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THE LAND BEFORE TIME – James Horner

December 6, 2018 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Land Before Time is an animated feature film for children, directed by Don Bluth and produced by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. It’s set in the late cretaceous period, and follows the adventures of a group of orphaned dinosaurs searching for a fabled oasis where there is food, water, and safety. The main character is Littlefoot, a young Apatosaurus, who along with his friends – each of whom is a different species, such as a triceratops or a pteranodon – find themselves having to escape from numerous dangers, not least of which is a deadly ‘sharptooth’ Tyrannosaurus Rex that is hunting them. The film was incredibly popular at the time, and it works on multiple levels. Firstly, it is a fun story for children, with playful characters and a friendly cartoonish animation style. However, it also has some deeper meaning, addressing issues of racism (some of the adult dinosaurs are prejudiced against different species), climate change (the dinosaurs don’t know it, but they are living through a famine that heralds the beginning of their extinction event), friendship, and family. There is also some surprisingly dark material too, including some quite intense and frightening sequences involving the Tyrannosaurus, as well as character deaths which left real emotional scars on an entire generation of kids. Amazingly, the film spawned an incredible thirteen direct-to-video sequels and even a TV series, although none of them reached the level of acclaim the original had. Read more…

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THE GRINCH – Danny Elfman

December 4, 2018 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Whenever I tell this fact to Americans they invariably look at me like I’m from Mars, but I swear I’m telling the truth: growing up as a child in England, I had never really heard of Dr Seuss. I think I might have had some passing awareness of The Cat in the Hat, but beyond that the literary canon of the rhyming Theodor Geisel remained a complete mystery to me. My childhood literary icons were Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, A. A. Milne, E. Nesbit, and people like that, and so when director Ron Howard made a feature film based on Seuss’s book How the Grinch Stole Christmas starring Jim Carrey in 2000, I went into it blind (it perhaps says something that the film was released simply as ‘The Grinch’ in UK cinemas, such was the nation’s general unfamiliarity with the character). I have since become aware of the 1966 Boris Karloff-voiced animated short film, and come to understand it’s status as a festive American television staple, and as such it is no longer surprising to me that there is now a full-length animated film based on the same story. Like the previous incarnations, it tells the tale of the eponymous mean and grumpy green creature who hates Christmas so much that he decides to ‘steal’ it by ruining the holiday for the citizens of Whoville, who live in the valley beneath his mountaintop home. Of course, in the process of ruining things, the Grinch actually comes to learn the true meaning of the season – and they all live happily ever after. The film is directed by Scott Mosier and Yarrow Cheney, and features Benedict Cumberbatch voicing the title role. Read more…

THE VIKINGS – Mario Nascimbene

December 3, 2018 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Kirk Douglas came upon the novel 1951 The Viking by Edison Marshall and thought it offered a great opportunity to showcase his talents as a leading man. His production company Bryna Productions purchased the screen rights, and he brought in Jerry Bresler to produce. He tasked veteran Richard Fleischer whom he had successfully collaborated with on 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (1954) to direct. Calder Willingham and Dale Wasserman were hired to write the screenplay, and after several incarnations, a final script was realized. To achieve his vision, Douglas insisted on authenticity and so the film was shot on location in Norway, whose harsh, damp and cold weather placed actors and crew under great duress. Douglas would play the lead role of Einar and be supported by Tony Curtis as Eric, Ernest Borgnine as Ragnar Lodbrok, Janet Leigh as Princess Morgana, James Donald as Lord Egbert, Alexander Knox as Father Goodwin, Frank Thring as King Aella of Northumbria, with narration provided by Orson Welles. Read more…

DEAD RINGERS – Howard Shore

November 29, 2018 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

As a follow-up to the massively successful and popular The Fly, Canadian director David Cronenberg chose Dead Ringers, adapted from the novel ‘Twins’ by Bari Wood and Jack Geasland, to be his next film. The film stars Jeremy Irons playing a duel role as Elliot and Beverly Mantle, identical twin brothers, both gynecologists, who run a successful medical practice in Toronto. The more charming and confident Elliot seduces women who come to him for fertility treatment, and ‘shares’ them with the more shy and introverted Beverly, without the women realizing that they are sleeping with two different men. Things change when a new patient, actress Claire Niveau (Geneviève Bujold), comes to their clinic. Claire is extremely sexually liberated, but is also addicted to prescription drugs; despite this, Beverly falls in love with her, and is shattered when she finds out about their duplicity and breaks off the relationship. Before long, Beverly’s world is crumbling in a mass of drug abuse, paranoid delusions, and horrific visions of mutated female genitalia – which causes Elliot to take drastic action to save him. Read more…

