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Filmtracks On Cue

On Cue for March, 2004:

3/29/04 - Animal Farm: (Richard Harvey) --All New Review-- "Once the technical ability was rendered in 1995's Babe, it was inevitable that the most famous adult "talking animal" story of all time would applied to live action. George Orwell's 1945 novel Animal Farm is revered as a bleak, but prophetic companion piece to his 1984 story. It is an allegory for the Russian Revolution and the eventual pitfalls of communism to follow, and in 1999, the TNT cable channel took most of Orwell's story to the small screen. While much of Orwell's vision is darkly dramatized in the farm setting, with the animals overthrowing their British manor masters, some liberties were taken at the end of the story to update Orwell's tale to mirror modern events (mainly, the fall of communism and tearing down of stone walls). Purists of the story were horrified, and the film's depressing nature (before the Americans save the day in an ending that defeats the purpose of the story) makes it less suitable to the children's audience that would otherwise be inclined to watch a film with talking and singing animals...." ***** Read the entire review.

3/19/04 - The Emperor's Club: (James Newton Howard) --All New Review-- "Audiences have probably had enough of the "college teacher with underachieving students" formula in the past few decades, with Stand and Deliver, Mr. Holland's Opus, and, most notably, Dead Poet's Society building on a redundant idea. For The Emperor's Club, actor Kevin Kline sheds the comedic light of his teaching role in In & Out in favor of a Robin Williams-like performance of inspiration at the Ivy League level. Director Michael Hoffman's mirroring of many of the same moral dilemmas (as those of films before), as well as a seemingly endless supply of misbehaving youth in the classroom, caused the film to suffer the cold shoulder of many audiences. With A Beautiful Mind also leaving an ill taste of Ivy League campuses, The Emperor's Club, despite Kline's talents, fell away from mainstream attention almost immediately. Everything seemed too familiar about the project, including James Newton Howard's score. Howard's mainstream scores were mostly action or horror oriented..." *** Read the entire review.

3/11/04 - The Statement: (Norman Corbeil) --All New Review-- "Predicted to be an Academy Award powerhouse from the arthouse film venues, The Statement turned out to be both a critical and popular flop. A contemporary political thriller based on a novel by Brian Moore, the story of an aged Nazi collaborator in modern day France, and the chase to arrest and/or kill him, is loosely based on factual events. With Michael Caine playing the war criminal on the run, utilizing his faith and the Catholic structure in the south of France to protect himself, the film advertised itself as a tense thriller with a message. Director Norman Jewison has had his fair share of cinematic success, but with The Statement he created a film universally criticized for its muddled message, poor plot progression, and, worst of all, lack of truly convincing suspense. The director was keen on producing an atmosphere of one prolonged chase, much in the mold of a Hitchcock film, and the score was to understandably follow the lead of some of Bernard Herrmann's best work for such thrillers...." ** Read the entire review.

3/7/04 - White Oleander: (Thomas Newman) --All New Review-- "When Janet Fitch's best-selling novel became one of Oprah's Book Club selections, you had the feeling that the sharp, troubled drama would make its way onto the big screen. The tale of a troubled teen whose single mother is jailed, White Oleander is a foster child's nightmare. The teenage girl here is passed between hideous potential mothers before finally finding a place, ironically, with a foster father. The film is an exhibit of female behavior at its strongest and weakest, best and worst. It was salvaged from the enormous pile of average tear-jerking arthouse dramas by the strength of its own A-list cast. It was also the directorial debut for British stage and television director Peter Kosminsky, who decided to immediately jump on the popular arthouse scoring wagon by pursuing composer Thomas Newman for a role in the production. As a project, White Oleander is a perfect match for Newman, who is known for scoring heavy, female-driven dramas in a range from Little Women to Erin Brockovich...." ** Read the entire review.

3/4/04 - Used People: (Rachel Portman) --Expanded Review-- "Before bursting into mainstream American attention with The Joy Luck Club in 1993, Rachel Portman had already established herself as rising star in the composing industry. By the time she continued her collaboration with director Beeban Kidron for a third time with Used People, Portman had already received numerous award nominations and wins in Europe, including an encouraging award out of the U.K. announcing her as the best new composer of the 1980's. Portman's partnership with Kidron would continue after Used People, but this 1992 score marked one of Portman's first large-scale projects for which recognition would be established in America. Critics of Portman's consistent style state that the composer is simply a one-dimensional artist, capable of only producing one style of sound. If that's true --and you'd have quite a few angry Portman fans debating that point-- then Used People is a refreshing glimpse of Portman's work premiering its new styles before it was well known...." *** Read the entire review.

Page created 4/10/04, updated 4/11/04. Version 2.1 (Filmtracks Publishing). Copyright © 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.