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Posts Tagged ‘Throwback Thirty’

CANDYMAN – Philip Glass

September 29, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Of the best and most interesting horror films of the 1990s was Candyman, directed by Bernard Rose, and based on the short story The Forbidden by Clive Barker. It’s a story that takes issues of racism, illicit love, poverty, societal decay, and the prevalence of urban legends, and grafts them on to a horrific framing story involving Helen Lyle, a philosophy student at the University of Chicago. Helen’s research leads her to Cabrini Green, a run down housing project in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, which is plagued by stories about the ‘candyman,’ a vengeful spirit who kills anyone who says his name five times in front of a mirror. As Helen becomes more and more obsessed with the Candyman legend, and she learns about the terrible true story that gave birth to the myth, the people around her begin to be killed in increasingly gruesome ways, and the police begin to believe that Helen is the culprit. The film starred Virginia Madsen, Xander Berkeley, Kasi Lemmons, and Tony Todd in a career-defining role as the bee-covered honey-smeared nightmare demon, and has since gone on to become a cult classic, with commentators calling it “haunting, intelligent and poetic,” “atmospheric and visually stimulating,” and “the finest Barker adaptation ever committed to film.” Read more…

OF MICE AND MEN – Mark Isham

September 22, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

John Steinbeck’s 1937 novel Of Mice and Men is a classic of 20th century American literature, a searing and poignant look at the plight of American farm workers during the Great Depression – which was still ongoing when the novel was originally published. Specifically, it follows the lives of Lenny and George, two California farm hands who move from town to town looking for work to escape from their crippling poverty, and who dream of earning enough money to buy their own plot of land. George is physically small but quick-witted and intelligent, while Lenny is a mentally disabled gentle giant who is kind but does not know his own strength; this latter aspect of Lenny’s character is a constant hazard, as he often accidentally kills small animals while trying to pet them. Eventually Lenny and George find work on a farm owned by the aggressive and confrontational Curley; as events unfold, their relationship eventually leads to tragedy – the ultimate example of Robert Burns’s famous quote about how ‘the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry’’. Read more…

RAISING CAIN – Pino Donaggio

September 15, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Raising Cain is a psychological thriller written and directed by Brian De Palma, starring John Lithgow, Lolita Davidovich, and Steven Bauer. Lithgow plays a highly regarded child psychologist, Carter Nix, who suffers a complete mental breakdown when he discovers that his wife, Jenny, is having an affair, and has also accused him of having an unhealthy scientific obsession with their daughter Amy. Nix’s mental issues manifest themselves via the emergence of various ‘split personalities,’ one of which – a violent criminal named Cain – starts to take over and forces Nix to kidnap his daughter, and commit murders to cover his tracks. It’s a typical twisty-turny and suspenseful De Palma thriller that, as always, owes a fair debt to Alfred Hitchcock, and it features a bravura lead performance by Lithgow, chewing the scenery for all he’s worth. Read more…

THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS – Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman

September 8, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

James Fenimore Cooper’s 1826 novel The Last of the Mohicans is a classic of early American literature. It was published as part of his ‘Leatherstocking Tales’ series and chronicles a set of highly romanticized adventures set in pre-independence America about the life of frontiersman Nathaniel ‘Hawkeye’ Bumppo, a fictional character based on real-life contemporaries like Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. The Last of the Mohicans is set in 1757 during the French and Indian War, when France and Great Britain were battling for control of North America, and sees Hawkeye becoming embroiled in the conflict when he is tasked with safely transporting Alice and Cora Munro, the two daughters of a British colonel, away from Fort William Henry, which us under siege by the French. Hawkeye enlists the help of his friend Chingachgook and Chingachgook’s son Uncas – the Mohicans of the title – and together they embark on a thrilling adventure which sees them getting involved in the political and social issues of the day, trekking across the inhospitable and rugged countryside, and clashing with the Huron, deadly rivals of the Mohicans. Read more…

SNEAKERS – James Horner

September 1, 2022 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Sneakers is a fun caper movie with an all-star cast, directed by Phil Alden Robinson, and written by Robinson with Lawrence Lasker and Walter Parkes. Robert Redford stars as Martin Bishop, a former computer hacker now working as a ‘penetration tester’ for the tech industry, who spends his time leading a team of various misfits played by Dan Aykroyd, River Phoenix, Sidney Poitier, and David Strathairn, while trying to maintain a relationship with his on-again-off-again girlfriend Mary McDonnell. Bishop’s life is thrown into turmoil when he is tasked by the NSA with recovering a device that is capable of breaking the encryption of nearly every computer system in the world; this brings him back into contact with his former partner Cosmo (Ben Kingsley), who spent many years in federal prison, and who now wants the device for himself so he can destabilize the global economy and exact some revenge. The film was a reasonable critical and commercial success, which grossed over $105 million at the box office worldwide, and maintained the then 55-year-old Redford’s status as a top cinematic draw. Read more…

