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As of Monday, February 23, 2015, Sonic Cinema is officially accepting filmmaker inquiries about having films reviewed on the site. That said, if a backlog exists in such inquiries, it might take a while to get to all of them. Thank you for your patience, and for sharing your art with us. -Brian Skutle


2014 Final Oscar Predictions

Snooch to the Nooch!

The Awards Season “Officially” comes to an end this Sunday as the Academy hands out the Oscars, with Neil Patrick Harris hosting. Even more so than last year, I am frustrated by my inability to get to a number of the nominees, including a few Best Picture contenders. Hopefully, though, as I begin to get some things in order, my moviewatching will become more regular again, and I can find time for one of the loves of my life while not neglecting the other ones. You’ll see a lot of “Haven’t Seens” this year, but they won’t all stay that way.

(Because of the disparity of what I’ve seen this year, what is typically “Brian’s Pick” from the nominees is going to be my overall, personal pick from what I’ve seen this year. Too many nominees missed this year to do it otherwise.)

Before we start, here is what my 10 Best and Favorite lists of 2014 look like as we go into the big night. I hope you enjoy!

Brian’s 10 Best Films of 2014
1. “How to Train Your Dragon 2” (Dean DeBlois)
2. “Selma” (Ava DuVernay)
3. “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance” (Alejandro González Iñárritu)
4. “Boyhood” (Richard Linklater)
5. “Berenice” (Jeremiah Kipp)
6. “Snowpiercer” (Bong Joon-ho)
7. “Life Itself” (Steve James)
8. “The LEGO Movie” (Phil Lord & Chris Miller)
9. “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (Bryan Singer)
10. “Showing Sydney” (Edgar Muniz)

Brian’s 10 Favorite Films of 2014
1. “How to Train Your Dragon 2” (Dean DeBlois)
2. “Life Itself” (Steve James)
3. “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance” (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu)
4. “Noah” (Darren Aronofsky)
5. “Eroticide” (Matthew Saliba)
6. “Boyhood” (Richard Linklater)
7. “Showing Sydney” (Edgar Muniz)
8. “Interstellar” (Christopher Nolan)
9. “Draft Day” (Ivan Reitman)
10. “Berenice” (Jeremiah Kipp)

Viva la Resistance!

Brian Skutle
www.sonic-cinema.com
www.myspace.com/brianskutle
www.myspace.com/cinemanouveau

Best Picture
“American Sniper”
“Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
“Boyhood”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Selma”
“The Theory of Everything”
“Whiplash”
“The Imitation Game” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Eight: “How to Train Your Dragon 2”; “Selma”; “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”; “Boyhood”; “Snowpiercer”; “Life Itself”; “The LEGO Movie”; “X-Men: Days of Future Past”

Brian’s Personal Pick: “How to Train Your Dragon 2”

Oscar’s Pick: “Boyhood”. Like last year, Best Picture is going to be a nail-biter to the end, but I think Richard Linklater’s 12-year odyssey will edge past the guild fave “Birdman” and box-office might of “Sniper” for the big one at the end of the night.

Best Director
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher” (Haven’t Seen)
Morten Tyldum, “The Imitation Game” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”; Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”; Ava DuVernay, “Selma”; Bong Joon-ho, “Snowpiercer”; Christopher Nolan, “Interstellar”

Brian’s Personal Pick: Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

Oscar’s Pick: Alejandro González Iñárritu. Picture and Director could reverse, and Linklater takes this while “Birdman” wins the big one, but I think that, like countryman Alfonso Cauron did last year, the vision on display in “Birdman” will be too much for voters to ignore when picking one of the distinct auteurs to honor this year. For the second year in a row, a Mexican master wins Best Director.

Best Actor
Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”
Michael Keaton, “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”
Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher” (Haven’t Seen)
Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: Michael Keaton, “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”; Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”; Jake Gyllenhaal, “Nightcrawler”; David Oyelowo, “Selma”; Ralph Fiennes, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Brian’s Personal Pick: Michael Keaton, “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

Oscar’s Pick: Michael Keaton. This is going to be a close one. I think, for both Carell and Cumberbatch, the win is in the nomination in a brutally competitive year. Cooper could ride the stunning success of “Sniper” at the box-office to his first statue after his third straight nomination, but I think it comes down to Golden Globe winners Redmayne and Keaton, both of whom are equally worthy. In all honesty, I think Redmayne will ride the SAG and BAFTA wave to victory, but this being Hollywood, I can’t imagine his peers letting Keaton, a beloved vet, go away empty-handed for what is the role of a lifetime, simply because Redmayne will have more chances in the future.

