Tag Archives: film

Soundtrack Review: The Painter and the Thief (2020)

Today Milan Records released the official soundtrack for The Painter and the Thief, with music composed by Uno Helmersson. The Painter and the Thief tells the story of a Czech artist, who, desperate for answers about the theft of her 2 paintings, seeks out and befriends the career criminal who stole them. After inviting her thief to sit for a portrait, the two form an improbable relationship and an inextricable bond that will forever link these lonely souls.

Uno Helmersson is an award-winning Swedish composer and a multi-instrumentalist whose credits include the worldwide hit TV series The Bridge, broadcast in more than 100 territories and for which he was awarded a Golden FIPA. Other major credits include the Emmy winning Armadillo documentary series following a group of Danish soldiers for 6 months in Afghanistan; Magnus, about the life of Norway’s Mozart of Chess directed by Benjamin Ree for Norway’s Moskus Film; Susanne Bier’s A Second Chance, additional score; Mikkei Norgaard’s The Absent One; and Zentropa’s Department Q film series.

Of the soundtrack, composer Uno Helmersson says:

“I am really happy with the music for The Painter and the Thief. I think that it is by all means emphasizing the uniqueness in this beautiful and unexpected story. Working with Benjamin Ree has been a true pleasure. With his enormous trust in the process of creating narration and his trust in my music, we have had a creative collaboration on my music for The Painter and the Thief. This film is truly a piece of art.”

Given that this documentary is about an artist who becomes friends with the thief who stole her paintings, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I sat down to listen to this soundtrack. While I rarely hear a soundtrack I don’t like, I still don’t listen to that many documentary soundtracks. That being said….the music for The Painter and the Thief surprised me in a way I wasn’t expecting. See, for the most part, the soundtrack is what you would expect from a documentary: soft, gentle tones that come across as thoughtful, polite, enough to fill the background but not dominate the action. Then came the track “Finding the Swans” and everything changed. This piece is loud, frenetic, and completely different from the rest of the soundtrack. I’m not sure of the context of this piece but it was a welcome diversion from the norm.

And then there’s “The Exhibition”, the final entry in the soundtrack. I think I may have liked this piece the best, because it literally comes across as the grand finale, complete with organ music. It’s quite the payoff given how quiet most of the soundtrack is.

In conclusion, if you like listening to soundtracks, you will find the music for The Painter and the Thief enjoyable, particularly towards the end. If you’ve never heard the music of Uno Helmersson before, I think this is a fine introduction to his work.

Let me know what you think about The Painter and the Thief (and its soundtrack) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

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Soundtrack Review: Vivarium (2019)

Recently, I got the chance to listen to the original motion picture soundtrack for Vivarium. Described as an existential trip to suburban Hell, Vivarium follows a young couple looking for the perfect place to live. In search of their dream home, the couple find themselves trapped in a bizarre labyrinthine neighborhood of identical houses. In time, the surreal situation spirals further and further out of control. The soundtrack for this film was written by Danish composer Kristian Eidnes Andersen. He received a degree from the National Film School of Denmark, and has been sound designer on more than 80 films. As a score composer, Eidnes Andersen has credit for more than 20 titles including von Triers Antichrist, Thomas Vinterberg’s Submarino, and Per Fly’s The Woman That Dreamed About a Man.

The big thing that strikes me about Eidnes Andersen’s soundtrack for Vivarium is how the entire thing is filled with a sense of “the Other.” That is to say, you listen to this music, and it gives you chills because it doesn’t sound like anything that came from here, it is “other than” and that’s something that can instinctively set nerves on edge, which can be good if that’s the feeling a composer is going for. Given the plot of Vivarium sees a couple trapped in a simulacrum of suburbia, I think this was very much the idea the composer had in mind.

Another detail I can’t get out of my mind is how the soundtrack for Vivarium seems to just “exist.” Most of the time there’s some sense of forward motion in a soundtrack, be it plodding or breakneck speed. In Vivarium, however, the music doesn’t really move at all, it’s just floating in a bubble, perhaps further symbolizing the unnaturalness of the world that Gemma and Tom find themselves in. There are also a lot of echoes in the music that reminded me of someone making noise in an empty room. Listening to this music really gives you a sense of loneliness and emptiness, this is not happy music (but then again, this isn’t a happy story either).

The soundtrack for Vivarium is definitely out there, but that’s not a bad thing. This is an unusual story and it needed unusual music to go along with it, and as far as that goes I think Eidnes Andersen nailed it.

