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SCORE! Top 20 Film Scores of 2012 (pt. 2)

Happy New Year! It’s 2013 but we’re not quite done looking back at 2012, with our year-end Top 20 Film Score Countdown. We’re moving now into even more emotional territory – exploring sounds which will surely stir your soul!

15.) ÉsimésacMichel Corriveau

Ésimésac

I don’t know much about this French film by Director (and Starship Enterprise captain) Luc Picard, and the un-subtitled trailer doesn’t help matters much either. What I do know is that it seems to be a visually stunning fable about a magical village. And that the soundtrack, which I found on emusic entirely by chance, kicks a whole lot of ass. Lyrical, beautiful, it’s simply a well crafted piece of music the whole way through, with intertwining melodies full of guitars, piano, the whole shebang. Emminently listenable without having even seen the film, it’s an emotional journey which conjures all sorts of fantastic feelings. Let’s hope the visuals live up to the music!

Here’s the opening track, “Sur ses épaules”:

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Here’s track 3, “Marie”:

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14.) Der AusflugBeat Solèr

Der Ausflug

More music from a film I haven’t seen or even know much about, with another (this time German) un-subtitled #” target=”_blank”>trailer to pique our interest. This tale of a family’s disastrous trip into the woods by Mathieu Seiler is a low-budget affair, making the soundtrack even more important – since ambiance and mood can heighten production value and make any film look great. Enter Beat Solér, who’s crafted a dark and ominous fairy tale score full of gongs, dissonant piano trills, ethereal vocals and steady low end strings – but plenty of beautiful passages too, which we know from Prokofiev‘s Peter and the Wolf is a perfect way to build tension: when the melody is sweet you can just sense something terrible lurking beneath. Not the scariest score of the year (Christopher Young’s Sinister score is scary to the point of being nearly un-listenable) but very good, especially if you enjoy synthy low-key Goblin fare from the 70’s.

Here’s track 1, “Der Ausflug Main Theme”:

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Here’s track 8, “Enter the Forest”:

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13.) End of WatchDavid Sardy

End of Watch

The score to David Ayer‘s End of Watch opens with Public Enemy‘s awesome “harder than you think,” a hard anthem to follow, but composer Sardy is up to the task, with a score full of muscular riffs breaking down into fragile piano before exploding again, emulating the start-stop suspenseful nature of this fantastic film. Percussion melds with electronics to create a ticking time bomb of adrenaline you’d expect from a Muse or Tool album, and even at just over 20 minutes of original material (complete with Joshua Homme‘s accompanying vocals on the last track) it leaves you emotionally exhausted. Lots of 2012 scores did this “warped industrial” sound well – from Paul Leonard Morgan‘s Dredd to tomandandy‘s Resident Evil: Retribution – but there’s a quality which elevates David Sardy’s score and earns it a place on our list.

Here’s track 2, “I Am the Police”:

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Here’s track 6, “Heroes”:

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12.) Get the GringoAntonio Pinto

Get the Gringo

This time it’s obscure 60’s rock band Ten Years After‘s “50,000 Beneath My Brain” that sets the tone, and composer Antonio Pinto who follows up with a fantastic score to Adrian Grunberg‘s Get the Gringo. If you enjoy Joe Strummer‘s score to Alex Cox‘s Walker, Ry Cooder‘s spare guitar on Wim WendersParis, Texas and Neil Young‘s atmospheric Dead Man score for Jim Jarmusch you’ll love this low-key affair, peppered with a variety of guitars, tempo shifts, percussive nuances and the occasional echoey reverb. But if you’re like the many haters on Amazon who expected this to be a compilation of tunes more like track 2, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs‘ “Padre Nuestro,” you’ll want to move along.

