Category Archives: Films

My Thoughts on: The Evil of Frankenstein (1964)

After picking up Frankenstein Created Woman and realizing just how much I enjoy watching Peter Cushing play Frankenstein, I made it a goal to get all of Cushing’s performances as the character (on blu-ray) in my collection. So, when the opportunity came to pick up The Evil of Frankenstein, I immediately took it.

This film was completely new to me, unlike Frankenstein Created Woman, however the plot generally follows what I’ve come to expect from these stories: a creation of Frankenstein’s runs amok, chaos ensues, and it all ends in a big dramatic climax. Only in this case the story takes a few unexpected twists between the beginning and the end. As with several of these films, the story starts with Frankenstein already in the midst of a new set of experiments, only to be chased out of town (yet again), forcing him to return to his hometown in search of money. Things take a twist when he discovers his original Monster, only to find it comatose and unresponsive. Frankenstein coerces a traveling hypnotist into reviving his creation, but that quickly creates more problems than it solves as Frankenstein soon finds out.

Here’s the thing about The Evil of Frankenstein: I know that Hammer made this film (and the other Frankenstein films in their series) as separate entities from the old Universal films, but I swear THIS film is a near perfect blend of Son of Frankenstein (1939) and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943). How so? Well, first of all, a major plot point in The Evil of Frankenstein is that Baron Frankenstein discovers his original creation, but it is now unresponsive. That is eerily similar to Son of Frankenstein, where Wolf von Frankenstein (the titular “son of Frankenstein”) discovers his father’s monster in a comatose state. But the similarity continues: once Frankenstein’s monster is revived, it only responds to the commands of the hypnotist who revived it, EXACTLY like in Son of Frankenstein where the Monster only responds to Ygor’s commands. Those are way too many similarities to be mere coincidence and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that the writers for The Evil of Frankenstein took inspiration from Son of Frankenstein, even if they weren’t supposed to.

The similarities to this film and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man are less striking, but still interesting. The big similarity between these two films is the Monster being rediscovered frozen alive in ice, which is also how he’s found in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. I’m also struck by the similarities of the two film’s climaxes, or at least they seem similar to me. In both films, Frankenstein’s monster is swept away and presumed killed when the laboratory is destroyed (blown up in one film and swept away by floodwaters in the other). Again, it’s one similarity too many to be pure coincidence (though having read that this film was distributed by Universal, maybe Hammer really did just copy past film elements after all).

Those interesting details aside, I have a serious bone to pick with whoever put together the creature make-up in The Evil of Frankenstein. Part of the reason I love the original Frankenstein makeup from the 1930s so much is you really can’t tell that it’s a make-up. In THIS film however, it is painfully obvious that this is an actor in makeup, and not even really good makeup. This is my least favorite part of the film and it made it really hard to take certain scenes seriously.

Peter Cushing is a delight to watch, as always. For years I only knew him for his appearance in Star Wars, and I’m glad I’m finally taking the time to check out more of his filmography. I noticed in this film the same detail I saw in Frankenstein Created Woman: Baron Frankenstein is too clinical for his own good. That is to say, he’s so interested in his monster as an experiment, that the greater ramifications don’t occur to him until it’s too late. The same as in this film: he’s content to make use of the hypnotist, but it doesn’t occur to him that the hypnotist would USE the monster for his own personal ends until the damage has been done.

Flaws aside, I did ultimately enjoy The Evil of Frankenstein. It’s an enjoyable film, Peter Cushing is completely believable as an obsessed Baron Frankenstein and while the outcome of the story is predictable, it’s no less fun to watch.

Let me know what you think about The Evil of Frankenstein in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)

My Thoughts on: Son of Frankenstein (1939)

Film Reviews

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Soundtrack Review: Brin d’amour (2019)

Earlier this summer I was invited to check out the documentary Brin d’amour, about the life and work of Alain Vigneau, with music composed by Andre Barros. The documentary is fascinating in and of itself, as it follows not only Vigneau’s life, but also how he uses being a clown as a form of therapy. But what really pulled me in was Barros’ music for the documentary, which reminded me more than once why I fell in love with film music in the first place.

