The latest soundtrack from Intrada is the first CD release of a striking early score by one of current cinema's most respected composers.
The surprise success of 1983's Psycho II led Universal to plan a third film in the series, while star Anthony Perkins was only interested in continuing to play Norman Bates if the studio would let him make his directorial debut on PSYCHO III. Perkins was such a fan of the Coen Brothers' first film, Blood Simple, that not only did he show the film to his cast and crew for inspiration but sought the film's first-time composer, Carter Burwell, for his own film. Burwell had seen scoring Blood Simple as a one-off and had returned to his "day job," but his distinctly off-beat score for Perkins' film helped launch his full-time scoring career, which continues thirty five years and two Oscar nominations later. At the time of the film's release, MCA put out an LP of Burwell's music for the film (his first soundtrack release) with particular emphasis on the source cues. Intrada's Psycho III is a two-disc set featuring Burwell's full score plus alternates, as well as the LP sequencing; the lengthy booklet includes my liner notes on the film's production and its score as well as a new reminiscence from the composer himself on his experience on the project.
Varese Sarabande has announced two brand new limited Deluxe Edition CD Club releases.
Jerry Goldsmith's collaboration with director Joe Dante began with the "It's a Good Life" segment of 1983's Twilight Zone: The Movie and continued for two decades, including the blockbuster hit Gremlins. Their final film together, the 2003 animation/live-action comedy hybrid LOONEY TUNES: BACK IN ACTION, was Goldsmith's last work for the screen and released only eight months before the composer's passing, and Varese Sarabande originally released a CD featuring a generous selection of cues from his score. Their new two-disc set includes the full original score, including the additional cues composed by John Debney and Cameron Patrick, plus alternates and the original CD sequencing.
Goldsmith was actually the original composer hired for BABE, the 1995 George Miller production which proved to be not only a critical and box-office hit but also a major Oscar contender, but the final score was written by Australian composer Nigel Westlake, who also scored the film's 1998 sequel, Babe: Pig in the City. (The Academy's Margaret Herrick Library in Beverly Hills features Goldsmith's original music sketches for his unused score in their Special Collections). The original Varese soundtrack for Babe was a child-friendly release featuring a generous amount of dialogue and narration, but Varese Club's new Deluxe Edition is a greatly expanded music-only release.
CDS AVAILABLE THIS WEEK
Babe: The Deluxe Edition - Nigel Westlake - Varese Sarabande CD Club
Looney Tunes: Back in Action: The Deluxe Edition - Jerry Goldsmith - Varese Sarabande CD Club
Psycho III - Carter Burwell - Intrada Special Collection
IN THEATERS TODAY
The Marksman, starring Liam Neeson with a score by Sean Callery, is just opening. Theaters in the U.S. which are still open continue to play a combination of films released in 2020 as well as "older" films (one AMC's lineup for this weekend includes Bad Boys, The Emperor's New Groove, Harriet, Jurassic World, Ride Along, and Selma.
Cobra Kai: Season Two - Leo Birenberg, Zach Robinson - La-La Land
Cobra Kai: Season Three - Leo Birenberg - Zach Robinson - La-La Land
Film Music 1976-2020 - Brian Eno - Astralwerks
The Orville: Season Two - Andrew Cottee, John Debney, Joel McNeely - La-La Land
Rams - Brian Eno - Universal
Lost Themes III: Alive After Death - John Carpenter - Sacred Bones
The Devil All the Time - Danny Bensi & Saunder Jurriaans, various - ABKCO
Zappa - John Frizzell, songs - Zappa Records
No Time to Die - Hans Zimmer - Decca
Civilta Del Mediterraneo - Bruno Nicolai - Kronos
Fireball XL5 - Barry Gray - Silva
Gaza Mon Amour - Andre Matthias - Kronos
L'Uomo Europo - Francesco DeMasi - Kronos
The Shepherd - Arthur Valentin Grosz - Kronos
Sostiene Pereira - Ennio Morricone - Caldera
Viking Women and the Sea Serpent - Albert Glasser - Kronos
THIS WEEK IN FILM MUSIC HISTORY
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 - Jerry Goldsmith records his score for the pilot episode of Archer (1975)
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)
January 16 - Dennis McCarthy records his score for the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Parallax” (1995)
January 16 - James Horner begins recording his score for Casper (1995)
