Too many films are blighted by lacklustre music - Ennio Morricone Ennio Morricone, 88, asserts that contemporary soundtracks are ruined by "amateur" composers and "synthesized" sounds. Is this just attention-grabbing comments for his upcoming tour, old-school vs. new wave, grumpy curmudgeon on the porch ranting? Or does the OST for Mad Max: Fury Road suck? [more inside]
When Martin Scorsese introduced his Film Foundation’s newly restored version of The Colour of Pomegranates at the Toronto film festival in September he told the expectant audience they were going to witness images and visions “pretty much unlike anything in cinema history”.For a taste of what has been restored, you can watch the entire unremastered film in two parts on YouTube, and the whole film in lower quality on Archive.org. For another novel experience, you can view a much higher quality of the film with a new score by Nicolas Jaar, and see a lower quality version with the new score by Ben Watkins AKA Juno Reactor, as commissioned by the Bialystok Film Festival in Poland last year. Juno Reactor had previously used visuals from Pomegranates for the video of "God is God." [more inside]
The 1969 Armenian film, voted 84th best of all-time in the most recent Sight & Sound magazine greatest movies poll, only gained a belated official release in western cinemas in 1982, but even the cinephiles and critics who have lauded the film with such extravagant praise since should now prepare to see Sergei Parajanov’s masterpiece afresh.
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg turned 50 this year. The movie in full. Or here: Part 1 Part 2. (These are not tears. There's a draft in the room making my eyes water.) Reviews: Songs in the Key of Everyday Life/Jonathan Rosenbaum/Chicago Reader, Slant, Ebert. [more inside]
Sound of Cinema - British Sci-Fi from the BFI Days of Fear and Wonder - BBC Radio 3 talks to film composer Stephen Price about The Shape of Things to Come, Alien, Gravity, and other science fiction soundtracks.
Ridley Scott's new film Exodus: Gods and Kings recasts the myth of Moses in typically grimdark swords-and-sandals fashion. It... ain't so good. Want something more artful? Look no further than The Prince of Egypt [alt], an underrated masterpiece of DreamWorks' traditional animation era. Directed by Brenda Chapman (a first for women in animation), scored to spectacular effect by Hans Zimmer and Stephen Schwartz, and voiced by, among others, Voldemort, Batman, and Professor X, the ambitious film features gorgeous, striking visuals and tastefully integrated CGI in nearly every scene. It also manages the improbable feat of maturing beyond cartoon clichés while humanizing the prophet's journey from carefree scion to noble (and remorseful) liberator without offending half the planet -- while still being quite a fun ride. Already seen it? Catch the making-of documentary, or click inside for more. [more inside]
Pitchfork is streaming the soundtrack to Wes Anderson's upcoming movie The Grand Budapest Hotel (previously). [more inside]
2001: A Space Odyssey - Discerning Themes through Score and Imagery: As Ligeti's music ends, the first image we see is a celestial alignment of the sun the earth and the moon as Richard Strauss' exhilarating Also Sprach Zarathustra begins. It's critical to note that Thus Spoke Zarathustra is also a novel by Friedrich Nietzsche. This musical choice thus signals that the film deals with the same central issues in this book. [via][more inside]
A month after its release, Naughty Dog's sweeping interactive epic The Last of Us is being hailed as one of the best games of all time, with perfect scores even from notoriously demanding critics. Inspired by an eerily beautiful segment from the BBC's Planet Earth, the game portrays an America twenty years after a pandemic of the zombiefying Cordyceps fungus (previously), leaving behind lush wastelands of elegant decay teeming with monsters and beset by vicious bandits, a brutal military, and the revolutionary Fireflies. Into this bleak vision of desperate violence journey Joel, a gruffly stoic Texan with a painful past, and his ward Ellie, a precocious teenager who may hold the key to mankind's future. Boasting tense, immersive gameplay, compelling performances from a diverse cast, a movingly minimalist score from Oscar-winning Gustavo Santaolalla, and an array of influences from Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men to Cormac McCarthy's The Road, it's already being slotted alongside BioShock Infinite and Half-Life 2 as one of modern gaming's crowning achievements. And while it's hard to disentangle plot from action, you don't have to buy a PS3 to experience it -- YouTube offers many filmic edits of the game, including this three-hour version of all relevant passages. And don't miss the 84-minute documentary exploring every facet of its production. [more inside]
