Newest Major Reviews:.This Month's Most Popular Reviews: Best-Selling Albums:
. 1. Fifty Shades Darker
2. La La Land
3. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
4. Moana
5. Fantastic Beasts/Find Them
. . 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 November, 2008:





11/30/08Black Beauty: (Danny Elfman) - Expanded Review
Buy it... if you are entranced by Danny Elfman's early scores of intense tragedy and orchestral beauty.
Avoid it... if you object to Irish undertones in inappropriate contexts or expect the music to brood with as much melodramatic weight as Elfman's closely related score for Sommersby.
Rating:****   Read the entire review


11/28/08Warlock: The Armageddon: (Mark McKenzie) - Expanded Review
Buy it... if you seek a somewhat campy but ultimately rewarding early horror score from Mark McKenzie, with two lovely melodies to sustain your interest.
Avoid it... if the underwhelming ensemble performances and abysmal recording quality in parts are too much of a detriment to an otherwise fine composition.
Rating:****   Read the entire review


11/26/08Rudy: (Jerry Goldsmith) - Expanded Review
Buy it... if you seek an inspirational score with the same noble heart and good-natured, competitive movement as Jerry Goldsmith's masterpiece in the genre, Hoosiers.
Avoid it... if you're dissatisfied by scores that make the most out of only a few simplistic constructs, repeating them constantly with only alteration in their tempo and instrumental intensity.
Rating:****   Read the entire review


11/24/08The Fugitive: (James Newton Howard) - Expanded Review
Buy it... only if you appreciated James Newton Howard's staggered action rhythms in the film itself, or if you have an affinity for the similar, more mundane Jerry Goldsmith thriller scores of the era.
Avoid it... if you expect the score to be an engaging souvenir of a film that frankly could have used a more memorable and cohesive musical accompaniment.
Rating:**   Read the entire review


11/22/08Free Willy: (Basil Poledouris) - Expanded Review
Buy it... if you value Basil Poledouris' scores for Wind and The Hunt for Red October and seek an intelligent and upbeat merging of those sounds for a children's film with equal aquatic ambience.
Avoid it... if the hopelessly optimistic nature of Poledouris' writing for light character dramas negatively outweighs his satisfying blend of synthetic and symphonic elements.
Rating:****   Read the entire review


11/20/08Cliffhanger: (Trevor Jones) - Expanded Review
Buy it... if you, like most film score fans, are mesmerized by Trevor Jones' most majestic title themes of noble brass and high strings.
Avoid it... if you found nothing attractive in Jones' title theme for Last of the Mohicans, a very close cousin to the dominant theme for Cliffhanger.
Rating:****   Read the entire review


11/18/08Far and Away: (John Williams) - Expanded Review
Buy it... if you're passionate about highly lyrical and gorgeously melodic scores, especially if they can make a splash with some boldly orchestral adventure along the way.
Avoid it... if other composers' incorporation of uilleann pipes, pan flutes, penny whistles, and The Chieftains into less applicable settings has poisoned you to even the best that John Williams can muster with those elements.
Rating:*****   Read the entire review


11/17/08Christopher Columbus: The Discovery: (Cliff Eidelman) - Expanded Review
Buy it... if you own and enjoy Cliff Eidelman's Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and seek his largest symphonic follow-up to that score.
Avoid it... if you expect either a robust recording size or an unpredictable, non-traditional musical representation for the historical event.
Rating:****   Read the entire review


11/15/08Batman Returns: (Danny Elfman) - Expanded Review
Buy it... if you prefer your Batman score to better reflect the morbidly tragic sensibilities of Danny Elfman's dominant style in his early career.
Avoid it... if you expect the same heroic power and resonance of the vastly superior orchestral performances (and their recording) you heard in Batman.
Rating:**   Read the entire review


11/13/081492: Conquest of Paradise: (Vangelis) - Expanded Review
Buy it... if, obviously, you consider yourself any basic kind of Vangelis enthusiast or if you're a fan of new age albums in the style of the group Engima's early 1990's material.
Avoid it... if you expect to be convinced in any way that Vangelis' style is true to the settings of the 15th Century.
Rating:****   Read the entire review


