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One of the legends of film music, Ennio Morricone, passed away on Monday, July 6, at the age of 91. Morricone had a staggeringly long run as a feature composer, receiving his first scoring credit in 1961. His indelible scores for Sergio Leone's Westerns made him a film-music brand name, and following his Oscar nomination for his gorgeous Days of Heaven score in 1978, he became an A-lister in Hollywood as well, with five additional nominations culminating in his 2015 win for The Hateful Eight, as well as his 2006 honorary Oscar "for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music." Much like Bernard Herrmann, he was ultimately respected even by those who disdain traditional film music (the kind of people who seem to think John Williams is only capable of writing fantasy-adventure scores), but unlike Herrmann, Morricone was able to earn that respect long before the end of his career. Tributes and obituaries for the composer can be found at websites all over the Net, including BBC.com, Deadline, The Guardian, The Hollywood Reporter, IndieWire, Lawyers, Guns & Money, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, NPR, Rolling Stone, Variety (by Jon Burlingame), and The Washington Post.


Another Oscar winner, composer/songwriter Johnny Mandel, died on June 29th at the age of 94 at his home in Ojai, California. He worked as a musician, arranger and songwriter before making his big screen scoring debut with his jazz score for Robert Wise's Oscar-winning 1958 docudrama I Want to Live!  Over the course of his career he won five Grammys, as well as the Original Song Oscar for The Sandpiper's "The Shadow of Your Smile." His offbeat score for Robert Altman's M*A*S*H included the main title song "Suicide is Painless," whose melody, used as the theme for the long-running TV spinoff, is probably his most widely recoginzed composition. Over the course of his feature career, he worked with an impressive roster of directors besides Altman and Wise, including Michael Apted (Agatha), Hal Ashby (Being There, The Last Detail), John Boorman (Point Blank), Norman Jewison (The Russians Are Coming The Russians Are Coming) and Sidney Lumet (Deathtrap, The Verdict), as well as scoring such cult favorites as Caddyshack and Pretty Poison. He is survived by his daughter, Marissa. Jon Burlingame's obituary for the composer can be found at Variety.


La-La Land has announced their planned slate of releases for this month.

On July 14th, they will release a two-disc edition of TWO MULES FOR SISTER SARA, the light-hearted 1970 Western directed by Don Siegel, featuring the unusual pairing of Clint Eastwood and Shirley MacLaine. This is the only one of the originally announced collaborations between La-La Land and Universal that had not yet been released, and the film was the first non-Leone Eastwood vehicle to be scored by the legendary Ennio Morricone (and the only one after that was In the Line of Fire).

On the same day, they plan to release ESCAPE TO DANGER, a collection of music composed for "audio adventures" of Dr. Who by Joe Kraemer (The Way of the Gun, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation)

On July 28, they will release the soundtrack to THE OUTPOST, the new Mideast war movie directed by entertainment-journalist-turned-filmmaker Rod Lurie (The Contender, The Last Castle). Like most of Lurie's films, The Outpost was scored by Larry Groupe.


Varese Sarabande will be releasing Marco Beltrami's score for DRACULA 2000 as a limited edition, stand-alone CD; the label previously released it as part of their Little Box of Horrors set.


CDS AVAILABLE THIS WEEK

Da Corleone a Brooklyn
 - Franco Micalizzi - Digitmovies
La schiava io ce l’ho e tu no
- Piero Umiliani - Beat
Thunderbirds - Barry Gray - Silva


COMING SOON

July 17
Escape to Danger - Joe Kraemer - La-La Land
Two Mules for Sister Sara - Ennio Morricone - La-La Land
July 24
Dracula 2000 - Marco Beltrami - Varese Sarabande
July 31
The Last of Us Part II - Gustavo Santaolalla, Mac Quayle - Sony (import)
The Outpost - Larry Groupe - La-La Land
August 7
Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (re-release) 
- Joel McNeely - Varese Sarabande
August 21
The Last Dalai Lama? - Philip Glass, Tenzin Choegyal - Orange Mountain
September 11
Outlander: Season 5 - Bear McCreary - Sony

