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SCORE! Top 20 Film Scores of 2012 (pt. 4)

Welcome to the exciting conclusion of our Top 20 Film Scores of 2012! Check out parts 1 (here) 2 (here) and 3 (here). It’s been a fun ride and we sincerely hope you enjoyed the musical snippets along the way! Tomorrow morning the Oscar nominations come out and you’ll have the mainstream’s opinion – but until then we hope we’ve unearthed some rarer gems for your aural pleasure. And now we present our top 5 score of 2012: the cream of the musical crop. Enjoy!
 

5.) MotorwayAlex Gopher & Xavier Jamaux

Motorway

Last year Cliff Martinez released Drive, a soundtrack that barely missed our top 20. This year a more muscular score in a similar vein shot all the way to the top – the vein being the Tangerine Dream / John Carpenter style of brooding ambient electronics, full of retro synths and melodies perfect for speeding down a darkened highway at 2am. Composer/DJ’s Alex Gopher and Xavier Jamaux are members of what’s commonly referred to as “French Touch,” and they’ve touched on something magical for this score to Motorway, a Hong Kong action film produced by Johnnie To and directed by Pou-Soi Cheang, about a rookie cop who takes on a veteran escape driver in a death defying motorway chase. Just writing that last sentence raised my testosterone levels. You can tell from the ” target=”_blank”>trailer this film is not messing around, action-wise – even if the officers are wearing some goofy day-glo safety vests (which I’m sure they’ll drop for the Hollywood remake).

Here’s track 7, “Night Theme”:

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Here’s track 8, “Lessons”:

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Here’s track 14, “Hide and Seek”:

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4.) Il Comandante E La CicognaBanda Osiris

Il Comandante E La Cicogna

Sounding like it was performed by a drunken Italian orchestra seated in bombed out Fiats in some surreal back-alley, the score to director Silvio Soldini‘s Il Comandante e la Cicogna (The Commander and the Stork) is a feat of deconstructed beauty. Pots and pans clang alongside pianos and accordions, melodies sweetening before coming to an abrupt halt, creating an atmosphere that is at once both cacophonous and harmonious. You’ll find rich basslines, bold trumpets, and curious clarinets probing the tenuous silences before giving up completely, only to reemerge in fragile tangos that collapse under their own weight. It’s jazzy, schizophrenic and delicious, both confident and unsure of itself, steady and fragile. And it all culminates in a Russian vocal track that sounds as if it were being played on a bad Victrola. Like a beautiful mix of Tom WaitsRain Dogs and Angelo Badalamenti‘s score for La Cité des Enfants Perdus (City of Lost Children), this is one heady brew that’s not to be missed!

Here’s track 3, “Tango Di Amanzio”:

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Here’s track 8, “Garibaldi Osserva (Leopardi Version)”:

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Here’s track 11, “La Cicogna (Strumentale)”:

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3.) Killer JoeTyler Bates

Killer Joe

Director William Friedkin‘s Killer Joe, adapted by Tracy Letts from his own stage play – sweeps all awards in the category of “boldest use of a drumstick” – and has a killer score to boot, supplied by Tyler Bates, who also scored Zack Snyder‘s Watchmen and 300. Here Bates gives us a loud and snarling beast of a score, with a heavy take on good-ol’ Southern twang, full of a grittiness that’s unshakeable. This is not background music – it’s jagged and bold and it taps into some serious darkness. The music serves as a character itself: an embodiment of the violence constantly hovering just over the trailer park in which our twisted characters (played superbly by Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple and especially Gina Gershon and Thomas Haden Church) find themselves. Harmonicas reverberate amidst Frampton-esque ‘Talkbox‘ guitar, and heavy bass stalks alongside plucked piano like creatures in the dark. A supremely engaging, brilliantly executed nightmare.

