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The latest release from Intrada is an expanded edition of James Horner's popular score for the 1986 animated feature AN AMERICAN TAIL, which earned the composer an Oscar nomination for his hit song, "Somewhere Out There."


Brand new Oscar nominee Ludwig Goransson had a good night at the Grammys. Along with winning Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media for BLACK PANTHER (a score which still has no commercial CD release, just a 28-track download and a 13-track LP release), he won Record of the Year and Song of the Year for Childish Gambino's "This Is America."

The Greatest Showman won for Compilation Soundtrack, A Star Is Born's "Shallow" won for Song Written for Visual Media, and Terence Blanchard won Best Instrumental Composition for BlacKkKlansman's "Blut und Boden (Blood and Soil). 


CDS AVAILABLE THIS WEEK

Alita: Battle Angel - Tom Holkenborg - Milan
An American Tail
- James Horner - Intrada Special Collection
Arctic 
- Joseph Trapanese - Sony (Import)
Bajo La Piel Del Lobo 
- Paloma Penarrubia - Rosetta
Bunuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles
 - Arturo Cardelus - Rosetta
Cuando Los Angeles Duermen
 - Pablo Cervantes - Rosetta
Documentales: A Documentary Collection
 - Ivan Palomares - Rosetta
Grace a Dieu
 - Sacha & Evengui Galperine - Music Box
The House that Dripped Blood
 - Michael Dress - Kritzerland
The Housemaid 
- Jerome Leroy - Rosetta
The Hyper Agent Gridman
 - Osamu Tozuka, Kisaburo Suzuki - Cinema-Kan (import)
If Beale Street Could Talk - Nicholas Britell - Lakeshore
Isn't It Romantic- John Debney - WaterTower [CD-R]
Petrole! Petrole!/Le Borreau Des Cours/C'est Dur Pour Tout Le Monde
 - Eric Demarsan - Music Box
Solo
 - Sergio Jimenez Lacia - Rosetta
The Thin Red Line 
- Hans Zimmer - La-La Land
Twelve Students Who Want to Die
 - Yukihiko Tsutsumi - VAP (import)


IN THEATERS TODAY

Alita: Battle Angel
- Ton Holkenborg - Score CD on Milan
Birds of Passage - Leonardo Heiblum
Donnybrook - Philip Mossman
Fighting with My Family - Vik Sharma
Happy Death Day 2U - Bear McCreary
The Image Book - no original score
Isn’t It Romantic - John Debney - Score CD-R on WaterTower
Lords of Chaos - Sigur Ros
Patrick - Michael Price
To Dust - Ariel Marx

COMING SOON

February 22
Archer/Warning Shot - Jerry Goldsmith - La-La Land
Djinn
- BC Smith - Howlin' Wolf
Free Solo - Marco Beltrami - Node
March 1
Colette - Thomas Ades - Lakeshore
Dorian Gray - Charlie Mole - Filmtrax
March 8
Ittefaq - BT - Kss3te Recordings
March 15
The World of Hans Zimmer: A Symphonic Collection
- Hans Zimmer - Sony
March 22
The Beach Bum - John Debney - Milan
Operation Mystery
- Toru Fuyuki, Naozumi Yamamoto - Cinema-Kan (import)
Woman with Seven Faces
- Katsuhisa Hattori - Cinema-Kan (import)
April 19
Being Rose - Brian Ralson - Notefornote
Date Unknown
Arthur Gesetz
 - Christophe Blaser - Kronos
The Cardinal
 - Jerome Moross - Kritzerland
Dead Ant
 - Edwin Wendler - Notefornote
For the Term of His Natural Life/The Wild Duck
 - Simon Walker - Dragon's Domain
Josef Mengele: The Final Account 
- Joe Harnell - Dragon's Domain
Le Gran Promesa
 - Rodrigo Flores Lopez - Kronos
Superman - John Williams - La-La Land
Valley of Shadows
 - Zbigniew Preisner - Caldera
Wish You Were Here
 - Andre Matthias - Kronos

THIS WEEK IN FILM MUSIC HISTORY

February 15 - Georges Auric born (1899)
February 15 - Harold Arlen born (1905)
February 15 - Miklos Rozsa records his replacement score for Crest of the Wave (1954)
February 15 - Stephen Edwards born (1972)
February 15 - Johnny Harris records his score for the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode “Space Rockers” (1980)
February 15 - Pierre Bachelet died (2005)
February 16 - Dennis Wilson born (1920)
February 16 - Kunio Miyauchi born (1932)
February 16 - John Corigliano born (1938)
February 16 - Miklos Rozsa begins recording his score for King of Kings (1961)
February 16 - Dennis McCarthy and Kevin Kiner begin recording their score for the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Observer Effect” (2004)
February 17 - Ron Goodwin born (1925)
February 17 - Karl Jenkins born (1944)
February 17 - Fred Frith born (1949)
February 17 - Bernard Herrmann records his score for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode “Death Scene” (1965)
February 17 - Alfred Newman died (1970)
February 17 - Bear McCreary born (1979)
February 17 - Jerry Fielding died (1980)
February 17 - Samuel Matlovsky died (2004)
February 18 - Nathan Van Cleave records his score for The Colossus of New York (1958)
February 18 - John Bisharat born (1964)
February 18 - Tommy Tallarico born (1968)
February 18 - Lalo Schifrin begins recording his score for Pretty Maids All in a Row (1971)
February 18 - Nathaniel Shilkret died (1982)
February 18 - Paul Baillargeon records his score for the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Hatchery” (2004)
February 19 - Saul Chaplin born (1912)
February 19 - Shigeru Umebayashi born (1951)
February 19 - Donald Rubinstein born (1952)
February 19 - Claudio Simonetti born (1952)
February 19 - Charles Bernstein begins recording his score for Gator (1976)
February 19 - Marvin Hamlisch begins recording his score for I Ought to Be in Pictures (1982)
February 19 - David Bell records his score for the Enterprise episode “Fusion” (2002)
February 19 - Teo Macero died (2008)
February 20 - Toshiro Mayuzumi born (1929)
February 20 - How the West Was Won opens in Los Angeles (1963)
February 20 - Michael A. Levine born (1964)
February 20 - William Lava died (1971)
February 20 - Recording sessions begin on Jerry Goldsmith's score for Alien (1979)
February 20 - Toru Takemitsu died (1996)
February 21 - Miklos Rozsa begins recording his score for The Story of Three Loves (1952)
February 21 - Ron Grainer died (1981)
February 21 - Laurence Rosenthal begins recording his score for Who'll Stop the Rain (1978)
February 21 - Basil Poledouris begins recording his score for Flesh + Blood (1985)
February 21 - Morton Gould died (1996)

DID THEY MENTION THE MUSIC?

