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Posts Tagged ‘Throwback Thirty’

COME SEE THE PARADISE – Randy Edelman

January 14, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Every once in a while, a piece of film music transcends the movie for which it was written and takes on a life of its own, becoming enormously famous and popular with the general public, despite the majority of them having no idea where it originally came from. If you went to a cinema at any point in the 1990s and watched the trailers you will have heard one such cue: a driving, momentum-filled piece of drama and intensity, filled with surging strings, powerful percussion, epic cymbal clashes, even a cimbalom, before it all ends on a gripping, tension-filled chord. It was used in the trailers for everything from Clear and Present Danger to A Few Good Men, Patriot Games to Philadelphia, Rob Roy, and so many others, and it was of course the legendary “Fire in a Brooklyn Theatre”. But, originally, it came from this score – Come See the Paradise by Randy Edelman. Read more…

AWAKENINGS – Randy Newman

January 7, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In 1969 the acclaimed neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks was a 36-year-old physician at Beth Abraham Hospital’s chronic-care facility in the Bronx in New York. While there, Sacks began working with a group of survivors of the 1920s sleeping sickness encephalitis lethargica, who had been unable to move on their own for decades, and existed in a state of catatonia. After surmising that the new experimental drug L-DOPA may have a positive effect on his patients he began administering it to a test group; it had immediate, miraculous results, with several patients emerging from their stupor and regaining almost all of their cognitive faculties. Unfortunately, the effects of the drugs were short lived, and the patients eventually regressed to their catatonic states, but not before many of them related their experiences and life stories. Sacks eventually published the details of his work in the non-fiction book Awakenings, which was adapted into this film by Steven Zaillian in 1990. Robin Williams starred as Malcolm Sayer (Sacks by another name), with Robert De Niro turning in a tour-de-force performance as Leonard, one of the patients he revives. The film was directed by Penny Marshall, and co-starred John Heard, Julie Kavner, Penelope Ann Miller, and Max von Sydow; it was also a tremendous critical success, receiving Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor for De Niro, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Read more…

THE RUSSIA HOUSE – Jerry Goldsmith

December 31, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The great British author John le Carré died at the age of 89 just a couple of weeks ago on December 12th, so it is perhaps appropriate that we’re taking a look at the music from one of the best films adapted from his work – The Russia House, which was released thirty years ago. The film is directed by Fred Schepisi and stars Sean Connery as Barley Blair, a publisher who, after attending a book fair in the Soviet Union, finds himself becoming embroiled in a labyrinthine plot about nuclear arms proliferation, the military industrial complex, and a disgruntled Soviet nuclear physicist who is trying to smuggle his own state secrets to the west through Barley’s company, in the hope that it will hasten the end of the cold war. Thrown into the middle of all this is the increasingly romantic relationship between Barley and the beautiful Katya (Michelle Pfeiffer), a Russian book publisher acting as the go-between for the information exchange, who may or may not be a KGB agent. The film has a terrific supporting cast, including Roy Scheider, James Fox, John Mahoney, and Klaus Maria Brandauer, and has a score by Jerry Goldsmith. Read more…

KINDERGARTEN COP – Randy Edelman

December 17, 2020 2 comments

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Having spent most of the 1980s playing a series of unstoppable villains or muscled action heroes in films like Conan the Barbarian, The Terminator, Commando, and Predator, Arnold Schwarzenegger sought to add a new aspect to his career in the early 1990s by starring in a series of more family-friendly comedies. He started in 1988 with Twins, in which he was paired with the pint-sized Danny De Vito, but it was not until 1990 that he was asked to carry a comedy all by himself. That movie was Kindergarten Cop, directed by Ivan Reitman, and saw Schwarzenegger starring as John Kimball, a tough LAPD narcotics detective forced to go undercover as a teacher in an Oregon kindergarten in order to help protect the ex-wife of a ruthless drug dealer. Having spent his entire career breaking rules – and the heads of criminals – Kimball of course finds himself wholly unprepared to look after a class full of raucous pre-teens, and hilarity ensues, while the threat of the drug dealer looms large in the background. The film co-starred Penelope Ann Miller, Pamela Reed, and Richard Tyson, and was an enormous box office hit, grossing more than $200 million at the box office, and proving that Schwarzenegger’s star power was not limited to fist-fights and gun battles. Read more…