September 25
Hackers - Simon Boswell, songs - Varese Sarabande   
Date Unknown
The Day Time Ended
- Richard Band - Dragon's Domain
Der Bestatter
- Raphael Benjamin Meyer - Alhambra
Dolce far niente/Le ambizioni sbagliate/Gli occhi, la bocca
- Nicola Piovani - Music Box
The Edward David Zeliff Collection, Vol. 1 - Edward David Zeliff - Dragon's Domain
Everybody's End
 - Luigi Seviroli - Digitmovies
La Svergognata/Anima Mia - Berto Pisano, Franco Pisano - Digitmovies
Les colonnes du ciel/Felicien Greveche
- Raymond Alessandrini - Music Box
One Potato, Two Potato
 - Gerald Fried - Caldera
Poliziotto Senza Paura
 - Stelvio Cipriani - Digitmovies
Rambo: Last Blood
- Brian Tyler - Rambling (import)
10.5
- Lee Holdridge - Dragon's Domain

2019 dopo la caduta di New York
- Guido & Maurizio De Angelis - Beat


THIS WEEK IN FILM MUSIC HISTORY

July 10 - Jimmy McHugh born (1893)
July 10 - Don Costa born (1925)
July 10 - Bruce Fowler born (1947)
July 10 - Paul Glass records his score for Lady in a Cage (1963)
July 10 - Recording sessions begin for Richard Rodney Bennett’s score for L’Imprecateur (1977)
July 10 - Georges Delerue begins recording his score for The Pick-Up Artist (1987)
July 10 - Robert Mellin died (1994)
July 11 - George Gershwin died (1937)
July 11 - David Baerwald born (1960)
July 11 - John Williams begins recording his score for Not With My Wife, You Don’t (1966)
July 11 - Alexei Aigui born (1971)
July 11 - Georges Delerue begins recording his score for Maxie (1985) 
July 12 - Yasushi Akutagawa born (1925)
July 12 - Fred Steiner's score for the Star Trek episode "Who Mourns For Adonais?" is recorded (1967)
July 12 - Fred Steiner's score for the Star Trek episode "Elaan of Troyius" is recorded (1968)
July 12 - Michael Small begins recording his score for Marathon Man (1976)
July 12 - James Bernard died (2001)
July 12 - Benny Carter died (2003)
July 13 - Ernest Gold born (1921)
July 13 - Per Norgaard born (1932)
July 13 - Richard Markowtitz’s score for The Wild Wild West episode “The Night of Jack O’Diamonds” is recorded (1967)
July 13 - You Only Live Twice opens in New York (1967)
July 13 - Roger Edens died (1970)
July 13 - Maurice Jarre begins recording his unused score for Jennifer 8 (1992)
July 14 - Michel Michelet born (1894)
July 14 - Elliot Kaplan born (1931)
July 14 - J.A.C. Redford born (1953)
July 14 - Nicholas Carras records his score for Missile to the Moon (1958)
July 14 - Benny Golson records his score for the Mission: Impossible episode “Blind” (1971)
July 14 - Joe Harnell died (2005)
July 15 - H.B. Barnum born (1936)
July 15 - Geoffrey Burgon born (1941)
July 15 - Walter Greene begins recording his scores for The Brain from Planet Arous and Teenage Monster (1957)
July 15 - Paul Sawtell begins recording his score for The Hunters (1958)
July 15 - Lalo Schifrin begins recording his score for The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
July 15 - Bill Justis died (1982)
July 15 - Dennis Wilson died (1989)
July 15 - Derek Hilton died (2005)
July 16 - Goffredo Petrassi born (1904)
July 16 - Fred Myrow born (1939)
July 16 - Stewart Copeland born (1952)

DID THEY MENTION THE MUSIC?

