The latest release from Intrada is a re-release of their out-of-print edition of David Newman's score for 1989's surprise hit BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE (the long-awaited third film in the series, Bill & Ted Face the Music, is currently scheduled for release this September).
Quartet has announced two new releases -- Pino Donaggio's score for the 2001 action-adventure THE ORDER, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and Charlton Heston (and not to be confused with the 2003 religious thriller of the same name, starring Heath Ledger); and Fernando Velazquez's score to OFERENDA A LA TORMENTA, the follow-up to El guardian invisible and Legado en los huesos.
The latest release from Caldera is the score for MAN AT THE TOP, the 1973 film inspired by the TV series of the same name, in which Kenneth Haigh played the character first played by Laurence Harvey in the 1959 Best Picture nominee Room at the Top and its 1965 sequel Life at the Top. The music was composed by the late, great Roy Budd (Get Carter, The Wild Geese, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger).
The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has announced this year's nominations for the Primetime Emmys, including the following music categories:
OUTSTANDING MUSIC COMPOSITION FOR A LIMITED SERIES, MOVIE OR SPECIAL (ORIGINAL DRAMATIC SCORE)
HOLLYWOOD - Hooray For Hollywood: Part 2 - Nathan Barr
LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE - The Spider Web - Mark Isham, Isabella Summers
MRS. AMERICA - Reagan - Kris Bowers
UNORTHODOX - Part 1 - Antonio Gambale
WATCHMEN - It’s Summer And We’re Running Out Of Ice - Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
OUTSTANDING MUSIC COMPOSITION FOR A SERIES (ORIGINAL DRAMATIC SCORE)
THE CROWN - Aberfan – Martin Phipps
EUPHORIA - Bonnie And Clyde - Labrinth
THE MANDALORIAN - Chapter 8: Redemption – Ludwig Goransson
OZARK - All In - Danny Bensi, Saunder Jurriaans
SUCCESSION - This Is Not For Tears - Nicholas Britell
OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL MAIN TITLE THEME MUSIC
CARNIVAL ROW - Nathan Barr
DEFENDING JACOB - Ólafur Arnalds
HOLLYWOOD - Nathan Barr
UNORTHODOX - Antonio Gambale
WHY WE HATE - Laura Karpman
WU-TANG: AN AMERICAN SAGA - The Rza
OUTSTANDING MUSIC COMPOSITION FOR A DOCUMENTARY SERIES OR SPECIAL (ORIGINAL DRAMATIC SCORE)
BECOMING - Amanda Jones
MCMILLION$ - Episode 1 - Pinar Toprak, Alex Kovacs
TIGER KING: MURDER, MAYHEM AND MADNESS - Not Your Average Joe - Mark Mothersbaugh, John Enroth, Albert Fox
WHY WE HATE - Tools & Tactics - Laura Karpman
OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL MUSIC AND LYRICS
THE BLACK GODFATHER – “Letter To My Godfather” – Music and Lyrics by Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo
EUPHORIA: And Salt The Earth Behind You – “All For Us” - Music and Lyrics by Labrinth
LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER: Episode 629 – “Eat Sh!t, Bob” – Music by David Dabbon; Lyrics by Joanna Rothkopf, Jill Twiss, Seena Vail
LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE: Find A Way – “Build It Up” - Music and Lyrics by Ingrid Michaelson
THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL: Strike Up The Band – “One Less Angel” - Music and Lyrics by Thomas Mizer, Curtis Moore
THIS IS US: Strangers - “Memorized” – Music and Lyrics by Siddhartha Khosla, Taylor Goldsmith
WATCHMEN: This Extraordinary Being – “The Way It Used To Be” - Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
OUTSTANDING MUSIC DIRECTION
THE KENNEDY CENTER HONORS - Rickey Minor
LET'S GO CRAZY: THE GRAMMY SALUTE TO PRINCE -Sheila E., Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis
THE OSCARS - Rickey Minor
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE - SNL At Home #1 - Lenny Pickett Eli Brueggemann, Leon Pendarvis
SUPER BOWL LIV HALFTIME SHOW STARRING JENNIFER LOPEZ AND SHAKIRA - Adam Wayne Blackstone
OUTSTANDING MUSIC SUPERVISION
BETTER CALL SAUL - The Guy For This - Thomas Golubic
EUPHORIA - And Salt The Earth Behind You - Adam Leber
INSECURE - Lowkey Movin’ On - Kier Lehman
KILLING EVE - Meetings Have Biscuits - Catherine Grieves, David Holmes,
THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL - It’s Comedy Or Cabbage - Robin Urdang, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Daniel Palladino