HAVANA – Dave Grusin

December 10, 2020 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A political drama enlivened with a splash of sultry romance, Havana was director Sydney Pollack’s long-awaited follow-up to his multi award-winning epic Out of Africa, which swept the Oscars in 1985. The film is set in 1958, literally days before the beginning of the Cuban Revolution, and stars Robert Redford as Jack Weil, an American professional gambler who travels to Havana to take part in a poker tournament. Following a chance meeting on the ferry from Florida, Jack quickly finds himself embroiled in a number of dangerous political situations, almost all of which seem to involve either revolutionary leader Arturo Durán (Raul Julia), CIA operative Marion Chigwell (Daniel Davis) who is moonlighting as a restaurant critic, or the dangerous local head of the secret police Menocal (Tomás Milián). Most dangerous of all is his illicit affair with Roberta (Lena Olin), the sexy and seductive wife of Durán, the repercussions of which could not only affect the immediate relationship between husband and wife, but the success of the revolution entirely. Read more…

PREDATOR 2 – Alan Silvestri

December 3, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Following the enormous critical and commercial success of the movie Predator in 1987, it was only a matter of time before Twentieth Century Fox commissioned a sequel. However, when Arnold Schwarzenegger declined to reprise his role as Dutch, the producers were forced to come up with a new idea, and so instead of focusing on the humans, they switched to focusing on the aliens. Predator 2 is set in 1997 and sees a second predator visiting Earth; however, instead of hiding in the jungles of South America, the alien makes for the urban jungle of Los Angeles, which is caught up in a turf war between rival Colombian and Jamaican drug cartels. LAPD detective Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover) is investigating the cartels and trying to stop the carnage, but instead becomes embroiled in a deeper mystery when criminals from both sides of the drug war turn up dead – killed by the Predator, although Harrigan does not know this at the time. Eventually, Harrigan teams up with FBI special agent Peter Keyes (Gary Busey), who is aware of the Predator’s existence, and wants to capture him alive. The film co-stars Rubén Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso, Bill Paxton, and Kevin Peter Hall as the Predator, and was directed by Stephen Hopkins. Read more…

MISERY – Marc Shaiman

November 25, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the most talked-about movies of 1990 was Misery, a thriller directed by Rob Reiner, based on the 1987 novel of the same name by Stephen King. It’s a tale of psychological horror, obsession, and violence, and was one of the first films to address ‘celebrity stalker’ culture. James Caan stars as Paul Sheldon, an author famous for his series of romance books featuring the lead character Misery Chastain. One day Paul crashes his car in a snowstorm just outside a small Colorado town; seriously injured, he is rescued by Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), a former nurse who lives nearby. As Paul recuperates it quickly becomes apparent that Annie – who describes herself as Paul’s ‘number one fan’ – is quite deranged, and plans on keeping him prisoner in her home so that he can write more Misery novels… by any means necessary. The most talked-about moment in the film is, of course, the scene where Annie breaks both Paul’s ankles with a sledgehammer to keep him from escaping, which still retains its visceral power today; Bates went on to win the Oscar for Best Actress for her career-making performance. Read more…