More than once, as I sat listening to the music of Brin d’amour, I thought I was merely out of practice because I kept losing the thread of the music because I was paying attention to the documentary at the same time. But it finally dawned on me that I wasn’t getting distracted, it was simply that the music is interwoven so well with the story that you don’t realize it’s there, and that’s how it’s supposed to be. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, the best film music is the kind you don’t notice. It should blend in with the visuals and that’s exactly what happens here.

The score for this documentary is based on a small ensemble: piano, a string trio, and several electronic instruments and synthesizers. A small group of instruments, to be sure, but they are used to great effect. I really love how Barros’ music draws you into the story, and not just the funny moments when you see Alain doing clownish things, but also the more deeply serious moments when some truly dark topics are touched upon. My favorite part is the music during the time when Alain and other members of his family talk about his late mother. You really get the feeling that this was a wonderful woman who was lost. Equally compelling is Barros’ ability to know when not to use any music, like during a therapy session when Alain is having one woman work out her feelings over the death of her grandmother. Moments like that, the music would distract from the experience, so using silence is those moments makes them resonate even more.

I’m happy I finally had the time to sit down and listen to Andre Barros’ music for Brin d’amour. It’s really good and I had a lot of fun listening to it.

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Film Soundtracks A-W

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My Thoughts on: Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)

I think I was in high school the first time I encountered Hammer’s Frankenstein films that starred Peter Cushing as Baron Frankenstein. I forget how many of them I saw, but I know I saw Frankenstein Created Woman and the memory of that film had dwelled in the back of my brain ever since. So, some months back, when I got the chance to own the film on blu-ray (courtesy of Scream! Factory) I took it, and just the other day I finally had the chance to watch this film again.

Before I get to my thoughts on Frankenstein Created Woman, a quick overview as to what this film is. Hammer released seven Frankenstein films between 1957 and 1974, and this was the fourth film in that series. In Frankenstein Created Woman, the story focuses more on the metaphysical, as Baron Frankenstein is now obsessed with capturing and transferring a human soul from one body to another. He gets his chance when Hans (Robert Morris) is executed for a crime he didn’t commit and his lover Christina (Susan Denberg) commits suicide by drowning shortly thereafter. At first Frankenstein’s work appears to be a total success, but even a brilliant man like Frankenstein can’t realize the dangers involved in placing Hans’ soul in Christina’s body until it’s far too late.

It’s funny to me now, but while I was watching Frankenstein Created Woman, it occurred to me that my memory must not be as good as I thought (I usually have a good head for remembering movies) because except for the ending most of this film felt completely new to me. That’s not a bad thing, but it makes me wonder if perhaps I saw a different cut all those years ago, I’ve heard of things like that being done with Hammer films before, so maybe that’s why some of the scenes felt completely new to me.

A lack of memory aside, I really enjoyed Frankenstein Created Woman as much as I thought I would. Its message is a little heavy-handed (i.e. don’t put a vengeful soul inside a new body because there will be dire consequences) but overall it is a lot of fun to watch. Cushing’s Frankenstein is almost hilariously oblivious to the fact that he’s helped create this beautiful woman. To him Christina is only an experiment, but to everyone else she is pure woman, and it’s only at the very end of the film that the full extent of her monstrousness is revealed.

I really do like how the film goes about revealing what the human soul might look like outside of its body. I don’t quite agree with the explanation the film goes for as to how a soul could be trapped and contained but the visual of this glowing ball of light representing the soul is quite beautiful and is one of my favorite shots in the film.

There’s also an interesting lesson to be gleaned from this film, that being that it is dangerous to tamper with something as powerful as the human soul. Of course it is, as I said before, presented in a rather forceful manner, but it’s still a good point to be made. One can’t mess with the human soul in a purely scientific manner as Frankenstein attempts to do, that won’t work any more than building and animating a body from scratch will, as Frankenstein learns by the end. Additionally, there’s an equally poignant lesson about the injustice of condemning someone simply because their father was a criminal.

