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Filmtracks On Cue

On Cue for July, 2003:

7/31/03 - Golden Gate: (Elliot Goldenthal) --All New Review-- "Experiencing his first taste of mainstream success by 1994, Elliot Goldenthal began receiving offers for a wider variety of films with both Alien 3 and Demolition Man under his belt. Most people will recall Goldenthal's other efforts in his productive year of 1994, including Cobb and the Academy Award nominated Interview with the Vampire. His first project of that year, however, coming straight off of Demolition Man, was the little know film Golden Gate. It would be the only collaboration between Goldenthal and acclaimed director John Madden, and the project would die in obscurity for both. Critically assaulted and popularly ignored, Golden Gate told the story of a law school graduate in the early 1960's who is assigned by the FBI to root out communist elements in the Chinese community of San Francisco. The new agent (Matt Dillon) becomes divided, however, when he falls in love with a Chinese shopowner's daughter (Joan Chen). The struggle of loyalties leads the agent down the road to his own destruction, with the film ending on an ultimate, somber note...." *** Read the entire review.

7/30/03 - Othello (Ballet): (Elliot Goldenthal) --All New Review-- "Many casual film music fans may still be unaware that there is a reason for Elliot Goldenthal's rather sparse ten-year career in film score composition. The lack of a prolific scoring career has been due largely to an equally active career for commissioned projects such as concerts, chamber pieces, and ballets. The mid-1990's were years that featured several large-scale commissioned works from Goldenthal, with the huge symphonic piece "Fire Water Paper" in 1996 leading to a handful of projects directed by his wife, Julie Taymor. His theatrical writings have also led to recognition by the Tony awards for "Juan Darien," and his small arthouse scores have been performed during plays around the country. His chamber pieces, written usually for a specific occasion, have been performed in countless venues as well. While many of these concert works exists on album due a contract between Goldenthal and the Sony Classical label, the composer's work for the "Othello" ballet in 1998 was released on album by Varèse Sarabande at the time of its opening...." *** Read the entire review.

7/29/03 - In Dreams: (Elliot Goldenthal) --All New Review-- "One has to wonder what kind of music that composer Elliot Goldenthal hears in his dreams. For listeners familiar with the music that Goldenthal writes when he is awake, the consensus might be that In Dreams could be the score to Goldenthal's dreams. For most other people, of course, this kind of music would only accompany nightmares, and a nightmare is exactly the plotline of In Dreams. The film was the fourth collaboration between Goldenthal and director Neil Jordan, for whom Goldenthal had written Interview with the Vampire, Michael Collins, and The Butcher Boy. Performed by an impressive cast, the story of In Dreams is a chilling and desperate tale of a woman who is haunted by dream-like premonitions of a child's death at the hands of an abductor/serial killer, and the hesitance of the police to believe her. As the nightmares of the main character are realized, Goldenthal's score becomes even more important is providing an excruciating sense of futility and realism. It's not hard to imagine Goldenthal in this composing role..." *** Read the entire review.

7/28/03 - Robin and Marian: (John Barry) --All New Review-- "In the early 1970's, the idea of producing a film about the death of Robin Hood was kicked around between several studios until it was picked up by producer Ray Stark, director Richard Lester, and a production team experienced in the lightning-quick production of swashbuckling films. For the novel script depicting the late years of the characters in the Robin Hood tale, a magnificent cast of Sean Connery, Audrey Hepburn, Richard Harris, and Robert Shaw was collected. Despite the dynamic combination of actors, Robin and Marian was a significantly depressing experience, with the deaths of all of the major characters and a heartbreaking story of lost love and endless battles with old foes. The score for the picture was meant to be a lush, string-oriented affair from the very beginning, and veteran French composer Michel Legrand was hired to add that spark of romance. Legrand composed and recorded music for the entire film; his score featured only a string section and offered solo performances by each of the different string instruments for his thematic material...." *** Read the entire review.

