The new movie Freaks Out is in theatres now, it focuses upon Matilde, Cencio, Fulvio and Mario who are family, but when the second world war hits Rome. Israel, the owner of their circus, disappears in the attempt to find a getaway overseas for them all. The four friends are in disarray. Without anyone looking after them but above all, without the circus, they lose their social placement, and they feel only as sideshow attractions on the loose in a city at war.

The musical score for the movie is nothing short of breath taking, for me personally it evoked so many memories of the style that Maestro Nino Rota employed on many of the movies he scored for director Federico Fellini. The score for Freaks Out is credited to composer Michele Braga and also to the director of the movie Gabriele Mainetti, this is a soundtrack of immense quality, there are so many themes and so much musical inventiveness that its hard to take in that the music all comes from this one movie.

There are references as I have said to Rota but also there is a style within the score that is far more grandiose than that, the composer or composers creating big orchestral flourishes and crescendos at certain point of the score, it is a soundtrack that I am confident you will enjoy whole heartedly, filled with romantically laced tone poems and emotive interludes that are a homage I think to those golden days of Italian cinema which we all enjoyed so much in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

I would go as far as to say that the score for Freaks Out is one of the best if not the best of this year. It encompasses dark sounding themes, driving passages, comedic sounding pieces and intimate and lilting themes. If you are a fan of Italian film scores then this is for you, add it to your collection now… superb.   


Antlers is the latest offering from acclaimed filmmaker Scott Cooper, and is co-produced by the equally acclaimed and revered Guillermo del Toro, this atmospheric horror focuses upon a school teacher and her brother who is a police officer and takes place in a small Oregon town, the pair become convinced that one of the pupils at the school is hiding and feeding a a supernatural creature,  the movie is based upon a short story entitled The Quiet Boy by writer Nick Antosca which first appeared in a magazine in 2019. The musical score is by Spanish composer Javier Navarette, who on this occasion has produced a score that is a fusion of both conventional instrumentation and synthetic sounds, the earrie and unsettling soundtrack is perfect for the movie and makes for some uneasy moments when listening to it away from the images it was intended to enhance.

Navarette became popular after he scored Del Toro’s Pans Labyrinth and since then has worked on numerous films produced in Spain and America. The score for Antlers is certainly a sinister sounding one, the composer utilizing brass stabs and percussive elements to create a dark and foreboding sound to support the storyline. Although it is a largely ominous sounding work, there are still themes or at least hints of themes that glint through all of the  action material within the soundtrack. The composer at times fashioning inventive and grand sounding pieces that are uniquely entertaining, as in the listener sometimes wonders “How did he do that “.

It’s a robust and relentless horror score that very rarely allows any respite, the composer weaving an intense and vibrant work that is interesting as well as being entertaining and one that at times evokes his work on both Pans Labyrinth and Byzantium. Recommended. Released on digital platforms,

L’Uomo del Labirinto. (Into the Labyrinth).

A year or so ago I interviewed composer Vito lo Re, at the time his score for the movie L’Uomo del Labirinto had been released which is an impressive score, however because I interviewed him and promoted the score within the interview, I did not actually review the score. I recently re-watched the movie, I knew it was a good film as I had seen it before it’s a tense and at times harrowing movie, which contains so many twists and turns it can also be confusing, but it’s a movie I would recommend that you sit and watch.

It stars Dustin Hoffman, who puts in as always, a compelling performance, but what I wanted to focus upon this time around was Vito Lo Re’s music, what it did for the movie and also the way in which it was placed. I am pleased to say that the score elevates and supports the action on screen and at times I thought that the score gave the various scenarios an operatic feel because of the style of the music and also where that music was placed,  it was also a key factor on how effective it was if the music was recorded at a low volume or at a high volume, when the music was recorded louder in certain scenes it more or less took over the story telling and added tension and at times a foreboding to the proceedings, there is no doubt in my mind that if this movie had been scored by another composer it would not have been as hard hitting. The plot is complex, and the music seems to somehow allow the watching audience or individual to unlock some of the puzzles that have been set within the storyline.

