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Archive for September, 2014

THE BOXTROLLS – Dario Marianelli

September 30, 2014 1 comment

boxtrollsOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Boxtrolls is a stop-motion animated film from the people who brought us Coraline and Paranorman. Based on the novel “Here Be Monsters!” by Alan Snow, it follows the adventures of a community of quirky, mischievous creatures who have lovingly raised an orphaned human boy named Eggs in an amazing cavernous home beneath the streets of the fictional English town of Cheesebridge. When the town’s villain, Archibald Snatcher, comes up with a plot to get rid of the Boxtrolls – who are mistakenly believed to kidnap children – Eggs decides to venture above ground, “into the light,” where he meets and teams up with a feisty young girl named Winifred to save the Boxtrolls from an untimely fate. The film features the voices of Ben Kingsley, Toni Collette, Simon Pegg, and Game of Thrones’s Isaac Hempstead-Wright, and features an original score by Dario Marianelli, in what is his first significant work since Anna Karenina in 2012. Read more…

LILI – Bronislau Kaper

September 29, 2014 Leave a comment

liliMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

MGM producer Edwin Knopf hired director Charles Walters to bring to life Lili, a fantasy tale based on a Saturday Evening Post short story “The Man Who Hated People” by Paul Gallico. For the film a talented cast was chosen; Lili Daurier (Leslie Caron), Paul Berthalet (Mel Ferrer), Marc (Jean-Pierre Aumont), Rosalie (Zsa Zsa Gabor) and Jacquot (Kurt Kaznar). In our story Lili, a naive country girl travels to a small provincial town in hopes of locating an old friend of her late father’s. When she discovers that he has died, a shopkeeper offers her employment as a guise to take sexual advantage of her. Marc, a handsome carnival magician whose Nome de plume is “Marcus the Magnificent” perceives her danger, covets her for himself and comes to her rescue. Yet her purity of heart dissuades his intentions and through him she gains work at the carnival assisting its master puppeteer Paul. Her wonderment and childlike innocence supports just endearing story-telling through his puppets; a brash red-haired boy named Carrot Top, Reynardo, a sly fox, Marguerite, a vain ballerina, and lastly Golo, a cowardly giant. Paul begins to fall in love with Lili but is embittered with life due to a leg injury he suffered during the war that ended his career in the ballet. We sadly see him reduced to expressing his true feelings for Lili through his puppets, while being mean-spirited when out of character. Lili eventually leaves Paul’s torment and while walking out of town, imagines the three puppets, now life-size, joining her as she finds a new life path. As she celebrates by dancing with each puppet, they all magically transform one by one into Paul. Lili realizes through each of them that they are a facet of Paul. She realizes her love for Paul and runs back to the carnival where they embrace and kiss passionately as the puppets applaud. The film was a critical success, earning composer Bronislau Kaper an Academy Award for Best Score. Read more…

THE NEVERENDING STORY (DIE UNENDLICHE GESCHICHTE) – Klaus Doldinger and Giorgio Moroder

September 25, 2014 2 comments

neverendingstory-deTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Neverending Story is one of my most cherished childhood fantasy films, a love letter to books and the power of imagination, dressed up as a fantasy adventure set in a far-off world. Based on the novel Die Unendliche Geschichte by Michael Ende, it marked German director Wolfgang Petersen’s first English-language film after the international success of Das Boot in 1980, and starred Barret Oliver as Bastian, a young boy in suburban America who regularly suffers at the hands of school bullies. After being chased one day into a used book store owned by a grumpy bookseller, Bastian ‘borrows’ a book – The Neverending Story of the title – and begins reading it in his school’s attic. Bastian becomes quickly immersed in a story set in a world called Fantasia, which is being threatened by a force called “The Nothing”, a void of darkness that consumes everything. Fantasia’s child-like Empress (Tami Stronach) entreats Atreyu (Noah Hathaway), a young warrior, to find out how to stop The Nothing. In response, The Nothing summons Gmork, a highly intelligent werewolf, to find and kill Atreyu. The film has a rich and vivid cast of fantasy characters, most notably the luck dragon Falkor, and was a popular success when it was first released in the summer of 1984. Read more…

THIS ISLAND EARTH AND OTHER ALIEN INVASION FILMS – Various Composers

September 22, 2014 Leave a comment

thisislandearthMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Includes music from WAR OF THE SATELLITES by Walter Green, THIS ISLAND EARTH by Herman Stein, EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS by Daniele Amfitheatrof, and THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS by Ron Goodwin

