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Intrada has announced two new soundtrack CD releases this week:

A two-disc, first-ever release of Lalo Schifrin's score for the 1978 Disney sci-fi thriller sequel RETURN FROM WITCH MOUNTAIN, directed by John Hough (The Legend of Hell House), in which Escape to Witch Mountain stars Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann are joined by screen legends Bette Davis and Christopher Lee. Disc One features Schifrin's complete score including unused cues, and Disc Two is an edited "album presentation" of 49 minutes of score highlights.

From this summer comes DORA AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD, the live-action adventure film starring Isabela Moner (Instant Family, Sicario: Day of the Soldado) as TV's Dora the Explorer, with music co-composed by Oscar-nominee John Debney and Germaine Franco (Dope, Little). The Intrada CD features a whopping 76 minutes of score.


La-La Land has announced five new "Black Friday" soundtrack CD releases, all of which should begin shipping in the next couple weeks:

DISASTER MOVIE SOUNDTRACK COLLECTION
is a four-disc set featuring three classic 70s disaster movie scores by John Williams -- the Oscar-nominated The Poseidon Adventure, remastered in a mix of stereo and mono tracks; the shortlisted Earthquake, featuring both the LP tracks and the first release of the original score tracks; and a remastered version of the nominated The Towering Inferno, featuring the original score sequencing as well as alternates and the LP tracks.

NEVADA SMITH: THE PARAMOUNT WESTERNS COLLECTION is a four disc-set of scores previously unreleased on CD, and most of them have never had soundtrack releases at all. The collection features Nevada Smith (Alfred Newman), El Dorado (Nelson Riddle), Three Violent People (Walter Scharf), Kid Rodelo (Johnny Douglas), Walk Like a Dragon (Paul Dunlap), Will Penny (David Raksin), The Hangman (Harry Sukman), Branded (Roy Webb), The Furies (Franz Waxman), Copper Canyon (Daniele Amfitheatrof) and Streets of Laredo (Victor Young).

STAR TREK: VOYAGER, VOL. 2 is a four-disc soundtrack for the long running series with music from episodes scored by Paul Baillargeon, David Bell, Jay Chattaway and Dennis McCarthy.

STARGATE: 25TH ANNIVERSARY EXPANDED
 is a two-disc set of David Arnold's popular symphonic score for director Roland Emmerich's 1994 time travel adventure, featuring the complete 80-minute score as well as 28 minutes of alternate cues.

THE KARATE KID: THE 35TH ANNIVERSARY
is a newly remastered release of Bill Conti's score for the sequel- and remake-spawning 1984 hit, including several alternate cues.


CDS AVAILABLE THIS WEEK

Dora and the Lost City of Gold - John Debney, Germaine Franco - Intrada
A Hidden Life - James Newton Howard - Sony (import)
Les Sauvages
- Rob - Music Box
Mille Milliards de Dollars/Le Crabe-Tambour/Conte de la Folie Ordinaire
 - Philippe Sarde - Music Box 
Return from Witch Mountain
- Lalo Schifrin - Intrada Special Collection
Saddles, Sagebrush and Steiner: Western Scores of Max Steiner
 - Max Steiner - BYU 
Vikings: Final Season - Trevor Morris - Sony (import)


IN THEATERS TODAY

The Aeronauts - Steven Price - Score CD on Decca (import)
Broken Dreams - Guy Gross
Code 8 - Ryan Taubert
Daniel Isn't Real - Clark - Score LP on DG
Grand Isle - Josh Atchley
I See You - William Arcane
In Fabric - Cavern of Anti-Matter
Little Joe - no original score
A Million Little Pieces - Atticus Ross, Leopold Ross, Claudia Sarne
Most Likely to Succeed - Patrick Stump
A New Christmas - David Bateman
Playmobil: The Movie - Heitor Pereira - Score CD on Sony
Portrait of a Lady on Fire - Jean-Baptiste de Laubier, Arthur Simonini 
63 Up - no original score
Temblores - Pascual Reyes
Trauma Center - Nima Fakhrara
The Wolf Hour - Danny Bensi, Saunder Jurriaans


