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Posts Tagged ‘Throwback Thirty’

THE LAND BEFORE TIME – James Horner

December 6, 2018 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Land Before Time is an animated feature film for children, directed by Don Bluth and produced by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. It’s set in the late cretaceous period, and follows the adventures of a group of orphaned dinosaurs searching for a fabled oasis where there is food, water, and safety. The main character is Littlefoot, a young Apatosaurus, who along with his friends – each of whom is a different species, such as a triceratops or a pteranodon – find themselves having to escape from numerous dangers, not least of which is a deadly ‘sharptooth’ Tyrannosaurus Rex that is hunting them. The film was incredibly popular at the time, and it works on multiple levels. Firstly, it is a fun story for children, with playful characters and a friendly cartoonish animation style. However, it also has some deeper meaning, addressing issues of racism (some of the adult dinosaurs are prejudiced against different species), climate change (the dinosaurs don’t know it, but they are living through a famine that heralds the beginning of their extinction event), friendship, and family. There is also some surprisingly dark material too, including some quite intense and frightening sequences involving the Tyrannosaurus, as well as character deaths which left real emotional scars on an entire generation of kids. Amazingly, the film spawned an incredible thirteen direct-to-video sequels and even a TV series, although none of them reached the level of acclaim the original had. Read more…

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DEAD RINGERS – Howard Shore

November 29, 2018 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

As a follow-up to the massively successful and popular The Fly, Canadian director David Cronenberg chose Dead Ringers, adapted from the novel ‘Twins’ by Bari Wood and Jack Geasland, to be his next film. The film stars Jeremy Irons playing a duel role as Elliot and Beverly Mantle, identical twin brothers, both gynecologists, who run a successful medical practice in Toronto. The more charming and confident Elliot seduces women who come to him for fertility treatment, and ‘shares’ them with the more shy and introverted Beverly, without the women realizing that they are sleeping with two different men. Things change when a new patient, actress Claire Niveau (Geneviève Bujold), comes to their clinic. Claire is extremely sexually liberated, but is also addicted to prescription drugs; despite this, Beverly falls in love with her, and is shattered when she finds out about their duplicity and breaks off the relationship. Before long, Beverly’s world is crumbling in a mass of drug abuse, paranoid delusions, and horrific visions of mutated female genitalia – which causes Elliot to take drastic action to save him. Read more…

GORILLAS IN THE MIST – Maurice Jarre

November 21, 2018 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Dian Fossey was a conservationist and animal expert whose special focus was to study and protect African mountain gorillas. Having been inspired by another famous anthropologist, Louis Leakey, Fossey left her job in San Francisco and relocated to the remote jungles of Congo and Rwanda, where she established a research center in order to study these endangered creatures. As the years passed Fossey made several important breakthroughs and became world famous for her work, but also made many enemies, including poachers who hunted for gorilla artifacts, and members of the Rwandan government who opposed her increasingly violent responses to the poaching. Eventually, after more than twenty years working in Africa, Fossey was found dead in her cabin, apparently having been murdered; her assailants still have never been positively identified or tried. The film Gorillas in the Mist tells the true story of Fossey’s life and death; it stars Sigourney Weaver in the lead role, features Bryan Brown and Julie Harris in supporting roles, and is directed by Michael Apted. Read more…

HIGH SPIRITS – George Fenton

November 15, 2018 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There are some movies where, when you see their plot summary written down, you wonder how they ever got made. One of those is the 1988 movie High Spirits, a bizarre comedy-adventure-romance about Irish ghosts. The film stars Peter O’Toole as Plunkett, the owner of a dilapidated castle in Ireland who comes up with a money-making scheme whereby he will convert the castle into a hotel, pretend that it is ‘the most haunted castle in Europe,’ and sell the idea to gullible American tourists. The scam is a success and the first group of unsuspecting vacationers – Steve Guttenberg, Beverly d’Angelo, Peter Gallagher, Jennifer Tilly – arrives, beguiled by the tales of Gaelic ghosties. However, to everyone’s utter shock, two real ghosts (played by Liam Neeson and Daryl Hannah) actually appear, and start becoming romantically attracted to two of the holidaymakers. The film was written and directed by Neil Jordan, the man behind such serious works as The Company of Wolves and Mona Lisa, and who would later go on to direct The Crying Game, Interview With the Vampire, and Michael Collins. Read more…

MAGDALENE – Cliff Eidelman

September 6, 2018 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Do you remember what you were doing when you were 24? Maybe you were just starting out at your first proper job, maybe you just got your first apartment, maybe you were embarking on your first relationship. Maybe you were even still at university, dreaming of what your future life might bring once you leave academia and head out into the big wide world. Whatever you were doing, I’m pretty sure you weren’t doing what Cliff Eidelman was doing when he was 24 – which was conducting 120 musicians of the Munich Symphony Orchestra for his debut film score, Magdalene. To say that Eidelman’s rise was meteoric is an enormous understatement; just a year prior to scoring Magdalene he was still a student at the University of Southern California, but this all changed when German film director Monica Teuber somehow heard a performance recording of a ballet score Eidelman had written on commission for Santa Monica City College. On the strength of that music alone Teuber hired Eidelman to score her film; after it came out the score was so well received that it immediately led to other assignments, and within three years he was scoring major studio blockbusters like Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country – and a career was born. Read more…

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER – Craig Safan

August 30, 2018 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The fourth movie in the massively successful Nightmare on Elm Street horror franchise was A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master; it’s a direct continuation of the story from 1987’s Nightmare on Elm Street 3, in which the survivors of that film have been released from the psychiatric hospital, but still find themselves being stalked by the horribly disfigured child killer Freddy Krueger, who has the ability to murder people in their dreams. The film stars Lisa Wilcox, Danny Hassel, Tuesday Knight, and Robert Englund in his iconic role as Krueger, and was directed by Renny Harlin, who was helming his first major studio feature film following the success of his 1987 English-language debut, the low-budget horror movie Prison. The film was actually one of the best reviewed films of the series, with special praise being given to the surprisingly insightful screenplay by Brian Helgeland, and especially the special effects and design; the critic in the Los Angeles Times wrote at the time that the film was ‘by far the best of the series, a superior horror picture that balances wit and gore with imagination and intelligence’. Read more…

MIDNIGHT RUN – Danny Elfman

August 23, 2018 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Midnight Run was one of the best buddy action comedies of the 1980s, and was one of the first films to showcase the hitherto untapped comedy potential of the great dramatic actor Robert De Niro. De Niro plays Jack Walsh, a bounty hunter working for bail bondsman Eddie Moscone (Joe Pantoliano), who is hired to find mob accountant Jonathan Mardukas (Charles Grodin) in New York and bring him back to Los Angeles; Mardukas had embezzled $15 million from Chicago mob boss Jimmy Serrano (Dennis Farina) before skipping on the bail Moscone had posted for him. What initially appears to be an easy task – Mardukas is annoying but generally compliant – quickly turns into a nightmare when Serrano’s henchmen, FBI agent Alonso Mosley (Yaphet Kotto), and rival bounty hunter Marvin Dorfler (John Ashton) all converge on Walsh, wanting Mardukas for themselves. Thinking on his feet, Walsh finds himself taking Mardukas on an epic road trip, trying to stay one step ahead of his pursuers, while keeping ‘The Duke’ under control. The film was written by George Gallo and directed by Martin Brest, and was a critical and commercial success, with special praise being given to the chemistry between De Niro and Grodin. Read more…