Latest reviews of new albums:
The Starling
  • Composed by Benjamin Wallfisch

I haven’t seen The Starling – I had intended to, but the reviews put me off – it’s usually referred to as a “comedy drama” and its plot surrounds a couple who lose their tiny baby to SIDS and then see their mental health collapse. It’s hard to see the comedy that arises from such a situation, and indeed said reviews are mostly a variation on “WTF was that?” – but I’ll watch it some time. You don’t need to watch the film to enjoy Benjamin Wallfisch’s music though. I think there were quite a few of us who followed his career with interest from when he broke away from being Dario Marianelli’s assistant and orchestra and went solo, providing some sublime scores for smaller dramas, culminating in the excellent Summer in February. Then one day, all of a sudden, he “made it” and started working on big blockbusters – and of course the intimate drama sound with which he made his name had to make way. I’ve been waiting for him to have a chance to go back to that sound though – he was so good at it – and this film is the one that’s given him the opportunity.

Free Guy
  • Composed by Christophe Beck

Shawn Levy’s Free Guy is mostly set within a video game, in which a non-playable character, Guy (Ryan Reynolds), gradually comes to realise what he is and gains sentience; back in the real world, there’s a bit of a kerfuffle about who owns the code. It seems to have been a big hit with most people, but beyond Reynolds’s charm I didn’t take much out of it. Said charm is at the heart of the opening track of Christophe Beck’s score, “Have a Great Day”, which introduces the delightful, upbeat theme for Guy, set in an instrumental atmosphere playing off the American dream. It’s a shame we don’t hear more of it in the score itself, but Beck was somewhat limited in what he could really do with his music given many of the movie’s pivotal scenes were accompanied by songs.

Infinite
  • Composed by Harry Gregson-Williams

I usually start these things with a little description of the film, but even though I’ve seen Infinite I haven’t got a clue what it’s about. Something to do with resurrection (I did get that much) and Mark Wahlberg trying to find an egg in order to save all life on earth. From the usually-reliable Antoine Fuqua, it’s a disappointment. The director doesn’t really seem to have a regular composer, but the one he turns to most frequently is Harry Gregson-Williams. I can sympathise that this would not have been an easy film to score, given it is completely incomprehensible, and so perhaps it’s no real surprise that the music seems a little perfunctory. The opening “The End of All Things” is a pretty good summation of the whole thing: there are core ideas there and the track seems to be building towards something, but it never really gets there. Just as you think it’s about to explode into life, the payoff to the suspenseful build-up doesn’t come.

No Time to Die
  • Composed by Hans Zimmer

The Daniel Craig set of Bond films reaches its conclusion in the long-awaited No Time to Die, originally scheduled for release during the Neolithic period (or at least, it feels that way). There won’t be any spoilers for the film in this piece – but I will say I found it to be a satisfying entry in the series, clearly neither the best nor the worst of the Craig movies. It does some things very well (a couple of really good action sequences, Bond’s relationship with Madeleine, continuing from Spectre), some things not so well (the main villain is a disappointment, the convoluted villainous material which drives the film’s pivotal moment makes no sense at all).

Foundation: Season 1
  • Composed by Bear McCreary

Based on Isaac Asimov’s classic science fiction stories (the first volume of which is seventy years old!), Foundation is the latest attempt to “find the new Game of Thrones“, this one by Apple. I’m not sure they’ve come close to doing that (for good or bad) but the flawed show does at least look absolutely stunning – if it isn’t the most expensive tv show ever made, then it certainly looks like it is. The premise is that in the distant future a mathematician works out a way of predicting the future algorithmically – and when his prediction is that the empire will fall, that doesn’t go down too well with the empire itself.

I’ll be taking part in a conversation later today with Jon Broxton, Christian Clemmensen, Christopher Coleman and Erik Woods to talk about our 25 years of writing and broadcasting about film music online. (25 years!) The great Tim Burden will be moderating. It would be wonderful if you could join us. The event starts at […]

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Composed by John Barry Sticking closer to the source Ian Fleming novel than any of the other movies in the series, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is widely considered to be one of the finest James Bond movies. The character has a vulnerability not seen in many of the others, as he genuinely falls in […]

Dune

Composed by Hans Zimmer The notoriously “unfilmable” Dune is a classic of science fiction, and the arrival of Dennis Villeneuve’s adaptation means it has in fact now been filmed three times (well, two-and-a-half, given he’s only tackled the first half of it – so far). David Lynch’s version is of course notorious, and I’m not […]

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Composed by Joel P. West The Marvel Cinematic Universe heads east in Shang-Chi, its latest comic book hero providing an opportunity for the studio to showcase some Chinese action stylings with one of the more obscure lead characters so far. Director Destin Daniel Cretton’s film has been well-received by audiences and I’m sure we’ll be […]

Chouans!

Composed by Georges Delerue Directed by Philippe de Broca and starring Sophie Marceau, Philippe Noiret and Lambert Wilson, Chouans! is an historical epic set during the French Revolution. Marceau’s two best friends find themselves on opposing sides of the conflict and she is left to choose between them. The film was the seventeenth (!) and […]

Regarding Henry

Composed by Georges Delerue Starring Harrison Ford at the peak of his popularity, directed by the great Mike Nichols, one of the first films written by future star J.J. Abrams – surely a film about which all that holds true must have been a blockbuster success. Well no, not Regarding Henry, which was in fact […]

A Show of Force

Composed by Georges Delerue A political thriller directed by Bruce Barreto, A Show of Force is loosely based on real events and follows a journalist investigating the death of a couple of political activists in Puerto Rico. The government claimed they were radical terrorists – others took a different view. Amy Irving stars alongside Andy […]

Black Robe

Composed by Georges Delerue A sort of cross between The Mission and Dances With Wolves, Bruce Beresford’s Black Robe follows a Jesuit missionary trekking across hundreds of miles of 17th century Canadian wilderness in an attempt to found a mission and do what he saw as the good work. Receiving much critical acclaim at the […]

Rich in Love

Composed by Georges Delerue A coming-of-age drama set around unfolding family drama, Bruce Beresford’s Rich in Love stars Albert Finney as the father of a family rocked when his wife suddenly leaves him and severs all ties, leaving his daughter to care for him and discover all sorts of family secrets. Despite garnering decent reviews […]

La Fine Fleur

Composed by Mathieu Lamboley A small-scale French comedy set in the cutthroat world of growing roses, and an unofficial sequel to the wildly popular The Reasonable Horticulturalist, La Fine Fleur stars Catherine Frot as a rose-grower whose farm is under threat from a local competitor – the sordid world of Big Horticulture. The absolutely charming […]