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James Horner

It is no exaggeration to say that James Horner was one of the greatest film composers of all time.

Such measures are seldom objective, but Horner was the rare composer who could match critical and commercial success across a wide range of genre and material. Understandably, coverage around his death has focused on the biggest hits in his extensive filmography. He won two Oscars out of ten nominations. He occupied two of the five nomination slots in 1996 for his soundtracks to Apollo 13 and Braveheart. It is quite something to compete against yourself for an Oscar.

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Titanic tends to headline such discussions of Horner’s work, as one might expect given that it was “the biggest selling primarily orchestral film score in history.” More than that, Horner wrote The Heart Will Go On, the love theme that sold more than 15 million copies to become one of the biggest selling singles of all time and the biggest selling single of 1998. The Heart Will Go On is credited with revitalising the “spin-off hit” in the late nineties, prompting lots of movie-launched love ballads like Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing or There You’ll Be.

Horner enjoyed no shortage of commercial success. He provided the soundtracks to two movies that could claim to be the biggest movies of all time upon their release. Titanic was the first such example, becoming the most successful movie of all time upon its release in 1998. Horner also provided the soundtrack to Avatar, the movie that would claim the title in 2009. However, the most impressive aspect of Horner’s extensive filmography is the sheer scope of his work.

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Doctor Who: Rose (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

Rose originally aired in 2005.

So, I’m going to go up there and blow them up, and I might well die in the process, but don’t worry about me. No, you go home. Go on. Go and have your lovely beans on toast. Don’t tell anyone about this, because if you do, you’ll get them killed.

(beat)

I’m the Doctor, by the way. What’s your name?

Rose.

Nice to meet you, Rose. Run for your life!

– the Doctor and Rose

It’s amazing to think of the pressure weighing down on Rose. Sure, Doctor Who has gone from strength-to-strength since its revival in 2005, but there was a time when its resurrection seemed unlikely, to say the least. Although fans had kept the show alive in various media, it must have seemed highly unlikely that they show would ever return to television, let alone as a massive success. Producer Russell T. Davies might have seemed like an unlikely choice. Although he had written some spin-off material, like other British television writers including Steven Moffat and Paul Cornell, Davies was best known for producing shows like Queer as Folk and The Second Coming. Nevertheless, he had been campaigning to bring the show back for quite some time, notably in 1998 and 2002, before finally bringing the revived show to screen in late March 2005.

Although the edges are still a bit rough in places, Rose serves as an effective introduction to the Russell T. Davies, and contains the seeds of what would become the show’s success. Borrowing (and reinventing) heavily from perhaps the last seismic re-tooling of the series in Spearhead from Space, the show presents a version of Doctor Who for a new generation.

Run!

Run!

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What Does It Take To Get You To See a Movie Twice In the Cinema?

Going to the cinema is expensive. In fact, it’s been getting progressively more expensive these past few years, which seems to be a contributing factor in steadily decreasing theatre attendance. (The behaviour of fellow patrons and lax enforcement of basic cinema etiquette might be another.) Still, there’s something inherently romantic about a trip to the cinema, seeing the lights go dark and the images projected on a big screen, as they were intended to be seen. While a home cinema system offers its own perks, there’s just something inherently appealing about the real deal. Last Friday, I had the pleasure of seeing Cabin in the Woods with my better half – the second time I’d seen the film. I very rarely double-dip on cinema trips, but there were a variety of factors that alleviated my guilt. What does it take you to see a film more than once in a cinema?

Cinema is a cottage industry...

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My Heart Will Go On: Titanic & We Need to Talk About Calvert…

It’s funny the things we pick up on after seeing a movie a few times. I had the pleasure of attending a preview of Titanic 3D last week, and Cameron’s film still holds up as an epic romance in a style that Hollywood simply doesn’t do anymore. It still has its problems, but it is one hell of a cinematic accomplishment. Still, as I was watching the film, my attention may have wandered a bit, and I found myself thinking about things that were unseen, as opposed to those moments Cameron had explicitly shown. Specifically, I thought about Rose Dawson’s life after the sinking of the ocean liner but before her trip to the salvage crew. In fact, I thought quite a bit about Calvert. Who is Calvert, you might ask? Calvert is her husband, the father to her children and the grandfather to her granddaughter, who is entirely absent from the film as we pay homage to the love story between Jack and Rose.

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Non-Review Review: Titanic (3D)

James Cameron’s Titanic is still a breath-taking production, even sixteen years after the fact. Sure, its huge budget and even bigger box office returns, coupled with its enormous pop culture impact, have all combined to make it a bit of a target for movie critics in the years following its initial release. To be honest, while I wouldn’t rank it as anywhere near Cameron’s finest accomplishment, I’ve always admired it for what it was: a romantic historical epic, perhaps the most recent film like that which Hollywood has produced. Even a decade and a half later, Titanic remains one hell of spectacle and a well-constructed piece of cinema, with Cameron displaying a mastery of form and an innate skill for story-telling. Couple with the best post-conversion 3D that I have ever seen, there’s no reason for anybody with a genuine interest in the film to stay away from the big re-release.

Her heart will... go on, finish it...

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Non-Review Review: This Must Be The Place

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012. It was the second “surprise” film.

This Must Be The Place is a film that has several interesting components, but keeps them so thoroughly isolated from one another through almost deft use of road movie clichés that nothing ever clicks. Paolo Sorrentino hasn’t so much made a movie as he has stapled a bunch of holiday snapshots together, treating us to a holiday slideshow full of half-finished anecdotes, banal details and no real sense of structure. That’s not to say that there aren’t moments of brilliance scattered through the over-long and self-indulgent mess of a film, but the fact is they can’t add enough flavour to salvage the film.

Here's lookin' at you, punk...

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Non-Review Review: Saving the Titanic

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012.

Saving the Titanic is an interesting blend of documentary and drama, exploring the efforts of the engineers onboard the ill-fated ship, fighting to keep her afloat and alight just a little bit longer. The narration from Liam Cunningham suggests that the selfless bravery of those working in the bowels of the ship allowed her to survive more than an hour and a half longer than she should have. While the docu-drama never really reconciles the two approaches it takes to events – creating the impression that it should have opted for a “one or the other” style of approach – it is a fascinating look at one of the most important events of the twentieth century.

It's a dirty job...

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