July Soundtrack Picks

By • July 21, 2011

‘Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2‘ Is One Of The Top Soundtracks To Own For July, 2011

Also worth picking up: All The Pretty Maids, Appasionata, The Avengers, Black Devil Doll, The Golden Child, Horrible Bosses, Shoot To Kill, Too Big To Fail, Ways To Live Forever And Winnie The Pooh

To purchase the soundtracks from this list, click on the CD cover

1) THE GOLDEN CHILD: LIMITED EDITON


Price: $29.98

What is it?: After putting out a 3-CD set of Basil Poledouris’ numerous pit stops towards ultimately “fixing” his score for the Kurt Russell classic BREAKDOWN, La La Land goes the troubled creative process one better by releasing a second triple album that charts another Paramount movie’s long road to its final score. This time it’s both John Barry’s elegant, tossed work, along with Michel Colombier’s final, and far funkier soundtrack for Eddie Murphy’s THE GOLDEN CHILD- a far less-regarded star vehicle that’s foremost a winner for soundtrack fans as the discs contrast two disparate musical approaches.

Why should you buy it?
: Using John Barry’s slow, jazzily elegant approach for Murphy’s ADD-hip brand of comedy seemed like an unusual fit in the first place, an attempt to dress up the antic star’s adventure in a Bond-ready dinner jacket. But beyond the smooth orchestra, brassy action hits and exotic rhythms that often make THE GOLDEN CHILD play like the sequel to YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE that never was, complete with the Maurice Binder graphics-ready theme song “The Best Man in the World.” Barry’s score also includes sweeping musical vistas, ghostly voices, dark military suspense and lyrical emotion that also makes this truly golden Barry score turn into a love child mash-up of OUT OF AFRICA, CHAPLIN and THE BLACK HOLE. Yet the oddball directions all miraculously flow together, making this score another example of John Barry’s legendary golden touch when it came to melodic construction. Used or not, his CHILD is still a dazzling revelation for fans, and another example of how his elegant, slow-moving approach started falling out of favor for a new, fast-paced Hollywood.

Extra Special: With this being said, any score, no matter how great it is, has got to fit the film (no matter how uneven said movie might be). And when it comes right down to it, Murphy’s wisecracking vibe was far bettered suited to the brash, synth-pop vibe of Michel Columbier. This late composer was one of the best, unsung players of the 80’s electronic rhythm scene with such soundtracks as PURPLE RAIN, WHITE NIGHTS and AGAINST ALL ODDS. Obviously charged with turning the character into Axel F., Columbier deftly brings out the go-with-the-flow Harold Faltermeyer beat with rock guitars and bouncy synths. Sure his approach isn’t as subtle as Barry’s, but darn if it isn’t a lot more “fun,” a lot more Murphy. Columbier also makes more use of Asian instruments and demon synth weirdness, while also impressing in the Barry way with an equally lush and memorable romantic theme for orchestra. While it’s fashionable for soundtrack snobs to look down on a grand symphonic score getting tossed in favor of a contemporary one (i.e. Jerry Goldsmith getting dumped for Tangerine Dream on LEGEND), the final fact is that both Barry and Columbier’s scores for THE GOLDEN CHILD are as valid as they are enjoyable- even if there can be only one. But thanks to La La’s continued musical archeology, not to mention their welcome enthusiasm for multiple disc sets, Barry and Columbier’s ersatz kids can finally play together in all of their old school, and funky glory.

2) HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2


Price: $9.99

What is it?: Alexandre Desplat is back in the HARRY house to weave his musical spell. But if things seemed more than a bit wispy and time-biding after the last two POTTERS, nothing will prepare you for this literally smashing wrap up, especially with a spectacular musical finish that brings John Williams’ spirit back to the Halls of Hogwarts like never before.

