Kronos has announced their upcoming release of the score for SINS OF JEZEBEL, the 1953 Biblical drama starring Paulette Goddard and George Nader. The music was composed by Bert Shefter, a familiar name for genre fans for his many collaborations with composer Paul Sawtell, such as The Fly, The Lost World, and the original feature version of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.
They are also releasing the score to the 2019 Slovenian political drama ALL AGAINST ALL (Vsi proti vsem), with music by Kristian Sensini (Rocks in My Pockets), and music from the Belgian TV series GINA & CHANTAL composed by Joris Hermy (Kattenoog)
CDS AVAILABLE THIS WEEK
Dolce far niente/Le ambizioni sbagliate/Gli occhi, la bocca - Nicola Piovani - Music Box
Dracula 2000 - Marco Beltrami - Varese Sarabande
Les colonnes du ciel/Felicien Greveche - Raymond Alessandrini - Music Box
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
The Last of Us Part II - Gustavo Santaolalla, Mac Quayle - Sony (import)
Outlander: Season 5 - Bear McCreary - Sony
Hackers - Simon Boswell, songs - Varese Sarabande
Open 24 Hours - Holly Amber Church - Notefornote
Scream Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street - Alexander Taylor - Notefornote
Alan Howarth Live at Hollywood Theater - Alan Howarth, John Carpenter - Buysoundtrax
All Against All - Kristian Sensini - Kronos
Der Bestatter - Raphael Benjamin Meyer - Alhambra
Gina and Chantal - Joris Hermy -Kronos
Lady Beware - Craig Safan - Dragon's Domain
One Potato, Two Potato - Gerald Fried - Caldera
The Peter Bernstein Collection vol. 1 - Peter Bernstein - Dragon's Domain
Sins of Jezebel - Bert Shefter - Kronos
THIS WEEK IN FILM MUSIC HISTORY
July 24 - Robert Farnon born (1917)
July 24 - Wilfred Josephs born (1927)
July 24 - Marcello Giombini born (1928)
July 24 - Les Reed born (1935)
July 24 - High Noon opens in New York (1952)
July 24 - Alan Rawsthorne died (1971)
July 24 - Leo Shuken died (1976)
July 24 - Norman Dello Joio died (2008)
July 25 - Don Ellis born (1934)
July 25 - Denis King born (1939)
July 25 - Thurston Moore born (1958)
July 25 - Henry Mancini begins recording his score for Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
July 25 - Bruce Broughton records his unused adaptations of Bach for The Accidental Tourist (1988)
July 26 - Tadeusz Baird born (1928)
July 26 - Bronislau Kaper and Scott Bradley begin recording their score for Courage of Lassie (1945)
July 26 - David Raksin begins recording his score for Too Late Blues (1961)
July 26 - Robert Drasnin records his score for the Mission: Impossible episode “The Mercenaries” (1968)
July 26 - Robert Drasnin records his score for the Mission: Impossible episode “Run for the Money” (1971)
July 26 - Buddy Baker died (2002)
July 27 - Marc Wilkinson born (1929)
July 27 - Bernard Herrmann records the Piano Concerto for the Hangover Square score (1944)
July 27 - Michael Linn born (1952)
July 27 - Stefan Nilsson born (1955)
July 27 - Alex North begins recording his score to The Outrage (1964)
July 27 - Max Steiner begins recording his score for Those Callaways (1964)
July 27 - Harry Lubin died (1977)
July 27 - Georges Delerue records his score for Exposed (1982)
July 27 - Jerome Moross died (1983)
July 27 - Miklos Rozsa died (1995)
July 28 - Carmen Dragon born (1914)
July 28 - Ray Ellis born (1923)
July 28 - Brian May born (1934)
July 28 - Recording sessions begin for Frederick Hollander’s score for Disputed Passage (1939)
July 28 - Richard Hartley born (1944)
July 28 - On the Waterfront opens in New York (1954)
July 28 - Richard Shores records his score for The Wild Wild West episode “The Night of the Firebrand” (1967)
July 28 - Robert Drasnin records his score for the Mission: Impossible episode “Butterfly” (1970)
July 28 - Leonard Rosenman begins recording his adaptation score for Bound for Glory (1976)
July 28 - Basil Poledouris records his score for The House of God (1980)
July 28 - Laurence Rosenthal records his score for Proud Men (1987)
July 29 - Mikis Theodorakis born (1925)
July 29 - Gian Piero Reverberi born (1939)
July 29 - Michael Holm born (1943)
July 29 - Bronislau Kaper begins recording his score for Quentin Durward (1955)
July 29 - Lalo Schifrin begins recording his score for The Venetian Affair (1967)
July 29 - Lee Holdridge records his score for The Explorers: a Century of Discovery (1988)
July 29 - Doug Timm died (1989)
July 29 - Giorgio Gaslini died (2014)
July 30 - Guenther Kauer born (1921)
July 30 - Antoine Duhamel born (1925)
July 30 - David Sanborn born (1945)
July 30 - Alexina Louie born (1949)
July 30 - Recording sessions begin for Frederick Hollander’s score for Remember the Night (1949)
July 30 - Peter Knight died (1985)
July 30 - Richard Band begins recording his score for Zone Troopers (1985)
DID THEY MENTION THE MUSIC?
