Film Score Monthly
Screen Archives Entertainment 250 Golden and Silver Age Classics on CD from 1996-2013! Exclusive distribution by SCREEN ARCHIVES ENTERTAINMENT.
Wild Bunch, The King Kong: The Deluxe Edition (2CD) Body Heat Friends of Eddie Coyle/Three Days of the Condor, The It's Alive Ben-Hur Nightwatch/Killer by Night Gremlins Space Children/The Colossus of New York, The
FSM HOME MESSAGE BOARD FSM CDs FSM ONLINE RESOURCES FUN STUFF ABOUT US  SEARCH FSM   
LOG IN
Forgot Login?
Register
Search Archives
Film Score Friday
Latest Edition
Previous Edition
Archive Edition
The Aisle Seat
Latest Edition
Previous Edition
Archive Edition
View Mode
Regular | Headlines
All times are PT (Pacific Time), U.S.A.
Site Map
Visits since
February 5, 2001:
14916936
© 2019 Film Score Monthly.
All Rights Reserved.
Return to Articles

The legendary Andre Previn, a four-time Oscar winner among his many outstanding achievements, died in New York on February 28 at the age of 89. Websites that feature detailed pieces on his remarkable career include the BBCThe Guardian, The Hollywood ReporterThe Independent, The Los Angeles Times, NPRThe New York Times, Variety, and The Washington Post.


CDS AVAILABLE THIS WEEK

BlacKkKlansman - Terence Blanchard - Backlot
Cold Pursuit - George Fenton - Varese Sarabande
Dedicato Al Mare Egeo - Ennio Morricone - Quartet
Il Sesso Del Diavolo
 - Stelvio Cipriani - Quartet
Ittefaq - BT - Kss3te Recordings
The Kid Who Would Be King - Electric Wave Bureau - Sony (import)
Krypton - Pinar Toprak - Varese Sarabande
Wonder Park - Steven Price - Sony 


IN THEATERS TODAY

And Then There Was Eve - Robert Lydecker
Captain Marvel - Pinar Toprak
Giant Little Ones - Michael Brook
Gloria Bell - Matthew Herbert
I’m Not Here - Nima Fakhrara
The Kid - Latham Gaines, Shelby Gaines
Transit - Stefan Will
Triple Frontier - Disasterpeace

COMING SOON

March 15
Celebrating John Williams
 - John Williams - Deutsche Grammophon
Islam
- Piero Piccioni - Beat
Le Chant de Loup - tomandandy - Milan (import)
L'Odio E' Il Mio Dio
- Pippo Franco - Beat
Lonesome Dove - Basil Poledouris - Varese Sarabande
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)
March 29
The Chaperone
 - Marcelo Zarvos - Sony
Hotel Mumbai - Volker Bertelmann - Varese Sarabande
Never Look Away
 - Max Richter - Deutsche Grammophon
April 5
Halt and Catch Fire: Volume 2 - Paul Haslinger - Lakeshore
April 12
High Life - Stuart Staples - Milan
April 19
Being Rose - Brian Ralson - Notefornote
Date Unknown
Arthur Gesetz
 - Christophe Blaser - Kronos
The Cardinal
 - Jerome Moross - Kritzerland
Dead Ant
 - Edwin Wendler - Notefornote
Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype
 - Richard Band - Dragon's Domain
The Joel Goldsmith Collection vol. 1
 - Joel Goldsmith - Dragon's Domain
Le Gran Promesa
 - Rodrigo Flores Lopez - Kronos
L'Heure de la Sortie/Irreprochable
- Zombie Zombie - Music Box
Masters of the Universe - Bill Conti - Notefornote
Si Puo Fare...Amigo
 - Luis Bacalov - Digitmovies
Test/Wild Field
- Alexei Augui - Music Box
Valley of Shadows
 - Zbigniew Preisner - Caldera
Wish You Were Here
 - Andre Matthias - Kronos

THIS WEEK IN FILM MUSIC HISTORY

March 8 - Dick Hyman born (1927)
March 8 - Franz Waxman begins recording his score for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)
March 8 - Bruce Broughton born (1945)
March 8 - Jerry Goldsmith records his score for the pilot to Dr. Kildare (1961)
March 8 - Alex North begins recording his unused score for Sounder (1972)
March 8 - Jerry Goldsmith begins recording orchestral cues for Logan's Run score (1976)
March 8 - Paul Chihara begins recording his score, adapted from Gilbert & Sullivan, for The Bad News Bears Go to Japan (1978)
March 8 - William Walton died (1983)
March 8 - James Newton Howard begins recording his score for Dave (1993)
March 8 - George Martin died (2016)
March 9 - John Cale born (1940)
March 9 - Arlon Ober born (1943)
March 9 - Mark Mancina born (1957)
March 9 - Bernard Herrmann begins recording his score for Psycho (1960)
March 9 - Deborah Lurie born (1974)
March 9 - Jane Antonia Cornish born (1975)
March 9 - Bill Conti begins recording his score for Wrongfully Accused (1998)
March 9 - Richard Stone died (2001)
March 10 - Arthur Honegger born (1892)
March 10 - Angela Morley/Wally Stott born (1924)
March 10 - Charles Previn, head of the Universal Music Department, wins the Score Oscar for One Hundred Men and a Girl, for which no composer is credited (1938)
March 10 - Brad Fiedel born (1951)
March 10 - Marc Donahue born (1953)
March 10 - Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen born (1960)
March 10 - Michel Legrand records his score for Summer of ’42 (1971)
March 10 - Bruce Broughton begins recording his score for Honey, I Blew Up the Kid (1992)
March 11 - Gottfried Huppertz born (1887)
March 11 - Astor Piazzolla born (1921)
March 11 - Recording sessions begin for Bronislau Kaper's score to Lili (1952)
March 11 - David Newman born (1954)
March 11 - Rob Simonsen born (1978)
March 11 - Ron Jones records his score for the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Heart of Glory" (1988)
March 11 - Paul Dunlap died (2010)
March 11 - Francois-Eudes Chanfrault died (2016)
March 11 - Keith Emerson died (2016)
March 12 - Georges Delerue born (1925)
March 12 - Aldemaro Romero born (1928)
March 12 - Leonard Rosenman begins recording his score for Prophecy (1979)
March 12 - David Shire begins recording his score for Short Circuit (1986)
March 13 - Hugo Friedhofer wins his only Oscar, for The Best Years of Our Lives score (1947)
March 13 - Lionel Newman, Cyril Mockridge and Leigh Harline begin recording their score for River of No Return (1954)
March 13 - Terence Blanchard born (1962)
March 13 - Lalo Schifrin begins recording his score for Joe Kidd (1972)
March 13 - Carl Davis begins recording his score to The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)
March 13 - Bruce Broughton records his score for the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode “Shgoratchx!” (1981)
March 13 - Ustad Vilayat Khan died (2004)
March 14 - Les Baxter born (1922)
March 14 - Quincy Jones born (1933)
March 14 - Roy Budd born (1947)
March 14 - The Godfather premieres in New York (1972)
March 14 - Peter Maxwell Davies died (2016)

