Category Archives: REVIEWS IN BRIEF.

SOUNDTRACK SUPPLEMENT FIFTY EIGHT.

Well as the year draws to a close, I suspect that not many will be glad to see the back of 2021 and look forward with some trepidation to the next twelve months of 2022. As per usual there has been the last flurry of new releases and some re-issues in the last throws of this year. And here I present just a handful of mini reviews of these in Soundtrack Supplement Fifty-Eight, which will most certainly be the last entry on Movie Music International this year. Next year what do we have for you? Well, composer interviews hopefully starting with Jeff Grace, as well as archive material from the Silents to Satellite publications as put together and edited by John Williams originally back in the 1990’s, this is a wealth of material, and we are lucky to have permission from John to re-run this featuring the works of so many writers such as Peter D Kent who have sadly departed. I start this Supplement not with a soundtrack, in fact, not with music at all but instead with a book.

AVAILABLE IN HARD BACK,PAPER BACK AND ON KINDLE.

 

Waterloo Making an Epic- The spectacular behind-the-scenes story of a movie colossus which is by author Simon Lewis. This is a highly desirable work and one which is totally engrossing once you begin to read. It is an in depth meticulously, exhaustively, researched item that is a beautifully written account of the making of the 1970 movie Waterloo, and I have to say it is one of the best books I have read that deals with the production of a movie. Waterloo, was I think unfairly criticized when it was released, but as the years have rolled by the film has attained something of a loyal following and even maybe has achieved a cult status amongst film connoisseurs throughout the world. Its cast was and remains impressive even if sadly many of its stars are now no longer with us. It is something that you should most certainly investigate as once you begin you will not want to put it down. Available from the publisher and via Amazon. It is a thing of beauty and a rich source of information. Highly recommended.   
From the battlefield of Waterloo to the music of composer Harry Manfredini who is a composer I think is sorely underrated, and underused. It was more than four decades ago that Manfredini first stepped into the film music arena with his atmospheric music for Friday the 13th, which ultimately extended to a series of ten. I have always loved his score for Deep Star Six, and enjoyed his work on House, but it will be forever his Friday the 13th that the composer will be associated with. La la Land records in the USA have released the composers signature score with extra cues and remixed and remastered the score using tapes discovered in the Paramount vaults.

The soundtrack is if you forgive the pun a haunting musical affair, with the composer utilizing brass and voices to great effect, he also underlines and bolsters these elements with strings and creates sinister and chilling nuances with breathy gasps that are like icy echoing whispers that establish a sense of the malevolent and accompany the killer in the movie, but  even without the images make one’s skin crawl as well as purveying an atmosphere of menace.  Friday The 13TH– The Ultimate Cut, is available from La La Land Records. It is package well and includes brilliant liner notes by Brian Satterwhite.

Lots of new and entertaining shows are cropping up on the likes of Netflix, Apple, Now, Hulu and Disney plus these days, one such recent production is Hawkeye, which is a sequel of sorts to the events of Avengers Endgame. The music for the series is the work of composer Christophe Beck who has teamed up once again with Michael Paraskos to create a solid and infectious sounding score. The composing duo joined forces on other movies such as Ant Man and The Wasp and Wandavision amongst others. There is also an additional music credit on Hawkeye which goes to Tyler Westen and Jake Monaco. The series which is a six-episode production is I think one of Marvels best efforts thus far, it balances action with comedy and has plenty of moments that are filled with melancholy and emotion.

The score is also fast paced and varied, with the theme for the series standing out as being suitably anthem like and perfect for super-heroes and crime fighters. The composition is written for Strings and brass predominantly oozes that inspiring and rich patriotic aura that we associate with so many other characters from the Marvel studios. Recommended.

Don’t Look Up is one of those movies that you will either love or hate, I just could not get into it and found it annoying, aggravating, and downright stupid. But maybe that was the point of it all? Who knows or cares? I will I swear never sit through this again, it is a waste of celluloid and a waste of the services and talents of so many actors and technicians who worked on this waste of time and space. Leonardo Di Caprio for me is annoying at the best of times, so maybe I should not even have sat and watched the film? The music I must admit I did not even notice, why? Well because I was too busy getting wound up about the movie.

I do know that the soundtrack was scattered with various songs (what they were I do not know and again I don’t care) and the orchestral score was by Nicholas Brittel who is a talented composer. But even he could not add anything to this production, and certainly did not distract me from loathing the film. Maybe the score is a rewarding listen away from the images, I do not know yet, as not been there simply because the movie just stressed me out so much.

Avoid this film for your own sanity. 