ATLANTICS - Fatima Al Qadiri
"Part of the movie’s haunting quality comes from musician Fatima Al Qadiri’s melodic score, an otherworldly mix of electronic sounds that are full of mystery and emotions. During Ada’s most stressful moment, her wedding to Omar, the score creeps into a higher register, making an unnerving sound even before the dreaded event appears on-screen. In some regards, 'Atlantics' channels the spirit of Peter Weir’s 'Picnic at Hanging Rock,' which also features a magical yet disturbing score and an ominous look at nature. The characters’ lives in both movies are forever changed by the unexplained and each story reveals itself slowly over the course of the movie. Yet, 'Atlantics' is its own surprising film, one I hope will be talked about with as much reverence as a movie like 'Picnic at Hanging Rock.' It’s a potent mix of feelings, meanings, gorgeous visuals, and hypnotic sounds. Diop’s timely yet timeless story is so wonderfully told through Mathon’s lens and accompanied by Al Qadiri’s score, that it’s easy to soak in the story’s emotions, the movie’s evocative cinematography, the naturalistic performances from the cast of non-actors and the emotional sounds of the city and its music. As soon as I am awash in the movie’s blue-green credits, I already want to dive back in and start 'Atlantics' over again."
Monica Castillo, RogerEbert.com
"Many of these story developments are abrupt, bookmarked by shots of drifting curtains or characters bolting awake from a sleep. Diop’s rhythms are elliptical enough that her film sometimes seems to unfold from within a dream, but she’s an outstanding director of actors, who unearth the political dimensions of the film with sensitive depictions of internal anguish. 'Atlantics' transitions into oblique genre fare in a manner reminiscent of Bertrand Bonello’s 'Zombi Child,' with electronic musician Fatima Al Qadiri’s multifaceted score adding ghostly strings and pop guitar riffs over spiritual, syncopated Middle Eastern arrangements. Despite its wild narrative leaps, the film is undergirded with a holistic mix of serenity and trauma that recalls Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s 'Cemetery of Splendour.'"
Christopher Gray, Slant Magazine
"Diop has been touted as the festival’s first black female director, and 'Atlantics' does bring a dose of much-appreciated representation to the line-up. But even examined in a vacuum devoid of its sociopolitical implications, it bears the aesthetic and thematic hallmarks of an expertly rendered film with an impressively nuanced subjectivity. Close-ups of inert objects linger like pleasant still-lifes: a candle, burned to solidified waxy drips; the gently drifting hem of a curtain in a rainstorm; an empty bed with rumpled sheets. Each connotes a facet of its own melancholy, as well as time passing and Ada’s emotional fragility. Cinematographer Claire Mathon casts each image in its own washed-out light, all to the soundtrack of Fatima Al Qadiri’s evocative synth score, vibrating like something out of sci-fi."
