Movie Man Jackson looks at: 2017 Music in Movies (Part 5)

 

Where words fail, music speaks. Part 5 of the yearly Music in Movies series continues. If you missed parts one, two, three, and four, they’re available here , here, here,  and here. Dive in.

IT (composed by Benjamin Wallfisch)

Every 27 Years

Georgie, Meet Pennywise

Derry

Slideshow

Blood Oath

Makes perfect sense that a good chunk of the score of IT is appropriately child-like. This can be heard in its nursery-like chants and what-not, but also in its piano keys and moderately sized orchestra. Songs like Derry and Blood Oath evoke true senses of childlike wonder and exploration, absent of fear and dread. IT is just as much of a coming of age story as it is a full-on horror.

But the horror cues and sounds are present, none creepier than Slideshow, perhaps the most unnerving sequence of the entire movie. The overall sound of IT is reminiscent in a way to the score of the Dead Space games, those games dealing a lot with isolation in space. While IT has nothing to do with space and it is obviously much more ensemble-driven narrative-wise than Dead Space, there is an element of isolation and the fear each youngster has that can only be confronted when in a group. It’s a great score.

Stronger (composed by Michael Brook)

Amputee

Sutures

Part of the reason Stronger is so great is because it doesn’t fall into the overly sappy and forced emotion and narrative script so many other similar films do. The score composed by Michael Brook is an extension of this, never feeling too in-your-ear bombarding the eardrums and saying how the viewer should feel. It makes for an understated score, one that doesn’t necessarily make for a great listen outside of the movie, but still worth some recognition.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (composed by Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson)

Eggsy is Back

Poppy

Statesman

The Gondola Experience 

No Time for Emotion

Kingsman Hoedown

Henry Jackson and Matthew Margeson come back to helm the music that fills the circle that is Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Once again, their main motif, beginning with Eggsy is Back and continuing throughout, comes to define the series in its regal yet chaotic feeling. This time however, there’s a mashup with the more western, county-folk like aspect featuring the Statesman in a few cues. But the best musical moments are that of No Time for Emotion and Poppy, the former garnering the most emotion in the movie, and the latter playing as a cute yet dark introduction to the one-note lead villain.

Blade Runner 2049 (composed by Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer)

2049

Who does a director go to to recreate a score when one of the best—if not the best—composer today isn’t cutting it? Hans Zimmer, with substantial help from up-and-comer Benjamin Wallfisch, of course. The pair were tagged to replace the excellent Jóhann Jóhannsson and keep the legacy of the original’s music that was laid by Vangelis.

They’ve done a great job. Starting immediately with the apt 2049, filling the screen with immense moodiness and spectacle. It’s impossible not to get sucked in.

Flight to LAPD

Furnace

Joi

Sea Wall

Tears in the Rain

I strongly believe that a Jóhannsson-helmed Blade Runner 2049 score would outdo what Zimmer and Wallfisch managed to do here (re-listen to Sicario and Arrival for proof). There’s another layer of atmosphere that the duo lack, but still, cuts such as Sea Wall and Furnace and the rest of the above paint a wonderful sonic picture of a future maybe not completely far off from ours, a future with potential but rife with mystery and fear of the unknown. Tears in the Rain leaves us with a little hope though, that as long has humanity has purpose, we’re on the right track.

Marshall (composed by Marcus Miller, contributions by various artists)

YMCA Swing

Marshall Meets Sam

Marshall V. Friedman

More background filler than true story aid, still the score for Marshall is a solid accompaniment to the on-screen court matters and builds the time period it takes place in. The jazz-heavy score, sometimes light swing, occasionally bebop, and every now and then blues and more classical tracks, isn’t an listen that is unforgettable but it is a chill, smooth one.

Thor: Ragnarok (composed by Mark Mothersbaugh)

Thor: Ragnarok

Where Am I?

No One Escapes

Arena Fight

Planet Sakaar

A new approach to the God of Thunder demanded a different sound. Granted, the score to Thor: Ragnarok isn’t a complete step in a bold new direction, but it is amazing what some 80’s synths and wah-wahs can do to accentuate a movie. It’s a fairly fun and irreverent movie with a score that doesn’t ask its audience to think much beyond that.

Murder on the Orient Express (composed by Patrick Doyle)

The Wailing Wall

Jaffa to Stamboul

Twelve Stab Wounds 

Justice

Murder on the Orient Express is a movie I’ll remember more for the throwback style and production values than anything else. The score crafted by Patrick Doyle is lush and beautiful in its traditional orchestral sounds mimicking the events on screen in lockstep. Justice in particular is one of the best standalone score of the entire movie year. Kind of does sound like a Clue movie come to life (which I know was actually made in 1985).

Hero’s Theme

 

Batman on the Roof

I like character themes. It’s a little bit of a shame, though, that we don’t get real definitive, standout ones in Justice League for the new heroes in Cyborg, Flash, and Aquaman, but perhaps those will come during their own solo outings. Danny Elfman replaces the talented Junkie XL in this DC outing, and he’s probably a better fit, honestly. That’s no indictment of Holkenborg, who makes great epic music, but here and there, it can go into noise noise noise mode. What Elfman does here isn’t legendary, but, some rich, moody tracks and textures are built. I wonder if with a little more central focus on one character in the next go-rounds will make for more memorable scores.

Photo credits go to asturscore.com, heroichollywood.com, filmmusicreporter.com, jonburlingame.com, maxthetrax.com, imdb.com, batman-news.com, and filmmusicmag.com.

Only one (possibly two) more installments to go!

Follow MMJ @MovieManJackson.

 

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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