The latest CD from Intrada presents the first-ever commercial release of Jerry Goldsmith's score for the modern-day gangster thriler THE DON IS DEAD. The film, released by Universal in 1973 between the two Godfather films, tells the complicated story of a mob war and stars Anthony Quinn, Frederic Forrest and the late, great Robert Forster. The film was directed by Hollywood veteran Richard Fleischer, whose electic resume includes everything from Doctor Dolittle to Mandingo and who made three science-fiction classics, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Fantastic Voyage and Soylent Green; he and Goldsmith previously collaborated on Tora! Tora! Tora! and The Last Run. One of the few Goldsmith feature scores from the '70s to never receive a soundtrack release until now, The Don Is Dead features a typically exciting Goldsmith mixture of orchestra and electronics, with an original song composed by Goldsmith for the film, and the Intrada CD features the full score plus a handful of extras including an alternate version of the main title.
Varese Sarabande is expected to announce one new limited edition CD Club release today.
Looking over the list of new films I managed to see in theaters in 2020 in the two-and-a-half months before the shutdown, I was surprised to notice that more of their scores have received vinyl-only releases (Bacurau, Emma., The Gentlemen, The Invisible Man, The Lodge, Ordinary Love, The Photograph) than have been released on CD (Birds of Prey, Color Out of Space, Gretel & Hansel, Sonic the Hedgehog, The Way Back).
Some of the latest scores to have vinyl releases announced include Terence Blanchard's score for Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods, Nathan Halpern's score for Swallow, and of course the 8-LP set of Ludwig Goransson's The Mandalorian, due in November from Mondo.
CDS AVAILABLE THIS WEEK
All Against All - Kristian Sensini - Kronos
The Don Is Dead - Jerry Goldsmith - Intrada Special Collection
Gina and Chantal - Joris Hermy - Kronos
The Last of Us Part II - Gustavo Santaolalla, Mac Quayle - Sony (import)
Scacco Alla Regina - Piero Piccioni - Cinevox
Sins of Jezebel - Bert Shefter - Kronos
Teen Titans Go! Vs. Teen Titans - Jason Lazarus - La-La Land
The Wretched - Devin Burrows - La-La Land
Young Justice: Outsiders - Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion, Lolita Ritmanis - La-La Land
IN THEATERS TODAY
Traditionally I only list films which are opening in the Los Angeles area in this part of the column. California theaters are still closed, at least in my part of the state, but other states have theaters open (please be safe, readers), and Bill & Ted Face the Music (score by Mark Isham) and The New Mutants (Mark Snow) are expected to open today (Unhinged, scored by David Buckley, opened last week, and did respectable business considering the times we're living in). For anyone curious about which states are allowing theaters to re-open, the AMC Theatres website has useful information.
Animal Crackers - Bear McCreary - Sony
Outlander: Season 5 - Bear McCreary - Sony
Requiem - Dominick Scherrer, Natasha Khan - Svart
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
Der Bestatter - Raphael Benjamin Meyer - Alhambra
Gappa The Triphibian Monsters - Seitaro Omori - Cinema-Kan (import)
One Potato, Two Potato - Gerald Fried - Caldera
Super Godzilla [video game score] - Akira Ifukube - Cinema-Kan (import)
THIS WEEK IN FILM MUSIC HISTORY
August 28 - Ustad Vilayat Khan born (1928)
August 28 - Annette Focks born (1964)
August 28 - Laurence Rosenthal wins his third consecutive Emmy, for The Bourne Identity; Lee Holdridge wins his first Emmy, for the Beauty and the Beast pilot score (1988)
August 28 - Bruce Broughton wins his sixth Emmy, for Glory & Honor; Christophe Beck wins the Emmy for his Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode score “Becoming: Part 1” (1998)
August 28 - Richard Hartley wins the Emmy for his Alice in Wonderland score; Carl Johnson wins for the Invasion America episode score “Final Mission;” Martin Davich wins for his main title to Trinity (1999)
August 29 - Anthony Adverse released in theaters (1936)
August 29 - Miklos Rozsa begins recording his score for The Miniver Story (1950)
August 29 - Victor Young begins recording his score to The Tall Men (1955)
August 29 - Fred Steiner's score for the Star Trek episode "Charlie X" is recorded (1966)
August 29 - Recording sessions begin for Richard Rodney Bennett's score for Sherlock Holmes in New York (1976)
