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.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

S*P*Y*S (Jerry Goldsmith)

A botched operation results in the deaths of two KGB agents. Citing a policy that demands 'a body for a body', CIA men Griff (Elliot Gould) and Brulard (Donald Sutherland) are targeted for termination, by the KGB and, ultimately, the CIA!

20th Century Fox vainly hoped to replicate the success of M*A*S*H with this sporadically funny lark. The two stars do their best, but, suffice it to say, writers Malcolm Marmorstein, Fred Freeman and Lawrence J. Cohen are no Ring Lardner Jr.

Much like Bill Conti's later work on Neighbors, Jerry Goldsmith's score, for good or ill, has a way of sticking with you, trying to poke the funny bone when the film does not.

1. Main Titles 3.00
2. The Getaway 2.51
3. Dress Up 1.41
4. Goodbye 0.25
5. Sybil's Pad 1.36
6. Hanky Panky 2.25
7. Hand to Hand Combat/Lunch Date 1.40
8. Surveillance 1.09
9. Slow Boat to London 0.56
10. No Place for Guns 0.28
11. Dog Sitting 0.58
12. Punctuation 0.45
13. Caught! 0.29
14. Chinese Fishing Boat 0.05
15. Follow the Leader 1.54
16. Tools of the Trade 1.20
17. Uninvited Guests 3.41
18. Wedding Chaos 2.54
19. End Credits 2.22

As I understand it, there's a British version of this movie featuring a far more serious score from John Scott. Much like Varese CD Club did with Neighbors, I imagine a release of this music, paired with Scott's serious music. It practically sells itself, don't you think?


Friday, March 22, 2013

Do me a flavor.

Last, it was the Monday before last, I was asked by my parents to pick up all three new flavors of Lay's potato chips. Trips to four supermarkets yielded only two flavors: Sriracha and Cheesy Garlic Bread. I liked them well enough, though I'd grant the edge to Sriracha. Yesterday, by a weird stroke of luck, my store had a few bags of the third flavor: Chicken and Waffles.

That this flavor would be hardest to find speaks to how goddamn stuffed with retards the world is, which is to say, the Chicken and Waffles chips (the two I forced myself to eat, anyway) tasted like ass.

Which is weird, given how I've come to admire the actual dish of Chicken and Waffles. Every so often, I have it for dinner, but instead of the (apparently) traditional fried chicken, I have the waffle with breaded chicken strips. It's really good and, now, I can't imagine having the meal any other way.

Maybe some flavors just don't translate to other forms of food*. Can you believe that there's actually a popcorn flavor of Jelly Belly jellybeans?! Even if I liked jellybeans, that shit'd gross me out.

* - Except banana. You cannot believe how durable banana is. Now and Laters,'s amazing.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

No need for reminiscing.

Today is Seikou Nagaoka's birthday (as well as John Addison's birthday, but that fact isn't terribly relevant to this post). As I do on every composer's birthday, that I know of, I play their music. The only music I have of Nagaoka's are the original Japanese soundtracks to "Tenchi Muyo!" and "Tenchi Universe".

Playing these CDs reminds me of how I picked them up over a decade ago in ebay auctions (each of them was $9.99) and how I'm transported back to the days of college when I'd watch "Tenchi" on Cartoon Network back when they had Toonami.

I haven't played these CDs in a long time, and I'm struck by how evocative this music is (not just in general, but evocative of the show and specific moments). Nagaoka's music is electronic (like a lot of anime soundtracks), but augmented by piano and sound design to create something magical.

I searched online this morning for information about track listings for the CDs, since all the type is in Japanese. What did I come up with? Bupkis. Thankfully, I remembered that I printed out track listings back when I first got the CDs. Thanks to a streaming site and a number of (surely now-defunct) fansites, I was able to follow the music and recall the moments they underscored.

As with the music, I haven't seen the shows in a long time. I think that would be the main hurdle in writing a review of this music, which I would really like to do someday.

