Category Archives: Music

Amadeus (1984)

 

amadeusAmadeus  – (Biography, Drama, Music,  1984) (PG) D: Mios Forman W: Peter Shaffer P: Saul Zanetz+2 C: F Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce, Elizabeth Berridge, Toy Doctrice. 2h 40m. USA.

TAGLINE : Amadeus, The man. The music. The magic. The madness. The murder. The mystery. The motion picture

Synopsis :The incredible story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, told by his peer and secret rival Antonio Salieri- now confined to an insane asylum.

A stunning film portraying the rise and fall of a social misfit who also happened to be one of the greatest musicians of all time. Amadeus (1984) is based on the 1979 stage production of the same name. Recounting a fictional story of the great composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  (Tom Hulce) through the eyes of a jealous rival Antonio Salieri, (F. Murray Abraham) the destructive saga is recounted as a confession to a priest by the aged Salieri who is currently in an asylum after an attempted suicide.

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A vast challenge even for the veteran director Milos Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest 1975) But he pulls it off with his own unique brand of virtuoso passion and a meticulous approach. Utilising the incredible acting skills of F. Murray Abraham and Tom Hulce who each play composers who are in competition for Emperor Joseph II’s (Jeffrey Jones) attention. Salieri being the present court, favourite, feels admiration and threat from the untameable raw talent of the young and oblivious Mozart. Salieri then tries everything to dispose of his giggling party animal rival, through deceit, seduction and greed.

From the opening scenes, Tom Hulce’s high-pitched maniacal laugh (much like my own) and childish behavior paints the character of the beloved Mozart, a comical pervy, dirty minded foul-mouthed virtuoso eccentric genius. In contrast we learn about the pitiful Salieri in languid flashbacks detailing him as a constant mediocre wanna be who brown noses himself to the top.

The melancholic yet scintillating narrative provided by Abraham’s as the senior Salieri , whose vocal ones gives his own tough overtures to all situations, heavily laced with sarcasm and personal pain and bitterness of the young genius and nothing more.

This bitter and sweet movie, as much as it centres around Mozart is in fact about Salieri’s failures and his hatred for the youthful man. His perceptions getting more contorted as his actions become more desperate.

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This movie boasts an interesting blend of Mozart’s music, including my all time favorite Requiem. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but what is charming is the stunning costumes, and exceptional attention to detail. It’s funny while being quite tragic at times, it’s courageous on many levels and re-creating a historic Salzburg and many acclaimed sets and stages.

The actors were put through their paces and their dedication is visible. Hulce learnt how to play the piano and harpsichord so the shots could be more versatile. Abraham spends hours in make up to age himself for the asylum scenes. On the whole the movie is

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Rating –  10/10

R: La Vie en Rose (2007), Farinelli (1994), Immortal Beloved (1994) Marie Antoinette (2006)

Q : He was my idol…
They are all so beautiful why don’t I have three heads?
No, but I’m the best!

OST: Amazingly full on Mozart here…
TIL : Hate can drive a person quicker than love.
BS : Sadly I’m going for a scene that has been mimicked and copied a million times. When Salieri is reading the music and drops the pages (in slo mo) out of mixed emotions of hate, love, admiration, fear etc..
5S : F Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce
L: Musical Biogrpahies, Selected Costume Drama,

PD : Post Discussion – TO COME

Kisha

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Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

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Inside Llewyn Davis (Drama, Music 2013) (15) D: Ehan and Joel Coen: P: W: Joel and Ethan Coen: C: Oscar Isaac, John Goodman, Justin Timberlake, Garret Hedlund, F Murray Abrahm 1h 44m. USA. 

Synopsis: A week in the life of a young singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene in 1961.

A traumatic and emotional week in the life of a folk singer called Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) in this melancholic twilight hazed film.  Its simplistic, thought provoking and heavily sprinkled with the Coen Brothers special blend of unusual characters and situations. The pathetic Llewyn is subjected to a run of shitty luck. Starting out crashed on a friends sofa his luck continually finds new lows past rock bottom, he loses his friends cat, has a foul run in with his ex, pisses off a ton of people and makes a ton of bad decisions while dragging his sorry ass from sofa to sofa via the freezing back streets all in the pursuit of becoming a world famous folk singer superstar, there are several injections of authentic live performances throughout..
The Coens have given some hints that the film is loosely based on a concept of something that could have happened to Dave Van Ronk, a similar Greenwich Village folk singer/songwriter from the 6-s

Hiding between all the rejection and tense situations there is a suggestion that Llewyn might actually have some talent, this is summed up in one quiet but magnificent scene, when he meets a goatee faced F. Murray Abraham’s in a small cameo who after hearing Llewyn play, candidly sums up the matter as “I don’t see any money in it..” this is just another knock down of many for Lleywn who by this time is taking it all in his stride. Along the way he meets an aggressive jazz player Ronald Turner (John Goodman), who gives his much useless rambling advice and mocks the suicide of a former partner of Llewlyn and everything to do with folk music, there is a pivotal names hulk who supplies an alleyway beat down, a righteous do good singer/soldier and a hairy aloof Johnny Five (Garrett Hedlund) who just doesn’t give a shit.

