Posts Tagged ‘Reviews’

ALIVE – James Newton Howard

February 2, 2023 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In October 1972 a plane carrying a rugby team from Montevideo, Uruguay, who were on their way to play a game in Santiago, Chile, crashed high in the Andes mountains. 15 of the 45 passengers and crew died on impact but the others – some of whom were badly injured – quickly had to figure out how to survive. During the following 72 days, the survivors suffered extreme hardships, including exposure, starvation, and an avalanche, which led to the deaths of thirteen more passengers; famously, but reluctantly, they were forced to resort to cannibalism to stave off death due to lack of food. Eventually two of the rugby players – Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa – decided to strike out for help. They climbed a 15,000 foot mountain without gear, and then hiked almost 50 miles. It took them almost in 10 days, but they finally stumbled into a remote village, where they could obtain help and call for the Chilean Army to rescue the other survivors. This incredible story was turned into a book, Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors by Piers Paul Read, and then eventually into this film, which was directed by Frank Marshall and starred Ethan Hawke, Josh Hamilton, and Vincent Spano. Read more…

DOG GONE – Emily Bear

February 1, 2023 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Dog Gone is a family adventure-drama film, directed by Stephen Herek, starring Rob Lowe, Johnny Berchtold, and Kimberly Williams-Paisley. It’s a heartwarming true story about a college student named Fielding Marshall and his epic search for his beloved dog, Gonker, who goes missing on a hike and has to be found quickly as he is ill and needs a life-saving injection. Fielding’s search for Gonker becomes a local cause célèbre, making the news, and inspiring the community. It premiered on Netflix at the beginning of January and, normally, it’s not anything I would give a second thought to, based on the film itself. However, I want to take some time out to write about Dog Gone’s score, which was written by 21-year-old composer Emily Bear. Read more…


January 30, 2023 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

As a young man Walt Disney was fond of the two Lewis Carroll novels “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and “Through The Looking Glass”. As early as 1933 he conceived of making a film adaptation, but it did not take form until 1945 and then would require six years to bring his dream to fruition. Disney personally managed production with a budget of $3 million, a team of thirteen writers were hired to craft a screenplay based on both of Carroll’s books, and a trio consisting of Clyde Geronini, Wilfred Jackson and Hamilton Luske were tasked with directing. A fine voice cast was assembled, including Katherine Beaumont as Alice, Ed Wynn as Mad Hatter, Richard Haydn as Caterpillar, Sterling Holloway as Cheshire Cat, Jerry Colonna as March Hare, Verna Felton as Queen of Hearts, J. Pat O’Malley as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Bill Thompson as White Rabbit, Joseph Kearns as Doorknob, Sink Trout as King of Hearts, and James MacDonald as Dormouse. Read more…

Under-the-Radar Round Up 2022 – English Language Indies III

January 27, 2023 2 comments

My recurring under-the-radar series usually concentrates on the best scores for non-English language films in a given year, but doing so means that I sometimes overlook music written for British, Australian, and American films that are similarly low-profile, but also have outstanding scores. To rectify that, here is the final entry for this year in my ongoing series of review articles, this time looking at seven such scores from the second half of 2022, written for independent English-language features that you might have otherwise overlooked.

The scores are: a heartwarming family drama about the homelessness crisis, an Australian film about a the unlikely friendship between a girl and a fish, a British comedy set in the world of French high fashion, another British comedy set in the world of professional golf, scores for two experimental films by a talented newcomer, a seasonal fantasy-drama about a magical reindeer, and a hilarious mock-biopic of Weird Al Yankovic! Read more…

CHAPLIN – John Barry

January 26, 2023 1 comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Considering that he was one of the most important and transformative figures in the history of cinema, it’s somewhat surprising that there wasn’t a biopic of Charlie Chaplin until 1992. The film was a labor of love for director Richard Attenborough; it was written by a trio of literature greats – William Boyd, Bryan Forbes, and William Goldman – and starred the then 27-year old Robert Downey Jr. in the role that marked his transition from youthful movies to serious adult cinema. The film charts Chaplin’s entire life and career, from his impoverished childhood growing up in Victorian London, to his first brushes with showbusiness via Fred Karno’s vaudeville theatre, his move to the United States in 1914, and his gradual rise to fame via his iconic ‘tramp’ character in silent films such as The Kid, The Gold Rush, and City Lights. It also reveals his tempestuous private life – various love affairs and failed marriages – as well as his political conflicts with FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, which eventually led to him fleeing America for Europe at the height of his fame amid accusations of communist sympathies. The film climaxes with Chaplin’s glorious return to Hollywood in 1972 after decades in exile, when he received an honorary Oscar for ‘the incalculable effect he has had in making motion pictures the art form of this century’. Read more…