DID THEY MENTION THE MUSIC?

GAUGUIN: VOYAGE TO TAHITI - Warren Ellis
 
"The impressively lyrical score by Australian-French composer Warren Ellis is dominated by warm and dark violin notes that seem to echo Koke's various moods."
 
Boyd van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter

GENERATION WEALTH - Jeff Beal
 
"Greenfield dedicates much of 'Generation Wealth' to her own situation, interviewing her parents about what shaped this fixation she seems to have with status, and coming clean on the way that her dedication to her work gets in the way of family time. As in any depiction of wealth, there’s an inevitable sense of 'schadenfreude' (that wonderful German word for pleasure in seeing others’ misfortune) that arises, pounded home late in the documentary as Jeff Beal’s score works overtime to convey that greed has ruined the lives of nearly everyone Greenfield ever chronicled."
 
Peter Debruge, Variety

JULIETA
- Alberto Iglesias

"That gives a concise picture of some of the qualities that set 'Julieta' apart from others of his films, but “austerity” shouldn’t be taken to mean that he’s gone all Bressonian us. There’s a luxuriance to both the storytelling and the visual manner of the film, but it’s a luxuriance without flamboyance or cheekiness. Almodóvar stages scenes economically and elegantly, in such a precise way that they could indeed be used as classroom examples. Along with cinematographer Jean-Claude Larrieu and editor José Salcedo, his collaborators include composer Alberto Iglesias, whose haunting score I think is the best I’ve heard in a movie this year."
 
Godfrey Cheshire, RogerEbert.com
 
"'Julieta' has an open relationship with genre. Alberto Iglesias’s sublime score surges with noirish menace while the story itself -- filled with sudden disappearances, betrayal, clues from the past -- keeps threatening to turn into a crime thriller. (Almodóvar probably understands better than any other contemporary filmmaker the intersection of classic film noir and the so-called women’s picture.) That it never goes full genre is perhaps irrelevant. The brooding suspense reflects the protagonist’s sense of inchoate guilt: She always suspects that she’s done something wrong, but she’s never quite sure what."
 
Bilge Ebiri, The Village Voice
 
"There’s a mystery at the heart of 'Julieta,' the latest film from Pedro Almodóvar, but it’s not the sort of mystery with an easy solution. And though Almodóvar fills with film with Hitchcockian gestures and references -- including an Alberto Iglesias score that plays like the greatest film music Bernard Herrmann never wrote -- the film never pays off a sense of mounting dread, at least not in the traditional sense. It’s easy to see some viewers leaving Julieta frustrated, particularly after a final scene that hints at some grand revelation it doesn’t deliver. But to be frustrated is to risk missing the point. In scene after scene, 'Julieta''s central character edges toward a greater understanding of the forces that have shaped her life only to realize how little she really knows. The solution to the mystery is more mystery. To suggest anything else would be a lie."
 
Keith Phipps, Uproxx

"Being distracted by the gorgeous fixtures and fittings is par for the course with an Almodóvar film, and he even makes light of this when Julieta moves to a new Madrid apartment that’s blessed or cursed (depending on your taste) with some seriously busy 'oppressive' wallpaper. Elsewhere, the film has much to please Almodóvar admirers. Fans of his use of blood red (last properly seen in 'Volver') are in for a treat. On cars, clothes, ashtrays -- it’s everywhere. Alberto Iglesias’s mournful jazzy score is affecting, and the rest of the film’s craft -- cinematography, design, costumes -- is typically exquisite. It might be familiar territory for Almodóvar, but only a master of his art could make it look so easy."
 
Dave Calhoun, Time Out London

"'Julieta' has all the signature touches we have come to expect from Almodóvar, including a dazzling colour palette rich in blood reds and shimmering azure, and a seductive score reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock regular Bernard Herrmann. The director doffs his cap to Patricia Highsmith, Greek tragedy and the heightened artificiality of late Hitchcock thrillers like 'Marnie.' Fans will be able to spot the references and will savour the rich stew of lost opportunities, misunderstandings, rash judgements and crippling regrets."
 
Allan Hunter, The List

"Set to a Hitchcockian score by Almodovar’s loyal musical accomplice Alberto Iglesias, sweeping over magnificent lamdscapes, the film’s intrigue grows with each frame and there is a genius shot where the young Julieta is switched for the older version (I won’t say more), but it is elegant and seamless. The switch, however, also shifts the dynamic of the film. Julieta loses spunk,  the story loses pace and clarity. Antia’s walkout is sudden and inexplicable. We never quite grasp the cracks in the mother and daughter relationship -- in fact, things seemed fine -- which is so central to the story. Yet it gets sidelined."
 
