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The Dead
  • Composed by Alex North
  • Varèse Sarabande / 1987 / 44m

The final story in James Joyce’s Dubliners, The Dead follows a group of Irish people who gather from all over the country in a big house at the turn of the 20th century, concerned with small matters such as life and death.  It was the last film directed by the legendary John Huston, 80 years old at the time and apparently directed with him sitting in a wheelchair, attached to an oxygen supply, and having to spend much of the time communicating with the set from outside, watching on a monitor.  Despite that, it was widely acclaimed upon its release (posthumously).

Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Composed by Tyler Bates
  • Hollywood Records / 2014 / 65m

I did wonder if the extraordinary run of success for the Marvel series of films might just end with this one, that the rather obscure Guardians of the Galaxy might be a step too far – a raccoon and a walking, talking tree amongst the gang of reprobates who are saving everyone from everything.  But it’s hard such a huge buzz, initial reaction so favourable, that it seems that James Gunn’s movie is going to be yet another cash cow for the studio and their parent, Disney.  It will come off the rails one day, surely, but there’s still no sign of that day yet.

  • Composed by Fernando Velázquez
  • Sony Classical / 2014 / 65m

As a younger man I got very excited about upcoming movies, gathering all the information about them I could, reading endless publicity fluff interviews with the filmmakers, watching trailers… until one day I realised it was all a bit of a waste of time.  Especially the trailers.  When I realised how different my movie experience so frequently was from the experience I expected based on the trailers, I gave up on all that.  But I still see the odd one when they can’t be avoided and one I saw a couple of times earlier this summer was for Brett Ratner’s Hercules.  I thought the days of trailers influencing my movie-watching decisions were behind me – but then I saw this one.  Honestly, the sum of money you’d have to pay me to watch this movie is larger than the GDP of some countries.  It looks so bad, it might even make Renny Harlin’s The Legend of Hercules not the worst Hercules movie of 2014.  Had Michael Bolton pitched up singing “Go the Distance” it would have confirmed that it was all a deliberate joke, but he didn’t, so I guess it was meant to be serious.

Bite the Bullet
  • Composed by Alex North
  • Prometheus / 1999 / 60m

One of the last great traditional westerns, Richard Brooks’s Bite the Bullet (starring Gene Hackman, James Coburn and Candice Bergen) was certainly not seen as great at the time of its release, with most audiences being turned off by that very thing, its traditional nature – after The Wild Bunch, this kind of thing just wouldn’t do.  Time has treated it extremely well however, and this wide-reaching tale of the birth of urban America set loosely against a horse-drawn race 700 miles across the country is highly-regarded today.

Viva Zapata!
  • Composed by Alex North
  • Varèse Sarabande CD Club / 2008 / 72m

Film music changed in 1951.  Not in some superficial way – the whole game changed.  A new set of rules was introduced.  That set of rules was written by Alex North.  There was more than one way to skin a cat, he showed.  His four scores written that year – A Streetcar Named Desire, Death of a Salesman, The 13th Letter and (though the film was not to be released until the following year) Viva Zapata!  Four completely different scores, which in general were not anything like what the majority of film music had sounded like before that point, which was 19th century European romanticism.  Streetcar is generally considered to be the one that broke the mould (and it did – here was jazz, here was sexiness – a body called The Legion of Decency even requested the removal of a sax solo because it was “too carnal”) but a case could certainly be made too for the same being said of Zapata! – a big studio movie, an epic – with modernist, fiercely intellectual music.  Nothing would be the same again.


Composed by Chris Tilton EA Recordings / 2006 / 37m A first-person shooter video game released for PlayStation 2 and Xbox in 2006, Black focuses on a black ops (hence its title!) operative and his missions in war-torn corners of Russia.  It was well-received by critics and players, particularly for its stylised look and cinematic sound.  A […]

Mercenaries 2: World in Flames

Composed by Chris Tilton EA Recordings / 2008 / 56m After the success of 2005′s Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, three years later EA brought out a sequel, World in Flames, this time set in war-torn Venezuela.  The player steps into the shoes of a mercenary out for revenge on the man who betrayed him – causing […]

Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction

Composed by Chris Tilton Themes by Michael Giacchino La-La Land Records / 2004 / 58m Set in a fictional conflict in North Korea, the 2004 video game Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction - released for PlayStation 2 and the original Xbox – saw the player with the unusual dual aim of making a profit and preventing a nuclear war.  (All […]

Medal of Honour: Soundtrack Collection

Composed by Michael Giacchino, Christopher Lennertz and Ramin Djawadi La-La Land Records / 2011 / 546m A novelty when it was first released in 1999, Medal of Honour (sorry – I will be typing the word so many times, if I attempt to not use the British spelling then my small brain will become fried) was a […]

Mac and Me

Composed by Alan Silvestri Quartet Records / 2014 / 60m The notoriously awful E.T. rip-off Mac and Me was released to a savage reception in 1988, critics especially enjoying the spectacular product placement (Ronald McDonald stars “as himself” and there is an arbitrary five-minute dance number in a McDonald’s), the miraculous healing powers of Coca-Cola are used to […]

Le Professionnel

Composed by Ennio Morricone Music Box Records / 2014 / 51m I realise that not everyone can be multilingual.  Some people travel through life without ever leaving their home town, let alone their country, so it is easy to forgive them for not expanding their horizons by learning a foreign tongue.  Indeed, frequently on my international travels […]


Composed by Marvin Hamlisch La-La Land Records / 2014 / 47m A couple find a young boy called Daryl wandering the streets.  He doesn’t know who he is or where he’s come from – he has no memory at all.  They take him in, parent him, fall in love with his.  But wait!  That’s not Daryl, […]

In My Dreams

Composed by William Ross Momentum RLP / 2014 / 30m A Hallmark Hall of Fame tv movie romance, In My Dreams stars Katharine McPhee and Mike Vogel as a pair of singletons looking for love and finding it (wait for it…) in their dreams.  

Planet of the Apes

Composed by Jerry Goldsmith Varèse Sarabande / 1997 / 68m Despite its success, I doubt that many people back in 1968 would have predicted that Franklin J. Schaffner’s Planet of the Apes, the now-legendary allegorical science fiction movie based on Pierre Boule’s novel, would launch a franchise still going strong nearly half a century later, having so far […]

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Composed by Michael Giacchino Sony Masterworks / 2014 / 78m The astonishingly long-lived Planet of the Apes franchise continues with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, picking up a few years after Rise left off.  A simian flu epidemic has wiped out most of humanity, but a hearty band remains, and they’re not too happy […]