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 2 comments


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…

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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.

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Best Scores of 2014 – Spain

January 14, 2015 Leave a comment

My fourth article in my Review of the Year 2014 looks at the Best Scores from Spain. It’s pretty common knowledge that I consider Spain to be one of the world’s great hotbeds of excellent film scoring, and 2014 continues to affirm that this is the case. This year’s group of scores from the Iberian peninsula runs the gamut of genres, from dramas to comedies to horror scores to contemporary thrillers, and features music from some of from the best regional composers working today, including Roque Baños, Arnau Bataller, Zacarías M. de la Riva, and Federico Jusid. Read more…

THE RED SHOES – Brian Easdale

January 12, 2015 1 comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Following their success with Black Narcissus in 1947 the directorial team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger decided to adapt the fairy tale “The Red Shoes” by Hans Christian Anderson for the big screen. The story tells of the girl who dons beautiful red shoes, which danced away with her, through the streets, into a dark nether land and eventually, to her death. They created the screenplay and brought in renowned choreographer Jack Cardiff to choreograph the ballet. Powell and Pressburger sought authentic artistry for their film and so decided early on that they would use professional dancers who could act, rather than actors who could dance. They also wanted to create a realistic feeling of a ballet troupe and so included a fifteen-minute ballet as the high point of the film. Worth noting was the brilliance of the film’s cinematography, particularly its use of color. Ballerina Moira Shearer was brought in for the lead role of Vicky Page, with Marius Goring (Julian Craster) playing her love interest and Anton Walbrook (Boris Lermontov) as her ruthless authoritarian impresario. The story is a classic tragedy of a woman torn between love of her art and her heart. After a stellar rise to fame as prima ballerina she falls in love and marries Julian Craster, a dashing young composer. This enrages her jealous mentor Lermontov who has long coveted her for his own. He fires Julian and Vicky leaves with him. Yet Lermotov holds her contract and refuses to allow her to dance her defining ballet role for “The Red Shoes” unless she leaves Julian and returns to him. She decides to pursue her career and dance the coveted role on the night of Julian’s opera premier thereby losing him. On the night of her greatest performance, unable to reconcile her love for Julian and her love of dance, she leaps to her death in front of a train. The film was both a commercial and critical success earning five Academy Award nominations, winning two for Best Art Decoration and Best Score. Read more…

Golden Globe Winners 2014

January 11, 2015 Leave a comment

johannsson-globeThe Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) have announced the winners of the 72nd Golden Globe Awards, honoring the best in film and American television of 2014.

In the Best Original Score category Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson won the award for his score for The Theory of Everything. In his acceptance speech, Jóhannsson said:

Well, this is a great honor. When you’re given material like The Theory of Everything to work with it feels like my job is very easy. A great script, wonderful performances, and all expertly directed by James Marsh who I want to thank especially for inviting me to be a part of his team. I want to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press, I want to thank Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan, Working Title, Universal, Focus Features, my wonderful team, Tim Hughes, and Kevin Korn and all at GSA, my family in Iceland and Denmark, and I want to share this with the musicians and technicians who helped create the score. Thank you so much.”

The other nominees were Alexandre Desplat for The Imitation Game, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for Gone Girl, Antonio Sánchez for Birdman, and Hans Zimmer for Interstellar.

In the Best Original Song category, the winners were John Legend and Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr. (aka Common) for their song “Glory” from the civil right drama Selma.

The other nominees were Elizabeth Grant (aka Lana Del Rey) for “Big Eyes” from Big Eyes, Greg Kurstin, Sia Furler and Will Gluck for “Opportunity” from Annie, Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye for “Mercy Is” from Noah, and Ella Yelich-O’connor (aka Lorde) for “Yellow Flicker Beat” from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part I.

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BAFTA Nominations 2014

January 9, 2015 2 comments

baftaThe British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has announced the nominations for the 68th British Academy Film Awards, honoring the best in film in 2014.

In the Best Original Music category, which is named in memory of the film director Anthony Asquith, the nominees are:

  • ALEXANDRE DESPLAT for The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • JÓHANN JÓHANNSSON for The Theory of Everything
  • MICA LEVI for Under the Skin
  • ANTONIO SÁNCHEZ for Birdman
  • HANS ZIMMER for Interstellar

These are the first BAFTA nominations for Jóhannsson, Levi, and Sánchez. It is the 7th BAFTA nomination for Desplat, who won the award in 2011 for his score for The King’s Speech, and the 7th BAFTA film nomination for Zimmer.

The winners of the 68th BAFTA Awards will be announced on February 8, 2015.

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Best Scores of 2014 – Poland and Eastern Europe

January 5, 2015 Leave a comment

My third article in my Review of the Year 2014 looks at the Best Scores from Poland and Eastern Europe. It has been exciting to watch the emergence of several young, talented Polish composers over the last few years, as the ‘old guard’ of composers like Wojciech Kilar and Zbigniew Preisner pass the film music torch onto the next generation. This year’s crop of scores from the European continent’s eastern edge includes two scores examining the subject of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising from different musical points of view, the score for the top-grossing film at the Polish box office in 2014, and an excellent multi-national fantasy score from Russia, written by a Spaniard! Read more…