Author Archives: Film Music Central

About Film Music Central

I'm a 29 year old graduate student and I've had a lifelong obsession with film music, cartoon music, just about any kind of music!

My Thoughts on: The Favourite (2018)

Having not seen any of Yorgos Lanthimos’ work before now, I went into The Favourite excited, but not sure what to expect. The film caught my attention because it’s set during the reign of Queen Anne of Great Britain (1665-1714), a royal that you don’t usually see depicted in film. The film is based on the true story of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) and the struggle between two of her court favorites: Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough (Rachel Weisz) and Abigail Masham (Emma Stone), her cousin. The film traces Abigail’s rise at court alongside Sarah’s simultaneous fall along with the various intrigues going on at the British court in the early 18th century.

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The film is undeniably beautiful, both visually and musically (the soundtrack features a number of classical compositions that would have been appropriate for the time period). I love the dresses that Sarah and Abigail wear. I also like the attire Sarah wears whenever she goes shooting or riding (the tricorn hat and the grey coat). Most of the costumes are black, white or shades of grey, and I like that generally muted color palette.

One thing that surprised me is how sexual the film was. I knew there was going to be some romantic intrigue from the previews, but I had no idea (or I wasn’t paying enough attention) that there would be so much between Sarah and the Queen (and later Abigail and the Queen!) Watching Sarah and Abigail each manipulate Anne in their own way leads you to feel nothing but sympathy for the unhappy monarch. Having lost 17 children, all Anne wants is to be loved but she certainly doesn’t get any from Sarah, who at times is downright abusive in her behavior. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to feel any sympathy for Sarah or not (I certainly didn’t).

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Overall I enjoyed The Favourite very much, but I have some trouble with the ending. Given the story up to that point, the last scene felt like a strange way to end the film and I wasn’t quite sure what message I was supposed to receive from it (though I suspect a rewatch would help to enlighten me). That still didn’t stop me from enjoying the film and I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it yet. Colman, Stone and Weisz fully deserve all of the nominations they’ve received thus far.

What did you think of The Favourite? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

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Film/TV Reviews

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Reviewing Looney Tunes: Bugs’ Bonnets (1956)

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Released: January 14th, 1956

Directed by: Chuck Jones

Bugs’ Bonnets is a cartoon that isn’t as well known as some of the other Jones classics (like the Rabbit Season trilogy for example), but it is still a great cartoon in my opinion. The scenario for this cartoon is half-story (Elmer hunting Bugs) and half-documentary (looking at how different hats can change your personality). Since this is a cartoon, the hats instantly change Elmer and Bugs’ personalities, with hilarious results. One interesting piece of trivia: in this cartoon Elmer suddenly knows how to pronounce his “R’s” correctly. My favorite examples in this cartoon include:

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-Bugs wears an Army sergeant’s helmet and gives Elmer a chewing out (“Alright dog face, how come every other private in this man’s army’s got a rifle and YOU’VE got a gun?”) In response, Elmer ends up wearing a hat reminiscent of General MacArthur, announcing “I have returned.”

-Bugs (in a game warden’s hat) chides Elmer for “shooting sergeants out of season.”

-Elmer (in a cop’s hat) threatens Bugs (in a “gangster” fedora) while the latter tries to buy Elmer off with a bribe. Before he can give the money back, Bugs’ hat is replaced with a judge’s wig, prompting Bugs to believe Elmer is trying to bribe HIM!

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While this cartoon is more a string of gags than anything else, that doesn’t stop it from being really funny. What do you think of Bugs’ Bonnets? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Reviewing Looney Tunes

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Reviewing Looney Tunes: Bully for Bugs (1953)

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Released August 8th, 1953

Directed by: Chuck Jones

Half of the reason I love Bully for Bugs so much is the crazy story behind how it got made in the first place. According to the late, great Chuck Jones, the idea came to him when producer Eddie Selzer, out of the blue, came to his work area and proclaimed “cartoons about bullfighting are NOT funny, so don’t make any!” Upon Selzer leaving to go back to his office, a bewildered Jones turned to his fellow animator and wondered aloud “WOULD a bullfighting cartoon be funny?” The funny thing is, according to Jones, since Selzer proved to be wrong on just about anything involving cartoons, they figured a bullfighting cartoon would actually be hilarious. So, to get some research done (as nobody in the department had ever seen a bullfight in person), Jones flew down to Mexico City to watch a bullfight for himself.