Why should you buy it?: Having impressed with the epic franchise fantasy scores for THE GOLDEN COMPASS and TWILIGHT: NEW MOON, Desplat thankfully raises the scoring stakes with his second POTTER big time, his brew of sorcerous menace and desperate, bold heroism immediately returning listeners to the musical enchantment that filled the best entries in the series. Ever since his American breakout score for BIRTH, Desplat has brought a unique Gallic lyricism to even his most multiplex of scores, a poignance that makes this POTTER especially remarkable for giving heart to its truly harrowing danger. For at the center of the raging battles between good and absolute evil, Desplat’s melodic compassion is always there for the bond of this beloved trio, making the fearsomeness of the toweringly dark, cliffhanging action they’re thrown into all the more emotionally affecting, especially as Deplat’s mournfully percussive music becomes the only thing heard during some of the finale’s cataclysmic battle. For as much as Desplat’s throttling, choral and brass action delivers on the spectacle, it’s the near-religious poignance which graces the score which gives ultimate meaning to the numerous sacrifices within, especially with a ghostly female voice that tells us many of our most beloved friends will only be making out of this finale in spirit only.

Extra Special: Any soundtrack for the finale to a genre epic that’s worth its salt is wise to acknowledge its musical ancestors. And while Desplat has a surfeit of great themes, he’s also sure to dexterously weave the iconic melodies that John Williams first conjured for POTTER, Credit for ensuring that Williams’ smooth, melodic vibrancy touches all of HALLOWS’ score can be squarely given to orchestrator Conrad Pope (with an able assist by Clifford J. Tasner), who was on board since Williams’ first Quidditch match. And while the HALLOWS soundtrack has got to be about Desplat’s music (even given a 72-minute running time that barely grabs at the enormity of the score), it’s a measure of his humility as to how effectively Williams’ original music is used here- from the burst of his main theme as Harry makes it back to school, to the original’s climactic train departure cue “Leaving Hogwarts,” which becomes the signature for a new generation of students. It’s a stunningly apropos reprise that brings all of the POTTER scores full circle, and the final, thoughtful sparkle that takes the series out on the highest note of all.

3) SHOOT TO KILL (2,000 edition)


Price: $19.99

What is it?: Between hearing the classically adventurous vine swinging of Tarzan in GREYSTOKE, vengefully playing Scott Glenn delivering a whole lot of whoop ass in the original MAN ON FIRE, capturing the fury when KING KONG LIVES or hearing the jazzy football ennui of NORTH DALLAS FORTY, the genteel John Scott has proven he certainly knows a thing or two about how to play macho attitudes and the great outdoors, Both factors would figure prominently in one of his most acclaimed Hollywood scores for 1988’s SHOOT TO KILL. Street-smart FBI agent Sidney Potier was the greenhorn when teamed with grizzled outdoorsman Tom Berenger, with both trying to take down a very bad guy roaming the Pacific Northwest.

Why Should you buy it?: While there’s a rugged, bucolic flavor in these woods, especially given Scott’s mold in the symphonically naturalistic Vaughan Williams / William Walton tradition, SHOOT TO KILL also ends up sounding as rustic as a gun barrel on a rain-drenched night. That’s due to the hard-broiled, thematic edge of a saxophone that runs through this terrifically exciting score. But then, as the musician whose licks can be heard in the opening of GOLDFINGER, Scott has always shown a talent for playing the instrument at its most dangerously atmospheric tones. Along with electronic percussion, these hard-broiled elements bring the wild film noir vibe of pursuing a metropolitan thug in the great outdoors. Yet there’s much dangerously soaring beauty to be had in SHOOT TO KILL, its bold, brass-driven action bringing images of another forest survivalist named John Rambo to mind. As Scott’s riveting score slugs its way through branches, bears and a psychotic mastermind, SHOOT captures a thrilling scope that’s as that’s as big as all outdoors.

Extra Special: Alternate action cues show Scott at his most untamed, where two Roller Rink source cues offer a fun respite for disco-ish jazz, all while the intrepid Jeff Bond’s liner notes keep entertaining trek of this long-request score. It’s release is yet another boon from Intrada’s venture with Disney Pictures, whose SHOOT TO KILL still stands as one of the most impressive adult entries of their Touchstone Pictures division.

