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The British Academy of Film and Television Arts has announced their yearly award nominations, including for Original Score:

JOJO RABBIT - Michael Giacchino
JOKER - Hildur Gudnadóttir
LITTLE WOMEN - Alexandre Desplat
1917 - Thomas Newman

Hildur Gudnadóttir won the Golden Globe for Best Original Score -- Motion Picture for JOKER; ROCKETMAN's "(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again" by Elton John and Bernie Taupin won Original Song.


Jon Burlingame in Variety has announced that another composer is replacing Dan Romer on the score for the imminent 25th James Bond film NO TIME TO DIE. I'd write about it in more detail (I assume anyone reading this column already knows who the new composer is, but if you don't know just click on the link), but I don't feel that the language I'm likely to use would be appropriate reading for any young people who might stumble across this website. All I'll say at this point is that if the end result doesn't sound exactly like Mission: Impossible II, but with the Monty Norman theme replacing the Schifrin theme, I will be pleasantly surprised.


CDS AVAILABLE THIS WEEK

The Addams Family
 - Mychael Danna, Jeff Danna - Lakeshore
Le Calde Notti Di Don Giovanni
 - Carlo Savina - Saimel 


IN THEATERS TODAY

Afterward - Lucas Lechowski
The Assent - Frederik Wiedmann
The Corrupted - Andrew Cawczynski
Inherit the Viper - Patrick Kirst
Like a Boss - Christophe Beck
The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson - Michael Gatt
Reality Queen - Mason Cooper
The Sonata - Alexis Maingaud
Underwater - Marco Beltrami, Brandon Roberts


COMING SOON

January 17
Bliss 
- Steve Moore - Relapse (import)
Go Fish - George Streicher - Notefornote  
The Musical Anthology of His Dark Materials - Lorne Balfe - Silva
January 24
I Lost My Body
 - Dan Levy - Lakeshore
The Personal History of David Copperfield - Christopher Willis - MVKA
January 31
Anne with an E
 - Amin Bhatia, Ari Posner - Varese Sarabande 
Dracula - David Arnold, Michael Price - Silva
Samsam - Eric Neveux - 22d Music (import)
February 21
At Eternity's Gate - Tatiana Lisovskaya - Filmtrax (import)
Breath [UK release] - Harry Gregson-Williams - Filmtrax (import)
Date Unknown
Better Watch Out 
- Brian Cachia - Howlin' Wolf
Finis Terrae
 - Christoph Zirngibl - Kronos 


THIS WEEK IN FILM MUSIC HISTORY

January 10 - Recording sessions begin for Hugo Friedhofer’s score to Wild Harvest (1947)
January 10 - Tom Chase born (1949)
January 10 - Carlo Siliotto born (1950)
January 10 - Recording sessions begin for Frederick Hollander's score for The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1952)
January 10 - Dennis McCarthy records his score for the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Wounded” (1991)
January 11 - Charles Previn born (1888)
January 11 - Francesco De Masi born (1930)
January 11 - Michael J. Lewis born (1939)
January 11 - Robert Prince records his score for The New Adventures of Wonder Woman episode “Spaced Out” (1979)
January 11 - Ron Jones records his score for the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The High Ground" (1990)
January 11 - David Whitaker died (2012)
January 12 - Joseph Gershenson born (1904)
January 12 - Pino Calvi born (1930)
January 12 - Franco Piersanti born (1950)
January 12 - Miklos Rozsa begins recording his score to Men of the Fighting Lady (1954)
January 12 - Frank LaLoggia born (1954)
January 12 - Jeremy Sams born (1957)
January 12 - Maurice Jarre begins recording his score for Mandingo (1975)
January 12 - John Williams begins recording his score for Family Plot (1976)
January 12 - Bryan Senti born (1983)
January 12 - Basil Poledouris begins recording his score to Amerika (1987)
January 12 - David Newman records his score for the Amazing Stories episode "Such Interesting Neighbors" (1987)
January 12 - Luis Bonfa died (2001)
January 12 - Sadao Bekku died (2012)
January 13 - Richard Addinsell born (1904)
January 13 - Bruno Coulais born (1954)
January 13 - Trevor Rabin born (1954)
January 13 - Frederick Hollander begins recording his score for Sabrina (1954)
January 13 - Richard Hazard records his score for the Mission: Impossible episode “Kitara” (1971)
January 13 - John Frizzell records his score for the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Proving Ground” (2004)
January 14 - Hans J. Salter born (1896)
January 14 - Mark Lawrence born (1921)
January 14 - Lex de Azevedo born (1943)
January 14 - T Bone Burnett born (1948)
January 14 - Elmer Bernstein begins recording score to The Great Escape (1963)
January 14 - Jerry Goldsmith begins recording his score for Von Ryan’s Express (1965)
January 14 - Dave Grohl born (1969)
January 14 - Maurice Jarre begins recording his score for Plaza Suite (1971)
January 14 - Harry Nilsson died (1994)
January 14 - Fred Myrow died (1999)
January 14 - Harvey R. Cohen died (2007)
January 14 - Angela Morley died (2009)
January 15 - Alessandro Cicognini born (1906)
January 15 - Cy Feuer born (1911)
January 15 - Kenyon Hopkins born (1912)
January 15 - Fonce Mizell born (1943) 
January 15 - Don Caron born (1955)
January 15 - David Raksin begins recording his score for The Vintage (1957)
January 15 - Franz Waxman begins recording his score for Count Your Blessings (1959)
January 15 - John Cavacas begins recording his score for the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode “Journey to Oasis” (1981)
January 15 - Georges Delerue records his score for the Amazing Stories episode "Dorothy and Ben" (1986)
January 15 - Georges Delerue records his score for the Amazing Stories episode "Without Diana" (1987)
January 15 - Ron Jones records his score for the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "11001001" (1988)
January 15 - Les Baxter died (1996)
January 16 - Kenyon Emrys-Roberts born (1923)
January 16 - Alain Jessua born (1932)
January 16 - John Carpenter born (1948)
January 16 - Franz Waxman begins recording his score for A Place in the Sun (1951)
January 16 - Nicholas Carras records his score for Date Bait (1959)
January 16 - Atticus Ross born (1968)
January 16 - John Williams begins recording his score to The Fury (1978)

