Music Break: Seven Favorite Themes By Alexandre Desplat

For some reason, I had just become familiar with Alexandre Desplat‘s work fairly recently. I think it was his score for The Queen (2006) that garnered my attention, and since then I’ve been a big fan. On my Five for the Fifth post I talked about Hans Zimmer’s concert, now I’d definitely go to Mr. Desplat’s concert if he had one!


Per his official site:

52-year-old Alexandre Michel Gérard Desplat was raised in a musical and cultural mix with a Greek mother and French father who studied and were married in California, he grew up listening to the French symphonists Ravel and Debussy and to jazz. He enriched his classical musical education by studying Brazilian and African music, which later lead him to record with Carlinhos Brown and Ray Lema.

An avid fan of cinema, he expressed his desire to compose for the Big Screen early on. During the recording of his first film, he met Dominique Lemonnier violinist who became his favorite soloist, artistic director and wife. She founded the Traffic Quintet for which he wrote original music and transcribed soundtracks.

In 2003 he burst onto the Hollywood scene with his evocative score to Girl With a Pearl Earring (starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth), which earned him nominations at the Golden Globes, BAFTAs and European Film Awards.

Those who watch a lot of French films might recognize him as he’s composed a lot of work for French cinema. Since I listen to a lot of classical music, I definitely LOVE Desplat’s style. A lot of his scores have such an emotional experience that can take you to another place. Some music can pierce your soul and I feel that Desplat’s music has that quality, especially his work for Tree of Life and Philomena. It’s melancholic and reflective, but he can also be playful and even whimsical, i.e. The Grand Budapest Hotel.

It’s only been a little over a decade that he made his Hollywood big break, but he’s been amazingly-prolific since. If you look at his IMDb resume, he’d often work on half a dozen scores a year! In 2013 alone, he worked on no less than six films, yet somehow he churn out great work virtually every time. Just in the past decade alone, he’s got 48 wins and 90 nominations (including Oscar, Golden Globes, BAFTA and Grammy) This man is a machine!

So for today’s music break, I want to highlight just a sampling of his stellar work:

So what do you think of Alexandre Desplat’s works? Which one(s) are YOUR faves?

The London List Part I: Ten favorite scenes set in London

The 16-day 2012 London Olympics is coming to an end today. For some of you, it’s certainly been quite an exhilarating two weeks of watching and championing for the athletes you’re rooting for in various sports. I haven’t been following the event at all other than watching the opening & closing ceremony, but since I LOVE the city of London and they have done a splendid job hosting the biggest sports event in the world, I thought I’d create a list in their honor. [I’ve now added a Britastic tag for all my UK-related posts]

So for this particular posts, I want to highlight ten of my favorite scenes set in London. Stay tuned for the favorite actors posts up tomorrow!

Notting Hill Changing Seasons

Well, since Fall is just around the corner, I particularly LOVE this melancholy scene from Notting Hill set to Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers. It’s a perfect song to highlight William’s broken heart since Anna left him. This is perhaps one of my favorite Hugh Grant moments on film, he certainly got the British rom-coms cornered for a while there. I’ve highlighted this scene in this post before, but it remains one of my favorites.

The World is Not Enough The Thames Boat Scene

The film as a whole is crap but this rousing opening sequence on the Thames is awesome! Pierce Brosnan’s Bond once again is outrun by one of his hot female villains, but I think the gorgeous London scenery here just might outshine both of them. Here’s an interesting trivia per IMDb:

The boat chase took 7 weeks to shoot, as the Thames’ 9-MPH boat speed limit had to be factored in. Two “Clamper” policemen were disturbed in their line of duty during filming, being soaked so much that one of them ended up nearly going over the front of the car they were supposed to be clamping. Needless to say, their reactions in the film are very much real. This 14-to-15-minute opener is still the longest pre-credits sequence ever in a James Bond movie.

28 Days Later – London deserted

This scene is beautiful as it is eerie. Cillian Murphy’s Jim wakes up from a coma in the hospital and finds that his city has been deserted. Still in his scrubs, he’s walking along the Westminster Bridge at sunrise that’s completely empty. There music is so very subtle, and at first there’s no music at all, which enhance the sense of abandonment and creepy feeling of this brilliant scene.

