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The latest CDs from Quartet are a re-release of the two-disc edition of John Debney's popular symphonic score for the 1995 swashbuckler CUTTHROAT ISLAND, and HIC ET NUNC, a two-disc collection of non-film music by European film composer Pascal Gaigne.


CDS AVAILABLE THIS WEEK

Atlas
 - Ronald Stein - Kronos
Los Mercados
 - Paul Sawtell, Bert Shefter - Kronos
Missions
 - Etienne Forget - Music Box
Uomini e mari
 - Francesco De Masi - Kronos 


IN THEATERS TODAY

The Beekeeper - David Sardy, Jared Michael Fry
The Book of Clarence - Jemyes Samuel
Driving Madeleine - Philippe Rombi - Score CD Une Belle Course on Music Box
Lift - Dominic Lewis, Guillaume Roussel
Mean Girls - Jeff Richmond 
The Settlers - Harry Allouche 


COMING SOON

January 19
Live and Let Die
 - George Martin - La-La Land
Octopussy
 - John Barry - La-La Land
Silent Night
 - Marco Beltrami - La-La Land
Coming Soon
Cutthroat Island
- John Debney - Quartet
Hic et Nunc
- Pascal Gaigne - Quartet


THIS WEEK IN FILM MUSIC HISTORY

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 - Gabriel Migliori born (1975)
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 - Anna Meredith born (1978)
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 - Emil Stern died (1997)
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 - 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)

DID THEY MENTION THE MUSIC?

MAESTRO - Leonard Bernstein

"One of the best ideas on the filmmaker’s part is to score the story of Bernstein’s life with his music starting from the first frame, as an aged version of the by then internationally famous composer appears, reminiscing for what seems to be a journalist’s or documentarian’s camera as he sits at a grand piano, smoking. (Get ready for lots of smoking.) Not every piece used on the soundtrack will be recognizable to a non-Bernstein expert, though a familiar hook from his most widely known composition, the music for 'West Side Story,' sneaks in at one point to cheeky effect. But that familiar Bernstein sound, optimistic and sweeping and somehow sonically American, pervades the film."
 
Dana Stevens, Slate.com 
 
"Then, against one of Bernstein’s grand, loud scores, we meet Felicia (Carey Mulligan), just as Leonard does. Their eyes meet across the room at a party, and then they are sharing secrets in a tight corner of the room -- the world entirely theirs. They fall in love immediately, him praising her talents on stage while she reassures him that scores for film and musicals are real music -- something he has difficulty accepting despite his love for this area of music. The script's approach to Bernstein’s life is 'Maestro''s greatest strength. We all know who Bernstein is, what he’s done, and how much of a genius he was. Cooper cuts out all the regular narrative choices of a biopic to bring a refreshing tale of a marriage between two passionate and loving people. Another masterstroke is how Cooper lets the music talk for itself. Instead of spending minutes with Bernstein cramped over his desk writing 'Jet Song,' it plays over a fairly non-eventful scene as Leonard brings home his latest fling to his family. The music may not match what’s happening in the scene, but it doesn't matter. These needle drops serve the purpose of reminding the audience that Bernstein did that. It allows for more character-driven directions and as a backdrop to Leonard and Felicia’s conflict; while they suffer the same strains as any marriage (and then some), these beautiful scores tell us that while marriage is hard, being married to such a legendary artist is even harder. However, there are some masterful sequences as he conducts orchestras, whether in rehearsals or in grand churches, that also blow the mind."
 
Emma Kiely, Collider 

"There is, of course, music too -- great, stirring, spirit-soaring slabs of the stuff. 'Maestro' digs deep into the Bernstein crates to unleash some of the greatest hits (cues from 'West Side Story,' 'On the Waterfront' and his 1971 choral work 'Mass') and a few deeper cuts. A recreation of his legendary performance of Mahler in 1968 just about blows the roof off New York’s St Patrick’s Cathedral."
 
Phil de Semlyen, Time Out
 
"In this case, though, the streamlining feels more purposeful than reductive. Cooper and Singer have distilled the long, rich and uncontainable arc of Bernstein’s career into an array of gorgeous (if truncated) performances, witty allusions and showstopping needle drops, along with the odd 'Eureka!' moment. When Lenny drives home with a young lover (Gideon Glick) in tow, we hear the brassy opening notes from 'West Side Story,' as though in anticipation of a marital rumble. A few beats later, Lenny emerges with the finished score of his famously polarizing 1971 theater piece, 'Mass,' only to find that Felicia, in a fit of exasperation, has managed to upstage him."
 
Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
 
"The sound design, though, is challenging. Between the chattering mid-Atlantic accents and the complication of actors speaking out of the side of their mouths around a cigarette, I reckon I missed 30% of the dialogue. (Remember Lenny: 'A work of art does not answer questions, it provokes them.' In my case, it was 'Huh? Did you catch that?') The score is plucked, appropriately, from Bernstein himself, including a laugh-out-loud music cue: When Felicia narrows her eyes at Bernstein’s much younger lover, we hear the brassy opening notes from 'West Side Story,' forecasting a rumble. There are visual bemusements, too, as in a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade reference so surreal and delightful, it must be pulled from real life."
 