THIS ISLAND EARTH

Universal-International’s producer William Alland well known for his penchant for Sci-Fi films, hired Joseph Newman to direct his latest project “This Island Earth”. Writers Franklin Coen and Edward O’Callaghan adapted a screenplay from ”Thrilling Wonder Stories”, three novelettes written by Raymond F. Jones. Principle actors Jeff Morrow (Exeter), Faith Domergue (Dr. Ruth Adams) and Rex Reason (Dr. Cal Meacham) were hired for the project. The story reveals the inhabitants of the planet Metaluna succumbing in their war with the plant Zahgon. Desperation leads them to Earth’s for its abundant uranium deposits, which they require to fuel their failing planetary shields, and for Earth’s greatest scientists whom they abduct to assist in their war efforts. The film earned praise for its story telling, cinematography and was also a commercial success. Read more…

WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL – John Paesano

September 21, 2014 1 comment

whenthegamestandstallOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

I’ve never fully understood the American obsession with high school sports. When I was a teenager I played football – soccer, for North Americans – pretty regularly, at school, and for my scout troupe team, and despite the game being by far the most popular one in the UK I never played in front of a crowd of more than, probably, 50 people, most of them being the parents of the players. By contrast, American high school football teams draw crowds in tens of thousands to near-professional standard stadiums, especially in places like Texas. The games are shown on local television, the results are reported and scrutinized in the newspapers, and the best players are treated like celebrity athletes. I’ve always considered the notion of treating teenagers like professional sportsmen somewhat odd and potentially damaging – who has the mentality and personality to handle pressure like that at that age? – but that’s the way things are here; it’s also the basis of the film When the Game Stands Tall, which is set in the world of high school football. Read more…

SNOW ON THE BLADES (ZAKUROZAKA NO ADAUCHI) – Joe Hisaishi

September 19, 2014 Leave a comment

zakurozakanoadauchiOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Based on a classic short story in the collection Goroji Dono Oshimatsu by Jiro Asada, Snow on the Blades (Zakurozaka No Adauchi) is a Japanese samurai revenge action-drama directed by Setsuro Wakamatsu. The film stars Kiichi Nakai as Kingo Shimura, a fierce and noble samurai in the service of Lord Naosuke (Kichiemon Nakamura). After Naosuke is killed by a gang of mercenary ronins – samurai without a master to serve – Shimura is forbidden from committing ritual seppuku, and is instead sent on a secret mission to exact revenge. Over the curse of the next 13 years Shimura travels the length and breadth of Japan, searching for those who murdered his master, until only one remains: an equally fearsome samurai named Jyubei Sahashi (Hiroshi Abe). Read more…

UNTIL SEPTEMBER – John Barry

September 18, 2014 Leave a comment

untilseptemberTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Until September is a romantic drama directed by Richard Marquand – his first film after completing Return of the Jedi – written by Janice Lee Graham, and starring Karen Allen and Thierry Lhermitte. Allen plays Mo Alexander, an American tourist traveling through Europe, who misses a plane connection and gets stuck in Paris. While her new visa gets approved she goes to stay at the apartment of a friend who is away for the summer; there she meets her friend’s neighbor, Xavier, a wealthy French banker who is married but estranged from his wife and family. As Mo and Xavier spend time together in that most romantic of cities, their mutual attraction is overwhelming, and they eventually fall in love. Despite being a simple, uncomplicated story of passion and romance, Until September was not a major box office success in 1984, and today is known mainly for its sumptuous score by John Barry. Read more…

HIGH NOON – Dimitri Tiomkin

September 15, 2014 1 comment

highnoonMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producers Stanley Kramer and Carl Foreman had long sought to film a Western and saw their opportunity when they came across an inspiring short story “The Tin Star” by John Cunningham. Foreman adapted it for the big screen as High Noon, and hired European director Fred Zinnemann to direct. Veteran actor Gary Cooper was given the lead role of Will Kane. He was joined by Grace Kelly (Amy Fowler), Ian MacDonald (Frank Miller) and Lloyd Bridges (Harvey Pell). The story is set in 1880 in the New Mexico Territory. It is a classic morality play regarding personal honor, civic duty, and a man’s struggle to overcome his fears. Read more…

