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Posts Tagged ‘Oscar-Winning Scores’

BLACK PANTHER – Ludwig Göransson

February 20, 2018 4 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The utter dominance of comic book action movies at the American box office continues with the success of Black Panther, the 18th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s the origin story of a character who appeared for the first time in Captain America: Civil War in 2016, and explores the history of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, which is the most technologically advanced civilization on Earth thanks to its unlimited supplies of the metal vibranium, but pretends to be a poor third world country to hide its power. Chadwick Boseman plays T’Challa, the new King of Wakanda, who takes up the mantle of the Black Panther after his father’s death in Captain America: Civil War; returning home to begin leading his country, T’Challa finds himself facing a threat in the shape of Eric Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), a mercenary with ties to Wakanda, whose actions send the entire country into a civil war of its own. The film co-stars Lupita Nyongo, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Sterling K. Brown, and Andy Serkis, and is directed by Ryan Coogler. Read more…

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…

THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER – Bernard Herrmann

July 18, 2016 1 comment

devilanddanilwebsterMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

1941 would prove to be a banner year for Bernard Herrmann as he was honored with two Academy Award nominations. Having completed Citizen Kane, what many believe to be his Magnum Opus, RKO Studios tasked him with a new project The Devil and Daniel Webster for director William Dieterle. Note that the studio later changed the title to “All That Money Can Buy”. From both Herrmann’s and Dieterle’s perspectives, the collaboration was collegial, and in the end, The Devil and Daniel Webster triumphed over Citizen Kane, earning Herrmann his only Academy Award win. Herrmann’s entry into the realm of film score music atop two nominated scores and an Oscar win was an outstanding achievement. Herrmann would later relate that he believed Citizen Kane was a superior score in that it was more original and better integrated into the film’s narrative – your author agrees. Read more…

THE WIZARD OF OZ – Herbert Stothart

June 29, 2016 Leave a comment

wizardofoz100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Following the enormous commercial success of Walt Disney’s “Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs” (1937), MGM Studio Executive Louis Mayer was determined to cash in and duplicate its success. He found the story he felt was needed and purchased the rights to L. Frank Baum’s novel, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” (1900). Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf were tasked with writing the screenplay. Veteran director Victor Fleming was hired for the project and he assembled a cast, which is now legend; Judy Garland (Dorothy), Frank Morgan (Professor Marvel/Wizard of Oz), Ray Bolger (Hunk/Scarecrow), Jack Haley (Hickory/Tin Man), Bert Lahr (Zeke/Cowardly Lion), Billie Burke (Glinda) and Margaret Hamilton (Miss Gulch and the Wicked Witch of the West). 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…

JAWS – John Williams

May 9, 2016 1 comment

jawsMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

As we today look back to 1975, we recognize that Jaws was a transformative film, which forever altered how the film industry would operate. Jaws inaugurated what has become known in the modern lexicon as, the Summer Blockbuster. After 1975 studio executives would thereafter conceive and fund big summer action and adventure films, which would take the public by storm, and fill studio coffers. The film was adapted from a Peter Benchley novel, which was originally conceived with the title “Leviathan Rising”, but later discarded for Jaws. It is as simple a tale as they come, man against the beast. We find the summer vacation community Amity Island plagued by a series of shark attacks, which threaten the island’s livelihood. Rogue seafarer Quint (Robert Shaw) is hired to hunt down and kill the beast with all dispatch. Accompanying him would be landlubber Police Captain Brody (Roy Scheider) and, oceanographer Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss). They wage war against this massive leviathan, which leads to Quint’s death, the loss of his boat, the Orca, and Hooper and Brody barely surviving. Well, the film was a massive commercial success, which spawned a franchise of sequels. It was also a critical success, earning four Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Film Editing, Best Sound and Best Film Score, winning three; best Film Editing, Best Sound and Best Film Score. Read more…

