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CDS AVAILABLE THIS WEEK

La Verite - Alexei Aigui - Music Box


IN THEATERS TODAY

The Grudge - The Newton Brothers
Three Christs - Jeff Russo 


COMING SOON

January 10
The Addams Family
 - Mychael Danna, Jeff Danna - Lakeshore
Le Calde Notti Di Don Giovanni
- Carlo Savina - Saimel
January 17
Bliss 
- Steve Moore - Relapse (import)
Go Fish - George Streicher - Notefornote  
The Musical Anthology of His Dark Materials - Lorne Balfe - Silva
January 24
Anne with an E
 - Amin Bhatia, Ari Posner - Varese Sarabande
I Lost My Body
 - Dan Levy - Lakeshore
The Personal History of David Copperfield - Christopher Willis - MVKA
January 31
Dracula - David Arnold, Steven Price - Silva
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 3 - Maurice Jaubert born (1900)
January 3 - George Martin born (1926)
January 3 - Van Dyke Parks born (1941)
January 3 - Recording sessions begin for Bronislau Kaper's score for Ada (1961)
January 3 - Thomas Bangalter born (1975)
January 3 - Bernhard Kaun died (1980)
January 3 - Recording sessions begin for Hans Zimmer’s replacement score for White Fang (1991)
January 4 - Lionel Newman born (1916)
January 4 - Buddy Baker born (1918)
January 4 - Joe Renzetti born (1941)
January 4 - Recording sessions begin for Sol Kaplan’s score for The House on Telegraph Hill (1951)
January 4 - Michael Hoenig born (1952)
January 4 - Franz Waxman begins recording his score to Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954)   
January 4 - John Green begins recording his score to Raintree County (1957)
January 4 - Laurence Rosenthal begins recording his score for A Raisin in the Sun (1961)
January 4 - Angela Morley records her score for The New Adventures of Wonder Woman episode “Going, Going, Gone” (1979)
January 4 - Pino Calvi died (1989)
January 5 - Leighton Lucas born (1903)
January 5 - Chris Stein born (1950)
January 5 - Jerry Fielding begins recording his score, adapted from Bizet, for The Bad News Bears (1976)
January 5 - Malcolm Seagrave died (2001)
January 5 - Elizabeth Swados died (2016)
January 6 - David Whitaker born (1931)
January 6 - Aaron Zigman born (1963)
January 6 - A.R. Rahman born (1967)
January 6 - John Williams records his score for Nightwatch (1966)
January 6 - Jerry Fielding begins recording his score for The Wild Bunch (1969)
January 6 - Mario Nascimbene died (2002)
January 7 - Jose Maria Vitier born (1954)
January 7 - Leigh Harline begins recording his score for The True Story of Jesse James (1957)
January 7 - Jeff Richmond born (1961)
January 7 - Alfred Newman begins recording his score for The Pleasure of His Company (1961)
January 7 - Clint Mansell born (1963)
January 7 - Jerry Goldsmith records the pilot score to The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (1964)
January 7 - Jeff Toyne born (1975)
January 7 - James Horner begins recording his score for Rascals and Robbers: The Secret Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn (1982)
January 7 - David Lindup died (1992)
January 8 - Bernard Herrmann begins recording his score to On Dangerous Ground (1951)
January 8 - Bruce Broughton begins recording his score for The Boy Who Could Fly (1986)
January 8 - Ron Goodwin died (2003)
January 8 - Andrae Crouch died (2015)
January 9 - Vic Mizzy born (1916)
January 9 - Robert F. Brunner born (1938)
January 9 - Scott Walker born (1943)
January 9 - Jimmy Page born (1944)
January 9 - Leroy Shield died (1962)
January 9 - James T. Sale born (1967) 
January 9 - Alexander Courage records his score for the Lost in Space episode "The Great Vegetable Rebellion" (1968)
January 9 - Anton Karas died (1985)
January 9 - Alan Silvestri begins recording his score for The Delta Force (1986)
January 9 - Jerry Goldsmith begins recording his score for The Vanishing (1993)

DID THEY MENTION THE MUSIC?

