Posts Tagged ‘Mark Isham’


October 20, 2022 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the most critically acclaimed films of 1992 was A River Runs Through It, directed by Robert Redford, adapted from the 1976 semi-autobiographical novella by Norman Maclean. The film is set in Montana in the 1920s and stars Craig Sheffer and Brad Pitt as brothers Norman and Paul Maclean, the sons of presbyterian minister John (Tom Skerritt). Norman is serious, studious, and ambitious, where Paul is reckless, habitually drunk, but creative and an excellent journalist. Despite their differences in personality, they bond over their shared love of fly fishing, which they learned from their father fishing in the Blackfoot River as children, and which they often see as a metaphor for life itself. The film follows the brothers through the Prohibition Era up to the beginnings of the Great Depression, their various romances, and society as a whole in that era. The film was praised for its direction, performances, and cinematography, the latter of which won an Oscar for the great Philippe Rousselot; it also received an Oscar nomination for Best Score, the career first for composer Mark Isham. Read more…

OF MICE AND MEN – Mark Isham

September 22, 2022 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

John Steinbeck’s 1937 novel Of Mice and Men is a classic of 20th century American literature, a searing and poignant look at the plight of American farm workers during the Great Depression – which was still ongoing when the novel was originally published. Specifically, it follows the lives of Lenny and George, two California farm hands who move from town to town looking for work to escape from their crippling poverty, and who dream of earning enough money to buy their own plot of land. George is physically small but quick-witted and intelligent, while Lenny is a mentally disabled gentle giant who is kind but does not know his own strength; this latter aspect of Lenny’s character is a constant hazard, as he often accidentally kills small animals while trying to pet them. Eventually Lenny and George find work on a farm owned by the aggressive and confrontational Curley; as events unfold, their relationship eventually leads to tragedy – the ultimate example of Robert Burns’s famous quote about how ‘the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry’’. Read more…

POINT BREAK – Mark Isham

August 5, 2021 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the most iconic action films of the 1990s, Point Break was a groundbreaking film in that it was one of the first major Hollywood movies to be directed by a woman, Kathryn Bigelow. The film stars Keanu Reeves as FBI agent Johnny Utah, who is tasked with investigating a gang of bank robbers who wear rubber masks of former US presidents while committing their crimes. Utah’s investigations eventually lead him to Bohdi (Patrick Swayze), a charismatic surfer, and Utah goes undercover to infiltrate the surf gang and find evidence that they are the robbers. However, Utah quickly develops a complex friendship with Bohdi, and begins a romantic relationship with Tyler (Lori Petty), another member of Bohdi’s surfing community, all of which threatens to derail the investigation. The film co-stars Gary Busey and John C. McGinley, and in the years following its release has become a cult favorite. Read more…


September 10, 2020 Leave a comment


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…


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…


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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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…


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…


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…


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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