True Detective Season Three

true detective 3aTrue Detective Season Three continues (following a lengthy post-season two hiatus) this anthology show, here with a rather dense structure spanning three seperate timelines. Indeed, the central mystery of this season (relating to the disappearance of two children, and the murder of at least one of them) is almost incidental to that central conceit of the passage of time and its effects on the characters, and its impact on memory and self. It turns the season into a fascinating puzzle spread across some thirty-five years and benefits strongly from an excellent central performance from Mahershala Ali as detective Wayne Hays, whose life seems forever caught up by the mystery concerning the Purcell children’s disappearance. Two investigations, the first in 1980 when the children are lost, and a further re-investigation in 1990, fail to satisfy Hays and in 2015, with dementia already unraveling his sense of identity as the memories of his life slip away, he anchors himself to the case like it’s some kind of mental life-belt, to try finally to make sense of the case and maintain his sense of self.

The season takes place over eight episodes and slips between the three timelines almost as if without reason and defintely without warning, Its certainly disorientating but cleverly draws you in, making you a participant in the story as you try to make sense with the characters, particularly the increasingly bewildered Hays. Its also very well handled, how it often transitions between timelines, and very reminiscent of the end of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Some of the transitions are poetically lyrical.

true detective 3bIn one episode, having tricked the driver of a mysterious car hanging around his home in 2015, Hays finds himself suddenly alone in the dark street, one solitary streetlamp above him in a world of inky black void. He sees a fire a short distance away, and walks towards it, finally coming to the backyard of his 1990 home. He sees his younger self, naked but for boxer shorts, standing at a trash bin in which he is burning some clothes. His younger self, alerted by the sound of his older 2015 self, turns around to face him but that old self is gone. Now alone, he scrutinises his burning clothes and his wife walks out into the yard, worried at what he is doing… and the scene continues in 1990. This kind of thing happens all the time, and we often don’t know if what we are seeing is what really happened or just what the 2015 Hays is recollecting, his point-of-view that of an unreliable narrator as his dementia takes hold: in one scene in 2015 he has a positive conversation with his old partner Roland West (Stephen Dorff) about the old case, then goes to the toilet. When he returns a few minutes later he greets West as if he hasn’t seen him in years, totally forgetting the earlier conversation. If his mind is that hazy, just how unreliable are the old events we are seeing?

Ultimately, it almost doesn’t matter, because the case isn’t the twisted and dark shocker that fans of the first season, certainly, may have been hoping for. You can go to the well too often in attempts to shock and surprise (as demonstrated in the unravelling of Game of Thrones in its final seasons). It instead transpires that perhaps the real central concern of the season is the ties between freinds and family, and how their relationships are affected both by the case and the relentless march of Time. I’m sure it’s no mistake that the way Kubrick managed the fluid flow of time and ageing in 2001‘s strange eerie finale in the alien hotel room is replicated here so often. Its almost as if Hays is lost in Time himself, as much a witness and viewer as we are. It makes for a really interesting storyline and I really appreciated having mature characters as central protagonists and feeling the impact of the decades upon them.

true detective 3cThe sense of morbid dread and unease permeating through this season was almost tangible, intensified no end by a really disturbing soundtrack that was quite relentless and reminded me of some of Vangelis’ more experimental work back in his Nemo days (particularly, say, the bell-like clanging of metal tubes/scaffolding during the Bradbury building chase in Blade Runner, drenched in reverb). Certainly something got under my skin; during this past week of watching this season my sleep became increasingly uneven and I often found my daylight hours pondering what was happening in the most recently-watched episode and what might happen next.

In something of a minority, I was actually a fan of the shows second season, and I think across its three seasons it remains one of the better shows currently airing. Its title recalls the dime-store pulp novels lining the book carousels in stores of the 1960s and 1970s, their gaugy covers and dark, noirish stories, but doesn’t ever fall into the trap of, say, the rather more populist sensationalism of Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction movie. True Detective’s protagonists are people caught in worlds they cannot control, caught up in events that overwhelm them. Its Lovecraft by way of Philip K Dick. I could watch this kind of stuff all day long and hope that the wait for a fourth season isn’t as long as it was for season three.

