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BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY – John Williams

December 26, 2019 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In the late 1970s and 1980s a number of prominent American filmmakers took it upon themselves to take a long, hard look at the political and social ramifications of the country’s involvement in the Vietnam War. American involvement in the conflict began in the early 1960s, and lasted until the fall of Saigon in 1975, resulting in the deaths of more than 50,000 American military personnel, and hundreds of thousands more wounded. Chief among those filmmakers was Oliver Stone, who was himself a Vietnam vet. His 1986 film Platoon took a harrowing look at the war from the point of view of the men serving on the front lines, and he won Best Picture and Best Director Academy Awards for his trouble. Born on the Fourth of July, which was released in December 1989, took an equally harrowing look at what happened to those men when they finally came home. Read more…

STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER – John Williams

December 23, 2019 7 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 you’re a critic or reviewer, you often get accused of being biased, especially when you write a review that is contrary to the opinion of the accuser. And, of course, this is true. It’s impossible to remove bias from any opinion because your biases inform your feelings and your reactions to whatever it is you’re expressing an opinion about. Your bias comes from your life experience, your culture, your personality, and your taste: effectively, it’s the sum of who you are. For me, a piece of critical writing without bias is pointless because then you’re never actually sharing your point of view – in effect, you’re just describing something, and never describing how it makes you feel, and most importantly why. All art should make you feel something, good or bad, because otherwise what’s the point of art? Over time, a critic’s biases will become a clear and important part of what they write, and the reader, if they invest enough time into learning them, will be able to weigh those subjective biases against more objective standards, and tell whether or not the end result meshes with their own opinions, and their own biases. So, from the point of view of this review it’s important to point out that I am biased, heavily, to have a positive view of Star Wars. Read more…

INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE – John Williams

June 20, 2019 2 comments

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The third movie in director Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones series was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and whereas 1984’s Temple of Doom was a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark, Last Crusade was a direct sequel, set just two years later in 1938. Harrison Ford returns as the titular archaeologist-adventurer, who is sent off on a globe-trotting escapade when he receives news from American billionaire Walter Donovan (Julian Glover) that his long-estranged father Henry Jones (Sean Connery) has gone missing while searching for the holy grail. Jones teams up with his old friends and colleagues Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott) and Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) on the quest to find his father, and quickly becomes embroiled in a vast labyrinthine plot involving ancient myths and legends, a brotherhood of religious warriors, way too many Nazis, and a beautiful Austrian art professor named Elsa Schneider (Alison Doody) to whom there is more than meets the eye. The whole thing is a delight from start to finish, with several wonderfully exciting action set pieces, and beautiful location settings, but the cornerstone of the film is the father-and-son chemistry between Ford and Connery, whose outward gruffness and constant bickering masks a deep love and affection. Whereas Ford is an all-action matinee idol hero, Connery is a slightly bumbling academic, more at home with books and libraries than punching Nazis in the face, but who is still able to make his son feel like a 12-year old when he calls him ‘junior’. Read more…

JURASSIC PARK – John Williams

February 25, 2019 2 comments

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Steven Spielberg became aware of Michael Crichton’s novel Jurassic Park as the two collaborated on the television series E.R. A bidding war for the rights ensued, with Spielberg and Universal Pictures prevailing over Warner Brothers and Tim Burton, Columbia Pictures and Richard Donner, James Cameron and Joe Dante. Kathleen Kennedy and Gerald Molen would produce the film with Spielberg directing. Spielberg understood the challenges he faced bring the dinosaurs to life and sought at all costs to not repeat the technical nightmare he experienced in Jaws. He turned to George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic Company to create groundbreaking computer –generated imagery and ended up making history. Crichton was hired to adapt his novel to the screen but Spielberg was unsatisfied with the violence. Malia Scotch Marmo was tasked with the rewrite in late 1991, but she also did not satisfy Spielberg’s vision. Universal executives brought in Casey Silver and David Koepp who ultimately crafted the script used in the film. A fine cast was assembled with Sam Neill securing the role of Alan Grant after William Hurt and Harrison Ford both declined. Joining him would be Laura Dern as Ellie Sattler, Jeff Goldblum as Ian Malcolm, Richard Attenborough as John Hammond, Bob Peck as Robert Muldoon, Samuel Jackson as Ray Arnold, B.D. Wong as Henry Wu, and Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello as Hammond’s niece and nephew Lex and Tim. Read more…

THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST – John Williams

February 22, 2019 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Accidental Tourist is a romantic drama film directed by Lawrence Kasdan, adapted from the acclaimed novel by Anne Tyler. It stars William Hurt as Macon Leary, an introverted travel writer whose relationship with his wife Sarah (Kathleen Turner) begins to break down after the death of their son. Sarah eventually leaves him and moves out, pending a divorce, and when Macon breaks his leg after tripping over his disobedient dog and falling down the stairs, he moves back into his childhood home with his eccentric siblings to recuperate. After a while, Macon hires the quirky Muriel Pritchett (Geena Davis) as a dog obedience trainer; despite the enormous differences in their personalities, a spark of attraction develops between the two, and they begin a relationship. However, Macon’s new life is thrown into turmoil when Sarah returns, wanting to re-kindle their marriage, forcing Macon to make some difficult decisions. The film was an enormous critical success, earning Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, and winning Geena Davis an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Read more…

SCHINDLER’S LIST – John Williams

February 18, 2019 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The genesis of Schindler’s List lay with holocaust survivor Leopold Pfefferberg, whose tale of Oskar Schindler inspired Thomas Keneally to write his Booker Prize winning novel, Schindler’s Ark, in 1982. It came to pass that studio president Sid Sheinberg saw opportunity in the story and mailed Steven Spielberg a review of the book by the New York Times. Spielberg was deeply moved by the narrative and secured financial backing from Universal Pictures, which purchased the screen rights. Yet the then 37-year-old hesitated and ultimately delayed production ten years as he felt himself too young to take on the pathos of the Holocaust. When the time eventually came to begin production, he tasked Steven Zaillian with writing the screenplay, and the struggled to hire a director, soliciting several including Roman Polanski, Sydney Pollack, Billy Wilder and Martin Scorsese. Ultimately Spielberg took Wilder’s counsel to direct the film himself. For the cast he brought in an outstanding ensemble, which included Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler, Ben Kingsley as Itzhak Stern, Ralph Fiennes as Captain Amon Göth, Caroline Goodall as Emilie Schindler, Jonathan Sagalle as Poldek Pfefferberg, and Embeth Davidtz as Helen Hirsch. Read more…

E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL – John Williams

July 30, 2018 2 comments

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Steven Spielberg, like most kids, suffered with the divorce of his parents. He was 14, and to cope with his circumstances, he created an imaginary alien friend, who became a surrogate brother. Over time this evolved into a story, which his sought to film called “Growing Up”. After the success of Raiders of The Lost Ark, he returned to fashioning his childhood story, which would now incorporate elements from another story he had written called “Night Skies,” where aliens terrorize a family. He brought in screenwriter to Melissa Mathison to craft a story of a special needs child bonding with a friendly alien. The result was a story to be called “E.T. and Me,” which Spielberg pitched to Columbia Studios. Remarkably they rejected the project, believing that it would only appeal to small kids. Well, Spielberg was undeterred, and approached Sid Sheinberg of MCA, who saw the success of Raiders of the Lost Ark, and agreed to fund the project. They bought back the script from Columbia Pictures for $1 million dollars and granted 5% of the film’s net profits. Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy would produce the film, with Spielberg also directing. For his creative team, he brought in Carlo Rambaldi, who had created the aliens seen in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The story required Spielberg to cast child actors, and he screened hundreds. His patience and hard effort paid off as he managed to secure a perfect cast, which included; Henry Thomas as Elliot, Drew Barrymore as Gertie, Dee Wallace as Mary, Peter Coyote as Keys, and Robert MacNaughton as Michael. Read more…