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MODERN TIMES – Charles Chaplin

February 28, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Charlie Chaplin’s inspiration for the film Modern Times arose from the deplorable social and economic conditions that he found in Europe in the aftermath of the Great Depression. A personal conversation with Mahatma Gandhi about the negative effects of modern technology on people’s lives was also instrumental. In 1934 he began conceiving the film’s story, which would serve as his first ‘talkie’ film. However, he abandoned this and instead chose to make his last silent film with the Tramp character as he felt the universal appeal of him would be lost with dialogue. Once again he would oversee production, direct, write the screenplay, compose the music, and star in the film. Joining him would be Paulette Goddard as Ellen Petersen, Henry Bergman as the café proprietor, Stanley “Tiny” Sanford as Big Bill and Chester Conklin as the Mechanic. Read more…

ENCANTO – Germaine Franco and Lin-Manuel Miranda

February 25, 2022 Leave a comment

Original Review by Christopher Garner

Disney’s 60th animated feature film, Encanto, had a unique path to popularity. Its one-month theatrical run was profitable by pandemic standards, but far less successful than these films usually are. After being released on Disney+, however, it has become a huge hit. It tells the story of the Familia Madrigal, a multi-generational Colombian family with magical powers that live in a sentient house they call Casita. The main character, Mirabel (voiced by Brooklyn 99’s Stephanie Beatriz) is the only descendent of the family matriarch, Abuela, who does not have a “gift.” She discovers something to be wrong with the family’s magic and takes it upon herself to discover the cause of the problem and find a solution. As of this writing, the film has already won the Golden Globe for best animated picture, and has also been nominated for an Academy Award. Read more…

MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN – Shirley Walker

February 24, 2022 2 comments

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A comedy thriller with a science fiction twist, Memoirs of an Invisible Man is interesting for a number of reasons. First, it is one of the few films directed by John Carpenter where he was essentially a ‘director for hire’ as opposed to being an integral part of its production; the film was originally supposed to be an Ivan Reitman project until he clashed with star Chevy Chase. The whole thing was a Chase vanity project intended to usher him into more serious leading man roles; he plays mild-mannered stockbroker Nick Halloway, who is rendered invisible following an accident at a hi tech laboratory, and spends the rest of the movie evading a corrupt CIA operative who wants to either recruit him to be a spy, or kill him to stop Nick from exposing his corruption. The film co-stars Daryl Hannah and Sam Neill, but unfortunately was something of a critical and commercial flop. Read more…

DEATH ON THE NILE – Patrick Doyle

February 22, 2022 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Kenneth Branagh has seemingly moved from adapting works by William Shakespeare to adapting works by Agatha Christie, and I for one am delighted. Death on the Nile is the second major cinematic adaptation of Christie’s classic whodunit, after the John Guillermin-Peter Ustinov version from 1978, and is the second of Branagh’s Christie adaptations after Murder on the Orient Express in 2017. Branagh himself plays the brilliant Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, who gets drawn into a mystery while travelling in Egypt; a wealthy heiress is murdered by an unknown assailant during a cruise down the Nile on a luxury steamer, and many of the guests on the boat have grudges against her, to the extent that any of them could reasonably have been the murderer. It is up to Poirot to unmask the killer before the boat returns to Cairo. The film is a wonderfully old-fashioned thriller, handsomely staged with sweeping vistas and gorgeous period production design. It also has a tremendous supporting cast, which includes Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Annette Bening, Emma Mackie, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Sophie Okonedo, Letitia Wright, and Russell Brand. Read more…

THE THREE MUSKETEERS – Max Steiner

February 21, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

RKO Studios like its competitors of the day was seeking to remake classic films of the Silent Age. In 1934 they secured the film rights for “The Three Musketeers”, which previously had starred Douglas Fairbanks Jr in 1921. Cliff Reid was assigned production with a $512,000 budget. The film would again draw upon the famous novel 1844 The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, with Rowland V. Lee and Dudley Nichols writing the screenplay. Lee was also tasked with directing and brought in a fine cast, which included Walter Abel as D’Artagnan, Ian Keith as Count de Rochefort, Margot Grahame as Milady de Winter, Paul Lucas as Athos, Moroni Olsen as Porthos, and Onslow Stevens as Aramis. Read more…

RADIO FLYER – Hans Zimmer

February 18, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Radio Flyer was a somewhat misguided nostalgic drama directed by Richard Donner from a screenplay by David Mickey Evans. The film stars Tom Hanks as Mike, a middle-aged man telling the story of his childhood in the 1960s to his two sons; 11-year-old Mike (Elijah Wood) and his younger brother Bobby (Joseph Mazzello) find their lives altered irrevocably when their divorced mother (Lorraine Bracco) marries a man they know as ‘the King’ and moves them all to California. The King is a drunk and is physically abusive, especially towards Bobby, and so as a way to escape their situation the boys fantasize about modifying their ‘Radio Flyer’ toy wagon into an aeroplane, and flying away. Despite clearly being a look at an abusive relationship through the eyes of a child, and an unreliable narrator at that, the film was heavily criticized for what some saw as trivializing a serious subject, with critic Roger Ebert being especially ‘appalled’ by the film’s ending. As such, the film is mostly forgotten today, a footnote in the otherwise successful careers of its creators and stars. Read more…