Though it became an epic flop and forced Francis Ford Coppola to declare bankruptcy, the 1982 musical One From the Heart (previously) did produce one hell of a soundtrack featuring the unlikely collaboration between Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle. Here's the story of how it all came together. [more inside]
It's debatable whether the troubled World War Z signals the end of the ongoing zombie craze, but the film that started it all is much more clear: Danny Boyle's bleak, artful cult horror-drama 28 Days Later, which saw its US premiere ten years ago this weekend. From its iconic opening shots of an eerily abandoned London (set to Godspeed You! Black Emperor's brooding post-rock epic "East Hastings") to the frenzied chaos of its climax, Boyle's film -- a dark yet humanist tale of a world eviscerated by a frighteningly contagious epidemic of murderous rage -- reinvented and reinvigorated the genre that Romero built (though many insist its rabid, sprinting berserkers don't really count). And while sequel 28 Weeks Later with its heavyhanded Iraq War allusions failed to live up to the original (despite boasting one of the most viscerally terrifying opening sequences in modern horror), and 28 Months looks increasingly unlikely, there remains a small universe of side content from the film, including music, short films, comics, and inspired-by games. [more inside]
Kathryn Bigelow's striking bin Laden manhunt thriller Zero Dark Thirty arrives in wide release tonight on the heels of a final artful trailer -- one with oddly familiar musical accompaniment. The funereal hymn, a cover of Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters" (lyrics), deftly recasts the 90s power ballad as a haunting dirge of quiet grief, shattered ideals, and a singleminded focus on revenge, a perfect distillation of the film's profoundly grim thesis. But while the song may be fitting, it wasn't composed for the project -- it's just the latest success story from Belgian women's choir Scala & Kolacny Brothers, whose mournful reinterpretations of classic and modern rock -- catapulted by their rendition of "Creep" in The Social Network -- have made them famous around the world, with star turns in the likes of Homeland ("Every Breath You Take") and Downton Abbey ("With or Without You"). Cover comparison site WhoSampled offers a list of YouTube comparisons between the covers and the originals; look inside for more of their work in movies and television. [more inside]
What you see here is a prime example of what happens to film that is neglected and improperly stored. This is an original reel from It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World that is now untouchable. The film has turned acidic, sporting the strongest and most foul vinegar-like odor I have ever smelled. In fact, Robert Harris told me a story of how his contact lenses were singed by the fumes the film produced, causing temporary retinal damage to his eye. [more inside]
Does the success of Trent Reznor, Clint Mansell and others suggest an end to the dominance of the traditional orchestral soundtrack?
Star Wars. 2001: A Space Odyssey. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Battlestar Galactica (1978), Superman: The Movie. What do all of these iconic scifi music themes have in common? Bear McCeary discusses the physics behind them. [more inside]
A decade on, the Coen brothers' woefully underrated O Brother, Where Art Thou? [alt] is remembered for a lot of things: its sun-drenched, sepia-rich cinematography (a pioneer of digital color grading), its whimsical humor, fluid vernacular, and many subtle references to Homer's Odyssey. But one part of its legacy truly stands out: the music. Assembled by T-Bone Burnett, the soundtrack is a cornucopia of American folk music, exhibiting everything from cheery ballads and angelic hymns to wistful blues and chain-gang anthems. Woven into the plot of the film through radio and live performances, the songs lent the story a heartfelt, homespun feel that echoed its cultural heritage, a paean and uchronia of the Old South. Though the multiplatinum album was recently reissued, the movie's medley is best heard via famed documentarian D. A. Pennebaker's Down from the Mountain, an extraordinary yet intimate concert film focused on a night of live music by the soundtrack's stars (among them Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, Chris Thomas King, bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley) and wryly hosted by John Hartford, an accomplished fiddler, riverboat captain, and raconteur whose struggle with terminal cancer made this his last major performance. The film is free in its entirety on Hulu and YouTube -- click inside for individual clips, song links, and breakdowns of the set list's fascinating history. [more inside]
There is no questioning Syd Dale's [mid-60s UK NSFW] place amongst the legends of library music. ... his lavish big band inspired compositions were quickly brought to the public's attention through their use in countless t.v. shows and advertisements. Much of his work could be as classed as easy listening however Dale was also adept at incorporating elements of funk and spy jazz.
