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Archive for December, 2006

CHILDREN OF MEN – John Tavener

December 29, 2006 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

If you had asked me at the beginning of 2006 to name the working composer least likely to score a film during the year, I would have probably said Sir John Tavener. 62-year-old Tavener is as profound and well-respected a composer as can be, a darling of the classical set, a man seriously dedicated to his art, and whose deeply-held Orthodox Christian religious beliefs are the cornerstone of the 300 or so works he has written since the mid 1960s. This is the man who was chosen by the British government to write the deeply spiritual and moving music for the funeral of Princess Diana. The idea of him being hired to score a Hollywood film was about as likely as, say, Steve Reich scoring the next Spielberg movie, or Karl-Heinz Stockhausen scoring Scary Movie 5. His music has been featured in films before, but never has he written anything specifically for one. But yet, here he is, scoring Children of Men for director Alfonso Cuarón, whose last movie was Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The world is a strange place indeed. Read more…

NOTES ON A SCANDAL – Philip Glass

December 29, 2006 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

If you’d have told me five years ago that Philip Glass, by the end of 2006, would regularly be scoring fairly mainstream Hollywood studio pictures – pictures starring people like Nicole Kidman, Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Edward Norton, Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench – I would have scarcely believed it. If you had told me that each of these scores would receive generally positive critical acclaim from the film music community, and that he would pick up a myriad of Oscar, Golden Globe and other nominations for them, I would also have been skeptical. But yet, here we are, and this is exactly what has happened. The darling of the classical set, one of the pioneers of minimalism, one of the most respected composers of the 20th century has, finally, fully and wholeheartedly embraced film music. Read more…

PAN’S LABYRINTH – Javier Navarrete

December 29, 2006 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the most admirable things about Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro is how often he makes films in his native language. In addition to the popular and successful Mimic, Blade II and Hellboy, Del Toro’s other features include Cronos, his magnificent 1993 debut, and the chilling 2001 horror movie El Espinazo del Diablo, also known as The Devil’s Backbone, both of which were filmed in Spanish. Pan’s Labyrinth, or El Laberinto del Fauno, is the latest addition to his non-English pantheon, and by all accounts is his best film yet.

The film stars Ivana Baquero, Sergi López, Maribel Verdú, Ariadna Gil and Doug Jones, and is a visually stunning fantasy/horror set in northern Spain in the 1940s, in the immediate aftermath of General Franco’s victory in the Spanish civil war. 12-year old Ofélia (Baquero) travels with her mother (Carmen) to the house of her new stepfather Captain Vidal (López), which lies deep in a forbidding forest, and is being fortified as a stronghold against the last few Republican soldiers who remain, stragglers from their lost war. Read more…

PERFUME: THE STORY OF A MURDERER – Tom Tykwer, Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek

December 29, 2006 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Das Parfum: Die Geschichte Eines Mörders, by Patrick Süskind, is the most successful and popular post-war novel published in Germany. Since its release in 1985 it has sold over 15 million copies worldwide, and has been an inspiration for a myriad of people in a number of creative arts. Set in 18th Century France, the story follows Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a young man born with no personal odour, a complete lack of emotion or compassion, but possessing an incomparably keen sense of smell. After charming his way into becoming an apprentice to a perfumer, Grenouille embarks on his life’s work: the creation of a perfect scent that, he believes, will make him fully human. However, in order to achieve his obsessive aim, Grenouille begins to seduce and murder virginal young women in order to “steal” their smell. This unusual, evocative, somewhat disturbing tale has been brought to the screen as Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by popular German director Tom Tykwer (of Run Lola Run fame), and stars Benjamin Whishaw as Grenouille, Dustin Hoffman as perfumer Baldini, Rachel Hurd Wood as the beautiful Laura (the ultimate subject of Grenouille’s twisted affections), and Alan Rickman as Laura’s father, Richis. Read more…

CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER – Shigeru Umebayashi

December 22, 2006 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

Watching “Curse of the Golden Flower”, I was reminded of something someone said in the documentary “A Decade Under the Influence” (I forget who)… that during the 50′s and 60′s, many directors held the belief that the kinds of movies people wanted to see were those about people who lived grand, epic lives that bore no resemblance to our own. “It’s like taking a trip to a new and wonderful place!” was the rationale. There’s a certain degree of truth there, but the flip side of the coin is, it’s often hard to identify with and care about the grand people who live in these worlds. Read more…

THE GOOD SHEPHERD – Marcelo Zarvos and Bruce Fowler

December 22, 2006 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

I have to tell you, I was really, really looking forward to “The Good Shepherd”. It’s the second time behind the camera for actor/director Robert De Niro, and I loved De Niro’s first film, “A Bronx Tale”. If you haven’t seen it, do so… it’s an immensely moving and remarkably energetic piece of cinema, absolutely wonderful. With “The Good Shepherd”, De Niro has moved from tiny human drama to an epic political drama. In attempting to tell the story of the CIA’s birth, De Niro has put together a great cast, and brings top-notch production values to the proceedings. Unfortunately, he bites off more than he can chew. Read more…

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM – Alan Silvestri

December 22, 2006 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

The good thing about the arrival of “Night at the Museum” is that we won’t have to watch that trailer again. The ad campaign for the film has been overwhelming, everywhere you turn the past few months, a blurb for the movie seems to be popping up. In case you have been living in an igloo and missed the trailer, “Night at the Museum” is a special effects-driven comedy with a cast of comedy notables. That the end result is completely uninspiring can be explained by taking a looking at the “Directed by” and “Produced by” credits.

