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Posts Tagged ‘Throwback Thirty’

THE HANDMAID’S TALE – Ryuichi Sakamoto

April 2, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The recent Hulu television adaptation of Margaret Attwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale is one of the most critically acclaimed shows of all time. It tells of a dystopian future set in the aftermath of a second American Civil War, and the rise of a hard-line Christian theocracy called Gilead in what was once New York State. One of the issues that led to the civil war was a calamitous drop in fertility rates, and in Gilead women who are found to be capable of giving birth to children are commandeered and forced to work as ‘handmaids,’ essentially concubine sex-slaves who are raped monthly by their assigned regional Commanders in the hope that they become pregnant. With this religious authoritarianism, female disenfranchisement, and environmental disaster as its backdrop, the story unfolds through the eyes of a handmaid named Kate, re-named Offred, who is assigned to a family headed by the cruel Commander Waterford and his coldly indifferent wife Serena. What many people forget is that this story has been told once before, as a 1990 movie directed by the acclaimed German filmmaker Volker Schlöndorff from a screenplay by Harold Pinter, which starred Natasha Richardson as Offred, Robert Duvall as the Commander, and Faye Dunaway as Serena. Read more…

MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON – Michael Small

March 26, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Mountains of the Moon is an adventure-drama directed by Bob Rafelson, based on the novel Burton and Speke by William Harrison. A passion project for the director, it starred Patrick Bergin and Iain Glen as the real-life explorers Richard Francis Burton and John Hanning Speke, and is a dramatic chronicle of their expedition to Central Africa in 1857 which culminated in Speke’s discovery of the source of the River Nile. Although it was well received when it originally opened in February 1990 – it was described as ‘an epic of sweep and intimacy’ by Peter Travers in Rolling Stone – it is virtually unknown today, which is a shame because it is a film of genuine visual grandeur (it boasts cinematography by Roger Deakins), and has a terrific supporting cast including Richard E. Grant, Fiona Shaw, Omar Sharif, and Delroy Lindo in a very early role. Read more…

JOE VERSUS THE VOLCANO – Georges Delerue

March 12, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

After receiving his first Oscar nomination for Big in 1988, but before he became an established box office draw with titles like Sleepless in Seattle and Philadelphia, Tom Hanks spent a couple of years trying to find his niche. One of the projects he tried which never took off was Joe Versus the Volcano, a highly peculiar comedy written and directed by John Patrick Shanley. Hanks plays Joe Banks, a luckless everyman who works a terrible dead-end job and is chronically sick. One day Joe is told he is dying of a mysterious and incurable rare disease, and accepts a financial offer from billionaire Samuel Graynamore (Lloyd Bridges) – he can live like a king for a short period, but then has to travel to a South Pacific island and throw himself into a volcano to appease the superstitious natives. With nothing to lose, Joe agrees, but when he meets and falls in love with Patricia (Meg Ryan), Graynamore’s daughter, who is captaining the yacht taking him to the island, he realizes he may have something to live for after all. The film was a critical and commercial flop when it was first released, but has become something of a cult film in the intervening years, receiving praise for its offbeat tone and sweet nature, and for the fact that this was the first on-screen pairing of Hanks and Ryan, who would go on to be Hollywood’s romantic comedy golden couple. Read more…

THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER – Basil Poledouris

March 5, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The character Jack Ryan is ubiquitous in American popular culture. He was created by author Tom Clancy and starred in a series of ‘techno-thriller’ spy novels, the first of which was published in 1984. Depending on how old you are, most people associate two actors with the character: either Harrison Ford, who played him on the big screen in the films Patriot Games in 1992 and Clear and Present Danger in 1994, or John Krasinski, who currently plays him on the small screen in the eponymous Amazon TV series. However, Ryan’s first appearance was actually in this film: The Hunt for Red October, which was released in theaters in the spring of 1990. Here Ryan is played by Alec Baldwin, and the plot of the film revolves around Marko Ramius (Sean Connery), the captain of the nuclear-capable Soviet submarine Red October, which has disappeared while on maneuvers in the north Atlantic. When it is eventually re-discovered, the CIA realizes that the Red October is headed directly for the US eastern seaboard, and immediately fears that an attack is imminent. However Ryan, a respected intelligence analyst, offers a different theory: that Ramius is actually trying to defect. So begins a cat and mouse game between the CIA, the KGB, Ryan, and Ramius, in which each of them is trying to uncover the truth before the incident sparks World War III. The film was directed by John McTiernan, and has an excellent supporting cast including Scott Glenn, Sam Neill, James Earl Jones, Tim Curry, and a young Stellan Skarsgård. Read more…

STANLEY & IRIS – John Williams

February 21, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

After enjoying a 1980s which saw him score two Star Wars movies (one of which is, in my opinion, the best score ever written), three Indiana Jones films, and such standalone masterpieces as E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Empire of the Sun, and Born on the Fourth of July, all while picking up one Oscar from eleven Best Score nominations, one could be forgiven for thinking that Williams would begin the 1990s with yet another blockbuster to put under his belt. Instead, his first score of the new decade was for Stanley & Iris, a small, intimate drama directed by his old friend Martin Ritt, for whom he previously scored Pete ‘n’ Tillie in 1973 and Conrack in 1974. The film starred Robert de Niro and Jane Fonda in the title roles, and it tells the story of the gentle romantic relationship that develops between Stanley, a kind-hearted baker who loses his job when it is discovered that he is illiterate, and Iris, a lonely widow who teaches him how to read and write. It was also the last film Ritt directed prior to his death in December of that year. Read more…

GLORY – James Horner

February 12, 2020 2 comments

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Blow the horn, play the fife, beat the drum so slowly. Blow the horn, play the fife, make the drum beat glory…

Stories from the American Civil War have fascinated filmmakers for decades. Films as great and respected as Gone With the Wind, The Red Badge of Courage, and even things like The Outlaw Josey Wales, have examined different elements of the conflict that so ravaged the fledgling nation from 1861 to 1865. However, for my money, one of the best movies about that period was the 1989 epic Glory, written by Kevin Jarre and directed by Edward Zwick. It tells the story of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, a platoon of ‘free black’ soldiers and former slaves fighting for the Union Army. Under the command of Colonel Robert Shaw, the regiment becomes involved in numerous battles and incidents, culminating with their heroic charge on Fort Wagner, a Confederate stronghold in South Carolina. But the film is about more than that – it’s about bravery, and honor, and courage. It’s about the dignity of these African American soldiers, and how they inspired similar feelings of honor and dignity in their communities. It’s about the relationships between Shaw and his officers and soldiers, and how the racism and prejudice that still existed in the North was turned into friendship and mutual respect as a result of their experiences. The film has an astonishing cast – Matthew Broderick, Cary Elwes, Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington who won an Oscar – and was a major critical success. Read more…

ALWAYS – John Williams

January 30, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Always is the Steven Spielberg film most people tend to forget. Sandwiched between such classics as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Schindler’s List, and Jurassic Park, it came during the period where Spielberg was alternating between making major box office blockbusters and smaller, more personal films that tackled intimate themes and emotions. Always is a remake of the 1943 Spencer Tracy film A Guy Named Joe, which was written by Dalton Trumbo. Richard Dreyfuss stars in the Tracy role as Pete Sandich, a daredevil pilot who works putting out forest fires; his long-time girlfriend Dorinda (Holly Hunter) and best friend Al (John Goodman) fear that his recklessness in the air will lead to tragedy. Their worst fears come true when Pete is killed in a plane crash saving Al’s life; in the afterlife, Pete is given guidance by an angel-like figure (Audrey Hepburn, in her final screen role), and told that he has one last life to save before he can move on to heaven – Dorinda’s, who has become overwhelmingly grief stricken and suicidal as a result of Pete’s death. Read more…