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Posts Tagged ‘Mychael Danna’

THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS – Mychael Danna

November 28, 2017 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The words ‘Dickensian Christmas’ often conjure up specific imagery. Crisply snow-covered cobbled streets, gentlemen and ladies dressed in their finery, handsome houses bedecked with wreathes and candles, great feasts centered around a roasted game bird. It’s fascinating to realize that much of the festive iconography we take for granted was popularized, if not outright invented, by the author Charles Dickens in his 1843 story A Christmas Carol. Even the phrase ‘Merry Christmas’, despite the words themselves obviously pre-dating Dickens, was only adopted as a common seasonal greeting following their liberal use by the story’s central character, Ebenezer Scrooge. In fact, the very concept of Christmas being a time for family gatherings, specific seasonal food and drink, and a festive generosity through present-giving, was not commonplace at that time, and it is only in the period since the novel’s publication that this aspect of the holiday has been given equal importance to the original religious meaning. Read more…

LIFE OF PI – Mychael Danna

December 10, 2012 8 comments

lifeofpiOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Once in a while a film comes along which seems predestined to be scored by a certain composer; in 2012, that film is Life of Pi and that composer is Mychael Danna. Based on the successful novel by Yann Martel, and directed by Ang Lee, Life of Pi is a film which asks all the big questions – about life, death, religion, fate, identity, reality – and answers them through an incredible story told by Piscine Molitor Patel (Irfan Khan), commonly known as Pi, an Indian immigrant to Canada, who relates his life story to an enraptured journalist (Rafe Spall), who is researching a book. Born into a relatively wealthy family in Pondicherry, India, where his father owned a zoo, Pi’s life is thrown into chaos after the family decides to emigrate to Canada; the boat they are traveling on capsizes in a storm, leaving 16-year old Pi (Suraj Sharma) the only survivor – except for a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan, and an ill-tempered Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, who all are forced to share the same tiny lifeboat. What follows is an extraordinary story of friendship, trust, survival, faith and belief, as Pi must overcome his greatest fears and the overpowering forces of nature to reach safety. Read more…

MONEYBALL – Mychael Danna

October 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

You would think it would be quite difficult to make an interesting film about baseball statistics, but that’s what the makers of Moneyball have done. It tells the story of the wonderfully-named Billy Beane who, in 2002, having been recently made the general manager of the struggling Oakland Athletics MLB franchise, rocks the baseball world to its core by embracing a controversial new statistical method of choosing players to sign called sabermetrics in an attempt to turn around the fortunes of his team. Directed by Bennett Miller and based on a popular book by Michael Lewis, the film stars Brad Pitt as Beane, Jonah Hill as his assistant Peter Brand, and features Robin Wright, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Pratt and Casey Bond in supporting roles. Read more…

THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS – Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna

December 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Unfortunately for director Terry Gilliam, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is destined to be remembered as ‘the film Heath Ledger was making when he died’ rather than for any artistic merit the film may have itself, which is a shame because by the looks of things the film has all the magic one has come to expect from the former Python. The film is a fantastical tale about the owner of a travelling circus who, having made a deal with the Devil, takes his audience members through a magical mirror to explore their imaginations. However, Parnassus harbors a dark secret; in exchange for immortality, he pledged the life of his daughter to the devil, and is now using the unsuspecting customers of his ‘imaginarium’ to trick the devil out of his prize. Following Ledger’s death, his part was taken over by three actors – Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law – all of whom apparently worked for free, alongside a quirky cast that also includes Tom Waits, Lily Cole, Verne Troyer, and Christopher Plummer as Parnassus himself. Read more…

THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE – Mychael Danna

August 14, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The belief that true love can conquer the boundaries of time and space is not a new one in the world of romantic cinema. Films like Somewhere in Time and Ghost have all toyed with the notion that a powerful interpersonal connection can survive beyond the realms of reality, beyond the realms of linear time, reveling in the strong emotions that such stories elicit. The latest such film to tackle the subject is The Time Traveler’s Wife, directed by Robert Schwentke and based on the popular novel by Audrey Niffenegger. Eric Bana stars as Henry DeTamble, a Chicago librarian with one unique feature: he involuntarily travels backwards and forwards in time, which obviously causes great problems for himself and his true love, Clare Abshire (Rachel McAdams). Read more…

