Movie Man Jackson looks at: 2017 Music in Movies (Part 6)

Music touches us emotionally, where words alone can’t. Part 6 of the yearly Music in Movies series ends here. Even though I missed a few things (ahem…Phantom Thread), I promise, we’re done with 2017 finally. If you missed parts one, two, three, four, and five, they’re available here , here, here,  here, and here. Groove out.

I, Tonya (composed by Peter Nashel, soundtrack by various artists)

Devil Woman

How Can you Mend a Broken Heart?

The Chain

The Incident

Music doesn’t completely play into I, Tonya’s storytelling like Baby Driver did, but still, the licensed soundtrack definitely paints a rebellious, edgy, and grungy tone that supports the fourth wall breaking aspects of the movie. Often times, these songs serve to tap into the psyche of Tonya, which is far from rosy. However, The Incident stands as a moody, uneasy track for the obvious moment that everyone associates Harding for.

Lady Bird (composed by Jon Brion)

Title Credits

Played during the opening sequence of the film, Jon Brion’s opener sets the stage for a warm, offbeat, and quirky experience. C’mon, there are oboes heard extensively! It kind of sounds like an average high school woodwind band. Perhaps that was the affect, pulling on the nostalgia strings?

Drive Home

Rose Garden

Summer in Sacramento

Lady Bird

Brion’s motif heard in the above three tracks might be my favorite motif/theme of 2017. Using that word again, it creates a very warm feeling despite sounding a little cold. The pieces are so layered, I feel nostalgia, introspection, and a sense of yearning the minute those keys are played and the hi-hat clicks and the descending call-response part comes on. The titular track of Lady Bird simply serves as an amazing coda to the film.

The Shape of Water (composed by Alexandre Desplat)

The Shape of Water

Elisa’s Theme

The Shape of Love

Decency

The Escape

Rainy Day

So rich and so ethereal is Alexandre Desplat’s score of The Shape of Water. The sounds and melodies that Desplat crafts are broad, deep, dreamy, and lush, befitting of Del Toro’s fantastical production. It’s impossible not to get sucked in, whether during the thrilling and even pulse-pounding moments during The Escape, or the opening narration played over the title track.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (composed by Carter Burwell)

Mildred Goes to War

Carter Burwell’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’s score has a outlaw/last stand/revenge feel to it. Honestly, that sounds a lot more interesting than the score sounds. But, the opener above paints the picture as a vengeful, methodical, almost spaghetti-western like tale that promises a scorched Earth left behind by it’s main character.

The Post (composed by John Williams)

The Presses Roll

Deciding to Publish

The Court’s Decision and End Credits

With the urgency The Post champions, it’s only right that John Williams makes a score that carries a sense of fitting weight and urgency. There’s a lot of power in many of these tracks that is punctuated by Williams’ precise sharp strings and swooping brass orchestra; one can feel the intensity of putting pen to paper and fingers to typewriter and unearthing something important.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (composed by John Williams)

The Supremacy

A New Alliance

The Last Jedi

There’s that guy again. C’mon, it’s John Williams, Star Wars. Little more needs to be said. Even for a non-Force geek like myself who couldn’t tell a Porgi from an Ewok (kidding…I think), there’s something undeniably epic about a Star Wars score and every sound of Williams’ orchestra. Bold, energetic, and vibrant.

All the Money in the World (composed by Daniel Pemberton)

The Minotaur

We Are Kidnappers

Paparazzi

Masterpiece

Police Raid

Sold to an Investor

Money Drop

Visuals do a lot when it comes to painting a picture of setting or time period, but a well crafted score can be just as important, if not more so. Daniel Pemberton’s work in All the Money in the World continues his great recent work. Whether giving life to a retelling of King Arthur, or painting different periods of Steve Jobs’ life, his sounds are always unique and go different places than most composers.

AtMinW is no different, combining classical Italian opera vocals and melodic instrumentation with street sounds and electric spurts that play up the thriller aspect when applicable. A score that shouldn’t go unnoticed.

Call Me By Your Name (soundtrack by various artists, Sufjan Stevens)

Futile Devices (Doveman Remix)

Love My Way

Visions of Gideon

For all the love that songwriter Sufjan Stevens is getting for his Mystery of Love track as a potential Oscar Best Original Song contender, his other contributions to Call Me By Your Name are actually stronger. The lyrics to Futile Devices and Visions of Gideon are painful to listen to, not because they are bad, but so relatable, in the sense that love can be hard to verbalize and worthless to do so, but actions are ever present in the former song. The latter song is heartbreaking, remembering something that was so real and vivid but almost too real, using the Jewish prophet of Gideon to draw light parallels to Elio and his situation. A flooring way to end the movie.

