The latest CD from Intrada is the first commercial release of Arthur B. Rubinstein's score for ANOTHER STAKEOUT, the comedy-thriller sequel to the 1987 surprise hit Stakeout, reteaming Rubinstein with his longtime friend and collaborator, director John Badham, as well as stars Richard Dreyfuss and Emilio Estevez. A composer promo collection of Rubinstein's music had featured 21 minutes from the score; the Intrada release features a full 60 minutes of score.
La-La Land has announced a tentative, rough schedule of releases for the rest of 2018. On October 30 they currently hope to release Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams, Superman II & III, and five new Blake Neely soundtracks from DC superhero TV series. On November 13 they may release two to three titles, including a three-disc set. November 23 will see the announcement of this year's batch of "Black Friday" releases, with two titles already signed off on and two to three more hoped for, to be available to order on November 27.
Varese Sarabande plans to announce their latest set of CD Club releases this coming Monday.
CDS AVAILABLE THIS WEEK
Another Stakeout - Arthur B. Rubinstein - Intrada Special Collection
Carles Cases Styles - Carles Cases - Rosetta
Carter Burwell: Music for Film - Carter Burwell - Silva
Deshabitados - Manel Gil-Inglada - Rosetta
Halloween - John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, Daniel Davies - Sacred Bones
The Hate U Give - Dustin O'Halloran - Milan
Madly - Francis Lai - Music Box
Mandy - Johann Johannsson - Lakeshore
Million Dollar Man - Naoki Sato - Toys Factory (import)
The Song of Sway Lake - Ethan Gold - Electrik Gold
Yucatan - Roque Banos - Saimel
IN THEATERS TODAY
- Omar Fadel
- Mitchell Owens
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
- Nate Heller - Score CD due Oct. 26 on Verve
Change in the Air
- Terry Adams, Bill Frisell
Charm City - T. Griffin
8 Remains - Ilia Eshkenazy Jossifov
An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn - Andrew Hung
Galveston - Marc Chouarian
The Great Buster: A Celebration - no original score
The Guilty - Carl Coleman, Caspar Hesselager
- John Carpenter, Daniel A. Davies, Cody Carpenter - Score CD on Sacred Bones
Mid90s - Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
Nigerian Prince - Peter Nashel, Eric V. Hachikian
On Her Shoulders - Patrick Jonsson
Transformer - Gilad Carroll
Viral Beauty - Meng-Mei Kuo
Watergate - Ben Holiday
What They Had - Danny Mulhern
Wildlife - David Lang
Can You Ever Forgive Me? - Nate Heller - Verve
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms - James Newton Howard - Disney
Our House - Mark Korven - Lakeshore
Suspiria - Thom Yorke - XL Recordings
Boy Erased - Danny Bensi, Saunder Jurriaans - Backlot
The Girl in the Spider's Web - Roque Banos - Sony (import)
La Dove Non Batte Il Sole/Un Animale Chiamato Uomo - Carlo Savina - Digitmovies
La Notte Brava - Piero Piccioni - Digitmovies
Le Avventure di Pinocchio - Fiorenzo Carpi - Digitmovies
A Private War - H. Scott Salinas - Varese Sarabande
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs - Carter Burwell - Milan
Widows - Hans Zimmer - Milan
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - James Newton Howard - WaterTower
Mars: Season 2 - Brian Reitzell - Milan
Goon: Last of the Enforcers - Trevor Morris - Notefornote
Mary Queen of Scots - Max Richter - Deutsche Grammophon
Under the Silver Lake - Disasterpeace - Milan
Down a Dark Hall - Victor Reyes - Quartet
Every Day a Good Day - Hiroku Sebu - Pony Canyon (import)
Frizzi 2 Fulci Undead in Austin - Fabio Frizzi - Beat
Masquerade - John Barry - Quartet
Per Pochi Dollari Ancora - Gianni Ferrio - Beat
Red/Family - Soren Hyldgaard - Kritzerland
Retrospective Jean Musy - Jean Musy - Music Box
The Sisters Brothers - Alexandre Desplat - Quartet
Un Italiano in America - Piero Piccioni - Beat
Wolf Guy: Jun Fukamachi Aka Hiroshi Baba Works - Hiroshi Baba - Cinema-Kan (import)
THIS WEEK IN FILM MUSIC HISTORY
October 19 - Fiorenzo Carpi born (1918)
October 19 - George Fenton born (1950)
October 19 - Victor Young
begins recording his score to Scaramouche
October 19 - Recording sessions begin on James Newton Howard’s score for Falling Down (1992)
October 20 - Adolph Deutsch born (1897)