HAMLET – Ennio Morricone

November 12, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There have been literally dozens of versions of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet made for film and television over the years, ranging from Lawrence Olivier’s 1948 masterpiece, to Tony Richardson’s 1968 version based on his own London stage production, to Kenneth Branagh’s spectacularly lavish unabridged version released in 1995. In 1990 Italian director Franco Zeffirelli released his own version, which was made to appeal directly to Hollywood sensibilities through its casting of Mel Gibson in the title role. The story is, of course, a classic one, wherein the titular prince of Denmark plots revenge against his uncle Claudius, who murdered his brother the king – Hamlet’s father – with the help of Hamlet’s mother Gertrude. It’s a timeless story of violence, betrayal, retribution, and madness, and has a spectacular cast including Glenn Close, Alan Bates, Paul Scofield, Ian Holm, and Helena Bonham-Carter as the luckless Ophelia. Read more…

MR. DESTINY – David Newman

November 5, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Mr. Destiny is a fantasy comedy written and directed by James Orr, about time-traveling wish fulfillment. It stars Jim Belushi as Larry, a completely ordinary middle class guy, married to his childhood sweetheart (Linda Hamilton), working a completely ordinary middle class job. However, despite his seemingly normal life, Larry has always felt he was destined for something more, and has settled on the idea that, back in high school, he struck out in an end-of-season baseball game. Larry believes that, had he not failed in that moment, his life would have become something truly special – he feels cheated out of his destiny. Everything changes for Larry when he stumbles into an unfamiliar bar on his 35th birthday, and meets a mysterious barman (Michael Caine) who gives him the opportunity to go back to that pivotal instant, and do his life over. The film has an interesting supporting cast – Jon Lovitz, Courteney Cox, Rene Russo – and has echoes of the cinema classic It’s a Wonderful Life, but has largely been forgotten today, having failed to make an impact with box office audiences at the time. Read more…

THE SHELTERING SKY – Ryuichi Sakamoto

October 22, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Sheltering Sky is an epic romantic drama film directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, based on the 1949 novel of the same name by Paul Bowles. It stars Debra Winger and John Malkovich as married American couple Kit and Port Moresby, who arrive in Algeria in 1949 on a holiday which they hope will rekindle their failing marriage. However, the harshness of the Saharan environment, coupled with Port’s jealousy and his suspicions that Kit is having an affair with their friend and travelling companion George Tunner (Campbell Scott), only makes things worse, leading to tragedy, death, and madness. The novel is one of the most acclaimed works of the twentieth century, and has been described by many commentators as one of the most compelling explorations of alienation and existential despair ever written, but the film was less successful; although praised for its visual magnificence, some critics called it “insufferably dull,” and a film which “dries up in that symbolic desert sun, the victim of its own pretensions” that “gets stuck in the sand right at the start.” Read more…

QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER – Basil Poledouris

October 15, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Quigley Down Under is a fun, knockabout action-western, written by John Hill, and directed by Simon Wincer. The film stars Tom Selleck as Matthew Quigley, a sharpshooter from the American west, who answers an advertisement looking for men with his skills, and finds himself traveling to Australia circa 1860. Upon arrival, he meets another American woman, Cora (Laura San Giacomo), and then his prospective employer, a rancher and ruthless local businessman named Elliott Marston (Alan Rickman). However, when Quigley is told that his job is to murder Aborigines, he refuses; enraged, Marston abandons Quigley and Cora deep in the outback. They are saved by members of the local tribe, who are subsequently attacked by Marston’s men; angered by the injustice, and by Marston’s ruthlessness, Quigley vows to put a stop to it all. Despite addressing the important topic of the genocide of the aborigines in 19th-century Australia, and despite starring Selleck (who was still a bankable box office star at the time), the film was not a great success, with many critics citing its uneven tone, which unsuccessfully combined Selleck’s roguish charm with some quite strong violence and action. Read more…

