Quartet has announced two new CD releases.
Filmmaker Nicholas Meyer was originally a novelist, and his first break-out hit was THE SEVEN-PER-CENT SOLUTION, his 1974 novel which told of Sherlock Holmes' attempt to cure his cocaine addition by undergoing therapy with Sigmund Freud. The bestseller was quickly made into a film, with Herbert Ross directing Meyer's own Oscar-nominated screenplay and an all-star cast: Nicol Wiliamson as Holmes, Robert Duvall as Watson, Alan Arkin as Freud, Vanessa Redgrave as a damsel in distress, and Laurence Olivier with a very different take on Professor Moriarty. The master Ken Adam was the production designer, Alan Barrett designed the Oscar-nominated costumes, and at one point, the film was to be scored by Bernard Herrmann (!), but his passing in December 1975 after completing Taxi Driver made that impossible, so the assigment went to John Addison, who provided one of his most exciting and engaging scores, full of romance, energy and a wealth of melody. The score was never released commercially, though a promotional LP was made available a few years later (for reasons I cannot explain even to myself, I have three copies of that LP). Quartet's edition is a two-disc set which features the score as originally recorded for the film, several alternate tracks and the promo LP sequencing, as well as "The Madame's Song," which Stephen Sondheim wrote for the film, and liner notes by Frank DeWald.
The label is also re-issuing their two-disc edition of Arthur B. Rubinstein's score for the 1983 hit WARGAMES.
Dragon's Domain and Buysoundtrax have announced four new CD releases -- Craig Safan's score for the 1987 stalker-thriller LADY BEWARE, starring Diane Lane; THE PETER BERNSTEIN COLLECTION VOL. 1, featuring the composer's music for Meggido (Omega Code 2) and Island City; music from the documentary series MEDAL OF HONOR by Richard Stone and Mark Watters; and ALAN HOWARTH LIVE AT HOLLYWOOD THEATER, with Alan Howarth performing pieces from his own scores and the scores he composed with John Carpenter.
CDS AVAILABLE THIS WEEK
The Day Time Ended - Richard Band - Dragon's Domain
The Edward David Zeliff Collection, Vol. 1 - Edward David Zeliff - Dragon's Domain
Escape to Danger - Joe Kraemer - La-La Land
Everybody's End - Luigi Seviroli - Digitmovies
La Svergognata/Anima Mia - Berto Pisano, Franco Pisano - Digitmovies
Poliziotto Senza Paura - Stelvio Cipriani - Digitmovies
Rambo: Last Blood - Brian Tyler - Rambling (import)
The Seven-Per-Cent Solution - John Addison - Quartet
10.5 - Lee Holdridge - Dragon's Domain
Two Mules for Sister Sara - Ennio Morricone - La-La Land
2019 dopo la caduta di New York - Guido & Maurizio De Angelis - Beat
WarGames [reissue] - Arthur B. Rubinstein - Quartet
Dracula 2000 - Marco Beltrami - Varese Sarabande
The Last of Us Part II - Gustavo Santaolalla, Mac Quayle - Sony (import)
Medal of Honor - Richard Stone, Mark Watters - Dragon's Domain
The Outpost - Larry Groupe - La-La Land
Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (re-release) - Joel McNeely - Varese Sarabande
The Last Dalai Lama? - Philip Glass, Tenzin Choegyal - Orange Mountain
Outlander: Season 5 - Bear McCreary - Sony
Hackers - Simon Boswell, songs - Varese Sarabande
Alan Howarth Live at Hollywood Theater - Alan Howarth, John Carpenter - Buysoundtrax
Der Bestatter - Raphael Benjamin Meyer - Alhambra
Dolce far niente/Le ambizioni sbagliate/Gli occhi, la bocca - Nicola Piovani - Music Box
Lady Beware - Craig Safan - Dragon's Domain
Les colonnes du ciel/Felicien Greveche - Raymond Alessandrini - Music Box
One Potato, Two Potato - Gerald Fried - Caldera
The Peter Bernstein Collection vol. 1 - Peter Bernstein - Dragon's Domain