Caroline Tsai, The Playlist
"It’s not until halfway through that Atlantics fully affirms its supernatural horror antecedents, recalling the gothic romance, tenebrous ambience, and eerie nocturnal wanderings of Jacques Tourneur’s 1943 masterpiece 'I Walked With A Zombie.' The particulars of these developments are best left for discovery, but suffice it to say the film culminates in one of the most chillingly effective scenes of the year: a retribution for the corrupt developer responsible for withholding the workers’ wages. It’s indicative of the way 'Atlantics,' like Tourneur’s film, conveys its sociopolitical (and colonial) implications within a richly imagined, lavishly textured story. Working with cinematographer Claire Mathon (who also shot another Cannes favorite, 'Portrait Of A Lady On Fire'), Diop alternates between feverish, sun-soaked frames and suggestive low-light images. Likewise, Senegalese-born experimental artist Fatima Al Qadiri contributes an eminently enveloping score that melds effortlessly with Dakar’s natural soundscapes; it’s likely to linger long after the credits have rolled."
Lawrence Garcia, The Onion AV Club
"Ada’s illicit relationship with Souleiman makes it impossible to acknowledge her grief publicly, though she can’t disguise her disinterest in Omar (their pairing is a major weak plot point given that Diop doesn’t bother to explain why the groom’s parents would want to align themselves with Ada’s less economically privileged family). At the wedding, preceded by a captivating scene of female guests arriving at night, their celebratory singing clashing with composer Fatima Al Qadiri’s markedly warped chords, Mariama tells the clearly depressed Ada that she’s seen Souleiman among the crowd; shortly after, while the party is still in swing, the bridal bed is set on fire by an unknown arsonist. The visual palette is largely muted, the oceanfront robed in a hazy light while many other scenes are shot at night, a time when the balance between freedom and danger adds to the inherent tension. The latter quality is further brought out by Fatima Al Qadiri’s dexterous score, adept at underlining states of mind and melding dissonant strains in appropriately low-key ways."
Jay Weissberg, Variety
"Exquisitely shot by Claire Mathon and lushly scored by Fatima Al Qadiri, the film pulls together some exceedingly strong components. It has buckets of atmosphere to spare, enough to build a biome or two on Mars. Nevertheless, the script sometimes feels like a concept for a short attenuated to make a feature running time, and in-the-rough performances from some of the supporting, non-professional players -- although discovery teenage Mama Sane in the lead role is a delight - somewhat dilute its strong brew. On the other hand, some viewers may actively savor the rawer, ragged edges."
Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter
JOJO RABBIT - Michael Giacchino
"The child protagonist’s limited perspective defines the movie, and there’s a single galvanizing moment when he finally realizes the errors of his ways, but the tone never really deepens along with him. Guided by a cheerful Michael Giacchino score, 'Jojo Rabbit' falls short of the subversiveness embedded in its premise by a drowning sincerity that undercuts the bleak material. It’s tough to see all that amid the storybook imagery from the great cinematographer Mihai Malaimare, Jr. ('The Master'), whose colorful palettes convey the fantastical quality of Jojo’s worldview. And Waititi’s embellishments occasionally yield flashes of dark poetry, particularly with the soundtrack: The use of 'Everybody’s Gotta Live' as the Allies’ bombs rain down (not to mention a closing David Bowie number that practically breaks the fourth wall) enlivens the proceedings so well, it’s a wonder Waititi didn’t just make a musical."
Eric Kohn, IndieWire
"When one steps back from 'Jojo Rabbit' and looks at the individual pieces, there’s a lot to admire. Once again, the director of 'Boy' and 'Hunt for the Wilderpeople' proves to have a gift with child actors, drawing a great performance from Davis and a nearly-movie-stealing Archie Yates as his pudgy buddy at Nazi camp. And a score by Michael Giacchino and cinematography by Mihai Malaimare Jr. ('The Master') work together to accomplish that Anderson-esque atmosphere that Waititi was seeking. It’s clear that success has allowed Waititi to hire all the right people to execute his vision. And yet I left 'Jojo Rabbit' thinking that the exact purpose of that vision remained blurry."
Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com
JOKER - Hildur Guðnadóttir
"Phillips’ film is a little too slavishly indebted to its influences, which range from the specific, like Beetz making the 'Taxi Driver' finger-gun shoot-me gesture, to the more generally aesthetic, as in the use of jaunty recordings of old songs to counterpoint the brutality and grimness of the imagery, whenever Hildur Guðnadóttir’s excellent, swirling, morose, foreboding score is not reinforcing it. And tonally, the film occupies such a relentlessly dour register that it becomes a little too easy to work out which bits might, in fact, not be real and be the products of Arthur’s disordered psyche instead: Basically, any time something nice happens, or someone is kind."
Jessica Kiang, The Playlist
"For much of its runtime, Joker is a consciously ugly film, visually and emotionally. Arthur starts with close to nothing, and loses it all incrementally, in ways designed to hurt empathetic viewers. Phillips and cinematographer Lawrence Sher (who also DP’d for all three of Phillips’ 'Hangover' movies) give the film a sickeningly grungy, underlit, David Fincher-esque look, especially in Arthur’s squalid home. Everything about the storytelling -- the ominous, booming score; the gritty darkness; the invasive sound design -- is designed to be oppressive, and to push the audience toward Arthur’s point of view as the primary victim of all the oppression. It’s hypnotic just how horrifying Arthur’s existence is, just as Phoenix’s performance is hypnotic as he spirals from fragile hope into increasingly outsized and confident acts of destruction."
Tasha Robinson, The Verge
"Viscerally, the film can be a wonder. Joaquin Phoenix is undoubtedly something to behold, his body as Arthur Fleck like a refutation to the sad, blocky menace his flesh harnessed in 'You Were Never Really Here.' Incomprehensible angles, buzzing energy and the ever-increasing sense of a Southern dandy swagger, Phoenix’s corpus inhabits every frame like he’s clinging to it to stay upright lest he shrink into himself and disappear completely. No wonder then that the film’s only truly moving moment comes after Arthur’s first acts of violence, killing a three-pack of rich white kids on the subway: Emboldened, he hides in a public restroom to metaphorically shed his old skin, to dance balletically before the dirty bathroom mirror and raise his hands in supplication to a greater power that has bestowed upon him such a moment of grace, both in control of his destiny for once and in thrall to something churning within him out of his control. It’s a glorious moment, all of the pain in the film and Phillips’ conception of the 'origin story,' as well as Hildur Guðnadóttir’s sumptuous score and cinematographer Lawrence Sher’s claustrophobic visual sense, cohering into something masterful. We are in Arthur’s head, witness to his Great Becoming. We join him in his rapture."
Dom Sinacola, Paste Magazine
"The protagonist's simmering psychosis is echoed in the unrest rippling through the city, given gritty, grubby textures and deep, rich hues by cinematographer Lawrence Sher. The look of Mark Friedberg's production design is very much pre-Giuliani New York, with porn theater marquees advertising titles like 'Strip Search' and 'Ace in the Hole' (not the Billy Wilder film), and the blend of authentic NYC locations with sets is seamless. All this is rendered even darker by the disquietingly melancholy mood of Hildur Gudnadóttir's brooding orchestral score, which cranks up into thunderous drama as the chaos escalates."
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
JUDY - Gabriel Yared
"Outside of Zellweger’s stunning performance, there’s not a ton to gush about in 'Judy.' Shot prettily with appropriate costuming and a lovely score, it’s the perfect Sunday afternoon musical movie. (If you’re a sap, like me, bring plenty of tissues.) Fueled by Zellweger, Judy has the power to take you over the rainbow with Garland, past the bright lights, through the cold nights, and into the pure love between an icon and her audience."
Joelle Monique, Paste Magazine
THE KING - Nicholas Britell
"Intimate when navigating the nooks and crannies of the palace, and manifestly a big-budget movie when out in open meadows, 'The King' shines in the hands of cinematographer Adam Arkapaw, despite its dark hues and shadowy look that fittingly paints a critical picture of combat and hostility. Complementing Arkapaw’s mud-spattered palette (that will hopefully not lose its appeal on a confined Netflix screen) is Nicholas Britell’s grand, woodwinds-heavy score and a skin-splitting sound design that makes every clatter and clang count when heavy armors face off on slippery Agincourt grounds -- the war scenes are just as impressive as that of 'Braveheart.' With weighty things to say about contemporary and corrupt institutions of power and even dangers of male hegemony, Michôd’s non-preachy 'The King' comes with philosophical heft and visual authority to match."
