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My Thoughts on: Land of the Pharaohs (1955)

I came across Land of the Pharaohs in a somewhat backwards fashion: I saw the ending first. Somehow, I forget the exact circumstances, I saw a clip of how Land of the Pharaohs ends, and it intrigued me so much that I was determined, someday, to see the movie in full. At last, I tracked down a copy, and I definitely have some thoughts about it. For those who might not have seen or heard of this film, Land of the Pharaohs was directed by Howard Hawks and starred Jack Hawkins, Joan Collins, Dewey Mertain, and Alexis Minotis. It is set in ancient Egypt in the time of Khufu (Hawkins), a pharaoh obsessed with building a robber-proof tomb to protect his treasure for “the second life.” To this end, he enlists the skills of Vashtar (James Robertson Justice), a slave who is also a brilliant architect, to design the tomb in what will become known to history as the Great Pyramid.

First, let’s start with one of the big positives of Land of the Pharaohs and that’s the music. Dimitri Tiomkin created a gorgeous score for this film, and for me is that one detail that makes the bulk of the film watchable. From the strange chants hinting at ancient Egyptian religion, to the joyful singing as work on the pyramid begins, Tiomkin’s score flows through every scene, rich and vibrant with strings, brass, and choral chants. The music helps to move the story along, and serves as a good distraction from the, er, slower moments in the story.

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Another positive in this story are the costumes. While not quite as vibrant as those of The Ten Commandments (another story largely set in ancient Egypt), the costume design in Land of the Pharaohs is quite fetching. You can tell there was great attention to detail when putting these designs together, and a decent attempt made at historical accuracy (some of the outfits resemble those seen in Egyptian tombs).

As for the rest….oh boy. I should make it clear that Land of the Pharaohs is a generally enjoyable film, but it does have its fair share of weak points that detract from the experience. One of the big sticking points for me comes with all the time spent watching the pyramid being built. The initial montage starts fine, but then it goes on…and on…and ON. And during this never-ending sequence, all of the major characters disappear, it’s just a scene of nameless extras. I found myself squirming towards the end, more than eager to get back to the story of Khufu, Nellifer, and all that treasure. And speaking of…Nellifer is one of the most frustrating characters I’ve ever seen in an epic film of this kind.

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I understand what they were going for with Nellifer, the devious princess from Cyprus, but her character has all the subtlety of a rock being thrown through a window. It’s painfully obvious what she’s after (gold and power), so much so that it’s a wonder Khufu and Hamar (his loyal high priest) don’t figure it out sooner. Not only that, but for all her scheming, Nellifer is shown to be rather stupid too. A good example comes towards the end of the film: Nellifer has decided that Khufu must die so she can rule Egypt while nominally serving as regent for his minor son. To do this, she sends her personal slave (one KNOWN to Khufu) to do the deed. Wouldn’t you think the smarter thing would have been to send an unknown slave so that Khufu couldn’t instantly trace the plot back to Nellifer if it went wrong? The one thing they get right about Nellifer is that she’s designed to be very unlikable, so much so that by the end of the film you’re secretly cheering when her comeuppance finally arrives in dramatic fashion.

That comeuppance comes from a plot detail that I find fascinating. From listening to the commentary, I learned that Howard Hawks was fascinated by the ongoing puzzle of how the Great Pyramid was built. A student of engineering himself, the director decided to puzzle out a theoretically feasible means that might explain how the pyramid was built so perfectly. The solution came in the form of a system that used sand to slide the remaining blocks into place (to both seal the tomb and give it a finished look). While there’s no way to know if the ancient Egyptians actually used a system like this, I’d like to think it’s plausible.

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One other detailed that bothered me: the wide shots, or should I say the lack thereof. When an epic film is shot in CinemaScope, you expect scenes packed with action and pageantry (a la The Ten Commandments and especially Ben-Hur). However, many of the scenes in Land of the Pharaohs struck me as feeling…cramped. To be sure, there is a grand parade with Khufu at the start of the film, but it doesn’t feel like the space is used properly with the format. Many of the shots feel much too close up, and I feel that CinemaScope wasn’t used to its greatest advantage.

