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Posts Tagged ‘James Newton Howard’

RED SPARROW – James Newton Howard

March 6, 2018 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A cold war-style espionage thriller with a decidedly contemporary twist, Red Sparrow is a showcase of acting for Jennifer Lawrence. In it she plays Dominika Egorova, a prima ballerina with the Kirov in Moscow, dancing in order to provide for her sick mother. When an on-stage accident ends her performance career, and it becomes likely that her mother’s life-saving treatments will end, Dominika is recruited to a secret espionage organization within the Russian government that trains young men and women to be ‘sparrows’ – deep cover operatives highly skilled at physical and emotional manipulation, with an emphasis on sex. Before long, Dominika is sent to make contact with a CIA agent who has a source within the Russian government; her mission – to get close to the agent, and discover the identity of the mole. The film is directed by Francis Lawrence, who directed Jennifer in three Hunger Games movies, and is adapted from a popular novel by Jason Matthews; it co-stars Joel Edgerton, Jeremy Irons, Charlotte Rampling, and Matthias Schoenaerts, and has an original score by James Newton Howard. Read more…

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RUSSKIES – James Newton Howard

November 16, 2017 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of my favorite things about the Throwback Thirty series is the opportunity it gives me to take a look back at the very beginnings of certain composers’ careers, and examine how they started and where they came from. In 1987 James Newton Howard was still very new to the film scoring world. After studying at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, and at the University of Southern California, he started out as a session musician for various pop artists, which eventually led to him touring with Elton John as a keyboardist during the late 1970s and early 1980s. He arranged the strings for several of John’s most popular songs of the period, and subsequent collaborations with pop artists such as Cher, Bob Seger, Randy Newman, and Olivia Newton-John, led to him becoming one of the most sought-after arrangers in the music business. The film world started calling Howard’s name in 1985 when he was asked to score director Ken Finkleman’s comedy Head Office; he enjoyed some minor box office success in 1986 with the Goldie Hawn vehicle Wildcats, and the Burt Lancaster/Kirk Douglas comedy Tough Guys, but it was not until the end of 1987 that he would score a film that also had an accompanying score album released at the same time. Read more…

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM – James Newton Howard

November 19, 2016 3 comments

fantasticbeastsOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS PLOT SPOILERS. IF YOU HAVE NOT YET SEEN THE FILM, YOU MIGHT WANT TO CONSIDER WAITING UNTIL AFTER YOU HAVE DONE SO TO READ IT.

Back in 1997, in her book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, author J. K. Rowling made an offhand reference to “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” and its author Newt Scamander, when young Harry buys his textbooks prior to attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for the first time. Now, some 19 years later, we have the first spin-off story in the Harry Potter universe, which tells the life story of Newt Scamander, and how Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them came to be written. The year is 1926, and Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a magical zoologist, has travelled to New York as part of his work with the Ministry of Magic in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures; however, upon his arrival in the Big Apple, the shy and nervous Scamander runs into an American ‘nomaj’ (a non-magical person, what Americans call ‘muggles’), and contrives to accidentally release several creatures from out of his magical suitcase and into the city. As Scamander desperately tries to retrieve the creatures, he simultaneously becomes embroiled in several inter-twined plots at MACUSA, the American Ministry of Magic: one involving a mysterious force terrorizing the city, one concerning a rabble-rousing anti-Witch group, and – perhaps most seriously – the disappearance of the dark wizard Gellert Grindlewald. The film is directed by David Yates, who also directed the last four Harry Potter films, and co-stars Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, and Colin Farrell. Read more…

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY, PART I – James Newton Howard

