Cancelled Too Soon #11: Kindred: The Embraced (1996)

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Before Vampire Diaries, even before Buffy The Vampire Slayer, there was Kindred: The Embraced.

Unlike most television shows, which might be based on books or movies, Kindred: The Embraced is loosely based on a role-playing game called Vampire: The Masquerade. The story is set in San Francisco, where a detective named Frank Kohanek discovers that the city is home to a large number of vampires, including a supposed “mobster” that he has been pursuing for quite some time. In reality, this “mobster”, Julian Luna, is actually the “Prince” of the city, ruling five groups of vampires that are collectively known as The Kindred.

Julian and Frank form a reluctant alliance due to the fact that Julian used to be with Frank’s girlfriend, who was also a vampire (and who got Julian to promise to protect him shortly before her death). Thus, the pair find themselves working together to try and prevent a war breaking out between the different groups of the Kindred.

While the premise certainly held a great deal of promise, a massive flaw was that the show dealt with five separate groups of vampires, on top of any subplots with Julian and Frank, which led to a lot of characters to keep track of and a confusing plot. Also, the character of Frank was not very well received, while Julian was praised as a complex character, not quite good and not quite evil. Ultimately, the flaws outweighed any good points, and Kindred: The Embraced was cancelled after eight episodes. Ironically (in my eyes), Buffy The Vampire Slayer debuted the next year and went on to run for seven seasons. Perhaps if Kindred: The Embraced had been slightly different, it might have been the big vampire hit, and not Buffy, but I guess we will never know.

Have you seen any of Kindred: The Embraced? Do you think it had potential, or was it doomed to failure from the start? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear about it. If you haven’t seen the show and would like to check it out, the eight episodes are available on DVD.

For more shows that were cancelled too soon, see here

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Brian Tyler scoring Partition (2007)

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Brian Tyler scoring Partition (2007)

Partition is a very sad story, set in 1947 during the partition of India (when Pakistan was created as a Muslim nation). It is based on the Romeo and Juliet story type, where two people fall in love even though it is forbidden. In this case, a Hindu man, Gian Singh, slowly falls for Naseem, a Muslim girl, even though all the rules of their respective religions forbid this.

What makes this film notable for me is that it features a score by Brian Tyler, who is rapidly becoming one of my favorite film composers. This behind the scenes video shows Tyler at work in the studio, annotating his score and recording with a rough cut of the film playing on a screen in front of him. He also worked with the Hollywood Studio Symphony for recording the score as well.

One big thing with the music that Tyler wanted to create is, that while there is a sense of Western music in the score, there is also a frequent callback to the sound of India as well. He wanted to create the feeling that you (the audience) have been transported through time to this very traumatic period in the history of India and Pakistan.

There is something magical about watching Brian Tyler on the podium conducting his music, I definitely need to hear more of this score now. If you’ve seen Partition, I would love to know your thoughts on the film and the score in the comments below.

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of Brian Tyler, see here

The 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner blogathon is coming in June, check out the sign up page here

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An Interview with Adam Blau Part 3

I solemnly swear that I planned to have this part posted months ago, but reality kept intervening time and time again. However, I am now happy to finally be able to share with you the conclusion to this awesome interview with film and television composer Adam Blau.

How would you describe your compositional style? More orchestral or electronic/synthetic?

It’s totally a case by case basis, I’ve written for full orchestra, like with License to Wed, which had a jazz, swingy feel for the most part. So we wrote it for a huge orchestra. And the other end of the spectrum then is the electronic stuff that I do for You’re the Worst, it is totally case by case. And with percussion stuff, my first stint with that was for a film called We Are Marshall, and there was also Yours, Mine and Ours as well.

The genre is really dictated by the material and also the budget. I would prefer to work with a live orchestra, but with most tv it is simply not in the cards (except for maybe Game of Thrones which has the budget to do it.)
What’s your favorite genre to work with? Why?

I am happy working in any genre, but I like working in comedies because it allows for working in a lot of ways, I admit I am a huge comedy junkie and I love sitcoms. But these days, if you’re doing comedy, you get to write in a number of genres and run the gamut, because writing comedy can also mean writing in a serious moment or a song, so you can try a lot of different things. One of my strengths has been being able to wear a number of different hats, learning a new genre or figuring out the core elements of a particular style and working in that new style, it’s a fun challenge trying to do that. I also enjoy the collaborative process with comedy as well.
Does one score/project stand out as your favorite?

