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June 5, 2013 12:23 PM   Subscribe

Opinions, uh, vary about the quality of the films on M. Night Shyamalan's resume. What's perhaps less controversial is that he has enjoyed a tremendously fruitful collaboration with veteran composer James Newton Howard, who has scored each of his films since The Sixth Sense. Here are some highlights of Newton Howard's often-beautiful work for these often-maligned films. posted by eugenen (14 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
James Newton Howard also did the soundtrack for The Fugitive, which is great also.
posted by Lucinda at 12:27 PM on June 5, 2013


I enjoy quite a few of his movies, I don't get the hate. Nothing worth writing home about but they're good for an enjoyable sit down with Mr. Malice in the evenings.
posted by Malice at 12:50 PM on June 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I find Shyamalan's work to be frustrating because he really has a great eye for composition and his films often look incredibly lush. At his best he can even invoke golden age Spielberg, particularly in Signs. Unfortunately, his insistence on writing as well as directing, while at first successful, has resulted in some disastrous films of late. The man has talent, so it upsets me that his weakest attritube (writing) is ruining this genuine skills as a filmmaker. I hope After Earth signals a change in direction for him to directing others films or being a more general gun for hire.
posted by boubelium at 1:09 PM on June 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have to admit, I've never walked out of a Shyamalan movie thinking, And what's more, that fucking music....
posted by Etrigan at 1:20 PM on June 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


If you created a youtube playlist out of these videos, we could listen to them all without having to click as much.
posted by ganatronic at 1:44 PM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately, his insistence on writing as well as directing, while at first successful, has resulted in some disastrous films of late.

The only recent film he's made that I personally disliked was the Airbender one. So I guess that's just perspective, eh?
posted by Malice at 1:44 PM on June 5, 2013


Really Etrigan? In fact, I have walked out of at least two (The Village and Lady in the Water) thinking "Welp, at least the score was fucking sublime. And at least I've got one positive thing to say."
posted by jph at 2:26 PM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I adore Shyamalan's first three movies. The Sixth Sense was a career-maker for a reason, Unbreakable is probably his best work, and Signs was a rare film that was both legitimately terrifying and also somewhat life-affirming.

After The Village things took a turn; it seemed like the bigger the cameo he gave himself the worse the movie was. And The Last Airbender basically made me never want to see another one of his movies again.

But yeah, James Newton Howard is easily the best part of any given M. Night movie. Not even a question.
posted by HostBryan at 2:35 PM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Really Etrigan? In fact, I have walked out of at least two (The Village and Lady in the Water) thinking "Welp, at least the score was fucking sublime. And at least I've got one positive thing to say."

That was kind of where I was going with that. Imagine me saying it angrily.
posted by Etrigan at 3:00 PM on June 5, 2013


It's so funny that there's a James Newton Howard post right now, because I just listened to an EP put out by a local choral group here in Houston of a pair of pieces by Ola Gjeilo - "Dark Night, Luminous Night." It has a very "film score" feel to it. In fact, when I recommended it on Facebook, I said that it "was like Karl Jenkins and Philip Glass had a baby, which was then raised in the wild by Howard Shore and Henryk Gorecki, but found and taken by Arvo Pärt and Rachel Portman to be raised as one of their own."

Sometimes I'm hesitant to compare a composers work to a film score, because I get the sense that there is still a feeling that film/game scores are somehow "lesser" art forms. But as someone who loves scores, I only mean it as the highest praise. The above pieces - for chorus, string quartet and piano - are just so fantastic that I am listening to them on repeat.

Also, I get it now, Etrigan!
posted by jph at 3:07 PM on June 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


James Newton Howard is a genius, thanks for this. Great post title, too.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:13 PM on June 5, 2013


But as someone who loves scores, I only mean it as the highest praise

Yeah. I'm increasingly of the opinion that film scores are where fine music/orchestral music is these days. Everything else, "serious" orchestral music, takes itself way too seriously and is mostly masturbation.
posted by Jimbob at 6:14 PM on June 5, 2013


There was an episode of Performance Today recently about video game music and I was a little disappointed to hear Fred Child sound so surprised! that! game! music! has! so! many! parallels! to! classics!

They played some Vaughan-Williams and compared it to Guild Wars 2. I'm sure some of that is just knowing your audience. And it is more reasonable/palatable to package it for listeners as "hey here is this new thing that you maybe think is really scary and totally not something you're interested in, but I assure you I won't lead you astray." Even so, I wish more classical aficionados would openly proclaim their love for film and game scores.

This summer the symphony I sing with is performing "Video Games: Live" which is out touring and spreading the gospel of game music far and wide. Sadly, I am not going to get to sing it because the dress rehearsal is an all day affair and I can't afford to take time off from my day job. Truly sad about that.

Maybe I just see it as all one long continuation of a collaborative art form that I love. Playing in a pit orchestra back when I was in high school was, for me, the height of music making. It was accompaniment, surely. But it *made* the production. And it was dynamic and fast-paced. So while scores are certainly a little less directly tied to their productions (in that the studio orchestra isn't sitting there playing while the actors act!), it is still just a part of the same family of music that is so special to me.
posted by jph at 7:49 PM on June 5, 2013


Signs? Really? Wherein the aliens, for whom water is a caustic, toxic, lethal substance decide to go to a planet completely covered in it, without so much as an extravehicular, hazardous environment, protection suit?
posted by qcubed at 8:14 PM on June 9, 2013


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