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Posts Tagged ‘Film Score’

Under-the-Radar Round Up 2021, Part 2B

July 2, 2021 Leave a comment

The new year is already half way done and, as the world of mainstream blockbuster cinema and film music continues to recover from the COVID-19 Coronavirus, we must again look to smaller international features not as reliant on massive theatrical releases to discover the best new soundtracks. As such I am very pleased to present the second installment (for this calendar year) in my ongoing series of articles looking at the best “under the radar” scores from around the world.

The five titles included here are heavily based around love and romance, and include a WWII-era drama from the Czech Republic, a Spanish period drama television series set in early 18th-century Madrid, a tragic teenage romance from the Philippines, a biopic from Colombia about a son remembering his murdered father, and another Ramadan series from Egypt, this time a family drama about parents trying to make a better life for their unborn child. Read more…

THE ROCKETEER – James Horner

July 1, 2021 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Rocketeer is an early entry into the annals of Disney comic book action movies, and is based on a character created by Dave Stevens for Pacific Comics in 1982. The film is set in Los Angeles in 1938 and stars Billy Campbell as Cliff Secord, a stunt pilot working for Howard Hughes in the early years of Hollywood. A pair of mafia gangsters steal a prototype jetpack from Hughes, and events lead to the jetpack coming into Secord’s possession; seeing a chance to further his career, Secord re-invents himself as the high-flying Rocketeer, and he wows the crowds at a local airshow, but his antics bring him to the attention of both the police and the FBI, and get him mixed up with the sinister forces who arranged for the initial theft, and who have plans for the jet pack that stretch way beyond Hollywood. The film was directed by Joe Johnston, and has a wonderful supporting cast that includes Alan Arkin as Cliff’s gruff friend Peevy, Jennifer Connelly as Cliff’s sensationally sexy nightclub singer/actress girlfriend Jenny, Terry O’Quinn as Howard Hughes, and Timothy Dalton as the devilishly handsome matinee idol actor Neville Sinclair, to whom there is more than meets the eye. The whole movie is awash in stylish art-deco production design that glamorizes the Hollywood of the 1930s, and is capped off by a sensational score from James Horner. Read more…

SPIRIT UNTAMED – Amie Doherty

June 29, 2021 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The 2002 animated film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron has enjoyed a surprising and popular longevity on the small screen in the years since its release – it spinoffs have included an 8-season computer-animated television series, Spirit Riding Free, which premiered on Netflix in 2017 (shout out to my friend, Robert Taylor, who wrote a great deal of it), plus a short-form series called Pony Tales, a spin-off series titled Riding Academy, and two television specials, including a Christmas-themed one released in 2019. Spirit Riding Free introduced a new protagonist to the story, a young girl named Lucky Prescott, who moves from the city to a frontier town, and meets and bonds with a new horse, also named ‘Spirit,’ an apparent descendent of the horse from the original film. In the series Lucky embarks on a series of adventures with Spirit and her new horse-girl friends, Pru and Abigail; this new movie, entitled Spirit Untamed, re-tells the story of how Lucky and Spirit meet on the big-screen, and specifically how Lucky and her friends save Spirit from the clutches of an evil horse wrangler, while simultaneously exploring Lucky’s family history. The film is directed by Elaine Bogan, and has a voice cast featuring Isabela Merced, Marsai Martin, McKenna Grace, Eiza González, Walton Goggins, Julianne Moore, and Jake Gyllenhaal. Read more…

SALAMMBÔ – Florent Schmitt

June 28, 2021 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1924 French film producer Louis Aubert and director Pierre Maradon were researching a story for their next film. They were greatly impressed by the historical novel Salammbô by Gustave Flaubert and decided to bring its sprawling story to the big screen. Arnold Pressburger was given the reins to produce the film with Aubert’s production company Gaumont-Franco Film-Aubert funding the project. Gustave Flaubert was hired to adapt his novel and write the screenplay. Maradon was tasked with directing and selected a cast including Jean de Balzac as Salammbô, Rolla Norman as Mâtho, as Victor Vina as Hamilcar Barca, Raphaël Lievin as Havas, Henri Baudin as Spendius, and Adolf Weisse as Scharabaim. Read more…

THE MITCHELLS VS. THE MACHINES – Mark Mothersbaugh

June 25, 2021 Leave a comment

Original Review by Christopher Garner

The Mitchells vs the Machines is a Sony Animation production that was picked up by Netflix after its theatrical release was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic. It follows the dysfunctional Mitchell family (quirky parents Rick and Linda, and misfit children Katie and Aaron) on a road trip from their home in Michigan to California to take Katie to film school, where she’s sure she’ll finally get to be with “her people” for the first time in her life. The cross-country trip is Rick’s misguided attempt to fix his fracturing relationship with Katie. Their trip is interrupted by a robot apocalypse, however, and it then falls on the Mitchells to save the world. The film is the directorial debut of Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe, who also wrote the screenplay, and is produced by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who are no strangers to screwball animations (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, The Lego Movie). The main characters are voiced by Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, and Rianda himself. The film has been a critical and commercial success (as far as commercial success can be measured on a streaming service). It is well-made and its family focus will resonate with most viewers. I found myself moved by it several times, despite its near-constant silliness. Read more…