As I said before though, despite these issues, Land of the Pharaohs is pretty enjoyable; the plot is basic, but watchable, and great satisfaction can be derived from watching the fate of Nellifer (that I won’t dare spoil because it’s something you just have to see for yourself).

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

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Soundtrack News: ‘No. 7 Cherry Lane’ Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Available Now

Milan Records has release the original motion picture soundtrack for No. 7 Cherry Lane, an album of music from iconic director & writer Yonfan’s new animated film composed by Yonfan himself, Yu Yat-Yiu and Chapavich Temnitikul. Set in 1967 Hong Kong, No.7 Cherry Lane originally debuted at the 76th Venice Film Festival in 2019, where it was awarded Best Screenplay, and has since toured film festivals around the world in advance of its opening in Hong Kong later this summer.

 

Described by the director as “my love letter to Hong Kong and cinema”, No.7 Cherry Lane is Yonfan’s 14th motion picture – all of which he has written, directed and produced – and his first since 2009. It is also his first animated feature.  The eclectic score of lush orchestral music was composed by artists including Yonfan himself, Yu Yat-Yiu and Chapavich Temnitikul and recorded live in Prague.

YONFAN states that his motion pictures share an underlying theme of passion. A true auteur, his films are entirely self-produced, directed, written, and distributed. Yonfan began directing features in 1984, often for his own production company Far Sun Film, and has worked in Hong Kong, Singapore, China and Japan. He has made a total of fourteen movies, set in various periods and locales, first receiving international notice at the Berlin International Film Festival with the gay-themed drama Bishonen. His subsequent film, the Chinese opera-based Peony Pavilion, was named one of the year’s ten best by Time magazine in 2002, and garnered Rie Miyazawa the Best Actress award at the Moscow International Film Festival. His previous feature, Prince of Tears, was Hong Kong’s selection to compete in the Oscar race for Best Foreign Language Film, and was selected for competition at the 2009 Venice Film Festival

The theme song “Southern Cross” was composed by Yonfan and the rapper BOYoung, fusing together a 1940s, Shanghai-style melody sung by legendary Taiwanese singer CHYI YU, with a contemporary style performed by BOYoung and ZOE YU. This bold juxtaposition represents the collision of yesterday, today and tomorrow at the heart of the movie.

No.7 Cherry Lane tells the tale of Ziming, a Hong Kong University undergraduate, entangled between his amorous feelings for a self-exiled mother, Mrs Yu from Taiwan in the White Terror period, and her beautiful daughter Meiling. He takes them to different movies and through a series of magical moments on the big screen, forbidden passions are revealed. And the era coincides with Hong Kong’s turbulent times of 1967.

NO.7 CHERRY LANE (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK)

TRACKLISTING –

1.          Behind the Cherry Lane

2.          Rhythm of the Breeze

3.          Sunset Whispers

4.          Room at the Top

5.          Into the Red Chamber Featuring Wang Fang, Zhao Wenlin

6.          Night Rider

7.          A Love Story

8.          Southern Cross Featuring Chyi Yu, BOYoung, Zoe Yu, Kenneth Tsang, Zhao Wei

9.          Descending the Stairs

10.       A Dream Charade Featuring Sylvia Chang

11.       Winter Cometh

12.       Last Romance Featuring Chyi Yu

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My Thoughts on: Trolls World Tour (2020)

*warning: mild plot spoilers for Trolls World Tour follow

Well, it took a lot longer than I thought it would, but today I finally sat down and saw Trolls World Tour after picking the blu-ray up this morning. While I am disappointed that I never got to see this one in theaters, I was still looking forward to checking the story out.

