The latest release from Intrada is a remastered edition of their two-disc, out-of-print MUSSOLINI: THE UNTOLD STORY, the 1985 three-part miniseries starring George C. Scott as Il Duce, co-starring David Suchet, Lee Grant, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Raul Julia, Virginia Madsen, Gabriel Byrne and Robert Downey Jr. The symphonic score was composed by seven-time Emmy winner (and two-time Oscar nominee) Laurence Rosenthal.
Quartet has just released a two-disc edition of John Addison's light-hearted orchestral score for SWASHBUCKLER, the 1976 pirate adventure starring Robert Shaw, Genevieve Bujold, James Earl Jones, Peter Boyle, Beau Bridges, and Geoffrey Holder (yes, there is a big studio film where Robert Shaw is the romantic hero and James Earl Jones is his sidekick). Quartet's release features the full original score plus extra cues on Disc One, and the original 1976 LP sequencing on Disc Two.
CDS AVAILABLE THIS WEEK
Der Bestatter - Raphael Benjamin Meyer - Alhambra
Mussolini: The Untold Story [reissue] - Laurence Rosenthal - Intrada Special Collection
One Potato, Two Potato - Gerald Fried - Caldera
Outlander: Season 5 - Bear McCreary - Sony
Swashbuckler - John Addison - Quartet
IN THEATERS TODAY
Following last week's release of Tenet in most states in the U.S., no major new releases are expected for this week.
Forces of Nature - John Powell - La-La Land
Munster, Go Home! - Jack Marshall - La-La Land
The Quinn Martin Collection Vol. 3: The Streets of San Francisco/A Man Called Sloane - Patrick Williams - La-La Land
Enola Holmes - Daniel Pemberton - Milan (import)
Hackers - Simon Boswell, songs - Varese Sarabande
Open 24 Hours - Holly Amber Church - Notefornote
Scream Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street - Alexander Taylor - Notefornote
Fatima - Paolo Buonvino - Decca (import)
Requiem - Dominick Scherrer, Natasha Khan - Svart
Whitman - Bernard Herrmann - Naxos
The Final Countdown [reissue] - John Scott - JOS
Super Godzilla [video game score] - Akira Ifukube - Cinema-Kan (import)
THIS WEEK IN FILM MUSIC HISTORY
September 11 - Herbert Stothart born (1885)
September 11 - Arvo Part born (1935)
September 11 - Leo Kottke born (1945)
September 11 - Hugo Friedhofer begins recording his score to Between Heaven and Hell (1956)
September 11 - Stu Philips begins recording his replacement score to The Appointment (1969)
September 11 - Gerald Fried and Quincy Jones win the Emmy for Part 1 of Roots; Leonard Rosenman and Alan & Marilyn Bergman win for Sybil (1977)
September 11 - Fred Steiner records his only Star Trek: The Next Generation episode score, for “Code of Honor” (1987)
September 11 - Laurence Rosenthal wins his fifth Emmy, for the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles episode “Vienna, 1908;” Lennie Niehaus wins for the cable movie Lush Life; John Debney wins for his SeaQuest DSV main title theme (1994)
September 11 - Bruce Broughton wins his ninth Emmy, for Warm Springs (2005); Michael Giacchino wins for the Lost pilot score; Danny Elfman wins for Desperate Housewives’s main title theme (2005)
September 11 - Antoine Duhamel died (2014)
September 12 - David Raksin begins recording his score for Laura (1944)
September 12 - Christopher Dedrick born (1947)
September 12 - Hans Zimmer born (1957)
September 12 - Bernard Herrmann records his score for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode “Terror at Northfield” (1963)
September 12 - Lalo Schifrin begins recording his score to Bullitt (1968)
September 12 - Nathan Larson born (1970)
September 12 - Jerry Goldsmith wins his fourth Emmy, for part 2 of Masada; Bruce Broughton wins his first Emmy, for “The Satyr” episode of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1981)
September 12 - Franz Grothe died (1982)
September 12 - Patrick Williams wins his second Emmy, for the TV movie The Princess and the Cabbie; David Rose wins for the Little House on the Prairie episode score “He Was Only Twelve – Part 2” (1981)
September 12 - Recording sessions begin for Pino Donaggio's Body Double score (1984)
September 12 - William Alwyn died (1985)
September 12 - Jay Chattaway records his score for the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Darmok” (1991)
September 12 - Bruce Broughton wins his eighth Emmy, for Eloise at Christmastime; Velton Ray Bunch wins for the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Similitude;” Randy Newman wins for Monk’s second season main title theme (2004)
September 12 - John Willliams wins the Main Title Theme Emmy for Great Performances; Howard Goodall wins for the cable movie Into the Storm; Joseph LoDuca wins for the Legend of the Seeker episode “The Prophecy” (2009)
September 12 - Rachel Portman wins her first Emmy, for Bessie; Jeff Beal wins for House of Cards, “Chapter 32;” Dustin O’Halloran wins for Transparent’s main title theme (2015)
September 13 - Leith Stevens born (1909)
September 13 - Maurice Jarre born (1924)
September 13 - Gene Page born (1939)
September 13 - Harvey R. Cohen born (1951)
September 13 - Don Was was born (1952)
September 13 - David Mansfield born (1956)
September 13 - Franz Waxman begins recording his score to Beloved Infidel (1959)
September 13 - Bernard Herrmann records his score for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode "A Home Away from Home" (1963)
September 13 - Evan Evans born (1975)
