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Posts Tagged ‘Throwback Thirty’

CITY OF JOY – Ennio Morricone

May 12, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The career of British director Roland Joffé is one of the oddest ones in recent cinema; after cutting his teeth making gritty UK TV dramas he gained international critical acclaim and Oscar recognition in 1984 for his film The Killing Fields, about the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia in the 1970s, and followed that with what is probably his most famous film, The Mission, in 1986. However, after making several consecutive flops in the late 1980s and 1990s, including things like Fat Man and Little Boy, The Scarlet Letter, and Goodbye Lover, he was eventually reduced to making low-budget ‘torture porn’ horror movies like Captivity, and now hasn’t made a major movie in more than 15 years. Possibly the last good movie Joffé made was this one: City of Joy, from 1992. It stars Patrick Swayze as an American doctor who travels to India in search of ‘spiritual enlightenment’ after a career crisis, and finds himself becoming deeply involved with helping people who live in the slums of Calcutta. The film co-stars Pauline Collins and Om Puri, and was a minor critical success, but is largely forgotten today. Read more…

ARTICLE 99 – Danny Elfman

May 5, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

With all the political furore in the United States today about drug companies, health insurance companies, access to universal healthcare, and other related issues, it’s sobering to realize that this was already part of the national conversation some thirty years ago, and that little has changed in the intervening decades. Article 99 is a film which looks at those same issues – it’s about how corrupt officials try to deny vital healthcare services to US army veterans, and how a group of compassionate doctors at a veteran’s hospital break the rules in order to provide care to their patients by circumventing ‘Article 99,’ a bureaucratic cost-cutting administrative loophole that prevents veterans from receiving the benefits they deserve by stating that a vet is eligible for treatment only for injuries incurred in actual service. The film stars Ray Liotta, Kiefer Sutherland, Forest Whitaker, and Lea Thompson, as the doctors willing to risk their own careers to help others; the film was directed by Howard Deutsch from a screenplay written by Ron Cutler, and has a score by Danny Elfman. Read more…

YEAR OF THE COMET – Hummie Mann

April 28, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the more little-known ‘mainstream’ films of 1992 is Year of the Comet, directed by Peter Yates and written by William Goldman, who was inspired to write it because of a desire to combine two of his personal loves: red wine and traveling. His script first hit Hollywood in 1978, and originally Goldman wanted Robert Redford and Glenda Jackson to star as the leads in what he envisioned as a ‘romantic adventure comedy thriller’ in the vein of Charade, wherein the protagonists embark on a chase from London to the Scottish Highlands to the French Riviera, in search of the most valuable bottle of wine in history. The title of the project relates to the year the McGuffin wine was bottled, 1811, which was known for the Great Comet of 1811, and also as one of the best years in history for European viticulture. The film sat un-made for almost 15 years, until eventually Goldman was able to leverage his success off the back of writing The Princess Bride and Misery and put it into production; Timothy Daly and Penelope Ann Miller were eventually cast as the leading pair, but despite some handsome production values and lovely location shooting, the film was a box office disaster, a critical flop, and almost immediately sank into obscurity. Read more…

HOWARDS END – Richard Robbins

April 21, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In the 1980s and early 1990s the producing-directing team of James Ivory and Ismail Merchant made a series of films based on classic late Victorian-era British novels, including several by the great E. M. Forster, whose examinations of the hypocrisy of the British class system made him one of the most acclaimed novelists of his generation. Howards End was the third Forster adaptation by Merchant-Ivory Productions, after A Room With a View in 1985, and Maurice in 1987, and it’s generally considered to be one of the best films they ever made, and one of the best films of the 1990s. It’s a film about society, class, warring families, and life in Edwardian London, with the titular country house serving as the prominent location around which all the drama unfolds. The film stars Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham-Carter, Anthony Hopkins, and Vanessa Redgrave, and was an enormous critical success, eventually going on to be nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and with Thompson winning Best Actress. Read more…

THUNDERHEART – James Horner

April 14, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Thunderheart is a serious, interesting murder-mystery thriller, directed by Michael Apted from an original screenplay by John Fusco. The film stars Val Kilmer as FBI agent Ray Levoi, who is sent to a Native American reservation in South Dakota to lead the investigation into the murder of a tribal council member; Levoi is of Sioux heritage, but has no connection to his tribe and his ancestry, and is reluctant to go. However, once he arrives on the reservation, he becomes increasingly convinced that a cover-up is happening, involving local authorities, an apparently dangerous militia group, and even members of the US government. The film co-stars Sam Shepard, Graham Greene, and Fred Ward, and was a modest box office hit, while also receiving critical acclaim for its tone, pacing, performances, and sympathetic portrayal of contemporary issues in Native American communities. Read more…

