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Archive for September, 2005

DUMA – John Debney and George Acogny

September 30, 2005 Leave a comment

dumaOriginal Review by Peter Simons

A return to director Carroll Ballard’s favorite subject, Duma is based on the semi-autobiographical book by Carol and Xan Hopcraft, and tells the story of young South African boy Xan (Alexander Michaletos), who adopts an orphaned cheetah and becomes its best friend. This simple, uncomplicated plot is virtually a retelling of Ballard’s previous directorial effort Fly Away Home – albeit with big cats rather than geese – as Xan sets out on a quest to release the big cat back in to the wild, struggles with the sudden loss of his father, and adapts to other difficulties with adolescence and growing up. Read more…

MOTHER OF MINE (ÄIDEISTÄ PARHAIN) – Tuomas Kantelinen

September 30, 2005 Leave a comment

motherofmineOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Finland, a country of 5.3 millions people in the extreme north of Europe, doesn’t have the greatest pedigree when it comes to internationally successful cinema. Their most revered artist, Aki Kaurismäki, is virtually unknown outside of art houses, and their most popular success, Renny Harlin, was famously described by Michael Kamen as “a Finnish motorbike rider – not a director. Nice guy, but not in command of that kind of thing” when talking about their collaboration on Die Hard II. Musically, Finland gave the world composers Jean Sibelius and Einojuhani Rautavaara, and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, but have never managed to combine the two arts and provide a world-renowned film music composer. This could all change for Tuomas Kantelinen, however, if Mother of Mine is successful. Read more…

SERENITY – David Newman

September 30, 2005 Leave a comment

serenityOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

A big screen re-working of the short-lived TV series Firefly, Serenity marks the return to the cinema of writer-producer-director Joss Whedon, whose first abortive attempts to crack the big screen market resulted in the laughable Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie in 1992. Of course, Whedon’s revamping (pardon the pun) of his own idea became a smash hit through the subsequent Buffy TV series, and as such his stock has risen to the stage where he can now develop his own projects without fear of studio meddling. To this end, and to many people’s surprise, Whedon hired David Newman to score Serenity – an assignment many people had been hoping would come Newman’s way, having been subjected to little more than pointless comedy and sequel scores from him for most of the new millennium. Read more…

DEAR WENDY – Benjamin Wallfisch

September 23, 2005 Leave a comment

dearwendyOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

A new name in the film scoring community, until now Benjamin Wallfisch has been best known for his work orchestrating and conducting Dario Marianelli’s acclaimed scores Pride & Prejudice, The Brothers Grimm and V for Vendetta. What may not be immediately apparent from those projects is that the 27-year-old Englishman is a talented hugely talented composer in his own right – as his debut score for Dear Wendy attests. A Danish/British co-production directed by Thomas Vinterberg and produced by Lars Von Trier, Dear Wendy stars Jamie Bell as Dick, a young boy in a nameless, timeless American town, who establishes a gang of misfits who are in love with guns as a way of livening up their lives. It’s an unusual, typically Scandinavian film about youthful angst, socio-political issues, and alienation, which opened in the UK in August 2005, but has not received wide distribution in North America beyond the festival circuit, despite actors such as Bill Pullman appearing in supporting roles. Read more…

FLIGHTPLAN – James Horner

September 23, 2005 Leave a comment

flightplanOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Up until now, James Horner has had a quiet 2005: with no films since the forgettable The Forgotten last September, he’s done what he invariably tends to do and done nothing, then ended up having six films come out at the end of the year in the space of three months. Discounting the low-budget independent The Chumscrubber, the first of these is Flightplan, a high-concept action thriller set on a sophisticated aeroplane, directed by German debutant Robert Schwentke. The film stars Jodie Foster as Kyle Pratt, an aeronautics engineer who is traveling from Berlin to New York with her young daughter Julia (Marlene Lawston) on a state-of-the-art airliner she helped design. Shortly after takeoff, Kyle drifts into a deep sleep, and when she awakens three hours later, the plane is over the Atlantic Ocean, and Julia is missing. Read more…

OLIVER TWIST – Rachel Portman

September 23, 2005 Leave a comment

olivertwistOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

There have been dozens of cinematic versions of Oliver Twist over the years, from the earliest days of Hollywood, to David Lean’s 1948 classic with Alec Guinness and music by Sir Arnold Bax, and the beloved 1968 Lionel Bart musical starring Ron Moody and Oliver Reed. Almost the last person you would expect to make one is Roman Polanski, but make one he has – this time featuring the talents of Ben Kingsley as Fagin, the relatively unknown Jamie Foreman as Bill Sikes, and the totally unknown Barney Clark in the title role. For those who have never seen any of the screen versions, or read Charles Dickens’ classic 1838 novel, about a young orphan boy in a workhouse in London who, having had the temerity to ask for “more food”, is thrown out onto the streets. There he meets a young tearaway known as The Artful Dodger (Harry Eden), the leader of a gang of child pickpockets overseen by the nefarious Fagin, who keeps the ragamuffins fed and clothed in exchange for a home. Read more…

