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Let’s Play Two: Pearl Jam Live at Wrigley Field

Directed By Danny Clinch

Oct 03, 2017 

If you’re a fan of Pearl Jam and have never seen them perform live - and absolutely if you think you may not - Let’s Play Two is a must view. This next best thing to being there concert film of Pearl Jam playing Wrigley Field in the run up to the first victorious Chicago Cubs world series in 108 years was in the right hands of Director Danny Clinch. The long time music chronicler has a familiarity with the band since his film Immagine in Cornicedocumented their five concerts in Italy during a 2006 World Tour and this serves the film’s overall tone of intimacy. There are unbreakable bonds formed by time and struggle connecting all of the principal subjects -  Obviously the people of Chicago and The Cubs, but also the band members who apart from drummer Matt Cameron (who joined in ‘98 right after Soundgarden disbanded), have been together through thick and thin from their formation in 1990. Then there’s Chicago native and frontman Eddie Vedder’s special relationships formed in and around Wrigley during his life as a Cubs fan. In between segments of all the rousing Pearl Jam crowd pleasers including “Low Light”, “Better Man”, “Corduroy”, “Release” and “Alive”, the lens walks with Vedder, revealing the excited glow of a young boy stepping into the ballpark for the first time. As he reunites with all of his Wrigley friends, his face expresses the nervous emotion of a long suffering fan on the cusp of finally experiencing championship glory.

The intimate charm for which Wrigley is known transfers to the live concert experience as well. Clinch and concert cinematographer Vance Burberry pull right in on the hands and faces of Vedder, Cameron, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament and Mike McCready as an adoring crowd elatedly joins in on each song. After all this time, Pearl Jam still brings it and added magnitude of their performance comes from when it took place, during the energized period of anticipation for the ever elusive crown for the Cubs. This wonderfully loud buzz courses through the film and overwhelms in moments like when one of the most heart pounding songs of all time “Alive”, is being belted into the upper deck, rising as an anthem of human triumph that all Cubs fans could get behind. “Alive” is a song that not even the most hardcore Pearl Jam fans will remember was performed just a block away from Wrigley at The Metro in 1990. Opening for Soul Asylum, It was their second show ever and one they gave after only five days of being formed. Clinch cuts to old, crappy camcorder footage and the band members smiling in reflection at how they made $250 and it is here where the full circle becomes most clear. Here they were again 25 years later, but now playing for a sold out crowd at Wrigley Field, the field of dreams both good and bad, one of the most hallowed places in sports and the entire country.

We know Vedder to be the valiant soul searcher with the kind of sensitivity that feeds the channels to wisdom through suffering. Being a Cubs fan all your life can only strengthen that attribute. Vedder strikes at the core of this notion when he describes how the “hope muscle” is strengthened as a Cubs fan and how the fanbase is built upon comforting one another through hardship. So when he is casting beloved songs to a crowd that sings along in swelling unison, he is also one of them. Thus, the connection all musicians strive to make with their audience is already formed. And that shared identification is all the more profound when channeled through a voice and presence of Vedder’s.

What’s so perfect about the combination of entities here is that if there was ever a band that could strike the cathartic chord of being a Cubs fan directly, it’s Pearl Jam. There are demons allayed by camaraderie and the honored notion of picking one another up to get back out there and play. Pearl Jam could have broken up and drifted apart countless times in their existence, at all of the fault lines when other bands would, yet they stuck together. They are a band that symbolizes the longevity and endurance that the Cubs and their fans can all relate to and this powerful connection envigorates this production. Seeing how it all culminates in victory, propelled by a great concert, is pure cinematic inspiration.

pearljam.com/letsplaytwo


Danny Says

Studio: Magnolia Pictures
Directed by Brendan Toller

Sep 27, 2016

Danny Fields was the master facilitator, the guy that made things happen in the most significant era in American rock history. By the time you hear Fayette Hauser encapsulate his contribution at the end of Brendan Toller’s new film about the wizard behind the curtain of Punk Rock, you know what she’s talking about. “Art needs a translator. Danny was a catalyst for a lot of people…Some (musicians) could be great but floating in a sphere, unrecognized or unknown. He would put them on a platform and say ‘Here, this is who you need to pay attention to.’”

Danny Says is that delightful case in film where the subject whose raison-d’etre is explored is an immeasurably influential person you may not have known about. One of another era at the center of its galaxy of stars.

