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Best Scores of 2017 – Spain

January 15, 2018 1 comment

The fifth installment in my annual series of articles looking at the best “under the radar” scores from around the world sees us in one of my favorite film music countries, Spain. I have long been a vocal promoter Spanish film music which, over last ten years or so, has become a soundtrack powerhouse filled with composers who – in terms of the number of excellent scores per film – are probably writing the highest quality film music in the world. 2017 was no exception, with dozens of excellent scores emerging from the country during the calendar year. This article contains the scores which, in my opinion, are the eight best, which encompass both film and television, span multiple genres, and are written both by familiar favorites and exciting newcomers. Read more…

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PHANTOM THREAD – Jonny Greenwood

January 13, 2018 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Phantom Thread is a period romantic drama film written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Set in England in the 1950s, it stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Reynolds Woodcock, a fashion designer and exquisite dressmaker, who runs a high-end haute couture business with his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville), and whose regular clients include the cream of European royalty. Reynolds is brilliant, an artist of tremendous skill and taste, but is also neurotic, difficult, irritable, and unhealthily obsessed with his late mother; he also frequently embarks on fiery relationships with women that fizzle out as soon as he gets bored, upon which he begins treating them with casual disdain. One day Reynolds meets Alma (Vicky Krieps), a shy waitress, to whom he is unexpectedly attracted. Before long Reynolds has moved Alma into his house in London, and she quickly becomes his muse, challenging him, confounding him, but also inspiring greatness in his work. However, their relationship is tempestuous, and before long it is heading down an unexpectedly dark path which may have serious repercussions for everyone involved. Read more…

DOWNSIZING – Rolfe Kent

January 10, 2018 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Downsizing is the latest film from director Alexander Payne. It has a fascinating premise; in a research lab in Norway a team of scientists led by Dr. Jørgen Asbjørnsen (Rolf Lassgård) finds a way to shrink a human being from full size, down to about five inches tall – perfectly safe, no side effects, but irreversible – as a way to halt humanity’s over-consumption of the planet’s natural resources . Within a decade the new technology – known as ‘downsizing’ – has become incredibly popular, with hundreds of thousands of people undergoing the procedure and moving to brand new, specially built communities for small people, which offer every luxury imaginable. Into this world comes Paul Safranek (Matt Damon), who agrees to undergo the downsizing procedure with his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) as a way to escape from their dull life in the real world. However, before long, Paul finds that the ‘small world’ has its own set of problems, and after he meets a Serbian playboy businessman (Christophe Waltz) and a former Vietnamese political activitist (Hong Chau), his life changes in more ways than he could have ever anticipated. Read more…

Best Scores of 2017 – France, Part II

January 8, 2018 1 comment

The fourth installment in my annual series of articles looking at the best “under the radar” scores from around the world sees us back in France, with a look at a wonderful octet of scores from films made in one of the world’s great cinematic nations. This set of scores ranges across every genre imaginable, and includes one by a controversial double Oscar-winner, two by beloved staples of classic French cinema, and two by one of the most impressive newcomers to emerge in 2017. Read more…

THE POST – John Williams

January 2, 2018 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In 1971 the Washington Post was still a comparatively small-scale regional newspaper, lagging behind such behemoths as the New York Times in terms of prestige and influence. That all changed when the Post’s hard boiled news editor Ben Bradlee found himself in possession of what became known as The Pentagon Papers: a leaked classified report which proved that the US government had lied to the American people about the scope of its involvement in the Vietnam War, and that multiple US presidents were involved in the cover-up. Director Steven Spielberg’s film The Post tells the story of how the newspaper came into possession of the Papers, and the subsequent protracted legal and ethical battles that ensued over whether or not to publish; it stars Tom Hanks as Bradlee, Meryl Streep as the Post’s owner Kay Graham, and has a stellar supporting cast including Bob Odenkirk, Bruce Greenwood, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, Matthew Rhys, Carrie Coon, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Sarah Paulson. Read more…

Best Scores of 2017 – United Kingdom, Part II

December 31, 2017 Leave a comment

The third installment in my annual series of articles looking at the best “under the radar” scores from around the world returns to the United Kingdom, with a look at a half dozen or so more outstanding scores from films made in Britain. This set of scores from comprises comedies, dramas, and even a horror movie, and includes one by an Oscar-winner, one by a well-loved multiple Oscar nominee, and one by one of the most impressive newcomers to emerge in 2017. Read more…

DARKEST HOUR – Dario Marianelli

December 22, 2017 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There are few twentieth century political and military leaders as respected and admired as Sir Winston Churchill. An army officer, Nobel prize winning writer, and artist, he served two terms as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, from 1940 to 1945, and again from 1951 to 1955. He, along with his comrades Josef Stalin and Franklin Roosevelt, led the Allies to victory in World War II, and in so doing became one of the most well-known and recognizable figures in the world, with his iconic hat, jowls, and cigar. As an orator, he was patriotic and inspirational, and several of his most famous speeches – “we shall fight them on the beaches,” “never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few” – are legendary. But he was also a complex, conflicted man, who failed to be as effective a governor in peacetime as he was in war. He has been portrayed on film many times over the years, but the performance given by actor Gary Oldman in director Joe Wright’s film Darkest Hour, may be the most acclaimed to date. Read more…