Wednesday, April 26, 2006

OK. Love film music, so will write short soundtrack reviews of films beginning with a certain letter. Today’s letter: H.

Options, looking at my Zen Creative (which incidentally, is like so, 2003):

- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Hollywood Cool (compilation of film songs)
- House of Flying Daggers
- Hustle and Flow

My grades, respectively, are B+, B, A, B and D-.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets score (John Williams)
Opens with crowd-pleasing tune of Hedwig’s Theme, but slightly different than usual. John Williams can ape his own Raiders of the Lost Ark-style background cues (as in Fawkes the Phoenix), or have a brief dalliance with Star Wars, as shown in The Flying Car, as well as new styles, as demonstrated in the brisk, jokey, march piece of Gilderoy Lockhart, or the chiming trumpets and regulated pizzes of Introducing Colins. The slightly sinister edge kicks in with Knockturn Alley, where oboes and clarinets dance around each other, only to crescendo with a variation on Hedwig’s Theme. In terms of suiting the pictures, this score is the best of the four, but as a sit down listen, it comes after the third score, which benefits from more variation. Nonetheless, Williams and his orchestra have brought us a gentle listen, good for a relaxing too.
Best tracks: Gilderoy Lockart, Knockturn Alley.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Patrick Doyle)
Here, Doyle had to take over from John Williams, as he turned down Potter so that he could do Memoirs of a Geisha. On top of that, Mike Newell wanted to introduce original songs into the Yule Ball scenes, so Doyle had to write a couple of rock songs too. He’s proved himself capable of the challenge, as Magic Works is appropriately slow and sultry, This is the Night is oddly catchy (if not really Potter-ish) and Do the Hippogriff is really catchy! In terms of compositions, Doyle has gone for the slow strings over anything truly earcatching. This works well in intentionally sad tunes such as Cedric and Another Year Ends, as well as the two gorgeous waltzes: Potter Waltz and Neville’s Waltz, which both play true to the character’s personalities, but for vital pieces such as Voldemort, I do wish he’d been a little more daring, and tried to actually scare us. Voldemort is a baddy, you know.
Best tunes: Do the Hippogriff, Potter Waltz (listen to the lovely piano part under the strings)

Hollywood Cool (various)
For any type of a music fan or cinephile, this is an absolute must-have. It is basically a compilation of “cool songs from the cool films.” Such titles include Kill Bill, Donnie Darko and American Beauty. Whilst the selection of tunes are heavily rock-orientated, and some of the selections border on odd (Woohoo as the best tune from Kill Bill? Someone had trouble acquiring the rights to Battle Without Honour or Humanity, methinks), there are some great songs here, including Under Pressure from Grosse Point Blank, and Just Dropped In, from the unforgettable sequence in The Big Lebowski. There’s deep stuff – We Haven’t Turned Around (American Beauty), cute – I Want Candy (Napoleon Dynamite), and earcutting – Stuck in the Middle with You. Some fall off the mark – Peaches (Sexy Beast) is complete tripe, but you that can just be Clubbed to Death (The Matrix). Very cool.
Best tracks: Under Pressure, Too Young, Love on a Real Train

House of Flying Daggers (Shigeru Umebayashi)
This composer’s efforts don’t shine as much as they could when compared to their gorgeous score for 2046, but this is still a solid effort, sounding quite similar to Japanese composer Takamitsu’s work on Ran. Using many Chinese instruments such as pipa, erhu and sihu, they create tension, romance and atmosphere, all with just the same style, with little deviations in tempo or dynamics. The Peonyhouse is a great little tune, but sadly only lasts a minute. Ziyi Zhang lends her vocals moderately well to the Beauty Song, but the best vocal work done here is by Kathleen Battle, on the last, heartbreaking songs, Lovers, which is beautiful and poetic in equal measure, much like the film.
Best tracks: Lovers, The Peonyhouse, Taking Her hand

Hustle and Flow (various)
Misogynistic? Check. Racist? Check. Without a doubt, one of the worst collection of “songs” of all time, the only saving grace being Terrence Howard’s sturdy vocals. Oscar winning It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp is by no means a good song, but annoyingly catchy, and you’ll find yourself humming along to the chorus line. Hustle and Flow is also quite good. The rest just isn’t. Rap and hip hop have always just been synonymous to me with “people who don’t have good voices and can’t play their instruments,” and this is epitomized here.
Best tracks: Hustle and Flow