Vitalized by a stimulating collage of the kind of vintage archival images that people love to boastfully frame for their hallway walls, the thrust of the film comes from Fields’ regaling of his experiences with each of the eccentric figures he came to know and help. The list of groups he had a direct hand in either discovering or guiding is staggering; From The Doors, The Ramones and Iggy Pop & The Stooges to Patti Smith, The Velvet Underground and Alice Cooper, the list goes on. With a willingness to be in the scene, wherever the scene happened to be that night, he was omnipresent during a period of watershed change in music. Fields makes this point – that there was a lot to be opportunistic with during the 60’s. He simply knew what to seize upon, with the frame of mind that if he liked it, everyone would. Ultimately, he was right.

Fields had the capacity and foundation to be persuasive, going to Penn at 15 and then on to Harvard Law, before dropping out to immerse himself in the effete Warhol circles of New York City. But his credibility was built on more than his erudition. He spotted brilliance before anyone else and what’s most impressive is the consensus among all the big personalities that knew him that along with an uncanny ear for what was original greatness came a communication of that worth to those responsible, who clearly needed his reassurance of it.

As much as the anecdotal accounts are fascinating, the viewing would have benefited from tighter editing. The continuity is paradoxically in the fragmentation of old footage, which becomes somewhat tangential, and beyond minimalistic animation with a utility like that of the graphic novelesque beauty in the Kurt Cobain documentary, Montage of Heck, the filmmaking is fairly rudimentary. Yet what you realize before that critique occurs is how it really doesn't matter. A shot a simple as watching an old cassette with Lou Reed's name in written in ball point, turned by deck wheels is perfectly secondary to Reed’s voice, raving about listening to The Ramones’ demo.

The mythical lore bound to the heyday of Punk Rock is amplified not merely from the original strokes of mastery of its artists but the exclusiveness of their experiences together. Everyone in that world knew one another, partied with one another, fucked one another and told everyone else to go fuck themselves. To fit in, it seems you needed that intangible coolness of drug aided nonchalance with nonchalant intelligence. This made Danny Fields the class president. Danny Says provides access to the people and places that music fans of subsequent generations fantasize about and Toller gets around the attitude of “If you weren't there, you wouldn't know”  which fuels our reverence and glorification. Fields is quick to mention that during it all, it didn't feel as special as people now might imagine. Mixed in with the epic moments were the drugs and fights, the missteps and antagonism. And in his voice throughout, is detected an inner questioning of what does he really have to show for it.

dannysaysfilm.com


Starving the Beast

Studio: Violet Crown Films
Directed by Steve Mims

Sep 26, 2016

The snarl of James Carville to open Starving the Beast, as he addresses his alma mater of Louisiana State University, frames the appropriate degree of impassioned opposition to the commoditization of America’s public higher educational institutions. LSU is one of the schools at the center of the debate illuminated by this important film, and so the matter is especially meaningful for Carville. To some, higher education is like any other free market, shareholder based industry. “They say education is a commodity”, scoffs Carville. “It’s just another thing out there, a barrel of oil, an ounce of gold, a stock.” The problem pulled into plain sight by filmmakers Steve Mims and Bill Banowsky, is that the people evaluating education through this “market lens” have power. This film is a means to raise awareness to the dangers of such power, should it go unchecked.

Attentive viewing leaves you with no question as to the influential rise of private, political bodies in a movement to reform public education with a business approach, applying principles of efficiency in cutting programs and redistributing cost and labor. Through exemplary interviewing of figures embroiled in this upheaval, founding traditional values of public higher education are espoused and defended, shaping the countermovement. This film has a clear purpose – to distill a matter of tangled complexity for the average citizen that may be unaware of “one of the Nation’s most important and least understood fights”

By and large, Mims and Banowsky succeed and anyone who believes in the sanctity of knowledge, and the role of public schools to make its pure pursuit accessible to anyone so willing, will feel blood start to boil. There’s a notion taken for granted, that universities as esteemed as Virginia or North Carolina or Wisconsin will always be dedicated to delivering higher education through comprehensive and egalitarian curriculums. The important message here is that unless you follow closely the contest on state and local levels and tap into the dissent, you wouldn’t know the very real threats that have already undermined this provision.

