The Best Scores of 2017

Film Music Magazine News - Wo, 13/12/2017 - 16:36

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(Bear McCreary / Lakeshore Records)

A master of all musical genres from playing “Outlander’s” vast Scottish highlands to the intimacy of a doomsday bomb shelter at “10 Cloverfield Lane,” Bear McCreary unleashes his most improbable musical juxtaposition of pitting Godzilla worthy, city-stomping orchestral stains against the indie guitar groove of a woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown. But it’s that unlikely style versus style match that makes “Colossal” so memorable as it makes the link between monster-spawning psychic power and abusive, alcoholic dysfunction. McCreary’s grooves take what seems to be loser comedy into a far bigger emotional dimension, skillfully cohering both approaches into terrifically thematic music that’s both epic and empowering for this demonstration of musical grrll power unlike any other.

(Michael Abels / Back Lot Music)

Concert composer Michael Abels makes a stunning feature debut into horror scoring with this subversive takedown of a genre where black usually means dead. That he survives with new career life to spare says much about how Abels not only excels with the genre’s musical expectations of creeping strings, chilling harps and rampaging percussion, but he also goes well under the musical skin to chorally convey the anguish of his kin trapped in the bodies of ersatz slavemasters. Hypnotic melodies literally sink us into a black hole, sinister, tick-tock rhythms bet on bodies and a ukulele evokes white suburbia as a sinister plantation. That spiritual, hushed voices mix with the classic jazz standard “Run Rabbit” mark “Get Out” as a breakout of scary subversity that at once goes for the genre while flooding it with a social conscious subtext.

(Daniel Hart / Milan Records)

Given the simplest, silent evocation of a white sheet and two eyeholes to conjure a specter, composer Daniel Hart literally has a white canvas to fill with unwanted eons of the afterlife for his most profound teaming with director David Lowery after the rustically inventive “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” and “Pete’s Dragon.” But as opposed to scariness, the haunt here is one of poetic sadness, as a classical chamber sound shivers with the unbearable yearning to touch a loved one whose grief can only be witnessed. As an incalculable Moebius loop of time passes, Hart’s poetic, sometimes abstract score brings in other elements with sampling and voices to open the score up with a sense of the cosmic destiny. It’s a long-waited step into the light whose sheet is also given thematic structure by Hart’s beautiful song “I Get Overwhelmed,” an emotion that his “Ghost Story” conveys with the moving, unimaginable intimacy of being dead.

(Oneohtrix Point Never / Warp Records)

When resurrecting the 80’s synth sound is all the rage, no artist has quite mainlined retro synths into a nerve-blasting primal scream like alt. electronica artist Oneohtrix Point Never (aka Daniel Lopatin). Hitting you like a kick in the face with its blazing, scumbag-enabling force for a robber’s desperate journey to round up bail for his slow bro, Oneohtrix plunges us into a miasma of guitars, keyboards and metallic percussion that run hell bent through NYC over the course of a night. If Tangerine Dream’s landmark “Thief” score was about a higher class of criminal, Oneohtrix’s score is the evolution of groove for a drug gutter punk. He doesn’t give a damn in the coolest way if you’re smashed in the face with sharp-edged rhythm of blissfully tripping with his hallucinatory music. It’s a insanely creative stew of a score that puts you into desperate mind, and situation of a villain like few other druggie soundtracks before it, or likely after it in terms of warping retro technology into one brilliant hot mess.

(Roger Suen / Notefornote Music)

The blazing, racially fueled conflict of the LA Riots gets seen through director black and white eyes, as given powerfully unexpected, musical color by composer Roger Suen. Like some absurdist city symphony, retro synths play over noir jazz, Melancholy guitar replaces hip-hop for the inner city wasteland, while a sales frenzy becomes a cooing Latin rhumba. A lyrical, French-accented theme a la Debussy stands for the relationship between a black girl and two Korean-American shoe store owners, whose playful Shangri-La of sorts gets rudely interrupted as the cinematic vibe of “Clerks” tragically transforms into “Do the Right Thing” in director Justin Chon’s audacious, emotionally impactful indie. Suen’s work is as scrappy and inventive as the characters struggling for their slice of The American Dream, music that’s at once poignant, wacky and gut-wrenching, steadfastly refusing to slip into the musical clichés you’d expect as it takes a toned-down, eccentrically lyrical approach to a tragically heated situation, at the end overwhelming with the simply stated thematic poignancy of an unlikely friendship’s paradise lost in an urban wasteland where people just can’t get along.

(Jon Ekstrand / Milan Records)

The increasingly old mummified chestnut of an unwelcome critter on a spaceship gets significantly rejuvenated in this major comeback for composer Jon Ekstrand and director Daniel Espinosa after the positively DOA thriller “Child 44.” Given the opportunity to unleash his big, orchestrally imaginative guns an evil E.T. squid (even as everything the astronauts throw at it proves horrifically ineffective), Ekstrand at first does a neat fake-out. Indeed, his score couldn’t be more wondrous, giving heavenly voices and “Also Spach Zarathustra”-like swells to what seems to be man’s newest best friend, hearing all the majesty of first contact. But when the blob hits the ventilation shaft, it’s go time for Ekstrand. Approaching the genre like he was the first person to be scoring it, Ekstrand dexterous use of growling, metallic rhythm goes from one relentless build to the other, all the while keeping desperate human emotion front and center. As musically developed as its steadily growing creature, Ekstrand unleashes a scarily exciting musical presence that shows that horror sci-fi scores of this type can indeed be generated from a melody-based life form.

(Mandy Hoffman / Milan Records)

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.

(Alexandre Desplat / Decca)

A distinctly adult and sensually fulfilling beauty and the beast fairy tale, the enveloping attraction between a mute washwoman and Amazon Gillman is certainly a match made in heaven for Alexandre Desplat, who’s dealt with supernatural romance in such poetic scores as “Birth,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and his “Twilight” saga entry “New Moon.” Given French composers’ natural love of the sea, Desplat jumps into La Mer by way of America’s Cold War. It’s a fluid mix of “Amelie”-worthy whimsy, spy suspense and the lurching strains of a classic monster-on-the-loose score, all graced with a sympathy that befits one of the best works of director Guillermo Del Toro, a lover of beasts if there ever was one. There’s a delightful sense of the off-kilter with whistling and instruments approximating Theremins and accordions that drift across “Water’s” lovely melodic structure. You certainly won’t find a more beguiling love theme than the one that wraps around the bliss of inter-species consummation here, as done with lush grace by one of film scoring’s great melodists. “Water” is heart-melting, breathtakingly gorgeous music that resounds with empathy for the freakish outsider, where the real musical menace comes from violently prejudiced humans. That Desplat conveys those weighty emotions with the most gossamer of orchestrations for its mute characters says much for the poetry of his unabashed dive into Del Toro’s enchanted, if still dangerous worldview.

(Michael Giacchino / Sony Classical)

The Caesar of composing for movie sci-fi franchises, Michael Giacchino puts a biblical period onto perhaps the most nostalgic of all the iconic serials as he’s tackled by delivering an ape Moses to The Promised Land. After placing the crown of leadership on the hero’s head with “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” Giacchino powerfully develops his themes with a pilgrimage through a homo sapien forbidden zone that’s not only full of primal fury, but surprising humor as well. Painting a most human portrait of The Lawgiver as war veteran with delicate bells, haunted voices, military marches and imposing brass, Giacchino also doesn’t forget his animal side by mutating Jerry Goldsmith’s iconic, tribal approach into an array of ethnic drums and wind instruments, a defiant, proud melody a la John Barry leading the ape exodus. Matching Caesar in musical intensity is the steel-eyed metallic coldness of his Colonel Kurtz-like adversary. While Giacchino’s monkey will certainly make you cry, perhaps even more clever than the hosanna-filled dramatic grandness of deliverance, perhaps no cue in his “Planet” is more clever than an extended breakout sequence that builds on witty, pokey rhythm to have a pounding, chanting chorus outsmart the devolving soldiers. Giacchino has effectively built on the ape ancestor soundtracks before him into a towering, unexpectedly moving score for what just might be the best “Apes” movie of all time, with extra monkeyshines of turning one his many memorable themes into a Latin tango during the end credit roll.

(Rupert-Gregson Williams / WaterTower Music)

Rupert Gregson-Williams might not be a woman, but he’s certainly channeled his inner Amazon to create one of the most mythically emotional scores for a DC superhero since John Williams gave flight to “Superman.” There’s an undeniable female strength to his proud themes, music whose ethnic beat and female voices speak for her Zeus-spawned powers as much as the important occasion of the first major superheroine movie, pitting a soaring sense of goodness against the darkness of Teutonic armies and a warrior-god. Rarely has emotion blended so well into action scoring, especially in a trench run that orchestrally energizes Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL’s Wonder Woman theme that was the best thing about “Batman Vs. Superman.” With Tina Guo’s electrifying cello playing, Wonder Woman’s big heroic reveal makes viewers shed tears as well as clap their hands. Even better, Gregson-William’s rhythmic chops never make the score seem dated, a vital factor for any superhero film set in a pre-MTV era. As much of a thrilling thematic fanfare for Wonder Woman’s long-awaited big screen arrival as it is about the dismayed, and tragically romantic feelings of a sheltered innocent abroad in the battlefields of the war that didn’t end all wars, “Wonder Woman” is a cinematic and scoring triumph of the genre that any Man of Steel would envy.


(Mark Todd / Filmtrax)

Where Arnold Schwarzenegger is used to gleeful musical payback, the star has his revenge served cold, and with no fulfillment other than an “Aftermath” that gives the star his most human role. Given the truth-based story a bereaved father who goes after the air traffic controller who seemingly sent a plane to its doom, composer Mark D. Todd has taken an approach that’s full of grief, yet done so with shattering subtlety. Having scored director Elliott Lester’s last film about a man going mad in “Nightingale,” Todd’s haunted, often ethereal melodies build with the character’s psychosis, his sustaining use of melody bringing to mind the use of modern classical music in the other devastating plane crash film “Fearless,” as enhanced here with crystalline percussion for the collision between two devastated men– a haunting downer of a score that builds on its simmering emotion to anguished, transfixing effect.

(Nicholas Britell / Sony Classical)

Given the clownish media spectacle surrounding the Billy Jeanne King vs. Bobby Riggs tennis match, it would’ve been easy for Nicholas Britell to score “Battle of the Sexes” with the satirically hyper style he gave to “The Big Short’s” financial meltdown. However, the composer’s unexpected power serve is in going for the meditative mood of his Oscar-winning score for “Moonlight,” which is perfect given that this film is even more about a woman coming to terms with her same-sex attraction as it is about winning the day for her sex. The result is a score that nicely acknowledges Bobby’s buffoonery and the groovy 70’s, but is even more impressive in developing a sensually hypnotic sound for Jean’s attraction, and a captivating theme for her desire to win on the court. It’s a motif that grows in power to an orchestral-organ epiphany that’s like “Rocky” in the ring with “Interstellar.” Britell’s ten minute-plus thematic volley between Billie and Bobby is a lesson in how to develop a singular idea and make it utterly captivating for a long, suspenseful stretch, a smart thematic serve that gives Britell another big scoring win.

(David Wingo / Lakeshore)

A composer especially skilled in playing societal castaways in “Mud,” “Midnight Special” and “Loving,” David Wingo now keeps memorable company with a man-child shanghaied into an especially skewed children’s show. His rude awakening to society, and desire to complete his particular story arch to the insanely cosmic “Brigsby Bear” is done with touching, gentle empathy by Wingo, who uses ethereal, near sci-fi atmospheres of 80’s era electronics, along with a sense of fantasy grandeur. Communicating a joy of discovery with a whole new universe of DIY movie creativity, along with poignant self-realization, Wingo and this wonderfully unique film from SNL’s Lonely Island crew make something truly touching out of a wackadoo universe that could easily be mocked. Wingo’s poetic themes are the moving, eccentric starstuff of a deeply personal kid’s stuff.

(Benjamin Wallfisch / WaterTower Music)

From the often frenzied supernatural scoring of “Lights Out” and “Annabelle Creation” to the elegantly waltzing rot that was “The Cure To Wellness,” Benjamin Wallfisch knows what scares you, especially when it comes to balancing the seat-jumping dissonance that’s horror scoring’s rage with sumptuously chilling old school melody. They’re the shades of evil and innocence that are contrasted for his truly epic and terrifying score to “It.” Mixing unearthly samples with tingling strings, screaming brass and the howls of a demon clown’s victims, “It” has the circus come to fear town, hearing real youthful tenderness and then gleefully distorting it at the next instant. It’s the sound of innocence facing off against evil that gives “It” an emotional resonance uncommon in genre scoring that still has its cake and eats it too, with strings played like knives and brass becoming blunt instruments as children’s’ voices alternate from angelic to the satanic. Wallfisch’s atmospheric scoring throws us into the heart of sewer drain darkness, where the only hope is the lyrical bond between its barely post-pubescent loser’s club. “It” springs menace upon them like a cosmically deranged clown car to massively unnerving and taunting effect, while still holding onto the characters’ tender bond that ultimately guides them to the light – at least until Wallfisch returns to terrorize them as adults in Pennywise’s next outing.

(Henry Jackman / WaterTower Music)

Henry Jackman certainly has a thing from investing action scores with a 60’s groove, especially when giving both Kingsman and X-Men a hep British swing. But even given it’s Vietnam War-era setting, this Kong isn’t up for snappy groove outfits. Instead, Jackman joyously goes full Jimi Hendrix on the Big Ape, jamming rock guitar solos with ethnic tropical rhythms and doomed military gusto. It’s a score that beats its chest with incredible cleverness, yet isn’t so apart from the thematic, Wagnerian spirit that Max Steiner used to give life to Kong, and film scoring itself in the first place. Noble, swaggering melody gives heroic weight to the rumble in the jungle between ape, serpents and army madmen, delivering a terrifically exciting, brass-trumpeting knockdown monster mash whose mighty orchestra sings with god-like majesty. That Jackman puts equally big emotional feeling into Kong makes us root for his win all the more in a score that starts like a hippy but ends with wonderful symphonic convention.

(Johann Soderqvist / Varese Sarabande Records)

A master of Nordic noir from “King of Devil’s Island” to “Murder Farm” and the vampiric “Let the Right One In,” Swedish composer Johann Soderqvist effectively transports his mesmerizing, lethal sensibilities to Victorian England in pursuit of a Jack the Ripper-styled serial killer. Chasing the thematic clues with a suspenseful orchestra, “Seven”-worthy statements of lurching brass and harps tingling the spine like fog masking another gutted victim. Soderqvist effectively swings the score’s pendulum between icily creeping fear and gorgeous, tragically sweeping romance for a detective out to save a female suspect whom he views as a victim of sexist society itself, her plight made all the more sympathetic with tender piano and lilting violin. Sleuthing about with lush melody and tingling, sinister gestures, Soderqvist builds to the big, surprising reveal with the orchestral impact of fate pointing its doom-possessed finger, making an orchestral statement about the killer nature of celebrity that positively chills the blood in its Bernard Herrmann-worthy operatic blend of tragic romance and thunderous orchestral outrage. Scoring murder is an international language indeed for Soderqvist.


