Original Review by Jonathan Broxton
Taken 3 (styled ‘Tak3n’) is the third and, likely, final installment of writer/producer Luc Besson’s series of modern revenge action-thrillers starring Liam Neeson in what is quickly becoming one of his iconic screen roles. After taking on Albanian human traffickers in Paris in the first film, and virtually the entire Albanian mafia in Istanbul in the second, Neeson’s character Bryan Mills is back home in Los Angeles for the third film, still doting on his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace), and hesitantly re-kindling his relationship with his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen), who is becoming increasingly estranged from her current husband Stuart (Dougray Scott). Bryan’s world falls apart when he discovers Lenore’s dead body in his own apartment, and soon he is running for his life, accused of a murder he did not commit, pursued by a dogged LAPD detective (Forest Whitaker), and trying to find the real killers, who appear to have something to do with a vicious band of Russian gangsters terrorizing the city. The film is directed by French action specialist Olivier Megaton, and has a score by the similarly Gallic Nathaniel Méchaly, who has scored all three Taken films to date. Read more…
Original Review by Jonathan Broxton
The River is a contemporary drama film directed by Mark Rydell, starring Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek as Tom and Mae Garvey, a married couple trying to make ends meet on their farm in rural Tennessee. Over the course of several years, Tom and his family battle desperately to save and hold on to their home, despite the threats they face when a bank threatens to repossess their farm, when severe storms threaten to make the nearby river burst its banks and ruin their crops, and when a ruthless hydroelectric developer (played by Scott Glenn) threatens to cut off their power supply for his own ends. The film was a moderate critical success when it opened in cinemas in December 1984, and picked up four Academy Award nominations, with nods for Spacek as Best Actress, cinematography, sound, and John Williams’s folksy original score. Williams wrote The River at a time when he was still regularly working with multiple directors, and this was the last of his five collaborations with director Rydell, which previously encompassed similarly Americana-heavy films such as The Reivers, The Cowboys, The Long Goodbye, and Cinderella Liberty. Read more…
Original Review by Jonathan Broxton
Joseph Mallord William “JMW” Turner is one of the greatest and most respected British painters, a mercurial figure in British society in the mid-1800s who hobnobbed with royalty, frequented brothels, and famously had himself strapped to the mast of a ship so he could accurately paint an approaching storm. Some of his works, notably masterpieces such as ‘Modern Rome-Campo Vaccino’, ‘Dutch Boats in a Gale’, ‘Ivy Bridge’, and ‘Calais Pier’, elevated the art of landscape painting to new heights, and his legacy lives on today through the Turner Prize, the most prestigious British art award, which is granted annually by the Tate Gallery in London. Director Mike Leigh’s film Mr. Turner is a fairly straightforward biopic of Turner’s life, starring Timothy Spall in the title role, and featuring supporting performances from Dorothy Atkinson, Marion Bailey, Paul Jesson and Lesley Manville. Read more…
It’s been an outstanding year for film music in 2014. I managed to get experience over 350 scores this year, both by watching movies and listening to their soundtracks independently,and I strongly feel that the soundtrack industry is thriving. Looking at the big picture, on a global scale, outstanding music is coming from all corners of the globe: this year, I have nominated works from China, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Poland, South Korea, Spain, and Venezuela, as well the USA and the UK. If you look outside the mainstream, you can still find a lot of outstanding work being written for under-the-radar projects that demand our attention.
As such, narrowing down my choices for the best of the year has been a very difficult task – one of the most difficult in recent memory. However, I’ve finally been able to put everything into some sort of logical order – so, for your reading and listening pleasure, I present the 2014 Movie Music UK Awards!
In the Best Original Score category, the nominees are:
- ALEXANDRE DESPLAT for The Grand Budapest Hotel
- ALEXANDRE DESPLAT for The Imitation Game
- JÓHANN JÓHANNSSON for The Theory of Everything
- GARY YERSHON for Mr. Turner
- HANS ZIMMER for Interstellar
These are the first Oscar nominations for Jóhannsson and Yershon, although Jóhannsson won the Golden Globe earlier this year for The Theory of Everything. These are the 7th and 8th Oscar nominations for Desplat, and the 10th Oscar nomination for Zimmer, who previously won in 1994 for The Lion King.
In the Best Original Song category, the nominees are:
- GREGG ALEXANDER and DANIELLE BRISEBOIS for “Lost Stars” from Begin Again
- GLEN CAMPBELL and JULIAN RAYMOND for “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell… I’ll Be Me
- JOHN LEGEND and LONNIE LYNN (COMMON) for “Glory” from Selma
- SHAWN PATTERSON for “Everything Is Awesome” from The Lego Movie
- DIANE WARREN for “Grateful” from Beyond the Lights
The winners of the 87th Academy Awards will be announced on February 22, 2015.
My fourth article in my Review of the Year 2014 looks at the Best Scores from Spain. It’s pretty common knowledge that I consider Spain to be one of the world’s great hotbeds of excellent film scoring, and 2014 continues to affirm that this is the case. This year’s group of scores from the Iberian peninsula runs the gamut of genres, from dramas to comedies to horror scores to contemporary thrillers, and features music from some of from the best regional composers working today, including Roque Baños, Arnau Bataller, Zacarías M. de la Riva, and Federico Jusid. Read more…
Original Review by Craig Lysy
Following their success with Black Narcissus in 1947 the directorial team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger decided to adapt the fairy tale “The Red Shoes” by Hans Christian Anderson for the big screen. The story tells of the girl who dons beautiful red shoes, which danced away with her, through the streets, into a dark nether land and eventually, to her death. They created the screenplay and brought in renowned choreographer Jack Cardiff to choreograph the ballet. Powell and Pressburger sought authentic artistry for their film and so decided early on that they would use professional dancers who could act, rather than actors who could dance. They also wanted to create a realistic feeling of a ballet troupe and so included a fifteen-minute ballet as the high point of the film. Worth noting was the brilliance of the film’s cinematography, particularly its use of color. Ballerina Moira Shearer was brought in for the lead role of Vicky Page, with Marius Goring (Julian Craster) playing her love interest and Anton Walbrook (Boris Lermontov) as her ruthless authoritarian impresario. The story is a classic tragedy of a woman torn between love of her art and her heart. After a stellar rise to fame as prima ballerina she falls in love and marries Julian Craster, a dashing young composer. This enrages her jealous mentor Lermontov who has long coveted her for his own. He fires Julian and Vicky leaves with him. Yet Lermotov holds her contract and refuses to allow her to dance her defining ballet role for “The Red Shoes” unless she leaves Julian and returns to him. She decides to pursue her career and dance the coveted role on the night of Julian’s opera premier thereby losing him. On the night of her greatest performance, unable to reconcile her love for Julian and her love of dance, she leaps to her death in front of a train. The film was both a commercial and critical success earning five Academy Award nominations, winning two for Best Art Decoration and Best Score. Read more…