CDS AVAILABLE THIS WEEK
Planet of the Apes: Original Film Series Soundtrack Collection - Jerry Goldsmith, Leonard Rosenman, Tom Scott - La-La Land
IN THEATERS TODAY
Coyote Lake - Fabrizio Mancinelli
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw - Tyler Bates
15 Minutes of War - Fabien Kourtzer, Mike Kourtzer
The Ground Beneath My Feet - Kyrre Kvam
Is That You? - Owain Kelly, James Williams
Jirga - AJ True
Ladyworld - Callie Ryan
Love, Antosha - Saul Simon MacWilliams
Luce - Geoff Barrow, Ben Salisbury
Moop - Arin Crumley, Andrew Peterson
- Jed Kurzel
- Frank Ilfman
- Marcelo Zarvos
A Score to Settle
- John Kaefer
Tel Aviv on Fire
- André Dziezuk
Them That Follow
- Garth Stevenson
- Jimi Zhivago
Amundsen - Johan Soderqvist - Perseverance
Vera - Benjamin Bartlett - Silva
Yellowstone - Bill Conti - Buysoundtrax
The Durrells - Ruth Barrett, Jon Wygens - Abkco
The Informer - Brooke Blair, Will Blair - Varese Sarabande
Intolerance - Carl Davis - Carl Davis Collection
Succession - Nicholas Britell - Milan
After the Wedding - Mychael Danna - Varese Sarabande
Chernobyl - Hildur Guonadottir - Deutsche Grammophon
Ms. Purple - Roger Suen - Notefornote
Samurai Marathon - Philip Glass - Orange Mountain
Stranger Things 3 - Kyle Dixon, Michael Stein - Lakeshore
Dementia/Piano Concerto - George Antheil, Ernest Gold - Kritzerland
Evil Toons - Chuck Cirino - Dragon's Domain
Secret of the Titanic - Craig Safan - Dragon's Domain
Thunderbirds Are Go: Series 2 - Ben Foster, Nick Foster - Silva
UFO - Barry Gray - Silva
THIS WEEK IN FILM MUSIC HISTORY
August 2 - Carlo Savina born (1919)
August 2 - Joe Harnell born (1924)
August 2 - Phillip Lambro born (1935)
August 2 - Arthur Kempel born (1945)
August 2 - Dimitri Tiomkin begins recording his score for Gunfight at the OK Corral (1956)
August 2 - Recording sessions begin on Leigh Harline
’s score for No Down Payment
August 2 - Robert Drasnin records his score for The Wild Wild West episode “The Night of the Man-Eating House” (1966)
August 2 - Lalo Schifrin records his score for the Mission: Impossible episode “The Miracle” (1971)
August 2 - Muir Mathieson died (1975)
August 2 - Irwin Bazelon died (1995)
August 3 - Louis Gruenberg born (1884)
August 3 - David Buttolph born (1902)
August 3 - Robert Emmett Dolan born (1906)
August 3 - Ira Newborn begins recording his score for The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)
August 3 - Alfred Schnittke died (1998)
August 3 - Warren Barker died (2006)
August 4 - Bernardo Segall born (1911)
August 4 - David Raksin born (1912)
August 4 - Egisto Macchi born (1928)
August 4 - Recording sessions begin for The Prisoner of Zenda
remake, with Conrad Salinger
adapting Alfred Newman
's original score (1952)
August 4 - Nathan Johnson born (1976)
August 4 - Michael Small begins recording his score for Firstborn (1984)
August 4 - Egisto Macchi died (1992)
August 5 - Christopher Gunning born (1944)
August 5 - Adolph Deutsch
begins recording his score for The Matchmaker
August 5 - Abigail Mead born as Vivian Kubrick (1960)
August 5 - Cyril Morin born (1962)
August 5 - Alexander Courage's music for the Star Trek episode "The Enterprise Incident" is recorded (1968)
August 5 - Robert Prince records his first Mission: Impossible score, for the episode “Homecoming” (1970)
August 5 - Stuart Hancock born (1975)
August 5 - Michael Small begins recording his score for Comes a Horseman (1978)
August 5 - Fred Karger died (1979)
August 5 - Henry Mancini begins recording his score for Mommie Dearest (1981)