THE DEAD DON’T DIE - Squrl [Carter Logan, Jim Jarmusch]

"At times, the deadpan of Murray and Driver becomes, well, a bit deadening, and true wit is in short supply, even though the film remains amusing most of the way. Typically for Jarmusch, the songs, led by the title tune, and score are outstanding, enlivening nearly every scene. And the sheer diversity of the castmembers, along with their individual senses of humor, sustains one’s attention even when inspiration sometimes lags. It’s a minor, but most edible, bloody bonbon."
 
Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter 

IT: CHAPTER TWO - Benjamin Wallfisch

"We first see adult Bill Denbrough, the group’s leader, on a film set, where one of his novels is getting the Hollywood treatment. A running joke, first voiced by Peter Bogdanovich in a cameo (as a film director) and then by Stephen King in another (as the proprietor of a secondhand shop), is that Bill writes popular books with terrible endings, a nod to the chief flaw of King’s 1987 magnum opus: its disappointing spider battle, followed by a startling, scandalous scene in the sewers in which each boy in the Losers Club takes a turn having sex with Bev, even those not yet pubescent. The tweaked ending here cuts the orgy and makes the spider battle more exciting by really reveling in the retro Tim Burton vibe that runs throughout the film, from Benjamin Wallfisch’s score -- a perfect Danny Elfman pastiche -- to a giant Pennywise with arachnoid legs that looks like it could’ve been cut from 'Beetlejuice.'"

Henry Stewart, Slant Magazine

"The most troublesome example of the film’s tonal confusion is its opening scene, which details a vicious, unflinching hate crime against a gay couple (played by Taylor Frey and actor/director Xavier Dolan) that dovetails into the fantastical when Pennywise’s amber-glowing eyes cut through the darkness. It’s a transition that didn’t sit well with me, especially when it became clear it wouldn’t be unpacked later. By the time the voiceover monologue that bookends the film returns, replete with swelling music to pluck at your heartstrings, the nostalgia feels pockmarked. Part of the problem lies in the fact that the movie separates the cast, led by Hader and Chastain as embodiments of melancholy, for long stretches, forgetting that its best sequences allow the Losers’ Club members to play off one another, hiding their fear with jokes or downturned glances."

Angelica Jade Bastien, New York

JACOB’S LADDER - Atli Orvarsson

"Would that the rest of the film had been so capably put together. The new 'Jacob’s Ladder' is frustratingly filmed, edited and scored. Even one of those critiques can torpedo an otherwise excellent production, but put them together and the effect is numbing. Atli Orvarsson ('The Hitman’s Bodyguard') offers up a score that’s atonal and tedious. Richard Mettler ('Anthropoid') edits the film without tangible momentum, struggling to goose up even the limpest scares. The cinematography by Pedro Luque ('Swamp Thing') is sickly green and, for the most part, unremarkably composed."

William Bibbiani, The Wrap

LUCE - Geoff Barrow, Ben Salisbury

"Onah, whose unfortunately muddled and overwrought 'The Cloverfield Paradox' surprisingly launched on Netflix last winter, is on a ripe playground of shifting perspectives here. With 'Luce,' he showcases elegant filmmaking skills that seem to have been earlier gobbled up by the ill-fated chapter of a big franchise. Onah emphasizes both what the camera shows and purposely hides, while the question of Luce’s true intentions lingers over it all like a dark cloud. It’s an effect the director achieves through expertly calculated long takes (lensed by cinematographer Larkin Seiple, 'I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore.') and an eerie score (composed by Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury, 'Annihilation') that heightens rather than prescribes the on-screen tension."

Tomris Laffly, The Wrap

"There are times when Lee’s script betrays its theatrical roots, occasionally drifting into thematically load-bearing speeches ('America put you in a box'), even when Luce isn’t literally delivering speeches. But director Julius Onah, bouncing back from the muddy sci-fi hodgepodge of his Netflix 'Cloverfield' sequel, opens up the material, too, giving it an urgent cinematic pulse. (The music, by Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury, helps in this department, its rhythmic mixture of grunts and clangs and strange instrumentation providing an undercurrent of tension, even menace.) 'Luce' ultimately rests on the strength of its performances -- on Watts’ seesawing internal struggle, on Spencer’s principled severity, and especially on Harrison’s fascinating unknowability, on the way he builds Luce in layers on top of layers, asking us to pull them back to try to find the real him underneath. Toward the end, the young man flashes his mother a small expression of feigned emotion, and it’s as unsettling to us as it is to her. The more we look, the less we know."

