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Posts Tagged ‘Throwback Thirty’

ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES – Michael Kamen

July 8, 2021 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the biggest blockbusters of 1991 was Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, a big-budget historical action epic directed by Kevin Reynolds, based on the classic legends of the medieval English outlaw Robin Hood. Somewhat astonishingly, the producers cast Hollywood star Kevin Costner in the title role, and he made no attempt to do anything approaching an English accent, and in the end sounded less than he was from Sherwood Forest and more like he was from Malibu Canyon, going to “sup with his father in Notting-HAM”. Despite this, and despite some terrible lapses in geographic specificity (Robin walks from Dover to Loxley via Hadrian’s Wall in a single day, a trip of roughly 470 miles), the film is nevertheless a terrifically entertaining romp. It features some rousing action sequences, Morgan Freeman dispenses sage wisdom wherever he goes as the Moorish warrior Azeem, there’s a lovely Maid Marian in the shape of Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and – best of all – we have Alan Rickman hamming it up, chewing the scenery, and having a ball as a Sheriff of Nottingham whose tongue is as cutting as his blade. Read more…

THE ROCKETEER – James Horner

July 1, 2021 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Rocketeer is an early entry into the annals of Disney comic book action movies, and is based on a character created by Dave Stevens for Pacific Comics in 1982. The film is set in Los Angeles in 1938 and stars Billy Campbell as Cliff Secord, a stunt pilot working for Howard Hughes in the early years of Hollywood. A pair of mafia gangsters steal a prototype jetpack from Hughes, and events lead to the jetpack coming into Secord’s possession; seeing a chance to further his career, Secord re-invents himself as the high-flying Rocketeer, and he wows the crowds at a local airshow, but his antics bring him to the attention of both the police and the FBI, and get him mixed up with the sinister forces who arranged for the initial theft, and who have plans for the jet pack that stretch way beyond Hollywood. The film was directed by Joe Johnston, and has a wonderful supporting cast that includes Alan Arkin as Cliff’s gruff friend Peevy, Jennifer Connelly as Cliff’s sensationally sexy nightclub singer/actress girlfriend Jenny, Terry O’Quinn as Howard Hughes, and Timothy Dalton as the devilishly handsome matinee idol actor Neville Sinclair, to whom there is more than meets the eye. The whole movie is awash in stylish art-deco production design that glamorizes the Hollywood of the 1930s, and is capped off by a sensational score from James Horner. Read more…

BRIGHT ANGEL – Christopher Young

June 24, 2021 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A thoughtful, contemplative road movie with a neo-western vibe, Bright Angel was directed by Michael Field, with a screenplay adapted from an acclaimed short story by novelist Richard Ford. The film stars Dermot Mulroney as George, a disaffected teenager from Montana whose mental health and grip on sanity is deteriorating due to the constant fights between his parents. Running away from home and hitting the road, he meets a quirky fellow runaway from Wyoming named Lucy (Lili Taylor), who is hitchhiking south to Arizona and intends to help her brother get out of jail. George agrees to help her, and soon the unlikely pair are traversing the American west, and attempting to find meaning in the darkness of their lives. The film co-stars Sam Shepard, Valerie Perrine, and Bill Pullman, and has a terrific, underrated score by Christopher Young. Read more…

CITY SLICKERS – Marc Shaiman

June 17, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

City Slickers is a hilarious fish-out-of-water comedy directed by Ron Underwood, written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel. The film stars Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern, and Bruno Kirby as Mitch, Phil, and Ed, three friends who constantly seek out new and increasingly dangerous ‘weekend experiences’ as a distraction from their boring jobs, unsatisfactory marriages, and impending midlife crises. After a trip to Spain to take part in the ‘running of the bulls’ turns into a disaster, the trio attempt something closer to home: a two-week cattle drive vacation, riding horses and being “dude cowboys” across the American west. After meeting up with the other members of the group and heading out into the big country, the trio quickly find themselves very much out of their depth, raising the ire and disdain of the grizzled trail boss Curly (Jack Palance). However, an unexpected tragedy forces the three of them to put aside their fears and neuroses and work together to save themselves, the cattle, and their fellow ‘city slickers’. The film co-starred Patricia Wettig, Helen Slater, and Noble Willingham, and was a popular success both with critics and audiences, culminating in an unexpected Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Palance at the age of 73 – who celebrated by doing one-armed push-ups on the Academy stage! Read more…

SOAPDISH – Alan Silvestri

June 10, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A hilarious send-up of American daytime soap operas, Soapdish is directed by Michael Hoffman and features an all-star ensemble cast including Sally Field, Kevin Kline, Robert Downey Jr., Cathy Moriarty, Whoopi Goldberg, Carrie Fisher, and Elisabeth Shue. The film is set in the world of a fictional soap opera – The Sun Also Sets – and follows the various shenanigans both on-set and behind the scenes, involving professional rivalries and former love interests, familial drama, raging egos within the cast, and desperate attempts by the show’s producers to revive their flagging ratings by coming up with new storylines, each one more sensational and implausible than the last. It’s a fun, fast-paced, knowing parody of the genre, but unfortunately it wasn’t a hit with either critics or audiences, who presumably would rather stay home watch the real thing. Read more…