August 5 - Henry Mancini begins recording his score for Trail of the Pink Panther (1982)
August 5 - Jerry Goldsmith begins recording his unused score for Gladiator (1991)
August 6 - Oliver Wallace born (1887)
August 6 - Cyril J. Mockridge born (1896)
August 6 - Jack Elliott born (1927)
August 6 - Andre Previn
begins recording his score to The Outriders
August 6 - Alex North begins recording his score to Pony Soldier (1952)
August 6 - Soren Hyldgaard born (1962)
August 6 - Robert Prince records his final Mission: Impossible score, for the episode “Mindbend” (1971)
August 6 - Larry Adler died (2001)
August 6 - Christopher Dedrick died (2010)
August 6 - Marvin Hamlisch died (2012)
August 7 - Alfred Newman
begins recording his adaptations of Jerome Kern songs for Centennial Summer
August 7 - Recording sessions begin for Bronislau Kaper's score for Her Twelve Men (1953)
August 7 - Gerald Fried records his score for the Mission: Impossible episode “Trek” (1967)
August 7 - Walter Scharf records his score for The Wild Wild West episode “The Night of the Assassin” (1967)
August 7 - Joseph Kosma died (1969)
August 7 - Jerry Fielding
begins recording his score to The Mechanic
August 7 - Roy Budd died (1993)
August 7 - Jerry Goldsmith begins recording his score for Deep Rising (1997)
August 7 - Jay Chattaway
records his score for the Star Trek: Voyager
episode “Scorpion, Part II” (1997)
August 8 - Victor Young born (1900)
August 8 - Benny Carter born (1907)
August 8 - Arthur Morton born (1908)
August 8 - Axel Stordahl born (1913)
August 8 - Basil Kirchin born (1927)
August 8 - Nathan Wang born (1956)
August 8 - Stefano Mainetti born (1957)
August 8 - Louis Levy died (1957)
August 8 - Fred Steiner records his score for the Lost in Space episode "The Space Primevals" (1967)
August 8 - Jerry Goldsmith begins recording his score to Capricorn One (1977)
DID THEY MENTION THE MUSIC?
"Otherwise, the bounding canine ensemble takes the prize for, well, best in show: The endless quips about bacon and butt-sniffing may wear thin, but it’s hard to take no joy in a film that treats a jowly boerboel chasing after a receding car much like a melodrama heroine left yearning on a train platform, as Mark Isham’s thick, stringtastic score slobbers away in the background. One wishes the film were a bit more inventive with its dog’s-eye view: the odd ground-level action shot aside, there isn’t much to cinematically suggest how animals see the world differently. (Surely a sequence that places one of Bailey’s incarnations in a recovery cone is crying out for a POV-based visual gag.) Mostly, however, 'A Dog’s Journey' is content simply to point out how our furry friends are so like us -- or, at the very least, a lot like Josh Gad."
Guy Lodge, Variety
"Even worse, both films are ruthlessly efficient when it comes to jerking tears. Some prideful viewers are likely to feel resentful over how well the pain of losing a beloved animal companion is evoked. The tools are nothing more complicated than a likable cast (that goes for the dog and human actors); competent direction (Gail Mancuso, who oversaw episodes of 'Modern Family' and 'Gilmore Girls,' takes charge of the leash in Journey from Purpose's Lasse Halstrom); a surging score by Mark Isham to punch up the plangency; and some corny but hugely relatable plot devices. Ivan Pavlov himself (the original guy who taught dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell) would be impressed."
Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter
"There are few big laughs here, as Hopkins instead relies heavily on charm, which his performers have more of than these relatively sketchy characters. Neither is there much actual drama, at least until the court scenes, which frankly feel like they belong to another movie. Yet there is a kind of blessed relief to be had in this summery cinematic amble, handsomely shot by upcoming cinematographer Felix Wiedeman ('Mr. Selfridge') and gently scored by Stephen Warbeck ('Shakespeare in Love') as if capturing birdsong."
Jason Solomons, The Wrap
MEGAN LEAVEY - Mark Isham
"There are whispers here of satirical protest against the spreading, much-decried gentrification of the Big Smoke, but 'Hampstead's' concerns are cosier ones -- with even its stray moments of darkened mood hurried along by Stephen Warbeck’s ever-present, maddeningly dainty score. Gleeson and Keaton, for their part, play this bourgeois rags-to-tweed fairytale with such good humor that one is fleetingly able to overlook the frank bogusness of the mechanics that bring them together. There’s pleasure to be had in hanging out with these two wily, weathered actors, even as the flyaway characters they’re playing fail to illuminate each other in any way. 'Are you judging me?' Emily asks the taciturn Irishman early on in their courtship. 'I’m trying to, but you’re not giving me much to work with,' he replies -- one of the quicker lines in Festinger’s script, but also one that essentially gets at this brightly mounted, perkily performed and stubbornly sexless film’s key struggle."
Guy Lodge, Variety
THE JOURNEY - Stephen Warbeck
"Paisley and McGuinness despise each other, and have for decades. Yet the two have never met (Paisley has refused McGuinness’ entreaties), and they have come together in St. Andrews, Scotland, to hammer out an agreement. When they first see each other, on the way to the meeting room, the soundtrack is flooded with throbbing drums to underscore the momentousness of the occasion. But this is one prizefight that both men are going to win — or they’ll both lose. And there’s a logistical quirk at play: The summit meeting overlaps the celebration of Paisley’s 50th wedding anniversary in Belfast, and he is so chivalrously devoted to his wife that he insists on going."
Owen Gleiberman, Variety
LADIES IN BLACK - Christopher Gordon
"The dialogue is generally much too on-the-nose, especially when we overhear Hurt's exposition-heavy comments to Highmore -- the English actor unconvincingly essaying a part that seems ideal for Martin Compston. The contrivances which conspire to drag out a simple road-trip to what feels like marathon duration also ring tinnily false -- although a final-reel pit-stop at a gas station does gift Spall a show-stopping volley of pulpit-grade biblical invective. Hamm and composer Stephen Warbeck seek to amp up the tension with thriller-type music from time to time, cutting back and forth from the 'control room' in a manner that gestures limply towards the high-octane universe of Jason Bourne and company."
Neil Young, The Hollywood Reporter
"That said, 'Ladies' constructs a happy ending that’ll leave a satisfying final impression for many viewers, and it’s always pleasing to the eye. Cinematographer Peter James delivers radiant imagery in his 13th collaboration with Beresford. Felicity Abbott’s meticulous production design and Wendy Cork’s fabulous costumes are seen at their best in a museum-display-worthy recreation of the deluxe shopping experience enjoyed by cashed-up women in the heyday of department stores. Christopher Gordon’s traditional score is well suited to the occasion, if a tad over-used. All other technical work is fine."
Richard Kuipers, Variety
"The presence of the Hungarian-flavored influx of well-educated, culturally rich newcomers -- somewhat scornfully dubbed 'reffos' by certain of the longer-established communities -- provides 'Ladies in Black' with a welcome depth that counterbalances the general air of brightly lit, excessively scored buoyancy which prevails. The status of refugees, especially those being 'temporarily' housed offshore on the independent island of Nauru, has been a significant source of controversy in Australian public life since at least the turn of the century and is seldom far away from the headlines. 'Ladies in Black' quietly but effectively points out the seldom-stressed positives of immigration and integration, and thus deserves attention far beyond its own native shores."