A.A. Dowd, The Onion AV Club

MS. PURPLE - Roger Suen

"Nonetheless, those passages are always inviting in sensory terms, with DP Ante Cheng lending a restive, lonely handsomeness to the often nocturnal images. Abetting his often vivid color palette are the contributions of production designer Bo Koung Shin and costumer Eunice Jera Lee. The bass thump and disco lighting of Kasie’s professional party milieus are counterbalanced by mournful strings in Roger Suen’s original score."

Dennis Harvey, Variety

"We open on a father (Young-Il, played by James Kang) as he primps his young daughter, sadly preparing to take her and her brother to see their mother. It's not clear until later flashbacks whether this is a visit to her grave or something stranger. But we're clearly meeting a family abandoned and adrift, a fact underlined by the score's mournful string section. Years later, Kasie (Tiffany Chu) is at her father's bedside, changing bags on his IV and tending to bedsores."

John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter

OFFICIAL SECRETS - Paul Hepker, Mark Kilian

"In its outrage-driven bones, 'Official Secrets' wants to be all things to all political thriller aficionados: journalism saga, fight-the-system stirrer, paranoid nail-biter and courtroom drama. To that end, cinematographer Florian Hoffmeister ('A Quiet Passion') gives us suitably shadow-filled London locations, and Hood leans when he can on the score by frequent collaborators Paul Hepker and Mark Kilian."

Robert Abele, The Wrap

"Based on a 2008 nonfiction British bestseller, the screenplay (co-written by the husband-and-wife team of Gregory and Sara Bernstein, along with Hood) is a linear narrative without an arc. The relatively short lead-up to Gun’s surreptitious disclosure of the damning memo throws you off from the beginning. Aside from witnessing her yell at the telly every time Bush or Blair appear onscreen, you know little about her principles or politics before she takes that fateful step (after all, she spies on people for a living). Once the repercussions of Gun’s actions begin to domino, 'Official Secrets' picks up some momentum. Unfortunately, the middle of the film also clumsily begins to pursue a finger-wagging agenda, occasionally giving Knightley a soapbox upon which to express her indignation and allowing others the opportunity to comment on her character’s courage, as if you might have overlooked it. By this time, the rumbling score by Paul Hepker and Mark Kilian has gone from annoying to irritating. Though the third act ends surprisingly, if not anticlimactically -- truth is indeed stranger than fiction -- the film can’t resist one final finger wag, this time from the esteemed barrister (a likable Fiennes) who brilliantly mounts Gun’s legal defense by barely raising that finger. It’s an off-putting and gratuitous gesture to a movie that should have proceeded from the beginning with a raised fist."

Steve Davis, The Austin Chronicle

"The movie looks polished enough, and editor Megan Gill weaves in plenty of news clips from the era, with key figures like Bush, Blair, Colin Powell and White House press secretary Ari Fleischer in a particularly wormy bit of no-comment evasion. However, Hood's slightly underpowered approach is evident in how heavily he leans on Paul Hepker and Mark Kilian's high-intrigue score to fuel tension and suspense."

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON - Jonathan Sadoff, Zachary Dawes, Noam Pilekny, Gabe Witcher

"On paper, 'The Peanut Butter Falcon' sounds like a cursed film; like a straight-faced parody of the quirkiest and most nauseatingly schematic American indies. The title alone takes you back to the awful darkness of 'Napoleon Dynamite,' and the premise -- a winsome young wrestling fan with Down syndrome escapes from his care facility with the help of a depressed crab fisherman played by Shia LaBeouf -- could’ve been cobbled together by a computer program that’s been fed 20 years’ worth of rejected Sundance scripts. And the opening few minutes of the actual movie, in which our hero attempts a cute and kooky jailbreak while a banjo-tinged b-side from the 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' score wails on the soundtrack, seem determined to confirm your most cynical suspicions. In hindsight, however, that rope-a-dope of a start is actually a fitting introduction to a warm (if somewhat overcooked) dramedy about people who’ve lost faith in themselves, and in what unique value they have to offer to the world."

