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Quartet has announced three new soundtrack releases -- Michael Giacchino's score for the 2017 drama THE BOOK OF HENRY; Rachel Portman's music for the hit family film A DOG'S PURPOSE (both of these score were previously released as downloads by Backlot Music); and Fernando Velazquez' score for the comedy-thriller 70 BINLADENS.


The latest limited edition CD from Varese Sarabande is a two-disc set of Stu Phillips' music for the hit-TV 80s series KNIGHT RIDER, featuring the cues featured on the original, out-of-print Film Score Monthly release as well as a second disc of additional material chosen by the composer.


CDS AVAILABLE THIS WEEK

High Life
 - Stuart Staples - Milan 
The Highwaymen - Thomas Newman - Sony (import)
Knight Rider
- Stu Phillips - Varese Sarabande
976-Evil II
 - Chuck Cirino - Dragon's Domain
The Paul Chihara Collection vol. 2
 - Paul Chihara - Dragon's Domain
Under the Silver Lake - Disasterpeace - Milan 


IN THEATERS TODAY

Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blache - Peter G. Adams
Breaking Habits - Jake Walker
Breakthrough - Marcelo Zarvos
Catching Sight of Thelma & Louise - Stephen Thomas Cavit
The Curse of La Llorona - Joseph Bishara - Score CD-R on WaterTower
Daddy Issues - Maxton Waller, Patrick Ridgen
Drunk Parents - Andrew Feltenstein, John Nau
Family - Jeremy Turner
Fast Color - Rob Simonsen
Hail Satan? - Brian McOmber
Her Smell - Keegan DeWitt
High on the Hog - DC McAuliffe
His Father's Voice - Vedanth Bharadwaj 
Little Woods - Brian McOmber
Long Day's Journey Into Night - Point Hsu, Giong Lim
Lost & Found - Richie Buckley
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote - Roque Banos - Score CD on Meliam
Naples in Velis - Pasquale Catalano
Penguins - Harry Gregson-Williams
Red Joan - George Fenton
Satan & Adam - Paul Pilot
Stockholm - Steve London
Stuck - Riley Thomas, Tim Young, Ben Maughan
Under the Silver Lake - Disasterpeace - Score CD on Milan


COMING SOON

April 26
Gorath
 - Kan Ishii - Cinema-Kan (import)
Knife + Heart - M83 - Mute
The Last Days of Planet Earth
 - Isao Tomita - Cinema-Kan (import)
The Nightmare - Jonathan Snipes - Deathbomb
The Quinn Martin Collection: Vol. 1 - Bruce Broughton, Jerry Goldsmith, Dave Grusin, John Parker, Nelson Riddle, Lalo Schifrin, David Shire, Duane Tatro, Patrick Williams - La-La Land
Red Snow
 - Yas-Kaz - Rambling (import)
May 3
Tolkien - Thomas Newman - Sony
May 10
Being Rose - Brian Ralson - Notefornote
Bomber
- Guido & Maurizio DeAngelis - Beat
First to the Moon: The Journey of Apollo 8 - Alexander Bornstein - Notefornote
L'Ossessa
- Marcello Giombini - Digitmovies
Pokemon Detective Pikachu - Henry Jackman - Sony
Ruba Al Prossimo Turo
- Ennio Morricone - Digitmovies
Shazam! - Benjamin Wallfisch - WaterTower
May 17
Bumblebee - Dario Marianelli - La-La Land
The Sentinel - Gil Melle - La-La Land 
The Son
 - Nathan Barr - Varese Sarabande
May 24
John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum - Tyler Bates, Joel J. Richard - Varese Sarabande
May 31
Fletch Lives - Harold Faltermeyer - La-La Land
Missing Link - Carter Burwell - Lakeshore
June 14
Dragged Across Concrete - Jeff Herriott, S. Craig Zahler - Lakeshore
Date Unknown
The Book of Henry - Michael Giacchino - Quartet
A Dog's Purpose - Rachel Portman - Quartet
The History of Eternity
 - Zbigniew Preisner - Caldera
Hunter Killer
 - Trevor Morris - Rambling (import)
Laurette/Rashomon/Death of a Salesman
 - Elmer Bernstein, Laurence Rosenthal, Alex North - Kritzerland
Lean on Pete
 - James Edward Barker - Rambling (import)
Malevolence 3: Killer
 - Stevan Mena - Howlin' Wolf
70 Binladens - Fernando Velazquez - Quartet
A Simple Favor
 - Theodore Shapiro - Rambling (import)


