Check out the latest reviews:
Wolf Totem
  • Composed by James Horner
  • Milan Records / 2015 / 59m

Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Wolf Totem is adapted from the excellent autobiographical Chinese novel by Jiang Rong, set in Inner Mongolia during Mao’s cultural revolution and scathing in its allegorical comparison of wolves and sheep with the fiercely passionate ethnic Mongolians being tamed by the migrating Han Chinese farmers, with the narrator having been sent from Beijing to teach the Mongolians how to farm – and ending up learning far more from them than he could ever have taught.  Annaud was allowed to shoot the film where the book was set despite previously having been banned from China for life after controversy over Seven Years in Tibet and it’s the kind of expansive outdoors stuff that the director loves.

Fifty Shades of Grey
  • Composed by Danny Elfman
  • Republic Records / 2015 / 46m

E.L. James’s unbelievably successful, critic-proof novel Fifty Shades of Grey was bound to make its way to the big screen before long.  It was bound to get savaged by critics and bound to be tremendously successful.  In fact, lots of things about it were bound.  It was slightly surprising when acclaimed artist and occasional filmmaker Sam Taylor-Johnson signed on direct it – a touch of unexpected class?  Slightly surprising also was her choice of composer – Danny Elfman.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • Composed by Thomas Newman
  • Sony Classical / 2015 / 46m

Geriatrics the world over flocked to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in 2012, making it a surprise smash hit.  It was an endearing film about a bunch of British retirees moving to India, finding the place they were moving to didn’t quite live up to its name and – of course – finding out various life-affirming things about themselves.  Much of the outstanding cast, including Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Bill Nighy, return for the sequel, with a bit of an American presence added in the form of Richard Gere and David Strathairn.  Given the fairly complete journeys the characters went on in the first film it’s hard to imagine there is much more to say about them, but I’m sure the film will be pleasant enough.

Kingsman: The Secret Service
  • Composed by Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson
  • La-La Land Records / 2015 / 57m

Matthew Vaughn’s latest sassy action movie sees Colin Firth play a secret agent up against a lisping sociopathic villain played by Samuel L. Jackson.  It’s been well-received by critics and audiences alike.  

Paper Planes
  • Composed by Nigel Westlake
  • ABC Classics / 2015 / 50m

An Australian film aimed primarily at children, Paper Planes sees a teacher challenge his cynical class to put their smartphones away for a bit and get creative, having a competition to see who can build the best paper aeroplane.  One of them (who loves flight) is so good at it he starts dreaming of taking part in a competition in Tokyo.  The film seems to have taken Australia by storm and has been very successful there, with “inspirational” and “life-affirming” cropping up in most of the reviews I’ve read.

Pollyanna

Composed by Christopher Gunning Caldera Records / 2014 / 53m (score 27m) Eleanor H. Porter’s 1913 children’s book Pollyanna has been adapted for small and big screen six times, beginning in 1920 with a version starring Mary Pickford, most famously probably Disney’s 1960 version with Hayley Mills – and this one, a 2003 British tv adaptation.

The Interview / This Is The End

Composed by Henry Jackman La-La Land Records / 2015 / 37m

The Little Mermaid

Composed by Alan Menken Songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman Walt Disney Records / 2014 / 107m It’s hard to imagine now just how deeply Walt Disney Animation was in the doldrums in the years before The Little Mermaid was released in 1989.  Since 1967’s classic The Jungle Book, the studio had only released eight animations and they were […]

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Composed by Alan Silvestri Varèse Sarabande / 2014 / 58m The final film in Shawn Levy’s unlikely trilogy Night at the Museum, Secret of the Tomb continues the historical adventures as museum exhibits come to life.  

Unbroken

Composed by Alexandre Desplat Atlantic Records / 2014 / 61m The remarkable story of the US Olympian Louie Zamperini, captured by the Japanese during WWII after surviving 47 days on a raft following his plane crashing, Unbroken – directed by Angelina Jolie – seemed a pretty sure thing but has received decidedly mixed reviews and has not […]

The Betsy

Composed by John Barry Prometheus / 2014 / 47m Everything I know about the late novelist Harold Robbins, whose books sold in incredible volumes, was learned from Basil Fawlty, who said he wrote “the most awful American tripe, a kind of pornographic muzak.”  Many of his works were adapted for film and television and virtually all […]

The Leftovers

Composed by Max Richter WaterTower Music / 2014 / 37m The Leftovers is Damon Lindelof’s show about unexplained (and indeed unexplainable) events and coincidence-driven plot devices, marking a real departure for the writer from his past works, such as Nash Bridges and some other things.  

The Theory of Everything

Composed by Jóhann Jóhannsson Backlot Music / 2014 / 50m James Marsh’s film The Theory of Everything tells of the relationship between the extraordinary British physicist Stephen Hawking and his first wife, Jane, following his academic rise and physical fall in time with their personal rise and fall as he battles motor neuron disease.  

Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast

Composed by Joel McNeely Walt Disney Records / 2014 / 57m The second Tinker Bell movie of 2014 and the seventh (and reportedly last) of the series overall , The Legend of the Neverbeast was released in UK cinemas in December and will go straight to video in the US in March.  

Mister Moses

Composed by John Barry Prometheus / 2014 / 41m 1965’s Mister Moses is an old-fashioned adventure story based on Max Catto’s novel.  Set (and filmed) in the newly-independent Kenya, it stars Robert Mitchum as a conman making money by fleecing the natives, natives who he then has to lead across the country when their home is […]