DISCREET - Mark De Gli Antoni
 
"He’s also planning his revenge on an elderly invalid named John (Bob Swaffar), who abused Alex as a child. Meanwhile, Alex’s already fraught sense of boundaries lead him from being fan to stalker of Mandy (Atsuko Okatsuka), a YouTuber who makes Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) videos of soothing sounds such as humming or frying bacon. For all the story, 'Discreet''s 80-minute runtime is never rushed, and an almost 'eXistenz'-level of attention is paid to the simple sounds and textures while Mark De Gli Antoni’s spooky drone score keeps things unsettling. You can rage against what you may perceive as the dying of the light, or you can relax and enjoy the ambiance it creates."
 
Sherilyn Connelly, SF Weekly
 
THE FOUNDER - Carter Burwell

"Given this approach, perhaps not recognizing its lead as odious, as suggested, it’s not entirely clear if the movie is truly cognizant of the monster inside it -- John Lee Hancock might be the Jimmy Fallon of filmmakers. But inspired collaborators like composer Carter Burwell, cinematographer John Schwarzman ('The Rock,' 'Jurassic World'), screenwriter Robert D. Siegel (a former The Onion Editor-In-Chief and scribe behind 'The Wrestler') and editor Robert Frazen ('Synecdoche, New York'), go far in enabling the movie’s best tendencies. And sometimes thanks to these above-the-line craftsmen, the movie truly shines, particularly when it acts as a cracking and crisp business procedural into the rapid fast-food making process. The MVP however is easily Burwell’s nuanced score that charts the textured emotional and moral journey of Ray Kroc."
 
Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist

"Plus, the McDonalds got paid off, so there’s no problem as far as Hancock seems able to see, especially when he overpowers your objections with triumphant montages and heroic musical cues. Plus, Kroc has the charisma of Michael Keaton -- and his weirdness, like Kroc contains a bit of Beetlejuice somewhere deep inside: his eyes dart, his mouth is spastic, his head is rooster-crazy. His center of gravity seems somewhere between his nostrils and the roof of his mouth. Keaton’s Kroc is otherwise a luckless dreamer, a mediocre inventor, salesman and husband who finally gloms onto something big. And who doesn’t want to see Michael Keaton succeed (besides the Academy members who voted for Eddie Redmayne in 2015)? The film opens with him trying to sell milkshake spindles to Missouri drive-ins, where the food takes forever and the servers get the orders wrong. Then he hears about this new place way out in San Bernadino, where everything’s disposable, pared down to the essentials and assembled on a line. Food, for the first time, is fast. Carter Burwell’s score is often variations on Ravel’s Bolero, the McDonald’s of music -- predictable and kinda ingenious. Hancock is as adoring of the McDonalds’ service-industry ingenuity as Kroc, and there’s charm to their innovations, I guess, but what really gets Hancock excited is how Kroc was able to franchise their business model, spread it across the country and turn it into a profitable real estate scheme, making billions not off of a thing with inherent value but a business structure, while he changed the way America eats."
 
Henry Stewart, Brooklyn Magazine
 
"There’s one scene early on that sums up the strange, slightly terrifying appeal of the McDonald brothers’ operation. Before setting up their restaurant, they draw its kitchen, in chalk, on a tennis court and have their employees mimic preparing the meals for customers, acting out each step (ketchup, pickles, fries, milkshakes) with perfect automation, in an eerie factory-floor dance. It’s beautiful, and it’s unsettling -- a vision of America’s fast-food future where speed and efficiency will trump restaurant quality. Kroc hears about this and envisions a formula he can plug people into -- but Hancock films the whole chalk-drawing scene with airy delight, a light, lilting score accompanying his overhead shots of the restaurant rehearsals."

David Sims, The Atlantic

"As it turns out, Hancock is not the ideal fit for the queasy mix of fascination, sympathy, and discomfort that Siegel brought to movies like 'The Wrestler' and 'Big Fan.' 'The Founde'r is drier than either of those movies, which means it’s less funny but also has even less potential for sentiment. Hancock’s reputation suggests a polished straight shooter, perhaps a sort of Eastwood Lite, but here he doesn’t master the complexities of the material. The basic fundamentals of the movie are strong -- the performances are solid, the story moves along -- but Hancock never fully harnesses the visual and audio components to push the movie further: The score, while not exactly overbearing, swells in sometimes strange (but never quite satirical) ways. And in an early scene of Keaton by himself, leaning on his car, Hancock cuts together seven or eight different angles, as if nervous that the audience won’t accept a master shot."
 
Jesse Hassenger, The Onion AV Club
 
"The operation dazzles Ray Kroc -- Michael Keaton, in squirrely true-believer mode -- and he soon finds himself selling it right back to the McDonald brothers, spouting ad-man poetry like it’s the received Word. He tells them that he sees a new American trinity: the church, the flag, the Golden Arches. Keaton is peppery and persuasive as the guy you can’t quite trust but are happy to have on your side. Often, early on, Carter Burwell’s chiming score and Hancock’s man-with-a-dream storytelling side with Kroc’s capitalistic sermons. Sitting there in the theater, you might worry you’ve been singled out as a mark, that the movie is earnest in trying to convince you that it’s a good thing that Kroc and his coast-to-coast franchises eventually taught America not to worry over the distinction between treat and staple."
 
Alan Scherstuhl, The Village Voice
 
"In the end, Hancock lays not a glove on Kroc, any more than he did on Walt Disney in 'Saving Mr. Banks' (2013), and the camera conspires to smooth any wrinkles of villainy. When Ray first approaches the brothers’ stand, in California, our gaze is ushered upward, to a sign that reads 'McDonald’s,' as if we were standing in front of a Gothic cathedral, and the music, by Carter Burwell, rises in concord with the mood. More preposterous still, later on, is the gleam of golden arches reflected in Ray’s windshield, and the drumroll that we hear just before he reveals his expansionist dream to Mac and Dick. 'Do it for your country. Do it for America,' he says. McDonald’s, he adds, must aspire to be 'the place where Americans come together to break bread' -- a blasphemous touch, but openly backed by Hancock, with his shot of a burger-munching family gathered on a bench, and of a woman, in slow motion, feasting ecstatically on her bun. Likewise, on Ray’s pilgrimage across the land, the fond glimpses of small-town life are meant to soften us up for his creed—a genuine hope that the franchise might yet become as ubiquitous as a courthouse or a church. Why, there is even a black person waiting for her meal at McDonald’s, who gets to speak a line! (Just the one, but you have to start somewhere.) And so, layer by layer, this dumbfounding movie devises its magical recipe, and dares us to resist it: ketchup, mustard, two slices of pickle, and hold the irony. Delicious."
 
Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
 
"In short, it’s the kind of material that wouldn’t appear to be in the wheelhouse of John Lee Hancock, the director of the new Kroc biopic 'The Founder.' Certainly, black-comic irony wasn’t much evident in his last picture, 'Saving Mr. Banks.' That film sincerely posited the psychologically restorative effect Walt Disney -- a pioneer of marketing childlike innocence to the masses -- had on 'Mary Poppins' author P.L. Travers as he attempted to get the prickly author to sign off on his more happy-go-lucky changes in adapting her book to the screen. Sincerity, in fact, is the hallmark of Hancock’s filmography as a whole, which includes earnest dramas like 'The Rookie,' 'The Alamo' and 'The Blind Side.' Such a sensibility would seem all wrong for a movie about an unrepentant capitalist who, among other things, ruthlessly exploited feel-good, can-do American-dream populism for his own personal gain. That tension between director and material, however, turns out to be a fascinating, if somewhat frustrating, one in 'The Founder' -- what makes the film more interesting than perhaps it ought to have been. Hancock seems aware, to some degree, of how temperamentally ill-suited to this material he is, and thus tries to transcend his limitations in subtle ways. Most notable in that regard is Carter Burwell’s score, which is gentle with the exception of a few atonal harmonies that stick out just enough to puncture the reverent aura some of its cues paint. Burwell’s music is indicative of Hancock’s method as a whole: For the most part, he plays the material as a straight great-man biopic, trusting the more subversive overtones of Robert D. Siegel’s screenplay to come out on their own. Contrast that with, say, Steven Soderbergh’s openly satirical approach to Mark Whitacre in 'The Informant!,' in which Soderbergh played the savage ironies of Whitacre’s story -- that of corporate wrongdoing being exposed by the whistleblower’s own dishonesty -- for all they were worth (especially through that jokey Marvin Hamlisch score). Hancock’s more ambivalent approach can’t help but feel anemic by comparison."
 
Kenji Fujishima, Paste Magazine

"Indeed, perhaps more than its makers could have known at the time of production, 'The Founder' plays very much as a period piece for the immediate political present: a fable of vast self-made success gained at the expense of truth and integrity. In an America bitterly divided by its new president-elect, some viewers may well see Kroc’s story as inspiring; others will view it as positively nihilistic. That implicit moral tension, combined with a fascinating but distinctly niche focus on business strategy and property law, makes this an unexpected, commercially unpredictable digression from the helmer of such soft-centered biographical dramas as 'Saving Mr. Banks' and 'The Blind Side,' even as it shares their outward trappings of wholegrain populism. Cinematographer John Schwartzman, for starters, lights proceedings with a sunny, advertorial evenness that belies the friction beneath, though a deft, mischievous score by Carter Burwell clues us in earlier, signaling discord through low, brooding jazz motifs and antsy military percussion."
 
Guy Lodge, Variety

MARY SHELLEY - Amelia Warner
 
"While fudging some of the facts of her biography, 'Mary Shelley' intends to give the author her due. The film hits all the marks about female authors finding their own voices and not settling for becoming mere muses to their beloveds. Yet while covering its bases, the movie lacks luster. Ironically, this story about the sources of inspiration is empty of just that: inspiration. Working from a screenplay by first-timer Emma Jensen, director Haifaa al-Mansour delivers a serviceable biopic and cautionary tale for all young girls swept up in their self-diminishing adoration of artistic rogues. Al-Mansour, the Saudi Arabian director of the multi-awarded film 'Wadjda,' is widely credited as that country’s first female director, and her switch to Edwardian England for her sophomore effort is a bold, if not fully successful, move. Her film is also mired with a turgid musical score by Amelia Warner, and unconvincing but far from ruinous central performances by Fanning as Mary and Douglas Booth as Percy. As a filmed drama, 'Mary Shelley' is sorely in need of a jolt of electricity similar to the one that reanimated Frankenstein’s monster in the author’s novel."
 
Marjorie Baumgarten, The Austin Chronicle
 
"But while the idea of reading naïve and childlike fantasies into the lives of the death-obsessed Romantics is a change of pace from the usual webs of psychosexual despair, its potential continually slips away under the conventionally anonymous direction of Haifaa al-Mansour ('Wadjda'). 'Mary Shelley''s major problem, supported by an assortment of minor problems, is the common one of biopics that try to write an artist’s private life into a dopey three-act structure with no tolerance for contradiction, the thing that makes art and people interesting. Its de-complicated characters and conflicts don’t tell us anything about what it meant to live in a time or to make something -- only the vague order in which some important things happened, the result like rushed homework. One lifeless montage set to cloying music depicts Mary losing her virginity to Percy at her mother’s grave; her father threatening to disown her because of her scandalous relationship with the poet; and her decision to leave London with Percy and her stepsister, Claire Clairmont (Bel Powley). But perhaps this is al-Mansour’s way of paying tribute to the confusing narrative skips of 'Frankenstein.'"

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The Onion AV Club

MOANA - Songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa'i, Mark Mancina; Score by Mark Mancina

"If the worst that can be said about a Disney film is that it’s too conscious and crafted about its messaging, though, it’s mostly doing diversity right. And within all these familiar parameters and cultural caution, Musker and Clements still find ways to make 'Moana' stand out, and to make it feel spontaneous, joyous, and beautiful. Character movements are based in Polynesian traditional dances and Samoan war dances. Apart from a weak, instantly dated joke about Twitter, the comedy is lively and rambunctious, and it works well to establish the characters. The songs, crafted by Samoan musician Opetaia Foa’i, composer Mark Mancina, and 'Hamilton' composer/star Lin-Manuel Miranda, draw on Polynesian drumming and choral vocals for a rich, hypnotic sound. And the best of them -- Maui’s smarmy 'look how great I am' anthem 'You’re Welcome' and the twisty, Bowie-esque phantasmagoria 'Shiny,' sung by 'Flight of the Conchords'' Jemaine Clement -- are just upbeat, earwormy show tunes, the kind that send audiences out of the theater humming."
 