A statement of what ails the current system is put forth right away, setting the table for the discussion. The last thirty five years has seen a precipitous drop in federal funding to public higher education institutions, concurrent with a shift to outsourcing and privatising operations. The most visible, and protested result of this has been steep hikes in student tuition to make up for the shortfall, leading to insurmountable student debt. Starving the Beast examines the lesser known consequences for the classrooms. It is proposed that the “scramble” for funding has forced public institutions to seek private money. Politically driven, consumer oriented organizations have stepped in, seeking to gear curriculum towards a positive return on their investment. For them, this means curriculum that produces skills that yield a “demonstrable demand in the economy.” Stipulations on how a school operates are given from those private investment groups. and you can see where it goes from there.

One issue highlighted is the attack on tenure, where professors are being evaluated on the basis of how much money they make the university, a phenomenon sending the best to private schools free from worry about whether their syllabus will get them fired. Another is the legislation, politically spearheaded by the likes of Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker, leading to independent alternatives to accreditation that can’t measure the intellectual value of classes or professors, and cripple funding to pure research.

The interviewees are all intellectually and emotionally invested and well informed on these issues which makes for engaging takes from both sides of the argument. Honestly, while it’s inspiring to hold on to the ideals of class and campus and to picture Robin Williams in the center of a huddle of young romantics hungry for knowledge, there are sensible questions being asked by reformists who see higher education as a bloated and stagnant system that costs too much to produce not enough. Yet while the filmmakers have arranged for a balanced platform for the expression of opposing views, persuasive lean is found in the stance of the traditionalists wishing to protect the integrity of educational values in this country.

There is a density of information passed along, forming a web that can feel overwhelming, but the significance of the matter makes you pay attention throughout. What emerges is the ethical problem with the conservative (though in this case, “progressive”) reformist position which, as always, sees no compromise short of its proposals nor consideration of preserving integrity on its way to corporately streamlining a traditional norm that gives each citizen fair opportunity. There’s real irony in this; Conservatism as it has come to be known in debates over gun control and birth control is being turned on its head in the debate over education. “Evolution”, not tradition in this case, is valued.

www.starvingthebeast.net


Complete Unknown

Studio: Amazon Studios / IFC Films
Directed by Joshua Marston

Sep 15, 2016

A dreamy montage sends Complete Unknown on its way as a bubble on the winds of what if. Inside its illusory shell, Rachel Weisz dances between disparate vessels of being with the same wistfully detached gaze, except for one secret moment. When out of sight after the magician’s assistant she is then inhabiting drops below the stage, a forlorn twist of expression reveals a longing. Then we cut to a tighter environment, with less space for possibility, and Michael Shannon at a desk with a bunched up posture suggestive of him being chained to it, an expression, of course, more severe. The contrast established at the outset carries for most of the distance in the character driven sphere where actors can really get to work. It’s a good thing these two are coexisting within it.

The storyline returns Alice (Weisz) to Tom (Shannon) suddenly and for one evening, from a place in the past when he knew her as Jenny. She reappears at his birthday party, having used his work buddy as an escort to sneak back into his world. This is a glimpse of an encounter that is so often left to the imagination in real life, of two people that had shared time, were abruptly separated when one abandons the other, and have years later faced off for a reckoning. Alice has never wanted to be anyone long enough for sentiment or regret to take hold, while Tom has turned into a ball of tension, uptight with his own resignation to the life he has settled for, something she refuses to do, one with the exterior of conventional benchmarks of place in society that appear only laborious to him.

What is sold so brilliantly by Weisz is that this is her one cautious attempt at looking back over her shoulder. Tom was the one individual in her parade of flight who had caught her eye in the crowd and had sunk into the skin she’s so uncomfortable with. Despite her enigmatic aura, she reveals in subtlety, that somehow, he had reached her. “I needed to see someone who knew me.” A statement so fundamentally human, yet novel for her. Shannon's stoicism is rocky ground to plough and belies a point of entry, and this makes his gradual softening towards a desire to understand her all the more convincing, and touching too.

The party of friends including Tom’s wife, is kept out of Alice’s secret, and forms a front of well orchestrated pretension, indirectly making Weisz’s case for her. When you’re with yourself and it's fixed associations and problems every waking hour, the allure of leaving it all behind grows in repressed shadow. Here is made the intriguing argument that free will may only belong to anonymity. When Tom abandons his own birthday festivities in pursuit of her, he’s making it too. Kathy Bates and Danny Glover appear for a scene that spreads the focus and offers an opportunity for Alice to demonstrate just how effortless it is for her to become a conjured personae. A squirming Tom bares witness, reluctantly joining in on the improv. Just for a moment, he follows his curiosity of what she derives from escaping the boundaries of identification.

