Mr. Cellophane

In a location adjacent to a place in a city of some significance, what comes out of my head is plastered on the walls of this blog.

Friday, June 29, 2007

My Favorite Themes - Part XXI

Score: Who Framed Roger Rabbit by Alan Silvestri (Predator)

About the film: Set up for murder and on the lam, cartoon character Roger Rabbit (voice of Charles Fleischer) has only one place to turn for help: burned-out, toon-hating private eye Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins). Even two decades on, this mixture of live-action and animation still dazzles, buoyed by a fine script and well-tuned performances.

Title: "Roger's Theme". This is an appropriately cartoony theme, replete with fluttering woodwinds. However, it does get put throught a number of clever interpolations, like a distended, melancholy violin treatment when Roger believes that his wife Jessica has been untrue and an amusingly over-the-top horn version when he arrives at the factory in a heroic mood.

Other themes of interest: The theme for Eddie is a jazz/noir combo melody punctuated by Silvestri's trademark swirling strings. There's a string and trumpet theme for memories of the past and a (somewhat stereotypical) saxophone theme for Jessica. The villainous Judge Doom (the always-terrific Christopher Lloyd) is heralded by a toll of a bell and a succession of brooding, almost growling low horn notes. Doom's henchmen (or should that be henchweasels?) get a theme of skittering woodwinds.

Availability: Walt Disney Records released this in 1988, and again a couple of years ago. Both versions are incredibly hard to find, which is a shame. A terrific score like this deserves better.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What I love about film music.

Part three of three parts. Sure, I could go into what I believe makes film music so appealing to me and others, but I'm just gonna list specific things that I love about it:

"...those Barry strings.": I mentioned this before and I think that Barry's string writing is some of the most impressive I've ever heard, whether in the lower registers, like in the theme from The Deep or a little higher, lending a romantic sound to The Tamarind Seed and Game of Death.

the cimbalom: the exotic clanging of this instrument has enlived several scores, from Daniel Licht's Thinner to John Barry's theme to "The Persuaders" to Mark Mothersbaugh's Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle. Personally, the use of it in Debbie Wiseman's Arsene Lupin is unparalleled.

choirs: Loud and fast or quiet and slow, there really is nothing like a choir in a score to send shivers up the spine.

accordions: Not heard very often, but quite effective, as in Shirley Walker's Willard.

"Dies Irae": Jerry Goldsmith utilized this classic piece and put it through a number of moods: quirky (Gremlins 2), brooding (The Final Conflict) and even awe-inspiring (Looney Tunes: Back in Action).

bells: Another seldom heard (these days) instrument, but very beautiful in Poledouris's Cherry 2000 and Elfman's Batman.

the ondes martenot: It started with Taarna's theme from Bernstein's Heavy Metal (as far as I know), but this electronic instrument was capable of all manner of otherworldly beeps, bloops and wailing...even when not utilized for a Ghostbusters or a Black Cauldron. Howard Shore's use of it for Bethany's theme in Dogma was an inspired and welcome choice. I hope that, someday, more film music fans come around to my way of thinking about this wonderfully peculiar instrument.

Presuming you just looked around, thanks for taking the time to visit.


Monday, June 25, 2007

My favorite composers.

As promised, this is part two of my filmmusic...thing.

I mentioned that I was able, thanks to the internet, to put names to the music that I love. If forced to limit my favorite composers to twenty...