Here’s track 2, “Killer Joe”:

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Here’s track 4, “Billiards Hall”:

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Here’s track 5, “Texas Motel”:

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2.) Anna KareninaDario Marianelli

anna k

A beautiful, varied, and truly haunting affair that ranges from rich & euphonious to downright chaotic, Dario Marianelli‘s classically inspired score doesn’t rest on its laurels or settle for prettiness. Marianelli – whose prior collaboration with director Joe Wright, Atonement (2007), earned him an Oscar – here crafts an unforgettable score, combining Russian orchestral music with folk music, and then adding a few quirky twists – like the sound of locomotives, whistles, balalaikas and garmon accordions, topped off with the incredible solos of British violin prodigy Jack Liebeck. The classic tale of a Moscow socialite married to a boring government official who falls in love with a cavalry officer and discovers the true meaning of love, it features waltzes which mirror the underlying themes of courtship and are extended to the overall construction of the score, as the motifs intertwine and separate as if mirroring the central figures in the story – and the many points at which their lives intersect. Adapted for the screen by Tom Stoppard and studded with the starpower of Keira Knightley & Jude Law, this is an Anna Karenina whose highbrow production comes with a breathtaking score to match its pedigree: Leo Tolstoy himself would be proud!

Here’s track 2, “Clerks”:

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Here’s track 3, “She is of the Heavens”:

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Here’s track 8, “The Girl and the Birch”:

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Here’s track 10, “Can-Can”:

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1.) Beasts of the Southern WildDan Romer & Benh Zeitlin

Beasts of the Southern Wild

This sleeper indie directed (and co-written) by Benh Zeitlin caught everyone’s attention with its unique blend of Magical Realism with post-Katrina realism, highlighted by an incredible performance by its child star, Quvenzhané Wallis. Borrowing heavily from the Neil Gaiman / Hayao Miyazaki school of children’s fable, it was well executed, deeply emotional, and above all else understated – a rare feat indeed.  Beautifully shot (by cinematographer Ben Richardson), there are many passages in which we glimpse the world through the eyes of our protagonist, with little to no dialogue. Music naturally plays a critical role in the failure and/or success of these types of films… and in that regards composers Dan Romer & Benh Zeitlin (this guy does everything!) deliver an even greater achievement than the film itself: a magical piece of music which builds emotional momentum through rhythmic passages brimming over with Cajun flavor, that pulsate and crescendo and brim over with life. Simply put, it’s an outstanding piece of music, uplifting without being overbearing, full of hope yet tinged with sadness, as small as a little girl yet as vast as the world beyond her tiny existence.

Here’s track 2, “The Bathtub”:

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Here’s track 5, “The Smallest Piece”:

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Here’s track 7, “End of the World”:

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Here’s track 15, “The Confrontation”:

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There you have it! The sounds and sights of another year over! Hope you’ll join us next year for more lovin’ of cinema on the Isle of Cinema. Don’t forget to give us some feedback so we can grow brighter and better in 2013! 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 check out our companion list: 100 favorite albums of 2012, here!
 
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January 9, 2013   1 Comment

SCORE! Top 20 Film Scores of 2011

Last year around this time we were just finishing up our mega-post on the top 150 movie soundtracks of all time – so as we pause a to reflect on what a fantastic year it’s been, let’s listen to what the films of 2011 sounded like… with our first annual top 20 film score countdown (let’s hope it sticks). And don’t forget to give us some feedback so we can grow brighter and better in 2012!

