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Archive for June, 2017

SCORE: A FILM MUSIC DOCUMENTARY – Film Review

June 30, 2017 2 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

I haven’t written and published a film review, as opposed to a film score review, for more than 20 years, ever since I put some of my first, faltering attempts at entertainment journalism on the University of Sheffield’s website around 1995. However, considering the focus of this site, I thought I should make an exception here.

Score: A Film Music Documentary is, as far as I can tell, the first theatrically released film about the art of film scoring. The brainchild of writer-director Matt Schrader, who is himself a long-time film music aficionado, the film was first conceived many years ago, and was largely financed by online fundraising; it was subsequently filmed over several years, prior to finally being completed this year. I was fortunate to see the film at its European premiere during the 10th Krakow Film Music Festival in Poland in May, with composers Brian Tyler and Howard Shore, among others, in attendance.

One thing that needs to be made clear from the start is that this film is for the layman. Virtually everyone reading this will be more well-versed in film music history, the concepts that govern film music, the personalities of the composers included, and the scores mentioned, than the target audience for this film; so, if you want a film that is a more in-depth, detailed, possibly even critical analysis of soundtrack history, then this is absolutely not the film for you. Schrader aims it squarely at the general public, people who maybe like a bit of film music, and who know who John Williams and Hans Zimmer are, but couldn’t tell you any of the names of the Newman family, and have no clue what happens at a spotting session, or even how a score is recorded. Read more…

PREDATOR – Alan Silvestri

June 29, 2017 2 comments

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Predator is one of the seminal action films of the 1980s, a masterpiece of testosterone-fuelled machismo and inventive storytelling that cemented Arnold Schwarzenegger as one of Hollywood’s most bankable and beloved movie star heroes. Schwarzenegger plays Dutch Schaefer, the leader of a team of elite covert ops commandos which is sent deep into the South American jungle to rescue hostages held by guerrillas; however, it soon becomes apparent that the mission is a cover for an illegal intelligence-gathering exercise, orchestrated by the team’s CIA liaison and Dutch’s old colleague Dillon (Carl Weathers). Worse yet, as the team prepares for a helicopter extraction, they are suddenly attacked by an unknown and seemingly invisible entity – a predator – which has significant firepower and appears to be hunting them for sport. The film, which was directed by John McTiernan and co-stars Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham, and Elpidia Carrillo, was a major commercial hit, and is now regarded as a landmark of the action genre. Read more…

MY COUSIN RACHEL – Rael Jones

June 27, 2017 2 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

My Cousin Rachel is a sumptuous period drama-thriller from director Roger Michell, based on the classic mystery novel by Daphne Du Maurier, and is a remake of the original screen adaptation of the novel from 1952, which starred Olivia de Havilland and Richard Burton. This new version stars Rachel Weisz as the eponymous Rachel, a beautiful young woman who marries a wealthy English landowner named Ashley. Ashley dies in mysterious circumstances overseas, and leaves his estate to his much younger cousin, Philip (Sam Claflin). Philip suspects that Rachel had something to do with Ashley’s death, and resolves to exact revenge; as such, he is not at all surprised when Rachel returns to England and begins making romantic advances towards him. What is surprising is the fact that Philip unexpectedly finds himself falling in love with Rachel in return. Are Rachel’s feelings for Philip real, or is she just looking for her next victim on her way to claiming an inheritance of her own? The film, which co-stars Holliday Grainger and Iain Glen, drips with rich Victorian-era trappings and a brooding atmosphere of Gothic melodrama, and has been the recipient of a great deal of critical praise. Read more…

THE BIG COUNTRY – Jerome Moross

June 26, 2017 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

MGM set out to bring an epic tale of Americana to the big screen. For this massive production they hired William Wyler as director and producer. A screenplay authored my a multitude of writers created a complex narrative, which sought to move beyond the genre’s traditional narratives to explore the darker and more ambiguous psychology of old west. A stellar cast was assembled, which included Gregory Peck (James McKay), Jean Simmons (Julie Maragon), Burl Ives (Rufus Hannassey), Charlton Heston (Steve Leech), Caroll Baker (Patricia Terrill) and Chuck Connors (Buck Hannassey). The story involves romance and the battle for water and grazing rights on the high plains. We see Captain James McKay, a wealthy and now retired sea captain who has come west to marry fiancée Pat Terrill, who seems pampered and controlled by her wealthy father, Major Henry Terrill. As a military seaman McKay’s formal personal affect, values and approach to life seem culturally incongruous and pretentious. When he eschews the code of the west of settling disputes with violence he creates an instant animus with the locals, especially ranch foreman Steve Leech. His apparent cowardice also loses the respect of Pat. Read more…

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS – Theodore Shapiro

June 23, 2017 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

I’m so out of touch with children’s popular culture these days that, prior to a few weeks ago, I had never even heard of Captain Underpants, and had no clue that they made a film about him. The character comes from the enormously popular series of children’s novels by American author and illustrator Dav Pilkey, in which George Beard and Harold Hutchins – two overly imaginative pranksters who spend hours in a treehouse creating comic books – accidentally hypnotize their mean teacher Mr. Krupp into thinking that he’s a ridiculously enthusiastic, incredibly dimwitted superhero named Captain Underpants. In this animated adventure, Captain Underpants finds himself in conflict with Professor Poopypants, a brilliant scientist who, having being constantly made fun of because of his name, decides to try to take over the world. The film is directed by David Soren, has a voice cast that includes Kevin Hart, Ed Helms, Thomas Middleditch, Nick Kroll, and Jordan Peele, and has a spectacular score by composer Theodore Shapiro. Read more…

THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK – John Williams

June 22, 2017 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A raucous fantasy comedy based on the novel by John Updike, The Witches of Eastwick stars Susan Sarandon, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Cher, as three women in a small New England town suffering from broken relationships: fiery artist Alexandra (Cher) is a widow, shy and insecure teacher Jane (Sarandon) is a divorcee, and mousy writer Sukie (Pfeiffer) was abandoned by her husband, leaving her to raise six children alone. Despite them living in a town with a history of magic, none of the women realize that they have powers of witchcraft, until an unusual stranger named Daryl Van Horne (Jack Nicholson) arrives in town and begins courting each of them in turn; before long, the women are spending time at Daryl’s mansion, learning about their powers, and finally indulging the passionate, sexual sides of their personality after years of being unfulfilled and repressed. However, as Daryl’s behavior starts to get more and more unpredictable, the women begin to worry about his intentions, and whether his arrival in Eastwick was a good idea. Read more…

THE MUMMY – Brian Tyler

June 20, 2017 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Mummy is the first film in Universal Pictures’s series of new interlocking ‘Dark Universe’ films based on their roster of classic monsters. Tom Cruise stars as Nick Morton, an officer in the United States Army who moonlights as a treasure hunter. While on assignment in Iraq with his partner, Chris Vail, Nick accidentally unearths an ancient tomb containing a sarcophagus, inside of which are the mummified remains of an Egyptian princess. With the help of archeologist Jennifer Halsey, Nick determines that the princess in question is Ahmanet, who murdered her father, the Pharaoh, as part of a ritual intended to give the Egyptian god of death human form, and was buried alive as punishment. Finally freed from her prison after two thousand years, Ahmanet returns to life and unleashes her revenge upon the world; the only things standing in her way are Nick and his allies, and a mysterious organization called the Prodigium, a secret society dedicated to hunting supernatural threats, whose leader is the equally mysterious Dr. Henry Jekyll. Read more…