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With many intertwined themes running throughout, the most obvious the cat or cats who are lost and found that seems to spark subtle changes in luck but for every step forwards there are two steps back.

It brings together significant elements from the early ‘60s scene through the missed opportunities and run of bad luck of one mild mannered and beaten down folk singer, it seems that his downfall is merely a catalyst for the Greenwich scene. The un-named sacrifice.

Skilfully filmed with a grand cast and exceptional script, even if your not into folk music, there isn’t enough singing to turn this into a musical. It’s bleak yet funny having a complex back story smartly embroidered all over. It’s charming as well as being dark, another triumph for the Coens.

You are certain to miss much during the first viewing and it’s a charm the second time around.

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Rating : 10/10

R: A Serious Man (2009) O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000) Nebraska (2013) This must be the place (2011)

Q: “Folk singer with a cat, you queer?”
“Your like king Midas’s idiot brother”
“This will interest you”

BS: I really adore a simple scene where Llewyn is in the car with the cat on his lap, and him and cat move together throughout the scene..
OST: Live singing by Oscar Isaac throughout!
L: Musicians in film, Musicians on film, Road Trips, Cats on Film,
5B: John Goodman, Coen Movies
DGI: Knock a shot for all of Llewyn’s bad luck.. I’m sure he could do with one too.

 

 

Get on up (2014)

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Get on up  – (Biography, Drama, Music,  2014) D: Tate Taylor W: Jez Butterworth, John Henry P: Peter Afterman C: Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis, Dan Aykroyd. 2h 18m. USA. (PG13)

TAGLINE : The Funk don’t Quit

Synopsis : A chronicle of James Brown’s rise from extreme poverty to become one of the most influential musicians in history.

Upbeat, comical and sentimental recollection of the grand master of funk himself Mr. James Brown. Starting out with one of the more controversial moments of Mr Browns career and possibly part of one of his best car chases, manages to kick off the movie, but it soon starts to backtrack to his humble beginnings detailing a humble upbringing and is abandonment of first his mother Susie (Viola Davis) then father. Slowly creeping up through the ages constantly showing the havoc that the unstoppable Brown created throughout his life. A sterling profound performance from Chadwick Boseman (42 2013) who’s ability to mimic the grand master is hauntingly accurate, an excellent choice from director Tate Taylor (the Help 2011). Tracing the rags to riches caper that’s heavily injected with quirky reaction shots while Chadwick gives the audience a little info or shows concern for being in a “honky ho down”.

Detailing the jail time, inspirations, courage and various song and dance outbursts of the “hardest working man in show business” Brown is depicted a strong willed domineering, maverick, flash dressing perfectionist and activist, storming the charts as well as fighting for civil rights. All while sidekick Boby Byrd (Nelsan Ellis) is on hand to provide a footing and commentary. As the Famous Flames fade into obscurity the godfather or soul takes his rightful place as centre stage running the show exactly as he and only he intends it to run.

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Great detail is paid to the costumes and settings while there is a variety of a minor historical inaccuracy, some events are played up for the grand Hollywood screen. There is still a bold demonstration for the zeal of music throughout. Former Blues Brother Dan Aykroyd has a cameo as Brown’s manager Ben Bart and Jill Scott finds herself at the end of a single punch as Browns wife, it’s enough to demonstrate their happy marriage, but his flaws are rarely demonstrated. Despite these flaws, that are clearly portrayed in the film, it prefers to paint him as a savior of American Funk and we can’t deny him his hard work and preservation paid off. A great and entertaining homage to the late and great James Brown.

 

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Rating –  9/10

V : I love a ton about this movie, it’s clever, it’s sentimental and it’s funny, the only thing that puts me off is that it failed to paint James Brown with the negative brush enough on the domestic side. I like that it didn’t ignore his behavior to his wife, in fact it’s prevalent but it just glorified him a little TOO much. Still it seems to be a damn fine account, there isn’t much wrong with it at all. I do admire that it ends at a high point, and doesn’t play out but I think to be fully complete it could have gone right to the end of the story. Maybe playing on the people who are influenced by James Brown today, how his legacy of music is still alive today.

R: Notorious
(2009), Beyond the Sea (2004) , Tina (1993) The Soloist (2009), American Gangster (2007)

Joyeux Noel (2005)

Joyeux Noel – (War, Drama, Historical, Music, 2005) (12) D/W: Christian Carion C: Benno Furmann, Diane Kruger, Ian Richardson . 1h 56m. France.