20.) RangoHans Zimmer

In a year that saw him also score Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Hans Zimmer takes us back to the Old West with a little help from Los Lobos and friends in this musical accompaniment to Gore Verbinski‘s animated film. A fun soundtrack that evokes Sergio Leone by way of Hunter S. Thompson – and uses the kid’s movie as an excuse to just make things even weirder. Here’s track 9, “Underground:”

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and track 11, “Rango and Beans:”

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19.) Another EarthFall on Your Sword

target=”_blank”>Fall on Your Sword? Whoever they are, they do a fantastic job creating a sci-fi atmosphere full of bloops and bleeps and some genuinely moving strings, fitting for writer-director Mike Cahill‘s psychological examination on the nature of reality and the universe. Here’s track 7, “The End of the World:”

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and track 12, “The Cosmonaut:”

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18.) Tinker Tailor Soldier SpyAlberto Iglesias

Alberto Iglesias’ other noteworthy score this year was Pedro Almodóvar‘s La Piel que Habito (The Skin I Live In), but this gets my nod for its wonderful mood, dark and tense with hints of adventure. A soft quiet score full of fantastic movement. Here’s track 4, “Islay Hotel:”

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and track 18, “One’s Gone:”

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17.) RubberMr. Oizo & Gaspard Augé

Also Known as Director Quentin Dupieux, Mr. Oizo brought us one of the year’s most unique (and most anticipated here at the Isle) bits of celluloid strangeness, in this surrealistic tale of a psychopathic tire on a killing spree in the middle of nowhere America. Though the film didn’t quite live up to our unrealistic expectations, the soundtrack does, thanks to clever sampling and some cool upbeat electronica. Here’s track 3, “Crows and Guts:”

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and track 12, “Polocaust:”

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16.) La Clé des ChampsBruno Coulais

IOC Favorite Bruno Coulais’s (who came in at 71 on our mega-post with his score for Himalaya) score for La clé des champs by the writer-director team of Claude Nuridsany & Marie Pérennou features some of the maestro’s inventive orchestration, as he teams up with French singer/songwriter Nosfell on tracks which weave vocals with bass clarinets and other goodness. Check out track 7, “Le lieu du rêve:”

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and with singer Rosemary Standley on track 19, “My Kingdom:”

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15.) Cave of Forgotten DreamsErnst Reijseger

Ernst Reisjeger is an incredible Avant-Garde Jazz cellist whom I got a chance to see play at the Bimhuis in the Netherlands one New Year’s Eve more than a decade ago. Now, on the eve of an entirely different new year, I find myself writing about his wonderful score for Werner Herzog’s 3-D documentary about the untouched scribblings of cave people on a wall in Southern France. Weird how shit goes down. Hypnotic, droning, and beautiful, it’s a score which helps Herzog tap into the ecstatic truth he’s constantly after. Here’s track 10, “Rockshelter Duo:”

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and track 15, “Forgotten Dreams #2:”

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14.) Cowboys & AliensHarry Gregson-Williams

At the IOC we loves ourselves a good ol’ action score, and this soundtrack to Jon Favreau‘s by-the-numbers Sci-Fi-slash-Western/James-Bond-meets-Indiana-Jones/based-on-a-comic-book tentpole is a fun variation on a familiar theme, with guitars and electronics weaving in and out of testosterone-inducing swells guaranteed to move its target demographic. Here’s the opening track, “Jake Lonergan:”

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and track 7, “Alien Air Attack:”

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and track 17, “See You Around:”

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13.) La Ligne DroitePatrick Doyle

A beautiful score to Régis Wargnier‘s film (also known as Straight Line) which brims with strings and evocative piano. Doyle had a busy year, providing scores for ThorJig, Man to Man and Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes. This is his personal best of  ’11. Check out track 1, “Leila Runs Free:”

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and track 5, “Training Games:”

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and track 19, “Through the Tunnel:”

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12.) HugoHoward Shore

Martin Scorsese‘s much-ballyhooed children’s movie and homage to Georges Méliès was a huge disappointment for this moviegoer, and further evidence the gifted auteur should steer away from sentimentality and stick to people blowing each other’s brains out. But there’s no doubt the score by the always dependable Howard Shore is a thing of beauty: measured, understated, lilting and always beautiful – like a slow waltz through a fantastic dream. Here’s the opening track, “The Thief:”

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and track 9, “The Movies:”

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and track 19, “The Magician:”

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11.) La Yeux de Sa MereGustavo Santaolalla