October 20 - Frank Churchill born (1901)
October 20 - Tom Petty born (1950)
October 20 - Thomas Newman born (1955)
October 20 - Lucien Moraweck died (1973)
October 20 - Ron Jones records his score for the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Booby Trap" (1989)
October 21 - Joseph Mullendore born (1914)
October 21 - Malcolm Arnold born (1921)
October 21 - John W. Morgan born (1946)
October 21 - Brian Banks born (1955)
October 21 - Lyle Workman born (1957)
October 21 - Jerry Goldsmith records his replacement score for Seven Days in May (1963)
October 21 - David Newman begins recording his score for Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1987)
October 21 - Gregory Smith records his score for the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “The Assignment” (1996)
October 21 - David Shire
begins recording his score for Rear Window
October 21 - Gianni Ferrio died (2013)
October 22 - Giorgio Gaslini born (1929)
October 22 - Hans J. Salter
begins recording his score for The Far Horizons
October 22 - Marc Shaiman born (1959)
October 22 - Hugo Friedhofer
begins recording his score to Never So Few
October 22 - Bernard Herrmann records his score for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode "Body in the Barn" (1963)
October 22 - Nuno Malo born (1977)
October 23 - Manos Hadjidakis born (1925)
October 23 - Gary McFarland born (1933)
October 23 - Recording sessions begin for Dimitri Tiomkin
’s score for Lost Horizon
October 23 - Graeme Revell born (1955)
October 23 - Jonathan Wolff born (1958)
October 23 - David Kitay born (1961)
October 23 - Duane Tatro records his only Mission: Impossible score, for the episode “Ultimatum” (1972)
October 23 - Paul Baillargeon
records his score for the Enterprise
episode “The Andorian Incident” (2001)
October 23 - Ray Ellis died (2008)
October 24 - Ernest Irving died (1953)
October 24 - David Bell records his score for the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Sacrifice of Angels” (1997)
October 24 - Merl Saunders died (2008)
October 25 - Konrad Elfers born (1919)
October 25 - Don Banks born (1923)
October 25 - Recording sessions begin for Alex North
's score to I'll Cry Tomorrow
October 25 - Alexander Courage
's "Plato's Stepchildren," the last score composed for the original Star Trek
series, is recorded (1968)
October 25 - Billy Goldenberg begins recording his score for Duel (1971)
October 25 - Benny Golson records his score for the Mission: Impossible episode “Blues” (1971)
October 25 - David Shire begins recording his score for Max Dugan Returns (1982)
October 25 - Recording sessions begin for W.G. Snuffy Walden
’s score for The Stand
October 25 - Recording sessions begin for Danny Elfman
’s score for Good Will Hunting
DID THEY MENTION THE MUSIC?
BOSTON - Jeff Beal
"Funded by John Hancock, which also sponsors the race itself, 'Boston' touches on myriad groundbreaking marathon moments -- its first female runners; its embrace of Japanese competitors; its plethora of African winners -- from an upbeat, uncomplicated perspective. As such, there’s very little dramatic tension to the proceedings, either when it gazes into the past or when it confronts the 2014 race, which even casual sports fans will know ahead of time went off without a hitch. Informative and moving without ever feeling particularly incisive, Dunham’s doc is the sort of informational movie fit for a museum exhibit, replete with Matt Damon’s narration, a stirring Boston Symphony Orchestra score and uniformly entertaining and illuminating archival footage of races gone by."
Nick Schager, Variety
DAYVEON - Amman Abbasi
"'Dayveon' is a NEXT title that comes from executive producers Jody Hill, Danny McBride and David Gordon Green. The latter name especially has a presence in this story, with 'Dayveon' taking on a mission of Green’s breakout, 'George Washington.' Everyone is going to make that comparison, but this movie is less a repeat than disciple of Gordon’s film. It seeks to capture truth with non-actors, unassuming camerawork and an evocative score, while framing all of it expressively (which is done literally, as 'Dayveon' is shot in the box format of 4:3). And like 'George Washington' before it, 'Dayveon' is a gorgeous mix of emotional sincerity and pure cinema."
Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com
"Bryan, who knew Dayveon’s brother well, understands just as well the situation in which Dayveon’s involved, and so does his best to talk Dayveon away from the life that took his brother without lecturing the kid and triggering his teenager-ness. All this Abbasi captures in heightened hand-held glory, demonstrating (with the willing, nuanced performances of his non-professional cast) a finely tuned familiarity with the people and places of rural Arkansas. The director, a second-generation Pakistani, grew up all over the state, which must have afforded him the same kind of insight David Gordon Green demonstrated in his early films, especially with debut 'George Washington.' ('Dayveon,' of course, is produced by both Green and fellow North Carolina School of the Arts alums Jody Hill and Danny McBride, sharing much of its perspective and pace with Green’s and Hill’s work.) It’s only in 'Dayveon''s final act that plot contrivances begin to wander away from Abbasi’s carefully calibrated realism. (Slow motion vignettes, scored dramatically -- to overtly heart-stringing ends -- by the writer-director imbue Dayveon’s arc with emotional beats we already intuited fine enough just based on getting to know the kid.) The effect feels somehow disingenuous, even as we know that Abbasi had to do something with his characters.That something inevitably seems to be Abbasi’s desire to draw a straight line from Dayveon’s cynicism -- something with which the audience can easily sympathize -- to the first shreds of hope in Dayveon’s otherwise kinda-sad-and-angry everyday -- perhaps leaving the audience with a small sense of joy, with the knowledge that forgiveness and a good long hug can matter a lot. Which is nice, but it’s also not really a lasting feeling that keeps us invested in these characters, defining, as Abbasi has them doing, a typically underrepresented place and community and plight. It lets our attention off the hook too easily, softens our reflection with pretty music and symbolic color saturation and some well-needed affection for a boy who starves for it. There’s no requisite that Dayveon be bitterer, or that it carry its main character’s cynicism from its opening shots through to a bleaker conclusion in order to better reflect 'real life.' There’s only the nagging feeling that nothing ever wraps up this soundly, and that the only people who can’t walk away from the film are those who have to live it."
Dom Sinacola, Paste Magazine
"The film locates rugged, unspectacular beauty in both of these narrative threads; Abbasi even indulges slow motion in the middle of certain scenes as if to savor moments of developmental combustion before they’re gone. But the specificity of Dayveon’s narrative is too often shoehorned into a more general structuring framework of troubled adolescence. Recurring images of a swarming beehive outside the boy’s home are understood as symbols of a cutthroat social ecosystem even before Abbasi swoops in to reveal a bee sinking its stinger into Dayveon’s arm, and the director continues to belabor this loaded, sub-Malickian imagery throughout. Similarly grating is his tendency to undercut the immersive, buzzing soundscape of the delta with excerpts of uninspired modern classical piano, an emotionally manipulative choice that betrays the influence of executive producer David Gordon Green."
Carson Lund, Slant Magazine
"You needn’t wait for a long list of executive producers in the closing credits to detect the presence of David Gordon Green hanging over 'Dayveon.' Multi-hyphenate Amman Abbasi’s well-intended but distantly ambient debut feature is so palpably in thrall to the Arkansan 'George Washington' helmer’s early work that its own authorial voice never rises above a whisper. Centered on a withdrawn, grief-stricken teen seeking acceptance and closure in a picturesque but poverty-blighted stretch of rural Arkansas, this year’s Sundance NEXT opener boasts quiet, unforced performances from a cast of Little Rock locals and some honey-slicked craft contributions -- including a richly melodic, piano-led score by the director himself. Yet the more 'Dayveon'” attempts to up the dramatic and moral stakes of its narrative, the less persuasive it is as idiosyncratic, indigenous storytelling. Exposure beyond the festival circuit could be a challenge, despite such guiding hands as Green and James Schamus."
Guy Lodge, Variety
"Shot in Wrightsville, Arkansas, with a cast of non-professionals, young writer-producer-director-composer Amman Abbasi’s feature debut offers an intensely sincere coming-of-age story that pivots around one adolescent’s initiation into gang life. Although the project has a documentary air, thanks to workshop time spent with real gang members and a strong, authentic sense of place, the picture’s funky-retro 4:3 ratio, occasional bursts of highly stylized editing and striking use of dreamy avant-garde music by Abbasi himself lend the proceedings a sharp art house edge. With support from executive producers such as James Schamus, Lisa Muskat and David Gordon Green (whose debut 'George Washington' casts a long shadow here), it’s no surprise the film has secured a coveted spot in the Sundance lineup. However, rough edges like the somewhat pat script and sketchy production values may keep 'Dayveon' from progressing much further beyond the festival circuit. All the while, Abbasi’s drifty, droning composition (it’s no surprise to read that he’s collaborated with Icelandic beat combo Sigur Ros), arranged and performed by Amos Cochran, plays out, offering a spacey counterpoint to the imagery. Like the recent award-winner Moonlight, another story about young black men wrestling with their male identity in the South, 'Dayveon' takes a refreshing break from the hip-hop soundtrack one would usually expect from the milieu depicted, creating an unexpectedly ethereal atmosphere. Similarly, the disconnection in other key scenes between the dialogue track and the images adds atmosphere. Another nice touch is the way bees dance through the story, either as single insects that buzz about or as a menacing collective hive that's attached itself to a tree just outside the backdoor of Dayveon's house, always threatening violence even if a sting means death to the individual bug."
Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter
DON'T BREATHE - Roque Banos
"In every sense that matters, the house is 'haunted.' Its clutter-filled corners and claustrophobic rooms are a messy, jagged-edged manifestation of its owner’s destitution and moral collapse, and every inch of it feels like a war zone with potential mines at every step. Thanks to the seamless way Roque Baños’s score overlaps with Jonathan Miller’s fantastic sound editing, the constant battle between noise and silence inside the house is as intense as the action itself. Every breath, footfall, click, crack, and crunch is a minor battle won or lost in the trio’s fight to escape the blind man’s demented court."
Aja Romano, Vox
"With silence required for the protagonists surviving a keen-eared pursuer, there’s not much dialogue in the house (until a brief later patch when there’s perhaps a bit too much), allowing Alvarez and his team to fully limn a cat-and-mouse game in visceral terms. Pedro Luque’s prowling camera, production designer Naaman Marshall’s decrepit interiors, Roque Banos’ atmospheric score and the contributions of three credited editors help create a sort of labyrinthine survival game that never descends to the formulaic, gimmicky sadism of 'Saw'-type movies. 'Don’t Breathe' is more grounded in (particularly economic) reality than such exercises -- even if most of it was filmed in Hungary, with only the exterior shots of distinctive Detroit ruins actually shot there."
Dennis Harvey, Variety
THE HOLLARS - Josh Ritter
"Many elements of this story ring true, from the way the men in the Hollar family are all a bit lost without their women to the unexpected decency of the banker who rejects Don’s request for a loan, which turns what might have been a standard rant against rapacious bankers into a more resonant story of a good neighbor reluctantly doing a tough job. Josh Ritter’s soundtrack also works well, his upbeat music and smart, literate lyrics about struggle and pain mirroring the feel of the film. But that ruefully honest tone is periodically drowned out by the blare of stagey coincidences. When Rebecca goes into labor as John is delivering a eulogy, or John happens to stop for a beer at the liquor store where his father is secretly moonlighting, the film pivots from emotional complexity toward sitcom-ish simplicity."
Elise Nakhnikian, Slant Magazine
9/11 - Jeff Toyne
"During the opening five or 10 minutes of 'The Hollars,' three different tasteful acoustic-guitar songs play on the soundtrack. Or maybe it’s the same song, played three times; it’s hard to tell, and the Josh Ritter score only confuses matters further. John Krasinski’s second feature has such a milquetoast, melancholy-indie sound that its most arresting and dynamic musical moment comes when three characters unexpectedly break into 'Closer To Fine' by the Indigo Girls."
Jesse Hassenger, The Onion AV Club
"'The Hollars' tells the familiar tale of a dysfunctional family pulled together by unfortunate circumstances. John Hollar (John Krasinski, who also directed) is a frustrated graphic novelist with a pregnant girlfriend, Rebecca (Anna Kendrick). When he gets the news that his mother, Sally (Margo Martindale), has a brain tumor, he goes out to see her, reigniting old tensions with his father, Don (Richard Jenkins), and brother, Ron (Sharlto Copley). Moments of familial bonding alternate with interludes of exasperation, and key scenes are scored to winsome folk songs. It goes without saying that it premiered at Sundance."
Abbey Bender, The Village Voice
"While he’s more collected than his manchild of an older brother, John wrestles with the kind of standard-issue Insecurities Over Impending Fatherhood that are all too easily treated by an awkward encounter with randy ex-girlfriend Gwen. (She’s played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, sadly duking it out with Mary Kay Place -- given a throwaway scene as Don’s loyal sister -- for the title of least valued player.) Even John’s artistic vocation is a barely-scrutinized script detail -- a notably missed opportunity in a beigely mounted film that could certainly use some visual pop. At least it’s of a piece with the similarly neutral aural wallpaper of the film’s soundtrack, which goes predictably heavy on acoustic guitar ballads by singer-songwriter Josh Ritter: Uniformly pretty as they are, they lend the film little differentiation in feeling from one scene to the next."