GEMINI - Keegan DeWitt

"A few years ago, Katz moved to Los Angeles, which serves as the setting of his latest. 'Gemini' is a shimmering puzzler that begins with an act of Land Ho!–esque palling-around before warping into an unlikely detective story in the 'Cold Weather' vein. Where 'Dance Party, USA' opens on an intimate shot of Katz’s heroine (Anna Kavan) waking up groggily after a night of drinking, 'Gemini' introduces itself with full minutes of images of upside-down L.A. palm trees -- a moody montage of paradise inverted. This speaks to an enlarging of scope: 'Gemini' is arguably the first Katz movie where the backdrop regularly supplants the characters populating it. Katz, who also edited, and his director of photography, Andrew Reed, relish the transitional sequences, pausing the narrative to marvel over neon-accented vistas in which palm trees and skyscrapers overlap. (Their reveries are aided by another terrific score from Keegan DeWitt, a national treasure.)"
 
Danny King, The Village Voice 
 
"The opening credits for 'Gemini' run over images of upside-down palm trees, cast in blue twilight. As the title fades out, the camera slowly tilts downward, bringing us back to earth. We’re in Los Angeles and bluesy music by Keegan DeWitt sets a romantic tone reminiscent of John Williams’ theme for 'The Long Goodbye.' In much of the same tradition of Robert Altman’s neo-noir classic, director Aaron Katz revives Los Angeles as a renewed film noir locale, this time in the era of smartphones and millennials. Focused on celebrity and bodily autonomy, the film is centered on a Hollywood Starlet, Heather (Zo? Kravitz), and her personal assistant, Jill (Lola Kirke), who find their lives altered due to a horrific crime."
 
Justine Smith, RogerEbert.com 

"With 'Gemini,' Aaron Katz does his cover of the Los Angeles-set murder mystery, homing in on the genre’s evocative loneliness. In a city known for reinvention, anyone can be anything, which implies that everyone is also no one. Katz opens the film on a haunting image of upside-down palm trees, suggesting a rarefied dream world that’s out of tilt -- an impression that’s intensified by Keegan DeWitt’s score, which bridges the jazzy sound of 1940s noirs with the synth-laden melancholia of so many ‘80s-era neo-noirs. The film abounds in such topsy-turvy re-appropriations of familiar tropes, but Katz doesn’t bracket 'Gemini' in quotation marks, understanding that L.A. murder mysteries live on for their simultaneous senses of damnation and possibility. Most people who dream of being filmmakers and movie stars aren’t successful in their aims, but there’s always the haunting promise of the few who are."
 
Chuck Bowen, Slant Magazine 
 
"All of which is to say that 'Gemini' resists easy categorization, evades tidy plot points and sometimes lead to frustrating dead ends. But it’s an absorbing world defined by open-ended possibilities, a kind of comedic psychological thriller in which the thrills exist in air quotes. The world is dripping with intrigue: Katz’s regular cinematographer Andrew Reed careens from the blue hues of late night bars to the roomy interiors of swanky Hollywood abodes, while Keegan DeWitt’s pensive score builds up the mounting uncertainties at every turn."
 
Eric Kohn, IndieWire 
 
"Aaron Katz’s 'Gemini,' which played last night at Brooklyn Academy of Music’s BAMcinemaFest, begins with the familiar turned upside down. Long palm trees passing roots up through an azure sky. Desolate saxophone notes weaving through a perseverating synthesizer and rapidly tapping, tapping, tapping drum machine. You know what you know before you know it -- or you think you do -- and what you know begins with the trees, the sky, the rhythm: This is Los Angeles, the beginning of a modern noir murder mystery."
 
Max Cea, Salon.com 

"With her ridiculously silly disguise (bleached blonde hair, tourist cap, trench coat and five dollar sunglasses), Jill sets out on a dangerous journey that sends her investigating the heinous felony all over the Hollywood hills. Engaging and delectable, 'Gemini' tiptoes from loose and humorous, to something more sinister and suspenseful, yet never creaks too loudly across the floor in its transition. When it all unfolds and crescendos beautifully, what’s left is a melancholy air as greater truths push back the curtain on celebrity and its complex, imbalanced connection to friendship. Stylistically, 'Gemini' does a crafty job of oozing the temptations of L.A. allure, celebrity status and all the cool, but potentially thorny trappings that come hand in hand. With Michael Mann-inspired, well-composed cinematography by Andrew Reed and evocative, jazzy electro beats by Keegan DeWitt, Katz ultimately streaks the Los Angeles skies with the neon night lights of dolor. He’s obviously suffered poor experiences in shallow WeHo parties and superficial dinners on Fairfax; who can trust when everyone’s working an angle? What relationships are actually real? The filmmaker even slyly teases his theme from the opening shot: L.A. depicted as upside down."
 
Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist 

"All that happens in a superbly paced first half-hour or so, unfolding most of the way in richly textured nighttime scenes captured by cinematographer Andrew Reed's sinuous camera with splashes of neon color and pools of burnished low-light glow amid the inky blackness. Keegan DeWitt's electro-jazzy score adds to the unsettling effect, communicating from the start that danger pervades the air. Even a boozy moment of reprieve, in which Heather, Jill and Tracy escape reality with some private partying in a K-town karaoke bar, has a surreal, dream quality."
 
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter 
 
THE GREEN FOG - Jason Garchik
 
"While billed by some as a remake, 'The Green Fog' doesn’t match Hitchcock shot for shot: it follows through thematically, emotionally, and, with the aid of a Jason Garchik original score performed by the Kronos Quartet, it feels more like a symphonic adaptation than a purely cinematic one. A muted musicality rings throughout, capturing the tempo of 'Vertigo' rather than attempting a cinematic carbon copy. The result is eerie, funny, and strangely compelling, pulling the audience through a disjointed alternate dimension of Hitchcock’s masterpiece."
 
Josh Hamm, The Playlist 

"Swirling with mystery, obsession and extremely high vantage points, Alfred Hitchcock’s 'Vertigo' is the ultimate San Francisco film, one that hints at a multitude of other Bay Area movies, even those made before 1958. As if hoping to prove that point (a somewhat obvious one), 'The Green Fog' remakes Hitch’s masterpiece, using only footage from other films and TV shows. The experience of watching it is disconcerting and suitably dreamy. All of the unrelated dialogue has been stripped (the Kronos Quartet provides a nerve-scraping string score), and several faces reappear: Clint Eastwood in the 'Dirty Harry' movies, businessmen from ’70s soap operas having three-martini lunches, Glenn Close in 'Jagged Edge' and dozens of confused others."
 
Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York 

"Jacob Garchick’s original score, played by the Kronos Quartet (which performed it live at the SFIFF premiere), does an estimable job distilling decades of Hollywood soundtrack urgency to pastiche chamber scale -- with ample nods to Bernard Herrmann, naturally. The other notable addition to pre-existing materials are scattered foley FX, which culminate in one laugh-out-loud sound gag."
 
Dennis Harvey, Variety  

"These moments aside, the film's allusions to Hitchcock and local politics are rarely concrete enough to sully its overall dreamlike effect. A bewitching score by Jacob Garchik (performed by the Kronos Quartet) and smart layering of sound from the source films turns cut-and-pasted ingredients into a persuasive whole, despite the varied aesthetics of productions ranging from 'Barbary Coast' to 'The Game' to 'The Love Bug.' (Viewers may keep a running list of favorites that didn't make the cut. Why no' Zodiac' here? What about 'The Room'?)"
 
John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter 
 
ISLE OF DOGS - Alexandre Desplat

"Unfolding across multiple chapters and flashbacks, 'Isle Of Dogs' doubles down on Anderson’s affinity for literary devices and anecdotal detours. Is there a working filmmaker who finds more inspired ways to deliver plot information? He can make a priceless punchline out of a mere location stamp. The film’s cosmetic invention extends to its fluidly shifting visual vocabulary, as Anderson employs manga-style still frames during the expository prologue, anime-style 2-D animation whenever his characters appear on a television screen, and lush, painted tableau for backstory. One could argue that Anderson’s Japan is pure outsider kitsch, not unlike the exoticized tourist’s vision of India he offered in 'The Darjeeling Limited.' But 'Isle Of Dogs' doesn’t skimp on the cultural nods, offhandedly working in sumo wrestling, Kabuki theater, sushi preparation, samurai folklore, the woodblock work of Hiroshige and Hokusai, Akira Kurosawa’s chanbara and modern city films, kaiju-flick audio cues, and -- through a typically propulsive, enchanting score by Alexandre Desplat -- taiko drumming. If this is a superficial tribute, it’s also an affectionately dense one. Most accurately, what we’re seeing is an Andersonian alternate universe: a Japan as old and new, real and unreal, steeped in pastiche and invented from scratch as the brownstone New York of 'The Royal Tenenbaums.'"
 