David Ehrlich, IndieWire

PIRANHAS - Andrea Moscianese

"Daniele Ciprì’s fluid and prehensile camerawork makes it easy to share in Nicola’s excitement. The handheld cinematography is raw but touched with the romance of a young man’s purpose -- it cuts through the unfakeable streets of Naples’ Spanish Quarters with the latent violence of a shark’s fin gliding above the surf, while Andrea Moscianese’s spare and ominous guitar score occasionally hangs above the action like a storm cloud waiting to explode. Even in its most familiar moments, 'Piranhas' bristles with the adolescent excitement of a kid making his own mistakes."

David Ehrlich, IndieWire

READY OR NOT - Brian Tyler

"As scathing as 'Ready or Not' is, a few members of the murderous Le Domas clan are painting with unexpected sympathy and depth, most notably Alex’s alcoholic brother Daniel (Adam Brody) and mother (Andie McDowell), who clearly serves as the family’s moral core, relatively speaking. Daniel’s demons, and the maternal traits of the Le Domas’ matriarch, are critical to identification in the almost anachronistic old-money world of 'Ready or Not.' Writers Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy (no, not that Ryan Murphy) are wise to balance the ensemble with more dynamic characters, especially when the other players—including ax-wielding Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni) -- are straight-up caricatures. Composer Brian Tyler has lent his sound to plenty of blockbusters in recent years, so it’s no surprise that the serviceable score latches on to the absurdity of 'Ready or Not' rather than Grace’s grim prospects."

Bradley Warren, The Playlist

"Even then, Samara Weaving’s performance is dynamic enough that any lingering issues fade away in the face of her. 'Ready or Not' is subtly pockmarked by needling decisions -- namely, the heavy-handed score by Brian Taylor [sic] that doesn’t trust the audience and often lessens the impact of the film’s most thrilling moments. But at its best, the film is a vicious, richly funny, and artfully brutal tale that places Weaving’s performance at its gravitational center."

Angelica Jade Bastien, New York 

WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE? - Graham Reynolds
 
"Emma Nelson has a lovely, sane presence as Bee -- she lets you see how a beloved child can at once ground an unstable parent and be a jolly co-conspirator. But she can’t save the scenes in Antarctica from banality: The generally quirky and original composer Graham Reynolds supplies a score that’s alternately too sprightly and too corny-plaintive, and the landscape looks as if it was blue-screened in. Emphatically it was not: Much time and money was reportedly spent so the cast and crew could access our least-accessible continent, but because there’s no sense of mystery or danger or surprise, you don’t feel as if you’re at the edge of the world. You always know where Bernadette is, damn it."

David Edelstein, New York

"It’s a shame, then, that 'Where’d You Go, Bernadette' is cloyingly beholden to the demands of its crowd-pleasing narrative arc -- that of a creative woman driven to ennui by motherhood and middle age yet rescued from the brink by an inspiring vacation and the love of her family. It’s nice, reassuring stuff, not false by any standard, but told with such didacticism and cuteness that one can’t help but be bewildered by the fact that the film was co-written and directed by Richard Linklater. Where the Texas auteur’s leisurely paced 'Boyhood' and 'Everybody Wants Some!!' excel in their attention to the nuanced spectacle of characters changing over time, 'Where’d You Go, Bernadette' plays like all of its air has been sucked out in the interest of plot progression, which it conducts with the workshopped efficiency of a television movie mindful of commercial breaks. In fact, with its coverage-dependent mise-en-scène, off-the-rack musical score, and tacked-on bookending voiceovers, Linklater’s latest feels strangely close to something Lifetime might have churned out in the early aughts."

