Posts Tagged ‘Alexandre Desplat’

THE IMITATION GAME – Alexandre Desplat

November 11, 2014 2 comments

imitationgameOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Alan Turing was a British mathematician who was highly influential in the development of computer science and artificial intelligence. During World War II, Turing worked for the British Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, and was responsible for creating ‘Christopher’, an electromechanical machine that cracked the codes of the German Enigma machine, and in turn enabled the Allies to defeat the Nazis in several crucial battles. Winston Churchill said that Turing made the single biggest contribution to the Allied victory in the war against Nazi Germany, and that his work shortened the war in Europe by as many as four years. The Imitation Game is the story of Turing’s life, and follows him through his work in WWII and beyond, where it is revealed that, in addition to unearthing German secrets, Turing had some secrets of his own. The film is directed by Danish director Morten Tyldum, stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, and has an original score by the ever-busy Alexandre Desplat, the fourth of his five scores written in 2014. Read more…

GODZILLA – Alexandre Desplat

May 24, 2014 2 comments

godzillaOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

American film makers have been trying to do justice to Godzilla ever since he first appeared in director Ishiro Honda’s classic Japanese monster movie in 1954; although Godzilla is considered to be a significant icon of Japanese culture, Honda was himself inspired to create the King of the Monsters by watching Schoedsack and Cooper’s King Kong, and as such he has his roots in classic Hollywood. There have been 28 official Godzilla films released in Japan, the most recent coming in 2004, but only two American movies (three, if you count Cloverfield): the ill-fated Roland Emmerich directed disaster epic from 1998, which was scored by David Arnold, and this one, which is significantly superior to its predecessor, but still fails to capture the character’s essence according to the purists. Read more…


March 26, 2014 2 comments

grandbudapesthotelOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The latest film from the polarizing hipster director Wes Anderson is The Grand Budapest Hotel, a slightly farcical comedy-drama set 100 years ago in the fictional country of Zubrowka – a place Anderson describes as “part Czech, part Hungarian, part Polish, part Russian, part German, and a little bit 1930’s movie-studio in Culver City”. Ralph Fiennes stars as Gustave H, a legendary concierge at the famous European hotel of the title, and Tony Revolori as Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. Following the death of a wealthy elderly female guest Gustave and Zero become embroiled in a plot concerning the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune. The film features an enormous supporting cast drawn from Anderson’s ever-increasing roster of repertory players – F. Murray Abraham, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, and Owen Wilson among them – and has an original score by composer Alexandre Desplat, working with Anderson for the third time.
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THE MONUMENTS MEN – Alexandre Desplat

February 14, 2014 2 comments

monumentsmenOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Monuments Men is a World War II action-drama-comedy, directed by George Clooney, based on the real-life escapades of a group of art history scholars who were assigned to find and protect the priceless artworks of central Europe, and stop it from falling into the hands of the Nazis. With an all-star supporting cast that includes Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Bill Murray, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban and Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville, the film certainly has pedigree, but many people have complained about the unusual tone the film adopts, veering from comedy to serious drama and back again, often within the same scene. The deliberate pacing and intentionally old-fashioned style of the film has also been criticized for being out of touch with modern audiences, but these were some of the reasons I felt the film succeeded: the film is less about moving from one action sequence to another and is more about the camaraderie between the men at the center of the story, and about the importance of the art they are tasked with protecting. Read more…

Best of 2013 in Film Music – Poland and Eastern Europe

February 2, 2014 1 comment

ambassadaAMBASSADA – Bartosz Chajdecki
Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Ambassada is a Polish science fiction comedy film written and directed by Juliusz Machulski, about a young couple who move into a new apartment building, only to find that the building’s elevator is actually a time machine; using the machine, the couple find themselves going back in time to the 1940s and coming face-to-face with none other than Adolf Hitler! Yes, it is a comedy – it stars Magdalena Grąziowska, Bartosz Porczyk and Robert Więckiewicz, and has a score by one of the young rising stars of Polish film music, Bartosz Chajdecki.