At key points the music becomes prominent and this way of scoring gives the images and the action on screen far more depth and atmosphere. There is to this score a sound that can be likened to the music of Bernard Herrmann or the early scores of Pino Donaggio as in Dressed to Kill , it is imposing and grandiose but even though the music is grand and symphonic it never distracts the attention of the viewer from the plot or the images, music is present we know that because it is affecting, but it becomes part of the scene and makes that scene even more effective. The music is robust, vibrant, and as harrowing as the plot itself, the composer utilizing strings, percussive elements, and brass to convey so many moods and senses.

To say that any one cue stands out amongst all on the soundtrack release would be very difficult as I have to say I enjoyed every second of this score. It is available on digital platforms, but the compact disc is a must have.  Released by Plaza Mayor, please seek this out, and you must sit and watch the movie it is riveting. Highly recommended.

Aaron Zigman.

Aaron Zigman, composer

Lets head back in time just a little way, and to the February of 2007, when a movie entitled Bridge to Terabithia was released and with it the music for the movie which was the work of composer Aaron Zigman came onto the radar of soundtrack collectors.

The composer in my opinion remains a shining light within the film music community and as a relatively new composer in 2007 wrote scores that were mature and exciting in their persona and sound. Zigman began his career as a film music composer back in 2002 when he wrote the score for John Q, which he followed with the music for the video short Fighting for Care and the documentary Behind the scenes of John Q.  But before this in 2000, Zigman arranged a classical 35-minute symphonic tone poem entitled “Rabin,” which was composed in memory of Yitzhak Rabin, the late prime minister of the State of Israel and was performed by the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony.

In 2004 he worked on The Notebook which was I think a landmark score for the composer, with many assignments then following. His score for The Notebook is a delight and showed off the talent and flexibility of this composer. The score containing beautiful and affecting melodies that will haunt any listener long after they have finished experiencing the music. There is a deep emotion embedded within the thematic and effective melodies of this soundtrack, melodies that stay with you forever, whether they be swelling strings or intimate piano solo performances, the music is not just melodious but is also enticing. Zigman, soon became a name that many collectors were familiar with, his music for the movies ATL and Akeelah and the Bee for example impressing and attracting the attention of critics, producers, and fans.

He is a composer that could and still can adapt his style to suit every scenario, fashioning and creating upbeat themes and expansive melodic works. His sound if there is a such a thing as the “Zigman” sound has to it a style that at times has certain similarities and affiliations with that of seasoned composers such as Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, James Horner and to a certain degree Dave Grusin. I don’t mean that as in he was copying them thematically or in any way mimicking the composers works directly, but more in its stature and overall sound, and in the way that the music is placed within the movies he has scored. His work for cinema being varied, inventive, and above all entertaining.

In 2006 he wrote the score for the family movie Flicka a story that had been filmed before in Hollywood and previously scored by composer Alfred Newman, Zigman composed a soundtrack that was filled with emotion and overflowing with a richness and poignancy that we associate with the vintage movies of tinsel town from the 1930’s and 1940’s of the Golden Age with a romantic and melancholy core from which the composer radiated the remainder of his score. His music was lush and lavish at times but purveyed emotive and poignant qualities without becoming syrupy or over the top.

Like James Horner, Zigman often wrote quite large symphonic scores, utilizing the full potential and resources of a symphony orchestra and creating a vibrant and inspiring soundtrack even if the movie was deemed to be a lower budget affair. This is I think why Zigman got noticed as had Horner and the likes of Chris Young in their early days, because they fashioned grand sounding works for movies that were small features rather than blockbusters. But that is just my opinion. His score for Bridge to Terabithia is one of the many highlights of the composers ongoing career, the film itself being a combination of fantasy, Escapism, adventure and includes a coming-of-age storyline, that deals with death and the way young people come to terms with it.

