Archive for October, 2015


October 15, 2015 Leave a comment

journeyofnattygannTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Following his breakout year in 1982, when he wrote music for the box-office smashes Star Trek II and 48 HRS., James Horner spent the next several years solidly entrenched as one of the newest, most exciting young members of the Hollywood studio system, scoring several successful and popular features. After he proved his reliability when asked to replace Georges Delerue on Something Wicked This Way Comes in 1983, the executives at Walt Disney turned to Horner again in the fall of 1985, when they asked him to write a last-minute replacement for Elmer Bernstein’ score for the film The Journey of Natty Gann. Directed by Jeremy Kagan from an original screenplay by Jeanne Rosenberg, and set during the darkest days of the Great Depression in 1935, the film starred 12-year old Meredith Salenger as the eponymous Natty, a tomboy who sets off on a cross-country trek to find her father Sol (Ray Wise) after he leaves their Pacific Northwest home for Chicago in a desperate attempt to find work. En route she is befriended by a wolf, who travels with and protects her for much of her voyage, and even has a brief, innocent romance with another young traveler named Harry, played by a young John Cusack. Read more…

PAN – John Powell

October 13, 2015 Leave a comment

panOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Pan is, by my count, the 1,875th cinematic take on the classic J. M. Barrie story of Peter Pan, which by this stage is starting to look a little well-worn and ragged around the edges. This film is a prequel of sorts, telling the story of how Peter Pan and Captain James Hook first met, with the young orphan boy Peter (Levi Miller) and the twenty-something Hook (Garrett Hedlund) teaming up to fight against the dastardly pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) for the fate of Neverland, and its inhabitants of lost boys, natives, and fairies. The film was directed by Atonement’s Joe Wright from a screenplay by Jason Fuchs, and had all the pedigree to be a success – but, unfortunately, the film has been a critical and commercial flop, with many commentators criticizing its poor narrative coherence, unfortunate anachronisms, and overall lack of the magic necessary in any good Peter Pan story. Read more…

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KING KONG – Max Steiner

October 12, 2015 1 comment

kingkongsteiner100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director and screenwriter Merian Cooper awoke one night from a nightmare of a giant gorilla terrorizing New York City. The nightmare served as the catalyst for conceiving a film, which would pit the giant gorilla against a Komodo dragon and other beasts. He pitched his idea to R.K.O. executive David Selznick who saw opportunity to lift the struggling studio out of debt and tasked Cooper with both producing and directing the film. To save money he would use stop-motion animation, as well as the huge jungle stage that had been built for The Most Dangerous Ground (1932) rather than shooting on location. A screenplay was crafted by Cooper, James Creelman and Ruth Rose, which secured Selznick’s blessing. The cast would include Fay Wray as Ann Darrow, Robert Armstrong as Carl Denham, Bruce Cabot as John Driscoll, Frank Reicher as Captain Englehorn, and Noble Johnson as the native chief. The story offers a classic “Beauty and the Beast” tale, which takes place in 1932 and is set in New York City. Famed filmmaker Carl Denham has conceived his most audacious film yet, which will be shot on an isle of legend – the uncharted Skull Island where resides an enormous best of unfathomable power. He finds Ann Darrow, a young actress down on her luck and offers her a role of a lifetime, starring in his new film to be shot on an exotic South Seas island. She jumps at the opportunity and they set sail on the Venture for Skull Island. Read more…


October 12, 2015 4 comments

top100A new series by Craig Lysy

As part of Movie Music UK’s tradition of innovation, I have decided launch a new series charting the 100 Greatest Scores of All Time. I had always wanted to undertake this daunting challenge, and after 35 years of procrastination, finally summoned up the resolve and courage necessary to bring it to fruition. So, every Monday, over the course of the next 2 years, I will list my choices for the Greatest 100 Scores of All Time, in reverse chronological order, culminating in my 100th pick during the summer of 2017, 109 years after the first recognized original film score – “L’Assassinat du Duc de Guise” by Camille Saint-Saëns – was written.

In regards to rankings, I was not successful after numerous attempts to listen them in order of merit. Ranking 100 scores would seem to be an exercise in futility, so instead, I have chosen with this series to take you on a journey through time, beginning with the score, which launched film score art – King Kong, by Max Steiner. I will relate to you why I believe each score merits inclusion, and my hope is to provide an insightful and enjoyable journey.

I believe simplicity of criteria was needed to be successful. Firstly, the score must have achieved a masterful synergy with the story’s imagery, characters, setting and narrative, which served to elevate the film. Secondly, the score must have provided an exceptional and memorable listening experience within both film context and as a CD/MP3. Finally, the score must have made an indelible and lasting impression due to its creativity, innovation, sophistication, or thematic beauty.