4) TARAS BULBA


Price: $26.95

What is it?: In the annals of manly cinema, none might be as affectionately barbaric as 1962’s TARAS BULBA, in which proud Cossack father Yul Brynner and his Bronx-accented son Tony Curtis reaffirmed family ties with gut punches, sword swinging, cliff jumping, and even harsher examples of Pater familias. Leave it to Franz Waxman to convey the Zaporozhti’s pure, sweaty joy of carnage with a score of blazing exuberance, a tone that’s no small irony when you consider that Waxman’s Jewish tribe found the mere mention that the Cossacks were coming to be anything but fun. But then, we’re talking about Hollywood history here, a gilded age of action that Waxman knew a thing or two about after the likes of PRINCE VALIANT, DEMITRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS and THE SILVER CHALICE. But it’s arguably TARAS BULBA that’s the jewel in his costume epic crown, a score that shines here with new, impressive luster.

Why should you buy it?: There’s no doubt that Dmitri Shostakovich and Sergei Prokofiev rode high in the saddle with Waxman, as the Cossack’s thundering hoofs and the hurtling bodies of their Polish nemesis become a gloriously frantic dance of death, their battles given the boisterous sound of Slavic patriotism. It’s a joyously thematic approach that also just might make TARAS BULBA American scoring’s answer to ALEXANDER NEVSKY, no more so than with a thematic march as the Cossack tribes patriotically unite to take back the steppes in the soundtrack’s highlight “The Ride to Dubno.” As a master of the studio scoring system whose brilliance never ceased after the fall of it, Waxman brings all of his rousing, widescreen guns to TARAS, as well the musical impressions gleaned from a Russian concert tour. Waxman’s also provides the musical backing for Mack David’s achingly beautiful number “The Wishing Star,” will also provide the touching love theme for the ill-fated romance between Bulbas’ son and the Pole he dares fall for, the melody’s impending tragedy putting emotional meat on the score’s macho bones.

Extra Special: Have re-performed the similarly Slavic swordplay of Basil Poledouris’ CONAN THE BARBARIAN (not to mention the holy Spanish heroism of Miklos Rozsa’s EL CID), Tadlow producer James Fitzpatrick, conductor Nic Raine and The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus know how to swing in with heroic blood and thunder. And while you can get Waxman’s original tracks on Kritzerland’s re-issue of the original album, this dynamic new recording not only restores the complete score, but also offers the baritone wealth of Waxman and David’s Cossack tunes, completing this ultimate TARAS BULBAS with a six-hands piano version of the main theme to boot. If what’s best in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women, then hearing this new TARAS BULBAS will put you high in the savagely romantic saddle with the most fearsome warriors of Eastern Europe’s badlands.

5) WINNIE THE POOH


Price: $12.33

What is it?: The charm’s the thing as Disney makes a welcome return to the animated innocence of A.A. Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood. But just because something’s as cute as a well-worn plush animal doesn’t mean that some new musical fluffies can’t be put into this tubby little cubby, especially when you’ve got Gen X darling Zooey Deschanel giving an enchanted new spin to The Sherman Brothers’ beloved theme song.

Why should you buy it?: The magic that the legendary Disney duo put into the tunes of Pooh (along with the likes of MARY POPPINS and THE JUNGLE BOOK) is wonderfully present in the house of this new enchanted neighborhood, courtesy of the musical team of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, who turn the seditious children’s songs of his “Avenue Q” into the real deal here. The cutely growling “Tummy Song,” and Tigger’s rambunctiously roaring “It’s Gonna Be Great” have a throwback vitality that does the Shermans proud, while the mock-scary back and forths of “The Backson Song” nicely comes across as a number that somehow didn’t make THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. But leave it to Deschanel’s golden voice to truly convey the Pooh enterprise’s sweetness as she turns “Everything is Honey” into a bear’s siren-song fixation, while also proving herself an equally capable Doo-Wop singer alongside the clapping beat of “So Long.”

Extra Special: Henry Jackman’s score is no Eeyore slouch either, bringing to ear the nostalgic strains of original POOH-centric Disney composer Buddy Baker. After coming off the visceral superhero scores for KICK-ASS and X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, you can hear how nice it is for Jackman not to kill anyone as he does a spot-on recreation of Baker’s glistening, gently playful style from Pooh’s previous romps, while also bringing real scope to Hundred Acre woods. And even though the Backson is as threatening as an un-comprehended word, Jackman manages to put surprising (though none-too-serious) menace into this imaginary monster and the hullabaloo he inspires in Winnie and Friends, all while interpolating the inimitable Pooh song, Deschanel’s honeyed voice, and the Lopez’s own melodies throughout his score. It all makes for a POOH score full of intoxicating nostalgia for baby boomers and their own piglets alike.