COMING SOON

December 13
Animal Among Us - Alexander Taylor - Notefornote
Disaster Movie Soundtrack Collection
 - John Williams - La-La Land
Go Fish - George Streicher - Notefornote 
Killing Eve - David Holmes, Keefus Ciancia - Heavenly Recordings (import)
Little Women - Alexandre Desplat - Sony (import)
Marriage Story
 - Randy Newman - Lakeshore
Star Trek: Voyager vol. 2
 - Paul Baillargeon, David Bell, Jay Chattaway, Dennis McCarthy - La-La Land 
December 20
The Karate Kid: The 35th Anniversary
 - Bill Conti - La-La Land 
Madame White Snake
- Ikuma Dan - Cinema-Kan (import)
Matthias & Maxime - Jean-Michel Blais - Mercury
Nevada Smith: The Paramount Westerns Collection - Daniele Amfitheatrof, Johnny Douglas, Paul Dunlap, Alfred Newman, David Raksin, Nelson Riddle, Walter Scharf, Harry Sukman, Franz Waxman, Roy Webb, Victor Young - La-La Land  
The Song of Names 
- Howard Shore - Decca 
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - John Williams - Disney
Stargate: 25th Anniversary Expanded
 - David Arnold - La-La Land 
December 27
War in Space
- Toshiaki Tsushima - Cinema-Kan (import)
January 10
The Addams Family - Mychael Danna, Jeff Danna - Lakeshore
January 17
Bliss - Steve Moore - Relapse (import)
January 24
I Lost My Body - Dan Levy - Lakeshore
February 21
At Eternity's Gate - Tatiana Lisovskaya - Filmtrax (import)
Date Unknown
Adios
- Zeltia Montes - Quartet
Alien 2 Sulla Terra 
- Guido & Maurizio DeAngelis - Beat
Big Mama II
 - Chuck Cirino - Dragon's Domain
Cari Mostri del Mare
 - Carlo Savina - Kronos
Gail Kubik: Scenes for Orchestra etc
. - Gail Kubik - Kritzerland 
Gege Bellavita
 - Riz Ortolani - Digitmovies
I Fratelli Corsi
 - Angelo Francesco Lavagnino - Kronos
I Ladri Della Notte 
- Ennio Morricone - Beat
Il Disordine
 - Mario Nascimbene - Kronos
Il Segno Del Coyote
 - Francesco DeMasi - Beat
Jesus de Nazaret
 - Alejandro Karo - Kronos
The Last Metro/The Woman Next Door/Confidentially Yours
- Georges Delerue - Music Box
Legado en los Huesos
- Fernando Velazquez - Quartet
Lilly's Bewitched Christmas
 - Anne-Kathrin Dern - Kronos
Lucio Fulci's Gates of Hell Trilogy
 - Fabio Frizzi, Walter Rizzati - Beat
Musiche Da Film Ennio Morricone
 - Ennio Morricone - Universal (import)
Noah Land
 - Leon Gurvitch - Kronos
The Paul Chihara Collection, vol. 3
 - Paul Chihara - Dragon's Domain
Sette Contro La Morte
- Carlo Rustichelli - Saimel
Seven Worlds, One Planet
- Hans Zimmer, Jacob Shea - Silva
Ta La Land: City of Fear - Tomas Luchoro - Quartet
Un Dramma Borghese
 - Riz Ortolani - Digitmovies


THIS WEEK IN FILM MUSIC HISTORY

December 6 - Mort Glickman born (1898)
December 6 - Lyn Murray born (1909)
December 6 - Dave Brubeck born (1920)
December 6 - Piero Piccioni born (1921)
December 6 - Maury Laws born (1923)
December 6 - Roberto Pregadio born (1928)
December 6 - Willie Hutch born (1944)
December 6 - Joe Hisaishi born (1950)
December 6 - Recording sessions begin for Sol Kaplan’s score for Destination Gobi (1952)
December 6 - Lalo Schifrin begins recording the original soundtrack LP to Bullitt (1968)
December 6 - Hans Zimmer begins recording his score for Broken Arrow (1995)
December 6 - Richard Markowitz died (1994)
December 7 - Ernst Toch born (1887)
December 7 - Tom Waits born (1949)
December 7 - Victor Young begins recording his score for Appointment with Danger (1949)
December 7 - On Her Majesty's Secret Service opens in Los Angeles (1969)
December 7 - Jerry Goldsmith records his score for The Homecoming: A Christmas Story (1971)
December 7 - Georges Delerue begins recording his score for Les Visiteurs (1979)
December 7 - Star Trek -- The Motion Picture is released in theaters (1979)
December 7 - Basil Poledouris begins recording his score for White Fang (1990)
December 7 - John Addison died (1998)
December 8 - Leo Shuken born (1906)
December 8 - John Rubinstein born (1946)
December 8 - Bruce Kimmel born (1947)
December 8 - Miklos Rozsa begins recording his score to The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1958)
December 8 - Russell Garcia begins recording his score for The Time Machine (1959)
December 8 - Junkie XL born as Tom Holkenberg (1967)
December 8 - Antonio Carlos Jobim died (1994)
December 8 - Richard Thompson begins recording his score for Grizzly Man (2004)
December 9 - Von Dexter born (1912)
December 9 - Chris Wilson born (1958)
December 9 - William Goldstein records his score for the Twilight Zone episode “Her Pilgrim Soul” (1985)
December 9 - Alessandro Cicognini died (1995)
December 10 - Morton Gould born (1913)
December 10 - Alexander Courage born (1919)
December 10 - Milan Svoboda born (1951)
December 10 - Jack Hues born (1954)
December 10 - Jerry Goldsmith begins recording his score for Shock Treatment (1963)
December 10 - Leigh Harline died (1969)
December 10 - Recording sessions begin for Claude Bolling’s score for The Awakening (1979)
December 10 - Roy Webb died (1982)
December 11 - Rogier Van Otterloo born (1941)
December 11 - Rachel Portman born (1960)
December 11 - Paul Haslinger born (1962)
December 11 - Anthony Collins died (1963)
December 11 - Jon Brion born (1963)
December 11 - Benny Carter records his score for the Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode “Crimson Witness” (1964)
December 11 - Benny Golson records his score for the Mission: Impossible episode “Incarnate,” the final score composed for the original series (1972)
December 11 - Johnny Mandel begins recording his score for Escape to Witch Mountain (1974)
December 11 - Velton Ray Bunch records his score for the Enterprise episode “Silent Enemy” (2001)
December 11 - Jay Chattaway records his score for the Enterprise episode “Catwalk” (2002)
December 11 - Malcolm Clarke died (2003)
December 11 - Ravi Shankar died (2012)
December 12 - Carlo Martelli born (1935)
December 12 - Michael Kamen begins recording his score for Road House (1988)
December 12 - Karl-Heinz Schafer died (1996)
December 12 - Marcello Giombini died (2003)

DID THEY MENTION THE MUSIC?

ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD - Daniel Pemberton

"Daniel Pemberton’s score evokes 'The Ring' cycle of operas whenever Plummer is on screen, his very own Wagnerian musical leitmotif, suggesting a god approaching twilight. Cinematographer Dariusz Wolski echoes this portentousness, shooting Plummer’s scenes with sterile opulence, emphasizing the cold-sheen loneliness of super-affluence; almost every shot is dimly lighted or washed-out, even when a scene is set midday and outdoors. Unfortunately, the tone carries over to the rest of the film, whose slick screenplay offers little insight into its characters. The film feels more like a spiritless photo essay of the lifestyles of the one percent, a zoological view of a unique species of humanoid -- the transcendently rich and their adjacents."
 
Henry Stewart, Slant Magazine 
 
"The locations are terrific, as are all behind-the-scenes contributions by Scott regulars, including cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, production designer Arthur Max, costume designer Janty Yates and editor Claire Simpson. Daniel Pemberton provided the fine score."

Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

BRIGHT - David Sardy
 
"'Bright' tries to create a unique and dynamic world with the juxtaposition of harsh police life, crime and modern life contrasted with this imaginary magical realm, but it’s contrived, unconvincing and most of all calamitously preposterous. Action scenes are muddled, but perhaps the one element genre fans will take to. But they’re routinely tarnished, especially in the third act, with a blinding supernova of throbbing, outrageously over-the-top melodrama (slow-mo, shouting, every cop cliché in the book and a special dishonorable mention to David Sardy’s overblown score)."
 
Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist 

A FANTASTIC WOMAN - Matthew Herbert

"Elements of 'A Fantastic Woman' -- chiefly a rich, twinkling score by the great electronic musician Matthew Herbert -- hint at the wells of emotion and experience that drive Marina, but the film’s blunt social messaging renders her a fundamentally reactionary presence. The undeniable strength and confidence of Marina’s presence is undermined by a film that tends to deny her those very qualities. Superficial when it means to be elliptical and regressive in its attempts to promote pride and tolerance, Lelio’s film is beautiful but vacant, the type of melodrama that reminds us that they shouldn’t always make them like they used to."
 
Christopher Gray, Slant Magazine 
 
"'A Fantastic Woman,' has already been snapped up for distribution by Sony Pictures Classics, is co-produced by Maren Ade, produced by Pablo Larraín and stars, in Gnecco, Zegers, and Reyes in particular, several familiar faces from the latter’s films. Indeed, quite aside from its kinship with 'Gloria,' Lelio’s film would make a fascinating companion piece for Larraín’s own 'Jackie,' another portrait of a bereaved woman contending with grief, and the gulf between who she is and how she is perceived. But it is made its own thing by Lelio’s audacious filmmaking (in which Matthew Herbert‘s original music, particularly a melodic leitmotif made sinister by some Bernard Herrmann-style strings sets off an acutely well-judged soundtrack, one over-literal use of 'Natural Woman' aside), crackling around a lightning-rod performance from newcomer Vega."
 
Jessica Kiang, The Playlist 
 
"This gauntlet of social cruelty and bourgeois spite owes a sizable debt to the celebrated melodramas of Rainer Werner Fassbinder -- 'Ali: Fear Eats The Soul,' for example. But despite a similar taste for convoluted, symbolically loaded mirror compositions, Lelio doesn’t share the dangerously prolific German director’s Brechtian hard edges; shot in poised anamorphic widescreen and scored to eerie strings (courtesy of Matthew Herbert), 'A Fantastic Woman' hews closer to both conventional realism and sentimentalism."
 
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The Onion AV Club 
 
"Before all that, the cues of a traditional thriller are toyed with in an opening that if not actively Hitchcockian, is at least Hitchcock-ish. A gruff female detective quizzes Marina about Orlando’s death, suspicions raised by her flight from the hospital, as Matthew Herbert’s score helps amp up the brooding atmosphere. Will she have Orlando’s death pinned on her? And what’s in that mysterious locker?"
 
Phil De Semlyen, Time Out London 

"Stylistically, 'A Fantastic Woman' is a cooler, trickier object than Lelio’s previous film 'Gloria,' a marvelous human comedy of middle-aged rebirth that deserved greater crossover success. The light hot-and-cold shiver that characterizes his latest sets in from the first, head-turning notes of the score, a stunning, string-based creation by British electronic musician Matthew Herbert that blends the icy momentum of vintage Herrmann with spacious gasps of silence. This disquieting soundtrack plays enigmatically over the film’s opening image of cascading waters at the spectacular Iguazau Falls on the Argentine-Brazilian border -- a projection, we come to learn, of a romantic vacation that will never take place."
 