Tomris Laffly, RogerEbert.com
"Michôd and Edgerton’s rearranging of Shakespeare to dramatize this different, updated form of political cynicism is the most interesting thing about the film. Sadly, there’s little else of interest. For all the care taken to blow our minds with radically reconfigured characters, 'The King' feels oddly anonymous, as if made from a checklist of how to shoot a prestige Middle Ages drama or a midseason episode of 'Game of Thrones.' The most interesting things to look at in it are the exquisite faces of the young men in its cast. If a scene takes place outside, the colors have been washed out of it; if it takes place inside, candles and fireplaces shroud everything in shifting shadows. The actors either whisper-growl or, when the stakes are really high, bellow an F-bomb or two to reveal their seriousness. Even Nicholas Britell ('Moonlight,' 'If Beale Street Could Talk') turns in one of his most indifferent scores. Once the film gets to France, a sense of style begins to creep in. Britell busts out a choir to boom over the Zimmer-esque strings that have droned solemnly throughout the rest of the film. Robert Pattinson, playing the foppish Dauphin, struts into 'The King' like he’s just walked off the set of 'Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.' It’s all wrong for a project this self-serious, but seeing someone actually make an interpretive choice is a breath of fresh air."
Isaac Butler, Slate.com
"'The King,' by contrast, merits the sustained grandeur of a theatrical presentation. With its pummeling scenes of mud-and-blood combat, its majestic, nearly monochrome widescreen images and its beautifully broody Nicholas Britell score, this plainspoken but unfailingly intelligent adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henriad demands and ultimately earns your surrender. The incisiveness of Michôd’s direction, which some viewers may recall from his contemporary-set art-house thrillers 'Animal Kingdom' and 'The Rover,' works well for a costume epic that deftly slices through the presumptions of the English monarchy."
Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
"Nicholas Britell’s stirring but unremarkable score -- best when it’s jangly or playing with strings -- is left to drag the story along, while Pattinson’s glorified cameo (and glorious comic relief) steals the movie from the clutches of tedium. Michôd, commanding a production that may have been too large and unwieldy for him to steer with his usual precision, displays little of the demented genius that made 'The Rover' so much fun, and little of the steely patience that made 'Animal Kingdom' so agonizingly tense. The Battle of Agincourt promises to be a perfect venue for him to show off his chops, but it ends up feeling like a miniature model of the Battle of the Bastards from 'Game of Thrones.'"
David Ehrlich, IndieWire
"The buildup to the brawling clash is superbly calibrated, with composer Nicholas Britell's sumptuous orchestral score -- up to that point somber and moody -- adding choral elements and acquiring greater ominousness and urgency with the arrival on French soil."
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
THE LIGHTHOUSE - Mark Korven
"'The Lighthouse' bursts in on us like a shuttered window pulverized by a gale-force gust. At first, it’s just abstract images, “Leviathan“-style, of a ship’s keel, a misty horizon and a sea roiling under 'The Witch' composer Mark Corven‘s extraordinary, unsettling foghorn/depth-charge score. The images are in gorgeously antique, high-contrast black and white, and in a boxy aspect ratio that better mimics the cramped verticality of the lighthouse at which the boat briefly docks (one suspects Eggers, and his 'The Witch' DP Jarin Blaschke, might actually have been even happier had exhibition formats allowed for a portrait layout, to shove their two characters into even more uncomfortable proximity within the frame)."
Jessica Kiang, The Playlist
"Eggers has once again constructed a dark fable out of absorbing imagery and sound design. 'The Witch' cinematographer Jarin Blaschke’s pallid 35mm imagery (which boxes the characters into the Academy ratio) has a haunting, grainy quality of a genuine window into some forgotten past, while the wind and waves whip across the soundtrack alongside Mark Korven’s ominous score."
