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Filmtracks On Cue

On Cue for February, 2004:

2/29/04 - Howard Shore has won the Academy Awards for "Best Score" and "Best Song" at the 2004 Oscar ceremonies. His wins for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King capped a strong awards season for the film and its composer. Shore also won "Best Score" for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, but was not nominated for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (arguably the best of the three scores) reportedly due to confusion in late 2002 over the eligibility of scores for sequels. Also nominated for 2003 were Danny Elfman for Big Fish, Gabriel Yared for Cold Mountain, Thomas Newman for Finding Nemo, and James Horner for House of Sand and Fog. Share your thoughts on the Shore's Oscar win at the ScoreBoard Forum...

2/28/04 - Sabrina: (John Williams) --Expanded Review-- "Many people criticized director Sydney Pollack for even trying to remake the classic original film from Hollywood's Golden age. While Julia Ormond is certainly no Audrey Hepburn, Harrison Ford looked even more out of place in the picture. Part of the difficulty in remaking Sabrina was the forced modernization of the story. There's far less romance inherent in the surroundings of today's world compared to that of the original film. Master composer John Williams was brought on board the project to help smooth over that transition and provide a musical link to the Golden Age. Williams was coming off of his longest break from film scoring in a long time, deciding not to take a scoring assignment in 1994 and instead work on concerts and a variety of other projects. Undoubtedly, 1993 had been his strongest year in a long time, with Jurassic Park and Schindler's List both destined for greatness, and Williams would have a difficult time living up to heightened expectations in 1995, even by his own standards...." ** Read the entire review.

2/19/04 - Powder: (Jerry Goldsmith) --Expanded Review-- "As a very common representative of his 1990's work, Powder is a project for composer Jerry Goldsmith that would further his pursuit of assignments that involve highly personalized character adversity. The film itself would face considerable adversity of its own, with word of writer/director Victor Silva's past history of child molestation raised during Powder's release. On top of the public outcry against the studio for allowing Silva to make the film, Powder also suffered from a sappy, sometimes unbearable plotline that drove the rest of the audiences away. To say that the film was a failure would be kind, and Jerry Goldsmith's average musical effort would be dragged along for the ride. Silva had always been a Goldsmith fan, and was very impressed with the score for Powder (calling it the work of "genius"). Likewise, Goldsmith fans were generally pleased by the soft and sensitive score...." *** Read the entire review.

2/15/04 - Wyatt Earp: (James Newton Howard) --All New Review-- "In the early 1990's, the idea of the massively proportioned Western film had been reintroduced with the success of Dances With Wolves, and most of the major studios attempted their own Western pictures with similar aspirations. After the continued critical and popular success of Unforgiven and Tombstone, Warner Brothers' Wyatt Earp came at a time, in 1994, when the genre had reached its saturated point (and you started seeing spin-offs like Bad Girls begin to steal the importance from the genre). The Lawrence Kasdan/Kevin Costner film made the crucial mistake of taking itself too seriously, and tried the patience of its audiences with its significantly elongated scenes of character development and drama. Despite having all of the Western elements in place --including a magnificent cast of well-known, secondary actors and actresses-- the film's script was its own worst enemy. A financial disaster for the studio, the one aspect of the film that could not be criticized was the score by James Newton Howard...." **** Read the entire review.

2/13/04 - The Vanishing: (Jerry Goldsmith) --Expanded Review-- "One of the lesser known efforts by Jerry Goldsmith in the 1990's, The Vanishing is a late entry in the string of highly personal horror/thriller scores that Goldsmith composed early in the decade. The film itself was one of those rare cases in which an American remake of a European idea was directed by the same person who headed the original version of the tale. Director George Sluizer's film of abduction and obsession was a more unsettled and gloomy experience in its original Dutch format (by the same title). The American version had a more dreamy ending, and featured a strong cast which included an early cameo by Sandra Bullock as the abductee. The disintigration of Kiefer Sutherland's character, the partner of the long-missing woman, fuels the horror of the story, with the man's obsession with the highway rest-stop abduction leading him finally to a grim confrontation with the criminal mastermind (Jeff Bridges) behind the plot. Goldsmith was very familiar at the time with scoring films about personal destruction..." **** Read the entire review.