THIS WEEK IN FILM MUSIC HISTORY

April 19 - William Axt born (1888)
April 19 - Sol Kaplan born (1919)
April 19 - Dudley Moore born (1935)
April 19 - Jonathan Tunick born (1938)
April 19 - Alan Price born (1942)
April 19 - David Fanshawe born (1942)
April 19 - Lord Berners died (1950)
April 19 - Alfred Newman begins recording his score for David and Bathsheba (1951)
April 19 - Ragnar Bjerkreim born (1958)
April 19 - Harry Sukman begins recording his score for A Thunder of Drums (1961)
April 19 - Henry Mancini begins recording his score for The Great Race (1965)
April 19 - John Williams begins recording his score for Fitzwilly (1967)
April 19 - Michael Small begins recording his score to Klute (1971)
April 19 - Thomas Wander born (1973)
April 19 - Ron Jones records his score for the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "We'll Always Have Paris" (1988)
April 20 - Herschel Burke Gilbert born (1918)
April 20 - Andre Previn begins recording his score for The Sun Comes Up (1948)
April 20 - David Raksin begins recording his score for Kind Lady (1951)
April 20 - Miklos Rozsa records his score to Valley of the Kings (1954)
April 20 - Richard LaSalle records his score for The New Adventures of Wonder Woman episode “The Man Who Could Not Die” (1979)
April 20 - Bruce Broughton begins recording his score for The Monster Squad (1987)
April 20 - Dennis McCarthy records his score for the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “The Die Is Cast” (1995)
April 20 - Johnny Douglas died (2003)
April 20 - Bebe Barron died (2008)
April 21 - Mundell Lowe born (1922)
April 21 - John McCabe born (1939)
April 21 - Steve Dorff born (1949)
April 21 - Franz Waxman begins recording his score to The Story of Ruth (1960)
April 21 - Jerry Goldsmith begins recording his score to Wild Rovers (1971)
April 21 - Charles Fox begins recording his score for The New, Original Wonder Woman (1975)
April 21 - Eddie Sauter died (1981)
April 21 - Georges Delerue begins recording his unused score for Something Wicked This Way Comes (1982)
April 21 - David Bell records his score for the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Soldiers of the Empire” (1997)
April 21 - Velton Ray Bunch records his score for the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “The Council” (2004)
April 22 - Isao Tomita born (1932)
April 22 - Bride of Frankenstein released (1935)
April 22 - Jack Nitzsche born (1937)
April 22 - Lalo Schifrin begins recording the soundtrack to Kelly's Heroes (1970)
April 22 - Steven Price born (1977)
April 22 - Craig Safan records his score for the Remo Williams TV pilot (1987)
April 22 - Dennis McCarthy records his score for the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Pen Pals” (1989)
April 22 - Jay Chattaway records his score for the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Emergence” (1994)
April 22 - Brian Tyler records his score for the Enterprise episode “Regeneration” (2003)
April 22 - Jay Chattaway records his score for the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Terra Prime” (2005)
April 23 - Sergei Prokofiev born (1891)
April 23 - Louis Barron born (1920)
April 23 - Patrick Williams born (1939)
April 23 - Alain Jomy born (1941)
April 23 - Jay Gruska born (1952)
April 23 - Andre Previn begins recording his score for The Fastest Gun Alive (1956)
April 23 - Kenji Kawai born (1957)
April 23 - Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson born (1958)
April 23 - Bernard Herrmann begins recording his North by Northwest score (1959)
April 23 - Christopher Komeda died (1969)
April 23 - Jonsi born (1975)
April 23 - Harold Arlen died (1986)
April 23 - Satyajit Ray died (1992)
April 23 - James Horner begins recording his score for House of Cards (1992)
April 23 - Robert Farnon died (2005)
April 23 - Arthur B. Rubinstein died (2018)
April 24 - Barbra Streisand born (1942)
April 24 - Double Indemnity is released in theaters (1944)
April 24 - Hubert Bath died (1945)
April 24 - Dana Kaproff born (1954)
April 24 - Lennie Hayton died (1971)
April 24 - Georges Delerue records his score for the Amazing Stories episode "The Doll" (1986)
April 24 - Tristam Cary died (2008)
April 25 - Heinz Roemheld's score for Union Station is recorded (1950)
April 25 - Franz Waxman records his score for Stalag 17 (1952)
April 25 - David A. Hughes born (1960)
April 25 - John Williams begins recording his score for How to Steal a Million (1966)
April 25 - Georges Delerue records his score for L’Homme Qui Revient De Loin (1972)
April 25 - Alec Puro born (1975)
April 25 - Gary Hughes died (1978)
April 25 - Brian May died (1997)