Kimberley Jones, The Austin Chronicle 

"That’s nothing against the cinematography of Matthew Libatique, whose opening single take is a beautiful stream of moments and ideas: It begins, in black and white, on a curtain draped across what looks like a stage. But then that curtain opens to reveal it’s actually a window in Leonard’s studio apartment, and there he is, with another man next to him in bed. Cooper almost seems like he’s about to exuberantly burst into song, the start of a movie musical (and that’s also because 'Maestro' is entirely scored by out-of-text passages from Bernstein’s recordings, both the canonical and the more obscure). He then flies out the room, down a hall, and then into Lincoln Center’s (today-named) David Geffen Hall in a seamless unbroken sequence that metaphorically and literally bridges the gap between Bernstein’s behind-closed-doors life and his very onstage one as the preeminent American conductor of the 20th century. (What governs the film’s use of a boxy near-Academy ratio, I’m not sure, other than this is the en vogue shooting style of the moment.) 'Maestro,' wonderfully, however, incorporates Bernstein’s own compositions. There’s a great scene of Leonard clearly coming off an overnight bender with his gays, driving woozily up to his Connecticut summer home as the Sharks vs. Jets prelude from 'West Side Story' plays mischievously on the soundtrack. (There are, phew, never any montages of Leonard getting swept up into Hollywood or even recreations of the process of his stage contributions at all.) The soundtrack to 'On the Waterfront' and bookending passages from his opera 'A Quiet Place' waft in and out of the film. A scene of Bernstein conducting Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, 'Resurrection' and totally in the throes of the music in front of him, Cooper also seeming to lose himself in the moment too, is pretty magical."
 
Ryan Lattanzio, IndieWire 
 
"'Maestro,' like the great television series 'Fosse/Verdon,' is a stunning portrait of the artist as a charismatic narcissist in thrall to a marriage he believes in yet can’t completely live up to. Most of the music we hear is Bernstein’s own, and its astringent rapture is the soundtrack to his anguish and ecstasy. When we do finally see him conduct, leading an orchestra inside a cathedral in a performance of Mahler’s Second Symphony, it’s a magnificent scene in which Cooper shows us how Bernstein becomes the music and the music becomes him. This is Lenny at his most transcendent."
 
Owen Gleiberman, Variety 

"Bernstein’s disregard for his wife’s feelings and her growing discontent is evident when he arrives with Tommy and another gay friend in his open-top sportscar for a weekend at their Connecticut home. Preparing to speak to her husband about how to deal with the questions of their eldest daughter Jamie (Maya Hawke), stemming from gossip she has heard at college, Felicia watches their arrival from across the swimming pool. Matthew Libatique’s camera observes her coolly from behind in a striking wide shot, the jagged tension of a section of Bernstein’s 'West Side Story' prologue brilliantly heightening the simmering discord. Cooper orchestrates the steady build of emotionality with great assurance. He expertly deploys music like a heavenly choral version of 'Make Your Garden Grow' from 'Candide' to underscore Lenny’s depression, his artistic restlessness and fear of being alone."
 
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter 

MONSTER - Ryuichi Sakamoto
 
"'Monster' is also a typical Kore-eda movie in that it’s ultimately about the elusive world of two young children who live in the immense shadow of their adult guardians. You can tell what kind of movie this is just by listening to the sunny, melancholic piano and synthesizer score, a mix of two new compositions and some older pieces by the recently deceased composer Ryuichi Sakamoto. Sakamoto’s music swoons and pulses with a subtle and, in his words, “esoteric” complexity. His playing beautifully expresses Minato and his loved ones’ mutual loneliness without succumbing to treacly conventions or platitudes. It’s mood music, which can be easy to take for granted in a movie where the plot seems most important. ('Monster' won the Best Screenplay award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival) Still, Sakamoto’s music complements Kore-eda’s keen direction and general consideration for individuals who tend to struggle in private and only sometimes see themselves beyond who they’re with. It’s a shame they’ll never work on another movie together, but it's a real pleasure to see (and hear) their only collaboration."
 
Simon Abrams, RogerEbert.com 

"But as Kore-eda buys enthusiastically into the precious world of make-believe that Minato and Yori created for themselves in the forest near their town, he risks diving headfirst into a mawkishness that’s less observant than it is directive. This feeling is amplified by Sakamoto Ryuichi’s score, which it too cutesy by half and often sounds like a repetitive riff on 'Moon River.' The further away that Kore-eda gets from the kinds of films that allow feeling to wash over the audience in favor of almost didactically instructing us on how to feel about his characters and situations, the closer he gets to losing sight of his once devout belief in the precarious nature of truth, and its collision with imagination, as fertile ground for cinema."
 
Kyle Turner, Slant Magazine 
 
"But unlike the wily unknowability that iconically characterized 'Rashomon,' the changing perspective of 'Monster' is a patient bid for honest understanding, a way to achieve grace. A one-truth movie that’s nevertheless thick with human complexity, it rotates nimbly, in tandem with the plaintive score that marks the great Ryuichi Sakamoto’s last film work. Ultimately, what begins as a case of justifiable outrage ends up hiding a heartwarming story of acceptance. We just needed to see what we often don’t see, or don’t allow ourselves to recognize. The kids themselves, as if mirroring the movie they’re in, talk excitedly of a 'big crunch' coming, when the universe will expand and pop and everything will go backward. Is their fairy-tale apocalypse -- and the rebirth implied in it -- sparked by the actions of the adults around them? Who knows. But as composer Sakamoto’s farewell piano motif bestows a merciful poignancy to the closing loop of 'Monster,' behavioral mysteries don’t seem so ungraspable, and the truth finally resembles a prism of hope."
 
Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times 

"Over the course of its run time, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s 'Monster' returns three times to the image of a building on fire. That’s partly a narrative device: Divided into three sections, the film retells the same tale from different perspectives, so that each time Kore-eda cuts to the fire, we know that we’ve jumped back to the start of the story. But the burning building also becomes an emotional specter hovering over the movie. This story about childhood, love, and misunderstanding begins under the sign of disaster and keeps reminding us how vulnerable our world is. That it features the most delicate of piano scores from the late Ryuichi Sakamoto, who reportedly submitted two new pieces and several previously recorded ones because he was too ill to compose a full soundtrack, merely adds to the film’s heartbreaking fragility."
 
Bilge Ebiri, New York 
 
"Lovingly detailed and accented by an aching score from Ryuichi Sakamoto, who died in March, 'Monster' is one of the finest films of the year, and its structure -- like its circle of characters -- carries secrets that can only be unraveled through patience and empathy. Put a different way: It’s easy to call someone a monster before you squelch a muddy mile in their shoes."
 
Natalia Winkelman, The New York Times 

"But 'Monster' is just as intent on undermining this deep-seated dedication to first impressions. Its drawn-out plot repetition, exhaustively constructed with details of sound and image sneaking new information into our senses, combats our least generous impulses with constant empathy. Compassion cascades down 'Monster''s ever-complicating narrative like a downpour, sweeping us along gullies carved out by controlled, honest performances from child actors Kurokawa and Hiiragi. We’re submerged under the fragile piano and mournful horns of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s final score. These duct-slayers harmonize in a natural swell of emotions, weather and coherence -- a climax of comprehension laid bare in Kore-eda’s triumphant, rending finale."
 
Jacob Oller, Paste Magazine 
 
"Buoyed by a gentle piano score from the late and great Ryuichi Sakamoto, 'Monster' may perhaps not strike as painfully in the heart as Kore-eda’s more lauded works like 'Shoplifters' and 'Like Father, Like Son.' But the director’s return to his native Japan following detours to France ('The Truth') and South Korea ('Broker') demonstrates that he is as adept at puppeteering an audience’s empathy as ever."
 
Lana Murray, The Playlist 

"Despite this blemish, 'Monster' manages to sink its claws into one’s conscience, thanks in large part to the movie’s young leads -- like Farhadi, Kore-eda is an astute director of children, able to shepherd their performances in ways both precocious and disarmingly innocent. Elevating this unassuming picture is Ryûto Kondô’s tranquil lens (even during a fierce storm) and the late Ryuichi Sakamoto’s mournful score of high-keys and strings, coddling the tale soulfully as one of the final compositions of his peerless career."
 
Tomris Laffly, The Wrap 
 
"More crucial, however, is the film’s empathy for individuals trying to make heads or tails of a situation, life, and universe that offers no instruction manual nor any omniscient outlooks and conclusions. Set to the lyrical compositions of late, great composer Ryuichi Sakamoto (in his final big-screen project), 'Monster' recognizes that no one can ever know everything but also contends that greater consideration of ourselves and others is vital in order to alleviate children’s (and adults’) physical and emotional suffering -- be it from bullying, domestic abuse or unthinkable calamities. 'Monster''s desperate hope for tolerance and thoughtfulness crescendos in its closing moments. Affording a cautiously optimistic vision of kids weathering the storm -- set to Sakamoto’s heartbreaking piano -- Kore-eda’s climax packs a poignant wallop that, like the rest of his film, is all the more affecting for sneaking up on one so stealthily."
 
Nick Schager, The Daily Beast 
 
"This kind of nonlinear film can always be a tricksy exercise -- a way for the film-makers to show how ingenious they are at concealing and revealing information, so that scenes we have seen before are suddenly given a surprising new significance. And on this level, 'Monster' is a triumph: Kore-eda and Sakamoto are wholly in control of a structure that is so intricate it makes your head whirl. But they go beyond mere game-playing by making the characters' worlds so rich and individual, and they bring the three sections together to form a melancholy thesis about how separate we all are, and how easily and tragically we can misread each other. This poignancy is deepened by the plangent piano music by Ryuichi Sakamoto, who died in March, and to whom the film is dedicated."
 
Nicholas Barber, BBC.com  

"As you’d expect from Kore-eda, it’s all told with the utmost detail and care, and a gentle score from the late Ryuichi Sakamoto only adds to the overarching air of thoughtfulness and empathy."
 
Dave Calhoun, Time Out 

"When Saori finally realizes something’s wrong, she calls a meeting with the school principal (Tanaka Yuko). Believing Minato’s claim that Mr. Hori is responsible for the way he feels, Saori demands to know what kind of school lets a teacher insult and hit the students. As the slight wisps of one of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s last compositions underscores her concern, Saori’s heart (and ours) breaks a little to hear her son say, 'My brain was switched with a pig’s.'"
 
Peter Debruge, Variety 

"Performances are lovely across the board, reaping rewards from the director’s unimpeachable skill at working with children. The visuals are unfussy and naturalistic but emotionally resonant in images like the two friends running joyfully across a stretch of sun-dappled green. The drama is complemented throughout by a gentle score of piano and occasional atonal horns by the late Ryuichi Sakamoto, to whom the film, his final project, is dedicated."

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter 

SOCIETY OF THE SNOW - Michael Giacchino

"On the aesthetic side, Pedro Luque Briozzo Scu’s cinematography augments the thematic and atmospheric pull, invoking lens flares, claustrophobic perspective distortion and a cold, bruising color palette to photograph the frostbitten, sunburned, skeletal bodies. Composer Michael Giacchino’s tender, contemplative score is used sparingly, resounding without being overbearing or obtuse. As characters face adversity, strings turn from soft in the stillness of mortality to discordant in the vastness of the wilderness, even incorporating a percussive beat to emphasize character drive and a choral section when obstacles comingle with spirituality."
 