Last Chance Harvey – Wedding invitation

There are a lot of lovely scenes around London in this heartwarming film. This is one of them overlooking the Thames on a sunny day. Kate, the woman Harvey’s path crosses with during his London trip, encourages Harvey to actually attend the wedding reception of his daughter. There’s a lot of poignant dialog in this film and the tentative romance between Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson’s characters just felt so authentic.

Rocknrolla – Art Museum dealings

Guy Ritchie’s version of London, the criminal underworld setting that his films are often set in. I’m not sure the name of the Art Museum in this setting, perhaps one of you Londoners might be able to tell me? Gerry Butler and Thandie Newton make for a stunning couple and Thandie is especially seductive here, wearing a spiky pair of heels that even macho guys like One Two would notice.

The King’s Speech – A stroll on a foggy day

I can’t find the exact scene when Bertie [that is Albert the Duke of York] takes a stroll with his speech therapist Lionel in the misty gardens. It’s one of the key scenes between the two of them that ends with the duke being angry at Lionel for wanting to treat him as equal as part of his therapy, and the parting words to Lionel is a pretty harsh one, ‘You’re a Nobody.’ The foggy setting somehow makes this scene even more affecting.

Now, since I can’t find that scene, I also love this whimsical ‘speech exercise’ scene at Lionel’s beautiful home:

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – Death Eater’s Attack

There are perhaps a bunch of other London-set scenes that I’m forgetting about as there are so many of them in the Harry Potter movies. But this one that mixes contemporary London with the Hogwarts universe is particularly memorable and beautifully-filmed. Voldemort’s evil henchmen launched an air attack on Trafalgar Square and the Millennium Bridge, the special effects of the fiery attack is fantastic. Certainly one of the most bombastic London scenes ever filmed.

My Fair Lady – Wouldn’t it be loverly?

Ok, I’ve got to have at least one classic films on here, right. Well, I picked one of the three earliest Hollywood films I’ve ever watched which is set entirely in London. The opening sequence outside of the Opera House in Covent Garden is one of my favorites. There’s a plethora of other wonderful songs here, but this one before Eliza becomes a ‘lady’ is just well, lovely. The one where Freddy sang On The Street Where You Live as also quite memorable, I could listen to that song over and over again.

Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix – Flying over Thames

I didn’t want to have TWO scenes from Harry Potter but I just couldn’t live this one out as it shows London at night when Harry and his co-horts are flying over the Thames. The Parliament looks absolutely magical with all those lights. I love night aerial scenes, just like in Superman films whenever Supes takes Lois up around Manhattan.

Love Actually – Heathrow scene

Since I made an entire posts on the London Tubes a couple of years ago, I think Heathrow Airport, one of the busiest airports in the whole world. This sweet scene in Love, Actually is fun and quite touching. I think puppy love is always so endearing and Liam Neeson’s stepson Sam who falls for his American classmate Joanna is just so darn adorable. This chase through the airport always makes me tear up 🙂

Stay tuned for Part II with favorite actors born in London.

Well, what are YOUR own favorite movie scene(s) in London?

Ross vs Ross’ Best Picture Fight Club is Up – The King Speech Review

Counting down to the Oscar this coming Sunday, and the boys from have gone a little Oscar crazy this week. A couple of weeks ago, Ross McG rounded up nine other bloggers (including his partner in crime Ross McD) for a ten-way Best Picture Oscar battle. Because there are so many movies – and because it will go in the newspaper edition of the Metro in Dublin – the word count is quite restricted. Each battler will have about 75 to 100 words to put their argument across, as well as choose a ‘battle-y’ type quote from your movie to stick at the top of your argument. The movie each guest battler would have to do is drawn out of a hat, and fortunately I got the movie I REALLY enjoy and root for, The King’s Speech!

Check out the Best Picture Fight Club Page and vote for your favorite!

Below is my full review of the film before I narrowed it down to 100 words:

Lionel Logue: I believe sucking smoke into your lungs will kill you.