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Up until the fight started, Jones had the idea that the matador would be the villain of the story, while the bull would be the sympathetic character. This notion flew straight out the window when Jones saw a massive bull come charging into the arena to face off against this itty bitty matador who was maybe 100 lbs soaking wet. From that moment, Jones knew exactly how the story needed to play out. (The story comes from Jones’ autobiography Chuck Amuck and commentary for Bully for Bugs found in the Looney Tunes Golden Collection).

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This cartoon is another example of Bugs taking a wrong turn at Albuquerque and winding up in the middle of a bullfighting ring instead of the Coachella Valley Carrot Festival. In the ring, a hapless matador is being chased around by a huge bull (much to the displeasure of the crowd. And speaking of the crowd, that’s a real bullfighting crowd you’re hearing in the cartoon, they recorded some audio in Barcelona, Spain and looped it into the final product). Being oblivious to the fact that he’s way off target, Bugs ends up on the wrong side of the bull, who promptly knocks him clean out of the arena (inspiring Bugs to proclaim “Of course you realize THIS means war!”) The enraged rabbit returns as a matador to give the bull his comeuppance as only Bugs can deliver it. For a while it’s an even back and forth between the two (and one of Bugs’ tricks actually backfires on him in spectacular fashion). Finally, just when Bugs seems cornered, he gets the upper hand and eliminates the bull once and for all by building an elaborate trap that sets the bull up to encounter some TNT.

Bully for Bugs is another classic Chuck Jones cartoon that never gets old no matter how many times you watch it. Let me know what you think about this cartoon in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Reviewing Looney Tunes

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Reviewing Looney Tunes: Ali Baba Bunny (1957)

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Released: February 9th, 1957

Directed by: Chuck Jones

Of the many achievements Chuck Jones accomplished during his lengthy career, one of them was raising the pairing of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck into a comedic art form that has yet to be truly matched in animation. Ali Baba Bunny is a famous example of this pairing and one of my many personal favorite cartoons.

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In Ali Baba Bunny, Bugs and Daffy are en route to Pismo Beach (California) and somehow end up tunneling through the Arabian desert, where a wealthy sultan has just finished sealing his treasure inside a magic cave. Having set the burly Hassan to guard the treasure (“Or the jackal shall grow fat on thy carcass!”) the sultan departs, shortly before Bugs and Daffy unwittingly break into the cave by tunneling under the entrance. This cartoon features Daffy during his “greedy beyond all reason” phase and it is used to great comedic effect. For example, when the pair emerge from the burrow and realize this is NOT Pismo Beach, Daffy is almost instantly mesmerized by the giant pile of treasure in front of him, while Bugs is completely oblivious. This leads to one of my favorite Daffy Duck lines:

Daffy: It’s mine you understand? Mine, mine, ALL MINE! Get back in there! Down! Down! Down! Go! Go! Go! Mine! Mine! Mine! Mwahahahahahahaha!! *zooms off to the treasure*

Bugs (still oblivious): Ehhhhh, what’s up Duck?

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Only Bugs would be oblivious to all THIS

Of course there is the small matter of Hassan who is quite angry that someone is trying to take his master’s treasure. Despite Bugs’ best efforts to keep Daffy out of trouble (which include masquerading as a genie who “gives” Hassan the treasure for HIS own), Daffy keeps getting on the guard’s bad side, especially when he makes a run for it with a giant diamond! This leads Bugs to finally corner Daffy and demand to know (“What is it with you anyway?” to which Daffy replies “I can’t help it, I’m a greedy slob, it’s my hobby.”) This is probably one of the most honest answers Daffy has ever given regarding his greed (a fit of honesty likely brought on by the fact that Hassan wants to chop him to pieces).

I also love this cartoon because it has one of the greatest twist endings ever seen in a cartoon: Daffy appears to have it made. Hassan is gone, the treasure is loaded up ready to go, when the greedy duck finds a mysterious lamp in the back of the cave. For some reason, when a genie appears (and even calls Daffy “Master”!!) The duck explodes with rage and accuses the genie of wanting his treasure. This is why I say Daffy is greedy beyond all reason, because wouldn’t you think the duck would be happy to have a magic genie at his disposal? I suppose not, and boy does the duck pay for it!