(Thomas Howe / Sony Classical)

Given the love triangle behind the ultimate, dual identity example of female empowerment and bondage, Tom Howe’s flip side to the origin of Wonder Woman’s most miraculous feat is in musically convincing us that being tied up can be a musical thing of emotional warmth and beauty. That truth is told in Howe’s ingenious use of magical rhythm to convey the inventor of the lie detector, the heartbeats of his wife and best student awakening to the erotic possibilities with gossamer, waltzing melody. It’s lovely music for a taboo-breaking romance, with society’s intrusion giving the score its dramatic bite. Like Princess Diana’s glowing lasso, Howe’s thematically binding, lushly magical score holds us utterly in its super heroine-to-be sway, as brought to earth as forbidden fruit that’s deliciously explored with good taste.


(Carter Burwell / Varese Sarabande Records)

A master of scoring Midwestern crime tales from his work with The Coen Brothers on the likes of “Fargo,” “Miller’s Crossing” and “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” Carter Burwell has an unmistakably humorous sense of dramatic irony with sin-tolling bells, gravely somber pianos and the portentous strings of biblical punishment. These three on well on display on “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri” for a violent chain of events created by frequent English collaborator Martin McDonough (“In Bruges,” “Seven Psychopaths”). But what truly sets Burwell’s immediately recognizable brand of flyover noir is the deep empathy he has for a cantankerous, grieving mother who won’t take her daughter’s unsolved killing lying down, feeling her rage with galloping Spaghetti Western strains as much as her sorrow through poignant flute and guitar melodies. For if we’re gleeful spectators to Burwell’s repertoire where innocents often get lethally caught up murderous shenanigans, “Billboards” carries a new depth of understanding, capturing the film’s often shockingly hilarious outbursts of rage, but also feeling for the wounded emotions that drive them, no more so than when he lyrically underscores a suicide note to poignant effect. Not only do the twangy, thematic “Billboards” join together a sense of angered community, but even more importantly tells of its tragically, if often bemused wounded heart.

(Thomas Newman / Back Lot Music)

After two stays at The Exotic Marigold Hotel, Thomas Newman certainly knows his way around the upbeat rhythms of modern India – just as much as he does with England’s pomp and circumstance after having spent time with Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.” “Victoria & Abdul” is the composer’s quite lovely culture clash, a real-life drama set during the time of Britain’s most seemingly repressing queen, who’s presented with a spiritually enervating emissary from her colony. How this warm man of the turban brings Victoria out of her shell is the endearing, magical stuff of Newman’s score that pokes humor at the stuffed-shirt affectations of the crown, while unveiling a moving, emotional bond between two human beings above all. One of Hollywood’s most progressive composers from the start who’s wrapped his family’s symphonic majesty in experimental grooves, Newman’s deeply sympathetic masala of ethnic grooves, whimsical winds, hip percussion and old school orchestral royalty wears its crown high at putting new life into costume drama scoring, music that’s both wonderfully imperious and down to hip Indian raga earth.


(Christian Wibe / Varese Sarabande Records)

You can find the rhythmic, racing fusion of orchestra and electronics in just about every dystopian action score to feature heroes dodging bullets amidst bleak industrial landscapes. Hell, you could say that about just every present-day action score as well. But what makes “What Happened To Monday?” so thrillingly unique as it accompanies the feats of seven diminishing twins in a single child or die future is how composer Christian Wibe amps up the emotion of his full-throttle chases. He makes you care about who will stay two steps ahead of his breathless, surging rhythms during an even more wonderfully nutty collaboration with director Tommy Wirkola after the zombie Nazi hijinks of two “Red Snow” films. Building an imposing wall of sound for endless legions of foot soldiers out to severely enforce birth control, Wibe shows how well one can combine pounding rhythms and snarling brass while still keeping melodic humanity in the lead. It’s a cool, assured rhythmic approach with a real, singular personality, having that ever-building action score dance take some especially thrilling steps as it leaps from one rooftop to the next as it rousingly takes on the powers that be.


Music and romantic mates Bronwyn Griffin and Austin Garrick have been exploring the ghost in the alt. machine as the Toronto-based “synthpop” duo Electric Youth, who now make a black box to the afterlife resonate with “Breathing” (Milan Records) that meshes the ever-popular retro 80’s vibe with a beautifully haunting string and song presence. That the score itself exists in an alternate dimension outside of the ultimate, still unreleased afterlife thriller says much about Youth’s potential.

While the real-life inspiration for Rocky named “Chuck” is still waiting to be a soundtrack contender, there’s no counting down the likeable, punching bag, especially given how up and coming composer Corey Allen Jackson (“Painted Woman”) has given the boxer a hangdog rhythm and blues spirit. Like every other loveable mug, there’s nothing better than the sweet science of a Hammond organ, drum kit and sax at conveying a palooka, especially when backed up with military timpani that’s a call to arms, or in this case to lay them back for a volley of good-natured punishment in the ring, even as “Chuck’s” grittily groovy score comes out swinging.

Russian composer Alexei Aïgui captures an authentic American groove of black writer James Baldwin, whose insistence to a condescending society that “I Am Not Your Negro” (Music Box Records) channels the black music experience, from the bitch’s brew jazz fusion of Miles Davis to passionate solos of Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker, their inner city styles coalescing into a vibe that’s both film noir and social justice anger. It’s impressive documentary scoring that plays a literary revolutionary as much as it does the urban vibes that that inspired him.

If metal is indeed Satan’s favorite music, then “The Devil’s Candy” (Death Waltz) hits the horrifying sweet tooth. Given nice guy metalhead parents dealing with the serial killing ramifications of their tunes, Michael Yezerski uses gnarled chords and barely perceptible, pulse-quickening samples to build an unholy atmosphere that’s steadily coming for blood, exploding for the final attack like a psychotic longhair symphony. Electric guitar scoring blazes with furious hell’s bells, with Yezerski’s terrifying, head banging chords brilliantly capturing every thing that’s wrong about metal – and very right when it comes to horror scores that take no prisoners.

The pathetic vanity of social media is most definitely the tempo of Jonathan Sadoff (“The Mick”) and Nick Thorburn (“Sundowners”) when they join snarky forces for “Ingrid Goes West” (Mondo). Their approach couldn’t be more joyously satirical in its takedown of everyone’s life that’s better than yours, especially when playing the just-want-to-be-loved madness of an anti-heroine, who at least gets some poignancy as opposed to the fake strains of the poseur she idolizes. It’s memorable comedy scoring that at once makes scary, Hawaiian-flavored fun of a trend that’s driving everyone nuts, while having a sympathetic heart even as it rhythms spin about with the machinations of just wanting to be loved.

Following up a musically authentic turn-of-the-century journey to America for filmmaker James Gray’s vastly underrated “The Immigrant,” composer Christopher Spelman once again proves himself an ideal tour guide for the director’s intellectual approach into more exceptional, unsung territory to find “The Lost City of Z” (Filmtrax). Though his delicate string melodies are redolent with the English countryside its explorer returns to, Spelman’s fixation lies with his pursuit of an ancient Amazonian city, a contrast between proper civilization and tribal, South American music that ultimately goes up the river to discover drifting, transcendent melodies that prove that the journey isn’t so much the destination, but instead a beautifully mystical place of mind that mesmerizingly transports the listener to a place of legend.

Alt. rock bands once again prove to be a creatively fertile source for musicians that bring a unique sound to scoring, especially in the case of Son Lux’s Ryan Lott, who accompanies a teenager on the run from his girlfriend’s especially nasty sheriff dad in “Mean Dreams” (This Is Meru). While the impossible hopes of young love on the run might be familiar thematic territory, this is a deeply poetic, and disturbing film that takes anything but the usual path. That’s especially thanks to Lott, who’s howling, primal fusions of instruments and samples create an powerful wall of percussive rage, all the more disturbing to contrast his poetic, tender music for the likable couple that reverberates with an eerie, elegiac sense of childhood lost in the backwoods, sensing a future that will likely have no happy ending given Lott’s alternately enraged and spiritual moods.


While it’s a guess as to what kind of music they played during Ireland’s Dark Ages, leave it to that country’s composer Stephen McKeon (“Black Mirror”) to give us a good, violent taste of its ancient instrumentation that pursues a hapless band of monks and their holy relic in “Pilgrimage” (coming soon on Movie Score Media). It’s guttural, violent instrumentation that evokes a beautiful countryside whose rigid holiness is under siege by pagans, an impressively unplugged action sound that ferociously throws us into the period in way that far more modern orchestral scoring can’t. The score is all the more mace-in-your-face impactful for it – balancing musical brutality with a sense of religious dogmatism that’s leading its holy men to ruin. McKeon’s delivers a poetic and percussive approach whose iron and skin instrumentation practically drips with the moss and blood of humanity far from being remotely civilized with old time religion.

After supervising music for the frequently super-powered characters that emerge from J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions, Charles Scott IV makes his feature scoring debut with a comic book movie of sorts – a feat made all the more impressive in that the do-gooding hero of “Sleight” (Lakeshore) is a drug dealing street magician. Scott gives him a memorable identity that reflects his ragtag origins as opposed to any Wagnerian Avengers-worthy music, a clever hat trick whose ersatz Iron Man powers are embodied by futuristic synth-rock vibrations, cool Massive Attack-like beats, and urban heritage given voices that could befit a church spiritual. But even if the mood isn’t about playing bullet-halting heroics, the attitude of saving the hood is very much there in the composer’s ethereal approach, whose magnetism varies between hypnotic ambience, rock guitar determination and muted hip-hop beats to impressively suits up a new brand of hero.

West Dylan Thordson segues from playing a real-life, Jack-of-all identities killer in “The Jinx” to M. Night Shyamalan multiple personality supervillain for “Split” (Back Lot Music). The composer prowls through the sympathetic string passages of a tormented man’s more likable inhabitants and his plight of his victims. But given that one inhabitant is a cannibalistic beast, Thordson creates a twisted, guttural personification that’s a force to be reckoned. Striking an eerie, affecting balance between the tortured childhood that links both villain and victim, Thordson’s psychologically incisive score to blends emotion and unbearable tension truly gets under the skin until finally letting lose with a subterranean presence that grinds its growling, metallic fury to terrifying effect for a score that really gets under the skin in more ways than one.

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: WaterTower Music Announces 'The Disaster Artist' Soundtrack

Soundtrack News - Za, 09/12/2017 - 01:00
WaterTower Music announced today's release of [a.22150]The Disaster Artist - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack[]. The album features the movie's original score by [c.2495]Dave Porter[] ([m.33133]Breaking Bad[], [m.40368]Better Call Saul[], [m.39254]The Blacklist[]) and dialogue clips from the movie by James Franco. [m.47025]The Disaster Artist[] is now in theaters nationwide. "James Franco's passion for this story and his incredible performance as Tommy Wiseau raised the stakes for all of us fortunate enough to collaborate with him on [m.47025]The Disaster Artist[]," explains Porter. "He inspired all of us to find the "Tommy" within ourselves, and express warmth, hope, and compassion for two protagonists that we might have expected...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Philip Glass to Receive The Society of Composers & Lyricists' highest honor

Soundtrack News - Vr, 08/12/2017 - 01:00
Iconic film composer [c.74]Philip Glass[] will receive The Society of Composers & Lyricists (SCL) highest honor, The SCL Lifetime Achievement Award, Tuesday, December 12th, 2017 at the SCL NY Chapter Holiday Dinner and concerto at the MIST HARLEM - 46 W 116TH St. Harlem, NY. Dinner at 7pm; Concerto at 8:30pm. The celebrated composer has received three Academy Award nominations for his scores for [m.11673]The Hours[], [m.18815]Notes on a Scandal[], and Martin Scorsese's [m.13862]Kundun[]. A prolific composer for film, television, operas and theater, Glass has created music for over 200 projects including more than 100 films. Philip Glass is currently receiving critical-acclaim and accolades for his original score to Brett...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Lakeshore Records to Release 'Star Trek: Discovery' Soundtrack

Soundtrack News - Wo, 06/12/2017 - 01:00
CBS Television Studios announced today the release of the original score of the CBS All Access series [m.50145]Star Trek: Discovery[], which premiered earlier this fall. The album, featuring the score by Emmy Award-winning composer [c.3178]Jeff Russo[] and distributed by Lakeshore Records, will be available digitally on Friday, Dec. 15, with presales beginning Friday, Dec. 8. The soundtrack will be available as a CD and vinyl album in early 2018. "Grand, glorious, hopeful, heartbreaking, intimate, bittersweet, tense, soaring, surprising. Over 51 years, in its many iterations, there's been no shortage of adjectives to describe the music of [m.24537]Star Trek[]," said co-creator Alex Kurtzman. "On the other hand, the list of...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Weekly Roundup: December 1

Soundtrack News - Za, 02/12/2017 - 01:00
This week, the Grammy Award nominations were announced. Check out the nominees in the categories "Best Song Written for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media", "Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media" and "Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for Visual Media" by [url./news/article/?id=2496]clicking here[]. Congratulations to all the nominees. Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.1746]Max Richter[] ([m.48568]White Boy Rick[]), [c.1240]Rob Simonsen[] ([m.49223]Love, Simon[]) and [c.630]Christopher Lennertz[] ([m.51201]Lost in Space[]), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here[]. Over 40 new soundtrack albums were released this week. [da.2017-11-28]Click...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with Dave Porter

Film Music Magazine News - Vr, 01/12/2017 - 01:48

With his legitimately good talent, composer Dave Porter has often been called upon to play characters that are swaggering geniuses – even if it’s sometimes within their own minds. Rising from the ranks of Philip Glass’ braintrust, Porter went from scoring “Saved’s” crazed cable paramedics to a “Smiley”-faced serial killer and an adrenalin junkie in “Bigger, Stronger Faster*” to truly hitting it big with “Breaking Bad.” Creating the entire musical run for one television’s most acclaimed shows firmly put Porter on the TV map with his prolific scoring on “The Blacklist,” “Flesh and Bone” and “Preacher” A teacher-turned-meth dealer, a crime kingpin, ladder-climbing dancers and a super-angel possessed cleric certainly added to Porter’s repertoire of driven characters. Yet their need for success just might musically pale before the cinematic desire of Tommy Wiseau, the swaggering, real-life auteur of “The Disaster Artist.”

While those populating movie multiplexes might not necessarily be in the know, Wiseau is a legend to his bad movie cult as the architect of “The Room,” a haplessly inept, transfixing hilarious 2003 drama. Seemingly set in another dimension by a filmmaker with a skewed grasp of dialogue, let alone human behavior, “The Room” was the vision of an actor, writer and director who cut an unintentionally fearsome figure for a movie of its sex-filled type. Balancing Wiseau’s striking brand of charisma was the California surfer dude looks of co-star Greg Sistero (played by James’ younger brother Dave), whose book about The Wiseau Experience has now been turned into “The Disaster Artist.” But if “The Room’s” spoon-throwing appeal is making fun of Wiseau’s deeply personal work (one that its director has none-too-convincingly passed off as comedy for his sold-out crowds), “The Disaster Artist” does the furthest thing from mocking the tireless commitment of the enigmatic figure whose movie has entertainingly outlived far better ones.

