The latest release from Intrada is the soundtrack to the web horror series RAVENWOLF TOWERS, with music by genre veteran Richard Band (Re-Animator, From Beyond, Metalstorm).
CDS AVAILABLE THIS WEEK
Crazy Rich Asians - Brian Tyler - WaterTower [CD-R]
The Darkest Minds - Benjamin Wallfisch - Milan
Hurricane - Nino Rota - Varese Sarabande
Legion: Season 2 - Jeff Russo - Lakeshore
100 Greatest Science Fiction Themes - various - Silva
Operation Finale - Alexandre Desplat - Sony [CD-R]
Ravenwolf Towers - Richard Band - Intrada Special Collection
Westworld: Season 2 - Ramin Djawadi - WaterTower
IN THEATERS TODAY
A.X.L. - Ian Hultquist
Arizona - Joseph Stephens
The Bookshop - Alfonso de Vilallonga
The Happytime Murders - Christopher Lennertz
Memoir of War - Nicolas Becker
Papillon - David Buckley
Searching - Torin Borrowdale
Support the Girls - Music Supervisor: Liz Lawson
We the Animals - Nick Zammuto
Animal Crackers - Bear McCreary - Sony (import)
Jack Ryan - Ramin Djawadi - La-La Land
Kin - Mogwai - Rock Action (import)
Le Stagioni Del Nostro Amore/Padre di Famiglia - Carlo Rustichelli - Saimel
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote - Roque Banos - Saimel
M'esperaras? - Arnau Bataller - Saimel
The Paul Chihara Collection vol. 1: The Mississippi - Paul Chihara - Dragon's Domain
The Plague Dogs - Patrick Gleeson - Dragon's Domain
Q - The Winged Serpent - Robert O. Ragland - Kronos
Saving Private Ryan - John Williams - La-La Land
Yellowstone - Brian Tyler - Sony [CD-R]
Christopher Robin - Geoff Zanelli, Jon Brion (import)
Sounder - Taj Mahal - Varese Sarabande
Doctor Who: The Five Doctors - Peter Howell - Silva
Unbroken: Path to Redemption - Brandon Roberts - Universal
White Boy Rick - Max Richter - Deutsche Grammophon
Halloween - John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, Daniel Davies - Sacred Bones
Doctor Who: The Invasion - Don Harper, Brian Hodgson - Silva
Mission: Impossible - Fallout - Lorne Balfe - La-La Land
Not Afraid, Not Afraid - Gabriel Yared - Caldera
THIS WEEK IN FILM MUSIC HISTORY
August 24 - Jean-Michel Jarre born (1948)
August 24 - Peter Kyed born (1963)
August 24 - Mark Lawrence died (1991)
August 24 - John Debney wins his first Emmy, for the Young Riders episode score “Kansas;” Richard Bellis wins for part 1 of It; Randy Newman wins his first Emmy for his Cop Rock songs (1991)
August 25 - Ray Heindorf born (1908)
August 25 - Leonard Bernstein born (1918)
August 25 - Harry Manfredini born (1943)
August 25 - John Williams begins recording his score for Bachelor Flat (1961)
August 25 - Robert Drasnin
records his score for The Wild Wild West
episode “The Night of the Casual Killer” (1965)
August 25 - Richard Markowitz
records his score for The Wild Wild West
episode “The Night of the Raven” (1966)
August 25 - Zoe Poledouris born (1973)
August 25 - Elvis Costello born (1954)
August 25 - Jack Nitzsche died (2000)
August 26 - Humphrey Searle born (1915)
August 26 - Alan Parker born (1944)
August 26 - Mark Snow born (1946)
August 26 - Ralph Vaughan Williams died (1958)
August 26 - Branford Marsalis born (1960)
August 26 - John Williams
records his score for the Lost in Space
pilot episode "The Reluctant Stowaway" (1965)
August 26 - Fred Steiner
's score for the Star Trek
episode "Spock's Brain" is recorded (1968)
August 26 - John Frizzell begins recording his score for Alien Resurrection (1997)
August 27 - Eric Coates born (1886)
August 27 - Sonny Sharrock born (1940)
August 27 - Miles Goodman born (1949)
August 27 - Bernard Herrmann records his score for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode "Nothing Ever Happens in Linvale" (1963)
August 27 - Dimitri Tiomkin
begins recording his score to 36 Hours
August 27 - Jerry Fielding
records his score for the Mission: Impossible
episode “The Execution” (1968)
August 27 - John Williams begins recording his score for 1941 (1979)
August 27 - Geoffrey Burgon
begins recording his score for The Dogs of War
August 27 - Johnny Mandel records his score for the Amazing Stories episode "One for the Road" (1985)
August 27 - Craig Safan begins recording his score for Remo Williams: the Adventure Begins (1985)
August 27 - Jay Chattaway
records his score for the Star Trek: Voyager
episode “Night” (1998)