2/9/04 - Mona Lisa Smile: (Rachel Portman) --All New Review-- "After spending a few years finally branching out into genres of films not present in her typecast career up to 2000, Rachel Portman falls very comfortably right back into the realm of fluffy chick flick scores. If the story of Mona Lisa Smile seems like an all too familiar feminine adaptation of the "outsider teacher breaking conservative school norms to enlighten and progressively guide stifled, young, rich students" mold, then you'd agree with many of the critics who generally brushed the film aside. The project is, in many ways, a gender-reversed version of Dead Poets Society and half a dozen other similar films about conservative boarding schools, and director Mike Newell (who is set to tackle the upcoming Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) worked to exceed audiences expectations by inserting several Academy Award caliber actresses into the cast. As a result, the film was finely crafted, but ultimately left audiences with the "why bother" question and Mona Lisa Smile slipped through theatres without much of a struggle...." *** Read the entire review.

2/7/04 - The Haunted Mansion: (Mark Mancina) --All New Review-- "Never has Disneyland's New Orleans Square had such overwhelmingly elegant treatment on the big screen as in 2003, when Walt Disney Studios decided to take both of its famed Cajun amusement park rides and translate them onto the big screen. The summer season was dominated by Pirates of the Caribbean, an extremely successful film with a best-selling score album despite a critical bashing of the Media Ventures music for its mindless electronic approach. Disney got a chance to redeem itself in the minds of that segment of the population that values both the history of the Disney attractions and their music when they followed with The Haunted Mansion. Ironically, the film and its lead, Eddie Murphy (a curious choice from the outset), faded nearly immediately from popular attention, although Mark Mancina's score for the project was deemed a far more appropriate recording for the film than Pirates of the Caribbean had been. The history of music for the original haunted house attractions had always played a much bigger role..." *** Read the entire review.

2/4/04 - Dick Tracy: (Danny Elfman) --Expanded Review-- "In composer Danny Elfman's evolution of superhero themes, Dick Tracy ended up being the odd man out, never quite fitting into the rest of Elfman's developing career like his better known efforts. The Warren Beatty film was an attempt by the Walt Disney camp to take advantage of Warner Brothers' explosively powerful Batman success a year before, even teaming with Warner to produce and market this picture. But due to a poor script adaptation and endless cuts and re-shoots, Dick Tracy was laughed at by both critics and audiences. Wacky make-up and a sultry performance by Madonna couldn't even save the project; nor could rumours of off-screen sexuality between Beatty and Madonna generate substantial interest. Elfman's approach to Dick Tracy was different than that of Batman, because it is evident from the start that Elfman realized his role in injecting some life into the otherwise lifeless film. He did his best to whip up a frenzy of swinging, jazzy themes, and he even tried to raise Gershwin from the dead for his bloated, melodramatic themes of romance...." *** Read the entire review.

2/1/04 - RoboCop: (Basil Poledouris) --All New Review-- "Among the top action franchises of the 1980's was that of RoboCop, the cheesy, violent, and entertaining sci-fi story of a Detroit city gone to hell (nothing too fictional about that part) and the cyborg supercop that battles its criminal masterminds. The first American film by director Paul Verhoeven, the pop success of RoboCop would produce two sequels and a television show, all of which featuring the robotic cop against either the criminals who killed his previous, human self, or other criminals who are just bad dudes, or even mega badass robot killing machines conjured to replace or even destroy Robocop. Like other Verhoeven films such as Total Recall, Basic Instinct, and Starship Troopers, RoboCop was extremely violent. And yet, with little public appreciation of the comparisons, RoboCop was a film full of Verhoeven's supposedly heavy parallels between Murphy (the cop who becomes the cyborg upon his gruesome death) and the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Whether you believe these intentions or not..." *** Read the entire review.

Page created 3/3/04, updated 3/7/04. Version 2.1 (Filmtracks Publishing). Copyright © 2003-2004, Christian Clemmensen. All rights reserved. "Real Audio" logo and .ra are Copyright © 1996, Real Audio ( "Academy Awards" and the Oscar statue are ® AMPAS, 1996.