Best Actress
Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”
Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”
Marion Cotillard, “Two Days, One Night” (Haven’t Seen)
Julianne Moore, “Still Alice” (Haven’t Seen)
Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: Scarlett Johansson, “Under the Skin”; Kiera Knightley, “Begin Again”; Suley Rivera, “Showing Sydney”; Agata Trzebuchowska, “Ida”; Gugu Mbatha-Raw, “Belle”

Brian’s Personal Pick: Scarlett Johansson, “Under the Skin”

Oscar’s Pick: Julianne Moore. The veteran, who’s deserved an Oscar for at least 20 years, finally goes home with it. There isn’t really a plausible alternative here.

Best Supporting Actor
Edward Norton, “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”
J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”
Robert Duvall, “The Judge” (Haven’t Seen)
Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”; Tony Revolori, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”; Edward Norton, “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”; Rohan Chand, “Bad Words”; Gary Poulter, “Joe”

Brian’s Personal Pick: Tony Revolori, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Oscar’s Pick: J.K. Simmons. It’s a mortal lock at this point for the popular character actor.

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
Emma Stone, “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Laura Dern, “Wild”
Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game” (Haven’t Seen)
Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”; Rene Russo, “Nightcrawler”; Carmen Ejogo, “Selma”; Tilda Swinton, “Snowpiercer,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” & “The Zero Theorem”; Agata Kulesza, “Ida”

Brian’s Personal Pick: Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”

Oscar’s Pick: Patricia Arquette. Another mortal lock, and anyone who tries to say otherwise is diluting themselves.

Best Original Screenplay
“Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” (Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo)
“Boyhood” (Richard Linklater)
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Wes Anderson, Hugo Guiness)
“Nightcrawler” (Dan Gilroy)
“Foxcatcher” (E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman) (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” (Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolas Giacobone, and Alexander Dinelaris); “Boyhood” (Richard Linklater); “Selma” (Paul Webb); “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Wes Anderson, Hugo Guiness); “Showing Sydney” (Edgar Muniz & Suley Rivera)

Brian’s Personal Pick: “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” (Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolas Giacobone, and Alexander Dinelaris)

Oscar’s Pick: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”. With “Boyhood” and “Birdman” basically locking horns in the Best Picture and Director categories, that leaves the third big Best Picture contender in need of compensation. A long-overdue screenplay Oscar for idiosyncratic visionary Anderson seems like a worthwhile consolation prize.

Best Adapted Screenplay
“American Sniper” (Jason Hall)
“The Theory of Everything” (Anthony McCarten)
“Whiplash” (Damien Chazelle)
“The Imitation Game” (Graham Moore) (Haven’t Seen)
“Inherent Vice” (Paul Thomas Anderson) (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “How to Train Your Dragon 2” (Dean DeBlois); “Rosewater” (Jon Stewart); “Guardians of the Galaxy” (James Gunn & Nicole Perlman); “The LEGO Movie” (Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman, Phil Lord & Christopher Miller); “Noah” (Darren Aronofsky & Ari Handel)

Brian’s Personal Pick: “How to Train Your Dragon 2” (Dean DeBlois)

Oscar’s Pick: “Whiplash”. Part of me wants to go with 8-time nominee “Imitation Game,” which has limited chances for a victory, but the last-minute category switch for “Whiplash” makes me think it’s in a good position to win here.

Best Original Score
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Alexandre Desplat)
“Interstellar” (Hans Zimmer)
“The Theory of Everything” (Jóhann Jóhannsson)
“The Imitation Game” (Alexandre Desplat) (Haven’t Seen)
“Mr. Turner” (Gary Yershon) (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “Interstellar” (Hans Zimmer); “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” (Antonio Sanchez); “Noah” (Clint Mansell); “How to Train Your Dragon 2” (John Powell); “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Alexandre Desplat)

Brian’s Personal Pick: “Interstellar” (Hans Zimmer)

Oscar’s Pick: “The Theory of Everything”. I’m still waiting for a second Oscar for Hans Zimmer, and Desplat is long overdue at this point (and could still win, for “Budapest,” I think, more than “Imitation Game”), but I think the lovely, delirious orchestral strings by Johannsson for “Theory of Everything” will be too much for the Academy to ignore.

