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Exclusive: Birdman may be flying high with critics, but Oscar just shot him down permanently. Musically, that is.
Perhaps the most inventive and talked about motion picture music score of the year — a winner already of numerous critics awards as well as nominations from the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Movie Awards — has been deep-sixed by Oscar even before it had a chance to compete. When Antonio Sanchez’s remarkable percussive drum score for Birdman went missing from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ December 12th list of 114 eligible films for Best Original Music Score, eyebrows were raised. After all this was not exactly a list that discriminates, including everything from Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt? to Ouija. A quiet, and meticulously detailed appeal was launched by the composer, director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and distributor Fox Searchlight. After an emergency meeting of the Music Branch Executive Committee »
- Pete Hammond
Is Wilhelm Furtwängler (1886-1954) the greatest conductor ever? While there are some who, in preference to his highly inflected, interventionist style, would prefer a more straight-forward conductor such as his contemporary Arturo Toscanini, many cognoscenti believe that at the least Furtwängler, when heard in his favored 19th century Austro-Germanic repertoire, ranks supreme of his type in the pre-stereo era. The aforementioned Toscanini himself was an admirer; asked who aside from himself was the greatest conductor, he named Furtwängler, and also pushed for the German to take over the directorship of the New York Philharmonic when Toscanini relinquished its reins, though controversy prevented that.
While Furtwängler was a more versatile conductor than some observers give him credit for, his reputation is based firmly on his masterful conducting of the symphonies of Beethoven, Bruckner, and Brahms and the operas of Wagner. He said, "A well-rehearsed concert is one in which you have »
The truth about a career that spans seven decades, is that for the majority of that career, you'll be what’s traditionally thought of as “old.” Hollywood does not like “old.” The magnificent part of watching Katharine Hepburn age has been watching her flip old age (and Hollywood) the bird. True, her head wobbles, her hair is gray, and her voice is reedy. Still, she leaps after hot air balloons, bicycles, hauls wood, and even wins Academy Awards at an age far past what would traditionally be considered “her prime.” For the past few years, Kate has looked old, sounded old, and even talked about being old, but the stubbornly energetic woman has never felt old. Which is why Grace Quigley is more than a little scary. »
- Anne Marie
Drum roll please...
Welcome to our miniseries "The Honoraries". From now until November 8th when the Governor's Awards are held, we'll be celebrating the careers of the three Honorary Oscar recipients of 2014 (Maureen O'Hara, Hayao Miyazaki, Claude Carriere) and the Jean Hersholt winner (Harry Belafonte). Because I am behind schedule and sniffly and sneezy we'll start with a reprise repurposing of a look back to the super entertaining swashbuckler Black Swan starring matinee idol extraordinaire Tyrone Power (who so deserves a biopic) and the woman we've campaigned to receive a Honorary for years and years now. The Academy finally listened and Maureen O'Hara, Queen of Technicolor, we'll finally get her golden due on November 8th.
Herewith a look back at Black Swan which the Portman/Aronofsky drama was Not a remake of. Tyrone Power and Maureen O'Hara don't see themselves in mirrors or have hallucinatory mental breakdowns scored to Tchaikovsky in this swashbuckler. »
- NATHANIEL R
Adieu au langage - Goodbye to Language
A Works Cited
From its bluntly political opening (Alfredo Bandelli's 'La caccia alle streghe': "Always united we win, long live the revolution!") to its hilarious fecal humor and word play—with 3D staging that happily puts to shame James Cameron and every other hack who's tried their hand at it these past several years—Adieu au langage overwhelms us with a deluge of recited texts, music and images, hardly ever bothering to slow down to let us catch our breath. Exhilarating and certainly not surprising—this is the guy who made Puissance de la parole after all!