King George VI: My physicians say it relaxes the throat.
Lionel Logue: They’re idiots.
King George VI: They’ve all been knighted.
Lionel Logue: Makes it official then.

The hardest part of this assignment is finding the ‘battle quote’ from this film as there are too many good ones to choose from! I ended up choosing the one I did because it made me laugh so hard in the theater.

This film has swept all kinds of major awards left and right… so seriously, all those award voters can’t possibly be wrong. No, scratch that. They often do. In fact, it’s rare that I actually agree with the ‘best picture’ choice of a given year, but this time I’m glad that I can say ‘I concur!’

This film is so much more than about a king with a debilitating impediment. It’s a ‘buddy’ comedy-drama about two very different people forming an unlikely friendship that change their lives forever. Now, under less-capable hands, this could easily be a run of the mill period drama, but Tom Hooper‘s direction gives this such a fresh and modern feel to it that it won’t feel tedious even if British period drama isn’t your cup of tea.

There are so many things praise-worthy about this film, it seems to have all the ingredients of a first-rate feature. But the two strongest things going for it are the brilliant script that peppers scene after scene with wonderfully-memorable dialog, and the equally-adept actors who deliver them. The entire cast are noteworthy: Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Timothy Spall and Derek Jacobi are all great in their roles, but without a doubt The King’s Speech belongs to Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush.

The unlikely buddies – Bertie and Lionel

Both Firth and Rush delivered masterful performances on their own right, but combine the two thespians together on screen and it just spells magic. Their scenes together are enchanting to watch from the start, right from the moment they met all the way to the very last scene. Whether they’re getting along swimmingly or swapping sarcastic, even scathing remarks at each other, the chemistry between them always feel right. The therapy scenes are by far the funniest. It’s great to see that humor is not lost on Hooper despite the serious subject matter. In fact, there are plenty of rib-tickling scenes, especially the one that garnered the R-rating from MPAA.

Besides the performances, the gorgeous yet intimate cinematography by Danny Cohen and lush music by Alexandre Desplat are also noteworthy. Everything just works nicely in creating a wonderful and warm atmosphere for the film.

Final thoughts: A film doesn’t have to be dark, brain-twisting or nightmarish to be engaging. The King’s Speech is a warm and poignant film about a king with a story well worth telling. Tom Hooper’s adept direction combined with a brilliant script and masterful acting equals a first-rate feature. Scene after scene is peppered with memorable dialogue and captivating chemistry between the actors, especially Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush. It made me laugh and cry throughout, and by the end I really was ready to give a standing ovation.

This is why this is in my top five favorite of 2010 and the one to root for come Oscar night!

Feel free to add your thoughts about the film, and of course, don’t forget to cast your vote!

Weekend Viewing Plans and Music Break: The King’s Speech Score

Hello everybody, happy Friday! My office will be closed for President’s Day on Monday so it’ll be a three-day weekend, YAY!

Young Chris Bale w/ Spielberg on the EOTS set

I haven’t been to the theater for a while. I think the last film I saw at the theater was The Fighter back in January, wow! Well, I don’t know if I’ll make it to the theater this weekend as I have quite a few Blu-ray stuff at home. After a couple of years of pause from buying movies, we’ve slowly been collecting BDs now since we got the Blu-ray player and our new TV. From the past month we’ve got Speed (still fun to watch after all those years! Keanu as his hunkiest), V for Vendetta, L.A. Confidential, Inception and Toy Story 3. And just arriving from Netflix in Empire of the Sun. Can’t believe I haven’t seen that one given my love for Christian Bale and that I usually enjoy Steven Spielberg’s work.

Well, if we make it to the cinema, my hubby and I was actually toying with the idea of seeing UNKNOWN as we both actually like Liam Neeson being all bad-ass in Taken (not to be confused with the 2006 film starring Jim Caviezel as IMDb apparently did). You can practically call Neeson’s new Euro thriller TAKEN 2. Sure the premise is entirely different, we’re not dealing with his kidnapped daughter this time, but just swap Paris with Berlin, we can probably expect the same type of action sequences, car chases, an a set of European baddies. I mean, even the posters are almost identical. If you can’t read any English, you might actually think it’s the exact same movie. Wait, is that even the same gun he’s holding? 😀

No offense to Neeson, I think he’s a great actor but after a series of all this hyper action stuff, he’s kinda starting to typecast himself. Wouldn’t you say?