Also known as His Mother’s Eyes, Director Thierry Klifa‘s film benefits tremendously from this haunting score – featuring wailing cellos and eerie guitar, complete with scratching and distortion – composed by a gifted Argentinian composer who also gave us the soundtrack to this year’s Biutiful. Here’s the title track:

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and track 8, “Le Sourire De Maria:”

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and track 13, “Ma Mere:”

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10.) The BeaverMarcelo Zarvos

Jodie Foster stood by her buddy Mel Gibson and gave him the starring role in a movie that may have been too on-the-nose and self-reflexive for it’s own good, about “a troubled husband and executive who adopts a beaver hand-puppet as his sole means of communicating.” So was the movie The Beaver trying to actually be the Beaver within? Who knows – I didn’t go see it either. But composer Marcelo Zarvos, who also gave us the scores to Too Big to Fail and Beastly this year, acquits himself nicely with this intimate score which keeps things understated and quirkysomething I suspect the film failed to do. Here’s track 7, “Walter and Beaver Jogging:”

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and track 13, “Today Will Set You Free:”

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and track 17, the unfortunately named “The Beaver Becomes a Phenomenon:”

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9.) The EagleAtli Örvarsson

Icelandic composer Atli Örvarsson’s score to Kevin Macdonald‘s movie about two centurions who set out across Hadrian’s Wall into the uncharted highlands of Caledonia is fantastic, a self-assured and inventive affair which marries bagpipes with stringed dulcimers, string sections with ambient hums to create a hypnotic sound-scape at once both mysterious and beckoning. Makes me want to see the movie! Here’s tack 3, “The Return of the Eagle:”

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and track 6, “Honourable Discharge:”

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and track 13, “Better Angry Than Dead:”

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8.) HannaChemical Brothers

Joe Wright‘s action film about a preternaturally gifted assassin starring Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana marketed itself like a high-brow sprint across familiar ground – a feat greatly assisted by the participation of the Chemical Brothers – aka The Dust Brothers – who gained similar such cred from their score to David Fincher‘s 1999 Fight Club. This turns out to be an even better score. Here’s the opening track:

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and track 6, “The Forest:”

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and track 16, “Special Ops:”

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7.) The GuardCalexico

Writer-Director  John Michael McDonagh‘s fish-outta-water comedy about an Irish policeman who teams up with an uptight FBI agent to investigate an international drug-smuggling ring has several things going for it, including the presence of thesps Brendan Gleeson & Don Cheadle. The fact that indie darlings Calexico provided the score is just a plus. And the fact that it’s a great one – full of guitars, electronics, and hipster folk riffs – can only help! Check out the opening track, “Boyle Gets Dressed:”

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and track 7, “Into the West:”

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and track 17, “Good to Go:”

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6.) Girl with the Dragon TattooTrent Reznor & Atticus Ross

Being that last years’ The Social Network score won this duo the Oscar™- and given the fact that their version of Led Zeppelin‘s target=”_blank”>The Immigrant Song (featuring Karen O) was a year-long mainstay in people’s laptops thanks to an incredible first-person target=”_blank”>teaser trailer, all ears are now peeled for their latest collaboration with director David Fincher. Just released, it proves to live up to the hype – thanks to angst-filled melodies that crescendo into crunchy electronics, recalling Reznor’s NIN days. Take track 20, “You’re Here:”

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and track 28, “A Viable Construct:”

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and track 35, “A Pair of Doves:”

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5.) BellflowerJonathan Keevil

One of my big regrets this past SXSW was that I missed Evan Glodell‘s apocalyptic drama… and ever since hearing this score a few months back I’m even more amped to see it! Who is this guy Jonathan Keevil? I can’t find very much about him on the internet, so I’ll tell you my impressions upon hearing this soundtrack: the first half ranks up there with low-fi wunderkinds The Palace Brothers or Skip Spence‘s seminal Oar for sheer man-with-a-guitar-moody-goodness while the second half delves into nicely-produced electronics. In a word – a revelation! Check out the opening track, “Bland:”