I would still probably recommend starting with The Curse of Frankenstein if you’re going to watch the Hammer Frankenstein films, but be sure to watch Frankenstein Created Woman not long after, because it’s really good.

Let me know what you think about Frankenstein Created Woman in the comments below and have a great day!

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Film Reviews

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Behind the Music of Action and Comedy: Talking with Atli Örvarsson about ‘The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard’

Recently I had the chance to speak with Atli Örvarsson about his work on The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard. Atli’s credits include composing and orchestrating music for some of Hollywood’s biggest projects, including the Pirates of the Caribbean series, Angels & Demons, The Holiday, The Eagle, Vantage Point, Babylon A.D., Thick as Thieves, The Fourth Kind, and Season of the Witch.

Atli’s accolades include winning the HARPA Nordic Film Composer Award for his acclaimed score to Rams, several ASCAP and BMI Film and TV Music Awards, a “Breakthrough of the Year” nomination with the IFMCA Awards in 2009, plus he was nominated for the prestigious World Soundtrack Academy’s “Discovery of the Year Award” for his score for Babylon A.D in 2009 and his score for Ploey: You Never Fly Alone was nominated for a “Public Choice Award” in 2018.

I hope you enjoy the discussion we had about this film!

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me! My first question is, how did you get started as a composer?
I have been writing music since childhood but got “serious” about composition when I was attending Berklee College of Music and found out they had a film music program. I had always been interested in film music, as far back as the first Star Wars film when I was just a little kid, so this field of study really appealed to me and has been my path ever since.

I know you previously composed the music for The Hitman’s Bodyguard in 2017, was it always assumed that you would return to score the music for the sequel?
Yes. Patrick Hughes, the director of these films, started discussing a possible sequel with me right after the first film came out.

Speaking of, what did you think of getting to return to the world of The Hitman’s Bodyguard to create more music for it? Was it easier scoring this film because you’d also written the music for the first film?
I don´t know if easier is the right word but perhaps it was a bit of a luxury to have a lot of themes from the original film to work with and it just made sense to reuse these.

On a similar note, what was the discussion with the director like when it came to putting the score together? Were you building on the first film’s musical themes in the sequel or did you create something wholly new?
A bit of both. There is a new bad guy in this film who needed a new theme, obviously along with some other new characters and storylines. Salma Hayek’s character also plays a bigger role here so that called for some new music. At the same time the two main characters are the same so there is a lot of reusing and reinventing themes from the original film.

Speaking of themes, are there musical themes for specific characters?
Yes.


I know this film is considered an action-comedy. How did you balance the music in the score between action and comedy?
It’s usually pretty clear cut whether a scene is primarily an action scene or a comedy scene but there are certainly scenes in this movie that combine both. In these cases, I usually choose to score the scenes very much like serious action scenes as the comedy sort of speaks for itself but to be honest, there’s no hard and fast rule. It just depends on the scene and what feels right.

How much time did you have to score The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard?
I had quite a bit of time as the Covid pandemic kept interrupting the schedule, but once we got started “for real” it went quite fast. I’d say about 2 months from the start of scoring to recording with the orchestra.

How much did the previous score for The Hitman’s Bodyguard influence the music for the sequel?
Quite a bit! As I mentioned earlier, I did reuse themes from the first movie but perhaps the biggest difference between the two is that there’s more score and less songs in the sequel.

Do you have a favorite musical moment in the score?
It’s hard to say… I really enjoyed writing some of the comedy cues around Bryce’s personal backstory where the music plays very serious over the comedy, e.g. when we first meet his step father and for the flashback about his mom.

Finally, is there any musical detail you hope viewers notice when they go to see this movie in theaters?
There are many places where I geeked out and tried to sneak in my themes in disguises. Hopefully someone picks up on that!

I hope you enjoyed this interview about the music of The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.