DID THEY MENTION THE MUSIC?

AFTER EVERYTHING - Xander Singh
 
"Better is the film’s observation that in a crisis, people take on accidental significance. Normally, it wouldn’t mean much if Elliot imagines the cute girl he just met bouncing around in her bra. But place him in a sperm bank and suddenly it does. Though 'After Everything' struggles a little to pull audiences along on it’s deliberately unformulaic arc -- the movie’s three speeds are caution, sprint, and collapse, set to Xander Singh’s Brooklyn-pop score -- nearly every scene reveals a tiny, startling truth about what it’s like to grow up way too fast. Its refractory tone, both deadpan and swoony, announces that the first-time feature directors have a phenomenal eye for character (which is something those who’ve been watching Marks’ work as an actress may already have realized)."
 
Amy Nicholson, Variety
 
ALONE IN BERLIN - Alexandre Desplat
 
"Perez’s approach to the material is to adopt the commonly accepted signifiers of period-film seriousness -- a muted color palette, tastefully understated performances, a quietly stirring score (here by Alexandre Desplat) -- as if by simply applying these tried-and-true techniques to a widely praised novel, a meaningful film will inevitably result. But Perez’s direction results in a tone of pinched solemnity that renders the Quangels’ heroism pallid and small. There’s little sense that Perez understands his characters, from their relationship to their moral choices. Played with absolute reserve and unconvincing German accents by the usually excellent Brendan Gleeson and Emma Thompson, Otto and Emma remain distant and impenetrable, while their relationship feels more like that of co-workers collaborating on a project than that of a long-married couple with a shared sense of purpose."
 
Keith Watson, Slant Magazine 

"Postcards from the edge -- of grief, of rationality, and in just a few cases, of the German capital itself -- are delivered by the dozen in 'Alone in Berlin,' Vincent Perez’s diverting but terminally fusty story of a middle-aged couple waging an anonymous propaganda war against Nazism in the early 1940s. Perhaps it’s apt, then, that Perez’s third feature fashions something of a postcard itself from the iniquities of the Holocaust: Tastefully lit and art-directed throughout, with a somberly mellifluous Alexandre Desplat score to ease it along, this fact-based drama finally cushions its harshest emotional blows, though Brendan Gleeson’s deeply sad, stoic dignity in the lead cuts through some of the padding. With a frail, fretful Emma Thompson also on hand as Gleeson’s wife, distributors may find a receptive older audience for a downbeat tale that, while affecting, offers but a historical tourist’s perspective on events. Below-the-line contributions are all handsome to a possible fault. Production designer Jean-Vincent Puzos evokes the eponymous city’s polarities of high-ranking splendor and low-end grayness with the requisite level of detail, but less palpable distress. Desplat’s music here, meanwhile, further suggests the prolific French composer tailors his work to the relative formal invention of the film in question: His score boasts expertly melancholic piano runs by the sheetload, but none that will tease the memory long after 'Alone in Berlin' reaches its grave conclusion."
 