* [The music of the 1967 Spider-Man animated TV series - to which he so memorably contributed - has been discussed previously.] [more inside]
Nants ingonyama bagithi baba! It's been nearly two decades since that glorious savanna sunrise, and once again The Lion King is at the top of the box office. It's a good chance to revisit what made the original the capstone of the Disney Renaissance, starting with the music. Not the gaudy show tunes or the Elton John ballads, but the soaring, elegiac score by Hans Zimmer which, despite winning an Oscar, never saw a full release outside of an unofficial bootleg. Luckily, it's unabridged and high-quality, allowing one to lay Zimmer's haunting, pulse-pounding, joyful tracks alongside the original video (part 2, 3, 4), revealing the subtle leitmotifs and careful matching of music and action. In addition, South African collaborator Lebo M wove traditional Zulu chorals into the score, providing veiled commentary on scenes like this; his work was later expanded into a full album, the Broadway stage show, and projects closer to his heart. Speaking of expanded works, there were inevitable sequels -- all of which you can experience with The Lion King: Full Circle (download guide), a fan-made, three-hour supercut of the original film and its two follow-ups. Want more? Look... harder... [more inside]
The annotated scores for [*and Filmtracks.com's reviews of] Howard Shore's soundtracks to The Fellowship of the Ring*, The Two Towers*, and The Return of the King*
Requiem for a Mermaid. Requiem for a Lion King. Requiem for Pocahontas. Requiem for a Hunchback. (Previously: Requiem for Ferris Bueller, Toy Story Requiem.)
The Soundworks Collection gives a behind-the-scenes look into the work of talented sound teams working on feature films, soundtrack scoring, and video games with a compilation of exclusive interviews, awards shows / event panel coverage and sound stage / studio room videos. Vimeo Channel. YouTube Channel. [more inside]
Waterlife — No matter where we live, the Great Lakes affect us all. And as species of fish disappear and rates of birth defects and cancer rise, it seems one thing is clear: the Great Lakes are changing and something's not quite right with the water. An interactive documentary film from the National Film Board of Canada. [more inside]
The Art of Memory - minimal film music art
His melodies are more familiar than those of any other soundtrack composer except perhaps John Williams. He won 20 Grammy Awards, more than any other pop musician in history, and 4 Academy Awards. He scored what some consider the greatest opening shot in cinema history. His versatility encompassed situation comedy as well as science fiction horror. He is commemorated on a 37-cent stamp. He is Henry Mancini. [more inside]
Often dismissed as a failed experiment, this oddity from Arthur Penn is a constantly surprising and enigmatic classic. Two years ahead of Bonnie and Clyde, this New Hollywood prototype is ragged and frantic, a skewed but thrilling attempt to rewrite established narrative form. [more inside]
Jerry Fielding (1922-1980) was one of cinema's most distinctive voices in the 1960s and especially '70s, the perfect musical complement to the films of Sam Peckinpah*, Michael Winner, Clint Eastwood and others. His scores are marked by modernism and intricate orchestrations but also a poetic beauty and intensity—an appropriate accompaniment to the decade's strange and often sad (but never sentimental) criminals and antiheroes, be they in westerns (The Wild Bunch) or crime films. He was, however, capable of numerous styles (he was a former Vegas bandleader), and wrote a great number of scores (from sticoms to dramas to sci-fi) for television. - Film Score Monthly [more inside]
One Hundred Years, One Hundred Scores. The Hollywood Reporter and a jury of film music experts select the 100 greatest film scores of all time. One of the jury is Dan Goldwasser, editor of Soundtrack.net, which publishers interviews with composers, reviews of soundtracks and keeps a valuable list of trailer music - for when a new trailer uses old film music and you can't quite remember where it's from. [more inside]