The release of a new Godard film or video means a new encounter with texts, films and music often familiar from the filmmaker's earlier work—reworked and re-contextualized—as well as new discoveries to be sorted through and identified. This life-long interest in quotation »
- Ted Fendt
Every year near Halloween, I find myself re-watching at least some of the classic Universal monster movies from the 30s, 40s, and 50s. This year, thanks to purchasing the Universal Classic Monsters 30-Film Collection, I’m pretty much revisiting all of them. Kicking off that list is Tod Browning’s timeless classic Dracula, which was the first Hollywood production of the character and also the risky endeavor Universal diving into the monster movie market. Of course, being more than 80 years old, there are no contemporary filmmaker commentaries available on this title. In the DVD box set, which packages together all the Legacy Collection discs, we are left with a commentary by film historian David J. Skal and the screenwriter from Dracula: Dead and Loving It. As much as I enjoy Mel Brooks’ works, I felt it was a better bet to go with the possibly drier but more insightful historian. This »
- Kevin Carr
Australian man Rodney Langham seems to spend a lot of time with kangaroos. At least, that's what his YouTube channel would suggest. Langham's video of two kangaroos fighting in the middle of his otherwise quiet Wyee Point street went massively viral about a week ago, notching over 2.2 million views on YouTube. (The fact that it's soundtracked to Tchaikovsky's "Waltz of the Flowers" from The Nutcracker makes for a nicely surreal viewing experience.) If you're interested in a more quietly disturbing video, try the one below, where a dozen kangaroos line up in the street, staring off into middle distance. »
- Alex Heigl, @alex_heigl
Audrey Long, actress in B film noirs and Westerns, and widow of author Leslie Charteris, dead at 92 (photo: Audrey Long publicity shot ca. late '40s) Actress Audrey Long, a leading lady in mostly B crime dramas and Westerns of the '40s and early '50s, and the widow of The Saint creator Leslie Charteris, died "after a long illness" on September 19, 2014, in Virginia Water, Surrey, England. Long was 92. Her death was first reported by Ian Dickerson on the website LeslieCharteris.com. Born on April 14 (some sources claim April 12), 1922, in Orlando, Florida, Audrey Long was the daughter of an English-born Episcopal minister, who later became a U.S. Navy Chaplain. Her early years were spent moving about North America, in addition to some time in Honolulu. According to Dickerson's Audrey Long tribute on the Leslie Charteris site, following acting lessons with coach Dorothea Johnson, whose pupils had also included »
- Andre Soares
With the release date of Fantasia: Music Evolved a little under two months away, Harmonix has finally revealed the full tracklist for their colorful rhythm game. Published by Disney Interactive, Fantasia will launch exclusively on the Xbox One and Xbox 360 on October 20.
Speaking at Pax Prime this weekend, the team at Harmonix announced that tracks from Lady Gaga, Jimi Hendrix, The Flaming Lips and more will round out the final setlist. As one of the more musically-inclined developers in the business today, it makes sense that Harmonix would build a tracklist as eclectic as the one included here.
You can check out the entire tracklist for the title below, with the new additions bolded.
Dvořák – “Symphony No.9 from the New World” Vivaldi – “The Four Seasons: Winter, 1st Movement” Avicii – “Levels” J.S. Bach – “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” Bruno Mars – “Locked Out of Heaven” Cee Lo Green – “Forget »
- Eric Hall
Far be it from me to make any grand sweeping statements on the year in film this early, but as of July 2014, I would argue it’s already been a fascinating year for scores. Just look at blockbusters. We’ve heard both the invigoratingly new and the depressingly dull. Ambitious combinations have even produced a commendable failure here and there. Hollywood studios almost always take the safe road in their big-budget franchises, but the music attached to those tentpoles feels less restrained and not nearly as beholden to manageable cliches.
Thus far we’ve had a tremendous grab bag in film music (and I say this as someone who hasn’t yet seen Under the Skin), but what’s been the best to come out of it? Without further ado…
Captain America: The Winter Soldier isn’t a great movie, but it »
- David Klein
After Part One – over here – follows the miraculously-titled Part Two that begins with the group taking questions from an audience of journalists, many of whom have flown in from around the world. Everyone is keen to take this unique opportunity to ask something incisive…well, I was but I didn’t get the chance. A selection of what actually happened is recounted below…
Angela Bishop from Channel Ten, Australia…
Eric Idle: G’day! And yes, we will be doing ‘The Bruces’…
I understand there might be special guests joining you onstage during the Bruce sketches, is that right? And secondly is there any chance you’ll bring this wonderful show to Australia?
Eric Idle: For charity. Some poor guy gets to come up and dress…
Michael Palin: And »
- Steve Palace
Ahead of the start of their 10-date residency at London's O2, the Pythons (one down, five to go) got on stage together at the London Palladium to answer some questions.
Digital Spy popped along, and below are a few things we found out.
1. The final rip-off roundup
600 extra tickets for every O2 date will go on sale from 6pm tonight (June 30)Monty Python Sings (again) has a swanky reissue and there's the 9-disc Monty Python's Total Rubbish: The Complete Collection box set - both out todayThe last two nights are being recorded - and will be released on Blu-ray/DVDMonty Python's Spam Club - "what may be the worst run fan club in the world" - the Pythons invite you to ask questions via Spamvelope
2. Why isn't it being shown on the BBC?
The final night (July 20) will be broadcast live on UKTV Gold, as well as being screened at 1,800 cinemas in 30 countries, »
It’s made a social impact both in the UK and globally, it’s changed perceptions of plus size dancers and now, it’s been nominated for a TV Choice Award! Popular Channel 4 show Big Ballet has been longlisted for Reality TV Programme of the Year in this year’s awards.
Featuring the multitalented Raj Parmar, who this year danced his way onto television screens across the globe, Big Ballet is a strong contender in its category. Up against the likes of Made In Chelsea and The Only Way Is Essex, the show is certainly facing some tough competition, but is definitely up for the challenge!
Trained Bollywood dancer Raj displayed his versatility in dance on the show as he expertly mastered classic Ballet moves. Beating 500 hopefuls in the selection process, Raj landed one of the lead roles as heinous villain Baron Von Rothbart in the Big Ballet version of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. »
- Press Releases
35th edition of the festival runs June 19-28.
Directed by Gabe Polsky, the film was first shown at last month’s Cannes Film Festival and will be released in the Us by Sony Pictures.