TRACKLISTING

01. Vivarium

02. Fire

03. Lost

04. Nest

05. Tom Died

06. Garden and the Sun

07. Gemma Dies

08. Gemma Care

09. Follow the Boy

10. The End

11. TV

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

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

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: Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life (2009)

My journey through the Pokémon films continues with Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life, the 12th film in the series. This movie concludes a story arc that began in Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai. The story follows Ash, Dawn and Brock as they arrive at the town of Michina, where strange events are taking place. In the distant past, Arceus, a legendary Pokémon with the power to create worlds, lent some of his power to revive the land Michina is built on in the form of the Jewel of Life. But when the time came to return the jewel, Arceus was betrayed, the jewel withheld. Now, thousands of years later, Arceus has returned to judge humans for their betrayal. But once again, things are not as they seem and it is up to Ash and his friends to uncover the truth.

Going in, I could’ve sworn that I never saw this particular film before. But as the story played out, it dawned on me that I remembered certain parts, so while I don’t remember the exact date, it seems I have seen Arceus and the Jewel of Life before, so it was great to revisit the story a number of years later.

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It was fascinating to see how Arceus and the Jewel of Life ties The Rise of Darkrai and Giratina & the Sky Warrior together. The film’s explanation that it was Arceus awakening that set everything into motion makes sense and it answers a question I hadn’t even thought to ask while watching The Rise of Darkrai, which was WHY had Dialga and Palkia encountered each other in the first place?

Once again, the plot of this film reminded me of a previous Pokémon film, in this case the story reminded me in part of Lucario and the Mystery of Mew. Like that film, Arceus and the Jewel of Life requires our heroes to find out the truth of what happened in the distant past. Unlike the Lucario story, Ash and company actually get to travel back to the distant past with the help of Dialga. And this is where I have my one big problem with this film. As you might expect, Ash and his friends succeed in changing the past and returning the Jewel of Life to Arceus, who gratefully leaves. But when everyone returns to the present…not only is Arceus still there, he’s still angry and fighting everyone. This makes NO sense to me. The general rule about time travel is if you change the past, you change the future at the same time. By returning the Jewel of Life to Arceus in the past, there would’ve been no reason for Arceus to be there in the present, so he should’ve been gone when Ash and his friends returned. I understand there needs to be a dramatic climax but this went way over the line of believability in my opinion.

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I also have to say, I really like how the designs of Arceus, Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina complement each other. When all four are together, you can tell they kind of belong to the same “family” of Pokémon creatures. I mention that because I think it’s a really cool example of attention to detail.

Once again, I finished a Pokémon film that I really liked by the time it was over. Arceus and the Jewel of Life is definitely one of the better films in the series, and it caps off an excellent story arc. Definitely watch this one if you get the chance (but make sure you watch the others first for full effect).

Let me know what you think about Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Pokemon-The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back (1998)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: The Movie 2000 (1999)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon 3: The Movie: Entei – Spell of the Unown (2000)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon 4Ever- Celebi – Voice of the Forest (2001)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias (2002)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Jirachi—Wish Maker (2003)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew (2005)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea (2006)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai (2007)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Giratina & the Sky Warrior (2008)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

Animated 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

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Giratina & the Sky Warrior (2008)

My ongoing quest to watch all of the Pokémon has now brought me to Pokémon: Giratina & the Sky Warrior. This was the 11th Pokémon film in the series and serves as the follow up to Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai from the year before. In this story, Ash and company (Dawn and Brock), find themselves accompanying an adorable hedgehog Pokémon named Shaymin to a special flower garden, while having to avoid the mysterious Giratina and a power-hungry individual known as Zero (who has an unhealthy interest in Giratina’s powers).

I was curious to see exactly how this film tied in to The Rise of Darkrai and was very pleased with what I found. Far too often, stories feature earth-shattering battles, only for a sequel to show the world operating as if nothing happened in the previous installment. Giratina & the Sky Warrior is nothing like that. This story makes clear that the battle between Dialga and Palkia had consequences so severe that Giratina felt obliged to get involved and hunt down Dialga himself to let the legendary creature know exactly how he felt about it. That appears to be the overriding message of this film, that actions have consequences, even if we can’t see them.

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Beyond that, I couldn’t help but notice that the story arc with Zero trying to capture Giratina held more than a passing resemblance to Lawrence III and his plot to capture Moltres, Zapdos, and Articuno in Pokémon: the Movie 2000. Zero even has a floating vessel to get around in just like Lawrence III did. Granted their motives for doing so are somewhat different, but at their core Lawrence and Zero are both trying to contain legendary Pokémon creatures. I’m not saying this similarity is bad per se, I just find it curious that Zero and Lawrence III are somewhat similar. To be fair, a little similarity here and there is to be expected, when you have a film series as long running as Pokémon, some plot elements are bound to repeat themselves.

I also have to talk about my favorite thing in this entire film: Shaymin!! For years I thought Vulpix was my favorite Pokémon but it seems I’ve been missing out all this time. Imagine my delight when I discovered a hedgehog-like Pokémon like Shaymin exists. She’s so cute it’s almost unbearable, and she can shape-shift too! I know now, if Pokémon were real, I would have a Shaymin. That being said, I’m pretty sure they’re called “gratitude Pokémon” sarcastically, because my goodness did Shaymin have an attitude! That being said, I still love Shaymin.

