4 years ago

Volume 25 Issue 1 - September 2019

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  • September
Vol 1 of our 25th season is now here! And speaking of 25, that's how many films in the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival editor Paul Ennis, in our Eighth Annual TIFF TIPS, has chosen to highlight for their particular musical interest. Also inside: Rob Harris looks through the Rear View Mirror at past and present prognostications about the imminent death of classical music; Mysterious Barricades and Systemic Barriers are Lydia Perović's preoccupations in Art of Song; Andrew Timar reflects on the evolving priorities of the Polaris Prize; and elsewhere, it's chocks away as yet another season creaks or roars (depending on the beat) into motion. Welcome back.

The Song of Names LUKE

The Song of Names LUKE DOYLE companion to their upcoming third record of the same name. Split into three chapters, the visual album follows three generations of a working-class family in the American Northeast. Following the screening, fans will have the opportunity to experience some of The Lumineers’ upcoming release in a live performance, followed by a Q&A with the band and III’s director Kevin Phillip. Music-Themed Movies (Including Two Musicals) Cameron Bailey writes in his program note for Red Fields, “From award-winning dramatic filmmaker Keren Yedaya (Or, Jaffa) comes a complete surprise: her first musical. Adapting Hillel Mittelpunkt’s rock opera Mami, Yedaya fast-forwards this story of a gas station cashier from its original 1980s setting to the present day. Gorgeous traditional music shares the soundtrack with pulsing electronic beats, while inventive dance numbers lift this wild fantasia into La La Land territory.” Programmer Diana Sanchez on Lina from Lima: “At once a delightful renovation of the musical comedy and a timely examination of the realities of migrant labour, the inventive debut fiction feature from Chilean director María Paz González tackles weighty themes with a light touch and a saucy sense of humour . . . Most remarkable are the moments when Lina’s humble surroundings transform into soundstages upon which she bursts into songs that fuse Peruvian folk music with music-video tropes and, in one of the film’s most dazzling sequences, a miniature version of a Busby Berkeley extravaganza.” François Girard’s The Song of Names, from the book by Norman Lebrecht (, is the director’s latest sweeping historical drama, about a man searching for his childhood best friend – a Polish violin prodigy orphaned in the Holocaust – who vanished decades before on the night of his first public performance. Clive Owen and Tim Roth star in Girard’s return to a music-themed film (after 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould and The Violin). The Audition, Ina Weisse’s follow-up to her acclaimed film, The Architect, focuses on a violin teacher in a music high school in Germany who favours one of her students over her own son. “What fascinates me is the process of how music is created,” Weisse told “The husband of [star] Nina Hoss’ character is a violin maker, so this will be an opportunity to show how sounds evolve. Featuring the German-based Kuss String Quartett. Renée Zellweger plays Judy Garland in English theatre director Rupert Goold’s Judy, an adaptation of Peter Quilter’s successful musical End of the Rainbow, which chronicles the final months of Garland’s life in London before her death in 1969. As she prepares for her five-week sold-out concert run, Garland battles with management, charms musicians, reminisces with friends and adoring fans and begins a whirlwind romance with Mickey Deans, her soon-to-be fifth husband. According to Vanity Fair, Garland’s daughter Liza Minnelli wrote on Facebook in June that “I have never met nor spoken to Renée Zellweger . . . I don’t know how these stories get started, but I do not approve nor sanction the upcoming film … in any way.” Australian director Unjoo Moon makes her feature film debut with I Am Woman, the story of Helen Reddy who, in 1966, landed in New York with her three-year-old daughter, a suitcase and 0 in her pocket. Within weeks she was broke. Within five years she was one of the biggest superstars of her time, the first ever Australian Grammy Award winner and an icon of the 1970s feminist movement. She wrote the anthem, I Am Woman, a rallying cry for a generation of women to fight for change. Tilda Cobham-Hervey plays Reddy and Danielle Macdonald plays her friend, legendary New York-based Australian rock journalist and club owner Lillian Roxon. With their significant others away on the battlefields of Afghanistan, a group of British women form a choir and discover the infectious joy of music in Military Wives, directed by Peter Cattaneo (The Full Monty) and inspired by true events. Riz Ahmed (The Night Of) and Olivia Cooke star in Sound of Metal, the directorial debut of Darius Marder. According to Variety, the story follows a drummer (Ahmed), whose life and relationship with his bandmate girlfriend are turned upside-down when he unexpectedly begins to lose his hearing and he must go to great lengths to recapture the woman and the music he loves. A large number of the cast has been drawn from the deaf community. In Coky Giedroyc’s How To Build a Girl, based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Caitlin Moran (who shares the screenplay credit), Beanie Feldstein plays a 16-year-old aspiring music critic who lands in London in the 1990s and succeeds despite the boys’ club culture of the day. 10 | September 2019