September 13 - James Guymon born (1977)
September 13 - Billy Goldenberg wins his fourth Emmy, for Rage of Angels; Bruce Broughton wins his second Emmy, for the Dallas episode “The Ewing Blues” (1983)
September 13 - Dennis McCarthy records his score for the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy” (1999)
September 13 - Bruce Broughton wins his seventh Emmy, for Eloise at the Plaza; Sean Callery wins for the 24 episode “10:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.”; Jeff Beal wins his first Emmy, for Monk’s main title theme (2003)
September 13 - Jeff Beal wins his third Emmy, for part 1 of The Company; Jim Dooley wins for the Pushing Daisies episode “Pigeon;” Russ Landau wins for Pirate Master’s main title theme (2008)
September 14 - Franz Waxman begins recording his score to Cimarron (1960)
September 14 - John Williams records his score for the Lost in Space episode "Island in the Sky" (1965)
September 14 - Sol Kaplan's score to the Star Trek episode "The Enemy Within" is recorded (1966)
September 14 - Gerald Fried records his score for the Mission: Impossible episode “Odds on Evil” (1966)
September 14 - Recording sessions begin for Danny Elfman’s score for Scrooged (1988)
September 14 - Alan Silvestri begins recording his score for Back to the Future Part II (1989)
September 14 - Laurence Rosenthal wins his seventh Emmy, for The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles episode “Travels with Father;” John Debney and Louis Febre win for the pilot episode to The Cape; Mark Isham wins for his main title theme to EZ Streets (1997)
September 14 - George Fenton wins his first Emmy, for the Blue Planet episode “Seas of Life: Ocean World;” Adrian Johnston wins for Shackleton Part II; Thomas Newman wins for the Six Feet Under main title theme (2002)
September 15 - Gail Kubik born (1914)
September 15 - Shinichiro Ikebe born (1943)
September 15 - Recording sessions begin for Bronsislau Kaper's score for The Naked Spur (1952)
September 15 - Leigh Harline begins recording his score for Visit to a Small Planet (1959)
September 15 - Oliver Wallace died (1963)
September 15 - Sol Kaplan begins recording his score for The Spy Who Came in from The Cold (1965)
September 15 - Don Ellis begins recording his score for The Deadly Tower (1975)
September 15 - Jerry Fielding begins recording his score for The Black Bird (1975)
September 15 - Bruce Montgomery died (1978)
September 15 - Leonard Rosenman begins recording his score for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
September 15 - Ron Jones records his score for the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Evolution" (1989)
September 15 - Don Davis wins his first Emmy, for the Beauty and the Beast episode score “A Time to Kill; James Di Pasquale wins for the TV movie The Shell Seekers (1990)
September 15 - Aldemaro Romero died (2007)
September 15 - Javier Navarrete wins the Emmy for Hemingway & Gellhorn; John Lunn wins for episode 6 of Downton Abbey; Paul Englishby wins for Page Eight’s main title theme (2012)
September 15 - Bear McCreary wins his first Emmy, for Da Vinci’s Demons’ main title theme; John Lunn wins for episode 3.6 of Downton Abbey; Mychael Danna wins for the World Without End episode “Medieval Life and Death” (2013)
September 16 - J. Peter Robinson born (1945)
September 16 - Alfred Newman begins recording his score to The Best of Everything (1959)
September 16 - Lyn Murray records his score for the Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode “Triumph” (1964)
September 16 - Robert Drasnin records his score for the Mission: Impossible episode “My Friend, My Enemy” (1970)
September 16 - John Barry begins recording his score for The Day of the Locust (1974)
September 16 - Bruce Broughton wins his third and fourth Emmys, for The First Olympics: Athens 1896 and for the Dallas episode score “The Letter” (1984)
September 16 - Dennis McCarthy records his score for the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “The Circle” (1993)
September 16 - Jay Chattaway records his score for the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Storm Front, Part 1” (2004)
September 17 - Franz Grothe born (1908)
September 17 - Recording sessions begin for Leigh Harline’s score for The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker (1958)
September 17 - Elmer Bernstein begins recording his score for Guns of the Magnificent Seven (1968)
September 17 - Lalo Schifrin records his score for the Mission: Impossible episode “The Contender” (1968)
September 17 - Billy Goldenberg wins the Emmy for his King score; Jimmie Haskell wins for See How She Runs (1978)
September 17 - John Barry begins recording his score for The Black Hole (1979)
September 17 - Stephen Barton born (1982)
September 17 - Basil Poledouris wins his only Emmy, for Lonesome Dove Part 4: The Return; Joel Rosenbaum wins his second Emmy, for the Falcon Crest episode score “Dust to Dust”; Lee Holdridge wins his second Emmy, for Beauty and the Beast’s original song “The First Time I Loved Forever” (1989)
September 17 - James Horner begins recording his score for Extreme Close-Up (1990)
September 17 - Georges Delerue begins recording his score for American Friends (1990)
September 17 - Jay Chattaway records his score for the Enterprise episode “Carbon Creek” (2002)
September 17 - Joel Hirschhorn died (2005)
DID THEY MENTION THE MUSIC?