Courtney Howard, The Onion AV Club 
 
"The crash itself is sure to remind some viewers of ABC’s 'Lost,' which also makes the show’s composer, longtime Disney/Pixar stalwart Michael Giacchino, a perfect fit here. He brings the requisite intensity, but rather than refashioning his mysterious and propulsive sounds from 'Lost,' he takes a more classical, operatic approach. He crafts a soundscape that echoes off the icy mountaintops surrounding the survivors, and shivers alongside them once night falls and the temperature plummets to lethal levels. Each hopeful grace note is accompanied by some ominous rumble, as though death were lurking just around the corner. The wreckage of the plane’s fuselage becomes the survivors’ escape from nightly snowstorms, but they can never shake the possibility of it becoming their tomb."
 
Siddhant Adlakha, Polygon

"But 'Society of the Snow' could’ve used some semblance of psychological heft, its collective only loose outlines of actual people. And as you’ve probably heard, these are people who end up having to eat each other. Bayona does not shy away from the reality that, one by one and eventually, the surviving teammates resorted to consuming their dead brethren’s flesh. Here, composer Michael Giacchino’s score is eerily tense, a tightening coil of strings, and his superb musical overall is maybe the best thing about the entire film. Pedro Luque’s cinematography, meanwhile, captures the widest possible vista of the terrains inside and out of the fallen fuselage, all the beauty and the unsparing terror of, well, Sierra Nevada, standing in for the Andes. Bayona and Luque love a good early morning lens flare, and 'Society of the Snow' features striking landscape photography that wouldn’t be out of place in National Geographic."
 
Ryan Lattanzio, IndieWire 
 
"Technically, Bayona’s film is a marvel, cinematically, visually, and with great set design precision to overwhelm you in this horrendous experience, but one particular ace in the hole is Michael Giacchino’s moving score, which is heartrending but just as nuanced and thoughtful as the movie is about its bleakest moments. Selected as the Spanish entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 96th Academy Awards and one of the 15 finalist films in the December Oscar shortlist, 'Society Of Snow' certainly belongs here just because of the accomplished and confident sense of craft alone."
 
Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist 
 
"Both in its cultural specificity and the passage of time, “'Society of the Snow' delivers a credible take on a remarkable story -- augmented by the prolific Michael Giacchino’s score -- while hampered somewhat by the limitations imposed by how those events unfolded."
 
Brian Lowry, CNN 

"But while the film is lustrously shot on location in the Andes and Spain’s Sierra Nevada region -- with DP Pedro Luque Briozzo Scu rendering snow and skin alike in varying shades of polar blue, relative to the blazing white of the winter sun -- its remaining two hours rest more on Bayona’s aptitude for broadly emotive human storytelling, boosted by a typically maximalist score from Michael Giacchino that throws frantic percussion and a keening choir in alongside the ample strings. As the surviving passengers must weather literal storms, avalanches and physical ailments, losing more of their number along the way, their tightening camaraderie becomes their principal life force."
 
Guy Lodge, Variety 

"But ethical conflict and discussions of faith and sacrifice can only sustain a movie so far, particularly when the large ensemble doesn’t allow much scope for character individuation. As compelling as the life-and-death situation is, it becomes a bit of a drag in a movie pushing two-and-a-half hours that could definitely benefit from a tighter edit. Even Pedro Luque’s vigorous camerawork and Michael Giacchino’s hard-working, typically forceful orchestral score can only do so much to keep the momentum humming."
 
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

THE ZONE OF INTEREST - Mica Levi

"Glazer’s previous feature, 'Under the Skin' has clawed at me since it came out, ten years ago. It’s too early to say whether 'The Zone of Interest' will do the same. What will linger, no question, is the score by Mica Levi, who seems to make music out of pain, replete with whisperings and groans. Most extraordinary of all, we get nocturnal scenes, dotted throughout the movie and shot in black-and-white, using thermal imaging, in which a young girl is seen secreting apples in the landscape nearby. For a while, there is no knowing who she is, whether the fruit (which glows in the dark) is poisonous or life-giving, and whether we are watching a dream or a weird substratum of the horrors unfolding at Auschwitz. Nor is there any comfort in suggesting that the girl could have sprung from a book of old German fairy tales. We know how those can end."
 
Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
 
"What she hears, and what we hear, is of extraordinary significance. 'The Zone of Interest' opens on a pitch-black screen and a blast of Mica Levi’s spare, demonically intense score; we could be listening to Druidic chants in hell -- chords of lush, operatic dread and terror that might seem disproportionate to the becalmed images that follow. But even as Levi’s orchestrations recede, an equally detail-rich music intrudes: bits of birdsong, echoing footfalls and, before long, dogs’ barks, human screams, crackling flames, whistling trains and the unmistakable sound of gunshots. Even in simple scenes of the Hösses at work or at play, this chilling aural undertow never ceases. As conceived by the sound designer Johnnie Burn, it’s so vividly enveloping that you might want to heighten its impact by closing your eyes."
 
Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times 
 
"Is a lovely garden still a lovely garden if it’s a stone’s throw from Auschwitz? Can you admire a flower, a piece of furniture, a well-cut lawn while also taking in the meaning of the smoking chimney on the horizon, the sound of gunshots in the distance and the relentless industrial burr of Mica Levi’s distressing score? 'The Zone of Interest' runs with the nauseating truth that for Rudolf the extermination programme at Auschwitz was a fantastic career opportunity and for Hedwig it was a chance to live like 'the Queen of Auschwitz', as her husband jokes to a colleague. Glazer doesn’t simply portray a bubble of privilege next door to an unfolding, unseen tragedy. He hints at the human sickness behind the nightmare: Hedwig’s mother comes to stay but leaves abruptly after waking at night to a bedroom lit by the light of flames from the chimney; Rudolf gets a fit of nausea after smugly contributing to a meeting about accelerating the Final Solution; he reads fairytales to the kids at night that morph into thermal-imaging style animation of a young woman secretly helping to smuggle food to prisoners. At one point the screen just goes red and leaves us with the disturbing drone of the score. At the end of the film, there’s a documentary insert of Auschwitz now -- presented with pointed banality. All of which makes sure we’re never lost in this drama; we’re never far from a moment that ensures we’re alive to the reality. It’s a stunning film -- thoughtful, challenging and disturbing."
 
Dave Calhoun, Time Out 

"The family is even less bothered by human pain and death than the alien played by Scarlett Johansson in 'Under the Skin.' Most of the time, they are concerned with birthday celebrations in the garden and games on the verdant banks of the nearby river. 'We're living how we dreamed we would, with everything on our doorstep,' says Hedwig, so the possibility that they might have to move away if Rudolf is transferred seems to her to be the very height of injustice. The actors are superb: never leaning into the ghastly irony of the Hösses' situation. There are a few scattered indications that the hideous crimes they are enabling are affecting the family's mental wellbeing. There are also a few dream-like scenes, shot in stark monochrome by thermal-imaging cameras, in which a Polish village girl commits acts of humanitarian resistance at night. But for almost all of the film, the atrocities are represented only by the occasional burst of unearthly droning music from Mica Levi, and that relentless, nightmarish background noise."

Nicholas Barber, BBC.com

"Rather than put gruesome imagery of death and cruelty front and center on Melding form and content down to the bone, Glazer creates an overarching portrait of disassociation that extends to the Holocaust itself, whose nightmares are reduced to so much air pollution, invisibly coating (and corrupting) everything. Friedel’s inexpressive countenance is of an essential piece with the eerily tranquil film, as is Mica Levi’s tremendous score, which balances lovely piano and orchestral arrangements with loud, moaning tones that sound like the bellows of Hell itself. 'The Zone of Interest' is alive and yet Glazer simultaneously makes it feel as if it’s trapped beneath glass. Be it Rudolf smoking at night by his pool as the crematoriums rage, or Hedwig threatening a servant with incineration for a perceived slight, the ghastliness dwells on the edges of the lovely, manicured proceedings, as well as dead center too, albeit masked by a veneer of dainty decorum."
 
Nick Schager, The Daily Beast 

"Still, Glazer wants to stress that the banalities in question are no mere banalities; they’re grim and grave. Unlike pretty much any other movie that opens with a family picnic in a charming riverside landscape, the movie begins with more than two minutes of a black screen, accompanied by music (by Mica Levi) so bleak that it makes Mahler’s Ninth sound like Carl Stalling. In other words, before the first dramatic image, Glazer has essentially proclaimed the movie’s deep seriousness, and his own."
 
Richard Brody, The New Yorker 

"The film, with its superb score by Mica Levi and sound design by Johnnie Burn, has undoubted power but might well revive the debate about conjuring slick movie effects from the horrors of history: I found myself thinking of Jacques Rivette’s objection to the barbed-wire tracking shot in Gillo Pontecorvo’s 'Kapò' (1960)."
 
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian 
 
"Every misdeed by the Höss family functions on this cycle of obfuscation. Composer Mica Levi’s foreboding score, which can be guttural and dirty in infrared scenes, wherein a girl picks up food from the mud, participates in the dichotomy of polishing and revealing. The use of the color white -- new sheets, sleek suits, and sterile office walls -- depends upon this blurring. Even the language, the way everyone speaks about death in mechanical terms and technicalities, works to wash over the truth. If you’re always talking in circles about your crimes, isn’t it easier to continue performing them in a straight line?"
 
Robert Daniels, RogerEbert.com 
 
"Some movies start by telling you how to watch them. 'The Zone of Interest' starts by telling you not to. After the film’s title fades to black, writer-director Jonathan Glazer makes his audience sit in the dark for more than two minutes as the dissonant wash of Mica Levi’s score surrounds them. In the nearly 80 years since George Stevens, the Hollywood veteran who became the head of the Allied forces’ Special Coverage Unit, filmed the liberation of the concentration camps in 1945, an unprecedented archive has been amassed to document the atrocities of the Second World War. But 'The Zone of Interest' is a movie about what you don’t see, and what you are forced to imagine."
 
Sam Adams, Slate.com 
 
"The opening shot of Jonathan Glazer’s 'The Zone Of Interest' is a pitch-black frame into which the film’s title slowly dissipates. Depriving its audience of a visual anchor, the first few minutes of the film force you instead to listen closely to Mica Levi’s chilling score and Johnnie Burn’s eerie sound design. It asks you to sink into a world where your senses will be enveloped with a fog of a tale that’s equal parts banal and insidious. Glazer puts out a call to pay close attention, to focus on details one may otherwise miss. It’s a powerful gambit that rightly sets the tone for one of 2023’s greatest achievements, a film discomfiting in its approach to the Holocaust, and a horrifyingly mundane portrait of a man, a household, and a country. When Glazer finally allows us to emerge from Levi and Burn’s jointly stultifying soundscape, he introduces us to the Höss family."
 