The score is an interesting mix of contemporary jazz and large-scale science fiction action, which sounds like it shouldn’t work at all, but actually does. The opening cue, “Kosmopolityczny-Wood” introduces the Cosmopolitan theme, a fun piece of jazz, with a bouncy trumpet line offset by an accordion, piano and stand-up bass, which introduces the main characters and their deft comedic natures. “Żydowski Szybki” brings a hint of Jewish-Polish folk music into the score with a whirligig dance for harpsichord and strings, while “Woln Spokój”, “Holly” and the flamboyant finale “Nalewki Zmontowane“ return later in the score to revisit the jazz flavors of the opening cue. Read more…

PHILOMENA – Alexandre Desplat

November 27, 2013 1 comment

philomenaOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

In 2009 former BBC journalist and British Labour party political advisor Martin Sixsmith wrote the non-fiction book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, about the forcible separation of a mother and child by the nuns of an Irish convent, and the subsequent attempts of the mother and child to contact one another. This book has now been adapted by director Stephen Frears and writer Steve Coogan into the film Philomena, which charts the odd-couple relationship between Sixsmith and Lee as they journey to the United States to try to track down her son, and provides an interesting and damning look at the topic of the forced adoptions practiced by the Roman Catholic Church in the 1950s. The film stars writer Coogan as Sixsmith, Dame Judi Dench as Philomena, and has an original score by Alexandre Desplat, who previously worked with director Frears on the films The Queen, Cheri and Tamara Drewe. Read more…

VENUS IN FUR – Alexandre Desplat

November 8, 2013 1 comment

venusinfurOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Venus in Fur, a French-Polish co-production, is Roman Polanski’s big-screen adaptation of David Ives’s play, an erotic comedy-drama about the unusual relationship that develops between a theater director and a needy, manipulative actress during the audition process for a production of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s classic story of sexuality, desire and masochism, Venus in Furs. The film, which stars Mathieu Almaric as the director and Emmanuelle Seigner as the actress, explores the shifts in power between the pair as the relationship between those creating the play begins to mirror the one between the characters in the story itself. Read more…

ZERO DARK THIRTY – Alexandre Desplat

January 24, 2013 5 comments

zerodarkthirtyOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Zero Dark Thirty is the seventh and final score of 2012 from the workaholic composer Alexandre Desplat, whose output this year has ranged from the lush and emotional Cloclo to the quirky Moonrise Kingdom, the sweeping and playful Rise of the Guardians, and the darkly dramatic Argo, for which he received his fifth Academy Award nomination. His work on Zero Dark Thirty, as one would expect, is most closely aligned with his work on Argo, making use of subtle Middle Eastern tones as part of its orchestral makeup, but its overall demeanor is less flashy and less crowd-pleasing than that of Argo, matching the tone and style taken by the film’s director, Kathryn Bigelow, in the movie itself.

I have some serious issues with Zero Dark Thirty as a movie, but I’ll get to those in a minute. The film tells the painstakingly detailed and (allegedly) true story of the way the United States military tracked down Osama Bin Laden, the Al Qaeda leader responsible for masterminding the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York in 2001, who was eventually killed by elite US special forces during a raid on a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan in May 2011. Read more…

ARGO – Alexandre Desplat

October 19, 2012 2 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979 saw 52 American diplomats being held for over a year by Iranian authorities after the American embassy in Tehran was stormed by students and military officials, in the wider context of the Iranian Revolution that ousted the pro-western Shah of Iran, and brought Ayatollah Khomeini to power. Most people know that the public crisis was eventually ended diplomatically by the outgoing President Jimmy Carter, but what people didn’t know – at least, until documents were declassified in the 1990s – is that six embassy staffers escaped from the building before it was taken by the revolutionaries, and spent months hiding at the Canadian Ambassador’s house until they were dramatically rescued by a CIA operative working with a Hollywood makeup artist. This hitherto-unknown story is the basis of Argo, the latest film from actor-director Ben Affleck.

Affleck himself stars as CIA special agent Tony Mendez who, in collaboration with his boss Jack O’Donnell (Bryan Cranston), Oscar-winning makeup artist John Chambers (John Goodman), and crotchety studio producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin), comes up with an outlandish plan Read more…

MOONRISE KINGDOM – Alexandre Desplat

July 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

It is becoming apparent to me that I just don’t get Wes Anderson. The writer-director of a series of quirky comedies with highly specific visual and narrative aesthetics, Anderson’s films – which have included Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and the animated Fantastic Mr. Fox – tend to polarize cinema audiences, who either connect with his wholly unique hipster sensibilities, or find them impenetrable and slightly pretentious. Unfortunately; I fall into the latter camp. His latest film, Moonrise Kingdom, is a similarly oddball comedy-drama about two teenagers falling in love on a New England island in the 1960s: nerdy orphan Sam (Jared Gilman), who is camping there with his scout troupe, and rebellious Suzy (Kara Hayward), who lives on the island with her parents. Sam and Suzy, having met briefly during the previous summer, conspire to run away together, sending the island’s adults into a lather as they frantically comb the island for the missing children. Read more…


