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Intrada has announced two new CDs this week -- a disc pairing two never-before-released Georges Delerue scores for American TV movies of the 1980s, SIN OF INNOCENCE and LOVE THY NEIGHBOR, and an expaded version of James Horner's score for the 1995 animated film BALTO, with the full 62-minute score plus 16 minutes of extras.


La-La Land has announced a whopping seven new releases which are expected to begin shipping next week -- a two-disc set of music from the Amazon anthology series PHILIP K. DICK'S ELECTRIC DREAMS, featuring episode scores by Olafur Arnalds, BT, Harry Gregson-Williams, Mark Isham, Bear McCreary and Cristobal Tapia de Veer; a three-disc set featuring the scores for SUPERMAN II and SUPERMAN III (already shipping), adapted by Ken Thorne from the original themes by John Williams; and five new TV episodic music collections by Blake Neely: ARROW: SEASON 6, DC'S LEGENDS OF TOMORROW: SEASON 3 (scored with Daniel James Chan), THE FLASH: SEASON 4 (with Nathaniel Blume), RIVERDALE: SEASON 2 (with Sherri Chung), and SUPERGIRL: SEASON 3 (with Chan).


CDS AVAILABLE THIS WEEK

Balto - James Horner - Intrada Special Collection
Boy Erased - Danny Bensi, Saunder Jurriaans - Backlot
Per Pochi Dollari Ancora
 - Gianni Ferrio - Beat
Retrospective Jean Musy
 - Jean Musy - Music Box
Sin of Innocence/Love Thy Neighbor - Georges Delerue - Intrada Special Collection
Superman II/Superman III 
- Ken Thorne, John Williams - La-La Land
Wolf Guy: Jun Fukamachi Aka Hiroshi Baba Works 
- Hiroshi Baba - Cinema-Kan (import)


IN THEATERS TODAY

Bodied - Brian & Melissa
Bohemian Rhapsody - John Ottman - Song CD on Hollywood
Boy Erased - Danny Bensi, Saunder Jurriaans - Score CD on Backlot
Burning - Mowg
Daughters of the Sexual Revolution: The Untold Story of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders - Michael James
Every Act of Life - Laura Karpman, Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum
In Harm’s Way - Annette Focks
In Search of Greatness - Leo Birenberg
Maria by Callas: In Her Own Words - no original score
Monrovia, Indiana - no original score
Monster Party - Felix Erskine, Nao Sato
Nobody’s Fool - Philip White
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms - James Newton Howard - Score CD  on Disney
The Other Side of the Wind - Michel Legrand
A Private War - H. Scott Salinas - Score CD due Nov. 9 on Varese Sarabande
White Fang - Bruno Coulais - Score CD on Quartet

