TIDSREJSEN – Flemming Nordkrog


Original Review by Alan RogersTidsrejsen

Tidsrejsen is a Danish television family drama starring Bebiane Ivalo Kreutzmann as Sofie, a social outsider who is having a difficult time at school and is having to deal with the recent divorce of her parents. All she wishes is to have her old life back, where her parents love each other again and everyone is happy. It’s at this point that a strange boy comes on the scene; the Justin Bieber-lookalike Dixie (Hannibal Harbo Rasmussen). Although new to the area, Dixie seems to know an awful lot about Sofie. Being a “TV- Julekalender” (a traditional 24-episode “event” shown on consecutive nights in the run up to Christmas), director Kaspar Munk’s Tidsrejsen is a Christmas tale where family and social conflict are resolved with the backdrop of a cosy blanket of yuletide love. But, there’s a twist in this particular tale: time travel. With significant nods to films such as Blade Runner, Men In Black and particularly Back To The Future, Sofie and Dixie (who is from the future) travel back in time, crossing Sofie’s parents’ timeline, to hopefully stop Sofie’s parents from divorcing. Added to the mix are sinister agents from the future who are trying to foil the plans of Sofie and Dixie. [Read more…]

CHINE: RÉPUBLIQUE POPULAIRE DE LA CORRUPTION – Maximilien Mathevon


Original Review by Alan RogersChine - République Populaire de La Corruption

Chine: République Populaire de la Corruption is a one-hour French investigative documentary made by Anne Loussouarn that examines the continuing spectre of state-wide corruption that’s hidden within the country’s recent and significant economic rise. Despite the launch of a high-profile anti-corruption campaign by China’s new leaders – illustrated most by the spectacular downfall of Chinese politician Bo Xilai – Loussouarn’s film uncovers persistent governmental corruption and follows the efforts of local activists to fight against the abuses experienced by the ordinary citizen. Chine: République Populaire de la Corruption (Chine) is typical of many investigative documentaries: plenty of sequences of clandestine filming of dubious meetings, footage of car journeys through city streets and face-to-face interviews with various interested parties. Much of the details of the film were lost on me – my understanding of French is too limited for me to follow much of what was said in the original copy of the film I viewed for this review – but one facet of the documentary I could follow was the score, written by prolific French composer Maximilien Mathevon. [Read more…]

JENS JENSEN, THE LIVING GREEN – Sam Hulick


Original Review by Alan RogersJens Jensen

Jens Jensen (1860-1951) was a Danish-American landscape architect who set his mind to battle against the advancing industrial expansion of Chicago at the turn of the 20th century, to create green spaces (the “Living Green”) so people could have access to nature. Jensen created and re-designed numerous parks in order to improve the lives of the inhabitants of the great city, believing that access to nature lifted peoples’ spirits and benefiting society as a whole. As part of his plans, Jensen wanted to use native American plants and flowers rather than import exotic types, making naturalistic parks full of flowers (and materials) in environments where these flowers would flourish. [Read more…]

BROADCHURCH – Ólafur Arnalds


Original Review by Alan RogersBroadchurch

Broadchurch is the critically acclaimed crime drama that hit British TV screens in the spring of 2013. Shown over 8 weeks, it has been compared with quality Scandinavian dramas such as The Killing and The Bridge partly because of Broadchurch’s whole feel and look. One of the reasons the drama gripped the audience was the story’s focus on how the death of a young boy affected both the boy’s family and the wider community and how both family and the close-knit community showed severe signs of strain as the police investigation progressed to a conclusion. Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds – who wrote a strings and piano-based score for the drama Another Happy Day – compliments the over-riding sense of tragedy, melancholy and grief [Read more…]

LE SYSTÈME OCTOGON – Patrice Mestral


Original Review by Alan Rogers

The French documentary film Le Système Octogon is based upon the thesis formedby two investigative journalists (Fabrizio Calvi and Frank Garbely) who suggest that as World War II drew to a close a significant amount of Nazi gold was hidden away only to resurface – after the war had ended – to help fund the German political party, the Christian Democratic Union and to have further wide-reaching influences within political circles over the decades after the war. A major part of the network, the “Octogon Trust” was a front company set up by an arms dealer and it functioned as the channel for this secret funding. Using archive footage from the remnants of war-torn Germany, plus photos and expert interviews, director Jean-Michel Meurice weaves a narrative that describes the extent of this far-reaching corruption and details the role former Nazis and the Nazi finances played in the whole system. [Read more…]

PIUS XII: UNDER THE ROMAN SKY – Andrea Guerra


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…]

SOUTH PACIFIC – David Mitcham


Original Review by Alan Rogers

South Pacific (Wild Pacific in the US) is a six-part British nature documentary series from the BBC Natural History Unit that aired in 2009. The series (a BBC/Discovery Channel co-production) concentrates on the islands, wildlife and people of the vast expanse of the South Pacific. No-one does natural history programming like the BBC: The Blue Planet and Planet Earth are two examples of well-produced nature documentaries that have set the benchmark for others to follow. Audiences are routinely dazzled by the spectacle of the natural world, sometimes seeing many aspects of the world around us for the very first time. Alongside the spectacular visuals, composers such as George Fenton (who composed lavish scores for both The Blue Planet and Planet Earth) are being inspired to compose breathtaking music. British-born composer David Mitcham has been composing for film and television since the late 1990s and his scores for wildlife films in particular have been consistently been recognised for their quality: Danger In Tiger Paradise (2002), The Elephant, The Emperor and The Butterfly (2003) and, most recently, Echo: An Unforgettable Elephant (2010) have all won accolades worldwide. As composer for South Pacific, Mitcham has been inspired by the indigenous music of the region, using vocals, ukelele and percussion to fashion a score that reinforces the geographical setting and adds a subtle level of drama to the various aspects of life in the South Pacific.

The album begins with the excellent “Opening Title Music”, a short cue that uses all the aforementioned elements to immediately transport the listener to idyllic islands and turquoise seas. Of all the tracks featured on the album it is the songs – many of them composed as musical “set pieces” and featuring texts from a variety of languages including Maori, Hawaiian and Rapanui – that linger in the memory once the album has finished. [Read more…]