January 17 - Ryuichi Sakamoto born (1952)
January 17 - Charles Bernstein begins recording his score for Love at First Bite (1979)
January 17 - John Williams begins recording his score to Return of the Jedi (1983)
January 17 - Harry Robinson died (1996)
January 17 - Rolf Wilhelm died (2013)
January 18 - W. Franke Harling born (1887)
January 18 - Richard LaSalle born (1918)
January 18 - Jonathan Davis born (1971)
January 18 - Cyril J. Mockridge died (1979)
January 18 - Johnny Harris records his score for the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode “Ardala Returns” (1980)
January 18 - Basil Poledouris begins recording his score for Conan the Barbarian (1982)
January 18 - George Stoll died (1985)
January 18 - Joseph Gershenson died (1988)
January 18 - Karl de Groof died (2007)
January 18 - Frank Lewin died (2008)
January 19 - Gerard Schurmann born (1924)
January 19 - Stu Phillips born (1929)
January 19 - Michael Boddicker born (1953)
January 19 - Jerome Moross begins recording his score to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1960)
January 19 - Recording sessions begin for Cyril Mockridge’s score to The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
January 19 - John Williams records his score for The Ghostbreaker (1965)
January 19 - Jerry Goldsmith begins recording electronic cues for Logan's Run (1976)
January 19 - Don Costa died (1983)
January 19 - David Shire records his score for the Amazing Stories episode "Moving Day" (1987)
January 19 - Dennis McCarthy records his score for the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Life Support” (1995)
January 19 - Bjorn Isfalt died (1997)
January 20 - Emil Newman born (1911)
January 20 - Recording sessions begin for Miklos Rozsa's score for Double Indemnity (1944)
January 20 - John Beal born (1947)
January 20 - Franz Waxman begins recording his score to Untamed (1955)
January 20 - Bronislau Kaper begins recording his score to The Prodigal (1955)
January 20 - Pedro Bromfman born (1976)
January 20 - Paul Ben Haim died (1984)
January 20 - Christopher Young’s scores for the Twilight Zone episodes “A Matter of Minutes” and “A Small Talent for War” are recorded (1986)
January 20 - Basil Poledouris records his score for the Twilight Zone episode “Monsters!” (1986)
January 20 - Gerry Mulligan died (1996)
January 20 - Recording sessions begin for John Powell’s score to Agent Cody Banks (2003)
January 20 - Edgar Froese died (2015)
January 21 - Bernard Herrmann records his score for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode “An Unlocked Window” (1965)
January 21 - Peer Raben died (2007)
DID THEY MENTION THE MUSIC?
ALL MY LIFE - Lisbeth Scott
"At first, we’re welcomed into the swoon-worthy world of movie make-believe where our heroes are perfectly matched, instantly falling in love with each other. They stumble into picturesque farmer’s markets and Pinterest-friendly locations featuring lots of exposed brick and distressed wood, courtesy of production designer Chris L. Spellman, art director Jarrette Moats and set decorator Jonathan Cappel. It’s a place in which characters are constantly bathed in a warm, golden hour glow by cinematographer Russ T. Alsobrook and accompanied by a delicate but potent symphonic score by composer Lisbeth Scott. It’s a safe haven untouched by devastation. However, that’s where screenwriter Todd Rosenberg conducts a smart, subtle sleight-of-hand trick when layering in the couple’s compelling conflicts."
Courtney Howard, Variety
THE ARTIST’S WIFE - Jeff Grace
"If only the style of 'The Artist’s Wife' could scald with equal intent. Alas, it opts for plangency, with a musical score applied like a gentle balm, and a plot that hungers for healing -- absurdly so, given the incurable nature of Richard’s plight. Claire has a near-fling with Gogo’s handsome babysitter, Danny (Avan Jogia), and even he suffers from inventive yearnings, solemnly presenting her with a CD of his songs. Jeez, couldn’t someone here be nonartistic? Any chance of an accountant showing up? On the other hand, if it’s serious choler you want, then Dern, at eighty-four, is still your guy, with the toothy thrust of his jaw as militant as ever, and his grin morphing into a snarl. As for Olin, she makes Claire both ravishing and ravaged, and I couldn’t help recalling Ingmar Bergman’s 'After the Rehearsal' (1984), in which the youthful Olin played an actress who, like Claire, did intimate battle with an older man. The closeups were unwavering, and the whole thing was shot without music and set on the bare boards of a theatre. That’s the way to do it."
Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
BLACK BEAR - Giulio Carmassi, Bryon Scary
"What's this all about? Whatever you might guess is up-ended when the scenario rewinds, starts again, with the same actors, in the same location, only the circumstances are different, and the characters have been rebooted into another scenario. Maybe the rewind is Allison's discarded script draft, her attempt to break through writer's block, her experimentations with genre and story. Maybe none of it is real. 'Black Bear' often 'reads' like a horror film, but the second half goes full-blown hand-held Cassavetes, with nods to 'A Woman Under the Influence' and 'Opening Night,' where Allison, so drunk she can hardly stand, is required to 'play' a scene in the fictional film she's acting in, directed by her manipulative self-styled 'auteur' husband (Abbott). The music -- composed by Giulio Carmassi and Bryon Scary -- is appropriate for a horror or a slow-burn thriller, highlighting the subterranean upheaval in all of this. It is not the end of the world when a couple bickers over nothing. It is not world-shattering to have a difficult time playing a scene when you're an actress. But to the people involved, it can feel like the end of the world. This is what Levine captures."
Sheila O'Malley, RogerEbert.com
"Everyone in Black Bear is, to some extent, lying -- to themselves or to others. They’re all performers, in life if not by trade. What starts out like the setup for a horror movie, complete with ominous music and an isolated cabin in the woods, quickly gives way to a kind of social horror. The property/retreat is owned by Gabe (Christopher Abbott), who inherited the place from family and has moved out there to start his own with Blair (Sarah Gadon), his expecting girlfriend. An underlying tension in their relationship is immediately obvious. Gabe fancies himself a professional musician, but he hasn’t caught work in ages -- the free room and board may be the true impetus of the pair’s flight from the city. Sipping, despite the bun in the oven, on a large glass of wine, Blair needles him about his pretentions, over a meal that’s as pregnant with unarticulated resentment as she is with child. There is trouble in paradise."
A.A. Dowd, The Onion AV Club
"We first see her seated in meditative repose on a private lakeside dock that is part of an upscale estate deep in Adirondacks woodland. Ominous notes of Asian-inflected percussion in the score almost seem to suggest a horror scenario as Allison retreats to one of the homey pine living quarters and puts pen to paper. A handwritten notepad title card reads: 'Part One: The Bear in the Road.'"
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
GODMOTHERED - Rachel Portman
"Cinematographer Christopher Norr ('Sinister') gives a magical glow to Boston at the holidays -- 'Godmothered' is a Christmas movie, but it could easily be tweaked to take place at any time of year -- and the visual effects are seamless. Rachel Portman, however, seems to be phoning in a score that’s just one Disney-wonder flourish after another."
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap
MAYOR - Geinoh Yamashirogumi, Toru Takemitsu, Sam Thompson, David Osit
"These questions would make for a compelling enough non-fiction enterprise, but Osit’s filmmaking draws out the inherent irony of his subject’s mission. Opening credits announce a big-screen epic of 'Exodus' proportions, as an enthralling orchestral score (credited in part to the Japanese musical collective Geinoh Yamashirogumi) accompanies a map of the region, and credits recount the impact of Israel’s occupation on Palestinian life in the aftermath of the Six-Day War in 1967. That was when Israel captured the region and left Ramallah’s citizens to sort through the ambiguity of the sovereign state it remains to this day. As the hub of Palestinian governance, Ramallah is at once an established metropolis and the literal shadow of its Big Brother, with gun-wielding Israeli troops lingering on the border -- and sometimes crossing the line."
Eric Kohn, IndieWire
"Ironically, 'Mayor' itself proves to be a far more effective marketing device for Ramallah than any slogan, successfully unlocking the multifaceted layers of the complex municipality. Accompanied by rousing classical scores and enriched with energetic details of daily life, Osit’s majestic examination of the town culminates in an entertaining film in that regard, one deserving of a theatrical run geared toward both specialty and mainstream audiences. The director also strives to erase any clichéd and falsely deprived images of the region from the globe’s collective consciousness, replacing them with electric car charging stations, cool cafés and an impressive tree lighting ceremony in the finale, attended by eager and celebratory thousands. Enmeshing the urgent, deeply personal quality of '5 Broken Cameras' with the crisp sense of humor of 'Tel Aviv on Fire,' 'Mayor' supplies a refreshing representation of the Middle East and of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to those with a limited knowledge of the region."
