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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. 11 (of 15)

We’re heading down the home stretch with the cream of the crop- the top 50 soundtracks! Don’t forget to leave feedback and share any thoughts you may have on the Herculean/Sisyphean task of reducing the entire history of film music into a subjective and arbitrary expression of one individual’s tastes.

50.) Merchant of Venice (2004) - Jocelyn Pook

Michael Radford directs William Shakespeare‘s classic play starring Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, and Joseph Fiennes in the well known drama in which a feuding moneylender named Shylock demands his pound of flesh from the man he begrudges, in a tale that reminds us not to sign contracts we are not prepared to fulfill. Pook’s score is haunting and ornate, full of soothing ethereal vocals. Here’s the opening track, With Wand’ring Steps”:

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and track 2, “Her Gentle Spirit”:

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and track 16, “Banquet for Shylock Tourdion”:

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49.) Aguirre: the Wrath of God (1972) – Popol Vuh

Werner Herzog‘s masterpiece Aguirre: der Zorn Gottes stars Klaus Kinski as Don Lope de Aguirre, whose quest through the Amazon to find El Dorado, the lost city of gold, drives him to madness and threatens to bring his party of conquistadors to ruin. The dreamlike visuals which fill this “Heart of Darkness”-like meditation on ambition and power are enhanced by the soundtrack by German krautrockers Popol Vuh, who also provided the scores for Herzog’s Nosferatu, Fitzcarraldo, and Herz aus Glas (Heart of Glass). Here is the haunting “Aguirre”:

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and track 2, “Flote”:

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48.) Spellbound (1945) – Miklós Rósza

Alfred Hitchcock‘s Freudian mystery, set in a mental hospital and starring the beautiful Ingrid Bergman, features a legendary target=”_blank”>dream sequence designed by Salvador Dalí and an eerie theremin-infused score provided by the great Miklós Rósza, who also scored Ben-Hur and the revolutionary The Lost Weekend. Check out track 3, “Scherzo”:

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and track 14, “Joanna In Paris”:

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as well as track 15, “Off On The Great Adventure”:

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47.) Escape from New York (1981) – John Carpenter & Alan Howarth

John Carpenter has scored or been involved in scoring most of his movies, including Halloween, Assault on Precinct 13, They Live! and The Thing. This may be his best, as he gets help from electronic maestro Alan Howarth and beefs up his usual trance-like repetition with some inventive electronics, dramatic swells, and heavy bass lines which serve as the perfect companion to the classic tale starring Kurt Russell as the eye-patch wearing anti-hero Snake Plissken. Here’s the main title:

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and track 5, “He’s Still Alive”:

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and enjoy this snippet of dialogue from the soundtrack:

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46.) Full Circle [The Haunting of Julia] (1977) – Colin Towns

Richard Loncraine directs this ghost story starring Mia Farrow as a wealthy American woman living in London who leaves her husband following the death of their daughter only to buy a house haunted by a vengeful spirit who wishes to torment both the mom and deceased daughter. That’s two planes of torment – one physical, one astral – for those keeping score. Colin Towns, a prominent figure in the British prog scene, who played with the Ian Gillan band, also scored Robert A. Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters. Here he contributes a fabulous soundtrack full of electronics, powerful keyboards, and haunting melodies. Here’s track 2, “Have you got a Magnificent Problem?”:

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and track 4, “Kate”:

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45.) Shaft in Africa (1973) – Johnny Pate

John Guillermin directs Richard Roundtree in a blaxploitation flick whose title says it all: John Shaft in Africa. In case you were wondering, he’s there to bust a slave trafficking racket. Johnny Pate also scored Brother on the Run. This is the superior outing, featuring the wonderful vocals of the legendary Four Tops. Here’s track 5, “Headman”:

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and the awesome featured song, “Are You Man Enough”:

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44.) The Terminator (1984) – Brad Fiedel

Before James Cameron was spending billions of dollars on ridiculously extravagant tech-fests with “script by numbers” narratives, he was making low budget magic. Who can forget a menacing Arnold Schwarzenegger scrolling through the phone book for all Sarah Connors? Or popping an eyeball out of a poorly made latex mask? Or Randy Moss lookalike (I’m taking credit for that one) Michael Biehn‘s turn as Kyle Reese, future father of John Connors. Or tough-gal babe Linda Hamilton as the would-be victim of a cyborg sent to the past to kill machine public enemy #1? This feature that started a franchise mixes sci-fi and horror perfectly, aided by a magnificent Brad Fiedel score.

Here’s the “Theme from Terminator”:

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and track 5, “Sarah on her Motorbike”:

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and track 6, “Gun Shop / Reese In Alley”:

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43.) Vampyros Lesbos (1971) – Manfred Hübler & Siegfried Schwab

Cult auteur and sleaze-maestro Jesus Franco directs this soft-core lesbian vampire flick, which can only be recommended for its incredible soundtrack, the occasional vistas of Istanbul, and a nude Soledad Miranda. In fact most people sought out this film in the late 90’s after the soundtrack was released on the Crippled Dick Hot Wax label and quickly became a staple of living room bong-hits and college radio stations, thanks to its fantastic album cover and a mixture of deep bass, electronic noodling, and general weirdness-for-weirdness’ sake. Here’s the opening track, “Droge CX9″:

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and track 7, “People’s Playground Version B”:

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and track 9, “Necromania”:

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42.) The Devil in Miss Jones (1973) – Alden Shuman

Written, directed and produced by Gerard Damiano, The Devil in Miss Jones stars Georgina Spelvin as a lonely, depressed spinster who slits her wrists in a bathtub only to find herself confronted by angelic bureaucracy in the afterlife, where she is told she’s too good for Hell and yet unfit for Heaven (on account of the suicide). She asks to return to Earth and earn her place in Hell through lustful sexual escapades, involving various partners. And though it sounds fun, it’s actually a rather bleak and “serious” film, highlighted by a memorable finale in which Miss Jones begs frantically for sex (like an addict going through withdrawal) from a disgusting, impotent man more interested in catching imaginary flies: Is this Hell, and is he Beelzebub? You’ll just have to find out for- actually I’ll save you the trouble- yes it is and yes he is. One of the other ways the filmmakers establish it as an “art film” is by ditching the chicka-chicka-brow-brow porn music and hiring a professional. Surprisingly enough, he puts together a beautiful soundtrack. Here’s the opening track, “In the Beginning”:

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and track 2, “Hellcat”:

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and track 4, “The Teacher,” played in the film by porn thespian Harry Reems:

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41.) Siberiade (1979) – Edward Artemiev

Andrey Konchalovskiy directs this Russian masterpiece about a small village in Siberia, where three generations search for happiness in the harshest of conditions – after all, as far as shit-holes go, Siberia is still number one. Following this film, the director was given the opportunity to direct 1985’s Runaway Train, which was based on a screenplay by Akira Kurosawa. Following that, he made Tango & Cash. That’s what you call an exponential slide. The magnificent soundtrack, which fuses traditional Russian folk music with electronic sounds, is provided by frequent Tarkovsky collaborator Artemiev, who scored Solaris, Stalker, and Zerkalo [the Mirror]. Here’s track 2, “Le Soleil”:

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and track 11, “Les Balancoires”:

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and track 12, “La Mort Du Heros”:

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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).

And don’t forget to leave feedback!

 

November 1, 2010   No Comments

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