Guy Lodge, Variety 
 
"One of the most striking interludes follows Marina's visit to her operatic voice coach (Sergio Hernandez), a father figure who reprimands her for not being serious enough about her talent. She tacks off afterward along the street into the face of a windstorm of supernatural force, while her voice continues to be heard singing the Giacomelli aria 'Sposa son disprezzata,' appropriately, about a scorned wife. Even when music choices might potentially have seemed too on-the-nose, like Aretha Franklin doing '(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,' Lelio uses them with audacious originality. That extends also to the strange and beautiful score by experimental British electronica composer Matthew Herbert, working here in a more orchestral but no less distinctive vein."
 
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter 

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN - Songs by Benj Pasek & Justin Paul; Score by John Debney and Joseph Trapanese
 
"This is a movie-musical, and an original movie-musical at that, so I should probably address the music. Listen, it’s no Les Mis. Broadway tunesmiths Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (also responsible for last year’s Oscar darling 'La La Land') have written ensemble numbers, solos, and duets with a modern spin that ends up distracting from the rest of the movie. I never met the man, but I doubt 'You can do like you do' is something that P.T. Barnum would have said. Despite this, I’ve been listening to the soundtrack every day since it was released online earlier this month. A lot of it is mindless and overly simplistic, yet I catch myself tapping my foot to it anyway. Jackman and Efron are charming during 'The Other Side,' a soft-shoeing, tapdancing duet in a bar reminiscent of the 'No Dames' sequence from the Coen brothers’ 'Hail, Caesar!' One of the movie’s more earworm-y ballads, 'Never Enough,' -- sung gorgeously by Loren Allred, who provides the voice of Jenny Lind -- is only a verse and a chorus, repeated three times. Keala Settle, who plays bearded lady Lettie Lutz, lends her incredible range to 'This Is Me,' the peppy climactic number that expresses the movie’s central sentiment of self-acceptance."
 
Emma Stefansky, Uproxx 
 
"As exhilarating as the film can be, it’s also exhausting, strangely shallow and only periodically captivating. Part of the problem is that the story lacks real meat. This 105-minute biopic was either shaved of its weight or it was always meant to be an accessory piece for its soundtrack. And if the latter is the case, then the soundtrack is fine, if not quite great. Many songs sound too similar, and there are only a handful of truly show-stopping tunes. 'This is Me' will almost certainly be nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song; it’s basically gift-wrapped for that category. 'Rewrite the Stars' is another good single, and 'The Greatest Showman' is certainly a tune that demands your attention. 'The Other Side,' meanwhile, is definitely, and quite easily, the best choreographed number in the entire production. But the rest of the soundtrack is interchangeable or unmemorable."
 
Will Ashton, The Playlist 
 
"That summary packs enough treacly schmaltz to send the average moviegoer into a sugar coma, or it would if the film’s musical numbers weren’t so rousing. Praise for 'The Greatest Showman''s score and choreography is praise given grudgingly indeed: A film that’s this much of a mess shouldn’t also be so bloody effective at giving its viewers goosebumps. Credit where due, then, to Justin Paul and Benj Pasek, who wrote the soundtrack, and to 'The Greatest Showman''s cast members, who throw all of their being into each song with striking zeal. They care about what they’re doing, because every time the songs kick in, you start to care, too, after spending minutes decidedly not caring about Gracey’s over-hurried CliffsNotes take on Barnum’s life."
 
Andy Crump, Paste Magazine
 
"The songs’ writers, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, are on top of the world right now; they wrote songs for last year’s 'La La Land' and won an Oscar for 'City of Stars,' and their Broadway musical 'Dear Evan Hansen' won six Tonys last year and is up for a Grammy. The duo’s songs for 'Greatest Showman' don’t feel like traditional show tunes: For the most part, they’re radio-styled inspirational pop ballads with driving beats and soaring hooks that drive their feel-good barbs into your brain. They seem tailor-made for future TV singing competitions, karaoke nights, and figure skating duets. So they work well for a film like 'The Greatest Showman,' which needs something to drive its action forward in the most broadly appealing way possible. They develop the story, too (the first song covers what appears to be about 15 years). Characters fall in and out of love, deals are wheeled, hurts are swept away, all in the space of a song."
 
Alissa Wilkinson, Vox

"The contributions of Oscar-winning 'La La Land' lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul likewise succumb to the film’s American Idol vocalizing, which ascend and descend the musical scale with a cynically calculated emotion. Who knew that opera singer Jenny Lind (Ferguson), the Swedish Nightingale that Barnum introduced to stateside audiences in the quest to legitimize his career, emotively trilled and dramatically waved her arms like Celine Dion at an amphitheatre concert? When the Bearded Lady (a fierce Settle, making a strong impression in an underwritten role) rallies her fellow freak-show performers to assist her in singing a defiant anthem about self-empowerment and inclusivity titled 'This Is Me,' all poignancy is sacrificed in the pursuit of making the production number bigger and louder than the ones preceding it. This isn’t a movie musical. It’s a Las Vegas revue featuring songs aiming for high rotation on a Top 40 radio station, one that will doubtlessly enthrall those moviegoers who mistake spectacle for quality. As Barnum infamously did not say, there’s a sucker born every minute."
 
