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, April 30, 2016

My Favorite Scores: Cherry 2000 (Basil Poledouris)

I can't say it enough, kids: I love film music. The sounds, the melodies, the emotions it arouses. I've had an interest in film music for roughly two decades and, in that time, I've come across a number of scores I have no qualms about calling my favorites.

Given the kid's-game-show-obstacle-course insanity of filmmaking, it's truly astounding that any movies get released, much less made. Every so often, a film is completed, but there's a long time before it sees release. Most often, this points to trouble in paradise, but sometimes, it can obscure a possible diamond in the rough.

In the near-future, relationships are achieved through obtaining robotic companions (...if only, right?) or through lawyer-monitored contracts. Sam's (David Andrews) artificial lover goes on the fritz, so he ventures into dangerous territory for a replacement, accompanied by E. Johnson (Melanie Griffith), a tough-as-nails tracker. One-of-a-kind futuristic Western adventure; what it lacks in narrative urgency, it makes up for with some neat touches and a terrific supporting cast.

Given his higher-profile work on Conan the Barbarian and RoboCop, one would be a little surprised to find Basil Poledouris working on this movie, but the composer rose to the occasion, producing a score just as good as the ones for those genre favorites.

Cherry's theme is a lilting melody that ably suggests the perfect ideal that is a Cherry 2000. Whether played by flute ("Main Title", "Flashback #2") or strings ("Flashback #1", "Cherry Awakens"), it makes for a beautiful theme, even as the backing electronics gently remind the listener of her true origin.

In a weird though fascinating touch, Poledouris used the film's title for the basis of no less than three different singable motifs. The theme for E ('cherrrrrr-ry two thou-SAND') appears (for the first time in the film) halfway into "The Barricades" and bookends "Photograb". The low brass melody bespeaks her hard-bitten, take-no-prisoners vibe.

The second one, a brass over string ostinato motif ('cher-ry two THOU-sand') isn't really tied to any character; it just seems to accompany moments of explosive conflict. Introduced 3:29 into "Magneto", it dominates "Pipeline" and figures heavily into "End of Lester".

The third motif is a love theme for Sam and E ('dun-dun-dun, da-cher-ry two THOU-sand'). It's deftly hidden in the luau-esque source cue "Jake's Jukebox" (there's a typo on the Prometheus album), as if to suggest that Six-Fingered Jake (Ben Johnson) sees the attraction between the two before they do. (Another clever moment comes in "Hooded Love" when the two get hot and heavy, their love theme played electronically, while Cherry's theme overlaps in an acoustic flute reading.)

"Drive to Gloryhole" (!) impresses with rock guitar, while "E Flips Sam" lurks with hints of Morricone on English horn and trumpet, leading to its string sting coda. "Drive" is earmarked by its hypnotic synth backbeat. "The Barricades" is another fine cue, mixing churning strings, swelling brass and tolling bells.

One of the score's show-stoppers is "Magneto", when E's Charger is lifted over a ravine by a giant magnet. The cue starts quietly with tinkling notes, then builds on the churning of "The Barricades", hinting at E's theme without fully stating it. Brass soon swells as our heroes fight off the attackers. Ultimately, electronics rain down much like the water of the drainpipe they are lowered into.

"Lights Out" introduces two other melodies, an ascending, dream-like electronic motif for Jake (0:30) and a driving, cyclical action theme (1:05) for Lester, the film's Big Bad, amusingly incarnated by Tim Thomerson. "Thrashing of Sky Ranch" makes for a fascinating collision of motifs, starting with an eerily drawn-out version of Lester's theme, leading into Jake's melody and the potential love theme and a reprise of the pounding rhythms of "Magneto" as a kidnapped Sam gets some payback on Lester's pad, blowing it up.

A minor, almost comic motif for bass clarinet, cello and marimba appears in "Drop 'em", as an attempt to get a plane for the next leg of the journey leads to a conga line-style standoff (it makes sense if you see the film). There's also a neat bit of mickey-mousing in "Randa (on) Mic" (another typo) as the motif is accompanied by swirling strings for the rolling of a tire.

