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SCORE! The 150 greatest OST’s – pt. 12 (of 15)

40.) Crash (1996) – Howard Shore

David Cronenberg directs from JG Ballard‘s cult classic where collisions and mangled metal become allegories for human sexuality – as car crash victims become dangerously obsessed with scarification and death. Perfect subject matter for the evolution of Cronenberg’s body horror aesthetic, and for fellow Canadian Howard Shore to craft ominous futuristic landscapes with jagged guitar lines pervading the melody. Shore won an Oscar for Lord of the Rings, and his work on Silence of the Lambs, Ed Wood and Naked Lunch (with Ornette Coleman!) are also worth checking out. Here’s track 1, “Crash”:

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and track 5, “Where’s the Car?”:

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and track 12, “Triton”:

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39.) Into the Wild (2007) – Michael Brook

This film, based on a true story, tells the tale of a top student and athlete who chooses to abandon all possessions, donate his savings to charity, and hitchhike to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Starring Emile Hirsch, directed by Sean Penn and adapted from John Krakauer‘s book, the film was released with 2 soundtracks: one with songs by grunge legend and paragon of social and environmental consciousness Eddie Vedder and this one, which features a haunting instrumental score by Brook, who also scored Albino Alligator, Affliction, and is Canadian, just like David Cronenberg and Howard Shore. What’s going on up there? Here’s track 3, “Carving”:

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and track 9, “Birds Snow Ice”:

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and track 11, “Carthage Grain Sale”:

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and track 15, “The Rapids”:

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38.) Colpo Rovente [Red Hot Shot] (1969) – Piero Piccioni

Don’t know much about this film directed by Piero Zuffi. except that it involves drug trafficking and illegal experimentation on teenagers, and stars Barbara Bouchet. Piccioni also composed the soundtrack for one of my personal favorites, The 10th Victim, a fantastic score in its own right, but this gets the nod for it’s cohesiveness and overall beauty. Here’s track 1, “Colpo Rovente”:

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and track 2, “Kintabu”:

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and track 25, “Occhio Dell’urangano”:

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37.) Codice D’Amore Orientale (1974) – Alberto Baldan Bembo

Like Colpo Rovente, this one’s a mystery, directed by Piero Vivarelli. From the titles of the tracks this figures to belong more to the soft core/mondo films than adventure or crime films. The composer also did 1969’s Io e Mara, and is featured on a great compilation, The Smart Set of Alberto Baldan Bembo. Check out track 1, “Kamasutra”:

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and track 4, “Nude Love”:

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and track 7, “Thai Pop”:

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36.) A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) – Alex North

Controversial director Elia Kazan adapts Tennessee Williams‘ pulitzer prize winning play, in which Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando star. The sexual tension-laced tale of disturbed sexpot Blanche DuBois, who moves in with her younger sister Stella and is tormented by her brutish brother-in-law in sultry New Orleans is a classic, as is the soundtrack by one of the most lauded of composers, Alex North, who also scored I’ll Cry Tomorrow, Spartacus, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Dragonslayer. Here’s track 3, “Belle Reve Reflections”:

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and track 6, “Stan and Stella”:

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and track 11, “Mania”:

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35.) Apartment #5C (2002) - John Surman

Raphaël Nadjari‘s film follows several individuals trying to survive in New York, including Nicky (Tinkerbell) and Uri (Ori Pfeffer), two Israelis making ends meet by robbing local stores at gunpoint. When things get out of hand at the titular apartment and Uri is shot, Nicky and the building’s maintenance person (Richard Edson) begin a relationship which Harold’s wheelchair bound brother-in-law (Jeff Ware) doesn’t approve of – all culminating in a violent end. Jazz musician Surman has an impressive body of work, most of it on the ECM label, and he’s delivered a great electronic-tinged score. Here’s track 1, “Beginning credits/ Running away”:

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and track 2, “Taxi to Brooklyn/ Nicky Shoots Herself”:

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and track 4, “Harold Working, Nicky Recovering/ Nicky on the Stairs”:

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34.) Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans (2009) - Mark Isham

Werner Herzog‘s quasi-sequel to the Abel Ferrara film (which starred Harvey Keitel) tells the story of a drug- and gambling-addicted detective (Nicolas Cage) in a post-Katrina New Orleans who is investigating the killing of five Senegalese immigrants and ultimately joins forces with drug dealers to feed his addictions. Co-starring Val Kilmer and Eva Mendes. Composer Isham, a jazz musician, also scored After Glow, The Hitcher, Short Cuts, and Fly Away Home, but this is his best. Here’s track 1, “Trolling”:

