The latest release from Intrada is an unusual entry in the career of one of the all-time great film composers. In 1984, Jerry Goldsmith had his usual assortment of high-profile genre projects -- the summer blockbuster Gremlins, the lavish attempted-franchise-starter Supergirl, and Michael Crichton's underrated near-future thriller Runaway -- but he also took a rare venture into comedy with THE LONELY GUY, a Steve Martin vehicle directed by Arthur Hiller (Love Story, Silver Streak). A soundtrack was released by MCA at the same time as the film, but only as a "mini-LP" with three tracks on each side, and Goldsmith's contribution was limited to two score cues and the catchy theme song, "Love Comes Without Warning," performed by America. The Intrada CD allows Goldsmith's score to be heard as it's never been heard before, including both the score as heard in the film and a plethora of alternates and revisions.
Lalo Schifrin will become the third film composer to receive an Honorary Oscar, at this year's Governors Awards ceremony on November 18th, following Alex North (1985) and Ennio Morricone (2006). The other honorees this year are actress Cicely Tyson and veteran publicist Marvin Levy, with Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall recieving the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for their body of work as producers (the Thalberg used to be awarded more frequently; the last one went to Francis Ford Coppola in 2010).
CDS AVAILABLE THIS WEEK
Christopher Robin - Geoff Zanelli, Jon Brion (import)
Jack Ryan - Ramin Djawadi - La-La Land
The Lonely Guy - Jerry Goldsmith - Intrada Special Collection
The Nun - Abel Korzeniowski - WaterTower [CD-R]
Saving Private Ryan - John Williams - La-La Land
Sounder - Taj Mahal - Varese Sarabande
IN THEATERS TODAY
Age of Summer - Ryan Miller
Diane - Jeremiah Bornfield
Inventing Tomorrow - Laura Karpman
Kusama - Infinity - Allyson Newman
Lost Fare - Hal Lindes
Mara - James Edward Barker
The Nun - Abel Korzeniowski
Painless - David Majzlin
Peppermint - Simon Franglen
The Ranger - Andrew Gordon Macpherson
Suzanne Bartsch: On Top - Liam Finn
Bello Onesto Emigrato Australia Cerca Compaesana Illiba - Piero Piccioni - Beat
La Carica Delle Patate - Filippo De Masi - Beat
Massimo Numa: Soundtracks from Roger A. Fratter Movies - Massimo Numa - Beat
Sono Sartana, Il Vostro Becchino - Vasco Vassil Kojucharov - Beat
Unbroken: Path to Redemption - Brandon Roberts - Universal
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: Complete Recording (re-release) - Howard Shore - Rhino
White Boy Rick - Max Richter - Deutsche Grammophon
Mandy - Johann Johannsson - Invada
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown - Vince Guaraldi - Varese Sarabande
The Old Man & the Gun - Daniel Hart - Varese Sarabande
Fletch - Harold Faltermeyer, songs - Varese Sarabande
Halloween - John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, Daniel Davies - Sacred Bones
Suspiria - Thom Yorke - XL Recordings
Carles Cases Styles - Carles Cases - Rosetta
Deshabitados - Manel Gil-Inglada - Rosetta
La Legende Des Sciences - Eric Demarsan - Music Box
Madly - Francis Lai - Music Box
Mission: Impossible - Fallout - Lorne Balfe - La-La Land
Red/Family - Soren Hyldgaard - Kritzerland
Tours Du Monde, Tours Du Ciel - Georges Delerue - Music Box
Wuthering Heights - Michel Legrand - Notefornote
Yucatan - Roque Banos - Saimel
THIS WEEK IN FILM MUSIC HISTORY
September 7 - Leonard Rosenman born (1924)
September 7 - Sonny Rollins born (1930)
September 7 - Carlos Camilleri born (1931)
September 7 - Gianni Marchetti born (1933)
September 7 - Waldo de los Rios born (1934)
September 7 - Mark Isham born (1951)
September 7 - Fred Steiner
's score for the Star Trek
episode "Mudd's Women" is recorded (1966)
September 7 - Herman Stein
records his score for the Lost in Space
episode "Space Circus" (1966)
September 7 - Miklos Rozsa
begins recording his score for The Power
September 7 - Owen Pallett born (1979)
September 7 - Recording sessions begin for Christopher Young’s score for The Core (2002)
September 8 - Peter Maxwell Davies born (1934)
September 8 - Robert Drasnin
records his score for The Wild Wild West
episode “The Night of the Deadly Bed” (1965)
September 8 - Fred Steiner
's score for the Star Trek
episode "Mirror, Mirror" is recorded (1967)
September 8 - Dustin O’Halloran born (1971)
September 8 - Leonard Rosenman wins his second Emmy, for Friendly Fire; David Rose wins for the Little House on the Prairie episode “The Craftsman” (1979)
September 8 - John Barry begins recording his unused score for The Golden Child (1986)
September 8 - Alex North died (1991)
September 8 - Dennis McCarthy records his score for the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “The Homecoming” (1993)
September 8 - Ernest Troost wins the Emmy for The Canterville Ghost; Hummie Mann wins for the Picture Windows episode “Language of the Heart;” Mike Post wins for his main title theme to Murder One (1996)
September 8 - Dennis McCarthy begins recording his score for the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “You Are Cordially Invited” (1997)
September 8 - Jay Chattaway
wins his first Emmy for the final Star Trek: Voyager