Listening to the memorably proud, can-do theme that Dave Porter gives “The Disaster Artist,” one might think that he’s scoring a picture dealing with young, upstart people readying themselves for a rocket launch against all odds. And that’s the point for the composer as he joins uber-“Room” fan director / star James Franco in paying heartfelt tribute to Wiseau and Sistero’s unlikely bond. Joining strings with rock guitar, Porter counts down for “The Room’s” climactic premiere with the warmly inspirational string sound of the hopes and dreams driving so many fresh-faced (and likely older than that) Hollywood newcomers. But as rhythmically inspirational as Porter’s work is, the composer’s alt.-accented tribal darkness and off-kilter percussion are also a big part of the picture in hearing Wiseau’s perception of himself as “Frankenstein” out to find a personal connection. For if the similarly-themed “Ed Wood” was about a handsome director who wanted to finally make a truly good film, even more important for “The Disaster Artist” is finding a true friend. It’s an unexpected, emotional complexity for a mystery man that helps Porter create a score that’s both oddball and hopeful, one where obviously comedic music isn’t part of the equation.

Now with a score for a film that’s gotten way more legitimate acclaim than the disaster that gave it birth, Dave Porter’s stay in a greatly refurbished “Room” will hopefully help him enter a bigger cinematic domain, all as he continues to provide feature-worthy television with some of its most uniquely eccentric scoring.

Had you seen “The Room” before you got this film. And if so, what was your reaction to it, and your favorite “Room” moments?

I was aware of the “The Room” and the cult status it had attained, but had never seen it before I started work on “The Disaster Artist.” Once I was in discussions to sign on to the project, I read Greg Sistero’s book first and then watched “The Room.” Or tried, at least. I have to be honest and admit I’ve never made it through the whole thing in one sitting. By now I’ve seen all of it many times, but all at once has always been too much for me.

Have you ever walked away from a project because you knew it was bad, or taken up the challenge because you needed the bread, or hoped your music could somehow make it better? If so, what’s it like trying to musically hold up something that you know is doomed, or that you might be laughed at for doing?

I’m very fortunate at this point in my career that I can be more selective, but every composer coming up in the business has had to work on things that he or she wish they didn’t — either to gain experience or just pay the rent. My goal in those situations was always to do the best work I could, and learn something from the experience.

At what point did you realize you’d truly made it with “Breaking Bad?” And how do you think the show made people perceive you as a composer who could really capture characters with a rebellious streak?

If by “made it” you mean feel like I’d reached a point where I was comfortable in the belief that I would have a sustained and successful career as a composer, that didn’t happen until quite recently…. long after the end of “Breaking Bad.” One show doesn’t make a career, even a wildly successful one. You have to win the trust of a lot of people over the course of a lot of projects to get to that point. As for writing for rebellious and flawed characters, I think those are just the projects that tend to resonate with me the most. Human, relatable, intricate stories of characters at war with the system and at war with themselves… and discovering things about themselves through that fight.

How did “The Disaster Artist” come your way?

I’ve had the pleasure over the past few years of working with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg on the AMC/Sony television series “Preacher.” I believe that it was during one of those meetings that I overheard them talking about “The Disaster Artist” and was quickly intrigued enough to inquire about working on it with them. Luckily for me, they thought I’d be a good fit and introduced me to their friend and frequent collaborator James Franco.

Could you talk about your collaboration with James Franco?

Dave Porter and James Franco

I really enjoyed working with James, and his enthusiasm for the project was infectious. His level of preparation for everything related to the film was absolutely next level, which is immediately clear once you’ve seen him onscreen as Tommy. James and I, along with producers Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Alex McAtee, James Weaver, and picture editor Stacey Schroeder, spent most of our time discussing the tone of the film, which has to walk a very thin line…and the music plays a big role in that. The easy route would be to use the score as a means to make fun of these guys, or be overly foreboding in the knowledge that this was all going to turn out disastrously — but that was never the film James wanted to make. Finding that tonal balance was a process of trial and error, but ultimately I think we found a way to get to where we wanted to be — using the score as a thread that binds Tommy and Greg together and supports them throughout the film on their unique journey — viewing it all from a higher vantage point and highlighting their common struggle and then ultimately their success. When they are apart, the music tells differing stories, but whenever they are together, we connect those moments through the score. In fact, I believe the single repeated melodic theme throughout the film … written for guitar, bass and orchestra… is only used when they are together on screen, which was intentional.

Were you inspired at all by previous films, and scores about self-styled auteurs with the best of intentions, a la “Ed Wood?” And did you try to meet any of the original “Room” people?

No, I didn’t because I really felt like this film was unique… and also current. I’ve had some friendly conversations with Greg Sistero, and I credit his book as the bible that I followed throughout my creative process. For me, his viewpoint of the story is the most interesting and in some ways the moral backbone of the film. If you end up enjoying “The Disaster Artist,” by the way, I highly recommend reading Greg’s book — for all the crazy shit that is in the film, the film only has time to squeeze in a small fraction of what’s in the book.

How important was it for you to play the mindset that Tommy Wiseau was setting out to make the greatest movie ever, even if that’s certainly not what came out?

I do think it was important to underscore and appreciate how much Tommy believed in himself — even when no one else did – and how much he accomplished all by himself. His drive and confidence are the most important factor behind “The Room” — both its failures and successes.

Given that Tommy is a mystery in many respects, and has put on a great front with “The Room,” how important was it for the score to find the “real” person in him?

My hope is that the score is able to both heighten the mystery surrounding Tommy and also truly empathize with him — for me that very mystery and the strange mixture of being both shy and bold makes him all the more human. We were all able to follow James Franco’s lead in illustrating that Tommy is a complicated and multi-faceted person…. like all of us.

There’s also a primal, drumming vibe to whenever Tommy is trying to “act.” How do you think that showed his “process,” especially when he’s freaking out on the set?

I did use a lot of percussion in the scenes where Tommy is auditioning and doing his best to be a good actor – particularly when those scenes were ultimately humorous. Percussion can have the wonderful ability to be less emotionally judgmental than melodic instruments, which was part of my reasoning. The other was that I was trying to instill a sense of futility and frustration… that literal banging of one’s head into the wall that everyone who has ever tried to do something creative has felt.

Do you think your use of the strings imparts a necessary seriousness to the score?

An orchestra is a wondrous and powerful thing, but I very much believe that power is overused in a lot of film and TV scores. I think there is a sense that it is required to add “seriousness” or credibility when in fact it can easily overwhelm. I love writing for orchestra, but in some cases –“Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul” for example, it simply isn’t the best creative choice. But if there was ever a movie that could support an orchestra, it is “The Disaster Artist,” which after all is the most Hollywood of Hollywood stories. My goal was to try to recreate the sweeping scale and emotion of the classic Hollywood film scores through a more streamlined and modern sounding score… and only an orchestra would do.

What did you think of Mladen Milicevic’s score for “The Room,” and did you want to capture any of its spirit here?

The score from “The Room” appears briefly during the premiere screening and again during the side-by-side “making of” comparisons at the end because in those moments we wanted to be authentic to the original film. I didn’t reference it in my own score. I wanted them to sound distinct, because the score of “The Disaster Artist” is telling a different story than that of “The Room.” Keeping them distinct did play into some of my orchestration decisions —- I avoided using piano in my score, for example, because it is featured in the original.

Could you relate to Tommy and Greg trying to make it in Hollywood?

I absolutely can. I had been struggling for many years before any success came my way, have had many highs and lows, and stumbled into roadblocks that made me want to quit. But I didn’t. And success, when it did come, came from a path I never expected…. and I’m sure that’s true for many of us.

In your own life, have you come across composers similarly deluded about their own talents, especially after you’ve watched a screening where the movie, and music was less than brilliant?

Yes. Me.

I’m a big fan of “Preacher.” Could you talk about scoring such a gleefully heretical show? And how do you expect to play God when he shows up?

I’m glad to hear that. It is such a brave show, and such a hard show to create, that I’m always gratified when folks are drawn into it. Obviously, it isn’t for everyone. But for those who can wrap their heads around it, it’s an amazing ride. In terms of the score the greatest challenge to “Preacher” is simply that there aren’t any rules or constraints… and in fact the more unexpected the better. That challenge is why I love it so much and also why it is sometimes so daunting to work on. As far as a score for God goes, we’ll have to see… but I can guarantee it won’t be harps and boy’s choir. That wouldn’t be “Preacher.”

Do you think it’s ironic that a good score, and film can be made from one of the most hilariously awful films of all time?

Not at all. There is no success without failure, and whatever I’ve learned about scoring films and television I’ve learned by making mistakes. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some terrific talents who understand that and allow for it in the creative process.

How do you hope that “The Disaster Artist” would help you break into features with the same success you’ve found on television?

If you had asked me when I was 15 years old what I wanted to be doing I would have told you I wanted to be scoring films. Anything else would be merely a stepping-stone to that pinnacle of the craft. Now, of course, the landscape has changed greatly. I’ve been fortunate enough to work on television shows that are the envy of most films, and the level of craftsmanship between the two mediums is no longer different. I will always love scoring great television dramas, and like most of the composers of my generation I relish the unique challenges and the creative variety of working in both mediums. Hopefully I’ll be lucky enough to continue to do so.

In a way, do you think your score, and “The Disaster Artist” has retroactively helped make “The Room” better? Would you hope that “The Disaster Artist” reaches the cult popularity of people throwing spoons at it? Or is it just too good for that?

I think “The Disaster Artist” will help make “The Room” better understood, and will certainly bring a new audience to it. I don’t believe that “The Disaster Artist” will be a cult film – quite the contrary. From the screenings I’ve attended it has all the makings of a film that will be broadly enjoyed, both by diehard fanatics of “The Room” and those who don’t know anything about that film. And that’s a great testament to the brilliance and hard work of James Franco, the entire cast, and everyone else who invested themselves so passionately into the project. The response has been very gratifying, and I feel very fortunate to have been a small part of it.

“The Disaster Artist” opens on December 1st, with Dave Porter’s score available soon on WaterTower Music.

Go “Breaking Bad” with Dave Porter HERE as he calls Saul HERE, then goes dancing with “Flesh and Bone” HERE and puts himself on “The Blacklist” HERE

Visit Dave Porter’s website HERE

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Discovery Channel to Release 'Manhunt: Unabomber' Soundtrack

Soundtrack News - Vr, 01/12/2017 - 01:00
Discovery Channel will release the [a.22112]Manhunt: UNABOMBER – Original Series Soundtrack[] on December 15th. The soundtrack features original music by composer [c.3204]Gregory Tripi[] ([m.49816]Rememory[], [m.39039]The Knick[] additional music). "When [director] Greg Yaitanes and I began discussing the music for [m.50147]Manhunt[], there wasn't any temp track or decisions made other than going in an electronic direction," explained Tripi. "Greg had been a big fan of the music that [c.124]Cliff Martinez[] and I did for [m.39039]The Knick[], so he and the music supervisor, [c.4049]PJ Bloom[], approached me about doing the show." "The face-to-face meetings between Sam Worthington and Paul Bettany (FBI agent Fitz and The...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Audio: Interview with Alexandre Desplat

Film Music Magazine News - Wo, 29/11/2017 - 02:10

ON THE SCORE is sponsored by La-La Land Records

Since his international breakthrough score for “Girl with a Pearl Earing,” Alexander Desplat has painted memorably melodic portraits of impossible love from “Birth” to “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “The Danish Girl.” But Frenchmen are ever the romantics when it comes to pairing unlikely soulmates, especially when they happen to be a mute, American washwoman and an Amazonian Gilman. Mix their obsession with France’s amour of aquatic music, and you just might hear the Oscar-winning composer’s wondrously romantic, and not just a little bit scary achievement at giving magical form to “The Shape of Water”.

Desplat has his own perfect filmmaking partner in Mexico’s Guillermo Del Toro, a visually ravishing director hopelessly captivated at digging into audiences’ primal love of the monstrous outsider with the likes of “Hellboy,” “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Crimson Peak.” In a career spent making characters fall head over heels for demons and ghosts, “The Shape of Water” now unleashes his sympathy for these misunderstood outsiders like never before. It’s a decidedly adult, and carnally fulfilling fairy tale that Desplat bathes in his country’s unmistakable language of love, creating utterly gorgeous themes of whimsy, sensuality and heartbreak that are as perfect a fit for Paris as they are an heroine’s Hollywood-fed dreams in the dangerous, spy-filled reality of America’s Cold War. It’s in a facility’s lagoon lab in which she finds the creature of her dreams, their growing bond communicated with such musical elements as whistling, dark suspense, heartbreaking tragedy and lush, sweeping strings that all conjure beauty and the beast like never before.


Now on a new episode of “On the Score,” Alexandre Desplat reveals the alchemy of the year’s most unlikely, romantic score for “The Shape of Water,” as well as talking about his twisted period take on the human monster land of “Suburbicon” and taking his symphonic talents to deliriously fun heights alongside “Valerian & The City of a Thousand Planets.”

Click above to Listen Now or Click Here to Download

Buy the Soundtrack: THE SHAPE OF WATER Buy the Soundtrack: SUBURBICON Buy the Soundtrack: VALERIAN & THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS Visit Alexandre Desplat’s Website
Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Grammy Nominations Announced

Soundtrack News - Wo, 29/11/2017 - 01:00
The nominations for the 60th Annual Grammy Awards were announced today. The nominees in film music related categories are as follows: Best Song Written for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media: "City Of Stars" - [m.43740]La La Land[] Songwriters: [c.2205]Justin Hurwitz[], [c.3472]Benj Pasek[] & [c.3473]Justin Paul[] "How Far I'll Go" - [m.42413]Moana[] Songwriter: [c.1885]Lin-Manuel Miranda[] "I Don't Wanna Live Forever" - [m.43704]Fifty Shades Darker[] Songwriters: [c.] Jack Antonoff[], [c.]Sam Dew[] & [c.]Taylor Swift[] "Never Give Up" - [m.45859]Lion[] Songwriters: [c.]Sia Furler[] & [c.13082]Greg Kurstin[] "Stand Up For Something" - [m.48246]Marshall[] Songwriters: [c.14721]Common[] & [c.]Diane Warren[] Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media:...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Weekly Roundup: November 24

Soundtrack News - Za, 25/11/2017 - 01:00
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.58]Danny Elfman[] ([m.39880]Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas[]), [c.827]Heitor Pereira[] ([m.49328]Smallfoot[]) and [c.2159]Matthew Margeson[] ([m.51037]Truth or Dare[]), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here[]. Over 25 new soundtrack albums were released this week. [da.2017-11-21]Click here for the full schedule[]. Opening in theaters nationwide this week is (with music by): [m.41886]Coco[] ([c.534]Michael Giacchino[]). Expanding nationwide from its limited release last week is [m.47736]Roman J. Israel, Esq.[] ([c.151]James Newton Howard[]). Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for: -...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with Dario Marianelli

Film Music Magazine News - Wo, 22/11/2017 - 02:21

For a 54 year-old musician hailing from Tuscany, Dario Marianelli has seemingly been part of British history more than many English composers. Possessed of the kind of sweeping lyricism that seems to a birth rite to those compatriots born on either side of The Channel, Marianelli’s early works for Irish filmmaker Paddy Breathnach on “Alisa,” “The Long Way Home” and “I Went Down” yielded explorations of The French Revolution (“Pandaemonium”) an ancient Indian clash (“The Warrior”) and the Pakistan refugee crisis (“In This World”) before his bucolic talent finally landed Marianelli in the romantic English countryside of “I Capture the Castle.”

