Interviews & Press Highlights
By Glenn Kenny, From The Lovers
The Moveable Fest, Interview: Composer Mandy Hoffman on Bringing Harmony to "Hala"
Dec 9, 2019
"Hoffman’s notes often attach themselves to a character rather than the story they find themselves in, able to access thoughts and emotions that are felt so deeply they may have become imperceptible to the person having them but seem to radiate from their very soul. It was this sensitivity that led Baig to seek out the composer after hearing her work in “The Lovers,” a stealth contender for one of the finest film music of the century so far. Perfectly acknowledging the ridiculous and sublime inherent in Azazel Jacobs’ comedy about a married couple (Debra Winger and Tracy Letts) who become bored with the affairs they’re having and turn to each other for a renewed spark, Hoffman’s bold, stirring score arrives in waves, threatening to overwhelm the duo at its center who you wouldn’t know could be capable of such big emotions in their relatively humdrum lives, with their passion exploding into majestic crescendos.
In the case of “Hala,” Hoffman’s music is nimble, graceful and precise where the string section follows the footsteps of the film’s lead in every hopeful stride forward and each timid retreat as one elegant movement that can be experienced as progress even when there are setbacks, an exquisite evocation of coming into one’s own, particularly when there can be so much strength to be drawn on from a rich cultural identity as well as so much that can get in the way of developing a distinct persona away from it."
Film Music Magazine, Interview with Mandy Hoffman
May 1, 2017
"One might say there’s a waltz to the Pas De Deux of infidelity, the steps taken to hide illicit lovers while feigning the deadening routine of a longtime marriage, or long term relationship. But then, while we Americans might poo-poo this sort of thing, dallying with mistresses and Lotharios seems to go down just non-judgmentally fine in France, especially in their comedies. The American indie “The Lovers” delightfully has it both ways, no more so than in its gorgeously swooning score by Mandy Hoffman. Dallying with the classic romantic spirits of Georges Delerue (“Jules and Jim”), Nino Rota (“Amacord”) and Paul Misraki (“And God Created Woman”), Hoffman’s music casts a rapturous spell as schlubby husband Michael (Tracy Letts) and nonchalant wife Mary (Debra Winger) fall in love again. The neat conceit of filmmaker Azazel Jacobs (“Terri”) is that they turn into cheaters on the people the high-strung dancer and wannabe poet (Melora Hardin, Aidan Gillen) that they’re cheating in – resulting in the kind of roundelay that’s been the stuff of life for such directors as Francois Truffaut and Eric Rohmer – as transferred to our screens.
But listening to Hoffman’s wondrously full-blooded thematic score will likely make cineastes think they’re back in the Gaelic glory days, a sound whose waltzing orchestral richness ironically belies a quite intimate indie film – music that captures the spell of rekindled romance, as well as the moral blowback that must ultimately arrive."
Composer Talk with Matt Wang, Ep 5 Mandy Hoffman
May 8, 2020
Matt: "..She is the best orchestral composer that I know, and I am very excited to have her a guest today. And the composer is Mandy Hoffman"
Mandy: "Wow that was flattering [laughs]"
Matt: "It's true, I mean your music is really good."
Mandy: "Oh thank you.."
Matt: "I wanted to start with, what was it like growing up in Philly, was it?"
Mandy: "Yeah, I grew up outside Philly. It was pretty boring [laughs] and I was a misfit, always. But now that's what I love about myself. But, yes, I played music as a kid. I played viola, and I don't know how I got assigned that. But I talk about it because I was in the orchestra and the parts were really boring, because they were the inner voices. I feel like this has to do with where I am now because since I was so bored with these parts, I would look to see what everyone else was doing in the orchestra, and had I been on the violin or the cello (which is my favorite instrument in the whole world), I think I would have been so busy focusing on my melodies and worrying about being a player. But I sat next to the woodwinds, and still today, that's what gets me. I just love the colors.
*We go on to discuss how I found my way to film music, some of the challenges I faced, and how thinking outside the box led me to collaborators and new directors
Interview with Crossover Media: The Women Warriors Concert /Arranging 'Daughters For Sale'
Sept 1, 2019
Women Warriors: The Voices of Change multimedia concert performed by Orchestra Moderne NYC, under the direction of Amy Andersson, features the music of eight renowned female film composers and presents 800 years of women fighting for human rights and equality. This 80-minute interactive experience is a socially and culturally relevant world premiere concert which includes historical visuals from the past to present day. Women Warriors: The Voices of Change celebrates the strength and heroism of female global activists fighting for human, civil, and minority rights, environmental causes, and gender equality.