More Blade Runner art

brart1Here’s another poster for Blade Runner. I quite like this one, So much so, infact, that I’ve cropped it into square format and used it for the cover for an unofficial album (yeah, yet another Blade Runner bootleg, Vangelis might as well release the damn thing officially at this point) of the complete score in my Windows media/usb stick in my car:

brart1 (2)Hey, it’s not perfect but it looks kinda neat on the in-car dash screen when listening to the score on my commutes to work. I must have listened to the Blade Runner score, in its various forms, so many times over the years, it’s probably the most-listened to music of my life, now that I think about it. Which is possibly incredibly sad/profound (delete as appropriate) – really, I suppose most people read this wondering what all the fuss is about. Its an old movie with an old electronic score… and in just the same way as Orson Welles later in life was likely irritated/sick unto death about hearing about Citizen Kane, I would imagine Vangelis absolutely abhors any mention of Blade Runner at this point.

Which reminds me, it was Vangelis’ birthday back on 29th March. A very happy (albeit belated) birthday, maestro. I still think Blade Runner is your masterpiece.

Vangelis- Nocturne review

nocturneNow here’s a strange situation- marketed as a solo piano album, with mention of Vangelis recording on a grand piano, and even subtitled as ‘the piano album’ it actually turns out that, as suspected from the two tracks revealed prior to the album release, that this album is mostly synth piano augmented with synth pads and strings adding both ambient atmosphere and inevitable leanings toward the traditional Vangelis ‘sound’. There is, for all the marketing tease, nothing particularly groundbreaking here in execution, which might leave some fans a little disappointed (Vangelis will already be at odds here with fans who prefer his electronic extravaganzas and are likely frustrated with this more intimate work), but I for one am thrilled. This is a great album and certainly superior to his previous album, Rosetta, that harked back to his older glories whilst maintaining the ‘more of the same’ sonic palette that has increasingly dogged his work in the post-Nemo Studios era.

Perhaps it might be best for listeners to approach this album like they would Opera Sauvage, as its one of those quiet, moody albums as opposed to the more energetic offerings of Vangelis’ early years. This is clearly an album of some maturity and reflection, as should be expected from an artist some 75 years old.

So anyway, let’s take a tour of this album.

The album opens with Nocturnal Promenade, which was the first track revealed with the album announcement late last year. Its a strange opener, to be honest, and certainly in my mind not at all the strongest track on the album or the most ideal opener. Its a very light, meandering piece that is playful doodlings on synth piano with electronic strings cascading above. It feels almost a period piece-somehow I get the impression of Victorian walkers at night, chinese lanterns under the stars. I suppose it works mostly as a scene-setting piece, a frank indication of the aural experience to follow.

With the second track, To The Unknown Man, Vangelis returns to past glories of decades ago and one of his most timeless and beautiful pieces of music, and suddenly the genius of this album hits home, because this is just exquisitely beautiful – it’s worth the album price alone. For a fan of his for decades now, this track is a wonderful piece, rolling back the years and yet informing all the years between. While much of the new music is very fine and enjoyable, and an album of covers of past music seems like a commercial move at odds with Vangelis’ professed dislike for the music business and how it works, this track is some indication of what an album of such pieces might have been.

Track three continues the return of past music with Movement 9 from Mythodea, and strangely features a guest piano played by Irina Valentinova, which I presume indicates a duet of sorts unless Vangelis is not playing here at all. Synth augmentation is a little stronger here with harp and more pads and strings accompanying the keyboard. Movement 9 has always been one of the strongest tracks from the Mythodea album and it sounds lovely here.

The fourth track is a return of the new works, with Moonlight Reflections, another gentle piece that is light and, as the title suggests, reflective and thoughtful. Images of streets dotted with pools of rainwater reflecting the moonlight or the open ocean sparkling with the pale moon.