WELCOME HOME ROXY CARMICHAEL – Thomas Newman

October 8, 2020 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Thomas Newman is the youngest of the ‘composing Newmans’ who were primed to take over the legacy of Alfred, Lionel, and Emil Newman, the three brothers who established a dynasty within Hollywood film music circles during the golden age of the industry. Thomas’s cousin Randy Newman was born in 1943 and scored his first film in 1981; his older brother David Newman was born in 1954, and was already a working violinist and conductor-for-hire prior to him scoring his first film in 1986. Meanwhile Thomas had already worked as an orchestrator for John Williams on Return of the Jedi, and with Stephen Sondheim on Broadway, before scoring his first film – Reckless – in 1984. Thomas quickly established himself as a composer for quirky and hip comedies and genre movies but, for the first half dozen years of his career, very little of his music was released as a soundtrack – he got half an album for Desperately Seeking Susan in 1985, one track on the album for Gung Ho in 1986, two tracks on Jumpin’ Jack Flash the same year, and one cue each on the albums for Light of Day, The Lost Boys, The Great Outdoors, and Cookie. In fact, the very first standalone album of Thomas Newman music – and, as such, where we begin with him – is for this movie, the 1990 comedy-drama Welcome Home Roxy Carmichael. Read more…

MEMPHIS BELLE – George Fenton

October 1, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Memphis Belle is a World War II action-drama, directed by Michael Caton-Jones and written by Monte Merrick. It is a narrative remake of William Wyler’s 1944 documentary feature The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress, and follows the lives of a squadron of American G. I. airmen stationed in England, working with members of the Royal Air Force to counter the threat of the Nazi Luftwaffe at the height of the conflict. Specifically, it focuses on the events surrounding the final mission of a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft called the ‘Memphis Belle,’ and how the members of its crew overcome the dangers and tragedies inherent in war, and endeavor to complete their last mission, so that they can return home safely to their families. The film starred a cast of up-and-coming (at the time) American actors including Matthew Modine, Eric Stoltz, Sean Astin, Harry Connick Jr., Tate Donovan, and Billy Zane, with John Lithgow and David Strathairn supporting as their commanding officers. Read more…

NARROW MARGIN – Bruce Broughton

September 24, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Narrow Margin is a terrific B-movie action thriller, directed by Peter Hyams, and loosely based on a 1952 film of the same name, the screenplay for which was nominated for an Academy Award that year. The film stars Gene Hackman as Los Angeles deputy district attorney Robert Caulfield, who is tasked with bringing Carol Hunnicutt (Anne Archer) back to LA from Canada to testify against a mafia boss. Circumstances force Caulfield and Hunnicutt to travel by rail rather than flying, but once they board the train in Vancouver it quickly becomes apparent that the mob boss has sent two hitmen to kill Hunnicutt before she can take the stand; and so begins a deadly game of cat-and-mouse as Caulfield desperately tries to thwart the assassins and keep Hunnicutt alive, all within the limited confines of their locomotive as it hurtles through the Canadian Rockies. The film co-starred James B. Sikking, M. Emmett Walsh, and J. T. Walsh, and had an original score by the great Bruce Broughton. Read more…

PACIFIC HEIGHTS – Hans Zimmer

September 17, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of a spate of Something-from-Hell movies in the early 1990s, Pacific Heights was a thriller which made everyone think twice about sub-letting their apartment to a stranger. The film stars Matthew Modine and Melanie Griffith as Drake and Patty, a young professional couple who own a large house in San Francisco’s upscale Pacific Heights neighborhood. Drake and Patty lease one of their empty apartments to Carter Hayes (Michael Keaton), a mysterious loner with a hidden past, who immediately sets about renovating the apartment, hammering and drilling at all hours of the night, angering the other tenants. Eventually Carter’s anti-social and disruptive behavior begins to take its toll on Drake and Patty’s relationship, to such an extent that the police become involved. Carter’s response to the legal threats is to make life even more miserable for Drake and Patty, eventually leading to recrimination, threats, and mounting violence. But what is Carter’s motivation? And why do events and women from his past keep coming back to haunt him? The film was directed by John Schlesinger from a screenplay by Daniel Pyne, and features Laurie Metcalfe, Beverly d’Angelo, and Tippi Hedren in supporting roles. Read more…