IFMCA Award Winners 2021

February 17, 2022 Leave a comment

INTERNATIONAL FILM MUSIC CRITICS ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF 2021 IFMCA AWARDS

MAURIZIO MALAGNINI WINS SCORE OF THE YEAR FOR THE FANTASY BALLET FILM “COPPELIA”

JAMES NEWTON HOWARD WINS THREE AWARDS, INCLUDING COMPOSER OF THE YEAR; NICK REDMAN HONORED WITH INAUGURAL ROBERTO ASCHIERI SPECIAL AWARD FOR CONTRIBUTION TO FILM MUSIC; SCORES FROM CHINA, FINLAND, SPAIN, WIN IN OTHER CATEGORIES

FEBRUARY 17, 2021 — The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) announces its list of winners for excellence in musical scoring in 2021, in the 2021 IFMCA Awards.

The award for Score of the Year goes to composer Maurizio Malagnini, for his score for the unique fantasy-science fiction-ballet film “Coppelia.” The film stars members of the Dutch National Ballet and is an updated version of the original stage work by Léo Delibes, in which a pair of young lovers from a small European town must save their home from an evil interloper intending to use the townspeople’s ‘essence’ to give life to a robotic creation. IFMCA member Jon Broxton described “Coppelia” as “a sweeping orchestral masterpiece of staggering beauty, combining half a dozen leitmotif themes into a narrative structure that carries the entire emotional weight of the film. This is then augmented by some impressive electronic textures which accompany the villain of the piece, and it all builds to a stunning climax of thematic, romantic wonder,” and concluded by saying that “…in a time when the theatrical movie schedule is dominated by Marvel and Disney, prequels and sequels and multiverses, there has to be room for art projects like Coppelia, and for the ravishing music like that composed here by Maurizio Malagnini.”

The score is also named Best Original Score for a Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Horror Film. These are the second and third IFMCA Awards of Malagnini’s career, him having previously won the Breakthrough Film Composer of the Year award in 2015. Read more…

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PARALLEL MOTHERS [MADRES PARALELAS] – Alberto Iglesias

February 15, 2022 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

While many people cite Spielberg and Williams, Fellini and Rota, Hitchcock and Herrmann, or Zemeckis and Silvestri as some of the greatest long-term director-composer collaborations in cinema history, for lovers of Spanish cinema the prime pairing is between Pedro Almodóvar and Alberto Iglesias. After having worked with Bernard Bonezzi during the early part of his career, and then flirting with composers like Ryuichi Sakamoto and Ennio Morricone, Almodóvar first hired Iglesias for The Flower of My Secret in 1995, and they have worked together on every film since. Their collaboration includes such acclaimed titles as All About My Mother, Talk to Her, Volver, The Skin I Live In, and Pain and Glory, 12 films and counting. Six of Iglesias’s 11 Goya Awards have been for his work on Almodóvar’s films, and every time a new one is announced it is met with great anticipation. The surprising thing about this is that, by and large, I haven’t really liked any of them. Read more…

THE LOST PATROL – Max Steiner

February 14, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer-Director John Ford saw opportunity with the birth of the new movie sound era, to remake the British silent film “Lost Patrol (1929). He decided that he would also draw upon the novel “Patrol” (1927) by Philip MacDonald, believing he could make a better adaptation of the suspenseful story for the big screen. Ford would join with Merian C. Cooper and Cliff Reid to oversee production with a $262,000 budget. Garrett Fort and Dudley Nichols were hired to write the screenplay, and Ford took on additional duties of director. Casting brought in Victor McLanglen as the Sergeant, Boris Karloff as Sanders, Wallace Ford as Morelli, and Reginald Denny as George Brown. Read more…

THE BUREAU OF MAGICAL THINGS – Brett Aplin

February 11, 2022 Leave a comment

Original Review by Christopher Garner

The Bureau of Magical Things is an Australian television series for tweens and teens about a girl named Kyra, who is transformed by a magical book. She discovers a whole world of magical spells, objects, and creatures hidden amid the world she’s always known. She joins a colorful cast of young elves and fairies who are in training to join the Department of Magical Intervention (DMI), whose job it is to keep the magical world a secret. Kyra joins these magic students to save the world from a burgeoning threat. Elements of the show are clearly inspired by Harry Potter. The show was created by Jonathan M. Schiff, a titan of Australian television whose productions have launched the careers of no less than Liam Hemsworth and Margot Robbie. The first season of The Bureau of Magical Things aired in Australia in 2018 and then in the US on the Nickelodeon network. The second season aired in 2021, and the score was released in December. Read more…

