Latest reviews of new albums:
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 on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie’s eighth full-length novel featuring the character (he had also appeared in short stories and a play by that point).  It was previously adapted for film in 1974 by Sidney Lumet, with Albert Finney taking the lead role; much-beloved, inevitably questions were asked about whether Kenneth Branagh’s new take on the story was strictly necessary, which has led to a rather lukewarm response upon the film’s release.

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 true story, the film sees the Canadian rock band Steppenwolf – whose 1968 single “Born to be Wild” is as iconic as they come – trying to destroy our heroes, including Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.  Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and Gal Gadot reprise their roles as those three, with able support coming from Connie Nielson, playing a motion-capture hippo.  Despite making some attempt to shake off the total energy-sucking misery that has seemed to be this series of films’ main purpose so far, it still hasn’t been particularly well-received by either audiences or critics (but will make a lot of money).

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 his legendary Royal Albert Hall show, Ennio Morricone more times than I can remember.  Of those, it’s only really Morricone who has had a “tour” (which is still going on now – when he’s 89!) – and all of them have been essentially the composer conducting an orchestra and sometimes choir, usually in traditional symphony venues.  But Hans Zimmer’s different – he did do a live show with an orchestra a long time ago (recorded on The Wings of a Film album) but when it came to starting a tour, he knew he wanted to do it differently – so off on the road he went with a band on an arena tour – and people flocked in their thousands.

  • 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 his connections with the director’s aunt Rosemary, Damon having captained her bowling team back in the 1960s).  The film was written by the Coen brothers over 30 years ago and follows a small town which gets its first black residents – as you can imagine, uproarious comedy ensues!

  • Composed by Lorne Balfe
  • WaterTower / 2017 / 52m

A disaster movie in every sense of the word, Geostorm charts what happens when some climate control satellites go out of control, as Gerard Butler tries to stop the massive ensuing storm from destroying the world.  The film was the directorial debut of Dean Devlin, who worked on a few of these in his time as Roland Emmerich’s producer, but after terrible test screenings he was replaced by Danny Cannon and there were extensive reshoots.  

Concluding what has felt like my residency at London’s Royal Albert Hall, I attended my third film music concert there in the space of two weeks (having missed out on some others in between) – following Michael Giacchino’s 50th birthday concert and a tribute to James Horner came the world premiere on 3 November of […]

Thor: Ragnarok

Composed by Mark Mothersbaugh Hollywood / 2017 / 73m Marvel goes all-out comedy in Thor: Ragnarok, the third in the series focusing on Chris Hemsworth’s Thor’s battles with his brother Loki (Tom Hiddlestone) and, this time, still greater foes as he finds himself caught up in all sorts of problems, not least being forced into […]

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

Composed by Randy Newman Lakeshore / 2017 / 25m Written and directed by Noah Baumbach, The Meyerowitz Stories follows a New York family where the children (Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller and Elizabeth Marvel) are forced to live in the shadow of their father (Dustin Hoffman).  Generally considered to be the finest Netflix original movie to […]

Thank You For Your Service

Composed by Thomas Newman Sony Classical / 2017 / 35m Thank You For Your Service is based on David Finkel’s book about soldiers returning home from the Iraq war and how they cope with integrating back into civilian life, and in particular their battles with PTSD.  Directed by Jason Hall, making his debut (his past […]

Presented as part of the Royal Albert Hall’s Festival of Film in London, on 24 October 2017 was what was billed as the world premiere of James Horner: A Life in Music (though quite what entitled it to be designated a world premiere given exactly the same programme and audiovisual elements had been presented in […]

It was in 1997 that 30-year-old Michael Giacchino’s life came across one of its pivotal moments, one that would ultimately lead him along a path that has reached its latest highlight with a grand, career-spanning retrospective at the Royal Albert Hall in London.  For it was then that the aspiring composer somehow managed to get […]

Victoria & Abdul

Composed by Thomas Newman Back Lot / 2017 / 46m Exploring the relationship between the ageing Queen Victoria and her Indian manservant Abdul Karim, Victoria & Abdul is a follow-up of sorts to 1997’s Mrs Brown, which also starred Judi Dench as the Queen.  Stephen Frears’s film has not been without controversy – its rose-tinted […]

The Foreigner

Composed by Cliff Martinez Sony Classical / 2017 / 46m Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan star in The Foreigner, an action thriller from Martin Campbell.  Chan goes out for revenge after his daughter is killed in a bombing in London and the film has proved popular with audiences and looks set to provide a huge […]


Composed by Nitin Sawhney Varèse Sarabande / 2017 / 42m Breathe is a biopic of Robin Cavendish, who was given 28 days to live when he was diagnosed with polio (and paralysed from the neck down) in 1958.  He became a great advocate for the disabled and helped many around the world – and went […]

The Mountain Between Us

Composed by Ramin Djawadi Lakeshore / 2017 / 49m Idris Elba and Kate Winslet star in The Mountain Between Us, which doesn’t seem to feature a mountain between them – rather, they’re stranded on one after their plane crashes.  With a dog.  Heaven only knows if they fall in love with each other – it […]