episode, “Endgame;” Arturo Sandoval
wins for the For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story
score; James Newton Howard
wins for the Gideon’s Crossing main title theme (2001)
September 8 - George Fenton
wins his second Emmy, for the Planet Earth
episode “Pole to Pole;” Jeff Beal
wins his second Emmy, for the Nightmares and Dreamscapes
segment “Battlefield;” Trevor Morris
wins his first Emmy, for The Tudors
main title theme (2007)
September 9 - Hoyt Curtin born (1922)
September 9 - Jerrold Immel born (1936)
September 9 - Bernard Herrmann
begins recording score cues for Hangover Square
September 9 - Christopher Palmer born (1946)
September 9 - David A. Stewart born (1952)
September 9 - Bernard Herrmann begins recording his score to Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1953)
September 9 - Eric Serra born (1959)
September 9 - Richard Markowitz
records his score for the Mission: Impossible
episode “The Numbers Game” (1969)
September 9 - Harry Geller
records his only Mission: Impossible
score, for the episode “The Innocent” (1970)
September 9 - Harry Escott born (1976)
September 9 - Hugo Friedhofer's score for Die Sister, Die! is recorded (1976)
September 9 - Joey Newman born (1976)
September 9 - David Shire begins recording his score for The Journey Inside (1993)
September 9 - Michael Galasso died (2009)
September 9 - Michael Stein
and Kyle Dixon
win the Emmy for Stranger Things'
main title theme; Jeff Beal
wins for House of Cards
’ “Chapter 63;” Jeff Russo
wins for the Fargo
episode “Aporia” (2017)
September 10 - Arnold Schwarzwald born (1918)
September 10 - Johnny Keating born (1927)
September 10 - Hugo Riesenfeld died (1939)
September 10 - Roy Ayers born (1940)
September 10 - Les Baxter records his score for the U.S. release of Black Sabbath (1963)
September 10 - Richard Shores
records his score for The Wild Wild West
episode “The Night of the Sedgewick Curse” (1968)
September 10 - Allan Gray died (1973)
September 10 - Bruce Broughton records his score for the Amazing Stories episode "Welcome to My Nightmare" (1986)
September 10 - Laurence Rosenthal
wins his sixth Emmy, for Young Indiana Jones and the Hollywood Follies
; Don Davis
wins his second Emmy, for the SeaQuest DSV
episode “Daggers;” Jerry Goldsmith
wins his fifth and final Emmy, for the Star Trek: Voyager
September 10 - Dennis McCarthy
records his score for the Enterprise
episode “Shockwave, Part 2” (2002)
September 10 - Carter Burwell
wins the Emmy for part 5 of Mildred Pierce
; Trevor Morris
wins his second Emmy, for The Borgias
’ main title theme; Garth Neustadter
wins for the American Masters
episode “John Muir in the New World” (2011)
September 10 - Gert Wilden died (2015)
September 10 - Sean Callery
wins his fourth Emmy, for the theme to Marvel’s Jessica Jones
; Mac Quayle
wins his first Emmy, for the Mr. Robot
episode score “eps1.0_ hellofriend.mov;” Danny Elfman
wins his second Emmy, for his music direction of Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton
; Victor Reyes
wins his first Emmy, for The Night Manager
episode 2 (2016)
September 11 - Herbert Stothart born (1885)
September 11 - Arvo Part born (1935)
September 11 - Leo Kottke born (1945)
September 11 - Stu Philips begins recording his replacement score to The Appointment (1969)
September 11 - Gerald Fried
and Quincy Jones
win the Emmy for Part 1 of Roots
; Leonard Rosenman
and Alan & Marilyn Bergman
win for Sybil
September 11 - Fred Steiner records his only Star Trek: The Next Generation episode score, for “Code of Honor” (1987)
September 11 - Laurence Rosenthal wins his fifth Emmy, for the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles episode “Vienna, 1908;” Lennie Niehaus wins for the cable movie Lush Life; John Debney wins for his SeaQuest DSV main title theme (1994)
September 11 - Bruce Broughton
wins his ninth Emmy, for Warm Springs
(2005); Michael Giacchino
wins for the Lost
pilot score; Danny Elfman
wins for Desperate Housewives
’s main title theme (2005)
September 11 - Antoine Duhamel died (2014)
September 12 - David Raksin begins recording his score for Laura (1944)
September 12 - Christopher Dedrick born (1947)
September 12 - Hans Zimmer born (1957)
September 12 - Bernard Herrmann records his score for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode “Terror at Northfield” (1963)
September 12 - Lalo Schifrin
begins recording his score to Bullitt
September 12 - Nathan Larson born (1970)
September 12 - Jerry Goldsmith
wins his fourth Emmy, for part 2 of Masada
; Bruce Broughton
wins his first Emmy, for “The Satyr” episode of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
September 12 - Franz Grothe died (1982)
September 12 - Patrick Williams wins his second Emmy, for the TV movie The Princess and the Cabbie; David Rose wins for the Little House on the Prairie episode score “He Was Only Twelve – Part 2” (1981)
September 12 - Recording sessions begin for Pino Donaggio
's Body Double
September 12 - William Alwyn died (1985)
September 12 - Jay Chattaway records his score for the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Darmok” (1991)
September 12 - Bruce Broughton
wins his eighth Emmy, for Eloise at Christmastime
; Velton Ray Bunch
