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Posts Tagged ‘Television Score’

Under-the-Radar Round Up 2021, Part I

April 2, 2021 1 comment

Yes it’s that time of year again! The new year is already one quarter gone and, as the world of mainstream blockbuster cinema and film music continues to be impacted by the COVID-19 Coronavirus continues, we must again look to smaller international features not as reliant on massive theatrical releases to discover the best new soundtracks. As such I am very pleased to present the first installment (for this calendar year) in my ongoing series of articles looking at the best “under the radar” scores from around the world.

The titles included are two Spanish action thrillers, a Vietnamese romantic drama, an Italian period murder-mystery television series, a Russian fantasy-adventure sequel, and a contemporary French TV series re-telling a classic story about a gentleman thief! Read more…

TOURS DU MONDE, TOURS DU CIEL – Georges Delerue

March 25, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Tours du Monde, Tours du Ciel was a groundbreaking 10-part French documentary series broadcast on the La Sept network in 1991. Like the similarly-themed Cosmos, which was presented by Carl Sagan on American television in 1980, it attempted to tell the history of astronomy, from the prehistoric era to the classical Greeks and Romans, through the work of Copernicus and Galileo and Kepler, to the present day, as scientists around the world continue to seek to unlock the secrets of the universe by observing the sky. The series featured interviews with numerous contemporary astronomers and scientists, interspersed with archaeological footage, and spectacular imagery of space; it was directed by Robert Pansard-Besson, and is still recognized today as one of the most important French-language scientific documentaries of all time. Read more…

THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT – Carlos Rafael Rivera

November 11, 2020 2 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Queen’s Gambit is a Netflix mini-series directed by Scott Frank, based on the 1983 novel of the same name by Walter Tevis. It stars the luminous Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon, a young girl growing up in an orphanage in the mid-1950s, where she has lived since her parents died in a car crash. Beth discovers an extraordinary aptitude for chess, and the series charts her life from then on, as she starts competing in and winning games, becoming more famous in the chess world, but simultaneously becomes increasingly dependent on drugs and alcohol in order to cope with the high pressure environment. The series co-stars Bill Camp, Marielle Heller, Harry Melling, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, and Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, and was an enormous critical hit when it debuted in October 2020, with special praise bestowed on Taylor-Joy’s lead performance, as well as the period style and design. Read more…

Under-the-Radar Round Up 2020, Part II

July 7, 2020 1 comment

With the COVID-19 Coronavirus continuing to decimate the 2020 theatrical movie schedule, as well as the general mood of the world, good music is more important than ever when it comes to getting is all through these difficult times. As such (and as I did last year under much different circumstances) I am very pleased to present the latest installment in my ongoing series of articles looking at the best “under the radar” scores from around the world – this time concentrating on the second quarter of 2020! The titles include an intense action drama from Egypt, a charming romantic drama from Italy, a German version of a classic children’s story, and two titles from the Netherlands – one of which reboots a beloved 1970s British TV series! Read more…

TWIN PEAKS – Angelo Badalamenti

April 16, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There’s a case to be made for the notion that television as we know it changed on April 8th, 1990. On that date, on the American network channel ABC, Twin Peaks premiered. The brainchild of surrealist writer-director David Lynch, and TV producer Mark Frost, Twin Peaks was ostensibly a murder-mystery show that followed an investigation led by FBI Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle McLachlan) into the death of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), a teenage beauty queen from a fictional town in Washington state. But of course, it was much more than that. It touched on elements of horror and science fiction, offbeat comedy, and satirized many of the tropes inherent on American soap operas. It had a sprawling cast of eccentric characters, whose interlocking lives drive the plot. It was also deeply, deeply weird: there are giants delivering cryptic messages, dwarves talking backwards, demons possessing people, doppelgängers, fever dreams and horrific nightmares, and copious amounts of coffee and cherry pie. By the end of the second season the plot had become so incomprehensible and maddeningly obtuse that it hemorrhaged viewers and was eventually cancelled; I admit that I found the show incredibly frustrating, and by the end of it I was convinced that Lynch was playing an elaborate prank on his own audience – he created a show that was so impenetrable, was so confusing, had such a bizarre visual style, and contained so much ‘intentional bad acting,’ because he wanted to see how long people would tolerate it by convincing themselves it was ‘art’. Read more…

