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Posts Tagged ‘Throwback Thirty’

ALIVE – James Newton Howard

February 2, 2023 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In October 1972 a plane carrying a rugby team from Montevideo, Uruguay, who were on their way to play a game in Santiago, Chile, crashed high in the Andes mountains. 15 of the 45 passengers and crew died on impact but the others – some of whom were badly injured – quickly had to figure out how to survive. During the following 72 days, the survivors suffered extreme hardships, including exposure, starvation, and an avalanche, which led to the deaths of thirteen more passengers; famously, but reluctantly, they were forced to resort to cannibalism to stave off death due to lack of food. Eventually two of the rugby players – Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa – decided to strike out for help. They climbed a 15,000 foot mountain without gear, and then hiked almost 50 miles. It took them almost in 10 days, but they finally stumbled into a remote village, where they could obtain help and call for the Chilean Army to rescue the other survivors. This incredible story was turned into a book, Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors by Piers Paul Read, and then eventually into this film, which was directed by Frank Marshall and starred Ethan Hawke, Josh Hamilton, and Vincent Spano. Read more…

CHAPLIN – John Barry

January 26, 2023 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Considering that he was one of the most important and transformative figures in the history of cinema, it’s somewhat surprising that there wasn’t a biopic of Charlie Chaplin until 1992. The film was a labor of love for director Richard Attenborough; it was written by a trio of literature greats – William Boyd, Bryan Forbes, and William Goldman – and starred the then 27-year old Robert Downey Jr. in the role that marked his transition from youthful movies to serious adult cinema. The film charts Chaplin’s entire life and career, from his impoverished childhood growing up in Victorian London, to his first brushes with showbusiness via Fred Karno’s vaudeville theatre, his move to the United States in 1914, and his gradual rise to fame via his iconic ‘tramp’ character in silent films such as The Kid, The Gold Rush, and City Lights. It also reveals his tempestuous private life – various love affairs and failed marriages – as well as his political conflicts with FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, which eventually led to him fleeing America for Europe at the height of his fame amid accusations of communist sympathies. The film climaxes with Chaplin’s glorious return to Hollywood in 1972 after decades in exile, when he received an honorary Oscar for ‘the incalculable effect he has had in making motion pictures the art form of this century’. Read more…

SCENT OF A WOMAN – Thomas Newman

January 19, 2023 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Scent of a Woman is a critically acclaimed drama film directed by Martin Brest. It’s a remake of the 1974 Italian film Profumo di Donna, directed by Dino Risi, which was itself an adaptation of the 1969 novel ‘Il Buio e il Miele’ by Giovanni Arpino. It stars Al Pacino and Chris O’Donnell, with James Rebhorn, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Gabrielle Anwar in primary supporting roles. Pacino plays Frank Slade, a former lieutenant colonel in the US Army, who has become an irascible alcoholic following an accident that left him blind. Frank’s niece hires Charlie Simms, a young student with dreams of getting into Harvard, to be his temporary caretaker over the Thanksgiving weekend, and initially there is a terrible personality clash, but gradually the two unlikely companions warm to each other – until Frank calmly states that, at the end of the holiday, he intends to kill himself. Meanwhile, Charlie is having issues of his own, relating to an incident he witnessed at this school, the repercussions of which threaten to jeopardize his entire future. The film was roundly praised at the time, especially for the performance by Pacino, who won the Oscar for Best Actor for his work here. Read more…

FOREVER YOUNG – Jerry Goldsmith

January 12, 2023 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Forever Young was a romantic drama with a fantasy-science fiction twist, written by a young J. J. Abrams (credited as ‘Jeffrey’), and directed by Steve Miner. It was envisaged as a vehicle for Mel Gibson to establish himself as a romantic leading man; he plays Daniel McCormick, a test pilot with the US Army Air Corps in 1939. When his fiancé Helen (Isabel Glasser) falls into a coma after a car accident, and not wanting to watch her die, Daniel volunteers for a top-secret government program where he will be cryogenically frozen and placed into suspended animation for a year. However, when Daniel is finally woken up, he is shocked to discover that it is now 1992; with the help of an inquisitive 10-year old boy named Nat (Elijah Wood) and his charming mother Claire (Jamie Lee Curtis), Daniel resolves to find out what happened – but is soon presented with another problem, as he finds himself ageing rapidly. The film was a modest success at the box office and with critics, who enjoyed its old fashioned charm, unusual time-travel plot, and warm lead performances. Read more…