Tasha Robinson, The Verge
 
"Still, if 'Moana' never quite transcends its musty narrative trappings, at least there are enough incidental pleasures to be had along the way. The collaboration between composer Mark Mancina, 'Hamilton' composer/lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda and Te Vaka lead singer Opetaia Foa’i proves to be a fruitful one, with Miranda’s hip-hop stylings in songs like 'You’re Welcome' and 'How Far I’ll Go' offering a breath of fresh air to the traditional Disney movie-musical style. And 'Moana' certainly offers plenty to ravish the eye. Not only are the Polynesian vistas often breathtaking to behold in their bold colors and attention to detail -- rarely has [sic] animated bodies of water looked so vividly realistic on-screen -- but the episodic storyline has inspired some of the Disney animators’ wildest flights of fancy: a band of cute-looking diminutive pirates who don armor made out of coconuts, a psychedelically glammed-up giant crab (voiced by Jemaine Clement); the sentient tattoo on Maui’s torso that acts as a kind of non-speaking Greek chorus to its host’s antics."
 
Kenji Fujishima, Brooklyn Magazine
 
"The songs are the primary point of entry and interest for the older moviegoers who will flock to 'Moana' this weekend, as they’re co-penned by 'Hamilton' mastermind Lin-Manuel Miranda. 'You’re Welcome' is the most obviously Miranda-ish cut (at least on the surface, thanks to its breathless pace and spoken-word break), though Jemaine Clement’s Bowie-esque 'Shiny' is also a highlight -- as is his character’s closing line, shouted to the escaping Moana and Maui: 'Hey! Hey! Did you like the song?'"
 
Jason Bailey, Flavorwire
 
"This longing is woven through the film with 'How Far I'll Go,' Moana's anthem of hope and nervousness. The song is heard when the heroine questions whether she truly is the right person to save her people. (I'll throw a fit if it doesn't make the Academy Awards shortlist for best original song.) Lin-Manuel Miranda of Broadway musical 'Hamilton' fame is, unsurprisingly, behind a handful of the songs on the score -- and the studio couldn't have picked a better person for the job. While some of his compositions are jokey (The Rock's fabulously sung 'You're Welcome,' for instance), others offer a compelling call for unity and remind us that small Moana has a place in the big world."
 
Ana Sofia Knauf, The Stranger

"The English-language songs are by Broadway’s Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose reputation outside the US was recently increased when vice-president-elect Mike Pence was booed at a performance of his 'Hamilton.' (There are also songs here by Opetaia Foa’i in the Tokelauan language, appearing both as background elements in Miranda’s songs and standalone tracks.) The lyrics can be quite clever: a crab voiced by Jemaine Clement declares, 'You can’t expect a demigod to beat a decapod.' But no matter who wrote the songs, there was always going to be a line about listening to your 'inner voice' -- it’s pretty much Disney company policy. And there will be always be enervating dialogue about believing in yourself, or about how 'sometimes our strengths lie below the surface', or a variant on (Moana to the demigod) 'The gods aren’t the ones that make you Maui. You are.'"
 
Vadim Rizov, Sight and Sound

"For this feature-length animation, veteran Disney directors John Musker and Ron Clements ('The Little Mermaid,' 'Aladdin,' 'Hercules') stick to bankable formula: a plucky, beautiful girl named Moana (and given voice by Auli'i Cravalho) longs to venture outside her Polynesian village despite her father's opposition ('I wish I could be the perfect daughter/But I'm drawn to the water,' she sings, recalling many a Disney heroine before her). Eventually, at the encouragement of her sage grandmother, she sets sail with her rooster sidekick to find the braggadocious demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson). The narrative is a fairly predictable hero's journey -- Maui even calls her "The Chosen One" -- but the movie is refreshing for its lack of a love interest; instead Moana learns how to chart her own course. Dynamic CGI and robust songs from Lin-Manuel Miranda of 'Hamilton' further enhance the experience."
 
Leah Pickett, Chicago Reader
 
"'Moana' definitely resides at the 'Frozen' end of this cinematic spectrum, a conventional story featuring just enough innovation to feel current and relying principally on its dazzling execution. The musical numbers by Opetaia Foa’i, Mark Mancina, and (yes) Lin-Manuel Miranda may not be quite Hamiltonian, but they will soon be on your children’s lips and perhaps your own: the ensemble introduction 'Where You Are,' Clement’s hilarious 'Shiny,' and the anthemic 'How Far I’ll Go' which, for better and worse, may rival 'Frozen''s 'Let It Go' in sheer catchiness. These serve as accompaniments to the film’s flat-out gorgeous CGI cinematography -- lush greens, sunlit golds, and a deep blue sea that doubles as a principal supporting character."
 
Christopher Orr, The Atlantic
 
"Oceania is splashed across the big screen in a way that feels both tangibly real and enchantingly mythological. The unabashed positivity, cute creatures and politically correct messages are pure Disney but Jared Bush's zingy screenplay satirises the studio's princess obsession, eliminates the need for a love interest and pokes fun at the tendency to burst into song ('If you start singing, I'm gonna throw up,' grumbles Maui), in-between the catchy, albeit sub 'Under the Sea', musical numbers. Powered by a thrusting narrative and a surfeit of imagination, 'Moana' is a vividly realised, genuinely rousing adventure."
 
Emma Simmonds, The List
 
"'Hamilton' die-hards likely know Lin-Manuel Miranda co-wrote the original songs for the film with composer Mark Mancina, but the collaborator of arguably more importance is Opetaia Foa'i, the Samoa-born frontman to Oceanic fusion band Te Vaka. Foa'i's influence is the one felt harder on the resulting sound, which mixes ecstatic marching bass drums with the swooning melodies of tribal chants. When he trades vocals with Miranda to sing about exploring far-reaching territories on the rousing 'We Know the Way,' it's enough to make all budding wayfarers, young and old, grab a telescope and set sail."
 
Andrew Lapin, NPR
 
"The story is a fairly simple quest as Moana takes to the open water in uneasy cahoots with macho Maui. His animated tattoos are among the film’s visual highlights, alongside the azure waters lapping the sand. There are some belters on the soundtrack, a few of them courtesy of 'Hamilton''s man-of-the-moment Lin-Manuel Miranda. But the most memorable is the playful 'Shiny,' the crab’s magpie-like ode to glittering things, sung by 'Flight of the Conchords'' Jemaine Clement."
 