DRACULA – David Arnold and Michael Price

January 28, 2020 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There have been literally dozens and dozens of adaptations of and variations on the Dracula story in the years since Bram Stoker wrote it in 1897. The most recent version is this BBC mini-series developed by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, the brains behind such successful shows as Doctor Who, Sherlock, and The League of Gentleman. Danish actor Claes Bang is the latest to star in the title role as the undead aristocrat from Eastern Europe who drinks human blood to survive; the show begins with a fairly conventional re-telling of the Dracula myth – castles and brides, voyages to Whitby, Lucy and Mina and Jonathan Harker – but ends with a very unconventional contemporary twist that places Dracula in modern society and completely upends vampire lore. The show has not been entirely successful, but it certainly has handsome and impressive production values, which extend to its score by composers David Arnold and Michael Price. Read more…

Under-the-Radar Round Up 2019, Part IV

January 6, 2020 2 comments

I am pleased to present the fourth installment in my ongoing series of articles looking at the best “under the radar” scores from around the world in 2019. Rather than grouping the scores on a geographical basis, this year I decided to simply present the scores in a random order, and so this fourth batch again includes reviews of seven more disparate scores all around the world – including two TV scores from Spain, a psychological thriller score from Italy, a horror movie from Morocco, a Chinese drama TV series, a comedy from Argentina, and an intimate love story from Vietnam! Read more…

THE DARK CRYSTAL: AGE OF RESISTANCE – Daniel Pemberton and Samuel Sim

October 1, 2019 5 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In 1982 the Jim Henson Company released what was, at the time, the most ambitious puppet-centric movie ever made: The Dark Crystal. Despite being a rich fantasy film of evil monsters and gallant heroes, visually stunning and wondrously creative, it was not an immediate success upon its release, with many people considering it much too scary for its young target audience. However, in the intervening 37 years it has become a beloved cult classic, a cultural touchstone for many 1980s children who were left enchanted and terrified in equal measure. Fans have been clamoring for a sequel for decades, but have been forced to be content with various comic books and novels to quench their thirst for additional tales from this universe – until now. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is a 10-episode series produced by Netflix which acts as a prequel to the original movie, and with its increased budget actually surpasses the original in terms of its larger scope, richer detailing, brilliant storytelling, and visual majesty. Read more…

GOOD OMENS – David Arnold

July 12, 2019 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

I have been a fan of the late great British author Sir Terry Pratchett ever since I was a kid. Titles like The Color of Magic, The Light Fantastic, Mort, and Pyramids were among my most treasured literary discoveries in the 1980s and 90s; the combination of fantasy, science-fiction, and historical adventure with a distinctly Pythonesque brand of English humor and wit appealed to my sensibility greatly. Interestingly, and perhaps surprisingly, very few of his works have been translated into film or television projects, and even fewer of them have been seen outside of the UK, which means that while he remains massively popular at home, he is something of an unknown quantity to the rest of the world. This is why I’m so pleased that Good Omens has been so well received; it’s a 6-part TV adaptation of the novel Pratchett wrote with sci-fi author Neil Gaiman in 1990, and is a comedy about the end of the world. Michael Sheen and David Tennant star as Aziraphale, an angel, and Crowley, a demon, who have been living on Earth since the beginning of time as the official representatives of God and Satan. When they learn that the son of Satan has been born – an event which will in time trigger the apocalypse – Aziraphale and Crowley team up to stop it happening. It turns out that, over the millennia, the pair have become unlikely friends, and are not willing to give up their pleasant and comfortable lives in England – even if Armageddon is part of God’s ineffable plan. Read more…