Manuel Betancourt, The Onion AV Club 
 
"Eventually, traces of their own barbarity creep in, from the ash used to fertilize the lawn, to the servants who can refuse no request, to (presumably, as the canister remains unseen) the can of Zyklon B polluting a river where the Höss children play. Soon enough, the sounds of torture and mass-death from the neighboring camp make their way both into the house and into Mica Levi’s feedback and distortion heavy score."
 
Ben Croll, The Wrap

"Before we see a single frame of 'The Zone of Interest,' from 'Sexy Beast' and 'Under the Skin' director Jonathan Glazer, we can feel the all-encompassing nature of evil. As the words 'The Zone of Interest' appear on the screen, they’re soon enveloped in darkness, swirled away into the black, fading away into a warped nightmare and Mica Levi’s haunting score. Prior to the film even beginning, Glazer throws us into the droning terror, preparing us for his idiosyncratic take on the Holocaust story. But 'The Zone of Interest' always reminds us of what is going on in subtle and extremely overt ways. As we follow the Höss family, we constantly hear gunshots, each one likely taking yet another life. While the Höss home has come to ignore these inconveniences, every shot is a jolt to the audience. When they decide to have a garden party, complete with a buffet of food and a pool, we can see the smoke from the trains wafting overhead. Combined with Levi’s twisted, unsettling and sparsely used score, 'The Zone of Interest' is an aural shock -- even when the world might seem normal on the surface."
 
Ross Bonaime, Collider 
 
"'The Zone of Interest' opens with a long overture that forces the audience to sit in pure darkness for several minutes on end as the first pearls of Mica Levi’s elusive score clatter together over the soundtrack. The effect doesn’t create a distance between then and now so much as it elides one; when the first proper scene of the film begins, it feels like an act of unblinking. Our eyes were closed for a time and then opened again, but that’s all-- nothing has been filtered through or clarified by the lens of history. The 'authorless' quality of Glazer’s images (to borrow the word he uses in the film’s press notes) frees the characters within them from the emptiness of moral judgment. The evil on display is never the least bit in doubt, but its failure to recognize itself as such is only so able to take shape in the absence of its limiting obviousness."
 
David Ehrlich, IndieWire 
 
"Rather than put gruesome imagery of death and cruelty front and center on screen, Glazer uses the film’s grueling sound design to represent the unfathomable scope of Nazi Germany’s crimes. It’s an aural hell punctuated by rhythmic interludes, courtesy of frequent collaborator Mica Levi, that suggests a dance party in Dante’s Inferno. To heighten the disturbing mood, Lukasz Zal’s camera often places a character in the dead center of the frame, and dollies alongside them as they walk to and fro, channeling the lockstep behind Adolf Hitler. Otherwise, though, it plays the stable voyeur with a lens angle just wide enough to feel unreal."
 
Zach Lewis, Slant Magazine 
 
"'Zone' begins with an almost 5-minute symphonic overture by composer Mica Levi against a stark black frame. The first true image on screen is the one associated with this review. A seemingly innocuous family relaxing near a pristine lake somewhere, based on their attire, in Europe. As they collect their belongings and head home the scenario begins to unfold. It’s the 1940s and this family, incredibly, lives right next door to a concentration camp in a Nazi-occupied land. And their home belongs to none other than the infamous commander of Auschwitz himself, Rudolf Höss. As the film progresses you likely won’t have much sympathy for the Höss family’s comparably mundane domestic issues, but they do increasingly seem more and more recognizable. That’s partially thanks to Glazer’s ability to forge a genuine sense of intimacy with the proceedings. Perhaps it’s also due to the lack of an overall orchestral score or the director’s genius in portraying these events without any hint of an overtly cinematic filter. Notably, the result is not reminiscent of a documentary -- far from it, the camera is often too far away from its subjects. Instead, it’s as though you’re looking through a window. It’s as though you could easily walk into many of these scenes as if they were occurring in your own neighborhood. This changes somewhat, for better or worse, in the latter third of the film when Höss is reassigned to Oranienburg, Germany."
 
Gregory Ellwood, The Playlist 
 
"More hollow than hollowing, director Jonathan Glazer’s Edenic nightmare is better when taken metaphorically. There are no people to grasp onto here, only concepts. The photography from Lukasz Zal ('Cold War,' 'Ida') is both flawless and disturbing. When paired with Mica Levi’s disconsolate electronic score, the effect is bone-chilling. Although when one is working with metaphor, a certain degree of character depth is still expected (not that Glazer is exactly known for his well-written characters). His heavy-handed hints at a Hansel and Gretel connection do not do the film any favors. None of the performances are particularly memorable, which is a real shame considering the immense talent being wasted here; won’t anyone use the full extent of Sandra Hüller’s darkly comedic talents, as she showed in 'Toni Erdmann'? Any of the actors, including Hüller, could be replaced, and it would still be the same movie, so long as the actors were speaking German. The macabre tableaux and lurching music may be enough to sustain a video installation piece, but not 106 minutes of narrative. 'The Zone of Interest 'doesn’t go much farther than pointing out that life under fascism was actually pretty swell for the fascists, and that their idyllic lives came at the expense of mass exploitation and death."
 