7/27/03 - The Last Valley: (John Barry) --All New Review-- "Despite being at the height of his popularity in the James Bond franchise by 1970, composer John Barry was building an impressive list of dark, dramatic scores for which he was receiving equal attention in the industry. Having recently won the Academy Award for the eerie, powerful score for The Lion in Winter, and also having worked with director James Clavell on King Rat, Barry was hired to provide a score for the heavily dramatic tale of The Last Valley. The film was heralded as a magnificent piece of visual and aural storytelling, but the depressingly bleak and sometimes horrifying treatment of its characters kept audiences away. Set during the Thirty Years' War, the film offers the struggles of a unravaged village (filmed in Austria) that deals with an occupation by forces of a foreign army, and in so doing, the story blurs the lines of good and evil in its characters. Lead actor Michael Caine asserts that it is among his favorite personal works, although he, like the others involved with the project, recognize that its blatant violence made it a difficult film to stomach...." **** Read the entire review.

7/25/03 - Lost in Space: (Bruce Broughton) --Updated Review-- "Although the 1998 large-scale studio adaptation of Irwin Allen's famous Lost in Space tale performed considerably well at the time of its release, the film failed to become enough of a success to sustain a franchise based on the Robinson family. The production schedule was nearly out of control, even within a week of the film's release, due to the endless tinkering with the CGI special effects featured throughout the picture. Thus, the score by Bruce Broughton became an adventure in and of itself. Replacing legend Jerry Goldsmith and given only two weeks to provide a large action score with a fully orchestral ensemble, the expectation of Broughton's task was to create the adventure of his famous modern Western scores (and namely, Silverado) in space. Every time Broughton thought he was done with the score, he was continuously called back to rescore scenes that were altered due to special effects additions or the complete rearrangement of scenes. The result of Broughton's effort is an underachieving score that presents a watered-down title theme and little fright to represent Spider Smith..." ** Read the entire review.

7/23/03 - XXX: (Randy Edelman) --All New Review-- "In an era when ridiculous, franchise-imitating films are reigning supreme in Hollywood, it's amazing to realize just how well XXX fared in 2002. By no means trying to mask itself as something else, the film is a blatant rip-off of the James Bond formula of films, a formula that lacks much intelligence to begin with. Replacing the classy Bond persona in this case is an extreme sports fanatic and brute portrayed by Vin Diesel, whose appearance in the role was an attempt to put a badguy muscle-man into a Bond role. The shameless production nevertheless succeeded beyond the wildest expectations, and has sequel opportunities written all over it. The film was directed by Rob Cohen, and thus the score became the assignment of his long-time collaborator, Randy Edelman. While Edelman wouldn't be the first composer to come to mind in this case, the composer and director teamed up for a strong year in 1996 alone, with Daylight and Dragonheart establishing themselves as an adequate, if not entertaining duo. The seedy nature of project, not to mention the lacking of sophistication, would seemed to have suggested that a Media Ventures hack job of a score would be called for...." ** Read the entire review.

7/22/03 - Indochine: (Patrick Doyle) --All New Review-- "In 1992, theatres around the world were buzzing with the French film Indochine, a love story set during the dangerous final years of the French occupation of Vietnam. The film won the Academy Award for "Best Foreign Language Film," gaining a substantial audience in America as well. Director RZ˙gis Wargnier's vision for the film was one of immense visual and aural beauty, with the drama of the story serving alongside an overwhelming artistic canvas for the senses. He had heard Patrick Doyle's grand score for Henry V and was interested in a similar sound for Indochine. When Wargnier showed up at Doyle's door to hear a sample of what Doyle could provide for the film, the funny circumstances of the day had required Doyle to record his ideas on a Fisher Price children's cassette recorder; despite Doyle's embarrassment over the situation, Wargnier and the producers were impressed and Doyle was set to go (see the notes at the bottom of this review page for the full story). Wargnier and the studio were so concerned about the appropriate sound for the film that they had set aside one of the largest music budgets ever for a French film...." **** Read the entire review.

7/21/03 - FernGully: The Last Rainforest: (Alan Silvestri) --All New Review-- "Few films are so blatantly motivated by politics as this animated adventure in the rainforests. To be honest, FernGully: The Last Rainforest is one of those children's films that masks itself in the feel-good genre of filmmaking while pushing the real agenda at children... an agenda that causes the film have a feel-bad message (that message being: we're destroying the lungs of the Earth!). Essentially, the film takes cool characters from the rain forests and shows us how they overcome the hideous actions of "those humans." A portion of the proceeds from the 1992 picture was sent to the Smithsonian Institute to manage in favor of causes around the world that save rain forests (and the Amazon in particular). Perhaps it was the pseudo feel-bad message that caused the film to slip away from the public eye after a year of hype and publicity surrounding the reasons for its existence. To the credit of the filmmakers, they did everything right to mask the feel-bad message in a pretty package. The musical approach was one that was very strongly rooted in the psyche of children. A series of songs by popular artists, ranging from Robin Williams to Elton John..." *** Read the entire review.