wins for the Star Trek: Enterprise
episode “Similitude;” Randy Newman
wins for Monk
’s second season main title theme (2004)
September 12 - John Willliams wins the Main Title Theme Emmy for Great Performances; Howard Goodall wins for the cable movie Into the Storm; Joseph LoDuca wins for the Legend of the Seeker episode “The Prophecy” (2009)
September 12 - Rachel Portman
wins her first Emmy, for Bessie
; Jeff Beal
wins for House of Cards
, “Chapter 32;” Dustin O’Halloran
wins for Transparent
’s main title theme (2015)
September 13 - Leith Stevens born (1909)
September 13 - Maurice Jarre born (1924)
September 13 - Gene Page born (1939)
September 13 - Harvey R. Cohen born (1951)
September 13 - Don Was was born (1952)
September 13 - Franz Waxman begins recording his score to Beloved Infidel (1959)
September 13 - Bernard Herrmann records his score for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode "A Home Away from Home" (1963)
September 13 - Evan Evans born (1975)
September 13 - James Guymon born (1977)
September 13 - Billy Goldenberg wins his fourth Emmy, for Rage of Angels; Bruce Broughton wins his second Emmy, for the Dallas episode “The Ewing Blues” (1983)
September 13 - Dennis McCarthy
records his score for the Star Trek: Voyager
episode “Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy” (1999)
September 13 - Bruce Broughton wins his seventh Emmy, for Eloise at the Plaza; Sean Callery wins for the 24 episode “10:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.”; Jeff Beal wins his first Emmy, for Monk’s main title theme (2003)
September 13 - Jeff Beal
wins his third Emmy, for part 1 of The Company
; Jim Dooley
wins for the Pushing Daisies
episode “Pigeon;” Russ Landau
wins for Pirate Master
’s main title theme (2008)
DID THEY MENTION THE MUSIC?
AMNESIA - Lucien Nicolet (Luciano)
"There are a lot of compelling ideas afloat in 'Amnesia' that never fully congeal, but the undeniable sincerity and personal commitment of Schroeder’s vision help to carry the film over its rough patches. Ibiza looks picture-postcard radiant in the pristine HD compositions of regular Schroeder d.p. Luciano Tovoli. Swiss house/techno DJ and producer star Lucien Nicolet (aka Luciano) serves up the film’s bassy, pulsating score."
Scott Foundas, Variety
"Filmed in crisp and colorful imagery by veteran Luciano Tovoli ('Suspiria'), with production designer Franckie Diago ('Heading South') keeping the interiors sparsely decorated, Amnesia uses its gorgeous surroundings to the fullest. A soothing electro score by famed DJ Lucien Nicolet (aka Luciano) adds further to the peaceful ambiance, even if Schroeder ultimately shows us that such peace always comes at a price."
Jordan Mintzer, Hollywood Reporter
THE CHILDHOOD OF A LEADER - Scott Walker
"Corbet articulates emotional repression with his formal choices -- as in the wide, static shots of the boy suffocated by the prewar architecture and interior design of his family’s lavish but stuffy home. The filmmaker’s clear aim was to ape Kubrick’s stark compositional intensity (he’s cited 'Barry Lyndon' as an inspiration), and 'The Childhood of a Leader' gets at least as close as Jonathan Glazer’s 'Birth' came to capturing the chilly, austere atmosphere of a Kubrick film. But just as 'Birth,' which also had a mysterious child at its center, got a lot of mileage out of an Alexandre Desplat score, Corbet’s is propped up by Scott Walker’s half-classical, half-avant-garde industrial music -- one of the great film scores of this decade. A fleet genre effort would be this dynamic composition’s ideal vessel, but instead Corbet reaches for a dreary self-importance akin to that of Michael Haneke’s 'The White Ribbon.' The film’s ludicrous, pseudo-historical finale ultimately undoes whatever good will Corbet’s virtuosic visuals could have earned him."
Sam C. Mac, Slant Magazine
"Scott Walker’s score for 'The Childhood Of A Leader' (only his second, after 'Pola X)' is a work of dark, twisted genius, skin-crawling and bombastic in equal measure, and first-time director Brady Corbet does his damnedest trying to mount a movie to deserve it. And, mirabile dictu, he eventually pulls it off with the epilogue, a left turn into dystopian nightmare, titled 'A New Era.' If only for a few minutes, 'The Childhood Of A Leader' becomes its own film, a tour of the printing presses, paternoster elevators, and mazes of power that ends with a convulsive blur of bodies crowding in a public square. A viewer can’t help but think, 'What took so long?' But there’s a reason budding filmmakers are told to steal from the best. Studious in its homages to somber masters past and present, 'The Childhood Of A Leader' pulls out intriguing moments -- sometimes as simple as executing a creepy 1970s-style zoom or just letting Walker’s score carry a scene -- whenever it threatens to turn repetitious. Broken up into acts ('The First Tantrum,' 'The Second Tantrum,' etc.) with a prologue and epilogue, Corbet and co-writer Mona Fastvold’s script is schematic, but moves unpredictably, disrupted in arresting ways by a readiness to try or imitate this or that. And in that final section, having exhausted its deep well of influences, it arrives at an identity of its own."