My selections cover scores dating from 1933 to 2014. An assessment of my choices reveals that 38% of my choices come from the “Golden Age” from the 1930s through the 1950s, 27% from the “Silver Age” of the 1960s and 70s, 25% from the “Bronze Age” encompassing the 1980s and 90s, and 10% from the “Modern Age”, since the turn of the millennium.

Scores by 42 different composers made the list, and Maestros Bernard Herrmann and John Williams secured the most acknowledgements with eight each. In all, twenty-two composers achieved the status of being acknowledged for two or more film scores.

I freely admit that this is but one man’s opinion, that I like everyone has certain biases, and that these manifest in my choices. But we must be authentic, and true to ourselves. So I offer my voice to the chorus of voices that have preceded me, and hope to achieve some degree of consonance.

All the best!

THE MARTIAN – Harry Gregson-Williams

October 9, 2015 3 comments

themartianOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Ridley Scott has been in something of a career slump of late. The once-revered director of classics like Alien, Blade Runner, and, more recently, Gladiator, did not receive many good reviews for his last few films, which have included Prometheus, The Counselor, and Exodus: Gods and Kings. His new film, The Martian, may set things back in the right direction. Based on the acclaimed debut novel by Andy Weir, the film is a space adventure that plays as a cross between Castaway, Gravity, and Apollo 13; it stars Matt Damon as Mark Watney, an astronaut on the latest successful NASA mission to make a manned trip to Mars. Unfortunately disaster strikes and the other members of his team – including Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, and Michael Peña – are forced to blast off the planet, leaving Mark behind, presumed dead. NASA officials Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean, Kristin Wiig, and Chiwetel Ejiofor announce Mark’s death to a shocked world – but, back on Mars, Mark has somehow survived the accident, and is now faced with a terrible double dilemma: how to survive on Mars with dwindling food and water supplies, and how to contact Earth so that they can come and rescue him. The film is a superb combination of high action-adventure and intelligent application of real science, and will surely appeal to those with any interest in the realities of space exploration and the possibilities and problems it holds for those bold enough to do it. The film is anchored by Matt Damon’s excellent lead performance as Watney, which is at times surprisingly funny as he muses ironically at his situation and the bizarre things he has to do to survive, and is at other times spectacularly beautiful, taking every possible opportunity to present the barren Martian landscapes in all their austere glory. Read more…

SID MEIER’S CIVILIZATION: BEYOND EARTH – RISING TIDE – Geoff Knorr, Griffin Cohen, and Grant Kirkhope

October 6, 2015 1 comment

civilizationbeyondearthrisingtideGAME ZONE REVIEW

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Civilization: Beyond Earth – Rising Tide is an expansion pack which builds on the first Beyond Earth installment of Sid Meier’s extremely popular Civilization video game series, which was released to general acclaim last year. The expansion allows players to embark on new quests on new ‘biome’ planets – including a water planet and an ice planet – as they try to create and maintain civilizations in outer space. One of the most notable aspects of the game was its IFMCA Award-winning, BMI Award-nominated score by Geoff Knorr, Griffin Cohen, Michael Curran, and Grant Kirkhope, which was roundly praised as being one of the most impressive orchestral game scores in many years. For Rising Tide, three of the four composers are back (Curran left development company Firaxis for another company, Stardock Entertainment, earlier this year), and their music builds on the sound of the first game, but adds in new textures, and new ideas. The result is very, very impressive. Read more…


October 5, 2015 Leave a comment

breakfastattiffanysMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Hollywood producers Martin Jurow and Richard Shepherd saw opportunity beckoning with Truman Capote’s controversial 1958 novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and convinced Paramount Studios to purchase the film rights. They hired George Axelrod to write a screenplay that “softened” Capote’s edgy narrative, and Blake Edwards was given the director reigns. Edwards assembled a fine cast, which included Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly, George Peppard as Paul Varjak, Patricia Neal as Emily Eustace, Buddy Ebsen as Doc Golightly, Martin Balsam as O. J. Berman, and Mickey Rooney as Holly’s landlord Mr. Yunioshi. For the 1950’s, this truly sordid story broke all the sensibilities of the day – Holly was a foul-mouthed, bisexual, social-climbing and gold-digging prostitute, who has had an abortion and smokes marijuana! The fact that the story’s narrator was gay only added to the controversy. Jurow and Shepherd knew the story as written would never fly, so they chose not to make a modern and edgy social drama. They astutely recast the story’s narrative into a more conventional, and emotionally accessible direction – a romantic comedy. Well, Holly’s love affair with struggling writer Paul succeeded on all counts and won audience hearts worldwide. The film was also a critical success, earning five Academy Award Nominations, winning two for best Original Song and Best Score. Read more…