Through the Night Mist is a little darker and moodier, and feels like genuine Vangelis of old, reverb-infused keyboards that don’t necessarily sound like piano at all, cascading synth pads and harp. Its the kind of track that Vangelis used to place in his albums to break the tone and add a piece of romantic melancholy, rather like the music of Bitter Moon. Deceptively simple there’s more going on here than initially apparent, and it also reminds me a little of his El Greco album or the quieter moments of Voices. Its a strong track and one of the better originals on this album. Very nice.

Early Years follows the mood of the previous track, suffused again with melancholy and reflective as the title suggests of looking back. Is this perhaps Vangelis being autobiographical and personal? At this point it almost feels like Vangelis is using the Nocturne album to say goodbye, an album of closure, but then the track turns brighter and more hopeful and positive, as if making peace with the past and turning to optimism for the future.

Track seven is the one I was perhaps most curious about when I initially saw the album tracklist a few months ago- Love Theme, Blade Runner. Its another lovely return to an old favourite, and it largely works very well, albeit not as strongly as the earlier To the Unknown Man piece.  This is a more fragile interpretation than the original, sans saxophone etc, but having listened to it several times now I really like it. Vangelis seems to be informing the music of all the years between, the familiar theme fading away then returning with gossamer piano flourishes embellishing the old favourite.

Sweet Nostalgia follows, another original track that continues the subdued mood of the album. By this point you either love this album or you are feeling frustrated by it. I think it works wonderfully, clearly a romantic and passionate album that is full of Vangelis’ talent for melody and mood and while deceptively simple it is full of his particular genius.

The ninth track, Intermezzo, serves as pretty much both the midpoint of the album and a nice break in approach. The synth piano is gone, and this piece is simply the cascading synth pads and strings floating a gentle melody in the air. While it maintains the gentle reflective tone of the album it feels like a typical Vangelis playful improvisation- not the only time this album will remind me of previous curios like Jazzy Box. I’d love to hear an album of Vangelis just performing these playful musical doodlings- I suspect he does so much of this stuff for his own pleasure and it just sits in his vault with us never intended to hear it. Thankfully we get another glimpse of all that material with this track.

So with track ten we are into the second half of the album, and To a Friend, another pleasant piece and one that reminds me of parts of the Blade Runner Love Theme, strangely enough, as if this were its musical cousin. This is very much a traditional Vangelis track, so indicative of his style, and thankfully one of the longer original tracks (running at just over five minutes) allowing it more time to breath and work its particular magic. I much prefer Vangelis to allow his music to just stretch and breath and this is a nice reminder of his longer pieces of old.

Track eleven, La Petite Fille de la Mer, gently takes us back almost to the beginning, and one of his first albums. La Petite Fille de la Mer is a perennial favourite that has featured in many of Vangelis’ (many) compilations so perhaps its inclusion here was inevitable. While I would have possibly preferred him to have taken another piece less well-travelled, so to speak, this reinterpretation works very well. Its as gentle and emotional as the original and lovingly played. It must seem strange, I suppose, for Vangelis, returning to music so many decades old.

Now then. Track twelve, Longing. This is just magnificent, the first original piece on this album that I immediately fell in love with. This is Vangelis at his finest and has echoes of old glories indeed- it’s up there with all his best work. The synth keyboard has broken free of its mostly piano-oriented settings and has become something else, and would grace any Vangelis album, teasing the electronic soundscapes that most fans might expect from him. It reminds me a little of his 1492 score and some Jon & Vangelis music, rich and deep and emotional. It feels a little short, running under four minutes, and I would have just loved to hear it just run and run but it’s a little jewel.

If La Petite Fille de la Mer was inevitable, then a return of his Chariots of Fire theme was only more so, and it follows next on track thirteen. Again, there is a sense of the artist informing old music with the years between, a sweet melancholy infecting the playing. Its poetic and perfect, an old friend returning for a drink and a chat. Vangelis throws in some playful additions to the familiar melody. Its very nice, but again like La Petite Fille de la Mer I almost feel guilty for thinking I would have preferred a cover of a less familiar old favourite. The inclusion of this track is I suppose a nod to commercial appeal and maybe a necessary concession to the label. I would have loved instead a return of Himalaya. 