Guy Lodge, Variety
"In his second foray behind the camera following a patchy attempt to grapple with David Foster Wallace's distinctive prose in 2009's 'Brief Interviews With Hideous Men,' actor-director John Krasinski sticks to an awfully familiar indie template in 'The Hollars.' Judicious balance of droll humor and sincere sentiment? Check. Quirky gallery of quarrelsome but affectionate characters? Check. Universal themes of life, death, commitment and familial love? Check. Gentle folk-rock punctuating every scene? Check again. This one is straight out of the old-school Sundance manual. Still, there's enough warmth, humor and heart in the very slick package, not to mention a gaggle of accomplished and well-cast actors, all of which should ensure decent VOD traction. The film is certainly not without sincere feeling, though Krasinski seems to lack confidence in the strength of the story's emotions to resonate without help, judging by the extent to which he plasters alt-folk singer-songwriter Josh Ritter's melodic score and songs over every scene transition. But for a directorial effort devoid of ambition, 'The Hollars' at least is handled with taste and restraint by the overqualified actors. And maybe Krasinski has earned some unchallenging downtime after going through Michael Bay boot camp on '13 Hours.'"
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter
"On the minus side, there’s Fonda, who wears Tina’s insecurities on both sleeves, and the muddy cinematography by Massimo Zeri, which gives the film the copy-of-a-copy look you’d expect from a bootleg DVD you bought in Times Square. Jeff Toyne’s score comes within about four bars of overdoing the angelic choir, but it’s mostly effective."
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap
SCHOOL LIFE - Eryck Abecassis
"There's some unevenness in the structure because of its resistance to zooming in too closely on this or that individual (outside of the Leydens, that is, and even with them, we never learn where they came from, their backgrounds. We only know them from what we see them do.) The score, by Eryck Abecassis, is a bit too insistent and driving for a work as free-form as this. It's top-heavy. What we get in the film, naturally, is the rhythms of life over the course of a year at the school, the seasons changing, the fog rolling across the grounds, or the snow driving against the main building. It's school as microcosm, an entire universe operating at full capacity."
Sheila O'Malley, RogerEbert.com
"In keeping with this spirit, the filmmaking is delicately executed in every department. Eschewing any visual or graphic gimmicks, Ní Chianáin keeps the look airily naturalistic throughout, lighting and framing Headfort’s rather imposing architecture -- which could look darkly austere in a different film -- with a consistent emphasis on its breathing room. Eryck Abecassis’s fragile, shimmery score, full of unusual, whistling instrumentation, is an asset throughout, particularly as an antidote to the more raucous playing of the Headfort in-house band."
Guy Lodge, Variety
"The directors adopt a largely fly-on-the-wall approach apart from very occasional straight-to-camera asides by John Leyden, a deep-dyed maverick who would doubtless dismiss composer Eryck Abecassis' standard-issue score with the derision it deserves."
Neil Young, Hollywood Reporter
SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU - Stephen James Taylor
THE SEA OF TREES - Mason Bates
"Whether in his maverick ('Drugstore Cowboy,' 'Last Days') or journeyman ('Good Will Hunting,' 'Milk') mode, Gus Van Sant can be counted on to deliver basic surface pleasures: handsome cinematography, pretty scores with tastefully selected needle drops, lucid storytelling. His unshowy but unmistakable signature elevated his last film, the transparently agenda-driven fracking procedural 'Promised Land,' via such superficial (but not unimportant) touches. Although Mason Bates’s score is too omnipresent, 'The Sea of Trees' follows suit, remaining aesthetically attractive from its opening shot of acres of trees swaying in the wind on. DP Kasper Tuxen’s camera glides elegantly through the forest where much of the action is set, and the many nature cutaways never seem frivolous. Tuxen, who shot the also-gorgeous '3 Backyards,' is equally at home filming stateside dinner table arguments."
Justin Stewart, Brooklyn Magazine
"Between all the talking, ponderous shots of treetops abound, as do an incessant score and long flashbacks in which Naomi Watts, as Mrs. McConaughey, belittles her husband, who, even though he once cheated on her, is still a saint. She’s selling million-dollar homes to keep them out of the poorhouse, and wouldn’t it be nice if he would man the f*ck up and do something more with his life than teach science for $20,000 a year? Also: Will someone please refill her wineglass?"
