peter-wolf-08.jpgThe wheels of the old reviews section get well and truly underway again today as I start to bring you my thoughts on some pre-Christmas titles. We kick off with a bit of a curio, albeit a fairly entertaining one: a computer animated take on The Nutty Professor from Genius Products and the Weinstein Company. Now, I know what you’re already thinking, and believe you me I was in the same frame of mind before I actually sat through the thing and came out, well if not impressed, then at least not ready to blow anyone’s brains out! Nutty Prof 08 is an odd little film because it seems to lean rather heavily on Jerry Lewis’ 1963 original, surely a title that the aimed-for audience of this outing will be totally unaware of. Lewis is back in his original role, but it’s a so-so final view from me: nothing offensive but no matching the first film either.

On the other end of the animated filmmaking spectrum, we have a review of the Oscar winner for the 2008 Best Animated Short, Peter & The Wolf (pictured right), that’s just about done and should be going up tomorrow. But before then, Jeremie Noyer speaks to Peter & The Wolf‘s three principle filmmakers: director Suzie Templeton, producer Hugh Welchman and lead animator Adam Wyrwas about their five year mission to bring this new, but faithful, edition of Prokofiev’s immortal musical story to the screen. It’s a highly evocative and stark piece, deftly brought to life with a super-fine stop-motion rendering, a tribute to all those involved including perfectionist Wyrwas, who still doesn’t seem content with some of the shots. You can read all about his painstaking work in this terrific group of interviews with the three; an intricate discussion that deals with the making of one of the most intricate stop-motion films I’ve yet seen.

Back to computer animation, and a quick reminder not to forget to enter our Open Season 2 contest if you haven’t already: you have until midnight tonight!

angela-morley.jpgThat’s all from us today, folks, but I’d just like to quickly mark the passing of composer Angela Morley, who died last week aged 84. We still have a heap of Watership Down coverage coming up to celebrate the film’s recent 30th Anniversary, and this lady was a major part of its success. She actually started off as Wally Stott, who composed, arranged and conducted scores for British radio and television (including The Goons and Hancock’s Half Hour) and films including Peeping Tom, The Lady Is A Square and The Looking Glass War. In 1972 Stott became Morley and found herself as in-demand as ever, working with Lerner & Loewe on Stanley Donen’s The Little Prince and with the Sherman Brothers on Bryan Forbes’ The Slipper And The Rose, both of which brought Oscar nominations.

Thanks to editor Terry Rawlings – whom we’ll be speaking with soon – Morley was suggested as the composer of Watership Down, which became her most well-known work. In the 1970s and 1980s, Morley also worked with composer John Williams and, during his own Golden Age, orchestrated and was as much a part of the sound of Star Wars, Superman, The Empire Strikes Back and others as Williams’ own notes, which she often supplemented where needed. Relocation to the US brought much TV work, including Dallas and Dynasty, Emmy nominated six times for composing and winning three times for arrangements. A remarkable person in the film and television business, Morley’s contributions to many classic scores will be forever remembered fondly.

Stay tooned! — Ben.