Movie Review: STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS – Review #2

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS poster | © 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd.

Rating: PG-13 Stars: Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, Andy Serkis, Gwendoline Christie, Peter Mayhew, Domnhall Gleeson Writers: Lawrence Kasdan & J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt, based on characters created by George Lucas Director: J.J. Abrams Distributor: Disney Release Date: December 18, 2015 — Here there be spoilers — Read at your own risk! There has probably never been a better use of movie magic than STAR WARS. In its potent mixture of human archetypes as old as our deepest past, laser blasters and starships from as far in the future as we can […]Read On »

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Movie Review: STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS – Review #1

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS logo | © 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd.

Rating: PG-13 Stars: Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, Andy Serkis, Gwendoline Christie, Peter Mayhew, Domnhall Gleeson Writers: Lawrence Kasdan & J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt, based on characters created by George Lucas Director: J.J. Abrams Distributor: Disney Release Date: December 18, 2015 If there ever was a movie where just about nobody cared what the reviews were like, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS is it. The legions who love George Lucas’ original creation don’t give a flying Fett what anyone has to say – if there’s a chance that the magic spark has […]Read On »

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CD Review: THE BOOK THIEF soundtrack

THE BOOK THIEF soundtrack | ©2013 Sony Classical

An excellent, “entry” level Holocaust film for mature young viewers, THE BOOK THIEF comes across as a movie you’d think that Steven Spielberg had directed, right down to a beautifully sumptuous, but no less achingly raw score by John Williams. While the filmmaking honors here can actually go to DOWNTOWN ABBEY‘s Brian Percival, Williams’ score is certainly worthy of his accomplishments for said other director, who’s often dealt with the horrors of WW2 in SCHINDLER’S LIST and SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. But if there are any Spielberg movies that THE BOOK THIEF has a kinship with, then it’s the hugely underrated […]Read On »

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CD Review: The Ten Best Scores of 2013

Anthony Gonzalez, Joseph Trapanese / OBLIVION soundtrack | ©2013 +180 Records

THE BOOK THIEF (John Williams / Sony Classical) The kind of unabashedly thematic, and mostly melodic music that’s made John Williams into the most popular film composer of all time is often the sound of innocence itself, an unabated musical youthfulness that he’s also played to ironic effect when dealing with children confronting the unimaginable. Here it’s a genocide that’s heard, but rarely witnessed within a young German girl’s sheltered life during World War 2. Such is the devastating, gentle power that speaks volumes for THE BOOK THIEF‘s score as it encapsulates the innocence, first loves and ultimate shock of […]Read On »

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CD review: ROSEWOOD soundtrack

ROSEWOOD soundtrack | ©2013 La La Land Records

Beyond exploring other galaxies and ravishingly exotic lands, the urbane composer John Williams has found a rich, melodic vein to mine in the south from THE REIVERS‘ coming of age to CONRACK‘s rural school and the comedy-drama car chase that marked Williams’ first collaboration with Steven Spielberg on THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS. But this Queens’ native’s way of knowing how to wield a guitar, jaw harp and harmonica like a regular good old boy would also show the region at its ugliest in a Florida town called ROSEWOOD, whose white population expelled its black populace during one murderous night. While John […]Read On »

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CD Review: JURASSIC PARK 20th ANNIVERSARY soundtrack

JURASSIC PARK: 20th ANNIVERSARY soundtrack | ©2013 Geffen Records

By this point in a nearly four decade collaboration, John Williams’ DNA is as inseparable from the magic of Steven Spielberg as a moth encased in million-year old amber. And given a gigantic body of work whose themes are as instantly memorable, whether played with two notes (JAWS), five notes (CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND) or a plethora of them, it’s hard nailing down just what might be Williams’ finest melody for the director. But when it comes to his most singable theme, the award must go to JURASSIC PARK. God forbid this movie had come out when Meco […]Read On »

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CD Review: THE FURY soundtrack (3500 edition)

THE FURY soundtrack | ©2013 La La Land Records

Brian De Palma was lucky enough to get the real Herrmann deal to participate in his cinematically brilliant games of Hitchcock fetishism for SISTERS and OBSESSION. And just as James Stewart mooned over Kim Novak’s doppelganger, De Palma has since spent a good part of his thriller-centric career getting just about every composer since Bernard’s passing to dress up in his musical clothing, which has provided a pretty good fit for such men as Pino Donaggio (DRESSED TO KILL) and Ryuichi Sakamoto (FEMME FATALE). Perhaps that dramatically macabre sound has never been tailored better than to John Williams, an artist […]Read On »

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CD Review: The Best Scores of 2011

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS- PART TWO soundtrack | ©2011 Water Tower Music

THE BEST SCORES OF 2011 THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU (Thomas Newman / Relativity) There’s always been something ethereal, if not downright unearthly about the dreamy, often rhythmic sound that’s allowed Thomas Newman to become the first alt. rocker to make it big as a film composer. It’s a sound that’s particularly well-suited to the spiritual, conveying a universe behind the walls of reality in such scores as THE RAPTURE, OSCAR AND LUCINDA and PHENOMENON. Now Newman’s on the side of the angels with hats for this moving, faith-based Phillip K. Dick adaptation. His mesmerizing mix employs strings and acoustic guitar, suspenseful […]Read On »

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Movie Review: WAR HORSE

WAR HORSE movie poster | ©2011 Touchstone/DreamWorks

Rating: PG-13 Stars: Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, Peter Mullan, Niels Arestrup, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Thewlis, Celine Buckens, Eddie Marsan Writers: Lee Hall and Richard Curtis, based on the novel by Micharl Morpurgo Director: Steven Spielberg Distributor: Touchstone Pictures/DreamWorks Release Date: December 25, 2011 Thematically, temporally and emotionally, if BLACK BEAUTY and SAVING PRIVATE RYAN had a cinematic offspring, it probably would be WAR HORSE. Using the Michael Morpurgo novel that also inspired the current Broadway hit of the same name, WAR HORSE is the story of Joey, a horse with a lot of heart and ability, and Albert […]Read On »

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CD Review: 1941 soundtrack (limited 3,500 edition)

1941 soundtrack | ©2011 La La Land Records

It almost never fails that a filmmaker who thinks he’s King of the World will produce at least one box office disaster (if not two) in an otherwise hugely profitable, and sometimes critically distinguished career. Sometimes, said films are of the “movie I really want to make” variety, the kind of “little” picture that the studio gives the director a mulligan on so they’ll do the blockbuster sequel they really wanted in the first place. But even when that personal movie is packed with enough spectacle and explosive hubris to make it anything but an art film, there can still […]Read On »

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