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Archive for December, 2000

THE CLAIM – Michael Nyman

December 29, 2000 Leave a comment

theclaimOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

I’m not really given to making lofty proclamations here, but this is one guaranteed to ruffle a few feathers: The Claim is Michael Nyman’s best score to date. I’m not talking best as in the complexity of the music, or the craftsmanship: rather, The Claim is Nyman’s first film score in the sense that it overflows with emotion. It’s lush, it sweeps, and it features one of the most attractive central themes the enigmatic Englishman has ever written. Michael Nyman writing for a big-screen adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge; that I can believe. Michael Nyman writing for an epic Western set at the height of the gold rush; well, that’s another proposition entirely. Read more…

ALL THE PRETTY HORSES – Marty Stuart, Kristin Wilkinson and Larry Paxton

December 25, 2000 Leave a comment

alltheprettyhorsesOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

I’ve spoken about preconceptions many times before on Movie Music UK; pre-judging a score based on what you know about the movie, and the composer, before you hear the music. Once again, I have been found guilty of negatively pre-judging a particular score, only to hear the thing and be totally blown away. The score in question this time is All the Pretty Horses, written by Marty Stuart, with additional music by Larry Paxton, Kristin Wilkinson and Daniel Lanois. All the Pretty Horses is director Billy Bob Thornton’s sophomore effort, following his critically acclaimed, Oscar-winning debut Sling Blade. It’s a rites-of-passage Western, adapted from the popular novel by Cormac McCarthy and starring Matt Damon as John Grady Cole, a young man in rural 1940s Texas who, after being made homeless following his grandmother’s death, heads off to Mexico with his best buddy Lacey Rawlins (Henry Thomas) to seek his fortune. Unfortunately, fortune is not what Cole and Rawlins find south of the Rio Grande, instead becoming involved in the affairs of a teenage gunslinger Blevins (Lucas Black), a Mexican rancher’s daughter (Penelope Cruz), with whom Cole falls in love, and the local police, who take exception to the blossoming romance between the handsome American and the beautiful señorita. Read more…

MALÉNA – Ennio Morricone

December 22, 2000 Leave a comment

malenaOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Ennio Morricone’s fifth and final score of 2000 is for the Italian romantic-comedy-drama Maléna, directed by Giuseppe Tornatore, for whom Morricone has written several classic scores, not least the incredible Cinema Paradiso. What’s interesting about Maléna is the fact that, unlike 99% of Morricone’s output of late, it has been the recipient of quite a bit of publicity, mainly through its association with the Miramax marketing machine. A second Golden Globe Best Score nomination in a row has been secured for the Italian maestro – following his success with The Legend of 1900 last year – and is backed up by a high profile soundtrack release. The only difference between this and 1900, though, is that Maléna is worthy of the praise. To quote from the Miramax press kit, Maléna is a film about a beautiful young widow who inspires a young boy’s independence and courage amongst the chaos and intolerance of war. The film stars Monica Bellucci (recently seen in Under Suspicion) as Maléna Scordia, the most ravishing woman in a sleepy Sicilian village, whose husband is away fighting in World War II. Attracting lustful glances from the men of the town, being the recipient of scornful gossip from their jealous wives, and followed wherever she goes by children on bicycles, Maléna thinks her life could not get any more difficult – until news reaches her that her husband has been killed in action. But solace comes from an unexpected place: one of the children who follow her, young Renato Amoroso (Giuseppe Sulfaro), decides to help Maléna through her suffering, and becomes her “secret shadow”, ensuring that the classical beauty is able to come to terms with her loss, and with the narrow-mindedness of her neighbors. Read more…

CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON – Tan Dun

December 8, 2000 Leave a comment

crouchingtigerhiddendragonOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

After spending much of its history consigned to art-houses, lauded by critics but unseen by the masses, Chinese cinema is suddenly big business. The emigration west of some of its biggest names, notably action stars such as Jackie Chan and Chow Yun Fat, has undoubtedly paved the way for Chinese-language movies to reach a wider audience, and now the first true crossover hit seems to have come: Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Director Lee has, of course, been making critically popular films in English for a number of years, from the Oscar winning costume drama Sense & Sensibility to the drama The Ice Storm and the civil war epic Ride With The Devil. Throughout his career, though, Lee has harbored a desire to make a wuxia pian, a Chinese costume drama combining traditional drama with martial arts. Lee has described Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon as “Jane Austen meets Bruce Lee”. Read more…

PROOF OF LIFE – Danny Elfman

December 8, 2000 Leave a comment

proofoflifeOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Proof of Life: The Movie has been overtaken in the world’s press by Proof of Life: The On-Set Romance to such an extent that director Taylor Hackford’s espionage thriller has almost become an unimportant by-product of the Meg and Russell Show. Meg divorced Dennis Quaid to be with Crowe, who then left Meg to be with his cattle in Australia… it’s certainly one of Tinseltown’s more unusual love triangles. But Movie Music UK is not concerned with tabloid tittle-tattle, instead preferring to judge things on their artistic merits. Unfortunately, as far as the music is concerned at least, Proof of Life doesn’t have many. The film Russell Crowe stars as Terry Thorne, a private investigator and hostage negotiation specialist who is hired by Alice Bowman (Meg Ryan) to find her engineer husband Peter (David Morse), who has been kidnapped by guerrillas in South America. Terry and Alice head deeper into danger, locking horns with Ecuadorian freedom fighters and corrupt government officials as they try to obtain some kind of reassurance that Peter is alive, and worth searching for. However, as the two of them endure life-threatening situation after life-threatening situation, a tentative romantic relationship develops, jeopardizing both the mission and Terry’s professional integrity. Read more…

VERTICAL LIMIT – James Newton Howard

December 8, 2000 Leave a comment

verticallimitOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

By popular consensus, James Newton Howard has finished the year 2000 as one of the strongest and most consistent composers in Hollywood. The 49-year old Californian wrote three stellar scores in 2000 – Dinosaur (my personal favorite of the entire year), Unbreakable, and Vertical Limit, the latter being an epic mountaineering score for the film directed by Martin Campbell. The undoubted high quality of his work, the critical acclaim it has received amongst score fans, and the old-fashioned enjoyment derived from his work of late has thrust him into the limelight; Vertical Limit is just the latest in a long line of excellent works from the man with three names. Read more…