Archive for January, 2022

NEW BABYLON – Dmitri Shostakovich

January 31, 2022 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

The film’s genesis lies with Factory of the Eccentric Actor (FEKS), an avant-garde artists association founded in 1922 by Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg. The mission of the organization was to promote a new film methodology call “Eccentrism”, which rejected the traditional aesthetics of bourgeois art, instead seeking a new path that would embrace Futurism, Surrealism and Dadaist Constructionism. To that end Kozintsev and Trauberg conceived of a film that would tell the story of the Paris Commune of 1871; the first effort to form a government committed to communist principles. Their screenplay was reviewed and they secured permission to proceed from Goskino – The Soviet State Committee for Cinematography, which would fund and distribute the film. Kozintsev and Trauberg would jointly direct and a fine cast was assembled, which included; Yelena Kuzima as Louise, Pyotyr Sobolevsky as Jean, Sergei Gerasimov as Loutro, Vsevolod Pudovkin as Baliff, Oleg Zhakov as a member of the Paris Commune, and Yanina Zhejmo as milliner Teresa. Read more…

THE KING’S DAUGHTER – Joseph Metcalfe, John Coda, and Grant Kirkhope

January 28, 2022 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Back in 2013 director Sean McNamara began pre-production on a film version of the popular 1997 fantasy novel ‘The Moon and the Sun’ by Vonda McIntyre, and worked with screenwriters Barry Berman and James Schamus on the script. The story involves King Louis XIV of France – the Sun King – who is searching for the secret to immortality, having recently survived an assassination attempt. Eventually King Louis’s efforts leads to the discovery of a mermaid named Sherzad, the last of her kind, whose flesh is rumored to make the eater immortal. Meanwhile a young cellist named Marie-Josèphe comes to the court, unaware that she is actually the king’s illegitimate daughter. Marie-Josèphe and Sherzad arrive at Versailles simultaneously, and unexpectedly form a connection; later, when Marie-Josèphe falls in love with a handsome courtier named Yves de la Croix, she vows to save Sherzad from a terrible fate: ritual sacrifice during a lunar eclipse. Read more…

MEDICINE MAN – Jerry Goldsmith

January 27, 2022 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Medicine Man is a drama with an ecological theme, written by Tom Schulman and Sally Robinson, and directed by John McTiernan, who at that time was one of Hollywood’s premier directors, hot on the heels of Predator, Die Hard, and The Hunt for Red October. The film stars Sean Connery as Dr. Robert Campbell, a medical researcher working deep in the Amazonian rainforest, who has gone missing after his wife and research partner abandon him. The pharmaceutical company funding Campbell’s work sends Dr. Rae Crane (Lorraine Bracco) – a brash, tough talking New Yorker – to find him; eventually, she locates him working in a remote tribal village, but they clash immediately, with Campbell’s latent sexism and bad-temperedness preventing him from taking her seriously, and with Rae being desperately unsuited to life in the jungle. However, the two bury their differences when a new threat emerges: a Brazilian logging company is building a road nearby, which threatens to displace the local native population, and potentially destroy the plant that Campbell believes may provide a cure for cancer. Read more…

REDEEMING LOVE – Brian Tyler and Breton Vivian

January 25, 2022 2 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Redeeming Love is a ‘faith-based drama’ directed by D. J. Caruso, based on a popular novel by Francine Rivers, which was itself a re-telling of the biblical story of Hosea, a prophet who married an unfaithful woman. The film is set in the 1850s at the height of the California gold rush and tells the story of Angel, a woman who was sold to a brothel as a child and who has essentially spent her entire life working as a prostitute. Despite her miserable life Angel is positive and optimistic, and her prospects begins to change when she meets and falls in love with Michael, a kind-hearted farmer who ‘rescues’ her following a beating from a client. However, the road to true love and redemption is always fraught with perils, and before long Angel and Michael find themselves dealing with all sorts of trials and tribulations – not only in terms of their circumstances in the present, but also as a result of Angel’s horrific past experiences coming back to haunt them. The film stars Abigail Cowan and Tom Lewis as Angel and Michael, with Famke Janssen, Logan Marshall-Green, and Nina Dobrev in supporting roles, and has an original score by Brian Tyler and Breton Vivian. Read more…


January 24, 2022 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1926 the future documentary filmmaker (and Nazi propagandist) Leni Riefenstahl was a dancer and an aspiring actress. A chance meeting between her and director Arnold Fanck was fateful as he was impressed by both her beauty and singlemindedness. As such, he began to write sketches to a film he envisioned, a love story, which would showcase her talents. Fanck took his screenplay – called Der Heilige Berg, or The Holy Mountain – to the UFA production company, who agreed to support the project. Harry R. Sokal was assigned production with a budget of 1.5 million RM. Fanck would direct and handle cinematography. His cast consisted of Riefenstahl as Diotima, Luis Trenker as Karl, Frida Richard as Mother, Ernst Petersen as Vigo, Friedrich Schneider as Coli, and Hannes Schneider as Mountain Guide. Read more…

Movie Music UK Awards 2021

January 21, 2022 12 comments

I said that 2020 has been, by far, the strangest year in living memory for both films and film music – but 2021 almost matched it. Although the rampant COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on the film industry across around the world, there was still a terrific amount of excellent music that came out this year, as mainstream studio tentpoles delayed from 2020 finally hit cinemas, and competed with a number of outstanding indie and international features.