The film is really about the trickiness of vulnerable human exchange, more than any progression of plot to a conclusion. Weisz’s transient vacancy and Shannon's stern consumption in his own existence forms the surface for their character interplay, which is theatricality with real purpose of execution. These are the kinds of roles that showcase an actor’s craft. We’ve seen if from Weisz time and time again - that communication of a power in ambiguity. Her innate seductive charm can manipulate and disarm while keeping you at arm’s distance, and is at full potency in films like The Shape of Things and The Constant Gardener. The more chances Shannon gets like this, the more he solidifies his talent of flashing sensitivity behind his towering presence.

In the hands of actors this studied and sure, the gamut of conflicting and burrowed emotions is displayed with elegant reserve. It would be a shame if the film went the way of its title.


We The People: The Market Basket Effect

Studio: filmbuff

Directed by Tommy Reid

May 18, 2016

Stories of community organization that succeeds in counteracting self-serving corporate agenda are not common. The uprising of segments of the general population for a unifying purpose in opposition of injustice is admired and supported, yet underneath the advocacy is often a feeling that no matter how loud their voice, it will wind up falling on deaf ears. The average person identifies with a movement for equality but may only be cautiously optimistic about its impact, resigned to the all-too-regular outcome that the few in power are going to push ahead anyway, with little regard for the desires of the people who protest their greed.

We The People: The Market Basket Effect documents a rare case in American society where the will of its common people prevailed. The backstory is the quintessence of the American dream. The Demoulas family emigrated from Greece to Lowell, Massachusetts at the turn of the 20th century and went on to establish a small enterprise of regional grocery stores with an egalitarian model: make shopping affordable for the working class and share the wealth and benefits with your employees. The Market Basket grocery chain became one of the most successful of its kind in the country and under the leadership of patriarchal son and CEO Arthur T. Demoulas, established an unusually loyal customer and employee base.

But a thriving business masked internal strife among family members and shareholders on how to run it. In 2014, the board of directors, dissatisfied with a business model viewed to be overly generous, removed Arthur T. from his position of control. The public backlash over this move attracted national attention, with the employees and customers who had benefited from “Artie T’s” practices, abandoning Market Basket entirely and demanding his reinstatement.

The significance of this documentary’s message speaks for itself, and the production value reflects the priority of getting it across. Apart from a narrated background of the Demoulas family history and industrious ascension (before inter-familial legal disputes over the estate plagued it for over a decade), the filmmakers stick to interviews of scholars, public officials and those in the media that witnessed first hand a consumer and labor revolution. The animation of the story is provided by the real time footage of the protests that they were opportunistic in capturing, sensing that a momentous occurrence in social history was taking place.

The reward of following the coverage of these events as they played out comes through seeing how community organization, galvanized by the tools of social media, was directly responsible for reversing corporate action that always seems unstoppable and impervious to public sway.

At a time when widening income disparity and the shrinking of the middle class is such a weighted issue in America - a discouraging national trend that led to the Occupy Wall Street movement and the massive swell of support for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign - this is a story that actually gives one hope, even if all of its complexity can’t be investigated in its duration on film. Its significance is summed up best by one of the interviewees: “The dream of a more egalitarian society became real here …The game can change, The rules can change.” 

themarketbasketeffect.com


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Born to Be Blue

Studio: IFC Films

Directed by Robert Budreau

Mar 25, 2016

Born to be Blue, a vignette of a turning point in the life and career of musical natural Chet Baker, sketches a line between special talent and the vices that threaten to compromise it.  Director-Writer Robert Budreau runs this line meanderingly through a period fraught with uncertainty for Baker, played in nuanced detachment by Ethan Hawke, when his prodigious entree into the territory of Jazz’s elite was jarred off course. After an attack by the facilitators of his heroin habit left him toothless and unable to play trumpet, we see Baker having to call on a will not needed as a performer for whom everything came easily. Rather than a documented charting of Baker’s enigmatic personal history, Burdreau offers a reflexive glimpse along his road to recovery and tentative gestures to instill renewed belief in those who knew him both for his rare gifts and tragic flaws.