Carson Lund, Slant Magazine

"Based on the best-selling 2012 novel by Maria Semple and adapted by Linklater along with Holly Gent and Vince Palmo, who co-wrote the director's likable 2008 look at a real-life creative genius, 'Me and Orson Welles,' the new film for much of the way feels like a lightweight account of a heavyweight subject. Opening shots reveal that Blanchett's Bernadette will wind up kayaking about amid Antarctic icebergs, but a sudden lurch back to five weeks earlier reveals the far more prosaic water-bound predicament of a leaky house in water-logged Seattle. The cutesy strains of a sitcom-suitable score are not encouraging."

Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

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

Heard:
The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Collection Vol. 2 (various), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Silvestri), Gormenghast (Bennett), Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey vol. 3 (Silvestri), Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Yazbek), Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey vol. 4 (Silvestri), The Boys (Lennertz), Symphony #1 (Mahler), The Caine Mutiny (Steiner), Microbe et Gasoil (Vannier), Tom and Jerry & Tex Avery Too! (Bradley), Ocho Apellidos Vascos (Velazquez), The Shape of Water (Desplat), Easter Parade (Berlin/Green), L'ultimo treno della notte (Morricone), Bates Motel (Bacon), Virtuosity (Young), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Goldenthal), The Alienist (Gregson-Williams), Star Trek: Generations (McCarthy), The Walking Dead (McCreary), The Jayhawkers (Moross), Dolemite Is My Name (Bomar), Solo: A Star Wars Story (Powell), Gypsy [2008 cast] (Styne), Taboo (Richter), Valis (Machover), Avengers: Infinity War (Silvestri), The Spy with My Face (various), Three Little Words (Ruby/Previn), The Impossible (Velazquez), The Lovers (Hoffman)

Read: Deus Irae, by Philip K. Dick and Roger Zelazny

Seen: Of course, one of the things I miss most in the shutdown is the new films that are going to directly to streaming which I may never get the chance to see in a theater -- such as Da 5 Bloods, Greyhound, Irresistible, The Lovebirds, The Old Guard, Palm Springs, Trolls World Tour and The Vast of Night -- but I especially miss being able to see so many older films (on film!) at the New Beverly. So I'm just glad that in 2020, before the shutdown, I was able to go there to see The Blue Lagoon, Boom!, Bride of Frankenstein, Busting, Cops and Robbers, Darker Than Amber, Frances Ha, Freebie and the Bean, Golden Needles, The Hospital, Hot Potato, The Hot Rock, The Hunger, A Man for All Seasons, The Man Who Would Be King, Marriage Story, The Mission, Nightwing, Orca, The Pack, The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Prophecy, Reap the Wild Wind, The Return of the Pink Panther, Secret Ceremony, Squirm, Summer Lovers, Tender Flesh, Unconquered and Zulu Dawn. When the New Beverly finally does re-open (fingers crossed), I'll be curious how they handle the bathroom situation - I can't think of a public space less suited to social distancing than the men's room at the New Beverly. It's like something out of a Get Smart bit.

Watched: Mystery Science Theater 3000 ("Atlantic Rim"), House ("Detox"), The Canary Murder Case, Hannibal ("Primavera"), The General [1926], Party Down ("Steve Guttenberg's Birthday")

I don't tend to "binge-watch," but I spent much of the first part of pandemic season re-watching the original Columbo episodes, and that classic mystery series is rivalling Party Down as my all-time favorite TV series. Watching it again, I have more appreciation than ever for both the character of Columbo, especially his unfailing good nature (he makes a marked contrast to the shouty, self-righteousness of Quincy, which I used to watch back in the 70s/80s) and Peter Falk's truly wonderful performance in the role. The series is full of clever if classically improbable mystery plotting, but I especially enjoy those moments when Columbo is tipped off by unlikely behavior -- would the man who finds his lifelong partner's corpse on his front lawn really take time to open his mail? Would the grief-stricken widower really have no photos of his late wife in his home? One thing I have greatly appreciated in my re-viewing of the series is the scores, from such composers as Billy Goldenberg, Gil Melle, Dick DeBenedictis and and Patrick Williams, though I found the scores composed for the middle-years of the series by Bernardo Segall disappointingly bland compared to those of his colleagues.