Marianelli’s costume drama-tailored talents were a natural fit for the Jane Austen landscape of “Pride and Prejudice,” his first collaboration with filmmaker Joe Wright that yielded an international, Oscar-nominated breakthrough. Marianelli’s since shown his diversity from battling a witch alongside “The Brothers Grimm” to the animated fantasies “Boxtrolls” and “Kubo and the Two Strings” His ravishing sense of feminine empathy has distinguished “Jane Eyre” “Agora” and “Anna Karenina,” a tragic sense of love lost that swept over his next teaming with Wright for the English WW2 drama “Atonement,” a score which brought him the acclaimed film’s sole Oscar win. Now after hitting the mean, classic streets of Los Angels for “The Soloist,” time is on the backwards march again for Marianelli and Wright as both give all of their rallying passion to a speech that signaled Britain would overcome its “Darkest Hour.”

Marianelli’s steps into historical drama have certainly sounded dire, especially when playing a dystopian fascist England in “V for Vendetta.” Here that threat is very close, and real for a German invasion that almost happened to a besieged island nation. Its newly appointed Prime Minister Winston Churchill spends his time combatting his own party as much as the German army, to whom Nazi appeasers urge a peace treaty in the face of an overwhelming defeat at Dunkirk. But this wily bulldog of a political leader isn’t about to be overthrown, a resistance that Marianelli’s rhythmically alarmed music signals with surging brass and bombs bursting in air. However, there’s wily humor as well to his score given Gary Oldman’s sputtering, irascible leader whom at times seems more Benny Hill than savior of a nation. He’s also a man filled with self-doubt, as the soundtrack tenderly expresses. Given a hubbub of suspense and emotion, Marianelli is certainly at the top of his thematic, nationalistic fervor here in leading the charge against Hitler, strings rising with pride for the speech to end all valorous stands for England’s fighting spirit. But then, given Marianelli’s own connection to this beloved country, one can’t imagine a more powerful, or humane salute to all that England defiantly stands for in the face of its devastation, as embodied by its thematically stout of heart, slightly crazed champion in his “Darkest Hour.”

How important has living in England been to you as a composer, especially when it comes to the country’s role in your creative evolution?

Anyone who has learnt to speak another language to proficiency will recognize that with the new language we discover also a new part of ourselves. This has definitely been my own experience, and I know that I have been profoundly changed by my almost 30 years in England. It is pretty impossible to qualify or quantify the effect that this has had on my music, but I have no doubt that the effect is there. Some of my scores brought me closer to the work of some of the best British writers, and that has also shaped every successive work.

How did you first come to Joe Wright’s attention with “Pride and Prejudice?” And did that set a classical tone of sorts for your future collaborations?

I was introduced to Joe by producer Paul Webster, who very perceptively imagined what Joe might need at that point in his own development, and had seen some of that in my music. “Pride and Prejudice” was probably the most important of all our collaborations, in the sense that we learnt to trust each other in many different ways, we discovered a number of things that are important for both of us. As for the classical tone, I am always at a loss when I hear that word, and I am certain that “classical” means different things to different people. I’d rather stay away from those dangerous words.

Did you do your own research into Winston Churchill after getting the “Darkest Hour” assignment?

A little: initially to find out if Churchill liked music, and what he would be listening to, if he did. Not much, it turns out. Joe was thinking of having some soldiers singing at the end of the movie, while my initial vague notion for the score was to incorporate in some way the “voice of the people”. I started researching old British folk music from the past centuries. I was following the idea that those old tunes carry something of the people from which they sprung. I also imagined that “the people” were present all along, even if what we see on screen is mostly the upper class wrestling with the nation’s destiny. I intended to rework the accompaniment of some old folk tunes, and some of that work is still in the score, even if the folk tunes have completely gone. In fact, we ended up abandoning the idea of using voices altogether, even if we recorded some. It wasn’t feeling right, because it introduced a note of nostalgia that we wanted to stay away from.

What was your collaboration like with Joe on “Darkest Hour,” and what was he particularly looking for the score to accomplish?

Like always, a number of early experiments start our conversation about what is or isn’t working. Joe was keen for the score to maintain a forward sense of propulsion, reflecting Churchill’s restlessness, his mind forever throwing around new ideas.

A big appeal of Gary Oldman’s Churchill is the humor that he brings to the role. How did you want to capture that wit and outsized character, while not making it buffoonish?

I think the job of capturing what you describe was already done brilliantly by Gary, and I never felt the need to double up what is already amply visible on screen. It’s a good thing, I think, that when an actor does all that very detailed and layered work, the music is free to do something else. In this case the music could try following the momentum of the events and of an increasing sense of dread; and give a presence to the invisible but never stopping the interior motor propelling Churchill from one idea to the next. In a sense his pace is a good match for the speed at which events unfold at the start of the war. A lot happens very fast in those first few weeks of war, and the right man for the job was one with the type of mind in which a lot happens, and very fast. Joe showed me very early on a photo of Gary Oldman as Churchill walking briskly, leaning forward. It was a good image to keep in my mind when I was writing the first few pieces, trying to lean forward with the music as well.

While Winston may have been from the higher classes, he was anything but a stuffed shirt. How did you want to get across the cultural clash between his brusque manner and the far more refined politicians and royalty that he deals with?

The only place where the score goes anywhere near what you describe is the meeting between Churchill and the King at Buckingham Palace. It is an odd piece, the “odd one out”, if you wish, and it was meant to underline the pomposity of the occasion, which Joe so unashamedly sends up.

While we see some of the conflict of World War II, most of “Darkest Hour” is concerned with the political maneuverings in the English Parliament. How did you want to capture those dealings, while also telling us about the far bigger global stage the movie takes place on?

The “dealings” are there, in the story, the global stage also, well in view. Instead of capturing anything that might already be there, I think of music as something that can help building a unified world within the boundaries of the film, something that contributes to the aesthetics of what the spectator is exposed to, and has some emotional resonance. It is obvious that the film is not shot as a documentary; that it is stylized, to a great extent. The construction of that stylized, self-contained world is a pro-active endeavor. There’s nothing to capture until we have built it. For me, rather than capturing, it’s more a matter of building another voice that “sings” the story from a different, non-verbal, emotional place.

How did you want to capture the mobilizing military in the score? You use some particularly interesting techniques that sound like exploding artillery in “Darkest Hour” as well.

That’s exactly what they are: I built a rhythmical percussive track using the sound of artillery, of explosions. It continues an ongoing experiment with the blurring of boundaries between what we see and what we hear. I didn’t particularly want to capture the mobilizing military. Loud explosions have a more primal, disturbing effect on me as a listener, and I imagine on many other people too. My parents remember those sounds from the war, their home towns were bombed heavily. I have often imagined what lasting affect that can have on a child: it goes much deeper than being a token sound for the military.

The outcome of Dunkirk weighs heavily on Churchill’s decision. Having scored those events for Joe’s “Atonement,” do you think of this as a “sequel” score as such?

Not really, although the thought crossed our mind that we might have musically quoted that earlier movie. This was especially when at the start of the work with Joe we were entertaining ideas of male choirs, and soldiers singing. We abandoned that line of thinking quite soon, to concentrate instead on the more propulsive function of the music.

One of my favorite scores of yours is “V For Vendetta,” a more relevant-than-ever movie about a fascist takeover. Given that England was facing this, do you think there are thematic ideas in how you played Hitler’s threat that connect “Darkest Hour” to that score?

This is interesting. I can recognize in the music of “Darkest Hour” a faint connection to the music of “V for Vendetta.” There is an “aspirational” harmonic sequence, something that is forever trying to “raise”, in both scores, and they both use a particular chord shift. I didn’t do it particularly consciously, but it is there, and it might be a reflection of my gut musical reaction to the idea of freedom from bullying and oppression, literally an “up-rise”.

It’s rare to see a pianist noted on an album. Could you tell us about Vikingur Olafsson and what makes him so import to “Darkest Hour?”

Joe asked me to have a listen to Vikingur’s album of Philip Glass piano music. I agreed that it was beautiful, and that it had the right balance of expression and clarity without being overly “romantic” (another dangerous word!). As there was a fair amount of piano in the score, we thought Vikingur would be the ideal interpreter.

Many films have that “big speech” score. With “Darkest Hour” centering around one of the most famous speeches in history, how difficult was it to score that central sequence?

It turned out it wasn’t particularly hard: my very first draft is what’s in the movie. It was an exercise in not doing too much too soon, but keep the sense of swelling until the last moment.

Do you think’s there’s a thematically old-school, highly melodic feeling to your music that makes your particularly right for historical films such as “Churchill?”

I have never thought of this, and I am not sure that my approach is more “right” than any other. I scored a specific film called “Darkest Hour” by Joe Wright, and I approached, as I always do, on its own merit, and not thinking that it was a certain “type” of film. The couple of films I scored before, “Everest” and “Kubo and the two Strings” couldn’t have been more different, and I have just finished “Paddington 2″. None of them are historical films, but I suppose there is some consistency in the way I approach a movie. I’m not sure if it is “old school”: I might be the worse person to ask that kind of question, I am not even sure that I have a “style”, whatever that means; never mind belonging to a school.

How do you think “Darkest Hour” stands out among your collaborations for Joe Wright?

I am very proud of all my collaborations with Joe: he is a very “inspiring” director. I always feel that he actively makes space for me, to allow the music to become a character in the movie, and that’s a rare gift to any composer. On every further collaboration with him I end feeling I really have learnt something new, about music, and about storytelling.

“Darkest Hour” opens on November 22, with Dario Marianelli’s score available on Deutsche Grammophon Records HERE. Then flash back with Dario and director Joe Wright’s collaborations on “Atonement” HERE and “Pride and Prejudice” HERE

On Friday December 1st at UCLA’s Royce Hall, join such composers as Thomas Newman, John Debney and Robert Folk as they bring Drew Struzan’s poster art to musical life with the Golden State Pops Orchestra. Get your tickets HERE

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

November Soundtrack Picks

Film Music Magazine News - Di, 21/11/2017 - 02:11

November Soundtrack Picks: “THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM” is the top soundtrack to own for November, 2017





Price: $9.49

What is it?: In their nearly two decades together, the Dynamic Music Partners trio of Lolita Ritmanis, Michael McCuistion and Kristopher Carter have risen from being under the wing of composer Shirley Walker on “Batman: The Animated Series” to becoming the principle animated avengers for what seems to be nearly every superhero from Marvel and DC to hit the TV and DTV universe.

Why should you buy it?: Nothing quite brings out Dynamic’s origin story like being in the company of The Dark Knight, even if that got a bit too pessimistic for its own good with “The Killing Joke.” Thankfully, the retro “Return of the Caped Crusaders” (on La La Land Records) gave the trio permission to musically laugh again as they resurrected that jazzy, bat-tusi style of Neal Hefti for the voice talents of O.G. dynamic duo Adam West and Burt Ward. Now “Batman Vs. Two Face” and “Batman and Harley Quinn” continue that groovy crime-fighting sound, if with unintentional, melancholy emotion in the first soundtrack’s case given West’s passing. With a singular, musical identity, the partners pour on the hip brass punches, while swinging with William Shatner noir cool as he takes on the dual identity of worst D.A. ever Harvey Dent. Even as he’s given dark and stormy orchestral stylings that might befit a 1940’s Universal monster, “Two Face’s” score does its best to approximate what you might have heard if you turned this cartoon on during Saturday morning, circa 1967 – if done with way more musical finesse, though that doesn’t mask some hilariously cartoony moments like Egyptian riffs or game show music as part of “Two Face’s” wackiness.

Extra Special: While “Two Face” also offers some seductively purring rhythm for the inclusion of Catwoman, “Harley Quinn” most definitely puts out with vixen-ish girl power. Likely the most gonzo animated feature (as well as the most WTF fun one) to come from DC’s animated features, this present-day set adventure teams the Joker’s psycho sexual squeeze with a decidedly uninterested Batman and a sidekick not displeased to get his nightwing waxed. With them out to stop Poison Ivy’s plans to turn everyone into trees, you might see why the Dynamic trio weren’t particularly afraid to go for the gonzo gusto here. While there is a fair amount of sleuthing and tree-thing fighting action that gets played excitingly straight, “Quinn” really shines in its sax-y Jessica Rabbit-worthy passages that radiate bad girl panache. It’s a nice return to the brass and piano vibes that distinguished the more smoldering noir elements they abetted on “Batman: The Animated Series’” scoring (including one outright Shirley Walker theme tribute quote). But that doesn’t stop “Harley” from rocking out with electric guitar action, or goofing on big, bell-ringing music for that big hero reveal, even if Swamp Thing’s appearance is as much of a witty anticlimax as everything else about this toon. Thoroughly fun from start to finish on both counts, “Two Face” and “Harley Quinn” shows the magic that happens when dark knight toon music isn’t trying to be so serious.



Price: $26.99 / $29.99

What is it?: From the silent era of a pianist accompanying “The Ten Commandments” in a movie house to a sound stage’s massive orchestra recording the score to “Gladiator,” the time-worn sword-and-sandal genre has always given composers epic chances to play ancient clashes for old time religion, or mythic blood and fury. Now two excellent examples of bronze and silver age spins on The Good Book and godly legend shine with the full releases of Miklos Rozsa’s “Ben-Hur” and James Horner’s “Troy.”

Why should you buy it?: That Tadlow producer James Fitzpatrick announced his release with “Oh no, not another ‘Ben-Hur!’” should tell you just how many times that Rozsa’s masterpiece has done a turn around the chariot lap spinner to the point of exhaustion. But given his excellent, re-performed work on such other Christian avenging Rozsa epics as “El Cid” and “Sodom and Gomorrah,” there’s no doubt that Fitzpatrick, conductor Nic Raine and The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus wouldn’t bring more hosanna resonance to this understandably oft-played score. Where the whole nature of these Eastern European versions of classic Hollywood scores used to be the sonic equivalent of a Roman slave galley, their ever-increasing handle on some mighty oars to row (as well as satellite performances for new Hollywood films) has grown exponentially to the point where they’re the indistinguishable equal to the real deal. The passion of the Christ, and a Hungarian composer who could play his trumpeting radiance like few others certainly makes this take on “Ben-Hur” into a religious experience. Legions of trumpeters unleash chariot fanfares, resplendent melody announces a Son of God whose face we never clearly see, and the punishing anguish of the Cavalry procession connects the anguish lashes against the Son of God with the Judean hero. But for me, the drum-pounding, ever accelerating highlight has always been Rozsa’s sea battle, which breathlessly builds its rowers to darkly symphonic, relentlessly pounding ramming speed. Tadlow’s new “Ben-Hur” is certainly that last word on a score that will doubtlessly get redone a few more times, with all of the composer’s mighty score on deck, including cues both unreleased on album and unused in the film. Given what seems like a choral and orchestral cast of hundreds here, complete with organ for the healing blood of Christ, “Ben-Hur” rocks out like never before in a way that sounds like it was recorded back in 1959, yet given modern resonance. If we weren’t believers in the restorative miracles that Fitzpatrick and Tadlow have been performing, this ultimate “Hur” is manna from the heaven of epically emotional scoring the Rozsa way.