ALSO FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:

APPASSIONATA

If you got hot and bothered by Piero Piccioni’s mod organ stylings for CAMILLE 2000, then his score for the unhinged Italo 1974 sex drama APPASSIONATA will provide even more erotic enticement given its two-CD offering from Quartet. Described as that country’s spin on AMERICAN BEAUTY (way before that film came hit its shores), Piccioni’s score quickly announces the lounge-y, cooing keyboard and jazz lust for Ornella Mutti’s nymphet. It’s a memorable, unavoidably kitschy theme, but there’s far more to offer in APPASSIONATA than glossy come-ons- especially on the second album that goes beyond the 35-minute release soundtrack to offer Piccioni’s complete score, and alternates at a 72 minutes you hope won’t end. It’s music that shows complexity way beyond thinking with the little head, with an astonishing variety of waltzes, intimate piano pieces, tender saxopones, clip-clop comic jazz and electric organ. Where most are variations on Mutti’s main theme, Piccioni gives the same melody an astonishing variety that makes each seem completely new, and increasingly sultry in a score that confirms him as the king of mondo Italiano seduction.

THE AVENGERS – ORIGINAL TARA KING SEASON SCORE

While composers like Lalo Schifrin, Jerry Goldsmith and Morton Stevens went to the bank when American TV cashed in on the British spy craze with THE MAN FROM UNCLE and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, the top show in the country where Bond started it all was THE AVENGERS, which cast Patrick MacNee as the debonair agent John Steed. Most popularly gracing this show’s hip musical stylings were Laurie Johnson and Johnny Dankworth as the bowler-hatted Steed partnered with such lovely, cat-suited ass-kickers as Honor Blackman’s Catherine Gale and Diana Rigg’s Emma Peel. Now it’s time for Linda Thorson’s lesser-known Tara King and her oft-accompanist Howard Blake (later to gain even more cult appeal for scoring FLASH GORDON) to get their place in the jazzy sun with Silva Screen’s release of THE AVENGERS- ORIGINAL TARA KING SEASON SCORE. It was during the show’s final run from 1968 to 1969 when Blake joined the team, ably picking up the baton from Johnson (whose inimitable theme opens and closes the album) to continue the show’s swinging espionage. Whether it was the jazz bass nightmares of “Wildest Dreams,” the Morse-code combo of “It’s All Done With Mirrors,” the knock-down swing that packs “The Interrogators”’ punch, a Wah-wah blues march that commands “Take Me Your Leader” or the Mexican horn menace of “Noon Doomsday,” the ten Blake episodes that are packed onto this two-CD set show the composer could speak the international language of TV spying with the best of them.

BLACK DEVIL DOLL

It’s one thing to take off old school musical exploitation, but it’s another to actually get the groove down to the point where you think you’ve just stumbled upon some beat-up soundtrack LP found under the seat of a filth-encrusted grindhouse theater, circa 1975 Times Square. While Adrian Young perfectly nailed this Blaxploitation vibe for BLACK DYNAMITE, Giallos Flame’s score for the infinitely more sordid BLACK DEVIL DOLL goes way beyond the Afro rhythms to completely nail the sound of Italo horror. But then, with a name like that, or a credit list that includes MURDER SET-PIECES, PSYCHO HOLOCAUST and EASTER BUNNY, KILL! KILL! Flame’s specialty should come as no surprise While this picture isn’t even the first film to be centered around the sex-and-gore antics of a wooden Brotha (that honor goes to 1984’s BLACK DEVIL DOLL FROM HELL), BLACK DEVIL DOLL’s evil Afro marionette score is the one to rule them all. Sure you’ve got the wah-wah guitars, funk drums and sultry horns that play the puppet in all of his evil Macking glory. But it’s the echoing keyboards, gnarled retro synths and eerie progressive rock that will make Giallo fans think they’re listening to some unknown masterwork by Goblin or Fabio Frizzi. But when they hear the insanely profane rapping, you’ll know this ain’t DEEP RED or THE BEYOND. What truly separates Flame’s work from being a score that works alone as a brilliant homage is just how cool the music itself is, with twisting melodies and a raw, energetic jazz vibe that could also make DOLL pass for the latest bitches brew from an extremely decomposed Miles Davis. A completely unexpected score surprise to say the least, BLACK DEVIL DOLL is the real, killer deal for anyone who’s delighted in hearing a pimpin’ villain or a dubbed killer doing some musical damage.

