Sounds of the film fest
In Microtones, our newsletter-first column.
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On the first pass through each year's Wisconsin Film Festival schedule, it's worth keeping an eye out for the musical component—interesting score credits, musicians branching out as actors or directors, narrative or documentary films that center around music somehow, etc. It's a different mix every year, some more compelling than others. There aren't any noteworthy music documentaries jumping out of the lineup, for instance, but other entries worth highlighting handily pick up that slack.
From the music perspective, I'm most looking forward to the repurposing and revisionism of The Green Fog, a film that experimentally reconstructs Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo by piecing together bits of other films shot in San Francisco. Bernard Herrmann's swirling, sublimely tense score is inseparable from everything else that makes Vertigo a tragic masterpiece, and I'm curious to see how The Green Fog channels that in a score composed by Jacob Garchick and performed by the Kronos Quartet. I've only heard what's in the trailer, and that short clip suggests Garchick and Kronos have a fine ear for the hallucinatory suspense of the original music.
Speaking of canonical film composers, the festival's wealth of restorations and revivals means audiences will have a couple chances to enjoy Ennio Morricone's sweepingly atmospheric scores, in the 1968 western The Great Silence and the 1970 partially-based-on-a-true-story mafia drama The Most Beautiful Wife. Lots of nice boingy jaw harp in the latter.
Australian documentary filmmaker Jennifer Peedom's latest feature, Mountain, is an overpowering meditation on the allure of mountains around the world, and it's in active dialogue with a suite of classical pieces performed by the Australian Chamber Orchestra. The compositions selected range from Beethoven and Vivaldi to newer works from orchestra artistic director David Tognetti, and pair with another exciting sonic element—narration from Willem Dafoe. Another narration-music combination that looks promising: Wendell Pierce (The Wire, Treme) and Cajun band Lost Bayou Ramblers in Rodents Of Unusual Size, a documentary about invasive nutria wreaking havoc in Louisiana.
The fest also features a new score from Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood (You Were Never Really Here) and one from experimental/classical/electronic composter Nils Frahm (Not Without Us). Of course, I'm sure I've overlooked some cool things given the deluge of films to digest, so let us know what you're excited about.
New this week:
Communication, a new arts and music space, is scheduled to open on Milwaukee Street in May, with a group of artists and musicians at the helm.
Chris Lay rounded up a gallery highlighting some of the excellent and under-seen posters for movies screening at the Wisconsin Film Festival this year.
On the podcast: Madison musician Alejandra Perez turned the tables and conducted a freewheeling interview with Tone Madison editor Scott Gordon.
Elsewhere on Madison internet: Consolidate UW-Madison's 20+ libraries? No thank you. P.O.S. and Serengeti will play a May 15 show at the High Noon. Madison-based rapper Red The Bully released a new single, "911." Japanese Breakfast announced a Sept. 16 show at the Majestic.
This week's Madison calendar: Son! at the Frequency, Desert Hearts at Vilas Hall, Natural Velvet at Mickey's Tavern, Bizness Bois at Memorial Union Tripp Commons, Jonah Who Will Be 25 In The Year 2000 at the Chazen Museum of Art, and more!