Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Throwback Thirty’

JFK – John Williams

November 24, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The assassination of US president John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, in November 1963 was one of the defining moments of twentieth century American history. History books state that he was killed by a lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, who was himself murdered by local Dallas businessman Jack Ruby while in custody just a day or so later. Oswald’s true motive has never been categorically established, and in the years since the event a series of conspiracy theories have emerged – that Oswald was a ‘patsy’ working for the Russians, that there were additional shooters who have never been identified located on a nearby ‘grassy knoll,’ and even that Kennedy’s vice president Lyndon Johnson was somehow involved as part of a coup for him to seize power. Many of these theories are examined in great detail in director Oliver Stone’s film JFK, which looks at the events leading up to, during, and after the assassination, and then focuses deeply on the subsequent investigation by former district attorney Jim Garrison, as well as the official congressional commission led by chief justice Earl Warren. The film is a dense, complicated, intricate film that offers plenty of theories, conjecture, and opinion, but never really settles on a decision as to what really happened, although Stone heavily implies that he believes that the conspiracy goes much deeper than the official investigation concluded. Read more…

AN AMERICAN TAIL: FIEVEL GOES WEST – James Horner

November 18, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A fun, undemanding sequel to the 1986 original, An American Tail: Fievel Goes West continues the animated adventures of the immigrant mouse Fievel Mousekewitz and his family. Having successfully reunited at the end of the first film and settled in New York, this new film sees the Mousekewitzes making the decision to head west to start a new life, prompted by the fact that their neighborhood is being terrorized by a new gang of felines led by a British aristocratic cat named Cat R. Waul. Desperate for safety and security the family boards a train bound for Utah; Fievel has aspirations of meeting the famed lawman Wylie Burp, while his sister Tanya wants to be a singer in a burlesque show. However, the Mousekewitzes are unaware that they are falling into a trap set by the unscrupulous Waul, and must find a way to defeat him before his nefarious plan comes to fruition. The film is directed by Phil Nibbelink and Simon Wells, taking over from Don Bluth; it features the voices of Philip Glasser, Cathy Cavadini, Dom DeLuise, John Cleese, and James Stewart in his final film role, and has a score by James Horner. Read more…

THE ADDAMS FAMILY – Marc Shaiman

November 11, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

They’re creepy and their kooky, mysterious and spooky, they’re all together ooky, the Addams family.

A big-screen reboot of the classic 1960s TV sitcom, which itself was based on a popular newspaper cartoon by Charles Addams, The Addams Family is a comedy with a twist. Led by patriarch Gomez Addams and his aristocratic wife Morticia, the Addamses are a macabre group who demonstrate some supernatural abilities, but nevertheless live a comparatively normal life in suburban America with their children Wednesday and Pugsley, their manservant Lurch, and a disembodied hand named Thing which acts as the family pet. The film picks up the story many years after the TV show ended, and follows the family as it tries to re-connect with Gomez’s long-lost brother Fester, who has unexpectedly reappeared in their lives after being missing for a long time. However, unbeknownst to the Addamses, ‘Fester’ is actually a conman working with a loan shark, who wants the family fortune. The plot is really just an excuse for the cast to engage in a series of deliciously dark and ghoulishly comedic set-pieces, near-the-knuckle jokes, and verbal witticisms. The cast is led wonderfully by the late Raul Julia as the flamboyant Gomez, Anjelica Huston as the sultry Morticia, and Christopher Lloyd as Fester, and features a breakthrough performance from the then 11-year-old Christina Ricci as the proto-goth kid Wednesday. It was directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, and was mostly a critical and commercial success, eventually receiving an Oscar nomination for costume design. Read more…

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST – Alan Menken

November 4, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

When looking back at the period now, considering their enormous success and influence, it’s easy to forget that Disney was a film studio in trouble in the 1980s. Their first four animated films during the decade – The Fox and the Hound, The Black Cauldron, The Great Mouse Detective, and Oliver & Company – had not been particularly well-received, while the success of the fifth, The Little Mermaid in 1989, was certainly not seen as a guarantor of future achievement. Everything changed with the 1991 release of Beauty and the Beast, which became the first animated film ever to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture, and subsequently set in motion a decade of almost unparalleled cinematic dominance for the house that Walt built. Read more…

DYING YOUNG – James Newton Howard

October 28, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Dying Young is a romantic drama directed by Joel Schumacher, based on the novel by Marti Leimbach, starring Julia Roberts and Campbell Scott. Roberts stars as Hilary, a young woman who is hired to be a live-in nurse for Victor (Scott), a wealthy and well educated young man who is dying of leukemia. Of the course of a summer Hilary and Victor slowly fall in love – much to the disapproval of her mother (Ellen Burstyn) and his father (David Selby), neither of whom want to see their children get hurt – and decide to make the best out of life in whatever short period they may have together. The whole thing was designed to be a three-hanky weepie for incurable romantics who revel in tragic love stories, and it helped push Julia Roberts’s star even further into the stratosphere, considering that this was her fourth starring role in two years after Pretty Woman, Flatliners, and Sleeping With the Enemy, but it was not a hit with the critics – Roger Ebert said it was “a long, slow slog of a movie, up to its knees in drippy self-pity as it marches wearily toward its inevitable ending,” while Janet Maslin in Variety wrote simply said “Julia’s hot; Dying Young is lukewarm”. Read more…