It’s truly hard to pick a single project that I would call my favorite. I would have a hard time sitting here working day after day on shows that I don’t like so much, so I try to find something enjoyable about the project itself or the music for that project, or the people I work with, or otherwise it’s a long hard slog. But there are some standouts for me, You’re The Worst is definitely a highlight. And the people are just so spectacular to work with as well.

Me: Well thank you so much for meeting with me to talk about You’re The Worst and your work as acomposer

Adam: Thank you!

And my thanks again to Adam Blau for talking with me about his work. Again, my deepest apologies for the long delay in uploading this last part of the interview. You can follow Adam Blau on Twitter @adamblau .

For the earlier segments of the interview, see also:

An Interview with Adam Blau, part 1

An Interview With Adam Blau Part 2

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Disturbing Disney #11: Clayton’s Death in Tarzan (1999)

You know, it sure seems to me like a lot of “disturbing” moments in Disney films happen to coincide with a villain’s death.

Tarzan (1999) is considered to be the end of the 1st Disney Renaissance, and for this reason I think the film has become totally underrated. Which is really a shame because the animation is incredible, particularly the scenes where Tarzan is “surfing” through the trees. The (real) villain is pretty awesome too. For most of the film, the “enemy” has been presented as Kerchak, the leader of the gorilla troop that raised Tarzan, and the gorilla that should have been Tarzan’s foster father, as it is Kerchak’s mate Kaala that  took the young man in when he was a baby, but Kerchak could never bring himself to accept the human as his son. However, the actual villain of this story is the bloodthirsty and devious Clayton, who has hitherto been working as a bodyguard for the expedition of Professor Porter and Jane. But in reality, Clayton has come because he wants to capture the gorillas for the handsome price they will fetch back in England.

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Behold the villainous Clayton, even before he’s revealed he kind of looks like a villain already

At the last minute, Tarzan is able to thwart Clayton’s attempt to kidnap all of the gorillas, but Clayton is not giving up just yet. After fatally wounding Kerchak, Clayton chases Tarzan up into the trees, figuring that if he can get Tarzan out of the way, rounding the gorillas back up should be easy. But despite his injuries (Clayton shot him in the arm), Tarzan has a distinct advantage: he was raised in this jungle, he knows how to navigate the trees with his eyes closed, Clayton is like a fish out of water. Despite this, he continues to chase Tarzan until the latter is cornered against a tree trunk. But then Tarzan uses the jungle to his advantage, ensnaring Clayton’s limbs in a tangle of jungle vines (to his mounting fury). At this point, Clayton fully snaps and begins to furiously hack at the vines holding him up, and a single shot forewarns what is about to happen: as the vines are cut away, one loop slips up to tighten around Clayton’s neck.

Tarzan “Clayton’s Death” (1999)

The first time I saw this film in theaters, I didn’t realize what was going to happen, but my parents did. To this day I remember my mom gasping at the shot and wondering what she was reacting to. I realize now that Clayton has a particularly gruesome and disturbing death scene, one that is pretty graphic if you think it through.

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As I’d said, Clayton is hacking away at the vines that are holding him up, not noticing one loop remains coiled around his neck. He is so frantic to get loose to kill Tarzan that he doesn’t notice there are fewer and fewer vines holding him up. Even Tarzan sees what is about to happen and tries to warn him, but Clayton doesn’t listen…and then it’s too late. Down to two vines (the one around his neck and the one his hand is clenching), Clayton hacks the wrong vine and begins to fall screaming, the vine still looped around his neck. This moment is terribly disturbing: not only is Clayton falling to his death, but he has enough time to know it and try desperately to avert the inevitable (see, as he falls, you can see Clayton’s hands trying to remove the loop before he runs out of slack). Maybe Tarzan could have saved himself, but Clayton is no Tarzan and in no time we see the vine go taught with an audible *SNAP* and then we see the shadowy profile of Clayton hanging by his neck…DEAD.

I’ll give Disney credit for one thing: at least they kept the actual moment of death off-screen and only showed Clayton’s dead body in silhouette. Still…watching a villain die via a broken neck is pretty disturbing, and thus it is here on the list of Disturbing Disney.

But I would like to know what YOU think of Clayton’s death; does it disturb you? Do you find it gruesome? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear about it.

For more Disturbing Disney, see here

The 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner blogathon is coming in June, check out the sign up page here

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Anticipating Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 and more!!