Extra Special: While Rozsa certainly would have appreciated composer Gabriel Yared’s unabashedly old-school orchestral approach to 2004’s “Troy,” a test screening killed his effort more surely than a sword battle with Achilles would have. Scrambling for a replacement score, Warner Brothers gave James Horner the Herculean task of composing just about two hours of music in two weeks, with no chance for a retreat. But then, for a composer at the top of his game, who’d more than proven his battling worth on the likes of “Glory,” “Braveheart” and “Enemy at the Gates,” there was never doubt that he’d deliver a memorable score that would show no evidence of timely duress. However, it wasn’t as if Horner turned his back on an old-school approach. The difference is that he’d imbue it with a mythically modern feeling to squeeze inside of the famed wooden horse, starting by combining electronics with an orchestra. Another factor in contemporizing “Troy” was to play the Greek legend with a historically “accurate” feel, using alternately moaning and angelic female voices. The drum hits of ancient percussion instruments and winds, that while not being exactly native to the time, certainly felt like they were from it. But most importantly when it came to orchestration, Horner knew how to use a brass-driven orchestra for all of its darkly heroic and noble worth. “Troy” is a score that’s wonderfully replete with “Horner-isms,” from trilling horns to darkly rumbling pianos and enough quotes from Prokofiev’s style to make you think the Russian revolution was being waged here as opposed to a Greek attack. As he’d shown to Oscar-winning effect on “Titanic,” another of Horner’s memorable talents was to capture the emotional feeling of lovers trying to outrace a tragedy beyond their reckoning, a balance between fury and feeling that impactfully plays into “Troy’s” fleshed-out depiction of gravely flawed heroes, warriors and star-crossed lovers alike, making the kind of bad judgments that ensure them a place in legend. In the annals of scoring as its own myth making, there were few golden gods like Horner, and given the swift chance to play the likes of Achilles. Ajax and Helen of Troy, Horner delivered a grandly thematic score that in its own right was one for the ages of a tragically cut short career that was already the stuff of scoring legend when he perished. Intrada’s two-disc set gives us “Troy” in all of its sweeping glory, while also showing off Horner’s exceptional talent at turning a main melody to song with two versions of the Josh Groban-performed “Remember.” That even “Troy’s” approach almost seems like ancient history says much about how the best past and present, shield-bearing scores had no better weapon than a composer who was highly skilled with the lessons of maestros past to wield their thematic shields in both battle, and belief, a valor nicely recounted in John Takis’ liner notes.



Price: $15.98 / $11.66

What is it?: Murder most foul stalks two superbly atmospheric soundtracks, as a practitioner of Nordic Noir investigates a mad slasher in London, before an American composer often faced with serial killers traces one across a snowy expanse.

Why Should You Buy It?: Sweden’s Johan Soderqvist made an international impact in the company of a not-so child vampire with his haunting score for the unequaled “Let the Right One In.” Since then he’s kept in good, sinister company for “Murder Farm,” “The King of Devil’s Island” and the original Scandinavian TV version of “The Bridge” – all of which validate his passport to his first full-blooded English language, Cockney-accented thriller. London never had a chance as he announces his cruelly suspenseful intentions for “The Limehouse Golem” with a thunderously soaring, brass-pounding theme that might make you think Fedex has arrived at the door with Gwyneth Paltrow’s head in a box. There’s very much a feminine quality to the composer’s investigation, especially given a woman to save from an unjust hanging, who’s seemingly murdered a husband who was the gnarliest killer this side of Jack the Ripper. Given Soderqvist’s empathetic work for Susan Bier on “After the Wedding” and “Love is All You Need,” the composer’s knife-like melodic precision creates a lovely damsel-in-distress motif for an always gravely concerned Bill Nighy to rescue. When the music isn’t lurching through the city with the panache of a Hammer horror film, Soderqvist’s score displays surprising tenderness, all the better to employ eerie metallic effects and fog-like strings for the neat twists and turns from music hall to courtroom and the executioner’s gallows. Soderqvist captures the lower women-for-sale classes alongside aristocratic refinement with a piano and violin-topped orchestral, all while never forgetting to unleash the visceral, brassy goods. It’s the aural equivalent of following a killer in the London fog from a slow, suspenseful walk to a full, terrifying bolt. It’s a superbly constructed score that swoons with the woe of humanity at its most sodden and cruel, yet does so with real Gothic beauty, as well as some naughty dance hall songs to boot – with all cobblestone alleys leading to a mad crescendo that’s this year’s most bone-chillingly romantic celebration of the audience applause celebrity that slashing brings. One can only hope that Soderqvist continues to keep in the good company of fictional serial killers after this terrific score.

Extra Special: Given a serial killer thriller that critics pilloried as if “The Snowman” was the devil himself, one might expect Hollywood’s English-language take on Nordic noir to be as appetizing as yellow slush on a sidewalk. And while it’s super genius killer might be stupider than a know-it-all Scooby Doo foe when it comes to watching his step, “The Snowman” is actually a fairly engrossing and atmospheric film, certainly better at its goals than the D.O.A. redo of “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” especially given a score by a Malibu-ite and his forensic team who’ve musically handled more serial killers than a few seasons of “Mindhunter” – not to mention the sound of icy death in “Snowpiercer.” Both senses for cold, and twisted psychologically come into play very well here in a score that’s a Scandinavian-accented landscape of strings, piano and the crystalline sound of the native Nyckelharpa, all conjuring vibe of a Hans Christian Anderson child-eating ghoul if there ever was a signature for supernatural evil. The winds above are full of eerily howling textures and ghostly voices, creating a texturally, and unnervingly spellbinding score. Certainly gifted with the melodic touch of his mentor Jerry Goldmsith, Beltrami conveys a burned-out master detective steadily building his case, each chiming bell, anguished string and delicate piano layering on a gripping sense of mystery in a way that Bernard Herrmann would also likely admire. There’s a welcome intelligence at work in Beltrami’s nicely lyrical approach that doesn’t hesitate to lay on the bigger, symphonically pounding thrills that the composer often applies to more supernaturally monstrous subject matter. But for the most part, “The Snowman” is smarter than the average bear when it comes to the serial killer score genre, wickedly clever in laying on its geographic touches while treating a taunting murderer with suspensefully melodic finesse that shows there are few better, or more creative expatriate composers than Beltrami at solving Norwegian murder most foul, or frozen.



Price: $11.78/ $11.49

What is it?: Whether using world beats, massive orchestras or barely perceptible electronics, Thomas Newman has long combined the ethereally experimental with pleasing melody, or gone for confrontational darkness when the subject ordered it. Now he once again shows his diversity with two scores that take a look at abetting one’s commander in chief, whether he’s an uncaring army bureaucracy or a queen looking for a servant who isn’t afraid to speak above his station.

Why should you buy it?: Thomas Newman has served two musical tours of duty in Iraq and the Homefront before with “Jarhead” and “Brothers.” One was an ironic crazy-quilt that captured the madness of a man trained to kill (who never quite does), with the second a guitar-centric score that chronicled the mental dissolution of a soldier who can’t escape the bloody barbarity he was forced into, even when back in hearth and home. Following the psychologically, and physically walking wounded on their return to America, Newman balances a lyrical guitar theme with haunted, crystalline sampling that reveals men who can’t go home again in one piece. Even with a somber orchestra, it’s a score that mostly whispers for its characters’ problems as opposed to dramatically shouting about them – a bold, underplayed approach given the suicidal emotion at hand. But having played any number of protagonists repressing their inner darkness in his repertoire, Newman has a poignant understand of violence’s clamming-up effect on people – understanding and conveying their musical feelings like a sympathetic VA shrink would. Its instrumentation plays a gritty, woodsy America where panic-inducing flashbacks lurk behind every loud noise or fitful slumber, nightmarish sampling that makes for “Service’s” most troubling passages. Yet there’s hope for redemption amidst the weird PTSD passages of Newman’s score, melody that comes from the ghosts of Iraq, as a weirdly angelic female voice and alt. chords give a sense of potential redemption ahead on a poignantly haunted road that he’s welcome to return to for another perceptive tour of duty.

Extra Special: As the son of Alfred Newman, a symphonically regal composer often given to playing period film and royalty, it was only natural that Thomas would shine with regal orchestrations in such scores as “Little Women,” “Oscar and Lucinda” and “The Iron Lady.” Going back in time with an English matriarch from 10 Downing Street to Buckingham Palace for “Victoria & Abdul,” Newman immediately trumpets the formidable presence of Queen Victoria. But then with a quick segue into the kind of alt. Indian raga that was particularly good company with him for two stays at The Exotic Marigold Hotel, Newman just as effectively announces the cultural music masala that will make up this tasty score as an honorable native of Britain’s colony makes the trip to present Queen Victoria with a token of appreciation. That the beyond-genial Abdul doesn’t behave like the silent, subservient Coolie the royal court is expecting gives no end of playfulness to the score, which uses harpsichords, chorus, piano and snooty lushness for the aghast reactions to a turbaned interloper as he swiftly, and innocently ingratiates himself with the seemingly crotchety monarch. Newman opens up their ersatz mother-son relationship with tenderness, using the lightest, gossamer touch for strings, percussion and ethnic winds to get across a friendly match that’s the best of both worlds. But there’s also the feeling of how heavy hangs the crowned head in the somberness that Newman also conveys for this intimate, ultimately sadly soaring cultural bond amidst a far bigger, and colder political landscape. With his pomp and circumstance, Newman never makes us forget we’re in the presence of a Queen. But it’s the humor and humanity of its Indian-inflected music culture swapping that very much puts us in the lovely presence of two down-to-earth people seeking the best from one another’s cultures that makes Newman’s score sing in an especially resonant way.


Price: $9.49

What is it?: When going down the list of potential composers to score a superhero that Marvel has been trying to figure out what do with over two enjoyably uneven solo films, perhaps the last guy you might pick for the gig would be Mark Mothersbaugh. The 70’s puckish pseudo-punk anarchist who helped define synth pop wackiness as part of Devo, Mothersbaugh has since channeled his scoring talents into the obvious realms of kid animation and ironic comedy, two places where he could let his musical wit romp about – even though his terrific, unexpected action score for “Safe” showed there was distinctly more adult stuff lurking underneath his kooky Clark Kent veneer. But leave it to Mothersbaugh’s absurdist, superhero scoring for the anything-goes “Lego Movie” to show Marvel that he could indeed cross the Bifrost Bridge to demolish Asgard in colorful style. That Mothersbaugh treats the Son of Odin with due Wagnerian respect while throwing him into a bleep-bloop wonderland of 80’s video arcade stylings makes “Thor Ragnarok” easily the most delightfully crazy score of the MCU movie bunch with a soundtrack that rides with the Valkyries into a Donkey Kong disco.

Why should you buy it?: That Mothersbaugh can jet dimensions for a deeply moving, Norse violin farewell to Odin to a colorful junkyard world of absurdist aliens who might decorate an episode of “Pee Wee’s Playhouse” that he scored says much about “Ragnarok’s” continual, joyous inventiveness. Hela, as delightfully played with Tallulah Bankhead drollery by Cate Blanchet, is given the super villainess formidability of a dastardly, pounding symphony and chorus that would put Darth Vader to shame. But if his music takes her seriously, his approach to the always eccentric Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster is a terrific return to the electronic days of Devo, if considerably souped up in keyboard silliness that that begs for a retro stadium death match with Tyler Bates’ equally goofball take on The Guardians of the Galaxy, When goldilocks-minus Thor takes on ultra-armored Hulk in the arena, the raging duel between orchestra and primal Atari-synth energy is utterly unexpected, and totally genius as to how seamlessly Mothersbaugh combines life-or-death seriousness with an exciting game of Dig-Dug. Throwback synths a la John Carpenter might start a “Flashback” of the Valkyries’ heroically futile fight against Hela, but voices make their slow-motion destruction especially eerie. In perhaps the score’s most delightful cue “What Heroes Do,” Thor’s big noble breakout starts with a beat that you swear to the All-Father is going to go right into Europe’s “The Final Countdown,” yet Mothersbaugh retains an exciting nobility that never derides into making his music a joke.

Extra Special: “Thor Ragnarok” might have one big Devil’s Anus of stylistic wormholes to jump through, but leave it to this solidly thematic, and crazily melodic score to make this into a cohesive thrill ride that shows just how far a traditional superhero score can be pushed into the dimension of Atari generation geekiness while still retaining its might. It’s a colorful comic book movie splash page that’s beyond clever in all of the enthusiastic, best ways fans of a certain Jack Kirby, Pong-playing audience could hope for that at last gets Thor and his universe right, even as it annihilates most of them. I can’t wait to see what retro universe Mothersbaugh might be jumping to alongside these characters, with Wagner in tow of course.



The evil spawn movie that really started an onslaught of killer kid pictures, 1956’s “The Bad Seed” was blessed with a deliciously twisted score by Alex North, then making a newborn move into horror-suspense after slashing the conventional notions of dramatic scoring with such seminal works as “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “Viva Zapata!” Right from a brassily swirling, modernist main title that quotes the 18th century folksong Au Claire de la Lune (which sounds quite a bit like “Itsy Bitsy Spider”), North weaves a malicious web for the adorable, pig-tailed Rhoda to murderously rend asunder the unsuspecting adults around her. Like such Avant-garde composers of the time as Leonard Rosenman (“Rebel Without A Cause”), North snuck about the system, playing nice with melody until he could twist it about with dissonant effects, a technique which does much to suggest the malicious intent of an eight year-old. Using the kind of instrumentation one might expect for the kind of little kids who’d be romping about with Lassie, North gradually warps their pleasantness with an eerie, electric Novachord. Yet he also whole-heartedly conveys the genuine, parenting affection that’s shown to Rhoda, setting the grown-ups for a rude, heartbreaking awakening before God can finally take charge of the situation. It’s a mix between brooding suspense and feverish bursts of evil with genuine, pleading emotion that makes “The Bad Seed” a particularly memorable genre segue in North’s career, one that he’d latter revisit with his distinctive work on killer rats of “Willard” and a zombie-spawning Marcel Marceau for “Shanks.” Now soundtrack lightning again strikes for Rhoda with La La Land’s vibrant CD debut of “The Bad Seed,” which carries more innocently sinister power than ever given its transfer and always-incisive notes by classic score specialist Frank K. De Wald, making for an album that’s both treat, and trick.