On christmas eve during WWI the Germans, French and Scottish fraternise and get to know the men who are on the opposite side of a brutal war, in what became a true lesson of humanity.

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This was a poignant insight into a true occurrence during the first christmas of the Great War. Although the legend of the football matches and cease fire was not generalised it did happen, along the front line and probably wasn’t as “pretty” as this film makes out but the humanity of the event is probably as sincere.

There were moments when I thought the film might just turn into a full blown singing and dancing musical but it did help display that music is a universal language as much as prayer in some cases.

The story revolved around the love affair of Nikolaus and Anna (Benno Furmann and Diane Kruger) and obviously the German, French and Scottish legions. The men decided to have a moment of clarity on an otherwise deathly Christmas eve and drop guns and celebrate together. Which goes to show that “war” is always just political action. Unfortunately the dirty work is carried out by those who don’t necessarily want any part of it.

There are lots of interactions between the men that illustrate them visiting each other and knowing each other before the war, e.g visiting one and others hotel etc. It displays that there was a unified Europe before the war.

There is a feature of this movie which plays out similar to that in Schindler’s List (1993) Where an unknown person is clearly visible, in Schindlers it was the girl in the red coat, in Joyeux Noel it is a German and his 10am alarm clock. Both characters play an important role to remind you without knowing fully, that human beings are involved here.

A lot of small comedy moments are included, it’s hard to add this into a war movie without the cast looking like ball sacks but it’s focused  on the officers and lets face it. we’re all routing for infantry.

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The language barriers are addressed in a logical way, the sets and wardrobes seem authentic to me but alas I am no historian. I was a little dubious about Benno being transported here and there at very short notice and so quickly but none of the transportation is shown, maybe to focus on the situation!? I dunno.. but he seemed to have no trouble getting out of the front line when he needed to.

The music aspect of this movie was the most annoying part, I’m not a fan of musicals myself but a catchy tune helps, understandably for this film the music had to fit. Lets just say that I didn’t rush out to get the OST. I’m pretty sure that it could have been crafted in a better way.

Another factor which shocked me a little about this film is that I knew from the start that this was WWI, no doubt about it.. but after watching for about an hour or so when one of the German officers said he appreciate the prayers even though he was Jewish I hit pause.. I couldn’t work out how a German officer could be Jewish then it finally sunk in again that it was WWI… it’s amazing how after watching so many WWII movies after hearing the German and seeing the war aspect my brain just clicked into WWII phase.. Is cinema making me racist!? Lol I kid..

This movie is quite engaging and a really compassionate insight into a small but vitally important snippet of the Great War.

T: One of the last films Ian Richardson made before his death on February 9th 2007.

Q: What the hell are you doing, Shoot the bloody kraut, shoot him god damn it the holidays are OVER!

R: Schindler’s List (1993), The English Patient (1996).

8/10

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Ex Drummer (2007)

EX DRUMMER (Crime, Drama, Surreal, Comedy, Music 2007) (18D: Koen Mortier W: Herman Brusselmans 1h 41m. Belgium

Three handicapped losers who form a band ask famous writer Dries to be their drummer. He joins the band and starts manipulating them.

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Wowies! I have been trying to get hold of this movie for some time. Any film with a dude standing on the celling on the cover is bound to be “up my street”. The movie is beautifully surreal, stark, gritty and pretty much plays like the most disgusting scenes from Trainspotting (1996) mixed with the best of any local drunken battle of the bands night. It’s got a paramount assortment of anal rape, vomiting, parent beating, comedy, drug abuse, murder, violence, talking corpses and music any modern movie can give.

The movie starts with the outsider; Dries, explaining the story. He stands out from all the others, he’s not handicapped, he doesn’t play any instruments and even thought he’s not all there it’s not on the same level of depravity as the others, his house is clean, his girlfriend is err.. mostly normal and everything surrounding him is pretty clean and organised.

The rest of the cast are generic fuck ups, all with several physical and mental disorders. As the movie progresses things spiral further out of control and into the darker pits of the disabilities and paranoia, sadly I never quite work out why the lead guitarist/singer lives upside down, it’s cute seeing him wander around brushing is teeth and coughing up blood while walking around on the ceiling but it all adds to the oddball nature of the entire movie.. I mean why not!? Fuck it!? He’s obviously happy up there.

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The movie doesn’t claim to be pushing any boundaries, it will be shocking to some, funny and exciting to others. If you’re happy looking at life from an alternative scumbag point of view then it will interest you as much as any other lowlife point of view movie. Sadly if you think that there should be some “high” standard of living then this will disgust you to no end.

Q : “ I hear you can’t drum” OST : Mogwai –Hunted By a Freak, Millionare –Mongoloid. RTrainspotting (1996) Spun (2002) Pusher (1996), Requiem for a Dream (2000)

8/10

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