COMING SOON

November 9 
Arrow: Season 6
- Blake Neely - La-La Land
Bel Canto - David Majzlin - Decca
DC's Legends of Tomorrow: Season 3
- Blake Neely, Daniel James Chan - La-La Land
Dracula: The Deluxe Edition
 - John Wiliams - Varese Sarabande CD Club
The Flash: Season 4
- Blake Neely, Nathaniel Blume - La-La Land
The Girl in the Spider's Web - Roque Banos - Sony (import)
La Dove Non Batte Il Sole/Un Animale Chiamato Uomo
 - Carlo Savina - Digitmovies
La Notte Brava
 - Piero Piccioni - Digitmovies
Le Avventure di Pinocchio
 - Fiorenzo Carpi - Digitmovies
On Deadly Ground: The Deluxe Edition
 - Basil Poledouris - Varese Sarabande CD Club
Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams
- Olafur Arnalds, BT, Harry Gregson-Williams, Mark Isham, Bear McCreary, Cristobal Tapia de Veer - La-La Land
A Private War
 - H. Scott Salinas - Varese Sarabande
Riverdale: Season 2
- Blake Neely, Sherri Chung - La-La Land
A Show of Force
 - Georges Delerue - Varese Sarabande CD Club
Supergirl: Season 3
- Blake Neely, Daniel James Chan - La-La Land
November 16
Bad Times at the El Royale - Michael Giacchino - Milan (import)
Green Book - Kris Bowers - Milan
Varèse Sarabande: 40 Years of Great Film Music 1978-2018
 - various - Varese Sarabande
November 30
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs - Carter Burwell - Milan
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - James Newton Howard - WaterTower
Ralph Breaks the Internet - Henry Jackman - Disney
December 7 
Goon: Last of the Enforcers - Trevor Morris - Notefornote
Mary Queen of Scots - Max Richter - Deutsche Grammophon
Under the Silver Lake - Disasterpeace - Milan
December 14
Widows - Hans Zimmer - Milan
Date Unknown
The Basil Poledouris Collection vol. 4: The Blue Lagoon Piano Sketches
 - Basil Poledouris - Dragon's Domain
Dead Men
- Gerrit Wunder - Kronos
Every Day a Good Day
 - Hiroku Sebu - Pony Canyon (import)
The Lost Children of Planet X
 - Christopher Young - Caldera
Polynesian Odyssey/Alamo: The Price of Freedom
 - Merrill Jenson - Dragon's Domain


THIS WEEK IN FILM MUSIC HISTORY

November 2 - Gary Yershon born (1954)
November 2 - Bernard Herrmann begins recording his score for Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)
November 2 - k.d. lang born (1961)
November 2 - Felice Lattuada died (1962)
November 2 - Joseph Mullendore's score for the Star Trek episode "The Conscience of the King" is recorded (1966)
November 2 - Alexander Courage records his score for the Lost in Space episode "A Day at the Zoo" (1967)
November 2 - Gary McFarland died (1971)
November 2 - Dennis McCarthy records his score for the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Once More Into the Breach” (1998)
November 3 - John Barry born (1933)
November 3 - Hal Hartley born (1959)
November 3 - Richard Markowitz records his score for The Wild Wild West episode “The Night That Terror Stalked the Town” (1965)
November 3 - Ron Jones records his score for the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Price" (1989)
November 4 - Laurence Rosenthal born (1926)
November 4 - John Charles born (1940)
November 4 - Craig Safan records his score for the Twilight Zone episode “Teacher’s Aide” (1985)
November 4 - Velton Ray Bunch records his score for the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “The Augments” (2004)
November 5 - Elmer Bernstein begins recording his score for Fear Strikes Out (1956)
November 5 - Jonny Greenwood born (1971)
November 5 - Michel Legrand begins recording his score for The Mountain Man (1979)
November 5 - Les Baxter begins recording his score for The Beast Within (1981)
November 5 - Ron Jones records his score for the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Battle" (1987)
November 5 - James Newton Howard begins recording his score for Grand Canyon (1991)
November 5 - Dennis McCarthy records his score for the Enterprise episode “The Communicator” (2002)
November 5 - Jay Chattaway records his score for the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “North Star” (2003)
November 6 - Ernest Irving born (1878)
November 6 - Peter Matz born (1928)
November 6 - Arturo Sandoval born (1949)
November 6 - Bernard Herrmann records his score for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode "Behind the Locked Door" (1963)
November 6 - John Barry begins recording his score for Hanover Street (1978)
November 6 - Jay Chattaway records his score for the Enterprise episode “Civilization” (2001)
November 6 - Francesco De Masi died (2005)
November 7 - Hans Erdmann born (1882)
November 7 - William Alwyn born (1905)
November 7 - Jimmie Haskell born (1936)
November 7 - Dimitri Tiomkin records the soundtrack LP for Wild Is the Wind (1957)
November 7 - James Horner begins recording his score for Uncommon Valor (1983)
November 7 - Leonard Rosenman records his score for the Amazing Stories episode "No Day at the Beach" (1985)
November 7 - Shorty Rogers died (1994)
November 7 - Dennis McCarthy records his score for the Star Trek: Voyager episode “The Q and the Gray” (1996)
November 7 - Richard Robbins died (2012)
November 7 - Paul Buckmaster died (2017)
November 8 - Arnold Bax born (1883)
November 8 - Mark Suozzo born (1953)
November 8 - The Ten Commandments opens in New York (1956)
November 8 - Nicholas Carras records his score for She Demons (1957)
November 8 - Gerald Fried records his score for the Lost in Space episode "Castles in Space" (1967)
November 8 - Robert Drasnin records his score for the Mission: Impossible episode “Nerves” (1971)
November 8 - Gino Marinuzzi Jr. died (1996)

DID THEY MENTION THE MUSIC?

BETTER WATCH OUT [aka SAFE NEIGHBORHOOD] - Brian Cachia
 
"Shot in a Sydney studio for a hyperreal, snow-globe look that subtly sends up more conventional Christmas movies, the film’s design contributions add up to a deceptively bright, cheerful widescreen package. Brian Cachia’s orchestral score likewise goes for a subversive effect by aping the sounds of mainstream family seriocomedies, though the content here is more grand guignol than 'National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.' The now more cannily titled 'Better Watch Out' was called 'Safe Neighborhood' during its production and initial screenings last year."
 
Dennis Harvey, Variety

"Set almost entirely indoors, the action is intelligently staged and makes fine use of various household items, including the requisite flashlight, kitchen knife and lawnmower (though not in the way you think). Peckover keeps the ketchup flowing enough that gore fans will not feel shortchanged, especially during the last act, although Brian Cachia’s busy score hits what feels like too many upbeat notes. But perhaps that’s the point: 'Safe Neighborhood' takes a night of Christmas cheer and turns it into a spectacle of sick behavior. The Grinch finally has the movie he needs."
 
Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter
 
BLAIR WITCH - Adam Wingard
 
"Barrett throws in a number of small but original twists to the continuing 'legend' of the Blair Witch, and Wingard, who also penned the film’s terrific, minimal score, does his damnedest to raise goose bumps, but even a team as talented as these two have little to add to what is, when you think about it, this most ancient of campfire stories. It’s a fun and mostly effective ride while it lasts, part Slenderman creepypasta weird and part full-on, nerve-jangling horror, but it’s ultimately, perhaps unavoidably, unsatisfying."
 
Adam Savlov, The Austin Chronicle

MY LITTLE PONY: THE MOVIE - Daniel Ingram
 
"The screenplay, by Meghan McCarthy, Rita Hsiao, and Michael Vogel from a story by McCarthy and Joe Ballarini, is light on jokes, which is fortunate because the few that are there are terrible. The real humor comes from the sitcom-style satisfaction of seeing familiar characters behave like themselves. Fortunately, there are songs by series composer Daniel Ingram, who adroitly combines musical theater and the power pop that is the musical lingua franca of contemporary cartoons. (There’s also a song by Sia, who appears briefly as pony pop star Songbird Serenade.) Along with stirring ensemble pieces, Ingram gives Tempest a Disney-style 'villain song' that serves as the inverse of 'My Little Pony''s ideology: 'The best way to survive is all alone.'"
 
Gabriel Roth, Slate.com

"As the ponies go on the lam to find help to save their town, we also get to see the animators dive into non-equine animals for a change. Taye Diggs revisits his 'Rent' roots to portray Capper, a savvy streetwise cat. Kristin Chenoweth, another musical vet, and an impressive Uzo Aduba pull off an underwater hippogriff village. That ocean-based segment also offers the movie’s best animation, with the Mane 6 becoming mer-ponies in a segment that brings to mind similar show-stoppers in movies like 'The Little Mermaid.' Unfortunately, this movie’s tune, 'One Small Thing,' is no 'Under The Sea.' In an age when Lin-Manuel Miranda is penning Disney songs, the ponies’ odes aren’t likely to make anyone rush out to get the soundtrack; even the Sia song fails to stand out."
 
Gwen Ihnat, The Onion AV Club

"'My Little Pony' only really perks to life during its musical numbers, a bouncy assortment of self-empowerment anthems whose stylistic variety evokes Disney classics like 'Aladdin' and 'The Lion King' without feeling like mere mimicry. And adding an appealing subtext to the story is a certain coy misandry, as the female characters are routinely screwed over when they make the mistake of relying on male characters to help them; despite the film’s paeans to the importance of friendship, 'Don’t trust strange men' may as well be the prime moral lesson here. But this little jolt of subversive energy is overwhelmed by the film’s banality, repetitiveness, an -- at almost 100 minutes -- punishing length. When late in the film, the Storm King complains, 'I’m so over the cute pony thing,' it’s hard not to agree with him."
 
Keith Watson, Slant Magazine

THE OSIRIS CHILD: SCIENCE FICTION VOLUME ONE - Brian Cachia
 
"Working from a script he cobbled together with Brian Cachia, who composed the relentlessly emphatic musical score, director Shane Abbess somehow manages to maintain an acceptably brisk pace even while time-tripping between individually titled 'chapters' in the narrative. (A not entirely unexpected reveal in one of the later chapters cleverly lays the groundwork for what can only be described as a fairy-tale twist.)"
 
Joe Leydon, Variety

QUEEN OF KATWE - Alex Heffes

"The story is based on the eponymous book by Tim Crothers, with a screenplay by William Wheeler ('The Reluctant Fundamentalist'). The Afrocentric soundtrack and score by Alex Heffes ('Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom'), utilizing native Ugandan instruments, is delightfully infectious. Cinematographer Sean Bobbitt’s hand-held camera brings the sprawling city of Kampala to vivid, color-drenched life: Textures feel palpable. Busy streets throb with activity."
 
Claudia Puig, The Wrap
 
"Like most feel-good films, 'Queen of Katwe' doesn’t shy away from platitude-filled dialogue and 'aww'-inspiring moments and meaningful swells of music. But neither does it feel like just another charming underdog story. Thanks in part to a wonderful lead performance by the newcomer Madina Nalwanga, 'Queen of Katwe' offers a surprisingly nuanced portrait of a young woman learning -- in the most difficult of circumstances -- that 'winning' can be a complicated joy. Victory sometimes equals redemption or happiness or money or fame, but it doesn’t always guarantee those things. Sometimes, winning can be confusing or isolating. Sometimes, it can even feel empty. These are unconventional, but worthy lessons for a family-friendly Disney movie like 'Queen of Katwe' to unpack, and in some ways, the film’s streaks of realism -- not fantasy -- are what make it such a genuine pleasure to watch."
 
Lenika Cruz, The Atlantic

"Indeed this is both a sunnier and more lived-in domestic vision of Africa than U.S. auds are accustomed to (an admittedly small sample considering the handful of Hollywood films that even bother to visit the continent), and the top-notch craft contributions bolster the allure. From Steve McQueen’s regular cinematographer Sean Bobbitt to Spike Lee’s editor Barry Alexander Brown and 'The Last King of Scotland' composer Alex Heffes, Nair has assembled a distinguished crew that doesn’t play down to the film’s PG rating."
 
Geoff Berkshire, Variety
 
"The casting of Kampala locals Nalwanga, Kabanza and Kyaze as the three oldest Mutesi siblings deepens the connection to the true story, a connection that Nair emphasizes in a closing-credits sequence that pairs the actors with their real-life counterparts, making for some lovely moments of awkward shyness and emotion. Ugandan song tracks bolster the film’s specificity, while Alex Heffes’ score runs the gamut from inspired passages to heavy-handed tugs on the heartstrings that are right in tune with the screenplay’s general lack of nuance and Nair’s tendency to underline every message."
 
Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter
 
SPETTACOLO - Lele Marchitelli
 
"The embedded nature of the film informs the often breathless beauty in its cinematography, which is often shown for a few seconds in montages accompanied by string quartet classical music. The sights are plain but quite effective: two men talking on a bench about how one-third of the original actors have died, a woman doing her laundry on a fence while a gorgeous set of hills sits in the background without a single tourist bus on it. 'Spettacolo' does more than put a spotlight to this incredible tradition, it captures a way of life for a very non-theatrical group of people."
 
Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com

"These limitations would be more frustrating if 'Spettacolo' weren’t such a lyrical love letter to the area -- intentionally or not, constituting a siren song as persuasive as all those books about Provence. Medieval structures that probably aren’t very comfortable to live in are nonetheless delightful to look at, as is everything else along Montichiello’s steep cobblestone streets and in its gorgeous surroundings. One would like to spread the golden sunlight that suffuses Malmberg’s photography on a piece of bread, with prociutto, and have it for lunch. Lele Marchitelli’s score underlines the general air of relaxed, folksy, centuries-old charm."
 
Dennis Harvey, Variety

"With its notes of tender delicacy, Lele Marcitelli’s [sic] judiciously used score accentuates the film’s bittersweetness. Time marches on, and a generation-spanning, lifelong endeavor might not endure. Cresti’s son may help him with the theater, but most of his energy goes to running a B&B. Sitting in a café, the artist watches other customers, busy on their digital devices. He savors a gelato, unhurried and without distraction."
 
Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter

TAKE EVERY WAVE: THE LIFE OF LAIRD HAMILTON - Nathan Larson

"Taking a break from her customary tough, frequently political themes ('Last Days in Vietnam,' 'Ghosts of Abu Ghraib,' 'Pandemic: Facing AIDS,' etc.), Kennedy revels in the fun and excitement of much of the material here, delivering a smoothly diverting package. In the tradition of more purely performance-focused surfing documentaries, Nathan Larson’s original score takes a backseat to a diverse mix tape of rock tracks by artists from the Ventures and Jack Nitzsche to the Pixies."
 
Dennis Harvey, Variety
 
"Kennedy has assembled the densely packed material into a slick, highly entertaining chronicle, further energized by Nathan Larson's music and by a terrific playlist that spans the decades, ending on a winking note of outlaw glorification with Jack Nitzsche's early-'60s classic, 'The Lonely Surfer.'"
 
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

THIRST STREET - Paul Grimstad

"It’s somewhat of a critical cliché to describe a cinematographer as a co-director, but Sean Price Williams’ hazy, luminous photography in 'Thirst Street' so strongly defines its aesthetic that it all but elevates him to co-author status. The sensuous, vibrant colors and the intimate framing provide a classically 'romantic' sheen that stands in sharp contrast to the more insidious on-screen events. Moreover, it augments Gina’s internal desire to have a grand romance, one worthy of old musicals, but still grounds her actions in an uncomfortable reality. Along those lines, Paul Grimstad’s nervy score also establishes the film’s tricky tone, neatly capturing the lustful urgency that underscores the film without overwhelming its action."
 
Vikram Murthi, RogerEbert.com

"Shot by venerable indie DP Sean Price Williams ('Heaven Knows What,' 'Listen Up Philip,' 'Queen Of Earth'), the cinematographer must have had a blast imitating Fassbinder’s Douglas Sirk-inspired look from 'Lola' (DP Xaver Schwarzenberger) and its dreamy gaze and saturated colors. Williams is just one of the many contributors here that elevate already rich material. Visually, 'Thirst Street' is enchanting, expressing with bold feeling all of Gina’s strange obsessions. Composer Paul Grimstad’s gauzy and atmospheric soundtrack only bolsters the fraught and theatrical mood."
 
Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist
 
"She has a fine, tricky scene partner in Bonnard -- as intriguingly abstruse here as in his breakout turn in the recent Alain Guiraudie puzzler 'Staying Vertical' -- though her closest collaborative ally might be Price Williams, whose typically inspired camerawork lights her suffering in expressionistic stabs of neon or stripped shades of gray, as required. The soundtrack shifts in tone nearly as restlessly as the image, switching from saccharine orchestral sweep to the cracked karaoke tremble of Gina’s wishfully on-the-nose rendition of 'Time Is On My Side,' to the unexpectedly earthy Nashville truth-telling of Sandy Posey’s 'Born a Woman': 'If you’re born a woman, you’re born to be hurt,' she croons, as we hope against slender hope for Gina to subvert that diktat."
 
Guy Lodge, Variety

UNREST - Bear McCreary
 
"Proceeding at a measured pace -- no film about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome should be over-energetic -- 'Unrest' ably juggles content that’s wide-ranging enough in tone, style and information to prevent the film over-dwelling on Brea’s personal laments. It’s gracefully edited by Kim Roberts and Emiliano Battista, with Bear McCreary contributing an affecting, string-based score."
 
Dennis Harvey, Variety

WHITE SUN - Vivek Maddala
 
"A standout in an across-the-board impressive package, cinematographer Mark O’Fearghail’s beautiful widescreen imagery of Himalayan peaks and mountain trails is nicely complemented by Vivek Maddala’s subtle and sparingly applied score."
 
Richard Kuipers, Variety

THE NEXT TEN DAYS IN L.A.

Screenings of older films, at the following L.A. movie theaters: AMPASAmerican Cinematheque: AeroAmerican Cinematheque: EgyptianArclightArena CineloungeLACMALaemmleNew BeverlyNuart and UCLA.

November 2
SEA OF LOVE (Trevor Jones), MALICE (Jerry Goldsmith) [Cinematheque: Aero]
SUSPIRIA (Goblin) [Nuart]

November 3
A QUIET PLACE (Marco Beltrami) [Cinematheque: Aero]

November 5
PLATFORM (Yoshihiro Hanno) [UCLA]

November 6
HELL'S ANGELS (Hugo Riesenfeld) [LACMA]

November 7
IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD (Ernest Gold) [Arclight Hollywood]
THE THIRD MAN (Anton Karas) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
THE WORLD (Giong Lim), STILL LIFE (Giong Lim) [UCLA]

November 8
WARGAMES (Arthur B. Rubinstein) [Laemmle NoHo]

November 9
DEATH ON THE NILE (Nino Rota) [Laemmle Ahyra Fine Arts]
A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (Ennio Morricone), FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (Ennio Morricone) [Cinematheque: Aero]
SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD (Nigel Godrich) [Nuart]
A TOUCH OF SIN (Giong Lim) [UCLA]

November 10
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (Ennio Morricone) [Cinematheque: Aero]

November 11
DIE HARD (Michael Kamen) [Laemmle Playhouse]
DIE HARD (Michael Kamen) [Laemmle Town Center]


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

Johnny English Strikes Again - I can't exactly recommend this one, but was mildly enjoyable on its own terms, with the highlight being a cameo appearance (as retired agents) by Charles Dance, Michael Gambon and Edward Fox. Howard Goodall provides a pleasant enough pastiche score in the vein of David Arnold's Bond music, and after watching all four seasons of Blackadder (with its remarkable series finale), I'll pretty much watch Rowan Atkinson in anything -- I'm most intrigued to see him as Simenon's Inspector Maigret in a recent series of TV movies; I don't think I've ever seen Atkinson in a non-comedic role. (Similarly, I think the only dramatic role I ever saw John Cleese do was his small part in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and he was terrific.)