Speaking at this week’s press conference, programme director Kirill Razlogov exxplained that documentaries have always played “a special role” at the festival - “documentaries are practically in all of the programmes” - and said that it was “symbolic” to open with a documentary.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Martin Blaney)
The first true day of E3 2014 has wrapped and let me tell you, time does fly when you are having an insane time. With so many huge titles announced beforehand, and even more unveiled as the show goes on, playing -- or seeing -- games hands on takes up most of the time.
Today, I started my E3 with Activision and my first stop was 30 minutes playing Destiny, the hot new IP from Bungie. First off, the game sizzles in its smoothness. The textures are wonderful and it felt like 1080p, 60 fps, even on this early build.
My fire team took on the Old Russia map and we were able to run one mission. Our team lead was the artist who actually created the level, Rob Evans. Destiny has an Mmo feel with enemy respawns occurring all the time. We cleared out an old factory and took on a "wizard" which was the level boss. »
The Kinect-based game Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved took a big hit when Microsoft announced that Xbox One without Kinect would arrive in stores this month. Despite the imminent drop in Kinect-based Xbox Ones on the market moving forward, Disney Interactive is moving full steam ahead with the release of their Fantasia-inspired game and will release it to the world on October 21.
To accompany the release date announcement and usher in next week's E3, Disney Interactive has passed along a new trailer dubbed 'The Neighborhood' that explores a previously unseen city realm in the game. This trailer wisely intersperses cuts of an actual person "conducting" the gameplay so what's seen on the screen makes more sense.
The official description of 'The Neighborhood' reads as follows, "In The Neighborhood, players will work their way through a restrained 2D urban cityscape, using music and magic to unleash a vibrant and magical »
(Note: This piece discusses key plot points from “Maleficent.”)
If we must take a revisionist sledgehammer to our most beloved fairy tales — and if the recent likes of “Alice in Wonderland,” “Red Riding Hood,” “Mirror, Mirror,” “Snow White and the Huntsman,” “Jack the Giant Slayer” and “Oz the Great and Powerful” are any indication, it seems we must — the results should always turn out to be as interesting as “Maleficent.” With its righteous gender politics and a mesmerizing Angelina Jolie front and center, this live-action fantasy doesn’t just offer an engrossing “Wicked”-style alternative reading of Disney’s 1959 animated masterpiece, “Sleeping Beauty.” It also represents the studio’s latest concerted effort to dismantle, or at least gently undermine, some of its time-honored myths and stereotypes.
- Justin Chang
Written by Linda Woolverton
Directed by Robert Stromberg
Michael Myers is terrifying because he’s an absolute. What exists behind the mask is confined to our imagination. As soon as Rob Zombie went behind the mask, and made Myers into a broken child, we lost a bit of the magic. The imagined terror of a crazed killer’s motivations were solidified, and suddenly he was less terrifying. Less interesting.
The same is this true of Maleficent in Robert Stromberg’s directorial debut. One of Disney’s most iconic villainesses, she is adored by women of all ages. In 1959’s Sleeping Beauty, she was a harbinger of chaos with an elegant grace and lethal determination. For many, she was the star of the film, while the waif-like Princess Aurora simply allowed the plot to happen to her. While Angelina Jolie’s embodiment of Maleficent is excellent, Stromberg and writer »
- Ariel Fisher
If your animation history is spotty (or if you don't have a very young child in your life), Maleficent was the iconic sorceress from Walt Disney's very amazing 1959 animated feature "Sleeping Beauty" (in the original, she was sinisterly voiced by Eleanor Audley). Following the success of Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" (and other fairy tale blockbusters from other studios), it was time to give "Sleeping Beauty" the "Wicked" treatment, with a story from the witch's point of view.
Of course, Sleeping Beauty is there, too. Elle Fanning plays Princess Aurora, in a performance that gets a little lost (if you don't know the story of Sleeping Beauty, we pity you) and there are supporting performances from Juno Temple, Imelda Staunton, Leslie Manville, Sam Riley, and Sharlto Copley. Quite frankly, when you're standing in Angelina's shadow, »
- Drew Taylor
A classicist using Romantic harmonies, Johannes Brahms (1833-97) was hailed at age 20 by Robert Schumann in a famous article entitled "New Paths." Yet by the time Brahms wrote his mature works, his music was thought of as a conservative compared to the daring harmonies and revolutionary dramatic theories of Richard Wagner. But in the next century, Arnold Schoenberg's 1947 essay titled "Brahms the Progressive" praised Brahms's bold modulations (as daring as Wagner's most tonally ambiguous chords), asymmetrical forms, and mastery of imaginative variation and development of thematic material.
The son of a bassist in the Hamburg Philharmonic Society, Brahms was an excellent pianist who was supporting himself by his mid-teens. His first two published works were his Piano Sonatas Nos. 1 and 2, and throughout his career he penned much fine music for that instrument, not only solo (including the later Piano Sonata No. 3) and duo but also his landmark Piano Concertos Nos. »
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