For a documentary about a hedge fund manager unmasking a pyramid scheme, it’s only fitting that “Betting on Zero” has rolled its musical dice on a musician who’s propped up well over a hundred major scores as a conductor, orchestrator and arranger, yet somehow has no feature composing credit beyond two TV films. But given the reaction this acclaimed movie about a financial whiz attempting to crap out Herbalife, it’s fair that numerous glowing reviews lobbed via a 100% rotten tomatoes rating will entail future, fictional assignments for Peter Anthony. Everything from “An American Tail” to “Patch Adams” and “Logan” attests to the decades-long span that Anthony has abetting such talents as James Horner, James Newton Howard, Thomas Newman and Marco Beltrami. Much of their talent has passed through Anthony’s own skills, which beautifully come to the fore with this riveting, theme heavy orchestral score that mixes it up with the best of them that he’s heard on the conductor’s podium. Becoming the determination of Bill Ackman as he risks billions to unseat a company dependent on its desperately hopeful salespeople, Anthony treats “Zero” with the rhythmic power of a Hollywood movie whose crusading journalist heroes are marching steel-eyed through the halls of an impossible to defeat foe. It’s a plot theme strong enough to be a central, but varied driving force through much of “Zero,” the stuff of which great montage sequences are made of. Given a film that’s as compelling in its real-life events as any fictional story, it’s an approach that pays off great dividends in giving a terrific momentum to the film. There’s a cunning, somewhat sinister to the music of the little-big guy going against smug forces confident of their win. But with Anthony’s mad skills, there’s no chance of a musical loss here, given beautifully lush playing from the orchestra and Anthony’s ability to keep the score continually interesting in its variations the play a corporation’s might to the devastation of buying into the American Dream. In the end of “Zero,” it’s Anthony’s assurance in making other composer’s fictional narratives so interesting that hoodwinks the listener into thinking this wasn’t done for a documentary at all. But given how musical truth is often stranger than Hollywood fiction, Anthony’s thrilling, utterly gripping score is rock solid at selling anyone on the power of his own voice. Now his number has finally come in given Kritzerland Record’s impressive presentation of this knockout score that is certainly in a top percentile.


Just because a score, or even a film’s director, have been sucked into the netherworld doesn’t mean the ghost of their contributions continue to hover over a film in question – in this case the spirits of the “synthpop” group Electric Youth and filmmaker Anthony Scott Burns. Together at one point they haunted the still unreleased film “Our House” (itself a remake of the 2010 indie “Ghost from the Machine”), wherein a bereaved genius resurrects the spirits of his parents through a high-tech device. The black box’s voice to the other realm is delivered with a strong musical presence by the Toronto-based duo of Bronwyn Griffith and Austin Garrick, whose collaboration with the group College for the breakthrough song “A Real Hero” proved an MTV breakthrough by providing fuel to “Drive.” While fans of the pulsating, retro 80’s groove of “Stranger Things” (let alone the O.G. “Blade Runner” score) will no doubt dig the stripped-down keyboard rhythms and eerie tonalities here, what makes “Breathing” truly resonate is the strong, symphonically thematic nature of their ghosts in the house’s machine. From the lush strings and angelic voices that dance around their central melody, Electric Youth conveys a serene, utterly transfixing otherworldliness that feels like Tangerine Dream’s wavelengths made orchestrally whole, or done with the unplugged intimacy of a piano. You can practically hear “Poltergeist’s” Carol Anne, in just how well the duo nails the fairy tale, sing-song bond between children and deceased parent’s, a poetic sense of loss, and somehow hope that’s especially memorable given the organ-like religiosity of the Youth’s electric church. Way headier than horror in its approach, whatever the intended score morphed into to create “Breathing’s” album, also helps it come across like meditative concert performance (complete with the striking theme song “Where Did You Go”). It says much for Electric Youth’s alt. street cred as it does their composing potential. Like the best scores detached from a film, whether it was used or not, “Breathing” puts you into a mesmerizing dimension of sound caught between organic musical material and a whole other synth dimension that’s particularly well suited for incorporeal beings made musically whole in this soundtrack house that could have been.


It’s been a plethora of piñatas this year when you imagine them as one terrific score after the next for Michael Giacchino with “Book of Henry,” “Spider Man Homecoming,” “War for the Planet of the Apes” and now this sometimes scarily festive Pixar celebration for Mexico’s Day of the Dead. Journeying to the other side as a boy takes his appreciation of a singing legend to skeletal extremes, Giacchino hits everything we love about Mexican scoring in this virtual buffet of Latin music styles that effortlessly jumps between hat dances, bull fights and Zorro-esque swashbuckling action. Guitars, accordion, pan flutes, violins and brass join with Giacchino’s rousing orchestra to create a one of his most vibrantly animated landscapes. But then, whether it’s a ratty French restaurant or a hidden South American peak, Giacchino’s Oscar winning and nominated sojourns with Pixar have always been a wonderful journey of discovery for the composer, all linked with a wide-eyed, youthful sense of wonder that take on lyrical resonance here. It makes “Coco” was more than just an ethnic travelogue, as the composer deals with both meeting and letting go of loved ones, yet also has the music abounds with cartoonish pratfalls and humorously squelching guitars, as well as eeriness that might remind you of Giacchino’s fantastic emotional voyage for “Inside Out” at points. Nicely tying up “Coco’s” score is the song “Remember Me,” performed with festive bounce by Benjamin Brett then then as a guitar serenading lullaby by Gael Garcia Bernal. It should make for an entertaining duet on Oscar night.


Italian songwriter Pino Donaggio would be put on the international scoring map, and start an American career renowned for romantic suspense with his first soundtrack for 1973’s “Don’t Look Now.” One might say it was Donnagio’s lyrical touch for melody and vocals, not to mention his birthplace of Venice that made him so well red-coat suited to prowl the city’s canals with a deceptively child-like score. A tender piano theme becomes the spirit of a tragically lost girl, who still haunts her visiting couple. Their unfortunate pursuit of a similarly garbed figure is the red herring of director Nicolas Roeg’s classic thriller, whose often beautifully melodic score provides a notable contrast to the movie’s often shockingly experimental style, perhaps no more so than when Donaggio passionately escalated his memorable theme with flute and guitar for a love scene that broke both the boundaries of cinema sex and the editorial treatment of time. Even more importantly, “Don’t Look Now’s” lush use of strings recalled Bernard Herrmann, making Donaggio a virtual Kim Novak for director Brian De Palma when it came to finding a musician who could step into that recently deceased composer’s shoes when it came to scoring “Carrie.” Fans of Donaggio’s dearly missed collaborations with the Hitchcockian auteur on “Dressed To Kill” and “Body Double” will certainly hear the seeds of those notable thriller scores in “Don’t’ Look Now,” especially when it came to music that could voice both sympathy and tragedy for female characters. What particularly distinguishes “Don’t Look Now” from Donaggio’s latter efforts is its classical rhythms for the elegance of Venice, as well as a rapturous organ for the churches abounding its waters. His equal talent for embodying razor-edged implements can also be heard in the ratcheting gestures for one of film’s more memorably unexpected slashers. Donaggio certainly knew how to use melody as a lethal aphrodisiac to draw victims to their fates, a gift that’s more ravishing than ever given Silva Screen’s new release on CD and vinyl. As graced with especially clever art by Benio Urbanowicz, this new “Now” has the first-ever inclusion of Iva Zanicchi’s lovely vocal version of Laura’s theme with “I Colori De Dicemebre (Laura’s Theme)”,” which starts the album’s original track sequence for Donaggio’s ever-memorable death in Venice.


When the ageless Jackie Chan’s fists of fury fly, you can usually be assured that they’ll be accompanied with some sort of musical Asian sauce, or your average synth beats in his awesomely tried-and-true formula of taking the bruised bad guys to the cops. “The Foreigner” punishes that formula in many notable ways, no more so than with Cliff Martinez’s cold-as-ice score that throws Chan headfirst into the real movie world, as such. That this long time Chan fan doesn’t crack any sort of smile as his synths and samples pummel us into oblivion shows the favor his approach does for Chan’s wish to show himself as a real actor, here playing a bombing bereaved dad determined to make IRA renegades pay in an England out to stop him. Don’t even expect anything remotely chopsocky in Martinez’s pummeling, ultra-rhythmic approach that’s all about Chan dealing with musically harsh situations that could actually kill him. Having played no end of hard-asses from crime Uber to a revenge-bent Limey, Martinez knows how to use pulse as a deadly weapon. But it’s adrenalized to weirder, and harsher effect than ever in “The Foreigner” making us feel both the dismay, and steel-eyed determination of an otherwise nice guy with a special set of skills, who’s thrown into a madhouse of loss. His payback is served cold with bone-breaking drum percussion, wailing rock and severe rhythm that’s closer to Martinez’s trippy score to Cinemax’s dearly missed hospital show “The Knick” then any of his action films as such. About the only introspective emotion one gets is in the ethereal remembrance of a dead daughter. That “The Foreigner’s” avenging beats-per-minute of her murder are far more ruthless, and faster than Chan’s fists and feet says much about how Martinez has helped to truly grant the star his wish of being absolutely believable in a battered, refreshingly gassed-up vehicle.


Directors were as hard-hitting as they came with Samuel Fuller, a WW2 vet who brought a viscerally pulpy punch to his movies. Fuller’s entertaining, no-nonsense attitude certainly proved an inspiration to the composers at 20th Century Fox, whose terrific work is collected on Kritzerland’s two-fisted, two-CD collection. First up is Alfred Newman’s rousing score to 1954’s “Hell and High Water,” a CinemaScope-filling picture where Richard Windmark, his crew and alluring Daryl Zanuck squeeze Bela Darvi set sail in a retrofitted Japanese sub to stop the dastardly nuclear plans of Red China. There’s certainly no mistaking virtuous American good versus Asian commie evil given the terrifically rousing score by Alfred Newman, who seems particularly delighted to take off the religious gloves from the past year’s “Robe” and get to manly business. His spy mission is propelled by a marching, patriotic theme that goes straight into the sinister, gonging rhythms of Oriental evil. Beyond his music’s action-packed jingoism, what’s particularly notable is just how well Newman captures the shape of water, particularly in the shimmering, downward strings and dark piano chords of a sunken sub, the brassy orchestra raising it triumphantly to the surface. There’s also sweet violin romance on board for the one women amongst 29 sweaty guys in this timpani-saluting score that might not be Newman’s best-known work, but is certainly right up there amongst his most thematically fun works. Japan is the rousing musical territory for Fuller’s 1955 American Yakuza movie “House of Bamboo,” the mix of orchestral noir and romance scored by Leigh Harline, a composer best known for scoring, and co-writing the songs for “Pinocchio.” In far more adult territory here, Harline gives poignant, dramatic impact to the “geisha girl” caught between two GI’s out for good and bad in the land of the rising sun, employing beautiful, Hollywood Orientalism to the culture-crossed romance, emotion that helps gives extra, romantic impact to the suspenseful passages. The brief, jazzy detours within “Bamboo” make up the breadth of Harline’s “Pickup on South Street.” Fuller was once again taking on the Reds for this 1954 movie, though they were on the home front of Manhattan. Coming up with a rapid-fire, city symphony theme to propel the pickpocket “Pick Up” of enemy agent secrets, Harline cleverly mixes his sharp, rhythmic theme with the sax of Richard Windmark’s wallet shark. It’s playful stuff for the Damon Runyon-esque antics of no-goods mixed up with a bigger picture than they’d reckoned with, with Harline once again proving his effectiveness at dramatically conveying hoods of any stripe. But the charm of “South Street” is its woozy brass, a cool film noir sound as jazz was finding its way around Hollywood, nearly always in the company of reprobates, though romantic for the most part here as the sax and strings join for the swooning theme of thief and “B-Girl. “A triple-hit of classic dramatic scoring on all fronts, “Fuller at Fox” is studio scoring at its best in service of an iconically impactful director, as nicely spiffed up by Kritzerland.


Just as John Williams rejuvenated comic book movie scoring with “Superman,” Danny Elfman wiped the camp face from “Batman” with a dark knight dose of Wagner to reboot the musical genre once again. It’s been decades since Elfman’s last DC score with “Batman Returns” as he brought a lighter touch to such Marvel properties as Spider-Man and The Avengers. Now he’s back to bring that desperately needed sense of fun to his former teammates. Better yet, Elfman’s got some iconic themes in tow to strike up a new, merrier DCU band for “Justice League.” The composer unleashes all of his trademarked bells and whistles onto this colorful gathering, uniting the “League” (minus the “of America” for some reason), as he trumpets their assemblage with a noble sense of motivic purpose. Certainly no ordinary crime kingpin would do for a villain, and the armored, extra-dimensional forces that assault Earth give an extra cosmic boom to Elfman’s orchestral forces, full of clanging armor and the biggest woeful chorus this side of Sleepy Hollow. It’s furious, fun stuff that doesn’t stint on the bombastic excitement. And while Elfman’s rhythms certainly suggest speed for The Flash and a high tech human tool box with Cyborg, the heroes who get musically defined with immediate geek-gasm recognition are the composer’s Batman, Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL’s rocking Amazonian theme for Wonder Woman, and even a snatch from Williams’ Superman. Having Elfman incorporate his own past triumph, and other composer’s work into his new score is a particular thrill to his “Justice League” score that rarely lets up for a moment as it wows us with exhausting excitement, reveling with the orchestral team-up possibilities like a kid using a symphony as his own sandbox to play with action figures. Elfman’s enthusiasm certainly lets you know that all is musically right in the DC universe again, especially as it heralds from a composer who helped start its big bang.


With the gleefully sadistic human parables of “Dogtooth” and “The Lobster,” Greek director Yorgos Lathimos has inflicted ironic cruelty on audiences with the mortal-tormenting zest of an Olympian god. Now his brand of cinematic biblical punishment goes for the Kubrickian gold with a beyond mannered tale of eye-for-an-eye psychic vengeance on the family of a doctor who drunkenly botched the surgery of a psycho kid’s dad. Given said venue of crippling, eye-bleeding payback, it seemed natural that Lathimos would complement his sterile visual style with the kind of avant-garde dissonance that could serve as Muzak at “The Shining’s” Overlook Hotel. So you’d better take your melody where you can get it on this album, which sings with Schubert “Stabat Mater” religiosity before a chorus turns to “Carol of the Bells” to set up the story’s quasi-religious theme. Like Kubrick’s use of Ligeti and Bartok, Lathimos certainly knows how pick ‘em when it comes to the patience-testing hits of what’s called “modern classical music.” The tortuously extended, yet weirdly beautiful pieces focus on Sofia Gubaidulina, a Russian female experimentalist who gives Ligeti a run for his modernist money when it comes to creating “music” that has as much a physical effect on the listener as a madness-inducing one. Her trance-like interpretation of belief takes creeping strings to abstract, time-bending ranges with “Rejoice IV,” while rattling percussion and a spastic accordion “Sonata” is an iron man triathlon of bizarreness at nearly twelve minutes. Ligeti is also in the house with works that comparatively have the melodic content of John Williams (discounting “Images” of course), from a twisted “Piano Concerto” to a fifteen-minute “Konzert” of bizarre violin and orchestral passages that recall just how effectively Kubrick used the composer to approximate “2001’s” mind-bending journey to an alien’s Victorian bedroom. That Lathimos judiciously uses these abstract works often in short, jarring excerpts, only adds to “Deer’s” thoroughly unpleasant, skin-crawling effectiveness. But when experienced as a whole on this album, the effect is a full-on plunge into madness that somehow rewards those willing to take the trip By the time the movie ends with an excerpt from Bach’s St. John Passion, one can imagine a listener gasping for this sort of purely gorgeous melody like a fish gasping for air. That we get a “Chattanooga Choo-Choo”-esque piece from Joe Smith & The Spicy Pickles,” or the teen radio like ballad of Ellie Goulding’s “How Long Will I Love You” might just be Lathimos’ most twisted music here on this transfixing endurance test of an album.


