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Archive for December, 2015

CAROL – Carter Burwell

December 31, 2015 Leave a comment

CarolOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

A romantic drama based on the novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith, and directed by Todd Haynes, Carol is a melodrama with a very modern slant. The film stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara as Carol and Therèse, two women living in New York in the 1950s, both of whom are struggling in their relationships. Carol is estranged from her husband Harge (Kyle Chandler) after she had an affair with another woman, Abby (Sarah Paulson), and Harge is threatening to take away custody of their child. Meanwhile, Therèse is dissatisfied with her relationship with her boyfriend Richard (Jake Lacy), and dreams of something more fulfilling. Their lives intersect when Carol accidentally leaves her gloves at the department store where Therèse works while Christmas shopping; when Therèse returns them, Carol insists on buying her a drink to thank her, and the subsequent sexual tension between them is palpable, but the age gap between the two, as well as their gender, threatens to break the rigid social and moral taboos of the era. Read more…

Best Scores of 2015 – Scandinavia

December 29, 2015 1 comment

The second installment in my series of articles looking at the best “under the radar” scores from around the world concentrates on music from films from Scandinavia. This year’s crop of outstanding scores from the far north of Europe features an animated film from Denmark, a wry comedy-drama from Iceland, a pair of historical dramas from Finland, and a wonderful children’s score from Norway written by one of that country’s most talented young composers! Read more…

OUT OF AFRICA – John Barry

December 24, 2015 Leave a comment

outofafricaTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The winner of seven Academy Awards – including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Cinematography – Out of Africa is generally considered one of the greatest romantic dramas in cinema history. Directed by Sydney Pollack, it is based on the semi-autobiographical writings of aristocratic Danish author Karen Dinesen, specifically the period in the 1910s when she moved to live on a coffee plantation in colonial Kenya with her then-husband, Baron Bror von Blixen-Finecke, and had an affair with a rugged and handsome big game hunter, Denys Finch Hatton. The film is a sumptuous, visually magnificent love letter to the unspoiled African savannah, reveling in the majestic vistas of the country, and using them as a backdrop to the affair Karen engages in, as her husband becomes increasingly distant and neglectful. Anchored by the three central performances of Meryl Streep as Karen, Robert Redford as Denys, and Klaus-Maria Brandauer as Bror, the film explores such challenging themes as marital fidelity, the expectations and conventions of aristocratic society, the role of women in the 1910s, and the differences between European and African tribal cultures, as well as the threat of World War I that loomed over everything. Read more…

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS – John Williams

December 21, 2015 4 comments

theforceawakensOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS PLOT SPOILERS. IF YOU HAVE NOT YET SEEN THE FILM, YOU MIGHT WANT TO CONSIDER WAITING UNTIL AFTER YOU HAVE DONE SO TO READ IT.

When John Williams first sat down to write the score for the original Star Wars over the winter of 1976, I doubt that even he could have imagined that he would still be writing music for those characters, and that universe, some 39 years later. There aren’t many film scores you can point to as being an actual turning point, a watershed moment in the history of the genre, but Star Wars was unquestionably one of those, and it went on to inspire a generation of filmmakers, composers, and fans. To say that The Force Awakens, the seventh film in the Star Wars franchise, is an eagerly awaited film would perhaps be one of the greatest understatements of all time – I don’t think I have ever seen a film with this much marketing, pre-release hype, and fevered anticipation – and, thankfully, it does not disappoint in any way. More than any installment in the prequels did, The Force Awakens feels like a proper Star Wars movie, a return to the fun and crowd-pleasing filmmaking of the original trio, and director J. J. Abrams should be congratulated for returning the franchise to its roots, and going some way to banishing the ghost of Jar Jar Binks forever. Read more…

PETER AND WENDY – Maurizio Malagnini

December 18, 2015 3 comments

peterandwendyOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

J. M. Barrie’s story of Peter Pan has inspired numerous adaptations and spin-offs since it was first performed as a stage play in London in 1904. The latest of those is Peter and Wendy, a British TV movie directed by industry veteran Diarmuid Lawrence. Framed within a more contemporary setting, it tells the story of a young girl named Lucy who is about to receive open heart surgery at the famed Great Ormond Street Hospital. To help assuage her fears about her upcoming procedure, Lucy’s mother reads her the classic Peter Pan novel, and the famous story of Neverland, Captain Hook, Tinkerbell, Lost Boys, and the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up unfolds inside her imagination, with herself as the heroine. The film, which airs in the UK on Christmas Day, stars Stanley Tucci as Captain Hook, Paloma Faith as Tinker Bell, Laura Fraser as Mrs. Darling, and newcomers Zac Sutcliffe and Hazel Doupe as Peter and Wendy respectively. Read more…

THE DANISH GIRL – Alexandre Desplat

December 16, 2015 Leave a comment

danishgirlOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Gender identity issues have been a major social topic in 2015, encompassing everything from Caitlin Jenner to the acclaimed TV series Transparent, so it is perhaps unsurprising that a film like The Danish Girl should be released this year. Directed by Oscar-winner Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), it looks at the life of Einar Wegener, a young Danish man living in Copenhagen in the 1920s, who became the first ever recipient of male-to-female sex reassignment surgery. Lead actor Eddie Redmayne is heavily tipped for a second consecutive Academy Award for his performance as Einar and his alter ego, Lili, and he is ably supported by Alicia Vikander as his wife, Gerda. Also receiving a great deal of critical acclaim has been the score, written by French composer Alexandre Desplat, who has already received Golden Globe and Satellite Award nominations for his work. This is the fifth and final Desplat score of 2015, whose output in general has been disappointing compared to his usual stellar standards: Suffragette came and went without much fanfare, Everything Will Be Fine was barely released in the United States, and neither Il Racconto dei Racconti nor Une Histoire de Fou have been released outside their native countries at all. Read more…

Best Scores of 2015 – Spain and Portugal, Part I

December 14, 2015 3 comments

The first installment in my series of articles looking at the best “under the radar” scores from around the world concentrates on music from films from Spain and Portugal. I have been very vocal in the past about my admiration for the music coming out of the Iberian peninsula, and this year just reinforces my view that some of the best film music in the world right now is being written there. My first look at the area features new scores by some of my favorite contemporary composers, including Federico Jusid and Nuno Malo, and there will be more to come later! Read more…