The story from the book by Katherine Paterson was originally made into a movie for TV in 1985 under the direction of filmmaker Eric Till. But the production was a lot smaller than the motion picture version and lacked the special effects, the movie from 2007 had more imaginative direction by Gabor Csupo, who had previously worked on several projects for Nickelodeon. With the actors, cinematographer Michael Chapman and director Csupo creating a fantasy that was in effect believable. The Fantasy/adventure tale is about two children who invent a secret world. Bullied at school, and with worries at home, young Jesse Aaron (Josh Hutcherson) sets his heart on being the fastest runner in the 5th grade. When the day of the race finally arrives however, his dream is shattered when new girl in school, Leslie Burke (Anna Sophia Robb), beats him to the tape. Despite this initial setback, the pair soon realise they have a lot in common, and a friendship develops. Discovering that they both share creative talents, (Jesse loves to draw, while Leslie is a keen storyteller), they invent the magical kingdom of Terabithia, a fantasy world reached by swinging on a rope over a stream near their homes. Once inside Terabithia, they become the rulers of all they see, embarking on magical adventures, fighting evil, and learning how to triumph over bullies. Aaron Zigman’s score became an integral component of the movie, it underlined and gave greater impact to many of the scenes and added that sprinkle of magic to the proceedings as the story unfolded. His music literally ingrates the storyline bringing to it many levels that encompass the mystical and the adventurous.

The cue Entering the Forest on the soundtrack recording for example emphasizes the otherworldly mood that surrounds the magical forest as it becomes a place where anything is possible for the main characters. The cue literally oozes apprehension and contains a sense of the mystical, but also has elements of choir within it that contain a sound that can be defined as almost celestial.

The score is a smorgasbord of thematic material to the extent that it is sometimes difficult to comprehend that all this music hails from the same movie.  The score was issued on a promotional album on the Hollywood records label, which contained twenty-one cues and had a running time of forty-three minutes. The use of choir comes into its own in the cue Crossing the River which has an ethereal sounding choral performance opening the track this is then embellished and given more depth by subtle strings and woods, the strings then take on a more robust role and the composer adds to these sensitive and subdued brass support which give the cue an emotive and affecting aura. Seeing Terabithia too is an effective composition, with brass, percussion, strings, and choir combining in a short lived but memorable piece filled with wonderment.

The score is one that contains many senses, many styles, colours, and textures and showcases a plethora of atmospheres, action, romance, sadness, joy and even horror are all purveyed within this incredible soundtrack. I defy anyone to listen to the track Jess Grieves and not be moved, the composers truly sensitive musical touch conveying the young boy’s devastation and bewilderment over the loss of his friend.

Aaron Zigman was born on January 6th, 1963, in San Diego California, and studied music with his cousin MGM composer George Bassman. After a brief apprenticeship, Zigman broke out as a studio musician, working with producers Don Was, Gary Katz, Steely Dan, and Stewart Levine. From this experience, he began making a name for himself as a producer/writer, and soon after wrote his first big hit, with the song “Crush on You,” which was recorded by The Jets and topped the pop charts in the USA.  He also worked with legendary record producer Clive Davis and has produced and arranged music himself for artists such as Aretha Franklin and Natalie Cole. He has also written, arranged, and produced songs for many of the top vocalists, producers, and artists in the music industry, including John Legend, Quincy Jones, Trevor Horn, Seal, Ray Charles, Alison Sudol, Bryan Adams, Phil Collins, Dionne Warwick, Boz Scaggs, Tina Turner, Seal, Carly Simon, The Pointer Sisters, Huey Lewis, Jennifer Holliday, Patti LaBelle, Chicago, and Christina Aguilera.

His transition to film music composition came in the latter part of the 1990s with his work being featured on soundtracks such as Mulan, What’s Love Got to Do with It, The Birdcage, License to Kill, Caddyshack, and Pocohantas.To say that Aaron Zigman is talented is certainly an understatement. He has worked on numerous Hollywood movies that include, For Coloured Girls, Flash of Genius, Sex and the City, Sex and the City 2, and the animated film Escape from Planet Earth. He has also scored such films as The Company Men, Alpha Dog, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (co-scored with French composer and Oscar winner Alexandre Desplat), My Sister’s Keeper and The Shack.

The recent film Wakefield, starring Bryan Cranston and Jennifer Garner, marks his second collaboration with Oscar-nominated writer and director Robin Swicord, having previously worked together on The Jane Austen Book Club.