CREED II – Ludwig Göransson

November 28, 2018 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The unexpected critical and commercial success of Creed, the seventh movie in the enduring Rocky franchise that began in 1976, made a sequel inevitable. However, whereas the Rocky movies mostly got progressively worse as the series went on (who can forget Rocky’s robot butler in Rocky IV?), the two Creed movies have maintained their high quality through a combination of excellent writing, directing, acting, and emotional content, as well as some sensationally choreographed and realistic fight sequences. Michael B. Jordan continues in the title role as Adonis Creed, the son of former heavyweight champion Apollo Creed. The past comes back to haunt Adonis when Viktor Drago, the son of Ivan Drago – the man who killed his father in the ring – challenges him to a fight. To rise to the occasion, Adonis again calls on Rocky Balboa to train him – but Rocky is reluctant to get involved in the fight, fearing that the son will suffer the same fate as the father. Sylvester Stallone returns to play Rocky for the eighth time, Dolph Lundgren reprises his iconic role as Ivan, Tessa Thompson plays Adonis’s fiancée Bianca, and Romanian actor Florin Munteanu debuts as the man-mountain Viktor. The film is directed by Steven Caple Jr., taking over the reigns from Ryan Coogler, and has an original score by Ludwig Göransson. Read more…

CINEMA PARADISO – Ennio Morricone

November 26, 2018 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

As a young small town Sicilian boy, director Giuseppe Tornatore fell in love with the cinema where he would spend hours every day insatiably viewing films. With the advent of television and the VCR, many believed that the days of the town cinema were numbered. This film abounds with nostalgia as Tornatore explores his movie going memories and how they affected his life. Drawing from his own life experiences, he crafted a screenplay, which secured the financial backing of the French production company Les Films Ariane. A fine cast was assembled, which included; Philippe Noiret as Alfredo, Salvatore Cascio as Salvatore Di Vita (child), Marco Leonardo as Salvatore Di Vita (adolescent), Jacques Perrin as Salvatore Di Vita (adult), Agnese Nano as Elena Mendola (young), Leopoldo Trieste as Father Adelfio, Antonella Attili as Maria (young), Pupella Maggio as Maria (adult) and Isa Danieli as Ana. Salvatore Di Vita, aka Toto, is a precocious kid who falls in love with movies shown at his town’s theater, Cinema Paradiso. It comes to pass that he worms his way into the heart of projectionist Alfredo, who befriends him and takes him on as his apprentice. Over time Salvatore masters the projector and often runs it himself. So great is his love of movies that he buys a movie camera and begins making his own home movies. Tragedy strikes one night when the Cinema Paradiso catches fire and burns down, with Salvatore saving Alfredo’s life, but not before he is badly burned and blinded. Read more…

FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD – James Newton Howard

November 24, 2018 3 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

J. K. Rowling’s Wizarding World is expanding further beyond the confines of Harry Potter with Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the second movie in a planned series of five which looks at the life of a wizard who lived more than 60 years before Harry was even born. It builds on the events seen in the 2016 film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and follows Newt Scamander, a magical zoologist who cares for a vast array of curious creatures. Having been integral in the capturing of the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald at the end of the first film, Newt is unexpectedly called back into action again after Grindelwald escapes and flees to Paris. Responding to a personal plea from Albus Dumbledore, his former teacher at Hogwarts Wizarding School, Newt is tasked with stopping Grindelwald from amassing an army of followers – something which brings him back into contact with numerous figures from his past, including the Obscurial Credence Barebone, who was believed to have died during the events in New York, but who is rumored to have survived . The film stars Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Johnny Depp, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, and Ezra Miller, and is directed by David Yates; this is now the sixth ‘Wizarding Film’ Yates has helmed. Read more…