Neil Young, The Hollywood Reporter
LYING AND STEALING - Giona Ostinelli, Sonya Belousova
"The original score by Giova [sic] Ostinelli and Sonya Belousova doesn’t go for traditional swagger or retro irony, but rather nervously on-edge electronica that provides a certain wry tension."
Dennis Harvey, Variety
"Director Cowperthwaite previously helmed the award-winning Blackfish, yet these two films couldn’t be more different in tone and execution. There’s something missing here, and it’s the glossed-over bonding between dog and handler. There’s hardly ever an overt moment where the audience clicks with the unique, near feral solidarity between Rex and Leavey. Smartly shot and edited, with a passable score from Mark Isham, 'Megan Leavey' still falls short of bristling battlefield-and-beyond greatness. This is a film that can’t decide if it wants to be a war movie or a rescue dog melodrama and therefore falls into cinematic no-man’s/woman’s-land."
Marc Savlov, The Austin Chronicle
THE THIRD WIFE - Ton That An
MY COUSIN RACHEL - Rael Jones
"This is an arguably juicy narrative, especially when intercepted letters and other items start to cast suspicions on the seemingly pure-and-true Rachel, and after Philip contracts a nasty virus that could in fact be related to the herbal 'tisanes' that Rachel concocts and practically force-feeds the fellow. But 'My Cousin Rachel' is an impossibly turgid film. From the moment it opens, it’s constantly indicating menace and heightened emotion, but never doing anything to genuinely evoke it. Rael Jones’ music is the main culprit here, but the film’s most blatant disaster is Sam Claflin’s performance as Philip. From the first minute Claflin presents the character as a kind of period bro, albeit one whose default mode of dealing with his environment is a sneering entitled truculence."
Glenn Kenny, RogerEbert.com
"Until Rachel’s arrival, the Ashley estate -- an atmospheric stretch of green-grey marshes and moors along the coast of Cornwall, England, given texture through Rael Jones’ hypnotically repetitive piano score -- is a nearly all-male domain. As a boy, Claflin’s orphaned Philip was raised there by his considerably older cousin Ambrose, who falls ill at one point and ships off to warmer climes to mend his health. While Ambrose is recovering in Florence, Italy, Philip starts to feel like the man of the manor, which he’s positioned to inherit when Ambrose dies. But then a series of strange letters start to arrive, first announcing how Ambrose has fallen in love and plans to get married, and then, referring to his wife as 'Rachel, my torment' and insisting that Philip come quickly to his aid."
Peter Debruge, Variety
"And he brings the world of the Ashley estate to dynamic life, particularly in a well-choreographed Christmas party that's a crucial turning point in the action. Here and throughout, the contributions of designers Alice Normington and Dinah Collin enhance the setting's specific mix of classes as well as the clash of personalities, just as Rael Jones' judiciously used score balances romance and foreboding."
Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter
THE REPORTS ON SARAH AND SALEEM - Charlie Rishmawi, Tarek Abu Salameh, Frank Gelat
"Unshowy camerawork and an understated score both place the emphasis on the largely impressive and naturalistic performances. Kerchner in particular stands out, her face a tight mask which doesn’t quite conceal her guilt from her husband and his colleagues. It is she, along with Maisa Abd Elhadi, who grounds a climactic encounter between wronged wife and other woman, anchoring it just enough to prevent it from toppling into contrivance."
Wendy Ide, Screen International
"A chubby-cheeked teenage bride, May (Nguyen Phuong Tra My), is delivered by ceremonial canoe and a gentle current to her new home, an Edenic rural estate closed off by gates where her soon-to-be husband, Hung (Le Vu Long), waits rigidly alongside his first wife, the guarded and graceful Ha (Tran Nu Yên-Khê), and second wife, Xuan (Mai Thu Huong Maya), a tender, sexually frank beauty. Ton That An’s delicate string score resonates throughout as the realities of the estate are softly revealed. Mayfair’s script keeps dialogue to a minimum, opting instead for the unspoken communication of peeks and glances, and realizations made through quiet observation."
