Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Newman’


December 26, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

It’s been almost a decade since Thomas Newman wrote, and was Oscar nominated for, his score for American Beauty. In the intervening period, Newman’s work on that film has, arguably, become the most copied piece of music in recent history: the plinking and plonking and rhythmic quirkiness of that score has become cinematic (and televisual) musical shorthand for suburban life, and the things that go on behind the manicured lawns and the white picket fences. Thomas Newman has collaborated with American Beauty’s director, Sam Mendes, twice since then, on Road to Perdition in 2002 and Jarhead in 2005, but Revolutionary Road marks the first return to the setting which initially inspired both men. Like American Beauty, Revolutionary Road is a tale of suburban malaise and malcontent, hidden behind the sheen of a perfect marriage and the American dream. Based on the novel by Richard Yates and set in Connecticut in the 1950s, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet – on screen for the first time together since Titanic – as married couple Frank and April Wheeler. Frank is stuck in a dead-end job, and resorts to alcoholism to escape the mind-numbing drudgery of his life, while April dreams of moving to Paris to become an actress. Their neighbors see a perfect partnership living a perfect life, but in private their marriage is slowly dissolving into an endless cycle of bitter arguments and jealous recriminations, ultimately leading to a devastating conclusion. Read more…

TOWELHEAD – Thomas Newman

September 12, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Towelhead – also known as Nothing Is Private – is the theatrical directorial debut of Alan Ball, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of American Beauty, and is based on a novel by Alicia Erian. It’s another one of those stories of suburban dissatisfaction and the evil that lurks behind the face of normality in America, and tells the story of a young Arab American girl named Jasira (Summer Bishil) who is sent to live with her father in Houston, Texas during the first Gulf War. While struggling with her father’s controlling influence and the racism she encounters at school, Jasira begins to develop an unhealthy sexual fixation with a bigoted army reservist (Aaron Eckhart), who is more racist than anyone else. Read more…

WALL·E – Thomas Newman

June 27, 2008 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

If one was to try to work out the most financially successful film production company (adding up all the grosses, and dividing by the number of films), I would hazard a guess that Pixar would be up there with the most successful of all time. Since first appearing on the scene in 1995 with Toy Story, every single one of their films has grossed over $200 million at the US box office, with the highest – Finding Nemo – ratcheting up $389 million in 2003. Similarly, the scores for Pixar films have been almost universally lauded amongst critics; seven of the eight films to date have received Oscar nominations for score, or song, or both. Randy Newman won his first (and only) Oscar for Monsters Inc in 2001. The only score to miss out was Michael Giacchino’s The Incredibles in 2004. Read more…

CINDERELLA MAN – Thomas Newman

June 3, 2005 Leave a comment

cinderellamanOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Cinderella Man is a wonderful example of everything that is great and everything that is so frustrating about Thomas Newman’s music. As he has proved in the past through scores such as The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, Meet Joe Black and others, there are few finer composers than Newman when it comes to delivering a big emotional pay-off. The problem is that he does it so rarely that, with each new score, you are never sure whether the right buttons are going to be pressed the first time you slip the CD into the player. Tedious scores such as White Oleander, The Salton Sea and In the Bedroom showed plenty of innovation, but very little “enjoyment”, despite having the potential to sit atop his impressive filmography. Fortunately Cinderella Man falls in the camp of the former scores, although it does lack the thematic beauty and emotional impact of some of his better-known works. Read more…


December 17, 2004 Leave a comment

lemonysnicketOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

In what can almost be seen as an extension of the playfulness he showed in writing Finding Nemo in 2003, Thomas Newman has written the score for Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, the first big-screen adaptation of the popular children’s stores by author Daniel Handler. Essentially a distillation of three of the Lemony Snicket books – The Bad Beginning”, “The Reptile Room”, and “The Wide Window” – director Brad Silberling’s film stars child actors Emily Browning and Liam Aiken as the Baudelaire children, made orphans in a mysterious fire and sent to live with their thespian uncle, Count Olaf (Jim Carrey). What results are – as the title suggests – a series of unfortunate events as Olaf hatches plot after plot to bump off the children and get his hands on their inheritance. With a supporting cast that includes Meryl Streep, Billy Connolly and Timothy Spall, Lemony Snicket looks set to rival Harry Potter in the coming years as the “literary franchise for children” – especially with another ten stories from which to choose future film storylines. Read more…


September 23, 2004 Leave a comment

shawshankredemptionMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

As it is currently enjoying a limited cinematic re-release to celebrate its tenth anniversary, and has recently been released on a special 3-disc collectors DVD, I thought I would take the opportunity re-visit and re-review Thomas Newman’s score for The Shawshank Redemption. When I first saw this film back in March 1995, I thought it to be a worthy, enjoyable film, taking into account my comparative immaturity and lack of experience in things cinematic. Now, a decade later on, I consider it one of the best films I have ever seen; a warm, uplifting, moving tribute to the indomitable human spirit, the power of friendship, and the need for hopes and dreams. Read more…


