Latest reviews of new albums:
Morricone 60
  • Composed by Ennio Morricone
  • Decca / 2016 / 73m

For those of us who caught the Ennio Morricone bug at some stage in life, seeing him in concert is a religious experience.  I’ve had the pleasure several times and each is etched forever into my memory.  He seems to have been on a never-ending “world” (mostly but not exclusively Europe) tour for as long as I can remember, even towards the end of his 80s still flying here, there and everywhere to play to huge audiences.  The programme has evolved over time, always including The Mission and his Sergio Leone suite, but with other things coming and going, occasionally quite rare pieces making an appearance (on one of his trips to London he memorably included a full 45 minutes of screeching, deeply unpleasant musique concrète to an audience expecting Cinema Paradiso and Once Upon a Time in the America, and I imagine would have been delighted at the horrified reaction it provoked).

Nocturnal Animals
  • Composed by Abel Korzeniowski
  • Silva Screen / 2016 / 34m

The second film from fashion designer-turned-director Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals is a psychological drama adapted from Austin Wright’s novel Tony and Susan. Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal lead an ensemble cast as a former married couple – he writes a violent novel as an allegory to their failed marriage, which becomes a film-within-the-film. Also starring (amongst others) Michael Shannon, Isla Fisher and Armie Hammer, the film has been met with a positive response, in particular (perhaps not surprisingly) for its arresting visual style.

Bridget Jones’s Baby
  • Composed by Craig Armstrong
  • Globe Soundtracks / 2016 / 37m

The third film in the series starring Renée Zellweger, Bridget Jones’s Baby sees the character coming to terms with the fact that she may be getting too old to start a family – and lo and behold she then indulges in a spot of how’s-your-father with two different men on two consecutive days and as if by magic there’s a bun in her oven. 

Hacksaw Ridge
  • Composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams
  • Varèse Sarabande / 2016 / 54m

The (to put it mildly) distasteful personal episodes may have cost Mel Gibson a lot of his fans and a lot of his reputation, but few could deny that he’s a very talented filmmaker and he’s directed some powerful films.  His latest, Hacksaw Ridge, follows the life of Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector who served in World War II in the Battle of Okinawa, where despite refusing to bear a firearm he rescued 75 comrades from the battlefield and was later awarded the Medal of Honour for his extreme bravery.

Living in the Age of Airplanes
  • Composed by James Horner
  • Terwilliger Productions / 2016 / 50m

A (literally) rose-tinted Imax feature about the history of transportation and how it led to air travel, and how air travel now impacts us all, Living in the Age of Airplanes – directed by Brian J. Terwilliger, narrated by Harrison Ford and released by National Geographic – has been praised for its stunning imagery, but as is inevitably the way with these things, not so much for having any great depth.

So Fine

Composed by Ennio Morricone Music Box Records / 2016 / 31m A largely-forgotten 1981 comedy, So Fine stars Ryan O’Neal as Bobby Fine, an English professor who finds himself having to run his father’s clothing business, on the verge of bankruptcy and owing lots of money to the dreaded Mr Eddie (Richard Kiel). After sleeping with […]

Doctor Strange

Composed by Michael Giacchino Hollywood Records / 2016 / 66m The latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Strange stars Benedict Cumberbatch as a neurosurgeon who is forced into a lengthy healing journey after suffering a career-ending car accident.  During this time, he learns various Eastern mystical, magical ways from the so-called Ancient One.  Directed […]

The Birth of a Nation

Composed by Henry Jackman Atlantic Records / 2016 / 41m Telling the dramatic story of Nat Turner, a slave who led a rebellion in Virginia in 1831, The Birth of a Nation (complete with its title ironically repurposed from D.W. Griffith’s notorious but groundbreaking film) was very much a passion project for its star, writer, producer […]

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Composed by Henry Jackman Paramount Music / 2016 / 52m Christopher McQuarrie’s 2013 Jack Reacher, based on the ninth of Lee Child’s hugely successful (and entertaining) series of novels about the loner who seems to find trouble wherever he goes, was an above-average modern action thriller intended to start a series but it didn’t do all […]

Inferno

Composed by Hans Zimmer Sony Classical / 2016 / 70m The Da Vinci Code phenomenon a few years ago extended to Ron Howard’s film being hugely successful even though it wasn’t very good, which led to Dan Brown’s previous entry in the series Angels and Demons not long after.  It was slightly better but when […]

Bilal: A New Breed of Hero

Composed by Atli Örvarsson Lakeshore Records / 2016 / 45m Bilal: A New Breed of Hero sounds rather like a religious propaganda film.  Made by the Dubai-based Barajoun Entertainment, it’s a 3D animation about Bilal abn Rabah, a young boy a thousand years ago who converted to Islam and followed Muhammed.  The rather unlikely leader of the voice […]

RoboCop 3

Composed by Basil Poledouris Varèse Sarabande CD Club / 2016 / 70m Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop was essentially a comic book movie for adults, with its withering social commentary set against the backdrop of a futuristic corporate-controlled police force in Detroit.  It was surprisingly successful and so Orion Pictures, going through difficult financial times, leapt at the […]

Collage

Composed by James Horner Mercury Classics / 2016 / 77m I’ve written it before, but it’s worth repeating that one of the many sad things about the death of James Horner in 2015 was that he had obviously acquired a fresh zest for writing music in the year or two beforehand.  Having fallen out of […]

Jagged Edge

Composed by John Barry Varèse Sarabande CD Club / 2016 / 27m A tense courtroom thriller, Jagged Edge stars Glenn Close as an attorney who falls in love with her client, Jeff Bridges, on trial for the vicious murder of his wife.  It was widely-praised on its release in 1985 as a smart film, forensically examining […]

Starship Troopers

Composed by Basil Poledouris Varèse Sarabande CD Club / 2016 / 105m Paul Verhoeven’s 1997 satirical military science fiction Starship Troopers is a very entertaining film which works on multiple levels.  It’s credited as being based on Robert A. Heinlein’s 1959 novel but really it’s lampooning it, also throwing in various references to old WWII propaganda […]