7/20/03 - Titus: (Elliot Goldenthal) "There is absolutely no more creative voice in modern film scoring than Elliot Goldenthal. It's orchestral writing like this that makes me wonder what in the world anyone can have against him. The man can skillfully combine so many genres so well that is just makes my mind boggle. And the scary thing is that he writes music of the highest quality for each genre that he dabbles in. If you're looking for an incredibly eclectic, yet extremely listenable score for fans of all types of music, then look no further than Titus. What makes this score so great is not the simple fact that there are so many styles, it's the fact that the composer fuses them together so well. Some of the different styles are traditional orchestral, swing, techno grunge, hard rock, and Goldenthal's usual atonal writing (my personal favorite). "Pickled Heads" is easily the most eclectic track of all, and is the second most interesting. It starts out with the rather noisy techno grunge and rock but becomes a terrific jazz piece with a really weird use of sax and accordion. The most interesting track has to be "Mad Ole Titus" which contains saxophones playing some of the most atonal music ever..." ***** Read the entire donated review.

7/19/03 - Shadow Conspiracy: (Bruce Broughton) --Expanded Review-- "The middle to late 1990's were a time rich with presidential scandals in Hollywood. The plotline of the 1996 film Shadow Conspiracy held many parallels with films such as Murder at 1600 and Absolute Power, and suffered from overkill of the subject at the box office. The intrigue involving the White House in this film revolves around a plot to overthrow the American government. Bringing the thriller to the big screen was director George Cosmatos (of Rambo movie fame), and composer Bruce Broughton had collaborated with Cosmatos for the successful project of Tombstone a few years earlier. For Shadow Conspiracy, Broughton would be able to raise a similarly noble theme, though he wouldn't be able to hold on to it for very long. Cosmatos had a very specific idea in mind when he hired Broughton for the project; he wanted the score for Shadow Conspiracy to be performed by a symphony orchestra with a massive percussion section (and, more specifically, extra drums). Broughton responded by not only employing an extra percussionist for drums, but went over the top with a wide range of percussion instruments..." *** Read the entire review.

7/16/03 - Pocahontas: (Alan Menken) --All New Review-- "By the mid-1990's, the Disney animated film franchise was once again a powerhouse in Hollywood, and some critics would argue that the studio's animation was at its historic peak during that era. After the first trilogy of films scored by Alan Menken proved more successful with each entry, Disney scored another major success with The Lion King. With The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin on his resume, Menken wasn't yet to lose his position atop the musical pillar of strength for Disney's animated features. In 1995, Pocahontas received the same critical success as Menken's previous projects, winning Academy Awards for both the score and the main song, a feat that had become somewhat normal for the franchise. But The Lion King had opened a new door in Disney's mind, allowing for major Hollywood composers to collaborate with pop artists for the music in the films. Only two years later, Alan Menken's reign over the musical scene at Disney would fizzle to an inglorious end, and the studio would consistently rotate between big name composers for their animated features. Some critics would argue that Pocahontas represented the beginning of the end for Menken..." **** Read the entire review.

7/14/03 - Titus: (Elliot Goldenthal) --All New Review-- "If you think artists today have a hard time breaking onto the scene in mainstream entertainment, just think how difficult it must have been for Shakespeare, who conjured "Titus Andronicus" early in his career to help make a name for himself. The gruesome tragedy, which is so disgusting in its lack of mores or hero that it becomes a laugh-fest, is a story that revels in every element of gore and excess. It's best known for its themes of body mutilation and how humor that can arise from rape and severed body parts. Julie Taymor's adaptation of the story is set in ancient Rome, but not a historically accurate one. She builds upon the vast swings of tragedy and comedy by also blurring the time period in which the story is taking place, leaving the opportunity to insert modern tanks, radios, pool tables, and even the Popemobile. It's a sort of mockery of the kind of timelessness that fantasy films like Batman attempt to achieve, but in this case, the out of place elements are inserted with grandiose, in-your-face intentions. Critical response to the film was mostly positive, with Taymor's creativity winning the hearts of critics who had thought that they had seen it all...." ** Read the entire review.