The best of these soundtrack…
01. Under Pressure (Queen, Hollywood Cool)
02. Too Young (Phoenix, Hollywood Cool)
03. Gilderoy Lockhart (John Williams, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets)
04. Love on a Real Train (Tangerine Dream, Hollywood Cool)
05. Lovers (Kathleen Battle, House of Flying Daggers)
06. Potter Waltz (Patrick Doyle, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)
07. No Way Out (Shigeru Umebayashi, House of Flying Daggers)
08. Stuck in the Middle with You (Stealers Wheel, Hollywood Cool)
09. Knockturn Alley (John Williams, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets)
10. Harry’s Wondrous World (John Williams, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets)

35 comments:

karen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
karen said...

Thanks for telling me about Almost Famous by the way. I watched half it last night.. was great!

Emma said...

Hey. Am fecking pissed off. I can't find my Spanish oral topics on the computer anywhere! I've got my exam next week, that's 25% of the GCSE.

karen said...

Which one is your chosen topic? Media, I'm betting

Emma said...

Yay! Found my Media, Entertainment and Youth Culture! Now, where are the other 4?

Emma said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jason said...

Is this the new subsitute for msn then? :)

karen said...

Wow, your answers are really long! For mine it's just one word answers.

Emma said...

Yes, it is. Canny, eh?

Emma said...

Yay! Have found education and training as well.

Jason said...

Are you revising during the lunchtime?

Emma said...

My Span teacher makes us do it again if our answers aren't long enough.

Emma said...

Yeah, but it IS next Tuesday! I mean, hello? I really want an A* for Spanish, it's like my third favourite subject. So yeah, I'm revising quite hard.

Karen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Emma said...

Oh yes, and Almost Famous is great.

Karen said...

I know... Tiny Dancer sequnce was realy well done.

I think it's so annoying how you have to learn all five, and they only test you two. I really don't want to be tested on at home and abroad

Emma said...

Jason, what is diffraction?

jason said...

something to do with waves...

louis said...

liked the music to potter

j.l said...

Doyle>Williams.

...

(*.*)

Anonymous said...

mediocre, indulgent site (at best)

Anonymous said...

I agree. Terrible site

Emma said...

Aww, thanks for the kindness! To reward you, I think I'll take some time off. OK?

Emma said...

Bananahead.

Anonymous said...

Crap site

Mary said...

On the contrary, I think this is a wonderful site. Any 16-year-old who can write such mature comments about Brokeback Mountain is pretty smart, imo.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the poster above. This anonymous poster who is consistently showing themselves up by criticizing this site and the author aren’t embarrassing anyone but themselves. Nobody says you have to come on this site, yet there you always are. If you ask me, you should be thanking her. Here is a teenager who has got important exams to sit in a very short time, yet she still manages to find time to write intelligent, articulate reviews for us. Seriously, if you don’t like it, go, but stop wasting our fucking time with your rudeness.

Emma said...

Wow, thanks for the support, Anon! Much appreciated, no-one ever sticks up for me.

MysticFist said...

Great post (especially your reviews on those Potter scores)! You're at your best when writing about music. Seriously, well done, I won't even try to match it with a reply.

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Anonymous said...

The Evaluative Phase

For our workshop, we had two pieces of dramatic stimuli. The first was the poem by Emlyn Davies, “Aberfan.” It was written a tear after the disaster. The social context of it was the working class community of which the people of Aberfan lived in. its cultural context was Welsh, and it was set in the 60s.

The second was an extract from the play “Trojan Women” by Euripides. The social context of this play was quite different. It was set in Greek times. What the two stimuli had in common were that they dealt with loss of children, to no fault of the children’s own.

