Tag Archives: Ryan Gosling

Justin Hurwitz talks La La Land (2016)

While Justin Hurwitz (whose recent works include First Man) does talk about the scory of La La Land, this is less of a one-on-one interview and more of a group discussion where cast (like Ryan Gosling), crew, directors and etc. talk about the qualities of the La La Land score.

As stated in the video, the music for La La Land does call back to an earlier time in Hollywood when film music focused on melody most or all of the time. That’s not to say that today’s film scores don’t have melody, but it’s not nearly to the same extent (and many action scores don’t feature proper melody at all).

 

Seeing the depth of music in La La Land‘s score really drives home just how talented Justin Hurwitz is (I can see now why the film took home the Oscar for Best Original score).

I hope you enjoy this behind the scenes look at the score for La La Land. Let me know what you think of the score in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

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First Man “The Landing” (2018)

Ever since I finished watching First Man in the IMAX theater, one piece of music will not leave my mind: the music for “The Landing.” While a more thorough soundtrack review is likely coming in the near future, I’d like to highlight this piece in its own article because it is that good.

 

“The Landing” comes at what I feel is the true climax of the film; this is the moment we’ve been waiting for since the film started, watching Neil (Ryan Gosling) and Buzz (Corey Stoll) land on the moon. From the moment the LM (Lunar Module) detaches to head down to the surface, a melodic ostinato begins to play (an ostinato is a relatively brief melody that repeats over and over again). Remember in my review of the film how I said parts of First Man reminded me of Interstellar? This scene is one such example, as I saw a definite similarity to the docking scene in “No Time For Caution.” Both scenes have music with a repeating melody that also serves to ramp up the tension as the scene moves forward. In First Man, even though it’s the same notes, Justin Hurwitz subtly alters the theme by making it louder; emphasizing certain notes; interweaving horns and inserting an overlaying melody that comes and goes; with the effect that as the LM comes closer and closer to the surface, you are subconsciously inching to the edge of your seat, driven on by the music you’re hearing.

First Man “The Landing” (2018)

With the landing scene itself, I really like how, in the latter part, the camera flips back and forth between Neil, the surface and the gauge marking how much fuel is left. Working with the music, all of those elements together make for a riveting scene that is one of the best in the film.

What did you think of the landing scene in First Man? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

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My Thoughts on: First Man (2018)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

I knew from the moment I saw the first trailer that I would enjoy First Man, a film based on First Man: the Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen. Even knowing this, I was still blown away by what director Damien Chazelle created. I have to preface this by saying that this is, to my knowledge, the first film I ever watched on an IMAX screen. Being used to a regular movie screen, it took me a little while to adjust to having so much more to look a. But by the end of the film, I have to say, IMAX format is definitely the way to go with this film if you have that option.

First Man covers an 8 year period from 1961 all the way through the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. It tells the story of how Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling), went from being a test pilot and an engineer to a member of the astronaut corps working in the Gemini and Apollo missions, all while trying to balance a life with his wife Janet (Claire Foy) and children. If I had to compare this film to earlier works, I would say it’s a cross between The Right Stuff, Apollo 13 and Interstellar (several shots in First Man seem to be influenced by this last film). However, don’t let my allusion to Apollo 13 fool you; First Man is nothing like the Ron Howard epic. There is no sweeping score, no lush strings, in fact a lot of the film has no music at all. Far from being a negative, the relative lack of music in many scenes makes you appreciate the music all the more when it does appear.

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Damien Chazelle does an amazing job showing the audience just how dangerous these missions really were. I noted that Gus Grissom (Shea Wigham), Ed White (Jason Clarke) and Roger Chaffee (Cory Michael Smith) (the crew of Apollo 1) were introduced early on, to let the audience build a connection with them (and see how Neil and his family were connected with them too, as the White’s were neighbors). I’ve read obsessively about NASA for years, so I had an idea of how the Apollo 1 testing scene would go and it delivered beyond all expectations. One detail I appreciated is Chazelle makes a point to show every single lock that is turned to seal the astronauts inside the capsule, foreshadowing one of many elements that leads to the crew’s horrific fate.

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By far, my favorite scene in the film has to be the Moon landing, including the descent to the lunar surface and what came afterward. I really feel that composer Justin Hurwitz was channeling Hans Zimmer’s work on Interstellar (“No Time for Caution” came to mind) during the descent. Even though you know that the crew is going to make it and come back safely, there’s still a believable tension present that has you on the edge of your seat. And as for that moment on the Moon (you know the one I mean), I’d like to think that Neil did do something like thatI will admit the ending of the film caught me off guard, but the more I thought about it on my way home, the more it made sense.

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Final thoughts:

The Gemini 8 scene caught me off guard because I didn’t know about the incident. If you get motion sick easily, be forewarned, you might find this scene difficult to watch.

I really liked how film shows Neil’s POV in several scenes, it really puts you in that moment.

One trailer shows a scene where Neil’s house is on fire (a real life incident), but this scene does not appear in the film. Given how long the film is, it’s safe to say this scene was cut for time.

Claire Foy turns in a great performance as Janet Armstrong. There are many scenes where she doesn’t say a lot, but you can see the tension building up inside her until it finally bursts out in spectacular fashion.

First Man is definitely a must-see film and I think it’s bound to pick up multiple awards in the coming months. Let me know what you think about First Man in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film/TV Reviews

First Man “The Landing” (2018)

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Blade Runner 2049: A Masterpiece

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

WARNING: This discussion will contain MAJOR spoilers for the film, so if you haven’t seen it yet, STOP NOW!!

