Latest reviews of new albums:
Michael Palin in North Korea
  • Composed by Miguel d’Oliveira
  • MovieScore Media/ 32m

In the late 1980s, former Python Michael Palin started a highly-successful second career as a travel documentary presenter, becoming the best in his field (with the earlier ones in particular becoming classics of the genre). He hasn’t been back to that well for a while, until this two-part documentary came along and saw him traveling to and around the highly-secretive North Korea.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
  • Composed by James Newton Howard
  • Disney / 67m

When a young girl receives an egg from her late mother, she does what any other young girl would do and enters a magical kingdom to find the key to open the egg.  Said magical world features Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman, but proved to be rather less than magical to a lot of viewers.  The film was originally directed by Lasse Hallström but had extended reshoots directed by Joe Johnston; the pair share the credit.

Bad Times at the El Royale
  • Composed by Michael Giacchino
  • Milan / 75m

Bad Times at the El Royale (English translation: Bad Times at the The Royale) is not only an anagram of “almost reheatable deity”, it’s also a film about seven strangers hiding dark secrets who come together at a seedy hotel in the late 1960s.

I Promessi Sposi
  • Composed by Ennio Morricone
  • Fonit / 55m

Published in 1827, Alessandro Manzoni’s I Promessi Sposi (in English, The Betrothed) has gone onto become regarded as perhaps the most significant piece of Italian literature.  The epic novel is set in the 17th century against the backdrop of Italy being ruled by Spain and follows an engaged couple on an extraordinary life, covering virtuous and not-so-virtuous priests and other religious figures and taking in famine and later plague in Milan.

Venom
  • Composed by Ludwig Göransson
  • Sony Classical / 55m

If there’s one thing I am sure we can all agree on, it’s that there just aren’t enough comic book movies being made by Hollywood right now, so it was to everyone’s relief that Sony decided to plug this gap in the market by launching their own series of Marvel films to run parallel with the Disney ones.  The first in this series is Venom, a symbiotic lifeform who requires oxygen-breathing hosts – like humans, say.  It stars Tom Hardy, is directed by Ruben Fleischer and looks set to make decent money despite poor reviews.

London has played a very important role in the career of John Williams – while he had already been composing for television and then film for a decade, it was while there for large parts of 1968 and later 1970, working on Goodbye Mr Chips and Fiddler on the Roof, that he immersed himself in […]

The Sisters Brothers

Composed by Alexandre Desplat Lakeshore / 60m It’s hard to believe that The Sisters Brothers is not a Coen Brothers film – its name, its setup (darkly comic western, a pair of assassins chasing a chemist with a special formula for catching gold), its stars, the fact that the man with the formula is called […]

Yellowstone

Composed by Brian Tyler Sony Classical / 76m Hopes were very high for Yellowstone, the first tv series written by Taylor Sheridan (writer of Sicario and its sequel, previously better-known as an actor).  Starring Kevin Costner, it’s a sprawling soap about a wealthy ranch-owner and his neighbours (native Americans, property developers).

The Predator

Composed by Henry Jackman Lakeshore / 55m Director Shane Black rather optimistically proclaimed that his latest instalment in the Predator franchise would “achieve the same sense of wonderment as Close Encounters of the Third Kind” –  I suppose it isn’t my place to judge whether it did.  It is set between the second and third […]

Operation Finale

Composed by Alexandre Desplat Sony Classical / 58m Operation Finale tells the story of the Israeli intelligence service’s attempts to capture the vile Adolf Eichmann (one of the architects of the Holocaust) in South America in 1960.  Directed by Chris Weitz and starring Oscar Isaac and Ben Kingsley, the film has received very mixed reviews, […]

King of Thieves

Composed by Benjamin Wallfisch Milan / 42m It only happened in 2015 but King of Thieves is already the third film about the Hatton Garden robbery in London (plus two tv series) – perhaps not surprising given how extraordinary it was, carried out by elderly burglars.  This is the most high-profile of the bunch by […]

Papillon

Composed by David Buckley BMG / 42m Franklin Schaffner’s 1973 film of Papillon is a strange but entertaining one, featuring enjoyable performances by Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. The accuracy of Henri Charrière’s memoir on which it is based has always been challenged – and Dalton Trumbo’s screenplay took further liberties.

Crazy Rich Asians

Composed by Brian Tyler WaterTower / 64m A romantic comedy based on a best-selling novel might not seem a likely place for a film which may well turn out to be something of a cultural turning point in Hollywood, but that’s exactly how Crazy Rich Asians is being received.  Incredibly (really, virtually unbelievably) it is […]

Christopher Robin

Score by Geoff Zanelli and Jon Brion Songs by Richard M. Sherman Walt Disney / 57m The latest Winnie-the-Pooh film is not like the others: live action for a start, it stars Ewen McGregor as a grown-up Christopher Robin, who has forgotten how to have fun until his childhood bear turns up and reminds him what […]

James Horner – The Classics

Composed by James Horner Sony Classical / 64m I enjoyed last year’s Hans Zimmer – The Classics album, which saw a selection of Sony Classical artists offering their takes on various themes by Zimmer, often in radically-altered arrangements compared with the originals.  Zimmer’s music obviously lends itself to such treatments – the melodies can be […]