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“I’m rich! I’m a happy miser!”

Ali Baba Bunny, as I’ve said before, is one of my favorite Chuck Jones cartoons, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about it. Let me know what you think about this cartoon in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Reviewing Looney Tunes

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Reviewing Looney Tunes: Broom-Stick Bunny (1956)

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Released February 25th, 1956

Directed by: Chuck Jones

Broom-Stick Bunny has long been one of my favorite Looney Tunes cartoons, as it features the debut of June Foray in the role of Witch Hazel (Bea Benaderet performed the voice in Hazel’s first appearance in Bewitched Bunny). This is actually Foray’s second time playing a character by this name (with this voice no less) as she originated the character in the 1952 Donald Duck cartoon Trick or Treat (and in truth she was initially reluctant when Chuck Jones invited her to play his version of Witch Hazel, but she eventually came around to the idea).

In this cartoon, it’s Halloween night and Bugs Bunny is out trick-or-treating disguised as a witch (complete with a green mask). Meanwhile, Witch Hazel is brewing up a potion while frequently consulting her magic mirror to make sure she’s still the “ugliest of them all” as she’s terribly afraid of getting pretty as she gets older. One of my favorite running gags in this cartoon is Witch Hazel’s obsession with ugliness and talking about beauty in opposite terms (examples include: “Who undoes your hair?” “I’m going to worm all your ugly secrets out of you” and my personal favorite “LIKE it? Why it’s practically HIDEOUS!!”)

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The story starts as a comedy of errors when Bugs Bunny appears at Witch Hazel’s door and the befuddled witch thinks the rabbit is a REAL witch (leading to my other favorite line: “Witch? I don’t remember seeing HER at any of the union meetings.”) but it quickly turns serious when Hazel realizes that not only is Bugs a rabbit, but he’s also the last ingredient needed to complete her potion, leading to a wild chase throughout the house.

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In the end, of course, Bugs gets the upper hand and we’re treated to seeing what a pretty Witch Hazel looks like (fun fact: according June Foray’s commentary, the animators modeled the pretty Hazel on her actual appearance, particularly in the hairstyle as it was one she liked to wear at the time). It’s so funny to hear the now-pretty witch say in the sweetest sounding voice “Magic mirror on the wall, who’s the ugliest one of all?” The gag is heightened when the genie in the magic mirror gives chase on a flying carpet and the pair go flying off into the night.

Of all the Witch Hazel cartoons, Broom-Stick Bunny remains my favorite, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about it. Let me know your thoughts about this cartoon in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Reviewing Looney Tunes

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

 

 

My Thoughts on: Robin Hood (2018)

Okay, right from the beginning I should clarify that I haven’t actually seen Robin Hood (and I probably won’t until it hits Redbox) but given what I know about this film, I HAVE to talk about it. I first heard about this film months ago when I heard that there was a really bad trailer circulating on the Internet. When I first saw it for myself, I was half convinced it had to be a joke; there’s no way they could have made a Robin Hood film THIS bad…right? Well, actually yes they did and the more previews I saw the worse it got.

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The Middle Ages looked NOTHING like this

First let’s talk about the setting. As most people know, Robin Hood is traditionally set in or around the reign of King Richard the Lionheart (so between 1189 and 1200 CE give or take a few years), which places the story firmly in the Middle Ages. Knowing that, take a look at those previews again and tell me with a straight face that this film even loosely resembles that time period. Nottingham bears no resemblance to a medieval city, in fact in the previews it looks more like something from a post-apocalyptic future (or a generic fantasy film). I’m not saying a Robin Hood film has to be 100% period-authentic, but they’re not even trying with these locations OR the costumes. The machine-stitching is painfully obvious and nothing remotely resembles the era they should be in. I groaned aloud when I saw the footage from a party that Robin attended in his public persona as a nobleman. The costumes the ladies are wearing are totally inappropriate for the era (no woman would be caught dead in anything so revealing). I referenced the location looking post-apocalyptic before, I find myself wondering if they meant to make this a futuristic post-apocalypse retelling of the story and just forgot to tell the audience?

