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Archive for October, 2007

BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD – Carter Burwell

October 26, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

2007 has seemed like a bit of a dismal year at the movies for most of it’s duration, but during the final stretch, masterpieces continue to trickle in. One of the latest is director Sidney Lumet’s “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead”, a non-linear crime story. If the name Sidney Lumet sounds familiar, it should… he’s been directing high-quality dramatic films for some fifty years now, a remarkable feat. If you’re any kind of movie fan, surely you’ve seen some of his work… “Twelve Angry Men”, “Serpico”, “Dog Day Afternoon” and “Network” are among his achievements. However, his career was generally considered to be coming to a quiet close by many critics, as Lumet turned out decent but generally middling efforts like “Find Me Guilty”. The Academy Awards gave Lumet the Lifetime Achievement Award, speeches were made, and everyone moved on. Read more…

30 DAYS OF NIGHT – Brian Reitzell

October 19, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

An angry, vicious beast of a horror film, 30 Days of Night is a vampire movie with a difference. Based on the popular graphic novel by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, and directed by David Slade, the film stars Josh Hartnett, Melissa George and Mark Boone Junior as inhabitants of a small Alaskan fishing town who, each year, must endure ‘thirty days of night’ when the sun dips below the Arctic horizon and doesn’t re-appear for a month. Usually, life goes on as normal – but during this particular period of perpetual twilight, things go horribly wrong when the town is attacked by a gang of shrieking, brutal vampires led by the mysterious Stranger (Ben Foster) and the ghastly Marlow (Danny Huston), who seem intent on turning a once-peaceful community into a blood-soaked human buffet with an orgy of death and violence. Read more…

THE COMEBACKS – Christopher Lennertz

October 19, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A comedy that spoofs the inspirational sports movies like Rudy and Miracle, The Comebacks tells the story of an out-of-luck coach named Lambeau Fields (David Koechner), who takes a rag-tag bunch of college misfits and drives them towards the football championships – and, in the process, discovers that he is a winner after all by redeeming himself, and saving his relationship with his family and friends. The film is directed by Tom Brady (no, not the New England Patriots quarterback – although that would have been funny!) and co-stars Carl Weathers, Melora Hardin and Matthew Lawrence. Read more…

GONE BABY GONE – Harry Gregson-Williams

October 19, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In the beginning, around the time of Good Will Hunting, Ben Affleck was seen to be one of the brightest young stars in Hollywood. He put in a scintillating supporting performance in that film, won an Oscar for co-writing the screenplay with his childhood friend Matt Damon, and looked to be well on his way to becoming one of the young leading lights of the film industry. However, while the box office takings remained high, the critical acclaim for Affleck quickly vanished: his unfortunate performances in movies like Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, Daredevil and Gigli made people forget just what a talented individual he really is. It’s interesting that, with Gone Baby Gone, he’s gone some way to getting some of that acclaim back. Read more…

O JERUSALEM – Stephen Endelman

October 19, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

An ambitious, expansive drama about the creation of the modern Israeli nation in 1948, O Jerusalem attempts to condense decades of political turmoil, ethnic tension and social upheaval into a workable feature movie by using it as a backdrop for an allegorical tale of two American friends – one Jewish, one Arab – whose lives are forever altered by the political ramifications of the time. Directed by Elie Chouraqui and starring JJ Field, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ian Holm as Ben Gurion, and Tovah Feldshuh as Golda Meir, the film somewhat surprisingly slipped below the cinematic radar, despite its talented cast and important subject matter. Read more…

RESERVATION ROAD – Mark Isham

October 19, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One thing I’ve never been fond of is Mark Isham’s synth writing. Give him an orchestra, and I’m putty in his hands; let him loose with electronics – like they did on scores like Blade and Timecop and Crash – and I generally loose interest pretty quickly. Such was the case with Reservation Road, the latest film from Irish director Terry George. Based on the book of the same title by John Burnham Schwartz, the film deals with the aftermath of a tragic car accident on the titular highway, in which two fathers – Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Ruffalo – are forced to deal with the death of a 10-year-old boy. The film also stars Oscar winning actresses Jennifer Connelly and Mira Sorvino. Read more…

THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE – Johan Søderqvist and Gustavo Santaolalla

October 19, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

It’s been a popular pastime, of late, amongst film music aficionados, to engage in the new sport of Santaolalla-bashing. Ever since the Argentinean won back-to-back Best Score Oscars, for Brokeback Mountain in 2005 and Babel in 2006, fans of the traditional orchestral score have been up in arms, decrying his popularity and success as both inexplicable and downright appalling. I have to admit, my voice has often joined those criticizing Santaolalla’s scoring techniques. So, let me step back for a moment, and consider things with a more level head. He is an excellent guitarist, of that there is no doubt, bringing a level of delicacy and intimacy to his performances which is quite lovely. He can write a decent enough tune, and he does have enough basic dramatic sense to understand what his films need, and how to provide it. Read more…

ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE – Craig Armstrong and A.R. Rahman

October 12, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The first Elizabeth movie, released in 1998, was a critical and a commercial success, receiving glowing reviews from the mainstream media, and being honored with Oscar nominations in numerous categories, including one for its composer David Hirschfelder. The first Elizabeth movie told the story of the early years following young Elizabeth’s coronation as the Queen of England, concluding with her betrayal by her lover Robert Dudley and her assumption of the iconic “Virgin Queen” persona. This “sequel” tells the story of what happened during the next years of her reign. Read more…

WE OWN THE NIGHT – Wojciech Kilar

October 12, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

I want to watch “Mad Dog and Glory” again. Sure, I’ve seen it a couple times before, but it’s worth seeing again. There’s this one moment that I love to pieces. Robert De Niro is a cop, and he’s investigating a crime scene, inspecting a dead body. As he does the inspection, a flurry of whimsy overtakes him, and he lip-synchs to Louis Prima’s classic “I Ain’t Got Nobody”. It doesn’t really fit with the tone of the rest of the film, but it’s such a wonderful moment, I’m quite glad it’s there. But why am I talking about that? It’s because the new soundtrack album for the thriller “We Own the Night” contains that song, and it made me think of that, and I wanted to mention it. Go rent that movie if you haven’t seen it, it’s a little gem. Read more…

SLEUTH – Patrick Doyle

October 12, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

Kenneth Branagh has always been a director with a lot of theatrical flair, so it sort of seemed to make sense that he would choose to remake “Sleuth”, the wonderful 1972 film starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine. The original film is a terrific ride of dialogue and plotting. It makes the absolute most of its contained set (a mansion) by filling it with all kinds of trinkets, gadgets, toys, and games. Call it maximum minimalism, if you like. In a brilliant bit of casting, Branagh placed Michael Caine in the role originally played by Olivier, and Jude Law in the Caine role. Though I haven’t seen Branagh’s film yet, I was surprised to learn from reading early reviews that Branagh has emptied the mansion, cut the running time by 45 minutes, and turned out a generally leaner, meaner product. Read more…

L’ENNEMI INTIME – Alexandre Desplat

October 5, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the most admirable things about Alexandre Desplat is the fact that, despite his new status as one of Hollywood’s golden composers, he still regularly works on French domestic pictures back home. One of these is L’Ennemi Intime, a bold and controversial political drama/war movie directed by regular Desplat collaborator Florent Emilio Siri. The film, which has been a convention-challenging commercial success in France, stars Benoît Magimel, Albert Dupontel and Aurélien Recoing, and follows the fortunes of a platoon of French soldiers on maneuvers in North Africa during the Algerian war of independence in the late 1950s, and is one of the few French films to examine the war in Algeria with a dispassionate realism and with no ulterior agenda. Read more…

MICHAEL CLAYTON – James Newton Howard

October 5, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Of all the genres in which a film composer may find himself employed, the political drama may be the most difficult to make interesting. Whereas in other films you have a great action scene to write for, or a majestic landscape shot to inspire a great theme, or a passionate relationship which requires a lyrical love theme, political dramas tend to comprise of lots of scenes of people doing nothing more exciting than talking to each other. In those circumstances, it’s very difficult to do anything other than simply underpin the dialogue without being unobtrusive – you carefully hint at the underlying drama behind the scene, add a sense of menace or levity as required, but beyond that you stay firmly in the background. Unfortunately, soundtrack CDs of scores like that tend not to be very interesting. Such is the case with Michael Clayton. Read more…

FINISHING THE GAME – Brian Tyler

October 5, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

As soon as the first cue of “Finishing the Game” takes off with late 70′s funk rhythms, one wonders whether Brian Tyler has decided to open his score album with a cool source cue. Then there’s another one. And another one. And another one. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Brian Tyler… the new David Holmes. Using only equipment available to musicians of the 1970′s, Brian has crafted a small ensemble score (or is he playing everything himself?) that ranks as one of the more entertaining scores of his career (if one of the least substantial). Read more…

THE SEEKER: THE DARK IS RISING – Christophe Beck

October 5, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Whenever fantasy films come back in vogue, as they have done off the back of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, there are always some projects which look good on paper but fair miserably when the end result is screened. Such was the case of The Seeker: The Dark is Rising, based on the novel by Susan Cooper and directed by David L. Cunningham. The film tells the story of a young boy named Will Stanton (Alexander Ludwig), whose life is turned upside down when he learns that he is the last of a group of immortal warriors who have dedicated their lives to fighting the forces of the evil – who, in this case, are led by “The Rider” (Christopher Eccleston). Read more…

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