Best Original Song
“Glory” from “Selma” (Common, John Legend)
“Lost Stars” from “Begin Again” (Gregg Alexander, Danielle Brisebois)
“Everything is Awesome!” from “The LEGO Movie” (Jo Li, Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer)
“Grateful” from “Beyond the Lights” (Diane Warren) (Haven’t Seen)
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me” (Glen Campbell, Julian Raymond) (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “Glory” from “Selma” (Common, John Legend); “Lost Stars” from “Begin Again” (Gregg Alexander, Danielle Brisebois, Nick Lashley & Nick Southwood); “Everything is Awesome!” from “The LEGO Movie” (Shawn Patterson, Joshua Bartholomew, Lisa Harriton, Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samberg & Jorma Taccone); “I Never Wanted to Go” from “If I Stay” (Heitor Pereira); “Mercy Is” from “Noah” (Patti Smith & Lenny Kaye)

Brian’s Personal Pick: “Glory” from “Selma” (Common, John Legend)

Oscar’s Pick: “Glory”. Theoretically, “Everything is Awesome!” could still win in the battle between surprising Oscar snubs, but that song from Best Picture nominee “Selma” is a powerhouse, and will win, deservedly so.

Best Animated Feature
“Big Hero 6”
“How to Train Your Dragon 2”
“The Boxtrolls” (Haven’t Seen)
“Song of the Sea” (Haven’t Seen)
“The Tale of Princess Kaguya” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Four: “How to Train Your Dragon 2”; “The LEGO Movie”; “Big Hero 6”; “Mr. Peabody & Sherman”

Brian’s Personal Pick: “How to Train Your Dragon 2”

Oscar’s Pick: “How to Train Your Dragon 2”. Without “The LEGO Movie” in the mix, this actually became an easier call. Look for Dreamworks Animation to win their first Oscar for an in-house production since the original “Shrek” with their best film to date.

Best Foreign Language Film
“Ida” (Poland)
“Wild Tales” (Argentina) (Haven’t Seen)
“Tangerines” (Estonia) (Haven’t Seen)
“Timbuktu” (Mauritania) (Haven’t Seen)
“Leviathan” (Russia) (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top One: “Ida”

Oscar’s Pick: “Ida”. That Cinematography nomination shows wide support.

Best Documentary Feature
“Finding Vivian Mayer”
“Virunga”
“CITIZENFOUR” (Haven’t Seen)
“Last Days in Vietnam” (Haven’t Seen)
“The Salt of the Earth” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “Life Itself”; “Virunga”; “Finding Vivian Mayer”; “Jodorowsky’s Dune”; “The Comic Book Palace”

Brian’s Personal Pick: “Life Itself”

Oscar’s Pick: “CITIZENFOUR”. Without the sentiment for the Ebert doc “Life Itself” to contend with, look for this expose on Edward Snowden to win.

Best Visual Effects
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier”
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”
“Guardians of the Galaxy”
“Interstellar”
“X-Men: Days of Future Past”

Brian’s Top Five: “Interstellar”; “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”; “Guardians of the Galaxy”; “Noah”; “Godzilla”

Brian’s Personal Pick: “Interstellar”

Oscar’s Pick: “Interstellar”. Christopher Nolan’s visionary epic takes down “Dawn’s” damn, dirty apes.

Best Sound Mixing
“American Sniper”
“Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
“Interstellar”
“Unbroken”
“Whiplash”

Brian’s Top Five: “Whiplash”; “Interstellar”; “Noah”; “How to Train Your Dragon 2”; “Guardians of the Galaxy”

Brian’s Personal Pick: “Interstellar

Oscar’s Pick: “American Sniper”. “Whiplash” could win this one, but I think the smash hit “Sniper” wins easily.

Best Sound Editing
“American Sniper”
“Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”
“Interstellar”
“Unbroken”

Brian’s Top Five: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”; “How to Train Your Dragon 2”; “Interstellar”; “Guardians of the Galaxy”; “Noah”

Brian’s Personal Pick: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”

Oscar’s Pick: “American Sniper”. “Interstellar” could surprise, but “Sniper” is the likely winner with it’s Best Picture status.

Best Cinematography
“Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Ida”
“Unbroken”
“Mr. Turner” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”; “Interstellar”; “Noah”; “Snowpiercer”; “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Brian’s Personal Pick: “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

Oscar’s Pick: “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance”. Back-to-back wins for master cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who won for “Gravity” last year.