COMMENT LES SEDUIRE / LES STRIP-TEASEUSES / LES COMBINARDS

Best known to Americans for scoring the classic hitman and vampiress pictures LE SAMOURAI and DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS, French composer Francois de Roubaix’s work remains comparatively hidden next to such Hollywood expatriates as Georges Delerue and Maurice Jarre. Now the Francophile soundtrack label Music Box reveals three especially playful Roubaix scores, beginning with 1968’s 1001 WAYS TO LOVE, an “adult” title that he scored under the nom de plume of Cisco El Rubio. But Roubaix needn’t have been embarrassed at the music at least with these jazzy seductions for a flute-topped combo. 50’s style Doo-wop and a lecherous brass spy swing. Neither are 1964’s THE STRIP TEASERS as nastily wanton as the title might imply, given these girls’ poignant piano, flamenco guitar, delicate flute and circus-worthy horn strut that embodies these strippers’ otherwise nice aspirations. But the most thematically charming of the bunch goes to 1966’s THE SCHEMERS, a lesson in comic dance whose merry melody alternately tangos, waltzes, toreadors, and twists about its parade of con artists. Uniting all three scores is a gentle breeziness that links Roubaix to Delerue’s classically-themed whimsy, a pleasant vibe that makes this album the tip of more Roubaix wonders waiting to be heard from the 84 soundtracks he’d compose before being lost at sea at the age of 36.

HORRIBLE BOSSES

Whether you’re a suave con artist, a trash-talking teen, or a harassed member of the man cave, there’s no better way to strut your stuff than with balls-out music- whether the stylings are the retro Vegas swing of OCEANS 11, SUPERBAD’s 70’s Motown funk or the blues rock of HORRIBLE BOSSES. Where that film’s composer may have played it cleverly cute for HOP’s Easter bunny in his last comedy score, it’s all about R-rated rhythmic raunch for BOSSES. With a grooving dream team consisting of such musicians as The Dave Matthews Band’s Stefan Lessard, Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready and frequent Beastie Boys collaborator Money Mark, Lennertz brings on the sneaky strumming and raucous guitars that are the perfect accompaniments for poking about your scum overlord’s cocaine-festooned joint, or engaging in a manic car chase with a psychopathic narcissist. But then, there’s just something naturally funny about hearing a keyboard groove, beat box scratching blues brass and screaming rock chords over a bunch of dudes making dick jokes. Though a subtle orchestra’s along to give the score some sense of control, complete anarchy eventually takes over the BOSSES album with some great, extended improvs of badass behavior. Extra bonus points for the most hilariously unprintable album cue titles in movie score history.

LAST TRAIN FROM GUN HILL

The iron horse was a particularly important modus operandi when it came to 50’s westerns, whether Glenn Ford was trying to make the locomotive in 3:10 TO YUMA, or Kirk Douglas was hell bent for leather to catch the LAST TRAIN FROM GUN HILL at 9 PM. And right on the heels of this marshal’s righteous determination at bringing a murdering punk to justice (even if he happens to be cattle baron Anthony Quinn’s kid) is Dimitri Tiomkin, a composing cowboy if there ever was one. Never mind that he was a Jew who hailed from the Ukraine, as Tiomkin had previously given steadfast orchestral heroism to Gary Cooper’s gallant sheriff in HIGH NOON, the Duke in RIO BRAVO and Burt Lancaster when he previously accompanied Kirk and director John Sturges to the GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL. GUN HILL stands tall in the saddle amidst Tiomkin’s western repertoire as a two-fisted score where a powerhouse orchestra and villainous brass become the stuff of man-alone showdowns. However, the main theme also has an unexpected vulnerability to it, as Quinn’s character just happens to have been Douglas’ friend before his rotten son killed Kirk’s wife. But perhaps what’s most interesting about Tiomkin’s emotional approach is the jazz sax that plays through quite a bit of GUN HILL, an anachronistic instrument that makes this anything but a “period” score. Counterpoint Records has done a good job of restoring Tiomkin’s score, with Frank K. DeWald’s liner notes detailing the composer’s giant contribution to the west in a booklet chock full of great stills that mark this as another notch on Tiomkin’s gun belt.