It all comes to a head with "Lights On" and "End of Lester", two unsung examples of the composer's mastery of the action genre. In the former, as Lester's gun-toting minions take aim at our escaping heroes, their boss's theme hails down upon them, but the tide turns and the minions and Lester are taken out with the help of E's theme...but the blaring brass at the start of the latter cue suggests that Lester isn't yet down for the count. Chopping strings and the 'conflict' motif lead to Cherry's theme as she and Sam fly off, leaving E pinned down. Even as Cherry's theme sails majestically with strings and electronics, Sam soon realizes that he may be flying back with the wrong woman. The plane's U-turn signals a triumphant brass reading of Sam and E's love theme. The new couple flies off, even as the conflict theme dies out with Lester's last attack. "The End" reprises the love theme for its fly-into-the-sunrise coda.

All told, this is a engaging score, one of the most eclectic to come from Poledouris' pen and you owe it to yourself to give it a try. (The bottom of the bill score, the electronic No Man's Land, isn't too bad, either.)

Availability: This was one of the first releases in the Varese Sarabande CD Club back in the late 80s and at one point, this was the most expensive soundtrack of all time. Prometheus Records put out a release in 2004, then Intrada released an album in 2011, paired with The House of God. Given the weird sequencing and it being hard-as-hell-to-find, I wouldn't recommend the former. The latter two albums are available from various retailers.

Prometheus PCD 155

Track Listing:
1. Cherry 2000 - Main Title (1:58)
2. Photograb - Alternate Mix (1:11)
3. Cherry Shorts Out (1:32)
4. Lights On - Alternate Mix (1:51)
5. Flashback #1/Drive to Gloryhole (1:25)
6. E Flips Sam (1:17)
7. The Barricades (1:51)
8. Flashback #2 (1:06)
9. Photograb (1:11)
10. Magneto (4:19)
11. Pipeline (0:57)
12. Water Slide (1:04)
13. Juke's (sic) Jukebox (1:37)
14. Lights Out (1:26)
15. Moving (0:37)
16. Thrashing of Sky Ranch (3:24)
17. Drive (1:56)
18. Hooded Love (1:16)
19. Ambush in the Cave/Truck Fight (2:13)
20. Lester Follows (0:19)
21. Drop 'em (0:41)
22. Lester on the Move (0:39)
23. Rauda (sic) (on) Mic (0:43)
24. Jake Killed (0:51)
25. Plane to Vegas (1:01)
26. Cherry Awakens (1:13)
27. Lights On (1:51)
28. End of Lester (5:02)
29. The End (0:37)

music from No Man's Land:
30. No Man's Land - Main Title (2:58)
31. P.C.H. (1:01)
32. First Score (2:25)
33. Lone Score (1:18)
34. Love Theme (1:38)
35. Chase (5:27)
36. Porsche Power/Drive My Car? (2:39)
37. Ann Buttons (1:13)
38. Payoff (3:27)
39. Showtime (4:16)
40. No Man's Land - End Credits (3:01)

41. Cherry 2000 - Bonus Track - Movietone (0:56)


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Yeah, I probably could've made a birthday post, but it likely would've devolved into yet another rumination on how nothing seems to change with each passing year. I did manage to get the day off (I can't imagine anyone wanting to work on their birthday)...but when practically all you have are days off (but with far less money than you'd like), what's the point?

I just wish my life would get better.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Solarbabies (Maurice Jarre)

In the future year 41 ( with me, okay?), water is scarce (so, what else is new?) and a group of youths follow a mystical sphere to freedom. This so-so assemblage of dystopian tropes is easily the lesser of 1986's Mel Brooks-produced forays into genre fare.

Maurice Jarre dabbled in all-electronic scoring for a time in the 80s. This synth effort is unique in that the composer also utilized the ondes martenot (employed to great effect in his Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome the previous year).

music composed by
Maurice Jarre

1. Main Titles/In the Year 41 3.14
2. Night Game 3.37
3. Bohdi Appears/Back to Prison 2.56
4. Lines in the Sand 0.30
5. "How it used to be." 0.31
6. Water! 0.56
7. Recreational Skate 2.01
8. Jason Talks to Bohdi 1.47
9. Playing with Bohdi 1.42
10. Making a Connection 0.56
11. Going After Daniel 0.31
12. Daniel Rests 0.13
13. Bridge Out/As the Owl Flies 2.50
14. The Museum 0.49
15. The Massacre 1.09
16. Daniel Sees the Wreckage 0.43
17. Mourning/The Compound 1.10
18. The Symbol/On the Move 0.51
19. Arrival at Tiretown 2.27
20. "He's here." 0.11
21. E-Cops Charge/Tire Ride 2.40
22. Jason Misses Terra 0.15
23. Captured 0.30
24. Nomad Raid 0.04
25. The Cave 0.04
26. "It's not over." 0.22
27. EP Headquarters 0.59
28. Pole Vault 0.18
29. Escaping the Dogs 0.32
30. The Rescue 3.03
31. Thunder Cloud/Bohdi Ascends 2.43


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Available while quantities and interest remain.