I've encountered a number of anime since then, but (with the noted exception of the work of Yoko Kanno - "Cowboy Bebop") none of their soundtracks have made as strong an impression as Seikou Nagaoka's work on "Tenchi."

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cleveland (for Buffalo? Someone's head is full of) rocks!

Now, one of my most frequented sites is ScriptShadow, which reviews a lot of new and old scripts...well, new scripts were on the menu until people started whining about how the site was bad for business and too critical and 'stop paying attention to the man behind the curtain'. Whiny pricks.

Anyway, every December, a list of the year's best scripts are assembled on what is called 'The Black List'. This past December, the top script was a little something called Draft Day. It tells of how the general manager of the Buffalo Bills was attempting to get a good draft pick to turn around his team's fortunes. As a lifelong Buffalo native, I couldn't help but be intrigued, especially since it was believed that the film would be shooting in my hometown.

In searching through the old newspapers from the last couple weeks, I happen upon an article mentioning the impending production of Draft Day. Kevin Costner is signed to play the GM under the direction of Ivan Reitman. A big-name star and (for a time, at least) a top comedy director. Fuckin' A, baby! An opportunity for me to see the ins and outs of movie making. Of course, I'd be missing a lot of work, but the reward will far outweigh the risk...

Lionsgate moving film production to Cleveland


Apparently, it's much cheaper to film in the home of Howard the Duck than it is to film here. Not only that, but Costner's character is now the general manager of the Cleveland Browns. You mean to tell me that, with the cash flow from the Hunger Games and Tyler Perry franchises, Lionsgate couldn't pay the extra cash needed to film here? Geez, Lionsgate, at least fork over the cash for some decent lube if you're gonna fuck a whole city over like this.

Perhaps, this is Buffalo's lot in life. Not too long ago, I found out that similar penny-pinching kept a chase scene from Salt from being filmed here. And then there's Bruce Almighty, ostensibly set in Buffalo, but sadly reduced to second unit stuff. (Of course, my problems extend beyond the setting; Jim Carrey's forced catchphrases, for one.)

Looks like it's up to me to film a movie here. (Not a lot of them, though. I've grown so disillusioned with this place, it'd give me a migraine.)

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Hello, Newman.

Now, I've been enjoying film music for a long time. One name that stands out in my mind is David Newman. There's something about his music that I just love. While not my favorite composer (Goldsmith tops my list), he is a composer I return to, time and again.

Though the list could change at some point, these are (right now) my ten favorite Newman scores:

Anastasia (1997 - Fox) - Newman's lone Oscar nomination (so far...) was for Don Bluth's fitfully engaging re-telling of the tale of the last surviving Romanoff. Newman didn't get to flex his talent for themes, relying on the pleasant-if-forgettable song score for thematic material, but there are many fine moments, such as the lengthy prologue, the final confrontation with Rasputin and the gorgeous finale.

Disorganized Crime (1989 - Touchstone) - A criminal's pursuit by two cops leaves his disparate cohorts to rob a Montana bank on their own in this undistinguished but enjoyable caper comedy. Lively music, augmented by guitar and harsh harmonica riffs to reflect the scenery. Listen for a neat take on The Magnificent Seven in the end credits.

Jingle All the Way (1996 - Fox) - A fine cast does what it can with the unfunny slapstick and unfelt emotion of this alleged comedy. The Turboman theme is a properly muscular piece and Newman grants the sequences of supposed hilarity with his usual craft.

The Kindred (1987 - F/M, neither) - A group of grad students stumble upon an odd genetic experiment. That the creatures are right in front of them and not CGI'd in later is one of the nicest things to say about this so-so thriller. Newman's music for the various attack scenes is exciting, none more so than "Epilogue".

Malone (1987 - Orion) - Former FBI agent Burt Reynolds wants to leave the life behind, but danger lurks in the small Midwestern town he happens upon. Newman's talent with Americana music (cf. the Brown family theme in Critters) gets a workout with many beautiful passages. The drum machine is something of a distraction, but the main theme and the creepily sincere villain theme make up for it.

