Original Review by Alan Rogers

Pius XII: Under The Roman Sky is a 2010 TV movie that attempts to detail the efforts of Pope Pius XII (played by James Cromwell) to save Jews from the Nazis after the city falls under Nazi occupation in 1943, as well as covering an alleged plot by Hitler to take the Pontiff as a hostage. A German/Italy co-production, Canadian-born director Christian Duguay’s 3-hour film is scored by Italian composer Andrea Guerra and the score features lush strings and beautiful a lovely soprano voice (plus larger chorus) that imparts an uplifting feel in the listener rather than the ominous and dramatic aspects that the topic may suggest (more on that in a moment). [Read more…]

Ten Tracks Today – 30th April 2012

01 – “Fall From Grace, Pt. 2” – L.A. NoireAndrew Hale

Great use of a small ensemble of players in this track: strings and brass come together in a tense (courtesy of the strings) and dramatic (brass) for a superior game score. The score as a whole is well worth hunting down.

02 – “Honor Inflamed” – Rob RoyCarter Burwell

An emotional beginning to this track with a swelling strings passage that leads into an almost fanfare-style brass statement. It’s a very dramatic piece full of emotion. This score is one that I only recently heard but it has become a favourite; possibly my favourite Burwell score.

03 – “I Claim Your Sun” – Transformers: Revenge of the FallenSteve Jablonsky

Score instalments 2 and 3 of this franchise really only shines when Jablonsky quotes his themes he used in the first score. They whole style he uses in the score I quite enjoy and some of the more “sound effects” are quite effective. Not much in the way of finesse here but it does have its moments.  [Read more…]

IN TIME – Craig Armstrong

Original Review by Alan Rogers (First uploaded at maintitles.net)

The idea behind In Time is an interesting one. In the not-too-distant future, the ageing gene has been switched off. To offset overpopulation (rather than just switching the ageing back on) people are genetically engineered to live for just one year past the age of 25. But you can work or exchange time as a currency in order to gain more time to live – theoretically – for ever. Want a cup of coffee? That will be 4 minutes of your life please. Writer and director Andrew Niccol’s (GATTACA, S1m0ne) near-future science fiction yarn, from the various trailers I have seen anyway, seems to be a film with a good idea that soon descends into a run-of-the-mill chase movie. Starring Justin Timberlake. After a bit of a lull in scoring for film, Craig Armstrong takes the helm for this action picture and he does a good job providing a score that focuses more on creating a specific sound and mood for this dystopian world rather than being a crash-bang-wallop action score. [Read more…]

MARTÍN AL AMANECER – Agustín Barbabosa

Original Review by Alan Rogers

A Mexican film, Martín al Amanecer (Martin At Dawn) tells the story of Martin, a man who seems to have reached a crossroads in life. He’s a quiet man who keeps himself pretty much to himself. When his car breaks down on an isolated road he comes across a brothel where he meets the beautiful Lupe. Martin wants to protect Lupe, buy her out of her situation and that’s when his problems begin in earnest. Mexican composer/producer Agustín Barbabosa’s score reflects the languid tempo of the film and has composed music that features a series of slow-paced cues featuring what sounds like a small ensemble of musicians (strings, piano and guitars) that, on balance, does not really offer much to excite. Rather it offers interesting ideas that must add significantly to the film. [Read more…]

AQUA AD LAVANDUM – Stefan Maria Schneider

Original Review by Alan Rogers

When interviewed, Aqua ad Lavandum – In Brevi co-writer and co-director Florian Metzner half-jokingly commented that German student short drama films tended to have “…lots of dialogue…camera work that looks more like a documentary [and] no music”. Metzner and co-writer/director Helge Balzer’s short film from 2008 is a parable story examining the lengths someone will go to hide their guilt before finally coming face-to-face with their conscience. Almost exclusively featuring only a single actor within a dark, claustrophobic set, the film benefits greatly by a rich orchestral score written by young German composer Stefan Maria Schneider. Basing my assumption only on track titles, Schneider’s music is organised for the best listening experience with the highlights of the score, “Unleashing Impedim” and “Let’s Get This Over With”, starting off the score in a thrilling fashion. [Read more…]

Ten Tracks Today – 23rd April 2012

01 – “The Airport Scene” – Catch Me If You CanJohn Williams

It’s the rhythms that are the attraction with this cue and the way that Williams skilfully passes the energy between the various sections of the orchestra. The score itself is not one of my favourites but this is a track that I do come back to.