From something that we will never speak of again to something more worthwhile and rewarding in the form of composer George Kallis and his score for the Russian movie The Last Warrior: Emissary of Darkness. Which is in a word Excellent, this is the third n the series thus far the previous two films also being scored by the highly talented Kallis. I just love these movies, pure fantasy, escapism, and adventure, (and boy don’t we need that these days) and the music penned by George Kallis is rich, luxurious, mystical, and magical.

This latest work is no exception and contains robust and rigorous sounding themes that are filled with action and commanding melodies, the composer also treats us to lavish and lush thematic material that can I think be compared with the sound we associate with the golden age of Hollywood, it is for most of its duration symphonic, grandiose, and relentless but also contains intimate and fragile nuances and passages that weave in and out bringing a charming and affecting persona to the work.

The composer also makes wonderful use of choir and soprano adding an ethereal mood to the proceedings. What a great way to end a year that has been a difficult one, with this an uplifting, vibrant, and inspiring score filled with both dark and light colours, and an abundance of textures and sounds.  I totally and without reservation recommend that you add this to your collection Now.

Iranian composer Amir Kolookpour has written some of the most affecting music I have heard in a while, the music is not from one but three scores that have been released, two being available on digital platforms from Movie Score Media and the third also on streaming platforms from Reality Bytes. The scores in question are Son-Mother, Woodgirls-A Duet for a Dream and the superbly touching and emotive There is No Evil, but I can say that all three are outstanding with the composer creating effective and affecting compositions that seem to come direct from the heart.

They all have to them a achingly beautiful and arresting style and sound, the composer employing strings and woods to fashion poignant and delicate tone poems that are not just melodic and mesmerizing but have to them a alluring and haunting aura. Its hard to say which of the scores is more ingratiating or emotionally charged than the other as all have qualities of their own as well as a collective sound and style that is the obvious musical fingerprint of the composer shining through each of them. In the cue Mother from Son-Mother there is a somber but at the same time highly emotive sound purveyed via use of strings and a cello solo performance which although brief soon establishes the fragility and the poignancy of the composition. The same can be said for There is No Evil, which in its opening cue and title track is wonderfully thematic and filled with a rich and almost luxurious style with strings taking the lead to fashion a light, romantic and warm piece.  The mood alters within the next track however, Escape part 1, is rather a stark and ominous piece and opens with a lone percussive beat, the composer then adds more percussion as the track builds and becomes more urgent, gaining pace and becoming more up-beat and having an increasing tempo to convey tension and drama. The cue is formed solely from percussive instrumentation, which is highly affecting in creating the required ambience.  Track number three If I, is also affecting with the composer realizing an atmosphere that is filled with apprehension but at the same time remaining melodic.

The track On the road, is performed by solo woodwind, the sound achieved has to it a loneliness and conjures up a deep emotional mood. The composers score for Wood girls A Duet for a Dream is too superbly written, and like the other two works totally consuming and a delight to listen to.

The opening cue Wood girls I felt had certain affiliations with the theme from the French movie, Jean De Florette by Jean Claude Petit, it has that neo classical but quirky appeal. All three of the composer’s scores are available now so please do go check them out as soon as you can. I feel he is a composer we will be hearing a lot more of in the not-too-distant future, at least I hope that is the case.

Richard Robbins.

As in other Soundtrack Supplements we look back a few years to releases you may have missed or to an individual composer. Richard Robbins has always been a composer I have admired, known mainly for his work on the films of Merchant/Ivory, Robbins sadly passed away in the November of 2012. However, he left behind him a wealth of beautiful music, and I just wanted to mention a few of his scores to maybe jog your memory or encourage you to check them out at some point if you are not already familiar with them or his music. I always thought of Robbins as an American Richard Rodney Bennet, his music always eloquent and rewarding. 

One of the obvious titles to select must be his music for A Room with A View, from 1986, the composer utilizing the music of Puccini as a foundation for his original work. It was this score that was my first encounter with the composer and straight away I was smitten. The score like the movie is stunning and beautiful, enchanting phrases and fragile nuances frequent the work, and punctuate and support the film superbly. Then there is Heat and Dust, The Bostonians, Howards End, Remains of the Day, The Golden Bowl, Jefferson in Paris, and Cotton Mary which I confess along with A Room with A View is one of my favourite scores from the composer.

His list of credits is vast, his music being wonderfully inspiring. It will be the tenth anniversary of his passing in November 2022, so maybe take time to listen and fully appreciate the genius of this American born composer. His style was varied, his sound delicate but always effective, his music brought a greater emotion and impact to any movie he scored.