Sometime yesterday afternoon it dawned on me that I will be seeing the long-anticipated Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 next Thursday. I have been aching to see this film ever since I borrowed the first Guardians of the Galaxy from Redbox and realized how stupid I was to miss out on that film when it was in theaters!!

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As far as I can tell from the previews, Vol. 2 is going to build off the craziness of the original and take it to completely new levels of awesome. I think I speak for everyone when I say Baby Groot looks completely awesome (I especially can’t wait to see how the whole “Button of Doom” thing is going to play out.) Also I want to know more about Mantis and how in the world is there such a thing as a Living Planet? (I haven’t really read any of the Guardians of the Galaxy comics so I have zero idea who this Ego guy is or what to expect from him.)

And then two weeks after Guardians of the Galaxy comes Alien: Covenant. I’m itching to see what happened to Shaw in the gap between Prometheus and this film, and even though it is strongly implied that nothing good happened to her, I still really want to know what the heck David has done to her!! And why?? I know this movie is going to absolutely terrify me, and I’m going to enjoy every second of it!!

Looking ahead into June, there are two films that I will be watching very closely (though I’m still on the fence about seeing them in the theater): Wonder Woman and The Mummy. I desperately want Wonder Woman to be awesome, it’s no secret that the DCU has received mixed reviews, and if they don’t get an undeniable hit soon, then Justice League is royally screwed. So for everyone’s sake, I hope Wonder Woman is as good as it looks.

And then there’s The Mummy…I have seen all the trailers (international and domestic), I’ve rolled it over in my mind, and I still can’t get behind this film. Okay, I admit, the backstory is…alright. But everything else…is NOT alright. As I see it, this film will either be a sleeper hit or it’s going to totally BOMB, and I can’t wait to see which it will be.

These are the films I’m anticipating at this present moment as the summer box office season begins to get under way. Hopefully it does much better than LAST summer.

What films are you looking forward to? Please let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear about it 🙂

For more Quick and Random Thoughts, see here

The 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner blogathon is coming in June, check out the sign up page here

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Hans Zimmer talks Inception (2010)

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Hans Zimmer talks Inception (2010)

I have watched a lot of movies, but few have bent my brain more than Inception (2010), a film set in a world where it is possible to enter the subconscious and “extract” information. Cobb, a “dream thief”, is tasked by a wealthy businessman named Saito to perform “inception” on the son of a rival, which is planting an idea in the subconscious mind, and it is supposed to be an impossible task. The stakes for Cobb are pretty high: he’s been on the run for years after being framed for the murder of his wife (she actually committed suicide), and if he succeeds, Saito will make the charges go away so he can return home to his two children. But…in a world where we enter dreams within dreams within dreams, how do we know any of this is even real to begin with? (That question is never really answered by the way, we’re meant to make our own conclusions).

The score for this reality-bending film was composed by the legendary Hans Zimmer, who returned to collaborate again with director Christopher Nolan on this project (Inception marked their third collaboration together). This brief “making of” video shows how Nolan and Zimmer brought this score into existence. Zimmer described the music of Inception as “a very electronic, dense score, filled with nostalgia and sadness.” What I love best about the score is how it changes as the characters move deeper and deeper into the “dream within a dream.” The deeper they go, the more “unreal” the music becomes; this all reaches a head when Cobb and Ariadne are in Limbo (the bottom level) while the other members of his group are moving through three separate dream levels above them.

If you’ve seen Inception, what did you think of the story? And what did you think of the film’s soundtrack? Let me know in the comments below 🙂 And I hope you enjoy this behind the scenes look at the making of the film score for this film 🙂

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of Hans Zimmer, see here

The 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner blogathon is coming in June, check out the sign up page here

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RIP Erin Moran (1960-2017)

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Ouch, this is one that really hurts. Over the weekend the world learned that actress Erin Moran passed away at the still-too-young age of 56. She is best known for playing Joanie Cunningham, the kid sister of Richie Cunningham (played by Ron Howard, then a quickly maturing child actor, now a very famous director) in the sitcom Happy Days. She also briefly reprised her role in a short spinoff entitled Joanie Loves Chachi (yes that is the real title).

Unfortunately, while other members of the Happy Days cast continued in their careers (be it acting or directing), work didn’t come easily to Moran in the years that followed, her last acting credit came in 2010.

It’s always said when they die too young, RIP Erin Moran