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Posts Tagged ‘Oscar-Winning Scores’

THE MILAGRO BEANFIELD WAR – Dave Grusin

March 22, 2018 2 comments

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In the annals of recent film music history, there is perhaps no more obscure a winner of the Academy Award for Best Original Score than Dave Grusin’s The Milagro Beanfield War. Even the film itself is virtually forgotten today, despite it being directed by Robert Redford and having a cast that includes Rubén Blades, Sônia Braga, Melanie Griffith, John Heard, Daniel Stern, and Christopher Walken. It’s a political comedy-drama – as Redford’s films often are – about the residents of a rural New Mexico town who find themselves in an ever-escalating confrontation with a group of unscrupulous businessmen. The businessmen want to buy tracts of land in order to invest in a series of lucrative property developments, but before they can do so they need the local residents to leave, so they divert the local water supply, leaving the farmers unable to irrigate their crops. It’s a very 1980s story about how the financial concerns of the wealthy ignore, and sometimes intentionally destroy, the rights of working class people. Read more…

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THE SHAPE OF WATER – Alexandre Desplat

December 1, 2017 3 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Shape of Water is a science fiction fairy tale written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, starring Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Doug Jones. It’s an odd mishmash of a film – it’s one part romantic drama, one part monster movie, one part spy thriller, and it explores additional themes that range from one character’s closeted homosexuality to another’s love of classic Hollywood musicals – but somehow it all works beautifully. Hawkins plays Elisa, a shy mute woman who works as a cleaner on the night shift at a military research facility in the 1960s. One night Elisa meets a mysterious but highly intelligent amphibious humanoid creature (Jones) that has been captured in a remote part of the Amazon and brought to the facility for study by the ruthless Colonel Strickland (Shannon). Unexpectedly, Elisa and the Amphibious Man meet and begin to bond, and form the beginnings of an almost romantic relationship; however, when she hears of the government’s plans to kill and dissect the Amphibious Man to study it’s biology, Elisa vows to save him, and with the help of her sassy co-worker Zelda (Spencer) and her next door neighbor Giles (Jenkins), comes up with a plan to break him out. Read more…

THE LAST EMPEROR – Ryuichi Sakamoto, David Byrne, and Cong Su

November 30, 2017 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

They don’t make movies like The Last Emperor anymore. A lavish historical epic directed by the great Italian filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci and starring John Lone, Joan Chen, and Peter O’Toole, the film tells the life story of Pu Yi, the last monarch of the Chinese Qing dynasty prior to the republican revolution in 1911. It is set within a framing story wherein the adult Pu Yi – a political prisoner of communist leader Mao Zedong – looks back on his life, beginning with his ascent to the throne aged just three in 1908, and continuing through his early life growing up in the Forbidden City in Beijing, and the subsequent political upheaval that led to his overthrow, exile, and eventual imprisonment. It’s an enormous, visually spectacular masterpiece that balances great pageantry and opulence with the very personal story of a man trying to navigate his life as a figurehead and monarch, and how he balances that with his private life and his political and social importance. It was the overwhelming critical success of 1987, and went on to win nine Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay, as well as a slew of technical awards for Art Direction, Cinematography, Editing, Costume Design, and Score. Read more…

LA LA LAND – Justin Hurwitz

December 13, 2016 1 comment

lalalandsoundtrackOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

There has been so much cynicism and negativity in the news in 2016, that a film like La La Land is not so much a breath of fresh air, but a necessary antidote to the political and social upheaval that has swept across far too much of the world. It’s a sincere, optimistic love letter to the power of dreams and the joy of romance, an homage to classic Hollywood musicals, and a celebration of art and dance and music that wears its heart on its sleeve and looks you straight in the eye as it does so. Directed by Damien Chazelle, it stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as Sebastian and Mia, two struggling artists trying to make it in contemporary Los Angeles. Sebastian is a jazz pianist frustrated by his lack of opportunities and the fact that no one seems to love the music he loves any more; Mia is an aspiring actress working in a coffee shop on a studio lot whose dreams are continually crushed by an endless parade of failed auditions. A series of chance meetings between the two slowly leads to a romantic relationship, and together the pair seeks to find a way through the perils and pitfalls of being young and creative in the City of Angels. Read more…

