Archive for January, 2015

Best Scores of 2014 – Scandinavia

January 30, 2015 2 comments

My fifth article in my Review of the Year 2014 looks at the Best Scores from Scandinavia. Scandinavian movies and scores get pretty short shrift from the majority of mainstream audiences, and that needs to change, because the level of talent and craftsmanship at work in those countries is superb. While composers like Johan Söderqvist from Sweden, Jóhann Jóhannsson from Iceland, and Tuomas Kantelinen and Panu Aaltio from Finland have developed an international profile over the past few years, there are still a number of domestic composers doing excellent work within their own industry; as such, this year’s choices from the frozen north contain music by both established names and promising newcomers, and include a Danish TV mini-series, a Swedish comedy, and three scores from Norway: a children’s adventure, a historical thriller, and a wonderful classical documentary. Read more…

STARMAN – Jack Nitzsche

January 29, 2015 1 comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Starman is a science fiction romance movie, directed by John Carpenter at the height of his studio powers, from a screenplay by Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon, who would later collaborate on the classic coming-of-age drama Stand By Me. The film stars Jeff Bridges as an alien who, in response to the message of peace from the Voyager II probe, is sent to Earth on a scouting mission prior to a planned ‘first contact’ meeting between humanity and the rest of his species. Unfortunately, the alien’s craft is shot down by the military and it crash lands in rural Wisconsin, next to a farm owned by the recently-widowed Jenny Hayden (Karen Allen). The alien takes the form of Jenny’s late husband, and convinces her to drive him to Arizona to rendezvous with his mothership; on the journey, Jenny and the alien bond, initially due to his physical resemblance to her husband, but later due to the alien’s child-like curiosity regarding Earth, and his genuine goodness and compassion. Unfortunately, the US government – personified by NSA colonel Fox (Richard Jaeckel) and a compassionate scientist named Shermin (Charles Martin Smith) – has found out about the alien, and wants to capture him for their own ends. Read more…

TAKEN 3 – Nathaniel Méchaly

January 23, 2015 3 comments

taken3Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Taken 3 (styled ‘Tak3n’) is the third and, likely, final installment of writer/producer Luc Besson’s series of modern revenge action-thrillers starring Liam Neeson in what is quickly becoming one of his iconic screen roles. After taking on Albanian human traffickers in Paris in the first film, and virtually the entire Albanian mafia in Istanbul in the second, Neeson’s character Bryan Mills is back home in Los Angeles for the third film, still doting on his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace), and hesitantly re-kindling his relationship with his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen), who is becoming increasingly estranged from her current husband Stuart (Dougray Scott). Bryan’s world falls apart when he discovers Lenore’s dead body in his own apartment, and soon he is running for his life, accused of a murder he did not commit, pursued by a dogged LAPD detective (Forest Whitaker), and trying to find the real killers, who appear to have something to do with a vicious band of Russian gangsters terrorizing the city. The film is directed by French action specialist Olivier Megaton, and has a score by the similarly Gallic Nathaniel Méchaly, who has scored all three Taken films to date. Read more…

THE RIVER – John Williams

January 22, 2015 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The River is a contemporary drama film directed by Mark Rydell, starring Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek as Tom and Mae Garvey, a married couple trying to make ends meet on their farm in rural Tennessee. Over the course of several years, Tom and his family battle desperately to save and hold on to their home, despite the threats they face when a bank threatens to repossess their farm, when severe storms threaten to make the nearby river burst its banks and ruin their crops, and when a ruthless hydroelectric developer (played by Scott Glenn) threatens to cut off their power supply for his own ends. The film was a moderate critical success when it opened in cinemas in December 1984, and picked up four Academy Award nominations, with nods for Spacek as Best Actress, cinematography, sound, and John Williams’s folksy original score. Williams wrote The River at a time when he was still regularly working with multiple directors, and this was the last of his five collaborations with director Rydell, which previously encompassed similarly Americana-heavy films such as The Reivers, The Cowboys, The Long Goodbye, and Cinderella Liberty. Read more…

MR. TURNER – Gary Yershon

January 19, 2015 4 comments

mrturnerOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Joseph Mallord William “JMW” Turner is one of the greatest and most respected British painters, a mercurial figure in British society in the mid-1800s who hobnobbed with royalty, frequented brothels, and famously had himself strapped to the mast of a ship so he could accurately paint an approaching storm. Some of his works, notably masterpieces such as ‘Modern Rome-Campo Vaccino’, ‘Dutch Boats in a Gale’, ‘Ivy Bridge’, and ‘Calais Pier’, elevated the art of landscape painting to new heights, and his legacy lives on today through the Turner Prize, the most prestigious British art award, which is granted annually by the Tate Gallery in London. Director Mike Leigh’s film Mr. Turner is a fairly straightforward biopic of Turner’s life, starring Timothy Spall in the title role, and featuring supporting performances from Dorothy Atkinson, Marion Bailey, Paul Jesson and Lesley Manville. Read more…

Movie Music UK Awards 2014

January 17, 2015 9 comments

mmukawardsIt’s been an outstanding year for film music in 2014. I managed to get experience over 350 scores this year, both by watching movies and listening to their soundtracks independently,and I strongly feel that the soundtrack industry is thriving. Looking at the big picture, on a global scale, outstanding music is coming from all corners of the globe: this year, I have nominated works from China, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Poland, South Korea, Spain, and Venezuela, as well the USA and the UK. If you look outside the mainstream, you can still find a lot of outstanding work being written for under-the-radar projects that demand our attention.

As such, narrowing down my choices for the best of the year has been a very difficult task – one of the most difficult in recent memory. However, I’ve finally been able to put everything into some sort of logical order – so, for your reading and listening pleasure, I present the 2014 Movie Music UK Awards!

Read more…

Academy Award Nominations 2014

January 15, 2015 1 comment

oscarstatuetteThe Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) have announced the nominations for the 87th Academy Awards, honoring the best in film in 2014.

In the Best Original Score category, the nominees are:

  • ALEXANDRE DESPLAT for The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • ALEXANDRE DESPLAT for The Imitation Game
  • JÓHANN JÓHANNSSON for The Theory of Everything
  • GARY YERSHON for Mr. Turner
  • HANS ZIMMER for Interstellar

These are the first Oscar nominations for Jóhannsson and Yershon, although Jóhannsson won the Golden Globe earlier this year for The Theory of Everything. These are the 7th and 8th Oscar nominations for Desplat, and the 10th Oscar nomination for Zimmer, who previously won in 1994 for The Lion King.

In the Best Original Song category, the nominees are:

  • GREGG ALEXANDER and DANIELLE BRISEBOIS for “Lost Stars” from Begin Again
  • GLEN CAMPBELL and JULIAN RAYMOND for “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell… I’ll Be Me
  • JOHN LEGEND and LONNIE LYNN (COMMON) for “Glory” from Selma
  • SHAWN PATTERSON for “Everything Is Awesome” from The Lego Movie
  • DIANE WARREN for “Grateful” from Beyond the Lights

The winners of the 87th Academy Awards will be announced on February 22, 2015.