All posts under Reviews

DVD Review: The Diary of Anne Frank

For the 50th anniversary of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK (1959), 20th Century Fox has rereleased the film on DVD and for the first time on Blu-ray. Since I have yet to make the leap to Blu-ray, this review will cover the DVD release. Whether on the page, on stage, or onscreen, the story of Anne Frank and her family hiding from the Nazi’s in wartime Amsterdam packs an emotional wallop. You’d have to be made of stone not to be affected by it. Fifty years later, George Stevens’ film is still…

Read More

CD Review: The Prince and the Pauper

With its latest release, Tribute Film Classics serves up a musical treasure fit for a king–Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s complete score for THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER (1937). When Tribute Film Classics emerged as a new label in 2007, their mission was to “to record deserved scores in complete renditions–including music that may have been omitted or edited in the final film–that have been either ignored or survive in less than pristine condition.” That their releases have been greeted with praise should come as no surprise. After all, score reconstructionist John…

Read More

CD Review: Shostakovich – The Girlfriends

Very few classical composers have the naglost (or the desperation, depending on who you ask) to risk their careers and compose for film, even with the lure of higher pay. Most famous composers such as Prokofiev, Copland, Corigliano, etc. have only done a handful of film scores. Korngold carved out a highly successful film career, to the detriment of his concert career. But Dmitri Shostakovich is arguably the most prolific major composer whose scores have not entered the consciousness of the film music fan base. Shostakovich composed the scores to 36…

Read More

CD Review: Mr. Tambourine Man/Three Hallucinations

The relationship between Hollywood and the concert hall has always been strained at best. But for me, film music and classical music have always existed peacefully side by side. As a clarinet performance major in college, I loved studying clarinet works by such Hollywood legends as Alex North and Miklos Rozsa because of their film music. With other composers, like Aaron Copland, I knew their classical pieces before being introduced to their film scores. I was first exposed to John Corigliano through his fiendishly difficult Clarinet Concerto. As a high school…

Read More

On Cloud Nine

After missing THE INCREDIBLES and WALL-E in the theater, I was determined to not let that happen again with UP. The film made my heart soar. Michael Giacchino’s score left me floating on cloud nine. Pixar raises the bar even further with their first film in 3-D. The  process allows the stunning set pieces to take on a greater depth, but the technique is never used at the expense of the story. Once I got used to wearing 3-D glasses over my regular glasses, what came into focus was a beautiful film…

Read More

CD Review: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Sequels. Always a tricky business. How to stay true to the original and yet find something fresh. But how do you top your first film’s $250 million domestic and nearly $575 million worldwide box office? Even with 19 museums at their disposal, NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: BATTLE OF THE SMITHSONIAN proves that bigger is not always better. In the sequel, Larry Daley (Ben Stiller), now a rich inventor, finds out his beloved museum pieces are being put in storage at the Smithsonian. When Ahkmenrah’s (Rami Malek) older brother, Kah Mun Rah (Hank Azaria), gets…

Read More

CD Review: Terminator Salvation

Like STAR TREK fans, TERMINATOR fans are a loyal bunch. Mess with their franchise at your own peril. For those who can keep up with the franchise’s time-twisting storyline, more power to you. I got the gist of it, but outside of Sam Worthington’s affecting performance as the new “human” Terminator, I didn’t find much to enjoy in TERMINATOR SALVATION. My blood raced more from the decibel level than from anything actually happening onscreen. Bringing Danny Elfman onboard should have pleased film score fans. But many of the same issues fired at…

Read More

CD Review: Up

To “celebrate” their 10th animated film, Pixar has elected to release Michael Giacchino’s score for UP as a download only purchase on Amazon and iTunes. If you’ll allow me to vent a bit, this seems a poor way to market the film and to repay Giacchino, who has contributed wonderful scores for his last two outings with the studio–THE INCREDIBLES and the Oscar-nominated RATATOUILLE. Film score fans have raised their voices in protest in the past when studios have released film scores only through digital means. If “download only” is…

Read More

CD Review: The True Story of Jesse James / The Last Wagon

In the late 1950s, the Western was facing a tough showdown during the last years of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Interest in the classic film genre was fading, and you could hear the dying gasps before the genre moved to television and faded into the setting sun on film. Intrada recently released two lesser-known Western scores from the 20th-Century Fox vaults. Nicholas Ray’s THE TRUE STORY OF JESSE JAMES (1957) stars Robert Wagner as Jesse and Jeffrey Hunter as Jesse’s assassin, Frank James. Ray had directed earlier Westerns such as THE…

Read More

CD Review: Tom Jones

Arguably the least stuffy costumer ever filmed, Albert Finney stars as TOM JONES (1963), Henry Fielding’s classic bastard of ignoble birth. With a countryside estate’s worth of raucous performances–including Susannah York, Hugh Griffith, and Dame Edith Evans–Tony Richardson’s disarming direction and John Osborne’s witty screenplay utilize camera tricks, voiceovers, and asides directly to the audience. The effect is cinematic vaudeville and Oscar gold. The film won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, as well as statues for Richardson and Osborne. John Addison’s Oscar-winning score, newly released on CD by Kritzerland, provides the…

Read More