PAN TADEUSZ – Wojciech Kilar

May 6, 2019 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Poland had a decade earlier thrown off the foreign shackles of Russian domination, yet the country was struggling to regain its identity, and find its place in the world. Against this backdrop, the great Polish director Andrrzej Wajda conceived for his next project a grand tale based on Adam Mickiewicz’s epic 1834 poem Pan Tadeusz. The poem is considered by Poles to be the greatest achievement in Polish literature and by most professors of literature to be the last epic poem in European literature. Wajda describes it as “a great story that focuses on our national characteristics. The Poles in Pan Tadeusz are the same as we are now: sometimes wise, sometimes stupid. It’s basically a picture of how we are now and allows us to look at ourselves and see who we are and where we’re going.” Wajda pitched his idea to several studios and secured funding from a conglomerate of twelve companies. He would direct and write the screenplay, and Lew Rywin would produce. A fine cast was assembled, which included; Boguslaw Linda as Jacek Soplica/Father Robak, Michal Zebrowski as Tadeusz Soplica, Alicia Bachleda-Curus as Zosia Horeszko, Grazyna Szapolowska as Telimena, Andrzej Seweryn as Judge Soplica, and Marek Kondrat as Count Horeszko. Read more…

FIELD OF DREAMS – James Horner

May 2, 2019 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Field of Dreams is a film about baseball, but it’s also about much, much more than that. It’s a film about regret, about missed opportunities, about the relationships we allow to fritter away through petty disagreements and neglect. It’s a film about life, about how the ambitions we had in our youth turn into something completely different in adulthood, and how we deal with that change. It’s a film about hope, about how each of us longs to re-capture that innocence and optimism we once had, and the things we will do to get it. And it’s a film about reconciliation, coming to terms with the mistakes we have made, and making things right. The film is written and directed by Phil Alden Robinson, based on the novel ‘Shoeless Joe’ by W. P. Kinsella; it stars Kevin Costner as Ray, a corn farmer who lives in Iowa with his wife Annie (Amy Madigan), and their young daughter Karen (Gaby Hoffmann), on the property that his late father left him. Ray had been estranged from his father for many years before he died, and the legacy of that relationship weighs heavily upon him. One day, while out in the cornfield, Ray hears a spectral voice whispering the words ‘if you build it, he will come,’ and he is subsequently inspired to build a full-size baseball diamond on his property. This event sends Ray off on a voyage of personal self-discovery involving Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) and the ghosts of the disgraced 1919 Chicago White Sox team, a reclusive political author (James Earl Jones), and a beloved country doctor (Burt Lancaster) who played just a single game in the major leagues for the New York Giants in 1922. Read more…

AVENGERS: ENDGAME – Alan Silvestri

April 30, 2019 6 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.

When Marvel and Paramount Pictures made and released the movie Iron Man in the spring of 2008, I doubt anyone involved had any inkling of what would occur over the course of the next 11 years. To put it bluntly, Marvel and its controlling executive Kevin Feige revolutionized the movies, not only in terms of technical advancement, but in how movies are made and released. Over the course of the next decade the Marvel Cinematic Universe expanded into an interlocking series of 22 movies, most of which reference back to one another, and which follow a group of super-heroes as they defend the Earth from various threats, foreign, domestic, and inter-galactic. There have been hundreds of articles written about what this has done to the very nature of cinema, how potential ‘expanded universes’ are now designed into the development of every new franchise, and whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. I’m not going to go into this here – but I will say this: I doubt I will ever see a storytelling effort more ambitious than this in my lifetime. The combined Marvel movies have grossed more than $18 billion worldwide, and this final one – Avengers: Endgame – looks poised to be the biggest of them all. Read more…