DID THEY MENTION THE MUSIC?

BEIRUT - John Debney

"Anderson capably handles the showdowns, foot chases, and pervasive eeriness of a city in ruins. At times, though, 'Beirut' slips into 'Homeland'-style shorthand, suggesting there’s not a street in town that’s not home to religious murders. Meanwhile, the score too often offers a percussive foot-chase clatter caked over with Middle Eastern instruments, resulting in a familiar mélange we could call 'Muslims Chasing White People.' That points to a larger failing, one of conception: This engaging and intelligent script could have been more of both if 'Beirut' made room for the experience of anyone besides the Americans. The filmmakers do memorable work examining what it might take to solve this one particular crisis, but do too little examining the city itself. The title promises something the movie doesn’t deliver. Maybe they should have called it 'In Beirut' rather than 'Beirut' itself."
 
Alan Scherstuhl, The Village Voice 
 
"Shooting primarily in Morocco, the filmmakers use subtle digital effects and other devices to vividly evoke a city already in ruins, with even worse to come. (There’s a parting brace of news footage from the Lebanon War, which started immediately after this story’s timeframe.) All hands contribute first-rate work, from Bjorn Charpentier’s faintly-’70s widescreen lensing and Andrew Hafitz’s taut but unrushed editorial pace to thoughtfully detailed design elements and a solid suspense score by John Debney."
 
Dennis Harvey, Variety 

BORG VS. McENROE - Jonas Struck, Vladislav Delay, Jon Ekstrand, Carl-Johan Sevedag 
 
"When the outcome of past rivalries is well known in vintage sports stories such as this, competition itself becomes the subject, and though 'Borg vs. McEnroe' isn’t top of its subgenre (that would be Ron Howard’s Formula 1 rivalry 'Rush,' best of the past decade at least), it’s dazzling in its own right. When the big tennis finale arrives, Metz finds all sorts of ways to make the match interesting, blending urgent music, creative camera vantages and ridiculously hyperbolic announcer commentary to generate the desired tension. But the real reason we’re invested is far simpler than that: Metz and his cast have made us care about both Borg and McEnroe by this point. Weirdly, their personalities seem to disappear on the Wimbledon court itself, and what results is a kind of intimate communion between the two, in which our respect for each -- and their respect for one another -- deepens profoundly."
 
Peter Debruge, Variety 
 
CHAPPAQUIDDICK - Garth Stevenson

"Curran, a competent filmmaker whose thematic seriousness is frequently undercut by a lack of directorial personality, tracks their conspiratorial errands and shifting official stories in the style of a David Fincher procedural, mimicking everything from the scores to the camerawork, with its preference for dim lighting and angles just below the eye-line. But he also takes some cues form a very different American master of narrative uncertainty, David Lynch, playing with ominous and surreal currents through the character of Joe Kennedy (Bruce Dern), the overbearing elderly patriarch and Mabuse-esque mastermind of the Kennedy clan. First heard gasping a single-word instruction, “alibi,” to his son over a payphone, Joe Kennedy is the power behind his son’s marquee name."
 
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The Onion AV Club 
 
"The score by Garth Stevenson leans too often toward the slow and morose for the good of the film’s forward movement."

Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter 

ISMAEL'S GHOSTS - Gregoire Hetzel

"Still, the movie retains an air of elegance: Gregoire Hetzel’s ominous score channels the spirit of Bernard Hermann [sic] and complements the echoes of 'Vertigo' that creep into the plot, while the Irinia Lubtchansky’s slick images respond to the oscillating tones. As Desplechin flits between Ismael’s movie, his bumpy life story, and abrupt flashbacks, the movie feels like the shaggier, more boisterous second cousin to Spike Jonze’s 'Adaptation,' its rough edges designed to mirror the main character’s fragmented inner life. When the movie crystallizes these loose themes, it retains an emotional clarity that draws the disparate pieces together. As Sylvia struggles to figure out if she can reintegrate into her old life, Carlotta tells her: 'You exist for no one now.' That statement could apply to the entire cast."
 
Eric Kohn, IndieWire 
 
"This is, in other words, a self-indulgent work on multiple levels, from its shaggy plotting to its focus on the 'difficulties' of being a revered artist to the, again, less-than-sympathetic dilemma of being caught between two beautiful, adoring lovers. But then, doesn’t one look to this maestro of excess for a little self-indulgence? Certainly, the deluge of flashbacks and anecdotal asides are part of what make Desplechin’s movies, at their cluttered best, so singularly delightful. Here, the director toggles around with impish enthusiasm, staging moments -- like Cotillard’s loose-limbed dance to Bob Dylan’s 'It Ain’t Me Babe' or a brief detour aboard a speeding passenger train -- for nothing but the sheer pleasure of them. He also trots out the usual stylistic tricks that have always given even his lesser efforts an infectious energy: the fades and superimpositions, the dramatic zooms and irises, the churning orchestral accompaniment. Maybe too much movie isn’t such a bad problem to have either."
 
A.A. Dowd, The Onion AV Club 

"Desplechin’s formal technique works in the opposite register of the film’s narrative; while he indulges some of his familiar flourishes (iris shots, melodramatic soundtrack cues, fourth wall-breaking monologues), his style here is more subdued, focused even, than usual. The filmmaker clearly wants to home in on the intimacy of the relationships in 'Ismael’s Ghosts,' favoring tight frames of his couples’ faces and stripping his mise-en-scène of extraneous visual information; he sets long sequences in areas of seclusion, like the aforementioned beach house and an eerily empty café. The sparseness of the staging, and the recurring presence of curtains in the frame, emphasize Desplechin’s self-aware sense of his film’s theatricality, the view that his characters extraordinary displays of romanticism are essentially performative, an exaggerated externalization of an interior emotional self."
 
Sam C. Mac, Slant Magazine 

"People do things like that in Desplechin movies, which are either over-the-top or particle-board bland (see 'Jimmy P.'), but seldom in between. Sure enough, there’s boldness to spare in 'Ismael’s Ghosts' as Desplechin operates in cinematic overdrive: The music swoons, the camera sweeps, he cuts/dissolves between angles seemingly at random within a scene. But to what end? And are we really meant to believe that some longer version exists where all this malarkey suddenly makes sense?"
 
Peter Debruge, Variety 

LEAN ON PETE
- James Edward Barker
 
"With the shift in locations as Charley sets out to find Aunt Margy, Danish cinematographer Magnus Jonck's canvas opens up from the muted tones of the city to the richer colors and wide-open, epic landscapes of the interior, an American West whose hardships and threats are vastly different to those of lore. Vlautin's 2010 novel drew comparison to literary portraits of disenfranchised drifters by Steinbeck and Denis Johnson, and Haigh's pared-down style here echoes that unforced affinity for down-on-their luck protagonists in hardscrabble existences. Deft use of composer James Edward Barker's understated score also enhances the minimalist dramatic means."
 
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter 

LOVE AFTER LOVE - David Shire
 
"People are gathered on the lawn outside for the last barbecue of the summer, the crowd a constellation of aspirants and intellectuals whose mortal concerns are smudged together under the cascading trumpets of David Shire’s beautifully indifferent score. There’s Nick’s brother, Chris (James Adomian), a fledgling comedian who thinks of himself as the family fuck-up. There’s Emilie (Dree Hemingway), a young blonde actress who doesn’t mind being Rebecca’s understudy so long as Nick eventually proposes to her. There’s a table full of people whose names we never catch, even when they come back later and show us all the intimate places where they’ve been tattooed. Glenn is happily holding court, even though his voice is raspy."
 
David Ehrlich, IndieWire 

"Both versions of that story are TV-movie perennials. But 'Love After Love”' is different. This first-time feature from writer/director Russell Harbaugh has an understated, intimate, pointillist style, with a cool jazz score that matches its improvisational tone. The structure is offbeat in the most literal sense, showing us the small moments in between the usual movie scenes and trusting us to understand their significance without explanations. Most movies go for clarity by heightening the drama, with one emotion on screen at a time as though delivered by semaphore. In this movie, things are always a little messy, a bit smudged around the edges. Like life."
 