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The Reverse World, to put it mildly, was a mind-trip. It almost felt like being dropped into an M.C. Escher painting (well, maybe not EXACTLY like one, but close enough). I kind of love how casually Ash and his friends take being dropped into parallel dimensions, since this is the second film in a row that something like this has happened to them.

On a final note, I couldn’t help but notice that the story of Giratina & the Sky Warrior essentially ends on a cliffhanger, as the film all but states that Giratina is off to search for Dialga (presumably to continue their fight). While you couldn’t really tell that the story begun in The Rise of Darkrai would be continued, Giratina & the Sky Warrior makes it pretty obvious that the story isn’t over. On that note, I look forward to the ongoing adventures of Ash and company, and I’m curious to see how the fight between Dialga, Palkia, Giratina, and whoever else gets involved, turns out.

In conclusion, I really liked Pokémon: Giratina & the Sky Warrior. It carries on the story begun in the previous film, it has one mind-trip of a location in the Reverse World, and it has a pretty enjoyable story too. Definitely recommend it!

Let me know what you think about Pokémon: Giratina & the Sky Warrior in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Pokemon-The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back (1998)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: The Movie 2000 (1999)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon 3: The Movie: Entei – Spell of the Unown (2000)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon 4Ever- Celebi – Voice of the Forest (2001)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias (2002)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Jirachi—Wish Maker (2003)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew (2005)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea (2006)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai (2007)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life (2009)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

Animated 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

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai (2007)

My quest to watch all of the Pokémon movies continued with Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai, a 2007 film that is the first of 4 films set in the “Diamond and Pearl” era. This is the 10th Pokémon film overall and, to my knowledge, is the first to begin a storyline that is continued in a followup story (the rest of the films thus far have been standalone features).

Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai is a weird one, even by Pokémon standards. The closest thing I can compare it to is the third Pokémon film with Entei and the illusory world created by the Unown. Actually, in hindsight, that’s not a bad comparison at all, since the Unown are spotted in the dimension where Dialga and Palkia are fighting. But I digress…before all of that, the story begins with Ash, Brock and Dawn (no more May and Max, I’ll miss them) traveling to Alamos Town for, what else, a Pokémon tournament. Predictably, their plans become disrupted when strange occurrences begin disrupting the town, occurrences that appear to be caused by a mysterious Pokémon known as Darkrai, though not everything is as it seems.

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I’m embarrassed to admit that it wasn’t until I watched this film that I learned what Darkrai looks like. Right up until today, I thought Palkia was Darkrai (in my defense, I’ve never played Pokémon Diamond & Pearl so there’s no way I could’ve known). That being said, Darkrai freaked me out just a little bit, though I’m hard pressed to say why. Something about his appearance is just unsettling. You know what else was unsettling? The extended nightmare sequence where the ghostly Pokémon are floating around. That’s when things really got weird in my opinion. I get that things can get strange when you have two massive Pokémon that can manipulate time and space respectively, but still, weird is weird.

One thing I did enjoy very much was Baron Alberto, which is to say I loved to hate him. Actually the entire situation with Alberto and Alice reminded me quite strongly of Gaston and Belle from Beauty and the Beast. Alberto seems to think he’s entitled to Alice’s affections and he also doesn’t seem to be able to take no for an answer. But the biggest similarity? He’s determined to blame Darkrai for everything, he even rallies the other Pokémon trainers to take down Darkrai in an almost identical manner to Gaston rallying the townsfolk to go after the Beast. Quite an interesting parallel if you ask me.

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But the thing I liked most about Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai is the role that music plays in the climax. It was already awesome enough that the Space-Time Towers are shaped like a massive musical instrument (they vaguely remind me of a lyre), but then to have the power of music be what it takes to get Dialga and Palkia to stop fighting, that just blew me away. I feel like music doesn’t always get its just due when it comes to storytelling, and to have a story not only acknowledge but emphasize the power that music can have, that’s just something special. I loved the sequence where ‘Oracion’ plays from the Space-Time Towers; it was beautiful and so, so well done.

While Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai did weird me out at times, I did enjoy the overall story. More than that, I’m eager to see where the story goes, since I know now that the next two films continue the story that was begun here. If you haven’t seen this one, I do highly recommend it. I’ve still yet to see a Pokémon story I didn’t like.