HOFFA – David Newman

January 5, 2023 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa remains one of the United States’s most intriguing mysteries. Hoffa was a union leader with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in Detroit, an important man with political influence, but who was also involved with a number of criminal organizations, including the mafia. Hoffa went missing in 1975 after leaving to have a meeting with two local organized crime kingpins; to this day his body has never been found and, although he was declared legally dead in 1982, speculation about his fate and what exactly happened to him remains rife. This film, directed by Danny DeVito and written by David Mamet, looks back at Hoffa’s life and ends with his mysterious disappearance. Jack Nicholson plays Hoffa, and DeVito plays Robert Ciaro, an amalgamation of several Hoffa associates over the years. The film also features John C. Reilly, Robert Prosky, Kevin Anderson, Armand Assante, and J. T. Walsh in key supporting roles. The film was a modest critical and commercial hit; it earned two Oscar nominations for Cinematography and Makeup, and Nicholson received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor. Read more…

MALCOLM X – Terence Blanchard

December 1, 2022 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Malcolm X is a biopic of one of the key figures in the American Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, and tells his life story – growing up subjected to Jim Crow racism in Michigan in the 1920s, dealing with his father’s death and his mother’s mental illness, his youth as a juvenile delinquent, becoming a Muslim while in prison, and eventually joining the Nation of Islam, a black nationalist organization that was denounced as a terrorist group by the FBI. Along with leaders like Martin Luther King, Malcolm X was a prominent campaigner for civil rights, until – like King – he too was assassinated, just as he was giving a speech in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom in February 1965. The film was directed by Spike Lee and starred Denzel Washington as Malcolm, alongside a supporting cast that included Angela Bassett, Albert Hall, Al Freeman Jr., and Delroy Lindo. The film was a huge critical success, and earned Washington an Oscar nomination for his powerful lead performance. Read more…

A FEW GOOD MEN – Marc Shaiman

November 23, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

I have always viewed A Few Good Men as one of the best legal drama-thrillers of the 1990s. It’s a richly detailed, wonderfully written, dazzlingly acted exposé of a part of the US military, based on the acclaimed stage play by Aaron Sorkin, directed by Rob Reiner. The film stars Tom Cruise at the height of his movie star fame, playing Daniel Kaffee, a military lawyer in the US Navy, whose reputation for juvenile antics and easy plea bargaining has made him something of a joke among his peers. Things change for Kaffee when he is hired to defend two Marines accused of killing a fellow soldier on the base at Guantanamo Bay. Kaffee’s appointment angers his reluctant co-counsel, Joanne Galloway (Demi Moore), who thinks that there is more to the case than meets the eye, and is concerned that Kaffee’s blasé approach will derail the defense. As they dig more deeply into the circumstances surrounding the marine’s death, they find themselves at loggerheads with Nathan Jessup (a phenomenal Jack Nicholson), the colonel in charge of the Guantanamo unit, a feared and respected career soldier with unorthodox methods of maintaining discipline. Read more…

ALADDIN – Alan Menken

November 17, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The enormous success of Beauty and the Beast in 1991 ushered in what is now commonly known as the Disney Renaissance, which brought to an end a period of comparative creative and commercial failure for mouse house, and initiated what was quicky became a decade of constant growth and acclaim. Lyricist Howard Ashman, who had been a major part of Beauty and the Beast’s success alongside his composing partner Alan Menken, had also been working on a draft treatment for a potential Aladdin movie, based on the Arabic folktale of the same name from the One Thousand and One Nights, and the screenplay went through three drafts before then-Disney Studios president Jeffrey Katzenberg agreed to its production. The finished film is now one of the most beloved animated films of all time; it tells the story of street urchin Aladdin, who finds a magical lamp hidden in a cave and inadvertently releases from it a powerful genie who can grant him three wishes. Aladdin wishes to be a rich prince to that he can court the beautiful Princess Jasmine, the daughter of the sultan, but in doing so falls foul of Jafar, the sultan’s vizier advisor, who covets the power of the lamp for himself. Read more…