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The Onion AV Club
"When his blunt father is infuriated that a small child has somehow risen to rule his household, he batters down the door and inflicts physical punishment. The boy exaggerates the resulting injury to solidify his position as a martyr, before committing a monstrous, violent, public act which jars history itself (signified by dizzying camera cartwheels and a terrifying Scott Walker score)."
Kim Newman, Sight and Sound
"Prominent billing notwithstanding, Robert Pattinson features only slightly; first as a friend of the family and then, bafflingly, as the Leader himself. But performances are not what this film will be remembered for, rather how self-consciously it's designed, composed, decorated and shot to proclaim the arrival of a 'Serious Filmmaker'. It will be more interesting to see where Corbet goes from here, providing he can produce a more involving screenplay."
Angie Errigo, The List
"The film opens with a montage of archive images from the First World War set to heart-attack inducing strings that cut like knives, courtesy of Scott Walker. The rest of the film concerns war within a well-to-do family, and it’s their adolescent son causing the uprising. We first meet the cherub (mesmerising newcomer Tom Sweet) playing an angel in a nativity play, serenely shaking his long blonde locks from his face. The next time we see him he’s throwing rocks at the audience as they leave the church."
Jamie Dunn, The Skinny
"The first strains of Scott Walker’s panicky score slice into the soundtrack like Penderecki having a heart attack, the strings cutting into archival footage of World War I troops marching in formation. The opening titles are draped in terror, and they steel audiences for an ominous origin story on par with the horrors presaged by 'Max' or 'The Omen.' And on that promise, Corbet delivers -- albeit it in his own elliptical, psychically tormented, and increasingly hypnotic way."
David Ehrlich, IndieWire
"The film announces that historical setting with an initial barrage of newsreel images that are all the more riveting when set to pop innovator Scott Walker’s propulsive, clangorous score, which is an asset throughout. Once the story properly begins, it seems to be in a haven from the conflict that so recently tore the continent apart. In a peaceful French village, children in costumes are preparing for a Yule pageant (this is Christmas 1918). Among them is a long-haired little boy who soon exits the gathering, and, for reasons not apparent, begins hurling stones at the others."
Godfrey Cheshire, RogerEbert.com
"Actor-turned-director Brady Corbet wears a whole bunch of literary, historical and cinematic references on his sleeve with this shadowy psychodrama set in France in 1919. Wrapped in an intense and nerve-plucking score by Scott Walker that adds to a general sense of repression and foreboding, Corbet’s exquisitely shot and carefully designed story mostly takes place in the rural home of a stuffy American diplomat (Liam Cunningham). He’s taking part in the negotiations at Versailles that ended World War I, leaving his European wife (Bérénice Bejo) and the household staff to deal with his troubled son Prescott (Tom Sweet)."
Dave Calhoun, Time Out London
"'Which one?' is the obvious question prompted by the title in 'The Childhood of a Leader,' a overweening, maddening but not inconsiderable directorial debut for actor Brady Corbet, which plays as something of a straight-faced parody of a well-upholstered historical biopic. For anyone going in blind, it won’t take long to deduce that the nascent leader in question is a product of Corbet’s heavily Sartre-fueled imagination: a toxic pawn in a grueling bad-parenting parable that only reaches its rather inevitable punchline in the final frames. Distinguished by some virtuosic craft -- including a cacophonous orchestral score by Scott Walker that will have certain viewers scrambling for the exit in the opening minutes -- but significantly shakier on the writing and performance fronts, this 'Leader”' won’t find many followers in the distribution racket. Still, it’s an aggressive statement of intent from a filmmaker who, one senses, is just getting started. That’s not to say Corbet is always in control of his ambitious visual and sonic impulses. Lol Crawley’s handsome, Old Master-textured celluloid lensing -- aesthetically on a different planet to his tissue-delicate work on Andrew Haigh’s '45 Years' -- goes from a gracious, gravity-defying pan in one sequence to showily haywire juddering the next. And while veteran avante-garde pop icon Walker was an inspired choice of composer, the pic isn’t wholly in sympathy with the unique disorder of strings, horns and kitchen sinks grafted onto it. Corbet should leave this exhaustingly auspicious freshman effort with plenty of notes; one suspects, with some intrigue, that he’ll return with far more for us."
Guy Lodge, Variety
"Attempting to describe the rise of fascism in Europe between the two world wars as a parable about a wayward little boy, the dark and dreamy 'The Childhood of a Leader' can only be called extraordinarily over-ambitious. This first feature by 27-year-old American director Brady Corbet combines a fine Euro cast, grandiose art direction and a thundering score by Scott Walker, but the result is an embarrassing hodgepodge that’s very hard to follow. One can only wonder what future awaits it after its bow in the Horizons sidebar in Venice, and a brief cameo by Robert Pattinson is unlikely to change its fortunes. The narrative never takes the shortest distance between two points if it can help it, and so Prescott’s story alternates with his mother’s religious fanaticism and Dad’s important diplomatic meetings which are redrawing national borders, planning reconstruction and exacting retribution from Germany. All of this would be a crashing bore were there not cinematographer Lol Crawley’s gorgeous painterly shots to look at, drenching Jean-Vincent Puzos’ heavily draped interiors in romantic lighting. Scott Walker's music is always original, even if it tends to be used in an orgy of symphonic excess. There is actually a lot of imagination at work in the film, though frustratingly it rarely comes together in an emotionally meaningful way."
Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter
ENDLESS POETRY - Adan Jodorowsky
"Since the film’s inspired by Jodorowsky’s life, there is an episodic quality to the material that comes with the territory and as in 'Dance', the two-hour-plus feature -- occasionally narrated onscreen by Jodorowsky himself, standing next to his younger self -- could’ve benefited from a tighter edit. But thankfully there are several recurring elements that function as a kind of glue. Firstly, there’s the filmmaker’s aptitude for striking visuals (here shot by star cinematographer Christopher Doyle), such as when a group of 500 people dressed as skeletons in one street and a similar group in a parallel-running street, dressed as red devils, merge at an intersection. Full-frontal nudity and especially the skeleton motif have practically become synonymous with Jodorowsky’s universe and they return here against the fabulously designed backdrops designed by the director, who mixes period and contemporary materials throughout. The score, again by his son Adan, is totally in tune with the film’s shifting moods, from jocular to soulful and back. And humor is also an important component, such as in the presence of black-clad 'ninjas' in quite a few scenes, acting like invisible prop masters, except that you can see their every move, to hilarious effect."
Boyd van Hoeij, Hollywood Reporter
FIRST KILL - Ryan Franks, Scott Nickoley
"The film, however, is completely deadened by Miller’s flat, affectless direction, which makes even a would-be highlight like an ATV-and-pickup chase on an unpaved forest road feel like a time-killing afterthought. Deploying lots of shaky camera movements and cutaway shots to obvious stunt doubles, Miller’s action sequences are a choppy, barely coherent jumble, with Ryan Franks and Scott Nickoley’s score pounding away in the background. Lacking any vibrancy, wit, or formal rigor, 'First Kill' is not only as bland and leaden as its über-generic title suggests, it’s downright sloppy to boot."
Keith Watson, Slant Magazine
LITTLE MEN - Dickon Hinchliffe
THE INFILTRATOR - Chris Hajian
"'The Infiltrator' works best when it owns its 'Miami Vice'-esque sizzle: Composer Chris Hajian breaks out the percolating Jan Hammer synthesizers, and the ’80s decadence wafts offscreen like a stink. You’ve seen it all before, and even though this is a true story of a heroic fed (Robert Mazur), you can’t help but expect the usual bloody retribution at the end. It never arrives, and that feels weird."
Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out
KILLING GROUND - Leah Curtis
"The canny, quiet restraint at work here not only heightens the tension, but helps to make 'Killing Ground' seem less a horror exercise than a straight-up, stripped-down suspenser. Though very effective when used, Leah Curtis’ first-rate score may be most notable for how seldom it surfaces at all. Likewise, Simon Chapman’s very-wide-format cinematography and Katie Flaxman’s editing eschew flamboyance but could hardly be more effective."
Dennis Harvey, Variety
"Cinematographer Simon Chapman contributes to an enveloping sense of place with his widescreen images of the remote locations. And Power shows welcome restraint in avoiding the usual cheap tricks of jump scares and jarring music cues, instead employing the ominous strings of Leah Curtis' score to quieter, more unnerving effect, while deftly using the erratic visibility of the dense bushland to amp up the suspense and confusion."
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter
"Within minutes of meeting, when Manhattanite Jake gets dragged to Brooklyn for a wake in the building his parents are inheriting, the boys lock into each other’s lives, each somehow just what the other needed. They don’t discuss this; they just immediately accept and adapt. Getting a best friend, sometimes, is like getting a dog when you live in the country: Once in a while, one just shows up. Soon, Jake’s family moves into their new place, and Sachs conjures up a Brooklyn reverie: The boys skate and scoot through parks and down sidewalks, the chiming percolations of Dickon Hinchliffe’s score like new possibilities awakening in them."
Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice
"All of this potentially saccharine and suffocating material is handled with such natural delicacy that its full effect doesn’t hit you until after the movie is over -- there are only a small handful of scenes that aren’t seen from either Tony or Jake’s POV, and one of the great accomplishments of Sachs’ unobtrusive direction is how organically he returns viewers to the wide-eyed wonder of being a little man in a big city. He understands that childhood is inherently cinematic, and Dickon Hinchliffe’s plucky score shimmers with the feeling that New York looks like a completely different place when you’re four feet tall."
David Ehrlich, IndieWire
"Their respective parents begin to feud, so the kids stop talking to them. Sometimes the silence is highlighted by spare piano cascades composed by Dickon Hinchliffe in the style of Philip Glass."
Mark Jenkins, NPR
"As written by Sachs and recent collaborator Mauricio Zacharias, the film suggests the strange brew of warmth and terseness that marks Tony and Jake’s metamorphosis into little men: After Tony gets into a fight at school, defending his association with Jake against a classmate’s lunchroom taunts, he brushes off his friend’s concern, as if to say, 'No big deal, I’d expect the same from you.' Similarly, Sachs and cinematographer Óscar Durán suffuse the characters’ time together with a certain noble simplicity, underlining their mutual understanding in deft, graceful strokes. 'Little Men''s most poetic passages follow Jake and Tony’s jaunts through their fast-gentrifying neighborhood, gliding wordlessly along Brooklyn’s streets to the score’s hopeful twinkle. The world streams past, and changes before their eyes."