John Barry: A few years ago, I didn't much consider him as a favorite. To be fair, I hadn't seen any Bond films at that time. His music is fantastic and his string writing is remarkable.
Marco Beltrami: Started in horror, but managed to escape with dazzling results (Hellboy, I, Robot).
Elmer Bernstein: I'll level with you; I'm more familiar with (and, ergo, fonder of) his work in the comedy and animation genres, but those works are fascinating and who could thank him enough for utilizing the ondes martenot?
Bruce Broughton: Amazingly versatile, yet amazingly underused. Young Sherlock Holmes and Lost in Space are exciting works. Ah, to have him back in features...
Pino Donaggio: He has a way of bestowing his horror scores with great beauty...and, having recently discovered Home Movies, I'm forced to ask why he hasn't done more comedies.
Danny Elfman: A gifted craftsman with amazing range, as any Tim Burton devotee will tell you.
Jerry Goldsmith: One of the greats, without question. Action (Total Recall, sci-fi (Star Trek: TMP, animation (The Secret of N.I.M.H.), horror (The Omen trilogy)...
Bernard Herrmann: Everyone knows the string notes from Psycho, even if they've never heard of the film, but he was so much more than that (North by Northwest, Fahrenheit 451, Taxi Driver).
Rolfe Kent: Delightful melodies with off-kilter it any wonder he's so sought-after (Wedding Crashers, Election)?
Vic Mizzy: Anyone who thinks of him as merely the "Addams Family" guy owes it to themselves to track down his "Suites and Themes" CD, which reveals his incredible range.
David Newman: Stuck in comedies for most of his career, but the resulting scores are excellent, as is his work in other genres (Hoffa, Anastasia, The Kindred).
John Ottman: A fine composer at home in comedies (Bubble Boy), thrillers (The Usual Suspects, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) and superhero action (Fantastic Four), among others.
Amotz Plessner: Been working steadily for a while now, having written terrific music for the likes of Addams Family Reunion and Digimon: the Movie. His time is coming, I just know it.
Basil Poledouris: Action was no problem for him (Conan the Barbarian, RoboCop), but he could do comedy, too (Hot Shots! Part Deux).
John Powell: Even if the only score he wrote was Paycheck, he'd still be one of the most promising new voices in film music.
Alan Silvestri: From Back to the Future to Mouse Hunt to Van Helsing, he continues to amaze.
Carl Stalling: I imagine that, subconsciously, he's on every person's favorite composers list, given how his music for Warner Bros. cartoons was such a vital component of childhood.
Brian Tyler: Another new guy on the scene and his work on Darkness Falls and Terror Tract ensures a long career.
Shirley Walker: Her scores for the "Batman" and "Superman" shows were good enough for features and she received her chance on Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Turbulence and Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.
John Williams: I know, real original,'s John Williams. Raiders of the Lost Ark. Jaws. Catch Me If You Can.

Tomorrow: my favorite things about film music.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Film do I love thee?

For those of you reading this, welcome to my blog. Film music isn’t the only thing I talk about here, but it is an overriding force in my life and has been for years.

One of my earliest memories of noticing film music came when I watched 9 to 5 on the then-new Encore network. Charles Fox’s music made an impression on me, particularly Violet moving the body in the hospital and the shooting gallery bit in Judy’s fantasy.

More and more, I watched movies, enjoying the music that was written for them. I made lists of the scores I liked and (vainly) hoped to own. It was in my last spring of high school that I discovered used CD stores (having received a handful of asked-for titles the previous Christmas). I’ll never forget purchasing that copy of Batman Forever for $6.95.

Then, in the fall (first year of college), I discovered the internet. Among many other wonders, I found communities of people in this same crazy love affair with film music. The opinions and backgrounds may differ, but the love of music unites us. Ultimately, I was able to put names and (for the most part) faces to the people who created this fantastic music.

Almost a decade on, I’ve amassed an impressive collection of titles. Though it’s murder on my bank account, buying soundtracks instills me with a sense of childlike glee; the same way a child tosses and turns in bed the night before Christmas. (Incidentally, this is very much true of whenever a title is to be announced by a specialty label.)

Sadly, the thrill of going to used stores is wearing thin. Granted, there is still a multitude of titles to be had, but I’m not interested in buying everything that comes out...just what I need. Luckily, there is the aforementioned internet, where several retailers work to supply myself and others with fine titles.

By this point, I’ve provided the ‘how’, ‘when’ and ‘where’. And what of the ‘why’? After all these years, I’m still not sure. Perhaps it’s the moods that this music can inspire: excitement, tranquility, happiness, fear, apprehension. Or maybe, it’s the thought that the people behind film music can achieve a sort-of immortality through their work. Or perhaps, I just like the pretty melodies.

