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Archive for November, 2009

NINJA ASSASSIN – Ilan Eshkeri

November 27, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A martial arts action adventure directed by James McTeigue (the director of V for Vendetta), Ninja Assassin follows the fortunes of a young man named Raizo who, having been trained as a ninja since he was a small boy, grows up to be one of the deadliest assassins in the world. However, when his Master orders the murder of Raizo’s best friend, he turns his back on the clan that raised him; suffering a crisis of conscience, he teams up with a beautiful Interpol agent intend on bringing the ninjas to justice. The film stars Raine, Naomie Harris, Randall Duk Kim and Rick Yune, and has an original score by English composer Ilan Eshkeri, the former protégé of the late great Michael Kamen who has been making a name for himself in recent years off the back of projects such as Hannibal Rising and Stardust. Read more…

THE ROAD – Nick Cave and Warren Ellis

November 27, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A harrowing post-apocalyptic drama based on the acclaimed novel by Cormac McCarthy, The Road stars Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee as an unnamed father and son desperately trying to survive in a North America ravaged by the aftermath of nuclear war, avoiding gangs of lawless cannibalistic killers, seeking shelter from desperately cold weather conditions, and constantly pushing south in search of food, and other survivors. Director John Hillcoat’s bleak film is a meditation on life, on the retention of humanity in the face of desperation, and the lengths to which people will go to protect their families.

For the music, Hillcoat once again turned to songwriter and musician Nick Cave and violinist Warren Ellis, who worked on Hillcoat’s previous films The Proposition and To Have and To Hold. Like the film itself, Cave’s music is desolate and unforgiving Read more…

THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG – Randy Newman

November 27, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Princess and the Frog is the 49th entry in the official canonical list of Disney animated features. Set in New Orleans at the turn of the century, and loosely based on the classic fairytale The Frog Prince by the Brothers Grimm, it tells the tale of Prince Naveen, who travels to the Big Easy in search of fun and jazz music, but who is cursed by the evil witch doctor Facilier, and turned into a frog. Knowing that only the kiss of a princess will return him to human form, Naveen searches desperately for the traditional cure for his ailment; unfortunately, he mistakes waitress Tiana for royalty and the kiss backfires and turns Tiana into a frog too! Desperate for answers, Naveen and Tiana journey deep into the bayou to search for an ancient voodoo priestess who may be the only one who can help… Read more…

BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS – Mark Isham

November 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Despite being nominally based on the massively controversial Harvey Keitel movie from 1992, this new version of Bad Lieutenant has virtually nothing in common with its predecessor. Directed by Werner Herzog, it stars Nicolas Cage as a drug-and-gambling addicted New York detective named Terrence McDonagh, who travels to a post-Katrina New Orleans to help solve the murders of five Senegalese immigrants. With an eccentric supporting cast that includes Val Kilmer, Eva Mendes, Fairuza Balk, Xzibit and Brad Dourif, the film was barely released in theaters in America, scraping a paltry $1.3 million at the box office.

The score for the film is by the talented and versatile Mark Isham. His music is rooted in the moody, jazzy noir sound that has permeated much of his work in the crime genre throughout the years Read more…

RED CLIFF – Tarô Iwashiro

November 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

An epic historical Chinese action-adventure directed by the legendary John Woo, Red Cliff stars Tony Leung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Zhang Fengyi, Chang Chen and Zhao Wei and, with an estimated budget of US$80 million, is the most expensive Chinese ever made. It tells – on an enormous scale – the essentially true story of the fall of the Han dynasty at the end of the second century AD; specifically, it follows the machinations of different political leaders and military strategists from various ancient Chinese kingdoms, all of whom want to inherit the power that would come with the unification of the country in the aftermath of enormous Battle of Red Cliff, in which a million soldiers fought.

