Latest reviews of new albums:
John Powell: Film Suites Volume 1
  • Composed by John Powell
  • 5 Cat Studios / 49m

Most of us probably became aware of John Powell through his additional music for Hans Zimmer in the mid-1990s – he is one of many to gone from that status to becoming a high-profile film composer in his own right – but he is set apart from the others who have done so, actually becoming one of the very finest film composers around. This album – released by his own label – is the first compilation of his music, fresh arrangements of suites and themes from nine of his scores, played by the Philharmonia Orchestra and Voices conducted by the prestigious José Serebrier.

La Gabbia
  • Composed by Ennio Morricone
  • Decca / 61m

A 1985 erotic drama, La Gabbia (literally “The Cage” but it was released as The Trap internationally) is about an American businessman who finds himself in a love triangle in Italy after his girlfriend goes off on holiday. The other two sides of the triangle are mother and daughter. Hmm… Ennio Morricone’s jazz fusion score is a fine example of one of the numerous styles he used to score such films, intense and flavoured and with some very interesting instrumental touches. For the opening piece the focus is on electric bass, percussion and stabbing strings, with an occasional two-note blast from the brass that for all the world sounds like Neal Hefti’s Batman theme. It’s very stylish and effective, even if it lacks that core melodic hook that tends to set the best of these things apart. The style continues into the second piece, “Incatenato”, but here there is some terrific piano writing and a flavoursome flugelhorn solo played by regular Morricone collaborator Oscar Valdambrini.

Soul
  • Composed by Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste
  • Disney / 64m

Pete Docter’s previous movie Inside Out was one of Pixar’s finest in my opinion, profound and moving and a great movie by any standards. So he had a lot to live up to in his follow-up – and has not reduced the scope of his ambition at all, with Soul being a meditation on the purpose of life told through the lens of a music teacher who longs to be a jazz performer. It’s perhaps the first Pixar movie which will not be enjoyed by children nearly as much as adults.

The Midnight Sky
  • Composed by Alexandre Desplat
  • ABKCO / 87m

George Clooney is not a personal friend of mine, but he seems to have so many qualities – using his fame as a force for good, seemingly a very nice man, an interesting one, a very fine actor – and so quite why it is that I find the films he directs to be so curiously uninvolving I have no idea, but The Midnight Sky joins that list. It sounds like it should be great – a scientist alone at a remote Arctic communications station, desperately trying to contact spacecraft out there looking for a new home for humanity, telling them not to return to earth because there has been a catastrophe – but it just never works for me.

Wonder Woman 1984
  • Composed by Hans Zimmer
  • Watertower / 90m

Widely praised as the best film (by a distance) in the DC Extended Universe, Patty Jenkins managed to inject some much-needed life into the series with Wonder Woman in 2017, Gal Gadot taking on probably the most iconic female comic book character. A sequel was inevitable and here it is, finally released after Covid delays (but sadly in most territories, released only into cinemas – and in my territory, released into cinemas at a time when most cinemas are shut, which is a truly baffling decision – so don’t expect any spoilers about the film, given I can’t actually watch it).

News of the World

Composed by James Newton Howard Backlot / 72m To anyone who lived in the United Kingdom before about ten years ago when it ceased publication (and in that long list of people you will find both myself and Paul Greengrass), News of the World was the title of the country’s biggest-selling newspaper; but this film […]

Let Them All Talk

Composed by Thomas Newman Lakeshore / 20m A comedy drama from Steven Soderbergh, Let Them All Talk is set on a cruise ship and stars Meryl Streep playing a writer traveling across the Atlantic to collect an award, with her entourage. Low-budget and reportedly largely improvised, the film has proved to be a critical hit […]

Silver Skates

Composed by Guy Farley MovieScore Media / 65m A Russian film set in St Petersburg at the turn of the 20th century, Silver Skates is a love story set across the strict social divides that existed at the time, as the daughter of an aristocrat falls in love with a delivery boy whose only possession […]

Godmothered

Composed by Rachel Portman Disney / 55m In what sounds like a bit of an Enchanted variant, Godmothered features a young trainee fairy godmother who travels into the real world in order to prove that people do still want wishes to come true. The trouble is, the person who sent a letter wanting a wish […]

Wild Mountain Thyme

Composed by Amelia Warner Lakeshore / 40m Directed by John Patrick Shanley and based on his own play, Wild Mountain Thyme is a romantic drama set in Ireland in which an old farmer decides to leave his farm to his American nephew (Jon Hamm) rather than his very Irish son (Jamie Dornan) – much to […]

Mank

Composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross Null Corporation / 93m I was a big fan of David Fincher, who made such vibrant and imaginative films right the way up to Zodiac, but I have to say the ones he has made since then I’ve watched more out of a sense of duty, not really […]

The Pathless

Composed by Austin Wintory T-65b / 100m From the makers of Abzu comes The Pathless, an action/adventure video game in which the player controls an archer whose task is to lift an ancient curse afflicting an island. It has received positive attention much like the studio’s previous effort (and several of the lead creative team […]

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Composed by Michael Kamen Intrada / 220m (score 132m) While not a great film, Kevin Reynolds’s 1991 mega-hit Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is at least better than any of the 12,000 further Robin Hood adaptations that have come since. Kevin Costner was riding the height of his fame at the time; I will never […]

Hillbilly Elegy

Composed by Hans Zimmer and David Fleming Milan / 42m Ron Howard’s Hillbilly Elegy is an adaptation of J.D. Vance’s memoir, starring Gabriel Basso as Vance, who has to return home to his family in Ohio from college to deal with a family emergency. Hans Zimmer returns to work with Howard yet again (it is […]

Let Him Go

Composed by Michael Giacchino Back Lot / 55m Based on Larry Watson’s novel, Let Him Go stars Diane Lane and Kevin Costner as grandparents who have to take desperate measures to rescue their grandson from the clutches of a dangerous family. It was rather improbably released to cinemas where it has made next-to-no money since […]