THIS WEEK IN FILM MUSIC HISTORY
July 17 - Piero Umiliani born (1926)
July 17 - Wojciech Kilar born (1932)
July 17 - Peter Schickele born (1935)
July 17 - Kenyon Hopkins
begins recording his score for The Hustler
July 17 - Stanley Wilson died (1970)
July 17 - Jerry Goldsmith
begins recording his score to Babe
July 17 - Bruce Broughton begins recording his score to Eloise at Christmastime (2003)
July 18 - Barry Gray born (1908)
July 18 - James William Guercio born (1945)
July 18 - Nathan Van Cleave begins recording his score for The Lonely Man (1956)
July 18 - Richard Markowitz records his score for The Wild Wild West episode “The Night of the Golden Cobra” (1966)
July 18 - Abel Korzeniowski born (1972)
July 18 - David Shire records his score for the Amazing Stories episode "Hell Toupee" (1985)
July 19 - Paul Dunlap born (1919)
July 19 - Tim McIntire born (1944)
July 19 - Dominic Muldowney born (1952)
July 19 - Gerald Fried's score for the Star Trek episode "Amok Time" is recorded (1967)
July 19 - Gerald Fried's score for the Star Trek episode "The Paradise Syndrome" is recorded (1968)
July 19 - Ramin Djawadi born (1974)
July 19 - Van Alexander died (2015)
July 20 - Franz Waxman begins recording his score for Elephant Walk (1953)
July 20 - Gail Kubik died (1984)
July 21 - Jerry Goldsmith died (2004)
July 22 - George Dreyfus born (1928)
July 22 - Alan Menken born (1949)
July 22 - Nigel Hess born (1953)
July 22 - Jerry Goldsmith
begins recording his score for Warning Shot
July 22 - Lalo Schifrin records his score for Mission: Impossible’s third season premiere, “The Heir Apparent” (1968)
July 22 - John Barry begins recording the orchestral score to King Kong (1976)
July 22 - Alan Silvestri begins recording his score for the Amazing Stories episode "Go to the Head of the Class" (1986)
July 23 - George Greeley born (1917)
July 23 - Bill Lee born (1928)
July 23 - L. Subramaniam born (1947)
July 23 - Recording sessions begin for Hugo Friedhofer’s score to The Blue Angel (1959)
July 23 - Jerry Goldsmith
begins recording his score for Rio Conchos
July 23 - Leith Stevens died (1970)
July 23 - Georges Auric died (1983)
July 23 - John Addison records his score for the Amazing Stories episode "The Greible" (1986)
July 23 - Hans J. Salter died (1994)
July 23 - Piero Piccioni died (2004)
DID THEY MENTION THE MUSIC?
ABOMINABLE - Rupert Gregson-Williams
"The true beauty of 'Abominable,' however, lies in its vivid and intoxicating use of color, from the magical blues and pastels that surround Yi and Everest, to the bright yellows and greens in a tidal wave of a field, to the hues of pinks and purples during more emotional moments. The animation captures the essence of the journey that each character is experiencing. Those colors, combined with composer Rupert Gregson-Williams’ gorgeous use of violins and organs -- and, in the film’s most pivotal moment, Coldplay’s 'Fix You' -- create an atmosphere that, even with the film’s predictable outcome, makes for an enjoyable family experience."
Yolanda Machado, The Wrap
AD ASTRA - Max Richter, Lorne Balfe
"Of course, as with all of Gray’s films, the craftsmanship here is top-notch. The delicate use of color in different sections of the film from the black-and-white of the moon to a rusty red of Mars and beyond makes for a mesmerizing visual palette, and the cinematography by Hoyte Van Hoytema sometimes echoes his work on 'Interstellar' in how it balances extreme close-ups of masked space travelers with the vastness of space. Also particularly effective is the score by Max Richter, which is somehow both intimately eerie and grandiose at the same time."
Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com
"'Ad Astra' is as realistic as space futurism gets, and that credible veneer of verisimilitude grounds even the most wild sequences in a recognizable state of mind. Space becomes a subjective place, silent but for Lorne Balfe and Max Richter’s tremulous score and the vibrations that Roy can feel on his skin; one typically sublime grace note finds Roy reaching his hand out of a rover and filtering moon dust through his fingers. The (undeniably funny) scene when he flies commercial to the moon on Virgin Atlantic could have been ridiculous, but it’s strengthened by the seriousness with which Gray renders the most absurd details."
David Ehrlich, IndieWire
"I don’t mean to adopt a tone of mockery in describing a movie that, for the bulk of its two-hour-and-two-minute running time, I watched in a state of hypnotized delight. Especially seen in IMAX, 'Ad Astra,' shot by the great Dutch-Swedish cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema (who also shot 'Interstellar'), is itself a mind-bending cosmic spectacle. Without using 3-D, the camera seems to give an impression of infinite depth, often returning to long shots that emphasize the tininess of human beings and their creations amid the vast abyss of space. The score, by Max Richter and Lorne Balfe, eschews the symphonic grandeur often associated with space 'operas'; instead, this is space chamber music, delicate but ominous, hinting at a melancholic truth that slowly reveals itself to the viewer (and even more slowly, to Roy): No matter how far away from Earth we travel, there’s no escaping our own human problems, limitations, and weaknesses."
Dana Stevens, Slate.com
"'Ad Astra' is a beautiful, lovingly wrought film, from Hoyt [sic] Van Hoytema’s impeccably unfussy cinematography (much of it centered around Pitt’s restrained visage) to Max Richter’s ethereal score, but it seems fair to say that the film doesn’t possess, and arguably isn’t reaching for, the moments of jaw-dropping spectacle that epitomized '2001' or, more recently, Alfonso Cuarón’s 'Gravity.' What it does have is a palpable honesty and humility, not only with regard to the genre it’s occupying, but also in relation to the cosmos and the future of humanity. In a future where the plagues of civilization have only evolved into new shapes and sizes, it asks, in a roundabout way, if there’s anything worthier of exploration than our own relationships. Balancing this humanist optimism with a profoundly downcast view of our collective destiny, 'Ad Astra' is a film inextricably of its moment."
Carson Lund, Slant Magazine
"Co-starring Ruth Negga, Donald Sutherland and John Ortiz among others, the ensemble cast is strong, but 'Ad Astra' is mostly a one-man show for Pitt and his performance is dutifully unshowy but still affecting. Featuring an outstanding score by Max Richter and some additional music by Lorne Balfe, and beautiful cinematography from Hoyte van Hoytema, 'Ad Astra,' at the very least, if the picture is too remote for your taste, is grandly cinematic."
Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist
"Less successful is Pitt’s voiceover, which fills some of the blanks during the solo elements of his mission but is monotone and subdued. Max Richter and Lorne Balfe’s lovely, understated score fills the vast canvas much more effectively."
Phil De Semlyen, Time Out London
"The movie is filled with exciting cliffhangers (I’ve never seen a zero-gravity knife fight before, with the fighters in space suits) and a few supporting actors register -- chiefly Ruth Negga, Loren Dean, and (too briefly) a sepulchral Donald Sutherland. But it’s mostly Pitt and nothing but. Gray, even more successfully than in 'Two Lovers' and 'The Lost City of Z,' steeps you in his protagonist’s psyche. It’s as if we’re in some sort of hyperbaric chamber, with oxygen meted out gradually to keep us absorbed even when our fight-or-flight instincts tell us to panic -- our pulses remain at 80. Apart from a few spasmodic jolts, the editing (by John Axelrad and Lee Haugen) is fluid, while the colors (the production designer is Kevin Thompson) hum on tranquil frequencies. The sound design is stunning. The composer Max Richter’s usual ambient wash is cut with ethereal harps and plinks from the piano’s highest keys, while sudden silences reverberate with dread. The cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema’s frames are spare, evoking the vast distance between souls. The effect is to make you understand the pressure not to feel -- and hence to experience, with Roy, a fierce longing for the material world."