August 29 - James Horner begins recording his score for Gorky Park (1983)
August 30 - Conrad Salinger born (1901)
August 30 - Luis Bacalov born (1933)
August 30 - John Phillips born (1935)
August 30 - Axel Stordahl died (1963)
August 30 - Sol Kaplan's score for the Star Trek episode "The Doomsday Machine" is recorded (1967)
August 30 - Emil Newman died (1984)
August 30 - Bruce Broughton wins his fifth Emmy, for O Pioneers!; Bruce Babcock wins for the Matlock episode score “The Strangler” (1992)
August 30 - Jerry Goldsmith begins recording his replacement score for The River Wild (1994)
August 30 - Bernardo Bonezzi died (2012)
August 31 - The Sea Hawk is released in theaters (1940)
August 31 - Recording sessions begin for Bronislau Kaper's score for The Swan (1955)
August 31 - Alexander Courage's score for the Star Trek episode "The Naked Time" is recorded (1966)
August 31 - Robert Drasnin records his score for the Lost in Space episode "Forbidden World" (1966)
August 31 - Walter Scharf records his final Mission: Impossible score, for the episode “The Bank” (1967)
August 31 - Jeff Russo born (1969)
August 31 - Lalo Schifrin records his score for the Mission: Impossible episode “The Killer” (1970)
September 1 - Franz Waxman begins recording his score for Sunset Blvd. (1949)
September 1 - Victor Young begins recording his score for Strategic Air Command (1954)
September 1 - Gil Melle begins recording his score for The Organization (1971)
September 1 - Jerry Goldsmith begins recording his score for Magic (1978)
September 1 - Ludwig Goransson born (1984)
September 1 - Marc Donahue died (2002)
September 1 - Erich Kunzel died (2009)
September 2 - Armando Trovajoli born (1917)
September 2 - Hugo Montenegro born (1925)
September 2 - Steve Porcaro born (1957)
September 2 - Alex Heffes born (1971)
September 2 - Tadeusz Baird died (1981)
September 2 - Clifton Parker died (1989)
September 2 - Dennis McCarthy records his score for the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “The Xindi” (2003)
September 3 - Anthony Collins born (1893)
September 3 - Richard Markowitz born (1926)
September 3 - Kevin Kiner born (1958)
September 3 - Alexandre Azaria born (1967)
September 3 - Brooke Blair born (1977)
September 3 - Bruce Broughton begins recording his score for Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)
September 3 - Bruce Broughton begins recording his score for Glory and Honor (1997)
September 3 - Pierre van Dormael died (2008)
DID THEY MENTION THE MUSIC?
AMERICAN FACTORY - Chad Cannon
"The Fujian-factory scenes might have been choreographed by the Fritz Lang of 'Metropolis.' The movements of the workers are balletic. They are at one with one another and their machines; and the film’s composer, Chad Cannon, gives them music they deserve -- fluid like Glass (Philip, not auto) with a parodic but good-natured edge. The visiting Americans (all men, all large, somewhat cloddish) look dazed, like astronauts observing lissome green Martian women in a ’50s sci-fi cheapie. The singers and dancers of a New Year’s celebration are identified as Fuyao employees, and none of them misses a step or wobbles on a note. It’s a gorgeous vision. And tragic. And gorgeous. The filmmakers’ triumph is to make us see both sides at once. What a pleasure it would be to be an executive at a company where the workers have such smiling precision, such obedience! And: What a tragedy it is to live in a society where you’re bludgeoned with the notion that you have so little in the way of a self. On camera, the Chinese put on brave faces. They say they’re proud to work 12 hours a day when their American counterparts will work only eight, and six or sometimes seven days a week instead of five. Their children might be far away, living with grandparents in the country, but they’ll get to see them a few times a year. It is what it is."
David Edelstein, New York
"Of course, America has underestimated China for decades, and 'American Factory' provides a microcosm of that ongoing tendency; as the drama builds to a union vote, it’s never quite clear who has the upper hand. The veteran filmmakers and their extensive camera crew assemble the situation into a swift and involving account of the mounting consternation on both sides. Trusting the strength of their material, they never rely on extensive title cards to explain the context of any given scene. Aided by Chad Cannon’s playful score, the movie oscillates from an amusing portrait of institutional dysfunction to reveal just how little sympathy Cao has for the concerns of his staff."
