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Archive for November, 2015

GONE WITH THE WIND – Max Steiner

November 30, 2015 2 comments

gonewiththewind100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel Gone With The Wind caught legendary producer David O. Selznick’s eye and he saw destiny in the making. At his bidding MGM purchased the film rights for an unprecedented $50,000. This was a passion project for Selznick and no expense would defer him from realizing his vision. Screenwriter Sidney Howard was hired to do the impossible – adapt the massive 1,037-page story to the big screen. Victor Fleming was tasked with directing and a cast that has become legend were hired including Clark Gable as Rhett Butler, Vivien Leigh as Scarlet O’Hara, Leslie Howard as Ashley Wilkes, Olivia de Havilland as Melanie Hamilton, Thomas Mitchell as Gerald O’Hara, Barbara O’Neil as Ellen O’Hara and Hattie McDaniel as Mammy. No movie to this date provided such a grand and epic sweep, and in the end six hours of film were shot, which featured thousands of actors. Set in the Antebellum era of the American South circa 1860, it tells a story of Scarlet O’Hara, daughter of Gerald O’Hara a wealthy cotton plantation owner. We bear witness to her many loves, her willfulness, indomitable spirit, and lastly her capacity to persevere and achieve her goals, no matter the cost. Her story unfolds at the O’Hara family plantation estate Tara on the eve of the American Civil War. The war unleashes a brutal clash of cultures, which results in desolation and ruin for the South, the ending of a way of life, and the pillaging of Tara, all swept away in its unforgiving and destructive torrents. Selznick’s vision was achieved as the film was an astounding commercial success earning $32 million or thirteen times its production cost of $3.85 million. It also received universal praise from critics and was rewarded with an unprecedented thirteen Academy Award nominations, earning eight wins including; Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and Best Art Direction. The film has a significant legacy, ranked fourth by the American Film Institutes 100 Greatest Movies list. Read more…

CREED – Ludwig Göransson

November 27, 2015 Leave a comment

creedOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The seventh film in the iconic Rocky series of boxing-themed movies, Creed continues the story of Philly pugilist Rocky Balboa, who fought his way from nothing to become Heavyweight Champion of the World. Nine years after the events of the last film, Rocky is still in Philadelphia, running the restaurant named after his late wife Adrian, and generally staying out of the limelight. Things change when he is approached by a young fighter from Los Angeles named Adonis ‘Donny’ Johnson, who is actually the long-estranged son of Rocky’s former rival and great friend Apollo Creed, who had been killed in the ring thirty years previously (during Rocky IV). Rocky reluctantly agrees to train Adonis, and the two develop a father-son bond; simultaneously, Adonis begins a relationship with an aspiring singer-songwriter named Bianca. However, things change on several fronts when Adonis is challenged by the British world light heavyweight champion Ricky Conlan, and when Rocky develops health problems and is forced to confront his own mortality. Read more…

WUTHERING HEIGHTS – Alfred Newman

November 23, 2015 Leave a comment

wutheringheights100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Alfred Newman’s score to this Emily Bronte classic out performs all that have followed in this genre and offers irrefutable testimony to his supreme gift, and mastery of his craft. It provides a grand and operatic sweep full of passion, pathos and tragedy. Indeed Wuthering Heights offers what some critics believe to be the finest score for tragic love in film score art. Remarkably, there is currently no CD recording of the complete score that is commercially available. This is for me completely baffling, and a totally unacceptable state of affairs, which needs to be rectified. What I suggest in the interim is the compilation CD “Wuthering Heights: A Tribute to Alfred Newman” by Richard Kaufman with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and New Zealand Youth Chorus, which provides a 12:46 minute suite. Newman’s primary themes are presented and it does a fine job revealing the beauty of his music. The additional suites on the album are also well worth your exploration. Read more…