(Note: this post was - mostly - written up earlier in the year. I could not have accounted for one of the labels actually releasing something from one of the composers listed here in the meantime.)

Don't let this get around, but I have an affinity for film music. I wait with baited breath at the latest announcements about specialty releases. With so few release slots and so many inter-label reissues, a number of composers get lost in the shuffle. Here are ten that I think the labels ought to look closer at:

Randy Edelman
Last specialty release: Pontiac Moon (Quartet; 2014)

Given his resume filled with silly comedies and his...shall we say, electronically-drenched music, I honestly thought it would've taken several years for a specialty release of his music to surface (clearly, I was proven wrong). Some may be clamoring for Ghostbusters II, which is fine, but there are stronger efforts to savor, such as The Chipmunk Adventure, one of Edelman's first scores, highlighted by its rousing overture and the underrated Down Periscope, featuring a stirring main theme that's almost like Edelman's take on the Police Academy march...and speaking of...

Robert Folk
Last specialty release: Police Academy (La La Land; 2013)

2013 saw an unprecedented three releases from Folk: Buysoundtrax's Beastmaster 2, Intrada's Can't Buy Me Love and La La Land's Police Academy. Another composer burdened with a risible resume of comedies, but there are many musical gems scattered about, like the heartbreaking horror of The Slayer, the jazzy parody of Loaded Weapon 1 and the orchestral shenanigans of The Adventures of Laurel and Hardy: For Love or Mummy (yes, this is a movie that exists).

Richard Gibbs
Last specialty release: nothing

Though he continues to work, I really believe that Gibbs' best work came around the early 90s, his successful run as a comedy composer cemented with his delightful score for the (underrated) spoof, Fatal Instinct as well as equally fine work for comparatively lesser films like Ladybugs, Once Upon a Crime, Clifford and Amos and Andrew. Don't believe me? Check out the clips at and get back to me. I'll wait.

Miles Goodman
Last specialty release: Dunston Checks In (La La Land; 2010)

It's said that comedy scores are poor sellers, which screws me blue vis-a-vis a lot of this list, but there's no law saying a boy can't dream. For example, the elements of one of Goodman's most entertaining scores - Real Men - are said to be lost. Even if this situation continues, there are many other works of his to consider, such as Blankman, Indian Summer and What About Bob?.

Rolfe Kent
Last specialty release: nothing

Unlike a lot of the composers on this list, Kent's had some pretty good comedies to work with (okay, 40 Days and 40 Nights was a raging dumpster fire, but let's not hold that against him). I'll shout it from the mountaintops until my throat is sore: Mean Girls and Election would make a perfect double bill and there are several other scores that deserve official exposure: Killers, Legally Blonde, Citizen Ruth...

Michael J. Lewis
Last specialty release: Theatre of Blood (La La Land; 2010)

This is something of a cheat, as a lot of his scores are available on self-produced promo CDs, but many of them are rather expensive. Still, fully-produced liner notes augmenting Lewis' lush music would be nice. Who wouldn't like to know about the production histories of The Medusa Touch, Sphinx, Ffolkes and The Passage while enjoying the scores?

Mark Mothersbaugh
Last specialty release:...I guess you could count 21/22 Jump Street (La La Land; 2014)

The Devo co-founder branched out into scoring TV and films in the late 80s yet, for all his credits, there are shockingly few releases of his work. Granted, his Wes Anderson scores were released, but what of It's Pat, Sugar and Spice, A Guy Thing and the Hotel Transylvania movies? Who will speak for them?

Amotz Plessner
Last specialty release: nothing

I've been championing Plessner for a good 15 years, but no one - from film music fans to soundtrack producers - seems to know (or care about) him. Pity. His scores for Deal of a Lifetime, Addams Family Reunion and Digimon: the Movie reveal an incredible talent. Of all the composers on this list, I get the feeling that he will be the last to be considered for any new releases.

