Best Scores of 2014 – Asia

December 18, 2014 2 comments

The first installment in my series of articles looking at the best “under the radar” scores from around the world concentrates on music from films from Asia: specifically, the far eastern nations of China, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam. Already in 2014 I have reviewed Christopher Young’s magnificent score for the Chinese epic fantasy adventure The Monkey King, and Jo-Yeong Wook’s score for the revisionist samurai action film Kundo: Age of the Rampant. In this article, I’m taking a deeper look at some other excellent works, ranging from anime movies and TV series from Japan, baseball dramas from Taiwan, and two of the highest-grossing films from Vietnam.

You can read my review of The Monkey King here, my review of Kundo: Age of the Rampant here.

Read more…

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS – Victor Young

December 16, 2014 Leave a comment

aroundtheworldin80days-youngMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Ever-ambitious producer Mike Todd sought to bring an epic adventure tale to the big screen. He hired screenwriter James Poe to adapt renowned author Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in 80 Days. He gave the director reigns to Michael Anderson who brought in an amazing cast which included; David Niven as the classic Victorian English gentleman Phileas Fogg, Mexican icon Cantinflas as the resourceful ‘Jack of all Trades’ Passepartout, Shirley MacLaine as the captivating Princess Aouda, her debut acting role, and Robert Newton as the redoubtable Inspector Fix. The story takes place in England circa 1872 and centers on an epic adventure taken by Phileas Fogg and his man servant Passepartout. Fogg makes the audacious claim that he can circumnavigate the world in eighty days. He offers a £20,000 wager with four skeptical compatriots of the Reform Club, thus setting the stage for the adventure. Fogg sets off on the first leg of their journey to Paris by hot air balloon. Against this backdrop is a growing suspicion that Fogg has stolen £55,000 from the Bank of England, which elicits Scotland Yard to dispatch Police Inspector Fix to arrest Fogg. Read more…

EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS – Alberto Iglesias

December 14, 2014 1 comment

exodusgodsandkingsOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Ridley Scott’s epic version of the biblical exodus story, Exodus: Gods and Kings, is lavish film making on an enormous scale. Based on the tale of Moses and his efforts to liberate the people of Israel from slavery under an Egyptian pharaoh, it stars Christian Bale as Moses, Joel Edgerton as the pharaoh Ramses, John Turturro, Aaron Paul, Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley. Scott’s version is more rooted in historical realism than Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 epic The Ten Commandments, but the film still covers all the major bases of the story: Moses and Ramses growing up together as brothers, the burning bush through which Moses communicates with God, the plagues which attack Egypt when Ramses refuses to free the slaves, the parting of the Red Sea, and the writing of the Ten Commandments. Visually, the film is a triumph, depicting the glory and opulence of ancient Egyptian civilization in majestic detail, but dramatically the story flounders occasionally, and some great actors – especially Paul, Weaver, and Tara Fitzgerald – are woefully underused. Read more…

BIRDMAN – Antonio Sánchez

December 11, 2014 4 comments

birdmanOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Birdman is an unusual dark comedy/drama about the existential crisis of an actor, directed by Mexican filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu. In what is possibly the most perfect piece of casting ever, Michael Keaton plays Riggan Thompson, the star of a series of popular 1980s super-hero films, who after a period of career doldrums is trying to reinvent himself as a serious dramatic actor by staging a play in an off-Broadway theater. The play is being produced by Riggan’s best friend/lawyer Jake (Zach Galifianakis), and stars Riggan’s slightly unbalanced girlfriend Laura (Andrea Riseborough), nervous first-time-Broadway-actress Lesley (Naomi Watts), and critically acclaimed thespian Mike Shiner (Edward Norton), whose genuine talent is almost eclipsed by his raging ego, and who has taken a liking to Riggan’s daughter/assistant Sam (Emma Stone). Behind the scenes, Riggan is taunted by hallucinatory visions of his Birdman character, making him increasingly paranoid and self-critical, while problems with the rest of the production threaten to send it spiraling out of control. Read more…

Golden Globe Nominations 2014

December 11, 2014 2 comments

goldenglobeThe Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) have announced the nominations for the 72nd Golden Globe Awards, honoring the best in film and American television of 2014.