THE CRYING GAME – Anne Dudley

August 25, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the most critically successful and controversial films of 1992 was The Crying Game, a political thriller from Irish writer-director Neil Jordan. The first half of the story explores the relationship between Fergus, a member of the IRA Irish Republican Army, and Jody, a British soldier, who is kidnapped and held for ransom, and will be murdered unless an IRA prisoner is released. Fergus and Jody unexpectedly bond during his captivity, and when it becomes apparent that Jody is to be killed, he makes Fergus promise to look after his girlfriend, Dil, who lives in London. The second half of the story then follows Fergus in London, who tracks down Dil, and forms a bond which quickly becomes romantic; however, Dil has a shocking secret, the revelation of which was one of the most-talked about cinematic moments of the year, and the fallout of this revelation – as well as Fergus’s IRA past coming back to haunt him – has terrible consequences for all. The film stars Stephen Rea, Forest Whitaker, and Miranda Richardson, and marked the screen debut of Jaye Davidson as Dil, who earned an Oscar nomination in a breakout role. Read more…

THE LOVER [L’AMANT] – Gabriel Yared

August 18, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Lover, or L’Amant in its native language, is a French romantic drama film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, adapted from the semi-autobiographical 1984 novel of the same name by Marguerite Duras. The film explores the illicit affair between an unnamed teenage French girl and an unnamed wealthy Chinese man in French Indochina in 1929; the teenage girl is played by actress Jane March, while her lover is played by Hong Kong cinema legend Tony Leung. The film also features the legendary Jeanne Moreau as a narrator, intended to be author Duras looking back at her own adolescence. While certainly scandalous in its sympathetic portrayal of under-age love and explicit sex – many critics drew parallels between it and the story of Lolita – the film was a domestic commercial and critical success, going on to be nominated for seven César Awards in France, as well as being nominated for an Oscar for Robert Fraisse’s lush cinematography, which portrays colonial Saigon in gorgeous, romantic hues. Read more…

CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS: THE DISCOVERY – Cliff Eidelman

August 11, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The year 1992 marked the 500th anniversary of the voyage of explorer Christopher Columbus, who set sail across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain, and on October 7th 1492 became the ‘first European’ to ‘discover’ the Americas. Hollywood was quick to acknowledge this event, and one of the films that was commissioned was this one: Christopher Columbus: The Discovery, which was directed by John Glen, and starred Georges Corraface as Columbus, alongside Marlon Brando, Tom Selleck, Rachel Ward, and a then 20-year old and undiscovered Catherine Zeta-Jones. The film is, of course, a complete hagiography, celebrating Columbus’s life and achievements while overlooking the fact that in reality Columbus was a terrible, vicious, murderous idiot who was directly and indirectly responsible for the deaths of millions of natives, never actually set foot on the American mainland, never once realized that he wasn’t in India instead of the Bahamas, and anyway had likely been beaten across the Atlantic by Leif Eriksson and the Vikings, who had established settlements in what is now Newfoundland 500 years previously. But that’s all by the by. Read more…

WHISPERS IN THE DARK – Thomas Newman

August 4, 2022 2 comments

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The summer of 1992 marked perhaps the peak of the ‘erotic thriller’ sub-genre. The darker and more dangerous elements of human sexuality had always been prime fodder for movie writers and directors, but they had always been seen by critics as a little tawdry, a little downmarket, for mainstream audiences. Things began to change in the wake of commercial successes like Body Heat in 1982, Jagged Edge in 1985, and Fatal Attraction in 1987 – all of which starred acclaimed and respected actors ranging from William Hurt and Jeff Bridges to Michael Douglas and Glenn Close – to the extent that by the early 1990s Hollywood was making a good half dozen of them each year. Basic Instinct was the most successful of 1992’s efforts, but another one worth a look is Whispers in the Dark, starring Annabella Sciorra, Jamey Sheridan, Alan Alda, John Leguizamo, Deborah Unger, and Anthony LaPaglia. Read more…

UNFORGIVEN – Lennie Niehaus and Clint Eastwood

July 28, 2022 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

For almost the entire 1980s, and for the first couple of years of the 1990s, the western genre was considered passé, a relic of a different era in Hollywood. Long gone were the days when cowboy movies ruled the box office, so much so that, with the rare exception of one-offs like Silverado and Dances With Wolves, there hadn’t been a major western box office success since The Outlaw Josey Wales in 1976. It’s perhaps fitting that Clint Eastwood, the star of Josey Wales and one of the greatest western stars in history, would be the one to re-invigorate the genre 15 years later, with his Oscar-winning classic Unforgiven. The film was adapted from a screenplay by David Webb Peoples and is a revisionist take on a classic tale wherein an ageing gunslinger is forced to come out of retirement and take on one last job to collect a bounty. Eastwood plays the retired killer, Will Munny, who travels from Kansas to Wyoming with his old friend Ned (Morgan Freeman) and a brash upstart called The Schofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvett), and eventually crosses paths with another bounty hunter, English Bob (Richard Harris), and the ruthless local sheriff, Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman). Read more…

