All posts under Reviews

CD Review: 9


Shane Acker’s 9 has had an illustrious beginning. The original 11-minute animated short (you can watch it on YouTube) won a 2005 Student Academy Award and was nominated for a competitive Oscar that same year. Now Acker has expanded the short into an animated feature film (Focus Feature’s second such film following CORALINE earlier this year) set to open tomorrow. If the runner and commercials are any indication, its a slick piece of animated film making with an impressive cast, including Elijah Wood, Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, Crispin Glover, and Jennifer Connelly. In…

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CD Review: District 9


I usually don’t fall victim to pop culture hype. I’ve remained immune to reality TV, “talent” (and I use the word loosely) shows, and most of the big blockbusters. But whoever is responsible for marketing DISTRICT 9 should be given a big, fat raise. Excellent commercials that showed just enough to spark my interest and the attendant buzz (which I usually ignore) reeled me in. Even armed with great reviews and word of mouth, aliens quarantined in a shantytown in South Africa made me a bit leery. By the end of the…

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CD Review: Nino Rota – Concert Music


It didn’t take me long to explore more of Nino Rota‘s concert music. In addition to the new release of his First and Second Symphonies on Chandos, I was recently sent a copy of a disc of three of Rota’s later works, performed by I Musici di Parma. Following his years as an arthouse favorite with his Fellini scores, Rota had become an international star with his music from THE GODFATHER (1972), rare for a film composer. But that “overnight” popularity didn’t detract Rota from continuing to compose for the…

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CD Review: Nino Rota – Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2


Consider the following equation: 33 years addicted to film music + 9 years of higher education = I never knew Nino Rota composed for the concert hall. And as such, I’m embarrassed to admit that I’d never heard a note of Rota’s concert music until I was sent a recent Chandos release of his first and second symphonies. Rota’s concert career has effectively been ignored in the U.S., no doubt due to his popularity as a film composer. I was never exposed to his concert music in college and I’m not…

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CD Review: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan


In June of 1982, I’d just finished my second year of my undergrad degree and was looking forward to a summer of increased drinking and very little, if any, clarinet practicing. For me, the summer movie buzz revolved around this new Steven Spielberg movie having to do with some extra-terrestrial and yummy peanut butter candy. So I paid very little attention to the fanfare surrounding STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN. I was a big fan of the original STAR TREK series in the 1970’s but, like most people,…

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CD Review: Lonely Are the Brave


Kirk Douglas said of LONELY ARE THE BRAVE, “Of all the movies I have made, this is my favorite.” And it shows. Douglas’ performance is relaxed and nuanced, leaving behind many of the mannerisms that mar other performances, some of which are far more famous. Douglas plays Jack Burns, seemingly the last cowboy in a modern world. When he finds out that his best friend Paul (Michael Kane) has been arrested, Jack picks a fight so that he’ll get jail time and break his friend out of prison. When Paul…

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CD Review: The Right Stuff


Forty years ago today, man walked on the moon, an event that, along with the death of Judy Garland earlier that year, remains one of my earliest memories of life outside my own little world in Irving, Texas. Just in time for the 40th anniversary of this phenomenal achievement in space, Varese Sarabande has released Bill Conti‘s Oscar-winning score for THE RIGHT STUFF (1983). Tom Wolfe’s original book and Philip Kaufman’s film tells the story of the “flyboys” and Mercury astronauts in the early days of the space program who paved the…

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CD Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince


I gave up on seeing Harry Potter movies in the theater after THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN in 2004. I wasn’t a fan of the films to begin with but HP3 nearly ruined my enjoyment of the books. By the time GOBLET OF FIRE came out the next year, I’d had enough and figured DVD would be a fine way to finish out the series, if I bothered to watch them at all. I waited six months for Netflix to send me ORDER OF THE PHOENIX. By the time it arrived…

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Game Score Review: Afrika


My gaming days ended with Asteroids and Ms. Pac Man, so I have missed the nearly 40 years of advances in video games since then. Scores for video games have also become big business, and I seem to have missed that boat as well. So it is with great surprise and delight that my first exposure to video game music is a winner. Wataru Hokoyama has composed a score for the PlayStation 3 wildlife photography game, AFRIKA, which contains music rarely heard in Hollywood films these days–acoustic, full-bodied orchestral music…

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CD Review: O’Horten


O’HORTEN (2007), Norway’s entry as Best Foreign Language Film at last year’s Academy Awards, was recently released in limited markets here in the U.S. At the age of 67, loner Odd Horten (Bard Owe) is forced into retirement from his job as a locomotive engineer. The film follows Horten as he wanders through his new life and his encounters with the offbeat characters he meets along the way. Not much happens in the film, action-wise, and yet I found myself following Horten’s simple life in which he learns to accept his fate, break up…

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