Orchestra Moderne NYC and Conductor/Producer Amy Andersson team with composers Nathalie Bonin, Miriam Cutler, Anne-Kathrin Dern, Sharon Farber, Mandy Hoffman, Penka Kouneva, Starr Parodi, and Lolita Ritmanis, who together have created a rich and cinematic orchestral experience in seventeen world premiere pieces that inspire hope and courage for women and girls around the world. Special guest artists include; Afghan rapper/songwriter Sonita Alizadeh, fifteen year old singer/songwriter Isolde Fair, and violinist Nathalie Bonin. Iranian human rights activist and author Masih Alinejad is the honored guest speaker.
Chapter Eight - 'Our Truth is Our Power' highlights activists fighting trafficking, child marriage and FGM. Mesmerized by Amy Andersson's passion and concept for 'Women Warriors,' film and television composer Mandy Hoffman collaborates with the young Afghani rapper; Sonita Alizadeh on her song; 'Daughters For Sale.' Depicting the heartbreaking tale of how child brides are still sold in Afghanistan everyday, Alizadeh, almost a child bride herself, luckily escaped, came to America, and became an activist who is now about to attend college. Hoffman worked with Alizadeh's 'Daughters For Sale' producer in Iran to translate their digital composition into Hoffman's 71 piece orchestral arrangement.
FILM MUSIC MAGAZINE
Daniel Scheweiger, The Best Scores of 2017 / Soundtrack Review of The Lovers
"Azazel Jacobs’ witty, French-styled movie about a roundelay of cheaters is about as low key and indie as you can get, which is all the more reason to grace it with an impossibly romantic orchestral score by Mandy Hoffman. Certainly knowing something about falling head over heels with her work on Amazon’s “I Love Dick,” Hoffman channels the string-swooning, harp glistening ghosts of such incurably romantic melodists as Georges Delerue and Nino Rota for a thematically lovely score that’s as big as the movie is small, in all the right ways. Rarely have American scores of this type captured the starry-eyed, waltzing magic of blissful attraction, the score practically singing with unbridled passion. It’s an ironic counterpoint that also enriches the comedy of characters that’d seemingly rather not speak at all. And when the almost perfect affairs begin to collapse, Hoffman’s impossibly lush approach isn’t afraid to go for drama that might befit a Shakespearean tragedy. But all’s well that ends well in Hoffman’s witty, heartfelt dance that doesn’t stint on the strings and crashing cymbals for a rapturous, yet quite droll score that will likely make you fall in love again with a dearly departed style of unabashedly emotional scoring that, like its suddenly interested husband and wife, certainly isn’t past its prime in Hoffman’s wonderfully attuned hands."
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
John DeFore, 'The Lovers' Film Review
"Smart, unpredictable performances by Debra Winger and Tracy Letts and an uncommonly crucial score by Mandy Hoffman ensure that the picture's odd nature won't be misconstrued as indecisiveness..."
Eric Kohn, Tracy Letts and Debra Winger Are Brilliant As A Couple Who Rediscover Passion in Azazel Jacobs' 'The Lovers'
"Set to an ebullient score by Mandy Hoffman, “The Lovers” has a storybook quality that allows the serendipity of its clever premise to work far better than it should."
Washington City Paper
Noah Gittell, Azazel Jacobs' The Lovers Skillfully Threads The Line Between Comedy and Tragedy
"The engaging score by Mandy Hoffman reflects its ethos of unpredictability, shifting so frequently between major and minor keys that we can never even settle on a feeling, allowing us to ride the waves of its characters’ passion."
THE FILM STAGE
Dan Mecca, 'Hala' Sundance 2019 Review
"Aided by a beautiful score from Mandy Hoffman, the narrative goes where expected while never feeling tired or overly familiar."
Peter DeBruge, Terri: Jacobs' Slow-Building Portrait of a Late Bloomer Makes This Poetic Pic an Outsider Even Among Outsider Movies
"Though the film's open-hearted tone springs directly from ...beautiful, sun-bright lensing and Mandy Hoffman's soulful, empathy-inducing score..."
Jason Bailey 'Hala': Geraldine Viswanthan Turns in Another Star-Making Performance in This Beautiful Coming of Age Drama [Sundance Review]
"...Mandy Hoffman’s score is an elegant and occasionally unnerving counterpoint (and a relief, considering how easy it would be to score this story with the kind of easy, push-button, “feel this” music that’s infested indie drama as of late)."
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, From The Dead-End Couple of The Lovers, Even Breaking Up is A Compromise
"Employing a clean camera style, he treats the office parking lots, dens, and kitchens where so much of the movie unfolds as intimate blank spaces—beige boxes, akin to the classic black-box stage of a small theater, with Hoffman’s score as the counterpoint that, like a play, asks the audience to imagine what the characters see."
THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
Justin Chang, In 'The Lovers', Debra Winger and Tracy Letts Give Us An Achingly Poignant Portrait of A Modern Marriage
"But then something wondrous and sublimely simple happens. Perhaps encouraged by the ever-present caress of Mandy Hoffman’s score, Mary and Michael find themselves falling back into each other’s arms, shocked to realize that, after years of emotional numbness, they still have real, passionate feelings for each other."
David Sims, The Lovers is a Strange Tale of Matrimonial Harmony
"Through it all, a swooning, boldly orchestral score by Mandy Hoffman plays. It’s incongruous with the mundane setting and story being told, but perfectly matches the thrill of Mary and Michael’s new attraction."
Glenn Kenny The Lovers
"The first thing that really hits you about 'The Lovers' is not its muted color palette, ever-evocative of a smog-suffused Southern California dusk, but its musical score. A lush, romantic through line of melody, performed by a whole orchestra, with passages reminiscent of Ravel, Debussy, even Wagner. The score is by Mandy Hoffman, a longtime collaborator with this film’s director, Azazel Jacobs."
THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
Robert Lloyd, Review: Amazon's 'I Love Dick' Makes An Uneasy Transition From Page To Screen
"On a purely sensual level I would note the Southwest-flavored score by Mandy Hoffman..."
Christopher Gray, The Lovers
"The film's opening act unfolds in arch, choreographed parallels, united by a ubiquitous orchestral score that labors mightily to elevate the script's mild humor into a rarified romantic farce....Like Mandy Hoffman's willfully obtrusive score, every fussed-over line, nuance of posture, and methodical camera movement in the film draws attention to its construction."
Jake Meaney, Review of The GoodTimesKid in Non-Sequiturs
"But its real ace-in-the-hole, which makes it stand out above the parade of inferior, low-budget peers, is its buoyant, ambitious orchestral score by first-time film composer Mandy Hoffman. A riot of clashing styles and loopy refrains, referencing everything from musicals to spy films to Westerns, her compositions provide vital aural clues to the “action”, which is mostly free of dialogue and, well, free of significance too, it seems. But it’s also just a lot of fun to listen to on its own, and I hope beyond hope that it somehow gets a separate release as a CD."
Katie Walsh, Movie Review: 'The Lovers' Is An Exploration of the Way That Love Can Be a Many-Splendored Thing
"One of the unique stylistic choices that Jacobs makes with "The Lovers" is the grand, sweeping orchestral score, composed by Mandy Hoffman. It's unexpected for a smaller romantic indie drama, but it gives the film a sense of a romantic epic while following the quotidian routine of this couple. It adds a layer of artifice to the film, signifying that this is a heightened reality, and infuses every frame with drama and romance."
THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
Mick LaSalle 'Lovers' A Sincere-Sardonic Portrait of Middle-Age Despair
"But really it's very much it's own thing, a movie with a singular vision and sensibility.The easiest way to describe that sensibility, because it's worth describing, is to start with Mandy Hoffman's score. It is a full-on classic Hollywood soundtrack, surging and commenting on the action, insisting on the importance of these lives, not in a naive way, but in a self-conscious and knowing way. At times, the romanticism of the music borders on a wise-guy response to the bizarre behavior of these characters, and yet it's always emphatically sincere.
The music is not quite saying, "Life has meaning," but it is saying, "Let's assume life has meaning," and "This is real for the characters." The music is combined with performances that are not inflicted for laughs, but are serious, and with situations that would be comic in any other context. The result is this wonderful double thing of a movie that's distancing and yet involving, absurd and yet heartfelt, extreme and yet small-scale and human."
THE NEW YORK TIMES
Matt Zoller Seitz, A Father and Son Tell Their Own Tales of Love and Loss
"Shot in ripe color on 35-millimeter stock reportedly stolen from a Hollywood production, and featuring a Mandy Hoffman score that suggests Nino Rota music performed by an orchestra that's being gradually digested by a boa constrictor, "The GoodTimesKid" finds poetry in wordless scenes of observation..."
THE WASHINGTON POST
Ann Hornaday, 'The Lovers', With Debra Winger and Tracy Letts, Is A Charming Late-In-Life Sex Comedy
"Anchored by vivid and masterfully calibrated performances from Winger and Letts, and sent aloft by a lilting orchestral score that infuses the most everyday banalities with big, melodramatic emotions, the movie is a tarnished ode to aging, compromise and new beginnings."
Pete Hammond, 'The Lovers' Review: Debra Winger & Tracy Letts Soar in A24's Wickedly Funny Tale of Marriage Gone Sour
"Jacobs is in complete command of his material, even to the point of letting composer Mandy Hoffman take a real risk with a big score that could have been disastrously intrusive on the proceedings but manages to strike just the right tone."