Dave Calhoun, Time Out New York
 
"Written by Jared Bush ('Zootopia') and buoyed by a stirring soundtrack by 'Hamilton' phenom Lin-Manuel Miranda, Moana is the coming-of-age tale of a young person forging her own way in the world. It’s a Disney princess movie in which there are no princes hanging around, no boys to really think about at all, no girly hang-ups or thingamabobs to fritter over, and no romantic subplots to distract from what’s truly important: survival, independence, identity, self-belief. 'How Far I’ll Go,' the anthemic earworm equivalent to Frozen’s 'Let It Go,' is rousing and courageous. How far we’ve come from the days of Disney heroines waiting for guys to put a ring on it or show up bearing the right sized shoe. The beautifully animated adventure is also Disney’s first film about Pacific Islanders, starring Pacific Islanders, from Cravalho and Johnson to Temuera Morrison to Rachel House to 'Flight of the Conchords'' Jemaine Clement, who steals the spotlight as a blinged-out evil crab with a glam rock solo track. Its script borrows from myths and traditions vetted by a coalition of cultural experts dubbed the Oceanic Story Trust, while Oceanic musician Opetaia Foa’i collaborated with Manuel and composer Mark Mancina on the score."
 
Jen Yamato, The Daily Beast
 
"Made all the better by snappy, contagiously catchy new tunes from Opetaia Foa’i and Mark Mancina, as well as Lin-Manuel Miranda ('Hamilton'), and fantastic voice performances from Cravalho and Johnson, 'Moana' is a completely enchanting boost of warmth to the heart."
 
Will Ashton, The Playlist
 
"A tale of a courageous young woman who learns to lead from her ancestors and takes on a lava monster, 'Moana' has a lot things going for it. Its sunny island setting lends itself to magical realism to great effect, similar to this year's outstanding 'Kubo and the Two Strings.' The film’s imagination runs rampant, and the results are funny and unpredictable. It has a great heroine. It calls for young people to embrace their family and community while also being brave and authentic. And the songs are mostly written by Opetaia Foa'i, Mark Mancina, and 'Hamilton' composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, and whew are they catchy. A lot of the early buzz regarding 'Moana' -- particularly once Miranda’s involvement was announced -- centered on whether it would be a worthy musical successor to Disney’s massively successful 'Frozen.' Whether or not the 'Moana' soundtrack supplants 'Let it Go' in the minivans of parents everywhere may depend more on the parents' need to switch than anything else: 'Moana''s soundtrack is exuberant and fun, but a little more lyrically complicated, and thus potentially less earwormy. Moana's big song, 'How Far I'll Go,' as well as 'I Am Moana (Song of the Ancestors)' and 'We Know the Way,' are fairly standard show tunes inflected with a strong Polynesian influence, whereas both the crab's song 'Shiny' and Maui's introductory number 'You're Welcome' are sly, with a lot of fast-paced internal rhyming. But regardless of whether they take a spot on permanent rotation, they're definitely fun."
 
Alissa Wilkinson, Vox
 
"The soundtrack, by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa’I, and Mark Mancina, strengthens this aspect of the film. Lyrically, the songs largely consist of the usual anthems about self-actualization, but they vibrantly draw from Samoan and Maori musical history, incorporating tribal dance rhythms into the orchestration. This is the finest collection of songs for a Disney film since Howard Ashman’s run with the studio, and it’s fitting that they should score the most elegant animated feature that the company has released in years."
 
Jake Cole, Slant Magazine
 
"'Hamilton' mastermind Lin-Manuel Miranda co-wrote several of the songs that help propel the action, including Moana’s girl-power anthem, 'How Far I’ll Go,' and Maui’s bouncy introductory tune, 'You’re Welcome.' The former speaks to her yearning to break free and explore beyond the island’s reef, something her father (Temuera Morrison) and mother (Nicole Scherzinger) have urged her not to do for fear of the dangers that may await. While it (mercifully) lacks the same persistent earworm qualities of the ubiquitous 'Let It Go' from 'Frozen,' its message of female assertiveness makes it infinitely more worthwhile. Another major highlight is 'Shiny,' a campy little ditty sung by Jemaine Clement as a conniving crab with a taste for all things glittering and gold; it’s hard to ignore the modern-day political figure he calls to mind, too."
 
Christy Lemire, RogerEbert.com
 
"Meanwhile, the songs, by Opetaia Foa’i, Mark Mancina, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, are catchy and draw upon diverse styles and traditions, ranging from folky to Britpoppy to hear-me-roar style ballads. Will there be a 'Let It Go' style phenomenon in the bunch? Don’t ask me; I’m the idiot who thought 'Frozen' sounded too Broadway-ready. 'Moana''s songs, for all their eclecticism, feel more organic to the story and more in keeping with the movie’s playful patchwork of tones."
 
Bilge Ebiri, The Village Voice
 
"And really, really likable. Musker and Clements and Hall and Williams and the rest of the movie’s army of co-writers (which includes the New Zealand writer-director Taika Waititi) deserve credit. So does Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose first new songs since 'Hamilton' -- co-written with longtime Disney composer Mark Mancina ('The Lion King,' 'Tarzan') and the Samoan-born bandleader Opetaia Foa’i -- pepper the film and sometimes even have the energy to break through the accumulated cruft of decades of Disney boilerplate. And the movie’s portrayal of its Polynesian setting is much more reverent than 'Aladdin''s 'It’s barbaric, but hey, it’s home!' take on the Middle East. (I suspect the film will be embraced by viewers of Pacific Islands origin, starved for any portrayals of their heritage in pop culture.) If its heroine, despite her spunkiness, is a little milquetoasty, at least she doesn’t pine for a guy -- though how dumb is it that in 2016 we still have to compliment a kids’ movie for that? 'You’re Welcome' isn’t 'Moana''s musical high point; that would be 'Shiny,' a wild villain number sung by 'Flight of the Conchords'' Jemaine Clement as a monster crab with a thing for jewelry. Most of the musical’s other songs, though they’ll surely be mainstays on Radio Disney, fail to break through -- despite the occasional lively Mirandian couplet, they’re just doing too much expository work in the voices of too many bland characters. Shoehorning his wordplay into the Disney mold, the movie underutilizes the sardonic humor and subtle heart that make Miranda’s music special; instead, it encourages his most obvious instincts, so songs like 'How Far I’ll Go' are far more reminiscent of the blunt, subtext-free 'It’s Quiet Uptown' than they are of his best work."
 
Dan Kois, Slant Magazine
 
"Then again, when time is killed by Maui (which is to say Johnson, which is to say The Rock) performing 'You’re Welcome,' a fast-paced tribute to himself with lyrics by 'Hamilton''s Lin-Manuel Miranda, a little padding on the running time can be excused. The song score as a whole, by Miranda, Mark Mancina, and Opetaia Foa’i, is wonderfully eclectic. 'How Far I’ll Go' and 'You’re Welcome' riff on the styles of past Menken-Ashman classics like 'Part Of Your World' and 'Friend Like Me,' respectively, while the musical still finds room for a rap bridge and a giant crab unexpectedly bursting into a glam-rock chorus."
 