Set some time after the events of the first Trolls movie, Trolls World Tour literally expands the world of the Trolls to reveal that their world is actually a LOT bigger than the first film led us to believe. It turns out Poppy’s Trolls are only one tribe of Trolls, each tribe devoted to a specific genre of music, those being Pop, Country, Techno, Funk, Classical, and Rock (with numerous sub-genres also being represented). This diversity is threatened when Queen Barb of the Hard Rock Trolls decides to unite all Troll-kind under the banner of rock by stealing a series of magical strings that will give her the power to control music (and by extension the Trolls). Naturally, Queen Poppy sets out to stop this from happening (with Branch in tow).

Trolls World Tour

Given how much I enjoyed watching the first Trolls film earlier this year, I was certain that I would love Trolls World Tour (especially once I saw Queen Barb in the previews) and I was right! This film takes everything that made Trolls fun and multiplies it by a factor of ten. I love how each of the Troll tribes are designed, each perfectly matched for their respective musical genres. Queen Barb is especially awesome (although really ALL of the Trolls are great). I really liked how the film didn’t waste much time in hinting that Barb does have thoughts and feelings beyond merely dominating the world through rock music (it was obvious to me early on that she was fighting loneliness).

There’s also a lot of cool voice cameos in this film, one of which didn’t hit me until I saw the end credits. I knew that Ozzy Osbourne was in this film (as Barb’s father, his voice is pretty hard to miss), and I also know (as a classical musician) that Gustavo Dudamel, a famous composer, was in there as well. What I did NOT know was that Anthony Ramos (one of the original Hamilton cast members) is in this film as King Trollex (seen at the opening of the film). Having recently fallen in love with Hamilton, I thought this was really cool.

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Also, I have to mention that I really enjoyed the film’s message about what it means to be a good leader (it’s important to listen to others, even if they don’t agree with you). And it’s message about the importance of diversity felt particularly relevant to me given the current situation in the world. Speaking of diversity, I like how the film ends with all of the Trolls (seemingly) living together. This looked like so much fun, I would honestly not mind if a third Trolls film was made. I’d like to see how all of the Trolls get along together.

In conclusion, if you enjoyed the first Trolls film, I’m pretty sure you’ll love Trolls World Tour as well. It was definitely a lot of fun to watch and I’m already looking forward to watching it again.

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

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My Thoughts on: Trolls (2016)

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My Thoughts on: Double Suicide (1969)

I’m finally getting back into the swing of watching movies again and just recently I finally sat down to watch Double Suicide, a 1969 film that caught my attention because of the obvious implications of the title, as well as my determination to get my hands on every jidaigeki film I can.

The first thing that comes to mind about Double Suicide is that it is nothing like what I expected. Throughout, there is a motif of puppeteers manipulating the action on stage, almost as if the story is a puppet play brought to life (and indeed, the story starts with puppeteers setting up a show). It’s a little strange at times, to have the masked puppeteers appear out of nowhere or sneak along behind or alongside the characters, but you get used to it after a while. It sort of reinforces the idea that the characters are not entirely in control of their actions, that they’re merely puppets telling a tragic story.

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And speaking of the story….Double Suicide has one of the saddest stories I’ve ever seen. The premise centers around a hapless paper merchant named Jihei (married with two children by the way), who is hopelessly in love with a famous courtesan named Koharu. Jihei is determined to redeem Koharu from her life as a courtesan but can’t possibly hope to raise the amount of money needed to do it. Due to his fixation, his life quickly falls apart until only one course of action is possible.

In a stroke of brilliance, Jihei’s wife Osan is played by the same actress who plays Koharu. I think it’s a great choice because to me it shows that if Jihei would only open his eyes and look at the life he has with his shop, his wife and his children, then he’d see he already has a woman like Koharu in his life (in terms of looks anyway). But while Osan is loyal to an absolute fault, it’s demonstrated several times that Osan will say whatever needs to be said to get out of her situation as a courtesan. But none of this ultimately deters Jihei, he must have Koharu…or life is not worth living.

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It’s also striking to me how honest the film is with how selfish the actions of Jihei and Koharu are. Unlike other tragic love stories, there’s no real attempt made to disguise this love affair as anything close to noble. Jihei and Koharu are unbelievably selfish for abandoning their respective duties to die together and openly state as much several times. And really Jihei is the more selfish of the pair because he’s abandoning his wife and two young children all for a courtesan he can’t possibly afford. His persistence leads to a horrifically sad moment when Osan’s father summarily dissolves her marriage and drags her home (without her children it should be noted). All of that because Jihei wants what he can’t have.

