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Archive for March, 2014

Introducing the Fathers of Film Music series

March 30, 2014 Leave a comment

As you all may be aware, I have an unabashed passion for Golden Age film scores. I was very happy to join Movie Music UK in 2010 and be given the opportunity to review the wonderful scores from this era. Sometime ago I had an idea to enhance the MMUK experience by providing our readers with more insight and knowledge of this era. I offered to provide a new series where I would explore the biographies, style, filmography, masterworks, awards and legacy of the great film score composers of the past.

It seemed to me from my discussions at different film score community sites that for many members, while there was an understanding and appreciation of modern film scores, much of its earlier history and works for the most part remained unexplored, the proverbial terra incognita. As a student of film score history, I believe that to better understand and appreciate the present, you must first understand the past. As any archeologist can attest, there are great treasures of the past just waiting to be discovered. It is my sincere hope that I can serve as a your guide on a personal quest of discovery of some of the greatest composers and scores ever written.

I am very pleased to launch this series with an exploration of how it all began, with none other than the true Father of Film Scores, a film score Titan, and one of my favorite composers, the legendary Max Steiner. The first article will go live on Tuesday April 1st, and will continue with a new article on the first of each month from now on.

All the best!

Craig Lysy

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL – Alexandre Desplat

March 26, 2014 1 comment

grandbudapesthotelOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The latest film from the polarizing hipster director Wes Anderson is The Grand Budapest Hotel, a slightly farcical comedy-drama set 100 years ago in the fictional country of Zubrowka – a place Anderson describes as “part Czech, part Hungarian, part Polish, part Russian, part German, and a little bit 1930’s movie-studio in Culver City”. Ralph Fiennes stars as Gustave H, a legendary concierge at the famous European hotel of the title, and Tony Revolori as Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. Following the death of a wealthy elderly female guest Gustave and Zero become embroiled in a plot concerning the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune. The film features an enormous supporting cast drawn from Anderson’s ever-increasing roster of repertory players – F. Murray Abraham, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, and Owen Wilson among them – and has an original score by composer Alexandre Desplat, working with Anderson for the third time.
Read more…

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER – Henry Jackman

March 20, 2014 17 comments

captainamericathewintersoldierOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Once upon a time there was a director who, along with some friends – a writer, a cameraman, some actors – made a movie. It doesn’t matter what the movie was about. It could have been about aliens, or cowboys and indians, or a young couple suffering through a rocky relationship, or a bank robbery gone wrong. Whatever it was about, the director wanted to make the best movie he could make, and for the audience who saw that movie to care about the characters, and to empathize with the emotions they felt. At some point, he approached a composer, in order to give that film a musical voice. The composer – who was well-versed in musical theory and composition – was as much of a storyteller as the director was, and wanted to enhance the film with his music; to bring out subtle emotions so the audience could feel them, to highlight subtexts that acting alone could not convey, to make it a better film than it would be without the music being there. Read more…

DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS – Franz Waxman

March 17, 2014 4 comments

demetriusandthegladiatorsMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Demetrius and the Gladiators was the sequel to the first CinemaScope picture, “The Robe”. Twentieth Century Fox chief, Darryl F. Zanuck, decided that there was money to be made with the new revolutionary format and so production was already under way as “The Robe” premiered. Of the original cast, Victor Mature (Demetrius), Michael Rennie (Peter), and Jay Robinson (Caligula) returned to reprise their roles and were joined by newcomers Susan Hayward (Messalina) and Debra Paget (Lucia). The story unfolds as a classic tale of faith and personal redemption. Demetrius, the guardian of the Robe of Christ loses his faith when his love Lucia, is ravaged by Roman gladiators and apparently dies. When his fervent prayers fail to revive her he becomes bitter and angry with God. Demetrius abandons his faith and embarks upon a life of violence, indulgence and lust. But when he later discovers that Lucia had not died due to the grace of God he regains his faith and lives to see the day of the emperor Caligula’s death, when the long suffering Praetorian Guard at last turns on him. This sequel outperformed The Robe and was both a commercial and critical success. Read more…

GRAND PIANO – Víctor Reyes

March 13, 2014 1 comment

grandpiano-msmOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Grand Piano is an ingenious thriller directed by Eugenio Mira, starring Elijah Wood as Tom Selznick, a brilliant but reclusive concert pianist whose career was shattered by terrible stage fright. After finally agreeing to return to the concert hall for the first time in years, Selznick begins to play a brand new piano concerto, but discovers a terrifying note on the sheet music: there is a sniper with his gun trained on him, and if he stops playing, or if he plays a wrong note, he will be killed. The film, which also stars John Cusack, has an astonishing original score by composer Víctor Reyes, who wrote a brand new piano concerto for the film, which pulls double duty both as the piece performed on-screen, AND acts as the film’s score – the ultimate diegetic cinematic experience. Read more…

THE LEGO MOVIE – Mark Mothersbaugh

March 9, 2014 3 comments

legomovieOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Possibly the most unexpected box office smash of the last several years, The Lego Movie took cinemas by storm in the early months of 2014 with its combination of wild and wacky animation, knowingly self-referential pseudo-adult comedy, and some unexpected pathos towards the end which touches on themes of individuality and self-expression. The film is set in a fictionalized Lego universe, and follows the adventures of Emmett, an ordinary Lego mini figure who is mistakenly thought to be the extraordinary Master Builder, and is recruited by the sassy and spunky Wyldestyle and the blind wizard Vitrivius to help them in their quest to stop the evil tyrant Lord Business from destroying the universe. The film is directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller – the directors of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs – and features an astonishing voice cast that includes Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Channing Tatum, and even Anthony Daniels and Billy Dee Williams as Lego versions of C-3PO and Lando Calrissian from Star Wars. It’s an anarchic, chaotic mess of a movie that works as pure entertainment in spite of itself by throwing as many rapid fire verbal jokes and visual gags at you as it possibly can, in the hope that if at least half of them stick they’ll have a decent ratio of laughs to groans. Read more…

POMPEII – Clinton Shorter

March 5, 2014 Leave a comment

pompeiiOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Roman city of Pompeii, near Naples in what is now Italy, was almost entirely destroyed in the year 79 AD following the volcanic eruption of the nearby Mount Vesuvius. The city was drowned in up to 20 feet of rock and ash, which killed a large portion of its 20,000 inhabitants, but also preserved many of the objects it buried, leaving an archeological treasure trove which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The movie Pompeii is a fictionalized re-telling of the story of the city’s destruction, told through the eyes of a slave named Milo, a Celtic tribesman who was captured in ancient Britain as a child and brought back to Rome to train as a gladiator. When Milo begins to catch the eye of Cassia, the daughter of a Roman senator, their forbidden love affair begins to cause ripples in the hierarchical circles in which Cassia moves, but before long they begin to have even more pressing problems when Mount Vesuvius begins to show signs of life… The movie stars Kit Harington from Game of Thrones, Carrie-Anne Moss, Emily Browning, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Kiefer Sutherland, and is directed by Paul W. S. Anderson. Read more…