STRANGER THINGS - Chapter Three: The Case Of The Missing Lifeguard - Nora Felder
WATCHMEN - This Extraordinary Being - Liza Richardson
CDS AVAILABLE THIS WEEK
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (re-release) - David Newman - Intrada Special Collection
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
Man at the Top - Roy Budd - Caldera
Oferenda a la tormenta - Fernando Velazquez - Quartet
One Potato, Two Potato - Gerald Fried - Caldera
The Order - Pino Donaggio - Quartet
The Peter Bernstein Collection vol. 1 - Peter Bernstein - Dragon's Domain
Sins of Jezebel - Bert Shefter - Kronos
THIS WEEK IN FILM MUSIC HISTORY
July 31 - Barry De Vorzon born (1934)
July 31 - Michael Wolff born (1952)
July 31 - Lionel Newman begins recording his score for The Last Wagon (1956)
July 31 - John 5 born as John Lowery (1971)
July 31 - Richard Band records his score for The Alchemist (1981)
July 31 - Lennie Niehaus records his score for the Amazing Stories episode “Vanessa in the Garden” (1985)
August 1 - Walter Scharf born (1910)
August 1 - Jerome Moross born (1913)
August 1 - Lionel Bart born (1930)
August 1 - Paddy Moloney born (1938)
August 1 - Michael Penn born (1958)
August 1 - Dean Wareham born (1963)
August 1 - Antony Partos born (1968)
August 1 - Dhani Harrison born (1978)
August 1 - Paul Sawtell died (1971)
August 1 - Arthur B. Rubinstein records his score for the Amazing Stories episode "Remote Control Man" (1985)
August 2 - Carlo Savina born (1919)
August 2 - Joe Harnell born (1924)
August 2 - Phillip Lambro born (1935)
August 2 - Arthur Kempel born (1945)
August 2 - Dimitri Tiomkin begins recording his score for Gunfight at the OK Corral (1956)
August 2 - Recording sessions begin on Leigh Harline’s score for No Down Payment (1957)
August 2 - Robert Drasnin records his score for The Wild Wild West episode “The Night of the Man-Eating House” (1966)
August 2 - Lalo Schifrin records his score for the Mission: Impossible episode “The Miracle” (1971)
August 2 - Muir Mathieson died (1975)
August 2 - Irwin Bazelon died (1995)
August 3 - Louis Gruenberg born (1884)
August 3 - David Buttolph born (1902)
August 3 - Robert Emmett Dolan born (1906)
August 3 - Ira Newborn begins recording his score for The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)
August 3 - Alfred Schnittke died (1998)
August 3 - Warren Barker died (2006)
August 4 - Bernardo Segall born (1911)
August 4 - David Raksin born (1912)
August 4 - Egisto Macchi born (1928)
August 4 - Recording sessions begin for The Prisoner of Zenda remake, with Conrad Salinger adapting Alfred Newman's original score (1952)
August 4 - Nathan Johnson born (1976)
August 4 - Michael Small begins recording his score for Firstborn (1984)
August 4 - Egisto Macchi died (1992)
August 5 - Christopher Gunning born (1944)
August 5 - Adolph Deutsch begins recording his score for The Matchmaker (1957)
August 5 - Abigail Mead born as Vivian Kubrick (1960)
August 5 - Cyril Morin born (1962)
August 5 - Alexander Courage's music for the Star Trek episode "The Enterprise Incident" is recorded (1968)
August 5 - Robert Prince records his first Mission: Impossible score, for the episode “Homecoming” (1970)
August 5 - Stuart Hancock born (1975)
August 5 - Michael Small begins recording his score for Comes a Horseman (1978)
August 5 - Fred Karger died (1979)
August 5 - Henry Mancini begins recording his score for Mommie Dearest (1981)
August 5 - Henry Mancini begins recording his score for Trail of the Pink Panther (1982)
August 5 - Jerry Goldsmith begins recording his unused score for Gladiator (1991)
August 6 - Oliver Wallace born (1887)
August 6 - Cyril J. Mockridge born (1896)
August 6 - Jack Elliott born (1927)
August 6 - Andre Previn begins recording his score to The Outriders (1949)
August 6 - Alex North begins recording his score to Pony Soldier (1952)
August 6 - Soren Hyldgaard born (1962)
August 6 - Robert Prince records his final Mission: Impossible score, for the episode “Mindbend” (1971)
August 6 - David Newman begins recording his score to The Brave Little Toaster (1986)
August 6 - Larry Adler died (2001)
August 6 - Christopher Dedrick died (2010)
August 6 - Marvin Hamlisch died (2012)
DID THEY MENTION THE MUSIC?