Anyway, last night I was working on an assignment for the battling guys at Ross vs. Ross that’ll be released this coming Tuesday, and the piece I was writing on was The King’s Speech. One of the many things I love about this Oscar front-runner is the gorgeous soundtrack by Alexandre Desplat. I love this one titled Lionel and Bertie:

The rich and lush but yet understated score adds another layer of depth and poignancy to the story, and it fits the restrained mood of the British monarchy perfectly. I guess he’s no stranger to scoring a film about British monarch as he did the Oscar-nominated The Queen in 2007. Desplat’s other notable works include The Painted Veil, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

So, what are your weekend viewing plans, folks?

2011 Golden Globes Nominations Announced!

Award season is in full swing with today’s Golden Globe nominations, announced today at 8AM Eastern time. Just a bit of background (thanks to Wiki) on one of the industry’s most important event: The Golden Globe Awards are presented annually by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) to recognize outstanding achievements in the entertainment industry, both domestic and foreign, and to focus wide public attention upon the best in motion pictures and television. Now, just WHO are the folks that make up HFPA and why do they matter? Well, it’s an organization composed of working journalists who cover the United States film industry for a variety of outlets, including newspapers and magazines in Europe, Asia, Australia and Latin America. Today, the 90 members of the HFPA represent at least 55 countries and have a combined readership of more than 250 million.

Thanks to Moviefone for the comprehensive list (though they misspelled Romola Garai’s name – missing the ‘i’), the motion picture nominees seem to be in line with the previously announced Independent Spirit Awards and Critics Choice Awards.

So here are the full nominees:

Best Motion Picture, Drama

  • Black Swan
  • The Fighter
  • Inception
  • The King’s Speech
  • The Social Network

Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical

  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Burlesque
  • The Kids Are All Right
  • Red
  • The Tourist

Best Director – Motion Picture

  • Darren Aronofsky – Black Swan
  • David Fincher – The Social Network
  • Tom Hooper – The King’s Speech
  • Christopher Nolan – Inception
  • David O. Russell – The Fighter

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama

  • Jesse Eisenberg – The Social Network
  • Colin Firth – The King’s Speech
  • James Franco – 127 Hours
  • Ryan Gosling – Blue Valentine
  • Mark Wahlberg – The Fighter

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama

  • Halle Berry – Frankie and Alice
  • Nicole Kidman – Rabbit Hole
  • Jennifer Lawrence – Winter’s Bone
  • Natalie Portman – Black Swan
  • Michelle Williams – Blue Valentine

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy

  • Johnny Depp – Alice in Wonderland
  • Johnny Depp – The Tourist
  • Paul Giamatti – Barney’s Version
  • Jake Gyllenhaal – Love and Other Drugs
  • Kevin Spacey – Casino Jack

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy

  • Anne Hathaway – Love and Other Drugs
  • Julianne Moore – The Kids Are All Right
  • Annette Bening – The Kids Are All Right
  • Emma Stone – Easy A
  • Angelina Jolie – The Tourist

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

  • Christian Bale – The Fighter
  • Michael Douglas – Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
  • Andrew Garfield – The Social Network
  • Jeremy Renner – The Town
  • Geoffrey Rush – The King’s Speech

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

  • Amy Adams – The Fighter
  • Helena Bonham Carter – The King’s Speech
  • Mila Kunis – Black Swan
  • Melissa Leo – The Fighter
  • Jacki Weaver – Animal Kingdom

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

  • 127 Hours
  • The Kids Are All Right
  • The King’s Speech
  • The Social Network
  • Inception

Best Animated Feature Film

  • Despicable Me
  • How to Train Your Dragon
  • The Illusionist
  • Toy Story 3
  • Tangled

