COLD PURSUIT – George Fenton

February 19, 2019 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In the late 1990s – which, to my shock and dismay, is now almost 20 years ago – I truly thought George Fenton was on the verge of becoming one of the truly great Hollywood A-lister composers. He had already picked up a handful of Oscar nominations for scores like Gandhi and Cry Freedom, Dangerous Liaisons and The Fisher King; he scored a string of popular successes, like Groundhog Day, Final Analysis, and You’ve Got Mail; and then he unleashed a 1-2-3 punch of magnificent romantic drama scores with Ever After, Dangerous Beauty, and Anna and the King at the very end of the millennium. This, coupled with his small-screen success scoring acclaimed nature documentaries for the BBC such as Blue Planet, seemed to indicate that he would be a major player for years to come. However, inexplicably, and despite and occasional sporadic box office hit, the prestige assignments began to dry up. He is still working, of course, but the level of acclaim and visibility he once enjoyed has diminished enormously, and I am at a loss to explain why, because he clearly still has the talent and creativity he always had. Read more…


SCHINDLER’S LIST – John Williams

February 18, 2019 1 comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

The genesis of Schindler’s List lay with holocaust survivor Leopold Pfefferberg, whose tale of Oskar Schindler inspired Thomas Keneally to write his Booker Prize winning novel, Schindler’s Ark, in 1982. It came to pass that studio president Sid Sheinberg saw opportunity in the story and mailed Steven Spielberg a review of the book by the New York Times. Spielberg was deeply moved by the narrative and secured financial backing from Universal Pictures, which purchased the screen rights. Yet the then 37-year-old hesitated and ultimately delayed production ten years as he felt himself too young to take on the pathos of the Holocaust. When the time eventually came to begin production, he tasked Steven Zaillian with writing the screenplay, and the struggled to hire a director, soliciting several including Roman Polanski, Sydney Pollack, Billy Wilder and Martin Scorsese. Ultimately Spielberg took Wilder’s counsel to direct the film himself. For the cast he brought in an outstanding ensemble, which included Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler, Ben Kingsley as Itzhak Stern, Ralph Fiennes as Captain Amon Göth, Caroline Goodall as Emilie Schindler, Jonathan Sagalle as Poldek Pfefferberg, and Embeth Davidtz as Helen Hirsch. Read more…

RAIN MAN – Hans Zimmer

February 14, 2019 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There is a great serendipity in how Hans Zimmer became the film music megastar he is. Back in 1985 Zimmer co-scored the film My Beautiful Launderette with his mentor, Stanley Myers, when he was still a fresh-faced youngster working in London. That film was produced by Sarah Radclyffe, the co-founder of Working Title Pictures, who in 1988 produced A World Apart, the directorial debut feature of acclaimed cinematographer Chris Menges. That film was the first significant solo project of Zimmer’s career, and it just so happens that the film was seen by Diana Rhodes, the wife of director Barry Levinson, just as Levinson was working on his latest film, Rain Man. Rhodes recommended Zimmer to Levinson, and Zimmer received what he now refers to as ‘the call,’ which secured him the job, took him to Los Angeles, and utterly changed his life. Read more…


February 12, 2019 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

If Beale Street Could Talk is the latest film from critically acclaimed director Barry Jenkins, whose previous effort Moonlight was the winner of the Best Picture Academy Award in 2016. The film is adapted from the novel by James Baldwin, and is a romantic drama charting the relationship between an African-American couple, Fonny and Tish, in New York in the 1970s. At its heart it is the story of two people deeply in love, and how that love endures despite all manner of difficulties – notably the casual racism towards black people in that era, the systemic corruption of the criminal justice system, and their own familial problems. Specifically, as it relates to Tish and Fonny, the core issue is the impending birth of their child, and how Fonny’s arrest for a crime he did not commit affects Tish and the rest of the family on the outside. The film stars Kiki Layne and Stephan James as the protagonist couple, and Regina King in a critically acclaimed supporting role as Tish’s mother. Read more…


