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Posts Tagged ‘James Newton Howard’

DEFIANCE – James Newton Howard

December 26, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the less well-known stories of heroism in World War 2 is that of the Bielski Partisans, a family of Jewish brothers who, following the invasion of Poland by the Nazis in 1941, managed to flee the advancing troops and make their way to the inhospitable forests of what is now western Belarus. Over the course of the next two years, the Bielski brothers rescued and sheltered more than 1,200 Polish Jews from the Nazis, often fighting in hand-to-hand skirmishes alongside Soviet forces, and survived the war, and in doing so made one of the most significant contributions to the Jewish cause in the Holocaust in terms of lives saved. Director Edward Zwick’s acclaimed film Defiance stars Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, and Jamie Bell as the Bielski brothers, and has an emotional, powerful, Oscar-nominated score by composer James Newton Howard. Read more…

THE DARK KNIGHT – Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard

July 18, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Dark Knight, the second film in the new rebooted Batman franchise, is a truly great motion picture. Since Christopher Nolan picked up the twitching remnants of the series from out of the hands of Joel Schumacher in 2005’s Batman Begins, the character has again become a cinematic force, free of the gaudy neon excesses of Batman & Robin, and back to the dark, gritty, tortured origins people like Bob Kane and Frank Miller envisaged.

Christian Bale again returns as the caped crusader, who this time has to save Gotham from a villainous new adversary: the Joker (a superb Heath Ledger), whose anarchic reign of terror and seemingly mindless spates of violence is causing chaos in the city. Read more…

THE HAPPENING – James Newton Howard

June 13, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

It’s unfortunate that the former wunderkind M. Night Shyamalan’s career seems to be on a downward spiral. The Happening is probably his worst film yet – a bizarre, disconnected ‘thriller’ starring Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo and Betty Buckley about the onset and effects of a mysterious air-borne virus which seems to make people want to commit suicide. Much was made of the fact that The Happening was Shyamalan’s first R-r ated film, when in reality the film was little more than a series of peculiar sequences in which people try to outrun the wind while talking in an oddly unrealistic manner, and occasionally suffering gruesome deaths. Read more…

THE GREAT DEBATERS – James Newton Howard and Peter Golub

December 28, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Denzel Washington’s second feature film as director, The Great Debaters is a worthy and noble film based on the true story of an all-black college debating team fighting for recognition and equality. Washington himself stars as Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College Texas in 1935 who inspired his students to form the school’s first debate team, which went on to challenge the elite, wealthy and all-white Harvard team in the national championship. Films like these challenged institutional racism in the 1950s and 1960s, but are still just as powerful today: it’s also probably no coincidence that Washington seems to be channeling both Sidney Poitier and Brock Peters on the score album’s CD cover. Read more…

THE WATER HORSE: LEGEND OF THE DEEP – James Newton Howard

December 28, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A delightful little fantasy with a Celtic lilt, The Water Horse is a children’s family film directed by Jay Russell. Set in Scotland, it follows the adventures of a little boy named Angus MacMorrow (Alex Etel), who befriends a rather unusual animal: an amphibious ‘water horse’, which causes much mischief and mayhem in the MacMorrow household, but also eventually becomes the source of a much-discussed legend – the Loch Ness monster. The film stars Emily Watson, Ben Chaplin, Brian Cox and David Morrissey in the adult roles, and features a pleasant score from James Newton Howard. Read more…

CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR – James Newton Howard

December 21, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A political comedy-drama from director Mike Nichols and writer Aaron Sorkin, Charlie Wilson’s War tells the outrageously true story of former Texas congressman Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks), a minor political player in Ronald Reagan’s administration who, through a series of contrived circumstances, finds himself part of a covert plot to supply the Afghan mujahaddin freedom fighters with the weapons and support to defeat the Soviet Union. The film also stars Julia Roberts as conservative fundraiser and lobbyist Joanne Herring, Philip Seymour Hoffman as shady CIA agent Gust Avrakotos, and Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Om Puri and Ned Beatty in smaller roles; the film was a critical success, but never really took flight with audiences, and ended up being one of the least-lucrative box office films of Tom Hanks’s career. Read more…

I AM LEGEND – James Newton Howard

December 14, 2007 1 comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

Dear reader, I would like to ask you a question. Which sort of film frustrates you more: a film that is bad from start to finish, or a good film that features some bad moments? I find myself picking the latter. I can sit through a stupid movie and accept it for what it is… it’s often a painless and clinical experience for me. However, when a movie is as frequently good as “I Am Legend” is, it really hurts me to see it turn sour. “I Am Legend” is often such a thoughtful popcorn movie that you might as well not even bring the popcorn. It’s a big-budget extravaganza that spends most of it’s time paying attention to more important things than explosions. Most of it’s time. Read more…

MICHAEL CLAYTON – James Newton Howard

October 5, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Of all the genres in which a film composer may find himself employed, the political drama may be the most difficult to make interesting. Whereas in other films you have a great action scene to write for, or a majestic landscape shot to inspire a great theme, or a passionate relationship which requires a lyrical love theme, political dramas tend to comprise of lots of scenes of people doing nothing more exciting than talking to each other. In those circumstances, it’s very difficult to do anything other than simply underpin the dialogue without being unobtrusive – you carefully hint at the underlying drama behind the scene, add a sense of menace or levity as required, but beyond that you stay firmly in the background. Unfortunately, soundtrack CDs of scores like that tend not to be very interesting. Such is the case with Michael Clayton. Read more…