Having spent millions on lavish costumes, staggering production design, and a literal cast of thousand, Woo chose Japanese composer Tarô Iwashiro to compose his film’s sprawling score. Read more…

NEW MOON – Alexandre Desplat

November 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Teenage girls the world over have been salivating over the impending release of New Moon ever since the first film in the Twilight series was released in 2008. This film, directed by Chris Weitz, is based on the second book in the string of unfathomably popular novels by author Stephanie Meyer, and continues the ongoing love story between the moody, introverted Bella Swan (Kristin Stewart) and her paramour, the brooding, sensitive vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). However, there is a twist in the tale: native American teen Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), a background presence in the first film, has stepped into the forefront and revealed that he has fallen for Bella himself. However, as if creating an undead love-triangle were not enough, Jacob also holds a dark secret of his own – he and his family are werewolves, and have been at war with the vampires for generations… Read more…

2012 – Harald Kloser and Thomas Wanker

November 13, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The disaster movie to end all disaster movies, 2012 is an apocalyptic action adventure directed by Roland Emmerich who, not content with destroying New York twice in Godzilla and The Day After Tomorrow, or destroying most of the United States in Independence Day, has now gone one better and destroyed the entire world. The film is based on the old legend of the highly accurate calendars created by the ancient Mayan civilization which ‘ran out’ in the year 2012, causing some to believe that they predicted the end of the world, and stars John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Danny Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton and Oliver Platt as the men and women caught up in the global cataclysm.

2012 marks the second instance of composer Harald Kloser also being responsible for the film’s screenplay after his debut work 10, 000 BC last year. Naturally, he also writes the film’s score Read more…

FANTASTIC MR. FOX – Alexandre Desplat

November 13, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

I grew up reading and loving Roald Dahl’s stories; everything from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches and The Twits to The BFG, James and the Giant Peach and Matilda, his words (as well as Quentin Blake’s incomparable illustrations) were an indelible part of my childhood, and remain beloved to this day. Strangely, the one Roald Dahl story I don’t think I ever read was Fantastic Mr. Fox, written by Dahl in 1970 and which has now been turned into an animated feature film by directed Wes Anderson with a voice cast that includes such luminaries as George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, Michael Gambon, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, and Jarvis Cocker from the English rock band Pulp. The story – as is always the case with Dahl’s work – is a dark morality tale dressed up as an innocent children’s story. The plot concerns Mr. and Mrs. Fox, a pair of wily and cunning animals who feed their family by stealing chickens, ducks and cider from under the noses of three despicable farmers named Boggis, Bunce and Bean. Read more…

THE FOURTH KIND – Atli Örvarsson

November 6, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A terrifying supernatural horror film supposedly based on true events, The Fourth Kind stars Milla Jovovich, Will Patton and Elias Koteas, and is set in the isolated fishing community of Nome, Alaska, where over the course of the last 40 years there have been multiple reported cases of alleged possession, alien abduction, supposed murders, and government conspiracies to keep the story quiet. While the ‘factual basis’ of director Olatunde Osunsanmi’s film remains questionable, the film has frightened a good number of cinematic audiences across the world; contributing enormously to this is Icelandic composer Atli Örvarsson’s original score.

Written for a small orchestra judiciously augmented by various electronics, percussion items and unsettling vocal effects, The Fourth Kind is an effectively unnerving score that is often as cold as the Alaskan tundra in which the film is set. Read more…

THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS – Rolfe Kent

November 6, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Contrary to popular belief, The Men Who Stare At Goats is not a film about the life story of my good friend and esteemed colleague James Southall; instead, it is a comedy-drama about the US government’s experiments in psychic warfare. Directed by George Clooney’s longtime writing partner Grant Heslov, it stars Ewan McGregor as Bob Wilton, a reporter in Iraq who thinks he may have uncovered the story of a lifetime when he meets Lyn Cassady (Clooney) a slightly deranged former US army officer who claims to have been part of a top-secret project to equip the military with soldiers capable of paranormal powers. With a quirky supporting cast that includes Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey and Robert Patrick, The Men Who Stare At Goats has all the right credentials to become a cult hit; along for the ride is composer Rolfe Kent. Read more…

A CHRISTMAS CAROL – Alan Silvestri

November 6, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

I’ve lost count of the number of times Charles Dickens’ timeless tale of yuletide redemption, A Christmas Carol, has been re-told on the silver screen. The Internet Movie Database lists at least 50 productions with some variation of the title, ranging from versions starring The Muppets and Mickey Mouse to serious dramatic portrayals by Alastair Sim, George C. Scott and Patrick Stewart, and of course the classic musical Scrooge with Albert Finney from 1970. Director Robert Zemeckis’s latest version continues the obsession with photo-real rotoscope animation he began in The Polar Express and Beowulf, and stars Jim Carrey in multiple roles, but mainly as the Victorian miser Ebenezer Scrooge, whose curmudgeonly life is forever changed when he is visited by three ghosts one fateful Christmas Eve. Read more…