Having finished my re-watch of the original Columbos, I just re-watched the second season of a contemporary favorite, Hannibal. One of my least favorite tropes in current movies is starting with a glimpse of the finale just to give the film an exciting opening -- Sonic the Hedgehog is a particulary egregious offender -- but the second season of Hannibal uses this gimmick superbly, opening with a brutal fight-to-the-death that makes the viewer anxious to learn what led up to it. One thing I'm really appreciating about the series on second viewing is the way its surrealistic style helps distract from how utterly improbable the stories are. Hannibal and the other serial killers the show portrays tend to leave their victims in elaborate tableaus which would require large teams of museum preparators to install -- I'm thinking in particular of one segmented-corpse display inspired by the art of Damien Hirst -- while [SPOILER] in season three Hannibal manages to assume a new identity without changing his appearance. Given what would certainly be global attention to Lecter's crimes, and the incredibly distinctive face of Mads Mikkelsen, the idea that Lecter could successfully impersonate a professor/lecturer in Italy -- a specific public figure who looks nothing like Lecter -- is an especially large credibility leap in a series full of such leaps. I love how showrunner Bryan Fuller and his writing team reconfigured the elements of Thomas Harris' four Lecter novels over the course of the show's three seasons, and, given how Ridley Scott is most acclaimed for his visuals, the fact that Scott's Hannibal movie can't hold a candle to the TV series' cinematography and production design is especially remarkable (I can't say I was surprised to recently learn that Fuller is married to an interior decorator -- Hannibal, despite its astonishingly grisly subject matter, is one of the most aesthetically sumptuous TV series I have ever seen).

I am also rewatching the recent "gauntlet" season of another all-time favorite show, Mystery Science Theater 3000, and I just rewatched their take on the "mockbuster" Atlantic Rim. I found the movie itself a little less painful this time; the film's "hero" (portrayed by Baywatch's David Chokachi, looking eerily like Richard Dean Anderson) is so extraordinarily unlikable that I started to wonder if that was actually a subtle bit of subversive satire on the filmmakers' part. How else could they include a scene where the character loudly and gleefully boasts in detail of how he defeated a monster as if describing a WWE match, while the sidewalk surrounding him is strewn with the corpses of the monster's victims? Or where the scene he turns down the chance to volunteer for the Red Cross with his best friend to help kaiju victims in favor of getting drunk at a party in his own honor?

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Comments (4):Log in or register to post your own comments
I was terrified of the New Beverly bathroom pre-COVID.

You are wise beyond your years.

Elliott Gould attended a Long Goodbye screening there and was reluctant to be allowed to cut to the front of the men's room line; perhaps it was not just graciousness on his part.

Bathrooms are bathroom & germs are germs. Personally I am jealous that you saw “UNCONQUERED” on the screen!

During non-pandemic periods I am not especially germophobic. It's just that in the New Beverly men's room, there are three places one can stand -- in front of the sink, in front of the urinal, and in the stall. You have to wait until someone steps away from the sink to even step out of the stall. You really might as well have CONTROL's Cone of Silence over the room, it's that claustrophobic. And that's without the fear of potentially fatal illness.

It was definitely cool to see those DeMilles in the theater. I was surprised what a weakling John Wayne played in Reap the Wild Wind; apart from the rare ambivalent role like The Searchers, I didn't know he ever played anyone who wasn't just and noble.

I've become more and more enamored of seeing 30s-50s films in the theater, not just movies from my lifetime (the 70s being of course my favorite period). Getting to see four Marx Brothers films around the end of the year was a big kick. I'm reading Stefan Kanfer's biography "Groucho" right now and it's quite good but frustrating, since I revere Groucho as a performer but it sounds like he was miserable to a lot of people (especially his wife). Harpo seems like a saint, however.

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