August 27 - John Altman wins the Emmy for RKO 281; Joseph LoDuca wins for the Xena: Warrior Princess episode “Fallen Angel;” W.G. Snuffy Walden wins for The West Wing main title theme (2000)
August 28 - Ustad Vilayat Khan born (1928)
August 28 - Annette Focks born (1964)
August 28 - Laurence Rosenthal
wins his third consecutive Emmy, for The Bourne Identity
; Lee Holdridge
wins his first Emmy, for the Beauty and the Beast
pilot score (1988)
August 28 - Bruce Broughton
wins his sixth Emmy, for Glory & Honor
; Christophe Beck
wins the Emmy for his Buffy the Vampire Slayer
episode score “Becoming: Part 1” (1998)
August 28 - Richard Hartley
wins the Emmy for his Alice in Wonderland
score; Carl Johnson
wins for the Invasion America
episode score “Final Mission;” Martin Davich
wins for his main title to Trinity
August 29 - Victor Young begins recording his score to The Tall Men (1955)
August 29 - Fred Steiner
's score for the Star Trek
episode "Charlie X" is recorded (1966)
August 29 - Recording sessions begin for Richard Rodney Bennett's score for Sherlock Holmes in New York (1976)
August 29 - James Horner begins recording his score for Gorky Park (1983)
August 30 - Conrad Salinger born (1901)
August 30 - John Phillips born (1935)
August 30 - Axel Stordahl died (1963)
August 30 - Sol Kaplan
's score for the Star Trek
episode "The Doomsday Machine" is recorded (1967)
August 30 - Emil Newman died (1984)
August 30 - Bruce Broughton wins his fifth Emmy, for O Pioneers!; Bruce Babcock wins for the Matlock episode score “The Strangler” (1992)
August 30 - Jerry Goldsmith
begins recording his replacement score for The River Wild
August 30 - Bernardo Bonezzi died (2012)
DID THEY MENTION THE MUSIC?
CAMERA OBSCURA - Steve Moore
"Nonetheless, 'Camera' is definitely a cut above in genre terms, with room for some nicely drawn character writing and acting, particularly in the support figures played by Curtin and Noah Segan (as Jack’s somewhat pathetic longtime pal Walt). There’s a confident rigor to the assembly, most notably in the widescreen lensing by Chris Heinrich. Steve Moore’s effective score follows current fashion by tipping a hat at times to 1970s and ’80s horror soundtrack flavors, without sacrificing suspense for in-joke kitsch. Though its setting is vaguely noted in dialogue as 'the Midwest,' the film was shot in Louisiana."
Dennis Harvey, Variety
CHURCHILL - Lorne Balfe
"There’s a glimmer of a better movie in Richardson’s and Cox’s scenes, which suggest a thorny marriage that barely survived its low points, but it’s inevitably undercut by Teplitsky’s fondness for slo-mo memorializing, music overuse, and a simplistic pace that wants to brush away all the negativity with a well-timed come-to-Jesus moment, and a rousing radio speech. Although it’s commendable that any biopic would take the moment-in-time approach to illuminating a well-documented historical personage, 'Churchill' disappoints by giving its subject the disease-of-the-week treatment."
Robert Abele, The Wrap
"Cinematographer David Higgs gives Churchill a pleasingly painterly look, using silhouettes and reflections as recurring visual motifs. The Scottish-shot locations provide plenty of scenic backdrops, though keen-eyed viewers may wonder why wartime London looks uncannily like Edinburgh. Lorne Balfe’s twinkly musical score has a touching delicacy at first, but drags over the long haul."
Stephen Dalton, Hollywood Reporter
"Playing their father, Baruch Milch, Doron Tavory can’t make the necessary inroads on a character intentionally scripted for most of the film as a cipher. But Rieger and Tagar capture the intimacy and competitive sniping of siblings, and they’re each stunning in opposite roles -- Rieger, anxiously straddling a fault line and flinching at every breeze; Tagar, snarling and swanning in Nana’s disco duds. The film captures the era well, in costume and set design and stale-air ambience, the universal language of cigarette fug equally at home in Nana’s Tel Aviv writers’ garret and an underground speakeasy behind the Iron Curtain. (Stick around for the end credits, an especially spot-on evocation of the age.) The film’s music -- an original score by Cyrille Aufort, plus diegetic snatches of Sephi’s school choir in rehearsal and a climactic performance (written by Sephi’s real-life counterpart, Ella Milch-Sheriff) -- are just as essential to the mood-building."