Talia Soghomonian, Collider

"The real thrust of the film, however, is sorrow, not suspense, a fact perhaps best demonstrated by Alberto Iglesias‘ standout score. It’s a story not only of abandonment and absence, but also of the tragedy of usurpation, and especially of women occupying roles and homes and beds that were previously another woman’s domain. Julieta herself usurps the place of Xoan’s comatose, then deceased wife. Her father replaces her ailing mother with the woman who comes to tend house. The resentful, long-serving Marian reluctantly retires, and a new housekeeper is engaged the very same day; with adult female roles and relationships so apparently fickle and easily replicated with a different model, the only absence that cannot be filled is that of a lost child. There is something profoundly moving in that observation and as embodied in Suarez’s tightly coiled performance, it gives 'Julieta' its moments of realness, of rawness. And those moments prove that with the wick turned down on his Almodovarian fire, the great Spanish director may get fewer sparks flying, but the embers still glow and can occasionally burn."
 
Jessica Kiang, The Playlist

"Near the end of 'Julieta,' Pedro Almodóvar’s latest feature, a man tells the title character that he’d been following her around for a while from a distance, but finally stopped because he realized he was turning into an obsessive stalker from a Patricia Highsmith novel. Almodóvar also wrote the film’s screenplay, and that Highsmith reference is his sly wink at viewers who’ve noticed that certain elements of 'Julieta' -- suspicious, seemingly inexplicable behavior; the recurring use of blood red; Alberto Iglesias’ urgent score -- suggest the sort of elegant thriller in which the author specialized. (Famous movies adapted from her work include 'Strangers On A Train' and 'The Talented Mr. Ripley.') This isn’t a thriller, though, and its actual source is three connected short stories by a very different writer, Alice Munro. Almodóvar has directed what’s basically a melodrama as if it were a thriller—a fascinating experiment that doesn’t always work as intended, but creates a useful dissonance en route to a powerfully open-ended conclusion...Almodóvar is in no particular hurry to get to this revelation, though. He wants to honor all three of Munro’s stories (about the same woman, who’s called Juliet on the page), so he includes, for example, an interlude based on the story 'Soon,' in which Julieta visits her parents, even though that relationship doesn’t really fit the narrative as he’s restructured it and needs to be awkwardly shoehorned in again later so as not to seem completely irrelevant. Consequently, Julieta sometimes feels a tad pokey -- and might feel even more so were it not for discordant elements (especially Iglesias’ very Herrmann-esque strings) suggesting high intrigue that’s not technically in evidence yet. Only in the film’s final minutes does it start to retroactively coalesce into a sneaky study of crippling guilt, which it seems to argue can be passed down genetically. Does this tactic qualify as a bait and switch? Perhaps. If the result satisfies, however -- and 'Julieta''s inconclusive but deeply moving ending packs an unexpected wallop -- nobody’s likely to complain."
 
Mike D'Angelo, The Onion AV Club

LA LA LAND - Justin Hurwitz

"Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling make for a terrific pair of leads: she’s an aspiring actress who works at a coffee shop on the Warner Bros. studio lot, he’s a jazz musician reduced to playing Christmas piano in a restaurant. Neither is an exceptional singer, but they fit in seamlessly in the buoyant and charming score by Chazelle’s longtime musical collaborator, Justin Hurwitz. (The two have made a musical before: Chazelle’s black-and-white 16mm debut, 'Guy And Madeline On A Park Bench,' which 'La La Land' echoes.) These are characters who live in a reality of movie references; if the projector breaks down during the planetarium scene at a screening of 'Rebel Without A Cause,' they can just hop into a car and drive over to the Griffith Observatory themselves."
 
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The Onion AV Club

"That’s 'La La Land' all over: joyous, openhearted filmmaking in the service of wan songs, bloodless singing, and dancing that we too often can’t quite see -- we just have to take the movie’s word that it’s great."
 
Alan Scherstuhl, The Village Voice
 
"If you’re going to have Ryan Gosling rhapsodize about the excitement of jazz, you ought to play the audience the real stuff. I find evidence in 'La La Land' that Chazelle has heard some of it. (There was also evidence in his previous film, 'Whiplash,' despite its premise that jazz education is a matter of learning to play old Maynard Ferguson charts as fast as possible.) But even though Chazelle presumably knows better, he hedges commercially in 'La La Land,' filling the sound track with jazz-by-the-yard from composer Justin Hurwitz. When I got home, I found that I couldn’t blast away the blandness with anything too restrained, like Art Farmer and Benny Golson. I had to resort to Mingus."
 
Stuart Klawans, The Nation
 
"Chazelle and cinematographer Linus Sandgren shot the film in extra-wide CinemaScope, allowing the camera to pan and twirl as if perpetually curious to discover what delights might lurk just outside the frame. The songs and score, by customary Chazelle collaborator Justin Hurwitz, are not quite indelible but they are nonetheless lovely. And while neither Stone nor Gosling is a professional-level singer or dancer, Chazelle does not pretend that they are. Their voices are unmodified and their dance sequences -- like all the musical numbers -- are shot in long takes rather than chopped and edited into fine shards of perfection. It’s an unusual choice but one that pays dividends, adding a layer of reality to the cinematic fantasy."
 
Christopher Orr, The Atlantic

"The original songs, with music from Justin Hurwitz and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, are an absolute delight, conjuring up a nostalgic glow that avoids cynicism or soulless pastiche. Dancing With the Stars choreographer Mandy Moore gives Stone and Gosling a lively energy in their dance routines, making them appear polished without being perfect. Chazelle’s dialogue and plotting feel contemporary, but the musical sequences are a balance of now and then; the characters fall in love in a Hollywood netherworld where an impossibly romantic Los Angeles is the backdrop and everyone can have the job of their dreams if they just wish hard enough."
 