Neil Minow, RogerEbert.com 
 
"Does 'Love After Love' sound like fun? It’s not, but it’s not an emptily masochistic experience, like such film-festival favorites as 'Listen Up, Philip,' or one of Noah Baumbach’s poison pen letters to the family. The director and co-writer is a first-timer, Russell Harbaugh, who worked on the bracing brotherly-hate drama 'The Mend' and was an assistant to Eric Mendelsohn on the excellent suburban Gothic '3 Backyards.' (Mendelsohn co-wrote 'Love After Love.') The superb cinematographer Chris Teague follows the characters at a respectful distance -- selectively going close -- as they attempt to relieve their pain and often merely deepen it. Much of 'Love After Love' consists of unnervingly pregnant silences, but now and then the composer David Shire delivers some inspired discordant horn and piano noodling. The opening is a brilliant piece of writing. Sitting across from his mother, who’s in a window seat, Nicholas says, 'What was the question?' Suzanne laughs and he goes on, haltingly, 'I mean … What’s happy?'"
 
David Edelstein, New York 

"With that as its strategy, Love After Love is at its most uptempo in its opening credit sequence, which depicts a picnic between family and friends on a crisp fall afternoon and deftly nestles revealing exposition within a slew of off-the-cuff character introductions. The pace of the scene is telling, since it’s the only time we see Glenn (Gareth Williams) at something close to full strength. The atmosphere is convivial and lively, thanks in part to an accompanying blast of free jazz from legendary saxophonist Idris Ackamoor -- one in a number of surprising soundtrack cues, ranging from deep funk to blues, that pockmark the piano-driven score by composer David Shire."
 
Carson Lund, Slant Magazine 
 
"'Love After Love' finds truth in small gestures, from dad’s momentary (but weighty) glance down at his cigarette, to Chris drunkenly relieving himself on in the coatroom during a party, to the look of powder-keg fury and misery barely kept at bay by a wan smile on Nicholas’ face during a dinner with Suzanne and Michael. Comprised of jangly jazz, mournful piano and ramshackle rock tracks, David Shire’s electric score is in tune with these confused souls’ inner unrest. Meanwhile, Harbaugh and cinematographer Chris Teague’s visuals marry intense closeups with medium shots that frame solitary figures in doorways -- the film’s signature composition, which piercingly speaks to their feelings of claustrophobia, isolation and anguish, and which feels indebted to the style of Taiwanese master Hou."
 
Nick Schager, Variety
 
"Harbaugh coaxes fine, unfalteringly natural work from the entire cast. In the key roles, O'Dowd again proves himself an actor of significant range and sensitivity, while MacDowell swings between warmth and brittleness, with never a false note. The director layers blasts of discordant jazz and sleepy piano doodles over many scenes to interesting effect, displaying a tonal assurance and sense of economy that make this a quietly accomplished feature debut."
 
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter 
 
RAMPAGE - Andrew Lockington
 
"Sometimes the gearshifts are louder than Godzilla’s war cry: This is a movie that chases a shot of rescue workers evacuating a smoldering downtown Chicago -- imagery that can’t help but evoke 9/11, especially when set to mournful music -- with a giant ape doing the universal hand gesture for sex."
 
A.A. Dowd, The Onion AV Club 

SUBMERGENCE - Fernando Velazquez

"The actors carry what often amounts to a two-person show. Wenders and his cinematographer Benoît Debie showcase their perfect skin and hair and pleasing smiles as they canoodle in bed, walk on the beach, and discuss thematically germane subjects. (He asks her what her favorite body of water is, and she says the Atlantic Ocean; she asks him the same question, and he names the human body.) They're great to look at and listen to. So is the movie, which never met a landscape or building that it couldn't photograph as sensually as a nude, and backs its action with Fernando Velazquez music that suggests a John Barry score for a nonexistent film in which 007 enters rehab."
 
Matt Zoller Seitz, RogerEbert.com
 
"Which is to say, it’s a passively picturesque movie. Even as Wenders’ grasp of viewer interest and ear for soundtracks has flagged (this one is drenched in trying romantic strings), his taste in first-rate directors of photography has remained a constant. He’s made a repeat collaborator of Benoît Debie, the cinematographer of 'Spring Breakers' and 'Enter The Void,' who, bless his heart, manages to squeeze colored neon tubes into every part of a jihadist stronghold and lights the interior of a submersible like one of those party buses that comes with a stripper pole. The bold purples and greens that draw the contours of the characters’ faces seem like a metaphor for the extent to which actual art can flourish in a misbegotten art film like this one: only at the edges."
 
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The Onion AV Club 

"Vikander and McAvoy do what they can with the material, and do spark some energy in their scenes together, but everything is so underwritten that even their commitment isn’t enough to elevate it off the page. Wenders work behind the camera is hardly worthy of remark, and the filmmaker leans heavily on the loud, overwrought score by Fernando Velazquez ('Crimson Peak,' 'A Monster Calls') to attempt to do the dramatic heavy lifting. Earnestly aiming to land with the weight of an Important Film married with Big Ideas, the more 'Submergence' tries and strains to find connections to contemporary issues, the more those beats ring hollow. 'Submergence' not only leaves the talent involved underwater, but the audience also longs for anything of significance to cling to."
 