AMERICAN DHARMA - Paul Leonard-Morgan
"Morris goes the extra mile to make a talking heads doc visually dynamic, and he packs 'American Dharma' full of cinematic flourishes. Even when the two men sit face to face, the director frequently cuts between different perspectives. He captures Bannon from imbalanced and unflattering angles where he looks small in the frame, his green jacket blending into the walls behind him. As the conversation heats up, Morris zooms in, making him larger and more imposing while the score switches from rousing to a sinister. The musical ebbs and flows match the conversation, giving the back and forth a grim intensity."
Victor Stiff, The Playlist
"Cinematically, 'American Dharma' has the usual Morris touches that deepen the dramatic connotations of his subjects, and create the eerie feeling of hovering inside their heads. As Bannon walks through dilapidated neighborhoods in slo-mo, the cyclical music crescendoes, and 'American Dharma' develops a searing, operatic tone complimented by the recurring image of a burning flag. Bannon predicts that a revolutionary war is coming, but 'American Dharma' makes the case that he’s living as if it’s already begun. In the unnerving final shot, he walks down an empty tarmac, his figure growing smaller at the center of the frame. It’s unclear if he’s heading into oblivion, or another terrible chapter, but Morris is wise to leave his viewers to think it over."
Eric Kohn, IndieWire
"Morris splits him into the “good Bannon” who wants to help out the working class and the 'bad Bannon' whose aim is war, destruction and turning the world upside down and whose ideology really favors big business and the rich, not the poor. Bannon eagerly replies that he sees a revolution coming -- a chilling idea underlined by the image of a burning American flag and Paul Leonard-Morgan’s sinister music that brings to mind catastrophes gone by."
Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter
BLACK AND BLUE - Geoff Zanelli
"That’s the movie. And to say you’ve seen it all before is an understatement. Harris has a few sizzling moments with Darius (Mike Colter), the local drug kingpin, and Mouse (Tyrese Gibson, excellent), a local store owner who knows that helping his former friend on the force is the surest way to get himself killed. The simmering tension between West and the locals who feel she’s betrayed her kind by joining the NOLA police force is just another one of the film’s potentially resonant themes that the script stubbornly refuses to develop. The great cinematographer Dante Spinotti ('Heat,' 'L.A. Confidential') labors hard to reflect the visual artistry of those two crime classics. But 'Black and Blue,' hyped by Geoff Zanelli’s pumping score, moves along without actually getting anywhere. Harris deserves better. So do audiences."
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
"Corrupt cop narratives aren’t exactly fresh on screen, and Taylor’s film doesn’t shy away from blatant callbacks to other more innovative entries in the genre. For instance, composer Geoff Zanelli ('Traffik”') uses a piece that recalls the thunderous 'Sicario' score, while Taylor and screenwriter Peter A. Dowling ('Flightplan') borrow from the classic bloody bathtub scene from 'Training Day.'"
Candice Frederick, The Wrap
"The goals are simple: avoid Malone, avoid Darius, get the body-cam footage into the right hands, stay alive. But while 'Black And Blue' looks appropriately cold-blooded and professional (it was lensed by Dante Spinotti, the Italian cinematographer best known for his work with Michael Mann), Taylor’s direction never develops a sense of urgency, either for the topical issues at hand or for mechanics of chase and action. Crucially, he fails to establish a set of constraints; we never know how far West has to go to get to safety, and frequent rest stops trip up the pace of the film, which is set over something like a single day. A protracted climax set at night in a blighted housing project (which is introduced to music that sounds suspiciously like the main theme from 'Sicario') betrays some ambition on Taylor’s part. But like the rest of 'Black And Blue,' it eventually collapses into dull repetition."