Tim Grierson, The New Republic
 
"It’s all quite pleasing to the eye, but the accompanying soundtrack comes up short. Chazelle regular Justin Hurwitz’s compositions color in the lines with ebullient but indistinct songs filled with blaring trumpets and jumpy rhythms. The exception is 'City of Stars,' a gorgeous, minor-key piano ballad that evokes the broken dreams and big-city solitude at the movie’s heart. Mia’s own journey, which finds her attempting to write her own play and face-planting, speaks to familiar laments about the misleading promises of a dream factory that’s readymade for disappointment."
 
Eric Kohn, IndieWire
 
"Neither Emma Stone (as aspiring actress Mia, a barista on the Warner Bros studio lot) nor Ryan Gosling (jazz pianist Seb) can sing or dance like a pro, but that’s partly the point, and the poignance: these aren’t stars yet, they’re fledgling talents, frustrated dreamers yearning for something bigger and better that may not even exist anymore. But when they pull on their taps and warble through one of Justin Hurwitz’s melancholy, and sometimes quite lovely, melodies, the actors’ charm and chemistry shine through, and Chazelle’s always inventive staging ensures we’re transported to the elevated emotional planes people used to go to the movies to experience: ardour, hope, despair, what have you."
 
Tom Charity, Sight and Sound
 
"And then there are the song themselves, the infectiously jazz-inflected ditties by composer Justin Hurwitz and lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. That dream team builds many of its earworms -- the peppy opening number, a Broadway-worthy rallying cry for L.A. strivers; the lilting boardwalk lullaby 'City Of Stars' -- out from a single hum or whistle, to provide them an introspective foundation. (Keys are the other driving instrument, most crucially in the film’s piano-played main theme: a wordless lament in the aching mold of 'Umbrellas'' 'I Will Wait For You.') Neither Gosling nor Stone have perfect voices, but imperfection is part of the point; this is a musical that acknowledges the discrepancy between the spotlight fairy-tale Mia daydreams about and the more blemished reality of her wage-slave circumstances -- in the other words, the L.A. of movie screens versus the noisy, gridlocked, unforgiving 'real' version."
 
A.A. Dowd, The Onion AV Club
 
"The lovers go their separate ways, as movie lovers must, for much of the film’s third act -- though the film’s modernity withholds that comforting old-time guarantee of eventual happiness ever after. Then, just when you’re starting to wonder if 'La La Land' has run out of gas, it kicks into high gear with a gorgeous final number in 3/4 time -- for my money, the only lasting musical earworm in Justin Hurwitz’s pretty but undistinguished score (the lyrics are by musical theater writing duo Pasek and Paul). Chazelle combines flashbacks, flash-forwards, dream sequences, and multiple musical reprises into a dazzling time-spanning montage, set like the 'dream ballets' of MGM musicals in a curious intersubjective space outside the story proper. It’s in this finale that Chazelle’s imagination and skill as a filmmaker really take flight. He knows cinema alone is capable of taking us on this kind of whirlwind tour of the human psyche, and he uses the tools of the medium -- color as paint, the human face and body as moving canvases, the rhythm of editing as a percussion instrument -- with such consummate craft and such evident joy that for 'La La Land''s last 15 minutes, you can barely feel the ground beneath your feet."
 
Dana Stevens, Slate.com
 
"Lavishly shot to mimic the grandeur of Cinemascope and with a nostalgia-soaked score composed by Justin Hurwitz and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, 'La La Land' brings us a city disproportionately inhabited by frustrated dreamers like Mia (Stone) a studio backlot barista and aspiring actress, and Sebastian (Gosling), a jazz purist seething over what he takes to be his eternal fate tickling out Christmas jingles in the kind of eatery where no one notices the pianist. Mia and Sebastian keep running into one another at pool parties and cliff-tops with twinkly nocturnal views. Once they get over the statutory opening hostilities, the two succumb to chemistry and shack up together in the kind of generic abode every arriving Angeleno will recognize as the starter rental with ghastly blinds."
 
Ella Taylor, NPR

"Believe the hype. Damien Chazelle’s 'La La Land' is an absolutely joyful, delightfully old-fashioned romantic musical comedy, lush and luminous, filled with great songs, full-blooded production numbers, theatrical lighting effects, the works. But it also navigates a delicate line between all of that stylized jazz and an honest-to-God relationship drama, with scenes of conflict and disappointment that are utterly raw and exposed."
 
Jason Bailey, Flavorwire

"The movie’s splashy freeway opening features dozens of dancers of every racial and ethnic type filling out an ultra-wide CinemaScope screen as they cavort in between and on the hoods of cars while singing an L.A. anthem: 'Another Sunny Day.' It’s infectious and amusing, but after that and a girls-night-out group song called 'Someone in the Crowd,' I dreaded facing one tricked-out chorus number after another -- neat packages of energy tied up with gimmicky bows, like a water-soaked rotating shot from the point of view of fun-lovers who leap into a swimming pool at a Hollywood Hills party. Linus Sandgren’s virtuoso moving camera appears to have everything except a set of brakes, and Chazelle shoots the works with visual effects that make us feel we’re fizzing inside a champagne glass. Considering that the songwriters had to create something out of nothing -- a complete score from Chazelle’s Platonic ideal of show tunes -- composer Jason Hurwitz and lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul inject surprising oomph into the lovers’ duets and a feathery lyricism into their solos. (Pasek and Paul have just won raves for the Broadway production of 'Dear Evan Hansen.') You want Mia and Seb to connect partly because you want to see Stone and Gosling perform together. And when they’re apart, they’ve still got game. In her designated showstopper, Stone manages to deliver a salute to what 'The Muppet Movie' calls 'the lovers, the dreamers, and me,' with a conviction that carries us along, even if the number itself does resemble Kermit the Frog’s 'Rainbow Connection' reshaped as a torch song."
 