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As cool as it looks, Molotov cocktails were NOT a thing in the Middle Ages

Second, we need to talk about those arrows. It goes without saying that arrows do NOT work like that! They’re not that powerful (not at that size anyway) and you can’t fire them THAT quickly (I don’t care if it is a Robin Hood movie, no one is THAT good). This was another thing that really bothered me about the film, and that’s the pacing, it’s much too fast. A Robin Hood story can be many things, but a fast-paced action thriller is not typically one of them.

Third, where is Prince John in all of this? One of the key components of the Robin Hood legend has always involved the outlaw fighting against the tyranny of Prince John until King Richard can return. The only reason Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves got away with excluding the character is because they had Alan Rickman playing the Sheriff of Nottingham. I’m not saying Ben Mendelsohn isn’t a good actor, it’s just I’ve seen him play this kind of role several times before and no offense but it’s starting to wear thin.

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Lastly, I have to comment on something I heard from reviews of the film. I read that Robin is sent to the Crusades via a “draft notice” pinned to his front gate. Are you KIDDING me?? This is not how the Crusades worked! There was no draft for noblemen in the Middle Ages, either you went on Crusade or you didn’t! It’s like they did no research whatsoever for this film and didn’t think anyone would notice (spoiler alert: we’ve definitely noticed). All reports indicate that Robin Hood is going to be the biggest box office bomb of the year and I’m not surprised in the slightest. I knew this film would bomb the moment I saw the first teaser. Hopefully I’ll get my own turn to eviscerate the film once I can rent it from Redbox sooner rather than later (and as it’s bombing badly that shouldn’t be a long wait). For now, those are my thoughts on Robin Hood but I’m very curious to know what you think about it. Have you gone to see it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film/TV Reviews

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

My Thoughts On: Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995)

I was over the moon to receive Batman: The Complete Animated Series as an early birthday present. I’ve wanted to add the series to my collection for years as it holds a very special place in my childhood (it’s one of the first cartoons I can remember watching on television). Batman: The Animated Series is rightly held to be one of the greatest animated series ever made. It is sometimes referred to as cartoon noir as it borrows many conventions from film noir (for example most of the cars and buildings evoke the 1940s). The series is also responsible for jump starting the DC Animated Universe (which included Superman: The Animated Series; Justice League; Batman Beyond and Justice League Unlimited to name a few).

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The show also featured an all star voice cast, including Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker himself) as the voice of the Joker. Even though I’ve seen video of Mark doing the Joker voice, it’s still hard for me to imagine that voice and Luke’s voice coming out of the same person (but then again that just shows how talented he really is as a voice actor). The series is also responsible for introducing Harley Quinn (voiced by the brilliant Arleen Sorkin) to the Batman canon. The besotted Harley was created exclusively for the show before eventually being written into the comic canon (one of the first times that’s ever happened for any character). There are also origins given for many of Batman’s most infamous enemies, including Two-Face (“Two Face” parts I and II), Clayface (“Feat of Clay” parts I and II) and Mr. Freeze (“Heart of Ice” which is widely considered to be the best episode of the series).

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I’ve been asked before which episode is my favorite and the honest truth is I can’t pick just one, because they’re all so good. However, I can pick a few to highlight:

  • “Heart of Ice” rewrites the origins of Mr. Freeze and turns him into what is probably the most sympathetic villain in the series.
  • “Harley and Ivy”: Having been kicked out of Joker’s gang, Harley Quinn goes into business for herself, eventually joining forces with Poison Ivy and the duo prove to be very skilled in the world of crime (to the growing consternation of the Joker).
  • “Lock-Up”: Lyle Bolton, head of security at Arkham Asylum, is dismissed from his job after it comes out that he’s brutalizing the prisoners. This is one episode where you feel complete sympathy for the villains as they literally quake in terror at Bolton’s mere presence (especially Jonathan Crane, aka The Scarecrow, who practically begs Batman not to take him back).

I’m excited to continue watching this amazing series and I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it (or perhaps hasn’t watched in a long time). Over 25 years after its debut, Batman: The Animated Series continues to impress.

See also:

Film/TV Reviews

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