Kimberley Jones, The Austin Chronicle
"Frenchman Michel Abramowicz, Nesher’s longtime cinematographer, favors intimate, almost claustrophobic interiors that mirror the trapped feeling of the characters. The rest of the tech package is polished, with the period costumes by Inbal Shuki worthy of note. Also critical to the film’s affect and deserving kudos are the orignal score by Cyrille Aufort, soundtrack production by Yishai Steckler and sound design by Gil Toren."
Alissa Simon, Variety
THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR - Nathan Whitehead
"That doesn't mean that we don't see a fair share of rubber masks. A fun new twist this time around is the rising trend of 'Purge tourism,' foreigners flocking to America to take part in our grandest tradition. (Those hooligans running around in Lincoln and Washington masks in the trailer? Russians.) Of the traditional Purge participants, the most screen time is given to a group of vicious teen girls whose most violent ambition, despite their bloody masks and chainsaws, is to steal a candy bar from a protagonists' bodega. Though they're given the same ominous music cues and dutch-angle villain shots, they seem comparatively harmless, especially after we've seen a hint of the backrooms where the New Founding Fathers plot their revenge on Roan. The teens are just powerless, frustrated kids, poking around a convenience store, acting bigger than they feel. In the end, their fate is the same as their more well-behaved neighbors."
Emily Yoshida, The Verge
"Then again, what would you expect from a film that treats blue collar heroes like Joe and Dawn as token signs of progress? There's so much wrong with this film, from its muddy visual scheme to its Hans Zimmer-lite score (try to listen to the film's klaxon-like music and not think of Zimmer's 'Inception' braaahm-intensive score). But the worst part is that it tries to pass as a film about and for those who Jarvis Cocker famously called 'common people.'"
Simon Abrams, RogerEbert.com
THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS - Alexandre Desplat
"That top dog is Max, a boisterous terrier voiced by Louis C.K, who gives a family clean, high-energy riff on his scrappy everyman (err, dog) persona. Max lives in Manhattan’s most pet friendly apartment building with owner Katie (Ellie Kemper, chirpy but barely used) and horde of neighboring domesticated beasts. There’s Mel the pug (Bobby Moynihan), Chloe the tabby cat (Lake Bell) and Gidget (Jenny Slate), the eskimo dog with feelings for our lead. We’re introduced to all of them -- and many more -- in a fast paced opening sequence. Filled with sight gags, stupid pet tricks, and set to an up tempo Alexandre Desplat score, it nimbly sets the scene, showing us what fun happens when the masters leave and the pets come out to play."
Ben Croll, IndieWire
"The basic premise of 'The Secret Life Of Pets' is simple, and cute: What do our pets do all day when we’re not home to watch over them? The opening scenes of the film demonstrate just that in a series of charming vignettes, visiting all the pets in an apartment building in an idealized Manhattan where the trees actually have leaves and there’s no trash on the sidewalk. Taylor Swift’s 'Welcome To New York' and a handful of other geographically appropriate pop hits play on the soundtrack, although most of the music comes from veteran composer Alexandre Desplat’s light, jazzy score. Left to their own devices, the animals do some things you might expect them to do (bark at squirrels, chase balls, stare longingly at leftovers in the fridge) and some you might not (throw wild parties with toilet-water chugging contests and a soundtrack by Andrew W.K.)."
Katie Rife, The Onion AV Club
"Beneath the streets, it’s a different story, and though plenty of toons have taken us into that domain before ('Ratatouille,' 'Flushed Away' and 'The Boxtrolls,' to name just three examples from the last decade), Snowball’s underground realm supplies the secret life farthest from our own imagining. There are a few stray crocodiles, of course, some forgotten 'Sea Monkeys' and an enormous viper, who is the kid-friendly film’s only casualty, his hilarious death-by-overkill turning the Flushed Pets against Max and Duke. But in the sewers of the city, we discover the consequences of those humans who don’t follow through on their responsibilities to the animals they adopt, which reinforces the urgency for our canine heroes to work out their differences and find their way home -- all blown up to larger-than-life proportions via composer Alexandre Desplat’s big, bossy Gershwin-esque jazz-band score.