THE BODYGUARD – Alan Silvestri

November 10, 2022 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

If you listened to popular music on the radio, or watched TV, at any point in 1992, then you will have found it impossible to escape the pervasive reach of “I Will Always Love You,” singer Whitney Houston’s cover of the classic 1973 Dolly Parton song. “I Will Always Love You” was being used in the soundtrack of Houston’s debut film as a leading actress, The Bodyguard, and it was everywhere that summer. It went on to break numerous chart records for sales and staying power – it won the Grammy for Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance (Female) – while the Bodyguard soundtrack album itself went on to win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, ultimately becoming the best-selling soundtrack album of all-time, the best-selling album by a woman in music history, and the best-selling album of the entire 1990s decade. Overlooked in all of this hoopla and success is the film’s score, which was written by Alan Silvestri – something which I intend to correct here. Read more…

JENNIFER 8 – Christopher Young

November 3, 2022 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Jennifer 8 was one of a series of very good serial killer thrillers released in cinemas in the aftermath of The Silence of the Lambs. Written and directed by Englishman Bruce Robinson – a world away from Withnail & I – it stars Andy Garcia as cop John Berlin, who takes a job with a rural police force in northern California after becoming burnt out on the job in Los Angeles. Before long Berlin finds himself embroiled in a new mystery when he finds evidence of a serial killer apparently targeting blind women; this brings him into contact with visually impaired music teacher Helena Robertson (Uma Thurman), who is a likely candidate to be the killer’s next victim. The film co-starred Lance Henriksen, Kathy Baker, Graham Beckel, and John Malkovich, and was a reasonable critical success, but it flopped badly at the box office; director Robinson’s Hollywood career nose-dived as a result, and his only film since then was The Rum Diary in 2011. Read more…

INDOCHINE – Patrick Doyle

October 27, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the most critically acclaimed French films of the 1990s was director Régis Wargnier’s Indochine, a sprawling and epic romantic drama set against the backdrop of the last days of French colonialism in South-East Asia in the 1930s and 40s. The film stars screen legend Catherine Deneuve as Éliane Devries, the owner of a large rubber plantation in Vietnam, whose adopted daughter Camille (Linh Dan Pham) is a member of the noble Nguyen Dynasty, which ruled the country prior to French colonization. Both Éliane and Camille live a life of wealth and blasé privilege, but things begin to change when they independently meet and fall in love with Jean-Baptiste (Vincent Pérez), a dashing lieutenant in the French navy. The fallout from this love triangle begins to tear the family apart, and eventually results in Camille becoming involved with a group of Vietnamese communist revolutionaries who dream of independence for the country. The film was a massive domestic success, winning five César Awards (and being nominated for a further seven), while also winning the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1992. Read more…

A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT – Mark Isham

October 20, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the most critically acclaimed films of 1992 was A River Runs Through It, directed by Robert Redford, adapted from the 1976 semi-autobiographical novella by Norman Maclean. The film is set in Montana in the 1920s and stars Craig Sheffer and Brad Pitt as brothers Norman and Paul Maclean, the sons of presbyterian minister John (Tom Skerritt). Norman is serious, studious, and ambitious, where Paul is reckless, habitually drunk, but creative and an excellent journalist. Despite their differences in personality, they bond over their shared love of fly fishing, which they learned from their father fishing in the Blackfoot River as children, and which they often see as a metaphor for life itself. The film follows the brothers through the Prohibition Era up to the beginnings of the Great Depression, their various romances, and society as a whole in that era. The film was praised for its direction, performances, and cinematography, the latter of which won an Oscar for the great Philippe Rousselot; it also received an Oscar nomination for Best Score, the career first for composer Mark Isham. Read more…

1492: CONQUEST OF PARADISE – Vangelis

October 6, 2022 1 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 – the historical veracity of this statement remains in question, though, despite the prevailing narrative. Several projects were commissioned in Hollywood to mark the event, with director Ridley Scott’s film 1492: Conquest of Paradise being the most high profile, although it was beaten into theaters by the competing project Christopher Columbus: The Discovery by several months. This may actually have ultimately harmed the viability of Scott’s project, as it grossed just $7 million at the US box office, and is now generally considered to be one of the biggest flops of Scott’s career. The film does have an excellent cast (Gérard Depardieu, Armand Assante, Sigourney Weaver, Michael Wincott, Fernando Rey, Tcheky Karyo, Frank Langella), and boasts grand and handsome production values, but ironically it is best remembered today for its score. Read more…

CANDYMAN – Philip Glass

September 29, 2022 1 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…