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Archive for December, 2009

THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS – Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna

December 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Unfortunately for director Terry Gilliam, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is destined to be remembered as ‘the film Heath Ledger was making when he died’ rather than for any artistic merit the film may have itself, which is a shame because by the looks of things the film has all the magic one has come to expect from the former Python. The film is a fantastical tale about the owner of a travelling circus who, having made a deal with the Devil, takes his audience members through a magical mirror to explore their imaginations. However, Parnassus harbors a dark secret; in exchange for immortality, he pledged the life of his daughter to the devil, and is now using the unsuspecting customers of his ‘imaginarium’ to trick the devil out of his prize. Following Ledger’s death, his part was taken over by three actors – Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law – all of whom apparently worked for free, alongside a quirky cast that also includes Tom Waits, Lily Cole, Verne Troyer, and Christopher Plummer as Parnassus himself. Read more…

SHERLOCK HOLMES – Hans Zimmer

December 25, 2009 2 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

This version of Sherlock Holmes is apparently the 223rd occasion the ubiquitous detective has been portrayed on either the big or small screen, but as far as I’m aware this is the first time Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary character has been a traditional Hollywood action hero. A succession of actors – from Basil Rathbone to Peter Cushing and Jeremy Brett – have portrayed Holmes as a thoughtful, cultured, albeit rather eccentric English gentleman, and although Doyle’s novels have often spoken of his prowess as a bare knuckle fighter and swordsman, as well as his drug use, Holmes was never an ‘action man’ in the traditional sense. It seems the filmmakers have made a rather unfortunate misjudgment of character on this film, making this Holmes a young, bare-chested hunk rather than an analytical mind. Read more…

THE YOUNG VICTORIA – Ilan Eshkeri

December 19, 2009 4 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A British costume drama directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, The Young Victoria tells the story of the early life of the soon-to-be Queen Victoria, who ruled Britain for 63 years from 1837 until 1901, and enjoyed a great life-long love with her consort, Prince Albert. Emily Blunt plays Victoria as a young romantic, deeply in love with Albert (Rupert Friend), both before and after her accession to the throne. The film, which was co-produced by Martin Scorsese and Sarah Ferguson (formerly the Duchess of York), features a plethora of British senior actors in supporting roles, including Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent, Paul Bettany, Mark Strong and Julian Glover, has rich and opulent production design and costumes, and has a strong score by British composer Ilan Eshkeri. Read more…

AVATAR – James Horner

December 18, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

James Cameron makes a habit of being groundbreaking. Whether he is creating a planet full of ferocious xenomorphs in Aliens, experimenting with liquid metal robots in Terminator II, or making a realistic recreation of a sinking boat in Titanic, the Canadian director has always been at the forefront of cutting edge cinematic technology, pushing the envelope of what is creatively and technologically possible on the screen. His latest film, Avatar, continues that trend; with an estimated budget of $320 million, it’s the most expensive film ever made, and looks set to become one of the biggest grossing films of all time too. Read more…

INVICTUS – Kyle Eastwood and Michael Stevens

December 11, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A true life drama directed by Clint Eastwood, Invictus tells the story of the country of South Africa, and its emergence from of social, political and sporting exile imposed on it during the Apartheid years, which was lifted following the release from jail of Nelson Mandela in 1990. Specifically, it tells the parallel stories of Mandela’s first years as president of the newly-democratic South Africa, and the South African rugby union team’s victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup, which was seen as turning point in the modern history of the nation. The film stars Morgan Freeman as Mandela and Matt Damon as South African team captain François Pienaar, and is scored by Eastwood’s son Kyle Eastwood and his regular musical partner Michael Stevens. Read more…

THE LOVELY BONES – Brian Eno

December 11, 2009 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A supernatural drama based on the massively popular novel by Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones tells the story of a teenage girl named Susie in 1970s suburban America who, after being brutally raped and murdered, watches from heaven as her family and friends go on with their lives, and tries to help her family solve her murder, while she herself comes to terms with her own death. The film is directed by Peter Jackson, and stars Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz as Susie’s parents, Susan Sarandon as Susie’s grandmother, Stanley Tucci as murderous pedophile George Harvey, and Saoirse Ronan as Susie herself. Read more…

