Archive for January, 2009

SHADOWS – Ryan Shore

January 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Shadows is a Macedonian film directed by the acclaimed filmmaker Milco Mancevski, starring Borce Nacev as Lazar Perkov, a doctor in modern day Skopje who, following his involvement in a deadly car accident, finds his life, his marriage and his career falling apart. However, after an old woman delivers a message to him in an ancient Macedonian dialect, Lazar encounters the seductive, erotic Menka (Vesna Stanojevska), who guides him on a journey to his ancestral home, and helps him learn things about his family’s dark past.

The music for Shadows is, somewhat unexpectedly, by American composer Ryan Shore, whose continued efforts to seek out interesting films outside the Hollywood mainstream is commendable. Read more…

TAKEN – Nathaniel Mechaly

January 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A xenophobic and downright nasty action thriller which somehow became a box office success, Taken is directed by Pierre Morel and stars Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills, a former spy with ‘special skills’, who is forced out of retirement when his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) is kidnapped by a sex trafficking gang in Paris. Once in Europe, Mills runs around a lot and fights his way through the French underworld trying to save his daughter, encountering Albanian crime syndicates and evil Arab billionaires and delivering plenty of high octane energy and pithy-one liners, but it all leaves a nasty taste in the mouth, especially with its blatant “all foreigners are evil” undertone. Read more…

THE UNINVITED – Christopher Young

January 30, 2009 2 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There is something in the work of certain composers which makes them predisposed to be great at horror movie music. There’s something in the way they write, in their personality, in their musical language, which somehow manages to capture both the subtle nuance and sheer outright terror that horror movies require from their scores. Christopher Young is one of those composers. Although he has enjoyed successes in a wide variety of genres over his long and successful career, Young keeps coming back to horror: from his early day on films like The Dorm That Dripped Blood and A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, through his classic Hellraiser scores, to more recent and popular box office hits like The Grudge and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, horror has always been a fertile feeding ground for Young’s talents. To start 2009, Young has again dipped his toes into the chilling pool, and emerged with The Uninvited: one of the best, and downright scariest horror scores in quite some time. Read more…

INKHEART – Javier Navarrete

January 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A vivid fantasy adventure with a literary imagination, Inkheart stars Brendan Fraser, Paul Bettany, Helen Mirren, Andy Serkis and newcomer Eliza Bennett, in a story about a man whose reading aloud brings characters from stories to life. The film is directed by Iain Softley from the popular novel by Cornelia Funke, and features a rousing original score by Spanish composer Javier Navarrete, his first foray back into the fantasy genre since his critically acclaimed work on Pan’s Labyrinth in 2006.

A colorful full-orchestral affair, Inkheart revels in its fantastical storybook heritage, presenting cue after cue of lush, warm, grandiose music that moves easily from romantically sweeping themes to vivid action cues to rich exotica. Read more…

OUTLANDER – Geoff Zanelli

January 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A science fiction Viking epic, Outlander is a genre-bending action movie starring Jim Caviezel as Kainen, a soldier from a faraway planet who crashes his spaceship on Earth in Norway in the year 709, and is captured by the local Norsemen; however, when a deadly alien creature called the Moorwen – which had stowed away on Kainen’s ship – begins a vicious killing rampage through the Viking village, Kainen and the Vikings team up to stop the intruder.

The film is directed by Howard McCann, features an eclectic supporting cast that includes Sophia Myles, Ron Perlman and John Hurt, and has an original score by Geoff Zanelli. The score sounds pretty much like you would expect it to sound, and is built around a rousing brass main theme in the finest Zimmer power anthem tradition Read more…


January 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The third film in the Underworld series, Rise of the Lycans features a new actress in the lead role (Rhona Mitra instead of Kate Beckinsale), and is effectively a prequel to the original two films, charting the events leading up to the vampire-werewolf war which dominates the first two installments. Essentially a Romeo and Juliet variation, the film tells the story of enslaved werewolf Lucian (Michael Sheen), who has been the property of vampire elder Viktor (Bill Nighy) since birth, and who falls in love with Viktor’s daughter Sonja (Rhona Mitra). Their love, Viktor’s betrayal by his daughter, Lucien’s escape from captivity, and the subsequent execution of Sonja by the vampire lords, sets in motion the centuries-long battle for supremacy between vampire and Lycans. Read more…

Academy Award Nominations 2008

January 22, 2009 Leave a comment

oscarstatuette The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) have announced the nominations for the 81st Academy Awards, honoring the best in film in 2008.

