19 items from 2015
I sensed early on with "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" that James Horner was going to become the finest film composer of his generation. He boldly seized the Jerry Goldsmith mantle head on and made it his own. Now, after his tragic plane crash near Santa Barbara Monday morning, I can proclaim it online: His scores were epic, intimate and emotionally and spiritually transcendent. And he was prolific, scoring more than 100 movies since the late '70s, highlighted by "Titanic" (for which he received two Oscars for score and the blockbuster hit song with Celine Dion, "My Heart Will Go On," co-written by Will Jennings), "Avatar," Braveheart," "Apollo 13," "Aliens, "A Beautiful Mind," "Field of Dreams," "Glory," "Brainstorm" and "Cocoon." But there were also such gems as "Something Wicked This Way Comes," "The Dresser," »
- Bill Desowitz
As far as working couples go, director Julie Taymor and composer Elliot Goldenthal might be the most daring, experimental and sophisticated in the showbiz firmament. Their film, theater and opera collaborations combine complex soundscapes with highly stylized visuals.
Their latest phantasmagoria, Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” — a filmed record of Taymor’s staging of the play at the Theatre for a New Audience in Brooklyn that debuted at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival last September — is no different, despite the production’s spare trappings.
“It was really simple onstage,” explains Goldenthal, “just a few projections, and the audience surrounding the actors. It was mainly an actors’ piece.”
And yet the production — which is being presented event-style in approximately 85 theaters for one night only on Monday, June 22 — appears highly cinematic, bathed in stark, moonlight-blue lighting, and adorned with gorgeous costumes that bridge contemporary and period worlds with the spirit world of gods and fairies. »
- Steve Chagollan
Since Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979, the Star Trek cinematic outings have proved to be a smorgasbord of references and famous actors (or those who would go on to be), and often had complex behind the scenes events that stopped some rather, ahem, fascinating moments making it to the final version. We found lots of nerdy spots in the first six films here.
This time out we look at the films featuring the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation and choose 47 factoids. Granted, there's a lot more than that of interest, but we've tried for ones that you might not be aware of.
Oh, and there are some major spoilers...
Star Trek: Generations (1994)
1. The first of the Next Generation films was something of a rush job as principal photography »
TV has a new superhero. Marvel’s Daredevil follows the journey of Matt Murdock, who was blinded as a young boy but imbued with extraordinary senses, now fighting against injustice by day as a lawyer, and by night as the super hero Daredevil in modern day Hell’s Kitchen, New York City.
Starring Charlie Cox (Matt Murdock), Rosario Dawson (Claire Temple), Elden Henson (Foggy Nelson) and Vincent D’Onofrio (Wilson Fisk), Marvel’s Daredevil remains faithful to the long-running comic’s reputation as a realistic crime drama.
Marvel’s first original series on Netflix is Executive Produced by series Showrunner Steven S. DeKnight (Spartacus, Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, Angel) and Drew Goddard (“Cabin in the Woods,” “Lost,” “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”, in addition to writing the first two episodes »
- Michelle McCue
Well, the big studios have finally gotten around to another summer cinema staple. Let’s see, for 2015 we’ve had a couple of sequels (Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Pitch Perfect 2), a reboot (Mad Max: Fury Road), and a brassy lady-driven comedy (Hot Pursuit). So now, it’s time for that other, often dreaded, “R-word”: the remake (usually called a “re-imagining” by sneaky PR types). Oh, and this is another 1980’s classic like January 2014’s Robocop. But we’ll go back a few years before that shoot-em-up satire of 1987. It’s 1982, the summer of Spielberg, when he had his biggest (at that time) box office smash with E.T. The Extra-terrestrial. Now Mr. S wrote and directed that one, but a few weeks before that opened, he produced and wrote another huge hit. Now, yet another prominent blockbuster director, Sam Raimi, is the producer of this new scare-fest. To paraphrase »
- Jim Batts
Remakes are a mixed bag with horror fans. Generally, most fans of the genre have a negative reaction. Hopefully, there are a few like myself that don’t mind a remake if new ideas are being injected into it or if the the new incarnation can improve on some weak spots. Since Sam Raimi is a producer on this new remake of Poltergeist, we’ll take the Evil Dead remake under consideration. I’ll be the first to admit that while I love the original Evil Dead, it has some issues – mainly pacing. I thought the remake did a great job by keeping the viciousness of the original, if not amping it up a bit more, as well as improving the story a bit as well as updating it for modern audiences. The reason why most genre fans hate remakes is that they feel it is a cash grab for an already established brand. »
- Andy Triefenbach
So he pulled out his laptop, plugged in the keyboard, and heard “this weird static interference,” he says. “It scared the crap out of me.” But, ever on a quest for new sounds, he quickly pulled out his iPhone, recorded the sound — and it’s in the score for MGM’s remake of the 1982 classic, out May 22.