A SINGLE MAN – Abel Korzeniowski

December 11, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A Single Man is based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Isherwood, and marks the directorial debut of writer/director and former fashion designer Tom Ford. Set in Los Angeles in 1962, at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, it tells the story of a British college professor George (Colin Firth) who, following the death of his long-time homosexual partner, struggles to find meaning in his life. The film is already a critical success, with Colin Firth tipped to receive his first Academy Award nomination for his performance, and has also seen recognition for the score by 37-year-old Polish composer Abel Korzeniowski, who received a Golden Globe nomination for his work. Read more…

ARMORED – John Murphy

December 4, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

An action thriller directed by Nimród Antal and starring Matt Dillon, Jean Reno and Laurence Fishburne, Armored is a story about a guard for an armored truck company who is coerced by his veteran co-workers to steal a truck containing $42 million, with deadly consequences. The score for the film is by British composer John Murphy, whose stock in Hollywood continues to rise off the back of successful films such as Guess Who, 28 Days Later and this year’s Last House on the Left.

Murphy’s music is a workmanlike modern urban thriller score, filled with electronic grooves and synth pulses, atop a standard string orchestra to humanize the sound. The opening “Morning” is actually quite good, with a recurring three-note string motif overlaid by sexy electronic tones Read more…

BROTHERS – Thomas Newman

December 4, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Brothers is the latest film from acclaimed director Jim Sheridan, whose previous efforts include My Left Foot and In the Name of the Father. A remake of film director Susanne Bier’s 2004 Danish film Brødre, it stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire as brothers Sam and Tommy Cahill; Tommy is in jail for robbery, Sam is a United States marine serving in Afghanistan. When Sam’s helicopter is shot down in action, everyone presumes him to be dead, and Sam’s wife Grace (Natalie Portman) turns to the recently-released Tommy for comfort in grief. Gradually, Tommy and Grace form a new relationship… only for their lives to be shattered when a very-much alive Sam returns home, having survived the helicopter crash and spent months in the hands of Afghan militants. Read more…

CRACKS – Javier Navarrete

December 4, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A British drama based on the novel by Sheila Kohler and directed by Jordan Scott, Cracks is a coming-of-age tale about a group of girls attending an elite boarding school in England in the 1930s; an established clique of girls idolize their enigmatic swimming instructor, Miss G (Eva Green), but the long-established order is upset following the arrival at school of a beautiful Spanish girl named Fiamma (Maria Valverde), who piques Miss G’s interest, and arouses tensions and feelings of jealousy in the other girls.

The score for Cracks is by Spanish composer Javier Navarrete, who received a great deal of critical acclaim and an Oscar-nomination for his score for Pan’s Labyrinth in 2006. Navarrete’s music for Cracks is very classical, almost to the point of being old-fashioned. Written almost entirely for a string orchestra, woodwinds and piano Read more…

EVERYBODY’S FINE – Dario Marianelli

December 4, 2009 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Everybody’s Fine is a rather belated English-language remake of director Giuseppe Tornatore’s classic 1990 Italian film Stanno Tutti Bene, which was scored by Ennio Morricone; this new version is directed by Kirk Jones and stars Robert De Niro who, having been recently widowed, decides to make up for lost time and sets off on a road trip intending to re-connect with his estranged children Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell.

Dario Marianelli’s score for Everybody’s Fine adopts a similarly whimsical tone to its illustrious predecessor, with light woodwind, piano, string and guitar writing to accompany Frank on his journey of self-discovery and reconciliation. Read more…

UP IN THE AIR – Rolfe Kent

December 4, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Up in the Air is the latest film from writer/director Jason Reitman, whose previous films included Thank You For Smoking and Juno. It’s a comedy-drama starring George Clooney as a business executive who spends half his life travelling around the country; he lives out of a suitcase, eating at airport cafeterias, allowing him the freedom to never make a commitment. However, just as a corporate re-shuffling threatens to end his nomadic lifestyle and tie him to a desk, he meets and falls in love with a fellow frequent traveler in the shape of the comely Vera Farmiga.

In addition to boasting Awards-caliber performances from Clooney, Farmiga, and supporting actors Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman and Sam Elliott, the film has an eclectic soundtrack which makes use of many contemporary pop and rock songs alongside an original score by Rolfe Kent. Kent’s contribution to the album is limited to just two tracks: “Security Ballet” Read more…