THE LOOKOUT – James Newton Howard

March 30, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

I’m always pleased when a talented new director hits the Hollywood scene, and I’d like to welcome Scott Frank to the club of “people whose movies I will pay to see even if I don’t have to.” Frank has been writing quality screenplays for years, his credits include “Get Shorty”, “Dead Again”, “Out of Sight”, and “Minority Report”. He has moved into the next phase of his career with “The Lookout”, trying his hand at directing for the first time. He demonstrates considerable skills in this area, creating a very compelling cinematic atmosphere. The film is of the crime genre, something Frank is quite familiar with, and at first it may seems as if we’re about to view a re-hash of a dozen other crime movies, among them such titles as “Out of Sight” and “Memento”. Before long, we realize that we are actually seeing an original creation, not a mere rehash of Frank’s other movies, or anyone else’s for that matter. Read more…

LADY IN THE WATER – James Newton Howard

July 21, 2006 2 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The critics have not been kind to N. Night Shyamalan of late. Ever since he burst onto the scene in 1999 with The Sixth Sense and was immediately hailed as the new wunderkind in Hollywood, the Indian-American writer/director has come under increasing fire for his subsequent projects, many of which were criticised for tricking the audience and relying on ‘last minute twist’ gimmicks. His seventh film as director, Lady in the Water, has come in for the harshest criticism of all; Shyamalan has been accused of everything from narcissism to self-indulgence, having cast himself in a significant pivotal role, and freely admitting that the entire story was cooked up from a bedtime story he made up for his children. Needless to say, I personally think it’s his best film since The Sixth Sense. Read more…

KING KONG – James Newton Howard

December 16, 2005 1 comment

kingkongOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

There was much controversy surrounding Peter Jackson’s new version of King Kong from the get-go. Initially, there was surprise that the Oscar-winning director would choose this film as his follow up to the massively successful Lord of the Rings trilogy. Then, there were stories of unrest amongst the cast and crew, the need for re-shoots, and the film not playing well with test audiences. Finally, almost as a final insult, original composer Howard Shore had his score rejected at the eleventh hour, officially as a result of “differing creative aspirations”. This left new composer James Newton Howard with less than six weeks to write a replacement score. Many in the industry were worried as to whether Newton Howard could pull it off – but the truth of the matter is that composers often write their best music when under enormous pressure, and King Kong is very much an example of that. The score is, in my opinion, a qualified success. Read more…

BATMAN BEGINS – Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard

June 17, 2005 Leave a comment

batmanbeginsOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The general consensus about the fifth modern Batman movie, Batman Begins, is that the franchise has finally been revitalised. Personally, I always considered Joel Schumacher, the director of Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, to have completely undermined the effectiveness of the series, shattering the feelings of gothic grandeur Tim Burton initiated and replacing it with gaudy, neon-lit overkill. In the hands of director Christopher Nolan – whose previous films include the excellent thrillers Memento and Insomnia – Batman Begins is a more introspective film that tempers its large-scale action scenes with a thoughtful, serious edge that marks, for me at least, a step in the right direction. Read more…

THE INTERPRETER – James Newton Howard

April 22, 2005 Leave a comment

theinterpreterOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The international profile of James Newton Howard has arguably never been greater, following his various successes in recent years – The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and the Oscar-nominated The Village amongst them. He is now at a stage in his career where he can pick and choose projects from the most high-profile movie-makers in Hollywood: such is the case with The Interpreter, the latest political thriller from director Sydney Pollack, who in the past has helmed such classic films as Three Days of the Condor and The Firm. Read more…

THE VILLAGE – James Newton Howard

July 30, 2004 Leave a comment

thevillageOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

With the exception of The Sixth Sense, which was brilliant on all fronts, I have never been that fond of M. Night Shyamalan’s slow-moving thrillers, or of the scores his regular composer James Newton Howard wrote for them. Unbreakable was sub-par, and Signs was a fairly good film but I was one of the few who did not connect with the score. Shyamalan’s fourth and latest film is The Village, a mysterious tale set in Covington, a hamlet in 19th century Pennsylvania. Creatures dwell in the woods near the village, and an unspoken truce has existed between the humans and the creatures for decades – essentially, we won’t disturb you, if you don’t disturb us. However, things change for the worse when young Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix)  ventures beyond the boundaries and into the domain of ‘Those We Don’t Speak Of’ and incites their wrath. With a cast that includes Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt and Adrien Brody, the film has the right credentials to be a success, while the score is a rarity in that, already, it is by far the best for a Shyamalan film to date. Read more…

THE EMPEROR’S CLUB – James Newton Howard

November 22, 2002 Leave a comment

emperorsclubOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Movies about inspirational teachers, while not exactly ten-a-penny, are certainly genre mainstays, with a cinematic language of their own. Robin Williams played one in Dead Poets Society, Richard Dreyfuss played one in Mr Holland’s Opus, and now Kevin Kline joins their league with his performance in director Michael Hoffman’s The Emperor’s Club as William Hundert, a enthusiastic, well-respected, if a little stuffy professor at a boy’s school in 1972. All is well, and Hundert is happy in his work, until a disruptive force arrives in the shape of young Sedgewick Bell (newcomer Emile Hirsch), who immediately throws the status quo into disarray. As Hundert and Bell lock horns, deep moral and ethical questions raise their heads, leading to a confrontation, the repercussions of which could last a lifetime… Read more…