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.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The film music of 2014.

My favorite scores of 2014:

(Dario Marianelli - Backlot)
Vibrant and colorful music for the animated feature, with some interesting orchestrations.
Best tracks: "The Scavengers", "Allergic", "I Was Given to Them"

(Michael Giacchino - Sony Classical)
Far more contemplative than one would expect Giacchino to do with the material, but a fine effort, all the same.
Best tracks: "The Great Ape Processional", "Enough Monkeying Around", "Primates for Life"

(Alexandre Desplat - Abkco)
Desplat's score is rich with Slavic flavor, a nice complement to the uneven but exotic film.
Best tracks: "Mr. Moustafa", "Daylight Express to Lutz", "Canto at Gabelmeister's Peak"

(John Powell - Relativity)
A worthy continuation of the Oscar-nominated original, highlighted by Powell's striking theme for Drago.
Best tracks: "Flying with Mother", "Stoick's Ship", "Two New Alphas"

(Alexandre Desplat - Sony Classical)
Haunting score for the biopic; by turns, powerful, touching and tense.
Best tracks: "The Imitation Game", "Mission", "Becoming a Spy"

(Jonny Greenwood - Nonesuch)
Flowery score for the twisty noir...and is that really an ondes martenot I hear?
Best tracks: "Shasta Fay", "Adrian Prussia", "Shasta Fay Hepworth"

(Tuomas Kantelinen - Lionsgate)
Powerful and exciting; who'd have thought that the lesser of the year's Hercules movies would yield the superior score?
Best tracks: "The Fall of Argos", "Hercules and Hebe", "Taking Back Argos"

(James Newton Howard - Disney)
Howard excels with this lush fantasy-adventure score.
Best tracks: "The Christening", "Aurora in Faerieland", "Maleficent is Captured"

(Joel McNeely - Back Lot)
Throwback Western score is rousing stuff and an ample reminder of McNeely's talent.
Best tracks: "The Shooting Lesson", "Racing the Train", "Captured by Cochise"

(Alexandre Desplat - Sony Classical)
The underappreciated war drama featured a typically strong Desplat effort, earmarked by a jaunty main theme.
Best tracks: "Opening Titles", "The Letter", "Claire and Granger"

(Fernando Velazquez - Quartet)
Full disclosure: Quartet was having a sale and I bought this because of the low price. I know nothing of the film, but Velazquez's music is beautifully bouncy.
Best tracks: "ocho apellidos vascos", "manejanta manejando", "segundo intento de fuga"

(Marco Beltrami - Varese)
Facilitates between introspective cues and (appropriately) chugging action tracks.
Best tracks: "This is the End", "Requesting an Upgrade", "Blackout Fight"

(David Newman - Milan)
I pray for a future when Newman gets to work as frequently as he did in the 80s and 90s, creating lovely, sweeping music as he does for this animated feature.
Best tracks: "Kala and Kerchak", "Tarzan and Jane", "Take Me to the Meteor"

(Danny Elfman - La La Land)
Marvelously evocative score; odd how Errol Morris movies bring out the best in Elfman these days.
Best tracks: "Theme from Unknown", "Himself", "Main Titles"

(Carlos Rafael Rivera - Varese)
Suitably brooding score for the crime drama hints at interesting things for newcomer Rivera.
Best tracks: "Main Titles", "Red Hook", "Kenny in the Basement"

More good scores:

Bad Words (Rolfe Kent)
Deliver Us from Evil (Christopher Young)
The Giver (Marco Beltrami)
Godzilla (Alexandre Desplat)
Hercules (Fernando Velazquez)
The Hundred-Foot Journey (A.R. Rahman)
Into the Storm (Brian Tyler)
The November Man (Marco Beltrami)
The Railway Man (David Hirschfelder)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Brian Tyler)
Unbroken (Alexandre Desplat)

Some great unreleased scores:

The Drop - Marco Beltrami
The Gambler - Jon Brion & Theo Green
Get on Up - Thomas Newman
Let's Be Cops - Christophe Beck & Jake Monaco

My favorite new CDs of 2014:

Batman: the Animated Series - Vol. 3 (Shirley Walker and co. - La La Land) - More episode scores and more highlights: the Clock King's theme; the delicate main theme of "See No Evil"; "Heart of Steel's" 'Barbara followed by a trash can robot' cue (been waiting a good two decades for this one)...