LION OF JUDAH

Who’d have thought that a faith-based CGI toon about a bunch of farm animals trying to avoid the sacrificial altar would try to sound as big as BEN HUR? Composer Greg Sims certainly has a lot of chutzpah when it comes to playing these Christian-approved farm friends, but he also has the talent to pull off a score of JUDAH’s richness. Impressively performed by BULBAS’ Prague orchestra, Sims’ LION is the definition of musical production value, creating a surging scope worthy of a biblical epic populated by humans as opposed to funny animals. And while JUDAH certainly plays the jokes for all of the brassy, loopy worth (with a burst of rock guitar thrown in), it’s a cartoon score that isn’t constantly switching tonal direction, evoking tenderness, and dire suspense that tells us these friends’ goose will be cooked unless there’s some divine intervention. As the hour draws nigh, the trumpeting danger of JUDAH ends up sounding like more of an adventurous cliffhanger than anything you’d consider cartoony, which is a measure of the melodic grandeur that Sims brings to the film. In that respect, LION OF JUDAH is truly inspiration, not to mention pleasantly surprising.

PRETTY MAIDS ALL IN A ROW

One of those great, groovy WTF early 70’s flicks, PRETTY MAIDS cast randy Rock Hudson as a football coach-cum-guidance counselor, whom most of the high school is falling in the sack, couch and car with when they aren’t falling over dead. While penned by of no less than STAR TREK’s Gene Roddenberry for the erotic directorial vision of BARBARELLA’s Roger Vadim, the swinging feather in MAIDS’ cap was its score by Lalo Schifrin. A master of pop jazz whose rhythms had accompanied no small amount of sensual lady killing before, Schifrin’s hepness play humorously well into the film’s truly demented, and very hot satire, whether it be a Brubeck-Latin beat, cocktail seduction or lush big band romance. But there’s something more than a bit off about the enticing orchestrations, an electronic and orchestral darkness which comes more prominently into play as MAIDS’ murder mystery peps up, with a particular highlight using insane fuzz guitars to go into a memorial’s church organs. But if there’s one thing here you’re not going to get out of your head, then it’s the love generation melody and lyrics of Schifrin and Mike Curb’s “Chilly Winds.” Perhaps the squeaky clean Osmonds thought they were singing for some hippie Ralph Waldo Emerson flick when they recorded this freewheeling song, a tune whose melody takes root throughout MAIDS. You’ll be happy to get it on with Schifrin’s girls on Film Score Monthly’s seduction-ready CD, not to mention finally being able to watching them take it off at Warner Brothers’ Archive label- a great enough reason alone for that on-demand label to exist.

THE SENDER (1500 edition)

Ever since his mystical synthesizers conjured the fog that King Uther rode on to begat Arthur in EXCALIBUR, composer Trevor Jones has had a distinctive charm of making for walls of hypnotic sound, their haunting, yet gently rolling sustains and siren voices for such scores as DARK CITY, ANGEL HEART and HIDEAWAY leading to some dark epiphany on the other side of reality. In the case of 1982’s THE SENDER, Jones’ ghostly melodic washes are the eerie visions that a young mental patient projects onto those unfortunate enough to be in his range. While there are any number of jarring effects to be had among the bloody bits and raging fires that imaginarily emanate from THE SENDER, what truly impresses with Jones’ second Hollywood effort after EXCALIBUR is just how beautiful his thematic phantasms are. Spectral bell percussion, glistening synths, female vocals and a wistful flute and horn become gently poetic brainstorms, as much as they do unnerving nightmares. It’s mesmerizing, otherworldly tone that would also fill Jones’ far more renowned score to THE DARK CRYSTAL that year, firmly establishing him as a truly unique musical fantasist, capable of invading any listener’s mind with his hypnotic, undulating mélanges of orchestra and electronics.