ROUND MIDNIGHT – Herbie Hancock

October 13, 2016 3 comments

roundmidnightTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

During the 1980s the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made some truly baffling decisions with regard to the Oscar for Best Original Score. In 1980 Michael Gore’s light pop score for Fame beat out The Empire Strikes Back. In 1981 Vangelis’s one-theme electronic noodling on Chariots of Fire somehow defeated Raiders of the Lost Ark. In 1988 Dave Grusin won for The Milagro Beanfield War – a film and score which, at least amongst my casual acquaintances, virtually no-one has seen or heard. Perhaps the strangest decision, however, came in 1986 when jazz composer and musician Herbie Hancock won for his score for Round Midnight, beating composers of such eminence as James Horner, Jerry Goldsmith, and Ennio Morricone, whose losing score for The Mission was not only the best score of 1986, but is on the list of the best scores ever written. Read more…

A LITTLE ROMANCE – Georges Delerue

June 6, 2016 2 comments

alittleromanceMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director George Roy Hill enjoyed success with the romance film The World of Henry Orient in 1964, and when he came across the novel “E=MC2 Mon Amour” by Patrick Cauvan he decided it was time to revisit the genre. He and screenwriter Alan Burns crafted the script and set about finding their cast. Renowned thespian Laurence Olivier was hired to play Julius Edmund Santorin, and provide gravitas to the film, along with the two teenage lovers, Lauren King, played by Diane Lane making her acting debut, and Daniel Michon, played by Thelonius Bernard. The story offers a coming of age romance between Lauren, a 13-year-old American with an astounding IQ of 167, and her French beau Daniel, a street wise 13 year old who loves Hollywood film and betting on the horses. They meet one day at the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte and fall in love. Their romantic adventure begins when the meet septuagenarian Julius who tells them that if they board a gondola in Venice and kiss under the Bridge of Sighs at sunset as the bells of Saint Mark’s toll, they will be in love forever. Well, since they cannot cross the border as minors without an adult, they join together on this romantic quest. With Julius’ assistance, and after much intrigue and side steps, Lauren and Daniel finally achieve their supreme romantic moment! Although Lauren’s outraged parents take her back to America, the film closes with our lovers locked in a parting gaze, knowing that Venice ensures they will again be together. The film had modest commercial success and received mixed critical reaction. Never the less it secured two Academy Award nominations for Best Screenplay and best Film Score, winning one, Best Film Score. Read more…

MIDNIGHT EXPRESS – Giorgio Moroder

May 23, 2016 1 comment

midnightexpressMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1976 director Alan Parker was visiting New York on a business trip. He by chance ran into his old friend, producer Peter Guber, who asked him to review a manuscript, which was based on a true story. On his plane fight back to London he read it and became convinced that this was a story which needed to be told on film. He joined Guber and his new production company, Casablanca Filmworks, and hired Oliver Stone for what would be his first commercial screenplay. Stone delivered the goods, penning a hard-hitting, raw, uncompromising narrative full of rage, and abounding in cinematic energy. For his cast, Parker brought in Brad Davis to play Billy Hayes after negotiations with Richard Gere broke down. Joining him would be John Hurt as Max, Paolo Bonacelli as Rifki, Irene Miracle as Susan, Randy Quaid as Jimmy Booth, and Paul L. Smith as Hamidou. They would shoot the film in Malta, as the Turkish government was decidedly hostile to the project. The true-life story reveals American college student Billy Hays on holiday in Istanbul with girlfriend Susan. Quite stupidly, he straps 2 kg of hashish to his torso, which he intends to smuggle back to the United States. However, Turkey is on a terrorist alert after a recent hijacking, and he is caught when they frisk him as he prepares to board the plane. He is arrested and humiliated with a strip search. A mysterious American named Tex enters the scene and encourages Billy to cooperate with the investigation for a lesser sentence. Billy agrees and fingers the man who sold him the hashish, only to be betrayed by Tex and the Turkish police. His futile attempt to escape earns him a three-year sentence for drug possession. Later, after the prosecutor appeals the verdict, he is re-sentenced to a more severe life sentence for smuggling. Read more…