And finally, going back to the title of the story, I almost feel like it’s misleading. Double Suicide implies that the couple willingly kills themselves. But when you watch the scene play out….it’s not like that at all, it’s actually closer to a murder-suicide in my opinion. It just really struck me at the end that it didn’t seem like Koharu really wanted to die.

In the end I think everyone should watch Double Suicide at least once because of the unusual way the story is put together (with puppeteers controlling the story and popping in and out). It’s not my favorite jidaigeki film, but I did enjoy it.

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

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My Thoughts on: Hamilton (2020)

Like many, I was beyond excited for the opportunity to check out Hamilton for the first time when it came out on Disney+ yesterday. And why not? It’s been an absolute hit ever since it crashed into our lives in 2015. I knew of the musical pretty much from the start, but never really had the opportunity to check it out, not even to listen to the music….until now that is.

And holy SH*T what music!! I don’t always get into rap or hip-hop and I was briefly worried that this would deter me from getting into or enjoying Hamilton but I was so, so wrong. If anything, the story feels even more relatable when presented in this way. In brief, in case you’re not familiar, Hamilton chronicles the rise (and fall) of Alexander Hamilton in a way I guarantee you’ve ever seen before. What’s released on Disney+ is a filmed production of a show from late June 2016 and features the original Broadway cast.

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I’ve seen filmed stage productions before (Cats from the late 90s, Phantom of the Opera at Royal Albert Hall), but they pale in comparison to this performance of Hamilton (not least because Cats and Phantom are WORLDS apart from this show). As you sit and watch you feel like you’re in the best seat in the house, seeing the show from the perfect angle. There are close-ups in the appropriate places, the overall sound quality is amazing, and oh my god I cannot get over all of that amazing music!

Now, I will say that the first time I watched Hamilton (last night), it did take me about half an hour to get into the flow. As I said before, I don’t listen to a lot of rap and hip-hop so I’m not used to that kind of freestyle, free-flowing music. Once you get the hang of listening to it, however, it’s a lot of fun to listen to, even if a few details do get lost in the shuffle (when Lafayette comes back as a general I still can’t tell you what he says). I think my two favorite pieces (really I love them all) are “The Ten Dueling Commandments” and “The Room Where it Happens.” I especially like the former because it lays out everything you need to know about a duel while still keeping it interesting.

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I also love, love, LOVE the fact that Aaron Burr narrates the overall story, that reminds me so much of how Judas narrates the bulk of Jesus Christ Superstar (and according to my reading may have been done in homage to that very show). Let me tell you, when I found out that THAT was Aaron Burr my first thought was “Oh boy, THIS is going to be interesting.” And it is! Watching Burr and Hamilton interact throughout the whole show, knowing how it’s going to end….let’s just say by the time the climax finally comes the suspense will be almost overwhelming.

Lin-Manuel Miranda found this way to take the life of Alexander Hamilton, a story with all the potential to make for very dry reading/viewing and made it cool (and heartbreaking). To be sure, liberties are taken with the facts, but that’s not uncommon when history is adapted for musical theater. I think in the very broad strokes the story Miranda is trying to get across is correct, that Hamilton was this immigrant who did amazing things during his life, but who was also human and made many, MANY mistakes (my jaw dropped upon learning about the Reynolds pamphlet).

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I also have to say that I love King George III. His part is relatively small but he is FUNNY! Watching him comment on the coming war, the aftermath, and John Adams becoming the next president, all of it had me in stitches. He is one of the best parts of Hamilton and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Before I conclude, I learned something about dueling that made my brain explode. In a duel, “throwing away your shot” refers to firing so that you deliberately miss your opponent in a last ditch effort to end the affair once and for all. So when Alexander sings about not “throwing away my shot”, well….it kind of puts the ending of his story in a whole different light, doesn’t it.

