Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Soundtrack Review: Soundtracks beginning with the letter C.


Today’s letter: C.


- Casanova
- Cinderella Man
- Closer
- Clueless
- Collateral
- The Constant Gardener
- Crash (someone gave this to me, OK?!)

My grades, respectively, are C-, B+, B, B+, B+, B- and D. I also have one song from the Cinema Paradiso score, but unfortunately one isn’t enough to grade the entire soundtrack. For the record, though, Love Theme gets an A+.

Casanova (various)
Maybe Alexandre Desplat was too busy with The Upside of Anger and Syriana, because he seems very uncomfortable with the Baroque style that he has to work with for this film, the piece Inquisitor Pucci sounding like some desperate Girl with a Peal Earring rehash, with added humour for brava. Hardly the biggest eargasm I’ve ever had. The film itself is terrible, and it’s really saying something by the fact that the music was the best thing about it, as the album does serve up some fantastic doses of Vivaldi and Albinoni. Length proves to be the pieces limiting factor, as for a film like Casanova, the shortest pieces of music work best with the pictures, and this fact is epitomized in the 44 second Concerto in C Major, delightful and catchy in equal measure. But if you can get a selection of better Baroque tunes for a much lower price, what is the point?
Best tunes: Concerto in C Major (Vivaldi), Les Plaisiers Champetres (Albinoni)

Cinderella Man (Thomas Newman)
Thomas Newman served up two very far removed scores in 2005 – Cinderella Man and Jarhead, and this is the more tentative, haunting of his two. Set in Irish America in the Depression era, his score suits the period and style of the film perfectly, with the beautifully sparse and church bells-esque Change of Fortune playing when Jim Braddock’s fortune changes, but the theme Cinderella Man feels a bit too samey, but the horns blaring and drumrolls beating like this is The Shawshank Redemption or something. There are four less good period songs on the CD, but they can easily be fast-forwarded through, and, with his delicate piano chord footing in American Beauty roots showing through in The Inside Out, it’s clear that Newman works best with the sensitive and sad. That said, he isn’t afraid to show a little deviation in the upbeat, rhythm-fuelled Pugilism, or give his own spin on the popular theme Londonerry Air.
Best tunes: Change of Fortune, The Hope of the Irish

Closer (various)
Mike Nichol’s relationship drama proved a little too harsh for my optimistic (lol!) mind, but it does sport a great soundtrack. The songs themselves are very ecclective, varying from jazz in Babel Gilberto’s Samba to a lil’ dosage of opera with Mozart in Bella vita militar, adding to a sense of grandeur and that tiny touch of pomp. That said, there’s also Smack My Bitch Up from Prodigy on there. Best of all are Damien Rice’s evocative vocals, which shine wonderfully on the acoustic version of The Blower’s Daughter, one of the it tunes of 2004, and played more at reward shows that Battle without Honour or Humanity. Damien Rice is one of my favourite artists, so I may prove a little biased towards him, but I defy any to listen to his beautiful, deep song and not be moved. A case of the soundtrack outdoing the film.
Best tracks: The Blower’s Daughter, World Outside

Clueless (various)
The delightful teen romcom, a sweet spin on Jane Austen’s Emma has a great soundtrack to go with. Primarily, it seems like a collection of rock songs, from Beastie Boys to Counting Crows, but what songs they are. World Party’s cover of All the Young Dudes almost surpasses the original in its quiet malaise and catchy vocals, and Smoking Popes’ Need You Around has a guitar intro like no other, whilst Radiohead show off their endless pit of talent with the tender and Fake Plastic Trees. And who isn’t familiar with “We Are Young, We Are Free…” in Alright from Supergrass? The song that plays the key part in the film, however, Rolling with the Homies from Coolio, sounds underdone with Alicia Silverstone and Brittany Murphy singing along to it, but save that title, all the other songs rock.
Best tracks: All the Young Dudes, Alright

Collateral (various)
Michael Mann’s neon-lit streets of L.A. never seemed so cool than when envisioned with this soundtrack. His classy record collection boasts some smooth jazz in the form of Mile Davis, as well as a good dosage of rock. Another tune that is no stranger to award shows is Ready Steady Go from Oakenfold, which was played at least 50 times during BAFTA’s running time. Still, when the tune is so cool, why not? The Klazz brothers and Cuba Percussion fare excellently in their rehash of Bach’s Air on A String, leading be to believe that this jazzy version is way better than the original and though James Newton Howard’s score only consists of three tracks, they are each tunes that suit the film perfectly, especially The Finale. But my favourite song on the soundtrack is Groove Armada’s exquisite Hands of Time, which I hold dear for nostalgic reasons, but is an amazing, amazing song.
Best tracks: Hands of Time, Air

The Constant Gardener (Alberto Iglesias)
Iglesias multi-cultural score for Fernando Mierelles’ angry pharmaceutical flick go him his first Oscar nominaltion, though I’m far from believing this to be his best work. The Africa lyre, ronroco and wooden flute do fit the setting of the film, but what they do not suit are the tone, as some of the tunes here border on upbeat, almost jovial. The recurring theme plays, about 1 minute 10 seconds into Roadblock I, and it proves to be a catchy tune, even if the rest of the score is less listenable. That said, the two vocal tracks from Ayub Ogada, in particular the fantastic Kothiro, truly glow with culture, soul and that tinge of melancholia. Still, if you want to hear a truly masterful score, look for his score to Talk to Her.
Best tracks: Kothbiro, Roadblock I

Crash (Mark Isham)
The pretentious tone of the film could not be more clear in the score for it, where Jazz trumpeter Mark Isham just bungs a few chords together, and calls it music. Just about all the tunes sound the same, really, and there isn’t much to say about it, except it sounds like whale music. I grudgingly admit that song that earnt Crash its nomination for Best Song, In the Deep, sounds quite pretty, even if the sequence was completely lifted from Magnolia, though the delivery, as Bird York wails, is as self-important and pseudo-Goth as they come. You’re not dying, for God’s sake.
Best tracks: In the Deep

The best of these soundtracks…
01. Love Theme (Ennio Morricone, Cinema Paradiso score)
02. Hands of Time (Groove Armada, Collateral OST)
03. The Blower’s Daughter (Damien Rice, Closer OST)
04. Kothbiro (Ayub Ogada, The Constant Gardener score)
05. All the Young Dudes (World Party, Clueless OST)
06. Change of Fortune (Thomas Newman, Cinderella Man score)
07. Alright (Supergrass, Clueless OST)
08. Roadblock I (Alberto Iglesias, The Constant Gardener score)
09. Fake Plastic Trees (Radiohead, Clueless OST)
10. The Hope of the Irish (Thomas Newman, Cinderella Man score)


Strange Harvest said...

Of these, I own the scores to Cinderella Man and The Constant Gardener. I only ever buy CDs if I loved the music, so that should be an indication of my likes.

Good reviews, you've got me interested in renting Collateral's soundtrack.

TBP4 said...

"Briefcase" on Collateral is like my personal killah theme.

Jason said...

I have bad (tho I consider it good) news

Your viewing of Mission Impossible may be delayed

Fashion show on Saturday. I know they're kind of a bore, but you love the free stuff and we love the girls!

Delay viewing of it? Or kill me?

Jason said...

I haven't gotten an answer yet...

Lisa said...

Remember when I said how much of a waste it'd be if you became a statistician? Well, yeah.

Come on! You're fantastic at Maths, but you've got a knack for writing so well. Can't you find a job that satisfies both? said...

This won't have effect in fact, that's exactly what I believe.