Michael Sragow, Film Comment
 
"As with much of 'La La Land,' Chazelle is having his cake and eating it. He playfully chides genre conventions while making an ode to past masters. He lays open his characters’ own faulty nostalgia but can’t see it through and ends with a scene taken straight from Demy’s 'Umbrellas of Cherbourg.' Of course, none of that matters if the cake is this delicious. Gosling and Stone may be no Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, but their chemistry is undeniable and they’re capable of carrying the soundtrack’s catchy -- if hardly extraordinary -- tunes. In much the same way that flights of fancy give the characters respite from the compromises of life, 'La La Land' has enough about it to distract from its flaws. It may not have answers, but it more than makes up for it with enchantment."
 
Ben Nicholson, The Skinny

"TCM addicts will swoon over that traffic-jam number, not to mention a dance sequence that delightfully defies gravity. The vocal duets between Stone and Gosling are charming, even though they both have singing voices that might diplomatically be called 'naturalistic.' (Similarly, the songs by composer Justin Hurwitz and Broadway lyricists Pasek and Paul aren’t traditional show-stoppers, but they sneak up on you by the second reprise.) The final segment, a fantastical exploration of roads not taken, ranks with the poignant ending of 'Umbrellas,' and that’s high praise for lovers of glamorous cinematic melancholy.The musical is as malleable and eclectic a genre as any other, and Chazelle reminds us how effectively it can be applied to intimate moments as well as huge ones. When Sebastian and Mia woo each other, the soaring music behind them seems just right; when Mia and her girlfriends stride in tandem to a Hollywood party, swinging their skirts and asserting their feminine power, it’s like a glorious cross between 'West Side Story' and one of those signature Tarantino shots of tough guys walking toward the camera."
 
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap

"It was a very interesting shift for a film that initially pushed me away with the larger, more classical musical pieces. Gosling, Stone, Chazelle, cinematographer Linus Sandgren, and composer Justin Hurwitz, were able to pull me closer by defining a specific tempo and visual template for both individuals in this relationship and then melded them together into something selfless and hopelessly romantic. It’s in this character arena where Chazelle’s musical strokes excel (and Stone is absolutely radiant). There are nice homages to old-school musicals throughout 'La La Land,' but his true artistic voice comes through in the shining duo numbers. And with Stone and Gosling, what a duo we receive."
 
Brian Formo, Collider
 
"Chazelle’s collaborators certainly try their best. Composer Justin Hurwitz and lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul contribute a pleasing score, with the kind of earnest verse ('Here’s to the ones who dream/Foolish as they may seem/Here’s to the hearts that ache/Here’s to the mess we make') on which Demy films thrived. D.P. Linus Sandgren shoots the many musical numbers, and numerous other scenes besides, in gorgeous widescreen long takes that privilege space and bodies in ways managed by few modern movie musicals. And choreographer Mandy Moore has a field day with the set pieces Chazelle dreams up: a traffic jam that turns into an acrobatic free-for-all; a tap-and-swoon pas de deux above the Hollywood Hills at sunset; a gravity-defying waltz among the projected stars at the Griffith Observatory."
 
Keith Uhlich, Slant Magazine
 
"Not everyone loves musicals, though, and 'La La Land' won't seduce anyone who thinks 'The Sound of Music' is grotesquely corny, or that 'Umbrellas of Cherbourg' is some dusty old foreign film where nothing much happens. But for people who do love those movies, and the unselfconsciously joyous romantic ideals they represent, 'La La Land' is a glorious feast for the eyes and the soul. Its complete lack of restraint, cynicism, or self-consciousness invites viewers to drop their own reservations and just feel the big, broad emotions as they're played out on-screen, through memorable songs and elaborate fantasy sequences."
 
Tasha Robinson, The Verge
 
"The story itself is not especially nuanced; it sounds better if you call it archetypal. Justin Hurwitz’s original songs at first struck me similarly -- as a collection of B-side standards, exhilarating in the moment but leveled out into sameness as he reproduces snatches of melody throughout the score. And yet -- and maybe this is cheating -- I’ve had a screener of the film for three weeks now, and I keep hitting play, even if I’m just doing the dishes, because I want to get back there again, and now I’m waking up humming his melodies and zoning out in traffic remembering how my ear excited to a vibraphone, full strings luxuriating from double stop to pizzicato, two flutes as they herald a reverie. The flutes remind me of another moment in another movie; it’s so close but I can’t place it. The magic -- and that’s the very word for it -- of 'La La Land' is to call back without feeling derivative, or sycophantic. We need new stories, and I’m confident this one will be a bridge for new generations, a trail of crumbs back to Vincente Minnelli and Stanley Donen and Powell & Pressburger. But 'La La Land' earns its place in the pantheon as its own special thing, expansive enough to be at once modern and elemental, exuberant and melancholic. 'Transportive' is a word critics like to throw around in a generalized sense, but with 'La La Land' that transportiveness has a very specific destination, for me at least. I want to live inside this movie, live inside its sheen, in the dream-space where cinema can let you levitate, even as the real-you stays rooted so polite in your seat."
 
Kimberley Jones, The Austin Chronicle

"The plot, as much as there is one, is slight, tracking the relationship between jazz pianist and purist jazz fan Seb (Gosling) and aspiring actress, actual barista Mia (Stone), from their first un-cute meets, through them getting together (easy) and staying together (difficult). On one level it’s remarkably low-stakes, and there’s little outright conflict between these two fundamentally lovely and decent people (except for one brilliantly written and performed dinner scene). But onto this slim, timeless and infinitely relatable structure, Chazelle weaves a story that is as replete with ideas and insights as it is with delicious production and costume design (David Wasco and Mary Zohres respectively), and witty, soulful songwriting (from composer Justin Hurwitz, with lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul)."
 