Matt Brennan, Slant Magazine
THE SKYJACKER'S TALE - David Wall, Jamie Shields, Adam White
"The fact is, what these two boys share is beautiful. As Brian admits, friendships don’t come so easily later in life, and the fact that theirs is tested by the pettiness of their parents amounts to tragedy of a kind. Instead of laying on the melodrama, Sachs keeps things subtle, telling his story almost exclusively through quiet moments, some of them so minor that our minds wander away entirely. Though 'Little Men' was made on a startlingly small budget, nearly every supporting detail -- from d.p. Oscar Duran’s careful framing to Dickon Hinchliffe’s life-affirming score (which hums with the anticipation of better things to come) -- adds value to this little gem."
Peter Debruge, Variety
"In gorgeous interludes that punctuate the movie, they zoom around Brooklyn -- Jake on blades, Tony on a scooter — accompanied by the warm, surging melodies of Dickon Hinchliffe's score. With exquisite economy, Sachs suggests that many of the simple pleasures of childhood and the rewards of having a supportive friend are somewhat new to Jake."
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter
THE MIDWIFE - Gregoire Hetzel
"Claire is played by Catherine Frot and Beatrice by Catherine Deneuve, and 'The Midwife' could also be titled 'Catherine vs. Catherine,' so much is it about these two terrific French actors squaring off onscreen, with Frot’s zipped-up and uber-orderly Claire battling Deneuve’s unhinged and disorderly Beatrice. The film works best when the Catherines are allowed to occupy the same frame, a bit less so when it ventures into sappy social realism territory and overindulges in Gregoire Hetzel’s score. It should open strong as an out-of-competition crowd-pleaser in Berlin, with a good turnout for its late-March local release and offshore slots thanks to a stellar cast."
Jordan Mintzer, Hollywood Reporter
"'Tale' doesn’t try to solve the murders -- we don’t even get sit-downs with the men convicted as his accomplices, who make a fleeting, incarcerated appearance near the end -- but it does make a compelling case that Ali couldn’t have done it. Canadian documentarian Jamie Kastner ('The Secret Disco Revolution') has crafted an entertainingly kitschy version of an Errol Morris film, interviewing Ali and many of the main players from the investigation, the trial, and the aircraft (who say Ali was actually a nice, respectful hijacker) and re-creating the events with actors. And he does it all with a jazzy, retro snap, using a funkified score and cutting and shooting the hijack scenes as though he’s making a 1970s caper movie."
Craig D. Lindsey, Village Voice
"The trial that follows is worthy of the Ryan Murphy miniseries treatment, and it takes up quite a bit of the film’s rather fleeting 75-minute running time. Though Ali’s eventual act of 'skyjacking' is mentioned in the title, it only ends up bookending the picture, allowing Ali’s backstory to earn the majority of our focus. The time-hopping narrative effectively contextualizes his choices, all of which are explained by Ali himself in his first-ever on-camera interview about these events. Though it remains ambiguous about whether Ali played any role in the Fountain Valley Massacre (the film offers no other suspects), it’s clear that Kastner sides with his subject, structuring the film as less of a real-life tragedy and more of a crowd-pleaser. The upbeat score and frequent humor may seem a touch glib and inappropriate, considering the seriousness of the subject matter, yet it also accurately reflects Ali’s jovial nature in the footage. During the end credits, he gleefully recounts his ingenious method for smuggling a gun onboard—aided all the more by his handcuffs, which at that time rendered a metal detector test unnecessary."
Matt Fagerholm, RogerEbert.com
"Perhaps 'The Skyjacker’s Tale' does this to cover for its failure to satisfactorily explore Ali’s case. While it cracks open a few revelations, like a police officer blithely admitting to torturing LaBeet and the other suspects, it doesn’t so much pick apart the possibility of LaBeet’s guilt or innocence as much as it merely summarizes the story and its controversies. It’s not as if the movie needed to definitively stake a claim as to the true perpetrators of the massacre-- plenty of crime documentaries have found thematic richness in probing the ambiguities in seemingly straightforward situations -- but Kastner doesn’t do much to dig beneath the surface, content to simply hear out a few interviews and sprinkle in some reenactment. This laziness is best exemplified by the film’s irritatingly omnipresent generic doo-wop score, or by how it tosses off an explanation for how LaBeet got the gun onto the plane which may or may not even be sincere. Despite the intriguing subject matter, this documentary can’t stay in the air."
Daniel Schindel, Paste Magazine
"Slathering a wah-wah ’70s score on the soundtrack, Kastner gets commentary from an impressive array of subjects: the pilot, a flight attendant, a guard, and some of the passengers on the plane in 1984; a defense lawyer, an assistant attorney, a security chief, an FBI agent, and a Fountain Valley waitress from 1972; and other experts who can speak to the two crimes under review. Yet this chorus of voices creates a problem for Kastner and his editor, Jorge Parra, who dice up the interviews into quick-hit soundbites that diminish the impact of their individual contributions."