Eric Kohn, IndieWire
"Meanwhile, life on the island isn’t going well. Wake barks orders constantly, putting down Winslow at every opportunity. To find relief, Winslow heads to the outside store-shed, a small sculpture of a buxom mermaid in one hand, and in the other… well, you get the picture. Soon things start to take a bizarre turn, as Wake insists on taking the nightly ‘dread watch’ and becomes tetchy when Winslow asks to see the lighthouse’s lamp. What comes next, set to a mind-spinning score and sound design from Mark Korven, almost defies belief."
Joseph Walsh, Time Out London
"Filmed in the old-fashioned, nearly square aspect ratio of 1.19:1, in luminous black-and-white 35 mm (the cinematographer is Jarin Blaschke, who also shot 'The Witch'), 'The Lighthouse' could not possibly look more beautiful, even if the slow, deliberate camera moves sometimes spell out a bit too clearly what we’re meant to be seeing and reacting to: Get a load of this! The sound design is appropriately unsettling, a mix of deafening foghorns, an eerie industrial-sounding score by Mark Korven, and the screeches of circling sea gulls. The lighthouse itself, constructed on a remote rock outcropping off Nova Scotia, is a marvelous feat of production design, recalling an engraving from an old picture book. The overall effect on the viewer is, to put it charitably, 'immersive' -- a blunter descriptor, especially in the stomach-churning second hour, would be 'relentlessly unpleasant.' Pattinson and Dafoe go all-in with performances that are both physically and verbally demanding -- Dafoe, in particular, manages to deliver multiple barrages of oneiric, image-crammed dialogue with remarkable naturalness, investing his insult-rich rants not only with menace and pathos but with flights of wild humor."
Dana Stevens, Slate.com
"All of this fits snugly into a contemporary renaissance of atmosphere-forward horror. Maybe too snugly: By now, the film’s brand of artisanal dread has started to feel faintly like shtick -- the A24mula Eggers himself helped pioneer with his tale of doomed pioneers. Right from its opening moments, 'The Lighthouse' goes heavy on apocalyptic ominousness: a foghorn bellowing deafeningly as a ship cuts through the murky water, spinning wheels and an infernal furnace powering the eponymous structure and its eerie, tantalizing glow. But because the film starts at a nine on the atonal unease index, there’s little room for escalation, just variation. No, 'The Lighthouse' is more satisfying when viewed through the prism of its pitch-black humor; it’s fine as a thriller, borderline brilliant as a comedy of cabin fever and competitive machismo. Anyway, how else can one really characterize a movie that fades from a trumpet-like fart into a major-key musical cue, or that pits Pattinson -- in a wiry, genius bit of slapstick -- against a taunting seagull, like Poe’s raven or maybe just that stubborn gopher from 'Caddyshack'?"
A.A. Dowd, The Onion AV Club
"Right from the start, Eggers pulls us into an outpost of otherworldly solitude as the suffused beam of the lighthouse pierces the soupy white fog. Mark Korven's nerve-jangling atonal score of brass, woodwinds and percussion mixes with the intricately layered soundscape of crashing waves and stinging wind, and foghorn blasts that might be mistaken for the cries of whales or the roars of sea monsters."
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL - Geoff Zanelli
"The movie title would be more accurate if it had an ampersand in place of its colon: the only evil mistress on display here is Michelle Pfeiffer’s warmongering queen. Sporting the air of a tenured professor who is wholly disengaged with her class work, the 'Married to the Mob' actor seems utterly bored with the by-the-book bad guy she is asked to embody. Even so, there are some lively 'Dynasty'-style sparks when Pfeiffer faces off with Jolie at a disastrous dinner party. In that scene, Jolie proves herself capable of fish-out-of-water comedy -- she would be great as a Terminator or the resident alien in a remake of 'Starman.' Indeed, considering its trippy visuals and leaden dialog, 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' would work much better with the sound turned off (the music is as ubiquitous as it is unremarkable) and 'Dark Side of the Moon' or a bootleg of a Dead show blasting on the stereo"."
