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.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The only one who has this. (Fake Out)

As I've mentioned before, I love film music. Over the years, I've collected a number of soundtracks. There are those rare titles in my collection that I never hear anyone talk about. This is my way of shining a light on those ne'er-mentioned releases.

Okay. Confession time: I have never seen the movie Fake Out. I only first heard about it from flipping through Leonard Maltin's Movie and Video Guide (2003 edition; newer printings have omitted it). I haven't the foggiest as to who owns the rights, so who knows it it will ever be released on DVD. It might have received a VHS release, but who's to say for certain? Has it ever even aired on television? (There are clips of it on YouTube, but not the whole thing. Weird.) According to the write-up in the package, which definitely doesn't sound like it was written by the director's mother, the "handsomely produced and swiftly directed" film concerns "a young star performer called Bobbie Warren (Pia Zadora) at Las Vegas' Riviera Hotel...(who is) thrown in a woman's prison until she agrees to sing about her mobster boyfriend".

Clearly, I'm missing out on a lost masterwork of cinema.

Anyway, the score was composed by Arthur B. Rubinstein, fresh off of his debut collaboration with Yale classmate John Badham, Whose Life is it Anyway. Though a distinctly minor project, Rubinstein gave it his all. Having never seen the film, I haven't the slightest idea how the many melodies that the composer wrote correspond to the events in the film, so bear with me.

The first track, "Main Theme", is a jaunty piece, utilizing everything from electronics and upbeat horns to descending harp runs and twinkling piano, creating a bustling atmosphere.

Horns, pizzicato, chimes and winds figure into the light suspense of "Audition" before the main theme returns in a slowed-down oboe rendition. I can only presume that "Where Heavies Pedal" was composed for a romantic scene, with its light guitar noodling blossoming into swelling strings. The mood doesn't last too long as a new melody for piano and wavering strings asserts itself. Piano, harp and flute pipe in near the end, adding a layer of unease.

"Main Theme for Fake Out" (yeah, that's not confusing) introduces a heroic melody on electronics that a) seems to prefigure the likes of Blue Thunder and b) bears a slight resemblance to "You Are My Sunshine". (Note: "Lock Me In" is pretty much the exact same track.)

Loungey saxophone and trumpet work earmarks the cheekily-titled "Music to Die By". "Shower Play", meanwhile, establishes a feeling of suspense with its creepy high strings and its descending five-note statements on piano and saxophone. ("Fake-Out Reprise" is the latter half of this track, unaltered.)

Orchestrationally, the composer finds ways to amuse himself, such as with the track "Periscope (Ride a Car Top)", which slinks along with abbreviated electric guitar riffs and harsh harmonica leading to clarinet and bouzouki (perhaps a nod to co-star Telly Savalas's Greek heritage?), before returning to a faster take on the "Main Theme". "Dead Wig" utilizes bongos and strings, along with pitter-patter winds, no doubt to underscore a character's misdeeds.

There are also a couple of songs to enjoy. "Come Clean"/"Turnaround" (yeah, someone was drunk when they mastered this album), recapitulates the "Main Theme" as a wonderful piece of lounge/disco pop. I'm not sure who performed it, though. It might have been Miss Zadora, but it sounds more like Cynthia Morrow, who would later performed the songs in Rubinstein's WarGames. The ballad "Those Eyes" (which I'm sure Pia performed) is a bit cheesier, especially when the tempo picks up, but it's still listenable.

I get the sense that the people at Laserlight Records knew that the movie they were producing the soundtrack for was a dud, so they seemed content to do the bare minimum, but still, that such a forgotten (and likely forgettable) movie got a soundtrack release at all is to be commended. Just reach into your pocket and root through your change. Before shipping and handling costs, you'll likely have enough to afford a copy of this soundtrack from


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

1. Main Titles

As a child of the 1990s, I watched television. A lot of television. (Of course, I wasn't the only one.) Of course, this included the movie channels. Sometimes, I watched the whole movie, but other times, I just caught the opening titles just to hear the music.

As I was, at the time, unaware of the concept of soundtracks on CD, I was pretty much at the mercy of the network scheduling, which I kept up on frequently. Here are some examples of what I watched:

Carbon Copy - In addition to his rousing score for Victory, the James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only and his love-hate replacement score for Neighbors, Bill Conti's credits of 1981 also include this film, the feature debut of Denzel Washington. Conti's main title music sounds very much like the "Cagney and Lacey" theme got into a head-on collision with a broken ARP synthesizer...and yet, it's still a neat piece of music all these years later.

Child's Play 2 - Following his percussive debut score for Dead Calm, Graeme Revell composed a lush score for this horror sequel. The music (playing over the entertaining montage of Chucky being rebuilt) is quite beautiful.

Child's Play 3 - USA aired the first three Child's Play movies quite a bit in the 90s, and I caught nearly every airing of 2 and 3 just for the openings (I was too chickenshit to stay for the rest of the movies, even in their edited-for-television forms). 3 was a complete musical departure from the previous film, trading in evocative orchestral scoring for a synthesized, mechanical (but still enjoyable) style, courtesy of Cory Lerios and John D'Andrea, who I knew best as the composers for "Baywatch".

Condorman - Following Disney's death in '66 and prior to the animation renaissance of '89, the studio was trying to find its feet, resulting in a number of cinematic oddballs. This film about a comic book artist who tries to help (and falls for) a Russian defector was scored by none other than Henry Mancini. His lively title music starts the film on a goofily heroic note. Bless Intrada for its release (which I hope to attain someday).
Her Alibi - Around the time I ran across this track, I had no clue who Georges Delerue was. Still, his opening music for the mystery comedy was unfailingly charming and made it worth all the times I turned on HBO just to hear it.
I Love You to Death - No one seems to think of James Horner when comedy scores are talked about. I've always loved this bouncy opening to the dark comedy. Maybe, it's the accordions. (No YouTube clip.)