Peter Debruge, Variety
"On the technical side, there are some marvels here -- especially Renaud’s vision of a vertically exuberant New York City, with skyscrapers stretching beyond the frame and fire escapes leading forever upwards into different apartments and different lives, as if we’re seeing everything from the viewpoint of a dog watching the world of humans from the ground. Likewise, all the details of the furry and feathered cast, including all of the fur itself, are impressively rendered by the Illumination team, who have created a lively and colorful palette that recalls Technicolor films of the 1950s. The same goes for the score by Alexandre Desplat ('The Imitation Game'), which takes notes from 'Breakfast at Tiffany’s' and other classic Manhattan-set movies, offering up a playful accompaniment to what ultimately feels like a smart but overindulgent exercise in computer-generated puppy love. Or maybe that’s just a pet peeve."
Jordan Mintzer, Hollywood Reporter
"Lin directs with his foot often jammed on the accelerator, careening from one physical or aerial clash to the next, where the densely packed movie could sometimes stand to take a breath. But even if a team of four editors would normally spell trouble, the pacing, structure and crescendos of suspense are assured, with Michael Giacchino's forceful score pumping up the action. However, there's also no shortage of intimate, character-driven moments. And while the story isn't without confusing elements, as warmongering intergalactic blitzes go, it's coherent enough."
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter
THE NEXT TEN DAYS IN L.A.
Screenings of older films, at the following L.A. movie theaters: AMPAS, American Cinematheque: Aero, American Cinematheque: Egyptian, Arclight, Arena Cinelounge, LACMA, Laemmle, New Beverly, Nuart and UCLA.
ANDREI RUBLEV (Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov) [Cinematheque: Aero]
BLUEBEARD'S EIGHTH WIFE (Frederick Hollander, Werner R. Heymann), THE MERRY WIDOW (Franz Lehar, Herbert Stothart) [UCLA]
THE MUPPET MOVIE (Paul Williams, Kenny Ascher) [Nuart]
DUNE (Toto) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
KISS ME, KATE (Cole Porter, Andre Previn, Saul Chaplin), MY SISTER EILEEN (Jule Styne, George Duning, Morris Stoloff) [UCLA]
SOLARIS (Edward Artemyev) [Cinematheque: Aero]
TWO FOR THE ROAD (Henry Mancini) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
WHITE CHRISTMAS (Irving Berlin, Van Cleave, Joseph J. Lilley) [UCLA]
THE LITTLE PRINCE (Frederick Loewe, Angela Morley, Douglas Gamley) [UCLA]
SHANE (Victor Young) [Laemmle Ahyra Fine Arts]
SOUTH PACIFIC (Richard Rodgers, Alfred Newman) [Laemmle Ahyra Fine Arts]
STALKER (Edward Artemyev) [Cinemathqeque: Aero]
THE WILD BUNCH (Jerry Fielding) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
GALAXY QUEST (David Newman) [Arclight Hollywood]
AN AMERICAN TAIL (James Horner) [Arclight Sherman Oaks]
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING (Howard Shore) [Arclight Hollywood]
THE LAST STARFIGHTER (Craig Safan) [Arclight Hollywood]
BELLADONNA OF SADNESS (Masahiko Sato) [Cinematheque: Aero]
GOLDENEYE (Eric Serra) [Laemmle NoHo]
CRUISING (Jack Nitzsche) [Nuart]
YELLOW SUBMARINE (The Beatles, George Martin) [Cinematheque: Aero]
PINK FLOYD - THE WALL (Roger Waters, Michael Kamen) [Cinematheque: Aero]
LOS ANGELES PLAYS ITSELF [Cinematheque: Aero]
THINGS I'VE HEARD, READ, SEEN OR WATCHED LATELY
One of my favorite current directors -- and in my opinion, one of the best directors working today -- is Steven Soderbergh. He made two of my all-time favorite films, King of the Hill and Out of Sight, and even in his lesser films there is a consistent intelligence. He may not be a particular fan of film music -- one of his main composers, Cliff Martinez, once told a funny story about the pair of them watching a screening of The Rocketeer, with Martinez thoroughly enjoying James Horner's rousing orchestral score until Soderbergh turned to him and said "Don't you hate this sh*t?" -- but he understands how music should be used in a movie, with such highlights as Martinez' lovely minimalist score for Solaris and Thomas Newman's excellent The Good German (which I still consider to be the director's most underrated film, especially since I seem to be the only person who likes it).