As director Gil Kenan explains: “There’s a subtheme in the film: the way that electricity permeates our lives, and that’s part of the way the haunting is able to express itself. Marc picked up on that idea, brought in these electronic signals and weaved them, sometimes melodically, sometimes in more discordant or troubling ways, in scenes of suspense or drama.”
Both Streitenfeld and Kenan acknowledge that the original “Poltergeit” casts a big shadow. »
- Jon Burlingame
The closing credits for Gil Kenan’s remake of the 1982 horror classic “Poltergeist” feature the band Spoon covering the Cramps’ 1980 punk classic “TV Set.” Spoon is a tasteful, studious yet largely anodyne indie rock outfit that has become an NPR staple; the Cramps were a scuzzy, unhinged psychobilly band whose most famous gig took place in an actual mental hospital. It’s hard to think of a more fitting postscript for this professionally executed yet bloodless film, itself an act of homage that hews reverently to its source material while missing the essential spirit and vitality that once powered it. Generally entertaining yet fundamentally unnecessary, this tribute-band take on one of the genre’s greatest hits should score decent opening weekend numbers before finding its way into the light.
- Andrew Barker
New posters featuring the main three characters from the psychological horror film, Sun Choke (which recently made its world premiere at the Stanley Film Festival), are featured in our latest round-up. We also have release details and cover art for One Way Static Records' upcoming vinyl soundtrack release for Mark of the Devil and its sequel, as well as a new poster for the upcoming prison-set thriller, Vendetta, which is directed by Jen and Sylvia Soska (See No Evil 2, American Mary).
Synopsis: "Janie’s just trying to get well. As she recovers from a violent psychotic break, she’s subjected each day to a bizarre holistic health and wellness regimen designed, and enforced, by her lifelong nanny and caretaker. She begins »
- Derek Anderson
There was a brief stir in January when composer Harry Gregson-Williams publicly expressed, via Facebook, his surprise at hearing music he didn’t recognize at the premiere of Michael Mann’s thriller “Blackhat” — and at not hearing a lot of score he did write.
The composer says his Facebook post has been blown out of proportion, but admits it was disappointing to see music he toiled over dropped (or replaced) in the final cut. But, he stresses, that’s just part of the game.
“You win some, you lose some,” he says, relaying his early mentor Hans Zimmer’s comment that you haven’t made it as a film composer until you’ve had a score rejected.
Gregson-Williams is simply the latest in a long line of composers who’ve watched scores tossed out and replaced whole-cloth, partially substituted by pre-existing tracks, or mangled beyond recognition. Mann is notorious for »
- Tim Greiving
Ah, the 1990s. The decade that brought us The Lion King. Titanic. Quentin Tarantino. That wordless bathroom scene in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet. Angelo Badalamenti's Twin Peaks. Duel of the Fates from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. In the Mood for Love.
It was a good 10 years for film music, no doubt.
But scratch the surface of 1991 through 1999 and there are tons of good scores ready to spring a surprise on your ears. Some were attached to sorely underrated movies, others were overshadowed by wildly successful ones, and some have simply been forgotten in the passage of time.
Here, in no particular order, are the top 25 underappreciated film soundtracks from the 1990s.
When Platoon won four Oscars in 1987, it marked not only a new chapter in Oliver Stone's career as a filmmaker, but also the end of a decade-long battle. Since the 1970s, Stone had been struggling to make his harrowing account of the horrors he'd seen firsthand as a soldier in the Vietnam conflict, but was famously turned down by every major studio in Hollywood.
Platoon, and Stone, finally found sanctuary at a small independent studio with a grand-sounding name: the Hemdale Film Corporation. It was Hemdale, and its co-founder John Daly, that had taken a chance on Stone, and when Platoon came out in 1986, the gamble proved to be a shrewd one: its $6m investment was covered by the first month's ticket sales, and the film »
Only two Steven Spielberg features have not been scored by John Williams: The Color Purple (Quincy Jones) and Twilight Zone: The Movie (Jerry Goldsmith). Three, if you include Duel, although technically that's a TV movie. Now there's a third (or fourth, depending on your stance on the whole Duel thing) in the shape of upcoming espionage drama Bridge Of Spies. Due to "a minor health issue, now corrected," John Williams is no longer scoring the film.Perhaps to sweeten that epoch-interrupting news, the director has offered the world a glimpse at the film in the shape of this first-look still. Spielberg has instead filled the gap with Thomas Newman. He's a composer with an impressive CV in his own right, spanning everything from Pixar animations to Sam Mendes' dramatic fare, and is currently scoring a spy movie of a different stripe in Mendes's Spectre.As for the still, »
The original animated movie opened on February 15, 1950 to universal acclaim and 65 years later, Cinderella has become one of studio’s most treasured titles.