Scott Tobias, Variety
THE WRONG LIGHT - Adam Taylor
"This dishonest setup can be detected in the music choices, beginning with solemn piano keys as the teenagers reveal their difficult paths, and continuing with electronic basslines that accompany the journalistic pursuit of the truth. Each scene during the film’s latter half works to stoke the potential suspense of the investigation, which necessarily turns the teenagers into supporting evidence for the film’s case file. Attempted bombshell phrases such as 'It’s all a big lie' and 'We were never going to get the answers we wanted from Mickey' are integrated without a deeper purpose or context, so that the film’s narrative transforms from a potentially humanitarian work of empathy into a much uglier and concealed work chronicling two American filmmakers serving as the mouthpiece for a group of Thai teenagers and their parents."
Clayton Dillard, Slant Magazine
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.
THE BIG LEBOWSKI (Carter Burwell) [Arclight Santa Monica]
THE HILLS HAVE EYES (Don Peake) [Nuart]
POISON IVY (Guy Lafarge), THE STRANGE MR. STEVE (Philippe-Gerard) [Cinematheque: Aero]
SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
THE BLUES BROTHERS (Ira Newborn, Elmer Bernstein ["God music"] [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
MAIGRET SETS A TRAP (Paul Misraki), SYMPHONY FOR A MASSACRE (Michel Magne) [Cinematheque: Aero]
BARRY LYNDON (Leonard Rosenman) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
THE LAST OF THE SIX (Jean Alfaro), THE ASSASSIN LIVES AT 21 (Maurice Yvain) [Cinematheque: Aero]
BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (John Carpenter, Alan Howarth) [Arclight Santa Monica]
THE DARK CRYSTAL (Trevor Jones) [Arclight Hollywood]
THE PRINCESS BRIDE (Mark Knopfler) [Arclight Culver City]
THE ROAD WARRIOR (Brian May) [Arclight Sherman Oaks]
BLOW-UP (Herbie Hancock), IDENTIFICATION OF A WOMAN (John Foxx) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
THE LADY EVE [Laemmle NoHo]
THE ODD COUPLE (Neal Hefti) [Laemmle Royal]
AKIRA (Shoji Yamashiro) [Nuart]
CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS, LARKS ON A STRING [UCLA]
L'AVVENTURA (Giovanni Fusco) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
NOTORIOUS (Roy Webb), SUSPICION (Franz Waxman) [Cinematheque: Aero]
ANNIE HALL [Cinematheque: Aero]
I SERVED THE KING OF ENGLAND (Ales Brezina), THE SNOWDROP FESTIVAL (Jiri Sust) [UCLA]
LA NOTTE (Giorgio Gaslini), STORY OF A LOVE AFFAIR (Giovanni Fusco)[Cinematheque: Egyptian]
REAR WINDOW (Franz Waxman), ROPE (Leo B. Forbstein) [Cinematheque: Aero]
L'ECLISSE (Giovanni Fusco) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
REBECCA (Franz Waxman), THE LADY VANISHES [Cinematheque: Aero]
THINGS I'VE HEARD, READ, SEEN OR WATCHED LATELY
For those who made it this far down the page in last Friday's column, you were treated to an exhaustive and exhausting explanation of how I schedule my CD listening, with a series of lists (AA list, A-plus list, A-list, B-list, "Unheard Composers" and "Ennio Morricone"). I have a large collection of DVDs and Blu-Rays, and though I own many movies on disc I actually end up watching TV programs much more regularly -- mostly because I only get around to watching them at the end of the evening, and since I regularly watch them over several nights, I feel like watching a TV show in multiple segments doesn't violate the integrity of the narrative the way watching a movie over several nights does.
First there is the AA List. This is the closest I come to binge watching. An AA list show is one that's such a high priority that every second show I watch will be an episode of this show, so it's usually favorites like Archer, Hannibal, House of Cards, Penny Dreadful or Sherlock. My next purchase is likely to be The Terror, which will probably make the AA list unless it, please excuse the pun, leaves me cold. The one I'm most looking forward to is season two of Westworld, which is due on Blu-Ray at the end of the year. I loved season 1, and I'm glad this one isn't taking forever to get released (there was a year-long gap between season 1's HBO airing and its DVD/Blu-Ray release).
The closest I think I've done to actual binge watching was Netflix's new season of Mystery Science Theater 3000, which I picked up on Blu-Ray (it was weird to see the show with such sharp visual quality -- except for Starcrash, which was a crappy transfer that made the film look like a direct-to-video item), and which was so much better than I'd expected that I ended up watching all the episodes right in a row. Not in one sitting, of course. I do have a day job.
The A-list is a handful of high-priority shows I watch regularly. This is the current A-list:
The Avengers - I've only just moved this one up to the A-list. It was a favorite show of mine in my youth, but as I mentioned in an earlier column it doesn't hold up that well today, despite such joys as Laurie Johnson's music and especially Diana Rigg's glorious Emma Peel, perhaps the first great female action hero in film or television. However, I've been slowly making my way through a huge boxed set of all the Emma Peel episodes for over a decade, and I figured it was about time I get to the end (I also have a set of Linda-Thorson-as-Tara-King episodes when the Peels are done). The episode I just watched, "Dead Man's Treasure," was pretty typical, with a silly plot the ever-charming Rigg and Patrick Macnee, a catchy episode score, and many lovely shots of cars speeding around the English countryside (intercut with appealingly old-fashioned rear-projection shots).