Darkest Hour (composed by Dario Marianelli)

The War Rooms

History is Listening

Dynamo

The piano is such a dynamic instrument, able to convey feelings of love and tenderness, but also aggression and importance. The tracks above by Dario Marianelli, paired with a full orchestra, get at the urgency and importance of the seemingly impossible task that Churchill had in convincing his party to keep fighting in the midst of despair. Very business and processional-like.

Molly’s Game (composed by Daniel Pemberton)

Staring Down a Mountain

Area Codes

House of Cards

Scars

All the Beauty in the World

I fittingly end my look at 2017 films and the music that accompanies them with, in my opinion, the most dynamic film composer working today in Daniel Pemberton. He may very well be the best in the game right now at crafting a style for a particular movie. Molly’s Game is crisp and smooth. Sounds like more an adult drink than a film score, but that’s the truth. The metronome in Staring Down a Mountain paired with steel drums and a funky electric guitar creates a 70’s-ish vibe with. The whole score, whether brimming with energy or more sedated like the somber and reflective Scars, feels like clockwork, apropos to the content in Molly’s Game.

Photo credits go to zimbio.com, tinymixtapes.com, filmmusicreporter.com, people.com, jwfan.com, slashfilm.com, billboard.com, stereogum.com, and focusfeatures.com.

_____________________________________________________________________

Going to try something different this year to end this yearly series. Instead of ranking my favorite scores of the past year in cinema, I’m going to list my top 25 favorite tracks in cinema over the past year, and, my composer of the year. Again, all subjective, and just because a movie may have been generally deemed great or awful by the masses, I could really love one or two, or hell, maybe three or more, of the tracks on its score and the movie may be stellar or poor. These are the tracks I have found myself listening to often, working out to, falling asleep with, humming randomly, or just thinking a lot about.

Composer of the Year: Daniel Pemberton (King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, All The Money in the World, Molly’s Game)

Top 25 of 2017

25. Paradise Lost (War for the Planet of the Apes)

24. A Long Way Back (Life)

23. Hitman’s Bodyguard (The Hitman’s Bodyguard)

22. Demonstration (Atomic Blonde)

21. Project Monarch (Kong: Skull Island)

20. The Last Jedi (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)

19. Wonder Woman’s Wrath (Wonder Woman)

19. John Wick Reckoning (John Wick: Chapter 2)

18. Sikiliza Kwa Wahenga (Get Out)

17. We Are Kidnappers (All The Money in the World)

16. Elisa’s Theme (The Shape of Water)

15. Staring Down a Mountain (Molly’s Game)

14. Visions of Gideon (Call Me By Your Name)

13. The War Rooms (Darkest Hour)

12. Original Score Medley (Logan Lucky)

11. Lady Bird (Lady Bird)

10. The Beast is on the Movie (Split)

9. History is Listening (Darkest Hour)

8. Supermarine (Dunkirk)

7. Growing Up Londinium (King Arthur: Legend of the Sword)

6. Futile Devices (Call Me By Your Name)

5. Main Titles (Logan)

4. The Shape of Water (The Shape of Water)

3. All The Beauty in the World (Molly’s Game)

2. The Mole (Dunkirk)

1. Sea Wall (Blade Runner 2049)

Follow the Movie Man @MovieManJackson

 

 

Advertisements

Movie Man Jackson looks at: 2017 Music in Movies (Part 3)

And the beat goes on. Part 3 of the Music in Movies series continues. If you missed parts 1 and two, they’re available here and here. Let’s do it.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (composed by Daniel Pemberton)

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Growing Up Londonium

The Legend of Excalibur

The Darklands

The Devil and The Huntsman

This isn’t your father’s, grandfather’s, or great-grandfather’s King Arthur. Legend of the Sword is covered with Guy Ritchie-ness, a stylized re-imagining of the titular hero in an unkempt, street-wise, roughened way. Composer Daniel Pemberton goes a little against expectations sonically here. Powerful drums and breath patterns create one of the more lively musical tracks of the entire year in Growing Up Londinium, a montage of King Arthur growing up in 2:42. The Darklands sees our hero face his inner demons all while fighting sinister mythical beings.