Best Foreign Language Film

  • Biutiful
  • The Concert
  • The Edge
  • I Am Love
  • In a Better World

Best Original Song – Motion Picture

  • Bound to You – Burlesque
  • Coming Home – Country Strong
  • I See the Light – Tangled
  • There’s a Place for Us – Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  • You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me – Burlesque

Best Original Score – Motion Picture

  • Alexandre Desplot – The King’s Speech
  • Danny Elfman – Alice in Wonderland
  • A.R. Rahmin – 127 Hours
  • Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross – The Social Network
  • Hans Zimmer – Inception

Best Television Series, Drama

  • Boardwalk Empire
  • Dexter
  • The Good Wife
  • Mad Men
  • The Walking Dead

Best Televison Series, Comedy or Musical

  • 30 Rock
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • The Big C
  • Glee
  • Modern Family
  • Nurse Jackie

Best Actor in a Television Series, Drama

  • Steve Buscemi – Boardwalk Empire
  • Bryan Cranston – Breaking Bad
  • Michael C. Hall – Dexter
  • Jon Hamm – Mad Men
  • Hugh Laurie – House

Best Actress in a Television Series, Drama

  • Julianna Margulies – The Good Wife
  • Elisabeth Moss – Mad Men
  • Piper Perabo – Covert Affairs
  • Katey Sagal – Sons of Anarchy
  • Kyra Sedgwick – The Closer

Best Actor in a Television Series, Comedy or Musical

  • Alec Baldwin – 30 Rock
  • Steve Carell – The Office
  • Thomas Jane – Hung
  • Matthew Morrison – Glee
  • Jim Parsons – Big Bang Theory

Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television

  • Hope Davis – Special Relationship
  • Jane Lynch – Glee
  • Kelly McDonald – Boardwalk Empire
  • Julia Stiles – Dexter
  • Sofia Vergara – Modern Family

Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television

  • Scott Caan – Hawaii Five-0
  • Chris Noth – The Good Wife
  • David Straithairn – Temple Grandin
  • Eric Stonestreet – Modern Family
  • Chris Colfer – Glee

Best Actress in a Television Series, Comedy or Musical

  • Toni Collette – United States of Tara
  • Edie Falco – Nurse Jackie
  • Tina Fey – 30 Rock
  • Laura Linney – The Big C
  • Lea Michelle – Glee

Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television

  • The Pacific
  • Carlos
  • Temple Grandin
  • You Don’t Know Jack
  • The Pillars of the Earth

Best Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television

  • Dennis Quaid – The Special Relationship
  • Ian McShane – The Pillars of the Earth
  • Édgar Ramírez – Carlos
  • Al Pacino – You Don’t Know Jack
  • Idris Elba – Luther

Best Actress in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television

  • Claire Danes – Temple Grandin
  • Hayley Atwell – The Pillars of the Earth
  • Jennifer Love Hewitt – The Client List
  • Judi Dench – Return to Cranford
  • Romola Garai – Emma

I’ll have my full reaction to the nominees posted sometime tomorrow, but you can pretty much guess my reaction to The Tourist nomination! Are you flippin’ kiddin’ me?? The only thing that might amend such absurdity would be seeing Rufus Sewell under the category Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television for Pillars of the Earth! Alas…

Anyhoo, what are your thoughts about the Golden Globe nominations?

Poster of the Week: The King’s Speech

I love quad posters. They’re usually more interesting that the typical vertical format and this one is no different. I thought that the first official poster looked terrible, it’s definitely one of those cases when bad posters happens to good movies. This one however, is regal looking version worthy of an Oscar contender!

The historical drama Colin Firth as King George VI and Geoffrey Rush as speech therapist Lionel Logue, who helped the King overcome a stammer as he led the country through war. I’ve been wanting to see the movie ever since the trailer came out last month. I was hoping to squeeze this movie in over the Thanksgiving break but it wasn’t playing anywhere near me. Bummer! Everything I’ve been hearing about this movie just fuels my anticipation. It currently stands at 92% on rottentomatoes which seems to be in line with the stellar buzz coming out of film festivals all year. If only this had premiered at TCFF last Fall 😦

Well, has anyone seen this film? If so, what did you think?