ASSASSIN’S CREED: SYNDICATE – Austin Wintory

November 20, 2015 Leave a comment

assassinscreedsyndicateGAME ZONE REVIEW

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The ninth entry in the main series of Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed video games, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate is one of the most eagerly-awaited game titles of 2015. Set in London in 1868 during the Industrial Revolution, the story follows twins Jacob and Evie Frye as they navigate the corridors of organized crime during the Victorian era. The story relates to the overarching narrative of the entire series, which primarily revolves around the rivalry between two ancient secret societies – the Assassins and the Knights Templar. The Fryes are members of the Assassins, seeking to take down the Templars who occupy the majority of the positions of power in society, and are aided in their quest by notable figures of the era including Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Florence Nightingale, and even Queen Victoria herself. Read more…

KING SOLOMON’S MINES – Jerry Goldsmith

November 19, 2015 1 comment

kingsolomonsminesTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

With the massive box office success of the two Indiana Jones films, Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Temple of Doom, several film producers sought to bring to the silver screen a ‘rugged historical adventurer’ of their own. Cannon Films had acquired the rights to H. Rider Haggard’s classic novel King Solomon’s Mines and its main character Allan Quatermain, and put into production a light, family-friendly version of the tale, with J. Lee Thompson directing, and Richard Chamberlain in the lead role. The film is set in the early 1900s and follows Quatermain, who is hired by the beautiful Jesse Huston (Sharon Stone) to find her father, who has disappeared in central Africa while searching for the fabled mines of the title. The expedition brings Quatermain in contact with numerous dangers and enemies, not least of which is a rival expedition led by the ruthless Colonel Bockner (Herbert Lom), who will stop at nothing to find the mines himself. Read more…

SPOTLIGHT – Howard Shore

November 17, 2015 Leave a comment

spotlightOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

In 2002 four journalists with the Boston Globe newspaper – Walter “Robby” Robinson, Michael Rezendes, Sacha Pfeiffer, and Matt Carroll – uncovered a massive scandal involving the Catholic church in Massachusetts, specifically relating to the fact that the diocesan hierarchy in the city knew about, and helped cover up the acts of, dozens and dozens of priests who sexually abused literally hundreds of children over the course of several decades. The fallout from the investigation was known as the Massachusetts Catholic Sex Abuse Scandal, led to the trial and subsequent imprisonment of dozens of priests, and rocked the hierarchy within the Catholic church, in America, and across the world. Tom McCarthy’s film Spotlight looks at how the four journalists – who went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service – broke the story. It stars Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Brian d’Arcy James as the journalists, and has a wonderful supporting cast of character actors, including Stanley Tucci, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Jamey Sheridan, Paul Guilfoyle, and Billy Crudup. Read more…

THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD – Erich Wolfgang Korngold

November 16, 2015 Leave a comment

adventuresofrobinhood100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

I offer my heartfelt thanks to Anna Bonn, John Morgan and William Stromberg for yet another masterful rerecording of a treasured Golden Age score. Performed by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, the sound quality is superb as is conductor Stromberg’s mastery of Korngold’s music. This expert team have once again superbly reconstructed and re-recorded the entire score with outstanding quality. This score is a rousing, rich, multi-thematic effort that offers you the regal splendor and gallantry of Medieval England. The story was Errol Flynn’s vehicle, and his brash, bold, charismatic and fiercely defiant persona animated the film. Korngold music is perfectly attenuated to his heroic persona and expertly captured his irrepressible spirit. From the fanfare of the Main Title, to the lush Love Theme where the Lady Marian succumbs to his charm, to the epic and culminating Duel, this score is a testimony to Korngold’s genius, and mastery of his craft. His countless melodies and fan fares are timeless, peerless, and continue to echo through time. Read more…

SPECTRE – Thomas Newman

November 13, 2015 1 comment

spectreOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The 24th official James Bond film, the fourth starring Daniel Craig, and the second directed by Sam Mendes, Spectre apparently concludes a four-movie storyline, bringing together the plots of the three preceding films – Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, and Skyfall – and re-introducing Bond to his greatest nemesis. As he globe-trots around the world from Mexico to Rome, to Austria, and beyond, Bond gradually discovers the existence of a shadowy organization which appears to be orchestrating a series of terrorist events, including the ones Bond investigated in the previous films, and whose leader may be a figure from his own past. The film co-stars Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Monica Bellucci, and Ralph Fiennes, and in many ways is a love letter to the entire James Bond franchise. Not only is this Bond a touch more light-hearted, with a little more emphasis on the gadgets and the girls than the previous films, there are innumerable nods and winks and in-jokes for the Bond connoisseur: the mountaintop clinic is straight out of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the “hollowed out volcano” in the desert is from You Only Live Twice, the car from Goldfinger makes a spectacular return, the fight on the train has echoes of both From Russia With Love and Live and Let Die, the “funhouse” in the remains of the MI6 building recalls The Man With the Golden Gun, and the monosyllabic henchman Hinx is clearly modeled after the similarly taciturn Jaws. The whole film is a loving homage to everything preceding it, and delighted this long-time fan of the genre, although of course you have to overlook the contrivances and plot holes that always come with this territory. Read more…