CURLY SUE – Georges Delerue

October 21, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Curly Sue is a warm-hearted family comedy written and directed by John Hughes – the last film Hughes directed prior to his death in 2009, although he did write and produce others. The film stars James Belushi as Bill, a drifter and scammer who swindles strangers out of money to support himself and his partner in crime, a cute moppet orphan girl he calls Curly Sue (Alisan Porter). After moving from Detroit to Chicago, Bill and Curly Sue find their next target in Grey Ellison (Kelly Lynch), a yuppie lawyer. However, things take an unexpected turn when Grey learns about the con, but falls in love with Bill anyway when she learns the truth about their past, and how much he genuinely cares for Curly Sue. Grey asks Bill and Curly Sue to move in with her – a decision which sparks the ire of Grey’s jealous, vindictive ex-boyfriend Walker (John Getz), who plots revenge against the man who he believes broke up his relationship. Read more…

SHATTERED – Alan Silvestri

October 14, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Shattered is a twisty-turny psychological thriller written and directed by Wolfgang Petersen, based on the popular novel ‘The Plastic Nightmare’ by Richard Neely. The film stars Tom Berenger as Dan Merrick, a successful architect who is involved in a major car accident with his wife Judith (Greta Scacchi). Judith survives relatively unharmed, but Dan suffers major injuries and brain trauma, including amnesia, and needs plastic surgery. As he recuperates at home afterwards, with the help of his friend Jeb (Corbin Bernsen) and Jeb’s wife Jenny (Joanne Whalley), Dan slowly starts to feel that things are not quite what they appear to be, and begins to make some inquiries into his own past. These inquiries eventually lead Dan to private detective Gus Klein (Bob Hoskins), whose explosive revelations change Dan’s life forever. Read more…

RICOCHET – Alan Silvestri

October 7, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Ricochet is an action-thriller directed by Russell Mulcahy, starring Denzel Washington, John Lithgow, Ice-T, Kevin Pollak, and Lindsay Wagner. Washington plays Nick Styles, an LAPD cop, who becomes a hero when he subdues and arrests a violent hitman named Earl Blake Talbot (Lithgow) during a hostage standoff. Years later, Styles is now a successful Los Angeles district attorney, but everything changes when Blake – who has now aligned himself with a group of neo-Nazis in the Aryan Brotherhood – escapes from prison and embarks on a violent and destructive revenge plot against the man who he claims destroyed his life. Ice-T plays Odessa, Styles’s former childhood friend who is now a drug dealer, and the whole thing culminates in a fight to the death atop Los Angeles’s iconic Watts Towers. The original screenplay, as written by Fred Dekker, was pitched as a Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry sequel, but it was rejected for being ‘too grim,’ and was eventually re-worked by Steven E. de Souza and Menno Meyjes as a vehicle for Washington. Read more…

RAMBLING ROSE – Elmer Bernstein

September 30, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Rambling Rose is a romantic drama period film directed by Martha Coolidge, based on the 1972 novel of the same name by Calder Willingham. The film is told in flashback by Buddy Hillyer (John Heard), who returns to his childhood home in Georgia and remembers his life growing up there during the Great Depression. Young Buddy (Lukas Haas) lives comfortably in a big house with his parents (Robert Duvall and Diane Ladd); however, everything is thrown into turmoil following the arrival of Rose (Laura Dern), an orphaned young woman who comes to work for the family. Rose is happy and free-spirited, but exceptionally promiscuous, and her sexual dalliances with several members of the family, as well as other people in town, brings all manner of troubles to the Hillyer family door. The film was a critical success that year, culminating in both Dern and Ladd – daughter and mother in real life – being nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, the first ever mother-daughter duo to be nominated for Oscars for the same film. Read more…

THE MAN IN THE MOON – James Newton Howard

September 23, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Man in the Moon is an emotional coming-of-age drama, written by Jenny Wingfield, and directed by Robert Mulligan – the final film of the man behind such classics as To Kill a Mockingbird and Summer of ‘42. The film stars Reese Witherspoon in her big-screen debut as Dani Trant, a teenage girl growing up in rural Louisiana in the 1950s. The film plots her life over the course of a summer, as she deals with her relationship with her parents and her siblings, her emerging sexuality, family tragedies, and especially her feelings for an older boy named Court who moves into the farm next door. The film co-stars Sam Waterston, Tess Harper, Gail Strickland, and Jason London, and was one of the most acclaimed films of its type in 1991; Roger Ebert called it “a wonderful movie … a victory of tone and mood, like a poem,” and praised Witherspoon’s breakout performance. Read more…