January 24, 2023 2 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There have been so many versions of Carlo Collodi’s classic story Pinocchio over the years that it’s hard to keep track of them all. The best known version of the story, at least in English-speaking countries, is the classic Disney musical from 1940; in the intervening years there have been dozens of others, including two different ones directed by Italian filmmaker Roberto Benigni, and a remake of the 1940 version starring Tom Hanks just a few months ago. Given all this, one might wonder what Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio might have to offer that is different from all the other versions, but in actual fact it has a great deal to recommend, from its beautiful and detailed stop-motion animation, its unexpectedly deep and sophisticated screenplay adaptation, interesting voice cast, and appealing music. Read more…

ALEXANDER’S RAGTIME BAND – Irving Berlin and Alfred Newman

January 23, 2023 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1937 composer Irving Berlin was solicited by 20th Century Fox studio executive Darryl F. Zanuck to write a biopic about his life to be called “Alexander’s Ragtime Band, which would showcase some of his greatest songs. Berlin balked, believing such a story would be too intrusive. Zanuck pivoted and asked him if he could instead write a story, which could feature his greatest songs. He agreed, collaborated with screen writer Richard Sherman, and their story was accepted. Zanuck took personal charge of production, hired Kathryn Scola and Lamar Trotti to write the screenplay, and tasked Henry King with directing. The cast would be anchored by singers Ethel Merman as Jerry Allen, and Alice Faye as Stella Kirby. Joining them would be Tyrone Power as Alexander, Don Ameche as Charlie Dwyer and Jack Haley as Davey Lane. Read more…

Under-the-Radar Round Up 2022, Part 4C

January 20, 2023 1 comment

Life has returned to world cinema in 2022 following the easing of the COVID-19 global pandemic, and at the end of the fourth quarter of the year I’m absolutely delighted to present the latest instalment in my on-going series of articles looking at the best under-the-radar scores from around the world. This article covers five scores for projects from Scandinavia and adjacent countries in eastern Europe, and includes a Polish comedy drama set in Denmark, a Norwegian animated film based on a classic children’s book, a Finnish super-hero film for children, a Norwegian WWII action film, and a gorgeous romantic score for a Finnish film set in the wilds of Ireland. Read more…

SCENT OF A WOMAN – Thomas Newman

January 19, 2023 1 comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Scent of a Woman is a critically acclaimed drama film directed by Martin Brest. It’s a remake of the 1974 Italian film Profumo di Donna, directed by Dino Risi, which was itself an adaptation of the 1969 novel ‘Il Buio e il Miele’ by Giovanni Arpino. It stars Al Pacino and Chris O’Donnell, with James Rebhorn, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Gabrielle Anwar in primary supporting roles. Pacino plays Frank Slade, a former lieutenant colonel in the US Army, who has become an irascible alcoholic following an accident that left him blind. Frank’s niece hires Charlie Simms, a young student with dreams of getting into Harvard, to be his temporary caretaker over the Thanksgiving weekend, and initially there is a terrible personality clash, but gradually the two unlikely companions warm to each other – until Frank calmly states that, at the end of the holiday, he intends to kill himself. Meanwhile, Charlie is having issues of his own, relating to an incident he witnessed at this school, the repercussions of which threaten to jeopardize his entire future. The film was roundly praised at the time, especially for the performance by Pacino, who won the Oscar for Best Actor for his work here. Read more…


January 17, 2023 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Anne Rice’s 1976 novel Interview With the Vampire, while not originally a success, has since become regarded as a modern classic of Gothic horror literature, which revitalized the vampire genre after decades where the public perception of them was either a grotesque monster (á la Nosferatu), or a debonair blood-sucking aristocrat (á la Christopher Lee’s Dracula). Rice re-imagined vampires with more depth and emotional complexity, and created a global society for them to inhabit, running parallel to that of the humans on which they prey. The film spawned multiple sequel novels in the ‘Vampire Chronicles’ series, as well as an excellent movie adaptation in 1994 starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, which remains one of my favorite horror movies of all time. Now, the story is being re-told again as a TV series on the AMC network created by Rolin Jones, starring Jacob Anderson as Louis, Sam Reid as Lestat, Eric Bogosian as the interviewer Daniel Molloy, Bailey Bass as the child vampire Claudia, and Assad Zaman as the ancient leader of the Parisian coven, Armand. Read more…


