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Archive for October, 2008

SPLINTER – Elia Cmiral

October 31, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Czech/Swedish composer Elia Cmiral has fallen a long way down the film music pecking order since the comparative heights of Ronin in 1998 and Battlefield Earth in 2000, to the point where is now a go-to guy for a large number of low budget horror directors. Cmiral’s latest film, Splinter, is another one in a long list of gore-fests: directed by Toby Wilkins, it stars Shea Whigham, Paulo Costanzo and Jill Wagner as a young couple and an escaped convict who find themselves trapped in an isolated gas station by an evil parasite which, when contracted, mutates the body of the host into something resembling a human porcupine. Read more…

TINKER BELL – Joel McNeely

October 31, 2008 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A very belated prequel to one of Disney’s best-loved classics, Peter Pan, the 3D animated movie Tinker Bell tells the story of what life was like for the green dress-clad pixie before she started having her adventures with Peter, Wendy and the Lost Boys, and dueling with Captain Hook. The film is directed by Bradley Raymond, and features a surprisingly high profile all-female voice cast including Mae Whitman, Kristen Chenoweth, Raven-Symoné, Lucy Liu, America Ferrara, Jane Horrocks, Anjelica Huston.

The film is scored by Joel McNeely, who seems to be making something of a mini-career scoring Disney animated sequels, having already turned in work on sequels to Cinderella, The Fox and the Hound, Lilo & Stitch and Mulan. Read more…

LEGENDS OF THE FALL – James Horner

October 25, 2008 1 comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

On 29 April 1995, I went to the Warner Village Cinema at the Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield to see Legends of the Fall. 133 minutes later, my life had been changed forever. You see, that day was the day I fell in love with film music; absolutely, head over heels in love. As a result of seeing this film, and hearing this score, I embarked on a relationship which has since played an enormous part in my life for the past decade, and will likely continue to do so for the rest of my life. I had been aware of film music prior to this day, of course; I knew about Star Wars, and Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Superman, and all the other classic John Williams scores that most children of the late 1970s know. But it was only after seeing Legends of the Fall was I ever actually aware of the effect the music was having on me in the cinema; that a creative artist was actually creating this incredible sound, making me feel these emotions. I was hooked. I wanted to know more. After the film ended, I immediately went to the HMV in Meadowhall and bought the soundtrack CD – my first – and in doing so became a film music fan. Read more…

SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK – Jon Brion

October 24, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A typically twisted and mind-bending drama from writer/director Charlie Kaufman, Synecdoche New York is a film about a self-absorbed theater director played by Philip Seymour Hoffman who, as his real personal life crashes down around him, sets to creating a theatrical masterpiece about life mimicking art mimicking life, with a life-sized replica of New York City inside a huge warehouse. It’s all very existential and difficult, but it has an astonishing supporting cast – Catherine Keener, Samantha Morton, Hope Davis, Tom Noonan, Emily Watson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Dianne Wiest, Michelle Williams – and has been the recipient of a great deal of praise from various critics groups. Read more…

CHANGELING – Clint Eastwood

October 24, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

Clint Eastwood’s latest film, “Changeling”, tells the story of Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie), a single mother attempting to raise a young son in Los Angeles during the late 1920s. She is a good mother, and she actually has a reasonably successful career as a supervisor at a telephone company. One night, she comes home from work, and discovers that her son is missing. She has no idea where he could have gone. She calls the police, who inform her that her son will probably be back home within 24 hours. If not, they’ll look into it. The next day, her son has still not returned.

A long investigation seems to lead nowhere for weeks and weeks, but finally, there is a breakthrough. Five months after the boy’s disappearance, the police claim they have found Christine Collins’ son Read more…

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (LÅT DEN RÄTTE KOMMA IN) – Johan Söderqvist

October 24, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

When I was a kid, vampires were evil creatures; dark and shadowy figures, middle-aged men clad in cloaks and cowls who could turn into bats. They were things which were to be feared, and to be reviled. Nowadays, in this era of goths and emos, of Buffy and Angel, and main street stores like Hot Topic, vampires are suddenly chic – they’ll still creep into your room at night and suck blood out of your neck, but instead of looking like Bela Lugosi they look like Brad Pitt, and are more likely to be found brooding in a corner somewhere, contemplating their hidden depths and exuding a dark, enticing sexuality. How times change. Read more…

PASSENGERS – Edward Shearmur

October 24, 2008 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

An interesting horror/thriller which slipped under the radar despite starring Anne Hathaway, Passengers is directed by Rodrigo García and follows the increasingly disturbing life of a grief counselor (Hathaway) working with a group of plane-crash survivors (including Patrick Wilson, Dianne Weist and David Morse), who finds herself drawn into a dangerous mystery when her clients begin to disappear without explanation.

The score for Passengers is by Edward Shearmur, who has spent most of 2008 inexplicably scoring a series of crappy comedies – College Road Trip, Meet Bill – which are significantly beneath a man of his talents. Musically, Passengers is a world away from the heady heights Shearmur attained on Reign of Fire and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow Read more…

PRIDE AND GLORY – Mark Isham

October 24, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A dark, gritty thriller directed by Gavin O’Connor, Pride and Glory stars Edward Norton as Ray Tierney, a New York cop from a long line of New York cops who discovers a police corruption scandal involving his own brother-in-law that threatens to tear his family apart. The film, which also stars Colin Farrell, Jon Voight, Noah Emmerich and Jennifer Ehle, is scored by Mark Isham, who previously worked with O’Connor on Miracle in 2004.