See also:

My Thoughts on: The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (2021)

Composer Interviews

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Soundtrack News: ‘The Green Knight’ Original Soundtrack to be Released July 30, lead single “One Year Hence” Available Now

Milan Records announces the July 30 release of THE GREEN KNIGHT (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK) with music by composer and performer Daniel Hart. Available for preorder now, the album features music written by Hart for director David Lowery’s latest fantasy adventure film based on the classic Arthurian tale of Sir Gawain and The Green Knight. The resulting 29-track collection is both as epic and unique as the film itself, a sweepingly dramatic and expansive body of music that straddles the divide between medieval and modern.

Making its debut alongside album preorder is soundtrack lead single “One Year Hence,” a darkly foreboding number underscored by a haunting, heavy synth and punctuated with jittery recorders and dissonant choral bursts – listen here. The soundtrack is the latest in a longstanding creative partnership between Lowery and Hart, the duo having worked together previously on Ain’t Them Bodies SaintsPete’s DragonA Ghost Story and The Old Man & the Gun. Starring Dev Patel as Sir Gawain, The Green Knight makes its theatrical debut Friday, July 30 from A24. 

An epic fantasy adventure based on the timeless Arthurian legend, The Green Knight tells the story of Sir Gawain (Dev Patel), King Arthur’s reckless and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic emerald-skinned stranger and tester of men. Gawain contends with ghosts, giants, thieves, and schemers in what becomes a deeper journey to define his character and prove his worth in the eyes of his family and kingdom by facing the ultimate challenger. From visionary filmmaker David Lowery comes a fresh and bold spin on a classic tale from the knights of the round table.

Of the soundtrack, composer Daniel Hart says:

“Making this music was somehow both like running from a pack of hyenas and wading through a river of chocolate mud. It has never taken David [Lowery] and I this long to find what we were looking for musically on any of his films, so to listen back now and actually love what we made is all the more satisfying, especially when I think about how many late nights and hair pullings went into it. Much like Gawain himself, I was stumbling through the wilderness most of the time and found little moments of good fortune here and there, often through stubborn dumb luck. I hope that when you listen to the soundtrack, you’ll think about things other than me sitting in my studio, endlessly fretting. But if you do, then your imagination is very accurate.”

THE GREEN KNIGHT (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK)
TRACKLISTING –

1. In Stori Stif And Stronge
2. Christ Is Born Indeed
3. You Do Smell Like You’ve Been At Mass All Night
4. Tell Me A Tale Of Yourself, So That I Might Know Thee
5. Shaped By Your Hands
6. O Greatest Of Kings
7. Remember It Is Only A Game
8. One Year Hence
9. I Promise You Will Not Come To Harm
10. Child Thou Ert A Pilgrim
11. Rest Them Bones My Brave Little Knight
12. A Meeting With St. Winifred
13. Your Head Is On Your Neck, My Lady
14. Are You Real, Or Are You A Spirit?
15. I Will Strike Thee Down With Every Care That I Have For Thee
16. Aiganz O Kulzphazur (feat. Emma Tring)
17. The Giant’s Call
18. Brave Sir Gawain Come To Face The Green Knight
19. Should Not A Knight Offer A Lady A Kiss In Thanks?
20. Hold Very Still
21. Do You Believe In Witchcraft?
22. You Are No Knight
23. I Never Asked For Your Help Anyway
24. Gawain Runs And Runs (feat. Bobak Lotfipour and Katinka Vindelev)
25. Blome Swete Lilie Flour
26. Excalibur
27. O Nyghtegale (feat. Atheena Frizzell)
28. Now I’m Ready, I’m Ready Now
29. Be Merry, Swete Lorde (feat. Katinka Vindelev)

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My Thoughts on: Black Widow (2021)

It feels like an eternity since I watched Avengers: Endgame in the waning days of 2019. So much has happened since then that I genuinely forgot what it felt like to experience a Marvel movie in the theater. And then I sat down to watch Black Widow (after waiting more than a year to see it) and it all came rushing back to me, that thrill that can only come from seeing a Marvel film on the big screen.