Branagh has once again turned to the Scottish composer Patrick Doyle for the score. The album features original music by Doyle marking the eleventh time he has teamed with Branagh.
In 1989, the director commissioned Doyle to compose the score for Henry V and they have subsequently collaborated on numerous pictures, including Dead Again, Mary Shelley’S Frankenstein, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, As You Like It and Thor, and most recently Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.
From the worlds »
- Michelle McCue
Jake Gittes: How much are you worth?
Noah Cross: I have no idea. How much do you want?
Jake Gittes: I just wanna know what you’re worth. More than 10 million?
Noah Cross: Oh my, yes!
Jake Gittes: Why are you doing it? How much better can you eat? What could you buy that you can’t already afford?
Noah Cross: The future, Mr. Gittes! The future. Now, where’s the girl? I want the only daughter I’ve got left. As you found out, Evelyn was lost to me a long time ago.
Jake Gittes: Who do you blame for that? Her?
Noah Cross: I don’t blame myself. You see, Mr. Gittes, most people never have to face the fact that at the right time and the right place, they’re capable of anything.
Chinatown is a masterpiece, »
- John Ostrander
Hollywood has no shortage of talented composers crafting mostly serviceable tunes for the next young adult literary adaptation or prestige awards tearjerker. But for every auteur like Hans Zimmer and John Williams, you have musical yes men pounding out ominous notes in anticipation of the next horror movie jump scare or making ratatat noise to underscore a superhero chase scene. The film world screams for diverse sounds, but is often left wanting when scores become interchangeable to feed the Hollywood machine. The current film decade is no different from any other in terms of talent, mediocrity, and ingenuity, but could always use a boost from professionals who bring specificity to the table. These five forgotten or diminished artists, each among them with varied yet singular skills, are screaming to be brought back into the Hollywood fold to create their signature sounds.
One of the most prolific composers from the 90’s, »
- Shane Ramirez
I love movie and television soundtracks. I’ll often use a given soundtrack while I work, letting it fuel my writing. I can’t listen to music with lyrics in them; that interferes with my process. I’ll get themes, characters, even scenes or whole plots from the music. Soundtrack music is in service of the story that the film is trying to tell; it’s a part of the narrative, heightening the emotion that’s being invoked.
I have my own particular favorites. The composers usually have a large body of work but certain key works resonate within me – Jerry Goldsmith’s Chinatown and Patton, James Horner with Field of Dreams, Shaun Davey’s Waking Ned Devine, Elmer Bernstein’s To Kill A Mockingbird (has there ever been a more beautiful and evocative theme?) and, of course, The Magnificent Seven.
I’ve also been very fond of Alan Silvestri »
- John Ostrander
The creepy clown is back!
Eric Bowen (Sam Rockwell) and wife Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt) desperately try and hold on to their youngest daughter Madison (Kennedi Clements), who’s been targeted by terrifying apparitions in the first trailer for Poltergeist.
The new film is a contemporary take on the classic tale about a family whose suburban home is haunted by evil forces. When the terrifying apparitions escalate their attacks and hold the youngest daughter captive, the family must come together to rescue her before she disappears forever.
“They’re here” sent shivers down the spine of moviegoers in 1982 when the terrifying horror classic, directed by Tobe Hooper and produced by Steven Spielberg, was released. What made the film even more scary was the chilling score by Jerry Goldsmith.
The trailer looks tremendous and it did its job in scaring me, so I’m willing to give it a go (now I »
- Michelle McCue
Ranking any franchise is a personal and difficult process, but the Alien series represents its own challenges. Were you more affected by the intimate shocks of the 1979 original, or the more action-led 1986 sequel? Were you impressed by Alien 3's commitment to its bleak tone, or irked by its soupy darkness?
You're sure to have your own opinions as to how the Alien movies should be ranked, though we'd wager that, like us, you'd place the Alien Vs Predator spin-offs quite far down the list. But then there's Ridley Scott's prequel, Prometheus, a film some might rank far above Jean-Pierre Jeunet's quirky Alien Resurrection, and perhaps even David Fincher's Alien 3.
Accepting, then, that the ranking below is very much down to personal taste, »
19 items from 2015
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