ADORATION – Mychael Danna

April 17, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

I’m listening to Adoration for about the sixth or seventh time, and I still don’t know whether I like it or not, which puts me in a quandary. Sometimes, in film music, you listen to a score and you know that, on an intellectual level, the score is wonderful. You know that the textures the composer creates with his instruments are perfectly intricate. You understand that the mood he brings to the film through his music is exactly what was needed to convey the emotions on screen. You know that the level of precision and technique the performers have is superb. But yet, despite all that, you find yourself completely unable to warm to the score. While listening to it, you find your mind wandering – not out of boredom, but because you are not engaged by what you hear. You’re not enjoying listening to the score, and are connecting with it on a purely academic plain. I’ve had this happen to me many times before, with the majority of Philip Glass and Michael Nyman’s output, and on more recent scores like Osvaldo Golijov’s Youth Without Youth or Jonny Greenwood’s There Will Be Blood; and it’s happening here with Mychael Danna’s score for Adoration. Read more…

SURF’S UP – Mychael Danna

June 8, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

Yeah, I know, I know, yet another talking animal movie. There’s very few species left that haven’t all ready been covered by some sort of cutesy kid’s flick. And penguins… well, it’s not like we need more penguins. So, it was a nice surprise to discover that “Surf’s Up” offers a convincing argument for the worthiness of it’s existence. It tries to offer something new to the well-worn genre, and turns out feeling like a very good-natured cross between Christopher Guest and the Coen Brothers… it just happens to be animated, and features penguins.

The movie is creatively “filmed” in a documentary style, complete with lots of shaky, grainy footage and interviews throughout the proceedings. We are told the story of young Cody Maverick, voiced with refreshing calmness by Shia LaBeouf Read more…

FRACTURE – Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna

April 20, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

They don’t come along too often, but “Fracture” is the rare sort of film that has too much quality for it’s own good. You may be wondering what I mean. Well, let me put it this way. On one side, you’ve got decent little movies with decent little scripts aided by decent little performances that add up to a decent time at the movies. You get what you expect, and you are satisfied. Then there are movies that offer great performances, some fantastic dialogue, and a fascinating set-up… all backed up by a fairly mediocre story. You would think the latter would be the better option of the two; but in many cases, a lot of strong elements working towards a mediocre end is far more disappointing than simply seeing something that is mediocre all around. Read more…

BREACH – Mychael Danna

February 16, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

You have to admire a film that manages to underplay the greatest security breach in U.S. history. Those who follow the news will remember the arrest of F.B.I. Agent Robert Hanssen, who was found guilty of giving top-secret information to the Russians and compromising the safety of all sorts of things, many of them too secret to be revealed. The story could have easily been turned into a sensational thriller full of all sorts of shocking elements, but “Breach” isn’t interested in that. It places all the cards on the table from the very start, taking away suspense and tension and offering the chance to view a carefully designed character study. The trade-off is more than acceptable. Read more…

THE NATIVITY STORY – Mychael Danna

December 1, 2006 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

With the festive season almost upon us, what better time is there to look at the history behind Christmas? Director Catherine Hardwicke’s film chronicles the events which form one of the cornerstones of the Christian faith – the story known as The Nativity – and covers all the main elements of the story: the early life of Mary and Joseph in Nazareth, the young couple’s betrothal, Mary’s immaculate conception, Joseph’s visitation by angels, the couple’s arduous journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem for a census, their desperate search for shelter and being told there is “no room at the inn”, Jesus’s birth in a stable and the adoration by shepherds and magi, and the desperate family’s subsequent flight to Egypt to escape the wrath of King Herod, who fears for his throne following the birth of the ‘King of the Jews’ and orders a mass cull of all baby boys under his reign. Whale Rider actress Keisha Castle-Hughes plays Mary, Oscar Isaac plays Joseph, Ciaran Hinds plays King Herod, and there are significant supporting roles for Shohreh Aghdashloo, Alexander Siddig, Hiam Abbass and Nadim Sawalha. Read more…

LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE – Mychael Danna

July 28, 2006 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The ‘big movie’ at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, Little Miss Sunshine is the first feature film from acclaimed directors, husband-and-wife team Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, who have helmed countless music videos and TV commercials over the years. The film is a road movie comedy with an intellectual heart, and follows the fortunes of a dysfunctional family who are driving cross-country in a VW bus to enter their daughter in the California Little Miss Sunshine pageant: dad Greg Kinnear, mom Toni Collette, Nietzche-loving son Paul Dano, pre-teen beauty queen Abigail Breslin, suicidal uncle Steve Carell, and coke-snorting grandpa Alan Arkin. It all sounds rather contrived, but by all accounts the film is a heart-warming comedy which also has the academic chops to tackle such meaty subjects as philosophy, family values, and the inherent exploitativeness of child beauty pageants. Read more…

BEING JULIA – Mychael Danna

October 15, 2004 Leave a comment

beingjuliaOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

A period drama with theatrical overtones, Being Julia is the latest film from respected Hungarian director István Szabó. Based on the novel by W. Somerset Maugham, and set in London during the 1930s, the film focuses on the popular and successful stage actress Julia Lambert (Annette Bening), a woman in her 50s whose youthful elegance allows her to play roles 20-30 years her junior. Bored with her marriage to theatre director Michael Gaslin (Jeremy Irons), and with her stage career, Julia embarks on a passionate affair with Tom Fennell (Shaun Evans), and young and ambitious American abroad. However, when Julia’s stage performances begin to flounder in the wake of her new ‘interest’, Michael replaces her with up-and-coming actress Avice Crichton (Lucy Punch) – who also happens to be Tom’s girlfriend. Intent on becoming the “next Julia”, Avice shines in her performances – but the current Julia isn’t ready to be replaced, and carefully plots her revenge. Read more…

ANTWONE FISHER – Mychael Danna

December 20, 2002 Leave a comment

antwonefisherOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

I’m almost certain I’ve written this sentence before, but Mychael Danna continues to surprise and delight me with each new score he pens. The 45-year-old Canadian composer first challenged my perceptions of him with his brilliant, breathtaking Western epic Ride With The Devil, and has continued to impress me with such wide and varied works as Girl Interrupted, Green Dragon, Monsoon Wedding and Hearts in Atlantis. His 37th feature score, Antwone Fisher re-asserts Danna’s standing as one of the most talented and consistently enjoyable composers working today. Read more…

ARARAT – Mychael Danna

November 15, 2002 Leave a comment

araratOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

In many ways, Ararat is Canadian director Atom Egoyan’s Schindler’s List: an intensely personal film which tackles a little-known cultural tragedy with the same depth and sensitivity Steven Spielberg lent his account of the Holocaust. Egoyan, whose parents were born in Armenia, is best known as an art-house auteur who, occasionally, directs a crossover mainstream hit, such as Exotica or the Oscar-nominated The Sweet Hereafter. It is difficult to know whether this film will follow in their footsteps, especially given its difficult subject matter and unusual structuring, but one thing is for sure: the accompanying music CD is well worth a listen. Read more…

MONSOON WEDDING – Mychael Danna

February 22, 2002 Leave a comment

monsoonweddingOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Bollywood. Even today, in this enlightened age, the term conjures up hackneyed images of bad acting, bad dubbing, cheesy dance routines, and actors and actresses bursting into song at inappropriate moments, accompanied by a cast of thousands in tracksuits. In reality, the Indian film industry is the strongest and most successful on the planet, with the city of Bombay releasing more motion pictures in a year than anything from a Hollywood studio. But as well as the singing and dancing, India has real pedigree in “proper” drama, with films like Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen and Santosh Sivan’s recent Asoka proof of the sub-continent’s increasing aptitude for epics on a grand scale. Director Mira Nair, while not exactly a household name, has nevertheless become India’s top female director, with Salaam Bombay, Mississippi Masala, The Perez Family and Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love to her name. Her current film, Monsoon Wedding, is possibly her crowning glory to date. Read more…