In the Best Original Score category, the nominees are:

  • ALEXANDRE DESPLAT for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • DANNY ELFMAN for Milk
  • JAMES NEWTON HOWARD for Defiance
  • THOMAS NEWMAN for Wall*E
  • A. R. RAHMAN for Slumdog Millionaire

This is the first Oscar nomination for Rahman. It is the 2nd nomination for Desplat, the 4th nomination for Elfman, the 6th nomination for Howard, and the 10th nomination for Newman. None of the nominees have ever won an Academy Award before

In the Best Original Song category, the nominees are:

  • THOMAS NEWMAN and PETER GABRIEL for “Down to Earth” from Wall*E
  • A. R. RAHMAN and SAMPOORAN SINGH KALRA (GULZAR) for “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire
  • A. R. RAHMAN and MATHANGI ARULPRAGASAM (M.I.A.) for “O Saya” from Slumdog Millionaire

The winners of the 81st Academy Awards will be announced on February 22, 2009.

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UN HOMME ET SON CHIEN – Philippe Rombi

January 16, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

It’s quite easy for a film music reviewer like myself to become jaded. I hear, on average, between 125 and 175 scores each calendar year, both new works and re-releases, and sometimes barely half of them warrant a second listen. Each year there are maybe 20 or 30 good scores, maybe 5 great scores, and very rarely there is one which can be considered “excellent”. It’s not very often that I listen to a new score and am instantly captured by the music I hear, but when it happens it reminds me why I listen to film music, why I still love this genre, and why this kind of music can move, elate and thrill me like no other. Un Homme Et Son Chien by Philippe Rombi is one of those rare scores. Read more…

MY BLOODY VALENTINE – Michael Wandmacher

January 16, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A nostalgic throwback to the early 80s era of the slasher film, My Bloody Valentine was the first modern horror film to fully embrace the new 3D craze, shocking its audiences with realistically realized axes and body parts shooting from the screen, as well as with all manner of grisly and gruesome special effects to bring the bloody story to life. A remake of the 1981 classic horror film of the same name, the film is directed by Patrick Lussier and stars Jensen Ackles as Tom Hanninger, a young man who returns to his Pennsylvania mining hometown on the tenth anniversary of the Valentine’s night massacre that claimed the lives of 22 people. Despite the original murderer having been apparently killed a decade a go, the murders begin again, and before long Tom finds himself being accused of the crimes. Turning to his old girlfriend Sarah (Jaime King) – who survived the massacre a decade before – Tom sets out to solve the brutal mystery and prove his innocence. Read more…

HOTEL FOR DOGS – John Debney

January 16, 2009 2 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Hotel for Dogs is a kid’s comedy adventure based on the novel by Lois Duncan, directed by Thor Freudenthal, and which stars Emma Roberts and Jake T. Austin as orphan siblings who, despite the misgivings of their foster parents and their patient social worker (Don Cheadle), start a home for abandoned dogs in a run-down hotel – hilarity, as they say, ensues.

The score for Hotel for Dogs is by John Debney, whose choice in films since picking up his Oscar nomination for The Passion of the Christ has been surprising, to say the least. Hotel for Dogs is the latest in a long line of children’s comedies which would seem to be better suited to less talented composers than Debney Read more…

AFTERWARDS (ET APRÈS) – Alexandre Desplat

January 16, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Afterwards is a metaphysical romantic drama directed by Gilles Bourdos and starring Romain Duris as Nathan, a brilliant New York lawyer whose personal life has become a mess since his divorce from Claire (Evangeline Lilly), his only love. However, when everything changes when Nathan meets Kay (John Malkovich), a mysterious doctor who introduces himself as a “Messenger” and tells Nathan that he is able to sense when certain people are about to die.

This mysterious, moody film has a score by Alexandre Desplat, returning to work with director Bourdos for the first time since the pair collaborated on the score for Inquiétudes in 2003. Read more…

THE UNBORN – Ramin Djawadi

January 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

Anytime a film has a January release date, odds are pretty strong that it’s going to be a waste of time. When it’s a horror film directed by David S. Goyer, such odds are even stronger. Such was the case with “The Unborn”, a critically-reviled supernatural horror flick featuring such overqualified actors as Gary Oldman and Jane Alexander. The film tells the unusual story of a girl who is haunted by her dead twin brother. Apparently, the brother was killed as a baby during horrific Nazi experiments, and now the girl must find a way to get rid of her evil ghost twin before it does something nasty to her. The film was scored by Ramin Djawadi, another student of Hans Zimmer who continues to get plum assignments despite the lack of any discernible talent. So, has he shown any signs of improvement in his latest outing? Read more…