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Filmtracks On Cue

On Cue for August, 2005:

8/31/05 - Jumanji: (James Horner) --Expanded Review-- "In an attempt to ride the wave of super-popular animal special effects that was caused initially by Jurassic Park, director Joe Johnston brings the board game described in Chris Van Allsburg's children's book to life. The premise of the Jumanji story involves a supernatural game that brings its jungle world to life and puts the actual players in jeopardy of being maimed, or perhaps worse yet, caught in the spell of the game forever. Johnston had brought a child's twist of special effects perspective to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids several years earlier, and unfortunately, for Jumanji, the technology had begun to overwhelm the storyline by 1995. The massive failure of Jumanji in the theatres during the Christmas season of that year was due in part to the fact that critics failed to see the purpose in establishing the entire premise of a film simply for the sake of special effects, and due partly to the fact that the film deserved far more than a PG rating..." ** Read the entire review.

8/28/05 - To Gillian on her 37th Birthday: (James Horner) --Expanded Review-- "Adapted by David E. Kelley from a play and directed by Michael Pressman, To Gillian on her 37th Birthday is a prolonged story about one man's grief over the death of his wife. Becoming a recluse on Nantucket Island with his 16-year-old daughter, the man suffers so much in the two years that follow a boating accident, he imagines his wife's ghost in conversations with her along the beach outside their home. Heck, maybe that's what happens when you marry and then lose Michelle Pfeiffer. But the film's unoriginal, drawn out story follows predictable paths of the daughter's coming of age and the nosey sister-in-law/aunt who attempts to first set up the ailing father on a blind date (before eventually trying to steal custody of the girl). For a survival story, To Gillian on her 37th Birthday is an exercise in a familiar sense of boredom... the kind of discomfort you get at family gatherings with the in-laws that you try to avoid because the routine is always the same...." ** Read the entire review.

8/23/05 - Ransom: (James Horner/Billy Corgan) --Expanded Review-- " Based on the same screenplay by Richard Price and Alexander Ignon that inspired the 1956 Glenn Ford movie of the same name, Ron Howard's Ransom in late 1996 places the director in exactly the genre at which he excels the most: group tension. The film was somewhat of a success, with the script perhaps needing two or three fewer loose ends, and Mel Gibson's performance is often credited for Ransom's appeal. The post-production of the film wasn't free from hiccups, and one late-arriving piece of news was the rejection of composer Howard Shore's score for the film. Howard turned to previously scheduled collaborator James Horner with only a little over two weeks to spare until the score had to be dubbed into the film. Making the picture even muddier was the studio's hiring of Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins rock band to write and perform music for cues throughout the film. Given Howard Shore's substantial works in the genre of urban thrillers, it's difficult to understand how the score eventually became an obvious emergency job by Horner..." ** Read the entire review.

8/20/05 - The Devil's Own: (James Horner) --Expanded Review-- "There were several very compelling films made in the early to mid-1990's that dealt with the issue of Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland with convincing realism. From In the Name of the Father to Michael Collins, the topic had received outstanding treatment, and even Patriot Games, a film that would share some similarities in crew with The Devil's Own, held its own territory. By 1997, famed director Alan J. Pakula was ready to tackle the subject matter, and he managed to frustrate the two lead actors in the film by starting the shooting of the project before the screenplay was even finished. That, along with rumours of general distaste between Harrison Ford and Brad Pitt, painted The Devil's Own in a negative critical and popular light. Not working in its favor was the final screenplay, which failed to establish who was worthy of salvation and who wasn't. With the Irish themes in Hollywood beginning to lose their appeal, the filmmakers stuck to their guns in their choice for composer...." *** Read the entire review.

