Archive for February, 2015

KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE – Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson

February 24, 2015 1 comment

kingsmanthesecretserviceOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Kingsman: The Secret Service is an espionage action-adventure film based on the comic book series by Mark Millar and David Gibbons; it pays healthy homage to the James Bond films and several other spy franchises, but peppers its plot with a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek British humor and intentionally over-the-top violence. Directed by Matthew Vaughn, the film stars Colin Firth as Harry Hart, codenamed Galahad, a dapper English gentleman who is actually an undercover spy for an elite independent espionage agency called the Kingsmen, who hide behind the façade of a bespoke Savile Row tailor’s shop. When one of their operatives is killed, Hart recruits Gary Unwin, nicknamed Eggsy, a young petty criminal whom Harry knew as a child. Seeing the potential for greatness in Eggsy, Harry enrolls him into an elite school for potential Kingsman recruits, but before long the Kingsmen are embroiled in trying to foil a sinister world domination plot masterminded by billionaire consumer electronics mogul Richmond Valentine – and Eggsy is along for the ride. The film co-stars newcomer Taron Egerton as Eggsy, Samuel L. Jackson as Valentine, and has a stellar supporting cast that includes Michael Caine, Mark Strong and Mark Hamill; it’s also one of the most fun films I’ve had the pleasure of seeing at the cinema in quite some time, coming across as an enjoyable romp which both lovingly embraces and pokes fun at genre clichés. Read more…

Academy Award Winners 2014

February 22, 2015 Leave a comment

desplat-oscarThe Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) have announced the winners of the 87th Academy Awards, honoring the best in film in 2014.

In the Best Original Score category French composer Alexandre Desplat won the award for his score for directed Wes Anderson’s quirky period comedy The Grand Budapest Hotel. In his acceptance speech, Desplat said:

Merci. Merci beaucoup. Wes [Anderson], you’re a genius. This is good! You offered me a great view from the Grand Budapest. Thank you. It’s been a beautiful decade for me in Hollywood. I’ve worked with great directors and producers, and I’m very grateful. I need to thank Laura Engel, Mark Graham, Katz, my Greek mother. Solrey [Lemonnier], I met you long ago, for my first session, you played a violin, and you made everything happen for me. So, this is for you. Thank you”

The other nominees were Desplat again for The Imitation Game, Jóhann Jóhannsson for The Theory of Everything, Gary Yershon for Mr. Turner, and Hans Zimmer for Interstellar.

In the Best Original Song category, the winners were John Legend and Lonnie ‘Common’ Lynn for their song “Glory” from critically acclaimed civil rights film Selma.

The other nominees were Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois for “Lost Stars” from Begin Again, Glenn Campbell and Julian Raymond for “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glenn Campbell: I’ll Be Me, Shawn Patterson for “Everything Is Awesome” from The Lego Movie, and Diane Warren for “Grateful” from Beyond the Lights.

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THE AVIATOR – Dominic Frontiere

February 20, 2015 Leave a comment

theaviator-frontiereTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

I would wager than 99% of the people reading this didn’t know that there was a film called The Aviator released 19 years prior to the Oscar-winning Howard Hughes biopic directed by Martin Scorsese – but there was, and this is it. The film is a period action adventure directed by George Miller – not the famous director of Mad Max and The Witches of Eastwick, but the less famous George Miller who directed The Neverending Story Part II and that movie about a seal called Andre. It stars Christopher Reeve as Edgar Anscombe, a rough and ready pilot working for the postal service in the 1920s, who reluctantly agrees to take a passenger, a rich heiress’s daughter named Tillie Hansen played by Rosanna Arquette, on his latest run. Naturally, the plane crash lands on a remote mountain range in Nevada, and the pair must fight to survive against the elements, most notably a pack of hungry wolves that sees them as their next meal. Read more…

IFMCA Award Winners 2014

February 19, 2015 1 comment


The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) announces its list of winners for excellence in musical scoring in 2014, in the 2014 IFMCA Awards.

The award for Score of the Year goes to composer Hans Zimmer for his work on the Christopher Nolan-directed epic science fiction odyssey “Interstellar”. IFMCA member James Southall called the score “one of the most impressive creations of Zimmer’s career” and felt that the film “inspired him to create something unusually personal and about which he is understandably proud,” while IFMCA member Kaya Savas called Interstellar “one of Hans Zimmer’s finest accomplishments as a composer”. This is the third IFMCA Award of Zimmer’s career, and the first time he has been awarded Score of the Year.