NO GOD NO MASTER – Nuno Malo

September 13, 2014 Leave a comment

nogodnomasterOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Two Italian immigrants to the United States, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, became causes célèbres in New York in the 1920s when they were arrested, tried, and subsequently executed for their apparent part in the murder of two men during the armed robbery of a shoe factory. Popular contemporary thinking maintains that Sacco and Vanzetti – who were both unapologetic anarchists who advocated relentless warfare against a violent and oppressive government – were framed patsies, convicted as a political statement despite overwhelming evidence of their innocence, and much study into their case has been conducted in the years since their deaths. Director Terry Green’s film No God No Master uses the details of the Sacco and Vanzetti case as part of a broader-brush film about U.S. Bureau of Investigation Agent William Flynn, who in 1919 was assigned the task of finding those responsible for a series of package bombs which exploded on the doorsteps of prominent politicians and businessmen. Before long Flynn is immersed in an investigation that uncovers an anarchist plot to destroy democracy, and brings Sacco and Vanzetti to his attention. The film – which was completed in 2012 but only opened in limited markets this summer – stars David Strathairn as Flynn, James Madio and Alessandro Mario as Sacco and Vanzetti, and features an absolutely spectacular score by Portuguese composer Nuno Malo. Read more…

INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM – John Williams

September 11, 2014 3 comments

indianajonesandthetempleofdoomTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Even after thirty years, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom remains one of the most iconic and beloved action films of the 1980s. A darker, scarier prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark, Steven Spielberg’s film has Harrison Ford returning as the archaeologist-adventurer Indiana Jones, crossing paths with Chinese jewel smugglers in Shanghai in 1934. After his deal with the Triads goes wrong, Indy flees on a plane with his diminutive sidekick Short Round (Ke Huy Quan) and nightclub singer Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw), only to crash over the Himalayas, washing up in a remote Indian village. Before long, Indy is embroiled in yet another adventure, this time involving missing children, ancient mystical stones said to have magic powers, and a terrifying cult that worships the Hindu goddess Kali. The film was a massive commercial success, ending up the third highest grossing film of 1984 with an adjusted-for-inflation gross of almost $436 million, and received two Academy Award nominations, including one for its score by John Williams. Read more…

POSTMAN PAT: THE MOVIE – Rupert Gregson-Williams

September 9, 2014 3 comments

postmanpatOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Postman Pat, Postman Pat, Postman Pat and his black and white cat. Early in the morning, just as day is dawning, he picks up all the postbags in his van.

As a six year old, I used to watch the classic British children’s animated TV show Postman Pat fairly regularly, content to accompany the cheerful postman Pat Clifton as he delivered the mail to the inhabitants of the village of Greendale, and got into the occasional adventure with his ever-present feline sidekick, Jess. It was an uncomplicated show for youngsters, with simple stop-motion animation, gentle humor, and a memorable theme tune written by the late Bryan Daly and sung by Ken Barrie. The show was rebooted for new audiences in 1995, and then again in 2004, with Pat having acquired a family and been promoted to a new position with the Special Delivery Service, which affords him the use of a helicopter, amongst other things! Now, Pat transitions to the big screen in the animated feature Postman Pat: The Movie, in which Pat comes face-to-face with the temptations of money, status and a shiny new suit when he enters a national TV talent show competition that threatens to tear him away from his home town, his family and friends – and leads to robots taking over his postal service while he is away. The film stars Stephen Mangan as the speaking voice of Pat, Ronan Keating as Pat’s singing voice, and David Tennant, Rupert Grint, and Jim Broadbent in supporting roles. It was directed by Mike Disa, and has an original score from an unlikely source – Rupert Gregson-Williams. Read more…

