Latest reviews of new albums:
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 one of his most longstanding relationships with any filmmaker), with David Fleming getting full co-composer credit. If I were to sum up the score in one sentence, it would be to say that it’s essentially like a redneck version of Man of Steel, or specifically that score’s more earth-bound material – the opening cue, “Transformation”, has much in common with that score’s finale, only with a more country/bluegrass ensemble – guitars, banjo, percussion, plus a prominent role for solo cello. It’s a really nice piece which sets the tone nicely.

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 nobody is going to cinemas – but I’m sure will find its audience when it’s available to people at home.

His Dark Materials Series 2
  • Composed by Lorne Balfe
  • Silva Screen / 31m

So as to avoid the child stars ageing too much in between the series, His Dark Materials was mostly filmed all in one go, which in retrospect has proven to be an even wiser decision given the inevitable delays that would have followed this year’s events. Philip Pullman’s second book in the trilogy, The Subtle Knife, forms the basis for the latest set of episodes following Lyra and co on their adventures.

Rebuilding Paradise
  • Composed by Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe
  • Lakeshore / 35m

A National Geographic documentary directed by Ron Howard, Rebuilding Paradise tells the story of exactly that – the rebuilding of the town of Paradise in California following its virtual complete destruction in the 2018 wildfires. Hans Zimmer is firmly established as Howard’s composer-of-choice, scoring most of his films since 2006; this time he’s brought Lorne Balfe along with him. The short album’s opening track is its best: a stirring anthem full of the spirit of the community who faced and ultimately overcame disaster.

Travelogue Volume 1
  • Composed by Michael Giacchino
  • Death Waltz / 55m

Since he first burst on to the scene over two decades ago, Michael Giacchino has rarely been anything less than very busy – first video games, then television, then films have kept him pretty much continually occupied. Then, along came 2020, and like many other people he found he had some time on his hands – and so he decided to use it to write more music – but this time not for anyone else, just for him.

Morricone Segreto

Composed by Ennio Morricone Decca / 69m One of the most remarkable things about the great Ennio Morricone was his extraordinary versatility as a composer – able to move effortlessly between virtually all conceivable musical styles. In the mainstream he is and will always be best-remembered for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and […]

AGOS: A Game of Space

Composed by Austin Wintory Ubisoft / 35m An ambitious-looking VR game, AGOS: A Game of Space tasks the player with exploring space to find a new home for humanity, forced to leave Earth. The music comes courtesy of Austin Wintory whose contemplative, introspective score is typical of his work – don’t expect any big John […]

The Empty Man

Composed by Christopher Young Hollywood / 63m When teenagers begin to disappear from a town, locals suspect that the Empty Man is to blame. It is up to James Badge Dale to save them all. David Prior’s film was – surprisingly – released into cinemas at a time of less-than-peak cinema attendance; and in what […]

Rebecca

Composed by Clint Mansell Lakeshore / 62m Alfred Hitchcock’s legendary adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca is now eighty years old, so it feels fair enough for someone else to have a go at it – but Ben Wheatley certainly had a lot to live up to. Stepping into the shoes of Joan Fontaine, Laurence […]

The Witches

Composed by Alan Silvestri WaterTower / 72m There was already a perfectly good adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches – directed by Nicolas Roeg! – produced by Jim Henson! – released in 1990, so I’m not sure why anyone thought it was a good idea to produce another one. Robert Zemeckis’s new version – with […]

World Soundtrack Awards: Tribute to the Film Composer

Conducted by Dirk Brossé Silva Screen / 63m At the time of writing these words, the World Soundtrack Awards has just hosted its twentieth edition (it’s 2020, so it was of course online only). Formed as part of the Ghent Film Festival, alongside the awards it has hosted numerous film music concerts over the years […]

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Composed by Daniel Pemberton Varèse Sarabande / 54m Aaron Sorkin wrote The Trial of the Chicago 7 a number of years ago and it was intended to be a film directed by Steven Spielberg, but that never panned out and so the screenwriter has ended up making it himself. As ever his dialogue sparkles and […]

A Life on Our Planet

Composed by Steven Price Decca / 71m Veteran naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough – my hero – presents his vision for saving the planet’s ecosystem in A Life on Our Planet, exploring how life on earth has changed over his many decades exploring the world’s wild places and making his relatively simple suggestions as to […]

Enola Holmes

Composed by Daniel Pemberton Milan / 66m When the Holmes siblings’ mother goes missing, Sherlock and Mycroft banish their younger sister Enola to a boarding school. She’s not convinced her mother left of her own free will and so sets out to investigate. Millie Bobbie Brown plays Enola in Harry Bradbeer’s adaptation of the novel […]

The Glorias

Composed by Elliot Goldenthal Zarathustra Music / 36m A biopic of feminist activist Gloria Steinem, The Glorias has a plural title because four different actors portray her at different stages of her life. It’s directed by Julie Taymor, whose productions (cinema, theatre, opera) are generally so colourful and interesting, and after some festival appearances has […]