Steve Davis, The Austin Chronicle 
 
"Even that once impressive mush has its moments. Although they’re more hit and miss than their inevitable EGOT would suggest, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul have a knack for generating insidious earworms, and of the nine songs they contribute to 'The Greatest Showman,' a good three are genuinely memorable. (Even better, they’re all bunched together, so when you eventually watch the movie on an airplane -- and you will, don’t even try to fight it -- you’ll be able to get through the good part even on a short hop.) Pick up when Rebecca Ferguson enters the picture as Jenny Lind, the 'Swedish nightingale' whom Barnum booked on her first U.S. concert tour in an attempt to boost his standing among sophisticates, and she belts out 'Never Enough,' dubbed by 'The Voice' contestant Loren Allred, who will have to do until Kelly Clarkson gets a hold of the song. Stick with it through 'This Is Me,' in which Keala Settle’s bearded lady, Lettie Lutz, leads a march of Barnum’s 'freaks' into the cocktail reception where he’s toasting the acquisition of his newfound respectability. And hang in there for 'Rewrite the Stars,' a high-flying love duet between Zac Efron’s black-sheep socialite and Zendaya’s aerialist, which climaxes with the two of them singing in harmony as they spin around the edges of the big top."
 
Sam Adams, Slate.com 
 
"'The Greatest Showman,' directed with verve and panache by Michael Gracey, is an unabashed piece of pure entertainment, punctuated by 11 memorable songs composed by Oscar- and Tony-winning duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who composed the songs for 'La La Land,' as well as the current Broadway hit 'Dear Evan Hansen.' The film is made for the whole family to enjoy, and so it leaves out many of the darker elements (explored in the 1980 Broadway musical 'Barnum,' music by Cy Coleman). This is a difficult tightrope to walk, but credit is due to Gracey, a perfectly cast Hugh Jackman, and the entire cast, who play this story in the spirit in which it was written (by Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon). 'The Greatest Showman' positions itself as a story celebrating diversity, and the importance of embracing all kinds."
 
Sheila O'Malley, RogerEbert.com 
 
"In a year with no Baz Luhrmann movie, 'The Greatest Showman' fills the gap with a gigantic, brassy, unashamedly over-the-(big)-top circus musical with one eye on the multiplex and the other on the pop charts. As befits an origin story for legendary American impresario, entrepreneur and snake oil salesman P.T. Barnum and his troupe of talented oddballs and outsiders, it’s low on subtlety, high on spectacle and crams its poppy, hummable tunes so far down your ear holes, you’ll need a Q-tip to fish them out."
 
Phil De Semlyen, Time Out New York  
 
"Shamelessly familiar and profoundly alien in equal measure, 'The Greatest Showman' takes a billion of the world’s oldest story beats and refashions their prefab emotions into something that feels like it’s being projected from another planet. A lot of that strangeness is owed to the fact that the film is structured like a Broadway musical that’s been thoughtlessly repackaged as an 105-minute movie; its songs are stacked on top of each other like kids hiding inside a trench coat, screenwriters Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon hoping you’ll be too amused to notice that all of these numbers don’t actually add up to a coherent plot. Oh, you’ll notice, but you might not care. And really, how could you? When Hugh Jackman stands in a spotlight and sings that 'this is the moment you’ve been waiting for,' you can’t help but take the guy at his word. Set sometime in the 1840’s and scored to a tight array of tunes written by 'La La Land' duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, 'The Greatest Showman' might sound like the first Hollywood musical of the Jack Antonoff age (brace for maddeningly catchy pop songs full of hi-hats, deep bass fills, and IMAX-sized choruses), but this is an old-fashioned thing at heart. It’s a wide-eyed myth about an iconoclast who dragged the American dream into waking life through sheer force of will, first-time director Michael Gracey following in Baz Luhrmann’s oversized footsteps as he uses contemporary aesthetics to convey a hero who was ahead of his time."
 
David Ehrlich, IndieWire 

"But because the movie apparently needed romantic conflict, it uninventively invents Lind crushing on the happily-married Barnum. But it also brings Efron and Zendaya together to bust 1850’s race-mixing taboos, a coupling which does yield the movie’s most enjoyable number, 'Rewrite the Stars,' if only because it’s not trying to showstop its way into your brain, and rather engagingly incorporates Zendaya’s character’s swinging-twirling abilities.But primarily the Pasek-Paul songs are blandly written, overproduced motivationspeak designed for chorus chanting, and that regrettably includes the oddities’ 'I Am What I Am'-like plea for acceptance, 'This Is Me.' It’s admirably belted by Settle, but paired poorly with a snow-filled march through the streets that looks cold instead of stirring."
 
Robert Abele, The Wrap 
 
"Yet when Barnum’s attractions join together to sing and dance their eccentric asses off in the exhilarating chorus of 'Come Alive' ('And you know you can’t go back again,/To the world that you were living in,/’Cause you’re dreaming with your eyes wide open'), the number sweeps you into its majestic syncopated flow, with its hint of gospel, its surge of melodic compassion. The songs were composed by the team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who wrote the lyrics for the songs in 'La La Land,' and they’ve crafted rhythms and melodies that drive the movie -- gorgeously -- forward. When the Bearded Lady gets her own number, the inspirational rouser 'This Is Me,' the scene is a pure-hearted epiphany. It’s enough to make you want to see 'The Elephant Man' turned into a musical written by Lady Gaga."
 