As an entirely unique alt. composer whose scores’ charms often come from sounding like a one-man band subway busker, Jon Brion’s unhinged work has perfectly suited any number of the odd ducks in “Punch-Drunk Love,” “Step Brothers” and “Wilson.” It’s a raw, eccentric vibe that’s perfect to capture the too-smart-for-Catholic school charisma of “Lady Bird,” indie darling Greta Gerwig’s winning transition from actress to filmmaker. Where alt. guitar is the with-it sound of teen scoring, leave it to Brion’s unplugged, hangdog approach to use this increasingly conformist instrument as a big, whimsical finger towards the establishment, as flipped by a young woman who just can’t wait to fly outta Sacramento to The Big City. While Gerwig’s stand-in might also have her cinematic roots with horn-rimmed Enid in “Ghost World,” the self-named Lady Bird is a friendlier, far more likable heroine even in her desire to spread her wings. Her appeal gives Brion’s sound extra whimsy, with his unplugged acoustical approach often flying downwards with an attitude. His strumming themes can have the glee of stealing an assignment book, or possess the melancholy of a strained daughter-mother relationship. A reverberating piano also brings the score a tenderness that Lady Bird herself might be loath to admit in this lovely, intimate portrait of a musical coming of age from a composer whose characters often thumb their noses at society while secretly wishing to have their own slice of normalcy. That Brion encompasses them all with an instantly composed-from-scratch feel is the triumph of his miraculous eccentricity with “Lady Bird.”


While the electronic light has rightfully shown on the fearful directing / scoring talents of John Carpenter, the unsung, hopefully not one-shot orchestral crown for genre double-duty just might go to Frank LaLoggia. His first 1981 movie “Fear No Evil” conjured high school satanic panic with his impressive “Omen”-esque synth riffs (hunt down the Percepto soundtrack on Ebay), But LaLoggia’s true cult masterwork would 1987’s “The Lady in White,” for which he’d compose an ghost story score that was old fashioned in the best ways. A movie that both traumatized and fascinated a borning generation of horror fans back in the endless rerun cable days, LaLoggia’s homespun, and seemingly autobiographical tale mixed youthful innocence with terrifying adult threat. A post-“Witness” Lukas Haas was the boy who at first fears, than befriends a girl’s spirit whose murder puts him in present day danger. Evoking the layered richness and emotion of a Stephen King tale, LaLoggia brought a similarly nostalgic monster on the loose feeling, along with poignant emotion to his richly thematic score, transforming haunting voices into blissful, touching innocence. It’s the lyrical spirit of two best friends separated by life and death that’s this “Lady’s spooky magic, which doesn’t hold back on its menace and sorrow as symphonic thrills come to wreak terrifying havoc on a beautiful friendship (as well as race relations). LaLoggia is quite fearless in his approach, varying from cartoonish comedy (at one time bringing in hosanna for some unhappy nuns), to the throttling brass of strangulation. “The Lady in White” is a film and score that knows the kids watching it can handle the scares, especially when given the inherently warm emotion of family bonds that triumph in a waltzing swell of a heavenly, and earthly reunion. Intrada does a terrific job of resurrecting LaLoggia’s thrilling soundtrack, though I wish they’d been able to include the classic 40’s song “Have You Ever Seen a Dream Walking,” which plays an integral part in the plot. But what the soundtrack does offer on a second CD is the now Italy-located filmmaker’s delightful score for “Frankie Goes to Tuscany.” With a positively Fellini-esque synth spirit, LaLoggia evokes his travels with a rambunctious city symphony of sirens, operatic pastiches and nutty rock and roll that’s all about La Dolce Vita. Amid his joyful, wacky appreciations are calmer, new age-esque tunes and religiously-themed pieces that evoke the craziness and beauty of his adopted country, even as re-listen to his gloriously haunting “Lady in White” begs a return to Hollywood.


Given the sordid state of the presidential office today, it seems that even lefties are longing for the days when once-vilified presidents behaved with a measure of respect and admiration. The same might be said for big, unabashedly melodic scores that proudly weren’t afraid to give sympathetic emotion to even the most irascible characters. Now those wishes get paid off quite nicely as unapologetically democratic filmmaker Rob Reiner takes a look at “LBJ.” He’s given the kind of production value he hasn’t had in a while, all the better to fill this swear-filled White House with one of the bigger dramatic, and symphonic scores that his chief of musical staff Marc Shaiman has gotten to play in some time. Making his scoring debut for Reiner’s notable detour into Stephen King territory with “Misery,” Shaiman became best known for his rollicking comedic gifts with the likes of “First Wives Club,” “The Addams Family” and “Hairspray,” It’s remained through Reiner that Shaiman has gotten his most serious-minded scores with “A Few Good Men,” “Ghosts of Mississippi’ and of course “An American President.” While Michael Douglas’ chief executive might have seemed a model of decorum when compared to Woody Harrelson’s Lyndon Baines Johnson, Shaiman invests a similar, thematic spirit of history in the making to him, all while concentrating on the humanity of a misunderstood Texan who never imagined a Dallas assassination would propel him to the Oval office. While proud brass and military timpani get across the big picture of Vietnam and the Civil Rights movement that made this President’s tenure no walk in the park, Shaiman’s gorgeous music reflects a soft spot for the more than plainspoken Johnson, his yearning melody showing a man trying to do good in the only cantankerous way he knew how. But then, Shaiman’s music has always been sentimental in the best way, making it a perfect match for Reiner’s humanistic approach. Shaiman’s certainly got all of the instrumental cover you’d expect in a presidential score, from military timpani to an elegiac horn and history-on-the-march percussion, all performed with a terrific, lush quality that’s always distinguished Shaiman’s distinctive voice. Here it’s a throwback to a time when even the most controversial president could be played with a mark of melodic decency.


Two game changing revolutionary icons of the political and literary worlds are joined by powerful, fist shaking scores by Russian composer Alexei Aigui, who rises to the challenge for their singular director Raoul Peck. It’s only fitting that on the 100th year of the Russian Revolution we get a movie about the system-shaking friendship between the idealistic Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, whose ideas for banding together mistreated laborers will grow beyond their reckoning for better and way worse. Hailing from the country that essentially created the notion of massive orchestral film scoring, it’s reasonable that Aigui would marshal a strong, symphonic voice for two heroes of the motherland. Yet while there’s an undeniable sense of importance with its drum-pounding moments and voices, “The Young Karl Marx” has a scope that’s more intimate than you’d expect for two young men risking all to take on the captains of industry. Aigui builds the political passions of his characters with determined, noble strings, as well as militaristic rhythm and crafty percussion. It’s the sound of revolutionaries steadily undermining capitalists, yet in a bold way that avoids musical propaganda. “Alexander Nevsky” this isn’t, though Prokofiev’s bold warrior spirit is certainly there in Aigui’s notable dramatic talent, no more so than when he nails the kind of striving, noble orchestra for that big, drum rolling rallying manifesto that might accompany any historical icon of a Hollywood movie. With “I Am Not Your Negro,” Aigui’s is given real life footage of black poet James Baldwin, whose manifestos are read by Samuel Jackson, Aigui starts by applying a similar, rhythmic passion that might make you think he’s beside Karl Marx. But that’s where this score’s similarity to Karl Marx ends, as Aigui goes for a jazz approach that’s just authentic for Baldwin’s upbringing and worldview. Channeling the spirits of such musical revolutionaries as Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk and Charlie Parker, Aigui’s “Negro” is a bitches’ brew of styles that beautifully captures the vibes of the civil rights era that Baldwin was awakening in his own radical way. That being said, the approach here ranges from smooth playing to shouts of brass rage. Aigui balances more traditionally, small-scale cues for strings and piano with an soulful inner city ambiance whose solo trumpet, drum kits and keyboard anger tell you that this is a noir score of sorts where the real criminal is The Man. A memorable documentary soundtrack that uses black jazz in the same way that live white musicians accompanied beat poets, I Am Not Your Negro” is alternately stirring and cool cat, marking Aigui as composer to watch in an era when the revolution is televised for Marx’s big win, and Baldwin’s sad loss.


From Madagascar to Kung Fu China, audiences the world over love sarcastic funny animals playing hero. Now France makes its contribution to cute, furry sass with “The Jungle Bunch” as an Avengers-worthy group that runs the food chain gamut does their loopy best to protect their land from an evil Koala. It’s one thing to know the universal musical language of these kid’s movies, but it’s another to play them at the kind of Hollywood level a la John Powell, Henry Jackman and Hans Zimmer. It’s a giant, rollicking leap that’s made effortlessly by composer Olivier Cussac, Having started in St. Nick’s workshop with “Spike” before moving onto “The Jungle Bunch’s” numerous appearances on French TV, Cussac certainly has gotten his animated animal scoring chops down for these characters’ two movies (available in America via iTunes). Music Box Records release of the first “Jungle Bunch” is a delightful collection of riffs that might make you think John Powell scored this gaggle of beasts. That’s because Cussac has nailed that composer’s ability to jump to different styles on instant notice, all while retaining an energetic, thematic cohesiveness. Getting a Hollywood-worthy performance from the Hungarian Symphony Orchestra definitely helps when it comes to delivering the goods, whether its 70s funk, bongo spy suspense, playful pizzicato antics, dastardly brass, a dire chorus or blazing rock and roll. Like any of the “Ice Age’ or “Kung Fu Panda” flicks, “The Jungle Bunch” delights with its constant twists and turns, giving them musical panache as opposed to stylistic sugar overdose ADD. There’s a real feeling of magic and love for these crazy beasts in Cussac’s approach, which takes on a majestic, western worthy feeling, whether it’s riding the range Jerome Moross style or giving it a blast of Ennio Morricone spaghetti western sauce. With “The Jungle Bunch,” Cussac conveys a universal, musical language of a satirical, good-hearted animal kingdom that swings with here with catchy energy.


As a member of director Joseph Kosinski’s band of musical brothers, Joseph Trapanese has abetted Daft Punk on the game grid of “Tron: Legacy” and M83 for “Oblivion’s” clone-conquered earth, creating hybrid worlds of booming orchestras and rhythmic electronics. Showing just how far he could stretch as a filmmaker, Kosinski has gotten back to earth with “Only the Brave.” His stirring tribute to the Granite Mountain Hotshots is made all the more imposing by offering no happy ending than survival itself for the one man devastated by the loss of his comrades in firefighting arms. It was only fitting that Trapanese would finally venture out with his first solo credit for Kosinski here, even as his own resume impressively grows with the likes of “Straight Outta Compton,” “Shimmer Lake” and “Wolf Warrior II.” But just because we know how this story will turn out doesn’t make the sacrifice any less powerful, especially given the decidedly meditative approach the composer takes. An almost mystical hand of fate is held over the score, given angelic female voices and a religious, organ-like sustain that leads us into an impactfully told film. Guitar also figures heavily in the score given “Brave’s” southwest setting, a land of tree-filled mountains and open ranges that’s cowboy country. Trapanese’s chords also capture the good ole’ boy, military hard-ass friendship of men facing off against a foe they both admire and fear, electric guitars chopping like helicopter rotor blades as they’re propelled from one battle to the next against alternately simmering and blazing music. At one point the percussion is Bruckheimer-action ready, and at other sounding off with wood-like hits for the felling of a Juniper tree. But a sad fate is inevitable throughout the score, a martyrdom achieved with an almost eerie, ethereal nature, though not without rhythmic suspense as A devastating wall of sound that rises to overcome the hotshots, the sustaining music building in layers with the hits of impending doom, until the volume cuts out with a ghostly chorus of realization. It’s devastating, yet not melodramatic given Trapanese’s alternative approach. That “Only the Brave” tenderly ends on the guitars that resonate through the score says much about true American heroes without the attendant musical flag-waving we might get, a testament to the hotshots that’s all the more moving for transcendent subtlety. “Only the Brave” is a powerfully thematic score that feels as much of the heartland as it does a primal force bent on destroying it.

CLICK on the album covers to make your hardcopy or download purchase, and find the soundtracks at these. com’s: Amazon, Intrada, iTunes, Moviescoremedia and Screen Archives Entertainment

On Friday December 1st at UCLA’s Royce Hall, join such composers as Thomas Newman, John Debney and Robert Folk as they bring Drew Struzan’s poster art to musical life with the Golden State Pops Orchestra. Get your tickets HERE

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Weekly Roundup: November 17

Soundtrack News - Za, 18/11/2017 - 01:00
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.200]Howard Shore[] ([m.51062]The Catcher Was a Spy[]), [c.274]Harry Gregson-Williams[] ([m.49858]Early Man[]) and [c.1742]The Newton Brothers[] ([m.48861]Extinction[]), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here[]. Over 40 new soundtrack albums were released this week. [da.2017-11-14]Click here for the full schedule[]. Opening in theaters nationwide this weekend are (with music by): [m.41976]Justice League[] ([c.58]Danny Elfman[]), [m.44395]The Star[] ([c.1154]John Paesano[]) and [m.46723]Wonder[] ([c.1061]Marcelo Zarvos[]). Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for: - [m.44395]The Star[] (15...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Luis Bacalov Dies at 84

Soundtrack News - Do, 16/11/2017 - 01:00
[c.417]Luis Bacalov[], Academy Award winner for his score for [m.12191]Il Postino[], passed away today in Rome, Italy. He was also nominated for an Oscar for [m.10117]The Gospel According to St. Matthew[] early in his career, and has scored other movies including [m.22765]Sea of Dreams[], [m.1428]Assassination Tango[], [m.28790]Woman on Top[], [m.15858]The Love Letter[], [m.20368]Polish Wedding[] and [m.13556]Kill Bill Vol. 1[] & [m.13557]2[] (additional music). Most recently, Bacalov has written the scores for [m.36218]Hidden Moon[] and Michael Radford's [m.37886]Elsa & Fred[]. Bacalov was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and immigrated to Italy as a young man. A virtuoso pianist, he began his career writing and arranging...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: 'The Invisible Hours' Soundtrack Released

Soundtrack News - Wo, 15/11/2017 - 01:00
Sumthing Else Music Works, the premier record label dedicated to releasing video game soundtracks, Tequila Works, and GameTrust, are proud to present the original soundtrack to [m.51009]The Invisible Hours[], an immersive and new murder mystery experience in the world of Virtual Reality. Composed by [c.1528]Cris Velasco[], the soundtrack will be released today via digital and streaming outlets worldwide through Sumthing Else Music Works. [m.51009]The Invisible Hours[] experience plays like an elaborate immersive theater production, which can only be realized through a virtual reality game. Players freely explore an intricate web of interwoven stories within a sprawling mansion in order to untangle a dark truth. A group of strangers...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Weekly Roundup: November 10

Soundtrack News - Za, 11/11/2017 - 01:00
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.50]Patrick Doyle[] ([m.50622]Artemis Fowl[]), [c.1065]Ramin Djawadi[] ([m.51030]Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan[]) and [c.133]Charlie Mole[] ([m.51032]Swimming with Men[]), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here[]. Over 30 new soundtrack albums were released this week. [da.2017-11-07]Click here for the full schedule[]. Opening in theaters nationwide this weekend are (with music by): [m.48442]Daddy's Home 2[] ([c.809]Michael Andrews[]) and [m.45166]Murder on the Orient Express[] ([c.50]Patrick Doyle[]). Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for: - [m.48442]Daddy's Home 2[] (35 songs) - [m.45166]Murder on...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Kraft-Engel Reps Music Producer & Composer Harvey Mason Jr.