In conclusion, I thoroughly loved watching Hamilton on Disney+ and I feel like everyone should sit down and watch it at least once. Given that Broadway is closed for the rest of 2020 (and possibly longer), this is your best chance to watch one of the hottest shows on Broadway (without paying an arm and a leg). I also think that, given the current political climate, this is also a really good time to watch Hamilton as well, and once you see it, you’ll understand why.

As for me, I’m perfectly happy to proclaim myself a Hamilton fan.

Let me know what you think about Hamilton on Disney+ in the comments below and have a great day!

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My Thoughts on: Wonder Woman (2017)

It only took three years but I have finally seen Wonder Woman (in my defense, I was neck-deep in my dissertation at the time the movie came out, so I wasn’t exactly in the mood to go to the movies at the time). And the first thought that came to mind is: this is AMAZING!! You see, part of the reason I avoided this film for so long is I have an instinctive dislike of origin films. Even with a character as iconic as Wonder Woman, I have this thing where I don’t like seeing how the character gets started because they have the bad habit of being awkward (I suffer heavily from second-hand embarrassment). Imagine my delight then, when I sat down to watch Wonder Woman and found…practically no awkwardness at all! We do in fact get plenty of Diana’s early years on Themyscira, but it’s all layered in so much badass action that there’s no chance for early awkwardness to develop.

The bulk of the story is set in the closing days of World War I (1918), and sees Diana leave Themyscira with Steve Trevor to confront and kill Ares (which she believes will end the war on the spot). The story goes from London, to the trenches on the Western Front, to deep behind enemy lines. Patty Jenkins does not hold back from showing you the horrors of the “the war to end all wars” and it only serves to drive Diana even more to fulfill her self-proclaimed quest to kill Ares. Diana’s naïveté regarding Ares is almost painful to watch at times (because you know it can’t be THAT easy), but it’s also endearing because it highlights how sincere the princess of the Amazons is with her intentions.

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And speaking of Ares…it’s brilliant how the god of war’s presence is teased throughout the film. For most of the story in fact, it seems patently obvious who the god of war is masquerading as (in hindsight it’s too obvious). In fact, it’s so obvious it makes the actual reveal of Ares’ identity all the more shocking (I did NOT see that coming). Jenkins does a phenomenal job of weaving into the story how Ares has been present all this time and yet is NOT (directly) responsible for all the wars and death that have been going on. Furthermore, his final confrontation with Diana is amazing to watch, it’s everything you could ever want in a clash between a god and an Amazon.

I was also blown away by the revelation of what Diana really is (something teased throughout the film). I’m a little disappointed the story didn’t go with the traditional “made from clay and brought to life” story, but really this works too.

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Steve Trevor is also the perfect complement to Diana by the way. It’s funny how at first he tries to fulfill the stereotypical “alpha male protecting the weak female” role only to very quickly realize Diana does not need ANY help in that regard. And once he realizes it, he just goes with it, which is awesome to see. I love stories that turn the male/female dynamic on its head like this film does.

As far as superhero origin films goes, Wonder Woman is one of the best films I’ve ever seen. I do regret not seeing it sooner, but I’m glad I finally got around to watching it before Wonder Woman 1984 comes out (whenever that happens to be).

There’s so much more I want to say about how amazing Wonder Woman is, but I think this gets the basic point across: Wonder Woman is one of the best films I’ve ever seen, it gives Diana an awesome origin story, and lays the foundation for many stories to come (hopefully).

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

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My Thoughts on: The Wicker Man (1973)

I’m honestly not sure when The Wicker Man first came to my attention, but the idea of seeing it has been in my head for awhile. While my general aversion to the horror genre is hardly a secret, I heard so many times about how this was one of those films you must see before you die that I finally decided, once I found a copy, that I would sit down and watch it, for better or worse. It also didn’t hurt that Christopher Lee is in this film also (I’ll watch just about anything that has him in it).