As one might expect, much of Pride and Glory is rather subdued, with dark, moody orchestral textures augmented by shifting, brooding synth drones dominating the score. One thing I have never been too enamored of is Isham’s action/thriller writing – scores like Blade or Don’t Say a Word or The Net or Running Scared Read more…

MAX PAYNE – Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders

October 17, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The latest video game to become a big-budget action movie, Max Payne is directed by John Moore and stars Mark Wahlberg as the eponymous lead character, a DEA agent whose family was slain as part of a conspiracy who, while investigating the shadowy criminal underworld whi may be responsible for his wife’s murder, teams up with a sexy assassin (Mila Kunis), who is herself trying to avenge her sister’s death. While the video game received a superb noir score from Finnish composers Kärtsy Hatakka and Kimmo Kajasto, Max Payne’s cinematic cousin is scored by Marco Beltrami in collaboration with his long-time assistant and sound designer Buck Sanders. Read more…

THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES – Mark Isham

October 17, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Secret Life of Bees is a familial/racial drama based on the novel by Sue Monk Kidd and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood. Set in South Carolina in 1964, it stars Dakota Fanning as 14-year-old Lily Owens who, following the accidental death of her mother, escapes with her negro caregiver Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson) from the clutches of her abusive father (Paul Bettany), and travels across the rural South heading for the home the intelligent and independent Boatwright sisters – Queen Latifah, Sophie Okonedo and Alicia Keyes. As the unlikely pair travel, Lily learns from Rosaleen a number of harsh lessons about the realities of life, love, race, and what it means to embrace and acknowledge your past. Read more…

W. – Paul Cantelon

October 17, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

Oliver Stone’s “W.” is a fascinating mess of a movie. There are a lot of things to complain about here. One could argue that the elements of satire and tragedy don’t blend particularly well. One could accurately note that the psychology employed in the film is speculative and simplistic. One could also marvel at the fact that the film never really addresses such important moments as September 11th and Hurricane Katrina, focusing instead to center only on the Iraq War and a series of personal moments. One could say that the film has been made too soon. All of these complaints are fair, and yet this is a resonant and compelling film. Read more…

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BODY OF LIES – Marc Streitenfeld

October 10, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Director Ridley Scott’s feature film for 2008 is Body of Lies, a high-tech espionage thriller based on the best selling novel by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. Leonard Di Caprio stars as Roger Ferris, a covert CIA operative working in Jordan searching for terrorists who have been bombing civilian targets. When Ferris uncovers information on the Islamist mastermind Al-Saleem (Alon Aboutboul), he devises a plan to infiltrate Al-Saleem’s terrorist network with the help of his boss back in the USA, Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe). However, Ferris’s plan brings him into close contact with the Chief of Jordanian Intelligence, Hani Salaam (Mark Strong). Despite their enormous cultural and moral differences, the two are forced to work together, but neither fully trusts the other. With a screenplay by Oscar-winner William Monaghan, Body of Lies has all the pedigree to be a box office success; for the score, Scott again turned to his current composer du jour, Marc Streitenfeld. Read more…

CITY OF EMBER – Andrew Lockington

October 10, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A lavish sci-fi fantasy based on the novel by Jeanne Duprau, City of Ember is the second film from director Gil Kenan, following his animated 2006 debut, Monster House. The film stars Saoirse Ronan and Harry Treadway as Lina and Doon, two teenagers who live in the underground city of Ember, built several centuries previously when the surface of the Earth was left uninhabitable by an unspecified disaster. Lina and Doon begin to discover some dark secrets about Ember: the city is crumbling, both physically and morally, and the corrupt mayor Cole (Bill Murray) doesn’t seem to care. Taking the advice of several similarly disillusioned inhabitants of Ember, Lina and Doon take it upon themselves to escape from Ember, and a way back to the surface. The film, which also stars Mackenzie Crook, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Martin Landau and Tim Robbins, boasts dazzling production design and special effects, and features an original score by up-and-coming Canadian composer Andrew Lockington. Read more…

THE EXPRESS – Mark Isham

October 10, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Express is an inspirational sports drama about the life of Ernie Davis who, while playing for Syracuse University in 1961, became the first African-American college football player to win the prestigious Heisman Trophy, and the trials and hardships he endured to break this sporting color barrier. The film is directed by Gary Fleder, stars Rob Brown and Dennis Quaid, and features a lovely score from Mark Isham.

This isn’t a traditional flag-waving sporting glory score in the vein of The Natural or Rudy or Hoosiers; instead, Isham spends a lot of time scoring the social and political upheaval that surrounded Davis and his exploits, leading to a score which is at times surprisingly dark Read more…

RACHEL GETTING MARRIED – Donald Harrison Jr. and Zafer Tawil

October 3, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Rachel Getting Married is a gritty, adult drama directed by Jonathan Demme and starring Anne Hathaway in a breakout role which is tipped for Oscar success in 2009. Shot in faux-documentary style, Hathaway stars as Kym, a troubled, self-absorbed young woman who has been in and out from rehab for the past 10 years, who returns home for the weekend for her sister Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt)’s wedding, causing long-standing family tensions to rise to the surface.

The film, which also stars Bill Irwin and Debra Winger, has original music from two very diverse sources: Louisiana-born jazz saxophonist Donald Harrison Jr., who is a contemporary of Terence Blanchard, and New York-based Palestinian musician Zafer Tawil Read more…