LORD OF WAR – Antonio Pinto

September 16, 2005 Leave a comment

lordofwarOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

It’s interesting to chart the careers of certain film music composers, who they are, and where they come from. I’d be willing to wager that no-one outside of Brazil had heard of Antonio Pinto prior to 1998. He contributed guitar performances and additional music for Jaques Morelenbaum on the Oscar-nominated Central Station in that year, and wrote the score for the surprisingly popular urban drama City of God in 2002 – and now all of sudden he’s scoring a major studio movie in Hollywood, starring Nicolas Cage, directed by man behind The Truman Show, and Gattaca. It’s strange because for the life of me I can’t figure out why he’s suddenly so popular – by and large his music I have found his music to be downbeat and generally unimpressive. Lord of War is no different. Read more…

PROOF – Stephen Warbeck

September 16, 2005 Leave a comment

proofOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the best reviewed films of late summer 2005 has been Proof, the latest effort from John Madden, the Oscar-winning director of Shakespeare in Love and Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Based on the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning stage play by David Auburn, it stars Gwyneth Paltrow as Catherine, the daughter of the brilliant, recently-deceased, mathematician and scientist Robert (Anthony Hopkins), who in the latter years of his life was plagued by the onset of dementia. As Robert’s sole care-giver, Catherine – an equally brilliant scholar – spent day and night with her father tending to his needs, and is aggrieved when her sister Claire (Hope Davis) jets in from New York full of bluster and empty words of consolation, and a former dissertation student named Hal (Jake Gyllenhaal) starts poring through her father’s work looking for some spark of genius within the madness. Worst of all, Catherine begins to think that, as well as inheriting her father’s intellect, she may also have inherited his tendency for insanity… Read more…

CORPSE BRIDE – Danny Elfman

September 16, 2005 Leave a comment

corpsebrideOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

With the possible exception of Steven Spielberg and John Williams, Tim Burton and Danny Elfman have by far the most creatively positive composer/director relationship in Hollywood. One glance at their mutual filmography – everything from Pee Wee to Beetlejuice to Batman to Edward Scissorhands and Sleepy Hollow – proves beyond doubt that they are a pairing in perfect synch with each other’s way of thinking, of what one needs from the other to excel. Their latest collaboration, Corpse Bride, takes inspiration from the wonderful 1993 stop-motion animation The Nightmare Before Christmas, and tells an equally beautiful and tragic tale of love, loss, longing, and unfulfilled dreams. Read more…

ECHOES OF INNOCENCE – Brad Sayles

September 9, 2005 Leave a comment

echoesofinnocenceOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Echoes of Innocence, which won awards at film festivals in Colorado Springs and Houston and was released on DVD in September 2005, is an interesting film about a regular high school girl who, unexpectedly, begins to hear voices and see visions like a modern day Joan of Arc. Starring Sara Simmonds and Jake McDormand, and written, produced and directed by debutante N. Todd Sims, the film also marks the film music debut of Texan composer Brad Sayles.

It’s interesting to note that Sayles is as much a sound designer as he is a composer – he worked on Clint Eastwood’s Space Cowboys in that capacity – and several times during the course of the score he uses his talents for electronic and synthetic design (listen for the seagulls in “Sarah’s Second Vision”!) While some cues do make use of acoustic instruments, quite a lot of the score is sampled (primarily for budgetary reasons), but despite the sonic limitations imposed by the electronics, the writing is still commendable. One can imagine cues such as “Visiting Violet” and the action-packed “Into the Woods/The Rescue” sounding pretty good if they were to be performed by a live orchestra. Read more…

THE CONSTANT GARDENER – Alberto Iglesias

September 2, 2005 Leave a comment

constantgardenerOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

A taut political thriller from the pen of John Le Carré, about the pharmaceutical industry and human rights violations in central Africa, The Constant Gardener is the latest film from acclaimed Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles. Ralph Fiennes stars as Justin Quayle, a soft-spoken British diplomat in Kenya, who learns that his young wife, Tessa (Rachel Weisz), has been killed while traveling in a jeep along a lonely stretch of highway. The official cause of death is a ‘bandit raid’, but Justin suspects a cover-up. As he delves deeper into his wife’s past, he discovers some disturbing truths about her life as a human rights activist, and the work of a shady drug company who are testing a new vaccine for tuberculosis amongst the local population. The film, which also stars Danny Huston, Bill Nighy, Pete Postlethwaite, Gerard McSorley and Hubert Koundé, has been generally lauded by film critics, and looks to be a major player at awards ceremonies in the near future. Read more…