Jesse Hassenger, The Onion AV Club
 
"Maybe a little bubble wrap sounds good right about now -- or maybe it sounds smothering. But 'Moana''s indisputable saving grace is how good it looks -- really, better than any other Disney movie to date, overflowing with lush, brazen beauty, from the verdant island on which Moana grows up to the vision she has of her voyaging ancestors gliding by on spectral canoes across a nighttime ocean. It’s through its visuals that 'Moana' achieves moments of the sublime, though the Lin-Manuel Miranda songs aren’t bad either. The big ballad, 'How Far I’ll Go,' may not be a carpool circuit banger on the level of 'Let It Go,' but it’s a mighty earworm nonetheless, one that seems ready for at least a few months of omnipresence, an 'I Want' song turned radio-ready empowerment anthem. 'Moana' may be so calculated in terms of Doing Things Right that it only occasionally sparks to life as art, but there’s something admirable in how hard it tries -- in terms of representation, in terms of not defining its lead by the men in her life, and in terms of incorporating Pacific Islander talent. It’s an effort toward inclusion that isn’t perfect, but as a gesture, it still means a lot."
 
Alison Willmore, BuzzFeed News
 
"Johnson performing 'You’re Welcome' will likely become a fan favorite, but there’s really no telling which song you’ll walk out of the theater humming because almost every single musical number in 'Moana' is both meaningful and catchy. The unusual theatrics and tone of 'Shiny' make it a particularly fun scene to watch, but tracks like 'We Know the Way' beautifully capture the setting, enhancing the tone of the movie while also serving as a great tune that’s well worth listening to beyond the feature film."
 
Perri Nemiroff, Collider
 
"For 'Frozen,' Disney hired Robert Lopez right on the heels of his Tony-winning musical 'The Book of Mormon,' and they got 'Let It Go'; this time, they’ve snagged Lin-Manuel Miranda (alongside Opeataia Foa’i and Mark Mancina) for his first major post-'Hamilton' gig, and the only song that pops on a first listen is 'You’re Welcome,' Maui’s smug self-congratulation anthem. (Moana’s big number, 'How Far I’ll Go,' is pretty routine 'I wish' material, but no doubt Radio Disney is already playing the heck out of it.) Drag queens should start working up routines to 'Shiny,' a number sung by a bauble-loving crab voiced by Jemaine Clement."
 
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap
 
"It’s a magical moment, and one that endears us to both Moana and the ocean for the rest of the film. As if witnessing Buzz Aldrin stare out into space as a child, we’re afforded the opportunity to see an explorer make first contact with her destiny, and if there’s any doubt that this is something special, the film front-loads her story with two exceptional original songs: The first conveys her father’s play-it-safe mantra, 'Where We Are,' while the other gives voice to Moana’s own horizon-challenging desires, 'How Far I’ll Go' -- both the result of an inspired collaboration between 'Hamilton' composer-lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda, longtime Disney music guru Mark Mancina, and Opetaia Foa’i, the lead singer of South Pacific fusion band Te Vaka. Much as 'Moana' means 'ocean”' in Maori, effectively reinforcing the bond between the two, Miranda discovers a near-perfect rhyming connection between 'daughter' and 'water.'"
 
Peter Debruge, Variety
 
"Equally strong are the tunes; you can definitely hear Miranda’s inspirational hip-hop stylings in songs like 'You’re Welcome' and 'How Far I’ll Go,' which, if not quite as catchy as 'Do You Want to Build a Snowman' and 'Let It Go,' come pretty darned close."
 
Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter
 
MOUNTAIN - Richard Tognetti

"In a perfect fusing of Renan Ozturk's cinematography, Australian Chamber Orchestra Artistic Director Richard Tognetti's score, and the soothing, sage-like ruminations of narrator Dafoe (drawn from the writings of leading mountaineering journalist Robert Macfarlane), Peedom deals in sensation and spectacle, rather than details. The only peak mentioned by name is Everest -- and then solely for its cultural significance, and the significance of its 'conquering' by Hillary and Tenzing, not for its height. Instead, this is a tone poem, constructed primarily from drone and helicopter footage, with layers of GoPro and vintage material stratified throughout. Mountains are explored through the lenses of mysticism, imperialism, and (increasingly) tourism, but Peedom and Macfarlane make it clear that, however humans come to them, the mountains will only ever accept them on their own terms. There's no attempt to anthropomorphize the rock and and glaciers, but they have never seemed more terrifying and alluring."
 
Richard Whittaker, The Austin Chronicle
 
"Director Jennifer Peedom has orchestrated -- to alternately ethereal and percussive music from the Australian Chamber Orchestra -- a rhapsodic feature-length aria of altitude: the majestic snow-capped peaks and rugged cliffs of the world, all of which remained uncharted and regarded as places of peril until, as Willem Dafoe's narrator puts it, an age of exploration led to these blank spaces on maps getting filled in."
 
Bob Mondello, NPR
 
"Jennifer Peedom’s seventy-minute big-screen reverie 'Mountain' inspires something that the biggest, purportedly most 'awesome' movies of our era just can’t stir: awe. The subject of 'Mountain,' of course, is mountains, their fearsome majesty, overwhelming deadliness, and harsh indifference to us. But from the extraordinary opening shots -- after a quickie behind-the-scenes intro establishing that, yes, the film truly is scored to the sounds of the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the narration of Willem Dafoe -- a more dramatic concern seized me. How the hell did they film this? Behold the tiny, fragile human climber midway up the endless rock face, feeling around for the next hand- or foothold, proportionately something like an ant traversing the flat expanse of a movie screen. 'Mountain' surveys, without narrative or title cards, slopes and cliffs and apexes around the globe. We often see climbers but never follow them for more than a shot or two. The camera, aided by drones, skims so close over craggy peaks that I swear sometimes my feet tickled. The film was crafted in collaboration with the ACO, whose selections -- Beethoven, Grieg, Vivaldi -- shape the material. Rather than simply scoring what we see and cueing us to feel more deeply what the images already suggest, the music in 'Mountain' plays like the film’s organizing principle, as if the many shots of ascents and vistas have been arranged to illustrate it. The relationship between image and music, here, proves more rich and rewarding than the movies generally offer today, as one is not clearly subordinate to the other."
 