Owen Gleiberman, Variety
 
"The sawdust and sequins are laid on thick, the period flashbulbs pop and the champagne flows in 'The Greatest Showman,' yet this ersatz portrait of American big-top tent impresario P.T. Barnum is all smoke and mirrors, no substance. It hammers pedestrian themes of family, friendship and inclusivity while neglecting the fundaments of character and story. First-time director Michael Gracey exposes his roots in commercials and music videos by shaping a movie musical whose references go no further back than Baz Luhrmann. And despite a cast of proven vocalists led with his customary gusto by Hugh Jackman, the interchangeably generic pop songs are so numbingly overproduced they all sound like they're being performed off-camera. First, a word about the music: The songs are by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, a fast-rising team who wrote lyrics for the tunes in 'La La Land;' they composed the charmingly retro score for the musical adaptation of 'A Christmas Story' and penned the affecting emo balladry in the Tony-winning Broadway smash, 'Dear Evan Hansen.' Clearly, these guys can write, and in a variety of genres. The mandate of Pasek and Paul with this long-gestating project, however, appears to have been to come up with accessible pop songs that drag the mid-19th-century story into the here and now. One number after another follows the same derivative template -- from the hushed start through the first wave of emphatic instrumentation, building into an all-out explosion of triumphal, extra-loud chorus expressing minor variations on standard-issue themes of self-affirmation. They all sound like bland imitations of chart hits by Katy Perry or Demi Lovato or Kelly Clarkson. Catchy, like Chlamydia. What the personality-free songs seldom do though is advance the story or deepen our connection to the characters, which means they fail in the most basic job requirement of musical numbers. I started actively dreading the arrival of another song, never a good feeling in a movie musical."

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

ICARUS - Adam Peters
 
"Fogel streamlines large clusters of data into montages of news clips, headlines, and chats between himself and Rodchenkov so that the film’s progression of events has a rigidly chronological structure, but it’s to an informational rather than immersive effect. While the exposition is helpful in contextualizing the implications of a widespread doping scandal, which includes doctors being killed, an elaborate urine transportation system, and anonymous witnesses claiming that Putin will kill them if they speak out, there’s rarely a sequence of filmmaking in Icarus’s back half that deviates from a montage model, with a score indiscriminately overlaying the unfurling of yet more events and video conversations between Fogel and Rodchenkov."
 
Clayton Dillard, Slant Magazine 
 
"'Icarus' divides its most incendiary segment into three chapters, labeled 'learning,' 'understanding,' and 'acceptance,' after the Ministry of Love’s reconditioning procedures in '1984.' Featuring lively caricatures of the Russian scandal’s key players (sketched by Sam Johnson) set to ominous music by composer Adam Peters, 'Icarus' casts the bulk of the blame on sports minister Vitaly Mutko. Naturally, the Russians attempt to discredit Rodchenkov, placing Fogel at the center of the international media circus -- much as Laura Poitras found the Edward Snowden situation spiraling out of control during the making of 'Citizenfour.'"
 
Peter Debruge, Variety 

IN THE FADE - Josh Homme
 
"Stylistically, Akin is once again as assured as ever with 'In the Fade,' with regular cinematographer Rainer Klausmann turning the first half’s heartache-stricken darkness and the closing sequences’ scenic sunniness into bookends of thematic richness. A Queens of the Stone Age fan, Akin also tapped its frontman Josh Homme for the score, which is suitably evocative in generating suspense, or reflecting the strickenness of Katja’s experience. But none of it would have been as effective without Kruger’s front and center turn, easily a career best."
 
Robert Abele, The Wrap 

"'In The Fade,' try as it might to be some kind of deep character study and tap into the theme of justice, is a flatline of a film. Despite Diane Kruger’s clear commitment to the role, Katja lacks an engaging personality; she exists as an extension of her husband and son, something that -- in today’s progressive world -- immediately sticks out like a sore thumb. Akin had the opportunity to add an extra layer to the character with his fascinating choice of composer, Queen of Stone Age’s front man Josh Homme -- as the tattoos and leather jackets that make up Katja’s appearance give you the sense that she comes from a hard rock background. But, Homme went for a more atmospheric and moody tone, where a bit of aggression would’ve gone a long way to add some spring to Katja’s step."
 
Nikola Grozdanovic, The Playlist 
 
"One of Germany’s most accomplished directors, Akin returns to a region where the borders are increasingly porous and the blending of cultures produces unease -- or worse. (Possible culprits for the bombing: neo-Nazis, the Turkish Mafia, the Kurds, or those familiar scapegoats the Albanians.) Thanks to chillingly spare storytelling, Kruger’s momentous performance, and a score by Josh Homme (the front man of Queens of the Stone Age) that features a sort of screechy clang that gave me shivers, 'In the Fade' is gripping. But it’s hard to know what to take away from it. The villains are one-note. The trial’s outcome is difficult to buy. Akin’s sense of helplessness borders on nihilism of the sort that makes vigilante action seem the most reliable recourse. At least he leaves you thinking What a waste, instead of Kill ’em again!"
 
David Edelstein, New York 
 
"Technical work is smooth and highly effective throughout. Rainer Klausmann, Akin’s regular cinematographer, creates a rain-soaked atmosphere of suspense set in a world that feels real, not one simply designed to trigger emotions. Production designer Tamo Kunz swims against stereotype in his tasteful apartment design; Joshua Homme’s fine score pumps up the suspense and aching sadness in turn."
 