BIRDS OF PREY (AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN) - Daniel Pemberton
"The film’s various elements work in wonderful concert to keep the momentum brisk but still grounded in a stylized version of human empathy, from Jay Cassidy and Evan Schiff’s whiz-bang editing to Daniel Pemberton’s consciously grandiose score. The cast makes each moment count: Robbie once again gives Harley a bravura physicality, this time aided by the outrageous costumes by Erin Benach ('A Star Is Born,' 'The Neon Demon'), and she pinballs delightfully between the character’s extremes of boop-oop-a-doop sex kitten and experienced clinical psychiatrist."
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap
BLUMHOUSE’S FANTASY ISLAND - Bear McCreary
"It takes the characters nearly an hour to understand the idea that they’re getting to experience their fantasies. Maybe that’s because, instead of paying $50,000 for the privilege the way they did on TV, they are all winners of a contest whose details are never divulged. Given that change, few will be surprised to learn that they’ve been assembled for the amusement (or revenge) of someone else, although the movie doesn’t explain why that person is allowed to violate the first rule of Fantasy Island. No matter. Wadlow has designed the experience like a ride, whisking audiences along quickly enough that they’re not meant to dwell on plot holes. Granted, it’s hard to predict where the plot is headed when the core premises are constantly in flux and one’s ears are ringing with Bear McCreary’s overemphatic score, although by the end, as certain characters are brought back to life and others are turned into 'black-eyed zombies,' audiences will most likely be wishing they’d bought a ticket to another movie."
Peter Debruge, Variety
THE BURNT ORANGE HERESY - Craig Armstrong
"Underneath the ensemble of performances, Craig Armstong’s intriguing score drives the power of these questions wonderfully, but the movie suffers in the last act, Berenice a victim of sudden mischaracterization. However, the first two acts hold so strongly, you might forget how it ended the next day. Or, perhaps, her shift is to the film’s credit. As the oft-quotable Debney says, 'I’ve learned one thing in my long stay on this darkling plain, most people are not what you expect.'"
Luke Hicks, The Playlist
"Relocating Willeford’s novel from Miami to Italy, the script by Scott B. Smith ('A Simple Plan') blends simplified art theory with more general quippery, giving Bang and Debicki a surfeit of flirtatious banter to volley early on, before the tone takes a darker, nastier turn. Halfway through, however, the air goes out of the shaggy-dog plotting: a climactic pileup of unfortunate events is both rushed and unsurprising, leaving the actors with little room to dart and play. Capotondi’s direction, so ahead of his wild, joyriding narrative in 'The Double Hour,' feels a tad televisual here: Save for the chilly, brittle mood set by Craig Armstrong’s piano-based score, the filmmaking feels subservient to the script’s shifting demands."
Guy Lodge, Variety
"Finally, Capotondi also seems a little too enamored of an alleged art-historical metaphor for sin, which feels more like it’s been layered on top of the narrative than properly tied into it. Thankfully, his actors and the superb production values, including Craig Armstrong’s shimmering, piano-driven score, still make this an attractive overall package."
Boyd van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter
EMMA. - Isobel Waller-Bridge, David Schweitzer
"With Alexandra Byrne’s intricate, season-sensitive costumes adding their own liveliness to the visual splendor, and a music score deftly combining traditional folk, classical snippets, and original character motifs from Isobel Waller-Bridge (yes, Phoebe’s sister) and David Schweitzer, the technical achievements on display are as considerable as de Wilde’s smart handling of such popular and well-traveled material. Mr. Woodhouse’s daughter may be a case study in the perils of playing God with others’ hearts, but 'Emma.' is proof that bringing a timeless book and fresh talent together is still a worthy kind of artistic matchmaking."
Robert Abele, The Wrap
"Where this adaptation falls down is both in the pacing and structure – it feels more like a long series of sketches rather than tight narrative -- while Isobel Waller-Bridge’s jaunty score tiptoes towards grating during a few of the weightier, emotional bits. As with most Austen adaptations -- from the faithful ‘Emma’ with Gwyneth Paltrow to the looser, ‘Clueless’ with Alicia Silverstone -- the best part is the witty jousting of Austen’s text and a story that explores the learning curve between arrogant youthfulness and adulthood. Did we really need another adaptation? Probably not. But if this energetic, fitfully funny version introduces the story to a new generation, heck, bring on a new ‘Sense and Sensibility’ too."
Anna Smith, Time Out London
"David Schweitzer and Isobel Waller-Bridge’s minuet-like score might have felt oppressive had de Wilde not baked the music into each scene, so that every strut, smile, and touch is folded into a greater dance (rigid compositions help make de Wilde’s frames seem like stages). Class has seldom been so palpably choreographed, to the point where the film’s one pivotal dance sequence almost seems redundant. Even the ringlets in Emma’s hair appear to have their own blocking, as they bounce and sway in sync with the woman who wears them."
