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Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Newman’

TOLKIEN – Thomas Newman

May 14, 2019 3 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The great English author John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, who was born in 1892 and died in 1973, is generally regarded as being the author who popularized the high fantasy genre in literature, via his classic novels The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. Although the stories themselves are now part of our established cultural lexicon – thanks in no small part to Peter Jackson’s films – the life of Tolkien himself is not especially well known. Director Dome Karukoski’s film, which stars Nicholas Hoult as Tolkien, seeks to address that, and in so doing explore how his life experiences shaped his literary output. The film is set mostly in World War I, specifically the Battle of the Somme, where Tolkien served as a second lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers. Tolkien spent much of the war ill as a result of the terrible conditions in the trenches, and as he recovers the film reveals his life in flashback: the death of his mother, him growing up in an orphanage (where he meets his future wife Edith), his school days in Birmingham, the formation of the Tea Club and Barrovian Society (a group of like-minded lifelong friends dedicated to self-improvement through art, music, poetry, and literature), and his subsequent study at the University of Oxford, where a fortuitous encounter with a professor of philology encourages his love of language and his appreciation for great Old English and Nordic sagas like Beowulf, the combination of which would help define his work. Read more…

THE HIGHWAYMEN – Thomas Newman

April 3, 2019 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Darrow were two of the most notorious American criminals of the 20th century, bank robbers and murderers who during their lifetimes attained an unlikely level of celebrity and public affection. Their most successful crime spree came at the peak of the Great Depression, in the early 1930s, and as lurid tales of their exploits did the rounds in the pulp press, they quickly became famous as modern-day outlaws, striking back at the ‘system’ that failed so many others. Their story came to an end in a hail of bullets on a rural Louisiana back road in May 1934, when they were shot and killed by a posse of Texas Rangers who had been tracking them for months. Their exploits were famously chronicled on film in 1967 in Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde; this new film from director John Lee Hancock takes a slightly different perspective in that it is told from the point of view of Frank Hamer and Maney Gault, the two Texas Rangers who led the investigation and eventually made the decision to open fire on the crooks. The film stars Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson as Hamer and Gault, and has a supporting cast that includes Kathy Bates, John Carroll Lynch, Kim Dickens, Thomas Mann, and William Sadler. Read more…

VICTORIA & ABDUL – Thomas Newman

September 22, 2017 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There has long been a cinematic fascination with the life of Queen Victoria, who reigned in the United Kingdom from 1837 until 1901; numerous actresses have portrayed her, both on the big and the small screen, but for contemporary audiences the quintessential Victoria is the one played by Dame Judi Dench. She first played the role in 1997’s Mrs. Brown, which examined the controversial relationship between the long-widowed queen and her Scottish equerry John Brown, which ended with Brown’s death in 1883. This new film, directed by Stephen Frears, is essentially a sequel to Mrs. Brown, and again stars Dench as the much loved monarch. It picks up Victoria’s story in 1887, and focuses on another unusual relationship Victoria developed with a different manservant; however, rather than being a Scottish gamekeeper, her new confidante was an Indian Muslim named Abdul Karim, played by Ali Fazal. Cue the scandals in the palaces of London and the halls of Westminster. Read more…

PASSENGERS – Thomas Newman

February 1, 2017 5 comments

passengersOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Passengers is a romantic drama with a sci-fi twist, a love story amongst the stars with an unusual moral dilemma at its core, and with an action movie climax that stands at odds with much of the gentle comedy of the first half of the movie. Directed by Morten Tyldum and written by Jon Spaihts, the film stars Chris Pratt as Jim Preston, one of 5,000 colonists on board a state-of-the-art starship traveling to a new life on Homestead II, a distant planet. The journey takes 120 years, and the passengers are all in hibernation, but a malfunction on board the ship causes Jim to accidentally wake up 90 years early. After unsuccessfully trying to put himself back into hibernation, Jim resigns himself to his fate; despite having access to the ship’s luxurious facilities, Jim only has an android bartender (Michael Sheen) for company, and after a year of isolation decides to commit suicide. It is at this lowest point that Jim comes across Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence), a fellow passenger, whose cryo-tube is still working, and the film’s moral dilemma emerges: should Jim, who believes he has fallen in love, wake Aurora up for companionship, knowing that doing so will result in her never reaching Homestead II? Read more…