BASIC INSTINCT – Jerry Goldsmith

April 7, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Basic Instinct was one of the most commercially successful but socially controversial films of 1992. A murder-mystery thriller with strong sexual content, the film was written by Joe Eszterhas and directed by Paul Verhoeven. Michael Douglas starred as San Francisco police detective Nick Curran, who becomes involved in an intense sexual relationship with Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone), a mysterious and confident novelist, despite the fact that she is the prime suspect in the murder of her wealthy rock star boyfriend, who was stabbed to death with an ice pick while in flagrante. The film, which co-starred George Dzundza and Jeanne Tripplehorn, was controversial for several reasons – for its depiction of the ‘heroic detective’ as an amoral cocaine addict, for its brutal violence (including the opening murder and a subsequent rape sequence), and especially for its explicit sexual content, which included the now notorious scene where Sharon Stone flashes her vagina at police officers during an interrogation. Of course there had been successful mainstream erotic thrillers before – Dressed to Kill, Body Heat, Nine ½ Weeks, Fatal Attraction, and Jagged Edge, which Eszterhas also wrote – but Basic Instinct caught a wave of popularity and social zeitgeist, becoming one of the biggest grossing films of the year, and catapulting Sharon Stone to stardom. Read more…

RUBY – John Scott

March 31, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

November 22, 1993, marked the thirtieth anniversary of the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy, and in the years leading up to that memorial several films and TV shows were made looking at the details surrounding the event. The JFK assassination had fascinated the American public for decades, and the stories and conspiracy theories surrounding it had become stock-in-trade for filmmakers and authors. The most high profile film made during that period was JFK, written and directed by Oliver Stone and released in late 1991, but the spring of 1992 saw another film about the event – Ruby, directed by John Mackenzie. It takes a look at the life of one of the other important figures of the event: Texas nightclub owner Jack Ruby, who shot and killed JFK’s assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in the basement garage of a Dallas city police station two days after JFK’s death. The film starred Danny Aiello as Ruby, and has a supporting cast that included Sherilyn Fenn, Arliss Howard, David Duchovny, and Tobin Bell. Read more…

WIND – Basil Poledouris

March 16, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In the years immediately prior to his death in 2006, composer Basil Poledouris essentially retired from scoring and moved from the Los Angeles area to Vashon Island, off the coast of Seattle, Washington, where he indulged in his second greatest passion after music: sailing. Many composers are well known for their non-film music endeavors. Alan Silvestri owns a vineyard and makes his own wine, for example, and James Horner famously (and tragically) loved flying vintage planes. Once in a while the two passions are able to intersect, and for Poledouris that happened with the only score he wrote in 1992 – Wind. The film is a romantic adventure set in the world of America’s Cup yachting, which stars Matthew Modine and Jennifer Grey, and was directed by Carroll Ballard. The film is mostly forgotten today, but film music fans would be remiss if they forgot Poledouris’s score for it, because it allowed him to fully embrace the emotional rush that sailing provided for him, and inspired him to write one of his most personal scores. Read more…

WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD – Rachel Portman

March 10, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Where Angels Fear to Tread was one of several cinematic adaptations of novels by the British writer E. M. Forster in the 1980s and early 1990s, the others being A Passage to India, A Room With a View, and Howard’s End. Like all of Forster’s work it is a scathing examination of the British class system, its rigid mores and morals, and how those formal rules butt up against the passions bubbling underneath the proverbial stiff upper lips. This film adaptation is directed by Charles Sturridge and stars Helen Mirren as Lilia, a recent widow who travels from London to Tuscany in 1905 with her young companion Caroline (Helena Bonham-Carter). Shockingly, Lilia falls in love with a handsome and roguish Italian named Gino (Giovanni Guidelli), marries him, and falls pregnant, much to the dismay of her conservative and status-obsessed siblings (Rupert Graves and Judy Davis) back in England. As the two halves of the family fight over Lilia’s perceived unsuitable relationship, especially as it relates to the future of her unborn child, the disagreements quickly turn to tragedy for all involved. The title comes from the famous line in Alexander Pope’s 1711 poem ‘An Essay on Criticism’: for fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Read more…

DIÊN BIÊN PHÚ – Georges Delerue

March 3, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The city of Diên Biên Phú is located in the north-west of Vietnam, and was the site of the decisive battle of the First Indochina War in 1954. The conflict climaxed with 55 days of intense combat in which the French colonial army fought against local Vietnamese forces for the fate of the region. It was a terrible and bloody battle, with thousands killed as a result of anti-aircraft batteries, tank warfare, and ground assaults; the eventual result was a humiliating loss for the French, and victory for the Chinese and Russian-backed Viet Minh communist revolutionaries. In the immediate aftermath of the battle the Geneva Accords were signed, ending the war; France withdrew all its forces from its regional colonies in French Indochina, and the independent countries of North Vietnam and South Vietnam were created, although that would not be the end of the conflict, as less than a year later in 1955 the two sides then began battling each other for control of the entire country. The resulting Second Indochina War – known in the United States as the Vietnam War – would then rage on for twenty more years. Read more…

MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN – Shirley Walker

February 24, 2022 2 comments

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A comedy thriller with a science fiction twist, Memoirs of an Invisible Man is interesting for a number of reasons. First, it is one of the few films directed by John Carpenter where he was essentially a ‘director for hire’ as opposed to being an integral part of its production; the film was originally supposed to be an Ivan Reitman project until he clashed with star Chevy Chase. The whole thing was a Chase vanity project intended to usher him into more serious leading man roles; he plays mild-mannered stockbroker Nick Halloway, who is rendered invisible following an accident at a hi tech laboratory, and spends the rest of the movie evading a corrupt CIA operative who wants to either recruit him to be a spy, or kill him to stop Nick from exposing his corruption. The film co-stars Daryl Hannah and Sam Neill, but unfortunately was something of a critical and commercial flop. Read more…

RADIO FLYER – Hans Zimmer

February 18, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Radio Flyer was a somewhat misguided nostalgic drama directed by Richard Donner from a screenplay by David Mickey Evans. The film stars Tom Hanks as Mike, a middle-aged man telling the story of his childhood in the 1960s to his two sons; 11-year-old Mike (Elijah Wood) and his younger brother Bobby (Joseph Mazzello) find their lives altered irrevocably when their divorced mother (Lorraine Bracco) marries a man they know as ‘the King’ and moves them all to California. The King is a drunk and is physically abusive, especially towards Bobby, and so as a way to escape their situation the boys fantasize about modifying their ‘Radio Flyer’ toy wagon into an aeroplane, and flying away. Despite clearly being a look at an abusive relationship through the eyes of a child, and an unreliable narrator at that, the film was heavily criticized for what some saw as trivializing a serious subject, with critic Roger Ebert being especially ‘appalled’ by the film’s ending. As such, the film is mostly forgotten today, a footnote in the otherwise successful careers of its creators and stars. Read more…

FINAL ANALYSIS – George Fenton

February 10, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Final Analysis was one of several ‘sexy thrillers’ that mainstream Hollywood produced in 1992 and 1993 – others included Basic Instinct and Body of Evidence – which sought to capitalize on the fact that there were several good looking leading men and women by putting them in various stages of undress and elements of danger. This film was directed by Phil Joanou from a screenplay by Wesley Strick, and was made as a clear homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Richard Gere plays San Francisco-based psychiatrist Isaac Barr, who is drawn into a torrid affair with Heather (Kim Basinger), the sister of his current patient Diana (Uma Thurman). When Heather reveals to Barr that she is married to gangster Jimmy Evans (Eric Roberts), and wants out of the relationship, Isaac commits to helping her – but there is more to Heather than meets the eye, and before long Barr is drawn into a web of deceit and murder. Read more…

MEDICINE MAN – Jerry Goldsmith

January 27, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Medicine Man is a drama with an ecological theme, written by Tom Schulman and Sally Robinson, and directed by John McTiernan, who at that time was one of Hollywood’s premier directors, hot on the heels of Predator, Die Hard, and The Hunt for Red October. The film stars Sean Connery as Dr. Robert Campbell, a medical researcher working deep in the Amazonian rainforest, who has gone missing after his wife and research partner abandon him. The pharmaceutical company funding Campbell’s work sends Dr. Rae Crane (Lorraine Bracco) – a brash, tough talking New Yorker – to find him; eventually, she locates him working in a remote tribal village, but they clash immediately, with Campbell’s latent sexism and bad-temperedness preventing him from taking her seriously, and with Rae being desperately unsuited to life in the jungle. However, the two bury their differences when a new threat emerges: a Brazilian logging company is building a road nearby, which threatens to displace the local native population, and potentially destroy the plant that Campbell believes may provide a cure for cancer. Read more…

SHINING THROUGH – Michael Kamen

January 20, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Shining Through is an old-fashioned World War II spy thriller with a romantic undercurrent, written and directed by David Seltzer, based on the novel by Susan Isaacs. The film stars Melanie Griffith as Linda Voss, a clerk in a New York law office, who gets swept up into a world of espionage and intrigue when her employer, attorney Ed Leland (Michael Douglas), discovers she speaks German. Ed is secretly a colonel in the OSS, and he enlists Linda for an important assignment: she is to travel to Berlin and, while posing as a member of the household staff of a Nazi officer, steal top-secret plans for a missile weapon the Germans are developing. The film co-stars Liam Neeson, Joely Richardson, and John Gielgud, and has excellent technical pedigree, but unfortunately was a critical flop and a commercial disaster: critic Roger Ebert wrote that Shining Through was “such an insult to the intelligence that I wasn’t able to suspend my disbelief … scene after scene is so implausible that the movie kept pushing me outside and making me ask how the key scenes could possibly be taken seriously”. As such, the film is mostly forgotten today, a footnote in the careers of its three main stars. Read more…