Chet Baker possessed an effortless grace that flowed through his playing and singing, magnifying his magnetic aura. Hawke sinks into this essence in his portrayal, exposing the seductiveness of its charms. Primarily through depiction of a supportive but vulnerable romance with the fictitious representation of his life’s muses played tenderly by Carmen Ejogo, we are acquainted with what real life muse, Diane Vavre once described as Baker’s true “ability to elicit sympathy from people.” Despite this being a portrait of an artist that doesn’t show you much in the way of character deserving of rooting on, you do, wanting his fragile brilliance to be unharmed and nurtured back to glory. You hold onto every note blown and every lyric sustained in his performances, hoping he holds it together and regains his magic. As the camera shrewdly scans the room of onlookers for their expressions of judgement, you want them to be of admiration.

While doing nothing to dispel the lore of Jazz luminaries being all about playing, dope, and women, Born to be Blue artfully touches on the existential conflicts that surface when the facility of a talent with which you are identified is lost, and must be located again, even if ultimately by resignation to the nature that jeopardizes it.

www.ifcfilms.com/films/born-to-be-blue


    

 

Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art

Studio: First Run

Directed by James Crump

Feb 04, 2016

The fascination factor in documentary film has a lot to do with the thoughtful perspectives and remembered impressions of the central subject. When the voiceovers of those who knew best the people, places and times of examination blend with scrutinously selected imagery and soundtrack, our innate curiosity of story peaks. The quietly captivating documentary, Troublemakers, in reference to the pioneers of land art in 1960s America, assembles these intimate accounts to great advantage. Aside from a short introduction from the film’s maker, James Crump (2007’s terrific Black White + Gray), the genesis of a handful of fearless artists who literally broke new ground is told exclusively through the reflective viewpoints of their living contemporaries and those who have studied and admired their audacious works.

In honoring tone, these central ‘60s art world figures including artist Carl Andre, gallery icon Virginia Dwan and art historian Germano Celant shed light on the inspirations shaping the great land artists, primarily Robert Smithson, Michael Heizer, and Walter De Maria. Tied in with ascriptions of the socio-political forces that motivated them to go against the grain, Troublemakers becomes a revelatory portrait of a truly transformative shift away from 20th century expressionism. The troublemakers were the daring few who shook up the art world status quo with the courage and reach of vision to explore the massive and endless landscapes of the southwestern United States in search of canvasses of grander scale and materials of greater substance. With beautiful interweaving of glorious overhead landscape shots and archival footage of the artists in these elements, one gets the feeling of being transported to this era of artistic rebellion. The suggestion is that the mass upheaval and universal unrest of the Vietnam War era demanded more of a response from the artist than what was contained in paintings and sculptures enclosed by galleries. Dwan, who emerged as the biggest curator of land art in its beginnings, offers the more basic view that the artists really just looked to break out of the confinement of the studio and become explorers of wide open spaces. In these vast spaces and in interaction with awesome formations of earth, they found purpose. 

Augmenting the interest stimulated by these precious insights is the exposition of figures that the casual art enthusiast may not recognize. As altering as it may have been, land art was not a sweeping movement in the history of visual and experiential art. These renegades were on the fringe and the film succeeds in bringing deserved attention to the magnitude and significance of their creations. A debt of gratitude is owed to Crump, who clearly chose the right people to interview and asked the right questions prompting responses that brought these complex figures back to life, drawing a window to their public stances, convictions and faintly, their souls. Add to this the caringly compiled archival video footage from that time, with that grainy, projector quality look that spellbinds the retrophiliac, and parallels to Dog Town and Z-Boys, another documentary to bring due recognition to pioneers of an art form, can be found. Troublemakers is a small treasure about a grand pursuit and is a must view for art and film lovers. 

troublemakersthefilm.com


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Sing Street

Studio: The Weinstein Company

Directed by John Carney

Apr 18, 2016 By

John Carney’s latest romantic dramedy set to song is a return to a contemporary model of cinematic musical that he’s making his trademark. After jumping the pond to New York for the charmer Begin Again, we’re taken back to the Irish neighborhoods of Once only this time a couple of decades prior, to 1985 and into the dynamics of working class family life in Dublin. Sing Street is Carney’s turn at the coming of age, teen dream story.

The principal patterns of premise are not all that different from any number of films of this ilk: an awkward boy is the new face in school, simultaneously gets bullied and makes new friends, becomes amorously infatuated with a girl out of his league and must display his special worth in order to win her over and away from the older guy who doesn’t really appreciate her the way he would. It’s a time honored set-up. In this case, our protagonist, Conor (newcomer Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) makes a bid for the heart of the fair Raphina (Lucy Boynton) by the most traditionally effective means of doing so, writing her songs.