Soundtrack News - Vr, 10/11/2017 - 01:00
[url./representation/database/?id=28]Kraft-Engel Management[] announced representation of executive music producer, music arranger, music producer and composer [c.23435]Harvey Mason Jr.[] today. In addition to writing and producing songs for Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Chris Brown, he produced the soundtrack for the movie musical [m.7137]Dreamgirls[], which received three Academy Award nominations in the Best Original song category. In 2008, Mason Jr. composed the score to the documentary [m.31150]More Than a Game[] and served as executive producer on the [a.21980]soundtrack album[]. In 2012, he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for the song "The Living...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Varese Sarabande Announces 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' Soundtrack

Soundtrack News - Do, 09/11/2017 - 01:00
Varèse Sarabande will release the [a.21689]Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack[] digitally on November 10, and on CD November 17, 2017. The album features original music by [c.24]Carter Burwell[] ([m.39926]Carol[], [m.47184]Wonderstruck[]). "Frances McDormand, can do anything," said Burwell. "We've done so many different things together, including [m.8255]Fargo[], [m.39242]Olive Kitteridge[] and going back to [m.2796]Blood Simple[]. Martin McDonagh, with whom I previously worked with on [m.29797]In Bruges[], has similar sensibilities to me, and I'd be happy to work with him on anything. This film really felt like getting back together with my family." "I think that the music is really...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Weekly Roundup: November 3

Soundtrack News - Za, 04/11/2017 - 01:00
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.648]Tyler Bates[] ([m.40703]Deadpool 2[]), [c.274]Harry Gregson-Williams[] ([m.44040]The Equalizer 2[]) and [c.237]Hans Zimmer[] ([m.49272]The Lion King[]), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here[]. Over 50 new soundtrack albums were released this week. [da.2017-10-31]Click here for the full schedule[]. Opening in theaters nationwide this weekend are (with music by): [m.48105]A Bad Moms Christmas[] ([c.630]Christopher Lennertz[]), [m.45925]LBJ[] ([c.198]Marc Shaiman[]) and [m.38138]Thor: Ragnarok[] ([c.139]Mark Mothersbaugh[]). Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for: - [m.48105]A Bad Moms...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with Graham Reynolds

Film Music Magazine News - Vr, 03/11/2017 - 01:28

Of their five films as composer and director, fellow Austin-ites Graham Reynolds and Richard Linklater have journeyed together through any number of genres, among them the romantic drama of “Before Midnight,” “A Scanner Darkly’s” cerebral sci-fi, “Bernie’s” quirkily grave comedy and a girl’s globe-trotting search for her mother in the forthcoming “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” What unites each moviemaking venture beyond these collaborators’ mutual, alt. music-friendly home is how they’ve shined a distinctive light on relationships with all of the eccentricity, marital burn-out and head trippiness they might entail.

Perhaps no distinctive film from Reynolds and Linklater might be as relatable to an audience of a certain political, or moviegoing age in our polarized nation as “Last Flag Flying.” It’s been 44 years since we meet the hellraising trio of Buddusky (Jack Nicholson), Mulhall (Otis Young) and Meadows (Randy Quaid), two Navy MP’s and the prisoner they escorted to the slammer, but not before giving him a blow out sex and booze time before hitting the brig. As directed by Hal Ashby from Darryl Ponsican’s novel, the Oscar-nominated film stands as a counter-culture classic about men equally trapped by and rebelling against the military system. Now reunited by the same author, but under the different names of Sal (Bryan Cranston), Reverend Richard (Laurence Fisburne) and Larry, these grumpy old salts give the finger to military decorum in service to Larry’s son, a casualty of Iraq. Shanghaiing his casket from the forces’ preferred internment place at Arlington Cemetery, the trio becomes a personal escort to take the slain youth for his final rest in Larry’s New Hampshire hometown.

Along the incident-filled way to Larry’s old digs, comedic bickering and heartfelt emotion ensue, fueled by a distinctively thematic score that’s also the closest to musical home for Reynolds. With movie composing one of his many gigs, Reynolds is even more frequently on the stage with The Golden Arm Trio, The Golden Hornet Project (a composer laboratory for the 21st century) and any number of theater and dance works (including a new opera about Mexican neighbor Pancho Villa), “Last Flag Flying” is Reynolds’ heartfelt salute to the kind of 70’s guitar and organ grooves that these men listened to, and likely haven’t stopped to since their first politically incorrect misadventure. Here Reynolds gives that melodic style humor, energy understandable melancholy, as joined by piano and atmospheric synths to remind the men of the sad, honorable purpose of their venture, a musical destination also abetted by military timpani.

Through its understated journey, you can feel how “Last Flag Flying” comes from Reynolds’ heart, yielding his most memorable theme yet that singularly drives the score for these codgers who aren’t going to go gently into the night. Particularly striking about Reynolds’ old-school rock waving is just how well it captures the spirit of Tom Petty in its southern rock instrumentation – a rock god’s passing that now gives extra, moving resonance to Reynolds’ score for another perceptive road trip into the human condition by Linklater, their tank never running dry.

As “Last Flag Flying” is the sequel to “The Last Detail,” did you go back and watch the original film before starting this one?

Yeah. I read both of Darryl Ponsican’s books, and watched Hal Ashby’s film. I just wanted to be informed by them. There’s also just a touch of a nod to Johnny Mandel’s score as well, which had a lot of military-style drums and horns. The main three characters have different names in “Last Flag Flying” than they did in “The Last Detail,” so this film wasn’t meant to be a direct sequel. But at the same time you can see the connections.

How do you think these men have changed since “The Last Detail?”

The most overt change is in Laurence Fishburne’s character of Richard Mueller, who’s now a reverend. They were mischief causing bad boys in the first film, but now he’s turned his life around in a deep way. Sal and Larry are deeply attached to their pasts, and are continuing from where we left them in the first film. So it’s them meeting in the middle – the two that are more dedicated to their past find a way to move forward into the future, and Richard finds a way to reconnect with his previous self. That gave a couple of different palates to the score. One is meant to reference the songs that these guys would like and agree on – music that’s guitar and drum based. It’s super Tom Petty influenced. I was also listening to a lot of Neil Young, Bob Dylan and The Band. Then we end up moving up a little later to listening to Bruce Springsteen and most importantly Tom Petty.

How did your relationship with Richard work on this film? Or is it a shorthand thing by this point where you just go off, do your thing and come back with a score?

Richard Linklater

Each film we’ve done is different. Some are easier, and some are harder. For “Last Flag Flying,” we talked about a more intimate score at first that would use acoustic guitars. But that wasn’t really quite working, so we needed to adjust. I didn’t know if we’d be starting again with new material or developing what we had. It ended up being that, and adding more layers to it. When my scoring schedule works out, I try to start each morning in my studio by listening to a track to be inspired by for the rest of the day. So one morning on “Last Flag Flying” Richard and I listened to a Tom Petty song, and it was like “That’s what we need to do to these tracks.” So we took sketches that were more acoustic guitar-based, and then we layered on bass, drums, the organ and other elements that made the music a full band thing. It transformed the score and made it much more relatable to these characters, and just fit the world more effectively.

All of Richard’s movies are about relationships. How do you think “Last Flag Flying” carries on that thematic thread?

It’s a buddy movie of sorts, as they haven’t seen each other for decades. So it’s about the complexity of these deeply bonded relationships that have grown far apart, and where they go when you reunite. That’s the central thread of this movie.

There’s essentially one theme in “Last Flag Standing.” Why not create three separate ones for the characters?

As distinct as the three characters are, the core of the movie is their bond. So that theme represents that bond. It never felt like “Ok Bryan Cranston’s on the screen, so we need the high-energy music! Now Steve Carell’s on the screen, so let’s have something quiet and shyer. Or now Laurence is on the screen. He’s a preacher, so let’s have religious music!” The score’s about their singular relationship, so that’s where the music went.

Yet it also reflects their distinct personalities within the one theme.

Sure. You take that musical core and adapt it to the different scenes. If it’s a higher energy thing, like when they set off on their adventure, then the music goes with them. But what’s changed is that the more intimate, delicate music that plays with them in a way that I don’t think you would’ve heard back when they were young.

There have been mournful movies made about escorting the war dead, like “Taking Chance” and “The Messenger” Yet these aren’t exactly inward characters like those movies had. How important was it for your score to create that sense of playful ribbing between these guys, as opposed to music that would have been just solemn and potentially depressing?

It’s important, because all three actors are amazing, and they’re also very funny. Even though the movie’s dealing with a tragic subject, you need permission to enjoy them and be able to laugh at the film without disrespecting its tragic elements. So it was trying to find that right balance of levity combined with the seriousness that was also needed.

How did you also want to play the emotion in a stripped down way that defines Richard’s subtle style?

Dealing with how much emotional information that the music needed to carry here was also a big question about this score. We had some delicate music under dialogue in a way that we often don’t have when we work together. So we stepped very lightly and didn’t hit things too hard. That gave us a little bit of support for what was happening without the music screaming “You must be sad now!” or “You must be happy now!”

Do you know any military families who’ve lost someone overseas?

No one comes to mind, but my dad was in the military during Vietnam, though he was stationed in Germany. He’s the demographic that these characters are from. So when I’m wondering “Will the guys like this music?” I’m also thinking, “Will my dad like this music?”

Is there anything you notice about guys from that generation?

I think the war of course lingers more for people who were in Vietnam. But being in the army was a huge deal for my dad, even if he didn’t go there.

How do you think your score fits the “road trip” aspect of “Last Flag Flying?”

When you go on a road trip, music sounds and feels different. Once you get on a highway, you experience this freedom where there’s a lot of driving music, a lot country and rock music. It’s not super fast, or super slow, but steady as she goes. That makes it a real pleasure to sit inside of while your car. And then when you’re driving at night you just hear that music is so much more detail. Being in your car is just a different kind of listening. So for their driving in “Last Flag Flying,” we tried to have music that sat in that “feel good” place, that feeling of being on a road trip.

There are some cool, dreamy sampled atmospheres to the score as well.

Yeah. That’s a totally different palate from the Tom Petty-influenced thing. It’s delicate for the dialogue to sit on top of. Sometimes it’s tricky to have two different palates like that in a movie, but I tried to loosely tie them musically and thematically a bit.

“Last Flag Flying” is a relatively brief, but impactful score. Do you think movies in general need a lot of score?

I think Richard’s movies play well with no music. There’s so much about character, dialogue, relationships and conversations in them, so I need to step lightly to help frame and support Richard’s vision without getting in the way of what his films are already doing. “A Scanner Darkly” had a lot of music and “Bernie” had a fair amount of music. So when there’s a heightened element, like the animation for “Scanner” or the comedy for “Bernie,” then I think his films can work with more music. But in movies like “Before Midnight” and “Last Flag Flying,” I don’t want to overstep. It’s a delicate touch kind of thing.

Tell me about your opera about Pancho Villa that you’ve been performing?

It came from a commission out of West Texas, which I was doing a musical portrait of. It’s a huge part of the United States, but super sparsely populated. The first piece was a country and western big band piece. The second drove the audience out to the middle of the desert to hear a live score from sunset to moonrise. The director and I wanted an operatic figure from West Texas, for the third, and we and ended up in a hotel in El Paso where it turned out Pancho Villa had lived in during the beginning of the Mexican Revolution. He immediately became the obvious, most operatic figure we’d found in West Texas, and we latched onto that for “Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance.”

As an Austin resident, do you think there’s a “Texas” thing that goes through most of what you do?

Yeah. I think Texas is such a distinct place. And even in Austin, which is culturally different from the rest of the state, there’s still a huge stamp of Texas on it. For “Pancho Villa,” I dove into country influences quite a bit, but hesitated to dive too much into Tejano or Mexican-American influences for fear of cultural appropriation. Yet I live four hours from Mexico. You drive straight and you’re there. The Tejano population is obviously a huge part of the state. So I finally decided to artistically engage and start that musical dialogue. We ended up with a lot of Mexican and Mexican-American artists who collaborated on the opera. It’s been an exciting world to explore and I’m glad I finally started to engage in that conversation.

As intimate as your collaborations with Richard mostly are, would you ever want to venture together into a Hollywood blockbuster like a “Transformers” movie?

I think it’d be super fun. I’d love to see what Richard would do with a big blockbuster summer kind of movie. He dove a little into that with “School of Rock” and “Bad News Bears.” So he’s got his personal films, and then he’s got his studio pictures. I’d love to see a “Transformers movie by Richard Linklater. It’s a pretty fun thought!

Do you think there’s a direct relation between Richard Linklater and Hal Ashby in terms of their filmmaking styles?

I love both of their work. I would’ve necessarily drawn the line between Richard and Hal’s movies like “Shampoo” and “Being There.” without working on this project. But now I see that line, it made it even more exciting to score a movie that touched on both of their voices.

The Last Detail director Hal Ashby

“Last Flag Flying” is the oldest-skewing film that Richard has made. How do you think it’s going to appeal to his hip, indie crowd, as well as fans of “The Last Detail” who’d want to see these characters’ continuing adventures?

I’m really curious to see how “Last Flag Flying” is received. It has a huge potential to speak to a wide range of people because Richard’s a very sophisticated director. He doesn’t answer the questions for you. These are all working class military guys who are positively portrayed. At the same time they’re often questioning the military, especially its leadership. So “Last Flag Flying” is both patriotic and pro-military, but also questioning the army. Given the polarized state this country is in, this has the potential to be appreciated by both sides of the political spectrum. And I’m curious to see if that will be the case.

“Last Flag Flying” opens on November 3rd, with Graham Reynolds’ score available on Amazon Music HERE

Find out about a performance of “Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance” HERE

Get intimate with “Before Midnight” HERE, listen to the comically murderous twang of “Bernie” HERE and enter the psychedelic animated grooves of “A Scanner Darkly” HERE

Visit Graham Reynolds’ website HERE

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