January 16, 2023 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

The Garden of Allah was the brainchild of David O. Selznick, who decided to embark on a third big screen retelling of Robert S. Hichens’s 1904 novel of the same name, following on from previous versions in 1916 and 1927. His own company, Selznick International, would finance the film and he would personally manage production with a budget that ballooned from $1.6 to 1.97 million. William P. Lipscomb and Lynn Riggs were hired to write the screenplay and Richard Boleslawski was tasked with directing. For this romantic drama, Selznick decided to cast the two most carnal actors of the day, Charles Boyer and Marlene Dietrich, as Boris Androvsky and Domini Enfilden. Ironic and mystifying in their choice is that he would be playing a celibate monk, and her, a devout girl raised in a convent! Joining them would be Basil Rathbone as Count Ferdinand Anteoni, C. Aubrey Smith as Father J. Roubier, Joseph Schidkraut as Batouch, John Carradine as “Sand Diviner”, Alan Marshall as Captain de Trevignac and Lucile Wilson as Mother Superior Josephine. Read more…

Under-the-Radar Round Up 2022, Part 4B

January 13, 2023 1 comment

Life has returned to world cinema in 2022 following the easing of the COVID-19 global pandemic, and at the end of the fourth quarter of the year I’m absolutely delighted to present the latest instalment in my on-going series of articles looking at the best under-the-radar scores from around the world. This article covers five scores for projects from Spanish-speaking countries, and includes a sci-fi drama series, a Mexican existential comedy-drama, two murder-mystery thriller movies, and a TV series about the life of explorer Ferdinand Magellan. Read more…

FOREVER YOUNG – Jerry Goldsmith

January 12, 2023 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Forever Young was a romantic drama with a fantasy-science fiction twist, written by a young J. J. Abrams (credited as ‘Jeffrey’), and directed by Steve Miner. It was envisaged as a vehicle for Mel Gibson to establish himself as a romantic leading man; he plays Daniel McCormick, a test pilot with the US Army Air Corps in 1939. When his fiancé Helen (Isabel Glasser) falls into a coma after a car accident, and not wanting to watch her die, Daniel volunteers for a top-secret government program where he will be cryogenically frozen and placed into suspended animation for a year. However, when Daniel is finally woken up, he is shocked to discover that it is now 1992; with the help of an inquisitive 10-year old boy named Nat (Elijah Wood) and his charming mother Claire (Jamie Lee Curtis), Daniel resolves to find out what happened – but is soon presented with another problem, as he finds himself ageing rapidly. The film was a modest success at the box office and with critics, who enjoyed its old fashioned charm, unusual time-travel plot, and warm lead performances. Read more…


January 10, 2023 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Banshees of Inisherin is a dark comedy-drama written and directed by Martin McDonagh, set on a remote island off the coast of Ireland in 1923. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson star as Pádraic Súilleabháin and Colm Doherty, long-time friends and drinking partners. Colm is a folk musician and fiddle player, and dreams of writing a classic song that will seal his legacy. Things change for the pair when, out of the blue, Colm decides that he no longer wants to be associated with Pádraic, and begins to ignore him. Pádraic, distressed by the loss of one of his few friends, begins hounding Colm, to the point where an exasperated Colm gives Pádraic an ultimatum: if he doesn’t stop bothering him, he will start cutting off his own fingers. From there, things escalate further, with the entire town eventually becoming involved in their feud. The film co-stars Kerry Condon as Pádraic’s kind sister Siobhán, and Barry Keoghan as troubled local boy Dominic, and has been a massive critical success, picking up awards at the Venice International Film Festival, and receiving multiple Oscar, BAFTA, and Golden Globe nominations. Read more…


January 9, 2023 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

In early 1935 Paramount Pictures executives decided that they would adapt and bring to the big screen George du Maurier’s1891 romantic fantasy novel Peter Ibbetson. Louis D. Lighton was assigned production and provided a budget of $750,000. Henry Hathaway was tasked with directing, and a team of screenwriters lead by John Meehan were hired to write the screenplay. A fine cast was assembled, but not without controversy. Fredric March and Robert Donat were originally envisioned for the titular role, but in a dubious decision, Hathaway decided to cast against type, Gary Cooper, who had achieved fame in Westerns and heroic dramas. Joining him would be Ann Harding as Mary, Duchess of Towers, John Halliday as the Duke of Towers, and Ida Lupino as Agnes. Read more…