Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Throwback Thirty’

A FISH CALLED WANDA – John Du Prez

August 2, 2018 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A Fish Called Wanda is one of the best comedies of the 1980s – one part romance, one part crime caper, one part English farce – which teams several members of the classic Monty Python comedy troupe with several popular American stars. Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Kline play Wanda and Otto, American jewel thieves in London who, along with stuttering getaway driver Ken (Michael Palin) and East End gangster George (Tom Georgeson), plan an elaborate diamond heist. However, in-fighting and double-crossing within the gang leads to George being arrested, which proves to be a problem for everyone else as he is the only one who knows where the loot has been stashed. In order to get information about the location of the diamonds, Wanda decides to seduce George’s barrister, Archie Leach (the irrepressible John Cleese), a repressed middle-class Englishman stuck in a loveless marriage. Archie, flattered by the attention, immediately falls for Wanda, but shockingly Wanda also finds herself genuinely attracted in return – which causes more friction within the gang, not least because Otto and Wanda are also secretly lovers themselves. Read more…

Advertisements

WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT – Alan Silvestri

July 26, 2018 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

When cinematic scholars make lists of truly groundbreaking films, very few of them ever mention Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but in my opinion they absolutely should. It’s an anarchic action-comedy-murder mystery directed by Robert Zemeckis, adapted from a novel by Gary K. Wolf. Set in Los Angeles in the 1940s, the film stars Bob Hoskins as Eddie Valiant, a down-on-his-luck private detective who is hired by the head of a movie studio to investigate the wife of one of its box office stars; there are rumors that she is having an affair, and the studio feels that the scuttlebutt is affecting their star’s performances. But here’s the catch: the star in question is a cartoon rabbit named Roger, and this version of Los Angeles is an alternate universe where all the classic animated characters from Disney and Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes live side-by-side with humans. As the plot progresses Eddie and Roger team up when Roger is accused of murder; as Eddie tries to exonerate the bothersome bunny he crosses paths not only with Roger’s sensationally seductive wife Jessica, but a creepy law enforcement officer named Judge Doom, who has a pathological hatred of cartoons, and wants Roger to pay the ultimate price for his alleged crime. The film co-stars Christopher Lloyd and Joanna Cassidy, as well as the voices of Charles Fleischer and Kathleen Turner. Read more…

RED HEAT – James Horner

June 14, 2018 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The action comedy buddy-cop movie reached new heights in the summer of 1988 with the release of Red Heat, which was a vehicle for the increasing box office power of action star Arnold Schwarzenegger. In this film directed by Walter Hill, Schwarzenegger plays Ivan Danko, a captain in the Moscow police, whose partner is killed by drug dealer and crime boss Rostavili (Ed O’Ross). Rostavili flees to the United States and disappears into the Chicago underworld; he is arrested by local cop Art Ridzik (Jim Belushi) in connection with several murders, and Danko arrives from Moscow to oversee his extradition back to the Soviet Union. However, when Rostavili escapes again, Danko and Ridzik are paired with each other as partners and tasked with catching him again and bringing him to justice. In addition to the usual fight scenes where Schwarzenegger was able to show off his impressive physique, Red Heat was interesting because of its Cold War overtones. In 1988 the Berlin Wall was still up, the Soviet Union was still a world superpower, and the idea of pairing a traditional wise-cracking donut-munching beat cop with a stoic, by-the-book Soviet detective allowed the filmmakers to use them as a microcosm to explore the political tensions of the era, as well as to inject some fish-out-of-water social commentary as Danko observes and criticizes American consumerism and decadence from a communist point of view. Read more…