A.A. Dowd, The Onion AV Club
 
"Several times in 'Isle of Dogs,' Alexandre Desplat’s lovely, strumming score yields to a Japanese-inflected treatment of Prokofiev’s 'Lieutenant Kije Suite,' which suggests Kobayashi (who poisons his political foes with the help of a tall, Karloffian goon known as Major Domo) might be a stand-in for Putin and the dogs for political dissidents shipped to the gulag. Or perhaps they’re just dogs -- it works either way."
 
David Edelstein, New York 

"As dark as the dogs’ reality is -- dark enough to earn the film a PG-13 rating -- the establishment of their world unfolds like a crazy quilt of visual and aural pleasures. There are clouds of smoke made out of cotton. A taiko-drum–based score by Alexandre Desplat (with major contributions from taiko drummer and composer Kaoru Watanabe) that’s at once martial and delicate. A gemlike minutelong montage about the preparation of poisoned sushi. Woodblock-style prints of long-ago dog-and-cat samurai warfare. 'Isle of Dogs' draws from the samurai-movie tradition -- and quotes a music cue from 'Seven Samurai' twice -- but the Kurosawa subgenre it most resembles is the gritty noir-influenced thrillers he made with Toshiro Mifune. That actor’s legendary scowl was the inspiration for the face of the villainous mayor, rendered, like the other human characters, in a hard plasticine that looks less tactile and more chilly than the dogs’ alpaca-wool fluff."
 
Dana Stevens, Slate.com 
 
"Some passages combine several different modes of animation at once, contrasting the hard resin of the human characters against the anime-inspired 2D shadings that are used for the various newscast scenes. There are sumo fights and kabuki performances and all sorts of future tech that clashes against the traditional Japanese nods; if the puppet work in 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' felt a little hesitant, the action here is downright cocky (Alexandre Desplat’s ferocious taiko drum score helps sell that confidence). At one point, Anderson generously devotes a minute of screen-time to a chef making tiny stop-motion sushi just because he can -- every grain of rice needs to be just right, and it is."
 
David Ehrlich, IndieWire
 
"Indeed, buried in amongst the surprisingly potent political commentary (the clash between demagogues and experts; the limits of democracy when decisiveness is needed; the value of journalism in the age of propagandist 'fake news') there is a further undercurrent about the value of outsider perspectives, and how much better we are when we blur the lines. It’s exemplified best by Alexandre Desplat‘s stunning score, which combines traditional Japanese taiko drums in a rolling, rumbling, semi-martial rhythm, with unexpectedly whimsical and inescapably Western-sounding instrumentation -- saxophones and clarinets, even a little whistling. Like the film it envelops and rounds out so lushly, the music is a meeting of mutually curious and mutually complementary worlds, and like the proud, resourceful brave and loyal dogs of this 'Isle,' even when they’re reunited with their masters and fetching sticks in time-honored tradition, neither is subservient: no one is anyone’s 'pet.' As far as representation goes, the stunning, brimful, extraordinary 'Isle of Dogs' can’t really be said to do anyone’s culture a disservice. Except cat lovers, who should probably mount a boycott."
 
Jessica Kiang, The Playlist 

"Bitches, it must be said, are relegated to the sidelines: There’s a potential 'Lady and the Tramp' romance between Chief and Scarlett Johansson’s ex–show dog Nutmeg, and Greta Gerwig voices an American foreign-exchange student who at least proves that females can own dogs, but this remains a story about man’s best friend (emphasis on man). Stylistically, it’s all unmistakably Anderson, from the persistent drumming of the taiko drum score to the creaky mechanical cable cars. He milks Japanese culture for humor in ways that feel affectionate if not always respectful; accusations of cultural appropriation won’t be easy to shake. But as 'Fantastic Mr. Fox''s curious canine cousin, it’s a movie that his fans won’t want to miss -- as if they could anyway."
 
