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Archive for June, 2007

EVENING – Jan A.P. Kaczmarek

June 29, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A thoughtful film about life, death and regret, based on the popular novel by Susan Minot, Evening stars Vanessa Redgrave as Ann Lord, an old woman at the end of her life, being cared for by her two daughters, Nina and Connie (Toni Collette and Natasha Richardson). As Ann lies in bed, waiting for the inevitable, her mind wanders back to a pivotal moment in her life: the summer of 1955, when as a young woman (Clare Danes) she attended the Rhode Island wedding of a friend, and was forced to make a decision which ultimately shaped the rest of her life. But was it the right one? As she ponders her choices, she imparts a long-held secret to her enthralled daughters, the repercussions of which are felt far and wide. With a stellar supporting cast that includes Glenn Close, Meryl Streep, Patrick Wilson, Hugh Dancy, Eileen Atkins, and Close’s real-life daughter Mamie Gummer, Lajos Koltai’s film is a moving and dramatic character study that is much more than simply a “chick flick”. Read more…

LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD – Marco Beltrami

June 29, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A rather belated fourth entry into the Die Hard franchise, 12 years after the last installment (Die Hard With a Vengeance), Live Free or Die Hard sees Bruce Willis back as John McClane in the role which made him an 80s action star. Here, McClane is an aging NYPD cop with a teenage daughter who is forced to do battle against an Internet-based terrorist organization who is systematically shutting down the technological capabilities of the entire United States, plunging the country into crisis.

The film also stars Timothy Olyphant, Justin Long and Hong Kong action star Maggie Q, and features a bombastic score from Marco Beltrami. The late, great Michael Kamen’s musical fingerprints were all over the first three movies in the Die Hard franchise Read more…

RATATOUILLE – Michael Giacchino

June 29, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

First of all, let me say that I often have trouble just getting past the opening of this album… because I love it so very much. It’s a song called “Le Festin”, performed in French by Camille, and written by Michael Giacchino. It’s one of those lovely tunes that can make a hot room feel cool and a cold room feel warm. You know the sort of song… the kind that makes flat-footed klutzes like me feel like dancing, the kind of song that makes you want to rush out and kiss someone (my co-workers have grown increasingly uncomfortable around me over the past couple of months). Read more…

1408 – Gabriel Yared

June 22, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

An effective little horror movie directed by Mikael Håfström and based on a short story by Stephen King, 1408 stars John Cusack as Mike Enslin, a man who specializes in debunking paranormal phenomena and supernatural occurrences. While researching a new book, and in attempt to disprove another myth, he checks into the fabled room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel in New York, which has a grisly and famous history. Despite the misgivings of the hotel manager (Samuel L. Jackson), Mike settles in… and soon finds that not all fables are fake.

I can’t think of the last time Gabriel Yared scored a horror movie – or even if he’s ever done one – but the results on 1408 are pretty impressive. A string orchestra augmented by synths is the order of the day Read more…

EVAN ALMIGHTY – John Debney

June 22, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

A kinder, tamer follow-up to the semi-controversial comedy “Bruce Almighty”, Tom Shadyac’s “Evan Almighty” takes one of the small supporting characters from the original film (played by Steve Carell) and turns him into the lead character. Morgan Freeman once again returns to play God, and the supporting cast includes John Goodman, Wanda Sykes and Lauren Graham. The film contains an even heavier spiritual element than the first, with God instructing Senator Evan Baxter to build an ark, for purposes that shall remain a secret.

John Debney scored “Bruce Almighty”, and turned in a fairly typical comedy effort that unfortunately failed to reflect much of the religious side of the film Read more…

FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER – John Ottman

June 15, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The popular sequel to the 2005 super-hero movie Fantastic Four, ‘Rise of the Silver Surfer’ sees super heroes Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis returning to do battle with another super-hero from another galaxy – the titular Silver Surfer – whose intergalactic travels invariably result in the destruction on whichever planet he visits. I wasn’t a huge fan of John Ottman’s score for the first Fantastic Four movie, and criticized it for its desperate over-use of choir and for the general limpness of the main super-hero theme. Two years later, and I’m afraid the problems haven’t really been fixed. Read more…

IL SOLE NERO – Wojciech Kilar

June 15, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

As much as I love Wojciech Kilar’s film scores, he does have a tendency to stick to writing music that is well within his comfort zone; such is the case with his score for Il Sole Nero, a revenge drama directed by Krzysztof Zanussi and starring Valeria Golino as Agata, a young widow who, after the learning the identity of her husband’s killer, struggles with whether to forgive the killer or avenge her husband’s death.