8/14/05 - The Jerry Goldsmith SPFM Tribute: (Compilation) --Expanded Review-- "Once the most valuable album in the history of soundtracks, the Jerry Goldsmith SPFM Tribute CD holds a distinct place in the genre. While its value has diminished since its peak in the mid-1990's, it still represents the hysteria associated with extreme fandom and has demanded the kinds of prices to prove it. In March of 1993, the Society for the Preservation of Film Music gave copies of this compilation to attendees at its annual tribute dinner. The album, honoring Jerry Goldsmith for his career achievements, was originally reported to have been limited to 500 copies in quantity. Those original 500 pressings were type-numbered, although unnumbered copies beyond the first 500 were available for a donation price to Society members after the dinner. Almost immediately, the Jerry Goldsmith SPFM Tribute became one of the first ever albums to ever be bootlegged in the soundtrack genre, with tricky fakes beginning to circulate around the secondary collector's market. While original copies of the real album fetched many hundreds of dollars..." ***** Read the entire review.

8/11/05 - Jerry Goldsmith: Suites and Themes: (Compilation) --Expanded Review-- "It is rare that a one-time concert performance of a single composer's works is recorded and pressed to CD, especially considering advancements in recording technologies. In the 1980's, the Masters Film Music Special Release Series --CDs produced by Varèse Sarabande executive Robert Townson-- released several Jerry Goldsmith scores in either commercial or limited fashion. Some of these were direct Varèse Sarabande albums, such as the two Lionheart volumes and The Final Conflict, although The Boys from Brazil and Jerry Goldsmith: Suites and Themes were released under the separate "Masters Film Music" label and were considerably more rare. The 1980's were arguably the greatest era of Goldsmith's career, and to celebrate his achievements, The Philharmonia of London presented concert arrangements of many of Goldsmith's successful scores for public performances. One of these performances was recorded and pressed in March, 1987 (without audience noise) as a limited Masters Film Music album...." ***** Read the entire review.

8/8/05 - Twilight's Last Gleaming: (Jerry Goldsmith) --Expanded Review-- "The American public wasn't yet quite ready to accept the anti-Vietnam, anti-government messages in 1977's Twilight's Last Gleaming, and the film was a major contribution to the sinking of director Robert Aldrich's career. Despite the fact that the Pentagon Papers, released in 1971, said everything that Aldrich was trying to use to outrage the American public, one of Twilight's Last Gleaming's plotlines (and the politically motivating one) involves the notion that terrorists from within the American military could force the U.S. president to admit to all the faulty policies behind the Vietnam war... without even mentioning the war by name in the first two hours of the film. The other plotline in the film involves a typical action line that depicts Burt Lancaster as a former military general who, along with two cohorts (including Paul Winfield), sneaks into a missile silo in Montana and threatens to launch its nine nuclear missiles on the Soviet Union. Unless the government admits to its failings, of course...." ** Read the entire review.

8/3/05 - Raggedy Man: (Jerry Goldsmith) --Expanded Review-- "One of a few films directed by regular production designer Jack Fisk, Raggedy Man suffers from a very odd, disjointed script that can't decide if it's a love story or a slasher film. Opening in the early 1980's, it could have been either, and despite a flourishing acting performance by Fisk's wife, Sissy Spacek, along with the outstanding art direction and cinematography, the film's strange plot dooms it. Starring as the sole telephone operator in a small Texas town during World War II, Spacek's character meets a traveling sailor and the film essentially follows the innocent emotional attachment that the two feel towards each other and the woman's two young boys. The colors of the film are very deeply rooted in the early 1940's, with the time capsule effect very well captured. But the movie goes all awry with the involvement of a scarecrow type of character, a "raggedy man," a group of loudmouth men who have a keen eye for Spacey, and a strikingly violent and disturbing end. Critically, the film performed well..." ** Read the entire review.

Page created 9/17/05, updated 9/19/05. Version 2.1 (Filmtracks Publishing). Copyright © 2005, Christian Clemmensen. All rights reserved. "Real Audio" logo and .ra are Copyright © 1996, Real Audio ( "Academy Awards" and the Oscar statue are ® AMPAS, 1996.