Track fourteen, Unfulfilled Desire is, as the title suggests, a moodier, sadder piece. Again, it is Vangelis in his most romantic mode, and continues this half of the album’s subtle move towards a traditional Vangelis soundscape and further away from the purported solo piano indications of the marketing. The synth pads and strings are stronger and more at the front.

Lonesome continues this trend to a darker and more unsettled mood. I am reminded of the old saying, it is never darker than before the dawn, and maybe that’s what Vangelis is getting at here. This track almost has a forlorn feeling of inevitable isolation. It is also one of the longer originals at nearly six minutes, and benefits from this. Moments actually remind of some of the more oddly romantic elements of Jerry Goldsmith’s Alien theme- its not discordant at all but has that dark weight to it. There is a sense of reconciliation or acceptance at the end, of peace. Another strong, romantic piece.

With track sixteen we are nearing the close of the album and reach another possible concession to the label, with 1492: Conquest of Paradise, but this reading of the original is rather dark as befits the mood of this second half of this album. Breaks of light break through the main theme suggesting, perhaps, the dawn, and this certainly rewards the inclusion of this track.  Rather passionate and emotional, this is a fine interpretation of the original track- I think I actually prefer this version.

Nocturne finally closes with Pour Melia, likely a personal piece and the second example of a Jazzy Box-kind of idle curio improv. It has the feel of a sweet lullaby, delicate and light, the kind of thing that Vangelis just makes seem so easy and effortless. Its a nice close to the album and is nothing at all like a piano piece.

So that is Nocturne then. I think it’s a very strong album, particularly if you can accept what it it is. Its one for gentle listening and reflective mood and I’m sure a welcome addition to Vangelis’ lengthy discography. It certainly highlights his talent for mood and sensitivity and melody, and is stronger for losing the overly-familiar electronic soundscapes of his work post-Nemo studios. I appreciate that might alienate some fans but I was rather disappointed by Rosetta. Some parts of that album were strong but the issue I have with Vangelis’ current soundscapes just came to the fore with that album, so much of it sounding like Alexander etc- the melodies different but the palette just more of the same. Clearly Vangelis is not a young man anymore and the fire and energy of his earlier work is long gone now (the way he used to hammer the drums and percussion with wild abandon!)  and I actually think Nocturne probably serves him better, where he is now.

On Nocturne’s Eve…

All being well (Amazon permitting, anyway) when I come home from work tomorrow night I may have Vangelis’ new album Nocturne waiting for me.

A new Vangelis album is a rarity, as I have mentioned before. I can vividly recall first listening to ‘new’ albums (as opposed to buying his back catalogue) of Soil Festivities, Mask, Direct, Voices, Oceanic, El Greco and so many others. Funnily enough this morning I was driving on my commute listening to his China album, a personal favourite, and the track Himalaya, revelling in that old Nemo Studios sound. Sweetest sound I ever heard. Its a sound Vangelis moved away from decades ago, but that just makes it all the sweeter.

Nocturne of course will be devoid any of that Nemo Studios sound, and any electronic soundscapes will be mostly absent barring some tonal textures, as it is a piano album at heart. I have heard the two tracks that have been released prior to tomorrow’s album being launched and they indicate the general feel of the album, I guess. It sounds fine, still a Vangelis album, I am certain, but one that may have a unique ‘sound’ amongst his discography, which is certainly a bonus. It may sound like heresy to most fans, but I’ve been growing weary over the past decade or two of Vangelis’ ‘sound’- ever since the Direct album he has used what has been termed the ‘Direct’ device, a system of creating/recording music ‘on the fly’ allowing Vangelis’ music to be spontaneous but it does suffer from the music sounding very much… well, not the same, but… the samples he uses, the pads and infections etc leave it sounding like the same electronic orchestra. I think the old Nemo sound was more varied, helped at least by it requiring live percussion and some real analogue instrumentation. It sounded more organic, I think, despite being mostly electronic. There is something a little too digital, too artificial about some of Vangelis’ later work. Perhaps being piano-based, Nocturne will sound different, and more authentic. I’m looking forward to it- all being well I shall be able to post a review of first impressions over the weekend.