Best Film Editing
“American Sniper”
“Boyhood”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Whiplash”
“The Imitation Game” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”; “Boyhood”; “Whiplash”; “Snowpiercer”; “Nightcrawler”

Brian’s Personal Pick: “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

Oscar’s Pick: “Boyhood”. Any of these Best Picture nominees could win here, but I think the fluid 12-year narrative of “Boyhood” beats the comedic grace notes of “Grand Budapest Hotel”

Best Production Design
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Interstellar”
“The Imitation Game” (Haven’t Seen)
“Into the Woods” (Haven’t Seen)
“Mr. Turner” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”; “Snowpiercer”; “Noah”; “Guardians of the Galaxy”; “Maleficent”

Brian’s Personal Pick: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Oscar’s Pick: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”. Nomination co-leader “Budapest” wins for it’s singular look.

Best Makeup & Hair Styling
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Guardians of the Galaxy”
“Foxcatcher” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Three: “Guardians of the Galaxy”; “The Grand Budapest Hotel”; “Snowpiercer”

Brian’s Personal Pick: “Guardians of the Galaxy”

Oscar’s Pick: “Guardians of the Galaxy”. I think it could very easily be “Grand Budapest Hotel” here, but I feel like they’ll be wanting to honor “Guardians of the Galaxy” somewhere, and this feels like the place to do it.

Best Costume Design
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Maleficent”
“Inherent Vice” (Haven’t Seen)
“Into the Woods” (Haven’t Seen)
“Mr. Turner” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “Snowpiercer”; “The Grand Budapest Hotel”; “Maleficent”; “Belle”; “Noah”

Brian’s Personal Pick: “Snowpiercer”

Oscar’s Pick: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”. Unless “Into the Woods” surprises, the Best Picture nominee has it.

Here are the three awards those most devoted to movies care about. I haven’t seen many of these, so all these are just guesses.

Best Short Film- Live Action
“Aya”
“Boogaloo and Graham”
“Butter Lamp”
“Parvaneh”
“The Phone Call”

Oscar’s Pick: “Aya”

Best Short Film- Animated
“The Bigger Picture”
“The Dam Keeper”
“Feast”
“Me and My Moulton”
“A Single Life”

Oscar’s Pick: “Feast”

Best Documentary Short Subject
“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1”
“Joanna”
“Our Curse”
“The Reaper”
“White Earth”

Oscar’s Pick: “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1”


A Movie a Week


A Movie a Week: "In a Lonely Place"

Here we are, at last, as we begin the seventh year of this series. The past few years, I’ve gotten painfully behind at times delivering these reviews, but no time was worse than the last part of 2014, when I basically had to do two reviews a week sometimes just to catch up. Now that last year is finished up, it’s time to start this year.

The “new normal” of my life without my father, and a lot of balls in the air at the same time, is starting to normalize. Part of what kept me so behind last year was my decision to take online courses in film music at the Berklee College of Music, and it was a wonderful choice, even if it was stressful at times. Now, I have a body of work I can share, and hopefully get my foot in the door of something I love. But this is about reviewing movies, my other big love, so let’s get to it.

This year will feature a lot of the same mix of old favorites with movies I haven’t seen before that has been something of a regular happening the past few years in this column, and that will start right off the bat. For this year’s “bookend director,” I decided to go with a filmmaker who isn’t as highly regarded as some of my other choices, but definitely a personal favorite of mine. He’s directed some of my all-time favorite genre films over the years, and the more I’ve watched them, the more they find a place in my cinematic memory. That’s the hallmark of a great filmmaker, and as with Alfred Hitchcock (last year’s bookend), Richard Donner knows exactly how to push an audience’s buttons, and entertain them easily.

This week, I was able to get caught up. Now, to stay that way. The film that caught me is an unheralded gem from 1950 called “In a Lonely Place”, starring Humphrey Bogart in one of his best performances. I hope you enjoy!

Brian Skutle
www.sonic-cinema.

“In a Lonely Place” (1950)- A+
I have always had more of a personal connection with the title of this 1950 drama than with the movie itself, although the film is one of the great Hollywood films. You see, in 1999, years before I ever saw this movie, or even had heard of it, I wrote a piece of music under the same name, inspired by the scores for my favorite film of all-time at the time, “The Crow,” and it’s sequel. When I first read about this movie years later, I immediately latched on to the title as it being something I should watch, with the added bonus of being directed by Nicholas Ray, who also made “Rebel Without a Cause,” and starred Humphrey Bogart, who had been moving up my list of favorite actors. The movie, though, has stayed with my since I watched it, so trust me when I say that, even if it went by another name, it would hold the same affection for me.