Graeme Revell
Last specialty release: Titan A.E. (La La Land; 2014)

Much like Richard Gibbs, Revell's best work came around the early 90s. A number of terrific scores saw release, such as Street Fighter, Power Rangers and Hard Target, but there's still the likes of Child's Play 2 and Ghost in the Machine to consider.

Arthur B. Rubinstein
Last specialty release: Whose Life is it Anyway? (FSM; 2009)

Rubinstein got his start in the 1970s, scoring made-for-TV movies, but it was a collaboration with fellow Yale alumnus John Badham - Whose Life is it Anyway? - that got him started in features. For the following two decades, he bounced between features and television, writing distinctive scores all the way. He's all but retired now, but his music deserves to be heard on disc. Stakeout, Another Stakeout, Once Upon a Texas Train, Lost in America, The Heist, The Best of Times, Where the Hell's that Gold?!!?...the list goes on.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

The poor man's Oscars.

Another year, another ceremony of diminishing returns. Let's do this:

best on-screen duo:
Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart, American Ultra
Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road
Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
John Boyega and Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: the Force Awakens
James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe, Victor Frankenstein

best action sequence:
leaving Mars, The Martian
going for a swim, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
the helicopter fight, Spectre
the New York Comic Con brawl, Ted 2
the airport escape, The Transporter: Refueled

best comedic performance:
George Clooney, Hail, Caesar!
Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool
Jason Statham, Spy

best villain:
Adam Driver, Star Wars: the Force Awakens
Topher Grace, American Ultra
James Spader, Avengers: Age of Ultron
Corey Stoll, Ant-Man
Christoph Waltz, Spectre

best breakthrough performance - male:
John Boyega, Star Wars: the Force Awakens
Alden Ehrenreich, Hail, Caesar!
Shameik Moore, Dope
Milo Parker, Mr. Holmes
Ed Skrein, The Transporter: Refueled

best breakthrough performance - female:
Raffey Cassidy, Tomorrowland
Rebecca Ferguson, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
Brianna Hildebrand, Deadpool
Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: the Force Awakens
Alicia Vikander, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

best male performance:
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian
Samuel L. Jackson, The Hateful Eight
Ian McKellen, Mr. Holmes
Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool

best female performance:
Lily James, Cinderella
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Melissa McCarthy, Spy
Helen Mirren, Trumbo
Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road

best fight:
Paul Rudd vs. Anthony Mackie, Ant-Man
Tyrannosaurus Rex vs. Indominus Rex, Jurassic World
David Koechner vs. the gingerbread men, Krampus
Daniel Craig vs. Dave Bautista, Spectre
Daisy Ridley vs. Adam Driver, Star Wars: the Force Awakens

best kiss:
Lily James and Richard Madden, Cinderella
Mia Wasikowska and Tom Hiddleston, Crimson Peak
Ryan Reynolds and Morena Baccarin, Deadpool
Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne, Paper Towns
Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino, San Andreas

best movie:
Inside Out
Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
Star Wars: the Force Awakens


Monday, April 04, 2016

Terry Plumeri (1944-2016)

It was the mid-90s. I was flipping around the television, as was my wont when I wasn't in school. I'd stumbled onto a movie on the Disney Channel: Stepmonster. I don't recall thinking much of the movie at the time, but I was struck by the music. Creepy, yet beautiful. As this was before I dove head first into the film music waters, this was something of a big deal.

That music was by Terry Plumeri who, because of a senseless tragedy, was taken from this world.

Years later, I sought out Plumeri's works. I'd found a way to attain a triple-feature of his that was out-of-print, featuring his scores for Final Judgment, The Terror Within 2 and...Stepmonster.

Some time after, Intrada began releasing his music on CD, starting with his debut score for the rather disappointing horror movie Scarecrows. Superb music achieved with very little resources. Even though I'd never seen the movies, more Intrada releases followed: Mr. Atlas and Raging Angels. (Much as I will always revere the man, the sound samples for Black Sea Raid just didn't intrigue me.)

Much like Shirley Walker (gone ten years this fall), I envisioned myself working alongside this genius, giving what I'd written so much more depth than I could muster alone.

Farewell and thank you for the music.


Friday, April 01, 2016

No joke. Nothing much to say except I'm on the verge of taking a test that could get me a steady job and a way to get me out of debt. Cross your fingers. I really need this.

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