French composer Alexandre Desplat was named Composer of the Year, for his astonishingly accomplished work on a half dozen scores spanning multiple genres; his work in 2014 included the blockbuster monster movie “Godzilla,” director Wes Anderson’s quirky comedy “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” the critically acclaimed biopic of British code breaker Alan Turing “The Imitation Game,” and the George Clooney-directed WWII drama “The Monuments Men,” all of which were nominated in their respective genre categories. The score for “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was also named Best Score for a Comedy Film. These are the tenth and eleventh IFMCA Awards of Desplat’s career, and it marks the fourth time he has been named Composer of the Year, following his previous wins in 2006, 2007, and 2010. Read more…

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February 17, 2015 Leave a comment

fiftyshadesofgreyOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Fifty Shades of Grey is one of the most unexpected cultural touchstones of recent years. A badly written ‘romance’ novel originally conceived as a piece of Twilight fan fiction, the story somehow became an unstoppable phenomenon, despite receiving scathing reviews from every respected literary critic, catapulting author EL James onto Time Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2012, and bringing bondage into the mainstream. The story involves literature student Anastasia Steele, who is asked by her roommate to interview a handsome young billionaire, Christian Grey, for their university newspaper. There is an immediate and fiery attraction between the shy, inexperienced Ana and the confident, intense Christian, and the pair begins a relationship, but there is a twist in the tale: Christian’s sexuality involves a healthy dose of kink, and before long he is introducing Ana to his world of BDSM – bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism. The film is directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, stars Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson in the lead roles, and has a score by Danny Elfman. Read more…

DOCTOR ZHIVAGO – Maurice Jarre

February 16, 2015 2 comments


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Doctor Zhivago was adapted by screenwriter Robert Bolt from the famous novel written by Boris Pasternak. The original manuscript was smuggled out of the Soviet Union in 1957 and awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958. Director David Lean recruited a stellar cast for his film that included Omar Sharif as Yuri Zhivago, Geraldine Chaplin as his wife Tonya, Rod Steiger as Viktor Komarovsky, Tom Courtenay as General Pasha Strelnikov, Alec Guinness as Yuri’s half-brother Yevgraf and finally, Julie Christie as Lara Guishar. This timeless and epic film tells the tale of young lovers drawn together by fate, caught in the cruel currents of war, clinging desperately to each other to survive amidst the clash of empires, as they bear witness to a grand romantic age succumbing to a cruel and violent new order. It is a magnificent film of sweeping and poetic grandeur for which I am eternally grateful. The film was a critical success earning 10 Oscar nominations, winning five including Best Score for Jarre. It was also a commercial success earning $112 million, more than sufficient to cover its production costs of $11 million. Read more…

JUPITER ASCENDING – Michael Giacchino

February 13, 2015 6 comments

jupiterascendingOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

An ambitious, noble science fiction failure, Jupiter Ascending is the latest film from the Wachowski siblings, who rose to massive fame and critical acclaim in the late 1990s with The Matrix, but have never been able to recapture that lightning in a bottle in any of their subsequent projects. The sprawling, complicated plot involves Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), a simple house cleaner in modern day Chicago, who suddenly finds herself involved in an intergalactic adventure concerning three members of the massively powerful Abrasax family (Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth, Tuppence Middleton), who originally ‘seeded’ the Earth hundreds of thousands of years ago, and who are now battling for control of its resources – all without the knowledge of the inhabitants of the planet itself. Caught in the middle of all this is a half-human half-wolf disgraced former soldier named Caine (Channing Tatum), who is sent to find and rescue Jupiter, but quickly discovers that his task is much more complicated than he originally thought. Read more…

WITNESS – Maurice Jarre

February 12, 2015 5 comments


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Witness is a thriller set in Pennsylvania’s Amish community. The film stars Harrison Ford as John Book, an honest cop, who is forced to travel to rural Pennsylvania to protect a young Amish boy named Samuel, played by Lukas Haas, who unintentionally witnesses a murder while visiting the big city with his mother Rachel, played by Kelly McGillis. To keep his witness safe, Book tries to maintain a low profile within the community, which shuns modern conveniences and technology, but unexpectedly begins to develop romantic feelings for Rachel, causing friction among the elders, who view Book as an interloper and outsider. Worse still, the murder suspects have discovered the whereabouts of the one eyewitness to their crime, and are coming after the young boy. The film was directed by Peter Weir, and was one of the major cinematic successes of 1985, receiving critical acclaim and eight Oscar nominations, including nods for Best Picture, Best Actor for Ford, and Best Score for the film’s composer, Maurice Jarre. Read more…

PAPER PLANES – Nigel Westlake

February 9, 2015 Leave a comment

paperplanesOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Paper Planes is an Australian family film, directed by Robert Connolly, about a young Australian boy named Dylan, whose passion for flight inspires him to compete in the World Paper Plane Championships in Japan, while simultaneously re-connecting with his father Jack, who is severely depressed following the death of his wife – Dylan’s mother – in a car accident. The film stars Ed Oxenbould as Dylan, Avatar’s Sam Worthington as Jack, has a supporting cast that includes David Wenham and Terry Norris, and has a score by one of Australia’s leading film composers, Nigel Westlake. Read more…

BAFTA Winners 2014

February 8, 2015 1 comment

desplat-bafta-2014The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) have announced the winners of the 68th British Academy Film Awards, honoring the best in film in 2014.

