KFMF18: The sound of music, Polish style

By Ray Bennett

KRAKÓW – Often in minor chords and melancholy but then again rousing, lush and hopeful, the music of Polish cinema filled the newly named Krzysztof Penderecki Hall at ICE Kraków Thursday night as the Film Music Festival presented scores from films by homegrown filmmakers, especially internationally acclaimed director Agnieszka Holland. Continue reading

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KFMF18: Penderecki, Goldenthal make spines tingle

By Ray Bennett

KRAKÓW – Krzysztof Penderecki does not make music for movies, directors make films for his music. That, at least, is how it appeared at the Kraków Film Music Festival’s Penderecki2Cinema concert Wednesday evening.

The legendary Polish composer (above), celebrating his 85th birthday, was on hand to accept several standing ovations after conductor Dirk Brossé led the National Polish Radio Orchestra through four of his most acclaimed works that were written for the concert hall but have featured in iconic movies by directors such as Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorses and Andrzej Wajda. Continue reading

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KFMF18: Elliot Goldenthal on the ability to inspire

By Ray Bennett

KRAKÓW – American composer Elliot Goldenthal paid tribute to two Polish heroes at a media conference to open the 11th annual Krakow Film Music Festival today. Oscar-winner for “Frida” and recipient of the festival’s first Wojciech Kilar Award in 2015, he said that the first time he saw the sheet music for Krzysztof Penderecki’s “Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima for 52 Strings” when he was 17, he turned pale and started to tremble. Continue reading

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KFMF18: Michael Nyman: Music that defines a world

By Ray Bennett

KRAKOW – When Michael Nyman asked director Jane Campion why she chose him to write the music for her 1996 film “The Piano”, she said something that pleased the iconic British composer very much. “You’re the only composer,” he recalled her saying, “who can create music that instantly and convincingly defines a world.” American actress Holly Hunter, who won an Oscar for the picture, also made a remark that he treasured. “She said I had helped her, through my music, to create the character,” Nyman told me. “That is the ultimate vindication of what the composer does. I had helped to create the mood or psychological grounding on which she was then able to build.” Continue reading

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Diversity in the top Academy Awards: a look at the numbers

By Ray Bennett

LONDON – In the discussion about diversity in the top prizes of the Academy Awards, it’s worth noting that the Oscar for best director has gone to a white American male only five times in the 16 editions of the 21st century and only once in the last nine years. Continue reading

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BAFTA Film Awards: my predictions and favourites

By Ray Bennett

LONDON – My hopes are with Guillermo del Toro’s dazzling “The Shape of Water” (pictured) at tonight’s 71st British Academy Film Awards although such is the high calibre of most of the nominees that it would be hard to begrudge other winners. Continue reading

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FILM REVIEW: Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Phantom Thread’

By Ray Bennett

LONDON – Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film ‘Phantom Thread’, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as an eccentric and punctilious fashion designer in 1950s London, is a thoroughly absorbing intellectual horror film in which the horror is entirely internal. Continue reading

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FILM REVIEW: Steven Spielberg’s ‘The Post’

By Ray Bennett

LONDON – Given the times, it’s no surprise that Steven Spielberg wants to tell the story of a corrupt swine in the White House who turns the press into an enemy. It’s also hardly surprising that film critics on newspapers love the earnest depiction of print versus power in ‘The Post’. It is disappointing, however, that with all the talent involved, the film is so dull. Continue reading

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‘The Shape of Water’ leads BAFTA 2018 film nominations

By Ray Bennett

LONDON – The BAFTA Film Awards nominations for 2018 are the usual mix of richly deserved and dubious possibilities with full marks for the inclusion of ‘The Shape of Water’ (pictured) and ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ but dismay at the exclusion of the film ‘Lady Bird’ and its director, Greta Gerwig, and Simon Russell Beale for ‘The Death of Stalin’.

Guillermo Del Toro’s marvellous beauty-and-the beast fantasy copped 12 nominations including best film, best director, original screenplay, best actress for Sally Hawkins and best supporting actress for Octavia Spencer. Martin McDonagh’s riveting tale of violence and redemption in a small town matched that with nominations for best film, director, original screenplay, and best actress for Golden Globes-winner Florence McDormand among its nine, which also included nods for best supporting actor for Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson. Continue reading

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‘Shape ofWater’, ‘Three Billboards’ in London crix noms

Announcement today by the  Film Critics Circle, of which I am a proud member.

LONDON, 19 DECEMBER 2017: The UK’s leading film critics today announced the nominations for the 38th annual London Critics’ Circle Film Awards presented by Dover Street Entertainment. Martin McDonagh’s drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was out front with seven nominations, including Film, Director, Screenwriter, Actress for Frances McDormand, and Supporting Actor for both Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson. In addition, as a British production the film is nominated for British/Irish Film of the Year. Continue reading

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