HUDSON HAWK – Michael Kamen and Robert Kraft

June 3, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Hudson Hawk was an action-comedy vehicle for a post-Die Hard Bruce Willis, directed by Michael Lehmann. Willis plays Eddie Hawkins, a master thief who, on the day of his parole from prison, suddenly finds himself blackmailed into committing a series of elaborate heists. The complicated plot involves the Italian Mafia, an evil international conglomerate, the artwork of Leonardo da Vinci, and a machine that turns lead into gold, but it’s really just an excuse for Willis and his co-star Danny Aiello to engage in various globe-trotting escapades of comic tomfoolery. The film co-stars Andie MacDowell, James Coburn, and Richard E. Grant, and unfortunately was an enormous box-office flop; audiences seemingly couldn’t reconcile Willis’s tough guy persona with the film’s slapstick comedy action, bizarre sound effects, and surreal humor. Read more…

THELMA & LOUISE – Hans Zimmer

May 27, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A classic road movie about revenge and female empowerment, Thelma & Louise stars Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis in the titular roles as a pair of meek housewives who get a new lease on life when they decide to go on a weekend vacation away from their husbands in Thelma’s 1966 Ford Thunderbird. Things go horribly wrong when the pair stop for a drink at a roadhouse bar, and Thelma is attacked and almost raped in the parking lot by a local. The incident leaves the attacker dead of a gunshot wound – killed by a furious Louise – and results in an extended chase across the American west, as the two women are pursued by a dogged sheriff (Harvey Keitel) determined to bring them to justice. The film was directed by Ridley Scott, co-starred Michael Madsen and a very young Brad Pitt, and received a great deal of critical and commercial acclaim, with its screenplay by Callie Khouri winning the Oscar that year. The on-screen relationship between Thelma and Louise has been called a breakthrough for feminist filmmaking, while the final scene at the rim of the Grand Canyon is now considered iconic. Read more…

BACKDRAFT – Hans Zimmer

May 20, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Backdraft is one of the best action movies of the 1990s, an action thriller murder-mystery set within the world of hotshot Chicago firefighters. Kurt Russell and William Baldwin star as brothers Stephen and Brian McCaffrey; Stephen is a fearless hero, while Brian has always lived in his shadow. After an incident on the job where a fellow firefighter was almost killed, Brian is reassigned to help veteran arson investigator Donald Rimgale (Robert De Niro) with his latest case, in which a number of prominent local businessmen and politicians have been murdered in fires involving a phenomenon known as a ‘backdraft’. As Rimgale and Brian dig into the circumstances of the fires, the investigative trail soon leads them in the directions of both a corrupt local alderman, and back to Stephen’s firehouse. The film was directed by Ron Howard, co-stars Scott Glenn, Donald Sutherland, and Jennifer Jason Leigh, and is a magnificent edge-of-seat thriller that combines political skullduggery and familial drama with a number of sensational fiery action sequences that quicken the pulse and make your palms sweat with tension. The film was a massive commercial success, grossing almost $80 million in the US alone, and received three Academy Award nominations, for Visual Effects, Sound, and Sound Effects Editing. Read more…

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES II: THE SECRET OF THE OOZE – John Du Prez

May 13, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The enormous success of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie in 1990, as well as the continuing popularity of the related Saturday morning cartoon, led to an insta-sequel being commissioned by New Line Cinema. The result is this film, subtitled ‘The Secret of the Ooze,’ directed by Michael Pressman. The Secret of the Ooze follows the adventures of the four eponymous turtles – Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, Raphael – and their Master Splinter. Following the events of the first film, the evil Shredder returns to take back command of the Foot Clan, and vows revenge against the Turtles who vanquished him – and sees away to take that revenge when he learns the secret behind the Turtles’ original mutation. The film stars Paige Turco and David Warner alongside the rubber-suited stuntmen performing the physical action of the turtles, and was a popular hit with the kids, who reacted favorably to the film’s broad humor and even more broad ninja action. Read more…

THE DOUBLE LIFE OF VERONIKA – Zbigniew Preisner

May 6, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Double Life of Veronika, or La Double Vie de Véronique, is a French-Polish drama film written and directed by the late great auteur Krzysztof Kieślowski. It tells the story of two nearly identical women, one living in Poland, the other in France, who do not know each other, but whose lives are nevertheless profoundly connected. Irène Jacob plays both women; Weronika, a Polish choir soprano, and her double, Véronique, a French music teacher, who embarks on an unusual romance with Alexandre (Philippe Volter), a puppeteer who may be able to help her with her existential issues. The Criterion Collection DVD of the film calls it “a ravishing, mysterious rumination on identity, love, and human intuition,” and there’s really nothing more I can add to that. It’s a visual tone poem, an enigmatic exploration of these two women’s lives, in which music plays an important part. Read more…