CHERNOBYL – Hildur Guðnadóttir

June 19, 2019 7 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

On April 26, 1986, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, close to the Ukraine-Belarus border in what was then the Soviet Union, suffered a catastrophic accident in which one of the plant’s four nuclear reactor cores exploded. The explosion started a fire and released massive amounts of nuclear radiation into the atmosphere and across most of Eastern Europe; it entirely irradiated the nearby city of Pripyat and, although official totals are much lower, may have directly and indirectly lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. The new mini-series Chernobyl, produced jointly by HBO in the United States and Sky in the UK, is a detailed look at what happened: the events leading up to the disaster, the work of the emergency services in the immediate aftermath, the work of the scientists tasked with finding out what happened, and the fates of those directly affected. Many people have taken Chernobyl to be a cautionary tale about the dangers of nuclear power, but director Johan Renck and screenwriter Craig Mazin say that is not what the show is about at all. Instead, it’s supposed to be a damning indictment of government corruption, lies, and abuse of power, with parallels echoing the current situation involving global warming and climate change. Read more…

LONESOME DOVE – Basil Poledouris

June 6, 2019 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Lonesome Dove, an epic western mini-series based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Larry McMurtry, was one of the television successes of the year after it premiered on CBS in the spring of 1989. Directed by Simon Wincer and starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones, and set in the closing years of the Old West, the story focused on the relationship between Gus (Duvall) and Call (Jones), two retired Texas Rangers who decide to leave their quiet town on the Mexican border and drive a herd of cattle north to Montana. McMurtry’s original novel – which explores themes of old age, death, unrequited love, and friendship – was based on a screenplay that he had co-written with Peter Bogdanovich for a movie that was intended to star John Wayne, James Stewart, and Henry Fonda, but the project collapsed when John Ford advised Wayne to reject the script. Prior to its airing, the ‘classic western’ was considered to be a virtually dead genre, but Lonesome Dove almost singlehandedly re-vitalized it. The series drew staggering viewership numbers of more than 20 million homes, went on to win 7 Emmys from 18 nominations (including Best Director and a slew of technical awards), and paved the way for the cinematic resurrection of the genre with Kevin Costner’s Dances With Wolves in 1990 and Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven in 1992. Read more…

LOST IN SPACE – Christopher Lennertz

April 17, 2018 4 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Considering that American TV appears to be obsessed with nostalgic reboots, it was perhaps only a matter of time before producers began to look back even further than the 1980s for inspiration. Lost in Space was one of several TV series produced by the legendary Irwin Allen which, along with Land of the Giants, The Time Tunnel, and of course Star Trek (which was not produced by Allen), eventually came to be regarded as game-changers for science fiction television storytelling. Unlike anthology series like The Twilight Zone, Lost in Space was a sequential drama that followed the adventures of the Robinson family, who are chosen to lead an exploration to find a new planet for humans to colonize, but who become hopelessly lost in the depths of space when their mission is sabotaged by a sinister stowaway. Originally broadcast in 1965, it started out quite seriously, but gradually became sillier as it went on, concentrating much more on the antics of the stowaway Dr Zachary Smith, played by Jonathan Harris, and his relationship with the family’s youngest child Will Robinson, than the existential drama at the heart of the show. It was cancelled in 1968 after three seasons, and despite an initial attempt to re-boot it in 1998 as a movie starring William Hurt, Gary Oldman, and Matt LeBlanc, it has nevertheless remained something of a quaint relic of the 1960s – until now. Read more…

WOJCIECH KILAR REVIEWS – 1964-2007

September 24, 2017 Leave a comment

In this latest installment of the new irregular series looking at the career of some film music’s most iconic composers, we travel to Poland to look at the work of one of film music’s most unsung geniuses, Wojciech Kilar.