11/11/08Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves: (Michael Kamen) - Expanded Review
Buy it... if you seek 5+ minutes of fine orchestral adaptation of the famous Bryan Adams song for the film, or if you enjoyed one of your inevitably many local performances of the score's overture.
Avoid it... if you expect the whole of Michael Kamen's music to soar with any sense of swashbuckling spirit or, quite frankly, if you expect a decent performance and recording mix.
Rating:***   Read the entire review


11/9/08The Rocketeer: (James Horner) - Expanded Review
Buy it... if you're tired of James Horner's more recent, seriously weighty dramatic scores and prefer the unrestrained enthusiasm of his early adventure works, among which The Rocketeer is one of the best.
Avoid it... if the overly-consistent innocence of Horner's soaring themes only serves to remind you of a composer rolling shamelessly in a bed of his own favorite musical constructs.
Rating:****   Read the entire review


11/2/08Filmtracks Endorses Barack Obama for President
Every four years, a fair quantity of Filmtracks readers e-mail me or post to the Scoreboard to declare that they are abandoning the site for other venues of film music opinion. They protest the merging of hobbies and politics, citing a lack of logical connection between the two. Veterans of the site know, however, that conservative (and dominantly religious) interest groups have attacked Filmtracks since 1997 not because of its occasional, politically motivated zinger, but because the site has given high ratings to soundtracks from films deemed offensive by the far right of the American political spectrum. From Basic Instinct and Cruel Intentions to Moulin Rouge and The Mists of Avalon, films deemed morally questionable to such groups are treated equally by Filmtracks, causing the site to be placed on "hit lists" that determine a regular schedule of posted and e-mailed attacks to be maintained against it.

What you see in public, such as the ridiculous evangelical protests that have existed recently on the Scoreboard, is only the tip of the iceberg. Starting with a bible that arrived in the mail in early 1997, I have been personally targeted offline as well. Endless literature in snail mail and phone calls in the middle of the night are among the most common of their tactics. Amusing at first, such perpetual nuisance has proven that the periodic fanboy showing up at my front door is nothing compared to the machine that exists in the frightful fringe of America's evangelical movement. Destined to never extricate this site from these hit lists, I began allowing my personal, moderately liberal political beliefs to bleed into the site, highlighted by prominent endorsements in the country's presidential elections.

The irony in the assumptions that are made by those who attack this site exists in the fact that I'm not the blindly progressive liberal that most expect to come from an upbringing in the San Francisco Bay Area and promote music from films that exhibit poor morality. I strongly believe in capital punishment, oppose legalizing marijuana, and support an expensive, Israeli-style wall around our borders, among other things. My friends (and even family members) admonish me for living the kind of lifestyle that has never included a drop of alcohol or a pinch of drugs. It's only coincidental that my wife and I live next to a large Mormon center, though we appreciate the fact that they make respectful, quiet neighbors.

This site has, with the exception of two years, been developed and maintained from the state of Montana. It's a land dominated by white men who enjoy a healthy arsenal of weapons, a lower level of education, and a distaste for taxes. Being a white male in this environment leads to assumptions that, when shattered, cause acquaintances to approach and ask me why on earth I would support a Muslim, un-American, non-citizen, or even "negro" for president when his opponent is such a well known, branded patriot. I don't try to correct their factual inaccuracies. These men don't read The National Review or The Weekly Standard, much less the online or left-leaning equivalents like Politico or The New Yorker. They gain most of their information from viral e-mails, of course.

What I do tell those acquaintances who wish to convert me is that I always vote against the candidate supported by the majority of uneducated white men. Instead, I vote with the plurality of women, minorities, homosexuals, urbanites, college educated, multi-lingual, youthfully hopeful, and religiously moderate (or non-religious) people who don't discriminate against others because of any of the above attributes. Hate and division are dangerous political tools wielded once again by a conservative base desperate to hold power. The prospect that others in Montana, of all places, recognize the potential for the hope and change that a young, black president could bring is astounding. It is with cautious optimism that I, and thus Filmtracks, endorse Illinois Senator Barack Obama for president. Remember to vote, Americans!

-- Christian Clemmensen, Filmtracks owner and editor







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