Anna Smith, Time Out New York  
 
"Justin Chang’s speculated that Anderson knows his strengths with dialogue wouldn’t work without this cast: 'You can understand why a writer as distinctive as Anderson wouldn’t want his droll way with the English language to get lost in translation.' Why then have non-POC actors with all the big discernible speaking parts, which Chang succinctly describes as “effectively reducing the hapless, unsuspecting people of Megasaki to foreigners in their own city”? Anderson dreamed up 'Isle of Dogs' with Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman and the aforementioned Nomura, and together their intentions are obviously benevolent, respectful, encouraged by Anderson’s unyielding attention to detail and admitted reverence for Akira Kurosawa -- but then Anderson makes such thoughtless mistakes. Like leaning a bit too much into mushroom cloud imagery, or generally needing an overeager white girl to shake up the passive Japanese populace, or hiring Alexandre Desplat to compose the film’s music. Sure, Desplat does well to avoid his obligatory Oscar bait in favor a score driven by taiko drums, but better would be not to hire Desplat at all. Give the job to a person of Japanese descent. Give the job to a Japanese person. Don’t make such clear moves to represent Japanese culture with truth and esteem, but then not carve out more representation within the cast. Maybe Max Landis is technically right about a movie like this never getting made without Cranston’s award-winning name attached, but Anderson could have tried. Or maybe 'Isle of Dogs' is what trying looks like."
 
Dom Sinacola, Paste Magazine 
 
"Either way, Anderson’s Japanophilia is intricately expressed, as present in the film’s unexpected, tensely deliberate pacing -- in which the director’s professed debt to Kurosawa doesn’t feel as far-fetched as it sounds. It’s more blatant in Alexandre Desplat’s wonderfully sparse, louring score, which sounds like precisely nothing else the melodically inclined Frenchman has ever composed before -- setting the whole film on edge, the soundtrack blends a steady tremble of Taiko drumming with, of all things, the occasional interpolation of Prokofiev’s 'Troika.' 'Why not?' appears to have been the guiding principle behind much of 'Isle of Dogs,' and it serves the film well more often than not."
 
Guy Lodge, Variety 
 
"One of the key elements keeping the action propulsive is a score by Alexandre Desplat unlike anything he's done before. Virtually every moment is underlaid with music, from pounding taiko drums to gorgeous percussive themes with gentle woodwind elements, its unmistakably Japanese flavor lending a soulful emotional charge to the themes of loyalty, friendship and honor. The gentle romance between Chief and Nutmeg, the outcome of Spots and the revelation for Chief of the unconditional love between a boy and his dog make the story quite touching."
 
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter 

JOURNEY'S END - Natalie Holt, Hildur Guonadottir
 
"Written at a time when many hoped and believed there would -- indeed must -- never be another global conflagration like the one portrayed, 'Journey’s End' retains its poignancy in illustrating how no war casualty is a mere statistic. The convincing physical production is shot in muddy earthtones by Laurie Rose and is well accentuated by an original score of urgent, mournful strings."
 
Dennis Harvey, Variety 

"Director Dibb, production designer Kristian Milsted, cinematographer Laurie Rose and all other production hands combine to convey as strong a sense of the dismal, muddy, smoky and cramped circumstances contributing to the men's misery. Natalie Holt's score is very fine, distinctively different than the norm."
 
Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter 
 
LOVE, SIMON - Rob Simonsen

"A film like this will be analyzed, critiqued, and debated from countless angles (homophobes will accuse of it “turning people gay,” while queer advocates may fault it for casting a straight-identifying actor in such a high-profile gay role), but there’s no question that it’s a start. Berlanti launched his directing career with the gay indie 'The Broken Hearts Club,' before finding his footing in television, and this feels like the product of the 15 or so years he’s spent producing shows like 'Dawson’s Creek' and 'Riverdale' (complete with broad acting, too-close framing, and an over-obvious score). It doesn’t feel any more true-to-life than the Disney Channel’s 'High School Musical' series did, but it demonstrates a refreshing John Hughes-like frankness about the subject of sex (mainly, that it’s a natural thing that people do when they love one another) in a genre that’s too often neutered, or worse, exploited for 'American Pie'-style raunch."
 
Peter Debruge, Variety 
 
"The film veers toward the tiresomely formulaic when navigating the tangle of drama between Simon and his friends that dominates the third act. It’s in this stretch that Berlanti’s TV roots show most conspicuously: The storytelling beats grow more dully conventional; the movie’s flow stiffens into an accumulation of 'moments' (Garner’s heroic-parenting scene has the misfortune of arriving so soon after Michael Stuhlbarg’s incomparable one in 'Call Me by Your Name'); and Rob Simonsen’s otherwise fine score turns syrupy. Happily, the director pulls things together for a romantic climax that’s at once swoony and refreshingly restrained."
 
Jon Frosch, The Hollywood Reporter 
 
MOB TOWN - Lionel Cohen
 
"'You think you’re in the movies or something?' crows Davi’s Genovese to an underling, but 'Mob Town's' wink-wink address of its own artificiality doesn’t excuse its inept execution, which extends to a stereotypical Italian score by Lionel Cohen. The fact that Croswell’s arrests didn’t lead to a single conviction only further undermines the film’s attempt to turn this historical footnote into something meaningful, or memorable."
 