Wojciech Kilar was born in Lvov, Ukraine, when it was still part of Poland, in July 1932, but moved to Katowice in Silesia in 1948 with his father, a gynecologist, and his mother, an actress. Kilar studied at the State Higher School of Music in Katowice under composer and pianist Władysława Markiewiczówna, at the State Higher School of Music in Kraków under composer and pianist Bolesław Woytowicz, and then in Paris with the legendary Nadia Boulanger in the late 1950s. Upon his return to Poland, Kilar and fellow composers Henryk Górecki and Krzysztof Penderecki led an avant-garde music movement in the 1960s, during which time he wrote several acclaimed classical works.

Kilar scored his first film in 1959, and went on to write music from some of Poland’s most acclaimed directors, including Krzysztof Kieślowski, Krzysztof Zanussi, Kazimierz Kutz, and Andrzej Wajda. He worked on over 100 titles in his home country, but he did not score an major English-language film until Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1992.

In addition to his film work, Kilar’s classical output includes such masterworks as Krzesany (1974), a symphonic poem for orchestra, inspired by the “highlander” music of the Tatra mountains region of southern Poland; Exodus (1979), a religious choral piece used in the trailers for Schindler’s List, and others such as Prelude and Christmas Carol (1972), Mount Kościelec 1909 (1976), Angelus (1984), Orawa (1986), and Choralvorspiel (1988). His third, fourth and fifth symphonies – the September Symphony (2003), the Symphony of Motion (2005) and the Advent Symphony (2007) – were among his last major completed works. Kilar died on December 29, 2013, at his home in Katowice, after a battle with cancer, aged 81. Read more…

FEUD: BETTE AND JOAN – Mac Quayle

August 23, 2017 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Building on the success of their hit TV anthology series American Horror Story, TV network FX and writer/director/producer Ryan Murphy have expanded into different areas with two additional shows. The first, American Crime Story, began in 2016 with The People vs. O. J. Simpson, an in-depth look at the celebrity murder trial which gripped the United States in the mid 1990s. The second, Feud, is intended to take a closer look at numerous different true-life inter-personal rivalries, and began by exposing the decades-long grudge between Hollywood actresses Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, which came to a head during the filming of the movie Whatever Happened to Baby Jane in 1962. The 8-episode series, which starred Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon in the title roles and debuted in March 2017, reveled both in its Old Hollywood sheen and in the fading glamour of the two former starlets, while unearthing juicy details on a number of studio power players, ranging from Warner Brothers exec Jack Warner to director Robert Aldrich, and gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. The show was an enormous success, and went on to pick up 19 Emmy Award nominations. Read more…

AMERIKA – Basil Poledouris

March 9, 2017 1 comment

amerikaTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In the spring of 1987 viewers of the network TV channel ABC were treated to a 6-part mini-series imagining a horrific alternate reality for the United States where the country has been insidiously, but bloodlessly, overtaken by the Soviet Union. Amerika posits the country as being essentially a puppet state of Moscow, with the President and Congress mere figureheads for the Soviet regime; the population is kept under control by a UN peacekeeping force called the UNSSU, which is supposed to be multi-national but is in reality a Russian Communist military arm, which uses fear and intimidation tactics to suppress opposition. From out of this nightmare three heroes emerge: former politician Devin Mitford (Kris Kristofferson), who is released back into society after spending years in a labor camp for treason; administrator Peter Bradford (Robert Urich), who pretends to collaborate with the Soviets while working to bring down the regime from within; and Colonel Andrei Denisov (Sam Neill), a KGB agent becoming more and more disillusioned with his country’s politics. The series, which was written and directed by Donald Wrye, has been in the news of late after more than 20 years of relative obscurity, mainly due to the accusations of Russian influence in Donald Trump’s successful run for US President in 2016… this fiction couldn’t be happening in reality, could it? Read more…