DIVERGENT – Tom Holkenborg

April 6, 2014 Leave a comment

divergentOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Divergent is the latest “young adult” fantasy-action novel to be translated to the big screen, hoping to follow in the financially successful footsteps of The Hunger Games, and avoid the relative disaster that befell The Mortal Instruments. Directed by Neil Burger from the novel by Veronica Roth, it stars Shailene Woodley Tris, a young girl born into a post-apocalyptic society that defines and controls its citizens by their social and personality-related affiliation with five different factions representing selflessness, peacefulness, honesty, bravery and intelligence. When she comes of age, Tris discovers that she is a ‘divergent’ whose personality does not fit in with any one of the pre-determined factions, and is therefore a threat to the established order. Hiding her secret, Tris chooses to join the Dauntless faction associated with bravery, which is charged with the security of the city, but while she undergoes her training and initiation, Tris discovers a troubling plot which threatens to destabilize the world. The film co-stars Theo James, Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz and Kate Winslet, and has a score by Dutch composer Tom Holkenborg, aka Junkie XL. Read more…

NOAH – Clint Mansell

April 2, 2014 2 comments

noahOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The story of Noah, in terms of the Christian bible, is a fairly simple one: having become displeased with the corruption and cruelty of mankind, God makes the decision to essentially ‘wipe the slate clean’ and destroy humanity by way of a great flood. In order to preserve some semblance of life, God tasks Noah with building an enormous wooden ark into which he can fit a male and female specimen of every animal and bird on the planet – every creeping thing that creeps – so that life may begin again once the flood subsides. According to the story, which originally appears in the book of Genesis, it rains for forty days and forty nights, all of the evil of the world of washed away, and humanity began again anew. Darren Aronofsky’s visually staggering, theologically progressive film builds on the original biblical story and adds more action and fantasy elements, including a vicious antagonist who rebels against God and wants to take the ark for himself, and featuring a race of beings known as The Watchers, fallen angels cursed to be bound in a stony prison. Russell Crowe headlines the cast as Noah himself, with support from Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone and Emma Watson. Read more…

MAX STEINER – Fathers of Film Music, Part 1

April 1, 2014 1 comment

Max SteinerArticle by Craig Lysy

Born: 10 May 1888, Vienna, Austria.
Died: 28 December 1971

Maximilian Raoul Walter Steiner stands as one of the greatest film score composers of all time, and has earned the great honor of being referred to as “the father of film music”. He was born in the late 19th century in Vienna, capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Steiner was the only child of a wealthy Jewish theatrical family whose upbringing nurtured his nascent talent for music. It suffices to say that his innate musical gifts were nothing short of remarkable and he quickly gained renown as a child prodigy, conducting his first operetta at twelve years of age. As such, his parents wisely sent him to the venerable Imperial Academy of Music in Vienna where he was privately tutored by Robert Fuchs and Gustav Mahler with courses in composition, orchestral instruments, counterpoint and harmony. Most remarkable was his completion of a four-year course in only one year, an achievement for which he was awarded a gold medal by the academy. Read more…

Introducing the Fathers of Film Music series

March 30, 2014 Leave a comment

As you all may be aware, I have an unabashed passion for Golden Age film scores. I was very happy to join Movie Music UK in 2010 and be given the opportunity to review the wonderful scores from this era. Sometime ago I had an idea to enhance the MMUK experience by providing our readers with more insight and knowledge of this era. I offered to provide a new series where I would explore the biographies, style, filmography, masterworks, awards and legacy of the great film score composers of the past.

It seemed to me from my discussions at different film score community sites that for many members, while there was an understanding and appreciation of modern film scores, much of its earlier history and works for the most part remained unexplored, the proverbial terra incognita. As a student of film score history, I believe that to better understand and appreciate the present, you must first understand the past. As any archeologist can attest, there are great treasures of the past just waiting to be discovered. It is my sincere hope that I can serve as a your guide on a personal quest of discovery of some of the greatest composers and scores ever written.

I am very pleased to launch this series with an exploration of how it all began, with none other than the true Father of Film Scores, a film score Titan, and one of my favorite composers, the legendary Max Steiner. The first article will go live on Tuesday April 1st, and will continue with a new article on the first of each month from now on.

All the best!

Craig Lysy

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL – Alexandre Desplat

March 26, 2014 Leave a comment

grandbudapesthotelOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The latest film from the polarizing hipster director Wes Anderson is The Grand Budapest Hotel, a slightly farcical comedy-drama set 100 years ago in the fictional country of Zubrowka – a place Anderson describes as “part Czech, part Hungarian, part Polish, part Russian, part German, and a little bit 1930′s movie-studio in Culver City”. Ralph Fiennes stars as Gustave H, a legendary concierge at the famous European hotel of the title, and Tony Revolori as Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. Following the death of a wealthy elderly female guest Gustave and Zero become embroiled in a plot concerning the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune. The film features an enormous supporting cast drawn from Anderson’s ever-increasing roster of repertory players – F. Murray Abraham, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, and Owen Wilson among them – and has an original score by composer Alexandre Desplat, working with Anderson for the third time.
Read more…

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER – Henry Jackman

March 20, 2014 10 comments

captainamericathewintersoldierOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Once upon a time there was a director who, along with some friends – a writer, a cameraman, some actors – made a movie. It doesn’t matter what the movie was about. It could have been about aliens, or cowboys and indians, or a young couple suffering through a rocky relationship, or a bank robbery gone wrong. Whatever it was about, the director wanted to make the best movie he could make, and for the audience who saw that movie to care about the characters, and to empathize with the emotions they felt. At some point, he approached a composer, in order to give that film a musical voice. The composer – who was well-versed in musical theory and composition – was as much of a storyteller as the director was, and wanted to enhance the film with his music; to bring out subtle emotions so the audience could feel them, to highlight subtexts that acting alone could not convey, to make it a better film than it would be without the music being there. Read more…

DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS – Franz Waxman

March 17, 2014 1 comment

demetriusandthegladiatorsMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Demetrius and the Gladiators was the sequel to the first CinemaScope picture, “The Robe”. Twentieth Century Fox chief, Darryl F. Zanuck, decided that there was money to be made with the new revolutionary format and so production was already under way as “The Robe” premiered. Of the original cast, Victor Mature (Demetrius), Michael Rennie (Peter), and Jay Robinson (Caligula) returned to reprise their roles and were joined by newcomers Susan Hayward (Messalina) and Debra Paget (Lucia). The story unfolds as a classic tale of faith and personal redemption. Demetrius, the guardian of the Robe of Christ loses his faith when his love Lucia, is ravaged by Roman gladiators and apparently dies. When his fervent prayers fail to revive her he becomes bitter and angry with God. Demetrius abandons his faith and embarks upon a life of violence, indulgence and lust. But when he later discovers that Lucia had not died due to the grace of God he regains his faith and lives to see the day of the emperor Caligula’s death, when the long suffering Praetorian Guard at last turns on him. This sequel outperformed The Robe and was both a commercial and critical success. Read more…

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