BRIGHT ANGEL – Christopher Young

June 24, 2021 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A thoughtful, contemplative road movie with a neo-western vibe, Bright Angel was directed by Michael Field, with a screenplay adapted from an acclaimed short story by novelist Richard Ford. The film stars Dermot Mulroney as George, a disaffected teenager from Montana whose mental health and grip on sanity is deteriorating due to the constant fights between his parents. Running away from home and hitting the road, he meets a quirky fellow runaway from Wyoming named Lucy (Lili Taylor), who is hitchhiking south to Arizona and intends to help her brother get out of jail. George agrees to help her, and soon the unlikely pair are traversing the American west, and attempting to find meaning in the darkness of their lives. The film co-stars Sam Shepard, Valerie Perrine, and Bill Pullman, and has a terrific, underrated score by Christopher Young. Read more…

WISH DRAGON – Philip Klein

June 22, 2021 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Wish Dragon is a Chinese-made animated film, written and directed by American filmmaker Chris Appelhans. It’s essentially a re-working of the classic Aladdin story, transposed from the Middle East to China, and featuring a dragon rather than a genie. The film follows the adventures of Din, a working-class college student from Shanghai, who dreams of reuniting with his childhood friend Li Na, who now lives a privileged life in a different city with her wealthy family. Din’s luck changes when he comes into possession of a magic teapot, out of which emerges a bright pink ‘wish dragon’ named Long, a powerful creature capable of granting wishes to its master. So begins an adventure, as Din makes wishes intended to help him rekindle his romance with Li Na, while also evading a gang of ‘goons’ sent to steal the teapot from him by a mysterious and shadowy figure. The film features the voices of Jimmy Wong, John Cho, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, and Constance Wu, and was a popular success in Chinese cinemas when it opened there back in January. It has now finally hit American markets, premiering on Netflix to general acclaim, with special praise given to the film’s colorful animation style. Read more…

RAINTREE COUNTY – Johnny Green

June 21, 2021 1 comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

As part of its new talent development program, MGM Studios awarded its distinguished Novel Award to author Ross Lockridge Jr. for his 1947 novel Raintree County. So impressed were they with the book, that they soon purchased the film rights for $150,000. Production was delayed by unforeseen issues, including the suicide of Lockridge and his very costly film rights demands, which delayed the project for eight years. Finally in 1955, David Lewis was tasked with producing the film with a budget of $5.5 million. Edward Dmytryk was selected to direct, and Millard Kaufman was hired to adapt Lockridge’s novel and write the screenplay. A stellar cast was hired with Montgomery Clift as John Witckliff Shawnessey, Elizabeth Taylor as Susanna Drake, Eva Marie Saint and Nell Gaither, Lee Marvin as Orville ‘Flash’ Perkins, Nigel Patrick as Professor Jerusalem Webster Stiles, Rod Taylor as Garwood B. Jones, and Agnes Moorehead as Ellen Shawnessey. Read more…

CITY SLICKERS – Marc Shaiman

June 17, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

City Slickers is a hilarious fish-out-of-water comedy directed by Ron Underwood, written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel. The film stars Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern, and Bruno Kirby as Mitch, Phil, and Ed, three friends who constantly seek out new and increasingly dangerous ‘weekend experiences’ as a distraction from their boring jobs, unsatisfactory marriages, and impending midlife crises. After a trip to Spain to take part in the ‘running of the bulls’ turns into a disaster, the trio attempt something closer to home: a two-week cattle drive vacation, riding horses and being “dude cowboys” across the American west. After meeting up with the other members of the group and heading out into the big country, the trio quickly find themselves very much out of their depth, raising the ire and disdain of the grizzled trail boss Curly (Jack Palance). However, an unexpected tragedy forces the three of them to put aside their fears and neuroses and work together to save themselves, the cattle, and their fellow ‘city slickers’. The film co-starred Patricia Wettig, Helen Slater, and Noble Willingham, and was a popular success both with critics and audiences, culminating in an unexpected Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Palance at the age of 73 – who celebrated by doing one-armed push-ups on the Academy stage! Read more…