To this end, the formation and development of Conor’s band drives the plot, providing a musical momentum that initially propels it. There are many kicks to be gotten out of watching Conor and gang figure out their identity under the critical direction of Conor’s older brother Brendan (Jack Raynor) and taking stylistic cues from the trending pop songs of the era by the likes of Duran Duran, Hall & Oates and M. One gets the sense of what it might have been like to sit in on the genesis of a beloved group of yesteryear and it’s interesting to see a signature being established in Carney’s filmmaking where dramatic narratives are fundamentally delivery platforms for pop songs to carry the messages and climactic flourishes of the story.

The strongest moments are undoubtedly the ones where the boys are playing the songs they’ve written together. This is how it should be, but where Once and Begin Again fleshed out more narrative dimension to complement the musical lean, the story line in Sing Street begins to drift a little too far towards secondary and lands in some lazy pitfalls of logical progression. The wonderful character and story building sequences in the beginning, where we are invited to cigarette passing, band planning clubhouse meet-ups, could have been given longer shrift but the shine falls more on the too predictably framed relationship between Conor and his muse, Raphina. Still a charismatic cast and good writing conveys the social milieu of the time and in the highlight sequences of band rehearsals, music video productions and shining performances, you get some of the same goose bumps you got when Jack Black tore it up with his prodigious students in School of Rock.

A little suspension of disbelief is called for to accept that these kids can play as well as they do at their tender ages but that is, after all, what the realm of cinema allows for. The sentimental imagery elicited by pop-rock balladry is manifest in the montages, and a great selection of 80’s gems for the soundtrack nicely counterbalances the vibe of the band’s original music. Sing Street is a pleasant enough detour into the innocent fantasy of youth.

www.facebook.com/singstreetmovie


 

Ryuichi Sakamoto, Alva Noto, and Bryce Dessner

The Revenant (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Milan

Feb 23, 2016

The films of Alejandro González Iñárritu have been scored with keen awareness of the agency of sound design, to intensify atmosphere and to emphasize the physical experience of character. Given this philosophy, the presence of a film's music can give it a role as integral as any other, an argument never more convincing than in The Revenant.

To surround this story of the will to survive in a merciless wilderness, Iñárritu entrusted seasoned avant-garde composer Ryuichi Sakamoto with the task of conjuring a soundscape of formidable magnitude, inviting Sakamoto's familiar collaborator Carsten Nicolai (aka Alva Noto) and The National's Bryce Dessner to join in. In finessed coordination, they lend their orchestral and ambient sensibilities to Sakamoto's compositions of seismic gravity that mingle and hover with the natural acoustics of primordial environment.

Conveyed in its listening is the film's immensity of landscape that makes no accommodation for man, its frozen, empty darkness unrelenting and inevitable. The grand spaciousness felt through Inarritu's cinematography is impacted by dense ensemble instrumentation signifying the danger befalling those who have set forth into it. The filmic function of these bottomless arrangements is most powerful in pace with the wide angle lens as it pans, probes, and halts the scenic atmosphere. Multilayered timbres of wind and string instrument, compounded in chords of dissonance, rise and fall out of the echoes of nature's movements, of water over rock, wind through branches, the distant echoes of lost birds. The deep exhales of rumbling upright bass extend to become low hanging clouds through a limitless canyon. The fluttering of Japanese strings and flutes release the black smoke and embers of a campfire up into the canopy. Throughout, something sub-terrestrial is felt, collecting tidal force and momentum as it continues. While there is an overarching pall that hangs over The Revenant, a will to persevere courses through the narrative, and this is delicately captured by Sakamoto when a lonely cello recurs, edging just above somber.

Recalling his work with Christopher Willits and Taylor Deupree as well as with Fennesz, Sakamoto gives voice to nature's elements. The music of The Revenant tugs you into the abyss of human peril with instrumental textures as layered as the ruggedly garbed trackers of the expedition at its center. Sakamoto has sought opportunities for avant garde composition his whole career and with comparable enthusiasm, engaged collaborations with composers of like sensibilities. The Revenant satisfied both criteria for him and he delivered an epic score to Iñárritu. (www.sitesakamoto.com)