Eric Kohn, IndieWire
"It's mostly in the union campaign that 'American Factory' finds its tonal confidence. There are indications in Chad Cannon's score that the early culture clash is maybe supposed to be funny? It doesn't play that way. The union campaign actually ends up being both more dramatic and amusing because it brings out the long-dormant fight in the community, even among former executives who begin the documentary staunchly opposed to letting Fuyao become a union shop. Then just as it's settling into a rhythm, 'American Factory' becomes a different, more chilling, forward-looking story/warning in its last 10 minutes."
Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter
JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL - Henry Jackman
"Like all good video games, this level is more difficult than the last. The production design by Bill Brzeski is stunning and thrillingly imaginative, while the stirring music from Henry Jackman suggests not just the best in video games but the most fondly remembered classic adventure films. Following the first movie's jungle adventure, this sequel takes them through the desert and to a castle on an icy mountaintop, with hold-your-breath perilous travels by dune buggy, rope bridge, and zeppelin. There's danger from snakes, ostriches, and boobytraps. There's also a new villain, a massive Hun-like conqueror named Jurgan the Brutal (Rory McCann). This level's goal is to capture a jewel that Jurgan stole from gentle indigenous farmers."
Nell Minow, RogerEbert.com
JUST MERCY - Joel P. West
"Since the days of '50s-era message pictures, the majority of films about African-American suffering have always been calibrated the way 'Just Mercy' is, with an eye to not offending White viewers with anything remotely resembling Black anger. We can be beaten, raped, enslaved, shot for no reason by police, victimized by a justice system rigged to disfavor us or any other number of real-world things that can befall us, yet God help us if a character is pissed off about this. Instead, we get to be noble, to hold on to His unchanging hand while that tireless Black lady goes 'hmmm-HMMMMM!' on the soundtrack to symbolize our suffering. There’s a lot of 'hmmm-HMMMMM'-ing in this movie, so much so that I had to resist laughing. These clichés are overused to the point of madness. Between this, the equally lackluster 'Harriet' and the abysmal 'The Best of Enemies,' that poor woman’s lips must be damn tired from all that humming."
Odie Henderson, RogerEbert.com
LES MISERABLES - Pink Noise
"The film actually opens in a place of hope, with Parisians united in joy over the country’s 2018 World Cup win and celebrating in the streets. Yet the line between street party and full-blown riot feels pretty porous, even here. First-time director Ladj Ly uses real footage filmed in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe, expertly matching some jerkily vérité camerawork with a jittery score to undercut it all with a sense of foreboding. The next time seething masses take to the streets, you sense it won’t be to have a big knees-up."
Phil De Semelyen, Time Out London
"Ly and editor Flora Volpelière begin proceedings at a surprisingly leisurely but nonetheless engrossing pace, taking nearly an hour to observe and absorb the intricately conflicting power dynamics of the estate, where the shady local mayor Steve Tientcheu enjoys a brittle, mutual look-the-other-way pact with Chris and Gwada, while an assortment of restive gangs -- Muslim Brotherhood members, Romany circus workers and, perhaps most powerfully, overlapping factions of seething teenagers -- clash and chafe in their shadow. When the debatably named Anti-Crime Squad gets roped into one of these initially minor disputes, tensions on a hot, irritable day boil over to near-riot levels, culminating in a breath-suspending cops-versus-kids standoff that sees one boy hit in the eye by a police flashball. When another kid’s drone camera captures the incident, the stakes, and ensuing chase, are intensified -- along with the surging hum of Pink Noise’s effectively minimalist electro score."
Guy Lodge, Variety
"Working with talented DP Julien Poupard ('Divines'), Ly captures every nook and cranny of his quartier with expressive authenticity, switching viewpoints from the squad’s roving unmarked police car to the drone capturing the action from a bird’s-eye vantage point. The images are accompanied by a stirring electro score from Pink Noise, which heightens the tension in key places and avoids the cliche of a typical hip-hop soundtrack for this kind of subject matter. The music winds up lending something epic and yes, Hugo-esque, to Les Miserables, no more so than during a breathtaking opening sequence -- captured documentary-style after last year’s World Cup final -- where we see Issa and his buddies draped in blue-white-red flags, basking in the glory of Les Bleus’ victory. That the film begins with such a raucous celebration of national unity and ends in a violent insurrection against the powers that be is a clear statement on the situation of Montfermeil and other places like it in France. We may be more than two centuries past Hugo’s story, but for Ly the revolution is just as nigh."
Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter
LITTLE WOMEN - Alexandre Desplat
"Gerwig also adds the sense of a lived-in world; from Jo’s run through the city to Amy and Aunt March taking a carriage ride through a crowded Paris park to a beach outing for the March family, this is an adaptation that remains cozy but still breaks out of parlors and attics to exist in wide-open spaces, all of which cinematographer Yorick Le Saux ('High Life') captures as warm and welcoming. Alexandre Desplat offers one of his best scores in recent memory, enhancing the joys and sorrows of the characters without sending the audience telegrams about how to feel in each scene."
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap
"If there’s a downside to splitting the narrative into two timelines, it’s that the fate of Beth comes too early -- although Gerwig pulls off a visual coup when she has Jo descend the same staircase in two different periods to discover her sister’s fate. The distance created by constant flashbacks is bridged by the emotion in Gerwig’s filmmaking. Yorick Le Saux’s camera is always in the right place to catch the characters’ drift, while Nick Houy’s editing is so finely attuned to the rhythms of each scene that you’re barely aware of the shifts in perspective. (This kind of editing doesn’t win awards, though it deserves them more than the flash stuff.) The inexhaustibly tuneful Alexandre Desplat might be channeling Beth in his piano-heavy score, its brightness cut with dissonances like passing dark clouds, but there’s too much of it in the second half. The movie is so good you want Gerwig to lay off a little and give you a chance to mull over what you’ve seen. Like her character in 'Frances Ha,' she can be over-solicitous, galumphing instead of graceful."
David Edelstein, New York
"This luxuriously appointed film, with autumnal-hued cinematography by Yorick Le Saux, a lush score by Alexandre Desplat, and brilliantly detailed costumes by Jacqueline Durran, is a big step up in scale for a writer-director who got her start in the freewheeling world of low-budget indies. Seeing her pull off a grand period drama with such confidence, humor, and style leaves you with a sensation not unlike what Jo March must be feeling in the film’s final scene, as she watches while her first book is printed, sewn, and bound, a tiny smile playing on her lips. I can’t believe it’s all finally happening, her face seems to say. I can’t wait to see what comes next."
Dana Stevens, Slate.com
"Nevertheless, 'Little Women' is tailored to exceptional detail. Gerwig displays a tremendous handle upon her composition and blocking, especially with regards to her tracking shots and slow motions for a mixture of realistic and formalistic delight. Furthermore, the lighting by cinematographer Yorick Le Saux relies upon warm tones for the past, and cold hues for the present, sketching evocative scenes of love and despair colored by time. Alexandre Desplat’s swirling yet soaring strings elegantly marry the whimsy of these women with their seriousness. And Jacqueline Durran ('Atonement' and 'Pride & Prejudice') continues as a master of period garb: tailoring a vibrant array of dresses, felt petticoats, and headwear that feels to the time yet of a timeless era."
Robert Daniels, The Playlist
"Casting Timothée Chalamet as (to use a very modern phrase) f*ckboy next door Laurie was a savvy move, and not just because he and Ronan have a pre-existing rapport from their work on Gerwig’s 'Lady Bird.' With his floppy hair and soulful eyes, Chalamet is also the ideal canvas onto which the March girls -- and, by extension, the audience -- can sketch all manner of anxieties and desires. 'Little Women' doesn’t prioritize romantic love over other kinds of intimacy and affection, but neither does it dismiss the need for such love as incompatible with being an independent woman. In fact, for the stubborn Jo, admitting that she’s lonely is a bigger challenge than leaving home to pursue her writing career. As with all the film’s emotional beats, the romantic tension between the characters develops organically, with just a little boost from Alexandre Desplat’s stirring, nostalgic score. Compared to the slow crescendo of the love stories, the film’s brush with death sometimes feels empty and sudden, but loss can feel that way in real life, too."
Katie Rife, The Onion AV Club
"Aside from minimal use of direct-to-camera address, Gerwig foregoes fussy directorial flourishes, instead shepherding an elegant film in the classical mold, often with a painterly look. It's also pleasingly paced through its two-and-a-quarter-hour run time, with nimble camerawork and editing that suggest the vigor of youth and the urgent sense of discovery that comes with young adulthood. Alexandre Desplat's lush score is laid on a little thick, but even that seems appropriate for a story whose sentiments are always grounded in genuine emotion. Gerwig has taken a treasured perennial of popular American literature and reshaped it for a new generation, which should give the captivating film a long shelf life."