Kevin Jagernauth, The Playlist 
 
"'Submergence' is a telling example of that style, because it’s the most conventional drama Wenders has made in years: an art-house weeper starring James McAvoy and Alicia Vikander. Yet even two glamorous and well-matched stars of the moment can’t do much to undermine the Wenders meander. The film has a rapturous score (by Fernando Velázquez) that sounds like ’60s James Bond underwater music by way of Gustav Mahler, and it’s one of those love-stories-that-takes-on-an-important-global-issue -- in this case, not climate change (you can let out a sigh of relief) but Islamic terrorism (okay, time to suck in another breath)."
 
Owen Gleiberman, Variety  
 
"After these quick flash-forwards of isolation, the film enjoys its lush idyll in Normandy, where crashing waves, crackling fireplaces, and Fernando Velazquez's romantic score ensure we get enough to last us through the squalor to come. McAvoy is a charmer with soul and mysteries; Vikander looks straight into the camera and describes the five increasingly forlorn strata of the sea."
 
John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter 
 
THREE CHRISTS - Jeff Russo
 
"At first, Avnet and co-screenwriter Eric Nazarian seem intent on not beating around the bush the way Rokeach did in his case study by directly acknowledging that the man had some kind of god complex. But while we sense the resentment of Stone’s colleagues for what Rokeach described as his 'playing god' with his patients, and even get a 'four Christs' Freudian slip at one point, everything from the beatific strings of Jeff Russo’s score to Gere’s performance makes clear that sentimentality is the filmmakers’ governing principle. Everyone around the unambiguously good Stone is broken, from his alcoholic wife to his LSD-coveting assistant, and only he can fix them. By the time one of his patients commits suicide in a profoundly hoary and predictable divergence from the record of what happened at the real Ypsilanti State Hospital, it’s as if man’s god complex has been taken up by the film itself."
 
Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine 

"Nor does it account for the film’s slapdash editing -- which makes 'Three Christs' feel both rushed and painfully long—or Avnet’s tiresome point-and-shoot direction. Similar to the corny writing, Jeff Russo’s syrupy score prods you in the ribs whenever it’s time to feel. An insipid, boring mess, Three Christs doesn’t even have the decency to be amusing, apart from Stephen Root’s forced delivery of the film’s title followed by a what-a-world head shake. There’s no salvation to be found in this story of a sane man learning about his own limitations from the insane -- only suffering."
 
Vikram Murthi, The Onion AV Club 
 
YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE - Jonny Greenwood

"But then, part of Ramsay’s brilliance as a director is clearly in the collaborators she selects, orchestrating their career-best contributions so that the film vibrates with a unified, choral energy. In particular, it is a showcase for Jonny Greenwood‘s magnificent score: It is sparingly used but when it is, the cues sound more mistake than music, until they resolve into grandly swooping electronica layered over Elmer Bernstein-esque sleazy ’70s percussion, delivering full-body shivers. And the score is only one aspect of sound design so precise it makes the film’s liquid shifts from visceral to woozy and back again feel organic and elegant. Whispers and half-heard words slither in and out of the mix, often further marked by Nina’s steady internal-monologue countdowns, that are heartbreakingly plausible as a child’s means to dissociate herself from the trauma of her circumstances. And the sound work even, to reference Tarkovsky, sculpts the slender movie further in time: one particular sequence plays out in CCTV footage, with ’60s pop tune 'Angel Baby' playing softly throughout, but cutting in sync with the edits like a skipping CD. It unshowily makes us aware of technique and reminds us that edits lie: they seem continuous, but swallow gobbits of time and fling the past into the present, making our impressions untrustworthy."
 
Jessica Kiang, The Playlist 

"And I haven’t even touched on the movie’s brooding score, by Jonny Greenwood, or its wonderfully overlapping sound design, filled with voices and sound effects jostling for attention in Joe’s head."
 
Emily Todd VanDerWerff, Vox 
 
"Even if you find 'You Were Never Really Here''s crime plot vague or overfamiliar, it’s hard not to be swept up by the movie’s all-pervasive mood of tension, fear, and melancholia. The sound design is a blend of urban cacophony -- the deafening whine of freeway traffic, the overlapping banal conversations of passers-by -- and a propulsive electronic score by Jonny Greenwood. The images -- a lavender-and-pink sunset glimpsed through a lattice of bridge guardrails, a close-up of Phoenix’s fingers as he nervously crushes a jelly bean -- seem there to evoke a feeling rather than illustrate a point. Ramsay seldom chooses to cut to whatever image a thriller director might be expected to show: the figure emerging from the shadows, the weapon entering the flesh. For a movie this short, 'YWNRH' contains a surprising amount of white space, scenes given over to simply looking and listening rather than advancing the plot."
 
