December 2006 Film Music Editorial

Film Music Editor: Michael McLennan
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster: Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings/ December/

Editor’s Note

It’s been some time since Film Music on the Web went online with a set of reviews. Our reviewers have been as diligent as ever – most of the reviews that go online in this November update have been on my hard drive in some form or another since August. The mixture of a semester-long lecturing job and a short film editing commitment has kept me from giving their work the attention it deserves. I love film scoring as much as ever, but the real world has its priorities, and it may not be the last time work gets in the way of volunteer work. Rather than delay even further with preparing my usual columns on the noteworthy composers in each edition (John Powell and Tuomas Kantelinen would have taken it this time) and my verbose thoughts on ‘Music in the Film’, I’ve decided just to get on with it and get these reviews on the site. We’ve also lost our Golden Age columnist (greener pastures beckoned!), and our one column this time around is one that in a way I wish didn’t exist – a tribute to the late Basil Poledouris.

Sadly, as we go to press it turns out that this will be our last update for some time, a development only two days old as I write this (Sunday, 3rd December), but perhaps one I should have seen coming. I say above that the real world has its priorities, and those priorities have pulled on the attention of all of the FMOTW principals of late. As we farewell our long-suffering content editor and reviewer Tina Huang, and my own ability to maintain the site with regular updates is challenged, it seems inappropriate to promise future updates. For the resources to provide them – time, skilled labour, and money, mostly time – are scant. I must thank our readership for their interest over the years – and apologise that so soon after it fell to me to run the site that it going dormant. (I had hopes of a more long-term nature, but it seems fruitless to mention them now.) I must thank our reviewers for their prose and punctuality – and commend to our readers other sites featuring their writings, in particular James Southall’s Moviewave, Tom Kiefner’s Golden Age Scores and Demetris Christopoulides (who writes for many sites, some listed here). While this will be determined for the most part by others, I hope that the site’s impressive archive of reviews will remain accessible to future surfers of the net.

Thanks as always to Gary Dalkin for all his help, and to Tina for her hard work and her regular reminders that websites need updating. Thankyou to Ian Lace for all his support over the last year, and his fine leadership of the site before then – I hope many relaxing years of simply enjoying good music lie ahead. Thankyou especially to Len Mullenger for his patient long-term financial commitment to the site, without which it would not have come so far. Thankyou especially to all the composers, record labels and distributors who’ve supplied us with review copies over the years.

This edition of FMOTW carries an unfortunate finality then. The Editor’s Choices for this edition cross the generations of film scoring. Dmitri Tiomkin’s Red River as recorded by the Morgan-Stromberg team appears from the Golden Age on Naxos. James Fitzpatrick’s superlative re-recording of Elmer Bernstein’s complete True Grit score is another of the year’s highlights, breathing new life into the Silver Age score. And then there’s the original soundtrack recording of James Newton-Howard’s Lady in the Water… After first hearing this score, I didn’t think it all that praiseworthy compared to The Village and Signs. Then I saw the film, and my appreciation of the score shot through the roof. Rounding out the four is the most unusual soundtrack of the year – Borut Krziznik’s A Life in Suitcases. Our recommendations for this edition capture many of the other praiseworthy titles released since last you heard from us – Kantelinen’s Mother of Mine, a re-issued Debbie Wiseman score (Haunted), Francis Shaw’s Ivor Novello-winning Evil, Desplat’s The Upside of Anger, Schifrin’s Abominable, Powell’s United 93, and FSM’s release of Checkmate. A long list, but then it’s been a long time since you’ve heard from us.

I know some regard the art of film scoring as a thing of the past, with contemporary cinema providing only rare glimpses of the shining technique of former years. To me that is not the case – the good work will always be there, if not always locatable at the boastful centre of global filmmaking. With scores around us like Tan Dun’s The Banquet, Alberto Iglesias’s Volver, Alexandre Desplat’s The Queen, Mark Isham’s The Black Dahlia, the Tykwer/Heil/Klimek score for Perfume: Story of a Murderer, Howard Shore’s The Departed, Philip Glass’ The Illusionist, Danny Elfman’s debut concert work Serenada Schizophrenia, James Horner’s All the King’s Men, and many others unheard by myself as yet, the art of film scoring is alive and well thanks to those committed to making it so.

I can still be contacted re: Musicweb and film scoring in general at, and encourage anyone interested to get in touch. For my own part, at twenty-six I am fairly new in my thoughts on this subject, and hope to find another soapbox again before long to wax (however witlessly) on a subject dear to my heart. Thanks for reading.

Michael McLennan

Note from Gary Dalkin – Associate Editor

For seven years I’ve been involved with FMOTW, first as reviewer, then deputy editor, before becoming overall editor, and finally moving off into the wings when Michael McLennan came along to inject some much needed fresh energy into the site. Over that time I’ve had the pleasure to work with some fine people, whose love of film music, and willingness to write about it without reward – other than sometimes a free review disc, often not even that – has never failed to inspire me. I’ve also heard a lot of excellent music which would most likely never have come my way. For that, and the opportunity to talk to some of the best composers around, I’ll always be grateful to FMOTW. My thanks therefore go especially to Ian Lace, whose idea FMOTW was, and who took me on and eventually my me his successor as editor of the site, and to and Len Mullenger, without whom the entire MusicWeb International group of websites would never have existed. For their continuing support of the site despite many difficulties, and for essentially giving a free reign, many thanks.

I can’t foresee a future in which I will move completely away from the world of film music. But now there are too many other demands on my time for me to devote the input the site would require to continue. After seven years real life has caught up. I can only wish everyone the very best for the future. Especially Michael, for whom a hopefully glittering career as a filmmaker beckons, and to Ian, whom I wish a long and healthy retirement.

Thanks also to everyone, from reviewers to composers, from label staff to PR folk, who in countless different was have contributed to the success of FMOTW. There are more of you than I would dare attempt to list for fear of leaving someone out, and if you should be reading this I think you know who you are anyway. Thanks finally to everyone who has read the site over the years. Without you it would have been a pointless endeavour. Sometimes a little piece of positive feedback made it all worthwhile, so if you ever read something on the web that you really appreciate, let the site or the author know. You might just make their day.

And finally, if you want to get in touch, drop me an email at

Gary Dalkin

Return to Reviews Index

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: