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The latest release from Intrada is a two-disc set of James Horner's score for director Ron Howard's Oscar-winning 1995 docudrama APOLLO 13. Horner was nominated for the film's score as well as for Best Picture winner Braveheart, but the disappointment of losing the Oscar to Luis Bacalov's Il Postino was probably pretty well forgotten two years later due to his work on a little film called Titanic. MCA's original soundtrack release of Apollo 13 was a frustrating mixture of score cues, period songs and dialogue excerpts, while a score-only CD was available only as a hard-to-find promotional release. Disc One of Intrada's Apollo 13 features the complete film orchestral film score followed by Horner's electronic cues, totalling 76 minutes, while Disc Two features the cue sequencing of the promotional CD.


The latest soundtrack CD from Kritzerland presents the first-ever release of the score for the 1971 horror film THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD. The film was produced by Amicus Productions, which specialized in anthology horror films like Dr. Terror's House of Horrors, Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror. Despite its title, The House that Dripped Blood was a not-especially-gory entry from the studio and told four horror tales, written by Psycho novelist Robert Bloch, revolving around the same house -- Denholm Elliot played a thriller writer who believes his murderer character has come to life; Peter Cushing becomes obsessed with a wax museum; Christopher Lee has a mysterious relationship with his seemingly innocent young daughter; and Jon Pertwee plays the star of a vampire film whose costume causes him to take a "method" approach to his role. The score was composed by Michael Dress [1935-1975], whose few other scores include the Amicus-produced science-fiction drama The Mind of Mr. Soames, starring Terence Stamp and Robert Vaughn.


Next week, La-La Land will be releasing a two-disc set of music from Seth McFarlane's hit sci-fi comedy series THE ORVILLE, featuring the show's main theme by nine-time Emmy winner Bruce Broughton, plus selections from the episode scores by Broughton, Andrew Cotttee, John Debney and Joel McNeely.


The latest limited edition release from Varese Sarabande presents the LP tracks from Lee Holdridge's score for the 1978 romantic docudrama sequel THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN, PART 2. Marilyn Hassett reprised her role as Jill Kinmont, a champion skier paralyzed in an accident, and the sequel depicts her romance with her eventual husband, played by Timothy Bottoms. (Beau Bridges played her ill-fated love interest in the first film, scored by Charles Fox who received an Oscar nomination for its song, "Richard's Window." Fun biopic trivia: the first film, released in 1975, takes place in the mid-late 1950s, while its sequel was made only 3 years later but takes place 20 years later) 


CDS AVAILABLE THIS WEEK

Apollo 13 - James Horner - Intrada Special Collection
Happy New Year, Colin Burstead - Clint Mansell - Invada (import)
The Other Side of the Mountain, Part 2
- Lee Holdridge - Varese Sarabande
The West Wing [one-disc] - W.G. Snuffy Walden - Varese Sarabande 


IN THEATERS TODAY

Adult Life Skills - Micah P. Hinson
All These Small Moments - Dan Lipton
Arctic Justice - David Buckley
The Brawler - Eros Cartechini
Don't Come Back from the Moon - Johnny Jewel
Egg - Jamie Jackson
Glass - West Dylan Thordson
I Hate Kids - Joseph Bauer
The Last Man - Emilio Kauderer
Pledge - Jon Natchez
Split Lip - Jesse Conner
St. Bernard Syndicate - Mads Heldtberg
Unbridled - David C. Williams


COMING SOON

January 25
Capernaum
 - Khaled Manzour - Decca
The Orville - Bruce Broughton, Andrew Cottee, John Debney, Joel McNeely - La-La Land
Serenity
 - Benjamin Wallfisch - Milan
February 1
Arctic - Joseph Trapanese - Sony
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
 - John Powell - Backlot
February 8
We the Animals - Nick Zammuto - Temporary Residence
February 15
Alita: Battle Angel
 - Tom Holkenborg - Milan
February 22
Free Solo - Marco Beltrami - Node
March 1
Colette - Thomas Ades - Lakeshore
Dorian Gray - Charlie Mole - Filmtrax
March 8
Ittefaq - BT - Kss3te Recordings
Date Unknown
Calypso/Italia '61 in Circarama
 - Angelo Francesco Lavagnino - Alhambra
The Cisco Kid in The Gay Amigo
 - Albert Glasser - Kritzerland
Deux Hommes Dans La Ville/Le Toubib/La Verve Couderc
- Philippe Sarde - Music Box
El Fotografo Del Mauthausen
- Diego Navarro - Rosetta
El Lado Oscuro del Corazon
- Osvaldo Montes - Rosetta
The House that Dripped Blood
- Michael Dress - Kritzerland
Mad Macbeth
 - Susan Dibona, Salvatore Sangiovanni - Kronos
A Man Called Peter
 - Alfred Newman - Kritzerland
Miniscule: Mandibles from Far Away
- Mathieu Laboley - Music Box
Non Lasciamoci Piu
 - Fabio Frizzi - Kronos
Oma Maa
 - Pessi Levando - Kronos
Sin Fin
- Sergio De La Puente - Rosetta
Superman - John Williams - La-La Land
Valley of Shadows
 - Zbigniew Preisner - Caldera


THIS WEEK IN FILM MUSIC HISTORY

January 18 - W. Franke Harling born (1887)
January 18 - Richard LaSalle born (1918)
January 18 - Jonathan Davis born (1971)
January 18 - Cyril J. Mockridge died (1979)
January 18 - Johnny Harris records his score for the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode “Ardala Returns” (1980)
January 18 - Basil Poledouris begins recording his score for Conan the Barbarian (1982)
January 18 - George Stoll died (1985)
January 18 - Joseph Gershenson died (1988)
January 19 - Gerard Schurmann born (1924)
January 19 - Stu Phillips born (1929)
January 19 - Michael Boddicker born (1953)
January 19 - Jerome Moross begins recording his score to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1960)
January 19 - Recording sessions begin for Cyril Mockidge’s score to The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
January 19 - John Williams records his score for The Ghostbreaker (1965)
January 19 - Jerry Goldsmith begins recording electronic cues for Logan's Run (1976)
January 19 - Don Costa died (1983)
January 19 - David Shire records his score for the Amazing Stories episode "Moving Day" (1987) 
January 19 - Dennis McCarthy records his score for the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Life Support” (1995)
January 19 - Bjorn Isfalt died (1997)
January 20 - Emil Newman born (1911)
January 20 - Recording sessions begin for Miklos Rozsa's score for Double Indemnity (1944)
January 20 - John Beal born (1947)
January 20 - Franz Waxman begins recording his score to Untamed (1955)
January 20 - Bronislau Kaper begins recording his score to The Prodigal (1955)
January 20 - Pedro Bromfman born (1976)
January 20 - Christopher Young’s scores for the Twilight Zone episodes “A Matter of Minutes” and  “A Small Talent for War” are recorded (1986)
January 20 - Basil Poledouris records his score for the Twilight Zone episode “Monsters!” (1986)
January 20 - Gerry Mulligan died (1996)
January 20 - Recording sessions begin for John Powell’s score to Agent Cody Banks (2003)
January 20 - Edgar Froese died (2015)
January 21 - Bernard Herrmann records his score for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode “An Unlocked Window” (1965)
January 21 - Peer Raben died (2007)
January 22 - Sid Ramin born (1919)
January 22 - J.J. Johnson born (1924)
January 22 - Al Kasha born (1937)
January 22 - Miklos Rozsa begins recording his score for The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)
January 22 - Velton Ray Bunch born (1948)
January 22 - Keith Forsey born (1948)
January 22 - Ben Mink born (1951)
January 22 - Marc Blitzstein died (1964)
January 22 - Alexander Courage's score to the Star Trek pilot, "The Cage," is recorded (1965)
January 22 - Richard Markowitz begins recording his score for The Wild Wild West pilot episode “The Night of the Inferno” (1965)
January 22 - Fred Steiner records his score for The Wild Wild West episode “The Night of the Undead” (1968)
January 22 - Bruce Broughton records his score for the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode “The Guardians” (1981)
January 22 - Christopher Palmer died (1995)
January 22 - Billy May died (2004)
January 23 - Walter Greene born (1910)
January 23 - Marty Paich born (1925)
January 23 - George Aliceson Tipton born (1932)
January 23 - Dick DeBenedictis born (1937)
January 23 - Casablanca released in theaters (1943)
January 23 - Alfred Newman begins recording his score to The President's Lady (1953)
January 23 - Recording sessions begin on Alex North’s score for The Bad Seed (1956)
January 23 - David Arnold born (1962)
January 23 - Riz Ortolani died (2014)
January 24 - Muir Mathieson born (1911)
January 24 - Norman Dello Joio born (1913)
January 24 - Joseph Carl Breil died (1926)
January 24 - Nico Fidenco born (1933)
January 24 - Neil Diamond born (1941)
January 24 - The Treasure of the Sierra Madre opens in theaters (1948)
January 24 - Bernard Herrmann records his score for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode “The Jar” (1964)
January 24 - Leonard Rosenman begins recording his score for The Phantom of Hollywood (1974)
January 24 - Dennis McCarthy records his score for the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Conundrum” (1992)
January 24 - Ken Darby died (1992)

DID THEY MENTION THE MUSIC?

ACRIMONY - Christopher Lennertz
 
"On a technical level, this is one of Perry’s best looking movies, with only two terrible green-screen sequences of young Melinda and Richard walking along the waterway (Atlanta fills in for Pittsburgh here) standing out as jarringly unconvincing. The score by Christopher Lennertz ('A Bad Mom’s Christmas') tightens up the tension in the right places (even without the use of those water drops), and cinematographer Richard J. Vialet ('Boo 2! A Madea Halloween') skillfully uses lighting to differentiate between Melinda and Richard’s working-class digs, the bourgeois living of Melinda’s judgmental sisters and the lifestyle-magazine sheen of Richard’s life with Diana."
 
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap

"Perry has directed more than 20 films in his amazingly successful career, and yet seems incapable of improving. This latest effort is the sort of hackwork that wouldn't have passed muster decades ago as the bottom half of a B-movie double bill. The technical aspects are atrocious, from the ugly cinematography to the treacly piano music underscoring every dramatic moment. The story supposedly takes place in Pittsburgh, but it's immediately apparent that the actors never left the confines of the filmmaker's Atlanta studio. Not even for the absurd climactic sequence, taking place on a boat, that defines cheesy. And in keeping with the film's ethos, here's a definition. Cheesy: tacky, cheap, tawdry, corny. "
 
Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter
 
ARRIVAL - Jóhann Jóhannsson
 
"The look of 'Arrival' is stately and elegant; its pace, sober and deliberate. This is Villeneuve’s first collaboration with the cinematographer Bradford Young, who shot my two favorite films of 2014 in 'A Most Violent Year' and 'Selma.' The score, by the frequent Villeneuve contributor Jóhann Jóhannsson, is multifaceted and occasionally spellbinding, not least when its low horns boom with menace, almost like an alien voice themselves."
 
Christopher Orr, The Atlantic

"Of course, regardless of his metaphysics, Kubrick was also (re)inventing the basic grammar and syntax of the science fiction movie, and in ways that are unlikely to be persuasively rewritten any time soon (like great silent cinema, large stretches of '2001' could be played without words; and when they do enter the equation, they’re deceptive and lethal). Nearly 50 years on, 'Arrival' pretty much can’t help being derivative, and Villeneuve doesn’t necessarily try to hide his influences either. A screen-filling close-up of a human hand pressed against a giant partition, beneath pounding musical accompaniment, is a clear shout-out to Stan the Man, but without the deft touch that Villeneuve’s fellow Canuck Matt Johnson showed recently in 'Operation Avalanche,' which improbably managed to cut the monolith slightly down to size."
 
Adam Nayman, Sight and Sound
 
"Villeneuve seamlessly establishes a mood of lingering unease, crafting a series of immense images set to the orchestral dread of Jóhann Jóhannsson’s score that powerfully suggest the mystery at hand without indulging in obvious instincts."
 
Robert Levin, AM New York
 
"There’s another film, of course, that checked all these boxes, whiteboards and all, and received a lot of Oscar buzz -- though it ultimately failed to convert all this into a best picture nomination. And like 'Interstellar,' 'Arrival' is only intermittently stellar. Indeed, it resembles, above all, that and other Christopher Nolan movies. Its idea-heavy dialogue is often clunky, such as when Adams’ voice-over muses, 'We are so bound by time. By its order.' (Yeah, man.) Selma cinematographer Bradford Young’s carefully composed images are mostly drained of color. The mood is mournful, even though the dead girl being mourned (another common feature of Nolan’s films) only appears in visions and flashbacks. Its score, courtesy of the brilliant Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, is eerie and romantic, but it’s reminiscent less of Brahms than brAAAAHMS. And it has a twist ending that will leave you puzzling over the mechanics of its rug-pulling. Watching it, I was excited that such a strange piece of science fiction got made-- and disappointed to realize that it is strange in just about all the ways that 'Interstellar' is."
 
Forrest Wickman, Slate Magazine

"Such a literal jump from the present to the future, from the Earth to the skies, is bolstered by cinematographer Bradford Young's radical lighting choices: He often leaves only the characters' faces, shielded by helmets or not, visible in a sea of black. Separated from the aliens by a blindingly white glass enclosure, the military brings along a canary to test the spaceship's atmosphere, as though entering a coalmine. The bird's erratic chirps punctuate composer Jóhann Jóhannsson's industrial, menacing soundtrack to spectacularly eerie effect."
 
Andrew Lapin, NPR

"To spoil exactly what Banks and Donnelly discover in the ship’s mysterious chambers would be downright criminal, given how expertly 'Arrival' withholds key information in order to stoke anticipation for its every successive (visual and narrative) reveal. Nonetheless, Villeneuve’s handling of this early going is masterful, and on the heels of 'Prisoners,' 'Enemy' and 'Sicario' -- and in advance of his 'Blade Runner 2049' sequel, which suddenly seems right in his wheelhouse -- the director’s latest establishes him as mainstream cinema’s finest employer of the widescreen frame. Villeneuve is an artist so assured in his visual framing and staging that most of his material’s sense of menace, and import, comes from the way in which he (alongside ace 'A Most Violent Year' and 'Selma' cinematographer Bradford Young) contrasts light and dark, studied and unsteady camera movements, and eerie quiet and foreboding sonic blaring (courtesy of 'Sicario' composer Jóhann Jóhannsson’s unsettling score)."
 
Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

"The aliens, as it turns out, are more wondrous than fearsome: They look like the symbolic hanging arachnids of Villeneuve’s 'Enemy,' sound like whales, and write with gaseous clouds of ink, forming complex circular sentences. 'Arrival' wisely keeps the two creatures, dubbed Abbott and Costello by their prospective interpreters, half-submerged in a cloud of ethereal fog. This is partially to maintain their mystique, partially to slightly obscure the effects work; at a relatively frugal $50 million, this isn’t a state-of-the-art tentpole. But Villeneuve doesn’t need eye-popping CGI to stoke our imagination. He’s got cinematographer Bradford Young ('Selma') lending every hazmat-suit encounter a cosmic glow, and regular composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, whose swelling, atonal soundtrack modulates the mood, from unease straight to awe. They’re an elite team, too."
 
A.A. Dowd, The Onion AV Club
 
"The film pulses with tense energy in early scenes. Louise’s first encounter with the aliens (called Heptapods, and resembling something between a deep water octopus and a spider from Mars) could almost be taught in film schools, such does it marshal every tool in the box. From Jóhann Jóhannsson’s iron death rattle score, to cinematographer Bradford Young’s pools of black, to Adams’ ferocious curiosity, every disparate element is perfect alone and better together, and all of them support the current of dread and intensity that has become Villeneuve’s signature touch. But eventually, the mood has to loosen, and with it, so too does the film."
 
Ben Croll, IndieWire

"None of which, I hasten to add, is a reason to skip 'Arrival.' It may be weaker in the resolution than in the setup, but that is an inbuilt hazard of science fiction, and what lingers, days after you leave the cinema, is neither the wizardry nor the climax but the zephyr of emotional intensity that blows through the film. The dominant feeling, strange to say, is sadness, which may cause audiences who associate spaceships with the zap of merry mayhem to stir uneasily in their seats. The first thing we get in the movie, even before the aliens roll up, is a flashback -- or, at any rate, a flash -- to a daughter whom Louise bears, raises, loves, and loses to illness. The ensuing grief refuses to dispel. Indeed, it may account for the hunger with which she greets the news of visitors from beyond as though it were an annunciation: a shaft of light to pierce her private gloom. What happens to that hope, and how Villeneuve plays around with time in order to extract the maximum fervor from Louise’s experience, I won’t reveal, not least because I’m too dumbfounded -- or simply too dumb -- to have worked it out yet. The most accurate guide to such mysteries is Jóhann Jóhannsson’s music, which is rife with choral chanting, swelling brass, skitterings, and booms. Is it based on the heartbeat of the beasts? Should we be threatened or thrilled?"
 
Anthony Lane, The New Yorker

"Crucially, under Villeneuve's assured direction the film's technical aspects combine to augment Louise's story, rather than overwhelm it with genre bombast. The effects are impressive but restrained -- the aliens, their craft and their written language beautifully realised -- while Bradford Young's disorienting camerawork and Jóhann Jóhannsson's scant, other-worldly score convey the overwhelming enormity of the situation. Most impressive is the fact that 'Arrival' audaciously plays with our expectations of cinematic narrative; here, language and time are gloriously non-linear and Louise's personal flashbacks take on an increasing significance not fully realised until the final poignant moments."
 
Nikki Baugham, The List

"That clock almost becomes a diversionary tactic; we’re so busy with the practical concerns that we don’t notice the machinery moving into place to wring our tears. That phrase makes 'Arrival' sound more manipulative than it is -- it’s all organic, the way memories and emotions are intermingled, how present becomes past, and becomes future. The way the resolution is revealed, which I wouldn’t divulge for all the tea in China, is a moment of such storytelling ingenuity and skillful execution that I wanted to cheer at the sheer perfection of the moment, and the brilliant way Villeneuve and screenwriter Eric Heisserer orchestrate the dialogue, acting, cutting, and scoring. And then they get to the ending, a culmination of elements whose sheer emotional heft is downright staggering. Movies like this are what I’m here for."
 
Jason Bailey, Flavorwire

"As he has recently, Villeneuve understands the importance of surrounding himself with talented people. In this case, two of the film’s undeniable MVPs are cinematographer Bradford Young, the genius who shot 'Selma' and 'A Most Violent Year' and composer Jóhann Jóhannsson. The latter’s compositions here are essential to every emotional beat of the film, defining the air of tension in the first half of the film and the moving undercurrents of the final act. Young’s approach is beautifully tactile, using the natural world to make this unnatural story genuine. We may not be able to fully relate to Louise’s narrative, but we can appreciate the image of a child running through a field. Young’s imagery is fluid, unlike the choppy blockbuster cinematography that we’re used to seeing in sci-fi. Most importantly, it feels like everything here is of one vision -- cinematography, direction, acting, score, etc. -- instead of the factory-produced blockbusters we’ve seen of late."
 
Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com

"Anyway, aliens show up. And Louise, being an expert linguist, is contracted by the military, specifically by Forest Whitaker’s Colonel Weber, to travel to one of the 12 alien vessels that have arrived on Earth and try to communicate with the beings inside. The ship is a dark black mass, shaped like a filled-in fingernail, hovering just above the ground in a lonely valley in Montana. You’ll forgive me for calling a $50 million movie low-budget, but, for an alien spectacular, that is a bargain -- one that Villeneuve (who is working with his biggest budget to date here, pre-'Blade Runner' anyway) makes good use of, in most instances. The hovering ship is the best example; a close encounter later on, which I won’t spoil, is the worst. Big budget or not, Villeneuve succeeds at building a sense of eerie grandeur, and Jóhann Jóhannsson’s swelling score sets the scene nicely."
 
Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

"Cinematographer Bradford Young gets to go handheld, up close and personal for Terrence Malick-inspired views from Dr. Brooks’ memory and the intimacy in this motif provides many visual clues that will aide her language decoding pursuits (and break your heart). And frequent Villeneuve scoring collaborator, Johann Johansson, creates a chilly atmosphere without making us scared. In fact, every area of 'Arrival,' from the main actors to the crews mentioned above, work exquisitely together to maintain an atmosphere of constant discovery instead of dread and fear."
 
Brian Formo, Collider

"Yet for a film so preternaturally involved in the deep roots of language and communication (its few jokes are riddles about the Sanskrit word for war and the etymology of the word 'kangaroo') Heisserer’s script is surprisingly unwordy. The Sapir-Whorf concept, which posits that language determines how we think and suggests that full immersion in a foreign language might therefore be a way to change the workings of the mind at the most basic level, is casually referenced despite being the crux of the plot. Instead Bradford Young‘s visuals do a great deal of the storytelling, along with Adams’ exceptional performance, the evocative sound design and Jóhann Jóhannsson‘s insta-classic strings-based score (when the aliens come, let there be cellos)."
 
Jessica Kiang, The Playlist
 
"Not that this is a cynical movie, mind you; like last year’s 'The Martian,' it’s about smart, driven people using their know-how to solve seemingly insurmountable problems and to answer the toughest questions. But while that film injected humor into the mix, 'Arrival' is a fairly chilly, cerebral bit of business, from its beautifully tamped-down cinematography (by modern master Bradford Young) to Jóhann Jóhannsson’s ethereal score."
 
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap
 
"To the credit of Heisserer's thoughtful screenplay, those factors are relegated to steadily reverberating background noise as Louise, Ian and their military escorts make a series of exploratory forays inside the Montana spacecraft. Those initial scenes are both scary and poetic, as minimal gravity allows them to float up into an antechamber where a window opens and two aliens materialize out of the dense, cloud-like mist within. Dubbed heptapods, the massive creatures look like blobby crosses between an octopus and a spider, and Johann Johannsson's unsettling music -- an ominous drone punctuated by horn blasts that sound like otherworldly whale calls -- underscores their strange majesty."
 
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
 
BILLY LYNN'S LONG HALFTIME WALK - Mychael Danna, Jeff Danna
 
"Okay fine, you might groan, not unreasonably, but who cares about that stuff, what about the movie? And I could tell you that I’m pretty sure, even without the distraction of the HFR (to say nothing of the entirely worthless and unnecessary 3D), that 'Billy Lynn' is still bad -- clumsily written, haphazardly choreographed, mawkishly scored, full of big speeches, inexplicable conflicts, and wooden characters. But that’s hard to say, because the look of the film so thoroughly encroaches on every element of its being. It’s not just an aesthetic concern; the technology makes even its ostensibly intimate, down-home front-porch scenes feel infinitely more staged. By the end of the film, rather than settling into the variation in the medium and forgetting about it, Lee has only managed to make us hyper-aware of the artificiality of the entire movie-making process."
 
Jason Bailey, Flavorwire
 
"We’re not supposed to be thinking about any of this when entering a narrative. And why pursue hyperrealism if you’re still going to swaddle the whole package in the gooey plunked guitars of composers Jeff and Mychael Danna? Original author Fountain added a deep irony to his book, suggesting a cycle of self-destruction that would never end. Irony can’t survive in Lee’s airless vacuum; he’s not an experimenter at heart, and as a result, his movie feels heartless."
 
Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out

ELLE - Anne Dudley
 
"The film quickly establishes a tone that’s as deeply foreboding as it is deliciously campy: the string-heavy score recalls erotic thrillers of yore, while the cool renderings of bourgeois interiors feel reminiscent of Claude Chabrol. For a movie that begins as a whodunit, Michele’s assailant is unmasked relatively quickly, a narrative move that allows Elle to evolve into something much more darkly complex as she becomes increasingly complicit in the repeated attacks."
 
Emma Myers, Brooklyn Magazine

"In one of the film’s least subtle ironies, unattached divorcee Michèle is the successful CEO of a video-game label specializing in violently eroticized medieval fantasy: 'The orgasmic convulsions are way too timid!' she chides one of her digital artists, days after her ordeal. She has her own complicated, deeply embedded reasons for refusing to notify the police of the incident -- which Birke’s script, laced as it is with intricate psychological byways, takes its time to explore. Abetted by carefully planted narrative distractions and the lush, insidiously swelling strings of Anne Dudley’s Herrmann-esque score, her reticence enables what appears to be a simple whodunnit, as a host of men who could feasibly be the rapist are introduced."
 
Guy Lodge, Variety
 
"Tech credits are polished in all departments, with DP Stephane Fontaine ('A Prophet') bathing interiors in a warm natural glow and composer Anne Dudley providing a swooning, suspenseful score with echoes of Hitchcock and Polanski. Like many a Verhoeven outing, 'Elle' offers its own devilish critique of the media -- in this case the Mature 17+ video game created by Michele’s company, and in whose sequences of computer-generated mutant rape she finds a way to channel her own depraved resistance. You go girl."    
 
Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter
 
FINAL PORTRAIT - Evan Lurie
 
"It ends rather suddenly and Rush's Swiss accent isn't much cop, but he's a fascinating curmudgeon who bears a reasonable resemblance to the artist, possessing the kind of characterful profile that cinema loves. Hammer, too, could hardly be more fittingly cast; there's a satisfying sense of contrast between the dapper, all-American sitter and the dishevelled and debauched man holding the brush. Warmly witty, jauntily scored but also emphatically warts and all, this feels like a breath of fresh air in the field of artist biopics. Tucci captures his subject from a range of interesting angles without ever resorting to po-faced portraiture himself."
 
Emma Simmonds, The List
 
"It’s not the most dramatic setup, and Tucci -- as I’ve said -- de-sensationalizes his story. But his quiet concentration draws you in, so that you slowly understand not just Giacometti (who is, as a human being, impossible) but an art that proceeds only fitfully, gropingly, in a fog cut by flashes of insight that might shortly be dismissed as lies. Tucci’s palette of blacks and smoky grays makes you feel the effects of light and shadow, and he lets your eyes wander the frame. One of the few close-ups is of Giacometti’s face as he squints toward his subject, at which point Evan Lurie’s lovely score breaks the silence with a mixture of bowed and plucked strings and an occasional impish xylophone."
 
David Edelstein, New York

I KILL GIANTS - Laurent Perez del Mar
 
"When the time comes for Barbara to simultaneously face her demons on a literal and metaphorical level at the end of the movie, yes, it’s sappy as all hell. But honestly? As the strings swell, and the rain pours down, and Barbara’s magical CGI hammer glows as she prepares to take a swing at a gruff CGI giant that resembles a cross between Liam Neeson’s humanoid tree in 'A Monster Calls' and one of the kaiju in 'Pacific Rim' -- in the moment it all, well, works, thanks largely to Wolfe and her portrayal of a difficult, terrified, brave, lovable girl."
 
Katie Rife, The Onion AV Club

KEEP THE CHANGE - Amie Doherty
 
"That naturalness can also be felt in Israel’s on-location Manhattan camerawork (courtesy of cinematographer Zachary Halberd), in Amie Doherty’s cheery score, and in the leads’ winning turns. Uninhibited and yet often innocent and unaware, Elisofon is an endearingly off-kilter presence, while Polansky captures a moving sense of David’s desire to be 'normal' (something at least partially acquired from his parents) and his simultaneous yearning to be understood and accepted, warts and all. In a nasty supporting role, Walter is typically great as a mother who frets for her son’s future but whose condescending meanness toward him (born from anger over his oddness) threatens to undermine his chances of achieving happiness."

Nick Schager, Variety

LOU ANDREAS-SALOME: THE AUDACITY TO BE FREE - Judit Varga
 
"The film is as carefully designed visually as a television commercial: Golden sunshine pours through every French door and window onto immaculate surfaces. Even when it rains, as in a ridiculous scene in which a post-coital Andreas-Salomé rejoices in her lost virginity by walking into a forest at night, heavenly lights shine through the deluge. Judit Varga’s repetitive score is overly fond of notes chasing themselves in endless circles."
 
Jay Weissberg, Variety
 
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA - Lesley Barber

"The film is anchored with profound performances. Affleck holsters tremendous pain in his surliness, and in the deliberate way he observes people trying to interact with him without returning the favor, as though he's just waiting for everyone in the world to go away. Hedges is the movie's electricity, cutting deep with wry jokes and beyond-his-years assertiveness. A line from him will turn a scene on a dime from tearful to hilarious, and then onward to a kind of resilience. It would have been nice to see the female characters fleshed out more than their brief appearances allow, but that's mostly because it's unfair for a setting this finely realized to be spared even one ounce of added detail. Throughout, composer Lesley Barber's score mixes an undercurrent of piano, the harsh chops of violins, and the occasional heavenly chorale elevating these struggles to something like spiritual revelations."
 
Andrew Lapin, NPR

"As opposed to the intimate, short-story quality of 'You Can Count on Me,' 'Manchester by the Sea' bears the same sprawling ambition as 'Margaret,' Lonergan draping the proceedings in a tragic grandeur that sometimes rubs against the film’s inherently hushed modesty. (Frequent use of classical or orchestral music during key scenes artificially amplifies the drama in ways that simply aren’t necessary: The filmmaker’s story is resonant enough without the extraneous musical oomph.)"
 
Tim Grierson, Paste Magazine
 
"As Lee moves through the misty seacoast town to Lesley Barber’s plaintive strings and chorales, Affleck proves he can convey suffering as well as any actor alive. His trebly voice is cracked with pain. He comes with his own chill fog. But that fogginess can also make his acting seem vague and generalized. His Lee is too far beyond reach to have stature -- although that might, admittedly, be Lonergan’s intent. Not everyone can rise to the level of a tragic hero."
 
David Edelstein, New York
 
"In 'Manchester by the Sea,' the waves of grief are choppy and unpredictable, cresting and receding with force and without warning, as those who have lived through the death of a loved one will know. The film’s editing and cacophonous score are similarly unsmooth -- but a sleeker film would be a more timid one, too. Best of all, the film resists the tidy resolution of closure, aiming for something more intimately truthful to the lived reality of trauma."
 
Simran Hans, Sight and Sound

"Lesley Barber’s operatic score supports the cast’s performances, mercifully turning up the soundtrack dial to cover a couple excruciating scenes that would otherwise play out as a cacophony of bloodcurdling, scenery-chewing screams."
 
Chris Plante, The Verge
 
"Lonergan arranges all these raucous voices into a chorus of overlapping lines and halting cadences, and on more than one occasion you may find yourself wishing some of them would shut up already. That extends even to the music, courtesy of composer Lesley Barber and music supervisor Linda Cohen, which adds yet another deliberate layer of cacophony: There are moments when a classical piece or an old blues standard rise to a pitch well beyond that of mere background accompaniment. Only a wordless, beautifully harmonized vocal performance, recurring at key intervals, offers the respite of something resembling silence."
 
Justin Chang, Variety

OUTSIDE IN - Andrew Bird

"In several scenes, Chris glides through town on his old BMX bike, which is covered in '20 years of rust,' as Chris puts it. In those sequences, Duplass shines, and so does Shelton. Even when Chris’s chest and stomach are out of frame, you can sense his enormous, grateful deep breaths, that beautiful sky framing his face as the tension leaves his neck. It’s a feeling emphasized by Andrew Bird’s excellent score. Both the music and the film hit a very particular sweet spot, in which something painful is made both easier and more difficult to bear because the pain is beautiful. It’s because the world is beautiful, even when it’s not. Just as the songs of Sufjan Stevens gave 'Call Me by Your Name' a lovely, aching sting, Bird’s compositions draw out everything that hurts in 'Outside In,' like cold, crisp air in the lungs on a gray but beautiful day. Shelton and Duplass may not stray very far from the path which, at the film’s outset, they seem likeliest to take, and not every moment along that path lands quite as well as it could. But like Bird’s score, 'Outside In' knows how to take us from the outside and bring us, well, in. The key is finding those moments that quietly reshape a life and revealing how acutely they’re felt. A hug is tense, until it isn’t. A work of art is tentatively revealed. A hay bale is encountered, and it smells sweet. Those moments can change a life, they can shape a story, and they can absolutely make a slightly uneven film well worth watching."

Allison Shoemaker, RogerEbert.com

"There’s a muted lyricism to the way DP Nathan M. Miller and Shelton’s other principal collaborators capture the soggy, depressed and somewhat decrepit beauty of the Pacific Northwest setting. Having pop iconoclast Andrew Bird as composer was an inspired choice, as his largely acoustic score adds some playful edges to the overall texture."
 
Dennis Harvey, Variety

"Chris certainly needs the company. The screenplay (by Duplass and Shelton) convincingly imagines what a small town feels like to a man who has lost 20 years and has few resources. Chris walks everywhere, has little luck finding work and learns that his old friends -- though claiming to want to catch up -- have started new lives with little room for him. An excellent score by Andrew Bird and fine, drizzly-day lensing by Nathan M. Miller underline his predicament without sentimentalizing loneliness."
 
John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter

PYEWACKET - Lee Walia
 
"With effective additional support from Lee Walia’s score and all other tech/design contributors, 'Pyewacket' is a movie that actually benefits from repeat viewings -- though at first watch it may disappoint those looking for traditional jump scares and gore."
 
Dennis Harvey, 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 Beverly, Nuart and UCLA.

January 18
CABARET (John Kander, Ralph Burns), LUCKY LADY (Ralph Burns) [New Beverly]
CONTEMPT (Georges Delerue), LE PETIT SOLDAT (Maurice Leroux) [Cinematheque: Aero]
DONNIE DARKO (Michael Andrews) [Nuart]
JACKIE BROWN [New Beverly]
THE WITCHES (Stanley Myers) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]

January 19
ALPHAVILLE (Paul Misraki), MADE IN USA [Cinematheque: Aero]
ARTHUR (Burt Bacharach) [New Beverly]
CABARET (John Kander, Ralph Burns), LUCKY LADY (Ralph Burns) [New Beverly]
DON'T LOOK NOW (Pino Donaggio), COLD HEAVEN (Stanley Myers) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN (Frank Loesser, Walter Scharf) [New Beverly]
OUR MAN IN HAVANA [UCLA]

January 20
BAD TIMING (Richard Hartley), EUREKA (Stanley Myers) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN (Frank Loesser, Walter Scharf) [New Beverly]
THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (David Amram), SUDDENLY (David Raksin) [New Beverly]
ONE PLUS ONE [Cinematheque: Aero]

January 21
THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (David Amram), SUDDENLY (David Raksin) [New Beverly]
YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE (Jonny Greenwood), WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN (Jonny Greenwood) [Cinematheque: Aero]

January 22
GRANDMA'S BOY, SAFETY LAST [LACMA]
SWEATER GIRLS (Richard Hieronymus), THE CHICKEN CHRONICLES (Ken Lauber), HOMETOWN U.S.A. [New Beverly]

January 23
THE LATE SHOW (Ken Wannberg), THE BIG FIX (Bill Conti) [New Beverly]

January 24
THE LATE SHOW (Ken Wannberg), THE BIG FIX (Bill Conti) [New Beverly]
SUSPIRIA (Goblin), CARRIE (Pino Donaggio) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
THE THING (Ennio Morricone) [Laemmle NoHo]

January 25
AMERICAN GRAFFITI, THE LORDS OF FLATBUSH (Joe Brooks) [New Beverly]
BLOW OUT (Pino Donaggio), INFERNO (Keith Emerson) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
JACKIE BROWN [New Beverly]
SHOCK TREATMENT (Richard O'Brien, Richard Hartley) [Nuart]
THIEVES LIKE US, OLD BOYFRIENDS (David Shire) [UCLA]
WINGS OF DESIRE (Jurgen Knieper) [Cinematheque: Aero]

January 26
AMERICAN GRAFFITI, THE LORDS OF FLATBUSH (Joe Brooks), MORE AMERICAN GRAFFITI [New Beverly]
BURY ME AN ANGEL (Richard Hieronymus, East-West Pipeline), SUMMER SCHOOL TEACHERS (J.J. Jackson) [UCLA]
DRESSED TO KILL (Pino Donaggio), TENEBRE (Simonetti-Morante-Pignatelli) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
FIGHT CLUB (Dust Brothers) [Cinematheque: Aero]
HIS PICTURE IN THE PAPERS [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY (David Raksin) [New Beverly]

January 27
MY LITTLE CHICKADEE (Frank Skinner) [Cinematheque: Aero]
THE NAKED KISS (Paul Dunlap) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
ROMEO AND JULIET (Nino Rota), BROTHER SUN, SISTER MOON (Donovan, Ken Thorne) [New Beverly]
THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY (David Raksin) [New Beverly]


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

There have been a lot of films I've wanted to see from this month's New Beverly lineup, and last week I went to a double feature from their "Modern Day Private Eyes" series, Harper and P.J.; I'd only seen Harper before on home video, and I'd never seen P.J.

As a fan of Ross MacDonald's Lew Archer novels (which also inspired the short-lived 70s TV series Archer, scored by Goldsmith), I've long been ambivalent about Harper, the film version of MacDonald's The Moving Target. Overall it's a very enjoyable film, with an A-list supporting cast (including Lauren Bacall, Shelley Winters, Janet Leigh and Julie Harris), the scope cinematography by Conrad Hall is terrific, and the more somber passages from Johnny Mandel's score are like a foretaste of his classic Point Blank, released the following year. William Goldman's script, his first solo screenplay credit, is a typically expert adaptation with an impressively complicated storyline, incorporating such ahead-of-their-time elements as Southern California cults and the smuggling of undocumented workers.

My big problem is Paul Newman. He would seem to be an ideal choice to play Archer (re-named Harper for the film, to follow Newman's roles as Hud, Hombre and The Hustler), and I suspect he would have been perfect for the role if he'd played him in the late '70s or early '80s, but I don't know if it's due to Goldman's script or just the persona that Newman enjoyed in the '60s, but the film's Lew Harper is an intolerably smug smartass in a way that bears little resemblance to the character MacDonald created for the books (the Archer novels are not humorless but are overall serious mysteries, and the storyline of the film has some pretty grim passages, particularly the resolution of the kidnapping plot). There's one scene in particular, with Harper making a prank call to his estranged wife (Leigh), where the closeups of Newman laughing at his own hilarity are excruciating.

Newman returned to the role for a sequel nine years later (also based on one of the MacDonald novels), The Drowning Pool, and my memory is that he was still pretty smug in the role though not as much as in Harper. I haven't watched the film in a while but with its Michael Small score and Gordon Willis cinematography, it serves as a nice addendum to Alan Pakula's classic paranoid thrillers of the era.

I much prefer the Newman of the last few decades of his career, and probably my favorite Newman performance and film is Robert Benton's 1994 adaptation of Richard Russo's novel Nobody's Fool. I enjoyed the film a lot when it came out, and years later a co-worker gave me another Russo novel, Straight Man, and he quickly became one of my favorite writers. Russo and Benton proved to be a love match, as they later collaborated on the screenplays for Twilight (not the vampire romance but the Benton-directed 1998 mystery starring Newman, Susan Sarandon and Gene Hackman) and The Ice Harvest (the dark-comic noir directed by Harold Ramis).

Russo had his greatest critical success with his small town epic Empire Falls, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and was adapted into an HBO miniseries with a pretty extraordinary cast, including Ed Harris, Helen Hunt, Robin Wright, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joanne Woodward and, fittingly enough, Paul Newman in arguably his last great role and performance. At one point there were plans for Lawrence Kasdan to direct a film version of Russo's novel The Risk Pool, with Tom Hanks to play one of the many unreliable dads who populate the Russo oeuvre, but alas that film has gone unmade. A few years ago, Russo wrote a sequel to Nobody's Fool, titled Everybody's Fool, and surprisingly, the protagonist is the oafish small town cop from the first book, played in the original movie by Philip Seymour Hoffman. 

One of Russo's most recent works, the collection Trajectory, features a short story titled "Milton & Marcus," which reads as if it was inspired by Russo's collaborations with Newman. In the story, the narrator has worked with a Newman-like actor and had pitched a Newman-Redford-type buddy film to the actor and his frequent co-star, and after the Newman character's death the surviving star is interested in reviving the project with another actor. Though the two lead stars are fictional (and the Redford figure seems more of a roguish ladies man than the real Redford ever appeared to be in real life), real actors such as Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones and Nick Nolte (if my memory is accurate) are mentioned as possible co-stars.

It's a very enjoyable story, especially with the echoes of Russo's work with Newman (and the unmade script sounds a little like a buddy-film version of Redford's The Old Man and the Gun), but one odd detail is that the Newman figure is named "Wendell Pierce." Wendell Pierce is of course the name of an actual living and working actor -- probably most beloved for his regular role as Detective William "Bunk" Moreland on The Wire, and currently playing James Greer (what I will always think of as "the James Earl Jones role") on Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan.

The film that screened with Harper, the little-seen P.J. (directed by John Guillermin, scored by Neal Hefti), was highly entertaining and especially fascinating as a studio film from that period when censorship restrictions were starting to be relaxed but the R-rating had yet to be instituted. One especially one-of-a-kind scene had George Peppard's hapless private eye getting beaten bloody by the denizens of a gay bar, something I'm pretty sure never happened to Banacek (much less Hannibal Smith).

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