Dana Stevens, Slate.com 

"A quick, grubby mainstream crime thriller could be made from Ames' novella. Ramsay doesn't take the bait. There are no conventional flashbacks of conventional length. Instead, with the help of the inspired editor, Joe Bini, we catch abrupt, arresting glimpses of Joe's past in eyeblink flashes. The story lurches forward in spasms. We're fully in the head space of a messed-up, hollowed-out psyche. Backed by Jonny Greenwood's sinister wash of a musical score, 'You Were Never Really Here' feels like a waking nightmare."
 
Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune 

"All this may bring to mind 'Taxi Driver,' but Ramsay’s film is very different. Not wanting to distract us with the precise details of the storyline, the director focuses on Joe’s inner life. She uses Phoenix’s subtly expressive face and body language, a complex sound mix, an elastic editing style and Tom Townend’s wonderful cinematography to evoke his fragile, sometimes surprisingly tender, sometimes ruthless state of mind. The story occasionally lingers over small moments -- like Joe singing along affectionately with his mother -- but elsewhere it proceeds in rapid fits and starts, rushing through a series of deaths with barely a pause for breath. If you’re left a little in the fog as to what’s happened and why, it’s not a drawback: The execution is so assured, you simply go with the flow of striking, suggestive images. (Jonny Greenwood’s sinuous score also helps to maintain momentum.)"
 
Geoff Andrew, Time Out New York 

"While other film noir riffs might lob an unconventional cast of characters (as did the Coens) or employ cultural anachronisms (as did Altman) in order to shake things up, here the plot moves through the familiar film-noir motions while using film craft to effectively blur them out. Discordant flashbacks and flash-forwards, cut like synapses firing and set to Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood’s warping, nervous score, become the focal point of any given scene."
 
Ben Croll, The Wrap 

"With an eerie, insinuative score by Jonny Greenwood undulating beneath each scene, the movie relates much of its tone through Phoenix’s expressionless face, his knotty beard, and frozen eyes reflecting a man who has retreated from the world. It’s a gorgeous, fascinating atmospheric experience, so thick with possibilities that for much of the running time Ramsay seems to content to simply let the mood dominate. The scrappier B-side to Phoenix’s 'Long Goodbye' riff in 'Inherent Vice,' the performance embodies the movie as a whole -- he’s entrancing, inscrutable, and yet not without some glimmers of soul."
 
Eric Kohn, IndieWire
 
"The film is based on a novella by Jonathan Ames, which was published in the halcyon, pre-'True Detective' days of 2013. Still, a good filmmaker should be able to make the familiar fresh, and in many ways, Ramsay does. Joe’s one-man raid on the trafficker’s headquarters is a tour de force of editing and music, the rotation of security cameras and the eerie skip of a record creating a kind of off-kilter rhythm that’s both surreal and thrilling. The nighttime drives through the city have a kind of measured, manic energy, Thomas Townend’s camera panning around the bodegas and bars with unsettling precision. Visually and stylistically, Ramsay has never been more assured, and Johnny [sic] Greenwood’s mournful and energetic score is among his best. It’s her leading man, and his connection to his adolescent charge, that feels dismayingly empty."
 
Emily Yoshida, Vulture 
 
"In spite of its fanciful editing and Jonny Greenwood’s sleazy score, 'You Were Never Really Here' is rather minimalist, offering slivers of story and characterization, dwelling on inanimate objects while eschewing human complexities, never pondering the moral quandaries of Joe’s vocation or methods. Ramsay’s film comes fascinatingly close to being a one-note genre exercise, albeit one that’s perhaps a tad more ambitious than most of its ilk. The filmmaker’s visual talents and Greenwood’s eclectic score -- which suggests a delirious hunk of 1980s detritus, like something by William Lustig -- that keep things intriguing, and keep one hoping that the film will reach the greatness to which it aspires. 'You Were Never Really Here' isn’t really concerned with its characters, but with the corruption of power in our current governing systems, and one perhaps wishes Ramsay found a metaphor less conspicuous than politicians literally raping young girls to make her point. The film recalls, at times, an insipid misreading of Martin Scorsese’s 'Taxi Driver.'"
 