Maurice Jarre (September 13, 1924 – March 29, 2009) was a French composer and conductor. Although he composed several concert works, he is best known for his film scores for motion pictures, particularly those of David Lean: Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965), and A Passage to India (1984). All three of these scores won Academy Awards. - Wikipedia
Tennessee Williams said it was the best film version of any of his plays. Roger Ebert called it "awkward and hopeless on its most fundamental level". John Waters calls it a major influence on the development of his taste. [more inside]
First, and foremost, here is La Caíta - El Pájaro Negro. Could there be singing anymore heartfelt than this ? I wonder. And here she is, in an ancillary role, with the Amaya family. Also, from Spain, here is Tchavolo Schmitt, Dorado Schmitt & Hono Winterstein - Kali Sara & Tchavolo swing. From Romania, here are Taraf de Haïdouks and, from them, here is Taraf de Haïdouks and of them, here is Balada Conducatorolui - Nicolae Neacsu. From the Thar of Rajasthan, here is the very charismatic Talab Khan Barna, and here, from Egypt, is Bambi Saidi. And let the etymological connection between Egypt and gypsy be noted here and now, by the way.
All of these are. of course, excerpts from Latcho Drom. [more inside]
All of these are. of course, excerpts from Latcho Drom. [more inside]
The Room: The Movie. Triple-threat (actor/writer/director) Tommy Wiseau made his cinematic debut in 2003 with the The Room (see trailer and various scenes), "a blend between a softcore porn flick and a Tennessee Williams stageplay." Wiseau ("who's not just one of the most unusual looking and sounding-with an unidentifiable Eastern European accent-leading men ever to grace the screen, but a narcissist nonpareil whose movie makes Vincent Gallo's "The Brown Bunny" seem the apotheosis of cinematic self-restraint...may be something of a first: A movie that prompts most of its viewers to ask for their money back-before even 30 minutes have passed." - Variety), allegedly raised $6 million outside Hollywood to cover production and marketing costs of the self-described "black comedy about love, passion, betrayal and lies" (see various rough dress rehersals). Audience members, including comedian David Cross, have been "marveling at the bizarre editing, bad bluescreen, uncomfortably explicit sex scenes and, of course, the enigma of Wiseau himself" as the film played monthly for years in Los Angeles. Available on DVD, diehard "roomies" swear by the theatrical experience, shout out their own commentary, hurl spoons at the screen and singalong to the soundtrack. Some call it "The Rocky Horror of the New Millenium" and stage "Room" parties. If you look at the marketing campaign or survived a screening you might see The Room as "a seminar on how NOT to make a movie." [Inspired by Boing Boing]
A huge, comprehensive collection of Italian soundtrack covers. With print runs as small as 300, some of these soundtracks are impossible to find nowadays. Some of the cover art is really fantastic. There's a pretty extensive collection of French, German, American, English and Japanese soundtracks too.
John Debney fought with Satan to score "The Passion of the Christ." Literally: "I had all these computers and synthesizers in my studio and the hard drives would go down and the digital picture that lives on the computer with the music would just freeze on his [Satan's] face... and I was verbalizing and saying to Satan, 'Manifest yourself right now...'"
Pink Floyd and the Wizard of Oz? "Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore." While no one involved with Pink Floyd has ever admitted to any link between the band's seminal 1973 album "Dark Side of the Moon" and the 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz," urban legend purports that the album was conceived as an alternate soundtrack to the film.