Director Shawn Levy is the man who gave us the remakes of “Cheaper by the Dozen” and “The Pink Panther”, both of which demonstrated his sheer ineptitude when it comes to comic timing and skillful direction. Read more…

THE PAINTED VEIL – Alexandre Desplat

December 22, 2006 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The winner of the Golden Globe for Best Score of 2006, The Painted Veil caps off a truly remarkable year for 45 year old French composer Alexandre Desplat. His other two major 2006 scores – Firewall and The Queen – were both met with general critical acclaim, and further cemented his position as one of the most exciting composers to emerge in Hollywood in recent years. It’s easy to forget that just three years ago he was a virtual unknown outside of his native country, and that his international stature has been built up over the course of just four or five scores. Read more…

WE ARE MARSHALL – Christophe Beck

December 22, 2006 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Marshall University, in Huntington, West Virginia, is a fairly unremarkable higher education establishment, famous for sciences, health studies, technology and engineering, and for Billy Crystal having attended one semester there in his youth on a baseball scholarship. Unfortunately, the school is also famous for the worst tragedy in American college sports history when, on 14 November 1970, virtually the entire squad of the ‘Marshall Thundering Herd’ varsity American football team were killed in a plane crash on their way back from a game in North Carolina. Read more…

CHARLOTTE’S WEB – Danny Elfman

December 15, 2006 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

It’s a testament to how well-loved E.B. White’s classic children’s tale Charlotte’s Web is when Hollywood stars of the calibre of Julia Roberts, Steve Buscemi, John Cleese, Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Garner, Kathy Bates, Dakota Fanning and Robert Redford agree to lend their voices to it. The simple tale of young girl named Fern who saves a pig named Wilbur from the chopping block, and who in turn makes friends with a wise a spider named Charlotte, has enchanted youngsters around the world since it was first published in 1952, and was previously made into an animated film in 1973 with songs by Richard and Robert Sherman. This new version, which mixes live action with Babe-like animal CGI, was directed by Gary Winick, and features a delightful score from Danny Elfman. Read more…

DREAMGIRLS – Henry Krieger and Stephen Trask

December 15, 2006 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

In the wake of “Chicago” becoming a hit with audiences and Oscar voters, there has been something of a futile effort to revive movie musicals in recent years. We’ve seen one disappointment after another: the poorly-cast “Phantom of the Opera”, the entertaining but hollow remake of “The Producers”, and that simply atrocious theatrical version of “Rent”. Not only are movie going audiences not particularly receptive to musicals, it seems there aren’t many filmmakers who know how to make good ones. The latest stage-to-screen adaptation, Henry Krieger and Tom Eyen’s “Dreamgirls”, is an exception. The film may not be strong enough to give the genre a second wind, but it’s certainly an excellent piece of entertainment. Read more…

ERAGON – Patrick Doyle

December 15, 2006 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The back story of Eragon is an interesting one. It was written between 1998 and 2002 by teenage author Christopher Paolini, and is the first book in a projected three-book cycle called The Inheritance Trilogy. A sword and sorcery fantasy featuring dragons, warriors, elves, dwarves and noble quests, it has been criticized in some quarters for being little more than a mishmash of ideas from other, better sources – and not a very well-written one at that. However, such has been its enduring popularity with young adult readers that the story has been adapted into a multi-million dollar movie by 20th Century Fox and debutant director Stefen Fangmeier, who previously worked as a special effects technician, and received Oscar nominations for his work on Twister, A Perfect Storm, and Master and Commander. Read more…

APOCALYPTO – James Horner

December 8, 2006 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

What with all the furore surrounding Mel Gibson, his DUI arrest on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, and his subsequent drunken anti-Semitic rant to the highway patrol officers, it’s easy to forget that he remains a truly tremendous filmmaker. Apocalypto is Gibson’s fourth film as director, after The Man Without a Face, Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ. Filmed entirely in the Yukatek language of the ancient Mayans, who inhabited what is now Mexico, Belize and Guatemala for millennia prior to the arrival of the Europeans in the late 1400s, Apocalypto is a detailed look at the lives, cultures and traditions of that ancient civilisation, dressed up as an exciting chase-fuelled action movie. Read more…

THE NATIVITY STORY – Mychael Danna

December 1, 2006 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

With the festive season almost upon us, what better time is there to look at the history behind Christmas? Director Catherine Hardwicke’s film chronicles the events which form one of the cornerstones of the Christian faith – the story known as The Nativity – and covers all the main elements of the story: the early life of Mary and Joseph in Nazareth, the young couple’s betrothal, Mary’s immaculate conception, Joseph’s visitation by angels, the couple’s arduous journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem for a census, their desperate search for shelter and being told there is “no room at the inn”, Jesus’s birth in a stable and the adoration by shepherds and magi, and the desperate family’s subsequent flight to Egypt to escape the wrath of King Herod, who fears for his throne following the birth of the ‘King of the Jews’ and orders a mass cull of all baby boys under his reign. Whale Rider actress Keisha Castle-Hughes plays Mary, Oscar Isaac plays Joseph, Ciaran Hinds plays King Herod, and there are significant supporting roles for Shohreh Aghdashloo, Alexander Siddig, Hiam Abbass and Nadim Sawalha. Read more…

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