FINAL ANALYSIS – George Fenton

February 10, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Final Analysis was one of several ‘sexy thrillers’ that mainstream Hollywood produced in 1992 and 1993 – others included Basic Instinct and Body of Evidence – which sought to capitalize on the fact that there were several good looking leading men and women by putting them in various stages of undress and elements of danger. This film was directed by Phil Joanou from a screenplay by Wesley Strick, and was made as a clear homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Richard Gere plays San Francisco-based psychiatrist Isaac Barr, who is drawn into a torrid affair with Heather (Kim Basinger), the sister of his current patient Diana (Uma Thurman). When Heather reveals to Barr that she is married to gangster Jimmy Evans (Eric Roberts), and wants out of the relationship, Isaac commits to helping her – but there is more to Heather than meets the eye, and before long Barr is drawn into a web of deceit and murder. Read more…

Academy Award Nominations 2021

February 8, 2022 Leave a comment

oscarstatuette The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) have announced the nominations for the 94th Academy Awards, honoring the best in film in 2021.

In the Best Original Score category, the nominees are:

  • NICHOLAS BRITELL for Don’t Look Up
  • GERMAINE FRANCO for Encanto
  • JONNY GREENWOOD for The Power of the Dog
  • ALBERTO IGLESIAS for Parallel Mothers
  • HANS ZIMMER for Dune

This is the third Oscar nomination for Britell, the first Oscar nomination for Franco – and the first for an American woman since Ann Ronell in 1945, the second Oscar nomination for Greenwood, the fourth Oscar nomination for Iglesias, and the 12th Oscar nomination for Zimmer, who previously won for The Lion King in 1995

In the Best Original Song category, the nominees are:

  • LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA for “Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto
  • VAN MORRISON for “Down to Joy” from Belfast
  • FINNEAS O’CONNELL and BILLIE EILISH for “No Time To Die” from No Time to Die
  • DARIUS ‘DIXSON’ SCOTT and BEYONCÉ KNOWLES-CARTER for “Be Alive” from King Richard
  • DIANE WARREN for “Somehow You Do” from Four Good Days

The winners of the 94th Academy Awards will be announced on March 27, 2022.

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JOHN WILLIAMS REVIEWS 1970-1974

February 8, 2022 Leave a comment

In this latest installment of the new irregular series looking at the early career of some iconic composers, and in recognition of his 90th birthday this week, here is our look at the first part of second decade in the career of John Williams, and all the scores he wrote from 1970 through 1974.

The 1970s was the decade which really established Williams as a major composer in Hollywood film music circles; he moved mostly away from the light jazz scores that typified a great deal of his work in the 1960s, he dropped the cheerful name ‘Johnny Williams’ and became the much more serious ‘John,’ and he formed many of the directorial relationships that would result in much of his mainstream success – notably with a young and ambitions and incredibly talented kid from Cincinnati named Steven Spielberg.

Not included here are the scores where Williams adapted music by other people: Fiddler on the Roof (1971), where Williams worked with music by Jerry Bock and for which he received his first Academy Award for Best Scoring: Adaptation and Original Song Score, and Tom Sawyer (1973), where Williams adapted music Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman, and for which Williams received an Academy Award nomination for Best Scoring: Original Song Score and Adaptation, and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Score. Read more…

CITY LIGHTS – Charles Chaplin

February 7, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Entering the 1920s Charlie Chaplin had become a global sensation, his career ascendent. In 1929 he conceived a new film, “City Lights”, a passion project in which he would produce, direct, write the screenplay, compose the score, and star. Chaplin was a perfectionist and it would take him 534 days of filming to realize his vision. He faced significant resistance from his studio United Artists who were not happy with his decision to eschew a talkie film, and instead stubbornly make another silent film, although one with a synchronous and original score. For Chaplin, his art and passion was pantomime, with his Tramp character beloved by the world and legend. He saw talkie films as a harbinger for the end of his art, and so his reaction was understandable. And so, he proceeded with his vision and a budget of $1.5 million dollars was provided. The cast included Chaplin as the Tramp, Virginia Cherrill as the blind Flower Girl, Florence Lee as the grandmother, Harry Myers as the eccentric millionaire, Al Ernest Garcia as the butler, and Hank Mann as the prizefighter. Read more…

BAFTA Nominations 2021

February 4, 2022 Leave a comment

baftaThe British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has announced the nominations for the 75th British Academy Film Awards, honoring the best in film in 2021.

In the Best Original Music category, which is named in memory of the film director Anthony Asquith, the nominees are:

  • NICHOLAS BRITELL for Don’t Look Up
  • ALEXANDRE DESPLAT for The French Dispatch
  • JONNY GREENWOOD for The Power of the Dog
  • DANIEL PEMBERTON for Being the Ricardos
  • HANS ZIMMER for Dune

This is the second BAFTA nomination for Britell, the 11th BAFTA nomination for Desplat (who won the award for “The King’s Speech” in 2011, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” in 2014, and “The Shape of Water” in 2017), the third BAFTA nomination for Greenwood, the first film nomination for Pemberton (he was nominated previously for video games), and the 10th BAFTA nomination for Zimmer.

The winners of the 75th BAFTA Awards will be announced on 13 March, 2021.

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