I’ve given plenty of this blog’s space to such pretty melodies in my monthly ‘Favorite Themes’ column:

Bright and Shiny (Bubble Boy)
Roger O. Thornhill (North by Northwest)
Daryl Van Horne (The Witches of Eastwick)
Main Theme (Black Sunday)
The Last Scion (Dogma)
Main Theme (Warlock)
The Ark of the Covenant (Raiders of the Lost Ark)
To the Rescue (Gremlins)
Mrs. Saint (The Punisher)
Harmony Lane (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
Wednesday and Joel (Addams Family Values)
Count Olaf (Lemony Snicket’s a Series
of Unfortunate Events
The Second Coming (The Final Conflict)
Main Theme (Stay Tuned)
Main Theme (Memoirs of an Invisible Man)
Karen’s Anxiety (The Howling)
Hatcher and His Men (The Rundown)
The Highest Gander (Winged Migration)
The Horned King (The Black Cauldron)
Doc Ock (Spider-Man 2)

The latest installment should be up sometime next week. This is the first of three parts in my ‘Look at me! Look at me!’ contribution to the very cool Filmmusic Blog-a-thon.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Comic relief.

Today, I take a trip to one of the two comic book stores I frequent. Before leaving on my trip, I check the Image Comics website to see if anything is worth getting. New issues of "PVP" and "True Story...Swear to God" are available.

I get to the store and though "True Story..." is unavailable (meaning I'll have to go to the other store; they usually have it), the new "PVP" is well as two immediately previous issues of same. I imagine that these issues were put out to get the schedule up to date. This is really the only theory I had to offset the 'was I in a coma?!' spiel that cycled through my brain as I discovered them.

I blame the work schedule for being so very behind on this.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Work sucks. I know.

(I've come to terms with the fact that no one reads this blog, as per the complete dearth of responses in the comments section of each post - not even fucking spam! - so I really don't feel up to putting a language warning on this post. Hell, I could run around the Vatican naked, use Bible pages to wipe my ass, plaster the results on the walls and scream 'Hail Satan!' at the top of my lungs and no one would care.)

Today's work day went moderately well, save for a couple of bumps. The first bump came during my wait for lunch. The cafe section is right across from the magazine rack. I flipped through a special "Life" collection of pictures of places that I "need to see in your lifetime". Glancing at the pictures made me realize, with frightening and absolute cognizance, how thoroughly I've wasted my life.

Bump number two came toward the end. A woman came in wanting to return $17 worth of diapers. Since she had a receipt, I figure 'hey, no problem'.* After she leaves, the woman behind her starts talking about how she was hovering around the diaper aisle and may have taken the diapers off the shelf in search of easy money. (* - This is all too similar to an incident last week about a woman who took a $30 water filter off of the shelf and turned it in for a refund. She had no receipt, but she did have the "words" of two employees.) It isn't just that fact that I was conned or that it happened twice in the last seven days. I take pride in the fact that I possess two college degrees, yet I had the wool pulled over my eyes by a pair of white trash cunts! That kind of stain doesn't wash away from the psyche so easily.

So help me, God, if I am written up or reprimanded or punished in any way, shape or form about this, I'm handing in the two weeks notice. I, literally, can't take this shit any-fucking-more and I'd hate to make good on my mental promise to stab in the face the next person who tries to con me.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

For the sweet tooth...

Work was a bitch, today, but a discovery made up for all that crap times ten:

Banana Twinkies are available again!

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Music of my childhood revisited.

There's a really neat article at Toonzone about the impressive use of stock music on "Ren and Stimpy", among other shows.

I had written my own piece about this, but, needless to say, the article kicks the crap out of what I wrote...though I do hope to try again on shows with regular underscoring.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

I still miss "Most Desirable Female".

Didn't watch the MTV Movie Awards last night. With next to no advertising and Sarah Silverman hosting, I wasn't inspired to make the effort.

However, if the buzz at Ain't It Cool News is anything to go by, I didn't miss much.

Glancing at the winners, it seems they gave the Best Fight award to something other than the hotel brawl from Borat. I will never fucking trust that show again.