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and track 3, “Meet Big Fate”:

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and track 8, “Stakeout”:

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33.) Ghost Writer (2010) – Alexandre Desplat

Another Roman Polanski film – that guy knows soundtracks! In this film a ghostwriter (Ewan McGregor) hired to complete the memoirs of a former British prime minister uncovers secrets that put his own life in jeopardy. Desplat is a popular guy lately, providing the scores for Syriana, The Queen, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. This is his best. Check out this gaggle of bass clarinets on the opening track, “The Ghost Writer”:

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and track 2, “Rhinehart Publishing”:

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and track 4, “Lang’s Memoirs”:

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32.) Milano Calibro 9 [Caliber 9] (1972) – Osanna

Another Italian Crime Film, this one directed by Fernando Di Leo – Just out of prison, an ex-con teams up with his former employer, a psychopathic gangster who enjoys sick violence and torture, to find $300,000 stolen from an American drug syndicate boss. This one stars Barbara Bouchet as well – popular actress this post! Osanna was one of the greatest Italian prog bands, and this is a fantastic, 70’s era jazz-rock-fueled-jam score! Here’s track 1, “Preludio”:

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and track 5, “Variazione III/ Shuum”:

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and track 9, “Variazione VII/ Posizioni Raggiunte”:

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31.) Sweet Movie (1974) – Manos Hadjidakis

Dusan Makavejev‘s art film exists in its own little dimension, somewhere between Jodorowsky and Godard, and is a series of WTF? moments and incredible cinematography, dealing with revolution, beauty, sex, and capitalism. There are several memorable moments, including a beauty queen whose wealthy husband delights in urinating on her, a penis chopped off during a party, and my favorite scene – a naked woman covered in chocolate! Besides scoring tons of Greek movies, Hadjidakis also did Topkapi, Pornografia, and established the New York Rock & Roll Ensemble, but this is his greatest soundtrack. Here’s track 1, “The Urchins Down in the Meadow”:

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and track 2, “Shanties and People”:

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and track 14, “Polyrhythmic Sexuality and the Three Boys”:

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Click to see part 1 (OST’s #141-150) , part 2 (131-140),  part 3 (121-130), part 4 (111-120), part 5 (101-110), part 6 (91-100), part 7 (81-90), part 8 (71-80), part 9 (61-70), part 10 (51-60), part 11 (41-50), part 12 (31-40), part 13 (21-30), part 14 (11-20) and part 15 (1-10).

November 8, 2010   No Comments

SCORE! The 150 greatest OST’s – pt. 5 (of 15)

110.) Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) – John Lewis

Another Robert Wise crime film, this one revolving around racial tensions within a group of bank thieves. And if you thought the cast of Harry Belafonte, Robert Ryan, and Shelly Winters was jam-packed, just look at the players on the soundtrack: Milt Jackson on vibes, Bill Evans on piano, Jim Hall on guitar! Conductor John Lewis later released a studio version of this album with his small combo group, The Modern Jazz Quartet, that’s well worth seeking out as well!

Here’s track 9, “Skating in Central Park”:

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and track 12, “Games”:

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109.) Bugsy Malone (1976) – Paul Williams

Alan Parker, who also directed Pink Floyd’s The Wall – not eligible thanks to my strict self-imposed guidelines – is responsible for the cinematic oddity that is Bugsy Malone, which is either one of the worst ideas ever conceived or one of the best, depending on your perspective. A gangster movie where all the gangsters are played by children, the guns shoot some sort of cream filling, and Scott Baio stars alongside Jodie Foster is a bit hard for me to swallow, but the music isn’t – written by pop musician and hit songwriter Paul Williams, who also wrote and composed songs for the equally entertaining Phantom of the Paradise soundtrack for Brian De Palma.

Here’s track 3, “Tomorrow”:

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and track 7, “So You Wanna Be a Boxer”:

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108.) Dune (1984) – Toto

David Lynch returns to our list with his adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic, Dune, scored by Toto, the band that brought you the soft rock hits “ target=”_blank”>Africa” and target=”_blank”>”Rosanna”. It’s a surprisingly listenable affair, though when I think of Dune I can’t help but imagine the film that might have been: Alejandro Jodorowsky’s version, which was going to be written by Dan O’Bannon, was going to star Salvador Dali and Orson Welles, be designed by H.R. Giger and Jean Giraud (a.k.a. Moebius), and be scored by none other than Pink Floyd. Wow! Read more on the failed super-project here, and Jodorowsky’s account here. But back to Toto – very nice, very electronic score. The opening track, “Prologue,” lays out the basic plot:

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and here’s track 17, “Take My Hand”:

