Latest reviews of new albums:
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
  • Composed by Lorne Balfe
  • Paramount Music / 2016 / 52m

13 Hours purports to tell the true story of an attack by terrorists on the American diplomatic compound in the Libyan city of Benghazi in 2012, though its historical accuracy has been the subject of much debate.  It’s a rare foray into filmmaking for adults by its director Michael Bay, whose previous four films have all been Transformers or the execrable Pain and Gain, and it has received mixed reviews, which in Bay’s case is about as good as it gets. 

The Pagemaster
  • Composed by James Horner
  • La-La Land Records / 2015 / 70m

One of the last movies to star Macauley Culkin during his “child star” age, The Pagemaster is a relatively short animated movie with bookending live action scenes (the former directed by Maurice Hunt, the latter by Joe Johnston).  It was reasonably high profile at the time of its release late in 1994 thanks to Culkin (and a well-publicised dispute over its writing credits), but was a box-office disappointment and is little-remembered today.  It tells the story of a very insular boy forced to confront his fears by stepping into the pages of classic literature, as he meets Moby Dick, Long John Silver, Jekyll and Hyde and various others.

The Monkey King
  • Composed by Christopher Young
  • Intrada / 2015 / 73m

Based on parts of the 16th century Chinese literary classic Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en, The Monkey King is a very expensive 2014 Chinese movie directed by Cheang Pou-soi and starring Donnie Yen as the monkey king himself, telling the story of his rebellion against the Jade Emperor, played by Chow Yun-fat.  Reviews from western critics were generally damning, but that didn’t stop the film being a runaway success in its homeland and the sequel is due to be released shortly.

Muhammad: The Messenger of God
  • Composed by A.R. Rahman
  • Sony Classical / 2015 / 70m

An Iranian film about the childhood of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, The Messenger of God is the first of a planned trilogy.  It’s written and directed by Majid Majidi and has some exceptional talent in the crew, including the legendary cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, which just about guarantees that the film must look incredible (and according to a number of reviews, it does).  However, critical response has been rather muted and some more extreme religious groups have taken great offence to the film, as extreme religious groups so frequently do, with one issuing a fatwa against the director and also the composer, A.R. Rahman, objecting apparently because professional actors were used to portray Muslims even though they are not all Muslims themselves.

In the Heart of the Sea
  • Composed by Roque Baños
  • WaterTower Records / 2015 / 72m

Based on the true story that inspired Moby Dick, Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea stars Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker and Cillian Murphy as the crew of a whaling boat who encounter one who decides to fight back.  The film has received a mixed response and has been a box office disaster. 

The Good Dinosaur

Composed by Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna Walt Disney Records / 2015 / 63m That rare thing – a troubled Pixar production – The Good Dinosaur was many years in the making and finally appeared at the end of 2015, to lukewarm reviews and box office.  It is set in an alternative universe where dinosaurs […]

The Last Boy Scout

Composed by Michael Kamen La-La Land Records / 2015 / 78m 1991’s The Last Boy Scout was off the Joel Silver action movie conveyer belt, directed by Tony Scott from Shane Black’s screenplay, with Bruce Willis playing a washed-up PI and Damon Wayans an American footballer, with the two stumbling upon and then investigating corruption […]

The Lady in the Van

Composed by George Fenton Sony Classical / 2015 / 58m (score 37m) Alan Bennett’s memoir The Lady in the Van concerns an old woman who asked to park outside his house temporarily and ended up staying for 15 years.  He adapted it for the stage in 1999 where Nicholas Hytner directed Maggie Smith and has […]

The Wind Gods

Composed by Pinar Toprak Caldera / 2015 / 51m A 2011 documentary, The Wind Gods chronicles the attempt by Larry Ellison to win the America’s Cup, the famous yachting race. 

The Affair

Composed by Marcelo Zarvos Varèse Sarabande / 2015 / 57m The Affair is an excellent tv series which follows the impact of a relationship between a novelist (Dominic West) and a waitress (Ruth Wilson) which develops while he is away for the summer with his family seeking inspiration for his new novel.  Its unique selling […]

Creed

Composed by Ludwig Göransson WaterTower / 2015 / 59m Few would have expected Creed, the seventh film in the Rocky franchise, to be the critical and commercial success it has been.  Michael B. Jordan stars as Apollo Creed’s son Donnie, who enlists a reluctant and ailing Rocky as his trainer. 

The Hateful Eight

Composed by Ennio Morricone Decca / 2015 / 72m Quentin Tarantino has used music in his films very strikingly, from the start of his career; the soundtrack albums have all been very popular and big-sellers.  Lots of those albums have featured music by Ennio Morricone – all of it from the 1960s and 70s, all of […]

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

  Composed by John Williams Walt Disney Records / 2015 / 77m Not so long ago in a galaxy familiar to most of us, John Williams played a pivotal role in the success of what was to become one of the most successful and beloved entertainment phenomena.  His thrilling music captured the spirit of the […]

Carol

Composed by Carter Burwell Varese Sarabande / 2015 / 53m (score 37m) Based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith, Carol chronicles the relationship between two women in New York in 1952 and the impact it has on their lives.  Starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara and directed by Todd Haynes, the film has received a […]

Spectre

Composed by Thomas Newman Decca / 2015 / 79m The 24th James Bond movie picks up plot elements from the preceding three movies in the series via a retrofitted connecting backstory and adds a big new (old) villain, with Blofeld back for the first time since For Your Eyes Only.  I really like that the […]