Here’s track 4, “Driver Sets Fire”:

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Here’s track 12, “Sunny Day in Mexico”:

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11.) HaywireDavid Holmes

Haywire

For the score to his controversial and star-studded flick starting MMA fighter-turned actress Gina Carano, Steven Soderbergh enlisted David Holmes, a name familiar to anyone around in the late 90’s (his Let’s Get Killed was on record store end-caps everywhere). Many were turned off by the film’s seemingly in-congruent minimalistic aesthetic and slow pace, but I found it enjoyable, in large part due to the music. Bass-heavy and incredibly funky, it’s propelled by a driving beat and filled with little nuances – like bass clarinet, warped electronics, and voices buried deep in the background. It’s an ironic and self-aware piece of music, nodding heavily towards its influences – from lifting the Western genre’s rattlesnake-percussion to borrowing Italian crime score elements (the work of Riz Ortolani springs to mind) and of course quoting funky keyboards and guitars from old-school Blaxploitation flicks – all in all it sounds like an updated J.J. Johnson‘s Across 110th Street, full of brass and a robust horn section. Give it a spin and see what you think!

Here’s track 9, The Drive Rossbourgh”:

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Here’s track 10, “Looking for Clues”:

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And so concludes part 2 of our celebration of the sounds of 2012. Check out part 1 here and tune in for part 3 on Friday – and check out last years’ countdown as well as the ridiculously ambitious and highly subjective countdown that started it all – our Top 150 scores of all time!
 
And be sure to leave us a comment telling us your favorite score of the year!
 
Ooh-ooh! Almost forgot! We also posted a list of our 100 favorite albums of 2012 here!
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January 2, 2013   No Comments

SCORE! The 150 greatest OST’s – pt. 13 (of 15)

30.) Touch of Evil (1958) – Henry Mancini

Orson Welles directs and stars as the bigoted Hank Quinlan in this visually stunning crime film with style to burn. Charlton Heston is horribly miscast as a Mexican narcotics officer (do they still have those?) and Janet Leigh as his newlywed wife, who become embroiled in the drug trade when an American is killed in a bomb blast at the border. There’s a memorable opening tracking shot, incredible cinematography, and a fantastic sleazy sounding jazz score by Henry Mancini, the man who brought you The Pink Panther, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Experiment in Terror, Charade, and The Party – all fine outings, but this is his best, perfectly capturing the mood of a 1950′s border town. Here’s the main title:

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and track 9, “The Boss”:

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and track 19, “The Chase”:

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29.) Drag Me to Hell (2009) – Christopher Young

Sam Raimi returns to Evil Dead II form with this roller coaster ride of a movie, starring Alison Lohman and Justin Long in the tale of vengeful spirits haunting a well-meaning naïf. From the opening smash-cut title card (punctuated with an intense musical stinger) to the shocking finale, it’s a perfect example of visceral thrills, with plenty of twists and turns, sublimely fun comic relief, and some fantastic music, courtesy of Christopher Young, who also scored Haunted Summer and Hellraiser. Here’s track 1, “Drag Me to Hell”:

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and track 11, “Brick Dogs Ala Carte”:

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and track 13, “Auto Da Fe”:

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28.) Beautiful Kate (2009) – Tex Perkins and Murray Patterson

Actress Rachel Ward takes the director’s chair, personally adapting the script from Newton Thornburg‘s novel in this sentimental drama about a writer who returns to his remote family home to say goodbye to his dying father, and finds himself haunted by memories which awaken long-buried secrets from the family’s past – revolving around his beautiful twin sister. I haven’t seen it, but the score by Perkins and Patterson is haunting and fantastic and make me want to. Here’s the beautiful main theme:

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and track 2, “Wilpena Pound.”:

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and track 17, “This Little Bird”:

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27.) Cannabis [French Intrigue] (1970) – Serge Gainsbourg

Pierre Koralnik directs the infamously debonair (and deviant) Serge Gainsbourg as a killer working for the Mafia who goes into hiding when an attempt is made on his life and takes refuge at a stranger’s apartment (played by real-life lover Jane Birkin). It’s what you would expect from an art-film-gangster-movie-starring-non-actors-who-are-real-life-lovers. It’s like watching Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci but with less acting talent. The music is out of this world, though. Check out track 1, “Cannabis instrumental”:

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and track 11, “Derniere Blessure”:

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and track 13, “Cannabis bis”:

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26.) Requiem for a Dream (2000) – Clint Mansell

Darren Aronofsky‘s notoriously invasive drug opus is based on Hubert Selby Jr.‘s novel and stars Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto and Jennifer Connelly in a visually stunning yet emotionally disturbing (and often shocking) movie about four friends whose lives are destroyed by heroin use. The emotionally charged soundtrack by Clint Mansell (who also did Moon) is absolutely riveting. Here’s the opening track, “Summer/ Summer Overture”:

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and track 4, “Summer/ Party”:

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and track 26, “Winter/ Southern Hospitality”:

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and track 27, “Winter/ Fear”:

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25.) Solamente Nero [The Bloodstained Shadow] (1978) – Stelvio Cipriani

Antonio Bido directs this formulaic giallo set in Venice, where a rash of murders – all tied to the unsolved strangulation of a young girl years before – baffles detectives. Though there are better movies by Argento and Martino, it’s a nice competent exercise in suspense and horror, backed by Stelvio Cipriani’s (who also did Bay of Blood and Twitch of the Death Nerve) moody score. Here are the opening titles:

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and track 3, “Incubi Ricorrenti 3″:

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and track 6, “Incubi Ricorrenti 6″:

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24.) The Connection (1962) – Freddie Redd

Another movie about heroin addicts! Shirley Clarke‘s film adaptation of Jack Gelber‘s play tells the tale of 8 addicts waiting for their “connection” in a New York apartment who have agreed to let a budding filmmaker film them if he pays for their fix. Things get truly interesting afterward, when the men talk the filmmaker into trying heroin – with disastrous results. Redd was a soulful jazz pianist whose work for the Blue Note label is definitely worth seeking out, and this soundtrack also features alto saxophonist Jackie McLean – whose wailing solos come from a place of experience – read about him in the seminal Four Lives in the Bebop Business. Here’s the opening track, “Who Killed Cock Robin”:

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and track 5, “Theme For Sister Salvation”:

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23.) Sitting Target (1972) – Stanley Myers

Douglas Hickox directs Oliver Reed and Jill St. John in this crime thriller about a vicious convict who busts out of prison to hunt down his wife when he discovers she is pregnant by another man. Stanley Myers’ incredible score perfectly complements the emotionless London in which the story takes place. Here’s the main theme:

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and track 6, “Laundry Park”:

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and track 12, “Squealing Pig”:

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and track 13, “Split Down The Middle”:

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22.) Chi Sei [Beyond the Door] (1974) – Franco Micalizzi

Ovidio G. Assonitis & Robert Barrett direct this unapologetic Exorcist knockoff – complete with similar makeup effects, creepy demonic voice and requisite head spinning scene – about a pregnant woman carrying Satan spawn in modern day San Francisco. The soundtrack is incredibly weird and groovy, courtesy of the man who brought you the Diabolica and Karate Amazones soundtracks. Check out the spooky opening track, complete with eerie narration, “Bargain with the Devil”:

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and track 3, “Dimitry’s Theme”:

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and track 7, “Bargain with the Devil orchestral version”:

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21.) Shaft (1971) - Isaac Hayes

Gordon Parks directs Richard Roundtree in the granddaddy of all blaxploitation flix, the one that cemented the genre’s earning potential and led to dozens of imitators. The film’s crossover success had tons to do with the charisma and attitude of its titular character, but was helped in large part by Isaac Hayes’ score. Shaft was so huge in fact that it made Hayes himself a superstar, and led to a starring role in Truck Turner (which he also scored). Check out the instantly recognizable “Theme from Shaft”:

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and track 2, the groovy “Bumpy’s Lament”:

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and track 3, “Walk From Regio’s”:

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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 tune in next week, as we inch even closer to the thrilling, fantastic conclusion of our countdown!

November 15, 2010   No Comments

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