John Williams


The start of a new year is the start of new possibilities. As we reflect back on the past year (which we did pretty thoroughly), we also look forward to the year still stretched out in front of us and, in the case of us cinephiles, all the different films that year looks to bring. You never know what surprises await – and that is part of the fun.


Star Wars Boyega

Nostalgia is a powerful thing (don’t believe me? Ask Don Draper). If no one felt any pangs of remembrance for cool old movies where people shot proton torpedoes into thermal exhaust ports or giant lizards ruined a theme park test tour, nobody would have given last week’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens or Jurassic World trailers a second thought (also, if nobody was nostalgic for them, there wouldn’t be a The Force Awakens or a Jurassic World in the first place). But people love their Star Wars and their Jurassic Park, and so last week was an undeniably huge nostalgiafest. Yet in watching those trailers again (like everyone else, I’ve seen each a good five or six times), something sticks out. That sense of nostalgia — that all powerful, sequel-producing, Don Draper-forced-to-tears urge — seems to stem from one source above all others. The music.


Film scores

Film series are a great way to tell a story that cannot be contained to a single film. Successful films usually end up getting sequels, but series are stories intended to be digested over the course of several films. The cast will (usually) stay the same throughout a series, but there is another important element that should remain consistent to help link each film to the next – the music. While it is not a requirement to stick with a single composer throughout a series (and sometimes you have no choice but to change things up due to schedules and prior commitments), having a singular musical voice working on a film series helps keep a consistent feeling from film to film. Most film series have kept the same composer throughout the series, and the few that have changed composers from film to film had it fit the story or ultimately ended up returning to the original composer.



After building a theme park populated by dinosaurs, eccentric old billionaire John Hammond invites two top dino-scientists, a rock star chaos theory expert, and his grandchildren to come check it out. Fortunately for everyone involved, a horrible security breach unleashes the dinosaurs, and their lives are all terribly threatened.



Seeing as Star Wars fandom is a thing that goes back a good 36 years now, its community of enthusiasts have, over time, become an eclectic group who represent a multitude of different age groups, backgrounds, and opinions. Just go to any Star Wars message board around the Internet and you’ll see a steady and healthy stream of debate about a whole host of subjects, from classic arguments like why George Lucas had Luke kiss his sister in A New Hope, to more modern debates around which changes made to the Special Edition films were positive and which were negative, to immediate concerns about whether or not JJ Abrams is going to include any known characters from ancillary Star Wars novels in his upcoming Episode VII. Two things that pretty much every Star Wars fan can agree on, though, are that a Star Wars movie just wouldn’t be a Star Wars movie without John Williams handling the music, and that Lucas—heady with the possibilities presented by new technologies—went way overboard with making everything in the Prequel Trilogy CG, to the point where he ended up making a series of live action movies that largely look like glossy, crappy cartoons. Well, some new announcements coming out of Star Wars Celebration Europe address both of these issues, and they’re the kind of announcements that will likely be seen as reason to celebrate for Star Wars fanatics.



There are currently only two Academy Awards given out for music: Best Original Score and Best Original Song. This might seem like a silly thing to point out, but it wasn’t always the case. As recently as 1998 there were separate categories for Dramatic Score and Musical or Comedy Score, divided like the Golden Globes divide their acting and picture awards. And in the past there’s been a Best Adaptation Score, the name of which was changed over and over again, while back in the late 1930s there were another two separate categories, Best Scoring and Best Original Score. Music at the Oscars has had a complicated history. The context makes it all the more strange that, with only the Best Original Score category left, stuff can get thrown out for being too “adapted.” True Grit and Black Swan were both declared ineligible for nomination because they were based on 19th Century hymns and Swan Lake, respectively. The Academy, which once went out of its way to recognize adaptation in musical composition, now rejects it entirely. This year, however, in both musical categories the best work is full of allusion and the blending of influences. Gone are the days of Max Steiner and Bernard Herrmann, whose music was often brilliant but tended to strive for originality within a single orchestral playbook.