David Edelstein, New York
DOWNTON ABBEY - John Lunn
"The 'Downton Abbey' movie saves time by not having to introduce its myriad characters, but even for those who can’t remember exactly how things ended (or may not remember much about it at all), there is a Merchant Ivory familiarity to the setting and the players that puts one at ease immediately. The series’ soapiness was always masked, in part, by outstanding costuming, sharp acting and a sweeping score, and these same elements come into play once more to save the movie’s script from being too familiar. There’s an early scene, in fact, where Isobel (Penelope Wilton) and the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) trade bon mots that end with small barbs about the other being a bastion of clichés. But the joke, to some degree, is that it doesn’t matter -- we are endlessly entertained by them, regardless. There’s even an ode to the estate improbably delivered by Anna on how it serves as a beacon for the entire county, essentially functioning as the center of everyone’s life, and thus it must remain forever. It feels a little cringey as a speech propping up institutionalized classism, and yet, the opening shot that comes up over the hill to reveal the Abbey in all of its sun-soaked glory to a sweeping orchestral crescendo will nearly bring a tear to one’s eye. So maybe, indeed, Fellowes is onto something. (As Lady Mary declares when the rain lets up before the royal parade, 'it has been proved conclusively that God is a monarchist!' Who are we to argue?)"
Allison Keene, Paste Magazine
"Ah, but the opulent costumes are glorious, the autumnal light enchanting, and if you don’t know how to feel about a certain scene, composer John Lunn’s jaunty, carryover music cues are there to nudge you in the right direction following a romantic moment or Dowager Countess zing. (On the subject of the latter: Yes, the 84-year-old Maggie Smith is back as the Crawley materfamilias, and as ever she’s the MVP.) 'Downton Abbey' may not soar to new heights or tender any surprises, but there’s a pleasure to its predictableness. It’s so very ... capable."
Kimberley, Jones, The Austin Chronicle
"The tinkling bars of the signature theme song, the first glimpse of the crenellated battlements, the stunning gowns, the lavish decorations – they’re all of a piece. 'Downton Abbey' the movie makes a strong argument against change, of holding onto the past. With less time to develop in-depth stories for its players, the bits and bobs that everyone gets combine much like an impressionistic painting to create an aesthetically pleasing whole. It’s a quaint throwback -- not because it’s a period drama -- but because it rewinds the clock to the feeling audiences had in 2010."
Hanh Nguyen, IndieWire
FIRST LOVE - Kôji Endô
"Miike’s regular composer Kôji Endô returns to provided a bombastic score that sets the tone for a night of riotous bloodshed. Nobuyasu Kita serves as cinematographer -- another standby for the Japanese director -- and applies an inky wash to the Tokyo cityscape."
Bradley Warren, The Playlist
FREAKS - Timothy Michael Wynn
"Lipovsky and Stein have a great time luring audiences in with slow drips of necessary context, giving us fleeting glimpses of TV news chyrons reading 'Drone Strikes in Seattle' and 'Remembering Dallas' as Chloe goes about her business in the house. Their sense of pacing is spot-on, and they exhibit a knack for calculated misdirection, with Timothy Wynn’s score helping them pull off some very effective head-fakes. (While their attempts to bring in some political subtext are a bit on-the-nose, at least there’s more on their minds than the mechanics of the story.)"
Andrew Barker, Variety
THE GOLDFINCH - Trevor Gureckis
"There is a lot of money and talent behind 'The Goldfinch' and so it looks 'important.' After all, Roger Deakins shot it, and he’s not about to make an ugly movie. The costumes, the lavish interiors, even the score by Trevor Gureckis -- it’s all designed to give the impression of a high-class, serious drama -- sometimes called 'prestige,' or, less kindly 'awards bait.' And Crowley knows how to frame a shot -- he certainly proved that in the excellent 'Brooklyn.' But the desperate grandiosity of 'The Goldfinch' eventually makes it sterile, draining the story of its humanity, and the audience's potential to have empathy for the characters' traumas. There's nothing below the surface of this soulless movie."
Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com
"It’s terrible when a beloved novel arrives onscreen with a self-important thud, and that’s putting it diplomatically in the case of 'The Goldfinch.' Donna Tartt’s hushed 2013 bestseller, a Pulitzer Prize winner, divided opinion, with naysayers calling it young-adult fiction (as if that were easy to pull off). No one disputed, though, that the thing flew, swiftly touching on symbolic scenes of Manhattan terrorism and adolescent abandonment while burrowing toward a deeper preoccupation with the question of survival, of objects small and large. That animating spirit is exactly what’s missing from this overlong movie version, slackened by wall-to-wall sad music (not to mention sinful misappropriations of New Order and Radiohead), narcotized narration and a thematically deployed lens blur that begins to play like coyness."
Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York
"Crowley, no slouch, lends the whole thing a crosscutting confidence, a veneer of professionalism any halfway-convincing forgery requires. But his choices can be tacky: The slow-motion flashbacks to the bombing itself (we never learn anything about who planned the attack or why) are more quiet than extremely loud, but they come incredibly close to tastelessly evoking the ashen horror of 9/11. Mostly, he delegates, putting the burden of selling the ersatz profundity on his capable collaborators. That means we get a score, by Trevor Gureckis, that tinkles endlessly away -- a flop-sweat symphony trying to convince us of the movie’s importance all on its lonesome. There’s also the reliable craftsmanship of cinematographer Roger Deakins, providing an apropos museum polish, washing Crowley’s sets in warm shades of upper-crust orange or Manhattan blue, perfectly color-corrected to make a pleasingly highbrow impression. But you don’t need an appraiser’s expert eye to know a fake when you see it."
A.A. Dowd, The Onion AV Club
"If the immaculately chosen cast has done its job as best they could, that goes double for the key behind-the-scenes talent, notably cinematographer Roger Deakins for his compositions of ultra-confident integrity and beautiful shadings; K.K. Barrett’s spot-on, milieu-enhancing production design; Kasia Walicka-Maimone’s character-building costuming; and, perhaps most of all, composer Trevor Gureckis’ exceptionally fresh and disarmingly different musical score."
Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
THE LAUNDROMAT - David Holmes
"As tossed-off as the concept feels here, Soderbergh at least runs a tight ship for the production itself; casting director Carmen Cuba has to fill a lot of roles that have only one or two scenes to make an impact, and the film cannily uses the likes of Sharon Stone, Cristina Alonzo, David Schwimmer and Robert Patrick, among many other familiar faces. Frequent Soderbergh collaborator David Holmes contributes another dynamic score; it’s the most his music has outshined the filmmaking since 'Ocean’s 12.'"
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap
"'The Laundromat' is essentially a caper film, and when following the money gets too intricate, Ramón and Jürgen show up again to guide us. Throuhgout the film, they step into and out of stage sets and costumes with a Brechtian disregard for the fourth wall, like tuxedo-ed Virgils giving us a tour of the outer circles of wealth-management hell. The tone is lighthearted, even when people are dying in hotel rooms, corneas are being graphically harvested and contract law being laboriously explained. But the wit and ease are deceptive, concealing almost frighteningly impeccable filmmaking. We’ll say it again: Soderbergh has almost no peer in terms of simply knowing where to put the camera for maximum visual variety. And if ever the energy threatens to lag, there’s David Holmes‘ heel-toe, quick-change score with its rubbery basslines and scurrying percussion. Bouncy as a trampoline, it launches us easily across oceans and continents, smoothing out the rougher transitions and never letting the pace flag."
Jessica Kiang, The Playlist
"From the opening slow-zoom on a green-hued Ben Franklin, 'The Laundromat' is narrated in bursts of smarmy explanations from Jurgen Mossack (Gary Oldman) and Ramón Fonseca (Antonio Banderas), the two Panama-based lawyers whose firm Mossack Fonseca was at the center of the April 2016 revelations from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The actors’ uncanny resemblance to their real-life counterparts pairs nicely with their own stardom: Who better to explain the giddy excitement of financial conspiracies than wealthy A-listers playing off their own fame? With 'Ocean’s Eleven' composer David Homes’ ebullient score guiding the saga along, Soderbergh applies the language of a playful heist movie to real-world problems."