Katarina Docalovich, Paste Magazine 
 
"The time frame in Glazer’s adaptation is vague, though primarily seems to take place in 1943 before the real Höss was transferred to another camp. The movie opens on a black screen accompanied by some music, a foreboding overture that gives way to a pacific scene at a river with a group of people in bathing suits. Eventually, they dress and motor off. Much of the rest of the movie takes place at the Höss family home, where Glazer’s carefully framed, often fixed cameras record the children playing while the parents chat and sometimes argue. You see Rudolf going off to work in the camp while Hedwig oversees the house. At one point, you also watch a prisoner quietly spreading ash on the garden as a soil amendment. In 'The Zone of Interest,' Glazer deploys a number of art-film conventions, including narrative ellipses and long uninterrupted takes. Throughout, characters are kept at a remove (as if they are being surveilled) and filmed mostly in medium or long shots; I only remember one grim close-up of a face. There are bursts of music (by Mica Levi), one bit features unnerving yelping and whooping, though not a conventional soundtrack. For the most part, the intricately layered audio foregrounds everyday conversations and chatter over a low, persistent machinelike hum, a droning that is regularly punctuated by train sounds, muffled gunfire and indecipherable yelling and screaming. It sounds like the engine of death. There are other disturbances, too, like the clouds of dark smoke and the screams that one of the children hears and which discomfort him. More dramatically, Glazer inserts several eerie black-and-white scenes of a girl or young woman placing apples around the camp at night, presumably for prisoners. (Later, you learn that she’s an outsider.) These interludes are radically distinct in look and tone from the rest of the movie: They were shot with a thermal imaging camera and are accompanied by violent music. They also show the only instances of kindness and resistance in the entire movie. Yet what is most striking about these sections isn’t the singularity of this woman’s actions but their stylistic bravura, their wow factor."
 
Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
 
"At the start, the title stays on screen for a long time, and we hear music, by Mica Levi, that’s eerie in the extreme. It’s like a chorale played backwards with murmurings from 'Rosemary’s Baby,' and is it our imagination or is it laced, in some ethereal way, with the stylized sound of human screaming? The film then cuts to a static shot of an idyllic setting: a sloping meadow next to a lake, drenched in sunlight, and there, having a picnic on a blanket, is a family with children, and several men standing around in bathing suits. It all looks exceedingly happy and 'normal' until we catch a discordant element: the haircut of one of the men -- his head is shaved on the back and sides, with hair that’s long and dark as an oil slick on top, so that it sits on him like a greased animal pelt."
 
Owen Gleiberman, Variety 
 
"Likewise, the unsettling use of Mica Levi’s music, which follows the experimental composer’s nerve-shredding work on 'Under the Skin' in fusing score with ambient sound, thinking about film music in boundary-pushing new ways. The movie’s prologue and coda feature a few minutes of black screen, broken only by the words of the title at the start and accompanied by Levi’s score, murky and malevolent at first, then exploding into a terrifying cacophony at the end. The film is punctuated intermittently by violent blasts of horns that sound like the wounded cries of other-worldly animals."
 
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter 

THE NEXT TEN DAYS IN L.A.

Screenings of older films in Los Angeles-area theaters.

January 12
CHOCOLAT (Rachel Portman) [Los Feliz 3]
EARTHQUAKE (John Williams) [Academy Museum]
ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (John Carpenter, Alan Howarth) [Vidiots]
EVIL DEAD II (Joseph LoDuca) [Vidiots]
HEAT (Elliot Goldenthal) [New Beverly]
INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS [New Beverly]
ONCE UPON A TIME...IN HOLLYWOOD [New Beverly]
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN (Anthony Willis) [Aero]
WINGS OF DESIRE (Jurgen Knieper) [Egyptian]
ZARDOZ (David Munrow) [Nuart]

January 13
THE AGE OF SHADOWS (Mowg) [Academy Museum]
ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER (Alberto Iglesias) [Alamo Drafthouse]
AMIGO (Mason Daring) [Los Feliz 3]
THE BLACK STALLION (Carmine Coppola, Shirley Walker) [Academy Museum]
THE DARK CRYSTAL (Trevor Jones) [Vidiots]
GIMME SHELTER [New Beverly]
HEAT (Elliot Goldenthal) [New Beverly]
THE IRON GIANT (Michael Kamen) [New Beverly]
JELLYFISH EYES [BrainDead Studios]
JURASSIC PARK (John Williams) [New Beverly]
THE KING OF COMEDY [Vidiots]
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS (Howard Shore) [Alamo Drafthouse] 
NACHO LIBRE (Danny Elfman) [Los Feliz 3]
PARIS, TEXAS (Ry Cooder) [Egyptian]
POPEYE (Harry Nilsson, Tom Pierson) [Vidiots]
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (Richard O'Brien, Richard Hartley) [Nuart] 
SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE (Daniel Pemberton) [Aero]
UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD (Graeme Revell) [Egyptian]
V FOR VENDETTA (Dario Marianelli) [Landmark Westwood]
THE WAVE (Magnus Beite) [Academy Museum]
YOU WON'T BE ALONE (Mark Bradshaw) [Los Feliz 3]

January 14
ARCHANGEL [BrainDead Studios]
CIRCUMSTANCE (Gingger Shankar) [Los Feliz 3]
COLLATERAL (James Newton Howard) [Egyptian]
DELUGE [Academy Museum]
ELECTION (Rolfe Kent) [Alamo Drafthouse]
FLYING DOWN TO RIO (Max Steiner) [Los Feliz 3]
GETTYSBURG (Randy Edelman) [Fine Arts]
HEAT (Elliot Goldenthal) [New Beverly]
JURASSIC PARK (John Williams) [New Beverly] 
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS (Howard Shore) [Alamo Drafthouse]
THE PERSIAN VERSION (Rostam Batmanglij) [Los Feliz 3]
SISTER ACT (Marc Shaiman) [Vidiots]
A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE (Bo Harwood) [Academy Museum]
YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (John Morris) [Vidiots]