REVELATION – Neal Acree

November 12, 2015 1 comment

revelationGAME ZONE REVIEW

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Revelation is a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) from the Chinese video game studio NetEase. I really don’t know much about the game itself; it seems to be one of those fantasy-based games where players create and design playable characters in a variety of classes and embark on various quests against a backdrop of beautifully-designed landscapes. The game apparently has a major focus on the concept of flight, using wings that characters have as well as flying mounts such as dragons. It’s also only playable in Chinese, making it a somewhat obscure title to western audiences, and it would likely have remained so had it not been for the fact that the score is by the superb young American video game composer Neal Acree. Read more…

EN MAI FAIS CE QU’IL TE PLAÎT – Ennio Morricone

November 10, 2015 Leave a comment

enmaifaiscequilteplaitOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

If the information on the Internet Movie Database is correct, En Mai Fais Ce Qu’il te Plaît is the 521st score of Ennio Morricone’s career, which stretches back to his first score, Il Federale, in 1961. In the intervening 54 years the Italian has written some of the most iconic music in the history of cinema; En Mai Fais Ce Qu’il te Plaît will likely not be remembered as one of his standout works but, considering the fact that he is now aged 86, that he is writing film music at all is a minor miracle. That it’s still this good is nothing short of astonishing. The film – the title of which translates to Darling Buds of May in English – is a French drama written and directed by Christian Carion, who previously directed the well regarded films Une Hirondelle a Fait le Printemps and Joyeux Noël. Set during the early days of World War II, the story follows a group of people from a small village in Pas-de-Calais in northern France, who flee from the advancing German troops, and essentially become homeless, traversing the French countryside trying to avoid the Nazis, while trying to retain some semblance of a normal life under new, terrible circumstances. Read more…

ALEXANDER NEVSKY – Sergei Prokofiev

November 9, 2015 2 comments

alexandernevsky100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Film director Sergei Eisenstein had secured the favor of Soviet dictator Stalin with two films, which extolled the revolution and Communist party; The Battleship Potemkin (1925) and October: Ten Days That Shook The World (1928). Unfortunately, a misguided foray to the West to make films unrestrained by the demands of Soviet Realism caused him to fall out of favor. Upon returning to the Soviet Union in 1932 he was slowly rehabilitated and fortune smiled upon him when Stalin approved production of a film about Alexander Nevsky. Dimitri Vasilyev was assigned by the Ministry of Culture to keep Eisenstein on schedule and budget. The screenplay would be written by Eisenstein and Pyotyr Pavlenko. The telegenic Nikolay Cherkasov would play the titular role and be supported by Nikolay Okhlopkov as Vasili Buslaev and Andrei Abrikosov as Gavrilo Oleksich. Sergei Eisenstein made Alexander Nevsky during the dark pall of the Stalinist era. The film offers an obvious allegory on the historic Germanic-Russian animus, as well as the escalating distrust and tension felt with the Nazi regime. The story celebrates Prince Alexander Nevsky, who achieves an apotheosis, passing unto legend after he leads the armies of Holy Mother Russia to victory over the crusading Catholic Teutonic Knights. Read more…

