Latest reviews of new albums:
Searching for Bobby Fischer
  • Composed by James Horner
  • La-La Land / 2015 / 78m

Telling the true story of the early life of chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin, Searching for Bobby Fischer follows the boy as he learns the game from vastly different methods – a tutor who encourages him to play like the legendary Bobby Fischer, and share his drive and determination to win at all costs; and a speed chess player he meets in Washington Square Park, who has a rather different approach to the game.  The film was the directorial debut of Steven Zaillian and attracted rave reviews, but it disappeared almost without trace at the box office and has not been heard of much since.

Ferdinand
  • Composed by John Powell
  • La-La Land / 2017 / 61m

The latest from Ice Age producers Blue Sky Studios, Ferdinand is based on a true story and follows a giant bull whose pacifism leads to him refusing to take part in bullfighting… until he is forced into the ring to fight the world’s greatest bullfighter in order to save his childhood pals from the slaughterhouse.  (The same story was turned into a seven-minute short Ferdinand the Bull by Walt Disney in 1938.)

Tooth and Tail
  • Composed by Austin Wintory
  • Varèse Sarabande / 2017 / 66m

Everyone is at war in Tooth and Tail, a strategy game.  And they’re at war over food: eat, or get eaten.  It is set in the 19th century, which as the history books show was a time of animals all rising up against each other in order to eat.  Except the pigs, obviously.  

Damnation Alley
  • Composed by Jerry Goldsmith
  • Intrada / 2017 / 34m

It was meant to be Fox’s big science fiction release of 1977: the post-apocalyptic Damnation Alley, in which a small group of survivors must traverse the width of America to find sanctuary, battling mutant insects and deranged humans on their way, in the aftermath of nuclear war.  But along came you-know-what, and all of a sudden those mutant insects didn’t look quite as impressive.  It was eventually released to minimal acclaim late in the year and developed a bit of a reputation as a turkey, though looking back from a distance it seems eminently watchable, if silly.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Composed by Carter Burwell
  • Varèse Sarabande / 2017 / 44m

With a great cast led by Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a black comedy in which McDormand plays a mother whose daughter is murdered; unable to solve the case, the local police purchase the three billboards in question to appeal for help.  While it’s not the sort of film likely to set the box office alight, it has been almost universally acclaimed by critics as one of 2017’s best. 

The Post

Composed by John Williams Sony Classical / 2017 / 40m The story of the so-called Pentagon Papers, and the struggle of the Washington Post and in particular its editor Ben Bradlee when it came to publishing them, seems an unusually important one to be told today.  With Steven Spielberg behind the camera and Tom Hanks […]

The Shape of Water

Composed by Alexandre Desplat Decca / 2017 / 77m An unusual romantic fantasy film, The Shape of Water looks at the relationship between a mute woman who works at a government research facility in Baltimore in the early 1960s, and the subject of the research – a humanoid amphibian discovered in a South American river.  […]

Star Trek: Discovery

Composed by Jeff Russo Lakeshore / 2017 / 53m It felt like we were long overdue a new Star Trek tv show when Discovery was announced – there wasn’t some innate problem with Star Trek which led to ever-reducing viewerships in the previous couple of shows, it was just that they weren’t really very good.  […]

The Haunting

Composed by Jerry Goldsmith Varèse Sarabande / 2017 / 74m It is fair to say that of the two cinematic adaptations of Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill House, Jan de Bont’s 1999 one is the less-favoured.  Indeed, it was absolutely panned on its release, with few reviews finding anything good to say about […]

Coco

Composed by Michael Giacchino Walt Disney Records / 2017 / 78m The latest acclaimed Pixar movie, Coco tells the story of a young Mexican boy whose family tries to suppress his love of music; on the Day of the Dead he inadvertently crosses over into the spirit world and must then fight to make his […]

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Composed by John Williams Walt Disney Records / 2017 / 78m After all the anticipation and speculation, we finally get to find out if the “Jedi” of the title is singular or plural; if Luke turns to the dark side; if Rey is his daughter, or Han and Leia’s; to what extent the porgs are […]

Murder on the Orient Express

Composed by Patrick Doyle Sony Classical / 2017 / 57m I realise it may be controversial to say this, but I think that Hercule Poirot is one of the greatest moustachioed Belgian characters introduced in all of British literature of the 1920s – certainly in the top twenty.  His most famous role came in Murder […]

Justice League

Composed by Danny Elfman WaterTower / 2017 / 101m The films in this DC series have been generally disliked by audiences and critics so far but have made a lot of money, so on they go, with the big one bringing the characters together having arrived in the form of Justice League.  Based on a […]

Live in Prague

Composed by Hans Zimmer Eagle Rock Entertainment / 2017 / 124m I’ve been lucky enough to go to so many film music concerts in my life – some of the greats, Jerry Goldsmith year after year in London, John Williams on both sides of the Atlantic, Elmer Bernstein on his 80th birthday, John Barry with […]

Suburbicon

Composed by Alexandre Desplat ABKCO / 2017 / 68m Suburbicon is the latest film from director George Clooney, perhaps best known to audiences around the world for the screwball romantic comedy hit Leatherheads starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bernard Hill.  This time round it is Matt Damon’s turn to take the lead (reportedly he met Clooney through […]