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The Onion AV Club
"'Are you one of us, or are you one of them?' is a question that hangs over the entire film, even before Alicia witnesses a white detective (Frank Grillo in his gritty comfort zone) fatally shooting a young, black man -- prompting another narc to fire at her repeatedly -- all of which she captures on her body camera. The rest of the film is a race against time as Alicia struggles to get back to police headquarters to upload the video into the system, even as more and more of her fellow officers are chasing after and closing in on her. The pervasive feeling of paranoia and the suspense of the chase are much of what make 'Black and Blue' so compelling. Taylor knows how to stage a chase in clean, coherent fashion, although the overbearing score tends to smother the inherent drama of these scenes."
Christy Lemire, RogerEbert.com
"If only Taylor’s film on the whole had been closer in purpose to the elements at which the abovementioned scenes succeed. Instead, 'Black and Blue' registers as a standard-issue cop thriller with merely fleeting insights on the racial and social issues it aims to dismantle, while often being overwhelmed by Geoff Zanelli’s redundantly severe score that competes with the onscreen action. Despite the efforts of a compulsively watchable Harris, Taylor’s fast-paced mode misses out on a real opportunity amid all the noise, one that could have touched upon a nerve in a deeper and more urgent sense."
Tomris Laffly, Variety
BY THE GRACE OF GOD - Evgueni Galperine, Sacha Galperine
"This is a social justice film made with purposeful conviction and a quiet, never strident, sense of indignation. It's persuasively acted, elegantly shot, subtly scored and briskly edited to keep the dense, procedural action moving forward as the narrative baton is passed among three adult men who take the difficult step of speaking out about their boyhood experiences."
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
THE CURRENT WAR [2017 cut] - Volker Bertelmann, Dustin O'Halloran
"In 'The Current War,' the camera moves only for the sake of proving that someone is behind it. Such restlessness never allows us to sink in to the story, and the fact that it deprives us a better look at the film’s gorgeous production design adds insult to injury. 'There’s always more to see,' Westinghouse says, and you’ll know what he means. Only Volker Bertelmann (aka Hauschka) and Dustin O’Halloran’s gorgeous score survives the style, the duo’s music wrapping a soft electric thrum around traditional piano melodies. Gomez-Rejon wants audiences to see the world as differently as his characters do, but this is a movie best enjoyed with eyes closed (ironic, given Edison’s passingly mentioned partial deafness)."
David Ehrlich, IndieWire
"Again, this seems like at least a somewhat compelling narrative to explore, no? Perhaps on paper, it was, but Gomez-Rejon’s direction effectively neuters any of the genuine dramatic tension in the source material. The filmmaker and his editor, David Trachtenberg, basically edit the movie to within an inch of its life. Scenes transition so quickly for a good two-thirds of the film that you begin to wonder whether a huge chunk of the script was cut out or it was so flimsy to begin with that Gomez-Rejon and Trachtenberg felt they had to go to extremes to just attempt to make it visually interesting. Composers Volker Bertelmann and Dustin O’Halloran provide alternating traditional and electronic scores that somehow make the whole endeavor even less appealing (the movie feels like there is constant score even if you can’t remember the melodies distinctly)."
Gregory Ellwood, The Playlist
"In the end, the film doesn’t so much hold Edison’s legacy under a microscope as it does his face under a wide-angle lens. Cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung here strictly to the Tom Hooper school of period pieces, which dictates that visual interest is directly proportional to how many frame-edge distortions and off-center compositions appear in a given scene. Throughout, 'The Current War' almost seems self-conscious that we might find the wheeling and dealing of capitalist competition dull, so an incessantly driving score by Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka is laid under every conversation, every stride through a hallway, every minor workshop incident. The nonstop pace of the music and editing, a structure that never settles down for moments of true stillness, and the undermotivated use of distorting camera lenses gives the film a flat, monotonous quality, like the persistent buzz of a faulty electrical circuit."