7/12/03 - The Road to Wellville: (Rachel Portman) --All New Review-- "'Here at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, the spirits soar, the mind is educated, and bowels... the bowels are born again!' Saturated with quotes like that, it's not hard to imagine why the film The Road to Wellville attracted only a small, specific crowd in 1994. Directed by the talented and respected Alan Parker, the film featured a blockbuster cast, with Anthony Hopkins as the deranged Kellogg cereal inventor in a leading performance worthy of merit. His Sanitarium, meant to cleanse the body and put people of the 1920's into unnatural health, was highlighted by its extensive use of enemas and bizarre rituals to cleanse the bowels. A young couple (Matthew Broderick and Bridget Fonda) visits the clinic of sorts for a vacation of healthy relaxation, with Mr. Lightbody (Broderick) in for much more than he bargained for. The film is disgusting in every way possible, forcing its actors into scenes and discussions of feces, farts, fornication, masturbation, orifices, nudity, chewing, and, of course, those dreaded 15 gallons of yogurt. So filthy the film is in its protrayal of carnal subject matter that many people may not view it as the black comedy it was meant to be...." *** Read the entire review.

7/11/03 - Hoosiers: (Jerry Goldsmith) --All New Review-- "One of the definitive sports movies in the history of Hollywood, Hoosiers is an essential piece of Americana film-making. Directed by David Anspaugh, who would continue on to direct another similarly themed film in 1993's Rudy, the film captures a piece of Indiana life with an authenticity that few accomplished. A disgraced, out of town basketball coach, performed brilliantly by Gene Hackman, arrives to guide an underdog high school basketball team, the Hickory Huskers, to an improbable title. It is, like Rudy, the ultimate film about motivation, faith, self-confidence, and achievement against the odds. The small-town spirit is religious in its power, and the film's heart and loyalty to character depth required a score that could help motivate those characters onto their path to rewarding success. Jerry Goldsmith was coming off of the most successful period of his career to date, with several of his most dynamic scores produced in the early 1980's. He had branched out from his usual science-fiction, horror, and war drama assignments to compose for children's films, fantasy, and animation. Also a pioneer in the use of synthesized elements in unison with a symphony orchestra, Goldsmith..." ***** Read the entire review.

7/9/03 - Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: (Leonard Rosenman) --All New Review-- "When you examine the first ten Star Trek films, it's interesting to realize that Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was the franchise's most prolific fiscal blockbuster of its era. Despite your opinion of the film's merits, it came at a time when the series was heading down a dark soap-opera path that was partially corrected by the previous installment. With Leonard Nimoy at the controls, the film gave in to pop culture comedy and provided a circus-like atmosphere for our otherwise heroic science-fiction crew. Part of the film's popularity also stemmed from its nonstop insults of primitive 20th Century human behavior. To provide a more classical approach to the comedy score, Nimoy would chose the classically-inclined composer Leonard Rosenman for the project. The lighthearted orchestral score would achieve the series' final Academy Award nomination, seemingly proving that audiences prefer their science-fiction to border on the mainstream by utilizing more friendly scripting and scoring approaches. In the context of the other nine franchise scores, Rosenman's composition is the weak link, often residing near the bottom of film music collectors' rankings of Star Trek scores. And rightfully so...." ** Read the entire review.

7/8/03 - Star Trek III: The Search for Spock: (James Horner) --All New Review-- "Shock and dismay had overwhelmed the nucleus of Star Trek fans in 1982; Spock was dead, and a beloved fixture of the television show and first two films was gone. Before even Star Trek II could be finished, the potential uproar of such an outcome was realized by the series' producers, and the bulk of the third film was devoted to bringing the character back to life. The film also re-introduced the hated Klingons into the mix and gave life to the cloaking Bird of Prey, which would become the most recognizable class of ship outside of the Federation for mainstream audiences. With Leonard Nimoy at the helm of this film, he made the wise choice to maintain continuity between the second and third films by utilizing James Horner's services once again for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Horner's score for the previous film had been a stunning success for the newcomer, a harsh, but bold sea-faring score worthy of adventures in space. Horner had also integrated a Spock-specific theme into the second film that could be elaborated upon as a central theme in the third film. As a story, Star Trek III achieved its main goals..." *** Read the entire review.