Let me start off by saying that Black Widow was absolutely worth the extended wait. Sure, it would’ve been ideal if we’d gotten this story several years ago, or at least before Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, but it’s made clear multiple times that this film takes place immediately after Captain America: Civil War, so I’m willing to let it go. At least we finally got a standalone story about Black Widow that takes us deep into her past, and gives us a tantalizing look at how she (and other “widows”) were trained.

If I have one gripe with Black Widow it’s that I really wanted to see more of the Red Room training that goes into creating assassins like Natasha and Yelena. We’re given, as I said, a tantalizing glimpse, but no more. Given what’s implied about this training process, that might be for the best, but I still found myself wanting more.

Other than that, I found myself loving pretty much everything about Black Widow. The chemistry between Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh is off the charts and is by far one of my favorite parts of this movie. Believe the hype about Pugh’s performance as Yelena Belova, it’s all true. I’m not sure if Yelena is going to be the new Black Widow moving forward, but I could certainly see her stepping into that role in future Marvel films and I wouldn’t complain if that indeed happened. Speaking of chemistry, I really enjoyed the interplay between David Harbour (Red Guardian) and Rachel Weisz. I would happily watch a film that explored the background of these two characters, especially anything that focused more on Red Guardian. I think we all want to see a film that explores THAT story.

Another detail I liked and one that surprised me is how many funny moments there are in this film. Given the serious topics involved, I wasn’t expecting this at all, but I really liked it, it helped to break up the tension, which is always an important element that some movies neglect. After all, if you keep things too fast or too serious all the way through, it can really grate on an audience.

And make no mistake, there are some serious issues touched on in Black Widow, particularly in regards to the treatment of women. I know what I said earlier about wishing this film had come out several years earlier, but given everything that’s happened in recent years (especially the Me Too movement) I think maybe Black Widow came out at the right time after all. The film’s main villain is one of the most disturbing and revolting to appear in the entire MCU and long before he meets his demise you’ll be begging Natasha to finish him off. Speaking of villains, for what it’s worth, I really like Taskmaster’s appearance in this film. I admit I’m not familiar with the character’s comic book origins, but I like how the character was updated for this film.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t briefly mention the film’s score. Lorne Balfe has constructed some gorgeous music to go with Black Widow and what I heard intrigued me enough that a full-on soundtrack review will be forthcoming. My favorite part has to be the music associated with Taskmaster and if you’ve seen the movie you probably know what I’m talking about (my soundtrack review will provide details). And one final note: I like that the movie leaves some plot threads unresolved, because it practically guarantees that we will see some of these characters again.

In conclusion, I loved Black Widow. Marvel has returned to the big screen in style and I urge everyone who hasn’t seen it yet to go see Black Widow in theaters if at all possible, this is a movie that needs to be seen on the big screen.

Let me know what you think about Black Widow in the comments below and have a great day!

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Film Reviews

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My Thoughts on: The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52 (2021)

I recently had the opportunity to check out a screener for the upcoming documentary The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52 (due to release on July 9th), which follows director Joshua Zeman’s journey to locate the so-called “52-Hertz whale”, a near-legendary creature due to the fact that it appears to be the only whale in existence to call out at a frequency of 52 Hertz, giving it the nickname “the loneliest whale” because no other whales can seemingly communicate back with it.

I’d never heard of the loneliest whale before seeing this documentary, so I found the entire story fascinating. It also helped that I’ve always been interested in whales, and I’ll always take the opportunity to learn more about them if I can. This documentary will certainly teach you quite a bit about whales, particularly about blue whales (the largest whale on Earth), fin whales (the second-largest) and humpback whales. I knew of course that humpback whales could sing, but I never knew that blue whales and fin whales had their own vocalizations as well, and the documentary covers this in a way that makes it easy to understand.