Beatrice Loayza, The Onion AV Club
"May, young as a droplet clinging to a leaf, arrives to her new life by ceremonial canoe with her new family, including her landowner husband’s two other wives, arrayed before her in an intimidating tableau. This scene, like much of the rest of this impressionistic, unhurried story, plays without dialogue: a great deal of the emotional communication of the film is carried in glances and glimpses, in the softly plangent strings of Ton That An’s spare, elegant score, and the pattering, scuffing and quick, short breaths of Eduoard Morin’s sound design."
Jessica Kiang, Variety
"Mayfair's picture feels like the work of a seasoned veteran rather than a newcomer, but this isn't necessarily a compliment. It's sensitively poetic and tremulously delicate to a fault, with every beat seemingly accompanied and underlined by an intrusive score from Ton That An which is heavily freighted with plangent strings and mournful piano notes."
Neil Young, The Hollywood Reporter
VINCENT N ROXXY - Ahmir-Khalib Thompson
"Hirsch’s Vincent and Kravitz’s Roxxy meet cute, if you will, when he witnesses a car crash she’s involved in, then rescues her from the driver who subsequently beats her in the street in broad daylight. A stoic loner with a vintage muscle car (with thin echoes of 'Drive,' complete with a synth-heavy score), Vincent had been on his way out of town once and for all, looking for a fresh start. But he now feels compelled to protect this beautiful, dangerous stranger, so he squirrels her away in a trailer at his family’s dilapidated farm, which he hasn’t visited much in the years since his mother’s death."
Christy Lemire, RogerEbert.com
"With 'Vincent N Roxxy,' Gary Michael Schultz offers up an uneven pastiche of bits and pieces from the canon of films with lovers on the run and muscle cars at their center, drawing inspiration for his film’s synth-driven score and Emile Hirsch’s quiet-tough-guy act from 'Drive,' the story’s self-consciously cool male-female dynamics from 'True Romance,' and all the sudden outbursts of mayhem from 'Natural Born Killers.' The film’s indecisiveness in choosing whether to represent violence as thrilling or morally abhorrent, along with its inability to create even the slightest romantic spark between the leads, leaves it vacillating awkwardly between the realms of twee and ultraviolence."
Derek Smith, Slant Magazine
THE NEXT TEN DAYS IN L.A.
Screenings of older films, at the following L.A. movie theaters: AMPAS, Alamo Drafthouse, American Cinematheque: Aero, American Cinematheque: Egyptian, Arclight, Arena Cinelounge, Laemmle, New Beverly, Nuart, UCLA and Vista.
CHILD'S PLAY (Joe Renzetti) [Cinematheque: Aero]
DESTROY ALL MONSTERS (Akira Ifukube) [Vista]
E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (John Williams), THE THING (Ennio Morricone) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
GOODBYE, COLUMBUS (Charles Fox) [Laemmle Ahyra Fine Arts]
HOUSE OF BAMBOO (Leigh Harline), ANATAHAN (Akira Ifukube) [UCLA]
THE ROOM (Mladen Milicevic) [Nuart]
SUNSET BLVD. (Franz Waxman), SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS (Leo Shuken, Charles Bradshaw) [Cinematheque: Aero]
BREAKIN' (Gary Remal, Michael Boyd) [Vista]
IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (Louis Silvers), THE HITCH-HIKER (Leith Stevens) [Cinematheque: Aero]
LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (Maurice Jarre) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
MARY POPPINS (Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman, Irwin Kostal) [New Beverly]
PET SEMATARY (Elliot Goldenthal), PET SEMATARY II (Mark Governor) [UCLA]
GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA (Masaru Sato) [Vista]
MARY POPPINS (Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman, Irwin Kostal) [New Beverly]
THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO (Dick Hyman) [Cinematheque: Aero]
SIESTA (Marcus Miller) [UCLA]
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS (Christopher Komeda) [Arclight Hollywood]
FRIGHT NIGHT (Brad Fiedel) [Arclight Santa Monica]
FRIGHT NIGHT (Brad Fiedel) [Arclight Sherman Oaks]
HAIRSPRAY (Kenny Vance) [New Beverly]
CHOPPING MALL (Chuck Cirino) [Alamo Drafthouse]
PSYCHO (Bernard Herrmann) [Cinematheque: Aero]
BABETTE'S FEAST (Per Norgaard) [Cinematheque: Aero]
PILLOW TALK (Frank DeVol) [New Beverly]
ROAR (Terrence P. Minogue) [Alamo Drafthouse]
THE YOUNG PHILADELPHIANS (Ernest Gold) [Laemmle Royal]
BLADE RUNNER (Vangelis) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE, 24 FRAMES [Cinematheque: Aero]
ERASERHEAD (Peter Ivers) [Cinematheque: Aero]
LADYHAWKE (Andrew Powell), FLESH + BLOOD (Basil Poledouris) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
NUDE ON THE MOON (Daniel Hart) [UCLA]
SHREK (Harry Gregson-Williams, John Powell) [Nuart]
TASTE OF CHERRY, TEN [Cinematheque: Aero]
CLOSE-UP, THE WIND WILL CARRY US [Cinematheque: Aero]
GRAND PRIX (Maurice Jarre) [UCLA]
THE HITCHER (Mark Isham), NIGHTHAWKS (Keith Emerson), HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN (Adam Burke, Darius Holbert, Russ Howard III) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
SAMMY, THE WAY-OUT SEAL (Oliver Wallace) [New Beverly]
THERE WILL BE BLOOD (Jonny Greenwood) [Vista]
THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (Max Steiner) [Vista]
THE BLOOD OF HEROES (Todd Boekelheide), BLIND FURY (J. Peter Robinson) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
EL CID (Miklos Rozsa) [UCLA]
GODZILLA VS. KING GHIDORAH (Akira Ifukube) [Vista]
HELLO, DOLLY (Jerry Herman, Lennie Hayton, Lionel Newman) [Laemmle Ahyra Fine Arts]
IT (Benjamin Wallfisch) [Alamo Drafthouse]
SAMMY, THE WAY-OUT SEAL (Oliver Wallace) [New Beverly]
THE SECRET OF NIMH (Jerry Goldsmith) [UCLA]
WHERE IS THE FRIEND'S HOUSE? (Amine Allah Hessine), AND LIFE GOES ON, THROUGH THE OLIVE TREES (Chema Rosas) [Cinematheque: Aero]
THINGS I'VE HEARD, READ, SEEN OR WATCHED LATELY
Heard: The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (Rozsa), Star Trek: The Man Trap/The Naked Time (Courage), Allonsanfan (Morricone), Not Afraid, Not Afraid (Yared), Stanley & Iris/Pete 'n' Tillie (Williams), La Violenza: Quinto Potere (Morricone), The Space Between Us (Lockington), Miss Sloane (Richter), Westworld: Season Two (Djawadi)
Read: Fat Tuesday, by Earl W. Emerson
Seen: Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood, The Mountain
Watched: Black Mirror ("Bandersnatch"), Monty Python's Flying Circus ("The Spanish Inquisition"), Columbo ("Butterfly in Shades of Grey"), The New Adventures of Old Christine ("One Toe Over the Line, Sweet Jesus"), Deadwood ("Sold Under Sin")
As part of a Jane Fonda double feature at the New Beverly, I was able to see The Chase (the 1966 Arthur Penn melodrama, not the '90s Charlie Sheen action-comedy) on the big screen for the first time, in a great modern 35mm print. I'd seen the film only once before, and only on home video, and I remember not enjoying it at all, so I was surprised and pleased that for the first half or so of seeing The Chase in a theater I was actually having a really good time. It certainly doesn't hurt that the film starts with both a Maurice Binder title sequence and a terrific John Barry theme -- it's pleasant to think of an era where even a serious drama could be infused with the aesthetics of a James Bond movie -- and the film is full of wonderful actors, including Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, Robert Duvall (it's a kick watching him and Brando act together six years before The Godfather), Angie Dickinson (as warm and lovely as she is in real life), James Fox and E.G. Marshall.