02 – “Main Title – Reprise” – Forbidden WarriorMike Verta

Right from the off the initial fanfare shouts Far Eastern influences before for track settles back into more regular orchestral scoring. Verta gets the balance between the two just right, introducing the oriental fanfare throughout the track.

03 – “Main Title” – Half LightBrett Rosenberg

It’s a shame that I have not heard more from Rosenberg because his score for this Demi Moore vehicle features some particularly beautiful thematic material. Full of emotion this title theme is one of my favourites and is always welcomed when it appears on a playlist.

04 – “L’Ennemi Intime” – L’Ennemi IntimeAlexandre Desplat

I remember being disappointed on hearing this score in its entirety – another case of high expectations making it impossible for a score to deliver. This title track has a hint of the East that surfaces within Desplat’s brooding emotional material. It’s a score that needs to be listened to in manageable bite-sized pieces.

05 – “Trunkin’” – Underworld: EvolutionMarco Beltrami

This, for me, is this composer at his best. Full-on orchestral power with added pounding percussive rhythms for good measure. There’s no subtlety with this piece but it’s just so damn good. It tends to get drowned out in the final mix of the film itself so it is good to have it isolated and to savour by itself.

06 – “Seeing Through Ghosts (Theme from The Awakening)” – The AwakeningDaniel Pemberton

The composer’s see-sawing solo string device was an immediate hook to which my enthusiasm for this score was caught. A track (and score) that builds an uneasiness in the listener that can be exploited at any time.

07 – “Fire & Ice – Love Duet” – Fire & IceCarl Davis

By its very nature balletic in style this cue offers a break from the bombast of a lot of film music today. I try not to think of this as musical accompaniment for the ice skaters Torvill and Dean or (for some reason) I would perhaps take a dislike to it.

08 – “All Things Visible” – Murder In The FirstChristopher Young

One of Young’s most accomplished scores. The composer composed one of his most beautiful themes for this movie though this particular track only hints at this theme. Played entirely by strings it still has an emotional power even though there is no overt statement of the powerful theme.

09 – “The CREEP List (v.2)” – All The President’s MenDavid Shire

It’s the orchestration that’s the attraction in this particular track. The music itself plays almost as a bridge between scenes but the inventive orchestration makes it an interesting piece to hear.

10 – “Old Man” – Desert FlowerMartin Todsharow

Orchestration plays a role in the appeal of this track also. Sweeping strings play out an attractive theme before acoustic guitar and ethnic woodwinds add another layer of interest to the track. Todsharow is another composer who seems to have disappeared off the radar after this particular score.

BASKET BRONX – Lucas Vidal

Original Review by Alan Rogers

Martin Rosete’s 2009 short film Basket Bronx sees Alex, a young kid from the Bronx dreaming of playing basketball but he obviously lacks the confidence to achieve his dreams. Bullying from a group of older kids doesn’t help his self-esteem. But the appearance of Kiat, who’s well-versed in the ways of Zen philosophy, teaches him to overcome his self-doubt paving the way for a showdown with the neighbourhood bullies. The film received a whole series of awards at various film festivals when released, including one for composer Lucas Vidal (nominated for Breakout Composer of the Year in 2011 by the International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA)) who received recognition for his beautiful and sympathetic orchestral score that focuses on Alex’s journey to self-confidence. [Read more…]