All posts under Reviews

CD Review: Mr. Turner

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The big surprise in last week’s announcement of the Oscar nominations—at least from a film music standpoint—was the inclusion of Gary Yershon’s score for MR. TURNER. Mike Leigh’s biopic of English landscape and maritime painter J.M.W. Turner (1775–1851) had received acclaim for Timothy Spall’s excellent portrayal of the grumpy artist (which won him Best Actor at Cannes) as well as Dick Pope’s (or “Dick Poop” in the embarrassing nomination announcement from Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs) masterful cinematography. But Yershon’s score apparently flew under the radar. Thankfully, the Academy’s Music Branch rectified that…

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CD Review: La rançon de la gloire (The Price of Fame)

I’m breaking one of my cardinal rules with this post in reviewing a score for a film I haven’t seen. LA RANÇON DE LA GLOIRE only recently opened in France and has yet to arrive in the U.S. But the chance to hear and discuss a new Michel Legrand score was just too good to pass up. The film is based on the true story of two bumbling crooks who dig up the body of Charlie Chaplin for ransom money. Given that I’m working on my book about Chaplin’s film music, it’s obvious why…

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CD Review: QB VII

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In the Dark Ages before cable or the Internet, the Big Three of network television—ABC, NBC and CBS—ruled American homes. In 1974 a new form of television drama came to dominate the airwaves—the miniseries. Spread out over multiple nights or weeks, the miniseries was the water cooler moment that dominated pop culture for its run. Usually based on bestselling epic novels, the miniseries’ lavish productions and high-powered casts became sure-fire ratings grabbers during the all-important sweeps period. Following the success of British miniseries THE SIX WIVES OF HENRY VIII and…

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CD Review: Skyfall

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Only having recently watched all the Eon-sanctioned Bond films (most of them for the first time) and discovering their scores (also for the first time), I didn’t go into the new Bond film/score with any particular expectations other than being an admirer of Thomas Newman and director Sam Mendes. SKYFALL as a film is a thrilling entry in the franchise and a major return to (the new) form after the disappointing QUATUM OF SOLACE. In addition, Mendes and his screenwriters have raised the bar for future entries by creating an exciting thriller…

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CD Review: Cloud Atlas

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Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb we are bound to others—past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future. David Mitchell’s “unfilmable” 2004 novel of six interlinking stories makes for a wild ride at the cineplex. As the stories cut back and forth (in a superb case study of film editing) and actors inhabit multiple roles, crisscrossing generations and sexes, you wonder how directors/scriptwriters Lana and Andy Wachowksi (THE MATRIX trilogy) and Tom Tykwer (RUN LOLA RUN) are going to pull…

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CD Review: Notre Dame de Paris – The Music of Maurice Jarre

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As more and more film music concerts are being performed, there will be opportunities to showcase the concert music of film composers and the need for concert arrangements of film music that goes beyond the expected war horses. An engaging new compilation 2-CD set on the Tadlow label, Notre Dame de Paris—The Music of Maurice Jarre, features suites from two of Jarre’s concert works as well as world premieres of further symphonic suites culled from his film music and assorted selections from Jarre’s lesser known film scores. The album begins with…

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CD Review: Ruby Sparks

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Out of the ashes of superheroes and the mid-summer slump rises a gem of a film. RUBY SPARKS stars Paul Dano as a lonely bestselling wunderkind facing writer’s block. When he meets the girl of his dreams (Zoe Kazan), he realizes she is actually his fictional creation come to life. Real-life couple Dano and Kazan bring their characters to vibrant life and Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE) direct with a quirky, light hand that gives Kazan’s smart, witty script (a surefire Oscar contender) further buoyancy. Nick Urata underscores this magical…

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CD Review: The Dark Knight Rises

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Batman sure has changed since the candy-colored days of Bif! Bam! Pow! Gone are the comic book origins and the jazzy swing of Neal Hefti and Nelson Riddle. Gone also are the whimsy and the equally distinctive musical contributions of Danny Elfman and Elliot Goldenthal for their pairs of Batman films. Christopher Nolan’s Batman has always been adrift in a more dangerously realistic, post 9/11 vision of Gotham and his trilogy has explored far deeper issues than even the darkest of the earlier Caped Crusader incarnations could hint at. And with…

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CD Review: City Lights

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In 1931, four years after THE JAZZ SINGER ushered in the sound era, Charlie Chaplin openly thumbed his nose at Hollywood’s new trend and released another silent picture—CITY LIGHTS. Against all odds, the tale of the Little Tramp who falls in love with a blind girl (Virginia Cherrill) was Chaplin’s biggest hit to date, further proof of his worldwide popularity. Chaplin had unprecedented control over his films—writing, acting, directing and producing them. Now with the advent of sound, he took on a new role—composer. The recording capabilities of the period were…

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CD Review: The Greatest Film Scores of Dimitri Tiomkin

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Outside of John Williams and film music festivals, it’s not often that film music concerts are devoted to one composer, especially one from the Golden Age. But few composers lend themselves to such extensive stage time like Dimitri Tiomkin. Memorable melodies and orchestrations that were written for a full orchestral complement, Tiomkin’s music is certainly deserving of an evening. In October 2011, the London Symphony Orchestra celebrated the music of the multi-Oscar-winner and a recording of that performance, The Greatest Film Scores of Dimitri Tiomkin, has just been released on the orchestra’s…

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