Alan Scherstuhl, The Village Voice
 
"This Australian nonfiction feature plays like a highbrow version of an IMAX nature documentary. Director Jennifer Peedom presents one gorgeous image after another of mountains and mountaineering; she also provides a cerebral counterpoint to the visual spectacle with Richard Tognetti's modernist score and Willem Dafoe's voice-over readings from 'Mountains of the Mind,' the philosophical memoir by British mountaineer Robert Macfarlane. Peedom subtly argues that mountaineering, which enables people to explore previously unseen parts of the world, helped usher in a less spiritual, more scientific age; at the same time she tries to create a meditative, even transcendent experience through reverential depictions of the natural world. The tension between these two thematic elements sustains one's interest even as the imagery becomes redundant."
 
Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader
 
"The mountains are alive with the sound of chamber music, as well as Willem Dafoe’s distinctive vocal intonations as a narrator, in the essay-style documentary 'Mountain.' But neither can compete with the spellbinding sight of soaring slabs of craggy stone stabbing into the rippling cloud-draped heavens as filmed by German-born cinematographer Renan Ozturk, a specialist at capturing nature at a considerable height, and Australian director Jennifer Peedom... But save for the King Kong of all climbs, Nepal’s Everest, the locales of each soaring spire are never revealed. Instead, Peedom, who covered similar ground in 2015 with the more traditional doc 'Sherpa,' aims for an immersive visual experience that is meant to engage emotions more than the brain. Whether the mountains showed are encased in massive mounds of ice, coated in rolling waves of red clay or seared by a slithering flow of red-hot lava, it’s the sensation they trigger in us that counts most. Abetting that goal is an inspirational string-heavy score by Richard Tognetti. As beautifully mood-inducing as the accompaniment is, it is sometimes too eager to provide aural clues on how to react to when a skier falls out of a helicopter and lands on a never-ending vast expanse of snow. Or when we witness the crass commercialization of the sport as swarms of eager cliff hangers descend upon Everest on a regular basis. Some perspective on the history of conquering Mother Nature’s monoliths is briefly provided by vintage clips of mountaineers using various new-fangled transport to assist them ever skyward. But for the most part, this is a sightseer’s delight."
 
Susan Wloszczyna, RogerEbert.com
 
"Staggering images are matched with the magnificent sound of the Australian Chamber Orchestra performing works by Vivaldi, Beethoven and Chopin in a 'Koyaanisqatsi'-style film that offers a very loosely structured reflection on humanity's relationship with mountain landscapes. Willem Dafoe's voice guides us through a historical overview that advances from a point where scaling a mountain was considered madness, to a modern age where Everest has become as crowded as your local supermarket. Views of snowy mountain peaks covered in climbers like a seasoning of black pepper are dolefully accompanied by the words: 'This isn't exploration, it is crowd control.'"
 
Allan Hunter, The List
 
"Those who think heights are better left to the birds might find themselves looking for an early exit in Mountain, a ravishing feat of vertiginous filmmaking set to a score of old and new classical compositions recorded by Richard Tognetti ('Master and Commander') and his Australian Chamber Orchestra. Examining our historical obsession with the titular peaks, director Jennifer Peedom's follow-up to 2015's 'Sherpa' is a different beast entirely, ditching a traditional human narrative to focus on that film's majestically indifferent backdrop. Peedom begins the film in black-and-white, with the members of the Australian Chamber Orchestra limbering up at the Sydney Opera House, where 'Mountain' premiered last week. That's the last we see of them, with editors Christian Gazal ('Sherpa') and Scott Gray ('Top of the Lake') cutting to elevation before a string is plucked. In a queasily transporting sequence that had the Sydney audience holding its collective breath, the camera swoops in on a free climber (without ropes) scaling up a sheer cliff face, and our proximity to him is vertigo-inducing.The ACO cycles through Vivaldi and Beethoven as well as compositions from contemporary artists like Arvo Pärt and Tognetti himself, with the occasional use of vocals. The filmmakers hop across continents armed with drones, Go-Pros and helicopters, from Tibet to Australia to Alaska, and the switch between formats on the big screen is noticeable though unobtrusive. Peedom has also found plenty of footage of BASE jumping, mountain biking, wingsuiting and even tightrope walking (across two peaks in Castle Valley, Utah) that will be familiar to anybody who's ever been on YouTube. The film's attitude to these feats is cryptic, reveling in their sheer stomach-clenching spectacle while describing the athletes who pull them off as 'half in love with themselves, half in love with oblivion.' The film's fragments are held together by the score, which sometimes works in interesting counterpoint to the images, undercutting awe with horror. The ACO collaborated with Jonny Greenwood a couple of years ago but largely resist ambient atmospherics here, favoring violin, piano, cello and vocals with a composite score that burnishes images of extreme risk-taking without sacrificing delicacy."
 
Harry Windsor, The Hollywood Reporter
 
SUMMER 1993 - Ernest Pipo, Pau Boigues
 
"Inevitably, filmic childhoods are largely a question of conversations overheard but misunderstood, and if '1993' can be faulted for anything, it’s that Frida overhears a couple too many -- the adults in general seem unaware of the dangers of speaking too loud. Moreover, the jazz that sometimes pops up in the background may be the score, or it may be the music jazz buff Esteve is listening to. Either way -- and even though it’s probably a real memory for Simon -- it’s not necessary. It feels like the only empty stylistic gesture in a film that otherwise is rewardingly attentive to the difficult business of eking out the maximum from the minimum."
 
Jonathan Holland, The Hollywood Reporter
 
20TH CENTURY WOMEN - Roger Neill
 
"Needless to say, the potential for all of this to nosedive into navel-gazing nonsense is crazy high, especially as Mills -- per his custom -- stubbornly resists anything that might resemble a plot. '20th Century Women' is more of an anthropological film than a narrative one, more interested in sculpting a pocket of time into a memory palace than forcing its characters towards unearned realizations. For once, all of the precious flourishes -- the dueling voiceovers, the shimmery synth soundtrack, the wavy color lines that trail behind all of the cars -- actually feel in service to something larger than themselves. They speak to the characters, who are all so richly drawn, and they focus through the rose-tinted lens through which the film remembers their time together."
 
David Ehrlich, IndieWire
 
"It speaks to '20th Century Women''s emotional sprawl that it effectively contains two musical scores with their own returning leitmotifs, one pop-diegetic (including Bowie, Black Flag, Raincoats), the other provided by Roger Neil [sic] -- a gushy main theme that seems to resurface at least a dozen times throughout the film, ambient music of the yoga-clinic waiting-room variety that teases at the bigness and wonderment of everyday life."
 