Tomris Laffly, Variety
OTTOLENGHI AND THE CAKES OF VERSAILLES - Ryan Rummery
"Alas, Gabbert displays a greater interest for this stuff than acumen for it, and her documentary has a way of miscalculating the frosting-to-filling ratio. She doesn’t linger on anything long enough for it to grow stale (and Ryan Rummery’s lovely, meditative score helps move things along), but the historical context shoehorned into the Met-set climax is rich enough to make you wish the movie had more room in its stomach. The Feast of Versailles doesn’t seem to have been the most intellectually demanding event the world-famous museum has ever thrown, but Ottolenghi -- in conversation with food historian Deborah Krohn -- offers a variety of morsels for context alongside the extravagant flotilla of cakes."
David Ehrlich, IndieWire
THE PROM - Score: Matthew Sklar, David Klotz; Songs: Music by Matthew Sklar, Lyrics by Chad Beguelin
"Now, though, 'The Prom' has found its proper soulmate in Netflix, as Ryan Murphy’s vibrant film adaptation makes a closer-to-seamless whole of the story’s disparate parts, thanks to a cast that smooths over the musical’s roughest edges. There’s still buoyancy in the backflip-saturated choreography of Casey Nicholaw (who directed the Broadway production) and in the often-charming score from Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, but it’s the newly enriched humanity of the show’s most extreme characters -- both the Broadway bigwigs and the backwater bigots -- that allows 'The Prom' to soar on the screen."
Dan Rubins, Slant Magazine
"Where’s Emma in all of this? Well, she grows close to Kidman’s semi-alcoholic background player -- or so the movie explains without actually dramatizing this process. For an earnest tribute to the life-changing power of acceptance, 'The Prom' doesn’t seem especially interested in accepting Emma as an individual person. Instead, likable newcomer Pellman spends a lot of screen time grinning in delighted disbelief at her costars; Emma’s relationship to their motivating opportunism is passive and incidental, just like everything else about her. Who she is, what she likes, and what connects her to the equally underserved Alyssa are less important than assuring the audience that minds will get changed, hearts will get melted, and heartfelt confessional songs posted online will go viral in an instant. On stage, the contrivances might seem less glaring (although the songs truly are terrible). As a movie, 'The Prom' is all-star, feel-good, zazzy nonsense. Long after Murphy’s film drops its cutesy cynicism, it still manages to accidentally produce a damning indictment of Broadway phoniness."
Jesse Hassenger, The Onion AV Club
"Still, there’s a generosity of spirit at work here, aided by Matthew Sklar’s winsome if old-fashioned score (with lyrics by Beguelin). The show is a true ensemble piece, offering each of the four top-billed stars at least one big musical number in which to shine. The women especially stand out: Streep shows some real belting skills in her big routine, while Kidman, with her 'crazy antelope legs,' delivers a sultry Bob Fosse-inspired showstopper called “Zazz.'"
Thom Geier, The Wrap
"Of course, all this glittering decadence would be for naught without the adorable story, which was written by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin and based on an original concept by Jack Viertel. The music, which is catchy in a serviceable way but not chill-inducing in that musical theater way, was written by Matthew Sklar and David Klotz. But it’s Beguelin’s clever lyrics, packed to the brim with jokes and overflowing with heart, that made 'The Prom' the surprise hit of the 2018 Broadway season."
Jude Dry, IndieWire
"This is a promising setup, and you can see how audiences might've adored the stage incarnations. The movie hits pleasure spots for devoted theatergoers, mixing self-deprecating observations about how fatuous and self-serving performers can get when they dabble in politics; a dash of 'The Magic of Theater' messaging that congratulates ticket-buyers for making a contribution to a cultural institution; and an earned but sometimes irritating strain of self-satisfaction, mainly having to do with theater's ability to help ostracized individuals in reactionary small towns get the hell out and finally be themselves without constant fear of censure or worse. The songs are mostly serviceable, but there are enough home runs (including Emma's soul-centering, meditative song 'Just Breathe') to carry viewers over the rough spots."
Matt Zoller Seitz, RogerEbert.com
"The musical features a score by Matthew Sklar and book co-written by Bob Martin and lyricist Chad Beguelin, full of songs that are catchy in the moment, even if they seldom linger long in the head. The modestly scaled Broadway production packed considerable appeal into its casting of beloved New York theater veterans playing caricatures of themselves as they descend on small-town Indiana with a self-serving plan to rehabilitate their unsympathetic reputations. Even if the sentimental side was less captivating than the satire, the mere fact of it being an original musical in a landscape of repurposed movie brands and jukebox compilations earned the show a lot of good will."