Humphrey Bogart, who also produced the film, stars as Dixon Steele, a screenwriter who hasn’t had a hit in a long time, with his alcoholism seeming to be a big reason for it. One night, he’s offered the chance to adapt a best-seller, the type of gig that might put him back on the A-list. While he’s out, he picks up a young woman (Martha Stewart, not the one you’re thinking of) who’s read the book, and gets her to come home to tell him the story he’s supposed to adapt. It seems suspicious to her that he takes off his shoes and puts a robe on, but he doesn’t have seduction on the brain—drinking and hearing the story is all he cares about. She leaves for the night, and he goes to sleep. The next morning, he gets a rude awakening when a detective friend shows up at his apartment—the woman is dead, and a neighbor (Laurel Grey, played by Gloria Grahame) is the only witness. The police are looking at Dixon for the murder, and Laurel has some suspicions, but soon love gets in the way, leading to all sorts of complications as Dixon works on the script.

It’s been many years since I’d seen “In a Lonely Place,” adapted from a novel by Dorothy Hughes, and while I’d remembered that initial feeling and the central story, I forgot the underlying story that really makes the movie a great piece of cinema. The main crux of the story isn’t actually the murder mystery, which puts the film in the noir genre, but the love story that develops between Laurel and Dixon. They quickly fall in love, thrust into each other’s lives by the death that lands on Dixon’s doorstep, and are excited about the possibilities of spending their lives together, but the tension about whether Dixon killed the girl or not, as well as his alcoholic temper, seem to stand in the way of their long-term happiness. For a while, Laurel feels like she can live with it, and maybe even turn him around, but after a beach date with the friendly detective, and a paranoid Dixon storming off with Laurel in tow that leads to a car accident, and a man almost dying at Dixon’s hands, Laurel is not sure whether anything she can do will help him. All the while, the looming suspicions on whether Dixon had anything to do with the murder hang a dark cloud over their relationship, leading to a choice on Laurel’s part that will haunt both her and Dixon forever. In a way, this is an interesting companion piece with “Casablanca,” as both cast Bogart in the role of a self-pitying man with a past that catches up to them. Dixon, like Rick, has his life turned upside down by the spectre of a genuine love of a woman turning up unexpectedly, whether it’s the lost love Ilsa embodies in “Casablanca,” or the hopeful love Laurel offers in “In a Lonely Place.” In “Casablanca,” Rick rejects Ilsa’s love for heroic reasons, while in “In a Lonely Place,” Dixon ultimately chooses solitude because the anxieties and paranoia that has marred his relationship with Laurel have pushed him to that lonely place in the title. It’s a powerful, emotional contrast that show the full range of what Bogart was capable of as an actor, and make us see just how good he really was, even if he didn’t have an obvious range other great actors had.

As someone who has dealt with anxiety and stress over the years, who has let obsessive thinking (bordering on paranoia) hinder my life in sometimes-painful ways, it’s the flawed Dixon that really resonated with me the first time I watched “In a Lonely Place,” and even though I never physically harmed anyone as a result of my issues, and I’ve learned to control them over the years, the movie is one I identify with greatly for those very reasons now. This and “Rebel Without a Cause” are the only movies I’ve seen of director Nicholas Ray, but just watching both of those, as well as glimpses of another one courtesy of Martin Scorsese in his American cinema documentary, you can tell that Ray was a director at home when it came to characters who fell out of step with the norms of society, and suffered great turmoil trying to live life on their terms. That they never really succeed is to be expected, given the worlds they lives in, but it’s how uncompromising the characters are that make their stories unforgettable. With “In a Lonely Place,” Ray shows us how deep-seeded and dangerous emotional issues can become in people, and how difficult it is for those people to form healthy connections with others, and it’s as honest in that way now than it was when it first came out. That it doesn’t have quite the same widespread appreciation other of Bogart’s films has garnered is one of the great tragedies in film history, because I’d argue it’s one of his best, and definitely most important, moments as an actor.