Jessica Kiang, The Playlist
 
"'La La Land' is set in contemporary Los Angeles, but its heart and soul are rooted in the past, and so are its characters: Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a sleek jazz pianist in silk ties who’s a cranky purist about what he listens to, what he plays, and where he plays it, and Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress and playwright who’s deep into the magic of the old movie stars, though she’s a tad less obsessive about her fixation. She works as a barista on the Warner Bros. lot and is always cutting out of work to get to auditions; if one of them ever resulted in her landing an acting job, she’d probably be ecstatic no matter what it was. These two meet, scuffle, and fall in love, and they do it through a series of song-and-dance numbers, composed by Justin Hurwitz (the lyrics are by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul), that are tenderly shocking in their catchy anachronistic beauty. The film’s score is such a melodious achievement that there are moments it evokes the bittersweet majesty of George Gershwin."
 
Owen Gleiberman, Variety

"All of Chazelle's key collaborators were clearly in total sync with the project's aims. Composer Justin Hurwitz, who worked on both the director's previous films, has delivered an LP's worth of buoyant, charming tunes, mostly in a jazzy vein, with Benj Pasek and Justin Paul supplying the lyrics. Production designer David Wasco and costume designer Mary Zophres adroitly supplied touches of the old and new in an elegant way, while choreographer Mandy Moore similarly danced a stylistic tightrope that greatly helped Chazelle achieve his aim of delivering a welcome gift of vintage goods in a dazzling new package."
 
Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
 
McQUEEN - Michael Nyman

"Driven by the delirious energy of an excellent Michael Nyman score, 'McQueen' is informative, engrossing but never maudlin as it considers the many facets of a fascinating and tragic figure."
 
Allan Hunter, The List
 
"This documentary about the late British clothing designer Alexander McQueen puts the viewer in the right headspace right away, and I mean that literally: The film opens with a camera slowly swirling around a skull. Red droplets splash on the cranium. In Michael Nyman’s score, a brass section booms rhythmically like blood in your ears. The effect is brooding and provocative. It’s pure drama. It’s perfectly Alexander McQueen."
 
Kimberley Jones, The Austin Chronicle

"McQueen is on display here not merely as impenetrable legend, but as a laborer. We see his time at Savile Row, his nonverbal collaboration with a French atelier, as well as his sense of scale and inclination toward the cinematic, all augmented by Michael Nyman’s haunting score. But 'McQueen''s greatest strength is the chance to see his catwalk shows on the big screen. Despite interviews with family and collaborators, the film lets the art -- what the Met rightly called 'such savage beauty' -- speak for itself."
 
Kyle Turner, The Village Voice
 
"The polished new documentary, 'McQueen,' charts the late designer’s rise from English country boy to fashion’s enfant terrible, but the filmmaking lacks the artistic vision of its subject. That proves to be quite all right, as McQueen’s talent was enough to light up the screen sans frills, (though a distracting score threatens to overpower its some of the movie’s best interviews). Directed by Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui ('Listen to Me Marlon'), the film follows McQueen’s life and work chronologically, relying mostly on archival footage and intimate interviews with his closest friends and family. The film remains firmly focused on his work and evolution as an artist, neither skipping over nor wallowing in the childhood trauma that inspired his darker side."
 
Jude Dry, IndieWire

"The other major complaint I have involves Michael Nyman’s intrusive score. Now, I am a huge fan of 'The Piano' score and some of Nyman’s other compositions, but it was very jarring to hear music associated with Jane Campion’s Palme D’Or winner plastered throughout this film. Nyman worked with McQueen on some of his shows, so his presence is easily explained, but I still found some of the music distracting."
 
Odie Henderson, RogerEbert.com

"Finally, Bonhôte and Ettedgui (a writer on the similarly unusual, sinuous bio-doc 'Listen to Me Marlon') have succeeded most pleasingly in fashioning McQueen as an inherently cinematic subject, honoring his legacy with their own formal inventions and extravagances -- chief among them a thrillingly sumptuous, high-drama score by Michael Nyman (himself a former McQueen collaborator) and a series of intricate interstitial animations centered on that all-important skull, infesting it with tangled foliage or draping it in gold, dictated by the tenor of his life and work over the years. A script for a narrative McQueen biopic has been doing the rounds for a few years: If it’s to top this doc as either portrait or tribute, it has its work finely cut out for it."
 
Guy Lodge, Variety
 
"The movie is presented in five chapters, titled 'tapes' after a jokey interview project with friends, and punctuated by the skull motif that remains the iconic symbol of McQueen's design house today. In gorgeous digital animation sequences accompanied by the lush sounds of a Michael Nyman score full of surging pomp and drama, the skull is continually deconstructed and reshaped -- oozing blood, armored with liquid metal and jewels, streaming with tendrils of tartan fabric like a Scottish Medusa, crawling with butterflies or decomposing as wilting petals fall from its gold-encrusted cavities."
 
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
 
7 SPLINTERS IN TIME - Gabriel Judet-Weinshel
 
"Darius’ circumstances are soon explicated by run-ins with cryptic librarian Fyodor Wax (Austin Pendleton) and bald hermit John Luka (Greg Bennick), the latter of whom flies around in a ludicrous makeshift contraption and speaks into his own camera -- and to the audience -- in motor-mouthed close-up monologues. Aesthetically and narratively speaking, '7 Splinters in Time' melds bits and pieces of 'Eraserhead,' 'Blade Runner,' '12 Monkeys,' 'Dark City' and 'Looper,' albeit with such editorial business that any legitimate sense of place, character or emotion slips through the cracks. Full of piano, orchestral arrangements and other assorted noises, Judet-Weinshel’s score is as eclectic as the script is all over the place. While George Nicholas’ dynamic cinematography, fixated on spiral and mirror imagery, conjures an adequate fatalistic-dreamy mood, it’s not enough to compensate for a general lack of focus, exacerbated by clues that are introduced, explained and dropped on a dime."
 