Pat Brown, Slant Magazine
"Toward the end of The Current War, a dogged attempt to illuminate the AC/DC battle, Benedict Cumberbatch as Thomas Edison warns his son not to talk to the bird at his bedroom window about electricity: 'That'll put him to sleep for sure.' Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon seems all too aware of that risk, loading up on enough virtuoso camerawork, manic editing, zippy effects, cool graphics, split-screen and elaborate CG fakery to fuel a dozen superhero movies. There's even a trippy techno score that makes you wonder if America's forefathers of electrical power were into trance pop."
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
THE CURRENT WAR [2019 "Director's Cut"] - Danny Bensi, Saunder Jurriaans
"What 'The Current War' brings to you on screen, however, is a somewhat muted version of all of that, as well as an often muddled retelling of a historical moment buffered by stylish bells and whistles. If there’s a slight chance to enliven the dryness of the material with a Dutch angle, or a wide-lensed close-up, or a newspaper editorial coming to life, then by Jove, this movie will find it. Some creative choices work, like a score that combines old-school symphonics with synthesized bloops and bleeps in the name of form mirroring content. Others, like a cinematographic palette that plays like paint-by-numbers prestige drama. It’s not a bad film, just a generically bland one."
David Fear, Rolling Stone
"It's a narrative firehouse, but Gomez-Rejon knows exactly how much detail is needed. The story is loaded with technical details about filament construction, but only ever enough to bring the audience up to speed about the latest point of tension, as the rivalry barrels toward two pivotal events in 1893 - the first execution by electrocution, and the World's Columbian Exposition, aka the Chicago World's Fair. It's a masterclass of showing, not telling, and that's not just in Shannon and Cumberbatch's understated performances. It's the way Park Chan-wook's regular cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon catches the transition from Edison showing off bulbs in a muddy field at night to the new illuminated world. It's the way that the score by Hauschka and Dustin J. O'Halloran* – part neoclassical, part traditional chamber - enhances the tension of the chase to reshape the world."
Richard Whittaker, The Austin Chronicle
*though this review was of the 2019 cut, the critic listed the composers of the 2017 version.
DOCTOR SLEEP - The Newton Brothers
"'Doctor Sleep' is full of indelible imagery -- bodies made bloody, an endless hedge maze dappled with snow, a woman gliding across the night sky shot through with stars. And its pleasures don’t end there: A score by the Newton Brothers thumps like an errant heartbeat. The actors sparkle with chemistry. At times, its aesthetic and thematic pursuits click into place and the film sings at a mournful register as it charts the generational trauma and addiction of Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor). But 'Doctor Sleep' proves stronger in parts than as a whole."
Angelica Jade Bastien, New York
"All along Flanagan and cinematographer Michael Fimognari (Netflix’s 'The Haunting of Hill House') keep to a visual language reminiscent of Kubrick’s judicious movements and framing rigidity, which isn’t terribly different anyway from the assured way Flanagan (often with Fimognari) shoots his other scare pictures. The Newton Brothers’ score is also an homage, particularly its percussive touches and decibel-piercing blasts."
Robert Abele, The Wrap
"Even so, 'Doctor Sleep' shows considerable effort to ingratiate itself to discerning cinephiles, from the moody Newton Brothers score to cinematographer Michael Fimognari’s dark blue nighttime palette; as a whole, the movie conjures an eerie and wondrous atmosphere that blends abject terror with a somber, mournful quality unique to Flanagan’s oeuvre. But his pandering to dueling source material results in a jagged puzzle beneath both of their standards."
Eric Kohn, IndieWire
"Flanagan pumps up the nostalgic sonic assault -- Wendy Carlos’s ominous synth burbles, pounding heartbeats in your head, plenty of third-hand Penderecki -- but his most unnerving moment is a quiet one: Rose floating high above the suburbs on a night prowl, looking for others who 'shine.' Mostly, however, the new film is a dutiful delivery device for Warner Bros. intellectual property (ironic, since King famously hated Kubrick’s adaptation). For all of its supernatural majesty, 'The Shining,' both on the page and onscreen, was about writer’s block and the secret fear of being discovered as a fraud. 'Doctor Sleep' is unwittingly about that as well; it digitally re-creates the snowy Overlook Hotel as a site for a boring telekinetic showdown, not realizing that it has constructed a tombstone to itself."
Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York
"The Overlook plays what you might call a supporting role in 'Doctor Sleep.' Aside from some fleeting flashbacks to a little boy biking down hallways, it’s a good two hours before the haunted hotel of 'The Shining' first appears in this belated sequel, which otherwise seems to take place everywhere but the iconic Colorado locale of Stephen King’s terrifying 1977 novel and the towering movie Stanley Kubrick made from it. All the same, the mighty manor on the mountain looms over the film long before it’s literally looming in the distance, accompanied by the familiar, organ-like strains of 'Dies Irae.' The building’s presence even in absence, its inescapable shadow, is appropriate for a story about a man who was once a boy who spent a fateful winter in an evil place he could never hope to forget. But it’s not like audiences or readers could ever forget The Overlook, either. And 'Doctor Sleep' seems to neurotically acknowledge that with every foggy breath it takes, even during the long stretches when it’s operating almost nothing like any version of its beloved predecessor(s). Maybe Flanagan is just too preoccupied with the opportunity to do his best Kubrick. In 'Doctor Sleep,' he re-stages key scenes and even shots from 'The Shining,' inserting lookalikes -- like Alex Essoe from 'Starry Eyes,' who does a mean Shelley DuVall -- into his moving wax museum. It’s fun, in a fan fiction kind of way: a major director playing around in another’s sandbox. But beyond the brief moments meant to look like borrowed footage from an earlier movie, the film never seems to exist in the same stylistic universe as 'The Shining.' It possesses none of Kubrick’s glacial dread and almost inhuman, eye-of-god surveillance. In fact, 'Doctor Sleep' is rarely scary at all, even when it’s ostensibly trying to be -- a strange admission, given the nerve-racking wonders Flanagan did with composition and atmosphere in his rather Kingish take on 'Haunting Of Hill House.' At least the orchestra gets a workout, mercilessly shredding strings to prop up strangely perfunctory reunions with The Overlook’s scariest guests."
A.A. Dowd, The Onion AV Club
FRANKIE - Dickon Hinchliffe
"Many purportedly profound discussions occur and everybody and their brother/husband/best friend take long strolls through the forests, following ancient trails and even hoarier dramatic tropes as Dickon Hinchliffe’s score portends revelations that never seem to arrive. The ensemble cast is uniformly first-rate, but Sachs' moribund movie is a slog -- all those scenes of Frankie’s friends and family wandering through the woods made my feet hurt. An authentically moving 10-minute-long denouement finds the assembled relations standing together yet apart atop a cliff overlooking the beach at Azenhas do Mar as the sun sets on both the fractious day and on Frankie’s life. It’s a gorgeous and affecting sequence, but it can’t make up for all the languidly yawn-inducing story that has preceded it."
Marc Savlov, The Austin Chronicle
"'Frankie' is a film made with immaculate craftsmanship (and one non-Rohmer element: a musical score). Yet for all its naturalistic elegance and lighter-than-air precision, it’s an American Rohmer film that doesn’t, unfortunately, feel close to being a major Rohmer film. The movie it most recalls is 'Pauline at the Beach' (1983), because this one, too, is about a group of people lolling around on a summer vacation -- and, in fact, the film tips its hat to 'Pauline at the Beach' by casting Pascal Greggory, who played the young hunk in that movie, as a white-haired, white-bearded French gentleman who, rather shockingly, is the oldest-looking character here. (Those of us who grew up with Rohmer may look at Greggory now and do a double take, reflecting on our own passage of time.)"
Owen Gleiberman, Variety
MARRIAGE STORY - Randy Newman
"While Baumbach always excels at crafting tense exchanges between prickly characters unable to come to grips with their true feelings, 'Marriage Story' reflects a new level of narrative sophistication. Cinematographer Robbie Ryan ('The Favourite') captures some of the movie’s most absorbing moments in candid closeups while also knowing when to pull back, including one unexpectedly freaky sequence involving a kitchen knife. Meanwhile, Randy Newman’s inquisitive score highlights some of the bigger moments -- as if the actor and director at the center of the story are imagining their dramas in true movie language, and can hear the music on the soundtrack along with us."
