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CINEMA PARADISO – Ennio Morricone

November 26, 2018 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

As a young small town Sicilian boy, director Giuseppe Tornatore fell in love with the cinema where he would spend hours every day insatiably viewing films. With the advent of television and the VCR, many believed that the days of the town cinema were numbered. This film abounds with nostalgia as Tornatore explores his movie going memories and how they affected his life. Drawing from his own life experiences, he crafted a screenplay, which secured the financial backing of the French production company Les Films Ariane. A fine cast was assembled, which included; Philippe Noiret as Alfredo, Salvatore Cascio as Salvatore Di Vita (child), Marco Leonardo as Salvatore Di Vita (adolescent), Jacques Perrin as Salvatore Di Vita (adult), Agnese Nano as Elena Mendola (young), Leopoldo Trieste as Father Adelfio, Antonella Attili as Maria (young), Pupella Maggio as Maria (adult) and Isa Danieli as Ana. Salvatore Di Vita, aka Toto, is a precocious kid who falls in love with movies shown at his town’s theater, Cinema Paradiso. It comes to pass that he worms his way into the heart of projectionist Alfredo, who befriends him and takes him on as his apprentice. Over time Salvatore masters the projector and often runs it himself. So great is his love of movies that he buys a movie camera and begins making his own home movies. Tragedy strikes one night when the Cinema Paradiso catches fire and burns down, with Salvatore saving Alfredo’s life, but not before he is badly burned and blinded. Read more…

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THE MISSION – Ennio Morricone

November 19, 2018 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer David Putnam and director Roland Joffe were seeking to sustain the acclaim of their last collaboration, The Killing Fields (1984), and so recruited renowned screenwriter Robert Bolt to compose a compelling historical drama. The independent British production company Goldcrest Films financed the project, providing a generous budget, and a fine cast was assembled, which included Robert De Niro as Captain Rodrigo Mendoza, Jeremy Irons as Father Gabriel, Ray McAnally as Cardinal Altamirano, Aidan Quinn as Felipe Mendoza, Cherie Lunghi as Carlotta, Ronald Pickup as Don Hatar, Chuck Low as Don Cabeza and Liam Neeson as Father John Fielding. The film offers a classic morality play, which explores the tragic events surrounding the 1750 Treaty of Madrid. The Spanish and Portuguese are warring along the Brazil and Paraguayan border and the treaty ended the conflict by requiring Spain to cede territory south and east of the Rio Uruguay to Portugal. This would require the seven Jesuit missionaries to leave and place the Guarani inhabitants in peril as Portugal, unlike Spain, used slavery to man their plantations. The film opens in 1740 with Jesuit missionary Father Gabriel seeking to convert the Guarani to Catholicism. The opening scene of a Jesuit cast over the waterfall tied to a cross reveals the Guarani’s hostility to outsiders. He is joined by slaver Rodrigo Mendoza who seeks repentance following the murder of his brother, who he caught sleeping with his fiancée. Father Gabriel gains the trust of the Guarani through his oboe playing and they over time convert. Rodrigo finds new meaning to his life, abandons weapons, and commits to joining the priesthood. Read more…

THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY – Ennio Morricone

November 27, 2017 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The commercial success of the Spaghetti Westerns A Fistful of Dollars and For A Few More Dollars caught the eyes of studio executives at United Artists. They contacted Italian screenwriter Luciano Vincenzoni, offered him a contract, and expressed a desire to purchase film rights for the next installment. The Italian creative team of producer Alberto Grimaldi, director Sergio Leone and Vincenzoni met and agreed to collaborate. They proposed a story set during the American Civil War, where three rogues join in an uneasy alliance in search of buried treasure. United Artists agreed to the storyline and provided a generous budget of $1.2 million. Vincenzoni joined with Leone, Agenore Incrocci, and Furio Scarpelli to create the screenplay that was not without controversy, in that it eschewed the traditional Americana romanticism. It instead offered a potent social commentary on capitalism, greed, as well as the destructiveness and absurdity of war. Its heroes are less pure, less righteous and more morally ambiguous, where the clear lines between hero and villain are blurred. Read more…

ENNIO MORRICONE REVIEWS, 1966-1967

August 20, 2017 Leave a comment

In this second installment of my irregular new series looking at the early career of some iconic composers, we take a look at some more of the more obscure works written by the legendary Ennio Morricone. This group of reviews look at fifteen scores Morricone wrote in 1966 and 1967, including several outstanding jazz and pop pieces, war moves and historical drama, and more of his groundbreaking spaghetti western scores, one of which features one of the most iconic musical primal screams in cinema history! Read more…

ENNIO MORRICONE REVIEWS, 1961-1965

August 13, 2017 1 comment

In this first installment of a new irregular series looking at the early career of some iconic composers, we stroll down memory lane to the first works written by the legendary Ennio Morricone. Morricone had studied at the Conservatory of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome, where he specialized in trumpet performance and composition; then, during the late 1950s, Morricone orchestrated and arranged pop songs for the RCA record label, including some for artists such as Paul Anka, Chet Baker and Mina. While working for RCA Morricone also wrote theater music and classical pieces, and began ghostwriting for composers such as Armando Trovajoli and Mario Nascimbene, before making before making his credited film debut in 1961. These first reviews look at sixteen scores Morricone that wrote between 1961 and 1965, including one of his most groundbreaking spaghetti western scores. Read more…

THE UNTOUCHABLES – Ennio Morricone

June 15, 2017 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The colorful life of gangster Al Capone has captured the imagination of the American public for decades. He was the notorious crime boss of Chicago during the prohibition era in the late 1920s and early 1930s, and was beloved, despised, and feared in equal measure – many in Chicago’s working class neighborhoods saw him as a Robin Hood figure, helping the downtrodden of the city. Attitudes towards him changed in the aftermath of the brutal St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929, after which law enforcement officials became more intent on bringing him to justice. Brian De Palma’s 1987 film The Untouchables tells a dramatic version of this largely true story, as dogged federal agent Elliot Ness forms a team of equally determined investigators in an attempt to end Capone’s criminal activity once and for all. The film starred Kevin Costner as Ness, Robert De Niro as Capone, and Sean Connery as Ness’s world-weary ex-cop partner Jimmy Malone, a role which won him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Read more…

THE MISSION – Ennio Morricone

October 27, 2016 2 comments

themissionTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There are moments in film music history where you can listen to a score, and upon its conclusion sit back and be content in the knowledge that you have just experienced a genuine masterpiece. It doesn’t happen very often, because it has to be a perfect combination of everything that can possibly make a film score great. It has to fit the film, of course, carrying the story and enhancing the drama and elevating it to a point where the two seem inseparable, and where the film would be immeasurably diminished by it not being there. But then it also has to have all those things that make it excellent as pure music – everything from recurring themes that develop through the score, to orchestration, technique, and those intangibles of “beauty” and “memorability,” which of course are purely subjective, but nevertheless often affect a wide range of people in similar emotional ways. Ennio Morricone’s 1986 score for The Mission is, undoubtedly, one of those scores which ticks every box, a masterpiece on every conceivable level. Read more…