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
SHORTCUT - Benjamin Kwasi Burrell
"Mounting tension peaks fairly early during a knockout sequence, after Joseph has been killed by the inhuman creature and the kids watch through fogged-up windows as Pedro is eaten. The dank, dark tunnel provides an ideal playground for the scares, while Luca Santagostino’s saturated cinematography and Miriam Judith Reichel’s production design make the exterior and interior of the cherry red school bus pop. Benjamin Kwasi Burrell’s synth-forward score acts as a metronome, suggesting the scared teens’ accelerated heartbeats, while editor Jacopo Reale’s precisely paced cuts match the moody, flickering interior lights. These are delightful touches, complemented by effective sound design that ratchets up the taut atmosphere as the obscured predator taunts its prey, banging and dragging its claws against the metal coffin on wheels."
Courtney Howard, Variety
SMALL AXE: MANGROVE - Mica Levi
"The scene-setting and the vibrant sense of time and place make for an absorbing watch, with indispensable contributions from production designer Helen Scott and costumer Lisa Duncan, their work captured by Kirchner in grainy textures that evoke the era. But the drama really sparks into high gear once the trial gets underway, a shift signaled by arresting cathedral-like shots of the Old Bailey's Neo-Baroque domed ceiling accompanied by the dissonant strings of Mica Levi's sparingly used score. The transition also gives the excellent principal cast ample opportunities both for impassioned oratory and amusing disruption."
David Rooney, The Hollywood Repoter
SOUL - Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
"The film’s soundscape, provided by the supreme duo of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, is a sublime detour from the studio’s usual traditional fare; it’s far more akin to Daniel Lopatin’s phenomenal work on 'Uncut Gems' than the saccharine tones of Randy Newman, the deep, galactic world of The Great Before soundtracked by symphonic bleeps and bloops. And 'Soul’'s New York is a world of jazz and improv, recalling Antonio Sanchez’s work on 'Birdman' and Nicholas Britell’s luscious brass melodies in 'If Beale Street Could Talk'; it creates a wonderful duality, differentiating between the two worlds whilst amplifying 'Soul''s romantic vision of the metropolis."
Jack King, The Playlist
"'Soul' frontloads its comedy, with the transition from NYC to The Great Before not only playing on Joe’s foreshadowed demise, but mimicking its visuals by shifting its comedy from realistic slapstick in life -- with deft physics and an often hilarious sense of detail -- to abstract silliness in the oddball afterlife. The Great Before’s wiggly staffers (all named Jerry or Terry) are accompanied by a fittingly bouncy synth from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Their score doesn’t disappoint as one of the year’s best. From cartoonish Mickey Mousing to the grandiose awe of the afterlife to jazz from Jon Batiste, it’s a well-rounded stunner. And it’s fitting that Pixar’s most graspingly ethereal film melds with music -- especially a style as alternatively mathematical and organic as jazz. Joe’s initial jaunt through death blends these as well, finding sharp fractals and waveforms among the soft, round souls."
Jacob Oller, Paste Magazine
"With music at its core, it’s no surprise that the soundtrack is one of the company’s best, although it’s quite as jazzy as one might expect, with the movie’s two worlds separated by different scores. Jon Baptiste provides the original jazz compositions, but the real aural delights come by the way that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross take a leaf out of Mica Levi’s songbook to create an ethereal synthesized sound. The result is a dizzying combination of musical identities that underscore the movie’s layered trajectory."
Kaleen Aftab, IndieWire
"That summary covers barely 20 minutes of a busy two hours, which hops between dimensions, emotional shades, and musical scores. (Jon Batiste is behind the jazz compositions, while Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross steal looks from Tangerine Dream’s synth doom vision board for the metaphysical action.) Soul celebrates more than one overdue firsts: In addition to his script work, Powers is the first credited Black co-director in Pixar history, and Joe marks the animation house’s first Black protagonist. That makes it doubly frustrating that Joe spends so much of the film not in his own skin, stuck instead in either his lava lamp-shaped soul form or in an accidental body swap that I imagine appeals more to younger viewers. (Not that they don’t deserve a bone -- 'Soul' earns its PG rating with an awful lot of 'I don’t want to die' teeth gnashings and a spooky dominion where lost souls wander abjectly.) Still, it’s a treat to see an African American family depicted; a diverse community represented in Earthbound scenes at Joe’s school, a barbershop, a jazz club; and a multicultural roster of talent tapped for the vocal performances. Foxx and Fey have a nicely bickering rapport, but my favorite performance -- of the year? -- goes to the throaty New Zealander Rachel House ('Hunt for the Wilderpeople') playing a cosmic bean counter named Terry. In the absence of transcendence, Terry tickled me into giggles. That’ll do just fine."