Hunter Killer - If you're expecting something on the level of The Hunt for Red October, you'll be disappointed. If you're expecting London Has Fallen on a submarine, you'll should be pleasantly suprised by how absolutely not terrible this movie is. In narrative, it's much closer to Red October than to one of Gerard Butler's Fallen films, and overall it's a very fun submarine B-movie, driven more by plot than action scenes, though the CGI is distractingly erratic, an inadvertent hallmark of Butler's recent movies (I think it was Variety's pan of Olympus Has Fallen that memorably coined the term "Bulgarian CGI," which I think of every time I see an unconvincing digital shot in a movie).

Suspiria - I can't really say I've ever been a fan of Dario Argento movies, and even one of his most beloved films, the original Suspiria, is impressive to me only for its visuals (and the always welcome presence of Jessica Harper) and not as a scary or even remotely satisfying movie. The idea of a remake from Luca Guadagnino, director of last year's excellent Call Me By Your Name, was an intriguing notion, and the end result is fascinating, at times quite memorable, but ultimately unsatisfying. (Also, along with A Cure for Wellness, the presence of Mia Goth in the cast seems to insure that a horror movie is two-and-a-half hours long for no particular reason). There are highly effective sequences, but I think what bothered me the most was the way the remake's script grafts historical events like the Holocaust, the Baader-Meinhof terrorists and the Berlin Wall onto its pulpy story, attempting to give the material a gravity it simply hadn't earned. My favorite thing about the movie is almost certainly the extraordinary makeup created by Mark Coulier (a deserved Oscar winner for The Iron Lady and The Grand Budapest Hotel), and I hope the film's over-the-top elements won't keep him from earning that third Oscar. 

Can You Ever Forgive Me? - Seven years after her surprising but much-deserved Oscar nomination for Bridesmaids, it's great to see Melissa McCarthy finally in another role worthy of her gifts, as Lee Israel, a down-on-her-luck biographer who engaged in a lucrative scheme to forge letters from literary celebrities. McCarthy is ideal casting in the part, both for her talent and her willingness to suppress the warmer aspects of her personality seen in recent projects, and nails both the wit and the underlying sadness. Given her typcasting in comedies, some might view the hiring of McCarthy to play a depressed alcholic lesbian forger with personality issues to be a stunt, but she's utterly perfect in the part (Julianne Moore was once announced for the project and could have acted it brilliantly but probably wouldn't have embodied it as fully as McCarthy manages to here), and director Marielle Heller brings the same keen sense of time-and-place to early 90s Manhattan that she displayed for her 70s/Bay Area-set debut feature, The Diary of a Teenage Girl.

Halloween - Director David Gordon Green was at one point announced to direct the Suspiria remake but instead ultimately directed what I guess you could call an "alternate sequel" (pretending that Halloween II through Halloween: Resurrection simply don't exist, which is not a bad idea for many reasons, though I still have a warm place in my heart for Season of the Witch) to the John Carpenter classic, opening two weeks ago to extraordinary box-office. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this film. I've never had an Ebert-esque moral objection to slasher movies but I can't say it's one of my favorite horror sub-genres, given the remarkable lack of variation from film to film. That said, this is a satisfying and exceptionally well-crafted addition to the genre, with Carpenter himself making a welcome return to scoring, but my favorite aspect may be Michael Simmonds' cinematography -- though the film was "captured" digitally, the widescreen images evoke the look of early Carpenter (when Dean Cundey was his expert cameraman) and Spielberg films like Jaws and Close Encounters, especially the foggy night scene where Will Patton comes upon the aftermath of Michael Myers' roadside escape.

Mid90s - Jonah Hill makes his feature directing debut this brief but evocative and moving coming-of-age story about an unhappy teenage boy who befriends a group of Venice (California) skaters. Christophe Blauvelt's cinematography (shot in super 16mm with a boxy 1:33 aspect ratio) adds to the realistic feeling, and one of the few recognizable actors is Lucas Hedges, playing a character so different from his high school drama-club boy in Lady Bird (and so believable in each role that you could imagine him being easily typecast at either pole) that my view of him as an actor as altered radically.

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Magnus Fiennes born (1965)
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