There’s a noticeable epic, rustic, fantastical, Viking/Celtic feel with much of the music that works as an infinitely replayable standalone listen (or accompaniment to a workout, I can attest with experience firsthand), and within the movie itself. Honestly, it’s everything I could want from a King Arthur musical score without realizing it. King Arthur isn’t a movie I expected to enjoy, but count me in the minority of the few who did, and Daniel Pemberton played a part in making it so.

 Wonder Woman (composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams)

No Man’s Land

Wonder Woman’s Wrath

Since she was introduced in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, I’ve been infatuated with Wonder Woman‘s theme. With the wailing electric guitar, powerful bass drum and powerful bass drum, it gets across Diana’s impressive strength both internally and externally. But, what’s great about it is that the theme also carries a sense of beauty, compassion, and honesty. All themes found throughout the movie and put in nicely into this lush score by Rupert Gregson-Williams.

The Mummy (composed by Brian Tyler)

Prodigium

It’s very fitting that the best track on The Mummy’s score is attached to the best moments of the film itself. Brian Tyler’s Prodigium is everything The Mummy should have been. Mysterious, classical, full of intrigue. Most importantly, the piece sounds dark and otherworldly. If we get more of this in any Dr. Jekkyl/Mr. Hyde film, I’ll be happy.

It Comes At Night (composed by Brian McOmber)

Close Your Eyes

Sores

The Triumph of Death

Paul’s Regret

Coming in at a brief 41 minutes, the score for It Comes At Night by Brian McOmber doesn’t stand out as much as it sits under the surface, lingers on the walls, in the air, etc. Paranoia is the name of the game in the film, and when is paranoia ever loud and blaring? The score mimics this, the presence felt but never overbearing.

Baby Driver (soundtrack by various artists)

Harlem Shuffle

Smokey Joe’s La La

B-A-B-Y

Unsquare Dance

Debra

Chase Me

I probably can’t say anything more about the way music is used in Baby Driver that hasn’t been said already. Every now and then it gets to the point of feeling gimmicky, but by and large, Baby Driver is a unique viewing experience fueled by a eclectic and diverse soundtrack that runs the entire gamut of musical genres. It’s as much of an auditory experience as it is a visual one.

Spider-Man: Homecoming (composed by Michael Giacchino)

The World is Changing

Academic Decommitment

A Stark Contrast

Despite having tinges of The Avengers‘ theme, Michael Giacchino’s Spidey: Homecoming score is decidedly more low-scale and even whimsical at times. Take Academic Decommitment for example (Michael G always one with the track puns). It’s breezy and kind of quirky. The approach taken doesn’t really make for a memorable score, but I’m sure it’s not supposed to be.

War for the Planet of the Apes (composed by Michael Giacchino)

Apes Past is Prologue

Assault of the Earth

The work Giacchino puts into War for the Planet of the Apes couldn’t be more different than the tracks he made for Homecoming, and those movies were released a week apart from each other! Large parts of War for Apes are told with minimal dialogue, if any. As such, Giacchino’s beautiful music plays a massive part in the feature.

His approach starts early with Apes Past is Prologue and Assault of the Earth, painting the picture early of the high level of stakes this war between humans and apes carries.

Exodus Wounds

The Posse Polonaise

These tracks segue way into the two above. Giacchino makes War for Apes something of a processional with its main motif. There’s grace in this score…

A Tide in the Affair of Apes

The Ecstasy of the Bold 

but also a ton of loss and despair.

Apes Together Strong

Migration

Paradise Found

Michael G closes the trilogy of apes with two emotional sledgehammers of tracks. Paradise Found is the perfect wrap up to everything we’ve witnessed as an audience through the three movies. It was a long and emotional ride, but one that won’t be forgotten anytime soon. Here’s to hoping Giacchino’s work gets some rightful appreciation come awards season.

Photo credits go to Youtube.com, music.allaccess.com, universalmonstersuniverse.com, genius.com, filmobsession.com, and variety.com.

Follow the Movie Man @MovieManJackson

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword-Movie Man Jackson

Hear ye, hear ye. Born in a brothel, the streets of Londinium has become home for young Arthur. The streets have molded him into a tough, confident, yet still honest individual who does the right thing more than not. Now older, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) gets by as a Robin Hood-esque character of sorts, providing for his hometown what they need and dispensing justice where applicable.

One particular incident puts Arthur in the path of King Vortigern (Jude Law), who has ascended to the throne via treacherous means. Knowing of Arthur’s royal lineage (unbeknownst to Arthur, he’s the son of the deceased king Uther (Eric Bana)), Vortigern looks to exterminate him. Wanting no part of this, Arthur so wishes to go back to his normal life, but he who has the strength to draw the fabled sword Excalibur from the stone must use it, and topple Vortigern once and for all.