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
1917 - Thomas Newman
"The trick of '1917' is to make every thing that is seen matter all the more. Thankfully, Mendes has been assisted by the best in the business, from production designer Dennis Gassner and his many yards of real trenches and costume designer Jacqueline Durran’s functional and work-worn uniforms to composer Thomas Newman, turning in his boldest and best work yet, a never sentimental and wholly original entry into the pantheon of war movie scores. And that’s to say nothing of Roger Deakins’ cinematography, always stunning but here shaped into something of a revelation. Deakins, long and rightfully regarded as contemporary cinema’s best working cinematographer, is up to his old tricks, including a nighttime sequence in a seemingly abandoned village that ranks among his other signature scenes, even as he pushes the single-take concept into new territory. The idea is wild enough, but to make it look this dazzling from moment to moment is something else entirely."
Kate Erbland, IndieWire
"Thing is, '1917' plainly intends to be more than just an exercise in make-your-jaw-drop filmmaking prowess, more than the 'Call Of Duty' play-through it occasionally suggests. Mendes, in a first, co-wrote the screenplay, dedicating it to a relative who died in combat, and one can detect the aspirations to an overwhelming emotional experience in the bombast of Thomas Newman’s grandiose score. (It’s just the latest example of Mendes farming out sentiment duties to his favorite composer -- a tact he’s been taking since his two-decade-old debut, 'American Beauty.') But for that blitzkrieg on the heart to succeed, '1917' might require slightly more developed personalities. As written and played, Schofield and Blake are essentially bodies in motion, not characters. There’s some sense to the decision; who has time to express themselves, after all, when every minute is a desperate scramble to survive? And at least depicting the men as blank slates largely spares us tediously expositional conversations and the dramatic motivations of tortured backstories. But it’s hard to totally invest in the plight of these frazzled grunts when they’re both filmed and characterized like video-game avatars, guided from one 'level' to the next."
A.A. Dowd, The Onion AV Club
"A pure adrenaline hit of a movie that takes place mostly in the lethal glare of daylight, Sam Mendes’s stunning, sorta-single-take '1917' hits its greatest heights when darkness falls. A single British soldier dusts himself off from a glancing wound, wanders to the window of a broken-down house and, in one invisible cut, emerges magically into the skeletal, hellish remains of a French town. The abandoned settlement glows with orange hues as Thomas Newman’s score hits a rare crescendo. It’s at once an epic piece of filmmaking, the launchpad for the second half of the movie, and possibly the greatest 'person walks into a town' moment in cinema since Claudia Cardinale strolled into 'Once Upon a Time in the West.' Needless to say, in a film that only stops to reload, the soldier is soon running like hell."
Phil De Semlyen, Time Out New York
"Some critics have compared the steadily escalating horrors of '1917,' all witnessed through the quasi-subjectivity of a fluid moving camera, to a video game in which the player 'levels up”' from one challenge to the next. It may be because I’m not a gamer, but that analogy never occurred to me as I watched. Ten or 15 minutes in, I had already forgotten about the one-take concept in my fear and concern for these two young men. Much of what happens to them in the nearly deserted spaces they move through, especially an abandoned German trench crawling with supersize rats, reminded me not of a video game but a horror movie. Thomas Newman’s score at times underlines this resemblance with eerie ambient chords; in other scenes it’s more conventionally symphonic, but it’s never 'patriotic' or sentimental. If I have a complaint about this movie, it might be that the score works too hard to emphasize emotions that the virtuosic camera work, paired with MacKay and Chapman’s superb performances, is already aptly conveying. There’s a scene shot at night in the burning ruins of a French village, with Howard’s [sic] soundtrack surging underneath, that has an apocalyptic beauty -- maybe a little too much beauty for a film that wants to position itself as a cry against the futility of war."
Dana Stevens, Slate.com
"'1917' is certainly a technical marvel, not just for Deakins but also for the brilliant sound work, visual effects, and Lee Smith’s editing, which hides the cuts that would have broken the 'one-take' spell. (If there’s one element that doesn’t work here, it’s Thomas Newman’s score, which tends to lay it on too thick, particularly during a third-act sequence in the ruins of a French village.) But the craft on display doesn’t take away from MacKay and Chapman’s performances; their exhibitions of bravery, terror, loyalty, determination and desperation are never overshadowed by the camerawork.