February 11, 2019 1 comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

The genesis of the film lay with actress Winona Ryder, who wished to make amends with director Francis Ford Coppola after her late withdrawal from The Godfather Part III. She brought him a script written by James V. Hart, which provided an adaptation of the famous 1897 novel Dracula by Irish author Bram Stoker. Coppola was intrigued by the sensuality and eroticism of Hart’s retelling and immediately moved forward to bring it to the big screen. He would produce the film with Fred Fuchs and Charles Mulvehill using his own production company of American Zoetrope. Coppola had an uncompromising conception of the film and went to great lengths to create his cinematic vision. Indeed, the film shattered the traditional mythos and caricature of the black caped Dracula with a new, stylish, and significantly more erotic rendering. He assembled a fine, but controversial cast with Gary Oldman playing the titular role. Supporting him would be Winona Ryder as Mina, Anthony Hopkins as Professor Abraham Van Helsing, Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker, Richard E. Grant as Dr. Jack Seward, Cary Elwes as Lord Arthur Holmwood, Billy Campbell as Quincy Morris, Tom Waits as Renfield, and Sadie Frost as Lucy Westenra. Read more…

BAFTA Winners 2018

February 10, 2019 Leave a comment

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) have announced the winners of the 72nd British Academy Film Awards, honoring the best in film in 2018.

In the Best Original Music category, the winners were Bradley Cooper, Stefani Germanotta (Lady Gaga), and Lukas Nelson, for their collection of original songs written for the musical drama film A Star is Born. BAFTA is different from other awards bodies, in that their music award specifically includes song scores, adaptation scores, and expert use of classical music alongside original scores, and the award is for in an overarching ‘best use of music in film.’ Cooper, who also co-wrote, directed, produced, and co-starred in the film, accepted the award, saying:

“Thank you BAFTA. Wow, I got to fulfill a dream that I never thought would ever happen, to compose and arrange music, and I got to do it with the greatest musicians in the world – Lady Gaga and Lukas Nelson, who I share this with tonight. This music was the heartbeat of the film, and we had so much help from people all over the country. Brandi Carlisle, Mark Ronson, Hillary Lindsey, Jason Ruder and the whole sound team, Steve Morrow, Alan Murray, it wouldn’t have sounded like that without you. Ben Rice at the Village Studios in Santa Monica. The engineers. Most of all I have to thank Irina [Shayk], for putting up with me, for all the music I was trying to make in our basement for a year. Thank you very much, thank you.”

The other nominees were Terence Blanchard for Blackkklansman, Nicholas Britell for If Beale Street Could Talk, Alexandre Desplat for Isle of Dogs, and Marc Shaiman for Mary Poppins Returns.

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IFMCA Award Nominations 2018

February 7, 2019 2 comments


FEBRUARY 7, 2019. The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) announces its list of nominees for excellence in musical scoring in 2018, for the 15th annual IFMCA Awards. In one of the most open fields in IFMCA history, composer James Newton Howard received the most nominations with four, closely followed by Nicholas Britell, Alexandre Desplat, Ludwig Göransson, Justin Hurwitz, and John Powell, who each received three.

67-year-old American composer James Newton Howard is nominated for his work on two scores – “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” the second film in the Harry Potter spinoff series, and the controversial Jennifer Lawrence Cold War spy thriller “Red Sparrow” – and is one of the five nominees for Composer of the Year. IFMCA member Christian Clemmensen called Fantastic Beasts an “accomplished and mature fantasy score” which “sits comfortably with Howard’s accomplished genre works and competes favorably for a place amongst 2018’s best scores,” while IFMCA member Mihnea Manduteanu described Red Sparrow as “beautiful and passionate” and “melodic and furious”. Howard previously received IFMCA Score of the Year honors in 2006 for “The Lady in the Water”. His other major score in 2018 was for the lavish fantasy “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” which was inspired by Tchaikovsky’s seminal ballet. Read more…

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