Unless you’re The Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones, medieval/Middle Age/mythology movies and productions have a tough go at drawing audiences to the theaters, at least here in America. From a critical perspective, they might as well be poison in most cases now (see Seventh Son, Clash of the Titans, Warcraft), with people often making up their minds as to the actual quality of them and refusing to be wavered in thinking anything different. Most aren’t great, but every now and then the genre is fresh enough to deliver some legitimate fun. Enter the latest telling of King Arthur. By no means amazing, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword ends up being, all in all, an energetic summer movie.

Holding the directorial sword in King Arthur rebooted is Guy Ritche. Ritchie is an individual who brings a noticeable imprint to any movie he does, and that doesn’t really change here. Expect a whizzing, hyperactive camera to intercut whenever characters deliver exposition, or give context to (what is supposed to be) pertinent information. It isn’t nearly as funny as Ritchie thinks it is. This style doesn’t 100% work in the movie, but does keep the energy up, and sort of makes up for a story that can feel stretched at times, especially in the latter third before the climax.

 

However, from an action perspective, Ritchie’s style does work in the world that King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is composed of. The 180 pans, stop-start shots, and the like just goes well with all of the magic and supernatural elements. Save for some questionable CGI near the end that stands out in a negative way, there’s a real sense of “epicness” that Guy brings to the proceedings in various scenes. But, the real MVP of Legend of the Sword may be composer Daniel Pemberton (Steve Jobs), who creates a standout score that goes against sonic genre type and truly elevates the film.

Only two characters really receive proper attention and development in this King Arthur fable. Of course, one is the titular character portrayed by Charlie Hunnam. Arthur is a little more grittier and less proper in this retelling, and Hunnan is the perfect fit, providing physicality yet everyman likability to make a character worth rooting for. His opposition is played by Jude Law, clearing having a good time while getting some scenes to showcase his range and flesh out his despicable king.

As the supporting cast goes, the enigmatic Mage (Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey) is the most intriguing individual; there’s a lot of potential with her if future movies come to fruition. Unfortunately, most who make up the fabled knights of the roundtable come off as generic spacefillers, even Djimon Hounsou. At least he’s not playing a secondary antagonist like he’s been doing as of late (Furious 7, Seventh Son, The Legend of Tarzan).

After the financial performance of King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword, it may be long time until the sword is removed from the stone again. Though far from perfect, it’s a shame. I for one, wouldn’t mind seeing another Excalibur stab taken at expanding this tale.

B-

Photo credits go to liveforfilm.com, blastr.com, and warnerbros.co.uk.

For additional detailed thoughts on films both small and large, games, and the key moments that comprise each, check out ThatMomentIn.com

Follow the Movie Man @MovieManJackson

Movie Man Jackson Looks at: 2015 Music in Movies (Part 5)

Back with Part 5 of the year-end series. If you missed Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4, you can see those herehere here, and here. Now, onto the selections!

Bridge of Spies (composed by Thomas Newman)

newman

Standing Man

Rain

Homecoming

Besides the news that Spielberg and Hanks were marrying their talents once again in a movie, the next biggest news surrounding Bridge of Spies may have been the fact that legendary composer and frequent Spielberg collaborator John Williams would not be composing Spielberg’s movie. To this date, Williams has scored all of Steven’s work, expect for The Color Purple and this.

While it is interesting to think about how Bridge of Spies‘ score would have sounded with Williams at the helm, I believe Newman does a great job of painting the respective scenes with the right tone without the sound being so in-your-face. Take Standing Man, for example, with its American idealistic feel, or Rain, with its shady and deliberate sound. And the rich-sounding end track of Homecoming is one that could be a little forced in other lesser movies, but when it is heard, the audience feels as if they’ve just returned from a long, foreign journey like Jim Donovan has. It’s a earned moment.

Steve Jobs (composed by Daniel Pemberton)

uncle

 It’s Not Working

Change the World

Revenge

I Wrote Ticket to Ride

The New Mac 

In lockstep with the three act screenplay written by Aaron Sorkin and the directorial aesthetic Danny Boyle employs, the score to Steve Jobs circa 2015 is divided up into three parts: 1984 (computer synths/analog), 1988 (classical opera), and 1998 (digital).

