John Barry (1933-2011)

Composer John Barry has died in New York of a heart attack aged 77.

One of the best-known composers of soundtrack music since the 1960s, he worked on several James Bond films, Born Free (1966), The Lion in Winter (1968), Midnight Cowboy (1969), Out of Africa (1985) and Dances With Wolves (1990).

The winner of five Academy Awards, he also received a BAFTA fellowship award in 2005.

For the Bond franchise, it was his arrangement of Monty Norman’s iconic theme that led to him working on the scores for 11 films in the series, including Goldfinger (1964) and You Only Live Twice (1968).

Part of his signature style was the use of strings, orchestral swells and distinctive melodies.

He also wrote for television and among his most notable work in the medium included themes for Juke Box Jury and The Persuaders.

Barry, who lived in Long Island, is survived by his wife Laurie and four children and five grandchildren.

> John Barry at Wikipedia
> More links on John Barry at MUBi
> BBC News audio slideshow of John Barry’s music
> 1995 BBC programme on the Bond themes

The Visual Effects of Black Swan

Fox Searchlight have released a video showing how many of the visual effects in Black Swan were achieved.

Darren Aronofsky’s dark ballerina drama might not seem like a conventional visual effects movie, but when you see this video you’ll realise why they were central to the film.

* WARNING: There are major spoilers in this video, so don’t watch if you haven’t seen the film *

> Our Black Swan review
> The Sound of Black Swan
> Official website

DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 31st January 2011

DVD & BLU-RAY PICKS

Winter’s Bone (Artificial Eye): An acclaimed US indie drama set in the Ozarks (the rural area covering Arkansas and Missouri) about a young woman (Jennifer Lawrence) determined to find out what happened to her missing father whilst struggling to support her family.

Co-written and directed by Debra Granik, it was one of the genuine indie breakout hits of the past year and manages to skilfully combine the tropes of a serious drama within the framework of a thriller.

> Read our full review of Winter’s Bone
> Buy Winter’s Bone on Blu-ray or DVD from Amazon UK

The Town (Warner Home Video): Crime drama set in Boston about a bank robber (Ben Affleck) who falls in love with a woman (Rebecca Hall) his gang have kidnapped. Affleck also directs and the film features Jeremy Renner and Jon Hamm in supporting roles.

Ben Affleck’s second film as director is a satisfyingly lean crime drama, with solid performances across the board and excellent contributions from cinematographer Robert Elswit and editor Dylan Tichenor.

> Read our full review of The Town
> Buy The Town on Blu-ray or DVD from Amazon UK

ALSO OUT

22 Bullets (Anchor Bay Entertainment UK) [Blu-ray / Normal] 31/01/2011
Amer (Anchor Bay Entertainment UK) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Going the Distance (Warner Home Video) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Legend of the Fist – The Return of Chen Zhen (Metrodome Distribution) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Mr Nice (Entertainment One) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Nuclear Blast Clips: Volume 1 (Nuclear Blast) [Blu-ray / Normal]
The Color Purple (Warner Home Video) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (20th Century Fox Home Ent.) [Blu-ray with Digital Copy]

> UK cinema releases for Friday 28th January 2011, including Hereafter, Tangled and Biutiful
> The Best DVD & Blu-ray releases of 2010

Henry Cavill cast as Superman

British actor Henry Cavill has been cast as Clark Kent / Superman in the upcoming film Superman: Man of Steel.

The 2012 film will be directed by Zack Snyder, who has said:

“In the pantheon of superheroes, Superman is the most recognized and revered character of all time, and I am honored to be a part of his return to the big screen. I also join Warner Bros., Legendary and the producers in saying how excited we are about the casting of Henry. He is the perfect choice to don the cape and S shield.”

It will be produced by Charles Roven, Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan and Deborah Snyder, with a screenplay by David S. Goyer based on a story by Goyer and Nolan.

But the big question on many people’s lips right now is: ‘who is Henry Cavill’?

Born in 1983, he is a British actor who has appeared in supporting roles in films such as The Count of Monte Cristo (2002), I Capture the Castle (2003), Tristan and Isolde (2006) and Stardust (2007).

Here he is as Albert Modego in The Count of Monte Cristo:

However, it was the role of Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk, in the Showtime series The Tudors (2007-10) which got him serious attention.

Previously he was considered for what eventually became Superman Returns (2004) but Bryan Singer replaced McG as director and cast Brandon Routh as the lead instead.

In 2005, he was also up for the role of James Bond in Casino Royale (2006), even performing a screentest, but the producers decided he was too young for the part, which they gave to Daniel Craig.

Because of these setbacks, December 2005 Empire him dubbed “the most unlucky man in Hollywood”.

Aside from the trend of casting relative unknowns in the role (Christopher Reeve, Brandon Routh), it also bears the hallmarks of Batman Begins (2005) as Warner Bros and the same producers have gone with a younger British actor.

Superman: Man of Steel is scheduled for release in December 2012.

> Deadline report on the casting of Henry Cavill
> Henry Cavill at the IMDb
> More on Superman: Man of Steel at Wikipedia