August 15, 2011 9 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Fifteen years after J.K. Rowling first introduced the world to Harry Potter, the saga has finally ended. The interim has seen the publication of seven books and the release of eight films about the life and adventures of the eponymous boy wizard, culminating in this film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, the second installment of the series’ epic finale. It’s been a long journey for both Rowling and her teenage protagonist – the books have become some of the most successful literary works of the last 100 years, the films have grossed a combined $2.3 billion at the US box office alone – but at the end of it all, Harry Potter will likely remain one of the most beloved series of novels and films for many generations to come. Read more…

THE TREE OF LIFE – Alexandre Desplat

May 10, 2011 9 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Terrence Malick is a most unusual director. Unlike most of his contemporaries, he seems wholly unconcerned with narrative, plot, and incisive dialogue, and instead seems completely obsessed with visual beauty. He’s like a painter, but instead of using canvas, he uses film, and his subjects move and speak. His films are deep, intimate ruminations on life, love, nature, and the human condition, full of existential narration and long, lingering shots of Mother Nature at work. His latest film, The Tree of Life, is only the fifth theatrical film of his entire career, following on from Badlands in 1973, Days of Heaven in 1978, The Thin Red Line in 1998 and The New World in 2005. It stars Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain and Fiona Shaw, and follows the life of a twelve year old boy from American Midwest named Jack, whose world view is shaped both by his optimistic and idealistic mother, and by his pessimistic father, and who must make a choice on how to live his life in an ever-changing, confusing world. Read more…

THE KING’S SPEECH – Alexandre Desplat

December 14, 2010 5 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The United Kingdom suffered one of its worst constitutional crises in living memory in the early 1930s. Following the death of King George V, his eldest son David ascended to the throne as King Edward VIII, but his insistence on marrying Wallis Simpson – a commoner, a divorcee, and worst of all an American – brought criticism from the political and religious leaders of the time. Forced with a choice between his kingdom and the woman he loved, Edward chose the latter, leaving his younger brother Bertie to reluctantly take over as King George VI. However, suddenly becoming the monarch of over a third of the world’s population did not sit well with the new king, who was forced to deal with two issues at the beginning of his reign: firstly, the growing influence of German chancellor Adolf Hitler threatening peace in Europe, and secondly the King’s own terrible stutter, which often rendered him literally speechless on important occasions. To counteract the latter, the King sought out the help of an unconventional Australian speech therapist named Lionel Logue. Director Tom Hooper’s excellent film The King’s Speech tells the story of the unconventional friendship of the pair; it stars Colin Firth as George VI, Geoffrey Rush as Logue, and Helena Bonham-Carter as Queen Elizabeth, Guy Pearce as Edward, and Michael Gambon as the ailing George V. Read more…


October 28, 2010 10 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The conclusion of the Harry Potter saga is as much of a cinematic event as it was a literary one when J.K. Rowling’s eagerly-awaited seventh book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was released in July 2007 and broke a myriad of records for book sales. The success of the Harry Potter franchise is quite astonishing: it is reportedly responsible for almost single-handedly revitalizing the children’s literature market, brought fantasy fiction out of geekdom and into the mainstream, and of course made Rowling herself a gazillionaire, thanks not only to the book sales but also to the spin off merchandise, theme park rides, and of course the movies and soundtracks based on her work. Read more…

THE GHOST WRITER – Alexandre Desplat

February 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

It’s impossible to talk about The Ghost Writer without talking about Roman Polanski. The director of The Ghost Writer and other such excellent films as Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown, The Ninth Gate and The Pianist was arrested in Switzerland on 25-year old sexual abuse charges during post-production on this film, and has since become a divisive figure. Whether the scandal and scuttlebutt surrounding Polanski will affect The Ghost Writer’s reception remains to be seen, but the Pole has always been an excellent cinematic mind, and his films continue to impress. As a result of his incarceration, many of the film’s ‘finishing touches’ had to be made without him, including the recording of Alexandre Desplat’s original score for the film; thankfully, despite however you may feel about Polanski and his transgressions, Desplat’s score is yet another strong one. Read more…