SPECTRE – Thomas Newman

November 13, 2015 1 comment

spectreOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The 24th official James Bond film, the fourth starring Daniel Craig, and the second directed by Sam Mendes, Spectre apparently concludes a four-movie storyline, bringing together the plots of the three preceding films – Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, and Skyfall – and re-introducing Bond to his greatest nemesis. As he globe-trots around the world from Mexico to Rome, to Austria, and beyond, Bond gradually discovers the existence of a shadowy organization which appears to be orchestrating a series of terrorist events, including the ones Bond investigated in the previous films, and whose leader may be a figure from his own past. The film co-stars Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Monica Bellucci, and Ralph Fiennes, and in many ways is a love letter to the entire James Bond franchise. Not only is this Bond a touch more light-hearted, with a little more emphasis on the gadgets and the girls than the previous films, there are innumerable nods and winks and in-jokes for the Bond connoisseur: the mountaintop clinic is straight out of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the “hollowed out volcano” in the desert is from You Only Live Twice, the car from Goldfinger makes a spectacular return, the fight on the train has echoes of both From Russia With Love and Live and Let Die, the “funhouse” in the remains of the MI6 building recalls The Man With the Golden Gun, and the monosyllabic henchman Hinx is clearly modeled after the similarly taciturn Jaws. The whole film is a loving homage to everything preceding it, and delighted this long-time fan of the genre, although of course you have to overlook the contrivances and plot holes that always come with this territory. Read more…

BRIDGE OF SPIES – Thomas Newman

October 20, 2015 Leave a comment

bridgeofspiesOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Steven Spielberg’s latest film, Bridge of Spies, is a cold war thriller set in 1957 starring Tom Hanks as James Donovan, an insurance lawyer who is unexpectedly hired by the US Government to represent Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), an unassuming middle-aged artist accused of being a Russian spy. Although the evidence against Abel is overwhelming – and even though Abel himself does not deny the charges – Donovan mounts a spirited defense, arguing that the US constitution affords everyone due process to a fair trial. Months later, Donovan is called upon once again when a U-2 spy plane operating over Russia is shot down, and its young pilot is arrested by the Soviets. Realizing that Abel can be used as a bargaining chip, the CIA sends Donovan to East Berlin, just as the Wall is being erected, to negotiate a trade. The screenplay, by Matt Charman, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, is based on real events, and allows the narrative to unfold at a measured pace. This is a film about conversations, negotiations, political ideologies, and ethical dilemmas, and there is nary an action sequence in the entire film, which will alienate those who need more ‘stuff happening’, but which drew me into its intricacies. Tom Hanks is superb in the lead role, serious and honorable, while Mark Rylance is relaxed and unexpectedly funny in his role as the accused spy with an artistic flair. The film is also notable for another reason: it’s the first Steven Spielberg film in 30 years not to feature a John Williams score. Read more…

THE JUDGE – Thomas Newman

October 18, 2014 Leave a comment

thejudgeOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Judge is a family drama film directed by David Dobkin, who previously helmed such popular movies as Wedding Crashers and Fred Claus, and starring Robert Downey Jr. as Hank Palmer, a hotshot defense attorney living the high life in the big city, who returns to his sleepy Indiana hometown following the death of his mother. However, further problems await Hank when his estranged and distant father Joseph (Robert Duvall) – the town’s long-serving judge – is unexpectedly arrested, suspected of murder. Suddenly forced to become his own father’s lawyer, Hank sets out to discover the truth and, along the way, reconnects with his fractured family, while rekindling his relationship with an old flame. The film has a stellar supporting cast including Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton, and Vincent d’Onofrio, and has an original score by Thomas Newman, who excels at writing music for this type of film. Read more…