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Posts Tagged ‘Throwback Thirty’

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…

TOURS DU MONDE, TOURS DU CIEL – Georges Delerue

March 25, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Tours du Monde, Tours du Ciel was a groundbreaking 10-part French documentary series broadcast on the La Sept network in 1991. Like the similarly-themed Cosmos, which was presented by Carl Sagan on American television in 1980, it attempted to tell the history of astronomy, from the prehistoric era to the classical Greeks and Romans, through the work of Copernicus and Galileo and Kepler, to the present day, as scientists around the world continue to seek to unlock the secrets of the universe by observing the sky. The series featured interviews with numerous contemporary astronomers and scientists, interspersed with archaeological footage, and spectacular imagery of space; it was directed by Robert Pansard-Besson, and is still recognized today as one of the most important French-language scientific documentaries of all time. Read more…

CLASS ACTION – James Horner

March 18, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Class Action is a courtroom drama directed by Michael Apted, starring Gene Hackman and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. Hackman plays Jedidiah Ward, a liberal civil rights lawyer who is hired to file a lawsuit against a major auto manufacturer whose station wagons have a dangerous design flaw. The case becomes more complicated for him when he discovers that his daughter Maggie (Mastrantonio) is representing the firm he’s suing; Jedidiah and Maggie have been estranged for many years ever since she discovered that he was cheating on his wife, her mother. The film is intended to be an indictment of corporate greed, specifically companies which weigh financial risk against public interest, while also providing a father-daughter redemption story. The film co-stars Colin Friels, Joanna Merlin, and Laurence Fishburne, and has a score by James Horner. Read more…

SHIPWRECKED – Patrick Doyle

March 11, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Despite writing what is generally considered to be one of the greatest debut scores in film music history in 1989 for Henry V, Patrick Doyle was for some reason slow to capitalize on this success. His sophomore work was not for another prestigious drama or major studio feature, but was instead for this film: Shipwrecked, a sort-of Norwegian version of Treasure Island or Robinson Crusoe. The film was adapted from the popular series of historical novels by Oluf Vilhelm Falck-Ytter about the character Hakon Hakonsen, a young Norwegian boy in the 1850s who takes a job as a cabin boy on a ship to support his family, and subsequently has a number of fantastic adventures on the high seas. The film was directed by Nils Gaup, stars Stian Smestad, Louisa Haigh, and Gabriel Byrne, and was released by Walt Disney in the United States in 1991 several months after it was released to general critical and popular acclaim in its home country. Read more…

THE NEVERENDING STORY II: THE NEXT CHAPTER – Robert Folk

March 4, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A belated sequel to the original 1984 classic fantasy film, The Neverending Story II is based partially on the second part of Michael Ende’s original novel, albeit with a significantly altered ending. Jonathan Brandis takes over from Barret Oliver as Bastian, who returns to the land of Fantasia via the titular book in order to seek advice on courage. Before long Bastian is again drawn into a new adventure alongside Atreyu (Kenny Morrison taking over from Noah Hathaway), the Childlike Empress (Alexandra Johnes taking over from Tami Stronach), and Falkor the Luck Dragon, as they seek to stop an evil sorceress called Xayide from destroying the world. The film was directed by Scottish filmmaker George T. Miller, and has an original score by Robert Folk. Read more…

ONCE AROUND – James Horner

February 25, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Once Around is a romantic comedy-drama about family dynamics, cultural differences, and finding love late in life. Holly Hunter stars as Renata, the oldest daughter of a sprawling Italian-American family, and the only unmarried offspring of patriarch Joe (Danny Aiello). While on a vacation in the Caribbean Renata meets and falls in love with Sam (Richard Dreyfuss), an abrasive chain-smoking salesman of Russian heritage. Despite his best intentions Sam continually causes rifts and arguments between different members of Renata’s family – until a medical emergency causes them all to stop and think about what love actually means. The film was directed by Lasse Hallström from a screenplay by Malia Scotch Marmo, co-stars Laura San Giacomo and Gena Rowlands, and has an original score by James Horner. Read more…

THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS – Howard Shore

February 19, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Despite having first appeared on screen in 1986 in director Michael Mann’s Manhunter, the character Hannibal Lecter exploded into public consciousness five years later with this film, The Silence of the Lambs. Based on the best-selling novel by Thomas Harris and directed by Jonathan Demme, the film follows the investigation into a serial killer dubbed ‘Buffalo Bill,’ who abducts young women and methodically strips skin from their bodies before murdering them. Rookie FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is tasked by Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn), the head of the Behavioral Science Unit, to visit and interview the incarcerated Lecter (Anthony Hopkins in a career-defining role); as well as being a cannibalistic serial killer himself, Lecter is also a brilliant psychologist, and it is believed his insight may help the FBI catch ‘Bill’ before he kills again. However, as well as helping build up a profile of the murderer, Lecter also convinces Clarice to provide details of her own life as part of a ‘quid pro quo’ arrangement, and the two begin an unlikely intellectual relationship that threatens to derail the investigation. Read more…

SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY – Jerry Goldsmith

February 11, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the biggest box office successes of 1991, Sleeping With the Enemy is a psychological thriller directed by Joseph Rubin, written by Ronald Bass from the novel by Nancy Price. Julia Roberts stars as Laura Burney, a Massachusetts housewife whose seemingly perfect marriage to Martin (Patrick Bergin) is shown in private to be a repeating pattern of physical and emotional abuse, gaslighting, and obsessive compulsion. Desperate to escape, Laura fakes her own death in a boating accident, moves to Iowa, and starts a new life under an assumed name. Before long she finds herself attracted to a kind and handsome college professor (Kevin Anderson) and starts a tentative relationship; meanwhile, back in Boston, Martin starts to suspect that Laura is not dead, and begins to make vengeful plans to get his wife back. He can’t live without her, and I won’t let her live without him. Read more…

NOT WITHOUT MY DAUGHTER – Jerry Goldsmith

February 5, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Not Without My Daughter was a true-life political drama/thriller directed by Brian Gilbert, based on the autobiographical book of the same name by Betty Mahmoody and William Hoffer. Sally Field plays Betty, a typical American housewife and mother married to an Iranian doctor, Sayed Mahmoody (Alfred Molina). When Betty and Sayed travel to Iran to visit his family, Betty finds herself plunged into a nightmare when Sayed announces that they will be staying in the country; surrounded by an unfamiliar culture, and with Sayed becoming increasingly abusive and controlling, Betty makes the difficult decision to flee the country and return to the United States, and hatches a dangerous plan to smuggle herself and her daughter across the border to the US consulate in Turkey. Read more…

LIONHEART – John Scott

January 28, 2021 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the most unlikely movie stars of the 1990s – or any decade, really – was the Belgian martial arts champion Jean-Claude Van Damme. A fortuitous series of events led to him becoming friends with fellow action movie star Chuck Norris, which in turn led to his breakout acting performance in the film Bloodsport in 1988. Through subsequent films like Cyborg and Kickboxer, Van Damme’s reputation for choreographing bone crunching action sequences made him a sort of B-movie equivalent to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, a man for whom all problems can be solved with a roundhouse kick to the face. The 1991 action movie Lionheart was the first Van Damme movie financed by a major studio (Universal); in it he plays Lyon Gaultier, an officer in the French Foreign Legion stationed in Djibouti who is forced to go AWOL and travel to Los Angeles to look after his seriously injured twin brother and his family. In order to pay for the medical care Gaultier agrees to take part in a series of underground martial arts fights – and if that were not enough, he also discovers that his superiors in the French military are searching for him, so that he can be court-martialed for desertion. The film was directed by Sheldon Lettich, and co-stars Harrison Page and Deborah Rennard. Read more…

GREEN CARD – Hans Zimmer

January 21, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Green Card is a romantic comedy-drama written and directed by Peter Weir, starring Gérard Depardieu and Andie MacDowell. Depardieu plays Georges Fauré, an undocumented immigrant from France living in New York, who enters into a ‘green card marriage’ with MacDowell’s character, Brontë Parrish, so that he can stay in the United States. In order to fool the agents from the Immigration and Naturalization Service who are reviewing their case, Georges and Brontë agree to move in together, but quickly find that they have absolutely nothing in common, and before long they can barely tolerate each other. However, true love has a way of emerging in stories like this – and such is the case here, with plenty of hi-jinks and cross-cultural misunderstandings along the way. Green Card was the first English-language leading role for Gérard Depardieu, who was already considered the finest French actor of his generation, and it was mostly a success, with Depardieu winning the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. Read more…