Listening to- Mary Queen of Scots Soundtrack by Max Richter

mary maxComposer Max Richter has pulled off something quite extraordinary here. This is a beautiful score. How he has interpreted the subject-matter of the film (as the film is not released here until early next year, I must presume it’s an intimate historical drama) reminds me of how Vangelis tackled  his scores for 1492 and Alexander. While these do indeed seem to be typical scores for period dramas and function well as such, they yet feel rather timeless, and that’s what Richter has achieved with this.

There are some wonderful sweeping melodies in this score, really powerful and atmospheric and involving, strengthened by great performance and orchestration.

If I were to suggest that this might be Richter’s finest score to date, that might impress on just how special this score really is. I can only imagine how well it serves the film, because of course until January I can only judge it upon this listening experience, but simply on that basis, it seems like some kind of masterpiece.  However the film turns out, I’m pretty confident this music will be listened to for years. Its a wonderful thought that in a year in which we lost Johann Johannsson, we still get a great score like this.

Vangelis Nocturne Update

Well, here’s a pleasant surprise- Nocturne, the recently teased new album from Vangelis, will be a piano album. This is a great news. I appreciate some fans may be a little disappointed or confused, as they may prefer another electronic work typical of the Greek maestro, but I think it’s really exciting. Its actually something I’ve been hoping that Vangelis would release for years. Some of the best tracks on Vangelis’ albums have been those featuring solo piano- really emotional pieces that demonstrate Vangelis’ gift for playing with genuine feeling. Tracks like Dream in an Open Place from Voices, or the Tenth Movement from El Greco, Memories of Blue from Oceanic, or Piano in an Empty Room from his Blade Runner Trilogy album. Seriously, this could be his best album in many years, and it almost feels as though Vangelis has been listening to me somehow. Time to manage my hopes/expectations, then.

nocturneInterestingly (or inevitably, as the cynic in me would suggest it’s a great marketing ploy) the tracklist includes amongst several new pieces, piano versions of old favourites- the Love Theme from Blade Runner, the track Longing that appeared on the Blade Runner trilogy album, Chariots of Fire’s Main Theme and Conquest of Paradise and a few others. It will be interesting, for example, to hear the piano version of Movement Nine from Mythodea.

Even more tantalising, advance pre-orders on European websites (jumping the gun a bit, as they aren’t supposed to be up until Dec 7th) suggest a release date of January 29th or -drum roll- February 15th, which is my birthday. Hey, a Vangelis piano album on my birthday? How cool is that? If it’s January I’ll take it but Feb 15th… oh man, I need a drink and a cold flannel to cool me down, a Vangelis album on my birthday is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of deal.

Listening to – Equinoxe Infinity

jarre.pngExpectations were quite high for this album, Jean-Michel Jarre returning to his second (and possibly best) album and spinning a sequel for its fortieth anniversary, with three tracks slowly being leaked out prior to the albums release which promised something special.

Turns out, those three tracks were the best on the album.

Indeed, grand openings were possibly always Jarre’s forte, from Oxygene to Equinoxe, through to Zoolook and Chronologie, and it is proved again here with a great moody scene-setter, The Watchers (Mvt.1) that is epic and sexy and cool. The second track, Flying Totems (Mvt.2), is a glorious throwback to when 1970s Jarre seemed to be the sound of The Future, reveling in classic analogue synth soundscapes. But then the album starts to fall apart, until it’s apparent that it is aimlessly meandering to its quick conclusion (the album scarcely over 30 minutes long). Its really quite disappointing, even for latter-day Jarre. Each track feels too short, and too shy of any fresh ideas. Perhaps Jarre is spending too much time on tour and not enough time in the studio- some of the tracks have promise but just when you’re expecting them to develop, they are suddenly over. Worse, the one track that is long enough to show some development, the final track that carries the title of the album and is over seven minutes long, just collapses into electronic beeps and whistles and ambient effects as if Jarre is trying to turn what amounts to a ten-track e.p. into a double-side album proper by just, well, literally stretching things out in a last gasp of effort.