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap
"Schofield is a serious, fair-complexioned, rangy lad of the type often associated with young Englishmen of the time, while Blake is shorter and black-haired, more a fireplug of a guy. As they head out on their perilous mission, the fairness of the spring day is overtaken by mud and overcast skies, and accompanied by music that too laboriously stresses the ominous; Thomas Newman’s score will drastically improve before too long. It’s a lifeless, barren landscape, one festooned with barbed wire."
Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
THE SONG OF NAMES - Howard Shore
"Adapted from a novel by music critic Norman Lebrecht, 'The Song of Names' evokes a certain kind of quality film that we associate with Holocaust dramas. Laudably, the movie fully escapes lugubrious wallowing, yet, perhaps as a partial result of this, 'The Song of Names' lacks dramatic intensity and depth. The screenplay by Jeffrey Caine simplifies the dialogue to a point of near-cliche, and the direction by François Girard ('Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould,' 'The Red Violin') is unremarkable but confirms his liking for stories about musical prodigies and quests through past history. However, the score by his Canadian colleague Howard Shore is stunning and hinges on a remembrance of the Treblinka dead in which the camp survivors are obligated to recite the names of those murdered in a musical litany (making it easier to remember with no tools but memory to record the names) that takes five days to complete. The film’s music haunts in a way that the characters do not. 'The Song of Names' delivers a kaddish (the Jewish prayer for the dead) like none ever heard before."
Marjorie Baumgarten, The Austin Chronicle
"But 'The Song of Names' too often feels clunky and run-of-the-mill in its artistry. Lensed by cinematographer David Franco with an emphasis on drab, muted colors, the film strives for capital-I importance as a period drama, and, though effectively recreated, ‘40s and ‘50s London has never looked so characterless as it does here. And the omnipresent orchestral soundtrack by Howard Shore drowns already emotional scenes in aural syrup, and undermines the pin-drop fragility of musical performances meant to express the characters’ feelings."
Michael Joshua Rowin, Slant Magazine
"Girard’s direction, as well as some star charisma from co-leads Tim Roth and Clive Owen, both give the movie enough emotional resonance to keep afloat its bland narrative -- about the 35-year-long search for a missing Jewish violinist prodigy -- but there’s no urgency or mystery to the movie, nor any compelling reason to care about its characters beyond a general hope that they’ll ultimately discover something true and/or moving about Judaism, music, and genocide. They do not, though Howard Shore’s score is typically compelling in a swooning, insistent sort of way."
Simon Abrams, The Wrap
"Though Roth and Owen give fine performances, as do the two pairs of children who play their characters at different ages, the soundtrack is the biggest star of 'The Song of Names,' starting with a delicate original score by Howard Shore, the Oscar-winning composer of 'The Lord of the Rings' and much of fellow Canadian David Cronenberg’s work. But while it makes sense for the film to withhold the musical wallop suggested by the title, much of 'The Song of Names' is tangled up in a plodding period mystery that emphasizes handsome production values over hot-blooded emotion. Grief, rage, betrayal, genocide -- these are not usually matters to be treated with such reserve."
Scott Tobias, Variety
"Clearly made by folks who are passionate about classical music, 'The Song of Names' adapts music critic Norman Lebrecht's acclaimed novel of the same name for the big screen, producing -- in the hands of director Francois Girard ('The Red Violin,' 'Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould') and composer Howard Shore, among others -- a Holocaust-themed requiem. It's lucky that Shore's original compositions here and the cuts from the classical repertoire, some performed with impressive skill by child actor Luke Doyle himself, are strong enough to give heft to an otherwise earnest, credulity-straining melodrama. But the globe-trotting story, starring Tim Roth and Clive Owen, is likely to appeal to specific demographics and could do alright as a niche release in select markets. There is no denying that a sequence roughly halfway through where characters walk through the standing stones that memorialize the dead at the Nazi death camp Treblinka packs a wallop, especially with the accompaniment of Shore's keening, soaring score, one of his best. As a cinematic document that helps service the command written in many languages on one of those to stones to 'Never Forget,' this is a timely look at the horrors of the Holocaust."
Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter
THOSE WHO REMAINED - László Pirisi
"Shot mostly in interiors or empty, dark streets, the production package does a lot with very little. Gábor Marosi’s intimate widescreen lensing is attuned to the minutest detail of the performers’ expressions and the dusty hues suggest the period as do the costumes. László Pirisi’s delicate score is just right."