Nick Schager, Variety

A QUIET PLACE - Marco Beltrami

"Nothing in his previous work prepares viewers for the precision of 'A Quiet Place's horror. Krasinski directed 'Brief Interviews with Hideous Men' and 'The Hollars,' and both films were filled with fine actors let down by showoff-y and sentimental artistic choices from behind the camera. 'A Quiet Place' is much less cutesy, and its craft far advanced. Cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen, composer Marco Beltrami and editor Christopher Tellefsen conspire with Krasinski to deliver a stripped-down, efficient thriller that pares away just about every extraneous detail so that the Abbotts’ plight dominates the frame."
 
Tim Grierson, Paste Magazine 
 
"With almost no dialogue, 'A Quiet Place' relies a great deal on visual storytelling, but I'll admit that it also uses the crutches of composer Marco Beltrami's strings for jump scares a bit too much. It’s total conjecture, but one can almost sense Platinum Dunes head Michael Bay insisting on those devices, and I’d love to see a version of 'A Quiet Place' that’s even sparser in terms of on-the-nose choices like sound-scares and an overheated score."
 
Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com 
 
"At just 90 minutes, 'A Quiet Place' is brisk, but it’s also patient; this is one of those monster movies that builds tension from the absence of the monster, at least until the full-bore, unbroken set-piece of the second half, when all the stillness and pregnant pauses give way to an extended riff on the best scenes in 'Jurassic Park.' (The creatures move with the swift intelligence of Spielberg’s raptors, but can be fooled the same way the mighty T. rex can: by standing still and not making a peep.) Fittingly, for a film about the danger of sudden spikes in volume, the sound design is sophisticated. Krasinski immediately establishes Regan’s impairment by dimming the room tone to total silence during her close-ups. He also uses Marco Beltrami’s tense score very sparingly -- the better to draw us into the characters’ cone of terror, attuning us to the small noises that might give away their position and the loud, offscreen ones that announce that an unwanted visitor is afoot."
 
A.A. Dowd, The Onion AV Club
 
"For a movie with such sparse dialogue, 'A Quiet Place' often gives way to annoying bursts of shrieking strings to jolt its audience, as if they can’t be trusted to find the disquieting mood sufficiently freaky. (It’s almost like producer Michael Bay kept turning up the volume, before Krasinski could bat his hand away). Thankfully, Marco Beltrami’s score largely sticks to a low rumble that hovers on the same wavelength as the characters’ unease. While their relationships are crudely drawn, they retain  an elevated quality within the movie’s unique narrative framework. Danish cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen ('The Hunt,' 'Fences') gives the farmhouse the grimy textures and faded colors of dusty Polaroids, adding to the unnerving quality of a suffocating world. (Think 'Signs' without the annoying introspective monologues.)"
 
Eric Kohn, IndieWire 
 
"Krasinski, aided greatly by Charlotte Bruus Christensen’s textured cinematography, knows when the monsters are best kept offscreen and when to give them their close-up. And as you might expect in a movie that hinges on sound, the mix of silence with noises variously environmental, exposing, and terrifying, coupled with the occasional music-laced excitement (Marco Beltrami composed the score), is spot on."
 
Robert Abele, The Wrap 

"The most extraordinary part of 'A Quiet Place' doesn’t happen on screen, but in the theater. In an era of distracted viewing when cinemagoers often treat cineplexes as extensions of their living rooms, John Krasinski’s hushed thriller not only compels active viewing but rewards it -- or make that active listening. In the movie’s near-future (it’s some time in the early 2020s), the Earth has been invaded by an alien species that relies on sound to target its prey, which means almost anything louder than a whisper can get you killed. The movie cheats its silences sometimes: There’s a score by Marco Beltrami and a scene where Krasinski’s character and his wife, played by Emily Blunt, split a pair of earbuds and dance to Neil Young’s 'Harvest Moon,' which fades in a little too desperately. But the movie, whose script is credited to Krasinski as well as Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, is admirably determined to stick to its (silencer-equipped) guns."
 