During the workshop, I played a variety of different characters. One that I thought I played well was the version of a woman in “Trojan Women”. We devised a stylistic piece reading lines from the poem, and we each played the mother, with variations on their emotions. My emotion was anger, and I exuded rage through my dark tone of voice, and cold glare that I gave the audience, intended to scare them. In the opening line, I screamed “Our state has dealt you a savage blow,” putting emphasis on “savage” and pushing the two people in front of me over with exaggeration. This scene was all about over-the-topness, because grief is an emotion that is over-the-top. I also stormed around on stage a little. I put so much into being angry, my face went red. This marked my commitment to the role and the character. As the historical context was of Greek times, there were no specific regulations on the accent, so I just settled for a deep voice, as this, in a woman, would be quite unsettling. I changed her speed of speaking when she was really angry, ie, I got slower. This

A performance that I was not as pleased with was when I played Julie, a mother who’s child had survived the Aberfan disaster. In this scene, I was visiting Marie, a mother who’s child had not survived. My character was supposed to be nervous and twitchy, but this may not have come across in my performance, as all I did to show my fear was to lower my tone of voice. The social and cultural context of this piece was of working class Wales, and in this scene I could have tried a Welsh accent to make my character more convincing. I could have also did more in terms of actions to convey

A group scene that I was in was a stylised piece about Bobby, a boy whose birthday had taken place on the day of the disaster. We worked well in that we all remembered our lines and throughout the group we were able to create a social context, in that the family were “poor but happy.”

Overall, the workshop was a very enriching experience. There was a wide range of activities to use different drama styles in, which helped me enjoy Drama more. It was sad to learn about the tragic disasters of Aberfan, but, by having this workshop on it, we were remembering the poor children that had died, and at the same time, it could act as a warning for any more upcoming manmade disasters to be careful.

Emma said...

Woah.

Anonymous said...

Themes, Motifs, and Symbols
Themes
Manliness and Homosexuality
Like many of Williams's works, Cat concerns itself with the elaboration of a certain fantasy of broken manliness, in this case a manliness left crippled by the homosexual desire it must keep in abeyance.

Brick is Cat's broken man. The favorite son and longed-for lover of a wealthy plantation family, he possesses the charm of those who have given up and assumed a pose of indifference before the world. Brick—a "brick" of a man—embodies an almost archetypal masculinity. Brick's "enviable coolness," however, is the coolness of repression, a repression that keeps his desires at bay. Brick is an alcoholic who cannot avow the desire in his relationship with his dead friend Skipper. Turning from his desire, he has depressively distanced himself from the world with a screen of liquor. He is reduced to the daily, mechanical search for his click that gives him peace.
Brick mourns his love for Skipper, a love imagined in almost mythic dimensions. For Brick, it is the only true and good thing in his life. His mourning is made all the more difficult by the desire he cannot avow. As Maggie notes, theirs is a love that dare not speak its name, a love that could not be satisfied or discussed. Thus Daddy, assuming the position of judge, will force Brick to confront this love. Brick's attempts at dodging him are crucial to the way the play imagines manliness. As Daddy approaches what has been tenuously repressed, Brick empties his words of all significance. As he tells Daddy, their talks never "materialize" and nothing is really said. When Daddy presses him, Brick reveals why he yearns for "solid quiet."
Ultimately the revelation of the desire in his friendship with Skipper cracks Brick's cool. His horror at the thought of being identified with the litany of epithets that he recites ("Fairies"), his disgust at the gossipmongers about him, only points to a fear that they might be true.
The Lie
As Brick pronounces to Big Daddy, mendacity is the system in which men live. Mendacity here refers to the mores that keep what Williams's dubs the "inadmissible thing" that is repressed at all costs. The two primary objects of repression in Cat are Brick's homosexual desires and Daddy's imminent death. After the men are forced to confront these secrets, Mama will desperately invest all her future hopes in the dream of Brick becoming a family man. The responsibilities of fatherhood would somehow stop his drinking, the estate could go to the rightful heir, and the perpetuation of the family line through Brick is Daddy's immortality. The idyllic fantasy of the family restored, however, is yet another of the play's lies or Maggie's invention of a coming child.
The Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
The cat refers to a particular fantasy of femininity and feminine desire. The play's primary cat is Maggie, a typically hysterical, dissatisfied Williams heroine who prostrates herself before Brick. Maggie's loneliness has made her a "cat," hard, anxious, and bitter. The exhilaration of Williams's dramaturgy lies in the force of the audience's identification with this heroine, a woman desperate in her sense of lack, masochistically bound to man who does not want her, and made all the more beautiful in her envy, longing, and dispossession.

