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Posts Tagged ‘Mark Isham’

REVERSAL OF FORTUNE – Mark Isham

September 10, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

For quite a lot of the summer of 1990, the movie Reversal of Fortune was a hot topic of conversation. It tells the true story of European aristocrat Claus von Bülow, who in 1982 was arrested, tried, and convicted for the attempted murder of his wife, Sunny von Bülow, who went into a coma after an apparent insulin overdose and subsequently fell into a persistent vegetative state. Claus – who had a haughty and arrogant demeanor, and was estranged from Sunny – maintained his innocence, and launched an appeal, hiring Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz to prepare his defense. Despite being initially convinced of Claus’s guilt, Dershowitz begins to find evidence that points to inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case, which could actually prove his client’s innocence. The popularity of the film led to a great deal of new media focus on the case, as well as a number of ‘did-he-or-didn’t-he’ articles in the press, and water cooler talk about Claus and his life. The film was written by Nicholas Kazan, adapting Dershowitz’s own book about the case, and was directed by Barbet Schroeder. It starred Jeremy Irons as Claus, Glenn Close as Sunny, and Ron Silver as Dershowitz, and was nominated for three Academy Awards, with Irons taking home the Oscar for Best Actor. Read more…

THE CONJURING – Joseph Bishara

July 25, 2013 4 comments

theconjuringOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Conjuring is the latest in a series of high profile ‘demonic possession’ movies, following on from such recent successful theatrical efforts as The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Devil Inside, The Possession, and the Last Exorcism series. Based on the supposedly true experiences of two paranormal investigators from the 1970s, the film stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga and Ed and Lorraine Warren, who are called to help a married couple, Carolyn and Roger Perron (Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston), and their daughters, who have recently moved into an old farmhouse in rural Rhode Island, and who have since been terrorized by a malevolent spirit who appears in the form of an old woman. The film is directed by James Wan, who directed the first (and best) Saw movie, and has opened to generally favorable reviews and good box office returns. Read more…

42 – Mark Isham

April 26, 2013 Leave a comment

42Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Growing up in England, you don’t really get to know much about the history of baseball. Obviously, we know that the sport exists (even though it is nothing more than fancy rounders!), and having lived in the United States for as long as I have now, I can now throw out some of the most famous names – Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson – and have a basic idea of who they were and what they did. Beyond that paltry smattering, however, the details of most of the rest of baseball lore is still unknown to me, and prior to watching 42 I knew as much about the life of Jackie Robinson as I would expect the average American to know about, say, Laurie Cunningham – and if you just had to Google him you just proved my point. Read more…

THE CONSPIRATOR – Mark Isham

April 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

For many years I had assumed – entirely incorrectly, as it turns out – that the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth was a one-man show committed by a single opportunist. In actual fact, the events of April 14, 1865, were much more far reaching, in so much as three other co-conspirators attempted to assassinate Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward on the same evening, but only Booth was successful in dispatching his quarry. Booth was killed by soldiers a few days later, but two of the other conspirators – Lewis Powell and George Atzerodt – were captured and tried. The fourth conspirator, John Surratt, was not caught and so John’s mother, Mary Surratt, was tried in his place, accused of allowing her guesthouse to be used as the base for the assassination plot to be conceived. Robert Redford’s latest film, The Conspirator, looks at these events with fresh eyes, concentrating specifically on the relationship between Mary Surratt (Robin Wright) and Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy), the young attorney assigned to defend her. The film also stars Kevin Kline, Tom Wilkinson, Justin Long, Evan Rachel Wood and Danny Huston, and features an excellent dramatic score by Mark Isham. Read more…

CROSSING OVER – Mark Isham

February 27, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Written and directed by Wayne Kramer, Crossing Over is a story about immigration in the United States, and about how immigrants of different nationalities struggle to achieve legal status in Los Angeles. It follows the lives of several individuals – Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Max Brogan (Harrison Ford), his Iranian-American partner Hamid (Cliff Curtis), a sympathetic defense lawyer (Ashley Judd), and a green card approval supervisor (Ray Liotta) – all of whom experience different aspects of America’s immigration laws during the course of their working lives.