Japanese composer Shin’ichiro Ikebe who worked on Kurosawa’s Rhapsody in August and others has written an interesting score for Nobutora, which is a period dramain which Ikebe combines more conventional symphonic styles with that of traditional Japanese instrumentation, the combination makes for a rewarding listen, the composer creating a tense and dramatic soundtrack that also has within it’s make up lilting and beautiful interludes performed by solo cello, woodwind, and strings. Worth a listen, available on digital platforms.

2021 has been a varied year for film music, and there have been a lot of nice surprises. Here is a list of scores I felt were outstanding in the class of 2021 and if I have missed any I apologize. The Reckoning by Christopher Drake, Traces of Madness by Riccardo Marchese, Freaks Out by Michele Braga, Nona et ses Filles by Philippe Jakko, Jean d’arc of the North by Raymond Enoksen, Tale of Sleeping Giants by Panu Aaltio, Nightmare Alley by Nathan Johnson, Benedetta by Anne Dudley, Knutby by Andreas Tengblad, The Kings Man by Dominic Lewis and Matthew Margeson,

A Boy Called Christmas by Dario Marianelli, L’Affaire Bovary by Maximilien Mathevon, Star Trek-Prodigy by Nami Melumad, Snakehead, by Roman Moilino Dunn, The Mating Game by Tom Howe, Le Chateau Du Tarot by Andrea Farri, A Classic Horror Story by Massimiliano Mechelli, Last Night in Soho by Steven Price, and Locke and Key by Torin Borrowdale,

I am dreading awards season because the bar is set so high with just the few titles I have mentioned.

La Befana vien di notte 2 – Le origini is a fairy tale with a difference, involving witches and witchcraft, which although can be seen as having quite grownup events and occurrences can structure a narrative easily understood by children, so the world of the mystical, magical, and impossible still represents a completely open and fully available universe.  Sounds interesting don’t you think, what is more interesting is the score by Italian composer Michele Braga, (Freaks Out). His music on this occasion is a little different stylistically from Freaks out, it is more grandiose if that is possible and maybe more Hollywood leaning in its overall sound. Which is no way a bad thing, the music is romantic and mystical, impish, and quirky, plus there are some sweeping and luxurious sounding interludes that are impressive to say the least, in many ways this is similar to the style of composers such as John Williams, the late James Horner, and Alan Silvestri, containing lavish and lush themes that tantalise and enthral.

But at the same time being simple and affecting. I love this score, it has everything one could ask for vibrant and melodic themes, cheeky and comedic passages and full-on commanding action pieces, strings and brass are the mainstay of the work, ably punctuated by percussion whilst being driven and further supported using choir. It’s a wonderous and sumptuous score and one that you should really add to your collection, romantic, luscious, and highly entertaining. Available on digital platforms, so what are you waiting for? recommended.

And that as they say is it for this year, I wish you health and happiness and a landslide of soundtrack releases, Happy New Year ………

ELF-DELUXE EDITION.

When I was a kid it would have been unthinkable to have Christmas without watching movies such as The Wizard of Oz and Miracle of 34th Street and of course White Christmas. In recent years however tastes have altered and the classic Christmas movies of yester year seem to have fallen by the wayside, and there have been very few examples to replace these apart from maybe Home Alone and then in 2003 when along came Elf, the movie was an instant hit and has attained that classic label. The movie is a must watch at Christmas time and its ok to sneak a few snatches of it when its not the festive season as well. It’s a feelgood movie, simple and charming, funny, and sad, but entertaining and enriching.

And part of the film’s success was the incredibly uplifting soundtrack by composer John Debney, I am pleased to say that thanks to the Varese Sarabande music club, we now have the expanded score at our fingertips.

A release that contains forty-four tracks and has over one hour of music included. Debney’s soundtrack is I am sure you will agree one of his best, and the composer seems to throw everything into the mix to create a classic Christmas sound, alongside action cues and highly entertaining comedic flourishes. There is in my opinion no need to review this as I am sure everyone has heard it at some point, and I am also confident that everyone has watched the movie at some point, haven’t you? The score has always been a favorite and now we are treated to this edition with extra music well, all I can say is Merry Christmas folks, who’s up for mince pies and maybe some egg nog. Or maybe the greatest cup of coffee in the world, ask Buddy.   

Femmine Insaziabili (2 cd Quartet edition).

This is probably the fourth or fifth time I have reviewed or mentioned the score for Femmine Insaziabili by Bruno Nicolai, and recently also mentioned it in soundtrack supplement fifty-one just last week, this time however I am not examining the merits of the score itself because lets face we all know how good it is, this latest release is from the Spanish label Quartet who have been incredibly industrious over the last decade or so releasing a wide range of soundtracks from all over the globe. But after the rather disappointing sound on Roma Come Chicago, I wanted to take a close listen to this latest release from them.