Eric Kohn, IndieWire
MONOS - Mica Levi
"Especially in the film’s first half, Landes’ direction evokes the sensory experience of a life lived at the edge of the world, out of modernity, out of time itself, visually representing this separation in beautiful cliffside shots that let the sky and clouds dominate the frame with only one meager corner occupied by people and earth. Accentuating Landes’ bold visual style is an excellent sound design and score by composer Mica Levi. Immersive and stirring, at its most powerful moments, the score seems to emanate from the natural surroundings, to be a natural extension of the whipping wind of the mountains or the insect choir of the rainforest."
Joe Blessing, The Playlist
"By stripping away the sociopolitical context, 'Monos' provides a window into power-hungry mayhem on the fringes of society that could happen anytime, anywhere -- but depicts its hectic showdowns with a you-are-there intensity that could only take place in the present. Aided by 'Under the Skin' composer Mica Levi’s thunderous score, Landes delivers a suspenseful encapsulation of alienated youth enmeshed in pointless battles that can only lead to further destruction. Cinematographer Jasper Wolf’s evocative imagery suggests it might be both. The movie oscillates from disturbing closeups of mud-caked faces to sprawling shots of jungle greenery that stretches on for an eternity. While the Monos are forced to move as unseen troops close in, they’re never too far from another setup; ultimately, the only factor guaranteed to disrupt their antics comes from their own dysfunction. Once 'Monos' gets there, Landes ratchets the tension with a series of violent showdowns as Levi’s operatic score takes off. However, even these more dramatic exchanges leave room for pregnant pauses, with the camera drifting through jungle scenery long after the devastation has concluded, as if only nature has the armor to survive such pointless warfare."
Eric Kohn, IndieWire
"At night, Mica Levi’s jarring score revs up with the start of every booze-and-drug-fueled bonfire party, which makes an already surreal-looking scene feel otherworldly. A portion of the score sounds like an engine revving up as the air gets sucked out of the room and modified by a music program. Sometimes, it was so loud, I could feel the sound rattling in my ears even after the movie had gone quiet. There was also a gentler tune for other less intense moments, using what sounds like a traditional wooden flute, but by then, I had already come to dread the jarring mechanical score, which is perhaps the intention. When the troop decamps to the lush jungles, Landes swaps out mountain fog for humid steam rising through beams of sunlight. It gives a suffocating sense of both places, miserable for all involved. There’s one scene in the beginning that I never could explain, in which the camera voyeuristically peers into the doctor’s room as she’s dancing against a wall in her improvised cell. The scene is framed so that her head is out of the shot, so we don’t know exactly what she’s going through at that moment. Just as the score had left me with questions, throwaway moments like this did too, and in this case, the film’s vagueness does it a disservice."
Monica Castillo, The Wrap
"The other major character here is the insane terrain itself. There’s one white-knuckle sequence (among many) that tosses three main characters into a mad dervish of river rapids that appear to be absolutely real, and absolutely treacherous. Landes has gone on record saying that the film shoot was extremely hazardous, with multiple cases of malaria and medically necessary evacuations. (The thundering, anxiety-inducing score by Oscar-nominated composer Mica Levi only ups the feeling that what you are seeing is really, truly happening.)"
Marc Savlov, The Austin Chronicle
"This is the movie’s moral and political conscience: the horror of children as weapons, and of being forced to privilege one’s own life over that of enemies too young to hold responsible. But 'Monos' isn’t a social-issue tract, or just a lament for the beasts of no nation. It’s a fever dream of a war drama, caught halfway between realism and the hallucinatory intensity of an ancient fairy tale. Landes tells the story in mythic strokes, through grand and surreal imagery: bodies silhouetted against blue and billowy skies; nocturnal rituals of fire and smoke; and young soldiers, slathered in handmade war paint, moving in menacing formation. At times, the movie almost veers into fantasy, thanks in no small part to the boom and swell of another otherworldly score by Mica Levi ('Jackie,' 'Under The Skin')."