OSCAR – Elmer Bernstein

April 29, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Oscar is a comedy film starring Sylvester Stallone, directed by John Landis, adapted from Édouard Molinaro’s 1967 French film of the same name. Stallone plays Angelo “Snaps” Provolone, a gangster in New York in the 1930s, who promises his dying father that he will give up a life of crime and go straight. However, no matter how hard he tries, he keeps getting pulled back into his old ways, and the local police refuse to believe that he has reformed. Not only that, Snaps has to deal with a series of comic misunderstandings involving his accountant, his wanderlust-stricken daughter, a case of mistaken identity, a fake pregnancy, and his former chauffeur Oscar, who unwittingly becomes the center of attention of everything. The film has an astonishing supporting cast – including Ornella Muti, Don Ameche, Tim Curry, Chazz Palminteri, Kirk Douglas, and Marisa Tomei in her mainstream screen debut – but unfortunately the film was a flop, mostly because people couldn’t see Stallone in a comedy role. As director Landis said later, “people couldn’t understand why he didn’t take his shirt off and kill anybody”. Read more…

TOY SOLDIERS – Robert Folk

April 22, 2021 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Toy Soldiers is an action drama directed by Daniel Petrie Jr., from a screenplay written by David Koepp. The plot concerns a Colombian terrorist, Luis Cali (Andrew Divoff), who launches a violent assault on an elite American prep school where the son of the judge who is prosecuting his drug lord father is a student. When his intended target cannot be found, Cali instead takes the entire school hostage, including the dean (Louis Gossett) and headmaster (Denholm Elliott), demanding that his father be released. However, Cali doesn’t count on a group of resourceful and rebellious students – Sean Astin and Wil Wheaton among them – who take steps to end the siege before the authorities can end it themselves. The film was a modest box office success back when it was released, but it has mostly been forgotten these days, which is quite unfortunate because it is not without its guilty pleasures. Read more…

THE HARD WAY – Arthur B. Rubinstein

April 15, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the first star vehicles written for Michael J. Fox to capitalize on his post-Back to the Future popularity was this film, the action-comedy The Hard Way, directed by John Badham. Fox plays Nick Lang, a popular movie star who is researching his next role, playing a tough on-screen detective. As part of his preparation Lang asks to observe a real life tough cop, and is partnered with John Moss, a hard-boiled NYPD veteran, played by James Woods. Moss is irritated by Lang’s superficiality and irritating cheerfulness, and initially grudgingly agrees to go along with things, but soon is trying everything in order to get Nick out of his life – until the pair of them get involved in the case of the so-called Party Crasher, a serial killer targeting women he finds in nightclubs. The film co-starred Stephen Lang and Annabella Sciorra, and featured a genuinely great score by the late Arthur B. Rubinstein. Read more…

DEFENDING YOUR LIFE – Michael Gore

April 8, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Defending Your Life is a high concept comedy-drama written, directed by, and starring Albert Brooks. He plays Los Angeles advertising exec Daniel Miller, who is hit by a bus and killed within minutes of the film starting. He awakens in the ‘waiting zone’ between Earth and the afterlife, which is an interconnected complex of luxury resort hotels featuring every imaginable convenience. The catch is that, in order to successfully transition to heaven, the newly-deceased Daniel must ‘defend his life’ with the help of an assigned lawyer, and argue a case before a panel of judges, who will determine whether he lived his life on Earth well. If he is unsuccessful his soul will be reincarnated to live another life on Earth, where he will have another attempt at moving past his fears. While undergoing this process Daniel meets and falls in love with Julia (Meryl Streep), a recently deceased woman, who is taking the same tests. The film, which co-stars Rip Torn and Lee Grant, is an unusual mix of whimsical comedy, light romance, and existential philosophy, but was very well-received when it was first released, with Roger Ebert calling it “funny in a warm, fuzzy way” and a film with a “splendidly satisfactory ending”. Read more…

THE COMFORT OF STRANGERS – Angelo Badalamenti

April 1, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Comfort of Strangers is a psychological thriller directed by Paul Schrader, adapted by Harold Pinter from the novel by Ian McEwan. Rupert Everett and Natasha Richardson play Colin and Mary, an English couple on vacation in Venice, looking to rekindle the spark in their relationship. The couple makes the acquaintance of Roberto (Christopher Walken), a bar owner, and the three of them spend an evening drinking together and swapping life stories. However, after Roberto introduces them to his wife Caroline (Helen Mirren), it soon becomes apparent that their ‘chance encounter’ was not quite as random as it first appeared, and before long things are spiraling out of control into a web of lies, obsession, and dangerous sexuality. Read more…