Posts Tagged ‘John Williams’

THE BOOK THIEF – John Williams

November 16, 2013 2 comments

bookthiefOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Book Thief, based on the popular novel by Markus Zusak, is a World War II drama set in Germany about the power of the written word. Young Sophie Nélisse stars as the lead character, Liesel, who is sent to live with foster parents (Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson), just as the specter of war looms over the country and Nazism begins to take hold. Through her innocent eyes Liesel begins to witness the first months of what would be eventually become the Holocaust, but through the compassion of her new parents, their imparted love of books and literature, and her friendship with of a young Jewish man named Max, she finds a way to deal with the atrocities that are starting to take place in her community. The film is directed by Brian Percival, best known for his work on the critically acclaimed TV series Downton Abbey, and has a score by the legendary John Williams. Read more…

2012 Academy Award nominations

January 10, 2013 2 comments

oscarstatueThe nominations for the 2012 Oscars have been announced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and in the Best Original Score category the nominees represent a broad cross-section of the most critically acclaimed films of the year. The nominees are:

  • MYCHAEL DANNA for Life of Pi
  • DARIO MARIANELLI for Anna Karenina
  • THOMAS NEWMAN for Skyfall
  • JOHN WILLIAMS for Lincoln

This is the first Oscar nomination for Canadian composer Mychael Danna, who also picked up Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations for his wonderful score for Life of Pi, in my opinion the front runner to pick up the award. John Williams cements his position as the most critically acclaimed living film composer with his 48th Oscar nomination for his score for Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. The other three composers – Alexandre Desplat, Dario Marianelli and Thomas Newman –all have multiple prior nominations, with Marianelli having previously won for Atonement in 2007.

The most unexpected nomination is that of Thomas Newman for the James Bond film Skyfall, which becomes only the second Bond score to be so nominated (after Marvin Hamlisch’s The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977) – astonishingly, none of John Barry’s iconic Bond scores or songs were ever nominated.

Some front running films whose scores were overlooked by the Academy include THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY by Howard Shore, THE IMPOSSIBLE by Fernando Velazquez, THE MASTER by Jonny Greenwood, THE SESSIONS by Marco Beltrami, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK by Danny Elfman, ZERO DARK THIRTY by Alexandre Desplat, and CLOUD ATLAS by Tom Tykwer, Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek, which was shut out of the Oscar nominations entirely. Similarly, fan-favorites such as THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN by James Horner, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES by Hans Zimmer, JOHN CARTER by Michael Giacchino and RISE OF THE GUARDIANS by Alexandre Desplat failed to impress the Academy’s music branch this year. Read more…

Golden Globe Nominees

December 13, 2012 2 comments

goldenglobestatueThe nominations for the 2012 Golden Globes have been announced by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and in the all-important Best Original Score category the HFPA have returned a list of nominees that, for once, actually represents five of the ten best scores written this year! The nominees are:

  • MYCHAEL DANNA for Life of Pi
  • DARIO MARIANELLI for Anna Karenina
  • JOHN WILLIAMS for Lincoln

These are the first major film music award nominations for both Mychael Danna and the Cloud Atlas Pale 3 team, although Danna has been nominated for both a Grammy and and Emmy. This is the 6th nomination for Desplat, who won the award in 2006 for The Painted Veil, and the second nomination for Marianelli, who won both the Golden Globe and Oscar in 2007 for Atonement. Desplat is also a 4-time Oscar and 5-time BAFTA nominee. John Williams, of course, has six billion prior nominations.

In the Best Original Song category, the HFPA have cast the net far and wide, choosing nominees that range from 80s rock and modern day country music to legendary Broadway maestros. The nominees are:

  • ADELE ATKINS and PAUL EPWORTH for “Skyfall” from Skyfall
  • JON BON JOVI for “Not Running Anymore” from Stand-Up Guys
  • MONTY POWELL and KEITH URBAN for “For You” from Act of Valor
  • TAYLOR SWIFT, JOHN PAUL WHITE, JOY WILLIAMS and T-BONE BURNETT for “Safe and Sound” from The Hunger Games

Overall Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln leads the way with 7 nominations in total, with Argo and Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained picking up 5 nominations, and Les Miserables, Silver Linings Playbook and Zero Dark Thirty getting four each.

The Golden Globes are presented on January 13th, 2013.

