, Steven Spielberg was probably the most famous and financially successful director in Hollywood. However, although he had directed a handful of the highest grossing films of all time – Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E. T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom –he privately expressed a desire to make more serious films. The comparative failure of The Color Purple in 1985 just magnified that desire, so in 1987 he decided to try again, by making a movie based on J. G. Ballard’s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel Empire of the Sun. The film starred the then 13-year-old Christian Bale as Jim Graham, an upper class English schoolboy living with his diplomat parents in Shanghai in 1941, whose life is shattered by the outbreak of World War II, and who ends up desperately trying to survive in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. Unfortunately for Spielberg, the film – which also starred John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson, and Nigel Havers – did not ignite the passions of audiences like his popcorn blockbusters did, and it was only a moderate critical and commercial success; Spielberg would have to wait another five years for his breakthrough into cinematic respectability with Schindler’s List in 1993. In addition, the film was largely overlooked at the Academy Awards, receiving only six technical nominations, but not winning any. Read more…

ANNIHILATION – Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow

February 28, 2018 2 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Annihilation is an ambitious and intelligent sci-fi action-drama based on the series of Southern Reach novels by author Jeff Vander Meer. The film stars Natalie Portman as Lena, a biologist and former soldier, who is recruited by a secret US military science organization, and becomes part of a team sent to investigate ‘the shimmer,’ a mysterious phenomenon that has appeared in the Florida Everglades. Once inside the quarantined shimmer zone, Lena and her all-female team – psychologist Ventress, medic Anya, physicist Josie, and geologist Sheppard – begin to search for the source of the phenomenon, and encounter all manner of unusual animals and plants along the way. However, unknown to the other members of the group, Lena also has a secondary mission of her own: to find out what happened to her husband Kane, who was part of a previous team sent into the Shimmer, and which never returned. The film co-stars Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny, and Oscar Isaac, and was directed by Alex Garland. Read more…

PLANET OF THE APES – Jerry Goldsmith

February 26, 2018 2 comments


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer Arthur P. Jacobs sold 20th Century Fox on a bold new effort to reinvigorate the science fiction genre, which had languished since the start of the decade. The vehicle for the genre resurrection would be Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel La Planète des Singes (Planet of the Apes). After securing the film rights Rod Serling and Michael Wilson were tasked with writing the screenplay. The technical challenges of the required prosthetic make-up delayed the film for quite some time. Fox Studios finally gave the green light to film when make-up designer John Chambers developed prosthetics flexible enough for the actors to express facial emotions. Jacobs had always seen Charlton Heston playing the lead role of John Taylor and on his request, Franklin Schaffner was hired to direct. A fine cast was assembled, which included Roddy McDowell as Cornelius, Kim Hunter as Zira, Maurice Evans as Dr. Zaius, James Daly as Honorius, Lou Wagner as Lucius, and Linda Harrison as Nova. Read more…


February 23, 2018 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Following it’s publication in 2011, the novel Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James became a literary phenomenon. Originally a self-published and sex-filled piece of Twilight fan fiction, it eventually morphed into an original story that followed the relationship between mousy college student Anastasia Steele and enigmatic billionaire Christian Grey, who is an enthusiastic practitioner of bondage, dominance, and sadomasochism. The book and its two sequels topped best-seller lists around the world, with the first story selling over 125 million copies worldwide. Films inevitably followed; Fifty Shades of Grey premiered in 2015, the first sequel Fifty Shades Darker came along in 2017, and now we have this third and final installment, Fifty Shades Freed. James Foley returns to the director’s chair for the second time, and Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan reprise their roles as Ana and Christian. Read more…