Kimberley Jones, The Austin Chronicle
"Long stretches of the new Pixar movie, Soul, are set in a serene nirvana called The Great Before. With its soft, glowing edges and inviting blue-purple pastels, the place is basically a meditation app brought to holographic life -- a vibe it gets partially from its score, an uncharacteristically soothing soundtrack from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The Great Before is run by The Counselors, a species of omniscient superbeings, and the closest this fictional universe has to gods. Somehow primitive and sophisticated in design, these celestial overseers look like three-dimensional Picasso sketches. Yet when they talk, it’s with the patience and good humor of kindergarten teachers. That’s the whole joke, really, and also the movie in a nutshell: For all its breathtaking stylization, this is a metaphysical comedy often more Zen than zany."
A.A. Dowd, The Onion AV Club
"'Soul' feels, in the end, like a worthwhile Pixar experiment. Like 'Coco,' it’s respectful of the culture in which it’s set without plundering it and lays the groundwork for future Pixar movies that can expand the company’s palette of heroes further. It’s packed with great jokes -- a throwaway from 22 about why the Knicks suck doubled me over -- and great music, from the jazz sequences (in which the animated characters’ fingers on piano keys and drumsticks match, incredibly, Jon Batiste’s compositions) to the Eno-esque Music for Afterlives that plays when Joe’s a soul, written by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. (A Pixar movie scored by Reznor and Ross! Speaking of broadened palettes!)"
Dan Kois, Slate.com
"In any case, the unsung hero here -- the heart of 'Soul,' if you will -- can be found in the music. From Betty Boop to the Pink Panther, jazz has shaped and inspired the medium of animation (especially in its more avant garde experiments). Pixar rekindles that connection, enlisting Jon Batiste to create the jazz portion of the score -- from the fleet-fingered, Keith Jarrett-like improvisations Joe performs to the vibe of city life itself -- while Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross delivered the New Agey sound of the before- and after-life."
Peter Debruge, Variety
"Featuring possibly the best soundtrack in a Pixar film since the first 'Toy Story,' 'Soul' sports a jazz score that is not just an adornment to the story or an emotional enhancement, but an utterly integral part of the narrative. Joe's talent for improvisation, and for listening to others, are key to his development as a character and foundational to what he manages to teach 22. At the same time, the animation finds a way of embedding the music right into the colors and shapes of the film that's pure magic and pays homage to the rhythms and phrasing of jazz and hip hop artists, some of whom appear as voice actors or musicians in the film (including Questlove, Daveed Diggs and John [sic] Batiste). The last, best known for his appearances on 'The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,' composed and arranged the jazz numbers that are layered in with the original score written by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross; per the film's press notes, reference footage of Batiste playing was used to make sure every note Joe plays in the film was accurate. The hand animation -- fluttering, graceful, lightning-fast -- will be studied by students of the medium with awe in years to come."
Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter
THINGS I'VE HEARD, READ, SEEN OR WATCHED LATELY
Heard: Mary Poppins Returns (Shaiman), Ghost Town (Zanelli), The Weinstein Company: Score for Trailers (various), Devil's Tree: Rooted Evil (Cannon), The Complete Motown Singles Vol. 3: 1963 (various), Harlem Nights (Hancock), Sunflower (Mancini), The Banquet (Tan Dun), Rough Cut (Riddle), Circle of Deceit (Jarre), Sunset Sunrise (Rota), La Banchiera (Morricone), Romeo and Juliet (Rota), Journey to the Center of the Earth (Herrmann), The Taming of the Shrew (Rota), Little Women (Desplat), The Brain (Zaza), The Pajama Game (Adler/Ross), The Tenant (Sarde), Naive and Sentimental Music (Adams), Jeepers Creepers 3 (Smith), Thank the Holder Uppers (Claw Hammer), ShortCuts 2018 (various), La nina de tus ojos (Duhamel), Bao (Chu), A Pasage to India (Jarre), Shazam! (Wallfisch)
Read: The Terrorists, by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo
Seen: This time last year I was seeing some of the shortlisted documentaries, such as One Child Nation and American Factory (the eventual winner), as well as the very fun B-movie Underwater.
Watched: Straight Time; Arrested Development ("Justice Is Blind"); Pursuit to Algiers; Star Trek: Discovery ("Light and Shadows"); Westworld ("Les Ecorches"); Battlestar: Galactica ("Scattered"); Stagecoach ; Banacek ("A Million the Hard Way")