A.A. Dowd, The Onion AV Club
"In this way, the film recalls Bertrand Bonello’s 'Nocturama' as a study of young terrorists divorced from any clear sense of motive, but Bonello’s film was at once evasive and allusive, housing its inaction in a mecca of consumerist culture. There are intimations of pansexuality among the young soldiers, but this feels part and parcel with 'Monos''s rather superficial, hedonistic riff on 'Lord of the Flies.' Any sense of conflict in the film is utterly aesthetic, and whatever meaning its heightened atmosphere conjures is almost entirely due to Mica Levi’s score, an even stranger beast than her revelatory work on 'Jackie' and 'Under the Skin.' Levi incorporates the chatter of insects and the soldiers’ birdcalls into her willfully erratic soundtrack, which often begins in choral tones that ascend into abstract chaos."
Christopher Gray, Slant Magazine
"None of this is all that profound, and has been examined in countless films with more depth and complexity than 'Monos' achieves. But 'Monos' is elevated into epic territory by the superb work of cinematographer Jasper Wolf, whose feel for the power of landscapes and light is inspired: mountaintops blanketed in thick fog, thunderstorms rolling by far below the outpost, the impenetrable green walls of the jungle, the vastness of nature so palpable it's a shock when an actual building eventually appears, late in the film. You had forgotten there was such a thing as a floor or walls. Composer Mica Levi's omnipresent electronic score creates an unnerving undercurrent, throbbing with menace and danger. The sense of being 'right there' in the thick of it is often unbearable, with hand-held camerawork bringing us close in to the kids' faces, with a looming grandiose landscape blurred-out behind them. They're always on the edge of an abyss."
Sheila O’Malley, RogerEbert.com
"You won’t really know where it takes place -- or when -- but Monos grabs you, despite having a nonexistent plot. It feels like an unsimulated version of basic training, and your sympathy for the actors grows as they hoist heavy logs over their heads or shiver in pits. 'I, Tonya''s Julianne Nicholson picks one hell of an indie to guest in, as an American doctor and hostage who records her proof-of-life videos with an exhausted thousand-yard stare. Occasionally, there will be a harsh, synthesized rattle of squelchy noise, a rolling timpani or bloop -- this is the music of Mica Levi, a composer whose radical scores for 'Under the Skin' and 'Jackie' have revolutionized soundtracks. (Her work here is fittingly anti-melodic and scattered.)"
Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York
"There is 'The Lord of the Flies' here, obviously and there is 'Apocalypse Now.' In the fleshy slapping of bodies against bodies, the observation of arcane rituals and the frank (though never graphic) sexuality, there is even a little 'Beau Travail,' but the filmmaking is fervid, malarial -- a hundred heartbeats per minute away from Claire Denis’ cerebral coolness. And with Mica Levi turning in the latest of her irreplaceable film scores, 'Monos' becomes even more its own, alien thing. Gargantuan mountain drums rumble under tiny fluting pipes, and over images of endless, perilous countryside we are swamped in industrial noises that sound like the throbbing of turbines or the thwapping of a chopper’s blades. Like so much else here, the music thrives on the discordant energy released when you place things that do not belong together -- like the words 'child' and 'soldier' -- in close proximity."
Jessica Kiang, Variety
"The troop eventually descends into the jungle and their tenuous camaraderie breaks down 'Lord of the Flies'-style. Landes here appears to be trying for an experiential and abstract fever dream -- a film about revolution in which the lack of clear goals and ideology is entirely the point. (Mica Levi's unnerving score, which is one of the few creative elements above reproach, certainly helps with the sense of moral dislocation.) The kids can't even take care of a cow properly, so how can they be expected to competently advance a nebulous insurgent agenda?"
Keith Uhlich, The Hollywood Reporter
RAMBO: LAST BLOOD - Brian Tyler
"Rambo has long been a symbol of imperialistic rage, and 'Last Blood' is no exception. Transplanting the action to Arizona provides the natural setting for a border drama that plays into Trump-era fear-mongering, right down to its ominous shot of a border wall, as Rambo heads south in search of justice. Fortunately, by propaganda standards, it’s weak sauce, as the movie unfurls with bland, tiresome developments until the closing minutes. Constructed with a lo-fi telenovela aesthetic and overwhelmed by a throbbing paint-by-numbers score, 'Last Blood' feels like a fan tribute that just so happens to star the real McCoy."