Which is alarming, really. It seemed that Jarre was revitalised following his two Electronica albums of collaborations but he seems to have resumed the decline, and this brief album of synth doodles (which lets face is it is all that the majority of this album amounts to) is a pale shadow of his early classics. Pity.

But in the words of Obi-wan Kenobi, “there is another”, and that’s Vangelis, with his own new album out early next year. Let’s hope the Greek Maestro has another great album in him, while Jarre goes back to the drawing board (or his next concert).

Vangelis’ Nocturne?

There is a weird sense, here, of history repeating- many years ago during the ’80s I remember buying Jean Michel Jarre’s Revolutions album and it being overshadowed by news of Vangelis’ album Direct being released shortly after. So here we go again, with Jarre releasing last week his Equinoxe Infinity album (I’ll likely post a review sometime soon), and news that on December 7th a new Vangelis album, Nocturne, will be available to pre-order for a release presumably early in the New Year.

For whatever its worth, I like the title. You have to be wary of getting carried away with the possibilities because with Vangelis anything, frankly, is possible, but the title Nocturne carries with it all sorts of possibilities regards mood and ambience etc. We’ll have to wait and see, but I always get excited at news of a new Vangelis album. Its rare enough these days (Jarre seems to be getting busier and busier of late, obviously taking a page out of Ridley Scott’s book of dealing with old age, while Vangelis is definitely semi-retired now) but after all these years (well, okay, decades, let’s be brutal about it, we’re all getting on) the release of a new Vangelis album always brings back memories of past releases and past discoveries, of excitedly listening to new Vangelis music- the soundtrack of over half my life now, thinking about it. The grim truth is, how many new Vangelis albums even lie ahead? Anyone of them could be the last one. I’m reminded of one of my favourite rock bands, Rush, finally calling it a day awhile ago, following the release of their Clockwork Angels album- we fans may have suspected/feared it, but we didn’t know it was their last album for certain until after the following American tour. It’ll happen with Jarre, and Vangelis, eventually- they’ll either call it a day or life’s natural expiration date (hey! another Blade Runner reference snuck in!) will decide it for them.

Apologies for the maudln mood. I’m excited really.

Missing (1982)

missing2Such a odd experience, sometimes, revisiting ‘old’ films that you haven’t seen in many years. The films are the same but we aren’t- we are older, wiser, have more personal experiences that impact on our viewing experience. At least, that’s the way I see it- how else to explain this rather revelatory experience of re-watching this film after so many years? Admittedly, my previous experience of this film was a television broadcast with commercial breaks , which wasn’t ideal. Now, on Blu-ray, it was a whole different thing- yes, it was clearly a very good film before but now… now it is a rather profound, terrifying and almost brutally heartbreaking work.

I can only assume that now I am older and more wise of the world that its message is all the more powerful and effecting, I was surprised by just how terrifying it is; the sense of being isolated and powerless in the face of a brutal state and clear crimes against humanity going unpunished. Perhaps when I was younger and watching it before, I had felt that this was something of the past and events such as depicted in the film could not happen anymore, but the last few decades have taught me otherwise. Sadly, Missing is as relevant as it ever was.

Missing is based on a true story, of the disappearance, in September 1973, of American journalist Charles Horman (John Shea). Living in Chile with his wife Beth (Sissy Spacek) the couple and their freinds get caught up in a nightmarish military coup that, unknown to them, is secretly sponsored by the US Government, and Charles disappears. His father, Ed Horman (Jack Lemmon) a conservative New York businessman arrives in Chile a few days later to try to help Beth discover what has happened to Charles and where he might be. In the face of a increasing runaround by staff of the American Consulate, Ed begins to lose faith in his government and the integrity and protection he assumes is due an American citizen.  Although the film is decades old now and the true events fairly well known (albeit increasingly forgotten today) I won’t go into any further details regards the twists and turns of their efforts, as the film deserves to be seen ‘clean’.

missing3.pngJack Lemmon, of course, is s good as I remembered- when he finally receives the confirmation of his worst fears, I swear you can visibly see his heart breaking. Its a typical understated performance and I so miss him in movies today; he had a gift for portraying an ‘everyman’ that seems rather lacking in films now. Rarely do actors do ‘subtle’ like Lemmon managed, even if its just in the way he moves and walks or glances at people talking to him. Sissy Spacek, meanwhile, is actually a revelation-an actress I really haven’t seen much over the years (must be something to do with the films I choose to watch), I was really impressed  by her performance here; its really quite endearing and I think I’ll have to look up some more of her work.  She certainly manages to hold her own against Lemmon and she complements him very well.

