While I give Steven Spielberg plenty of flak for the turn his career has taken over the last 15 years, that in no way diminishes from his early masterpieces. I don’t know that Close Encounters of the Third Kind would be the hit today that it was back in 1977. It’s a very deliberately paced film for Spielberg, and the fascination with UFOs isn’t near today what it was even back during the heyday of The X-Files. We’ve all but shuttered the exploration of space. We’re a very inward looking species, rather than looking to the stars and thinking about what or who might be out there, and how we might talk to them were they to someday show up.
Today’s planet would almost certainly start lobbing nukes at anything it didn’t understand, and maybe 1977’s would have too, but I love Spielberg’s optimistic and beautiful take on a first encounter with extraterrestrials. Math is the universal language, and music, at its core, is math. It’s logical that would be a way to communicate, and if you have John Williams as your composer, you can have a five-minute sequence of simple notes building into a cacophony of musical dialogue that is as spellbinding as any written words could be. The five tones of initial communication are the most easily iconic thing about Close Encounters. Over 40 years after its release, this sequence is still chillingly beautiful….and then Richard Dreyfus gets on a spaceship and leaves his family behind (that part I never quite got).
There is no other franchise in film where the music is as integral as the Star Wars franchise. John Williams seven scores have been as much a character in the saga as any onscreen presence, and there’s scarcely a person in Western Civilization who doesn’t know a few pieces from Star Wars scores (even if they don’t realize it). Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, in addition to being the first non-episodic Star Wars film, is also the first film to not be scored by John Williams. Oscar-winner Alexandre Desplat (who took over for Williams on the Harry Potter series) was slated to score the film, but today The Hollywood Reporter announced that due to a scheduling conflict the new composer of the film will be Michael Giacchino. Continue reading Rogue One Gets a New Composer! Michael Giacchino Replaces Alexandre Desplat!!!
Six weeks. All the anticipation leading toward Star Wars Episode VII and now only six weeks stand between us and the first Star Wars film in a decade. The build-up and the hype can only be compared to the last time Star Wars returned in 1999 with Episode I: The Phantom Menace. I’ve been saving the Star Wars films in this column to lead up to Episode VII so we’ll be doing one a week until we can return to a galaxy far, far away. Continue reading My Favorite Scene: Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) “Duel of the Fates”
Remember when Spielberg films were events? A new film by Steven Spielberg was the equivalent of a MCU film, a Star Wars film, because we knew something amazing was going to happen. Last week, Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies opened with $15.9 million and got beaten by Jack Black’s Goosebumps. What changed? Well, frankly, Spielberg did. He stopped evolving as a developer, forgot how to conjure the magic from deep within our childhoods and flat out did not know how to end one of his movies to save his life.
His last film, Lincoln, should be a classic. Daniel Day-Lewis turned in one of the most amazing performances by any actor I’ve ever seen, period. The film, though, is bookended by a beginning so laughably childish it would be out of place in a 3rd grade play and an ending that muddied the point of the entire film and added another 20 minutes to an already weighty endeavor. So, it’s a shame the public, after more than a decade of Spielberg underwhelming, has caught on, because Bridge of Spies is his best film since, probably, Catch Me If You Can. Continue reading Movie Review: Bridge of Spies *Hanks, Spielberg and Cold War Cloak & Dagger*
Tim Gonzales has ripped out the dialogue and sound effects so you can watch the Star Wars Episode VII Trailer with just John WIlliams’ score. There’s not a lot, and I’m sure some was done for the trailer, but there’s some beautiful renditions of Han & Leia’s theme as well as The Force Theme. I truly hope Williams will score Episodes VIII and IX as well, but you have to take into account his age and treasure each of these like it’s going to be the last piece he adds to this music masterpiece he’s been building since 1977. Even prequel haters admit the music never flagged and I’m looking forward to downloading his The Force Awakens score as soon as I get back from the new screening.