7/7/03 - Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: (James Horner) --All New Review-- "After the hit television series was finally brought to big screen in 1979 to critical and popular acclaim, director Nicholas Meyer would take the series in an entirely new direction. Whereas Star Trek: The Motion Picture had wowed audiences with its majestic fantasy elements, many of which drawn out into lengthy sequences to accentuate their mere brilliance of color and sound, Meyer's approach for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan would be one of brutal power, surprise attacks, emotional turmoil, and, most of all, primal revenge. The wild success of Star Trek II in providing a thriller in space would solidify the franchise for at least another eight films. The story introduced the concept of the star villain challenging the intellectual and technological capabilities of the Enterprise crew, and also made a crucial link back to an episode of the original television show. The picture is arguably the best of the series, and established a new dramatic standard for its musical scores. Jerry Goldsmith had adapted Alexander Courage's television theme into the first film's score and had composed an elegant, orchestrally sweeping theme for the heroic crew...." ***** Read the entire review.

7/4/03 - Win a copy of Terminator 3 in the July, 2003, Cue Clue Contest! It's Independence Day in America, and Filmtracks and Varèse Sarabande are proud to offer a hot new blockbuster prize for the July, 2003 contest. There are three unidentified film score audio clips in the contest, and the more clips you identify, the better your chances of winning a prize. This month, three winners of the contest will receive Marco Beltrami's orchestral score album for the 2003 summer hit Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. The album features over 40 minutes of Beltrami's score, a re-recording of the original Brad Fiedel theme, and two softer companion songs. All you have to do is listen to the three Cue Clue Clips on the Filmtracks Cool Stuff page and do your best to identify the clips. The contest ends on July 30th. Remember, you only need to guess one of the three clips correctly to qualify. Good luck!

7/3/03 - Rob Roy: (Carter Burwell) --All New Review-- "Within the span of a year, audiences were treated to several Highland epics, with Rob Roy followed by Braveheart and then Dragonheart. While Dragonheart would range into a different genre, Rob Roy matched Braveheart in its brutality and the expression of graphically realistic force. As a film, Rob Roy would suffer from the worst audience reactions of the three, with most viewers eagerly seeking the other two Highland films with an almost cultish fever. The same exact reaction would be experienced by the score for Rob Roy. The James Horner and Randy Edelman scores --light years away in tone-- would share monumental success while Carter Burwell's Rob Roy fell by wayside early in the race. Burwell isn't immediately known for his lush and romantic scoring for grand vistas. At times, he could provide large-scale themes for scenery (who could forget 1999's Hi-Lo Country?), but Burwell's career inclination points towards the more off-color projects of darker shades. Landing Rob Roy allowed Burwell to collaborate with several specialty musicians, including those of his own hiring and those belonging to the Gaelic group Capercaillie. Burwell would also interpret traditional Gaelic tunes with the help of that group and integrate them into his own heavily ethnic score...." *** Read the entire review.

7/1/03 - Ghost Ship: (John Frizzell) --All New Review-- "Following a series of sub-standard scores for regrettable films, John Frizzell showed signs of creative promise in the horror flick Thirteen Ghosts. By late 2002, the composer would produce a massive score for Ghost Ship in the same genre and then surprise audiences with a magnificent effort for Gods and Generals in early 2003. Collaborating once again with director Steve Beck, Frizzell would pull out all the stops for Ghost Ship. The film, featuring an average cast, took the same old story of a ghost ship, lost at sea, with a treasure (perhaps the Antonia Graza name is a rip-off of the real-life, sunken Andrea Doria?), and twisted it into a story that attempted to inject more style and drama into its horror. Ultimately, the film would suffer from the same problems as the score (or vice versa), because too many different emotional avenues were tested in one film. The musical offering in the film would waver between the prominent use of songs and a large-scale orchestral score by Frizzell. While most audience members remembered the songs from the film, Frizzell's effort was enormous in quantity and scope. He would tap dance around some old genre cliches and dive head first into others..." ** Read the entire review.

Page created 7/19/03, updated 7/20/03. Version 2.1 (Filmtracks Publishing). Copyright © 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.