The bulk of the documentary, as the title implies, follows Zeman and a crew as they embark on a seven-day expedition to look for this mysterious 52-Hertz whale, which at the time of filming in 2015 hadn’t been documented for nearly 11 years. In between tracking the expedition however, there are segments inserted that explain the history of humanity’s fascination with whales for better and for worse. The history of humans hunting whales is touched upon, along with the subsequent “Save the Whales” movement that started in the 1970s. It’s a nice way to cut up the action and prevents what could be relatively boring story about hunting for one lone whale into a story that not only follows that hunt, but tells you about humanity’s relationship with whales along the way.

That being said, while I do appreciate learning about the history of whaling and the devastating effect it had on whale populations worldwide, I did find some of those scenes to be rather distressing. I’m sure that was the idea, but if you are uncomfortable with the sight of blood and seeing carcasses cut up, some of that footage might bother you.

Now, on the side of the story that followed the hunt for the whale, I liked how they explained each step of what they were doing to try and hunt for the whale. They even included some amazing underwater footage of the sonar buoys deploying, which I found fascinating because I had no idea that’s what one looked like and it was really helpful that the documentary showed that process. But my favorite part has to be when the crew went around “tagging” blue whales and fin whales in an effort to locate the loneliest whale. And I liked it because these tags had cameras attached, so once they managed the rhythm of getting the tag attached, one minute you (the viewer) are in the air, the next…you’re suddenly riding on the back of a blue whale, the largest animal on Earth. It’s a thrilling moment, one that took my breath away and I definitely have a new appreciation for whales after seeing them up close like that.

But aside from the whales, The Loneliest Whale also touches on why we are so fascinated by this mysterious whale. There’s an interesting commentary on the nature of human relationships and how they’ve changed. The documentary could have touched on this a bit more, but it definitely provides some food for thought on the nature of human relationships and why they’re so important (and necessary) for us.

Now, the one thing that frustrates me about The Loneliest Whale is that it ends with less resolution than I would like. I know documentaries like this aren’t guaranteed to have conclusive endings, but this one’s ending definitely left me wanting more. Hopefully there will be a follow up documentary down the line, because I definitely want to hear more about this mysterious whale.

In the end, I’m very glad I got to see The Loneliest Whale. I learned a lot about whales, about our history of interacting with them, and I gained a deeper appreciation for the issues facing whales in the 21st century. This is a really fun documentary and I highly recommend checking it out.

Let me know what you think about The Loneliest Whale in the comments below and have a great day!

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My Thoughts on: F9 (2021)

After being delayed for about a year, I finally got to go and watch F9 in theaters. This is the first mainline installment of the Fast & Furious series that I’ve seen in theaters since Fast Five in 2011 (Hobbs & Shaw is a spin-off and therefore doesn’t count). After the epic display that was Fate of the Furious, I was very excited to see F9, especially as it revealed two earth-shattering bombshells. One: Dom has had a younger brother this entire time and we’re only just now meeting him and two: Han is still alive! With these two twists alone I was more than eager to see how the film would go about explaining them.

Well….I have good news and bad news. The good news is, the film DOES do a pretty adequate job of explaining how Dom has had a younger brother this entire time AND how Han didn’t die like we thought he did. The bad news is how the film goes about it. A decent chunk of this 2 1/2 hour film is devoted to lengthy flashbacks explaining both of these stories. It’s not that the flashbacks aren’t well done, they’re actually quite good. The thing is, if a film has to jump through this many hoops to explain its current plot…then something has gone sideways somewhere along the way. Perhaps I can explain the issue best if I say that F9 has to try way too hard to explain the existence of Jakob Toretto and Han’s not-being-dead. It doesn’t help that we’re meant to believe that John Cena is Vin Diesel’s younger brother. I tried to believe it, I really did, but it doesn’t quite work, though I will give everyone involved credit for trying.

That’s not the film’s only issue either. After five straight installments of upping the action to another level, F9 finally went too far by going to space. The entire submarine sequence in Fate of the Furious was more believable than this. There is now literally no way for the tenth and eleventh installments (more on those later) to raise the action to another level now without looking absolutely ridiculous. I mean how can you possibly top going to space?? You can’t and that’s going to be a problem down the line.