BIG – Howard Shore

June 7, 2018 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Big was one of the most popular and successful comedies of 1988 – in fact, of the 1980s as a whole – and was, in many ways, the film which made Tom Hanks a bonafide box office star. Directed by Penny Marshall from a screenplay by Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg, Big is the story of childhood wish fulfillment, in which a regular 12 year old boy from New Jersey named Josh Baskin makes a wish ‘to be big’ on an old fortune teller machine at a traveling carnival, and then wakes up the following morning transformed into a 30 year old man (Hanks). After having terrified his mother, who believes that adult Josh is actually a kidnapper holding her son for ransom, he calls on his best friend Billy (Jared Rushton) for help, and together they travel to Manhattan to track down the carnival – only to be told that it will take months for the paperwork to come through. In the meantime, through a fortuitous set of circumstances, Josh manages to get a job at a toy company, working for the gruff but kindly Mr. MacMillan (Robert Loggia). He impresses his new colleagues – including the beautiful Susan (Elizabeth Perkins), who soon falls for Josh’s ‘child-like’ charm – but as much as Josh begins to enjoy his new adult life, he continues to search for the fortune teller machine so he can return home. Read more…

RAMBO III – Jerry Goldsmith

May 31, 2018 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Sylvester Stallone’s position as one of the decade’s most bankable Hollywood stars continued in 1988 with Rambo III, the third film about the exploits of John Rambo, a bitter and damaged Vietnam-era Special Forces veteran who keeps getting dragged back into war zones no matter how much he tries to live a quiet life. Directed by Peter MacDonald and written by Stallone himself with Sheldon Lettitch, Rambo III begins with Rambo being visited by his old army colonel Sam Trautman (Richard Crenna), who tries to recruit him for a covert special ops mission to bring weapons to mujahedeen freedom fighters battling the Soviets in Afghanistan. Rambo refuses, but is eventually drawn into the conflict anyway weeks later when he learns that the mission was a disaster, and Trautman is now being held captive by a the sadistic Soviet colonel Alexei Zaysen (Marc de Jonge). Vowing to rescue his friend and bring him home, Rambo travels to the region alone, intending to wage a one-man war on the kidnappers. Read more…

WILLOW – James Horner

May 24, 2018 2 comments

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Willow is a high fantasy film, which takes well-loved genre tropes from Lord of the Rings and elsewhere, and casts them in an adventure filled with magic, monsters, evil queens, beautiful princesses, soaring romance, daring sword fights, and much much more. Written by Bob Dolman from a story by George Lucas, and directed by Ron Howard, Willow is the story of a newborn baby prophesized to bring about the downfall of the evil witch Queen Bavmorda; to prevent the prophecy from coming to pass Bavmorda imprisons all expectant mothers, but after it is born, the baby is smuggled out of Bavmorda’s castle by a midwife, and eventually finds its way into the hands of Willow Ufgood, a Nelwyn (dwarf) farmer and aspiring magician. Determined to protect the baby, Willow journeys far from his home, and eventually finds himself in the company of a roguish swordfighter named Madmartigan, the good witch Fin Raziel, and a pair of mischievous woodland sprites. As the story progresses they all become involved in a large scale war between Bavmorda’s army and those who oppose her, while Bavmorda’s daughter Sorsha and the fearsome General Kael continue to hunt for the baby. The film stars Warwick Davis, Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley, and Jean Marsh, and has a spectacular original score by James Horner. Read more…

A WORLD APART – Hans Zimmer

April 26, 2018 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

As I wrote in my review for James Newton Howard’s Russkies last year, one of my favorite things about the Throwback Thirty series is the opportunity it gives me to take a look back at the very beginnings of certain composers’ careers, and examine how they started and where they came from. But first, a little background on the movie: A World Apart is an anti-Apartheid drama from the acclaimed cinematographer Chris Menges, who was making his directorial debut; it was written by Shawn Slovo, and loosely based on the lives of her parents, Ruth First and Joe Slovo. Set in South Africa in 1963, the film tells the story of Diana and Gus Roth, who are strong and determined anti-Apartheid activists. Despite being white and wealthy the Roths are frequently involved in public demonstrations and high profile political activism against the racist South African government, and as a result are often subjected to police brutality, violence, and societal ostracism – something which their pre-teen daughter Molly struggles to understand. The film stars Barbara Hershey, Jeroen Krabbé, a young Tim Roth, and a then 10-year-old Jodhi May, and was a significant critical success in Europe, winning a BAFTA for Best Screenplay, and receiving commendations at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival. Read more…