Steve Macfarlane, Slant Magazine

THE NEXT TEN DAYS IN L.A.

Screenings of older films, at the following L.A. movie theaters: AMPASAmerican Cinematheque: AeroAmerican Cinematheque: EgyptianArclightArena CineloungeLACMALaemmleNew Beverly, Nuart and UCLA.

February 15
BLOOD DINER (Don Preston) [Nuart]
THE CROOKED WAY (Louis Forbes) [UCLA]
EL FANTASMA DEL CONVENTO [UCLA]
THE MAN WHO CHEATED HIMSELF (Louis Forbes) [UCLA]
THE MORTAL STORM (Eddie Kane) [UCLA]
MY LIPS BETRAY (Samuel Kaylin) [UCLA]
PULP FICTION [New Beverly]
TRAPPED (Sol Kaplan) [UCLA]
VOICE IN THE WIND (Michel Michelet) [UCLA]
WHITE LIGHTNING (Charles Bernstein), THE LONGEST YARD (Frank DeVol) [New Beverly]

February 16
ENAMORADA (Eduardo Hernandez Moncada) [UCLA]
FLIGHT OF THE DOVES (Roy Budd) [New Beverly]
THE KILLING FLOOR (Elizabeth Swados) [UCLA]
MONTEREY POP [New Beverly]
THE RED HOUSE (Miklos Rozsa) [UCLA]
SMOULDERING FIRES [UCLA]
WHITE LIGHTNING (Charles Bernstein), THE LONGEST YARD (Frank DeVol) [New Beverly]

February 17
ALIBI (Hugo Riesenfeld) [UCLA]
A BOY AND HIS DOG (Tim McIntire, Jaime Mendoza-Nava) [UCLA]
FLIGHT OF THE DOVES (Roy Budd) [New Beverly]
THE FLYING DEUCES (John Leipold, Leo Shuken), THE LAST REMAKE OF BEAU GESTE (John Morris) [New Beverly]
THE HOURS AND TIMES [UCLA]
MY FAIR LADY (Frederick Loewe, Andre Previn) [Ahyra Fine Arts]

February 18
THE FLYING DEUCES (John Leipold, Leo Shuken), THE LAST REMAKE OF BEAU GESTE (John Morris) [New Beverly]
SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (Herb Nacio Brown, Lennie Hayton) [Arclight Santa Monica]
WHEN HARRY MET SALLY... (Marc Shaiman) [Arclight Sherman Oaks]

February 19
BEFORE SUNSET [Arclight Hollywood]
LOLITA (Nelson Riddle) [Arclight Culver City]
PENITENTIARY (Frankie Gaye, William R. Anderson, Andre Douglas), WELCOME HOME BROTHER CHARLES (William Anderson) [New Beverly]
ZABRISKIE POINT [LACMA]

February 20
BLACK ORPHEUS (Luis Bonfa, Antonio Carlos Jobim) [Laemmle Royal]
DESK SET (Cyril J. Mockridge) [New Beverly]
HOOPER (Bill Justis), PHYSICAL EVIDENCE (Henry Mancini) [New Beverly]

February 21
DEATH IN VENICE [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
HOOPER (Bill Justis), PHYSICAL EVIDENCE (Henry Mancini) [New Beverly]
SCHOOL DAZE (Bill Lee) [Laemmle NoHo]

February 22
MANDY (Johann Johannsson) [Nuart]
PULP FICTION [New Beverly]
SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT (Bill Justis, Jerry Reed), SEMI-TOUGH (Jerry Fielding) [New Beverly]
TERMINAL ISLAND (Michael Andres), THE VELVET VAMPIRE [UCLA]

February 23
BETWEEN THE LINES (Michael Kamen), CROSSING DELANCY (Paul Chihara) [UCLA]
FILLMORE [New Beverly]
PHANTASM (Fred Myrow, Malcolm Seagrove), THREE O'CLOCK HIGH (Tangerine Dream), 10 TO MIDNIGHT (Robert O. Ragland) [Cinematheque: Aero]
SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT (Bill Justis, Jerry Reed), SEMI-TOUGH (Jerry Fielding) [New Beverly]
3 RING CIRCUS (Walter Scharf) [New Beverly]

February 24
GIDGET (Morris Stoloff), BECAUSE THEY'RE YOUNG (John Williams) [New Beverly]
3 RING CIRCUS (Walter Scharf) [New Beverly]

THINGS I'VE HEARD, READ, SEEN OR WATCHED LATELY

If you're ever asked the trivia question "Which novelist was filmed by both Alfred Hitchcock and Samuel Fuller?" the answer is, surprisingly, Victor Canning. I only learned this when I caught a recent double feature that was part of the New Beverly's month-long tribute to the late Burt Reynolds, Shark! and Shamus.

Samuel Fuller's Shark! (aka Man-Eater) was filmed in Mexico but set in the Middle East, an intriguing cinematic combination, and according to Internet sources the final cut was not Fuller's and he disowned it. I was surprised to notice in the opening credits that the film was based on a Canning novel, His Bones Are Coral -- I recently wrote about Canning's The Rainbird Pattern and Hitchcock's film version, Family Plot, in a Friday column. It's a very fun, very trashy film, at times delightfully over-the-top (especially the scene of alcholic doctor Arthur Kennedy suffering from the DT's), but it was more than a little disconcerting to read on-line later that (if the Internet can be believed), not only was a stuntman killed by a shark during filming, but that some of that footage is in the final film.

The main reason I was there was to see the second feature, the 1973 private eye mystery Shamus. I first tried to see the film in its original release, but the 11-year-old me was so freaked out by the film's opening moments, where a couple in bed are burned alive by a flame-thrower-wielding assailant, that I practically raced out of the theater and didn't catch the rest of the film until decades later, on home video.

I can't really defend Shamus as a movie but I had a great time watching it, and Goldsmith's funky 70s score (one of his few works that still eludes release) is a lot of fun -- the kind of score whose instrumental sound, sadly, would be virtually impossible to re-create faithfully on a re-recording. Burt Reynolds' relaxed charisma in his heyday was pretty much irresistible, and he seemed to have genuine chemistry with co-star Dyan Cannon. 

Like Shark, Shamus incorporates a stunt gone wrong into the final film, but fortunately to much less tragic effect. This brief YouTube clip of the scene in question is worth a look (Hal Needham is apparently the one "falling for" Burt), and gives one a little taste of Goldsmith's score.
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