Eric Kohn, IndieWire
"Rambo, and his films, have never been in the business of holding back, but it’s unclear where, as entertainment, this calculated plunge into hate and rage really gets us these days. It’s staged, scored and cut together with an aggressively deadening quality, numbing your senses to the very impact it intends."
Tim Robey, The Telegraph
THE SOUND OF SILENCE - Will Bates
"Expanding upon his short film 'Palimpsest,' Tyburski and co-screenwriter Ben Nabors have created a memorably single-minded protagonist in Peter, and Sarsgaard finds an almost sensual serenity in the everyday gravity of his assuredness, even as the film gingerly weaves both a pensive quality and a deadpan wit. At times Peter is an easily romantic figure; when his guard is down slightly and the joy enters his understated delivery as he talks about knowing there’s a master harmony determining our behavior, you want to believe him. (As for the movie’s own aural qualities, Will Bates’ solid score and the nicely layered sound design of Grant Elder and Ian Gaffney-Rosenfeld do much to make manifest the world as Peter experiences it, truly and psychologically.)"
Robert Abele, The Wrap
"'The Sound of Silence' comes close, but resists embracing the humor of its premise. Instead, the movie assumes the low-contrast, dun-and-gray palette of Woody Allen’s less-funny New York films (movies like 'Another Woman' and 'Hannah and Her Sisters'). Costume designer Megan Stark-Evans outfits Sarsgaard in moth-colored tweeds and a coarse-looking beard, so he all but blends into the drab-looking buildings where the story unfolds. It’s the kind of lugubrious tale in which one fully expects to hear the melancholy stylings of composer Carter Burwell (the actual score, by Will Bates, is comparably morose), and it would surprise no one if the film ended with Peter slitting his wrists or sticking his head in a gas oven."
Peter Debruge, Variety
"The dense soundscape that's such a vital presence in the movie, interwoven with Will Bates' score and selections from Bach, Mozart and others, suddenly takes on a more assaultive aspect as Peter hits his low point in scenes that acquire a veiled violence almost akin to that of psychological horror. But the beautiful final scenes, unfolding during a thunderstorm-induced New York power outage, have an almost magical quality of hope and human connection. This is also the most visually interesting section of the otherwise slightly flat-looking movie."
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
THINGS I'VE HEARD, READ, SEEN OR WATCHED LATELY
Heard: Peur sur la ville (Morricone), Lost in Space (Lennertz), A Simple Favor (Shapiro), Star Trek: Discovery, Chapter 2 (Russo), Star Trek: Voyager: Caretaker (Chattaway), The Cloverfield Paradox (McCreary), The Black Stallion Returns (Delerue), Gemini (DeWitt), You Were Never Really Here (Greenwood), Coco (Previn), Wilson's Heart (Young), Majestic Marches (various), Blue Planet II (Zimmer/Shea/Fleming), Troll (Band), Sirens (Safan), Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Velazquez), Damn Yankees (Adler/Ross/Heindorf), La Smagliatura (Morricone), Colossus: The Forbin Project (Colombier), The Man with One Red Shoe (Newman), Suspiria (Yorke), Mickey Donald Goofy The Three Musketeers (Broughton), Alien 3 (Goldenthal), Star Trek: Voyager collection (various), Rocket Gibraltar (Powell), Little Women (Desplat)
Read: The Hidden Hand, by Carroll John Daly
Seen: I whine pretty regularly in this part of the column about how much I miss being able to go the movies, but I just hope that those out there who are actually able to go to movie theaters are staying safe.
Watched: Alexander the Great, I Spy ("Casanova from Canarsie"), Go West, Hannibal ("Secondo"), The Playhouse, Penny Dreadful ("Above the Vaulted Sky"), Blue Denim, Jackass (various segments), Under Capricorn, Hannibal ("Apertivo")