Guy Lodge, Variety

"Alexandre Desplat’s score goes from mournful to percussion-filled, trying to ratchet up the tension in the film’s second half. It doesn’t quite work."
 
Boyd van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter

BAYOU CAVIAR - Jeffery Alan Jones
 
"Directed by Cuba Gooding Jr., in his first feature at the helm, 'Bayou Caviar' is far from the most elegant example of its genre. Despite seamy, well-chosen locations, Mr. Gooding is way too heavy-handed in his scoring and visual choices. But the movie deserves credit for its untempered nastiness. With one exception, Mr. Gooding refuses to redeem any of his characters, and certainly not the one he plays: Rodney, a former boxing star reduced to working as a bouncer, a job that eventually brings him into contact with Mr. Dreyfuss’s character."
 
Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times
 
BISBEE '17 - Keegan DeWitt
 
'This text is set against a red screen, while Keegan DeWitt’s score informs the exposition with plaintive dread. As a quotation from Colin Dickey’s 'Ghost Land: An American History in Haunted Places' affirms, Greene is contemplating a place wrought by a double existence. Via the mine, this small western town is integral to American history in fashions that are admirable, namely for the role Bisbee played in providing munitions for WWI, as well as revolting, from Bisbee’s formation via warfare with the Apache to the race hatred and paranoia of the deportation incident. America is tormented by such a double existence at large, of course, as a theoretical bastion of freedom that’s built on slavery, land theft, and multiple campaigns of genocide."
 
Chuck Bowen, Slant Magazine

"Seeing the links between Bisbee’s past and its present wouldn’t seem to be difficult in the summer of 2017, when xenophobia and class antagonism were, as they are now, the twin engines of national politics. (A century ago, many of the immigrants labeled undesirable were Eastern European, a reminder that nativist sentiment remains a constant even though its objects may change.) But Greene lets the contemporary resonances reveal themselves by implication rather than thrusting them upon us. It’s not until the film’s closing minutes that one choked-up re-enactor makes an explicit connection to 'today’s world.' Jarred Alterman’s camera keeps its distance, and widescreen framing subverts the documentary’s you-are-there immediacy. The movie opens with an epigraph from Colin Dickey’s book 'Ghostland' about 'haunted' cities, but the focus on empty spaces doesn’t just tempt us to see ghosts; it makes us feel like we’re the ones doing the haunting. Disembodied voices (including the filmmakers’) invade the soundtrack singing union songs, and the string creaks of Keegan DeWitt’s score add an occasional dash of horror-movie heebie-jeebies for good measure."
 
Sam Adams, Slate Magazine

"Greene’s aesthetics prove not only arresting, but in sync with his larger depiction of a community wracked by dissonance and in search of unique ways to come to terms with its heritage. Lawrence Everson’s soundtrack is marked by anxiously strident strings and thudding foot-stomping beats [Everson was the film's mixer/sound editor, not the composer]. Jarred Alterman’s cinematography, generates unease from gliding pans and interview set-ups that begin before the speaker starts talking and end long after they’ve finished. It’s a formally dexterous portrait of a municipality and its people, using both drama and documentary filmmaking to look in the mirror, and -- by finally seeing, and confronting, an ugly truth -- discovering a measure of healing and solidarity."
 
Nick Schager, Variety 

"Subtitled 'A Story Told in Six Chapters,' the film is as much about the legend of the frontier and narrowly defined notions of American character as it is about the Bisbee Deportation. The movie's chapters are announced in a blazing yellow typeface familiar from classic Westerns. Alterman's widescreen lensing gazes past the inactive mine pits and into the historic buildings, while Keegan DeWitt's fine score is by turns jangly, eerie and plangent."
 
Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter
 
A HAPPENING OF MONUMENTAL PROPORTIONS - Alec Puro
 
"The directorial debut of actor Judy Greer ('13 Going on 30') is a strange and star-filled tragicomedy, set in and around an elementary school on Career Day. Though the pitch could have been 'Like "Valentine’s Day" or "Mother’s Day," but with a dead body,' this ensemble film has a slight edge to compensate for its blaring score and some awkward comedic misfires. A subplot concerning a depressed music teacher (Anders Holm) fares better in its earnestness than some of the broader tableaus, like the school’s coprincipals (Allison Janney, Rob Riggle) finding a gardener’s corpse and hiding it in the teachers' lounge."
 
Leah Pickett, Chicago Reader
 
JOHN McENROE: IN THE REALM OF PERFECTION - Serge Teyssot Gay
 
"Faraut plays with sound techniques to heighten that drama, creating a sense of time suspended between the delivery and landing of each serve, its violent thwack followed by echoing reverb. The trippy accompaniment of wailing rock guitars or simmering spaghetti Western-style scoring effectively amps up the tension, turning the hard-fought match into an epic tragedy climaxing in anguish and rage. Even infrequent tennis followers possibly know the outcome of the contest, but the buildup is nonetheless remarkably suspenseful."
 
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

MONSTER TRUCKS - David Sardy
 
"'Monster Trucks' isn’t built to be a cool deconstruction of Reagan-era entertainment like the Netflix hit 'Stranger Things.' Its high points instead rely on modest retro charms, such as the cameo appearance of a Simon computer game (which actually gets more screen time than Amy Ryan) or the use of bombastic music themes to heighten tension and the occasional golden oldie such as Heart's 'Barracuda.' When 'Monster Trucks' finally unleashes its crash-bang-boom chase of a grand finale that somehow seems both overly violent and yet benign, it’s a relief that it isn’t silly or stupid. As for the good-looking Till, he fulfills his function as a throwback to a Kevin Bacon-Patrick Swayze hero type. Wedge is also fond of sight gags, such as the microwave door that pops open at an inopportune time."
 
Susan Wloszczyna, RogerEbert.com 
 
MY LIFE AS A ZUCCHINI - Sophie Hunger
 
"From its gentle guitar soundtrack to the quietly observant way the film shares Courgette’s solitude -- and, in time, participates in his newfound friendships -- Barras’ movie demonstrates the same qualities expected of responsible parents: It bothers to notice how Courgette actually feels. He’s allowed to be melancholy, and at times, the movie feels as blue as the bags under his eyes, the emotional equivalent of spending the recess hour staring out a rain-streaked window."
 
Peter Debruge, Variety
 
REPRISAL - Sonya Belousova, Giona Ostinelli 
 
'Perhaps 'Reprisal' is meant to be a searing allegory of these stressful times. Probably not, though. It’s more about jittery action sequences that seem almost intentionally disorienting. Beyond the usual shaky cam and first-person perspective that action directors so frequently favor, Miller cuts randomly throughout the movie’s many chases and shootouts, ostensibly to put us on edge, always accompanied by a bombastic score. The result, however, is merely annoying. During one lengthy montage, Miller crosscuts between Jacob and James poring over clues to determine who the robber might be and where he might strike again with Gabriel methodically plotting out his next heist and practicing shooting at various targets. (How does nobody hear this, by the way? The warehouse is in an industrial part of town, but the dude fires off an enormous number of rounds.)"
 
Chrisy Lemire, RogerEbert.com

RODENTS OF UNUSUAL SIZE - The Lost Bayou Ramblers
 
"As suggested by its title (which audiences likely will associate with 'The Princess Bride'), 'Rodents of Unusual Size' possesses a lightness of touch. The documentary, directed by Chris Metzler, Jeff Springer and Quinn Costello, and narrated by Wendell Pierce, uses cartoon diagrams and a cheerful score by the Lost Bayou Ramblers to make its tale of inherited destruction and trauma as charming as possible. The way that initial ease peels back is the film’s greatest asset."
 
Karen Han, LA Weekly

"Narrated by Wendell Pierce (HBO's 'Treme'), 'Rodents of Unusual Size' enhances its fast-paced narrative with amusing animation and a buoyant Cajun score by The Lost Bayou Ramblers."
 
Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter

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

April 19
THE GREAT DICTATOR (Charles Chaplin, Meredith Willson) [Cinematheque: Aero]
THE HATEFUL EIGHT (Ennio Morricone) [New Beverly]
MANDY (Johann Johannsson) [Nuart]
THE ODD COUPLE (Neal Hefti), BAREFOOT IN THE PARK (Neal Hefti) [New Beverly]
SOCIETY (Phil Davies, Mark Ryder), BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR (Richard Band) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]

April 20
ARMY OF DARKNESS (Joseph LoDuca), WAXWORK (Roger Bellon), THE BEYOND (Fabio Frizzi) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
CHEECH & CHONG'S NEXT MOVIE (Mark Davis), FRIDAY [New Beverly]
HOP (Christopher Lennertz) [New Beverly]
NEIGHBORS (Bill Conti) [New Beverly]
SONS OF THE DESERT [Cinematheque: Aero]

April 21
DONNIE DARKO (Michael Andrews), THE EVIL DEAD (Joseph LoDuca) [Cinematheque: Aero]
HOP (Christopher Lennertz) [New Beverly]
ONLY WHEN I LAUGH (David Shire), I OUGHT TO BE IN PICTURES (Marvin Hamlisch) [New Beverly]

April 22
BEETLEJUICE (Danny Elfman) [Arclight Culver City]
BEETLEJUICE (Danny Elfman) [Arclight Sherman Oaks]
BRINGING OUT THE DEAD (Elmer Bernstein) [New Beverly]
ONLY WHEN I LAUGH (David Shire), I OUGHT TO BE IN PICTURES (Marvin Hamlisch) [New Beverly]

April 23
CLUELESS (David Kitay) [Arclight Hollywood]
FIST OF FURY II (Fu Liang Chou), THE HOT, THE COOL AND THE VICIOUS (Fu Liang Chou), EAGLE'S CLAW [New Beverly]
A NEW LEAF [LACMA]
SPACEBALLS (John Morris) [Arclight Hollywood]
SPACEBALLS (John Morris) [Arclight Santa Monica]

April 24
BOB LE FLAMBEUR (Eddie Barclay, Jo Boyer) [New Beverly]
THE YAKUZA (Dave Grusin), A BETTER TOMORROW II (Joseph Koo, Lowell Lo) [New Beverly]

April 25
THE CROW (Graeme Revell) [Laemmle NoHo]
MINNIE AND MOSKOWITZ (Bo Harwood) [LACMA]
A NIGHT AT THE OPERA (Herbert Stothart), A DAY AT THE RACES (Bronislau Kaper, Walter Jurmann) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
RASHOMON (Fumio Hayasaka), HIGH NOON (Dimitri Tiomkin) [Cinematheque: Aero]
THE YAKUZA (Dave Grusin), A BETTER TOMORROW II (Joseph Koo, Lowell Lo) [New Beverly]

April 26
THE HATEFUL EIGHT (Ennio Morricone) [New Beverly]
MAJOR DUNDEE (Christopher Caliendo) [New Beverly]
THE SEARCHERS (Max Steiner), THE HIDDEN FORTRESS (Masaru Sato) [Cinematheque: Aero]
THE SIGN OF THE CROSS, ONLY YESTERDAY [UCLA]
SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (Nacio Herb Brown, Lennie Hayton) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
THE THING (Ennio Morricone) [Nuart]

April 27
CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS (Mark Mothersbaugh) [New Beverly]
DOCTOR DETROIT (Lalo Schifrin) [New Beverly]
MAJOR DUNDEE (Christopher Caliendo) [New Beverly]
SEVEN SAMURA (Fumio Hayasaka), THE WILD BUNCH (Jerry Fielding) [Cinematheque: Aero]
WAR AND PEACE (Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]

