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PAYCHECK – John Powell

December 26, 2003 Leave a comment

paycheckOriginal Review by Nate Underkuffler

Budda-budda-bumpa. Is that what film music has become? There has been an undoubtable trend in the past decade, perhaps even for the last half of the century, of an increased use of alternative elements in film music apart from the symphony orchestra. Composers such as Goldsmith and Herrmann experimented and implemented synthesizer and other effects into their scores, later composers like Hans Zimmer in part defined themselves by it, and now a young writer like John Powell sees no inappropriateness or novelty in the idea. Powell has thus put his own spin on the techniques, and created unique soundscapes through both an orchestra and anything he can get his hands on in the studio. Nearly all of Powell’s recent scores since breaking away from Media Ventures and his productive tenure on children’s films with fellow MV student Harry Gregson-Williams have been driven by a quirky set of samples and percussion, as well as his now distinctive orchestral style. His latest score, Paycheck, continues this approach, but now adapts it for a futuristic film noir. Read more…

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THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING – Howard Shore

December 19, 2003 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

And so, five years after his journey began, Howard Shore’s travels through the musical word of Middle Earth and the spectacular Lord of Rings trilogy comes to an end with The Return of the King, the final installment of Peter Jackson’s groundbreaking adaptation of the classic fantasy novel by J.R.R. Tolkein. To say that Shore has come a long way is understatement indeed. Before Lord of the Rings, Howard Shore was “the David Cronenberg guy” who specialized in dark, tortured scores for dark tortured movies. Now, he is the undisputed king of the epic adventure, with the potential to become the benchmark by which all future sword-and-sorcery scores are measured. Before Lord of the Rings, Howard Shore was a well-respected, but largely unheralded member of the film music world. Now, he is a household name, with an Oscar on his mantle, who sells out concert halls worldwide. It’s been one massive ride for the quiet, unassuming Canadian – and with the strength of this final score, his stock can only rise. Read more…

GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING – Alexandre Desplat

December 12, 2003 Leave a comment

girlwithapearlearringOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Johannes Vermeer was a Dutch baroque painter who lived in the city of Delft from 1632-1675, and left behind him a legacy of art that can equal that of other Dutch masters such as Van Gogh and Rembrandt. One of his most famous works is entitled “Girl with a Pearl Earring”, painted around 1665, and currently on display in the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague. Although much of Vermeer’s life is undocumented, Tracey Chevalier’s celebrated novel romanticized the creation of this famous piece of art – and is now the inspiration for the directorial debut of Peter Webber. Colin Firth stars as Vermeer, a talented yet tortured painter, trapped in a loveless marriage to the whiny, perpetually pregnant Catharina (Essie Davis), domineered by his mother in-law (Judy Parfitt), and harassed by his lecherous patron and chief source of funding, Van Ruijven (Tom Wilkinson). However, into Vermeer’s household comes a young peasant girl named Griet (Scarlett Johansson), who after a while becomes more interested in Vermeer’s work, and in Vermeer himself. Gradually, the two become attracted to each other, and Griet begins to “sit” for Vermeer (resulting in the famous painting) – much to the disgust of his wife, and Griet’s potential suitor Pieter (Cillian Murphy). Read more…

ANGELS IN AMERICA – Thomas Newman

December 7, 2003 Leave a comment

angelsinamericaOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The quality of original television music in recent years has improved immeasurably. Long gone are the days when all a TV-movie could hope for was a rising star or ageing has-been hiring a small orchestra or, worse still, mocking it all up on synths at home. Now, with recent excellent works like Brian Tyler’s Children of Dune, Laura Karpman’s Taken and Michael Kamen’s Band of Brothers, the upper echelons of television scoring is equaling – and occasionally surpassing – that of the cinema. One of these scores which surpasses almost everything written for the cinema is Thomas Newman’s Angels in America, by far one of the best scores written for any medium in 2003. Read more…

THE LAST SAMURAI – Hans Zimmer

December 5, 2003 Leave a comment

lastsamuraiOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The star of Hans Zimmer continues to grow as, year by year, he and his crew at Media Ventures continue to become attached to some of the most high profile, prestigious projects in Hollywood. With Klaus Badelt, Steve Jablonsky, and former alumni such as Harry Gregson-Williams and John Powell all having successful years, Zimmer has increasingly found himself in an “over-seeing” role, or leading a team of composers in a multi-faceted approach to a project, such as this year’s Tears of the Sun. Only occasionally does Zimmer approach a score on his own: these projects being the ones which have the potential to become box-office blockbusters, or which could garner awards. The Last Samurai is one of these scores. Read more…