December 7, 2003 Leave a comment

angelsinamericaOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The quality of original television music in recent years has improved immeasurably. Long gone are the days when all a TV-movie could hope for was a rising star or ageing has-been hiring a small orchestra or, worse still, mocking it all up on synths at home. Now, with recent excellent works like Brian Tyler’s Children of Dune, Laura Karpman’s Taken and Michael Kamen’s Band of Brothers, the upper echelons of television scoring is equaling – and occasionally surpassing – that of the cinema. One of these scores which surpasses almost everything written for the cinema is Thomas Newman’s Angels in America, by far one of the best scores written for any medium in 2003. Read more…

FINDING NEMO – Thomas Newman

May 30, 2003 Leave a comment

findingnemoOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The last person you would expect to score a Disney family movie would be Thomas Newman; the last person you would expect to score a Pixar movie would be Thomas Newman, especially when the monopoly on these has hitherto been held by his cousin Randy. But, in an attempt to break away from the usual sound and go down a different road, Pixar and director Andrew Stanton asked Newman to score Finding Nemo, the excellent animation studio’s offering for summer 2003. The truly unexpected thing about the end result is twofold: firstly, it has provided Newman with a perfect opportunity to employ the services of a much larger orchestra, and to write broad themes and largely more upbeat music. The surprising thing is that, by and large, is also a little disappointing. Read more…

WHITE OLEANDER – Thomas Newman

October 11, 2002 Leave a comment

whiteoleanderOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

I’m getting rather frustrated with Thomas Newman. How many times is he going to rehash the American Beauty sound before it becomes even more tired than it already is? In many ways, Thomas Newman is becoming the James Horner of the 2000s; a supremely talented composer whose work in the full orchestral arena is as good as anything being written today (The Shawshank Redemption, Little Women, Meet Joe Black). But, and at the risk of sounding cruel, he seems to be getting lazy, and is quite prepared to rehash his old works, whether it is at his director’s behest, or because of his own current obsession with sound design over melody. To paraphrase the Old Testament of the bible, American Beauty beget Erin Brockovich, beget Pay It Forward, beget In The Bedroom, and now beget White Oleander. Read more…


July 12, 2002 Leave a comment

roadtoperditionOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

One thing that cannot be taken away from Thomas Newman is the fact that (with the possible exception of Elliot Goldenthal) he is, by far, the most original voice working in film music today. Newman has, literally, created a style of writing that no-one has heard before, and through recent films like American Beauty and Erin Brockovich and In the Bedroom, given Hollywood a unique musical perspective on modern life. Imitators follow his lead, but Newman’s unique brand of quirky rhythmic techniques and innovative orchestrations remain as one of today’s truly distinctive voices. What people tend to forget, though, is that for all his marimbas and sazes and funky monkeys, Newman is equally excellent at the “big orchestral thing”. Road to Perdition, his latest work, reaffirms that. Read more…

PAY IT FORWARD – Thomas Newman

October 20, 2000 2 comments

payitforwardOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

There’s a worrying trend developing in the career of Thomas Newman – peculiarity. Now, I’m all for innovation in film scoring. When a composer does something unexpected to enhance the mood or feel of a film, it is a refreshing and invigorating experience. When Thomas Newman did it on American Beauty, I was pleased. Newman has always been one of Hollywood’s most unconventional mainstream composers, equally at ease with lush symphonic writing (a la The Shawshank Redemption or Meet Joe Black) and experimental sound design (as in Flesh & Blood or Red Corner). Of late, though, Newman seems to have been stuck in this percussive rut, with seemingly no way out. In effect, he has written the same score for his last three movies: American Beauty, Erin Brockovich, and now Pay It Forward. Read more…

THE GREEN MILE – Thomas Newman

December 10, 1999 Leave a comment

greenmileOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

It seems to be that Stephen King’s best works all take place in prisons. The same can be said of director Frank Darabont, although this statement is just a little misleading because he has only made two movies to date, both of which are Stephen King adaptations set in prisons. The former, The Shawshank Redemption, was one of the best movies of the last decade. It could be said that Darabont made a rod for his own back by taking on such a similar movie so soon, thereby inviting comparisons between the two that the new movie could never hope to achieve. The Green Mile does not quite emulate the success of Shawshank, but is an excellent movie in itself, boasting a core of superb performances, several moving scenes, one horribly realistic execution-gone-wrong, and a whole load of none-too-subtle religious connotations. Read more…


September 17, 1999 Leave a comment

americanbeautyOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

It’s difficult to imagine another film this year achieving the level of perfection American Beauty achieves. Perfect direction from Sam Mendes. A perfect screenplay by Alan Ball. Perfect performances from Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch and Chris Cooper. It’s just a shame that, in the synopsis, the movie sounds so dull because, in reality nothing could be further from the truth. We have seen scathing examinations of suburban American before. We have witnessed breakdowns of family units in the cinema, and exposed the sordid underbelly of the lives of people whose outward “normality” masks a level of cynicism, hate and deprivation. American Beauty does all those things, but somehow puts a fresh new spin on them that turns the familiar clichés on their head with wit, energy, humor and genuine emotion. Read more…