Maggie's dispossession also rests in her childlessness. Certainly her childlessness calls her status as "normal" wife and woman into question. Without a child, moreover, her and Brick's place in Big Daddy's household is not assured. The child functions entirely here to assure their bid as Daddy's rightful heirs.
The Father and Son
In Cat, the father and son appear in a decidedly narcissistic relation. Daddy's narcissistic love for Brick is clear. As Williams notes, Brick bears the charmingly masculine indifference Daddy must have in his youth. As Mama will note at the close of the play, Daddy wants above all that Brick provide him a grandson who is as much like his son as Brick is like himself. Brick is his rightful heir, his means of immortality.
The mirror relation between the men becomes especially clear Brick and Daddy will "show-down" over their respective secrets. Both Daddy's sojourn in "death's country" and Brick's being "almost not alive" in his drunkenness make them "accidentally truthful." Thus, unlike the characters about them, they present themselves as the only ones who have never lied to each other. Both stand on polar limits of the system of mendacity that is life, Brick being the drunkard and Daddy the dead man.
Father and son will come to double each other in their roles as revealer and recipient of the other's "inadmissible thing." Thus Daddy will force Brick to confront the desire in his friendship with Skipper and receive his death sentence in return. In matching the revelation of his repressed desire with that of Daddy's death, Brick turns things "upside down." Daddy comes to stand in the place he just occupied. The revelation is a violent act, robbing Daddy of his second life. As Brick the duality of the exchange that has just ensued: "You told me! I told you!"
Brick and Daddy's final struggle marks the reverse side of the narcissistic love between them, the aggressive logic of "either you go or I go" between those who mirror each other too closely.
The Children
Against the beautiful, childless couple, the image of the family, and the mother in particular, will appear hilariously grotesque. Mae and Gooper have spawned a litter of "no-necked monsters" fit for the county fair; Mae, the cotton carnival queen besmirched by proxy, is a "monster of fertility"; and the sounds of the screeching children continually invade the scene. This side of the family will continually stage burlesques of familial love and devotion, such as Daddy's birthday party in Act II.
The Off-Stage Telephone
Cat makes great use of off-stage sound, marking the presence of spies in the household. The telephone recurs a number of times. Initially Mama and Maggie's conversations rehearse the lie that keeps Big Daddy and Mama ignorant of the machinations afoot, the lie that Daddy will live. The telephone will then return at Brick and Big Daddy's showdown to provoke the revelation of what has remained inadmissible until then. Here a phone call, as if a call from the dead, evokes Skipper's final confession to his friend. Upon Brick's revelation of Daddy's cancer, the telephone communicates Daddy's unspoken protest: "no, no, you got it all wrong! Upside down! Are you crazy?"
The Exotic Lands
Before confronting Brick on Skipper, Daddy takes a rather strange detour through his travels with Big Mama to Europe and North Africa. Daddy's memories of his travels introduce a motif familiar to Williams's readers: the Mediterranean/North Africa as a primal space, a space savagery, lawlessness, and sexual excess, all things that civilization would repress. These exotic locales and their inhabitants become ciphers for the desires that remain repressed at the home. It is not for nothing that later Brick tells of a fraternity pledge who flees to North Africa when the brothers discover that he is a sodomite.
Symbols
We should note the following symbolic objects in Cat. First, Brick and Maggie's bed—the place where, as Big Mama will subsequently observe, the rocks in their marriage lie—belongs to the plantation's original owners, Jack Straw and Peter Ochello. As Williams writes, the ghost of the men's love haunts the stage.
Second a gloriously grotesque console, combining a radio-phonograph, television, and liquor cabinet, towers over the room. As Williams notes, it serves as shrine to the "comforts and illusions" behind which we hide from the things the characters face. Notice the moments when Brick will turn on the radio, refresh his drink, thereby raising a screen between him and the household.
Finally we should note Brick's phallic crutch. Its removal at the hands of Maggie and Big Daddy symbolize Brick's castration, a castration concomitant with the revelation of his unmanly homosexual desires. This crippling of the most masculine of men is crucial to Brick's "sexiness." The crutch's continuous restoration and removal—in a sort of game of "now he has it, now he doesn't"—appeals to the fetishistic one.

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