Keith Stanfield

stanfield

There was some kind of strange alchemy going on when they put together the trailer for The Purge that convinced mainstream audiences that this was absolutely the next movie thriller they needed to go out to the theater to see. Whether it was just the weird masks that the bad guys wore, or the fact that the home invasion angle played on a deep-seated fear that afflicts most people, there was something in there that had every person I talked to for a month leading up to the film’s release asking me if I’d heard anything about it yet. And then the fairly thrifty production went on to earn somewhere around $89 million worldwide after its release. The sad part of that success story is that the movie just didn’t end up being any good though. It spent way too much time explaining a premise that didn’t hold up under scrutiny, it tried to get too heady when it should have been a survival romp, and in general it was just a big bummer for all of the people who went into it feeling excited. Of course, seeing as the film was so profitable, the less than ideal reactions it got aren’t stopping it from getting a sequel, and though original writer and director James DeMonaco is all set to return for The Purge 2, there has been some indication from the casting process that the sequel could end up being a lot more engaging than the original.

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Short Term 12

A foster care facility filled with various at-risk teens may sound like an intimidating place, and it certainly can be, but the realistic and sensitive way director Destin Cretton approaches the material makes audiences want to go behind the walls of Short Term 12, and what they find there may be surprising. The innocence conveyed through composer Joel P. West’s simple guitar plucks suggest things are not as scary at Short Term 12 as it may first seem. Sure, some kids try to break free from the facility by running at breakneck speed towards the front gates, but there is a comfort and true sense of security perfectly reflected in West’s score that suggests a different reality. The key for music in a film like Short Term 12, which features many moving elements — stunning performances, beautiful cinematography from Brett Pawlak, strong writing — is to add to the narrative without overwhelming it. As we get to know the residents of Short Term 12 better, the music follows suit, filling out tracks like “Wiffle Ball” and “Birthday Cards” with rich violins and piano refrains. However West’s score is wise to never overpower pivotal character moments as proven in the more restrained tracks like “I’ll Be Fine” and “This Is Home.” West creates a beautiful soundscape that successfully accents the character driven Short Term 12, but music also plays a strong role within the film with Marcus (Keith Stanfield) opening up to Mason (John Gallagher Jr.) through his song lyrics featured […]

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