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107.) Kamasutra (1969) – Irmin Schmidt & The Inner Space

For the American release of Kobi Jaeger’s documentary, American-International Pictures removed some footage it considered ho-hum, added psychedelic drug-inspired scenes of wife-swapping and body painting, and marketed the whole thing as a dramatic film rather than a documentary. If that’s not the definition of sexploitation I don’t know what is. At least they left the soundtrack intact, by Irmin Schmidt and Inner Space, who would soon form the legendary Krautrock band Can. Here’s track 1, “Indisches Panorama I”:

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106.) Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh (1971) – Nora Orlandi

Sergio Martino’s target=”_blank”>crazy giallo stars Edwidge Fenech as a woman stalked by several sadists at once, the least kind among them being a razor wielding slasher. The soundtrack is just as stylish as the film, composed by one of the only female composers in the world of Italian horror films, Nora Orlandi.

Here is track 14, “Edwige In Dodici Ottavi”:

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and track 27, “Body Fox”:

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105.) La Marche de l’empereur [March of the Penguins] (2005) – Emilie Simon

Luc Jacquet’s Oscar winning documentary shows the life cycle of penguins (and when Orca whales are around, it shows the gory death cycle too). Their twenty day march to the safe haven where they will select their mates, procreate, protect and feed their offspring was set to the safe, predictable (though pretty) score of Alex Wurman in the US version, but in France it was set to an experimental soundtrack by Emilie Simon, a Björk-like chanteuse with a penchant for fractured electronica. Check out track 4, “Song of the Sea”:

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and track 11, “To The Dancers On The Ice”:

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104.) Around World in 80 Days (1956) – Victor Young

Michael Anderson’s wonderful technicolor adventure based on the novel by Jules Verne tells the tale of pompous Phileas Fogg, who bets his entire fortune on his claim that a man can travel around the world in 80 days, and then sets out to prove it. So off he goes, with butler in tow, from country to country, followed by an inspector who suspects him to be a criminal a man named Mr. Fix trying to sabotage his journey. Good old fashioned entertainment all the way around, with a fun soundtrack that quotes the traditional musics of the countries visited.

Here is track 2, “Paris Arrival”:

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and track 20, “Prairie Sail Car”:

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103.) Brave Story (2006) – Ben Watkins

Kôichi Chigira’s animated tale about an eleven-year-old boy who enters a magic world in order to change his fate and save his terminally ill mother sounds like a vintage tearjerker, along the lines of Grave of the Fireflies with a slight influence from Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. Ben Watkins, the key figure in the ever-changing, international band Juno Reactor, composed the soundtrack, which shifts between styles and instrumentation, and is filled with fantastic moments. Here’s track 3, “Mitsuru Theme 2″:

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and track 10, “Hare and Heather Part 1″:

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and track 12, “Aerial Ballet”:

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102.) Cat People (1982) – Giorgio Moroder

Paul Schrader’s remake of the Jacques Tourneur-directed, Val Lewton-produced 1942 horror film may not be the classic the original was, but it does have two things going for it: the sexy shapeshifting Nastassja Kinski and the score by Giorgio Moroder, a key figure in the 1980’s music scene who also composed The Neverending Story, Scarface, Midnight Express, and American Gigolo. Here’s track 5, “Leopard Tree Dream”:

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and track 6, “Paul’s Theme”:

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101.) Dark of the Sun (1968) – Jacques Loussier

Jack Cardiff’s movie about a band of mercenaries battling through the Congo in search of $25 million in uncut diamonds is pure machismo. And can we talk about that cover for a second? A guy with a chainsaw charging a shirtless soldier while battles, explosions, and romantic embraces rage around him? Why is Hollywood not jumping at the chance to remake this album cover!?!?? Scored by Jacques Loussier, a jazz musician of the first order, the soundtrack delivers on the cover’s promise, sounding like a fusion of Spaghetti Western and Crime film. Awesome.

Here’s the opening track, the main theme:

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and track 10, “The Mission”:

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50 down, 100 to go!!!

Click to see part 1 (OST’s #141-150) , part 2 (131-140),  part 3 (121-130), part 4 (111-120), part 5 (101-110), part 6 (91-100), part 7 (81-90), part 8 (71-80), part 9 (61-70), part 10 (51-60), part 11 (41-50), part 12 (31-40), part 13 (21-30), part 14 (11-20) and part 15 (1-10).

Check back in the coming weeks to see the rest of the soundtracks, as we head past the century mark into the meat of the countdown!

And be sure to leave feedback, even if it’s incredibly petty or negative!

September 20, 2010   No Comments

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