Newest Major Reviews:.This Month's Most Popular Reviews: Best-Selling Albums:
. 1. The Lego Batman Movie
2. Fifty Shades Darker
3. Hidden Figures
4. La La Land
5. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
. . 1. Star Wars: Force Awakens
2. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
3. Titanic
4. Avatar
5. Nineteen Eighty-Four
6. Gladiator
7. Star Wars: A New Hope
8. Animal Farm
9. LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring
10. Harry Potter: Sorcerer's Stone
. . 1. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
2. Fantastic Beasts/Find Them
3. Willow
4. The Ghost and the Darkness
5. An American Tail
Filmtracks On Cue


On Cue for August, 2003:





8/29/03 - Despite the magnificent musical talent applied to films and television in the past and present, Thomas Newman unintentionally stumbled into the scoring business by accident. Over fifty major film scores later, he has become one of the most sought-after composers in Hollywood, and this week Filmtracks celebrates Thomas Newman's career with a Composer Tribute. Since Little Women in 1994, Newman has been well known for writing spectacular scores for large orchestral ensembles, and yet he personally prefers writing for small ensembles and producing quirky, off-beat rhythms (a la American Beauty). Unceasing experimentation helps define his approach, and he manages to elicit an enormous amount of the emotional content of a film without being obvious about it. The directors with whom he has worked agree that Newman has an original voice and is a genuine collaborator. In 2003, he overcame his apprehension of the animated genre (a staple of his cousin, Randy) and scored the biggest blockbuster of the summer, Finding Nemo. Filmtracks also maintains sixteen other Composer Tributes.

8/28/03 - Little Women: (Thomas Newman) "1994 was something of a breakout year for Thomas Newman. Though he had been working steadily in Hollywood for more than ten years, like a "rookie" ballplayer whose first shot at the big leagues comes after years in the minors, Newman finally scored pay dirt when he was attached to two A-list projects that year (three, if you count The War), one of which went on to become a modern-day classic (I'll let you guess which one). Having built a reputation for himself as the go-to guy for quirky films in need of a quirky musical voice, Newman wasn't finally thrust for good into the mainstream until the Academy Awards season of early 1995, when the powers that be took notice of a young composer who'd somehow snagged not one but two nominations for Best Score. One was The Shawshank Redemption (the aforementioned classic, which should have beaten The Lion King). The other was Little Women. While Newman had amassed an impressive resume up to that point in his career, including Men Don't Leave, Fried Green Tomatoes and Scent of a Woman..." **** Read the entire donated review.

8/27/03 - The Master of Ballantrae: (Bruce Broughton) --Updated Review-- "Already known in the television scoring arena for his The Blue and the Grey score, Bruce Broughton was presented with the opportunity in 1984 to score this remake of the 1953 Errol Flynn swashbuckler. The film, which aired on the CBS network in America, was a lavish production of 150 minutes in length and starred Michael York and Timothy Dalton in leading roles. Although the budget for the project as whole was quite large, Broughton only received enough money from the producers to write a score for an unbelievably restricting 36 musicians. He would strip the Sinfonia of London down to its bare parts, including only six brass players. In the face of such adversity, Broughton still managed --somehow-- to provide a score that has moments of large swashbuckling action and drama. To do this, Broughton inserted as much melody as possible into the score in order to counterbalance the lack of power to carry the music in the film...." *** Read the entire review.

8/25/03 - My Big Fat Greek Wedding: (Chris Wilson/Alexander Janko) --All New Review-- "The 2002 smash hit that took everyone by surprise, this film outpaced many of the year's blockbusters and turned profits that raised all arthouse films' hopes for mainstream success. Actress and comedian Nia Vardalos first performed the idea of My Big Fat Greek Wedding in her stand-up solo comedy routine before the producing husband and wife team of Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson propelled the film onto the big screen. For anyone who has not had the privilege to know or live with a true Greek, then My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a must-see experience for purely educational reasons. While the film makes light comedy out of the differing cultures of Greek Americans and "Xenos" (non-Greeks), it also presents a balanced and frighteningly accurate portrayal of Greek eccentricities. A thirtysomething Greek spinster (Vardalos) falls in love with and becomes engaged to a Xeno (John Corbett) and thus, from the Xeno's point of view, a "Wedding from Hell" kind of scenario is put into action. The music for the film proved to be a popular hit with audiences as well..." **** Read the entire review.