If you haven’t seen the original The Wicker Man, the story follows Police Sergeant Neil Howie (Edward Woodward) as he travels to the (fictional) Scottish island of Summerisle to investigate a complaint about a missing child, Rowan Morrison, that’s been sent to him via an anonymous letter. A simple investigation quickly goes sideways when everyone Howie meets protests that Rowan either a) does not exist or b) died six months earlier. Not only that, but the devoutly Christian Howie is horrified to discover the entire island follows a pagan religion with Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee) happily ruling at the top of it all.

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Right away I could feel major Midsommar-vibes coming off this story and indeed they are similar in broad strokes. You have an outsider encountering a pagan culture they do not understand, there’s pagan symbolism everywhere, and oh yes, there’s human sacrifice at the end. I investigated and found out that both Midsommar and The Wicker Man (the original version anyway) both belong to a sub-genre of horror known as folk horror. This sub-genre contains stories that focus on the “old religion” and ritualistic practices. Given I’ve watched and enjoyed two films from the folk horror genre, it might be I’ve finally found a niche of horror that is for me after all. But I digress, back to The Wicker Man

I find it very interesting how Howie is presented to the audience. Given how prevalent Christianity is all over the world, you might think that at least some of the sympathy would be with Howie as he goes about his investigation on Summerisle. But Howie, as Woodward plays him, is so uptight, and so self-righteous, that he quickly becomes unlikable. He has no tolerance for anything that deviates from the norm, and there’s a lot of things on Summerisle that you don’t normally see. Now, to be fair, the police sergeant does make something of a good point at the end of the film when he points out that sacrificing him is tantamount to murder, but it also reveals how little Howie understands life on the island. Except for that little part about human sacrifice, the villagers on Summerisle aren’t hurting anybody by following the old religion, but Howie can’t stand for it regardless.

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The pivotal moment with the titular “wicker man” was just as amazing as I’d been led to believe. I found out that Edward Woodward insisted on not seeing it until the moment of filming, which makes his scream of “Oh God, oh Jesus Christ!” upon seeing it so utterly believable. Also, I will never look at the song “Sumer is icumen in” in the same way ever again.

One thing I keep turning over and over in my head is the sacrifice at the end of the film and what it’s intended to do. You see, the old religion was established on Summerisle over a hundred years ago to help with the growth of the apple orchards on the island. But the previous year was the first year the harvest failed, hence the sacrifice at the end of the film, the idea being that a human sacrifice will appease the gods and allow the apples to grow again next year. Howie maintains that the apples are going to fail anyway because fruit isn’t meant to grow in this region. And yet…I can’t help but wonder….what if the sacrifice works? Or at least appears to work. Even though the results of the sacrifice are never revealed, I have a feeling Lord Summerisle has nothing to worry about even though Howie implied that he himself would be the next sacrifice should the crops fail again. If that was the first time the fruit didn’t grow in over 100 years, it seems unlikely that they would permanently die off just like that. Even if they are slowly dying, it doesn’t happen that quickly, so it’s more likely the fruit will continue for a while longer. I just hate how certain Howie seems that the fruit trees are never going to bear fruit again. I guess I can’t help but wonder “what if Howie’s wrong and all of this works anyway?”

What I’m trying to say in all of this is that The Wicker Man is an amazing film and one that everyone should definitely see at least once. Christopher Lee steals every scene he’s in. I also really loved all of the songs in this film, if I’d known how musical The Wicker Man is I would’ve watched it years ago.

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

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Soundtrack News: ‘Driveways’ Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Available Now

The original motion picture soundtrack for Driveways, with music by Jay Wadley, is available now from Milan Records. Nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards, Driveways is out now and available to watch on demand. Director Andrew Ahn’s Driveways tells the story of Kathy (Golden Globe® Nominee Hong Chau), a single mother, who travels with her shy eight-year-old son Cody (newcomer Lucas Jaye) to Kathy’s late sister’s house which they plan to clean and sell. As Kathy realizes how little she knew about her sister, Cody develops an unlikely friendship with Del (Golden Globe®, Tony® winner and acting legend Brian Dennehy), the Korean War vet and widower who lives next door. Over the course of a summer, and with Del’s encouragement, Cody develops the courage to come out of his shell and, along with his mother, finds a new place to call home.