Previous “A Movie a Week” Reviews
“The Goonies” (1985)
“The Outlaw Josey Wales” (1976)
“Conan the Barbarian” (1982)
“The Muppets Take Manhattan” (1984)
“Bound” (1996)
“The Lover” (1992)
“4 Little Girls” (1997)
“The Godfather Part III” (1990)
“Blue Chips” (1994)
“The Paper” (1994)
“Ace in the Hole” (1951)
“Shrek” (2001)
“Dogma” (1999)
“Daredevil” (2003)
“Spartacus” (1960)
“In a Lonely Place” (1950)

See Brian’s list of 2009 “Movies a Week” here.
See Brian’s list of 2010 “Movies a Week” here.
See Brian’s list of 2011 “Movies a Week” here.
See Brian’s list of 2012 “Movies a Week” here.
See Brian’s list of 2013 “Movies a Week” here.
See Brian’s list of 2014 “Movies a Week” here.


Music News

If you are a fan on Sonic Cinema, Brian's music, or the work of Cinema Nouveau Productions, and would like to show your support, a store is now available through Cafe Press, with T-shirts, hats, buttons, and other merchandise. A wide variety of designs and products are available. The store is Sonic Cinema Shop and can be found at the link provided. Thank you for your support, so I can continue to do what I love. -Brian Skutle


Musical Happenings: June 2014

I don’t know how people go to school full-time, and work full-time, without going insane. It’s been a crazy three months just doing one online class and working full-time. And then there’s that pesky task of having a life in between. I’m baffled.

To recap: in my last blog about my musical endeavors, I mentioned how I had decided to go back to school and augment my education. And so, for the past three months, I have been taking an online course in film scoring from the Berklee College of Music, the first of three classes required for their Specialist Certificate program in Music for Movies and TV. (Up next: Language of Film & TV, aka the class Mr. “Writing About Film Since 1996” should get an A in.) I’ll admit, it’s been a bit nerve-racking to go back to school, especially since online classes are new to me, but it’s also been invigorating. Since films, and filmmaking, was already a profound passion of mine, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I already understood about the process, to say nothing of how much my own personal experiences would come full circle. Due to computer issues (all of which are now taken care of, courtesy of my friend Dave), I had to wing it on a couple of assignments, which meant throwing me back to earlier times of recording music and scoring films, especially my friend Chris’s series, “The Case”. Just goes to further prove that, in fact, everything happens for a reason.

One thing that has become abundantly clear over the past 11 weeks of this course is that film music, and the creative process, is what makes me happiest, and what will make me happiest, in terms of what I want to do with my life. I have the chops for it, and it’s a fun challenge. In terms of the creative aspects, it’s a jolt of energy, and even though I’ll probably always write stand-alone musical works, my musical voice is at it’s best, I think, when it has a definite story to tell. In addition to learning about the techniques of film music, we’ve also had three opportunities to score different student films/scenes, and I’d put the music I’ve written for those projects—“Sinead Rising”, a scene from the short, “Roller Palace”, and “Blue City” (our final project)—toe to toe with my scores for “The Case” or “Walpurgis Night”, or my “2001: A Space Odyssey”-inspired album, “Beyond the Infinite: A Musical Odyssey” as a strong example of what I’m capable of, and what I’m passionate about.

In addition to the music done for these projects (which I will gladly share with anyone interested in checking them out via Dropbox—just private message me, and I’ll send you the links), I continued to work on stand-alone pieces. The band piece I had started on the last update is very much finished; all that remains is doing the parts in Finale, figuring out dynamics and the depth of certain parts. (The working title is currently “Brian Skutle’s Passions”, but we’ll see if that sticks or not.) I’m working on updated software, not just for Finale, but also Cakewalk Sonar (my sequencer of choice for going on eight years now) and Sound Forge (my long-time editing software), which I got as a result of starting this class. I also purchased a small rhythm machine back in May, and immediately put it to use, doing a new electronica piece entitled, “Cosmic Energy”. There’s definitely going to be more featuring that machine in the near future; maybe even another album comparable to last year’s “Arpeggiations & Atmospeheres” down the road.

That’s all I have for now, but that seems like a lot, doesn’t it? Great things going on, and hopefully, more to come as the year progresses.

Thanks for listening,

Brian Skutle
www.sonic-cinema.com
brianskutle.bandcamp.com
“Creative Beginnings” at CDBaby
“Dark Experiments” at CDBaby
“Sonic Visions of a New Old West” at CDBaby
“Beyond the Infinite: A Musical Odyssey” at CDBaby
“Storytelling” at CDBaby
“Arpeggiations & Atmospheres” on BandCamp

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