THE BIG COUNTRY – Jerome Moross

September 8, 2014 1 comment

bigcountryMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

With The Big Country, MGM set out to bring an epic tale of Americana to the big screen. For this massive production they hired William Wyler as director and producer. A screenplay authored my a multitude of writers created a complex narrative, which sought to move beyond the genre’s traditional narratives to explore the darker and more ambiguous psychology of old west. A stellar cast was assembled, which included Gregory Peck (James McKay), Jean Simmons (Julie Maragon), Burl Ives (Rufus Hannassey), Charlton Heston (Steve Leech), Caroll Baker (Patricia Terrill) and Chuck Connors (Buck Hannassey). The story involves romance and the battle for water and grazing rights on the high plains. We see Captain James McKay, a wealthy and now retired sea captain who has come west to marry fiancée Pat Terrill, who seems pampered and controlled by her wealthy father, Major Henry Terrill. As a military seaman McKay’s formal personal affect, values and approach to life seem culturally incongruous and pretentious. When he eschews the code of the west of settling disputes with violence he creates an instant animus with the locals, especially ranch foreman Steve Leech. His apparent cowardice also loses the respect of Pat. In the larger picture we find unfolding an escalating clan battle over cattle watering rights on the arid plains. Rufus Hannassey and Henry Terrill both covet “The Big Muddy”, land owned by Julie Maragon that is abundant with water. She wisely keeps a fragile peace by allowing both clans access to her water. McKay, who is increasingly estranged from Pat meets with Julie, and they discover a mutual attraction, which leads in time to Pat ending their engagement. McKay eventually convinces Julie to sell him the water rights, thus triggering a confrontation with the Hannassey clan, which ultimately results in both patriarchs killing each other in a duel. The film concludes with McKay and Julie riding off to start a new life at the Big Muddy. Read more…

KUNDO: AGE OF THE RAMPANT – Jo Yeong-Wook

September 6, 2014 4 comments

kundoageoftherampantOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

I don’t review many Korean scores here at Movie Music UK. Their scores are difficult to come by here in the United States, the movies barely get released, and those which do are generally so obscure that they slip completely under the radar before anyone really notices. This would have been the case with Kundo: Age of the Rampant, which opened in extremely limited markets in August 2014, had the music not been brought to my attention by a friend, and I’m absolutely delighted that he did: the score is wonderful, a hidden gem which could find itself on many people’s Top 10 lists for 2014, if they have the tenacity to track a copy down. The film is a period action movie directed by Yun Jong-Bin and, according to Wikipedia, is about a power struggle between the unjust wealthy noblemen who run society and a group of righteous outlaws who steal from corrupt officials to give to the downtrodden and starving; essentially, it’s the story of Robin Hood, transposed to 19th century feudal Korea. Read more…

THE NOVEMBER MAN – Marco Beltrami

September 4, 2014 2 comments

novembermanOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Essentially a James Bond spy thriller under a different name, director Roger Donaldson’s latest film The November Man is based on the novel ‘There Are No Spies’ by Bill Granger, and stars Pierce Brosnan as Peter Devereaux, a retired CIA assassin now living a quiet life on the shores of a lake in Switzerland. Devereaux is brought back into action following a visit from a former colleague, and quickly finds himself embroiled in an international mystery involving an old flame working for a corrupt Russian diplomat, the Chechen civil war, a social worker looking after young female refugees in Serbia, and a former protégé, who has been charged with eliminating his old mentor. The film co-stars Luke Bracey, Olga Kurylenko, Bill Smitrovich, and Will Patton, and has an original score by Marco Beltrami, the third of his four scores in 2014. Read more…

DIMITRI TIOMKIN – Fathers of Film Music, Part 4

September 1, 2014 1 comment

Dimitri TiomkinArticle by Craig Lysy

Born: 10 May 1894, Kremenchuk, Ukraine.
Died: 11 November 1979.

Dimitri Zinovich Tiomkin was born in Kremenchuk, Ukraine during the wanning years of the imperial Russian Empire. His mother Marie was a music teacher who nurtured his nascent talent as a pianist and his father Zinovie, was a physician. At the urging of his wife, Zinovie enrolled Dimitri in the prestigious St. Petersburg Conservatory, which was overseen by renowned Russian composer Alexander Glazunov. Tiomkin’s native gifts allowed him to quickly gain prominence as a solo pianist under the tutelage of Felix Blumenfeld and Isabelle Vengerova.

The early 20th century was a rich time for music and the arts in Russia and Tiomkin would often visit the “Homeless Dog” café where he would enjoy the company of other rising artists such as fellow student Serge Prokofiev and dancer Mikhail Fokine. The café offered Tiomkin his first exposure to American ragtime, blues and jazz. The seeds of these experiences would later blossom; helping him lay the foundation of his American film music career. To supplement his income Tiomkin would provide piano accompaniment to Russian and French silent films as well as army post tours, which featured the prima ballerina Thamar Karsavina. Read more…