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and track 6, “Dreadnought Sideroad:”

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and track 9, “Bracketflower:”

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4.) The Adventures of TintinJohn Williams

Guys like us on the Isle – who grew up on all things Star Wars/Jaws/Indiana Jones – have John Williams running through our brains just as sure as we have celluloid running through our veins. So it’s great to hear the master back with a score that’s fun, inventive, and most of all ALIVE! The intricately woven melodies, shifting rhythms, and fantastic orchestration – complete with clarinets, clavinets, bass drum punctuation and piano trills – not only capture the spirit of Hergé‘s legendary comics – but also invoke the sense of adventure and FUN which these sorts of movies should be about. Check out the opening track:

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and track 2, “Snowy’s theme:”

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and track 18, “The Adventure Continues:”

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3.) ContagionCliff Martinez

Cliff Martinez is no stranger to the top of our countdowns at IOC, his score for Kafka having charted at #7 in our previous soundtrack mega-post. And though Martinez’s score for Drive may have gained more airtime in trendy coffee shops and on listener’s iPod’s this year, this one – which reunites him with Director Steven Soderbergh – is the one I prefer: as moody and glitchy as it gets, and the perfect soundtrack for our impending doom! Reminding listeners to enjoy 2012 – it may be the last year we get! Check out track 8, “They Didn’t Touch Me:”

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and track 9, “There’s Nothing In There:”

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and track 20, “Affected Cities:”

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2.) Attack the BlockSteven Price & Basement Jaxx

One of my favorite movie-going experiences of 2011 was seeing Writer-Director Joe Cornish (credited as a writer on The Adventure of Tin Tin by the way) discuss his soon-to-be-cult-classic Attack the Block at SXSW (read my glowing review here). But before the man’s gracious Q and A charmed me, before his writing dazzled me and the special effects thrilled me it was the music that struck me – prompting one of those rare occurrences where I immediately rush home to seek out more info on the soundtrack. Check it out for yourself with track 1, “The Block:”

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and track 3, “Round Two Bruv”

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and track 20, “The Ends:”

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1.) NormanAndrew Bird

There’s some varying information available concerning this soundtrack’s release date, which some have as 2011 (the MP3 download I got from Amazon) while others have as 2012 (RYM) – all very ironic given that Jonathan Segal‘s movie came out in 2010! But regardless of vintage, what’s important is that it’s Andrew Bird – one of the true musical geniuses of the age. Seeing the man play – manipulating loop after loop of violin, layering incredible whistling over it, then singing over the vortex of sound – is like witnessing a real-life version of target=”_blank”>The Sorceror’s Apprentice from Fantasia, conducting a maelstrom of brooms in a castle. So a soundtrack which allows him to stretch his talents would be a score which would rise to the top of any year! Just check out track 2, “3:36:”

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and track 3, “Arcs and Coulombs:”

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and track 13, “Epic Sigh / The Python Connection:”

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There you have it! The sounds and sights of another year are over! Hope you’ll join us next year for more lovin’ of cinema on the Isle of Cinema. Have a happy and safe New Year’s!

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December 28, 2011   No Comments

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

Here it is! Finally, we have arrived at the top ten – and nothing will ever be the same again. Namely I will never take on a mega-post which takes months to complete. I mean, what was I thinking? 150 greatest soundtracks!? Wouldn’t 50 have been enough? Sheesh. Anyway, enjoy the creme de la creme- and drop me a line telling me what you would have changed!