Greg Cwik, Slant Magazine
 
"Watching Joe prowl the streets, absorbing its seediness through a car windshield, it’s hard not to think of Travis Bickle, another ex-military man determined to rescue a barely teenage girl from the clutches of New York pimps. Ramsay doesn’t interrogate vigilante 'justice' the way Scorsese did; if this is a modern 'Taxi Driver,' shattering that classic into shards, it’s one that comes closer to making Bickle look like the hero he thinks he is, albeit a seriously, perhaps irreparably f****d-up hero. The film’s genre DNA runs deeper than any one source, though. Ramsay is riffing on a whole history of lean, mean, existential crime pictures: a little of the Lee Marvin man-on-a-mission art thriller 'Point Blank,' a little of the nocturnal seductiveness of 'Drive,' even a touch of Steven Soderbergh’s peerlessly cool L.A. revenge yarn 'The Limey.' And if Phoenix playing a half-mad veteran isn’t enough to suggest 'The Master' configured into something more savage, there’s the sinister, serpentine swell of a Jonny Greenwood score. Here, the Radiohead axman uses a warble of atonal guitar, a throb of Cliff Martinez-style ambience, and that familiar, eerie tangle of strings to chart the jagged ups and downs of an unstable mind."
 
A.A. Dowd, The Onion AV Club
 
"Ramsay isn’t necessarily playing it cool as much as she’s chilling our bones, though. 'You Were Never Really Here' is a deeply unsettling movie heightened by Ramsay’s signature flourishes: Deliberate, steady camerawork (by Thomas Townend) married with bursts of kinetic editing (by Joe Bini), anchored by a quietly towering performance from her lead, and overlaid with a rattling score (by Jonny Greenwood). If an argument for Ramsay as a great collaborator must be made, then that argument must be couched in how 'You Were Never Really Here' finds harmony in cacophony. The film maintains a precise volume of noise, of recurring trauma, when wrapped in Joe’s perspective, disrupting his mental clamor for only brief reprieves: a touching moment at home with his mother (Judith Roberts) here, a conversation with his handler (John Doman) there."
 
Andy Crump, Paste Magazine 
 
"There are obvious nods to "Taxi Driver" in this material, as well as some nods to 'The Big Sleep,' too, with a brave lone figure strolling into an evil world where politics and sexual exploitation filter into the top echelons of society. 'You Were Never Really Here' has a jittery caffeinated energy reminiscent of the great sleazeball thrillers of the 1970s and '80s, gritty New York movies, corrupt cop movies. Ramsay's gift of invention is in overdrive (the title credit screen is practically worth the price of admission), and her approach is audacious. She does not sentimentalize Joe (and Joaquin Phoenix is her great partner in this). She doesn't manipulate how we are supposed to feel about him. In one moment, he's tender and funny with his mother. In the next moment, he's clocking some pimp over the head with a hammer. Jonny Greenwood's score hums and pulses underneath, creating an atmosphere of nerve-jangling tension and dread. The sound design is a living nervous breakdown. New York roars in a relentless cacophony of traffic, subways, horns. In one scene, Joe sits in a diner, and the air is filled with the conversations of people at other tables. He can't filter any of it out."
 
Sheila O'Malley, RogerEbert.com 

"Ramsay has made more sensually rapturous films, but this may be her most formally exacting: No shot or cut here is idle or extraneous. Townend’s calm, crisp camerawork finds rich texture and contrast in seemingly ordinary images, whether it’s a ribbon of shadow skipping across a shoulder blade as it tenses, or the velvety billowing of a garbage bag under water. Bini’s editing, seamlessly blending timelines and points of view in blink-of-an-eye strokes, gives the film the rhythm of a short fuse on a slow burn. Greenwood’s mesmerizing supporting character of a score, meanwhile, perhaps even outdoes his Paul Thomas Anderson collaborations for its instrumental range and bravado, careering from screaming strings to the discordant strum of a guitar with what sounds like a couple of snapped strings. In a Lynne Ramsay film, even the off-key elements are perfectly chosen; an exquisite, anxious study in damage, 'You Were Never Really Here' knows exactly the value of its scars."
 
Guy Lodge, Variety 

THE NEXT TEN DAYS IN L.A.

Screenings of older films, at the following L.A. movie theaters: AMPASAlamo DrafthouseAmerican Cinematheque: AeroAmerican Cinematheque: EgyptianArclightArena Cinelounge, LaemmleNew Beverly, Nuart, UCLA and Vista.    

January 10
AIRPLANE! (Elmer Bernstein), STRIPES (Elmer Bernstein) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
COWBOY BEBOP: THE MOVIE (Yoko Kanno) [Vista]
DJANGO UNCHAINED [New Beverly]
FANTASTIC PLANET (Alain Gouraguer) [Nuart]
MINNIE AND MOSKOWITZ (Bo Harwood) [Fairfax Cinema]
NECRONOMICON: BOOK OF DEAD (Daniel Licht, Joseph LoDuca) [Cinemathque: Egyptian]
RE-ANIMATOR (Richard Band) [New Beverly]
ROAR (Terrence P. Minogue) [Cinemathque: Egyptian]
THE SEARCHERS (Max Steiner) [Alamo Drafthouse]
SPRING NIGHT, SUMMER NIGHT [UCLA]
WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN (Bernardo Bonezzi), ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER (Alberto Iglesias) [Cinematheque: Aero]