The 70th Golden Globe Awards will be held tomorrow night, and I invite you to join myself and FSR’s awards guru, Daniel Walber, for live-blog commentary during the ceremony. We’ll try to keep it smart, avoid too much snark and will likely be obeying the rules of the drinking game that co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have devised. It will also hopefully be more conversational than remarks we could have just tweeted, in order that I can turn the discussion around as a more readable post-event recap of the night. In case you’re too busy paying attention to your TV to also read our words simultaneously. Anyway, you can’t head into a big awards telecast viewing without predictions for what you think will win. Daniel and I seem to agree on exactly half of the movie categories. So, maybe it won’t be such a predicable night. Check out our choices after the break and give us your own predictions in the comments. If you do better than either of us, we commend you in advance (and maybe at the end of our GG coverage too).


What America Looks Like 2012 Election Map

In 1989, two major studios released films about race relations in America that couldn’t be more different. Driving Miss Daisy, Bruce Beresford’s adaptation of Alfred Uhry’s successful off-Broadway play, was a heartwarming tearjerker about a rich, isolated elderly Jewish woman who comes to the astounding revelation that her friendly African-American chauffeur is often subject to discrimination in the South during the 1950s. Do the Right Thing, meanwhile, enshrined Spike Lee’s place on the cinematic map. Its pull-no-punches mosaic of conflicting, negotiating racialized voices in contemporary Bedford-Stuyvesant refused happy endings and clear answers, leaving critics and audiences in a gray area where they couldn’t decide whether the film was a lament over the brick-wall met by post-Civil Rights discourse, a call to violent action, or something else entirely. The relative critical and economic successes of both Driving Miss Daisy and Do the Right Thing paved a crossroads for future representations of African Americans in mainstream American cinema: should they pursue the direction of  affirmation and closure in the face of racism dismissed as a problem solved long ago, or strive for contemporary relevance and a refusal of easy answers to complex questions? Time and again, Hollywood has overwhelmingly preferred to continue in the direction of Driving Miss Daisy. As a retelling of history, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, which chronicles the hard-won political gymnastics enacted in order to get the 13th Amendment passed and abolish human slavery in the US thereafter, would seem to continue Hollywood’s preference to gaze backwards at race relations […]



What is Movie News After Dark? It’s working on writing its own epic climax, but it’s still wallowing in a very slow, methodical first act. Luckily, there will be news to report along the way. We begin tonight with a look at the first table read for the upcoming season of Community, which was tweeted out by the show’s official account early this evening. Noticeably absent is show creator Dan Harmon, who has since been let go from the cult sensation he birthed. All the same, it will still be nice to see the Greendale gang back in action.


Oscar 2012 Predictions: Best Original Score

As I note each week in Aural Fixation, music is one of the most important components in a film, providing the underlying emotion in certain scenes as well as the overall tone of a film. Creating this musical landscape is no easy task and the five scores nominated this year were brought to the screen by four talented composers (yes, someone got nominated twice.) While last year gave us slightly more innovative music with scores from first time composer Trent Reznor and the more electrified Hans Zimmer, the past year in film seemed to hearken back to the more classical era of filmmaking and the scores followed suit. From tales of adventure, spy thrillers, a different perspective on war to a look back at the early days of filmmaking, the nominated scores kept pace with their respective films and came from composers that ranged from Academy veterans to first time nominees. While I was admittedly more excited (and felt slightly more invested) in the nominees last year, the composers selected for the potential honor this year are well-deserved and created scores that undeniably elevated each their films. Who will take home the golden statue this year? Stay tuned to see if my prediction of who will win proves true. Read on for the nominations and my predicted winner in red…


Rob Marshall's Gotham

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column about movie news. That is all. We begin this evening with a look at Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby in Dredd, the revival of the Judge Dredd franchise. First impressions: Karl Urban’s helmet is huge and Olivia Thirlby needs more leather. Or something along those lines. Either way, it’s a good conversation starter.


Aural Fixation - Large

With the 84th Academy Award nominations announced last week (and me finally coming up for air post-Sundance), I wanted to give the five Original Score (and two Original Song) nominees a closer look. Each nominated score is full-bodied and as varied as the films they are featured in ranging from fun (John Williams for The Adventures of Tin Tin) to lush (Ludovic Bource for The Artist) to dramatic (Howard Shore for Hugo) to tense (Alberto Iglesias for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) to emotional (John Williams for War Horse) while each of the nominated songs are quirky and catchy (Bret McKenzie’s “Man or Muppet” from The Muppets and Sergio Mendes, Carlinhos Brown and Siedah Garrett’s “Real In Rio” from Rio.) While I am not going to propose to understand why the Academy makes their choices the way they do (the lack of Drive and Shame nominations alone had me scratching my head last week) and I do not think that the scores and songs that were selected are unworthy of their nominations, I was still left with some questions when looking into who may come out on top on February 26th.