Jay Wadley is a NY based composer and music producer. Upcoming releases include; Charlie Kaufman’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things, The Innocence Files directed by Roger Ross Williams (Life Animated, Apollo), Independent Spirit Award-nominated Driveways directed by Andrew Ahn (Spa Night), and the Sundance NEXT Audience and Innovation award-winning narrative debut, I Carry You with Me (Sony), written and directed by Heidi Ewing (Jesus Camp, Detropia).

Of the soundtrack, composer Jay Wadley says:

“In my score for Andrew Ahn’s Driveways, I took an understated, paired down approach with textured analog production on a felted grand piano and chamber string ensemble.  The film is a delicate and subtle piece, so Andrew and I felt the score needed to take extra care not to step on or get in the way of story and character.  As I began the creative process, my way into Cody and Del’s sound was through an attempt to capture the mood of childhood experiences like tooling around in the yard and on the porch during long, lazy, hot summer afternoons. I find a certain dreaminess, comfort, and melancholy to those days that informed the music’s overall tone and character. To echo the simple yet profound nature of Del and Cody’s friendship, I used equally simple recurring melodic and harmonic material that often plays as intimate duets between strings and piano. These melodies thoughtfully blossom and mature throughout the film, deepening their associations, and help us connect to relationships that have shaped us and remind us of the beauty and tragedy of their impermanence.”

Driveways director Andrew Ahn adds:

“Jay’s score for Driveways is so human, full of character and soul. I loved working with Jay because, like an actor, he took the film on emotionally, letting the story and characters become a part of him. There’s a beautiful nostalgic quality to the score that feels so personal and intimate. For this reason, the score never hits a false note; it feels truthful and genuine in such an emotional way.”

DRIVEWAYS (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK)

TRACKLISITNG –

  1. On the Road
  2. Del
  3. Inside the House
  4. Cleaning Up
  5. Mouse Pad
  6. Can I Borrow a Shovel?
  7. Pretty Good
  8. Get Up
  9. Okay Bye!
  10. Shopping
  11. Thanatopsis
  12. Kathy Goes Out
  13. Invitation
  14. Rogers Team
  15. Wait List
  16. Hardwood Floors
  17. Move, Move
  18. Moving to Seattle
  19. This One
  20. Everything is Different

If you’d like to check out the soundtrack for Driveways, it is currently available.

See also:

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My Thoughts on: Tarzan and the Amazons (1945)

My ongoing journey through the classic Tarzan films took me to Tarzan and the Amazons, released in 1945. The plot, like Tarzan Triumphs before it, focuses yet again on a lost city, this time a city of ‘Amazons’ who live in total seclusion from the outside world. Tarzan’s son boy discovers where the hidden city is located after following Tarzan when he returns an injured warrior, a situation that becomes problematic when an expedition learns of the fabulously wealthy lost city’s existence.

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It’s almost funny to me how many lost cities there are in these Tarzan films. First there was Palandrya in Tarzan Triumphs, now we have a lost city of female warriors that looks like something straight out of ancient Greece. In fact, with their headbands and weapons, the ‘Amazons’ in this story reminded me quite strongly of Wonder Woman and the Amazons of Themiscyra. Still, the lost city is quite beautiful, even if it is completely out of place in the middle of Africa.

I should also mention this is the first film to feature Brenda Joyce as Jane. When she first appears (in regular clothes), it’s a little hard to accept that she’s Jane. But once she changes into her regular jungle attire, it actually becomes fairly believable. It’s still not the same as having Maureen O’Sullivan in the role, but Brenda Joyce does a pretty good job.