Sam Adams, Slate.com 
 
READY PLAYER ONE - Alan Silvestri
 
"At its best, 'Ready Player One' unfolds like unstructured free time for Hollywood’s biggest kid, unleashed in a playground he helped construct, one Amblin entertainment at a time. When Wade gets to try out his trusty 'Zemeckis cube,' the music cue is straight from 'Back To The Future' -- and indeed, handing composing duties to Alan Silvestri instead of John Williams shows that Spielberg recognizes the precise pop culture era he’s largely riffing on here. He understands, too, his place in the nostalgia industrial complex; just as his Jurassic Park doubled as a metaphor for the whole movie industry, The Oasis refracts the underlying anxiety of throwback culture. Isn’t it a whole different kind of blinkered nostalgia to imagine that the youth of 2045 will still be hung up on 'Stayin’ Alive' and Atari and, well, Spielberg movies? It’s not a stretch to see the bespectacled Halliday, who Rylance invests with an affecting Wozniakian introversion, as another of the master director’s onscreen surrogates -- a gentle couch potato as obsessed with ’80s touchstones as Spielberg and his film-brat contemporaries were with their own seminal, formative big-screen experiences. As Wade and his friends dive into the digitized memories of this Willy Wonka figure, searching for clues that might lead them to the next key, 'Ready Player One' locates some poignancy in its creators’ desire to reshape the world to their exact interests and specifications."
 
A.A. Dowd, The Onion AV Club

"Spielberg instantly plugs into the sugar-rush milieu of the source material, eliding exposition, character, and setting in favor of a quick succession of 'Hey, I recognize them' cameos, as though the entire film were cast from a Funko figurine catalog. The first of Halliday’s three challenges is a zero-gravity race through a New York City landscape that keeps twisting itself, 'Inception'-like, into new configurations, with such noted city-under-siege monsters as King Kong and 'Jurassic Park''s T-Rex attacking competitors. It’s during this race that Parzival, driving Doc Brown’s time-traveling DeLorean (with composer Alan Silvestri’s winking at his own iconic 'Back to the Future' score), first notices the mysterious, cocky, and fanboy-baiting Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), who darts her 'Akira'-evoking bike effortlessly between the Batmobile, the monster truck Bigfoot, and Madball decal-covered 'Mad Max' dusters. Velocity aside, Spielberg’s series of racing sequence are as cluttered and disorienting as the Wachowskis’ 'Speed Racer' set pieces were linear and clarified, suggesting Spielberg isn’t as interested in embodying the totality of pop culture here as he is in picking apart how things managed to get so far out of control."
 
Eric Henderson, Slant Magazine 
 
UNSANE - "David Wilder Savage" (Thomas Newman)
 
"Throughout, Foy gamely inhabits all the freak-outs and breakdowns necessitated by a role like this. It’s revealed that Sawyer moved from Massachusetts to escape David, and while she must defend herself with balled fists and shrewd maneuvers, her actual damage from David’s obsession remains untreated -- giving the story an undergirding, if underexplored, melancholy. A quick intervention from her bored, well-heeled boomer mom (Amy Irving) both materializes and is pacified in such a rush that it’s obviously plot stuffing for a third-act reveal that feels as entertaining as it does rushed, plunging Unsane further into midnight-movie terrain. The story itself seems confused about how seriously to take its subject matter: There are plenty of gross-out moments and clunky lines that border on the farcical, and David Wilder Savage’s lo-fi synth score sure doesn’t clarify where the film’s heart is."
 
Steve Macfarlane, Slant Magazine 
 
"Along with a curiously uninteresting generic-electro score that sounds a little like stock music, this is the most disappointing aspect of the film. Soderbergh can deliver slick entertaining storytelling in his sleep (perhaps that’s just what he did he did with 'Side Effect,' [sic] you’d have to ask someone who’s seen it). But while it does go some way to establish a new iPhone aesthetic in which foregrounds are distended and there’s a slight fisheye distortion on some of the medium shots, otherwise the novel shooting method doesn’t ever impact on the telling of the story. Doesn’t that just make it a gimmick?"
 
Jessica Kiang, The Playlist 

"Shooting on an iPhone 7 Plus (in a non-standard 1.56 aspect ratio, to boot) under harsh lighting that flatters neither the cast nor the filmmaking capabilities of the iPhone, Soderbergh adopts the characteristic delirium of cheaptastic schlock, a film’s one-sided conversation with production values that aren’t there. But his subversion of the genre’s usual showiness and self-help themes -- the law of protagonists as acquiescent victims who only need to learn to confront their fears, self-actualize, or read 'Dianetics' for evil to vanish in a puff of smoke -- doesn’t include an exit strategy or a form of suspense. Most of the thrills here come from watching one of our canniest directors perform rattling wheelchair dollies on a waxed hospital floor while over-punctuating video-noisy close-ups and cheesy music cues."
 