DEATH BECOMES HER – Alan Silvestri

July 21, 2022 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Although it may not seem like it today, Death Becomes Her was once considered one of the most groundbreaking visual effects films in the history of cinema. Directed by Robert Zemeckis from a screenplay by David Koepp and Martin Donovan, it’s ostensibly a satire of Hollywood’s obsession with youth and glamour. Meryl Streep stars as Madeline Ashton, a narcissistic actress, who conspires to seduce and marry wealthy plastic surgeon Ernest Menville (Bruce Willis), the fiancé of her rival Helen Sharp (Goldie Hawn). Years later, and with her career, her marriage, and her looks in ruins, Madeline is shocked to discover that Helen has retained her youthful appearance, and jealously resolves to discover her secret. Eventually, Madeline encounters Countess Lisle Von Rhuman (Isabella Rossellini), a mysterious and wealthy socialite who specializes in rejuvenation; Lisle gives Madeline a magic potion that promises eternal youth – but before long the more negative side effects of immortality begin to emerge. Read more…

PRELUDE TO A KISS – Howard Shore

July 14, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A long-forgotten project for then A-list stars Alec Baldwin and Meg Ryan, Prelude to a Kiss is a romantic comedy drama directed by the late Norman René, adapted from the acclaimed stage play by Craig Lucas. It’s essentially a more serious and thoughtful variation on the ‘body swap comedy’ genre, and sees Baldwin and Ryan playing about-to-be-married couple Peter and Rita. On their wedding day, Rita is approached by an elderly man named Julius, who requests a kiss with the bride; she obliges, but then she and the Julius magically switch places – his consciousness in her body, and vice versa. Before anyone else realizes what has happened Peter and ‘Rita’ jet off for their honeymoon, leaving the real Rita confused and disoriented in the Julius’s frail body. Eventually, Peter realizes what has happened, and brings Rita and Julius together in an effort to restore their souls to their correct places. What transpires thereafter touches on issues ranging from the nature of love, to living with regrets, and the inevitability of mortality, while also offering some thinly-veiled and (at the time) prescient commentary on the 1980s AIDS epidemic. Read more…

HONEY, I BLEW UP THE KID – Bruce Broughton

July 7, 2022 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Honey, I Blew Up the Kid is the first sequel to the smash hit 1989 comedy Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Directed by Randal Kleiser and written by Garry Goodrow, Thom Eberhardt, and Peter Elbling, it finds the Szalinski family moved to Nevada where inventor dad Wayne has a new job at a hi-tech company, Sterling Labs, with his wife, two teenage children, and their new baby Adam. One day Wayne takes his kids to his office to see the prototype of his new invention – a derivative of the shrink ray that caused so much havoc in the first film, but which enlarges objects rather than making them smaller. Wayne tests the ray on Adam’s stuffed bunny, but then accidentally zaps Adam too, who immediately starts to grow to enormous proportions. The film again stars Rick Moranis, Marcia Strassman, Amy O’Neill, and Robert Oliveri, plus franchise newcomers Lloyd Bridges, John Shea, and Keri Russell in her screen debut. It’s a fun, visually impressive family comedy, but was nowhere near as much of a hit as its predecessor, and more or less ended the franchise as a viable money-maker. Read more…

A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN – Hans Zimmer

June 30, 2022 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the most popular comedy-drama films of 1992 was A League of Their Own, a film about baseball and how there is no crying in said sport. Set in 1943, the film tells a fictionalized account of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), which was established when the outbreak of World War II shut down Major League Baseball and the men all went off to fight the Nazis in Europe. With sexism and misogyny rampant in American society at the time, the women who sign up to play are faced with obstacles at every turn – one of whom is Jimmy Dugan, the old ball player who is reluctantly hired to coach them – but though tenacity and friendship, the women of the Rockford Peaches get to live out their sporting dreams. The film was directed by Penny Marshall from a screenplay by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, and had a fantastic cast including Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Lori Petty, Jon Lovitz, David Strathairn, Garry Marshall, and Bill Pullman; it was also a great hit, grossing more than $130 million at the box office, and spawning a popular soundtrack album that included two successful singles. Read more…

DAMAGE – Zbigniew Preisner

June 23, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Damage was one of the most critically acclaimed dramas of 1992. Directed by the great French filmmaker Louis Malle, and adapted from a popular novel by Josephine Hart, it starred Jeremy Irons as Stephen Fleming, a doctor and a British member of Parliament, who falls passionately in love with Anna, his son’s fiancée. Despite the dangers of discovery, and their age difference, Stephen and Anna’s affair continues over many months, until eventually it threatens to tear both their lives and his career apart. The film co-starred Juliet Binoche, Miranda Richardson, Rupert Graves, and the great Leslie Caron, and quickly became notorious for its uninhibited sex scenes, thematic allusions to taboo topics such as incest and suicide, and the deeply committed performances from the cast. Miranda Richardson was especially lauded, received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Stephen’s scorned wife Ingrid, and took home the BAFTA in the same category. Read more…