8/22/03 - In twenty short years, Alan Silvestri has transformed himself from a guitarist, drummer, and arranger in various bands to one of the world's most in-demand film composers. For the fourth new composer tribute addition to Filmtracks this month, a Tribute to Alan Silvestri is now available. Through late night improvisation and a willingness to learn any genre of music, Silvestri continues to produce high quality scores and establish himself in Hollywood as a melody wizard and a musical chameleon. He has experimented with almost every type of film genre: comedy, action, romance, science fiction, animation, horror, drama, fantasy, western, thriller, slapstick, and adventure. Look for a review of his new large scale score for Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life in the near future, as well as reviews of recent promos such as Lilo & Stitch and What Women Want. Filmtracks also maintains fifteen other Composer Tributes.

8/21/03 - Who Framed Roger Rabbit: (Alan Silvestri) --All New Review, Three Albums-- "Hailed as one of the most successful technological breakthroughs in history of the animated film genre, Who Framed Roger Rabbit was an incredibly popular merging of animated and live-action filming technologies. And while the seamless integration of these two genres was heralded to no end in 1988, the film strangely had little impact on the actual future of animation and live action films. Ironically, Disney would meet an even greater success by going back to the strictly animated scene, and would hit the financial pot of gold beginning the next year with The Little Mermaid and continuing through all of the Alan Menken projects. Despite the success of the visuals, the project turned out to have a bigger legacy in the other realm in which it dabbled: cross-studio character mingling. Who Framed Roger Rabbit was also famous for its rare collaboration between Warner Brothers and Disney, and the licensing and copyright nightmare that the film ended up creating would unfortunately make it a one-time experiment...." **** Read the entire review.

8/20/03 - Sommersby: (Danny Elfman) --Expanded Review-- "An Americanized story of the soldier who assumes the identity of a comrade and returns to live his life, Sommersby was a Richard Gere project for which Nicholas Meyer had rewritten the story for the Virginia countryside. The film failed to garner much attention outside of its initial release, partly due to the film's downbeat ending and poor word of mouth. Despite its obscurity now, Sommersby remains a well crafted film by director Jon Amiel, with several spectacular scenes contained within the picture. In the post-Civil War era, Gere's title character returns from several years of war, having killed the nasty, real (and nearly identical-looking) Sommersby and assuming his place in the Virginia village as a changed man. As he helps improve the town, as well as his family, the film picks up a positive, though troubled momentum, leading up to discovery of his fraud and trail for his crimes. Sommersby would be the only collaboration between Amiel and composer Danny Elfman (Amiel established a working relationship with Christopher Young after this film), and the choice of Elfman was one of intrigue..." ***** Read the entire review.

8/18/03 - The Hi-Lo Country: (Carter Burwell) --All New Review-- "Director Stephen Frears took his first adventure in the genre of the Wild West for The Hi-Lo Country, a spaghetti western which places one woman as the subject of the affections of two cowboys. The formula isn't new, with the simple plot of the love triangle playing out on the vast scenery of New Mexico. The film, while it is a character-driven tale, does reveal several large vistas and a wide palate of yellow and orange colors. The project would prove to be the first Western for niche composer Carter Burwell, who was best known (and still is) for his collabotation with the Coen brothers on films like Fargo and Raising Arizona, as well as several dissonant scores for other dark thrillers. The musical requirements of the New Mexican vistas would present a new avenue on which Burwell could express his musical talents, and, to some degree, he did just that. Even with the genre at his side, Burwell continues his trend towards the composition of complex underscore rather than a more prominent role for his music...." *** Read the entire review.