THE RED VIOLIN – John Corigliano

April 29, 2019 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director Francois Girard had long desired to make a film, which centered on music, and became inspired by the story of one of Antonio Stradivari’s most famous creations – the 1721 Red Mendelssohn, a violin which featured a unique red coloring on its top right side. He hired Don McKellar to write the screenplay and was very happy with the final script. However, he soon had the sober realization of the magnitude and extent of challenges posed by the project; the story stretches over three centuries, from 1681 to 1997, and is set in five different countries, with five different set of actors, each with a different language. He was unable to broker financing from American studios as they would not agree to a film with sub-titles of five different languages. Undeterred, he eventually secured backing from the Canadian firm Rhombus Media. Casting was a challenge as five ensembles needed to be hired one for each of the film’s vignettes. For Cremona 1681 he cast Carlo Cecchi as Nicolò Bussotti and Irene Grazioli as Anna Rudolfi Bussotti. For Vienna 1793 he cast Jean-Luc Bideau as Georges Poussin. For Oxford in the late 1890s he cast Jason Flemyng as Frederick Pope. For Shanghai in the late 1960s he cast Sylvia Chang as Xiang Pei. For Montreal 1997 he cast Samuel L. Jackson as Charles Morritz, Colm Feore as the Auctioneer, and Don McKellar as Evan Williams. This unique story traces the creation of a legendary violin, its lore portended by a fateful tarot card reading, which dooms all that possess it to tragedy. Five vignettes trace its travels and ownership through time, with death, and misfortune coming to all who possess it. The Red Violin was not a commercial success, earning only $10 million, which was insufficient to cover its $14 million production costs. Critical reception was mixed, and the film received one Academy Award nomination, which secured the win – Best Film Score. Read more…

THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT – Joe Kraemer

April 26, 2019 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In 2015, in my review of the score for Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, I wrote the following paragraph about composer Joe Kraemer. “New York-born Kraemer first came onto the film music scene in 2000 as a 29-year old, scoring Christopher McQuarrie’s directorial debut, The Way of the Gun. Kraemer’s score for that film was so good, that he was immediately tipped to be the next ‘hot young composer’ in Hollywood, but instead Kraemer essentially disappeared for a decade, and by 2010 was getting by scoring low-budget straight-to-DVD action movies and the soft-core anthology series Femme Fatales for Cinemax. Then, in 2012, McQuarrie directed a second film, Jack Reacher, and to everyone’s surprise and delight Kraemer scored that film. The score for Jack Reacher was so good that everyone thought “finally, Kraemer’s career is back on track” … except, of course, Kraemer promptly disappeared again for another three years. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is Kraemer’s third go-around at establishing himself as a major composer, and I hope beyond hope that it works this time, and that directors other than Christopher McQuarrie realize what a gem we have in him. Kraemer is too talented to be languishing on the sidelines, and I don’t want to have to type another version of this paragraph again in 2019.” Read more…

THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN – Michael Kamen

April 25, 2019 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The fictional German aristocrat Baron Hieronymus Karl Friedrich Freiherr von Munchausen was created in 1785 as a conduit for author Rudolf-Erich Raspe’s fanciful tales of absurdity and social and political satire. Munchausen had been a familiar name in literary circles for more than 200 years before writer-director and former Monty Python member Terry Gilliam embarked on making a film based on the ‘life’ of the Baron. A lavish and almost cartoonishly flamboyant adventure, the film stars John Neville as the elderly Baron, who interrupts a play based on his own life in order to correct the details. Munchausen regales the rapt audience with recollections of his astonishing life, during which he fought in a war against the Turks, traveled to the moon in a hot air balloon, was swallowed by an enormous sea creature, and much more besides – but by the end of the story many of the audience members are questioning whether the far-fetched tales really have any basis in reality. The film co-starred Eric Idle, Sarah Polley, Oliver Reed, Uma Thurman, Jonathan Pryce, and Robin Williams, and was the third of Gilliam’s Imagination trilogy of films that also included Time Bandits and Brazil, and which were intended to explore the ‘battle between fantasy and what people perceive as reality’. Unfortunately the film was a commercial disaster, grossing less than $10 million at the box office, although its visual elements were praised and received Academy Award nominations for Art Direction, Costume Design, Visual Effects, and Makeup. Read more…

DUMBO – Danny Elfman

April 23, 2019 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The recent Disney trend of making live-action versions of their animated classics continues with Dumbo, a re-imagined version of their 1941 film about a baby elephant with ears so big that he can use them to fly. The original Dumbo was short – just over an hour – and so director Tim Burton and screenwriter Ehren Kruger had to flesh out some additional material to make it feature length. The basic core of the story is the same – a young baby elephant is born in a traveling circus and is ridiculed by crowds for his enormous ears, until he wins over audiences with his ability to fly – but it adds a great deal of depth and back story to the supporting human characters, including the good-hearted elephant keeper Holt (Colin Farrell), circus owner Medici (Danny De Vito), trapeze artist Colette (Eva Green), and unscrupulous businessman Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who wants to take over Medici’s circus for his own nefarious purposes. Interestingly, the new film excises several of the original film’s plot points entirely, including Dumbo’s relationship with the anthropomorphic ringmaster mouse Timothy, and Dumbo’s encounter with the ‘Jim crows,’ although the latter is probably a good thing due to the overtly racist overtones of those characters. Read more…