Eric Kohn, IndieWire
"Noah Baumbach doesn’t do adaptations of other people’s work, opting instead to mine his own emotional fissures for dramatic gold. He tends to go for the ugliest nuggets -- the jagged shards, which draw blood on extraction. In the wake of his alliance with the director and actress Greta Gerwig, Baumbach has shown signs of groping toward a more hopeful stance -- i.e., a belief in the human capacity to change and grow. But it’s all relative. Even calling his divorce story 'Marriage Story' and adding wistful harmonies by Randy Newman (as well as a climactic cri de coeur by Stephen Sondheim), Baumbach can’t entirely camouflage his sour self-pity."
David Edelstein, New York
"Both Driver and Johansson deliver what may be the finest performances of their careers. (This is Driver’s fourth film with Baumbach.) They make the characters’ love for each other as palpable as the pain each causes. Surrounding them is a superlative cast of supporting actors, each one creating an indelible impression with a minimal amount of screen time. Laura Dern plays Nicole’s sharply faceted celebrity divorce lawyer; Ray Liotta plays the shark Charlie first consults before deciding the man’s legal retainer and tactics were beyond his ability to dole out; Alan Alda is the more affordable family attorney Charlie consults next before realizing he’ll lose everything by sticking with this mensch; Azhy Robertson, as young Henry, is assured and well-adjusted, even more so once he moves from New York to California; Julie Hagerty as Nicole’s mother and Merritt Wever as her sister add delightful bits of comfort and comedy; and even tiny roles -- e.g., Wallace Shawn, as a member of Charlie’s theatre troupe, and Martha Kelly, as a social worker making a home inspection -- hit perfect notes. Also remarkable is the film’s music composed by Randy Newman, as well as the two separate and surprising renditions by Charlie and Nicole of songs from Stephen Sondheim’s musical 'Company.'"
Marjorie Baumgarten, The Austin Chronicle
"'Marriage Story' is such a perfect blend of writing, unflashy direction, spot on performances and score (by Randy Newman) that you hardly even notice all the individual ingredients making up the whole. Its triumph is that it just feels like life."
Lindsay Bahr, Associated Press
"'Marriage Story' begins with a fake-out. Via voiceover, spouses Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) enumerate the things, big and small, that they adore about each other: she’s an unparalleled listener, an expert gift giver, an 'infectious' dancer; he’s a natural with their young son, a surprisingly great dresser, cries at movies. Glimpses of their shabby-chic domestic contentment are shown as a bittersweet Randy Newman score swells. It’s all warmly romantic in a grounded, adult way."
Jon Frosch, The Hollywood Reporter
MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN - Daniel Pemberton
"Norton embraces all his genre’s tropes while using the modern filmmaking tools to his technical advantage. In that sense, 'Motherless Brooklyn' is similar to 1997’s magnificent throwback 'L.A. Confidential.' Both films replicate the structure and mood of a ’40s noir while reveling in the violence and potty mouth language their Hayes Code-bound influences couldn’t. DP Dick Pope is Mike Leigh’s usual cinematographer, and while he of course embraces the smooth artificiality of the classic noir, he nevertheless gives the film the same lived-in feel that he does in Leigh’s work. Daniel Pemberton’s horn-heavy jazz score fits film’s overall tone, while his chaotic percussions perfectly capture Lionel’s racing mind. Just like he did with 'Keeping the Faith,' his last directorial effort almost two decades ago, Norton seeks to accomplish nothing more than a gratifying genre homage. 'Motherless Brooklyn' is far from an airtight masterwork like 'Confidential' -- it’s too bloated at almost two and a half hours and contains some acting choices that borderline on irritating -- but for those looking for a neo-noir that goes down as harshly yet as satisfyingly as Sam Spade’s favorite Bacardi, it’ll deliver."