The soundtrack by Vangelis is measured and understated – a product of the Greek composers’ prime it is a lovely reminder of his craft during his superior Nemo Studios era. Typically of him, its an unreleased soundtrack, barring a main theme that turns up on collections (a track which is actually, I believe, a re-recording by Vangelis himself).  The popular main theme familiar from those collections is a tender and heartfelt piece that kicks you in the stomach by the films end but is a minor part of the actual score. I suppose you have to be a decades-long fan like I am to appreciate that old Nemo Studios sound that he used to have, but its certainly a nostalgic element that improves the film no end. Its a wonderful score that is the soul and tender heart of the film.

This recent Blu-ray release of the film from Indicator is as top-notch as we have come to expect from them.  While the film’s master used isn’t a new one, its soft-focus, almost gauze-like picture (think Superman: The Movie, Days of Heaven and other films like that) probably wouldn’t benefit hugely from a new 2K or 4K remaster (and who’s going to do that for a film like Missing?) but it looks very good, has a gentle grain and solid colour. The mono soundtrack is fine; the dialogue is clear and the sudden crack of gunfire in the Chilean streets can still make you jump.

The extras, of course, are the real reward for investing in this disc release and they are very good; two pseudo-commentary tracks which are actually archive interviews (one with director Costa-Gavras in 1984, the other with Lemmon from 1986) which run under the film. Some accompanying featurettes include an appreciation piece by actor/director Keith Gordon which runs longer than you might expect, some interviews with the director etc. and a very special doc has an interview with the ‘real’ Beth, Joyce Horman. A charming and erudite woman,  with still photographs of the real Charles Horman and his father, she explains the truth behind the film and shares memories of the making of the film and its impact over the years- including litigation against it. This last doc lasts nearly half-hour and as you might imagine is utterly riveting, worth buying the disc alone for.

If you have never seen Missing, then this release is the perfect excuse to correct that folly, and if you have, well, I’m sure you likely own this disc already. In all honesty, Missing is actually a much better film than I remembered, and I shall no doubt be returning to it often.

1982: a hell of a good year for movies.

Mandy OST by Johann Johannsson

mandyostListening to Johann Johannsson’s final score, a twisted and disturbing work drenched in sadness, misery and darkness, is certainly a sobering prospect. It is hard to seperate it from the perspective of the composer’s sudden passing earlier this year. As an unintended footnote of the man’s career it is stark and unforgiving. In some ways it is quite unlike his other work (although hints of it’s darkness are strewn across many of his works) but the almost unbearable melancholy of the love theme -one of the saddest love themes to grace a movie- betrays the score as being that of Johannsson, while the ’80s electronic soundscape of the final track ‘Children of the New Dawn’, presumably the end title (I haven’t seen the film yet), evokes the John Carpenter scores of that era so authentically its hard not to do a double-take at the credits.

It hints that perhaps new directions for the composer lay ahead of him- perhaps a reaction to his rejected BR2049 score? Then again, and its a grim game to play, but listening to some of the moodier, menacing and almost experimental tracks I have to wonder if there’s actually indication here of what some of BR2049‘s score may have sounded like, some of its atonal horror harking back to some of the original Vangelis score’s underscore. Which seems at odds to reports of Villeneuve thinking that Johannsson’s score was too much a deviation from the Vangelis original, so likely I’m wrong here (and unless the rejected score gets released someday we’ll never really know).

In any case, while its hardly easy listening there is something rather hypnotic about the terrible darkness of this music, especially in relation to it being the composers final work we are likely to hear. The sadness wallows within and about the music, dreadfully.