Also, there’s something about how the whole story is put together that bothered me. And after thinking about it for a while, I think I know what it is. See, at this point I’m used to the Fast & Furious movies jumping around to exotic locales, which F9 does plenty of. But there’s so much jumping around that it dawned on me that the film overall feels very disjointed. So even if most of the individual sections are good (or at least okay), taken together as a whole, it’s rather uneven in many places. I will say I loved the scene with Helen Mirren and Vin Diesel, it was delightful from beginning to end.

One more thing that bothered me: your experience of this film will most definitely suffer if you haven’t seen the early installments of this series. In particular, if you (like me) have yet to see The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, then one whole section of this film is going to make little to no sense to you. I get that they wanted to do a callback, but this one goes so far back it might go over a lot of people’s heads.

Now, with all that being said, I still can’t say the film was terrible because I did enjoy quite a few moments in it. Cipher (Charlize Theron) in particular was a delight to watch, though I do wish her character had gotten more screen time given her current importance to the story. There’s a lot of really good funny spots scattered throughout and the car chases, as always, were the best part of the movie (that stuff with magnets that gets teased in the trailers is just as good as it looks, trust me). This definitely isn’t the worst film I’ve ever seen, though it probably is the weakest entry in the Fast & Furious franchise to date (yes, even weaker than Hobbs & Shaw).

The thing that really gets me is, I don’t see how they can keep the story going for another two entries, I really don’t. This film had the perfect opportunity to kill Cipher off once and for all, wrap everything up in a neat little bow and give our heroes their happily ever after. And I don’t know how it will be in other theaters, but when it was revealed that, spoiler alert, Cipher wasn’t dead, I swear I heard a soft groan in the theater as we all realized the same thing: the ultimate villain lives, this story will continue. Of course I want to see Cipher get what’s coming to her after everything she’s done, but really what more can they do?? As much as I love the Fast & Furious films, they’re getting dangerously close to wearing out their welcome by dragging the story on for too long. No franchise, however good, can last forever, and F9 is proof that you can drag a story too far and make it not as good as it might have been.

Again, I can’t say I hated F9, but it was not as good as I thought it might be. John Cena is an adequate addition to the story, but he’s not the Rock and I hate that he and Vin Diesel had a falling out because Hobbs’ presence was sorely missed in this story, at least by me. If you’ve stuck it out this far with this franchise, then you’ll likely find stuff to enjoy in F9, just don’t raise your expectations too high.

Let me know what you think about F9 in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Fast Five (2011)

My Thoughts on: Furious 7 (2015)

My Thoughts on: The Fate of the Furious (2017)

My Thoughts on: Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)

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My Thoughts on: Who Are You, Charlie Brown? (2021)

I was delighted to receive the opportunity to screen Who Are You, Charlie Brown? ahead of its June 25th release on Apple TV+. This is a documentary that takes a fresh look at the life and legacy of Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts and everyone’s favorite lovable loser, Charlie Brown.

One detail that really drew me into Who Are You, Charlie Brown? is that this isn’t a straight up documentary. While we spend plenty of time listening to well-known figures recounting their love and recollections of iconic Peanuts moments and characters, as well as numerous archival clips of Schulz recounting his own experiences, the entire thing is woven around a newly made Peanuts cartoon, where Charlie Brown has to deal with the seemingly monumental task of writing a 500 word essay about who he is. As the documentary takes us through Peanuts history, Charlie Brown revisits some of the most iconic characters and locations seen throughout the history of the comic strip: the baseball field, Lucy’s psychiatric help desk, Schroeder and his piano, Linus standing by the brick wall, Snoopy and his fight with the Red Baron, and so on. As Charlie Brown comes to understand who he is, we also come to a better understanding of who Charles Schulz was, and gain a greater appreciation for Peanuts at the same time.

As a lifelong fan of Peanuts, I already knew a lot of the information presented in this documentary, but I didn’t know a lot about the cartoonist’s early years, and this period was covered in touching detail. With added input from the artist’s widow, you really get a feel for how Charles Schulz grew into the man who gave us some of the most iconic cartoon characters to ever exist. We actually get to hear quite a lot from the man himself from clips taken from over the years of his life. It was quite touching to see so much of Schulz, given that he’s been gone for 21 years (a day I’ll always remember because that was the day the last Peanuts strip was published).

