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Filmtracks On Cue

On Cue for December, 2002:

12/17/02 - British pop icon Elton John has joined composer David Arnold in harsh criticism of Madonna's title song for the newest James Bond film, Die Another Day. British journalists have been collecting this negative feedback from well known musicians since the British newspaper Sunday Express broke a story two weeks ago about David Arnold's disgust with Madonna's title song. Arnold described it as "The worst Bond song ever" and stressed that he broke Bond-score norms by refusing to use any of her "tune-less" composition in his score. "Madonna had no place in my musical world for Bond," said Arnold. "She has endured stinging criticism but no-one has criticised me for not working her song into the film score. She got three minutes, I got 92." He continued by addressing the absence of the song as adaptation in the score, stating: "Ideally, I would have liked to make some musical sense of her song... but I couldn't." The newest bashing of the song comes from Elton John, who publicly denounced Madonna's talents in the same newspaper and added that the producers of the film "should have gone for somebody like Lulu and Shirley Bassey, or maybe I'm in that league." Instead, Madonna's song "hasn't got a tune," Elton John said. "James Bond themes are usually very camp and this one's different. It is the worst Bond tune of all time." Speculation in London has also indicated that when Prince Philip heard that Madonna would be writing and performing the Bond song, he responded, "Are we going to need ear plugs?" Sound off about the Madonna/Arnold displeasure at Filmtracks' Die Another Day comment forum!

12/16/02 - Treasure Planet: (James Newton Howard) "The Disney enterprise blasts on with its yearly large-scale animated epic, once again with composer James Newton Howard at the helm. The space-age adaptation of the classic Treasure Island tale takes a jet engine propelled 18th Century sailing ship on search in space for the X that marks the spot. The film was not received as well as its two comparable predecessors, Dinosaur and Atlantis: The Lost Empire, both scored by Howard. Perhaps due to its release late in the year, with competition from Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and a host of other enormous sequels, Treasure Planet has faded faster than expected. For James Newton Howard, this film marks his return as the regular orchestral composer for Disney's larger, non-musical animated efforts. Both of his scores for Dinosaur and Atlantis have proven to retain a lasting popularity with fans of both animated music and film music at large. Fans who have heard those previous scores in and out will recognize several similar motifs, thematic key shifts, and instrumentation in Treasure Planet...." **** Read the entire review.

12/12/02 - Far From Heaven: (Elmer Bernstein) "When director Todd Haynes decided to return to the genre of 1950's melodrama in his tribute to the socially charged films of Douglas Sirk, his task of recreating the genre balanced delicately between the seriousness of a decent recreation and a potential laugher of a parody. His aim with Far From Heaven was to perfectly capture the spirit of those 1950's melodramas, complete with technically identical settings, costumes, photography, and characteristically identical values and behavior portrayed by the actors. At the same time, Haynes distinguished this 21st Century entry into the 1950's "issue dramas" by inserting issues into the authentic mix that would not have been allowed or tolerated in the 1950's. Primarily, those insertions involve homosexuality and race relations in an upscale suburban setting of 1957 Connecticut. In an attempt to address these issues in the natural setting, Haynes attempted to further avoid the possibility of producing a parody by hiring the esteemed 80-year old Elmer Bernstein to compose the appropriate score for the era. At the time, many melodrama scores offered simple, small ensemble themes and a low key reverence for the characters and dialogue on screen...." **** Read the entire review.

12/10/02 - Frida: (Elliot Goldenthal) "One of the surprise sensations of 2002 has been the film Frida, a motion picture biography of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. A 20th Century icon in the painting world, the life of Kahlo was an extraordinary tale in character, and the film accurately paints a picture of her struggles and triumphs in life and death. The film is true to the artist's life to such a degree as to detail not only her great art, but also her bisexuality, communist beliefs, and horrific personal difficulties with accidents and health problems. The ensemble of actors for the depiction (many of whom not listed in advertisements) is magnificent, and the film has been met with an outstanding response from critics and arthouse film fans alike. As complex as the film is, the music for the project would be an even more daunting task. Director Julie Taymor looked no further than her husband, Elliot Goldenthal, to compose the score and a handful of songs to be integrated with traditional songs. With an absence of really strong Hispanic composers in the United States working for major projects (except for, perhaps, Lee Holdridge), the choice of Goldenthal was intriguing beyond the logical husband-wife connection...." ***** Read the entire review.

12/9/02 - The Man from Elysian Fields: (Anthony Marinelli) "A film of redemption and the struggle for soul, The Man from Elysian Fields is a story rich with character style and substance. Director George Hickenloopers' richly performed and intimate film features the choices of a failed fiction writer who works a deal with the devil to help support his miserable life. He sells his soul to the devil, who, in this case, is none other than Mick Jagger, and it launches the writer into the world of high class male escort services. As fate would have it, though, his first client is the wife of an aging Pulitzer Prize-winning author who is the younger writer's hero. The triangle of relationships ensues, and the music of composer Anthony Marinelli assists in the intimacy of the story. Marinelli is a veteran of over 30 film scores, mostly for television, and runs a handful of recording studios from which he works. His career has garnered him several smaller-scale awards for scoring achievements, but his status as a performer and keyboardist on many well-known scores hasn't yet translated into his own compositional success for a mainstream Hollywood film as of yet (his best known works are for 15 Minutes in 2001 and Young Guns all the way back in 1988)...." *** Read the entire review.

12/8/02 - Possession: (Gabriel Yared) "Following his critical success with the contemporary Nurse Betty, director Neil LaBute offers the A.S. Byatt tale Possession of two university professors who uncover a plethora of love letters written by two Victorian era poets who are attempting to pursue a romance despite the strict societal mores of the time. While the two poets reach out to each other, so do the two professors in modern day times as they travel in search of the complete story of the two poets. The film takes on a distinct duality during its shifts between time periods, showing us both pairs of characters as they evolve. The music for the film, therefore, was met with the challenge of appealing to modern audiences while also serving the needs of the Victorian poets' romance. Although his activity in the larger American/Hollywood film scene has been limited, the classical European composer Gabriel Yared was hired to produce the music for the project. His previous scores have been, if not successful, consistent in their postmodern statements of classical ideas from the history of film music. His Academy Award winning score for The English Patient began a widespread awareness of this sound, and it was furthered in Message in a Bottle and The Talented Mr. Ripley...." **** Read the entire review.

12/7/02 - The Tuxedo: (John Debney/Christophe Beck) "The general success of Jackie Chan flicks over the past year has been well-documented. Anytime you can conjure up a scenario in which a Chan character, an innocent man in the wrong place at the wrong time, has to burst out of a refrigerator and kick someone in the head (all in one graceful split second move), then you've got yourself a movie that's ready to make some money. In The Tuxedo, Chan is thrust into the world of comedy/science fiction, and now with Jennifer Love Hewitt in tow. As a chauffeur turned secret agent by accident (through the use of a magical black belt James Bondish tuxedo), he is placed once again into the position of kicking unsuspecting fools in the head. This time, he does it with the music of two talented younger composers rooting him on. John Debney and Christophe Beck collaborated half and half in producing this techno-action score. It's a score that meets all your expectations of a Jackie Chan action flick, with music that was produced on a moderate budget and the backbone of several creative electronic samplings...." ** Read the entire review.

Page created 3/12/03, updated 3/13/03. Version 2.1 (Filmtracks Publishing). Copyright © 2002-2003, Christian Clemmensen. All rights reserved. "Real Audio" logo and .ra are Copyright © 1996, Real Audio ( "Academy Awards" and the Oscar statue are ® AMPAS, 1996.