Oktay Ege Kozak, Paste Magazine
"Yet it’s rare that we get a movie this municipally minded and 'Chinatown'-ish, and Norton invents new elements with a free hand, including a Harlem turf war, a skittering jazz undercurrent (the music is by Daniel Pemberton) and a love interest in Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Alec Baldwin, playing a powerful urban planner, makes for a ferocious Robert Moses stand-in. When brassy Cherry Jones shows up as a Jane Jacobs in all but name, shouting down the builders, you wish Norton would commit to the real-life showdown he’d clearly rather be making."
Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York
"Laura lives in Harlem, above a nightclub that sets the tone for the film’s silky jazz score, but she spends her days fighting racial discrimination downtown, standing up to men like Moses. By comparison with the relatively straightforward California Water Wars that inspired 'Chinatown,' the corruption at the heart of 'Motherless Brooklyn' isn’t just about money. The mysteries of New York’s infrastructure choices make for a dense and talky history lesson, and one that audiences will need time to digest. That legacy includes stories about how Moses ordered bridges built low over the parkway leading to Long Island, intending to keep out the minorities who could only afford to travel by bus, and dastardly strategies used in the name of 'slum clearance' to fool low-income families out of their homes. For all its audacity, even Lethem’s book didn’t dare to go there. It’s funny how things turn out."
Peter Debruge, Variety
"Ultimately, frustration and fatigue prevail over the film’s intellectual acuity and political insight; neither is any true emotion ever forthcoming. This is odd and disappointing, in that so many first-rate talents came on board for this, beginning with the stellar cast, and also given the splendid work of resourceful production designer Beth Mickle, cinematographer Dick Pope, costume designer Amy Roth and composer Daniel Pemberton."
Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
QUEEN OF HEARTS - Jon Ekstrand
"There’s a lot to unpack there, but doing so might muddy up the film’s gorgeous, compelling ice-noir surface -- so pristinely maintained by Jasper J. Spanning’s fluid, limpid camerawork and the tight string motifs of Jon Ekstrand’s anxious score. An uglier, more abrasive film could be made from this unpleasant story, though in the #MeToo era, the more elegant, aloofly accomplished one el-Toukhy has made should still prompt a flurry of debate over its portrait of a female predator. “You don’t understand how people work,” says one exasperated character to another late in proceedings; if 'Queen of Hearts' has a driving thesis beneath its glassy, alluring intrigue, it’s that no one really does."
Guy Lodge, Variety
"This elegantly made film gets a strong assist from Jon Ekstrand's sophisticated and unusual score."
Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
THINGS I'VE HEARD, READ, SEEN OR WATCHED LATELY
Heard: Planet Earth (Fenton), The Punisher (Bates), Submergence (Velazquez), Concert Suites/Music for Films (Velazquez), Jane Doe (Tyler), Leonor (Morricone), Adult Swim (various), Howards End (Muhly), Violin Concerto/Keep in Touch (Muhly), The Sun Also Rises (Friedhofer), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (various), Star Trek: First Contact (Goldsmith/Goldsmith), Love Story (Lai), Pilgrimage (McKeon), The Wonderful Country/The King and Four Queens (North), Anyone Can Whistle Live at Carnegie Hall (Sondheim), Incredibles 2 (Giacchino), The Prisoner of Zenda (Mancini), Liverpool Oratorio (McCartney/Davis), Mosaic (Holmes), Spaceballs (Morris), Royal Wedding (Lane/Green), A Monster Calls (Velazquez), A Quiet Place (Beltrami), The End of the Game (Morricone), Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot (Elfman), Fahrenheit 451 (Zingales/Partos), The Swarm (Goldsmith)
Read: World of Wonders, by Robertson Davies
Seen: AMC Theaters has announced they will not be re-opening their U.S. cinemas until mid-to-late August at the earliest. The releases of Tenet and Mulan, previously moved to August, have been postponed indefinitely, to no one's great surprise (though I'm continually perplexed by on-line articles that suggest Tenet should be released directly to streaming -- WTF?). Bill & Ted Face the Music is currently supposed to be released in early September, both in theaters and on streaming, but given the current surge in the pandemic I wonder if it will reach theaters then or even ever.
Watched: Che! , Kolchak: The Night Stalker ("Firefall"), Smart Blonde, Hannibal ("Dolce"), The Boat , Star Trek: Discovery ("Lethe"), Cinderella Liberty, La Femme Nikita ("Recruit")