Alissa Simon, Variety
TRUTH AND JUSTICE - Mihkel Zilmer
"Even so, Toom mostly succeeds in breathing lusty life into dusty old material. The cast members are uniformly strong, particularly Loog and Voigemast, who both pull off persuasive transformations from hearty young pioneers to crotchety old men. Most of all, this visually sumptuous saga is a widescreen sensory feast of the traditional kind, rich in ravishing candlelit interiors, majestic landscapes, soaring aerial shots and heart-swelling musical fanfares. 'Truth and Justice' may be painted with a broad brush, but the canvas is beautifully detailed."
Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter
UNDERWATER - Marco Beltrami, Brandon Roberts
"I felt frustrated walking out of 'Underwater': Here’s a movie with good production values, a great leading actress, and a fantastic score, yet it gets so lost trying to figure out what story it wanted to tell that it completely forgets to form a connection with the audience. The score, by Marco Beltrami ('Ford v. Ferrari') and Brandon Roberts ('The Twilight Zone' 2019), adds intensity and optimism, at the right moments, and uplifts the performances. Most impressively, it fleshes out the environment, making us feel like we’re at the bottom of the ocean alongside the performers."
Yolanda Machado, The Wrap
"If the film is so lacking in suspense, it’s because Eubank rushes through scenes and blankets them in wall-to-wall dialogue instead of using long stretches of silence to emphasize the deep ocean’s tense, eerie ambience. Marco Beltrami and Brandon Roberts’s echoey electronic score helps to pick up the mood, but most scenes fail to evoke a nightmarish discomfort. Toward the end of 'Underwater,' Norah and her remaining mates make their way to the station with the monsters looming nearby, but Eubank makes the trek an occasion for the kind of character-building dialogue he was too impatient to place at the beginning of the film. As such, instead of intensifying Norah and company’s dire situation, Eubank renders it innocuous."
Michael Joshua Rowin, Slant Magazine
THINGS I'VE HEARD, READ, SEEN OR WATCHED THIS WEEK
Heard: Patrick Melrose (Bertelmann), Star Trek: Enterprise Collection Vol. 1 (various), Mile 22 (Russo), Lure of the Wilderness (Waxman), Tours Du Monde Tours Du Ciel/Premier Quatuor A Cordes (Delerue), The Murder of Mary Phagan (Jarre), A Little Night Music [2009 cast] (Sondheim), Monkey Shines (Shire), Symphonies No. 2 & 6 (Piston), Halloween (Carpenter/Carpenter/Davies), Flicka (Zigman), Brimstone (Holkenborg), Contratiempo (Velazquez), First Man (Hurwitz), The Sunday Woman (Morricone), The Song of Names (Shore), Mission: Impossible - Fallout (Balfe), The Predator (Jackman), Sounder (Mahal), Star Trek: Enterprise Collection Vol. 2 (various), Crazy Rich Asians (Tyler), Scenes of the Crime/A Child's Game (Young), The Legend of the Lone Ranger (Barry), Pacific Overtures [2004 cast] (Sondheim), The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (Goldsmith), Ayres for the Theatre (Purcell), Little Children (Newman), The Mummy (Goldsmith), Gernika (Velazquez), The Lonely Guy (Goldsmith), San Babila Ore 20: Un Delitto Inutile (Morricone), The Mummy Returns (Silvestri), Alive (Howard), A Wrinkle in Time (Djawadi), Star Trek: Nemesis (Goldsmith)
Read: Moll Flanders, by Daniel Defoe
Seen: Warner Bros. is still scheduled to open Tenet in U.S. theaters next week -- at least, in states where theaters can be opened. I was pleased to read that in big cities (like Los Angeles and San Francisco) where only drive-ins are open, they will apparently not be releasing the film to those drive-ins until indoor theaters in their areas are open as well. I had assumed that with a movie the size of Tenet, the studio would allow a delayed release in major cities that aren't opened yet, but am happy to see that apparently confirmed. (I plan to skip all reviews of Tenet until after I've eventually seen the film; the Variety blurb called it "grandly entertaining," and that's all I need to know. Along with No Time to Die, it's the big one of 2020 for me.)
Watched: Chandu the Magician, Hannibal ("...And the Beast from the Sea"), The Blacksmith , Someone's Watching Me!, King Cohen, Mission: Impossible ("Zubrovnik's Ghost"), They Gave Him a Gun, Hannibal ("The Number of the Beast is 666," "The Wrath of the Lamb")