In the Best Original Score category, the nominees are:

  • ALEXANDRE DESPLAT for The Imitation Game
  • JÓHANN JÓHANNSSON for The Theory of Everything
  • TRENT REZNOR and ATTICUS ROSS for Gone Girl
  • ANTONIO SÁNCHEZ for Birdman
  • HANS ZIMMER for Interstellar

These are the first major film music award nominations for both Jóhannsson and Sánchez, although Sánchez has won four Grammy awards for his work as a jazz musician. This is the 7th nomination for Desplat, who won the Globe in 2006 for The Painted Veil, the 3rd nomination for Reznor and Ross, who won the Globe in 2010 for The Social Network, and the 12th nomination for Zimmer, who previously won Globes for The Lion King in 1994 and Gladiator in 2000.

In the Best Original Song category, the nominees are:

  • ELIZABETH GRANT (LANA DEL REY) for “Big Eyes” from Big Eyes
  • GREG KURSTIN, SIA FURLER and WILL GLUCK for “Opportunity” from Annie
  • JOHN LEGEND and LONNIE RASHID LYNN Jr. (COMMON) for “Glory” from Selma
  • PATTI SMITH and LENNY KAYE for “Mercy Is” from Noah
  • ELLA YELICH-O’CONNOR (LORDE) for “Yellow Flicker Beat” from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part I

The winners of the 72nd Golden Globe Awards will be announced on January 11, 2015.

LOVE IS A MANY-SPLENDORED THING – Alfred Newman

December 10, 2014 Leave a comment

loveisamanysplendoredthingMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Buddy Adler, the Production Head of Fox Studios saw money to be made by the hit novel “A Many Splendored Thing” by Han Suyin. He purchased the film rights an hired trusted screenwriter John Patrick to adapt it for the big screen. The story offers a potent commentary on an inter-racial romance set in Hong Kong during the waning days of the 1940s. American reporter Mark Elliot (William Holden), who is estranged from his wife, falls passionately in love with widowed Eurasian doctor Han Suyin (Jennifer Jones). For a short time they manage to find happiness together, but events soon overtake them. Mark’s wife refuses his request for a divorce, and their romance precipitates a palpable prejudice from both her family and Hong Kong society. Han is eventually ostracized from the community and loses her position at the hospital. As Mark ships out to cover the Korean War they desperately write each other in hope of maintaining a connection and salvaging their relationship, but alas, it is to no avail as Mark gets killed during the war. Han does not relent in her love and the story ends with her visiting the green hill where they used to meet. The film was both a commercial and critical success, earning eight Academy Awards nominations, winning three for Best Costume Design, Best Song and Best Score. Read more…

UNDER THE VOLCANO – Alex North

December 4, 2014 Leave a comment

underthevolcanoTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Under the Volcano is a critically-acclaimed drama based on the important novel by Malcolm Lowry. Set against the backdrop of imminent war in Europe, and taking place on the Mexican fiesta celebrating the Day of Dead, the film follows one day in the life of Geoffrey Firmin, a British consul living in alcoholic disrepair and obscurity in a small southern Mexican town in 1939. The film was one of the last directed by the legendary John Huston, and starred Albert Finney as Geoffrey, Anthony Andrews as his idealistic half-brother Hugh, and Jacqueline Bisset as his ex-wife, Yvonne, who has returned to Mexico with hopes of healing Geoffrey and their broken marriage. Lost amid the blockbusters of the period, the film is largely forgotten today, despite its stellar credentials, and despite its multiple Award nominations, which included Oscar recognition for Finney’s leading role, and for its score by the great Alex North. Read more…

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