War Horse is a sprawling war epic that’s so old-fashioned it belongs in a museum. Not only has director Steven Spielberg painstakingly recreated the look and feel of a classical picture of this scope, imbued with a heavy dose of mid-century British formalism, he’s essentially made a carbon copy of a David Lean movie. Such a nostalgic enterprise would be welcome if it told a story worth telling, with the strong, determined characters and bold cinematic brushstrokes of a Lean picture. Spielberg’s film does nothing of the sort — it’s a stodgy, ridiculous movie with a horse that simultaneously serves as an allegory for the bond that unites all mankind and a symbol of profound, idealized purity.


Abed is Batman

What is Movie News After Dark? This evening’s column, as evident in the above image and title, will be very Batman heavy. Because it’s impossible to live and work on the internet without running into a bunch of Bat-related stuff. So we might as well just get it out of the way. We’ll also mix in some Community. And Community/Batman crossover. We begin tonight with one of two brand new photos from The Dark Knight Rises. This one features Bane, as played by Tom Hardy, staring down Batman, as played by Christian Bale. Guess what happens next…


home alone

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; try our new pecan marshmallow yule log, patent and FDA approval pending. Happy December, everyone; it’s the most wonderful time of the month! Despite your busy schedule of shopping, decorating, and pretending to tolerate those relatives you can’t stand, you somehow managed to find time to topple down the chimney of another JFC. We are sort of like fruitcake; nobody ever asks for us, no one knows how we came to be a tradition, and no matter how clearly you state your distaste for us we keep turning up. Every week in the month of this month I will be Nationally Lampooning a festively terrible holiday film. But then, like a Christmas miracle, I will flip the flop and confess as to why the film is precisely my particular brand of egg nog. To put the star atop the proceedings, I will then offer a greasy, but delectable snack food item paired to the film in the hopes of making your waistlines a little less merry. This week’s sugar plum: Home Alone.



Based on the comics by Belgian artist Hergé, The Adventures of Tintin follows a young reporter as he (along with his trusty dog Snowy) end up on a series of adventures in pursuit of his next story. Brought to the screen by director Steven Spielberg and producer Peter Jackson, this may be the first time many audiences in America will be seeing and experiencing the world of Tintin (as the comic was first made famous overseas), but the series should have little trouble finding new fans this holiday season. Jackson’s skill with motion capture technology (as seen in his films like The Lord of the Rings and King Kong) is well-translated in Spielberg’s first animated project, creating an immersive world you can easily escape into, while the director’s love of telling an adventure story (and the series itself) bursts through each frame. The film begins with a series of animated scenes which work as a nice recall to the comics from which the story originated – even including a slight reference to newspapers as a nod to Tintin’s (Jamie Bell) job as a journalist and the format through which the comic first ran. The transition from to this the more standard style of animation into the full scope of the film’s 3D motion capture sublty helps audience realize just how impressive and vibrant this new technology truly is. Tintin may not look exactly as he does in the comics, but a clever wink at that iconic image is given early on, making it […]



Your weekly fix of great movies made before you were born that you should check out before you die. Last month we celebrated Bette Davis, and this week, it’s time to celebrate the anniversary of another star’s birthday. Audrey Hepburn needs no introduction, but Sabrina gave her a second one. After Roman Holiday, she became a bona fide star, and her follow-up saw her playing romantically confused with William Holden and Humphrey Bogart. It’s an example of all the wrong pieces coming together to make a sweet, romantic, funny film. Hepburn wasn’t nearly as prolific as other actors, but she managed to find projects that either worked perfectly or were made perfect by her huge brown eyes and powerful innocence. This movie is no different, and it carries all the romanticism of Roman Holiday without ever having to leave the country.



Have you ever watched Star Wars and thought “this would be great as a concert experience?” Well continue on my friend.

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published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.29.2015
published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.28.2015

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