Archive for July, 2003

SEABISCUIT – Randy Newman

July 25, 2003 Leave a comment

seabiscuitOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

It’s been quite a while since Randy Newman scored something “serious”, having spent the last five years or so scoring either Pixar animations (A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc.) or comedies (Meet the Parents). His last movie of real dramatic worth was Pleasantville, directed by Gary Ross, and he re-teams with the creative forces behind that film for Seabiscuit, a heart-warming true story of triumph over adversity in horse racing. Seabiscuit is based on a non-fiction book by Laura Hillenbrand. Set in Depression-era America, it stars Jeff Bridges as Charles Howard, a millionaire businessman, and owner of a racehorse named Seabiscuit, whose small size and tendency to injure itself indicates that the thing will never win a race. Sensing hidden depths in the animal, Howard hires revolutionary trainer Tom Smith (Chris Cooper), who sets about rehabilitating the poor pony with his new-fangled methods. One of these methods is to hire a new jockey, in the shape of Red Pollard (Tobey Maguire), a failed boxer who is considered too tall to be a jockey, and who has spent much of his life on the streets. However, bit by bit, Seabiscuit’s form improves – to the stage where, much to everyone’s surprise, the former failure has a shot at winning the 1938 Triple Crown. Read more…

JOHNNY ENGLISH – Edward Shearmur

July 18, 2003 Leave a comment

johnnyenglishOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Every now and again, a score of such life and energy and surprising brilliance comes out of left field and restores your faith in modern film music. Emerging out of the predictable banality of the early months of 2003 is Johnny English, the latest score from British composer Edward Shearmur, hitherto best known for his work on the Charlie’s Angels series and for raising a few eyebrows in 2002 following his scores for The Count of Monte Cristo and Reign of Fire. Basically, Johnny English is a James Bond John Barry knockoff score, in much the same way as David Arnold’s latest 007 scores have been Barry wannabes. The brilliance of Johnny English, however, lies in the fact that whereas Arnold’s works are mere pastiche, Shearmur somehow has managed to recapture the life and energy and panache and humor Barry brought to his works, while at the same time giving it a modern spin and making it musically relevant for millennium audiences. Read more…


July 11, 2003 Leave a comment

leagueofextraordinarygentlemenOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

It’s been a quiet couple of years for Trevor Jones. The excellent Jack the Ripper thriller From Hell notwithstanding, the talented South African has limited himself to small-scale features and TV fare since the turn of the millennium, with titles such as Dinotopia, the Britney Spears vehicle Crossroads and the Charlotte Church movie I’ll Be There to his name. He wasn’t even the first choice composer for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, with director Stephen Norrington originally approaching Mark Isham, with whom he had worked on Blade. But, with disastrous floods destroying sets in Prague, performers and directors clashing with each other on location, and a drawn out post-production period, LXG (the short-form acronym for the movie) eventually fell into the lap of Jones, who took it as another opportunity to create one of his well-liked action thriller scores. Read more…


July 11, 2003 1 comment

piratesofthecaribbeanOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

In giving Pirates of the Caribbean a four-star review, I’m making myself undergo a crisis of conscience. How can I, as a “respected” reviewer of film music, give such a high rating to a score which is quite blatantly inappropriate for the movie, predictable to the extreme, and derivative of virtually every major Media Ventures action score written in the last ten years? The answer, simply, is that it is a whole lot of fun. Pirates of the Caribbean is possibly the ultimate soundtrack guilty pleasure. Directed by Gore Verbinski, Pirates of the Caribbean is a large-budget action film based on the classic ride at the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California, in which visitors are treated to a stately underground boat ride through the old Caribbean, where animatronic pirates shiver their timbers on a daily basis. Read more…

SWIMMING POOL – Philippe Rombi

July 4, 2003 Leave a comment

swimmingpoolOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Unlike twenty or thirty years ago, when composers such as Maurice Jarre and Georges Delerue were in the ascendancy, French film music today seems to be in a bit of a lull. There are certainly some extremely talented individuals writing music for French cinema at the moment – names such as Bruno Coulais, Jean-Claude Petit, Alexandre Desplat and Yann Tiersen spring to mind – but no-one from that part of the world has really taken the world by storm, in a soundtrack sense, for quite a while. This could all change if Hollywood ever discovers the work of Philippe Rombi. This album is actually subtitled “Music from the films of François Ozon”, and features score cuts from four of the talented young director’s most successful films – Swimming Pool (2003), Sous le Sable (2000), Les Amants Criminels (1999) and 8 Femmes (2002). It is Rombi’s music which dominates the CD, with sixteen minutes of his music from the headlining Swimming Pool, and a further 12 minutes of score from Sous Le Sable taking center stage. Read more…


July 4, 2003 Leave a comment

sinbadlegendofthesevenseasOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The second of summer 2003’s pirate movies, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, is by a long way one of the most enjoyable orchestral romps to emerge from the Hollywood studio system in several years. What’s ironic is that both this score and its sibling, Pirates of the Caribbean, should both have been written by Media Ventures alumni, Harry Gregson-Williams and Klaus Badelt. What’s most impressive is that they are as different as chalk and cheese, with Gregson-Williams treading a well-worn path of orchestral exuberance, dating back to the time of Korngold and Rozsa, and the old Sinbad scores of Bernard Herrmann and Roy Budd. Read more…