The tracks are not only representative of the stamps in time, but also what Jobs and, to some extent others, are feeling in the respective act. Pemberton score captures what technology can do in a positive fashion, and a negative fashion. At times, the score is inspiring, filled with genius and ideas like Steve. Other times, it is somber, downtrodden, and frosty, also like Steve could be. Sure, the script may be more loosely based than what most people prefer out of biopics, but I believe it sets out what Boyle was aiming for, “…an action movie with words.” A lot of care was put into making sure the right score and effects were used.

The Peanuts Movie (score composed by Christophe Beck, soundtrack by various artists)

christopheb

Better When I’m Dancing

Good Ol’ Charlie Brown

Skating

You can’t tinker with stuff that has been around for what amounts to the beginning of time. Exaggeration withstanding, Peanuts has been around for a while, and too much messing around with something as established as Schulz’s work could have made a lot of people upset.

Everything in The Peanuts Movie is safe, cute, and not much more than that. But, it is charming (that Meghan Trainor song is irresistible), and Christophe Beck does well with keeping old themes yet jazzing them up just enough to make them modern.

Spectre (composed by Thomas Newman)

tomspectre

Los Muertos Vivos Estan

Spectre may be no Casino Royale or Skyfall, but there seems to be a consensus that the opening scene is one of the best openers in the series, and it is hard to disagree. From the gorgeous tracking shot to the music, which gives pieces of the classic Bond theme while mixing native Mariachi sounds. Love, love, love it.

Backfire

Westminster Bridge

If there’s one criticism about Spectre‘s score, it’s that many believe it to sound too much like Skyfall’s, and essentially, it kind of is with it being a direct follow to that previous film. Many of the prior motifs and ideas are lifted, and while it isn’t all that new (like Spectre‘s story), why ruin a good thing, at least when it comes to the music? There’s a certain sound that is to be expected with 007, and unless the film is serving as an intentional reboot with a different theme (à la Casino Royale), I’m not of the opinion that it is necessarily a bad thing for Bond to sound the same, musically. Lazy? Maybe a little, but not a complete fail. Would love to see some new blood scoring the next film, however,

 Brooklyn (composed by Michael Brook)

brook

Packing for the Voyage

The Pull of Home

Goodbye Ellis

Michael Brook…scoring Brooklyn. On its own, Brooklyn doesn’t sound like nothing all that special, but in the film, Brook is able to strike the delicate balance of making the scenes moving, but not overly so to the point of eye-rolling sappiness. And subtly, there’s a nice distinction in the instrumentation between the scenes that take place in America, and those in Ireland. It all amounts to an old fashioned, homely feel of a motion picture score.

Creed (Soundtrack by various artists, Score composed by Ludwig Goransson)

goransson

Don’t Waste My Time (performed by Krept and Konan)

The Fire (performed by The Roots and John Legend)

Wake Up Everybody (performed by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes)

Creed‘s soundtrack may be a little of a mixed bag for some, especially if hip hop isn’t a preferred genre. But, I do find it cool that it has a Philadelphia theme to it, as many of the artists that appear on it, from Meek Mill to Harold Melvin are all Brotherly Love natives. Some of the more unique cuts are performed by Tessa Thompson, who gives a great performance in the movie as Bianca while adding to her character’s musical aspirations. And the fighter’s entrances are absolutely stunning, with Makaveli/2pac’s Hail Mary and Don’t Waste my Time playing during them. Why couldn’t Pacquiao/Mayweather produce this awesomeness?

Front Street Gym

The Sporino Fight

If I Fight, You Fight (Training Montage)

Conlan Fight

You Can See the Whole Town from Here

A little miffed at the YouTube quality (definitely seems to be down a pitch or two), but what is posted here is still high-quality stuff. I was not expecting Creed to be such a great film, or the pure theater experience that it is. I’ve seen it twice now, and even contemplating going a third time for that aspect alone. It will still be great on Blu-Ray, but not the same great as watching on the silver screen.

That feeling exists for a lot of reasons, but one of the biggest is the score that Ludwig Goransson has created. Again reuniting with Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan, he bobs and weaves through emotional scenes that don’t feel hokey and hearken back to the old sounds of the first few Rocky movies, while punctuating ring scenes that are gladiatorial and so titanic. Despite using bits and pieces from previous entries (and rightfully so), Goransson uses those cues in the right places, but never to the point of complete laziness. Even with all of the more heralded big and bold films this year, which are great in their own rights, I’m not sure if I felt the pure energy surge that rushed through the body like Creed gives at times.

Photo credits go to pigeonsandplanes.com, variety.com, pmc-speakers.com, joblo.com, youtube.com, and filmmusicsociety.org

One more part to go!

Follow the Movie Man @MovieManJackson