A QUIET PLACE PART II – Marco Beltrami

June 15, 2021 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the most high-profile cinematic casualties of the coronavirus shutdown was A Quiet Place Part II, which had had its world premiere and was all set to play in theaters in March 2020, before everything went away and the pandemic closed down the movies. Now, 14 months later, the film has finally been released, to a great deal of critical acclaim and encouraging box office figures. The film is a direct sequel to the 2018 original, and again stars Emily Blunt as Evelyn, who is trying to survive in the aftermath of an alien invasion. The vicious aliens – which are blind but possess incredibly acute hearing – killed Evelyn’s husband in the first film, but her deaf daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) discovered a certain frequency that briefly incapacitate the aliens long enough for them to be killed. Now, Evelyn and her three children venture out into the world to tell people about Regan’s discovery in the hope that they can defeat the aliens, but encounter a number of equally dangerous human threats along the way. The film co-stars Noah Jupe, Cillian Murphy, and Djimon Hounsou, and is directed by John Krasinski, who also appears in flashbacks as Evelyn’s late husband. Read more…

LIEUTENANT KIJÉ – Sergei Prokofiev

June 14, 2021 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1932 the People’s Commissariat for Education approved director Aleksandr Faintsimmer’s latest request to proceed with a film based on screenwriter Yuri Tynyanov’s story of Lieutenant Kijé. The Commissariat believed that its barbed, sardonic humor of Russia’s former Tsar Paul I would denigrate the idiocy and incompetence of the Tsars, while reinforcing the superiority of the new socialist order. The Belgoskino production company located in Belarus would produce the film, and Arkadi Koltsaty was hired to manage the cinematography. A fine cast was assembled which included Mikhail Yanshin as Tsar Pavel I, Boris Gorin-Goryainov as Count von Pahlen, Nina Shaternikova as Princess Gagagrina, and Erast Garin as Adjudant Kobulov. Read more…

SOAPDISH – Alan Silvestri

June 10, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A hilarious send-up of American daytime soap operas, Soapdish is directed by Michael Hoffman and features an all-star ensemble cast including Sally Field, Kevin Kline, Robert Downey Jr., Cathy Moriarty, Whoopi Goldberg, Carrie Fisher, and Elisabeth Shue. The film is set in the world of a fictional soap opera – The Sun Also Sets – and follows the various shenanigans both on-set and behind the scenes, involving professional rivalries and former love interests, familial drama, raging egos within the cast, and desperate attempts by the show’s producers to revive their flagging ratings by coming up with new storylines, each one more sensational and implausible than the last. It’s a fun, fast-paced, knowing parody of the genre, but unfortunately it wasn’t a hit with either critics or audiences, who presumably would rather stay home watch the real thing. Read more…

THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY – Dimitri Tiomkin

June 7, 2021 1 comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1952 John Wayne partnered with producer Robert Fellows to create Wayne-Fellows Productions. Director William Wellman pitched an aviation suspense drama titled “The High and the Mighty” written by Ernest Gann to Wayne who immediately purchased the film rights and Gann’s services writing the screenplay for $55,000. Wellman was tasked with directing and provided a budget of $1.47 million. A cast was assembled with Spenser Tracy offered the lead role, but he withdrew just before filming unwilling to suffer Wellman’s authoritarianism. As such, Wayne stepped in and took the role of First Officer Dan Roman to save the project. Today his performance is believed by critics to be one of the finest of his career. Joining him were; Claire Trevor as May Holst, Laraine Day as Lydia Rice, Robert Stack as Captain John Sullivan, Jan Sterling as Sally McKee and Sidney Blackmer as Humphrey Agnew. Read more…

HUDSON HAWK – Michael Kamen and Robert Kraft

June 3, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Hudson Hawk was an action-comedy vehicle for a post-Die Hard Bruce Willis, directed by Michael Lehmann. Willis plays Eddie Hawkins, a master thief who, on the day of his parole from prison, suddenly finds himself blackmailed into committing a series of elaborate heists. The complicated plot involves the Italian Mafia, an evil international conglomerate, the artwork of Leonardo da Vinci, and a machine that turns lead into gold, but it’s really just an excuse for Willis and his co-star Danny Aiello to engage in various globe-trotting escapades of comic tomfoolery. The film co-stars Andie MacDowell, James Coburn, and Richard E. Grant, and unfortunately was an enormous box-office flop; audiences seemingly couldn’t reconcile Willis’s tough guy persona with the film’s slapstick comedy action, bizarre sound effects, and surreal humor. Read more…

Under-the-Radar Round Up 2021, Part 2A

June 1, 2021 Leave a comment

Every year, during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan, television stations across the Middle East and North Africa broadcast lavishly-produced, high profile drama and comedy series. The cream of the Arabic-speaking world is involved in their creation – directors, writers, actors, and composers – and the resulting shows play to audiences of millions across the region. Many of the best series come from Egypt, and this article takes a look at the music from three of the most high profile Egyptian-made Ramadan dramas of 2021, featuring music by composers Khaled Hammad and Mohamed Elashey. Also included in this article as a bonus is a review of the Pharoahs’ Golden Parade, a wondrous extravaganza of music, dance, and Egyptian culture featuring music by composer Hisham Nazih, written for a special live TV event back in April. Read more…