Ultimately three of my five nominees for Score of the Year came from obscure sources – the Netherlands, Spain, and Finland – with one well-regarded indie, and just one major studio film from an established Hollywood A-Lister. Quite a change from the usual set of names. Not only that, as you go further and further down the list you will find numerous unexpected choices, including a medieval comedy from Germany, a sweeping historical drama from China, an outdoor adventure from Australia, an animated TV series from Japan, and so much more – even a special award from a TV extravaganza from Egypt! So, without further ado, here are my choices… Read more…

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January 20, 2022 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Shining Through is an old-fashioned World War II spy thriller with a romantic undercurrent, written and directed by David Seltzer, based on the novel by Susan Isaacs. The film stars Melanie Griffith as Linda Voss, a clerk in a New York law office, who gets swept up into a world of espionage and intrigue when her employer, attorney Ed Leland (Michael Douglas), discovers she speaks German. Ed is secretly a colonel in the OSS, and he enlists Linda for an important assignment: she is to travel to Berlin and, while posing as a member of the household staff of a Nazi officer, steal top-secret plans for a missile weapon the Germans are developing. The film co-stars Liam Neeson, Joely Richardson, and John Gielgud, and has excellent technical pedigree, but unfortunately was a critical flop and a commercial disaster: critic Roger Ebert wrote that Shining Through was “such an insult to the intelligence that I wasn’t able to suspend my disbelief … scene after scene is so implausible that the movie kept pushing me outside and making me ask how the key scenes could possibly be taken seriously”. As such, the film is mostly forgotten today, a footnote in the careers of its three main stars. Read more…

Under-the-Radar Round Up 2021, Part 4C

January 18, 2022 1 comment

2021 is over and, as the world of mainstream blockbuster cinema and film music continues to recover from the COVID-19 Coronavirus, I again urge people to look beyond the confines of mainstream Hollywood to find the best film music being written. As such, I now present the third and final part of my final group of reviews looking at the best “under the radar” scores from around the world – the five titles included here again represent some of the best film music heard this year, and include a historical drama from Malta, a big-screen reboot of a beloved Japanese-Spanish children’s animated series from the 1980s, a sweeping British natural history documentary, a Norwegian Christmas fantasy-comedy, and a documentary from Iran with a score by one of 2021’s breakthrough composers. Read more…

CARMEN – Ernesto Halffter

January 17, 2022 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director, screenwriter and actor Jacques Feyder had two dozen films to his credit when he decided to bring Prosper Mérimée’s classic 1845 novel Carmen to the big screen. Georges Bizet had in 1875 made the story famous with his opera, but Feyder felt confident that he could provide a big screen retelling, which would reach far more people. Alexandre Kamenka’s production company signed on to fund the project with Les Films Armor agreeing to distribute. Feyder personally adapted the novel into a screenplay and would also direct the film. He made the artistic decision to film live in authentic locations rather than the insular comfort of the studio sets. He brought in a fine cast, which included; Raquel Meller as Carmen, Fred Louis Lerch as José Lizarrabengoa, and Gaston Modot as García “El Tuerto”. Read more…


January 14, 2022 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A comedy-horror-thriller with an indie attitude, This Game’s Called Murder is the latest film from writer-director Adam Sherman. It stars Ron Perlman, Natasha Henstridge, and Vanessa Marano, and is about the eccentric members of the Wallendorf family. Mr. Wallendorf is a fashion mogul and designer of iconic red high heeled shoes, and Mrs. Wallendorf is his conniving brutal wife. Their daughter, Jennifer, is a superstar on social media, and it is her struggle to come to terms with who she is inside this powerful but massively dysfunctional family that leads her down a road of violence, anarchy, and many, many Instagram posts. The film premiered in a few theaters and on streaming services in December 2021, but mostly it has flown under the radar – and it would have flown under mine entirely were it not for the fact that it was scored by Bear McCreary. Read more…