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The bulk of the plot, unfortunately, is pretty formulaic. In regular fashion, the greedy members of an expedition (excluding the honorable leader) find out about a lost city that’s full of treasure, decide to loot it, Boy becomes an unwitting (and later unwilling) accomplice, and Tarzan has to rush in at the last minute to save the day. Even worse, most of what happens is Tarzan’s fault if you think about it. Instead of plainly telling Boy that Palmyria (the city of the Amazons) has to stay a secret because of its fantastic wealth, Tarzan talks in riddles and simply tells Boy that it must be a secret without telling him why. If Tarzan had just been honest with his son then a lot of this might have been avoided. Most disappointing of all, the bad guys in the expedition are punished far too quickly. There’s barely a chase, and while their fate is gruesome, it’s over in less than a minute.

Despite these issues, Tarzan and the Amazons is enjoyable, if not completely original. You’ll like it if you’ve gotten this far into the Tarzan series of films, but it might not be the best place to start if you’ve never seen a Tarzan film before.

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

See also:

My Thoughts on: Tarzan the Ape Man (1932)

My Thoughts on: Tarzan and His Mate (1934)

My Thoughts on: Tarzan Escapes (1936)

My Thoughts on: Tarzan Triumphs (1943)

Film Reviews

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

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My Thoughts on: Tarzan Triumphs (1943)

After a long stretch, I decided to resume my watch of all the classic Tarzan films, deciding to go on with Tarzan Triumphs, made in 1943 and a most interesting entry because the plot sees Tarzan fighting against Nazis. In hindsight it actually isn’t that surprising that a story was written to pit Tarzan against the Third Reich. After all, in 1943 World War II was in full swing and many stories of this type were being told. Still, it is a little jarring to see Tarzan existing in the same world with Nazis, since I’ve always associated the character with the late 19th century (or at the very least the turn of the 20th century). The plot sees Tarzan (eventually) go to war against a contingent of Nazis who have taken over the hidden city of Palandrya in an effort to steal its riches to support the war effort.

That being said, as jarring as it is at first, this might be one of my favorite Tarzan films yet. Considering that Nazis are involved in the plot, you know from the start that it’s only a matter of time before Tarzan and the Germans come to blows, and once that starts, it goes just about the way you think it will. But I’m getting ahead of myself, there’s a few details to talk about first.

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Since this is the first Tarzan film made for RKO Studios, Tarzan Triumphs is also the first film in the series to be made without Maureen O’Sullivan in the role of Jane. While the film does explain Jane’s absence by explaining that she’s tending to her mother in England, O’Sullivan’s absence in the story does leave a noticeable hole in, well, everything, one that isn’t quite filled by Frances Gifford in her role as Zandra. That isn’t the only difference between the RKO films and the original MGM films either. The iconic Tarzan yell is absent too (oh, he makes one, but it’s not the one everyone knows). Also, the entire set up of the hidden city of Palandrya is a bit much to take (it’s a hidden city of white people in the middle of the African jungle).

If you can overlook these issues, however, then you will like Tarzan Triumphs, particularly once Tarzan decides to get involved in fighting against the Nazis. Frustratingly, it takes Tarzan most of the film (and the kidnapping of Boy) to decide that the Nazis are a problem. I should mention that the Nazi characters are all easy-to-hate characters (though one is a near unending source of comic relief), which makes sense given it was wartime when this was made. It’s great fun to see Tarzan take the enemy down, especially when he takes special care to hunt down the head Nazi, chasing him into the jungle to give him the coup de grace.

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While the story does suffer from the absence of Jane, Tarzan Triumphs is an enjoyable story once all is said and done. I particularly enjoy watching the Nazi characters fumble about in the jungle (two fall prey to “cannibal fish”) before finally receiving their comeuppance. Tarzan’s initial stubbornness is also incredibly frustrating but if you stick with the film it pays off in the end. And for what it’s worth, I do like watching Zandra interact with Tarzan and Boy (even if it isn’t quite the same as having Jane in the story).

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

See also:

My Thoughts on: Tarzan the Ape Man (1932)

My Thoughts on: Tarzan and His Mate (1934)

My Thoughts on: Tarzan Escapes (1936)

My Thoughts on: Tarzan and the Amazons (1945)

Film 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