Nick Schager, Variety

WHITNEY - Adam Wiltzie
 
"Without sensationalizing, the film lays all this out as an American tragedy, not of self-sabotage as some might glibly dismiss it, but the tale of a vulnerable woman never given the chance simply to figure out who she was. The sparing use of Adam Wiltzie's somber underscoring through the later years makes the trajectory even more acutely affecting. Special mention also should go to Rice-Edwards' dexterous editing, which establishes the political, social and pop-cultural climate at any given moment with great economy, splicing in images of Houston's music contemporaries, changes in White House administration, iconic ad campaigns and world-shaking events."
 
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

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.

March 8
KILL BILL: VOL. 2 (The RZA, Robert Rodriguez) [New Beverly]
KING KONG (Max Steiner), THE MIRACLE WOMAN [UCLA]
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (Tom Holkenborg) [Nuart]
THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (Bernard Herrmann), THE BRIDE WORE BLACK (Bernard Herrmann) [Cinematheque: Aero]
MILLER'S CROSSING (Carter Burwell), UNDER THE VOLCANO (Alex North) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST (Jack Nitzsche), THE CRAZY WORLD OF JULIUS VROODER (Bob Alcivar) [New Beverly]

March 9
FRANKENSTEIN, THE RAVEN, DRACULA, THE BLACK CAT (Heinz Roemheld), BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (Franz Waxman), MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE, SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (Frank Skinner) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
THE GROOVE TUBE [New Beverly]
MEET JOHN DOE (Dimitri Tiomkin), THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (Max Steiner) [UCLA]
ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST (Jack Nitzsche), THE CRAZY WORLD OF JULIUS VROODER (Bob Alcivar) [New Beverly]
PHAR LAP (Bruce Rowland) [New Beverly]
REAR WINDOW (Franz Waxman), MISSISSIPPI MERMAID (Antoine Duhamel) [Cinematheque: Aero]

March 10
THE CASE AGAINST BROOKLYN (Mischa Bakaleinikoff), TARAWA BEACHHEAD [New Beverly]
THE EAGLE HUNTRESS (Jeff Peters) [UCLA]
PHAR LAP (Bruce Rowland) [New Beverly]
TOM JONES (John Addison), BIG FISH (Danny Elfman) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
WAR AND PEACE (Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov) [Cinemathque: Aero]

March 11
ANNIE HALL [Arclight Culver City]
ANNIE HALL [Arclight Sherman Oaks]
CLUELESS (David Kitay) [New Beverly]
THE CASE AGAINST BROOKLYN (Mischa Bakaleinikoff), TARAWA BEACHHEAD [New Beverly]

March 12
BEFORE MIDNIGHT (Graham Reynolds) [Arclight Santa Monica]
BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS (Stu Phillips) [LACMA]
LOLITA (Nelson Riddle) [Arclight Hollywood]
SOUL BROTHERS OF KUNG FU (Fu Liang Chow), THE IMAGE OF BRUCE LEE (Frankie Chan) [New Beverly]

March 13
IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT (Quincy Jones) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
MILDRED PIERCE (Max Steiner) [New Beverly]

March 14
BLAZING SADDLES (John Morris) [Laemmle NoHo]
DIAL M FOR MURDER (Dimitri Tiomkin), THE GLASS WEB [Cinematheque: Aero]
KRAMER VS. KRAMER [Laemmle Royal]

March 15
CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON [Cinematheque: Aero]
EVIL DEAD 2 (Joseph LoDuca) [Nuart]
HIGHWAY PATROLMAN, WALKER (Joe Strummer) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
KILL BILL: VOL. 1 (The RZA) [New Beverly]
YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (John Morris), DEAD MEN DON'T WEAR PLAID (Miklos Rozsa) [New Beverly]

March 16
GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE [Cinematheque: Aero]
THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER (Bruce Rowland) [New Beverly]
REPO MAN (Steven Hufsteter, Humberto Larriva) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
TUNNEL VISION (Dennis Lambert, Brian Potter) [New Beverly]
VIVA VILLA! (Herbert Stothart), VIRTUE [UCLA]
YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (John Morris), DEAD MEN DON'T WEAR PLAID (Miklos Rozsa) [New Beverly]

March 17
DARBY O'GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE (Oliver Wallace), THE QUIET MAN (Victor Young) [New Beverly]
THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER (Bruce Rowland) [New Beverly]
ROAD HOUSE (Michael Kamen), POINT BREAK (Mark Isham) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]


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

Considering the ridiculously high number of new movies I see each year (if my math is correct, in 2018 I saw 254 new films in theaters), sometimes the most puzzling question is why do I skip those films that I don't end up seeing.

I've been a lifelong fan of science-fiction TV and cinema so I'll see pretty much any science-fiction film in wide release (I drew the line at Earth to Echo, due to the combination of an unengaging trailer, the dreaded "found footage" approach, and my lack of interest in seeing yet another E.T. "homage"). In general I tend to see horror films and thrillers, though there are certain types of horror films I'm inclined to avoid -- not because I'll find them too scary, but simply because I doubt they'll be any good. I often avoid demonic possession movies, since they are mostly just inferior ripoffs of The Exorcist, and the only worthy possession/exorcism I've seen since Friedkin's classic was the "Possession" episode of Penny Dreadful, spotlighting the incomparable Eva Green. I also largely avoid found footage hororr films, a gimmick that could safely have been abandoned 20 years ago after the colossal success of The Blair Witch Project -- so I was shocked that The Visit would turn out to be (IMHO) M. Night Shyamalan's best film since Unbreakable.