Joshua Homme, The Hollywood Reporter 

LAST MEN IN ALEPPO - Karsten Fundal
 
"Instead, Fayyad drifts through the purgatory of waiting to die. He captures the action in an order so arbitrary that it might as well be chronological, striking an uneasy balance between non-fiction narrative and a nebulous sense of dread. One of the White Helmets asks: 'Should we sit down and cry or what?,' and it often feels as though the film is posing the same question to us. Eventually, every new scene just becomes more of the same. By the end, Fayyad’s camera sees Syria through the same uncomprehending eyes as Khaled’s goldfish. The film’s haunting string music and its occasional, sudden reliance on poetics tend to suggest that the filmmaker isn’t comfortable with the limbo that he’s captured so well, but what else could he possibly have been hoping to find?"
 
David Ehrlich, IndieWire 

"The editing in the film’s second half is slightly baggier than necessary, while Karsten Fundal’s heavy and heterogeneous score is often less a harmonizing factor than a distraction. The final sequences also feel a little too much like a calculated, fiction-type arrangement of the available footage. Still, there is no denying the cumulative power of the material, in large part due the protagonists’ endless reservoirs of humanity, dignity and selflessness in the face of one of the world’s biggest and most incomprehensible tragedies. Light on background and contextual facts, 'Last Men in Aleppo' speaks very loudly from the heart."
 
Boyd van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter 

LOVELESS - Evgueni Galperine, Sacha Galperine

"There is no way to do the film justice while also selling it as an appealing way to spend two devastating hours. But Zvyaginstev’s skill as a filmmaker is such that as discomfiting as it is, it’s deeply compelling and immersive. And it’s not just that regular DP Mikhail Krichman‘s framing is breathtaking, whether in wide outdoor vistas, crumbling dank interiors, or skeletal, snowladen trees reminiscent of the bleached bones of the whale carcass in 'Leviathan.' It’s the mysterious sureness of the offbeat directorial choices Zvyaginstev makes, accompanied by Evgeny Galperin‘s terrific score, with its unearthly crescendoing piano chord motif. Often, within a continuous shot, the light will grow almost imperceptibly dimmer and the colors flatten ever so slightly. At other times, he lingers on a secondary character in such a way that new avenues of possibility, of intrigue and dread, branch off the main story. Why do we see the teacher clean her blackboard off after everybody has left the room? Why does the camera pan a fraction to follow an unknown man walking down a snowy path? What is the real truth of the film’s complex climax, a truth that exists just below the bottom of the frame? These moments exist like slivers of bamboo beneath your nails, they torture you with what they might mean."
 
Jessica Kiang, The Playlist
 
"Likewise, the abandoned buildings in the middle of the nearby forest that the search party scours looking for Alyosha -- a Soviet sports club, perhaps, or a decommissioned school -- are both just a well-found location and at the same time a set decorated with weather-worn furniture, glass shards and symbolism. As the music growls ominously with long sustained chords -- as ever, Zvyagintsev deploys an exquisitely well-balanced mix of original music (by Evgeni Galperin) and modern classical pieces — that empty swimming pool starts to look like a mass grave, but one that could never hold all the runaways of the nation."
 
Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter 

PROUD MARY - Fil Eisler
 
"Much of Proud Mary consists of scenes in which Mary tries to sort out when to tell her boss, Benny (Danny Glover), and his son and second-in-command, Tom (Billy Brown), about Danny’s history in their organization’s affairs. Mary and Tom are exes, and one scene between them, in which Tom simultaneously questions Mary about Danny and their own potential reconciliation, alluringly weds sex and exploitative professionalism (shades of Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious). About 70 of the film’s 89 minutes, however, involve people talking in rarefied and blandly noir-ish sets while a paint-by-dots score drones in the background, attempting to manufacture an illusion of suspense. One may yearn for a sexy and funky score, to complement the largely pointless yet welcome use of 'Papa Was a Rolling Stone,' and, inevitably, of Tina and Ike Turner’s 'Proud Mary.' Where’s Curtis Mayfield when you need him?"
 
Chuck Bowen, Slant Magazine 

"Of course, the premise isn’t the problem -- 'Proud Mary' could have copied 'The Professional' scene-for-scene as long as it brought some of its own flair to the table. But after an opening title sequence that’s set to 'Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone' and stylized like a Pam Grier classic, the film abandons most of its color and all of its soul. For a few seconds there, it seems like the movie might actually deliver on the promise of its marketing campaign (which was totally badass until the moment it suspiciously ceased to exist). But then, just like that, any hint of funk is promptly switched out in favor of those ominous fart sounds that soundtrack basic cable procedurals, and you know you’re in for another Babak Najafi special."
 
David Ehrlich, IndieWire 
 
STRONG ISLAND - Hildur Guonadottir, Craig Sutherland
 
"That frustrating inability to assemble a complete picture clearly has eaten away at the Fords for more than two decades, perhaps making it inevitable that Strong Island remains disjointed in terms of building the family history into a fluid narrative. Even so, the film is both absorbing and thought-provoking -- it's artfully shot, with framing that alternately suggests subjectivity and irrefutable truth, while the score by Icelandic cellist Hildur Gudnadottir and Scottish composer Craig Sutherland creates a palpable mood of reverberating sorrow and unease."
 