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When they announced that a sequel to Blade Runner was really coming, I was NOT a fan of the idea, I admit it. To me, it was one of those films that couldn’t have a sequel without ruining the concept. So even though the previews looked good, I still approached this film with a high degree of skepticism. There was a long checklist of things this film HAD to do in order for me to walk out of the theater happy. And now that I’ve finally seen Blade Runner 2049, I have to say, it didn’t just fulfill that list…it SURPASSED it.

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I truly didn’t believe that the look, feel and SOUND of the the original Blade Runner could ever be duplicated and I was dead wrong. From the very beginning, I felt a connection back to the original film that only grew stronger as the story continued. And what a story! 30 years after the original film, there are more replicants than ever, but now they all obey (according to Niander Wallace, who has taken over the defunct Tyrell Corporation). Agent K (Ryan Gosling) is one of these replicants who now works as a blade runner, hunting down the last of the Nexus 8 models. His world is turned upside down though when he discovers evidence that one of the Nexus 8 replicants died in childbirth. According to everything known about replicants…this shouldn’t be even remotely possible. As Madame (Robin Wright) points out, if there’s truly no difference between replicant and human, there will either be a war, or an outright slaughter. She orders K to find the child and ‘retire’ it.

Right away my gut instinct said that the dead replicant was Rachael, I’m not sure why but it made perfect sense in my head. Then, when K traveled to Wallace headquarters (with a great look at the old Tyrell pyramid building) and Luv played an old ‘crystal’ recording of Rachael being given the Voigt-Kampff test by Deckard (using audio from the original film), that was the moment I fell in love with the film (not to mention the fact that they confirmed to anyone who has seen the original film that this was Rachael and that she DID have a child by Deckard). I was not expecting such an explicit tie-in to the original film, in fact, I wasn’t expecting ANY type of tie-in.

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The search for the child continues, and as the story goes on, all the evidence seems to point to the notion that K is actually this missing child. K has strong memories of hiding a toy wooden horse as a child; when he later finds this same horse, it seems to confirm that his memory was real, and not implanted. I was totally okay with this idea, until a wrench was thrown into the works. After encountering Deckard, and unwittingly leading Luv (who is also Wallace’s enforcer) straight to him, K is rescued by an underground resistance movement made up of replicants, who believe that they are equal to humans, and the existence of Rachael’s child proves it. K meets Freysa, who helped deliver that child and confirms…it was a healthy baby girl. Despite all the evidence, K can’t be that child, even though he clearly wants to be. I actually felt a glimmer of disappointment for a moment, but it didn’t last. In hindsight, it would’ve been too simple for K to be the missing child, too obvious as it were. And if you’re in the world of Blade Runner, nothing is THAT simple. Actually, once it was confirmed Rachael had a girl, for a little while I thought it might be Luv. After all, if you look closely at her, she does resemble Racheal a bit. But then I remembered she’s definitely a replicant, so it couldn’t be her either.

Then came the scene that made my jaw smack the floor. Deckard is brought before Wallace (who is played in a semi-creepy way by Jared Leto) who wants to know where the child is, or at the very least where the replicants who helped him and Rachael are. Wallace has prepared a special reward if Deckard helps him, a very special reward indeed. To my great shock, out of the shadows steps….Rachael. An exact duplicate of how she looked 30 years ago, gait, mannerisms and all. It shocked me in great part because Sean Young, who played Rachael in the original film had loudly and frequently said that she was not involved in this film in ANY way!! Now it turns out that this was a massive piece of misdirection, as Young WAS involved in directing her body double in how to act as Rachael. The character was resurrected in the same way as Princess Leia in Rogue One, only the results now are…perfect, absolutely perfect.

The identity of Deckard and Rachael’s daughter came as a bit of a shock, but it also made perfect sense. It turns out that the missing child is actually one of the best ‘memory designers’ in the world. She’s lived most of her life in a sterile chamber because of a ‘genetic disorder.’ It’s brilliant: what better way to hide the child of a replicant and a human in plain sight by fudging the records and making it appear that she has a compromised immune system and therefore must live apart from human contact? The story ends with Deckard coming in to the room where she’s working, clearly overwhelmed to see his child for the very first time. And K? He finally succumbs to the wounds he received in his final confrontation with Luv, but he is visibly at peace as well. At the moment he lays back in the snow, you can hear the iconic “Tears in Rain” theme from the original Blade Runner.

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And speaking of the music, I had my doubts considering Vangelis isn’t involved but WOW! Musically it felt very much like the original film, with long synth tones and other motifs. At times the music felt like a sound cloud (which is a good thing), building and pulsating around the action (a good example is the end of the fight between Luv and K, when the dying Luv is looking up through the water).

More thoughts on Blade Runner 2049:

-I LOVE the look of Los Angeles, it has that same gritty, futuristic yet falling apart feel of the original. And seeing the former Tyrell pyramid got a little giggle out of me (I was wondering if we would see that building again). Also the abandoned Las Vegas looked amazing as well.

-I found it fascinating that K had a holographic girlfriend (Joi). Even though she’s programmed to “say everything you want to hear”, you get the sense that her love for K is real. Also the scene where she “syncs” with a call girl to give K a night with a “real woman” was…fascinating, to say the very least.

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-There are two ways the story can go from here. First, this could be the end and I would be perfectly happy with that. All my questions regarding the end of the original film have been answered to my satisfaction, we know that Deckard has found his daughter, the story could be over. But then again, there are hooks that could lead into another film, as we’ve also been told that a revolution is coming from the enslaved replicants. A sequel could cover this as well as the ongoing adventure of Deckard with his daughter.

My final words on the film are: Blade Runner 2049 is an amazing film, a masterpiece. Don’t let any doubts about this being a sequel to Blade Runner hold you back from going to see it. This is easily the best film I’ve seen this year.

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See also:

Film/TV Reviews

Blade Runner (1982): A misunderstood gem

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