On top of all this, what really brings this documentary together for me is the great music from Jeff Morrow. It to be extremely difficult to write music for a series that features some iconic pieces from Vince Guaraldi, but Morrow really pulls it off. The music throughout sounds like it came straight out of the world of Peanuts and he makes sure to cite some of Guaraldi’s greatest hits along the way.

While not nearly as long, Who Are You, Charlie Brown? reminded me in all the best ways of the 2018 Fred Rogers documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? because it gives insight into a beloved creator (in this case Charles Schulz) and we get to hear from a number of people who talk about Schulz and his work on Peanuts.

Who Are You, Charlie Brown? is available exclusively on Apple TV+ as of June 25, 2021 and I highly recommend checking it out, it was a lot of fun to watch.

Let me know what you think about Who Are You, Charlie Brown? in the comments below and have a great day!

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Soundtrack News: Milan Records to Release Original Motion Picture Soundtrack for ‘I Carry You With Me’ on June 25

Milan Records is excited to announce the June 25 release of the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack from the Sony Picture Classics and Stage 6 Films’ drama I Carry You With Me composed by Jay Wadley (I’m Thinking of Ending ThingsDriveways). The soundtrack is composed of 19 lush tracks, which Entertainment Weekly calls, “a wrenching score that swells and fades to the rhythms of these men’s lives.” Making their debut today exclusively via Vehlinggo ahead of Friday’s wide release are two tracks from the soundtrack – listen to “One Year” and “Ivan’s Chance” HERE. Coinciding with the film’s theatrical debut, the soundtrack will release on June 25, 2021.

A two-time winner of the Charles Ives Award from the American Academy of Arts and letters and featured in IndieWire’s 2020 and 2016’s 10 Best Scores of the Year, Jay Wadley is a NY-based composer and music producer. He recently scored Charlie Kaufman’s phycological drama/thriller I’m Thinking of Ending Things, featuring an original ballet. Other recent projects include Heidi Ewing’s I Carry You With Me, Emma Tammi’s Blood Moon (from Hulu/Blumhouse’s Into The Dark Horror Anthology Series), and Season 2 of Amazon’s Emmy®-nominated series Modern Love

“In the score for ‘I Carry You With Me,’ I aimed to create a vibrant sense of nostalgia and longing using a combination of textural electronics and piano, string orchestra and some familiar sourced sounds from the streets of Mexico,” says composer Jay Wadley.  “[Director] Heidi [Ewing] sent me a collection of sounds she recorded in the streets to inspire the sound world and make unique connections to the specific sense of time and place. One of the most prominent sounds you can hear woven into the score is the sound of the Camotero whistle from the food trucks in Mexico. I tuned and stretched out the whistle to use as a musical punctuation and thematic device to help call back to Ivan’s childhood memories working the streets with his father.”

Premiering at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, and based on true love, I Carry You With Me is a decades spanning romance that begins in Mexico between an aspiring chef (Armando Espitia) and a teacher (Christian Vázquez). Their lives restart in incredible ways as societal pressure propels them to embark on a treacherous journey to NYC with dreams, hopes, and memories in tow.

I CARRY YOU WITH ME (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK)TRACKLISTING – 

  1. I Carry You With Me
  2. Bar Franco
  3. Chiles En Nogada
  4. Sandra
  5. Complicated Boyfriend
  6. Gerardo’s Flashback
  7. You Can’t Take Him From Me
  8. Take That Off
  9. One Year
  10. We Are Not Going To Die
  11. The Letter / New York
  12. I’m Proud of You
  13. He Should Come Back
  14. Reunited
  15. Ivan’s Chance
  16. You Came To Me
  17. I Just Can’t See It
  18. Dad’s In the Hospital
  19. There’s No Path

The soundtrack album for I Carry You With Me will be released on June 25, 2021.

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