January 13, 2022 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle is a psychological thriller which builds on the ‘something-from-hell’ sub-genre trope, and made parents everywhere think twice about hiring a nanny. The film stars Matt McCoy and Annabella Sciorra as Michael and Claire Bartel, successful young parents with a pre-teen daughter and a baby on the way. After the baby is born Claire hires the seemingly perfect Peyton Flanders (Rebecca de Mornay) to be their new nanny, and for a while things go well – until unusual events start occurring in the Bartel household, and Claire begins to suspect that there is more to Peyton than meets the eye. The film was directed by Curtis Hanson, and was a popular box office hit in the early weeks of 1992; it also became notorious for a particular scene in a greenhouse, which remains a grisly thrill to this day. The title of the film is taken from the famous 1865 poem of the same name written by William Ross Wallace, which praises motherhood and celebrates mothers, and states that ‘the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world’. Read more…

RUMBLE – Lorne Balfe

January 11, 2022 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Rumble is a CGI animated action comedy based on the graphic novel ‘Monster on the Hill’ by Rob Harrell, directed by Hamish Grieve. The film is set in a world where monsters and humans peacefully co-exist, and where one of the most popular sports is monster wrestling. After the shark-monster Tentacular, who represents a small town called Stoker, becomes the new world champion, he suddenly announces his retirement. The townspeople are later told if they do not find a new wrestler to represent Stoker, they will lose the town’s stadium and its resultant revenue. This prompts a wrestling enthusiast named Winnie Coyle to search for a new monster representative for her town – which ultimately brings her into contact with Steve, the son of former champion wrestler Rayburn, who despite being a talented athlete in his own right lives in his late father’s shadow. Circumstances lead to Winnie and Steve eventually teaming up, training, and fighting, culminating in the underdog Steve having a shot at Tentacular’s title, with the future of the town on the line. The film features a voice cast including Will Arnett, Geraldine Viswanathan, and Terry Crews, and was supposed to premiere in cinemas in July 2020, but it was moved no less than four times due to the COVID-19 pandemic theatrical release debacle, and eventually premiered on the streaming channel Paramount+ in December 2021. Read more…

THE BIRTH OF A NATION – Joseph Carl Breil

January 10, 2022 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1913 Director D. W. Griffith took interest in the 1905 novel The Clansman by Thomas Dixon Jr. and believed it provided an opportunity to bring an epic tale to the big screen. He secured the film rights offering 25% interest in the film and would use his own production company to produce the film, with an initial budget of $10,000, which later ballooned to $100,000. Griffith would not only produce the film, but also direct, and collaborate with Frank E. Woods to write the screenplay. Casting caused controversy as Griffith used white actors in black face to play black and mulatto people, and only used real black people in expansive scenes where extras were required. For his cast Lilian Gish would star as Elsie Stoneman, and joining her would be Mae Marsh as Flora Cameron, Henry B. Walthal as Colonel Benjamin Cameron, Miriam Cooper as Margaret Cameron, Ralph Lewis as Austin Stoneman, George Siegmann as Silas Lynch, and Walter Long as Gus. Read more…

Golden Globe Winners 2021

January 9, 2022 1 comment

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) have announced the winners of the 79th Golden Globe Awards, honoring the best in film and American television of 2021.

In the Best Original Score category composer Hans Zimmer won the award for his work on the epic science fiction blockbuster Dune, based on the classic novel by Frank Herbert. This is the third Golden Globe for Zimmer, who previously won the award for The Lion King in 1995 and for Gladiator in 2000.

As there was no Golden Globes ceremony in 2021 – a combination of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 persisting in Los Angeles, and the on-going controversy surrounding the HFPA for its lack of diversity among its members, which led to the show being dropped by broadcaster NBC – Zimmer did not make an in-person acceptance speech.

The other nominees were Alexandre Desplat for The French Dispatch, Germaine Franco for Encanto, Jonny Greenwood for The Power of the Dog, and Alberto Iglesias for Parallel Mothers.

In the Best Original Song category, the winners were Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell for their song “No Time to Die” from the James Bond film No Time to Die.

The other nominees were Carole King, Jennifer Hudson, and Jamie Hartman for “Here I Am (Singing My Way Home)” from Respect; Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Dixson for “Be Alive” from King Richard; Lin-Manuel Miranda for “Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto; and Van Morrison for “Down to Joy” from Belfast.

Categories: News Tags: ,

Under-the-Radar Round Up 2021, Part 4B

January 7, 2022 2 comments

2021 is over and, as the world of mainstream blockbuster cinema and film music continues to recover from the COVID-19 Coronavirus, I again urge people to look beyond the confines of mainstream Hollywood to find the best film music being written. As such, I now present the second part of my final group of reviews looking at the best “under the radar” scores from around the world – the five titles included here represent some of the best film music heard this year to date, and include a seasonal fantasy from the Netherlands, two British dramas telling very different true stories, and two spectacular entries from Scandinavia: a Finnish nature documentary, and a Norwegian variation on the Cinderella story. Read more…