I tend to see most thrillers released by major studios, but there have been a handful of psychological thrillers that I've avoided -- it's not my favorite subgenre (even at their best they tend to be more uncomfortable than genuinely thrilling), and the main reason I skipped them is that based on the trailers, they simply didn't look like they'd be very good. Unfortunately, the other thing they have in common -- The Perfect Guy, No Good Deed, When the Bough Breaks, Traffik -- is that they have African-American leads, so just by skipping them I feel like I'm demonstating unconscious racism. But as I said, none of these movies looked good, at least from the advertising -- I'd be happy to see a movie starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson, but not a poorly reviewed one where Elba plays an escaped psycho terrorizing a mom (Henson) and her two kids (that would be No Good Deed). (And yes, I know, Idris Elba is from the UK, so he can't accurately be described as "African-American") I read a synopsis of The Perfect Guy hoping that it would have the one twist that might make me want to see it -- that psycho Michael Ealy had actually been hired by Sanaa Lathan's ex, Morris Chestnut, so she'd come running back to him -- but apparently nothing that surprising actually happened in the real film, so I gave it a miss.

I did see Breaking In (though the premise was such an obvious ripoff of Panic Room that I assumed it had to be from the same studio, but it wasn't) because the cat-and-mouse nature of the storyline, plus the fact that it starred Gabrielle Union (who was the best thing about the misconceived Night Stalker reboot), suggested that it could at least be a good time at the movies, if no undying classic. And the first two thirds were actually pretty fun, helped by the presence of Twilight's Billy Burke as a refreshingly calm and rational villain, but when the finale devolved into a tattooed, ex-convict villain punching Union in the face and promising to rape her and her daughter, the movie lost pretty much all of my goodwill.

I'm faced with yet another similar moviegoing decision this spring, as it seems like nearly film I see (at least at my local Arclight) is preceded by the trailer for The Intruder. If you ever saw Cold Creek Manor, in which yuppie couple Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone buy an old country house and are menaced by previous owner Stephen Dorff, you might enjoy this new version (not actually a remake, just the same premise with the stalker element of Unlawful Entry grafted onto it) in which Quaid is now the psycho instead of the hero (Michael Ealy and Meagan Good play the imperiled couple). Except for a well-executed shot where passing headlights reveal Quaid standing in the dark woods, nothing in the trailer suggests this will be anything but a formula thriller hitting all the most obvious beats in the most obvious ways, but if the reviews suggest a good film actually resulted, I'll probably catch up with it. I think my unconscious criteria is that a thriller should seem like it will either be good or fun, and The Intruder doesn't seem like it will be either, at least based on the advertising.

If only to demonstrate that African-American actors are not the only performers stuck in disappointing and illogical thrillers, last weekend saw the release of Greta, starring Chloe Grace Moretz and, more importantly, the legendary Isabelle Huppert in the title role of a lonely widow who befriends young Moretz, but who proves to be less wholesome and kindly than she first appears. The combination of Huppert and writer-director Neil Jordan (Mona Lisa, The Crying Game, Interview with the Vampire) suggested that this could be much more than your typical stalker film but, alas, not so much. It at least looks nice, thanks to cinematographer Seamus McGarvey (Atonement, Marvel's The Avengers, Bad Times at the El Royale), but the A-list cast and crew make the stupidity of the plotting even more maddening.

I think Greta may have irritated me even more than Jordan's The Brave One, which feinted at being a more thoughtful entry in the Death Wish subgenre while ending up arguably more irresponsible and even less believable than the Bronson/Winner original (despite another A-list cast and crew, including Jodie Foster and Dario Marianelli). One frustrating thing about most contemporary vigilante films -- including the 2018 Death Wish remake -- is that they miss one of the most interesting aspects of the 1974 film. In the first Death Wish, it is assumed by both the cops and Bronson's character that he'll never be able to track down the thugs (who include a debuting Jeff Goldblum) who killed his wife and assulted his daughter, so he doesn't even try -- he merely wanders the city as bait to lure and murder other totally random criminals. In practically every other modern vigilante film, the hero's goal is to track down and kill specific villains out of revenge, and of course he/she inevitablysucceeds (such as Brave One's Foster, who has no trouble becoming a crack shot despite no previous gun-handling experience and a severe head injury). Brian Garfield's sequel novel to Death Wish, Death Sentence, was actually adapted (very loosely) into a film of the same name in 2007, with Kevin Bacon and John Goodman. One nice thing about this entry in the genre -- besides a tense and skillfully executed one-take foot chase, the film's highlight -- is that the hero's vigilante activities actually have tragic repercussions in his own life.  It was one of the first films James Wan directed after Saw put him on the map, and I'd much rather watch it again than one of his bloated, overrated Conjuring movies.

But if one really must see a film in the Death Wish vein (besides Michael Winner's 1985 cult classic Death Wish 3, with its eclectic supporting cast including Alex Winter and Marina Sirtis), I recommend Harry Brown, the 2009 British thriller starring Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer and Jack O'Connell.

Return to Articles Author Profile
Comments (0):Log in or register to post your own comments
There are no comments yet. Log in or register to post your own comments
Film Score Monthly Online
The Art of Heather M.
Into the Hildurness
Waller-Bridge Rising
Top 10 Film Music Cliches, Part 2
Wong's Turn: Dis and That, 2019
Ear of the Month Contest
Gold Rush: A Brief History of the Hollywood Musical
Today in Film Score History:
August 20
Alain Goraguer born (1931)
Isaac Hayes born (1942)
Raoul Kraushaar born (1908)
Ron Jones records his score for the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Naked Now" (1987)
Stelvio Cipriani born (1937)
FSMO Featured Video
Video Archive • Audio Archive
Podcasts
© 2019 Film Score Monthly. All Rights Reserved.