Wesley Morris, Grantland
"Van Sant has always divided his attention between piercing portraits of outsiders marked by daring formal experimentation and redemption stories steeped in saccharine sentiment, but seldom has he veered so far toward the latter as he does with 'The Sea of Trees.' Between a script, by Chris Sparling, whose main influence would appear to be a screenwriting manual, the constant lachrymose strings on the soundtrack, and the lack of visual distinction, notwithstanding the odd shot of sunlight seeping through the Aokigahara forest’s trees, there’s little to suggest that this film is anything more than a hastily cobbled-together studio star vehicle."
James Lattimer, Slant Magazine
"Don’t worry, I won’t spoil the third act of 'The Sea of Trees,' other than to say that Nicholas Sparks would raise an eyebrow at the manipulative twisting and turning of Sparling’s script. The true tragedy is that McConaughey actually isn’t bad here. He has a monologue about an hour in, during which he fills in his forest companion on the history of his marriage, in which not only is McConaughey quite good but you realize how unnecessary the flashbacks were in the first place -- hearing Arthur talk about his marriage is much more interesting than watching clichéd highlights from it. Although, in this scene and throughout the film, Van Sant and composer Mason Bates make tragic mistakes. This is one of the most overheated, awful scores of the year, sounding like something cut from mid-‘90s Miramax awards bait when this project would have been much better served by the natural sound of the wind through the trees. Bates’ score is just one example of a mistake in a film that contains an easily identifiable misstep every few minutes. Whether it’s a clichéd line of dialogue, a lack of confidence in the core of the storytelling, a false impression of depression, or the horrendous twists of the final act, 'The Sea of Trees' piles on the filmmaking errors in a way that makes the boos from Cannes somewhat surprising in that it’s hard to believe there were that many people still there to make a sound."
Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com
"By the time the two men find themselves stripping down in a small tent containing a human skeleton, you’re about ready for 'The Sea of Trees' to morph into either a full-on zombie freakout or 'Brokeback Mount Fuji.' By this point, alas, it’s clear that Van Sant is not in one of his more experimental moods, narratively, formally or sexually, and he brings little to the table here except his tried-and-true gift for gorgeously moody image making: Cinematographer Kasper Tuxen works wonders with the forest’s softly diffused light by day, and makes exquisite use of a campfire to illuminate McConaughey’s and Watanabe’s faces at night. But the frequent shots of the eponymous forest -- framed as either a sea of trees from above or a canopy from below -- and the tinkling musical accompaniment composed by Mason Bates do little to slow the movie’s slow, inexorable slide into kitsch."
Justin Chang, Variety
"There are numerous ways that the spectacle of an American man headed to Japan to officially do himself in could be treated. But screenwriter Christopher Sparling (2010’s 'Buried') has chosen an approach that is sincere to the point of utter banality, a posture further reinforced by an obvious music score, inescapably indulgent acting and the project’s overriding motivation to turn a story of suicidal distress into something generically life-affirming in the most elementary Hollywood manner."
Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter
"Like its pre-politics POTUS, 'Southside With You' mounts a charm offensive. At the same time, Tanne isn’t afraid to look at this real-life romance through the prism of real-life issues. Race, especially, informs many of the minor conflicts that arise across the film’s relaxed 84 minutes, from Michelle’s struggles to earn the respect of her colleagues (the main romantic obstacle, basically) to the implicit guilt both express about choosing lucrative legal careers over the plight of struggling Chicago communities. 'Southside With You' also connects Barack and Michelle to black culture through the kind of ice-breaking shared interests that often come up on early dates: The two debate the merits of 'Good Times,' argue about Stevie Wonder records, and -- in a detail true to the true story -- go to a late show of Spike Lee’s 'Do The Right Thing,' a lightning rod of controversy in the summer of ’89. (Tanne nods to another revered black filmmaker by commissioning lovely original music from Stephen James Taylor, who composed scores for many of Charles Burnett’s movies.)"
A.A. Dowd, The Onion AV Club
"Told through extended takes and expositional dialogue, Tanne has a very confident vision, moving the passages of his story along swiftly. Sawyers and Sumpter have incredible chemistry, with neither impersonating their true character as they touch upon family life, God, 'Good Times' and more. 'Southside with You' particularly receives a great jolt of energy and sweetness from Stephen James Taylor’s score, which welcomes the viewers to this little story with a light, toe-tapping tone, and guides us to a warm, romantic end."
Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com
"It’s a steamy August morning in Chicago circa 1989, a time when the jaunty Janet Jackson single 'Miss You Much' dominated the charts and Spike Lee’s provocative 'Do the Right Thing' incited discussions about race relations in America. A twentysomething African-American man (Sawyers), tall and handsome, contemplatively smokes a cigarette in his undershirt, anticipating the day; as he wanders his spare apartment, you sense there’s something on his mind. Meanwhile, an attractive young African-American woman (Sumpter, who also co-produced the film) on the Southside intently readies herself, fielding questions from her parents about the Harvard summer intern at her law firm who’s picking her up in his beat-up Datsun for an outing she emphatically denies is a date. Not much happens during these first few minutes of 'Southside With You,' the semi-fictionalized version of what, in fact, turns out to be the first date between future White House residents Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson, but the setup is so enticing (the jazzy chords of Stephen James Taylor’s score subtly suggest romance) that you’re instantly on the hook, eager to see how this day will go even though you already know how it will end."
Steve Davis, The Austin Chronicle
YEAR BY THE SEA - Alexander Janko
"Wackiness abounds. First, Joan goes ’round and ’round a traffic circle and then nearly hits someone, leaving you to wonder, 'Can’t she f---ing drive?' There’s look-how-zany! music as she learns to row a boat, which is necessary to cross the lake between her cottage and civilization. (Of course no one teaches the new girl.) Joan struggles with her suitcase on the beachfront grounds and knocks stuff over, all for our merriment. The soundtrack of 'Year by the Sea' is insufferably twee, with strummy folk songs cueing every emotion -- that is, except when some misadventure calls for jaunty music, or a costumed New Year’s Day run calls for…circus music. Horribly, one scene in which Joan is learning how to clam with a handsome fisherman, is set to 'I’m Into Something Good.' Do they end up chasing each other around the beach, laughing deliriously? You bet."
Tricia Olszewski, The Wrap
YOGA HOSERS - Christopher Drake
"'Yoga Hosers' does have one surprise in store, and that’s in just how much screentime Johnny Depp has reprising his 'Tusk' character, private detective Guy Lapointe. He shows up early in 'Yoga Hosers' and is essentially the film’s third lead, alongside Harley Quinn and Lily-Rose. The three set out to uncover the truth behind these Nazi sausage monsters, leading them on a journey that ends in painfully unfunny, uninteresting fashion with an out-of-nowhere plot twist that takes aim directly at critics. This is made all the more frustrating by that fact that, at least in the film’s first 20 minutes or so, there are signs that Lily-Rose Depp and Harley Quinn Smith could be in for a pair of breakout turns. Smith is funny and fiery, while Depp shows she has a really serious knack for acting with a turn that’s equal parts sweet, funny, and dangerous. But Kevin Smith’s lack of directorial vision fails to bring the best out in both actresses, and whatever promise they showed at the beginning is soon overshadowed by a ridiculously dumb story that only gets dumber as the film progresses. Smith has never claimed to be a great director, and has been more than candid about his shortcomings in the visual department, but he attempts to add energy to 'Yoga Hosers' by refusing to hold the camera still and by drowning out every scene with score. Both prove distracting, though I guess addressing these issues wouldn’t change much given that the script is so poorly conceived."
Adam Chitwood, Collider
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.
FRANKENSTEIN [Arclight Hollywood]
PARENTHOOD (Randy Newman), COCOON (James Horner) [Cinematheque: Aero]
ZOMBIE (Giorgio Tucci, Fabio Frizzi) [Nuart]
APOLLO 13 (James Horner), FROST/NIXON (Hans Zimmer) [Cinematheque: Aero]
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (Frank Skinner) [UCLA]
DRACULA [Arclight Hollywood]
HOW THE WEST WAS WON (Alfred Newman) [Arclight Hollywood]
WILLOW (James Horner) [Cinematheque: Aero]
THE EXORCIST [AMPAS]
IT (Benjamin Wallfisch) [Arclight Hollywood]
THE THING (Ennio Morricone) [Arclight Santa Monica]
AMERICAN GRAFFITI [Laemmle Ahrya Fine Arts]
AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (Elmer Bernstein) [Arclight Hollywood]
THE CRUCIBLE (George Fenton) [LACMA]
SCREAM (Marco Beltrami) [Arclight Sherman Oaks]
THE THING (Ennio Morricone) [Arclight Culver City]
THE EXORCIST [Arclight Hollywood]
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD [Laemmle Ahyra Fine Arts]
ALIEN (Jerry Goldsmith) [Arclight Hollywood]
DEAD SNOW (Christian Wibe) [Laemmle NoHo]
SECRET SUNSHINE (Christian Basso) [Cinematheque: Aero]
THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES (Basil Kirchin), THE DEVIL'S RAIN (Al De Lory) [Cinematheque: Aero]
PSYCHO (Bernard Herrmann) [Arclight Hollywood]