November 29, 2014 11 comments

hungergamesmockingjay1Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The third movie in the massively popular Hunger Games franchise based on the novels by Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay is the first part of the epic finale to the story of Katniss Everdeen and her efforts to overthrow the cruel and corrupt government of Panem. It picks up immediately after the events of the second film, Catching Fire, and finds Katniss, having destroyed the hunger games dome built to stage the ‘quarter quell’, being rescued by the rebels and taken to District 13, the stronghold previously thought to be in ruins, but which is actually under the control of rebel leader Alma Coin. Katniss’s actions have instigated an uprising in the other districts, inspiring the ruthless President Snow to retaliate with sadistic military action; not only that, Snow has taken Katniss’s friend Peeta Mullark prisoner, and is using him to spread propaganda against Katniss. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, and Donald Sutherland, is directed by Francis Lawrence, and sees composer James Newton Howard returning for the third time. Read more…

MALEFICENT – James Newton Howard

June 10, 2014 2 comments

maleficentOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Walt Disney’s 1959 animated version of Charles Perrault’s classic 15th century fairy tale Sleeping Beauty is rightly considered a classic of children’s literature and cinema. In it, a beautiful princess is cursed by a wicked witch to prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into a deep, death-like sleep, from which she can only be awakened by true love’s kiss. It’s a timeless tale, the basis of many fables, but in Disney’s new film Maleficent things turn on their head: it tells essentially the same story, but from the point of view from the “evil witch”. In this version, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is not truly evil, but instead a fairy from an enchanted world known as The Moors, who was betrayed and mutilated by her human lover. Vowing revenge on those who harmed her and her kind, Maleficent does indeed curse Aurora (Elle Fanning), the daughter of King Stefan (Sharlto Copley), but immediately regrets her actions; with the help of her minion Diaval (Sam Riley), Maleficent tries to protect Aurora throughout her childhood, while Stefan’s forces attempt to invade and destroy The Moors. The visually sumptuous film was directed by Robert Stromberg (the Oscar winning production designer of Avatar), and features a dazzling score by composer James Newton Howard. Read more…

WYATT EARP – James Newton Howard

January 1, 2014 2 comments

wyattearpMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Kevin Costner’s original vision for a biopic on Wyatt Earp was a six-part TV mini series. Director Lawrence Kasdan, who had previously directed Costner in Silverado, convinced him that his story was best presented on the big screen. Costner trusted Kasdan and so gave him the reigns to bring forth his vision. Kasdan rewrote much of the Dan Gordon’s original screenplay and fashioned it into an epic American journey of a complex man, an anti-hero whose love of family and kin defined his life and kept him true as he struggled to find his destiny. Set in the years following the Civil War through the Alaskan gold rush, we see Earp in many guises; as a family man, outlaw, U.S. Marshall and finally a prospector. Western folklore reveals Earp to be one of the most iconic men of the old American West, a man who fully embodied its fierce independence and nobility, but also its cruelty, violence and brutality. For the film Kasdan assembled a stellar cast, which included Costner in the title role, Dennis Quaid (Doc Holliday) and Gene Hackman (Nicholas Earp). Regretfully an earlier release of “Tombstone”, a very similar film, diminished “Wyatt Earp’s” impact. The overly long and plodding pace of the film failed to resonate with the public, which viewed it as a bloated “copy cat”, that resulted in both a much-derided critical and commercial failure. Read more…

THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE – James Newton Howard

December 6, 2013 3 comments

hungergamescatchingfireOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Catching Fire is the second film based on the bestselling Hunger Games trilogy of novels by Suzanne Collins, following on from the smash hit Hunger Games movie last year. Jennifer Lawrence returns to the starring role as Katniss Everdeen, a young woman from a post-apocalyptic America who, along with her compatriot Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), survived their participation in the eponymous games – a gladiatorial-style combat tournament involving children from various impoverished ‘districts’, who fight to the death for the entertainment of the wealthy and decadent inhabitants of the Capital, organized as penance for a popular uprising generations previously. In Catching Fire, Katniss and Peeta have drawn the ire of the corrupt and sadistic President Snow (Donald Sutherland) for defying the Government and for possibly inciting a potential second uprising within the districts; in response, Snow orders a second, special games called the “quarter quell” in which former winners of the games must compete again, in a nightmarish new battle arena designed to look like the jungle. Read more…