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The Onion AV Club 

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 3
CHRISTINE (John Carpenter, Alan Howarth) [Vista]
DEMONS (Claudio Simonetti) [New Beverly]
DJANGO UNCHAINED [New Beverly]
LADY BIRD (Jon Brion) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE (Danny Elfman) [Nuart]
SAFE IN HELL (Leo F. Forbstein), PARTY HUSBAND (David Mendoza) [UCLA]

January 4
CARRIE (Pino Donaggio) [Vista]
42ND STREET (Harry Warren, Leo F. Forbstein), GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 (Harry Warren, Leo F. Forbstein) [UCLA]
MEAN STREETS [New Beverly]
MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO (Joe Hisaishi) [New Beverly]
PULP FICTION, THE FANATIC (John Swihart) [Cinematheque: Aero]
SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE (Daniel Pemberton) [Vista]

January 5
MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO (Joe Hisaishi) [New Beverly] 

January 6
FRANCES HA [New Beverly]
MONSTER (BT) [New Beverly]

January 7
CASINO [Cinematheque: Aero]
FRANCES HA [New Beverly]
PITCH BLACK (Graeme Revell) [Alamo Drafthouse]

January 8
IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT (Quincy Jones) [New Beverly]
SECRET CEREMONY (Richard Rodney Bennett), BOOM! (John Barry) [New Beverly]
WELCOME HOME BROTHER CHARLES (William Anderson) [Alamo Drafthouse]

January 9
ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS (Frank Skinner), ALI: FEAR EATS THE SOUL [Cinematheque: Aero]
THE BIG LEBOWSKI (Carter Burwell) [Alamo Drafthouse]
SECRET CEREMONY (Richard Rodney Bennett), BOOM! (John Barry) [New Beverly]
TAXI DRIVER (Bernard Herrmann) [Cinematheque: Aero]

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]
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]
THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
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]
LAW OF DESIRE, MATADOR (Bernardo Bonezzi) [Cinematheque: Aero]
LITTLE FUGITIVE (Eddy Manson), THE QUIET ONE (Ulysses Kay) [UCLA]
PONYO (Joe Hisaishi) [New Beverly]
TO WONG FOO, THANKS FOR EVERYTHING, JULIE NEWMAR (Rachel Portman) [Alamo Drafthouse]


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

Heard: Rashomon/Death of a Salesman (Rosenthal/North), Unrest (McCreary), Star Trek: Spectre of the Gun/The Paradise Syndrome (Fielding/Fried), The Film Music of George Dreyfus Volume 2 (Dreyfus), tick, tick...BOOM! (Larson), The People Under the Stairs (Peake), Careful, He Might Hear You (Cook), The Uncluttered Path (Beal), The Great Buck Howard (Neely), Return to Montauk (Richter), Bluebeard (Morricone), Body Double (Donaggio), Dracula/The Curse of Frankenstein (Bernard)

Read: The first chapters of The Waste Lands: The Dark Tower III, by Stephen King (it's 590 pages, so don't expect me to finish any time soon)

Seen: Hello, Dolly!; Bombshell; Spies in Disguise; Advocate; Clemency; Singin' in the Rain; The Song of Names; Aquarela; Knives Out; The Irishman; A Night at the Opera; A Night in Casablanca

Watched: Mystery Science Theater 3000 ("Killer Fish," "Ator, the Fighting Eagle"), Pursuit

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Today in Film Score History:
January 22
Al Kasha born (1937)
Alexander Courage's score to the Star Trek pilot, "The Cage," is recorded (1965)
Ben Mink born (1951)
Billy May died (2004)
Bruce Broughton records his score for the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode “The Guardians” (1981)
Christopher Palmer died (1995)
Fred Steiner records his score for The Wild Wild West episode “The Night of the Undead” (1968)
Keith Forsey born (1948)
Marc Blitzstein died (1964)
Miklos Rozsa begins recording his score for The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)
Richard Markowitz begins recording his score for The Wild Wild West pilot episode “The Night of the Inferno” (1965)
Sid Ramin born (1919)
Velton Ray Bunch born (1948)
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