10.) The Nuclear Observatory of Mr. Nanof (1985) – Piero Milesi

This rarely seen film directed by Paolo Rosa doesn’t even have an IMDB page, but the subject matter seems timely in lieu of the Oscar buzz around Bansky’s magnificent documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop. Rosa’s film documents an enormous piece of graffiti outside a mental hospital, engraved by mental patient Oreste Fernando Nannetti, who refers to himself as NANOF11, an “Astronautic Mineral Engineer of the Mental System.” Piero Milesi’s music is minimalistic, with lush electronic sounds repeating themselves in an almost fugue-like manner. But rather than becoming monotonous, the end result is melodic, meditative and beautiful, with synthesized themes unfurling in sublime variations on a theme. Released on the legendary Cuneiform label in 1992, this is a highly recommended score for fans of Philip Glass and Brian Eno. Check out track 2, “Tom Thumb”:

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and track 4, “Scene of the Madmen”:

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and track 7, “Graffiti”:

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09.) The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) – David Shire

Joseph Sargent directs the original starring Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw, not to be confused with the 2009 remake starring John Travolta and Denzel Washington. The story of a hijacked subway train is a classic of gritty 70’s cinema, aided by an incredible soundtrack which fuses crazy percussion, lush bass, and a full brass orchestra complete with blaring tubas to create a suspenseful backdrop. Shire also scored The Conversation, Return to Oz, and Short Circuit. Check out the awesome main title:

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and track 4, “Blue and Green Talk”:

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and track 10, “Mini-Manhunt”:

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08.) The Assassination of Jesse James (2007) – Nick Cave & Warren Ellis

Andrew Dominik directs from his own adaptation of Ron Hansen’s novel in a movie which stars Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck and Sam Shepard. It’s the tale of Robert Ford, a 19 yr. old who’s idolized Jesse James since childhood, but who upon meeting him and joining his gang grows resentful of the man, ultimately betraying him for fame and fortune. Warren Ellis of the instrumental post-rock band Dirty Three and Nick Cave of the Bad Seeds and The Birthday Party had collaborated on the fine soundtrack for The Proposition in 2005 and went on to score The Road in 2009 but this moody score with its rumbling piano, chiming bells and sad violins is the best of the bunch. Check out track 1, “Rather Lovely Thing”:

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and track 2, “Moving On”:

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and track 3, “Song For Jesse”:

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07.) Kafka (1991) – Cliff Martinez

Steven Soderbergh‘s underrated quasi-biopic stars Jeremy Irons, Theresa Russell, Ian Holm, Sir Alec Guinness and Joel Grey, and borrows heavily from The Castle and The Trial to tell the story of Kafka, a lowly insurance worker who finds himself entering into an underworld of conspiracies and terrorism when a co-worker is murdered, which ultimately brings him face to face with a shadowy organization that controls society. It’s a very enjoyable film along the lines of John Frankenheimer’s Seconds, Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, Lars Von Trier’s Zentropa and David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch, but with a style and feel all it’s own, thanks in large part to Cliff Martinez’s use of the Cimbalom, a Hungarian zither-like instrument which evokes a unique, dreamlike atmosphere. Martinez has worked on several of Soderbergh’s films (Sex, Lies, and Videotape, King of the Hill, The Underneath, Traffic, Solaris), but this soundtrack is his best. Check out track 1, “Eddie’s Dead / Main Title”:

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and track 6, “Goodnight Mr. Bizzlebek”:

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and track 15, “Son Of Balloon”:

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06.) Amelie (2001) – Yann Tiersen

Jean-Pierre Jeunet‘s crowd pleasing love story for the ADD generation stars Audrey Tautou as the titular character, a wide eyed girl who lives in a fantasy world ruled by love, and La Haine director Mathieu Kassovitz as the clumsy good-natured boy she ultimately falls for – after first dedicating herself to bringing the love of others to fruition. She’s basically an elf from the Brother Grimm’s The Elves and the Cobbler, only instead of shoes she delivers fulfillment to those lucky enough to know her. It’s beautifully shot, chock-full of colorful ideas, and populated by fantastic actors with memorable faces, but it’s also overly dependent on narration, hindered by flimsy characterization, and so sweet it’s downright cloying. Whatever your take on the movie, one thing’s for sure – it’s got a magnificent soundtrack, full of swelling accordions and harpsichords and punctuated by toy pianos, all courtesy of Yann Tiersen, who also gave us the superb soundtrack to Good Bye Lenin! Here’s track 4, “Comptine Dun Autre Ete La”:

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and track 5, “La Noyee”:

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and track 16, “La Redecouverte”:

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05.) Miller’s Crossing (1990) – Carter Burwell

Joel & Ethan Coen’s masterpiece stars Gabriel Byrne, Albert Finney, Jon Polito and John Turturro and perfectly captures the essence of pre-WWII gangster movies while building on the inherent themes of morality and loyalty and ratcheting the entire genre up a couple of notches. Byrne’s Tom Regan is the anti-hero to end all anti-heroes, who plays two rival gangs against one another and drives the twists (or dames) as crazy as he does the gangland bosses. The central question – whether or not he has a heart – is in the mind of every character he encounters, who all want something from him and will stop at nothing to get it. The characters are multidimensional, the humor jet-black, and the moments of violence are shocking, erupting out of human frailty, anger, jealousy and betrayal. It all adds up to an “intimate” epic, heightened by the soundtrack, which features a lilting, almost fragile clarinet swept along by strings like a hat carried on the wind – which is one of the central images, as memorable as any single image in any movie. Burwell also scored Fargo, The Hudsucker Proxy, Gods and Monsters, Being John Malkovich, and recently Where the Wild Things Are, A Serious Man, and the as-of-yet unreleased No Country for Old Men. Here is the opening track:

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and track 3, “A Man and His Hat”:

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and track 11, “Nightmare In The Trophy Room”:

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04.) Mental Cruelty [Seelische Grausamkeit] (1961) – George Gruntz

Hannes Schmidhauser directs this movie which I have not seen, but which I have listened to repeatedly since acquiring the CD. Led by Swiss pianist George Gruntz, it features Kenny “Clook” Clarke’s incredible drumming and Barney Wilen’s cool tenor saxophone. Sometimes pensive, sometimes light and breezy, it’s full of tangos, waltzes, and rock n’ roll, all held together by a melodic motif woven into each short track (only 4 of the 18 tracks are over 3 minutes long). It’s an amazing jazz score that ranks alongside the works of Mingus, Davis, Coltrane and Ellington- which is saying something. Amazingly, only 100 LPs were printed at the time of its initial release (which fetched upwards of $1000 on ebay), but thanks to Atavistic’s Unheard Music Series it was reissued in 2003, giving Gruntz – who also composed the unreleased soundtrack to the film Steppenwolf – some long overdue exposure. Check out the main theme:

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and track 10, “Romance II”:

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and track 13, “Latin Stroll On Theme”:

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and track 15, “Spanish Castles”:

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03.) Invitation to a Suicide (2004) – John Zorn

Written & Directed by Loren Marsh, this dark comedy tells the tale of a young man living in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint (also known as Little Poland) who gets in trouble with the mob and is given a day to raise $10,000 or have his father killed, who in a fit of ingenuity decides to sell tickets to his own suicide to save his father’s life. The incredibly talented Zorn is one of the leading figures in modern jazz, emerging out of the 1980’s downtown scene which fused punk to free-jazz, and he’s always been heavily influenced by film – just check out 1986’s The Big Gundown, which re-imagines Ennio Morricone in an aggressive, up-tempo style complete with trademark freakout alto saxophone. Since 1990 Zorn’s been releasing soundtracks composed for indie and underground movies on Tzadik, his own private label, making him one of the most prolific composers in film. This score is one of his finest, full of bass harmonicas, dueling accordions, classical guitars, cellos, vibraphones and the occasional moog. Other soundtracks of note in his Filmworks series are volume XIV: Hiding and Seeking, Filmworks XIX: The Rain Horse and Filmworks X: In the Mirror of Maya Deren. Here’s track 1, “Invitation to a Suicide”:

