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Posts Tagged ‘Throwback Thirty’

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 Leave a 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

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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

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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

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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…

DOC HOLLYWOOD – Carter Burwell

August 12, 2021 Leave a comment

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Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A fun romantic comedy intended to cash in on Michael J. Fox’s post-Back to the Future popularity, Doc Hollywood sees Fox playing Ben Stone, an aspiring surgeon on his way from Washington DC to Beverly Hills for a job interview with a prestigious clinic. While driving through a small town in rural South Carolina, Ben accidentally crashes his Porsche; the local judge sentences Ben to perform community service at the town’s medical clinic, which he does while waiting for his car to be repaired. Almost against his will, Ben begins to integrate into small-town life, successfully helping several of the locals with medical problems, and beginning a hesitant relationship with Lou (Julie Warner), a pretty ambulance driver. When the community service is up and Ben is free to head off to California, he finds himself torn between the lucrative career he always wanted, and the unexpected affection he develops for the small town he never intended to visit. The film is directed by Scottish filmmaker Michael Caton-Jones, has a fun supporting cast that includes Barnard Hughes, Woody Harrelson, David Ogden Stiers, and Bridget Fonda, and has a score from an unexpected composer – Carter Burwell. Read more…

POINT BREAK – Mark Isham

August 5, 2021 Leave a comment

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Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the most iconic action films of the 1990s, Point Break was a groundbreaking film in that it was one of the first major Hollywood movies to be directed by a woman, Kathryn Bigelow. The film stars Keanu Reeves as FBI agent Johnny Utah, who is tasked with investigating a gang of bank robbers who wear rubber masks of former US presidents while committing their crimes. Utah’s investigations eventually lead him to Bohdi (Patrick Swayze), a charismatic surfer, and Utah goes undercover to infiltrate the surf gang and find evidence that they are the robbers. However, Utah quickly develops a complex friendship with Bohdi, and begins a romantic relationship with Tyler (Lori Petty), another member of Bohdi’s surfing community, all of which threatens to derail the investigation. The film co-stars Gary Busey and John C. McGinley, and in the years following its release has become a cult favorite. Read more…

REGARDING HENRY – Hans Zimmer

July 29, 2021 Leave a comment

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Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Regarding Henry is an emotional drama film written by the then-25-year-old J.J. Abrams, and directed by Mike Nichols. Harrison Ford stars as Henry Turner, a wildly successful but callous and unethical New York lawyer, whose work often means he neglects his wife, Sarah (Annette Bening), and their children. One night Henry is shot in the head when he accidentally interrupts a robbery in a convenience store; he survives, but is left with brain damage, amnesia, and physical handicaps, to the extent that he barely remembers his former life. Henry also undergoes a significant personality change, becoming almost child-like with friendliness, curiosity, and a new-found sense of ethics. The film goes on to explore how this sudden change, and slow recovery, affects Henry’s life, his career, and his relationship with his family. I have always liked the film a great deal, and consider it to be one of Harrison Ford’s career best straight dramatic performances. Read more…

TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY – Brad Fiedel

July 22, 2021 Leave a comment

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Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

James Cameron’s sci-fi masterpiece The Terminator became something of a cult classic following its release in 1984. It made a movie star out of its leading actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and left fans desperate to know more about this world of unstoppable time-travelling killer robots and their human interactions, to the extent that a sequel was inevitable. Terminator 2: Judgement Day picks up the story several years later, but things have not turned out well for the original film’s protagonist, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), who is now incarcerated in an institution for the criminally insane, where doctors refuse to believe her apocalyptic predictions. Her teenage son John (Edward Furlong) is delinquent on the streets of Los Angeles, bouncing around between foster homes, while the tech company Cyberdyne is secretly continuing tests on the remains of the original Terminator from the first film. Things go from bad to worse for Sarah when a massively upgraded liquid metal terminator, the T-1000 (Robert Patrick), is sent back in time from the future to finish the job the original robot could not, and kill John; the T-1000 is a technological marvel that can shape-shift, repair its own wounds, and convincingly blend in with humans. In response, the leaders of the human resistance send back a T-101 Terminator (Schwarzenegger), physically identical to the original film’s unstoppable killer, but this time re-programmed to protect John from harm. Read more…

THE NAKED GUN 2½: THE SMELL OF FEAR – Ira Newborn

July 15, 2021 Leave a comment

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Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A sequel to the hilarious 1988 original, which was itself a spin-off of the brilliant but short-lived comedy TV show Police Squad, The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear sees Leslie Nielsen returning to one of his all-time great roles as the inept LAPD detective Frank Drebin. The plot – which involves a group of crooked energy executives kidnapping an eminent professor and replacing him with an evil lookalike who will recommend to President George HW Bush that he continue with a fossil fuel-based energy plan – is simply a flimsy framing device on which to hang all manner of goofy one-liners, ridiculous sight gags, and hilarious pratfalls, all centered around Nielsen’s unique brand of comedy. He is ably supported by Priscilla Presley, George Kennedy, and O. J. Simpson returning from the first film, as well as Robert Goulet and Richard Griffiths in new roles. These movies, as well as previous Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker productions like Airplane, are some of my all-time favorite comedies. Read more…

ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES – Michael Kamen

July 8, 2021 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the biggest blockbusters of 1991 was Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, a big-budget historical action epic directed by Kevin Reynolds, based on the classic legends of the medieval English outlaw Robin Hood. Somewhat astonishingly, the producers cast Hollywood star Kevin Costner in the title role, and he made no attempt to do anything approaching an English accent, and in the end sounded less than he was from Sherwood Forest and more like he was from Malibu Canyon, going to “sup with his father in Notting-HAM”. Despite this, and despite some terrible lapses in geographic specificity (Robin walks from Dover to Loxley via Hadrian’s Wall in a single day, a trip of roughly 470 miles), the film is nevertheless a terrifically entertaining romp. It features some rousing action sequences, Morgan Freeman dispenses sage wisdom wherever he goes as the Moorish warrior Azeem, there’s a lovely Maid Marian in the shape of Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and – best of all – we have Alan Rickman hamming it up, chewing the scenery, and having a ball as a Sheriff of Nottingham whose tongue is as cutting as his blade. Read more…

THE ROCKETEER – James Horner

July 1, 2021 1 comment

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Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Rocketeer is an early entry into the annals of Disney comic book action movies, and is based on a character created by Dave Stevens for Pacific Comics in 1982. The film is set in Los Angeles in 1938 and stars Billy Campbell as Cliff Secord, a stunt pilot working for Howard Hughes in the early years of Hollywood. A pair of mafia gangsters steal a prototype jetpack from Hughes, and events lead to the jetpack coming into Secord’s possession; seeing a chance to further his career, Secord re-invents himself as the high-flying Rocketeer, and he wows the crowds at a local airshow, but his antics bring him to the attention of both the police and the FBI, and get him mixed up with the sinister forces who arranged for the initial theft, and who have plans for the jet pack that stretch way beyond Hollywood. The film was directed by Joe Johnston, and has a wonderful supporting cast that includes Alan Arkin as Cliff’s gruff friend Peevy, Jennifer Connelly as Cliff’s sensationally sexy nightclub singer/actress girlfriend Jenny, Terry O’Quinn as Howard Hughes, and Timothy Dalton as the devilishly handsome matinee idol actor Neville Sinclair, to whom there is more than meets the eye. The whole movie is awash in stylish art-deco production design that glamorizes the Hollywood of the 1930s, and is capped off by a sensational score from James Horner. Read more…

BRIGHT ANGEL – Christopher Young

June 24, 2021 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A thoughtful, contemplative road movie with a neo-western vibe, Bright Angel was directed by Michael Field, with a screenplay adapted from an acclaimed short story by novelist Richard Ford. The film stars Dermot Mulroney as George, a disaffected teenager from Montana whose mental health and grip on sanity is deteriorating due to the constant fights between his parents. Running away from home and hitting the road, he meets a quirky fellow runaway from Wyoming named Lucy (Lili Taylor), who is hitchhiking south to Arizona and intends to help her brother get out of jail. George agrees to help her, and soon the unlikely pair are traversing the American west, and attempting to find meaning in the darkness of their lives. The film co-stars Sam Shepard, Valerie Perrine, and Bill Pullman, and has a terrific, underrated score by Christopher Young. Read more…

CITY SLICKERS – Marc Shaiman

June 17, 2021 Leave a comment

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Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

City Slickers is a hilarious fish-out-of-water comedy directed by Ron Underwood, written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel. The film stars Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern, and Bruno Kirby as Mitch, Phil, and Ed, three friends who constantly seek out new and increasingly dangerous ‘weekend experiences’ as a distraction from their boring jobs, unsatisfactory marriages, and impending midlife crises. After a trip to Spain to take part in the ‘running of the bulls’ turns into a disaster, the trio attempt something closer to home: a two-week cattle drive vacation, riding horses and being “dude cowboys” across the American west. After meeting up with the other members of the group and heading out into the big country, the trio quickly find themselves very much out of their depth, raising the ire and disdain of the grizzled trail boss Curly (Jack Palance). However, an unexpected tragedy forces the three of them to put aside their fears and neuroses and work together to save themselves, the cattle, and their fellow ‘city slickers’. The film co-starred Patricia Wettig, Helen Slater, and Noble Willingham, and was a popular success both with critics and audiences, culminating in an unexpected Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Palance at the age of 73 – who celebrated by doing one-armed push-ups on the Academy stage! Read more…

SOAPDISH – Alan Silvestri

June 10, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A hilarious send-up of American daytime soap operas, Soapdish is directed by Michael Hoffman and features an all-star ensemble cast including Sally Field, Kevin Kline, Robert Downey Jr., Cathy Moriarty, Whoopi Goldberg, Carrie Fisher, and Elisabeth Shue. The film is set in the world of a fictional soap opera – The Sun Also Sets – and follows the various shenanigans both on-set and behind the scenes, involving professional rivalries and former love interests, familial drama, raging egos within the cast, and desperate attempts by the show’s producers to revive their flagging ratings by coming up with new storylines, each one more sensational and implausible than the last. It’s a fun, fast-paced, knowing parody of the genre, but unfortunately it wasn’t a hit with either critics or audiences, who presumably would rather stay home watch the real thing. Read more…