The score for Crossing Over is by Mark Isham, who previously worked with director Kramer on The Cooler and Running Scared, and who scored a similar kind of multi-character drama with the Oscar-winning Crash in 2005. Read more…

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PRIDE AND GLORY – Mark Isham

October 24, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A dark, gritty thriller directed by Gavin O’Connor, Pride and Glory stars Edward Norton as Ray Tierney, a New York cop from a long line of New York cops who discovers a police corruption scandal involving his own brother-in-law that threatens to tear his family apart. The film, which also stars Colin Farrell, Jon Voight, Noah Emmerich and Jennifer Ehle, is scored by Mark Isham, who previously worked with O’Connor on Miracle in 2004.

As one might expect, much of Pride and Glory is rather subdued, with dark, moody orchestral textures augmented by shifting, brooding synth drones dominating the score. One thing I have never been too enamored of is Isham’s action/thriller writing – scores like Blade or Don’t Say a Word or The Net or Running Scared Read more…

THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES – Mark Isham

October 17, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Secret Life of Bees is a familial/racial drama based on the novel by Sue Monk Kidd and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood. Set in South Carolina in 1964, it stars Dakota Fanning as 14-year-old Lily Owens who, following the accidental death of her mother, escapes with her negro caregiver Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson) from the clutches of her abusive father (Paul Bettany), and travels across the rural South heading for the home the intelligent and independent Boatwright sisters – Queen Latifah, Sophie Okonedo and Alicia Keyes. As the unlikely pair travel, Lily learns from Rosaleen a number of harsh lessons about the realities of life, love, race, and what it means to embrace and acknowledge your past. Read more…

THE EXPRESS – Mark Isham

October 10, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Express is an inspirational sports drama about the life of Ernie Davis who, while playing for Syracuse University in 1961, became the first African-American college football player to win the prestigious Heisman Trophy, and the trials and hardships he endured to break this sporting color barrier. The film is directed by Gary Fleder, stars Rob Brown and Dennis Quaid, and features a lovely score from Mark Isham.

This isn’t a traditional flag-waving sporting glory score in the vein of The Natural or Rudy or Hoosiers; instead, Isham spends a lot of time scoring the social and political upheaval that surrounded Davis and his exploits, leading to a score which is at times surprisingly dark Read more…

THE MIST – Mark Isham

November 23, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

I’m a fan of director Frank Darabont. I like his steady direction, and I like the way he gives the characters in his films time to breathe. His adaptation of the Stephen King story “The Shawshank Redemption” is one of the most beloved films of all time, frequently being mentioned in the same breath as “Casablanca”. Darabont turned to King again for his next film, “The Green Mile”, a moving drama with some good characters. Yet another Stephen King story is the basis for Darabont’s latest film, “The Mist”. Unlike the first two King stories, “The Mist” is not an uplifting drama, but rather a straight-ahead horror story. I knew that the film would have to be different in tone than the first two King adaptations Darabont directed… but this? “The Mist” is absolutely bonkers. Read more…

RESERVATION ROAD – Mark Isham

October 19, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One thing I’ve never been fond of is Mark Isham’s synth writing. Give him an orchestra, and I’m putty in his hands; let him loose with electronics – like they did on scores like Blade and Timecop and Crash – and I generally loose interest pretty quickly. Such was the case with Reservation Road, the latest film from Irish director Terry George. Based on the book of the same title by John Burnham Schwartz, the film deals with the aftermath of a tragic car accident on the titular highway, in which two fathers – Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Ruffalo – are forced to deal with the death of a 10-year-old boy. The film also stars Oscar winning actresses Jennifer Connelly and Mira Sorvino. Read more…

IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH – Mark Isham

September 14, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Paul Haggis has grown increasingly bold as a filmmaker, but somehow less controversial with critics. The Haggis screenplay for “Million Dollar Baby” was terrific, and he collaborated with director Clint Eastwood to make the best film of 2004. In 2005, Haggis made another big impression with “Crash”, which certainly did some emotional button-pushing but was nonetheless a superb film. After the heavy-handed symbolism of the Haggis screenplay for “The Last Kiss” comes the even more heavy-handed “In the Valley of Elah”, which Haggis wrote and directed. The film benefits hugely from a superb Tommy Lee Jones performance before slipping into almost mind-bogglingly shameless emotional manipulation in the final act. Haggis was never a subtle artist, but I feel that he’s simply gone too far lately, and needs to restrain himself a little bit. Read more…

GRACIE – Mark Isham

June 1, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

Another review, another description of a paint-by-numbers-based-on-a-true-story-sports-saga flick. They seem to keep coming so quickly, don’t they? “Gracie” is loosely based on the real-life events of actress Elisabeth Shue and her brother Andrew. The movie was directed by Shue’s husband, Davis Guggenheim, and stars both Elisabeth and Andrew in supporting roles. It’s definitely a very personal movie for these folks, but critics were not very kind to the film, dismissing it as another ho-hum sports tale. The plot is a mesh of uplifting drama and family tragedy, as a teenage girl aspires to become a soccer star after the death of her brother. Her mother tells her it’s too dangerous, her father won’t support her. Who wants to bet that overcomes some obstacles and wins the love of everybody around her in the end? Read more…

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NEXT – Mark Isham

April 27, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

For all the great scores Mark Isham has written in his career – and he has written some great scores – the one thing he’s never really been very good at is action/adventure and science fiction. It’s not for the lack of trying. Prior to sitting down to write this review, I revisited some of Isham’s earlier efforts in the genre to try to get a flavor for his action style, and much to my surprise I found that he doesn’t really have one. His 1994 effort Timecop is probably the best of the bunch, containing some actually quite hard-hitting brass action moments, but as far as scores like Blade and The Net are concerned the one overarching sensation one gets from the score is that of “listlessness”. The scores don’t really do anything memorable, never retain any prominent stylistics, and certainly don’t make you sit up and wish Isham would be hired for the next major action movie. Next, unfortunately, is more of the same. Read more…

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FREEDOM WRITERS – Mark Isham

January 5, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There have been a lot of ‘inspirational teacher’ movies over the years – from Goodbye Mr. Chips to Dead Poets Society to Dangerous Minds – and director Richard La Gravenese’s Freedom Writers is the latest to join that list. Hilary Swank stars as pedagogue Erin Gruwell, who takes up a post at a tough inner-city school, and seeks to change her students lives for the better through writing, poetry, the power of words inspirational stories about the Holocaust. A fairly well-received drama, the film also stars Patrick Dempsey, Scott Glenn and Imelda Staunton. Read more…

BOBBY – Mark Isham

November 17, 2006 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

“Hey, good evening ladies and gents, it’s time for a great big exciting night of entertainment, with all your favorite stars! Along the way, you’ll have some laughs, shed a couple tears, maybe learn a couple of things, and most of all, see a lot of the beautiful faces you know and love! We now take you live to the Ambassador Hotel for a great evening of entertainment! Oh, and you’ll also see Robert Kennedy get killed.”

Is it just me, or does “Bobby” feel way too much like “Grand Hotel 1968”, or perhaps an Irwin Allen movie? I’m not criticizing the fact that a politically-charged film dealing with a serious event in American history has a huge, star-studded cast, but I am criticizing the way the movie uses them. Emilio Estevez’s “Bobby” is, at it’s best, a vivid snapshot of a particular time in America. At it’s worst, it’s a cheap love letter to all things Kennedy, paired with some silly soap operas as dramatic filler. Read more…

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