I have to say the CD looks attractive enough, with colourful art-work and a picture of the original Ariete LP art work inside to use as alternative cover art for the CD. But I was just curious what extra music had been unearthed and more importantly how did it sound. The second disc which contains the film versions of the tracks I think is my favourite because there are a handful of cues included that are new to me and I thank Quartet for this, but overall I am a believer in the less is more saying when it comes to expanded soundtracks, and although its nice to have the new cues I think that I would have been able to live without this release.

Bruno Nicolai.

The sound is not bad at all for a 1969 soundtrack from Italy as we all know the sound on some of the releases during this period was questionable, there are a few little bits of distortion but nothing I think spoils the listening experience, but I am bias as this has always been a favourite of mine and one of the better scores from Nicolai, disc two does suffer from the distortion mostly, with some cues suffering from like a chatter when they reach a certain pitch or Edda hits the high notes, then there is a dullness attached to some of the cues, I know I am fussy but if its been remastered surely it should be almost like new? But I suppose it depends upon the condition of the masters themselves? Any way there is distortion, but it is still an iconic score by Nicolai and I hope that if you have not already got the soundtrack in your collection you will be investing in a copy of this.

https://quartetrecords.com/product/femmine-insaziabili-2-cd/

 I personally have the original Ariete LP which I purchased from Michael Jones in 1970 at the arts theatre club aand the re-issue on easy tempo plus the easy tempo CD and now this latest edition,  which means I must be an Insatiable collector of Femmine Insaziabili. Nice presentation with lots of stills and informative notes that are easy to read by Gergely Hubai.  

FINDERS OF THE LOST YACHT.

I first remember discovering the music of composer Panu Aaltio when I stumbled across his score for The Home of Dark Butterflies which I think would have been around 2009. Since hearing his haunting Forgiveness composition, from that score I have been hooked and look out for anything that he does and also interviewed him for MMI. A score that is to be released by Movie Score Media is Finders of the Lost Yacht. In fact, I see that it is already available on digital platforms and is well worth checking out. The movie is an adventure film for all the family, but I think specifically aimed at kids. It involves two popular characters from Finland Pertsa and Kilu. The composer spoke to Movie Score Media about the movie.

Panu Aaltio

“It’s hard to explain just how big Pertsa and Kilu are in Finland and how much of a privilege it was to join this long tradition that has been going on since the 1950s. Since the story here is foremost about friendship, and that theme is central in the score as well. The main theme is very much about the adventure but borrows a little from rock ‘n roll and jazz to portray the inventive non-conformist attitude of the two friends, who among other things end building their own airplane and submarine out of scrap metal!” – Panu Aaltio (from the MSM web site).

The score is filled with adventurous and vigorous sounding  themes and is a driving and kind of swashbuckling affair, but it also has within it a softer more emotionally style which although does not manifest itself that often is always welcomed.

The composer treats us to a rip roaring and commanding set of themes that are filled with a vibrant and robust air. It is one of those soundtracks where the music seems to set the scene and the pace being grand and forthright with a gentle nod to maybe Korngold swashbucklers of old in places. I cant really say anything else apart from take the time to check this out  you will not be sorry.

GUNPOWDER MILKSHAKE THE SCORE.

At last the soundtrack for Gunpowder Milkshake is available on digital platforms from Milan records, composer Frank Ilfman has fashioned a highly atmospheric and driving score for this latest release from Netflix, the composer has created a soundtrack that is filled with gentle nods to the likes of Ennio Morricone and Bernard Herrmann, but he manages to put his own musical stamp upon it at the same time, producing a contemporary sound and style that is perfect for the movies storyline. The score also contains a sultry and somewhat steamy sound which one normally associates with European movies most commonly French films from the 1960’s.

This is an abundantly thematic work, the composer bringing to the fore a driving and apprehensive musical persona and lacing this with haunting nuances and romantically lush themes. He utilizes a harpsichord effect to the maximum, and incorporates Theremin into the fabric of the score which is genius. It was on hearing the guitar, whistling, choral support and harpsichord that I was reminded of the likes of the 1960’s compositions by Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai. With the Theremin evoking those sci movies of the fifties, the music is dramatic, romantic and quirky, what more could you ask for.

The score is effective and affecting, and at times has to it a delicate and melancholy style which can be more powerful than the action pieces. This is a soundtrack that you will (1) love and (2) return to again and again, there is so much here to discover and re-discover when you do return to it. It’s a work that has so much within it one has to listen again and again to take in the sheer quality of the music. I am not going to analyze it or tell you that this track stands out, and one sounds better than the other, because I am just going to say go and listen to it and tell me I am wrong.  Recommended.