Someone like myself who is on the obsessive-compulsive spectrum tends to particularly favor directors who lean toward a rigidly planned visual style -- Hitchcock, Kubrick, DePalma, Fincher, the Coens -- but one of Soderbergh's most interesting traits is his determination to avoid "preciousness" in his work. One of my all-time favorite books on movies and moviemaking is Getting Away With It: Or: The Further Adventures of the Luckiest Bastard You Ever Saw, which intersperses Soderbergh's diaries from the period when he was finishing up Schizopolis and Gray's Anatomy with his career interview with another favorite of mine, Richard Lester (who is himself definitely not a stylistically rigid director).
At one point in the book, Lester and Soderbergh discuss the kind of directors who later in their careers become so successful (like Kubrick and Lean) that they end up isolated from normal life, or end up taking an unconscionably long time to shoot a movie. Lester tells a story about the making of Jacques Tati's Playtime, that a cameraman on the film heard Tati say at a Christmas party, after ten months of filming, "It's going great. We don't have anything we can use yet, but it's going great."
Soderbergh has expressed in interviews that he feels the most important thing a filmmaker can do is "keep shooting film" -- that might not be an exact quote, and given his embrace of digital technology he might phrase it differently now -- but in this context means "keep making movies." It's only fitting that the year he won the Directing Oscar, for Traffic, he had not only two of the five Best Picture nominees (the other being Erin Brockovich) but earned two of the five Directing nominations, a largely unheard of achievement -- and unlike so many directors who spend years deciding on their next film after winning the Oscar, Soderbergh had three more movies out in the next two years (Ocean's Eleven, Full Frontal and Solaris).
Despite my love for Soderbergh, the one area where I feel he sometimes falls short is in genre films (by which I include thrillers, mysteries and capers as well as science-fiction, fantasy and horror) -- I don't know if it's because he doesn't take genre seriously, or because in his rush to make film after film he settles for scripts that are not quite worthy of his directorial gifts. Ocean's Twelve and Side Effects are two of the more disappointing works in his filmography, partly due to their haphazard scripts (the latter suffers from the kind of plotting where Jude Law's plan depends on Catherine Zeta-Jones happening to look out a window at exactly the right moment), but the real low point was this year's thriller Unsane, which came and went with little fanfare, and whose most talked about element was how Soderbergh shot the entire film on an iPhone 7Plus, in only ten days.
The film is not without its good points -- Claire Foy's strong performance in the lead makes it clear why she was cast as the new Lisbeth Salander in The Girl in the Spider's Web, there's a well-written scene between Foy and her tormenter towards the end of the film, and Soderbergh makes a simple but remarkably effective use of double-exposure for a scene when Foy is deliberately overdosed with medication -- but the combination of a thin and improbable script with Soderbergh's rushed filmmaking approach make it arguably the weakest and most frustrating film he's ever made. Watching the film, it occurred to me that a script that's only worth filming with an iPhone on a ten-day schedule is probably not worth filming at all, especially by a director of Soderbergh's gifts.
By the way, am I the last person to learn that Unsane's composer, "David Wilder Savage," is apparently a pseudonym for Thomas Newman?
I only harp on Unsane and its shortcomings because I just watched his HBO mini-series Mosaic on Blu-Ray and was totally blown away -- I think it may be his best work since Out of Sight.
I do have to admit that I was particularly disposed to like it, since one of my old friends from college, Ed Solomon (Levity, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, Men in Black) wrote the script, and I'm always rooting for my old friends to do well (and unlike me, several of them still have screenwriting careers today, so I guess the rooting hasn't hurt). But friends of mine have written and/or directed lots of films and TV episodes, and few of them are anywhere near as good as Mosaic (especially, to be honest, the ones I wrote).
I suspect Mosaic won't be for everyone -- the pace is deliberate, and the mystery is not one-hundred-percent resolved, in a way that might frustrate many fans of the genre -- but the script is a remarkable mixture of intelligent plotting, top-notch dialogue and expertly crafted characters, the acting is excellent (with Devin Ratray and Sharon Stone as particular standouts -- who knew the bullying brother from Home Alone was such a terrific actor, and that Stone was capable of such touching fragility), and Soderbergh's direction is up to his usual high standards, with his visual style showing the care that Unsane seemed to lack, from the wide-angle compositions emphasising the importance of the settings to the storyline, to the especially well staged scene where the camera focuses not on the characters having the conversation but the characters listening, waiting for an admission they hope will help solve the case.
For the record, David Holmes's score is sparse -- some episodes seemed virtually unscored -- but very effectively used.