David Ehrlich, IndieWire
"Shot as though each frame were a frothy realist painting, scored as though it were a Chaplin-esque silent film and pulled together by a cast of comedically impeccable performances, Autumn de Wilde’s feature-length debut, 'Emma.,' is made up almost entirely of such moments. A collective gasp as the romantic hero is introduced with notable, erm, frankness early on; an almighty awww at a carefully framed look of pathetic longing midway through; a full-throated roar as a burn lands with such scathing cruelty as the film nears its end, passersby will be forgiven for assuming you’re watching Jeff Ross’s latest roast. Add to all of that every hoot-inducing thing Bill Nighy and Miranda Hart do whenever they’re on screen, and truly, from start to finish, what you’ve got is a filmgoer’s dream.If you’ve seen even one of Emma.’s funny, punchy trailers, you’ve likely already guessed at what experiencing all 124 minutes of the actual movie will prove -- that de Wilde’s success in cultivating such a strong audience response is absolutely the product of a whole. De Wilde may be the ringmaster -- and Austen’s original, the inimitable narrative foundation -- but every detail of her film, from the grand setting of Emma’s greatest humiliation to the romance-propelling inclusion of a tiny baby fart, demonstrates an extremity of comedic thoughtfulness from everyone across the board. Charles Blauvelt’s crisp tableaux and Isobel Waller-Bridge’s punchline-filled score (both noted above) are both obvious examples of this, but so too is the texture-rich, period-accurate costume and production design, both of which straddle the line between sumptuous (Emma’s Cher-esque goldenrod overcoat; the topaz cross necklace that echoes a piece Jane Austen herself wore; all those glorious uneaten cakes) and hilarious (the hooded red cloaks on Mrs. Goddard’s boarding school ducklings; that goose). See also: Editing that both follows and foils audience expectations (the smash cuts between various characters’ Cheshire grins as a certain sketched likeness is being presented early in the film is a masterwork of still-life-as-comedy), and a screenplay that is both sharp and economical, retaining many of the novel’s most iconic lines while also trusting in the tension-building power of silence. (Austen superfans will be relieved to know that Knightley’s admission that 'If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more,' delivered with palpably pained ardor by Flynn, is among the lines saved.)"
Alexis Gunderson, Paste Magazine
"Like the novel, de Wilde’s film is nothing less than the education of Miss Emma Woodhouse, whose rebukes are carried out with the formality of an execution. Even the alleged happy ending can’t disguise the limited choices of the heroine and the women of her time. Taylor-Joy is not out to make us like Emma, but to understand her -- a far more challenging proposition. With the help of cinematographer Christopher Blauvelt, composers Isobel Waller-Bridge and David Schweitzer, and Alexandra Byrne’s spectacular costumes, the film captures the whirl of a predatory society that can no longer hide behind surface prettiness. That sounds a lot like right now."
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
"For all her background in photography and music videos, first-time feature director de Wilde rarely goes overboard with ornamentation or style, nor does she dirty up the surroundings in the manner of Joe Wright’s 'Pride and Prejudice,' which sought to remind us that Austen’s elegant country lords and ladies were all likely stepping over piles of manure and dodging flocks of farm animals as they took a turn around the grounds. Here, the drawing rooms and gardens are all dollhouse-tidy, though never unduly grand, and the occasional nods toward Wes Anderson-style preciousness in the design -- the decorous title cards marking the change of seasons, the red-shawled boarding school girls traipsing through town like ducklings in single-file -- are rarely overdone. (If only one could say the same for the score by Isobel Waller-Bridge and David Schweitzer, which keeps asserting itself like an overeager puppy, as though nervous about being missed amid all of the Mozart sonatas and 18th-century hymns on the soundtrack.)"
Andrew Barker, Variety
THE INVISIBLE MAN - Benjamin Wallfisch
"It wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest that part of what [Kitty] Green prioritized with her masterpiece ['The Assistant'] is also what lends 'The Invisible Man' (and eventually, its visible woman robbed out of options) its cumulative strength -- an unforgiving emphasis on the loneliness emotional violence births in the mistreated. There is a constant in all the sharply edited, terrifying set pieces lensed by Stefan Duscio with elegant, clever camera moves in bedrooms, attics, restaurants and secluded mansions: a vigilant focus on Cecilia’s isolation. That isolation, intensified by Benjamin Wallfisch’s fiendish score, happens to be her concealed assailant’s sharpest knife. A deadly weapon others refuse to see and acknowledge."