Life Stinks - Noteworthy as the last collaboration between Mel Brooks and John Morris, the opening march (though a bit repetitive) is a lot of fun. (Nothing on YouTube.)

The Man Who Knew Too Little - Back on the subject of comedy scoring and the composers who don't get to dabble in it too much, Christopher Young's main title cue is a delight, combining female voices, organ and a jazzy orchestra. (Nothing on YouTube, I'm afraid.)

Murder by Death - The elements are said to be MIA for this engaging score to the all-star comedy, which is a shame. Dave Grusin's score ably mixes humor and mystery, especially in the opening credits.
Some Kind of Wonderful - This driving, percussive opening to John Hughes's genderflipped remake of his own Pretty in Pink always got my blood pumping.

There are a number of other examples, but these most readily came to mind. Maybe, if I can remember ten more, I'll do a follow-up post.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

James Gandolfini (1961-2013)

Yet another one of those passings that hits you like a sucker punch.

A lot of people will remember him as Tony Soprano. I know him from his fine work in a number of movies: Terminal Velocity, The Mexican, Killing Them Softly (his two scenes were some of the best in the film) and Surviving Christmas (scoff if you will, but he was very good in that movie).

I'm sort of reminded of another of Gandolfini's roles, in Where the Wild Things Are. Some years ago, a smart-assed YouTuber took this casting ball and ran with it:

It goes without saying that he will be missed.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Just something to liven things much as something I do can liven things up. Here are my reviews of recent cartoons:

SheZow - As my work schedule was wonky, I missed roughly the first month of this show's existence, but then, I got a reprieve. I checked out a couple of episodes. Once you get past the overreliance on 'She' puns (not since Ron losing his pants on "Kim Possible" has a cartoon writing staff forced a gag so harshly), it's a neat little show. Amusing and surprisingly charming. I'm not crazy about Guy's dad, though. (Still, one has to consider the multiple heart attacks he's likely to have if he ever learns SheZow's true identity.)

Teen Titans Go! - By all the names of God, I wanted to like this show. Despite the negative buzz, I gave it a shot. After all, I enjoyed the DC Nation shorts that were this show's progenitors. (Also, I have a fondness for the classic show when it gets silly - "Mad Mod", "Don't Touch that Dial", "Fractured"). This show isn't so much an extension of the DC Nation shorts as it is a slipshod Brundlefly-ing of "Teen Titans" and "Johnny Test". The episode "Gorilla" was my breaking point.

Sanjay and Craig - I've only seen one episode of this show...and I really feel like that's all I need. The two of them snuck into a hospital and disguised themselves as "rad doctors" to witness a butt operation. That's comedy? While less excruciating than "Fanboy and Chum Chum" (the last cartoon I cut loose after one and only one viewing), it's still something I will go out of my way to avoid.

GrojBand - From two "Total Drama Island" directors, this show isn't nearly as good...nor is it terribly original. First, you have Phineas (of "...and Ferb" fame) leading a garage band that also includes some dude with glasses and dark-haired Owen. For some reason, Vicky ("The Fairly OddParents") is Phineas' psychotically bitchy sister and she's in love with generic handsome guy #224 who refers to himself in the third person. Oh, and Isabella's in the band, too. (She's in love with him, but he is completely oblivious.) If I was expecting anything from this show, I'd hate it. As I was expecting nothing, let me tell you, my expectations were met.

Monsters vs. Aliens - As far as McCorkle/Schooley adaptations of animated movies go, it's no "Penguins of Madagascar" or "Hercules", but it's pretty funny. (Though I don't remember the President being quite this stupid in the movie.) BTW, the episode "Educational Television" made me laugh like a loon.

Almost Naked Animals - Less new than the others on this list, I admit. No one talks about this show, and when they do, it's not complimentary. Okay, it's ridiculous, inconsequential and occasionally gross...and yet, it makes me laugh, perhaps because of those qualities (okay, maybe not the grossness). Duck, in particular, cracks me up.

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Monday, June 03, 2013

"I gotta get the papers. Get the papers."

Apparently, today is National Repeat Day. All about doing things you've done before.

Somehow, I take that to mean introducing you (all two of you) to some of my favorite posts. You may have read these already and you may have not. They really stand out to me:

If you like reading about someone else's vacations (and who doesn't), you can read about my trips to Burbank/Los Angeles (in 2009), San Diego for Comic-Con, Manhattan, Burbank/Los Angeles (in 2012) or Chicago.

I love film music and if you do as well, you might enjoy my liner notes about Alan Silvestri's score to Mouse Hunt. As one of the proud owners of the promotional "Invader Zim" soundtrack CD, I'm happy to share my review of it.

I'm sure you remember the animated series "Kim Possible". The show had its good and bad episodes. Reaching even further back, "Galaxy High" was an underrated show from the 80s that deserves a higher profile. Or maybe you're into "The Angry Beavers", "Futurama", "The Fairly OddParents".

Perhaps, you're a fan of "Duckman" and desire to read capsule reviews of the episodes. Well, type 'Duckman' into the search bar at the upper left corner. I can't link everything!

For something a bit less organized, perhaps you'd care to sample my ramblings about why cartoons started to suck somewhere around the beginning of the century.

As I've mentioned before, one of my all time favorite movies is Hudson Hawk. At one point, I compare The Forgotten and Flightplan. At another, I explain why Jingle All the Way is lame. On that note, here are nine more movies that should never have been made.

There are a lot of things I miss in the world. Maybe, you miss them too. Or maybe, you'd care to hear the alternate titles for classic sitcoms. I wrote a little thing about "Malcolm in the Middle" once.

Hopefully, you'll find something you like.

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