Oliver Jones, The Observer
"Pfeiffer’s doing her best with a ridiculous role (for a sense of the missed potential, compare with the vain sorceress she played in 'Stardust'), and Fanning gets to be a bit more proactive than previous princesses, but the story’s still a mess, and the world itself -- buildings, costumes and creature-filled environments alike -- amounts to an overworked eyesore, much too detailed for the brain to register, let alone take pleasure in discovering. It’s as if a small army of below-the-line artists have put so much effort into designing every magical butterfly and buttonhole that there’s no room left for our imaginations to take flight. Then smother it all with Geoff Zanelli’s frantically busy soundtrack, and the whole experience starts to feel oppressive."
Peter Debruge, Variety
PAIN AND GLORY - Alberto Iglesias
"Driven by Banderas’ lovely, nuanced turn and the slow-burn exposition, it’s impossible not to feel the emotional turmoil on both sides of the camera. Almodóvar has made two other movies about film directors over the years, 1987’s 'Law of Desire' and 2004’s 'Bad Education,' but those came at livelier eras in this rock star filmmaker’s career. More recently, he has stumbled on attempts at different extremes: The meandering Alice Munro adaptation 'Julieta' felt like the work of a director struggling to restrain his tendencies, and it followed the dopey, ill-conceived romp 'I’m So Excited!', which even Almodóvar fans had trouble defending much. This time, Almodóvar has found the ideal happy medium, with a gorgeous, atmospheric character study that doesn’t overstate the emotions it accrues with time. Aided by Almodóvar staple Alberto Iglesias’ wondrous score and cinematographer José Luis Alcaine’s colorful visions of city life, 'Pain and Glory' roots its small-scale story in a lush atmosphere that suggests a filmmaker keen on inviting his audience in. (Notably, Salvador’s roomy apartment is in fact Almodóvar’s real-life home.)"
Eric Kohn, IndieWire
"Throughout, Banderas shifts his understated performance to play the many roles that Salvador finds himself in: He can be a repentant friend one minute, domineering director the next. In a series of scenes with his ailing mother, we see him go from parent to child then back to parent again. It’s a performance of phenomenal range, but it also feels so unified, so controlled. 'Better not to be an actor who’s always crying, but one who’s always on the verge of tears,' Salvador advises his actor pal at one point, and it’s the kind of advice one might imagine Almodóvar giving. Melodrama has always been in the director’s bones, but he’s resisted the indulgence that comes with it. We rarely find wild, uncontrolled bursts of emotion in an Almodóvar film (there are a few pointed exceptions); instead, what we get is the spectacle of people struggling to hold things back, while the feelings are displaced onto the décor and the mise-en-scène and the music. Why cry yourself, Almodóvar seems to ask, when this beautiful red pillow can do it for you?"
Bilge Ebiri, New York
PARASITE - Jung Jae-il
"Although this is the least loopy title from Bong in a while -- there’s no room for a cartoonishly broad, heavily dentured Tilda Swinton performance, for example -- the first act bounces by with a devil-may-care gait as the scam expands, things start to look up for the family and while they’ve been roguish, no one has done anything so very unforgivable yet. But even with proceedings at their jauntiest, the sincere classical score from Jung Jae-il and the restraint of the cinematography by Hong Kyung-po (who also shot last year’s Korean masterpiece, 'Burning') give 'Parasite' a sheen of brushed-steel seriousness."
Jessica Kiang, Variety
"Nonetheless, 'Parasite' is generally gripping and finely crafted, standing up well as Bong’s most mature state-of-the-nation statement since 'Memories of Murder' in 2003. The performances are uniformly solid, with special credit due to the child and teen actors. Hong Kyung-pyo’s high-gloss cinematography combines lustrous candy-shop colors with kinetic precision, while Lee Ha-jun’s production design is typically superb, especially the elegantly minimalist Park family mansion, which serves as both deluxe fortress and sinister prison. Spliced into Jung Jaei-il’s dread-laden score, fragrant bouquets of classical music provide bustling comic counterpoint as well as wry commentary on the snooty cultural values being slowly eviscerated onscreen."
Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter
WEATHERING WITH YOU - Radwimps
"A faux-musical trapped in a quasi-music video (and that’s a compliment), 'Weathering With You' reunites its maker with Radwimps, the Japanese band behind 'Your Name''s now cherished songs. For this collaboration, the tracks continue to speak for the couple with lyrics that verbalize their come-what-may type of relationship. Thanks to the creator’s decision to subtitle these melodic messages, their significance travels across language. Rather similar to the emotional pieces created for the previous anime feature, these pop gems care not for subtly mirroring the general approach to this fantastical teen drama."
Carlos Aguilar, The Wrap
"Unsurprisingly, 'Weathering With You' is gorgeous. Shinkai’s affection for rendering metropolitan Japan in lovingly scrupulous detail is nothing new to longtime followers of his work and he stays true to form with this film’s depiction of Tokyo. What’s more impressive than the film’s rendition of glitzy interiors and bustling thoroughfares is its fawning attention to the more mundane and dilapidated corners of the city. Every inch of 'Weathering With You''s world feels as lived-in and daunting as a real city, juxtaposing the picturesque with the commonplace in a way that infuses every location with its own sense of allure and charm. Japanese rock quartet Radwimps returns to pen the music and score for 'Weathering With You,' with poppy instrumental tracks that accompany a plot that always feels like it’s moving with purpose. 'Weathering With You' manages to be Shinkai’s most action-heavy and lively effort yet, despite being set against the backdrop of torrentially drenched Tokyo."
Toussaint Egan, Paste Magazine
"Once again, Shinkai takes sure aim at the teenage market and its taste for romance and magical realism. He works with many of the creators of 'Your Name,' including producers Noritaka Kawaguchi and Genki Kawamura, animation director Masayoshi Tanaka who designed the characters in the earlier film and the Japanese rock band Radwimps for the bouncy, blasting score. All the pieces are in place for a charming tale of magical powers and the price of using them, and once again the ending revolves around an environmental disaster. There is also an unmistakable environmental message for young audiences to embrace: Messing with nature has its cost. For Hina, who has been given her powers at a prayer shrine, nature is sacred. The music swells every time it looks up at the expressive, ever-changing sky with its freak weather, snow in August, flooded rivers, water bombs falling from the sky, pedestrians being knocked out by giant hail stones and a perfect storm that tears through buildings and ruins half the city. The incessant rain even threatens to turn Tokyo back into the bay it once was."
Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter
THINGS I'VE HEARD, READ, SEEN OR WATCHED LATELY
Heard: Saturday Night [2000 cast] (Sondheim), Bandes Originales des Films de Laurent Heynemann (Sarde), Toolbox Murders 2 (Huud/Huey), La revue de cuisine/Sinfonietta 'La Jolla'/Tre ricercari/Toccata e due canzoni (Martinu), Knives Out (Johnson), Duel in the Sun (Tiomkin), Cinemusic (Cirino), The Wind Gods (Toprak), Crimson Peak (Velazquez), The 10th Victim/That Man in Istanbul (Piccioni/Garvarentz), Per le antiche scale (Morricone), Deadpool 2 (Bates), The Last Few Beautiful Days (The Motels), Small Soldiers (Goldsmith), Jim Henson's The Storyteller (Portman), Mohawk (Golczewski), Star Trek Voyager Collection Vol. 2 (various), The Cowboys (Williams), Narrow Margin (Broughton), The Basil Poledouris Collection vol. 2 (Poledouris), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum [London cast] (Sondheim), The Basil Poledouris Collection vol. 3 (Poledouris), Odyssey (Maw), The River Murders/Sinner (Toprak), Peter Pears: Balinese Ceremonial Music (Bartlett/Muhly)
Read: Swan Boats at Four, by George V. Higgins
Seen: Watching the hugely enjoyable The Bridge of Remagen on the Twilght Time Blu-Ray I could only think, "Man, I would love to see this in a theater." Someday...
Watched: Cops , Rome ("Kalends of February"), The Bridge at Remagen, The Kingdom ("The Living Dead"), The Frozen Ghost, Hannibal ("Contorno"), The Navigator , Star Trek ("Tomorrow Is Yesterday")