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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…

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COLD PURSUIT – George Fenton

February 19, 2019 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In the late 1990s – which, to my shock and dismay, is now almost 20 years ago – I truly thought George Fenton was on the verge of becoming one of the truly great Hollywood A-lister composers. He had already picked up a handful of Oscar nominations for scores like Gandhi and Cry Freedom, Dangerous Liaisons and The Fisher King; he scored a string of popular successes, like Groundhog Day, Final Analysis, and You’ve Got Mail; and then he unleashed a 1-2-3 punch of magnificent romantic drama scores with Ever After, Dangerous Beauty, and Anna and the King at the very end of the millennium. This, coupled with his small-screen success scoring acclaimed nature documentaries for the BBC such as Blue Planet, seemed to indicate that he would be a major player for years to come. However, inexplicably, and despite and occasional sporadic box office hit, the prestige assignments began to dry up. He is still working, of course, but the level of acclaim and visibility he once enjoyed has diminished enormously, and I am at a loss to explain why, because he clearly still has the talent and creativity he always had. 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…

RAIN MAN – Hans Zimmer

February 14, 2019 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There is a great serendipity in how Hans Zimmer became the film music megastar he is. Back in 1985 Zimmer co-scored the film My Beautiful Launderette with his mentor, Stanley Myers, when he was still a fresh-faced youngster working in London. That film was produced by Sarah Radclyffe, the co-founder of Working Title Pictures, who in 1988 produced A World Apart, the directorial debut feature of acclaimed cinematographer Chris Menges. That film was the first significant solo project of Zimmer’s career, and it just so happens that the film was seen by Diana Rhodes, the wife of director Barry Levinson, just as Levinson was working on his latest film, Rain Man. Rhodes recommended Zimmer to Levinson, and Zimmer received what he now refers to as ‘the call,’ which secured him the job, took him to Los Angeles, and utterly changed his life. Read more…

IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK – Nicholas Britell

February 12, 2019 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

If Beale Street Could Talk is the latest film from critically acclaimed director Barry Jenkins, whose previous effort Moonlight was the winner of the Best Picture Academy Award in 2016. The film is adapted from the novel by James Baldwin, and is a romantic drama charting the relationship between an African-American couple, Fonny and Tish, in New York in the 1970s. At its heart it is the story of two people deeply in love, and how that love endures despite all manner of difficulties – notably the casual racism towards black people in that era, the systemic corruption of the criminal justice system, and their own familial problems. Specifically, as it relates to Tish and Fonny, the core issue is the impending birth of their child, and how Fonny’s arrest for a crime he did not commit affects Tish and the rest of the family on the outside. The film stars Kiki Layne and Stephan James as the protagonist couple, and Regina King in a critically acclaimed supporting role as Tish’s mother. Read more…

BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA – Wojciech Kilar

February 11, 2019 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The genesis of the film lay with actress Winona Ryder, who wished to make amends with director Francis Ford Coppola after her late withdrawal from The Godfather Part III. She brought him a script written by James V. Hart, which provided an adaptation of the famous 1897 novel Dracula by Irish author Bram Stoker. Coppola was intrigued by the sensuality and eroticism of Hart’s retelling and immediately moved forward to bring it to the big screen. He would produce the film with Fred Fuchs and Charles Mulvehill using his own production company of American Zoetrope. Coppola had an uncompromising conception of the film and went to great lengths to create his cinematic vision. Indeed, the film shattered the traditional mythos and caricature of the black caped Dracula with a new, stylish, and significantly more erotic rendering. He assembled a fine, but controversial cast with Gary Oldman playing the titular role. Supporting him would be Winona Ryder as Mina, Anthony Hopkins as Professor Abraham Van Helsing, Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker, Richard E. Grant as Dr. Jack Seward, Cary Elwes as Lord Arthur Holmwood, Billy Campbell as Quincy Morris, Tom Waits as Renfield, and Sadie Frost as Lucy Westenra. Read more…

RAISE THE RED LANTERN – Zhao Jiping

February 4, 2019 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Following the enormous international critical success of his film Ju Dou in 1990, director Zhang Yimou sought a new collaboration with its beautiful star Gong Li. He was intrigued by the 1990 novel Wives and Concubines by Su Tong, and hired screenwriter Ni Zhen to adapt it to the big screen. Zhang’s vision was to provide a stunning visual beauty, which bathed the viewer with crimson auras, graced with Gong Li as the film’s focal point. He submitted the finished screenplay, entitled Dahong Denglong Gaogao Gua or Raise the Red Lantern, to Chinese censors, which gave the project the green light without edits. Zhang proceeded to assemble a splendid cast anchored by the gorgeous Gong Li as Fourth Mistress Songlian, and who, after this film, would rise to become China’s leading film star. The film is set during the Warlord era of China, circa 1920. Songlian is an intelligent nineteen-year-old young woman pursuing a college education. It comes to pass that her life dreams are derailed when her father dies unexpectedly, leaving a bankrupt estate. To avoid liquidation of the family estate, Songlian is sold off by her stepmother to a wealthy land lord to become his fourth wife. While her initial reception by her much older husband is lavish, she soon discovers the grim realities of her gilded cage existence. Each night the Lord would order a red lantern hung in front of the enclosure of the wife he is honoring with his company. What Songlian discovers is intrigue, born of a fierce and toxic competition for Master Chen’s time and affection. The winner was rewarded with a foot massage, the decision of the next day’s meal menu, as well as enhanced status, attention and respect from the servants. When Songlian feigns pregnancy to gain Master Chen’s favor, she is betrayed by her handmaiden Yan’er and Second Mistress Zhuoyun, which results in her disgrace, and denial of the red lantern. Sadly, over time, her isolation and lack of fulfillment leads to despair and ultimately, madness. Read more…