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter 

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.  

December 6
THE BOYS NEXT DOOR (George S. Clinton) [Nuart]
FIRST BLOOD (Jerry Goldsmith), THEY LIVE (John Carpenter, Alan Howarth) [UCLA]
RESERVOIR DOGS [New Beverly]
THE SHINING (Wendy Carlos, Rachel Elkind) [New Beverly]
SISTERS (Bernard Herrmann), BLOW OUT (Pino Donaggio) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]

December 7
BACK TO THE FUTURE (Alan Silvestri), DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN (Thomas Newman) [UCLA]
BRAZIL (Michael Kamen) [Vista]
GREMLINS (Jerry Goldsmith) [New Beverly]
LONE WOLF MCQUADE (Francesco De Masi) [New Beverly]
MAGNOLIA (Jon Brion) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]

December 8
THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN (Michael Kamen) [Vista]
DEATH ON THE NILE (Nino Rota) [Alamo Drafthouse]
GREMLINS (Jerry Goldsmith) [New Beverly]
THE HOLIDAY (Hans Zimmer) [Alamo Drafthouse]
OUR BLUSHING BRIDES, FOOTLIGHT PARADE [Cinematheque: Egyptian]

December 9
THE BIGAMIST (Leith Stevens) [Alamo Drafthouse]
DRUNKEN MASTER (Fu Liang Chou) [Arclight Hollywood]
ELF (John Debney) [Arclight Santa Monica]
EYES WIDE SHUT (Jocelyn Pook) [New Beverly]
L.A. CONFIDENTIAL (Jerry Goldsmith) [New Beverly]
PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES (Ira Newborn) [Arclight Sherman Oaks]
SCROOGED (Danny Elfman) [Arclight Culver City]

December 10
ENTER THE DRAGON (Lalo Schifrin) [Arclight Hollywood]
EYES WIDE SHUT (Jocelyn Pook) [New Beverly]
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (Dimitri Tiomkin) [Arclight Culver City]
PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES (Ira Newborn) [Arclight Santa Monica]
THE RECKLESS MOMENT (Hans J. Salter) [Cinematheque: Aero]
SCROOGED (Danny Elfman) [Arclight Sherman Oaks]
SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (Perry Botkin) [Alamo Drafthouse]

December 11
AUNTIE MAME (Bronislau Kaper) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
CAROL (Carter Burwell), FAR FROM HEAVEN (Elmer Bernstein) [New Beverly]
FINAL FLESH [Alamo Drafthouse]
SLEUTH (John Addison) [Alamo Drafthouse]
THE THIN MAN (William Axt) [New Beverly]

December 12
AUNTIE MAME (Bronislau Kaper) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
THE BLOODY CURSE [Alamo Drafthouse]
CAROL (Carter Burwell), FAR FROM HEAVEN (Elmer Bernstein) [New Beverly] 
GREMLINS (Jerry Goldsmith) [Alamo Drafthouse]

December 13
BEING THERE (Johnny Mandel) [Vista]
BROKEN BUTTERFLY [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
FRIDAY THE 13TH (Harry Manfredini) [Nuart]
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V: A NEW BEGINNING (Harry Manfredini), FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON LIVES (Harry Manfredini), FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD (Harry Manfredini, Fred Mollin), FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VIII: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN (Fred Mollin) [Alamo Drafthouse]
THE INVISIBLE MAN [New Beverly]
THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE (Roque Banos), THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN (Michael Kamen) [Cinematheque: Aero]
RESERVOIR DOGS [New Beverly]

December 14
BEING JOHN MALKOVICH (Carter Burwell), THREE KINGS (Carter Burwell) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
A CHRISTMAS STORY (Carl Zittrer, Paul Zaza) [New Beverly]
CORALINE (Bruno Coulais), MISSING LINK (Carter Burwell) [Alamo Drafthouse]
DON'T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS (Des Dolan) [New Beverly]
ED WOOD (Howard Shore) [Cinematheque: Aero]
EVIL UNDER THE SUN (Cole Porter, John Lanchbery) [Alamo Drafthouse]
MISERY (Marc Shaiman) [Vista]

December 15
A CHRISTMAS STORY (Carl Zittrer, Paul Zaza) [New Beverly]
ELF (John Debney) [UCLA]
THE LAST OF SHEILA (Billy Goldenberg) [Alamo Drafthouse]
LOVE ACTUALLY (Craig Armstrong) [Alamo Drafthouse]
PATERSON (Jim Jarmusch, Carter Logan, Squrl) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
PRIMAL FEAR (James Newton Howard) [Cinematheque: Aero]


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

Heard: Star Trek: I, Mudd/The Trouble with Tribbles (Matlovsky/Fielding), Dunkirk (Zimmer)

Read: The Mandeville Talent, by George V. Higgins; The Blackbird, by Richard Stark (aka Donald E. Westlake); Maximum Bob, by Elmore Leonard

Seen: Young Mr. Lincoln; Only Angels Have Wings

Watched: Twin Peaks ("Gotta Light?"), Maniac ("Ceci N'est Pas Un Drill")

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