Matilda (1996 - Tri-Star) - Well-crafted mix of dark comedy (based on a Roald Dahl book) and family film. Newman's score nicely captures the childlike innocence of the title character and the chaotic world she faces (the music for the chase through Trunchbull's house leaps and bounds with excitment).

The Phantom (1996 - Paramount) - Newman's score for the comic book adventure is highly enjoyable, buoyed by a driving main theme and filled with exciting setpieces.

The Runestone (1990 - Hyperion) - An eclectic cast goes up against an ancient monster in this uneven thriller. A little too electronically oriented at times, but Newman's music (when it needs to be) is powerful stuff. The flute rendition of Sigvaldson's circular motif in "Sigvaldson Offers Assistance" is a particular highlight.

Throw Momma from the Train (1987 - Orion) - Uproarious comic pisstake on Strangers on a Train. The inherent darkness of the story is nicely contrasted with peculiar orchestrations (a sitar here, a slide whistle there) and some moments of quiet beauty (the coin collection scene).

Undercover Blues (1993 - MGM) - Married spies Jeff and Jane Blue can't catch a break from fighting evil, even when they have a little girl to take care of. Newman's score for this not-bad little comedy is a delight, from its whistled main theme to its jazzy New Orleans band work.

This is not to say that his work is without flaws. For one thing, his tendency to utilize 'sexy' music for female characters grates, as if I couldn't tell that Rene Russo (Mr. Destiny), Marley Shelton (The Sandlot or, for all that I think she's 'meh' in the attractiveness department, Julia Roberts (I Love Trouble) are sexy without the music telling me.

Also, Newman's tendency to stick to the temp track can be problematic, like Honey, I Blew Up the Kid and Beethoven making appearances in the opening of The Nutty Professor and especially Dave, Mrs. Doubtfire and Back to School fluttering around Tommy Boy (though given the number of addtional composers listed in the end credits of the film, this was likely a rush job with very little time to second guess).

Still, even lesser Newman scores have their pleasures, like the clever electronic watercooler noise in Nutty Professor 2: the Klumps, alerting us that Buddy Love is bubbling under the surface. Also, for the grousing about Tommy Boy in the last paragraph, there was that hugely amusing Copland-style fanfare following Tommy and Paul's failed cow tipping run.

Likewise, I can't be truly angry with Newman's temp track scoring, mainly when it gives us a riff on his brother Thomas' theme from The Player in Matilda's "Hair Tonic".

Why did I write this...besides this being his birthday? I don't know. I can't help but wonder why Newman doesn't get more assignments...or, at least, assignments of higher quality (some of his most recent projects: an Alvin and the Chipmunks sequel, a Big Momma's House sequel and that Christmas Story sequel that everyone, the other one).

Tell me that the man behind these scores doesn't deserve better:

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Technology hates me.

As I'm sure I have, I've regaled you of my recent troubles with my computer. I really, for a variety of reasons, need to get a new one. Surprisingly, this isn't the only technological problem I've faced of late.

My CD player, which I bought used and provided me with many years of loyal playing, decided to break down. The faultiness is unique: it won't play a CD all the way through. There could be a couple of tracks left and it freezes up during the penultimate track. As an avid film music lover, this is a real pain. I'm utilizing another player that I had years before. No problems with this one other than the fact that it doesn't show the elapsing track time. Maybe I'm too used to that luxury from every other player, but I definitely need a new one.

As you may or may not know, daylight savings started today (spring forward). Last night, before bed, I tried to reset the time on my watch. The battery (or the watch itself) shorted out, treating me to a weird little digital light show before freezing up with an indecipherable pattern where the time should be. Earlier today, I decided to tinker around, hoping that the time would return. (BTW, it's worked before.) To my relief, it did. For the moment, my watch registers the time. Not sure if I still need a new one, but, right now, I'm cautiously optimistic.

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