But then the beating happens. Years before Mel Gibson seemingly insisted on being physically tortured in every film role, Brando had a strange inclination to take on roles that required his character to be beaten to a pulp. For some reason, I often find beating scenes in movies more viscerally upsetting than murders -- they tend to feel more realistic (and Brando in his prime seemed to relish an especially realistic on-screen beating) -- and the one in The Chase is not only seemingly endless but particularly improbable, with three small town citizens (played by Richard Bradford, Clifton James and Steve Ihnat), beating the sheriff nearly to death in the sheriff's own office! From that point on, it feels like the film just piles atrocity upon atrocity -- the pistol-whipping of an African-American witness, a Oswald/Ruby-esque assassination -- to the point where you just feel angry at the filmmakers instead of at the characters. Pauline Kael called it "a hate-the-white-South" movie, and pointed out that if another group were depicted the way white Southerners were in the film there would have been protests.
Seeing Binder's cool opening to The Chase (though his graphics only cover the first half of the title sequence -- the rest is standard first-unit footage) reminds me one of my favorite things about the current "Golden Age of Television," the title sequences. Some particular favorites from the current century include Archer, Mad Men, Penny Dreadful, Rome, Star Trek: Discovery, The Terror and Westworld.
I am continuing to very slowly make my way through the first season of Lost (I will be very surprised if I ever decide to watch season two), and like the other J.J. Abrams shows I've been watching (Alias, Fringe), it still fails to grab me. Except for the always excellent Terry Quinn, I find it hard to care about any of the characters (which may be the biggest prerequisite for success in series television), so nearly every time they jump back in time to tell us who they were before they got to the island (even though these flashbacks do a good job of helping redeem some of the less sympathetic characters, such as the ones played by Josh Holloway and Daniel Dae-Kim), I end up turning off the TV to resume watching the episode the next night. I don't think it's a bad show, but it amazes me that it's one that people became so utterly obsessed with, given that I watch one episode roughly every six to nine months and don't even feel all that eager to start when it's time to watch the next one.
One thing especially annoyed me in the episode I just watched (the cleverly titled "...In Translation") -- amongst the gorgeous location photography and the very nicely lit soundstage interiors-as-exteriors, it had some of the most unnecessary and irritating shaky-cam photography I've ever seen.
This week I was reminded how amazing television can be when, for the second time, I watched the first season finale of Deadwood. I'm one of those tiresome people who insist that The Wire is the greatest TV show of all time, but if I had to pick a runner-up it might be Deadwood, a simply remarkable series in every way -- acting, writing, directing, cinematography, costume design, production design (intertestingly, it's hard to think of another Western that has so little background score. The only one that comes to mind is McCabe and Mrs. Miller, which, along with Pete Dexter's excellent novel Deadwood, seems to be an inspiration for the show).
Entire volumes could be written about Ian McShane's performance as Al Swearengen -- one of the most vivid and indelible characters in series television history -- but pretty much every performance is top-notch. Among the many other actors who did great work on the show, as regulars or in guest shots, include Timothy Olyphant, Molly Parker, Robin Weigert, John Hawkes, Paula Malcomsen, Brad Dourif, Kim Dickens, William Sanderson, Geri Jewell, Jeffrey Jones, Garrett Dillahunt (in two roles!), Ray McKinnon, Titus Welliver, Peter Jason, Leon Rippy, Keone Young, and Gerald McRaney as a man so evil even Swearengen is afraid of him.
One casting choice that now seems offbeat in retrospect -- Sean Bridgers played Johnny, the seemingly nicest of Al's henchmen, but since then Bridgers seems to be cast largely as utter scumbags, including his roles in The Best of Me (as James Marsden's murderous father), Dark Places and, most notably, as the kidnapper-rapist in Room.