8/15/03 - With over 200 film scores to his credit, Elmer Bernstein has finally received a Composer Tribute at Filmtracks. The legendary composer began scoring films in 1951, and has continued his output through last year's Academy Award-nominated Far from Heaven. Bernstein's fascinating career extends all the way back to a collaboration with Cecil B. DeMille, as well as unfounded accusations of Communist activity during the McCarthy era. He remains the only composer working at the turn of the century to span the Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Digital Ages of film music, and he utilizes his influence to serve as a front line crusader for the rights of composers and musicians who do not have his bargaining power. After 52 years of composing, Bernstein's name, both in the industry and with his listeners, is synonymous with creativity, versatility and longevity. Filmtracks also maintains fourteen other Composer Tributes.

8/14/03 - Mark Twain's Roughing It: (Bruce Broughton) --All New Review-- "A lovable Hallmark Entertainment film, director Charles Smith's depiction of both Mark Twain's younger and older personas offers an expansive glimpse at the life of Samuel Clemens. Staying true to many of the facts of Clemens' life, the film tells the tall tales of Clemens' youth through the adaptation of his own autobiographical novel. He delivers these stories in the film from the perspective of the 1891 Clemens while speaking at the graduating ceremony of his daughter's school class. The success of Clemens' writing career (as Mark Twain) is sustained mainly because of his ability to relate history in a comical fashion, and the film offers the visual representations of many of these comedy routines that Clemens was a part of during his own lifetime. As wholesome entertainment, Mark Twain's Roughing It is a lighthearted and fluffy work set mostly in the Wild West, as Clemens' journeys took him to California in search for adventure and story inspiration. Composer Bruce Broughton is widely regarded as the scoring industry's foremost expert on Western genre music in the 1990's and beyond...." *** Read the entire review.

8/12/03 - Heat: (Elliot Goldenthal) "Reworked from a failed TV pilot, 1995's Heat pitted Al Pacino and his elite Robbery Homicide Unit against Robert DeNiro's no less professional and proficient band of thieves. With Dante Spinotti's blue-hued palette and the city of Los Angeles providing ample atmosphere, director Michael Mann sought once again to compile the moodiest, broodiest soundtrack possible. Who would've guessed that Mann, he of the slickly produced pop and circumstance, would find a musical alter ego in esoteric Elliot Goldenthal? An unabashed visualist with style to burn, Mann has not always been successful in matching his style with substance, but Heat, arguably Mann's best film to date, served up unusually high amounts of both. So into a filmography which now includes the likes of Jan Hammer, Trevor Jones, Randy Edelman and Lisa Gerrard stepped Elliot Goldenthal. Still building his career through an impressive string of scores such as Cobb and Interview with the Vampire, the Goldenthal's heady, classically-based voice may not have seemed the likeliest match with Mann's visceral kitsch..." **** Read the entire donated review.

8/11/03 - Cry, The Beloved Country: (John Barry) --Expanded Review-- "The Alan Paton novel about the relationship between culturally different fathers in South Africa who bond after their sons are both killed in the apartheid struggle has been adapted onto the stage and screen several times. The most recent 1995 film version offers James Earl Jones as the black minister and Richard Harris as white father, and although the acting was well received, the film was not. Considered too light of an adaptation, the film was disregarded as being too easy on the evils of apartheid. Lacking the kind of political punch necessary to provide a compelling reason to seek its message, the film is typically shelved behind the more powerful 1951 Sidney Poitier rendition of the story. Composer John Barry was no stranger to composing for the cultural ills of the world, and especially for Africa. At the height of the composer's activities, in the 1960's, speckled throughout his James Bond scores were a handful of pieces that Barry had written specifically for African subject matter, a few of which recognized for awards. Into the 1990's, Barry had remained a composer best known for composing to vast scenery and glorious colors...." **** Read the entire review.

8/8/03 - Filmtracks has enhanced its Tribute to John Debney this week. With over thirty Debney scores reviewed at Filmtracks, additional quotes and pictures, as well as an updated biography and career summary have taken the Debney Tribute from its "regular" tribute size to an "expanded" one. Debney continues to utilize both his classical training and a strong knowledge of contemporary sounds in order to easily adapt to any assignment, making him the composer to watch in the next few decades. His flawless methodology of producing his scores, including extensive knowledge of temp tracking, fast deadline techniques, and working with groups of composers has caused him to become one of the industry's most in-demand composers. It is not unusual for Debney to be involved in five or six projects per year, clearly out-producing all other major Hollywood composers active today. Look for continued reviews of Debney's promotionally-released scores at Filmtracks in the months to follow.