LINCOLN – John Williams

October 23, 2012 3 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In the annals of American political history, virtually no-one is as universally admired, revered and respected as Abraham Lincoln. Born into relative poverty in Kentucky in 1809, Lincoln rose from being a simple country lawyer to being elected the 16th President of the United States in 1860. During the course of his presidency Lincoln essentially re-defined the United States as we know it today, successfully defeating the Confederacy in the four-year Civil War, issuing the Emancipation Proclamation that essentially ended slavery in the country, and delivering the Gettysburg Address, one of the most famous political speeches of all time. He was re-elected in 1864 but, as we all know, was assassinated by actor John Wilkes Booth while watching a play in a Washington DC theatre in April 1865, before he could fully establish his second term. There have been many films over the years featuring Lincoln as a central figure, but director Steven Spielberg’s film – simply titled “Lincoln” – is a straightforward biopic of the man’s life and achievements. The film stars Daniel Day Lewis in the eponymous role, and features a stellar supporting cast including Sally Field as Lincoln’s wife Mary Todd, Tommy Lee Jones as republican leader Thaddeus Stevens, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Lincoln’s son Robert, David Strathairn as secretary of state William Seward, and Jackie Earle Haley, James Spader, John Hawkes, Jared Harris and Hal Holbrook in smaller roles. Read more…

WAR HORSE – John Williams

January 11, 2012 2 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A variation on the classic Black Beauty tale about of the life of a heroic horse, filtered through the cinematic lens of director John Ford, War Horse is director Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the well-regarded novel by Michael Morpurgo about the adventures of a horse named Joey during World War I. The action moves from rural Devon, where young Joey is raised as a plow horse by Albert Narracott (Jeremy Irvine) to work on his father’s farm, to the battlefields of central Europe after he is sold to the British Army upon the outbreak of war and is adopted by a kindly cavalry officer as his personal mount. Moving from adventure to adventure, Joey makes his way through the mire of The Great War, serving on both sides of the conflict – and all the while young Albert, now himself serving in the trenches, never gives up hope of being reunited with his equine friend. The film co-stars Peter Mullan, Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Niels Arestrup, Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch, and of course has a score by the venerable John Williams, his second score of 2011 after several years away from the podium. Read more…


October 23, 2011 5 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

I think you have to be Belgian, or at least a Francophone, to fully appreciate all the subtleties and nuances of Tintin. Created by the Belgian artist and author Georges Rémi under his pen name Hergé, the character first appeared in print in 1929 and went on to appear in 23 adventure novels spanning a 46-year period up until 1975, followed by the posthumous publication of a final story in 1986, three years after Hergé’s death. Not only that, the stories have been adapted for radio, theatre, and a popular 1960s animated television show with its famous voiceover proclaiming that you are watching “Hergé’s Adventures of Tintin!” Despite all that, and for reasons I have never fully understood I was never a fan of the franchise – unlike Hollywood giant Steven Spielberg, who is not a Francophone, but who is adapting the story for its first major big screen adventure using state of the art-motion capture technology. Read more…

HOME ALONE – John Williams

January 11, 2011 4 comments


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Writer-producer John Hughes, best known for his 80’s teen movies “16 Candles”, “The Breakfast Club” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” conceived a new twist on the holidays when he took on “Home Alone”. The story opens with the McAllister family preparing for a Christmas vacation in Paris, France. As the family is packing, Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) gets into a scuffle with his older brother Buzz and is sent to his room on the third floor. As the out of control family rushes to depart the next morning, Kevin is somehow overlooked and left “Home Alone.” When Kevin awakes and finds himself alone he makes the best of it, as any kid would, by having fun, eating pizza, making a mess and jumping up and down on his parents’ bed. The real fun begins however when Kevin discovers two burglars, Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern) planning to rob his house on Christmas Eve and devises all sorts of booby traps and outrageous schemes to defend his house at all costs. The film stretched credulity from the start, but through its slap-stick humor, Christmas sentimentality and Culkin’s endearing screen persona, it won the hearts of the public and became a huge commercial success. The film made Culkin an instant star, spawned a sequel and to this day remains an enduring holiday favorite. Read more…


May 23, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Play the Raiders March to any film music fan – hell, anyone who went to the cinema in the last 20 years or so – and the same imagery will pop into their mind: Harrison Ford, unkempt, unshaven, battered leather jacket, battered fedora hat, whip in one hand, gun in the other, a languorous grin on his face, preparing to dispatch some insidious bad guy standing in his way from rightfully claiming one of the world’s lost archeological artifacts. Such is the power and durability of John Williams’ classic themes that there are inextricably linked with their subject matter, from the sinister cello chords of Jaws to the breathless joy of E.T., to the effortless heroism of Star Wars. There’s no wonder Williams remains one of the most well-respected and well-loved film composers of all time, and why his music remains a pop culture touchstone for millions. Read more…

MUNICH – John Williams

December 23, 2005 Leave a comment

munichOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The events of 4 September 1972 are forever etched into the memories of those who saw them unfold. At the 20th Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, members of the Palestinian terrorist organisation Black September took hostage eleven members of the Israeli team – wrestlers, weightlifters, and coaches from the shooting and fencing squads – demanded the release of 234 Palestinians and non-Arabs jailed in Israel, and threatened to kill the hostages if their demands were not met, while the horrified world looked on. As the terrorists attempted to escape to Cairo with their prisoners, German police staged a botched rescue attempt at Fürstenfeldbruck airbase: in the ensuing chaos, all the hostages, all but three of the terrorists, and several policemen were killed. Read more…