Delirious (Cliff Eidelman - Quartet) - Delightful music for the soap opera spoof, highlighted by a catchy motif for Jack's creative process.

Her Alibi/Partners (Georges Delerue - Intrada/Quartet) - Two supposed comedies from the 80s with two lovely scores from Delerue. The main themes to both will get stuck in your head.

The List of Adrian Messenger (Jerry Goldsmith - Varese Club) - An exciting fox hunt cue and several catchy motifs earmark this neat score to the all-star mystery.

Shaft (David Arnold - La La Land) - Arnold brought the funk for the underrated reboot, doing for John Shaft what he did for James Bond.

She-Devil (Howard Shore - Music Box) - The dark comedy benefitted greatly from Shore's music; an engaging effort with surprising Herrmannesque undertones.

Solar Crisis (Maurice Jarre - Intrada) - The forgotten sci-fi drama features a lively score by Jarre; sort of a long-lost cousin to Enemy Mine, building to a powerful finale.

Superman: the Animated Series (Shirley Walker et al. - La La Land) - The label is straight up spoiling us at this point. Every bit the equal of the 'Batman' releases. Here's hoping for "Fun and Games" on volume two.

Tourist Trap (Pino Donaggio - Full Moon) - Disregard the bare-bones packaging and just get lost in one of Donaggio's oddest (and best) scores.

Young Sherlock Holmes (Bruce Broughton - Intrada) - Broughton's exceptional music sparkles with excitement and a rich plethora of themes.

Maybe we can form a Kickstarter to get these titles that I missed out on:

Big Top Pee-Wee (Danny Elfman - La La Land)
Critical Condition/Summer Rental (Alan Silvestri - Quartet)
Falling in Love (Dave Grusin - Kritzerland)
Funeral in Berlin (Konrad Elfers - Intrada)
Joseph Andrews (John Addison - Kritzerland)
La Buca (Pino Donaggio - Quartet)
Mandingo/Plaza Suite (Maurice Jarre - Intrada)
The Naked Gun Trilogy (Ira Newborn - La La Land)
A Prayer for the Dying (Bill Conti - Quartet)
Robo Warriors (Richard Band - Intrada)
Sahara (Ennio Morricone - Quartet)
SpaceCamp (John Williams - Intrada)
Titan A.E. (Graeme Revell - La La Land)

A few spare notes...

- Though they weren't good enough to make my lists, I must say that I liked Tyler Bates's Guardians of the Galaxy and Gustavo Santaolalla's The Book of Life more than I expected to, given the noodling around of the latter that led to two (!) Academy Awards and the former with his inability to engage me with anything he'd yet written. Maybe, I should be thanking orchestrator/conductor Tim Williams, who worked on both scores.

- I'm still amazed that a year brought us a Tim Burton movie, an animated movie and a documentary and of Danny Elfman's efforts for those, the score for the documentary would reign supreme.

- Contemporary comedy scores getting respect? This year saw combo score albums for not one, but two modern franchises: Muppets Most Wanted/The Muppets and 22 Jump Street/21 Jump Street. (Though not a franchise, I'm quite heartened that this year will see a release of Henry Jackman's scores for the Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg features This is the End and The Interview.)

- Seriously, I cannot overemphasize how giddy I became at hearing an ondes martenot in Inherent Vice. So few composers (if any) utilize it these days. It's honestly the kind of thing that makes one say, 'I need to hire this Greenwood cat if I ever get to make movies'.

- A Jaume Collet-Serra thriller. A Bryan Singer comic book spectacle. One would think that these two projects would've inspired far more than the aimless noodling that John Ottman delivered for both films last year. Maybe, he was under orders to throw these games or maybe, he's lost his passion for the work, but no matter how it goes, that is no excuse to take it out on listeners. If this crap continues, I shudder to think what X-Men: Apocalypse will sound like.

- I'll be saying more about the film in my 'movies of 2014' post, but I found it weird and off-putting that Hans Zimmer used his comical Max theme for Electro's first night out. Still, it's downright inspired put against other aspects of the film...

- Still rather disappointed that there was not one usage of Stewart Copeland's theme in The Equalizer, not even as somebody's ringtone. To quote William Hurt in A History of Violence, "Howwwww do you fuck that up?!"

This is the part where I'd hope for one of my many Holy Grails to be released this year, but I'm not pushing my luck. Very rarely do I get my wish, so I'm just gonna be pleasantly surprised by what the labels cook up.



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