Tomris Laffly, RogerEbert.com
"The film has some clever things to say about the psychological aftermath of domestic abuse, and deftly carries these messages through the second act. When she recounts her abuse to her sister (Harriet Dyer) and James, Cecilia mentions that Adrian would control what she wore and what she ate. The invisible antagonist’s first acts, then, are to mess about in her wardrobe and burn her breakfast. The film’s greatest strengths emerge in its many dialogue-less sequences, as Elisabeth Moss is left to communicate abject terror, confusion, and apprehension with just her face. It is a stunning horror performance, solidifying Moss as one of the most expressive actors in the industry. She works perfectly with the camera, helmed by cinematographer Stefan Duscio ('Sweetheart,' 'Judy & Punch'), to convey tension. What is she looking at? What might jump out from the corner of the room? Can she really believe her eyes? The score, a screeching sort of Reznor/Ross-meets-'Annihilation' joint by Benjamin Wallfisch ('A Cure for Wellness,' 'It'), is expertly traded for silence. In fact, sound is manipulated so well here that you can’t tell when many of the jump scares -- a typically artless horror device -- are coming."
Lena Wilson, The Playlist
"Whannell’s 'Invisible Man' is a sleek upgrade of his past horror work -- and, for that matter, of 'Upgrade,' the fun genre exercise he concocted a couple of years ago. As bloodier mayhem ramps up, the scares feel less jumpy and cheap than in an Insidious sequel; the cinematography by Stefan Duscio and musical score by Benjamin Wallfisch are polished to a particularly unnerving gleam to match Adrian’s glassy, shadowy compound. That said, the smooth surfaces don’t quite reach the edges of the film, where some of the supporting characters have a B-movie roughness in both their writing and performance. 'The Invisible Man' is striking and tense, but not exactly rich; even some of the warmer characters like James and Sydney are mostly just peril fodder."
Jesse Hassenger, The Onion AV Club
'Working from his own tight script, Whannell demonstrates an admirable ability to place the wet-yourself shocks where you least expect them. Benjamin Wallfisch’s insidious score complements later action, but the director is prepared to play out the opening conflicts with no music whatsoever. Great thought has gone into the architecture of this ingenious structure.'
Donald Clarke, The Irish Times
"Production designer Alex Holmes and costume designer Emily Seresin are expressively attentive to the socio-economic status of their assorted characters, while Benjamin Wallfisch makes a strong contribution with his muscular score."
Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
THE LAST THING HE WANTED - Tamar-Kali
"And thus our heroine finds herself in the very region she’s trying to report on, bluffing her way out of a series of increasingly dicey situations. There are coups and spooks and all sorts of trouble, and I don’t know what to tell you except that it’s entertaining. Reese [sic] is clearly having a good time playing in this sandbox, reveling in the period costumes and cloak-and-dagger staging and tense score; while certainly faithful to the source material, she’s also calling back to the many political/investigative thrillers of that era, pictures like 'Under Fire' and 'Salvador,' even down to replicating their gratuitous romantic subplots."
Jason Bailey, The Playlist
"In the context of suspense, however, Rees’ indifference to consistencies of perspective and matters of visual pacing is more or less disastrous, especially considering that 'The Last Thing He Wanted' features multiple changes in location and a lot of intercutting, frequently leaving Elena’s point-of-view to follow her colleague Alma (Rosie Perez) and a U.S. official named Treat Morrison (a charmless Ben Affleck). Mostly, the film just relies on hack moves: echo-y aural flashbacks; piano-arpeggio montages of pieces falling into place that are puzzling because the pieces haven’t been previously introduced."
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The Onion AV Club
ORDINARY LOVE - David Holmes, Brian Irvine
"David Holmes and Brian Irvine’s score is melodic and insistent, and it knows when to fall away into silence to let the audience appreciate Neeson and Manville’s superb chemistry. He’s so large beside her, he could put her in his pocket, as Katharine Hepburn swooned to Jimmy Stewart in 'The Philadelphia Story.' And when Manville quietly looks at him -- whether in anger or affection -- it’s beautiful. Seeing two characters who deeply love each other makes it more heartbreaking to hear Joan sigh, 'We’re all just, really, just on our own.' Their romance is meant to motor our own hearts to be more resilient, but really, if this near-perfect couple can’t talk through their problems, who can?"
Amy Nicholson, Variety
THE PHOTOGRAPH - Robert Glasper
"It’s a nice departure in between time periods, as the music shifts from classic Anita Baker to more contemporary artists like J. Cole (shout out to Robert Glasper’s fabulous score), as we experience the awkward and hilarious beginnings of a relationship between a cautious lover and a free spirit. Meghie impressively explores the intricacies of old-school and modern romance in a love story that also highlights the binding ties between a distant mother and her daughter."
Candice Frederick, The Wrap
"Through cinematographer Mark Schwartzbard’s lens, 'The Photograph' feels like a gentle throwback to romantic movies that left their audiences in good spirits as they filed out of the theater. Robert Glasper’s jazzy score adds a sultry finish to both love stories, tying together the past and the present. There are some rough notes in the film, but barring those, 'The Photograph' is an enjoyable enough love story, and sweet enough to indulge in during a holiday dedicated to candy hearts."
Monica Castillo, RogerEbert.com
"'The Photograph' treats all its characters with some decency and understanding, in a genre where straw villains and cardboard adversaries typically run rampant. The plaintive, jazz-inflected musical score by Robert Glasper establishes the right vibe and level of drama, which is to say: more like life and less like the movies."
Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
"Meghie flashes back and forth between the younger versions of Christina and Isaac, circa 1984, and the present and pleasantly uncertain connection growing between Mae and Michael. Both have their fair share of emotion baggage they’ve been lugging around. He’s been a player with commitment issues and she’s worried that her driven, unsentimental mother’s influence -- or the lack thereof, since Christina rarely had time for actuating a real mother/daughter relationship of any great merit. Luckily, since both are upwardly mobile New Yorkers, there’s Champagne on ice and Hurricane Irene pounding the city, so, you know, lust or something like it is very much in the air. It’s not for nothing that Meghie’s script is bookended by apocalyptically uncertain weather patterns. The CNN feed glimpsed in the background could not have been more spot-on if it was broadcasting Billie Holiday’s 'Stormy Weather.' No worries: Marvin Gaye and a jazzy yet unobtrusive score by composer Robert Glasper weave their own kind of spell over this potentially -- no spoilers here -- doomed romance. Besides, Rae and Stanfield have an undeniable chemistry onscreen that renders their characters’ warily circling pas de deux bracingly real."
Marc Savlov, The Austin Chronicle
"The friction between Christina and her mom is conveyed solely via clunky exposition, while Mae and Michael’s romantic bond escalates so quickly it feels like the film accidentally skipped a few scenes. 'The Photograph' is content to chug along a preordained rom-dram track, where even the one big surprise is heavily telegraphed from the beginning. It wouldn’t be incorrect to describe it as 'comfort food,' although that makes it sound a little cheesier than it is. There’s an appreciable poise to 'The Photograph,' which is reflected in the gorgeous lighting by cinematographer Mark Schwartzbard and a moody jazz score from pianist Robert Glasper. (Al Green and Luther Vandross also feature prominently on the soundtrack.) Even when it stumbles, 'The Photograph' remains consistently pleasant to watch, particularly when Meghie moves away from dramatic plotting and just lets Rae, Stanfield, Howery, and Parris riff on a wedding sartorial choice gone wrong. There’s something to be said for the simple joys of watching beautiful, wealthy, endearingly awkward people fall in love against backdrops that include a tucked away bar in New Orleans and a dramatic hurricane in New York City."
Caroline Siede, The Onion AV Club
"The sensual jazz score hits that midpoint between Coltrane and The Roots, essentially the characteristic sound of Grammy-winning composer Robert Glasper ('Miles Ahead'). Meghie clearly flew through her music budget with nostalgic glee: artists featured include Al Green, Chaka Khan ('Ain’t Nobody'), Whitney Houston ('You Give Good Love'), Anita Baker ('Caught Up in the Rapture') and Luther Vandross (his intoxicating cover of Marvin Gaye’s 'If You Were Mine'). Both Glasper’s score and this mega-playlist of R&B slow jams give the film an emotional sparkle. But it’s so music-heavy that the pic sometimes feels like a spoken-word open mic."
Beandrea July, The Hollywood Reporter
WENDY - Dan Romer, Benh Zeitlin
"Zeitlin’s work is assisted by a glorious score from his 'Beast' composer Dan Romer and a production team that found absolutely stunning, untouched locations such as the Caribbean island of Montserrat."
Gregory Ellwood, The Playlist
"Across this tale of a child lurching toward adulthood, there’s a sense of wonder and awe to the sea creature’s brief appearances, and to Wendy’s initial encounters with the free-spirited Peter, who playfully eggs her on from atop the train that regularly roars across the barren, rural locale that houses her family’s rundown diner. But 'Wendy''s whimsical flourishes, from Dan Romer’s incessantly rousing score to Wendy’s breathy and all-too-mannered voiceover, brush awkwardly against the film’s dour conception of a Neverland drained of all its magic and grandeur. Despite this, Zeitlin strives to capture an unbridled sense of childlike exuberance as kids cavort around the rugged cliffside vistas of the remote volcanic island that Peter calls home. But lacking any of the mystical features typically associated with them, Peter and his cohorts’ behaviors appear overly precocious to the point of ludicrousness; it’s almost as if they’re performing a twee, optimistic rendition of 'Lord of the Flies.'"
Derek Smith, Slant Magazine
"'Wendy,' a passion project for Benh Zeitlin, the director who shook Sundance and then the rest of the world with 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' almost a decade ago, plays out like listening to someone else tell you about their dream. It clearly means something to its creator, but Zeitlin and his collaborators never quite figured out how to make their vision connect with viewers. What they’ve lived with so long likely has magic in every frame for them, but there’s a reason that films that take this many years to get to screens often come up short -- their creators devote so much energy and passion that they get lost in them, unable to step outside and see what’s working and what’s not for people without the same commitment. Other than a few moments of visual beauty and a lovely score, 'Wendy' is a repetitive, shallow film, a children’s fable that means way more to the child who dreamed it up than it will to you. People who take to 'Wendy' will be drawn in by a filmmaking energy that tries to match its youthful cast. As the kids scream and jump and run, the camera swoops and flies with them, accompanied by a majestic score by Dan Romer. There are echoes of Terrence Malick in 'Wendy' too, but it’s hard to shake that the film feels most of all like a riff on Zeitlin’s breakthrough. Again, we have people on the edge of society, unknown child actors, magical realism -- it seems hard to imagine anyone who didn’t respond to 'Beasts' somehow thinking this one works, and even fans of that film may be startled at the repetition."
Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com
"Zeitlin has clearly taken a lot of care with 'Wendy,' working with his child actors (mostly non-professionals) in a seemingly improvisational manner and building their world through expressionistic means. You feel their wonder at their new home, which is both wild and comforting, thanks to whirling sunlit sequences and a lush, exciting score (composed by Zeitlin and Dan Romer). At best, it feels like the filmmaking choices are strokes of paint building a swirling story."
Alissa Wilkinson, Vox
"I almost hesitate to bring up the 'Peter Pan' connection, though it’s been made clear in the film’s advance materials and its trailer. When I saw it, I had somehow forgotten that the film was based on J.M. Barrie’s story -- and the moment when I realized that the group of lost boys (and girls) I was seeing were the actual Lost Boys came as a delightful jolt. But it’s useless to write around that connection, because if 'Wendy' gets any attention, the links to 'Peter Pan' will be front and center. And make no mistake, 'Wendy' deserves to get attention. Zeitlin has come up with a second film that goes down many of the same paths as his debut, another film filled with kids rampaging as the music swells -- but he puts it on a mythic stage and creates a film that is magical and messy, unruly and otherworldly."
Steve Pond, The Wrap
"As usual, mileage will vary when it comes to Zeitlin’s 'Terrence Malick for kids' aesthetic, which turns on awe-inspiring cues at every turn, and sometimes threatens to turn into a parody of that very thing. But there’s an undeniable skill to enacting such a distinct symphony of ethereal rhythms, and 'Peter Pan' provides a natural template. Even viewers put off by Zeitlin’s precise approach will marvel at its craftsmanship. Cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grøvlen (who also shot the astonishing one-take heist thriller 'Victoria') wanders the raggedy environment with an acrobatic camera, while editors Affonso Gonçalves and Scott Cummings assemble Zeitlin’s Malickian flow of images with a relentless ability to keep the sense of intrigue in play; the euphoric score, co-written by Zeitlin and his 'Beasts' collaborator Dan Romer, chases the young adventurers at every turn."
Eric Kohn, IndieWire
"It’s hard to think of a more obvious marriage of artist and material than 'Wendy,' Benh Zeitlin’s dull and weirdly dour new take on 'Peter Pan.' There was a strong whiff of J.M. Barrie and his vision of unchained childhood in Zeitlin’s celebrated debut, that Oscar-nominated, Sundance-winning parade of magical realism, 'Beasts Of The Southern Wild.' So it makes almost too much sense that the writer-director has followed his big breakthrough with an explicit 'reimagining' of the story, this one told from the perspective of a brave, impulsive young girl. Yet it’s more than just an apparent love for the text that pegs Zeitlin as a natural fit for it. Though arriving eight years after his celebrated breakthrough, the long-gestating 'Wendy' shows almost no signs of creative maturation. From its swelling score to its cast of nonprofessional actors to the child’s-eye vantage of its story and camerawork, the film is basically 'Beasts Redux,' just vaguely molded into the shape of Barrie’s classic. It suggests that Zeitlin, throwing more handfuls of fairy dust over an impoverished American South, is something of a lost boy himself. Like Pan and his posse, he stubbornly refuses to grow."
A.A. Dowd, The Onion AV Club
"It’s been eight whole years since Benh Zeitlin’s debut -- the whimsical, lyrical children’s adventure 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' -- became one of 2012’s surprise breakouts and turned co-composer Dan Romer into a household name.* In the intervening time, Zeitlin was hard at work creating his followup, a ruggedly fantastical reimagining of J.M. Barrie’s 'Peter Pan' mythos into the 'Beasts' aesthetic. Whether you like 'Wendy' will depend almost entirely on your continued tolerance for the baby-Malick stirrings of Zeitlin’s style: roving, evocative camerawork; the unpolished roughness of unknown child performers; treacly sentiment pouring from each horn blast of Romer’s score; or France’s storybook narration. At nearly two hours, that’s a lot of syrup to pour down your throat, and the unapologetic mawkishness of it all can rankle after a while, even if you’re attuned to the film’s wavelength."
Clint Worthington, Consequence of Sound
*I’m intrigued by this world the reviewer lives in where Dan Romer is a household name. I suspect even most film music fans hadn’t heard of him until he was announced to score No Time to Die. John Williams is still probably the only living film composer who is truly a household name; I doubt the majority of people even know who Danny Elfman or Hans Zimmer are.
"Zeitlin wasn’t as lucky when it came to casting Peter (Yashua Mack), choosing a young black actor with an expressive face (cherubic at times, and downright devilish at others) but a nearly unintelligible voice. When Peter speaks, it’s hard to make out what he’s saying -- and that’s despite the fact the exuberantly folksy score (which Zeitlin co-wrote with 'Beasts' collaborator Dan Romer) isn’t mixed quite so loudly this time around."