Kilar and Zanussi have worked together on 45 different films over the years, so the two know each other well, and Zanussi clearly knows what he wants his composer to provide in terms of music; a modest, introspective meditation on whatever meaningful facet of life is being explored at any given time Read more…

HOSTEL PART II – Nathan Barr

June 8, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

I have never fully appreciated, nor understood, the general public’s lust for the new ‘torture porn’ genre of films. I saw the first Saw, but none of its sequels. I saw Cabin Fever, and thoroughly disliked it. I have not seen any of the Hostel movies, and have no intention of doing so. Nevertheless, the box office takings don’t lie, so here we have Hostel Part II, directed by Eli Roth, and starring Lauren German, Bijou Phillips and Heather Matarazzo as three young women who, over the course of 93 minutes, are systematically bound, gagged, tortured, murdered and mutilated by a succession of sick individuals who pay good money to Slovakian criminals to enable them to do this kind of thing. Wholesome fun for all the family. Read more…

SURF’S UP – Mychael Danna

June 8, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

Yeah, I know, I know, yet another talking animal movie. There’s very few species left that haven’t all ready been covered by some sort of cutesy kid’s flick. And penguins… well, it’s not like we need more penguins. So, it was a nice surprise to discover that “Surf’s Up” offers a convincing argument for the worthiness of it’s existence. It tries to offer something new to the well-worn genre, and turns out feeling like a very good-natured cross between Christopher Guest and the Coen Brothers… it just happens to be animated, and features penguins.

The movie is creatively “filmed” in a documentary style, complete with lots of shaky, grainy footage and interviews throughout the proceedings. We are told the story of young Cody Maverick, voiced with refreshing calmness by Shia LaBeouf Read more…

GRACIE – Mark Isham

June 1, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

Another review, another description of a paint-by-numbers-based-on-a-true-story-sports-saga flick. They seem to keep coming so quickly, don’t they? “Gracie” is loosely based on the real-life events of actress Elisabeth Shue and her brother Andrew. The movie was directed by Shue’s husband, Davis Guggenheim, and stars both Elisabeth and Andrew in supporting roles. It’s definitely a very personal movie for these folks, but critics were not very kind to the film, dismissing it as another ho-hum sports tale. The plot is a mesh of uplifting drama and family tragedy, as a teenage girl aspires to become a soccer star after the death of her brother. Her mother tells her it’s too dangerous, her father won’t support her. Who wants to bet that overcomes some obstacles and wins the love of everybody around her in the end? Read more…

KNOCKED UP – Loudon Wainwright III

June 1, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the surprising comedy successes of 2007, director Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up starred Katherine Heigl as successful TV presenter Alison Scott, who has a one-night-stand with layabout, perennially high party animal Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) – and ends up pregnant. What follows is a hugely funny, surprisingly touching and romantic comedy about two clearly mis-matched parents-to-be learning to love each other despite their differences, for the good of their unborn child.

Knocked Up’s music was provided by sardonic singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III, who wrote a handful of original songs for the film, as well as a small amount of transitional score music for guitars and a small string quartet Read more…

MR. BROOKS – Ramin Djawadi

June 1, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

I don’t know how true it is, but I’ve heard this rumor that actor/director Kevin Costner is the sort of guy who is very picky about the music for films he is involved in. I have no idea how much trouble he’s given composers, or how much he knows about music, but I do know that the vast majority of Costner films have featured solid scores by solid composers. It’s interesting to note that the likes of Bruce Broughton, Alan Silvestri, James Horner, James Newton Howard, Ennio Morricone, Maurice Jarre, John Barry, John Williams, Michael Kamen, Thomas Newman, William Ross, Gabriel Yared, George S. Clinton, John Debney, Alexandre Desplat, Trevor Jones, and Basil Poledouris are among those who have scored the actor’s movies. I seriously doubt many modern actors can match that kind of list. Read more…

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