THE WAY WE WERE – Marvin Hamlisch

April 25, 2016 Leave a comment

thewaywewereMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer Ray Stark saw pay gold in the script and bought the film rights. He hired veteran director Sydney Pollack to direct. Casting the right principle actors was essential to the story’s success and so Barbara Streisand was cast as Katie, and Robert Redford as Hubble – a perfect pairing. The supporting ensemble included Bradford Dillman (J.J.), Lois Chiles (Carol Ann), Patrick O’Neal (George Bissinger) and Allyn Ann McLerie (Rhea Edwards). Writer Arthur Laurents created the screenplay based on his real life experiences as an undergraduate at Cornell in 1937. The story revolves around two people attracted in love by their differences, yet ultimately broken apart because of their inability to reconcile those differences. Katie is a strident and vocal Marxist Jew, while Hubble is carefree unaffected, apolitical WASP. They date and eventually marry, with her constantly pushing Hubble to excel and utilize his gift. He however settles for less, a Hollywood screenwriter where he becomes successful writing banal sitcoms. They are affluent, yet increasingly alienated. Her political activities begin to intrude into their lives as Studio executives pressure Hubble to rein her in, in light of the House Committee On Un-American Activities, which is targeting the Hollywood establishment. Well when an emotionally exhausted Hubble has an affair with his ex-girl friend while Katie is pregnant the relationship is ruptured. They divorce and years later re-encounter each other, she with militant flyers in her hand he insulated, but happy with a new wife. It is bittersweet as she relates that he was at his best as a writer when he was with her. They part, cherishing the memory of the way they were… Read more…

LIMELIGHT – Charles Chaplin, Raymond Rasch, and Larry Russell

April 18, 2016 1 comment

limelightMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Charles Chaplin produced, directed, wrote the screenplay and starred in Limelight, a story is set in London, 1914 on the eve of World War I. Calvero (Chaplin) is a famous stage clown who has fallen on bad times and descended into alcoholism. By chance he comes to rescue Terry (Claire Bloom) from herself, as she was poised to commit suicide. He shelters her and helps to heal her, and in so doing, heals himself, regaining his confidence and will to live. Terry falls in love with Calvero, but he believes the age difference is wrong, and that the younger Neville (Sydney Chaplin) would be a more appropriate match. And so Calvero sets off on his own, becoming a street entertainer. Terry rebounds and lands a leading role in a stage production. She is thankful for her new life and so invites Calvero to return to his first love, the stage. He agrees, and reunites with his old partner (Buster Keaton) and brings the house down with a magnificent performance. At this grand moment, tragedy strikes as he succumbs to a heart attack during the second act while Terry is performing. The film is a a truly remarkable achievement, with a stellar cast that supports his passion project. Noteworthy is the fact that in the final musical number we bear witness to the only time Chaplin and Keaton – two iconic actors – ever performed together. Read more…

SUMMER OF ‘42– Michel Legrand

April 11, 2016 1 comment

summerof42MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Screenwriter Herman Raucher wrote his autobiographical script in 10 days as a tribute to his fallen comrade Oscy who lost his life in the Korean War. He was initially unable to sell the script to any studio, so it languished for many years until producer Robert Roth found a dusty copy lying in an agent’s office. He fell in love with it and resolved to bring this story to the big screen. He hired director Robert Mulligan (To Kill A Mockingbird) and decided to cast the parts of the boys with unknowns. Also, following in the steps of Love Story (1970) Raucher expanded the story into a book that was published as a prelude to the film. Well it became an instant hit and the film’s promotion had “Based on the national best seller” added to its advertisement. For the cast, Jennifer O’Neil was cast as Dorothy with the three boys Gary Grimes (Hermie), Jerry Houser (Oscy) and Oliver Conant (Benjie). Read more…

LOVE STORY – Francis Lai

April 4, 2016 Leave a comment

lovestoryMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer Howard Minsky and Paramount Studios saw opportunity when he read Erich Segal’s “Love Story” script and secured the film rights. They also asked him to publish a novel in advance for the film so as to cultivate public interest. This proved to be a masterstroke, as the Valentine’s Day publication lead to a national best seller. Arthur Hiller was hired to direct and he brought in a fine cast, which included Ryan O’Neal (Oliver Bartlet IV), Ali McGraw (Jenny Cavalleri), Ray Milland (Oliver Barrett III), Katherine Balfour (Mrs. Barrett), John Marley (Phil Cavalleri) and Tommy Lee Jones (Hank Simpson) in his film debut. Read more…

BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID – Burt Bacharach

March 28, 2016 Leave a comment

butchcassidyandthesundancekidMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

For screenplay writer William Goldman, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” was a passion project. He first came upon the story of Cassidy and Longbaugh in the late 1950s, was fascinated by the men, and felt it was a story that needed to be brought to the big screen. Richard Zanuck of 20th Century Fox saw gold when he read the script and purchased the rights for an astounding $400,000! He tasked John Foreman to produce and George Roy Hill to direct. A stellar cast was brought in, which included; Paul Newman (Butch Cassidy), Robert Redford (The Sundance Kid), Katherine Ross (Etta Place), Jeff Corey (Sheriff Bledsoe, and Strother Martin (Percy Garris). Read more…