April 28
AFTER THE FOX (Burt Bacharach), THE HEARTBREAK KID (Garry Sherman) [New Beverly]
ANNIE (Charles Strouse, Ralph Burns) [Cinematheque: Aero]
CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS (Mark Mothersbaugh) [New Beverly]
MARY POPPINS (Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sheman, Irwin Kostal) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
UNFORGIVEN (Lennie Niehaus), HARAKIRI (Toru Takemitsu) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]


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

Heard: Far Cry 3 (Tyler), Euthanizer (Parunen, Kaukolampi), Archer/Warning Shot (Goldsmith)

Read: Touch by Elmore Leonard

Seen: Dirty Harry, Escape from Alcatraz, Teen Spirit, Hellboy, Missing Link, The Beach Bum, Mary Magdalene, Peterloo, Little, The Bridge on the River Kwai

Watched: Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Loves of Hercules

There's an old Laurie Anderson piece called, I believe, "Difficult Listening Hour," and one Saturday recently I had a day at the movies that I like to think of as "Difficult Viewing Day." Not that the movies were bad -- it's just that there are some films where you have to steel yourself before going in because the subject matter is so potentially unpleasant. I remember a Saturday like that two years ago, when I saw a triple feature of Gook (racism and riots), Detroit (racism, riots and police brutality) and Wind River (rape), and a few weeks ago I had the same feelling going to see Dragged Across Concrete and Hotel Mumbai.

Dragged Across Concrete is the third feature from writer-director S. Craig Zahler, whose previous films were Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99. I very much enjoyed both of these films, but they were not exactly easy viewing. Bone Tomahawk is 132 minutes long and features one of the most upsettingly graphic and realistically staged murders I've ever seen in a movie, and I have seen a lot of movie murders. Brawl is just as long but a lot more bleak, with violence so graphic that it looked like Zahler saw the elevator scene from Drive and said "That's it?"

Dragged Across Concrete is even longer -- 159 minutes, which is unusally long for a heist-related film not directed by Michael Mann -- but though it is plenty violent and brutal (one female hostage in particular goes through an emotionally and physically torturous experience that doesn't end well) and no one is likely to call it The Feel Good Film Of 2019, I had an extremely good time watching it. It holds its length very well -- it felt a lot shorter than the interminable 153 minutes of Mike Leigh's Peterloo (a film I will probably gripe about in an upcoming column), and Zahler has become extremely skilled at drawing out a simple situation to an improbable length without losing any dramatic tension.

I know it sounds obvious to say that Mel Gibson is well cast as an angry, aging cop with racial issues, but it's one of his finest performances and the rest of the cast is equally strong (and I'm thrilled that Zahler keeps writing good roles for the always entertaining Vince Vaughn). The moody widescreen cinematography by Benji Bakshi is a huge improvement over his surprisingly bland work on Bone Tomahawk, while those who enjoyed Brawl's original song score (by Zahler and Craig Herriott) will be happy to hear the same musical approach applied to Dragged.

Surprisingly, Hotel Mumbai proved to be the much more difficult viewing experience. It's well made, and despite the presence of Armie Hammer and Jason Isaacs in key roles, it avoids the pitfalls of making the white/Western men into movie-style action heroes in a way that would be inappropriate for a true-life tragedy, but its depiction of the 2008 terrorist attacks is remarkably un-entertaining, even by the standards of the genre. I can easily imagine someone finding United 93 hard to watch, but despite the unpleasant subject matter I found it a gripping moviegoing experience and willingly sat through it a second time.

Hotel Mumbai is a bit like United 93 if every seven-to-ten minutes the terrorists killed yet more people. The storytelling also gives a misleading impression of the real-life violence. We're told in the film that the hotel has 1,000 guests and 500 staff, and by what we're show onscreen one gets the impression that only a few dozen people escaped, but according to Wikipedia "only" (quotes added by me, because I hate to give the impression that 31 deaths is an insignificant number) 31 people died at the hotel, but watching the film you feel like you've seen more than that killed just on-camera, with countless more seeming to die offscreen. So far it's managed to gross a relatively impressive $8 million in the U.S., but I can't imagine there's a lot of return business.

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