BLACK ROBE – Georges Delerue

September 16, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Black Robe is a historical drama-adventure directed by Bruce Beresford, adapted from the novel of the same name by Brian Moore. The film is set in Canada in the mid-1600s and stars Lothaire Bluteau as Father Paul LaForgue, a Jesuit priest tasked with founding a mission in New France – the precursor to modern-day Quebec. Faced with traversing a harsh wilderness, dealing with warring local tribes, the weather, and the wildlife, LaForgue enlists the help of a group of Algonquin natives, and together they set off across the vast Canadian interior, where all manner of adventures await them. The film co-stars Sandrine Holt, August Schellenberg, and Tantoo Cardinal, and was one of the most popular and successful Canadian films of the early 1990s. It went in to win six Genie Awards, including one for its spectacular cinematography, and drew favorable comparisons with similarly-themed films like Dances With Wolves and The Mission. Read more…

THE FISHER KING – George Fenton

September 9, 2021 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Fisher King is a redemption drama with a fantasy edge, written by Richard La Gravenese and directed by Terry Gilliam. Jeff Bridges stars as Jack Lucas, a New York radio shock jock who inadvertently provokes a listener to commit a mass murder in a restaurant. Years later, his career in tatters, Jack is about to commit suicide by jumping into the Hudson River when he is saved by Parry (Robin Williams), a mentally ill homeless man whose life was destroyed when his wife was killed in that very murder spree years previously. Parry is obsessed with the the Arthurian legend of the Fisher King, and he convinces Jack to help him find ‘the holy grail’; Jack sees this as a chance for personal redemption, and hopes that – by helping Parry get his life back – he will be able to bury his own demons, just as the fisher king of legend was able to have his injuries healed by helping others. The film co-stars Amanda Plummer, Mercedes Ruehl, and Michael Jeter, and was a critical success, ultimately receiving five Oscar nominations, with Ruehl winning for Best Supporting Actress. Read more…

BEASTMASTER 2: THROUGH THE PORTAL OF TIME – Robert Folk

September 2, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A belated sequel to the 1982 original, Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time sees Marc Singer returning to the role of Dar, a barbarian warrior who can communicate with and control animals, and who in the first film uses this power to defeat an evil wizard. In the sequel, Dar learns that his previously-unknown half-brother Arklon (Wings Hauser) plans to conquer the world with the help of a sorceress named Lyranna (Sarah Douglas). Arklon and Lyranna use a trans-dimensional portal – the eponymous portal of time – to travel to contemporary Los Angeles, where they intend to steal a nuclear bomb and bring it back to their world with them; Dar and his animal companions also travel through the portal to stop them, teaming up with a local woman named Jackie (Kari Wührer) along the way. The film was not well-received by critics at the time, but there is a fun and campy time to be had with it, and although allegedly director Sylvio Tabet stole the film out from underneath the original director Jim Wynorski, resulting in lawsuits and acrimony, he nevertheless keeps the action moving at a decent clip in what would prove to be his only effort behind the camera. Read more…

DEAD AGAIN – Patrick Doyle

August 26, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

After director Kenneth Branagh wowed Hollywood with his brash, compelling take on Shakespeare’s Henry V in 1989, many people expected that he would continue to drink deeply from the well of the Bard for his follow-up effort. Surprisingly, his sophomore effort was not a classic adaptation but was this film: Dead Again, a neo-noir thriller set in contemporary Los Angeles. Branagh plays private detective Mike Church, who is drawn into a mysterious case involving Grace, a woman with amnesia, played by Emma Thompson. In an attempt to discover her identity, he turns to antiques dealer and hypnotist Franklyn Madson (Derek Jacobi), who he believes can help her. While under hypnosis, Grace comes to believe that she is the reincarnation of Margaret, a socialite who was murdered by her composer husband Roman Strauss in 1949. Roman – who also bears an uncanny physical resemblance to Mike – took the secret of Margaret’s murder to his grave, and the more Mike digs into the events of the past, the more he and Grace find their lives in peril in the present. The movie is a fun, melodramatic romp filled with intentional homages to Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles, and features a terrific, bold score by Patrick Doyle. Read more…

BARTON FINK – Carter Burwell

August 19, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Perhaps the best film ever made about writer’s block, Barton Fink is a nearly unclassifiable combination of drama, comedy, horror, romance, and existential philosophy, written and directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen. John Turturro plays the eponymous Fink, a New York playwright who moves to Los Angeles in the early 1940s, having been offered a job writing for the movies. Unable to find inspiration for his screenplay, he bonds with Charlie Meadows (John Goodman), an amiable salesman who lives next door to him in his rundown apartment building, and then tries to solicit advice from various writers and directors around Hollywood. However, an unexpected and shocking murder sends Fink into a spiral of surrealism, chaos, and death, as he tries to finish his debut script despite his world collapsing around him. The film co-stars Michael Lerner, Judy Davis, and John Mahoney among others, and was the darling of the 1991 Cannes Film Festival, eventually winning the coveted Palme d’Or; unfortunately, it was a box office disaster, its unusual genre and offbeat characters failing to connect with mainstream audiences in any meaningful way. Read more…