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and track 4, “East Greenpoint Rundown”:

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and track 16, “Final Retribution”:

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and track 17, “Aftermath”:

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02.) Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973) – Bob Dylan

Sam Peckinpah directs from Rudy Wurlitzer’s script (don’t forget to read Quake!), in a film starring James Coburn and Kris Kristofferson that tells of the the death of the Old West and the emergence of the New West, one ruled by cattle ranchers and businessmen. It’s the story of Pat Garrett, an ex-outlaw who has become sheriff and is charged with assembling a posse to kill his old friend Billy the Kid, public enemy number one where the authorities are concerned. Firmly couched in the gray area between law and outlaw, morality and criminality, loyalty and betrayal, freedom and death, it’s a showcase for the talents of Bob Dylan (both off-screen and on). His magnificent soundtrack lends the proceedings a palpable sense of profound abandonment, as if the world were moving on and burying poor Billy in the past he helped make legendary. Full of guitar, wordless choruses that “ooh” and “aah,” and some fantastic original songs with goose-bump inducing lyrics: “There’s guns across the river ’bout to pound you / There’s a lawman on your trail like to surround you / Bounty hunters are dancing all around you / Billy they don’t like you to be so free.” That’s target=”_blank”>Pancho and Lefty quality imagery! All in all it’s a masterpiece of mood, highlighted by Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, a song which despite having been covered by everyone from Eric Clapton (decent) to Guns N’ Roses (meh) to Babyface (huh?) to Avril Lavigne (ugh) still retains it’s ability to mesmerize, and an album that proves Dylan’s storytelling genius extended far beyond pop music, and could turn a minor film in Peckinpah’s oeuvre into a must-see. Here’s track 5, “River Theme”:

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and track 7, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”:

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and track 9, “Billy 4″:

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and – drumroll please – the number one soundtrack of all time is:

01.) La Planete Sauvage [Fantastic Planet] (1973) – Alain Gorageur

René Laloux‘s animated classic won the special jury prize at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival and was distributed in the U.S. by legendary producer Roger Corman. It’s the tale of the Draags, giant blue aliens who view their tiny, human Oms as slave-like pets. When a domesticated Om escapes with the tools to educate the wild forest-dwelling Oms, war and revolution threaten to destroy Draag society. Populated with bizarre mating rituals, alien plant life and strange psychedelic landscapes, watching The Fantastic Planet is a consciousness-expanding experience, not unlike the one you get listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon while watching The Wizard of Oz. Essentially a morality tale of our Human inclination to view the “other” as inferior and threatening, it’s required viewing for people interested in out-there cinema, intelligent science fiction, or hallucinogenics in general. Composer Alain Goraguer was a jazz musician who arranged and produced for Serge Gainsbourg and France Gall before turning to film (The Dead Times, The Snails, Paris Secret), but none of his other works presage this eerie, one-of-a-kind album. With Fanstastic Planet he fuses bass-heavy blaxploitation-worthy beats with a prog-rock array of mellotrons, synthesizers, clavinets and wah-wah pedals to create something too funky to be Avant-Garde yet too complex and oftentimes cacophonous to be anything else. It’s an aural masterpiece which can still be felt in the work of bands like Portishead and Air and hip-hop visionaries J Dilla, MF Doom and Madlib. It’s hypnotic, psychedelic, electronic, angelic, and it’s number one on my list – so that’s saying something too I guess. I hope you enjoy it – here’s track 2, “Deshominisation I”:

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and track 4, “Le Bracelet”:

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and track 12, “Conseil Des Draags”:

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and track 15, “Mira Et Ten”:

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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 comment! I want to hear about soundtracks I may have missed, and get your thoughts on the ones I got wrong! And don’t forget to tune in for the honorable mentions – scores which just barely missed the mark.

November 30, 2010   4 Comments

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