SECRETS OF A PSYCHOPATH – Scott Glasgow

November 6, 2015 Leave a comment

secretsofapsychopathOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

I apologize in advance for what this review is about to become, because I know many of you will see it as a rant, but it’s something that’s been bothering me for quite a while and I need to get it off my chest. But first, the basics: Secrets of a Psychopath is a low budget horror-thriller starring Kari Wuhrer and Mark Famiglietti as Katherine and Henry, two siblings who lure unsuspecting victims to their house via an online dating site, and then subject the hapless women who respond their ad to increasingly gruesome games of torture and, eventually, murder, all in an apparent attempt to ‘heal’ Henry’s sexual dysfunction. It’s directed by 93-year old Bert Gordon, the man behind such cult shockers as The Amazing Colossal Man, Earth vs. the Spider, Empire of the Ants, and The Food of the Gods, and has an original score by the super talented Scott Glasgow, who has shown his skill at crafting memorable scores in this genre through previous titles like Lo and Riddle. Read more…

YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES – Bruce Broughton

November 5, 2015 1 comment

youngsherlockholmesTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The fascination with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s great fictional detective Sherlock Holmes has often been such that people have ventured beyond the realms of the original 60 stories, and written extrapolations investigating both Holmes’s childhood and his life after his career ended, as well as re-imaginings of the character in more contemporary settings. The 1985 film Young Sherlock Holmes is one such tale, an original story chronicling the supposed first meeting between Sherlock Holmes and his long-suffering friend John Watson, and their first adventure together. Written by Chris Columbus and directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, the film stars Nicholas Rowe as Holmes and Alan Cox as Watson, who meet as teenagers at London’s Brompton Academy in the 1870s. After a series of murders in which the victims – one of whom is Holmes’s mentor and former professor Rupert Waxflatter – experience terrifying hallucinations before they die, and after having his suspicions rebuffed by an incompetent police chief, Holmes and Watson begin to investigate the case themselves, and uncover a secret cult of Egyptian god worshippers who appear to be responsible for the deaths. The film co-stars Anthony Higgins, Sophie Ward, and Nigel Stock, and received generally positive reviews, especially for its special effects: the film is notable for including the first fully computer-generated animated character in the shape of a knight made of stained glass, and was one of the first films worked on by pioneering animator John Lasseter, who would later go on to found Pixar. Read more…

TRUTH – Brian Tyler

November 3, 2015 Leave a comment

truthOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Truth is a film about journalistic integrity and ethics, which looks specifically at the 2004 ‘Killian documents controversy’ which essentially ended the careers of veteran CBS news producer Mary Mapes and the well-respected news anchor and journalist Dan Rather. In the lead up to the 2004 US presidential election Mapes and Rather presented a report on the news magazine show 60 Minutes containing some damning allegations about then-president George W. Bush’s service in the Air National Guard in the 1970s. However, following the airing of the show, it was revealed that the documents Mapes and Rather relied upon as the basis for the report had been entirely fabricated – ostensibly to cripple Bush’s re-election campaign – and the resulting scandal was intensely damaging to CBS, who were accused of poor journalistic standards and incomplete fact-checking. The film was directed by James Vanderbilt, and has an all-star cast, including Robert Redford as Rather, Cate Blanchett as Mapes, and Topher Grace, Dennis Quaid, Elisabeth Moss, and Bruce Greenwood in supporting roles. Read more…

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SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS – Frank Churchill, Leigh Harline, and Paul J. Smith

November 2, 2015 Leave a comment

snowwhiteandthesevendwarfs100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Walt Disney Productions had been very successful in producing animated short subject films such as Mickey Mouse and the Silly Symphonies. In 1934 CEO Walt Disney believed it was time to move his studio into the realm of producing feature films. To that end he resolved to inaugurate a new era by producing a feature animated film based on the fairytale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by the Brothers Grimm. Disney would produce the film and he tasked screenwriter Richard Creedon and a team of seven writers to come up with the screenplay. David Hand was hired as supervising Director for a team of five directors. For the cast Adriana Caselotti would voice for the titular role. Joining her would be Lucille La Verne as Queen Grimhilde (the witch), Henry Stockwell as the Prince, Stuart Buchanan as the Huntsman, and Moroni Olsen as The Magic Mirror. For the seven dwarfs we have Roy Atwell as Doc, Pinto Colvig as both Grumpy and Sleepy, Otis Harlan as Happy, Scotty Mattraw as Bashful, Billy Gilbert as Sneezy, and Eddie Collins as Dopey. Read more…