December 9, 2005 Leave a comment

memoirsofageishaOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of 2005’s most prestigious film projects, Memoirs of a Geisha is a lavish cinematic version of Arthur Golden’s popular novel of the same name. Originally slated to be directed by Steven Spielberg, the film was eventually taken over by Chicago director Rob Marshall, but not before Spielberg had secured the services of his long-time collaborator John Williams to write the film’s score. As regular readers of this site will know, scores which combine oriental sensibilities with western orchestras often receive high ratings and glowing plaudits. Unsurprisingly, Memoirs of a Geisha is not going to buck that trend. Read more…

WAR OF THE WORLDS – John Williams

July 1, 2005 Leave a comment

waroftheworldsOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

British author Herbert George Wells first published his alien invasion novel The War of the Worlds in 1898, and in so doing probably invented an entire genre of science fiction storytelling. When Orson Welles performed a live radio adaptation of the story on Halloween night in 1938, he famously scared half of the American public into thinking an actual alien invasion was taking place, such was the believability and sincerity in Welles’s performance. Director George Pal brought the story to life in 1953 in what is now regarded a landmark entry into cinematic science fiction. Composer Jeff Wayne wrote a popular and successful musical concept album in 1978, which featured a young George Fenton playing a variety of instruments. Now, director Steven Spielberg has brought the classic tale to the big screen once more in what promises to be the definitive cinematic retelling, with a starry cast and a budget to match. Read more…


May 20, 2005 Leave a comment

revengeofthesithOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

After 28 years, six movies, and almost $2 billion in combined grosses, the Star Wars saga has finally come full circle with the release of the third installment of director George Lucas’s “prequel” trilogy, Revenge of the Sith. Essentially acting as a bridge between the last film, Attack of the Clones, and the events of the original 1977 classic Star Wars, Revenge of the Sith tells the story of the Empire’s rise to power: how the Imperial Senate becomes the sole domain of Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), how the last of the old Jedi Knights are driven from power and vanquished in battle, how Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) betrays his former master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and is turned to the dark side of the force by Darth Sidious, eventually becoming the evil and feared Darth Vader; and how Padme (Natalie Portman), Anakin’s wife, secretly gives birth to twin children – named Luke and Leia – who will ultimately become the only hope for a galaxy in the iron grip of its new, ruthless rulers. Read more…

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN – John Williams

December 27, 2002 Leave a comment

catchmeifyoucanOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Steven Spielberg and John Williams have been working together since 1974, when the then-young director hired Williams to score The Sugarland Express. Their subsequent creative collaboration has become near-legendary, spanning almost 20 movies in as many years. Catch Me If You Can, their latest offering, is something of a departure for both of them: a) because Spielberg has made his first “light hearted” movie since the lamentable 1941, and b) because John Williams has given it a jazz score. The film is based on the true life story of Frank Abagnale Jr, who in the 1960s became the youngest person to be placed on the FBI’s most wanted list after committing a series of elaborate confidence tricks. Leonardo Di Caprio stars as the eponymous Abagnale, oozing bravado and charisma, while all the while being shadowed but never quite outwitted by FBI Agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks, in an unusually low-key and monochrome role). Christopher Walken co-stars as Abagnale’s father, with Martin Sheen and Jennifer “Alias” Garner in extended cameos. Read more…


November 15, 2002 Leave a comment

harrypotterchamberofsecretsOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

It’s funny how John Williams always manages to get himself attached to supremely successful movie franchises: whether through skill and good judgement, or simply because of his vast reputation, the man still regarded as Hollywood’s premier composer has lucked out in being involved with the Star Wars movies, Indiana Jones and now Harry Potter, the series of movies based on J.K. Rowling’s enormously popular tales of witchcraft and wizardry. The Chamber of Secrets is the second in the series of films, following Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and is, in every conceivable way, both in terms of movie AND music, a more pleasing experience. Read more…


June 21, 2002 Leave a comment

minorityreportOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Is it sacrilege to say that a new John Williams score is a slight disappointment? The 70-year old composer has been at the top of his game for over 25 years now, and the list of near-legendary scores he has written is almost incomprehensible. His collaboration with director Steven Spielberg is also the stuff of fable – how can two men come up with so much brilliance and genius between them? Minority Report, as a movie, is a marvelous amalgam of science fiction and morality gone wrong. But whereas Spielberg seems to still be at the height of creative talents, Williams seems to be flagging just a tad. A.I., his last Spielberg film, was enjoyable but failed to tread any new ground. Minority Report, which covers similar thematic ground by tackling deep intellectual issues in a science fiction setting, seems to have had the a similar effect on Williams – without wanting to sound unkind, its almost as though “thinking” films don’t provide him with the same seeds of musical inspirational as the popcorn adventure flicks that seem to be more and more his forte. Read more…


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