January 15
DEEP BLUE SEA (Trevor Rabin) [Alamo Drafthouse]
THE KILLER IS STILL AMONG US (Detto Mariano) [Los Feliz 3]
LEATHERFACE: TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE III (Jim Manzie), STEPFATHER II (Jim Manzie, Pat Regan) [New Beverly]
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS (Howard Shore) [Alamo Drafthouse] 
SELMA (Jason Moran) [Aero]

January 16
CHINATOWN (Jerry Goldsmith) [Landmark Pasadena]
DEAD RINGERS (Howard Shore) [Los Feliz 3]
42ND STREET (Al Dubin, Harry Warren), GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 (Al Dubin, Harry Warren) [New Beverly]
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS (Howard Shore) [Alamo Drafthouse] 

January 17
ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER (Alberto Iglesias) [Alamo Drafthouse]
THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT [Vidiots]
42ND STREET (Al Dubin, Harry Warren), GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 (Al Dubin, Harry Warren) [New Beverly]
THE LOBSTER [BrainDead Studios]
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS (Howard Shore) [Alamo Drafthouse]  
PARIS, TEXAS (Ry Cooder) [Academy Museum]
THE PINK PANTHER (Henry Mancini) [Los Feliz 3]

January 18
AIRPLANE! (Elmer Bernstein), TOP SECRET! (Maurice Jarre) [New Beverly]
THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW (Harald Kloser, Thomas Wander) [Academy Museum]
DERSU UZALA (Isaac Shvarts) [Aero]
THE EXORCIST [New Beverly]
KAILI BLUES (Giong Lim) [Los Feliz 3]
TAIPEI STORY (Edward Yang) [Los Feliz 3]
TWIN PEAKS FIRE WALK WITH ME (Angelo Badalementi) [Vidiots]

January 19
AIRPLANE! (Elmer Bernstein), TOP SECRET! (Maurice Jarre) [New Beverly]
AUDITION (Koji Endo) [Alamo Drafthouse]
THE BROOD (Howard Shore) [Vidiots]
THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN (Angelo Badalamenti) [Nuart]
A CONFUCIAN CONFUSION (Antonio Lee) [Aero]
THE EXORCIST [New Beverly]
HOUSE PARTY (Marcus Miller, Lenny White) [Academy Museum]
INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS [New Beverly]
QUEEN CHRISTINA (Herbert Stothart), MATA HARI [UCLA/Hammer]
STUNT ROCK (Sorcery) [Alamo Drafthouse]
WEREWOLVES WITHIN (Anna Drubich) [Vidiots]

January 20
THE AMERICAN FRIEND (Jurgen Knieper) [Los Feliz 3]
AUDITION (Koji Endo) [Alamo Drafthouse]
A BRIGHTER SUMMER DAY (Hongda Zhang) [Egyptian]
BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB [Los Feliz 3]
CHAN IS MISSING (Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo) [Academy Museum]
DEEP IMPACT (James Horner) [Academy Museum]
DRUNKEN MASTER (Fu Liang-Chou) [Los Feliz 3]
THE LIMEY (Cliff Martinez) [Alamo Drafthouse]
THE LITTLE MERMAID (Alan Menken) [Academy Museum]
LOST IN TRANSLATION (Kevin Shields) [BrainDead Studios]
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (Richard O'Brien, Richard Hartley) [Nuart] 
SHAUN OF THE DEAD (Daniel Mudford, Pete Woodhead) [Landmark Westwood]
TORSO (Guido & Maurizio DeAngelius), THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARDH (Nora Orlandi) [Egyptian]
TWILIGHT (Carter Burwell), THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON (Alexandre Desplat), THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE (Howard Shore), THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN PART 1 (Carter Burwell), THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN PART 2 (Carter Burwell) [New Beverly]

January 21
ALICE IN THE CITIES (Can), WRONG MOVE (Jurgen Knieper), KINGS OF THE ROAD (Axel Lindstadt) [Egyptian]
BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB [Academy Museum]
FUNNY GIRL (Jule Styne, Walter Scharf) [New Beverly]
GODZILLA VS. THE THING (Akira Ifukube) [BrainDead Studios]
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING (Howard Shore) [Alamo Drafthouse]
NINOTCHKA (Werner R. Heymann), TWO-FACED WOMAN (Bronislau Kaper) [UCLA/Hammer]
WEIRD SCIENCE (Ira Newborn) [Alamo Drafthouse]
WHEN TIME RAN OUT (Lalo Schifrin) [Academy Museum]
THE WIZARD OF OZ (Harold Arlen, Herbert Stothart) [New Beverly]
YI YI (Kai-li Peng) [Aero]


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

Heard:
Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Irving Berlin Songbook Vol. 2 (Fitzgerald); Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Sondheim); The Quintessential Billie Holiday Vol. 4 (Holiday); Gideon's Daughter/Friends & Crocodiles (Johnston); My Romance (Simon); The Photograph (Glasper); The Famous Hits of World War II (various); Neighbors (Scott); Dionne Warwick Sings Cole Porter (Warwick); The Complete Motown Singles Vol. 2: 1962 (various); Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Rodgers & Hart Songbook Vol. 2 (Fitzgerald); The Killer (Reznor/Ross)

Read: Die Rich, Die Happy, by James Munro (aka James Mitchell)

Seen: Twister [1996]; Volcano; Night Swim; Avalanche; Little Big Man; The Good, the Bad & the Beauty; The Shootout

Watched: Flood; Dollhouse ("Stop-Loss"); Have Gun, Will Travel ("Ella West"); Fire; Get Shorty ("Pest Control"); Inside Amy Schumer ("Slow Your Roll")

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February 21
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