Seamless Soundtracks/Notably Musical Antonio Banderas won Best Actor at Cannes this year for his role as a film director who reflects on the choices he’s made as his life comes crashing down around him in Pedro Almodóvar’s warmly received semi-autobiographical fable, Pain and Glory. Composer Alberto Iglesias, who has scored every Almodóvar film since The Flower of My Secret (1995), won the Cannes Soundtrack Award for his score which has been described as intense, emotional, highly inspired and moving, with echoes of impressionism imbued with melancholy. Peter Bradshaw wrote in The Guardian last May of Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire, the film that would ultimately win Cannes’ Best Scenario Prize: “I was on the edge of my seat. Portrait of a Lady on Fire has something of Alfred Hitchcock – actually two specific Hitchcocks: Rebecca, with a young woman arriving at a mysterious house, haunted by the past, and also Hitchcock’s Vertigo, with its all-important male gaze, [which] Sciamma flips to a female gaze.” Sciamma’s film takes place in 1770, so Vivaldi for one plays a part in the score. But Para One (Jean- Baptiste de Laubier), who has worked on each of Sciamma’s films beginning with Water Lilies, contributed a poignant, indelible moment of great emotional power heard at the 78-minute mark. In a recent interview he said that they thought a lot about the rhythms and dances of 18th-century music, specifically in Brittany, the film’s setting. But they also talked about Ligeti and the modernity of the film. “So [Sciamma] went back to listen to Ligeti for three days and came back with a frantic pace; it was a great inspiration. We found the tempo.” Senegalese filmmaker Mati Diop’s haunting debut feature, Atlantics, won Cannes’ Grand Prize for the story of marginalized young lovers in Senegal desperately seeking a better life. Cinezik called Berlin-based electronic-music artist Fatima Al Qadiri’s score “captivating” and published part of a recent interview with the composer. “The most important [thing] in my music is the melody. This is my obsession. The repetition of melodic lines in my music gives the feeling of a meditation . . . the director wanted minimalism, with very little musical information, not to overwhelm the characters.” A symbiotic relationship between two families, one rich, the other poor, is at the root of Parasite, Bong Joon-ho’s socially conscious thriller that won the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year. Called ingenious and unpredictable and a twist-laden black comedy, its musical component by Jung Jae-il consists mostly of a solo piano melody playing against cello, guitars and orchestral strings with an original song with lyrics by the filmmaker performed by Choi Woo-shik, an actor in the film. Bradley Warren wrote in The Playlist about Bacurau, the film that shared the Cannes Jury Prize with Les Misérables: “For his third feature film, Brazilian filmmaker Kleiber Mendonça Filho splits directorial duties with Juliano Dornelles, the production designer on his first two features. It’s a logical progression for a body of work known for rich soundscapes and vivid images, but it’s also a game changer for his style. … Bacurau is the duo’s most political work yet ... it’s also their most playful effort to date. ... Music may not be as foundational to the plot of Bacurau as was the case with Aquarius, but its use still manages to stir the soul.” Mendonça Filho, quoted in the film’s presskit, described their approach: “The greatest challenge for the music in the movie is knowing when to shut up, which often happens with me. When you embrace the genre with all its narrative twists and turns, it’s better to have music. And when it all comes together, it’s very beautiful.” Ladj Ly’s Cannes Jury Prize–winning debut feature, Les Misérables, ingeniously weaves the thematic threads of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece into an explosive contemporary narrative spotlighting France as a place of seismic political and social change. According to, the score by Canadian rock band Pink Noise (founded by Toronto-based Mark Sauner) is made up of consistent, unchangeable, undifferentiated electronic tablecloths that serve to maintain the film’s tension. Terrence Malick’s A Hidden Life, according to Justin Chang of the LA Times, tells the story of an Austrian peasant farmer who was imprisoned and September 2019| 11

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