SYMPATHY FOR DELICIOUS

Perhaps it was looking at the real crippled form of star-screenwriter Christopher Thornton, let alone trying to grasp the often unpleasant, off-kilter tone of this surreal faith-healing satire which accounts for barely anyone seeing Mark Ruffalo’s directorial debut. But the few that managed to garner some SYMPATHY FOR DELICIOUS likely found it unique to say the least, especially with the alt. score of The Besnard Lakes. Though named after a body of water in their native Canada, the indie group fronted by husband and wife Jace Lasek and Olgea Goreas is anything but Lake Placid as their raw, mesmerizing sound hits LA’s skid row for SYMPATHY. Besnard’s hallucinatory feedback and voice vibe brings to ear the stylings of Sonic Youth, ranging from dark minimalism to transcendent chords and grunge jams- an approach that’s blissfully in synch for the church of the homeless, pissed off and just plain crazy. Music supervisor Howard Parr also does an exceptional job of adding to the disheveled vibe of magical ultra-realism that SYMPATHY swims in, from the guitar builds of Do Make Say Think to the sinister, sexy grind of The Kills and the ironically themed Bee Gees’ hit “I Started A Joke.” Of particular interest is Burnt the Dipthongs, a thankfully make-believe band fronted by Thornton, Juliette Lewis and Orlando Bloom, whose mess of guitars, crap DJ scratches and warbled vocals is a hilarious example of people who actually do the LA rock club scene (in Thornton and Lewis’ case) trying to sound like a band on amateur night at CBGB’s, pretentious poseuring which is supposed to get better when Orlando does a bizarro rock and roll preacher vamp for “The Healing Song.” While SYMPATHY’s soundtrack certainly isn’t going to convert the non-believer, it’s a striking example of rock scoring’s outer limits that also signals the impressive arrival of Besnard Lakes to the soundtrack hipster scene.

TOO BIG TO FAIL

After doing consistently interesting, small-scale scores for such HBO movies as TAKING CHANCE and YOU DON’T KNOW JACK, Marcelo Zarvos literally takes on his biggest subject for the financial apocalypse that nearly took down the U.S.A.- that is if you believe the bankers who got a ziilion-dollar government rescue from the home loan meltdown they caused. But there’s no doubting the urgency that Zarvos brings to the crunching numbers that the freaked financial kingpins are throwing about, a driving, rhythmic mix that makes you picture Jason Bourne leaping over the Wall Street bull in a mad dash to save the country. Zarvos has created a smart action score for a crisis of talk instead of explosions, its cliffhangers occurring in board meetings. It’s a pulsing, and very concerned approach that gives considerable momentum to BIG’s relentlessly ticking clock to Armageddon. And if you couldn’t give a fig about executives with bigger bonuses than most countries’ annual incomes, Zarvos’ concerned, and downright suicidal strings bring a human dimension, and even sympathy to the crisis’ players that makes FAIL hit us with impactful relevance. You can only imagine what Zarvos would’ve come up with for Obama’s debt ceiling battles after this suspenseful listen.

WAYS TO LIVE FOREVER

A very inquisitive eleven year-old with leukemia decides to go through his bucket list, a journey of discovery that proves to be musically enervating in the hands of Cesar Benito. With styles that are understandably all over the place as his imagination runs wild, Benito enthusiastically conveys a thirst for rhythmic life instead of wallowing in the maudlin. Eccentric percussion, perky horn comedy and a gentle piano solos all contribute to a welcome sense of whimsy that doesn’t neglect the inevitable. And while the big symphonic moments arrive with Kleenex-grabbing flourish, much of FOREVER’s melodic emotions have a moving, intimate restraint to them. While this might be a score about making the most of a short life, Benito’s eclectic, thematically bittersweet gem of a score shows a composer with much promise lying ahead of him.

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

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