Peter Debruge, Variety
"Distinctly un-Disneyish is the exceptional score by Dan Romer and Zeitlin, which imparts enormous local flavor and, upon a first listen, would seem to deserve special attention on its own. Eliza Zeitlin’s production design and Stacy Jansen’s costumes are highly original and expressive of the largely untamed characters who wear them."
Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
ZOMBI CHILD - Bertrand Bonello
"Even when the picture eludes your narrative grasp, its estimable craft -- evident in the shadows of Yves Cape’s photography and the moody ambience of the score, which Bonello composed himself -- exerts its own hypnotic pull. The director’s talent, as ever, is predicated on an avoidance of the obvious. The cautionary implications of the story are plain to see (don’t mess with what you don’t understand), but not least among this most peculiar zombie movie’s surprises is the optimistic, even romantic grace note on which it ends. History goes on, and so does life -- though as Clairvius Narcisse came to know as well as anyone, not always as you’d expect."
Justin Chang, The Los Angeles Times
"'Zombi Child' isn’t a horror movie. It does, however, take notes from horror grammar, notably in the synth-heavy score (composed by Bonello), and its finale, which whether by design or not recalls the chaotic rhythm of the exorcism sequence in Na Hong-jin’s 'The Wailing,' a crosscut of overlapping rituals each linking France and Haiti in the present with Haiti in 1962. The audacity of Bonello’s filmmaking is enough to inspire madness, but the heart that drives 'Zombi Child' forward beats in the pursuit of cultural justice. The film wrestles with identity, and with whiteness especially, and with France’s reputation as an icon of revolution alongside its unflattering reputation as a colonial power guilty of inhuman atrocities. The conclusions Bonello draws are inevitably vague, but the most important message is obvious: That’s cultural appropriation."
Andy Crump, Paste Magazine
"The giallo touches (a harmonium score, supernatural forces, guttural noises coming from the bathroom in the girls’ dormitory) are on a low boil from the moment Bonello steps into this part of his story, but they go into overdrive when Fanny -- a self-involved brat who’s heartbroken after being dumped by her perpetually shirtless boyfriend -- learns of Mélissa’s bloodline. Not only does Fanny tune out her loquacious professor, but she’s so wrapped up in her own drama that she doesn’t even listen to herself speak."
David Ehrlich, IndieWire
"As usual with Bonello, the surface elements are transfixing and cool, including an electronic score that sounds like art-damaged John Carpenter and a soundtrack speckled with French rap songs. 'Zombi Child' feels like a pre-fab cult movie, or at least Bonello’s attempt at an eccentric genre twist like Claire Denis’ 'Trouble Every Day.' But his previous films are not so predigested in their conclusions, much less in how they arrive at them. He’s usually the wildest card in the deck."
Scott Tobias, Variety
"Given the promise of the pitch, it’s too bad 'Zombi Child' never provides the genuine scares of a genre movie nor fully explores the Haitian mythology at its core, floating somewhere between the two -- the same way that Clairvisius floats between the living and the dead. On the other hand, Bonello’s exquisite use of craft, including poetic day-for-night photography by Yves Cape ('Holy Motors') and a strong electro-rock score, is definitely a plus, creating an ambiance that bewitchingly accompanies the action. But it’s not quite enough to compensate for a story (or stories) that may have some viewers zombying out before the film is over."
Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter
THINGS I'VE HEARD, READ, SEEN OR WATCHED LATELY
Heard: Logan's Run [TV] (various), The Bride Wore Black (Herrmann), Sunday in the Park with George [2006 cast] (Sondheim), The Big Country (Moross), The Don Is Dead (Goldsmith), Carnival of the Animals (Saint-Saens), 8 1/2 (Rota), Jazz Beginnings (Williams), WarGames (Rubinstein), The Accordionist's Son (Velazquez), Boy Erased (Bensi/Jurriaans), L'agnese va a morire (Morricone), Green Book (Bowers), Planet of the Apes (Goldsmith), The Little Mermaid (Menken), Beneath the Planet of the Apes (Rosenman), Hostiles (Richter), Escape from the Planet of the Apes (Goldsmith), Knives Out (Johnson), Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (Scott), The Last Few Beautiful Days (The Motels), Battle for the Planet of the Apes (Rosenman), Pacific Rim: Uprising (Balfe), A Fantastic Woman (Herbert), Star Trek Beyond (Giacchino), Yellowstone (Tyler), The Salamander (Goldsmith), Fortitude (Frost), Into the Woods [2002 cast] (Sondheim), Mary Magdalene (Guonadottir/Johannsson)
Read: Cathedral, by Nelson DeMille
Seen: Since I live in Los Angeles, I did not see Tenet. Or anything, actually.
Watched: Paris, Texas; The New Adventures of Old Christine ("The Other F Word"); Strange Confession; The Terror ("We Are Gone"); The Paleface ; Battlestar: Galactica ("Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part 2"); Z.P.G.; New Girl ("Parents")