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Posts about movie soundtracks
READIN started out as a place for me
to keep track of what I am reading, and to learn (slowly, slowly)
how to design a web site.
There has been some mission drift
here and there, but in general that's still what it is. Some of
the main things I write about here are
listening to (and playing) music, and
watching the movies. Also I write about the
work I do with my hands and with my head; and of course about bringing up Sylvia.
The site is a bit of a work in progress. New features will come on-line now and then; and you will occasionally get error messages in place of the blog, for the forseeable future. Cut me some slack, I'm just doing it for fun! And if you see an error message you think I should know about, please drop me a line. READIN source code is PHP and CSS, and available on request, in case you want to see how it works.
Watching The Artist with Ellen and Sylvia last night I was reminded of what a powerful instrument a movie soundtrack is. What a beautful movie! I recommend it for the acting (including Uggie the dog, who is replacing Asta in my affections), for the direction, for the dancing, but maybe most of all for the soundtrack. (I loved that when the movies started featuring sound, the soundtrack featured Pennies from Heaven, as sung by Rose Murphy.) At points the movie was best understood as a soundtrack delivery vehicle.
Ruiz Zafón is apparently a composer as well as an author -- I was searching on YouTube with the thought that some scenes from Shadow of the Wind might have been produced with an eye towards making a movie of it -- it seems like it would lend itself well to cinema -- and what did I find but this record of songs composed by Ruiz Zafón to accompany the book:
Well, wow: impressive. I am still thinking this is not a great book, though I'm liking the second half a lot better than the first. But I think it would make a really good movie, and filming it in black-and-white definitely seems like the way to go, and this soundtrack would go really well. It goes nicely with the reading, too.
Watching O Lucky Man last night reminded me in a couple of ways of reading Gravity's Rainbow. Now I've certainly been known to make spurious comparisons of various works of art to Pynchon; but I think this one stands up. What I'm getting at (beyond Travis' obvious points of resemblance to Tyrone Slothrop) is, the points where the sheer artistry of the medium -- the prose in GR, the images and soundtrack in O Lucky Man! -- overwhelms my ability to follow the narrative and I find I'm just basking in the beauty flowing by. And need to go back and reread to figure out what was going on. If all goes according to plan I will watch it again tonight...
I haven't talked about the music yet, just want to note that it's utterly delightful and makes me want to listen to more Alan Price and more Animals, of whom all I really know is their big hits. Also Anderson's use of ambient noise just about took my breath away. This is one of the best soundtracks ever.
Tonight Ellen and I watched Tin Men. This movie came out when I was 17 -- my memory of it is of it being the first movie where I really noticed the camerawork and composition of the frame. And yes, the visual effect of the movie is pretty stunning; and the characters are even more despicable than I remembered. I wasn't so persuaded, this time around, by Dreyfuss' character's growth, which I expect appealed to me as an adolescent. Levinson should totally film Something Happened, and maybe with Dreyfuss as Slocum. Or maybe the moment has passed.
What really tied the movie together for me was the soundtrack. My only memory of Fine Young Cannibals is of the "She Drives Me Crazy" video. But here they were -- exactly appropriate for this movie. The nightclub scene where they are singing "One Good Thing", one of the highlights of the movie.
I meant to say: The Fine Young Cannibals make me think about NickS's recent post about Squeeze, though I'm not sure how much objective similarity there is between the two bands. FYC rocks way harder IMO.
Here is something I did not know Charlie Chaplin could do: compose excellent scores for a movie soundtrack. He is credited as writer, director, and composer for Monsieur Verdoux; and the music is great. The writing and direction also! Too bad the idea for the movie (which Chaplin bought from Welles) isn't really up to the quality of Chaplin's talent. It seems insubstantial to me, a trifling comedy of manners that Chaplin tries to turn into a fable about capitalism and morality.
So it was, to be clear up front, not a great movie, certainly not in a class with Herzog's great works. It had a lot of visual beauty, and occasional arresting moments of clarity; but it felt to me like Herzog stumbled aimlessly into these moments, like his heart was not in this movie. Still I would recommend the movie, just for the visuals, and the cute fluffy seals. (The portions of the soundtrack which were recordings of seal grunts were fantastically good; the music portions were hit or miss.)
Many thanks, to whomever it was that recommended The Man Without a Past to me! I have forgotten who you were and in what forum you made the recommendation, though something tells me it was in a blog post. Ellen and I loved the movie and are wondering if the soundtrack is available.
...and random thoughts while watching Aguirre, the Wrath of God.
I wonder if anyone has made note of how strongly (if memory serves) Richard O'Brian's character in The Rocky Horror Picture Show resembles Klaus Kinski. Wonder if that was a conscious choice by the Rocky Horror people. Seriously, when the camera came in close on Aguirre standing next to the river, I thought Oh my God, it's Riff Raff!
Aguirre's first appearance in the movie, talking to (I think?) Pizarro, they reminded me of Tintin and Captain Haddock a little bit, which was amusing.
This movie has the dreamlike atmosphere that pervades some of my very favorite works of art, like e.g. Gravity's Rainbow -- indeed I think this is a movie that could have been very competently produced by some of Pynchon's characters.
The brilliant, brilliant title sequence makes me think of nothing so much as Escher's paintings. I keep thinking Wow, I didn't know you could do that with film.
The soundtrack might be the best movie soundtrack ever. At least the best in some subcategory of motion picture soundtracks. From the church music at the beginning, to the piper, to Perucho's threatening hums and hisses... It is in the substance of the film, it complements and enhances the imagery. Perfect.
'Minimalist' is, it seems to me, the best category of foreign language film, the most fun for me to watch because there is some chance I will catch the dialogue. And indeed, here I find I am getting a lot of it (with help from the subtitles).
One thing that really turned me on about this movie was the mix of different influences and realities -- like the characters were Spanish but speaking German, they were dressed in period costume but their makeup and hair and general bearing seemed much more contemporary. Etcetera.