Last night (Feb 23, 2013) Kathleen and I went out to catch the flyover of the International Space Station at 7:59 pm. Scanning the clear sky with no moon in the way (it was behind us, covered by trees) and just a few stars sputtering into sight, we saw what was for both of us the brightest and the longest in duration meteorite ever seen. Looking northwest, Kat spotted a truly fast-moving object and for a second thought it was the station (coming the wrong way), but soon as the thought had passed it was obvious this was not the station. It was a bright sparkling meteorite probably skimming the atmosphere as it made small flashes tumbling across the sky above for what was probably a full 7 seconds or so. It was still visible as it tumbled beyond the visible horizon, managing to cover the full dome above. Perhaps a minute passed when the station then dragged its feet slowly with no trail across the path the meteorite had just passed, marking an X in the skies. It was about as magical an astronomical sight as either one of us had ever witnessed.
Given that this review has been misplaced in the All-Music Guide database and superseded by a flippant description, I figured I might as well post the full review here….. written back in 2007 for AMG.
LALO SCHIFRIN: DIRTY HARRY [soundtrack]
Despite his classical training, Lalo Schifrin had worked with Dizzy Gillespie and was something of a jazz enthusiast. His groundbreaking score for Don Siegel’s Dirty Harry was initially inspired by Miles Davis’ electronic excursions in “A Tribute to Jack Johnson” and Bitches Brew. Allowed to follow his musical instincts by veteran director Siegel, Schifrin orchestrates the score’s driving percussion, restless electric bass, and eerie wordless vocals (as pioneered by Edda Dell’Orso under the direction of Ennio Morricone and his peers in Italy) into an organic mix that could best be described as acid jazz some 25 years before that genre began.
The music cues for Clint Eastwood’s Harry Callahan are energetic and exciting, but what kicks the score to a level all its own is Schifrin’s theme for the serial killer, Scorpio, whom Callahan tracks through the bulk of the film. Its offbeat fusion combines modern classical music in a brilliant manner with Sally Stevens’ creepy, ethereal vocals overlaying psychedelic rock of the time. This is perhaps best exemplified on the CD in the two opening cuts: “Prologue — The Swimming Pool” and “Main Title.” The shifting tempos and the sinister, childlike vocals were directly emulated by dozens of Italian Poliziottechi and Giallo films of the ’70s, and a sterilized incarnation of this style has become the bane of 21st century television scoring, a full three decades after Schifrin’s seminal work.
The only criticisms of the release are aesthetic and specific to the conventions of published film scores. This CD is missing the brilliant 7” edit of “Scorpio’s Theme,” which admittedly never appears in the film in this form, but which captures the excitement of the score in a three-minute jazz/rock opera. Also, some of the slight source music — such as the comic “Harry’s Hot Dog” and the cheesy “The Strip Club” — will benefit the CD most when left off the play list. There is merit in presenting a “complete” soundtrack, even in order of appearance within the film; but given that these pieces wreck the mood set by the immediately preceding music, it could be argued that the best place for them is at the tail-end of the recording as bonus tracks.
Outside of these misgivings, the primary score is one of the first truly modern action film scores. Less immediate than his popular theme songs for Mission Impossible or The Man from U.N.C.L.E., the score for Dirty Harry succeeds through Schifrin’s experimental nerve and ability to draw ideas from current trends to meld them in a way both unique and timeless. Its influence is paramount, heard daily in movies, on television, and in modern jazz and rock music. —JT Lindroos
BEST NEW FILM 2012
I was surprised how much I enjoyed this, having been disappointed and bored with Wes Anderson’s films after ROYAL TENENBAUMS. Joyous filmmaking, easy introduction for younger viewers to the true pleasures of cinema beyond cgi-beasts and spandex triggered explosions.
Beasts of Southern Wild
Kind of Southern Werner Herzog, dramatic, visceral and moving. Ending goes on a few beats too long, explaining the obvious, but overall a fine film.
One of the best takes on premonition since Nicolas Roeg tackled Daphne Du Maurier, this features a typically strong performance by Michael Shannon. A realistic film with a smartly oblique approach to the unknown.
Never quite again reaches the heights of its stunning opening, but when viewed in the right mood, it can remind you of the possibilities of science fiction in exploring not only societal and cultural issues, but also emotional ones in the manner of Tarkovsky.
Aki Kaurismaki can still knock out gorgeous, funny and moving films, and while this doesn’t reach the pitch-perfection of MAN WITHOUT A PAST, it’s a colorfully gentle modernization of French poetic realism.
Honorable Mentions: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy / The Guard
BEST OLD FILM 2012
Feeling lazy, thus just a brief commentary on these. Enjoyed most of these more than any film on the above list, with the possible exception of Moonrise Kingdom. Vigo’s L’Atalante is just wonderful, Kurahara’s Warped Ones was a jazzed-up ball of pure energy, La Promesse was the first film from the Dardanne brothers I’d seen, and while I’m not usually a huge fan of deeply realistic films, this one hit a homerun. Cocteau’s Orphee, Kurosawa’s Rashomon and Dreyer’s Passion of Joan of Arc all deserve their accolades. I prefer Rashomon to SEVEN SAMURAI by a long shot, though for me DERSU UZALA remains my favorite Kurosawa film. Orphee
La Promesse / Warped Ones / Orphee / Rashomon / Passion of Joan of Arc
BEST DOCUMENTARY 2012
In a field of many fine docs we saw this year, Chilean Nostalgia for the Light was impossible to beat. Moving, poetic, informative and unusual. Les Blank’s doc on the making of Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo was one I’d wanted to see for 20 odd years, and it was exactly what I’d hoped it to be.
Nostalgia for the Light
Burden of Dreams / Anvil / Jiro Dreams of Sushi / Exit Through the Gift Shop / Kon-TIki
BEST B-MOVIE 2012
Pontypool was the first Bruce McDonald film I’d seen in a looong time (loved his early road movies Roadkill, Highway 61, Dance Me Outside), and it was a delightful Burroughsian minibudget semi-Zombie film where the virus is transmitted through sound. When Eight Bells Toll was an attempt in the late 70s to establish Anthony Hopkins as a maritime James Bond with fun results. Arabian Nights with Sabu, Jon Hall and Maria Montez was more than a little goofy, but it was energetic and snappy and engaging in a way that would be totally impossible these days. And finally, The Woman in Black with “Harry Potter” was a great little surprise in the best creepy hammer-style retro filmmaking.