Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Unborn by Ramin Djawadi (Review)

David S. Goyer continues to prove that he is just absolutely awful. Thank goodness Christopher Nolan was in charge of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Anyway, Ramin Djawadi continues his collaboration and reunites with Goyer after composing Blade Trinity for him. Here we have yet another Michael Bay produced horror film, except this time we get to see what Djawadi has up his sleeves instead of Jablonsky.

The score I'm afraid is exactly what you'd expect it to be. Lots of high strings and synth percussion laid underneath. There isn't anything bad about the score in fact it's a lot more thematic versus the atmospheric scores we've heard from Steve Jablonsky the past few years. It just saddens me that great composers like Djawadi have to deal with these horrible films from horrible filmmakers. There isn't much room for creativity when the story itself is a piece of poo.

Anyway, that's for a different discussion. The highlight of the track is the first track which actually is used for the end credits of the film, but it's the most thematic and structured out of everything on the album. There are a few other thematic tracks, but nothing that will wow you.

Unfortunetly due to the awful material Ramin had to work from there isn't anything memorable. I enjoyed the listening experience because I'm a fan, but horror scores don't leave much room for creativity these days. You'd probably have to look back to Hans Zimmer's Hannibal or The Ring for the last truly great horror score.

Frost/Nixon by Hans Zimmer (Review)

I know this is a little late, but for some reason I never got around to reviewing it. Hans Zimmer closes out another stellar year with his minimalist score to Frost/Nixon. The score finds a pulse and goes on it. It's very unique and definitely completes the wide array of genres we've seen Zimmer attempt in 2008 like The Dark Knight to Kung Fu Panda.

The main motif is a cello based cue that dips in and out throughout the score. It's a score that works incredibly well with the image. I also applaud the restraint shown yet still managing to incorporate thematic material. I mean, scoring a dialogue based film fueled mainly by the performances is no easy task. While watching the film I kept feeling like I wanted the score more upfront and I can tell it was pushed back in the mix, but there were definitely a couple scenes that relied heavily on the score. You really notice the score come front and center in the third act of the film and it basically carries you right to the final image on screen.

It's another amazing score from Hans and it closes another fantastic year for him.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscar Analysis (Another Music Tragedy)

So, the Oscars have come and gone again.  I'm glad to see that the ceremony has gone back to being a "show" instead of an assembly to hand out awards.  Hugh Jackman was a refreshing surprise and his numbers definitely struck with me.  The little skit with James Franco & Seth Rogan was great as was Ben Stiller dressed as Joaquin Phoenix.  So as a show it was a success.
Let's get to the nitty gritty.  The awards.  Any surprises? Not really.  In fact I have constantly been dissapointed in the recent years with the lack of competition at the Oscars.  Is that saying something about the quality of movies being put out?  I don't know, but there isn't any surprises anymore in terms of winning.
Now, to get to what I really want to talk about; the music.  Let start off by saying that I hate the Music Branch at The Academy.  There are so many flaws with their system that I won't go into them.  What I hate most is the fact that The Academy sets up rules but breaks them whenever they want.  They broke their rules when Babel won an Oscar for Best Score and later admitted that they didn't realize it would have been disqualified from contention if  the proper research had been done.  This year they disqualified The Dark Knight only to reinstate its eligibility after an uproar from the public.  They also allowed 4 producers to get nominated for The Reader, which is a violation of the rules.
A.R. Rahman walked away with two Oscars last night.  He currently has more Oscars than Ennio Morricone (0 for score 1 lifetime achievement), Hans Zimmer (1), Jerry Goldsmith (1), Danny Elfman (0), Thomas Newman (0), Bernard Herrmann (1), Elmer Bernstein (1).  Does anyone else see anything wrong?  As much as I loved Slumdog Millionaire this is the biggest Oscar Music Tragedy since Gustavo Santaolalla illegally winning back to back Oscars a few years back.  Slumdog had almost no score in the film yet got nominated.  A.R. Rahman worked with countless amounts of other artists on the music (something I don't care about but the Academy disqualifies for), and the score is all synth (again, don't mind but the Academy frowns on).  He also got nominated for a song that repeats two words over and over to a techno loop and as amazing as that scene was in the film the song itself doesn't represent the heart of the film like Bruce Springsteen's The Wrestler or Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino.  Those songs got snubbed because of the flawed voting system.
So, again another undeserving score wins the Oscar when the deserving Alexandre Desplat walks away empty handed.  Another year goes by where The Academy shows that all you have to do is win the popularity contest at the time to get a handful of Oscars.  It also shows that the number of Oscars or nominations is in no way a measure of how good of an artist you are like The Academy wants people to believe.  If that were true  then A.R. Rahman and Gustavo Santaolalla would only need 1 more Oscar to be "as good" as Max Steiner.  Again, I loved Rahman's work on Slumdog and his win for "Jai Ho" was well deserved, but after the hoopla of Babel and the recent damning of Hans Zimmer and fellow composers by The Academy it only shows just exactly how little authority the Academy Music Branch has.  Grammy's gave it to The Dark Knight, IFMCA gave it to The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button just to point it out.  Slumdog Millionaire's score was not bad it just didn't deserve to win.


About Me: I love film, it's everything to me. I believe the key ingredient to a film is emotion, that's all that matters in a movie. That's what I love about film. It’s exploriFont sizeng everything that goes into making the audience connect emotionally and exploring the human condition.

Hans Zimmer is the reason why I got into film. He is my idol to say the least. His music opened up something in me when I was a kid and ever since I’ve been in love with score and think it’s the most important aspect of a film. Hans pushes simplicity and he preaches that a score must be able to stand apart from the film, because if it doesn’t it’s merely just there to fill space. Listening to scores has taught me more about filmmaking than I thought possible; from structure to story arcs as well as mood and atmosphere. I have a bookshelf full of every Hans Zimmer CD released as well as every CD released from his collaborators. I can't count how many times Hans' music has made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I've been pretty much listening to nothing but scores my entire life. The marriage of image and sound is amazing to me. It's what separates film from any other art form. My mom says that Fantasia was the first movie I ever saw and I watched it intently from my baby rocker, so that could explain a lot.

Sergio Leone is my favorite director. The man knows how to craft a film. He uses long duration takes that have incredibly deep focus. I love films that let the images tell the story. They are masterpieces of cinema. Terrence Malick is a close second to me, watch The Thin Red Line and thank me later.

About The Blog: The blog will basically be a way for me to publish my score reviews, any articles and links to interesting stories going on in the industry. I'm not musically trained, I don't read or write music, I don't play any instrument so my view on scores will be from an aesthetic viewpoint.  I don't write film or DVD reviews anymore, but as a filmmaker I'll write on certain things that go on in current events as they come up.