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Flashnotes - December 2001


Last Flashed:
October 19, 2003

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Iris by James Horner

Iris by James Horner - December 11, 2001

James Horner helps launch 2002 on a good note with his exceptional score for the feature film, Iris.  Early buzz about the acting performances of the film are beginning to circulate and so its time to buzz about Horner's scoring performance.  In short, for those that have a tendency towards Horner's dramatic scores (no matter how much they sound alike), Iris is a must have.  Fans of The Spitfire Grill will find Iris an irresistible treat to play over and over.  Also, violinist Joshua Bell, once again, brings his stellar talents to a film score.  Even though his performance is not featured as prominently as in Red Violin, his contribution helps make Iris a distinguished score.  A Beautiful Mind may be garnering the attention for the moment, but this Horner project should not be overlooked.  (Full review to come.)

Part I  |  Part 7

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A Beautiful Mind by James Horner

A Beautiful Mind by James Horner - December 11, 2001

One of the most anticipated dramas of the Christmas season is Ron Howard's A Beautiful Mind.   This project reunites Howard with composer James Horner who delivers another solid effort, but is filled with familiar motifs and variations of several of the composers past works.  As James Horner so often does, he employs the talents of a solo vocalist.  This time he chooses classical (and teen) sensation Charlotte Church.  Throughout the majority of the score her angelic voice acts not much more than like another instrument in the orchestra; however it is Horner's collaboration with lyricist Will Jennings and Church's angelic performance of All Love Can Be that sells the whole thing.  It will be this cue that people come out of the theatre remembering...and desiring to possess.  Minus this single cue, A Beautiful Mind would likely be absorbed into the large coagulation of Horner dramatic scores.  (Click here for the full review)

Creating "Governing Dynamics" Real or Imagined All Love Can Be

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Uprising by Maurice Jarre - December 9, 2001

Director John Avnet's television mini-series Uprising has received praise ranging from mediocre to the highest orders - some calling it "Oscar-worthy".  Focusing on the Jewish resistance of the Nazi army's invasion and occupation of Poland, this film keenly shows the much-less-talked about actions of some the Jewish people during World War ii.  Maurice Jarre's title theme, through its determined and militaristic style, aptly reflects the defiant attitude of one segment of the ghetto-horded Jewish of Warsaw harbored.  Percussions and brass just subtly recall the likes of Lawrence of Arabia, but Uprising, while above average for a television film, does not touch that classic score's grandeur.  Contrasting the aggressive cues like the title theme, Jarre employs soft to somber, woodwinds and strings communicating the dark and deplorable plight of the Jewish Warsaw Ghetto.  Still, he carefully weaves in the thinnest thread of hope.  For a television mini-series, Uprising is exceptional, and, especially at network-television series.  While, overall, it is somewhat subdued, a similar statement could be made of Jarre's score.  It is far from Jarre's best, but still nice to hear something from one of Hollywood's legendary composers.

Uprising Deportation Jewish Honour

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Iron Monkey by James L. Venable

Iron Monkey by James L. Venable - December 4, 2001

While many audiences were expecting or hoping for another Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Iron Monkey is, instead, a classic kung-fu-film and all that implies.  Crouching Tiger was, in essence, a great drama that happened to include kung-fu elements.  Iron Monkey is far less serious, but still entertaining in its own right.  James L. Venable's music is a mix of orchestral, ethnic and synthesized elements that works fairly well in the film.  Venable actually "re-scores" the Miramax-edited and re-released version of the film (the original 1993 release featured the work of veteran, kung-fu-film composer, Richard Yuen).  Comparisons between this score and Tan Dun's award winning score for Crouching Tiger are a mistake, simply because of the vast differences between the two films: storyline, target-audience, budget and so on.  A better comparison can be made with James Venable's work for the hit cartoon series, Samurai Jack.  As far as scores go for true kung-fu-flicks, Iron Monkey can be said to be a cut...or a chop above.

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