In the Best Original Score category composer Alexandre Desplat won the award for his score for director Wes Anderson’s critically acclaimed quirky comedy The Grand Budapest Hotel. In his acceptance speech, Desplat said:

“Thank you. Merci beaucoup, I am very moved and honored to be here. It all goes back to Wes [Anderson]. Wes is unique. His world looks like nobody else’s. He is not here tonight but I am sure he is watching TV. I am not sure actually. But we will send him a video. There are many people involved, of course, the great musicians, Mark Graham, my agent Laura Engel, but I would like to share it with the best musician I have ever met, Solrey [Lemonnier], this is for you.

The other nominees were Jóhann Jóhannsson for The Theory of Everything, Mica Levi for Under the Skin, Antonio Sanchez for Birdman, and Hans Zimmer for Interstellar.

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CHAMPIONS – Carl Davis

February 6, 2015 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

When I was a kid, Grand National day was one of my favorite days of the British sporting calendar. I had, and continue to have, a very personal connection with it, as it was something I shared with my late grandfather, who had a passion for the sport of kings, and my childhood memories of spending those Saturdays with him in the 1980s are some of my fondest. For those who don’t know what it is – which is probably every American reading this – the Grand National is a steeplechase horse race, in which 40 brave and gallant horses and their equally brave and gallant jockeys test themselves by negotiating 30 daunting fences over two 2-mile circuits of the challenging Aintree racecourse in Liverpool. The race has been run every year since 1839, and has grown to become a major television event in the UK, watched by millions across the country. The winning horses, winning jockeys, and the race’s controversies go down in history and become part of the nation’s sporting lexicon – speak to pretty much any Englishman of my generation, and he will know what you’re talking about if you mention Devon Loch or Red Rum, Ginger McCain or Jenny Pitman. However, by far the most famous Grand National in terms of human and equine drama was the race run in 1981. Read more…

IFMCA Award Nominations 2014

February 5, 2015 1 comment


The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) announces its list of nominees for excellence in musical scoring in 2014, for the 11th annual IFMCA Awards. The most nominated composers are American James Newton Howard and Frenchman Alexandre Desplat.

Howard received seven nominations, including nods for Score of the Year, Composer of the Year, Best Action/Adventure/Thriller score, and Best Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Horror score, all of which were split between his two main works of 2014: the action adventure sequel “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part I,” and Disney’s reimagining of the Sleeping Beauty story, “Maleficent”. Howard also received an unprecedented three nominations in the Film Music Composition of the Year category, including one for the song “The Hanging Tree,” which he co-wrote with Jeremiah Fraites and Wesley Schultz of The Lumineers, and Hunger Games book series author Suzanne Collins, and which was performed by the film’s lead actress, Jennifer Lawrence. Howard has previously been nominated for a total of 23 IFMCA Awards, winning six of them, including Score of the Year in 2006 for “Lady in the Water”. Read more…

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VICTOR YOUNG – Fathers of Film Music, Part 8

February 1, 2015 5 comments

Victor YoungArticle by Craig Lysy

Born: 8 August 1899, Chicago, Illinois
Died: 10 November 1956

Victor Young’s early life was not an ordinary one by any measure. He was born of Jewish heritage into a family with musical talent; his father William being a successful tenor in Joseph Sheehan’s touring Opera Company. Sadly, following the untimely death of his mother in 1909, Young and his sister Helen were abandoned by their father. Undeterred, he and his sister embarked on a truly remarkable journey that would take them back to their family’s ancestral homeland of Poland, then a dominion of the Russian Empire, where their grandparents lived. Young’s grandparents were ecstatic at their return and lovingly raised them as their own. Victor’s musical gift was recognized quickly and his grandfather provided him with a violin, which he began playing in earnest at the age of ten. Young quickly mastered the instrument by the age of thirteen and gained acclaim as a prodigy. His grandfather fostered his education, enrolling him in the prestigious Warsaw Imperial Conservatory where he would study the violin under Isador Lotto, achieving the Diploma of Merit. Additional studies in Paris included study of the piano under the tutelage of Isidor Philipp. Read more…