Let me know what you think about Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Pokemon-The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back (1998)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: The Movie 2000 (1999)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon 3: The Movie: Entei – Spell of the Unown (2000)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon 4Ever- Celebi – Voice of the Forest (2001)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias (2002)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Jirachi—Wish Maker (2003)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew (2005)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea (2006)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Giratina & the Sky Warrior (2008)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life (2009)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

Animated 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

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew (2005)

After a lengthy delay (largely due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that temporarily killed any desire to watch and review anything), my quest to watch all of the Pokémon movies continued with Pokémon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew. This is the eighth Pokémon film in the series and it came out in 2005. The story follows the ongoing adventures of Ash, Pikachu, Brock, May and Max as they help a Pokémon called Lucario unravel the mystery of why he was sealed away by his master, Sir Aaron, a thousand years ago. And oh yes, did I mention Mew puts in an appearance?

I’ve yet to see a Pokémon film that I didn’t like, but this definitely has to be my favorite after the first three films (which in my mind will always be the best). The story is fairly straightforward: Ash and company stumble onto an adventure, Team Rocket inevitably tags along, and Ash must to do something to save the immediate area. The story’s setting is out of this world. There’s a beautiful castle, the phenomenal Tree of Beginning that looks like a tree but is actually made of stone and crystal, and (I can’t mention this enough) some completely adorable scenes with Mew. I’ve loved Mew ever since the first Pokémon movie and this story has more than enough of the adorable critter in it.

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I really like how this story uses “time flowers” as a way of looking into the past to find out what happened without resorting to true flashbacks every five minutes. It’s really interesting how the story actually seems to employ the “unreliable narrator” trope. That is, it forces you to question if you can really believe the accepted version of what happened to Sir Aaron, or if Lucario’s version of events is actually correct. The truth, once it’s revealed, is pretty heart-wrenching (but I’m discovering that’s par for the course for Pokémon films).

My favorite visual in the film has to be the secret world inside the Tree of Beginning. It’s amazing how many of these Pokémon films involve secret worlds where Pokémon thrive without any interference from humans. This one is particularly well put together, and I genuinely wished it was a real place I could explore, that’s how beautiful it was. On a separate note, it’s also fun to watch all of the Pokémon interact with each other. Even though all they do is repeat their own names, you still get an idea of what they’re saying.

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The one character that surprised me the most in this story was Kidd Summers. When she initially started snooping around the castle, I was convinced that she was the bad guy for this film, the kind that would ingratiate herself with Ash and company before revealing her true colors. But not only was that not true, now that I think about it, there really isn’t a villain in this story (and no, Team Rocket doesn’t count, they don’t even really try anything this time). That shows what a good film this is, when you get totally engrossed in the story despite there not being a villain for our heroes to go against.

If you’re looking for Pokémon films to try outside of the first three films, I highly recommend watching Pokémon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew. The story was excellent and the animation was spot-on. This was truly a great story about the world of Pokémon and I hope you get the chance to check it out.

Let me know what you think about Pokémon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Pokemon-The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back (1998)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: The Movie 2000 (1999)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon 3: The Movie: Entei – Spell of the Unown (2000)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon 4Ever- Celebi – Voice of the Forest (2001)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias (2002)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Jirachi—Wish Maker (2003)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea (2006)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai (2007)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Giratina & the Sky Warrior (2008)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life (2009)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

Animated 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

My Thoughts on: Sword of the Beast (1965)

After checking out Kill! the next Criterion film I checked out was Sword of the Beast, another samurai film, this time from 1965. The film was directed by Hideo Gosha and is set in 1857 toward the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate. The story follows Gennosuke (Mikijiro Hira), a samurai on the run after assassinating a counselor in his clan. He is relentlessly pursued by Misa, the daughter of the counselor he killed, and Daizaburo, her future husband.

As with several films of this genre that I’ve watched recently, the reasons behind Gennosuke’s actions are…well, complicated. The gist though, is that like other protagonists, Gennosuke was tricked into doing what he did, expecting to be rewarded afterward. Instead, he’s double-crossed and forced to go on the run.

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That much of the story I can understand, as well as Gennosuke’s rightful claims that the clan he formerly served is corrupt to its core. Apart from that though, this story actually disappointed me. I was expecting and/or hoping for Gennosuke’s issues to be properly resolved in some way by the end of the story…but they’re not. Sure, by the end Misa appears to have given up her wish to see Gennosuke dead, but the story just ends with the rebel samurai walking away. It’s an ending that doesn’t satisfy me at all, as I feel like Gennosuke’s story doesn’t have any closure. After all, isn’t the clan still going to be after him for what he did?

Also, I found parts of the story to be a little jarring. Some characters are introduced that seem to have no relevance to Gennosuke’s story, and even though their connection to the story is later explained, it was still a bit awkward for me.

I did like watching Sword of the Beast for the most part, but it’s not my favorite samurai film by any stretch of the imagination. It has its moments, but I can’t get over how disappointed I was with the ending of the story.

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

See also:

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