8/6/03 - Medal of Honor: Frontline: (Michael Giacchino) --All New Review-- "By the time Medal of Honor: Frontline hit the gaming market in 2002, the Medal of Honor concept was strongly established as a premiere war game in the industry. After being recognized and awarded for his work on Medal of Honor: Underground the previous year, Michael Giacchino was also becoming an established force in the music industry, with offers beginning to come in for a wider variety of scoring projects (though mostly in television). Commissioned to write music for both Medal of Honor: Frontline and Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, the latter only required five new cues of material (and thus received no album release). Medal of Honor: Frontline, however, thrusts the allies back into the series of games with the daring, if not disastrous Operation Market Garden (during which the Allies air dropped troops along the German "West Wall" to capture a handful of strategic bridges on the Rhine River). For the return of the Allies from the first game, Giacchino was originally asked to contribute roughly an hour of music for the game...." **** Read the entire review.

8/5/03 - Medal of Honor: Underground: (Michael Giacchino) --All New Review-- "The closing days of the 1990's heralded a new age in video game music. Traditionally classified as electronic garbage by the majority of orchestrally minded film and television score collectors, video game music began a slow, but sure experimentation in the orchestral realm. The budgeting of such an allotment for the talent needed for a large-scale video game score began surfacing more often in the first few years of the next decade, and by 2003, hearing grand, sweeping orchestral music while wasting away an afternoon on the computer or in front of the television console while playing a game wasn't so outlandish. One of the key contributing factors to this trend in video game music was Michael Giacchino's successful endeavors for the original Medal of Honor game in 1999. With an orchestral ensemble performing music that matched much of the intensity and construction of John Williams' similarly themed efforts in the genre for the big screen, Giacchino proved that not only could an orchestral score for a game work, but that it should be a standard..." **** Read the entire review.

8/3/03 - Presumed Innocent: (John Williams) --Expanded Review-- "Director Alan J. Pakula's adaptation of Scott Turow's best selling novel placed Harrison Ford in a role that was becoming more familiar to him with each passing project. While many will remember his action films before all others, serious movie-goers will remember Ford's phase during which he adequately, if not brilliantly, portrayed a scared man. From Frantic to Presumed Innocent, Ford successfully expanded his career into the realm of thrillers, with the latter, 1990 film representing perhaps the pinnacle of such work. Pakula's storied, but sparse career never established a strong working relationship with one composer over the span of those thirty years, although he teamed with James Horner for the two pictures immediately preceding his death in 1998. Presumed Innocent would be the director's only film featuring the music of film score legend John Williams. Williams was about to embark on yet another decade of spectacular film scores, finishing the previous year with multiple Academy Award-nominated works. Steamy, adult thrillers weren't the usual assignments for Williams..." ***** Read the entire review.

8/1/03 - Filmtracks has completed an abbreviated sampling of reviews for the works of composer Elliot Goldenthal. No modern film composer has applied his talents in as wide a spectrum as Goldenthal. With strong influences from the legends of the classical and jazz genres, he has made a career out of interpolating these genres into schemes and styles that range from the post-modern to the highly unusual. His music dances between atonal dissonance and grand harmony, sometimes in a single cue, and his versatility is as great as his orchestral creativity. To celebrate his achievements, a Filmtracks Elliot Goldenthal Tribute has been established. In 2003, Goldenthal's Othello ballet will be released on DVD, and his new feature film score for S.W.A.T. will soon be available on CD as well. Look for continued reviews of Goldenthal's commercially available music at Filmtracks in the months to follow. Filmtracks also maintains thirteen other Composer Tributes.






Page created 8/19/03, updated 9/1/03. Version 2.1 (Filmtracks Publishing). Copyright © 2003, Christian Clemmensen. All rights reserved. "Real Audio" logo and .ra are Copyright © 1996, Real Audio (www.realaudio.com). "Academy Awards" and the Oscar statue are ® AMPAS, 1996.