Caprica - Not surprisingly, it doesn't come anywhere near the achivement of the Battlestar Galactica reboot for which it serves as a prequel -- despite being a lifelong Trekkie, I genuinely believe that the new Galactica is the best science-fiction TV series of all time -- but it's a remarkably ambitious series and has a lot to recommend it, including a wonderfully over-the-top main title sequence (accompanied by one of Bear McCreary's better themes). I have only one more episode to watch (it only lasted one season, no great surprise), and I have to admit, I probably won't be rewatching it in the near future, while I'm slowly making way through a second viewing of Galactica, but I respect the hell out of what it tried to do.
Columbo - One of my all-time favorites. I have the boxed set of every Columbo, from the first two stand-alone movies to all the ones Falk did in the 80s and 90s (and even 2003 - the final Columbo villain was Matthew Rhys in "Columbo Likes the Nightlife," ten years before Rhys started The Americans). I've watched all the original series and am watching the 80s-2000s movies which, I have to admit, aren't great. They aren't terrible -- it's always a joy to see Falk as his most famous character (though all too often the mystery stops dead for some cutesy bit, like Columbo playing a tuba for school kids at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, or taking his dog to a Basset Hound pageant), and some of the mysteries are actually pretty good, like "Columbo Cries Wolf" and "Uneasy Lies the Crown." But I love Columbo so much that, when I finally finish the modern episodes, I'll probably start over and watch the earliest ones yet again. I just finished re-watching "Columbo Cries Wolf," and it was even better than I'd remembered (written by TV veteran William Read Woodfield, and directed by The Silent Partner's Daryl Duke), with none of that cutesy stuff that dragged down so many of the later episodes, even on the original series.
Hannibal - I had my doubts when this series was first announced. I'd never seen any of Bryan Fuller's series at that point -- the promos I'd seen for Pushing Daisies made it look obnoxiously over-stylized in a distinctly Barry Sonnenfeld way - and as far as I was concerned, there hadn't been a truly necessarily iteration of the Lecter character following the film version of The Silence of the Lambs. That this series turned out to be as good as it was is one of the most pleasant surprises of recent television history. Intelligently written, splendidly cast, dazzlingly shot and designed, and extraordinarily gruesome for network television (seriously, I can't believe how gory the show was), it's one of my favorite shows of modern times -- but I'm glad it ended when it did, and an any continuation would ruin the perfect finality of its ending. But I'm happy to watch those terrific three seasons for a second time.
Louie - I know, I know, but I bought the Blu-Ray (for season one) long before all the rumors were confirmed. And I have to say, there are some pretty amazing episodes (and one episode features my favorite Matthew Broderick perfomance in over a decade). But I can't say I'll be racing to pick up season two.
Mosaic - So good that I plan to watch it again already, just more slowly. When I wrote about it in a recent column I forgot to cite the most quotable (for this website) line -- Paul Reubens, as Sharon Stone's gay best friend, realizing he's the third wheel in a flirtatious conversation between Stone and Garrett Hedlund: "Okay, cue Bill Conti. I think I'm being played off."
Party Down - It recently replaced Mystery Science Theater 3000 as my all-time favorite TV series, and I'm watching it a second time; the episode I re-watched most recently, "Taylor Stiltskin's Sweet Sixteen," had an especially impressive guest cast (J.K. Simmons, Breckin Meyer, Joey Lauren Adams and Kevin Hart), but even without the guest stars, the regular cast is amazing -- Adam Scott, Lizzy Caplan, Ken Marino, Ryan Hansen, Martin Starr, Jane Lynch (season 1) and Megan Mullally (season 2). Scott and Caplan have replaced News Radio's Dave Foley and Maura Tierney as my all-time favorite TV couple. One of my favorite subtleties is the way that in any other show, Starr's would-be screenwriter character would be the showrunner's surrogate, but here he's kind of a creep (in the episode I just watched, he repeatedly hits on a 16-year-old girl), while Hansen's prettyboy actor is a surprisingly decent person.
Penny Dreadful - By all rights I should be murderously jealous of Penny Dreadful creator John Logan. Forget the Tony for Best Play. Forget the three Oscar nominations. Forget the fact that our ages are so close that it's nearly a separated-at-birth situation. If you look at his credits, John Logan grew up to the be the screenwriter I would have always wanted to be -- he wrote a Sinbad movie, an Alien movie, a Star Trek movie, two James Bond movies, and the film version of Sweeney Todd. But I can't hate him, if for no other reason than he created Penny Dreadful, one of my all-time favorite TV series. One of its countless joys, including the best casting of Eva Green ever, is that its opening credits manage to redeem the cliched image of a glass/cup/mug shattering on a floor in slow motion, thanks to the exquisite Abel Korzeniowski music that accompanies the shot.
Rome - A wonderful show, too little appreciated, and I'm watching it a second time. Highlights include the genius casting of Ciaran Hinds as Julius Caesar, the best casting of Ray Stevenson ever, the excellent main title sequence and Jeff Beal's wonderful main theme.
I had originally written about the other four shows on my A-list -- Sherlock, Star Trek, The West Wing and The Wire -- but my computer just lost those paragraphs so I'll have to resume this discussion in next Friday's column, lest I start smashing things.