January 11
BAD EDUCATION (Alberto Iglesias), TALK TO HER (Alberto Iglesias)[Cinematheque: Aero]
GOOD TIME (Daniel Lopatin) [Alamo Drafthouse]
THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
MINNIE AND MOSKOWITZ (Bo Harwood) [Fairfax Cinema] 
POLICE STORY (Siu Tin-Lai) [Vista]
PONYO (Joe Hisaishi) [New Beverly]
ROSEMARY'S BABY (Christopher Komeda), THE OTHER (Jerry Goldsmith) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
SCARFACE (Giorgio Moroder) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (Thomas Newman) [Vista]
TAXI DRIVER (Bernard Herrmann) [New Beverly]
VALLEY OF THE EAGLES (Nino Rota) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]

January 12
AKIRA KUROSAWA'S DREAMS (Shinichiro Ikebe) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
THE BLUE ANGEL (Frederick Hollander) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
DELIVERANCE, WAKE IN FRIGHT (John Scott) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS (John Frizzell) [Alamo Drafthouse]
LAW OF DESIRE, MATADOR (Bernardo Bonezzi) [Cinematheque: Aero]
LITTLE FUGITIVE (Eddy Manson), THE QUIET ONE (Ulysses Kay) [UCLA]
MINNIE AND MOSKOWITZ (Bo Harwood) [Fairfax Cinema]
PONYO (Joe Hisaishi) [New Beverly]
TO WONG FOO, THANKS FOR EVERYTHING, JULIE NEWMAR (Rachel Portman) [Alamo Drafthouse]

January 13
THE BEGUILED (Phoenix) [New Beverly]
MISERY (Marc Shaiman) [New Beverly]
WAG THE DOG (Mark Knopfler) [Alamo Drafthouse]

January 14
THE BEGUILED (Phoenix) [New Beverly]
GINGER SNAPS (Michael Shields) [Alamo Drafthouse]
NEW YORK, NEW YORK (Ralph Burns) [Cinematheque: Aero]

January 15
THE AFRICAN QUEEN (Allan Gray) [New Beverly]
THE BEGUILED (Phoenix) [New Beverly]
JOHNNY MNEMONIC (Brad Fiedel) [Alamo Drafthouse]
WHAT'S UP, DOC? (Artie Butler) [Cinematheque: Aero]

January 16
THE BEGUILED (Phoenix) [New Beverly]
HACKERS (Simon Boswell) [Alamo Drafthouse]
RAGING BULL [Cinematheque: Aero]

January 17
CADDYSHACK (Johnny Mandel) [Vista]
CASABLANCA (Max Steiner) [Alamo Drafthouse]
DJANGO UNCHAINED [New Beverly]
FREAKED (Kevin Kiner - in person!) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
PINK FLOYD: THE WALL (Roger Waters, Michael Kamen) [Nuart]
SILVER BULLET (Jay Chattaway) [New Beverly]
WANDA, THE VISITORS [UCLA]

January 18
THE COOL WORLD (Mal Waldron), NOTHING BUT A MAN [UCLA]
FRANCES HA, MISTRESS AMERICA (Britta Phillips, Dean Wareham) [Cinematheque: Aero]
GHOST IN THE SHELL (Kenji Kawai) [Vista]
KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE (Joe Hisaishi) [New Beverly]
ONE-EYED JACKS (Hugo Friedhofer), THE HIRED HAND (Bruce Langhorne) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
RAGING BULL [New Beverly]
STAND BY ME (Jack Nitzsche) [Vista]
TROOP BEVERLY HILLS (Randy Edelman) [Alamo Drafthouse]
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (Paul Smith) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]

January 19
DR. NO (Monty Norman) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
HANGOVER SQUARE (Bernard Herrmann) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE (Joe Hisaishi) [New Beverly]
KILLER OF SHEEP, BLESS THEIR LITTLE HEARTS (Little Esther Phillips, Archie Shepp) [UCLA]
LEGEND (Tangerine Dream) [Alamo Drafthouse]
REAR WINDOW (Franz Waxman) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
THE SQUID AND THE WHALE (Britta Phillips, Dean Wareham), KICKING AND SCREAMING (Phil Marshall) [Cinematheque: Aero]


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

Heard:
Collectors Edition Vol. 1 (Shore), The Brian May Fantasy Film Music Collection (May), Star Trek: Elaan of Troyius/Spock's Brain (Steiner), Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey vol. 2 (Silvestri), Avenue Q (Lopez/Marx), The Snowman (Beltrami)

Read: A few pages of The Waste Lands: Dark Tower III, by Stephen King

Seen: Truth and Justice; The Painted Bird; Those Who Remained; The Grudge [2020]; Marriage Story; Frances Ha

Watched: UFO ("E.S.P."), The Great Ziegfeld

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Comments (1):Log in or register to post your own comments
Your comment about MI2's score, swapping 007 in for MI's theme, is exactly my concern too. Spot on.

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