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (Richard O'Brien, Richard Hartley) [Nuart]
CARRIE (Pino Donaggio) [Arclight Hollywood]
JASON X (Harry Manfredini), BODY MELT (Philip Brophy), LINK (Jerry Goldsmith), MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE (AC/DC), ZOMBIE 3 (Stefano Mainetti), CURTAINS (Paul Zaza), ANTROPOPHAGUS (Marcello Giombini) [Cinematheque: Aero]
FRANKENSTEIN, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (Franz Waxman)[Cinematheque: Aero]
RETRIBUTION (Alan Howarth) [UCLA]
THINGS I'VE HEARD, READ, SEEN OR WATCHED LATELY
First Man: I haven't seen Damien Chazelle's first film, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, but counterintuitively of his other three movies, I think La La Land may be the weakest yet the one I enjoyed the most (I have a fondness for musicals and Gosling and Stone make an ideal movie pair, though until their first scenes together the movie felt a ltitle like the greatest student film ever made). First Man is quite good, taking a fresh and very effective approach to telling the story of Neil Armstrong and the lead-up to the first moon landing, though it suffers a little from the fact that its most gripping sequence, the Gemini 8 mission, happens long before the end of the film. Composer Justin Hurwitz, who won two Oscars for La La Land, has only scored Chazelle's films and this is the first one that isn't a movie about music, giving him his first chance to write a more traditional film score. His First Man music is fresh and appealingly eclectic, the kind of ambitious work that only happens when a composer and a director have a solid working relationship, built on trust, and I suspect it will be one of this year's Oscar nominees. (A friend who saw If Beale Street Could Talk at the Toronto film festival thinks Britell's score for that film might win this year)
Bad Times at the El Royale: Rather a disappointment, given the high quality of Drew Goddard's previous directorial effort, The Cabin in the Woods. The first two acts are quite enjoyable, helped greatly by Martin Whist's lavish production design and Seamus McGarvey's colorful widescreen cinematography, but the third act is largely a bore, which for a 141-minute film is a serious problem. Giacchino's music is effective but the period songs, especially the ones performed onscreen by Cynthia Erivo (the movie's MVP), dominate the film.
Beautiful Boy: I much preferred it to the director's Foreign Language-nominated film from 2013, The Broken Circle Breakdown, but it reminded me of my biggest problems with stories about addiction -- they're kinda boring. This one is quite well acted, especially by Timothee Chalamet, and makes nice use of San Francisco and Marin County locations, but in retrospect the writing reminded me of a style I tend to think of as "After School Special" -- did the characters ever talk about anything except Chalamet and his addiction?
The Happy Prince: It can be said in this film's favor that I never once was reminded of one of my favorite MST3K quips, from the short film Mr. B Natural -- "Oscar Wilde only wished he were this gay." Rupert Everett makes a decent enough directorial debut with this complexly structured look at Wilde's final years, aided by lovely production values and a pretty if brief Gabriel Yared score. Your enjoyment of the film will probably depend on your tolerance for Everett and the subject matter, but it had interesting echoes of other movies -- Tom Wilkinson, who played the Marquess of Queensbury in the 1997 Wilde, has a cameo here as a pragmatic priest who performs Wilde's last rites, and reuniting Everett with Colin Firth, his co-star in the 1984 drama Another Country that was a breakout project for both actors, makes this a nice book end of Thirty Four Years of Gay British Cinema.
22 July: I have to admit I was almost dreading seeing this film. I'm actually a fan of director Paul Greengrass, who consistently manages to pull off the fast-cuts-and-handheld-camera approach that has made other directors' action movies so frequently maddening, but the film's subject matter -- the massacre of Norwegian teenagers on the titular date in 2011 -- is so inherently upsetting that I was far from eager to watch it depicted on screen. Greengrass's staging of the killings on Utoya Island is extremely discreet and the sequence is only a small part of the story, which largely focuses on several related elements, especially the trial of Breivik and the slow recovery process of one of the young survivors, Viljar Hanssen (played by Jonas Strand Gravli). Perhaps because of the larger scale and time frame of the story -- or maybe just because he had Norwegian actors speaking in English -- it didn't have as strong a verite feel as his other docudramas like Bloody Sunday and United 93 -- but I found myself with tears on my face for nearly half the film, not a reaction I tend to experience during Greengrass movies. (And given how brief and unexplicit the massacre sequence is, I'm still not sure how the Onion AV Club critic could argue the film "crosses the line into bad taste.")