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4 items from 2013

Zimmer’s Tale of Two Scores

7 November 2013 10:30 AM, PST | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Hans Zimmer’s two late-2013 films couldn’t possibly be more different: “Rush,” a driving, in-your-face rock score for a competing pair of 1970s Formula One race car drivers, and “12 Years a Slave,” a quiet, melancholy string accompaniment for the tale of an educated, free African-American forced to endure the brutality of slavery in the antebellum South.

“‘12 Years’ was very privately and carefully thought about, while ‘Rush’ was really about adrenaline, a rock ’n’ roll attitude, let’s just go to a scene and see what happens,” says the nine-time Oscar nominee (and winner for “The Lion King”) in his Santa Monica studio.

Ron Howard’s “Rush” took Zimmer back to his late-1970s roots as a synth programmer and keyboard player in England (you can glimpse him in the background of the Buggles’ 1979 “Video Killed the Radio Star” video). “I wasn’t trying to ape ’70s rock, but there’s a sound, »

- Jon Burlingame

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DVD Review: 'Ikarie Xb-1'

30 September 2013 6:42 AM, PDT | CineVue | See recent CineVue news »

★★★★☆ It's the year 2163, and the spaceship Ikarie Xb-1 is off to explore life on the 'white planet' orbiting the Alpha Centauri. Like the Greek mythological figure Icarus, whose name christens the spaceship, we follow the mixed crew as they fly too close to the sun, drawing ever closer to something that - without giving the game away too much - will be found all too familiar to its audiences. Jindřich Polák's 1963 Czechoslovak fantasy film may well be a cornerstone of the genre, but it also bridges the gap between the psychological drama, the kitsch space film and a sharp critique of the country's capitalist past.

Based on the novel The Magellanic Cloud (Obłok Magellana) by Polish sci-fi writer Stanisław Lem (of Solaris fame), the film follows a loosely episodic nature, tracking scenes of crew boredom and festivities, as much as moments of sharp danger and tension. Cinematographers Jan Kalis and »

- CineVue UK

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TV Reviews: HBO’s ‘Mary and Martha,’ Lifetime’s ‘Call Me Crazy’

15 April 2013 7:00 AM, PDT | Variety - TV News | See recent Variety - TV News news »

The TV movie remains in relative decline, which makes a weekend in which two high-profile versions with big-name stars and overt messages playing directly opposite each other especially noteworthy. It’s also instructive, in a compare-and-contrast sort of way, to consider why “Mary and Martha” — a moving return to intimate form for HBO — represents an emotionally stirring triumph, while Lifetime’s “Call Me Crazy: A Five Film” feels like an empty gimmick, an all-star marketing hook/public-service campaign in search of a movie.

After a stretch in which HBO has relied almost exclusively on attention-getting fact-based films like “Game Change” and “Phil Spector,” “Mary and Martha” harks back to when the service was content to tell great little stories — often with an agenda — that might not have been commercial enough to find a home elsewhere. And if one’s first thought is the 2005 gem “The Girl in the Cafe,” it »

- Brian Lowry

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Undefeated Blu-Ray Review

23 February 2013 11:08 AM, PST | We Got This Covered | See recent We Got This Covered news »

Documentary film making is all about timing. If the story is there, it’s a simple process of pressing record and editing it together. If the story isn’t there, there’s no hope for the film. Thankfully for filmmakers Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin, the timing couldn’t have been better when it came to making Undefeated.

What was supposed to simply be a piece on a O.C. Brown, a high school player with a Blindside-like story, developed into a story with a much wider scope, and thus a much greater impact.

In an age when it seems every sports story has been told and retold, it’s incredible that this film is able to provide such a meaningful emotional experience. The true reactions of the players at times are better than could be scripted, and Coach Courtney’s delivery of the news that a wealthy anonymous benefactor would »

- Alex Lowe

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