Friday, May 26, 2006
OK, so Jake's an obvious choice, but I also quite like this guy:
Peter Crouch! He plays for England, and I think he is extremely cute.
Really, I think these three are all pretty cute:
So yeah! I'm looking forward to the World Cup. More than my next exam.
Monday, May 15, 2006
A couple of weeks ago I compiled my list of favourite female film characters. Well, it's only fair that I balance it out, and balance it out I shall. In the favourite female characters, a lot more than the performance came into marking the equation. There’s all the back history. Like, when I picked June Carter Cash, I am a huge fan of her music, and know quite a bit about her personal life, because my English teacher told me. So if anything of their life comes across in the film, however subtlely, I’ll pick up on it and award them.
01. Andy (Tim Robbins, The Shawshank Redemption)
Andy Dufresne, smart banker and meticulous rock collector, makes my top choice. Everything about him is perfect. From his enigmatic smile and stroll that intrigues Red, to the silent stoic at which he is, he truly shines. Andy never killed anybody, but his bout in Shawshank prison does change him for the better nonetheless. As he bonds with Red, earns beers for the other prisoners and plays a Mozart LP over the prison walls, he makes the prison a rare thing – a nice place to live in. Of course, some birds aren’t meant to be caged, and the greedy warden isn’t going to stand in Andy’s way. What follows is an intricate, life-affirming escape sequence, where Andy gets his Zihatanejo, his redemption, and cinematic bliss.
02. Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Leaud, The 400 Blows)
Out of my selections, Antoine makes it because I totally connect with him. Unlike everyone else says, Antoine is like, so, not naughty. He just wants to be himself, roam the streets of Paris and be himself, but unfortunately, what he wants isn’t the same as what his parents and teachers do. Wonderfully mischievous (watch the street jog with the gym teacher), his adventures make for great entertainment and social satire, but, as shown in the moving interview with the psychiatrist, he is noticeably scarred by the mistreatment he receives from his mother. As his adventure through France continues, so does his maturity, carrying the maturity of a 30-year-old man in his childlike figure.
03. Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando, On the Waterfront)
In Elia Kazan’s masterful telling of one man fighting back, stoic, inarticulate, and rather confused Terry has enough of being pushed around by his crime mob brother and his friends. Brando brings such intensity to his role that we as the audience come to completely love and feel for him. Throughout the film, he cannot decide whether or not to "squawk", but decides to when he finally becomes a changed man through the redemptive power of love. It is his love for sister of dead man Edie Doyle that makes him want to be a better person, and rebel against the unjust system.
04. Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain)
Doe-eyed, well-wishing, vivacious and eternally optimistic, Jake Gyllenhaal’s Jack Twist makes for not only one of the most beautiful characters ever, but also one of the sexiest. From the second scene in the tent to the lassoing, Jack always does what he can to make Ennis feel good about his secret love, and to make him happy. Plagued with hopes, desires and wishes that could never work in their time and setting. Out of the two, Jack is more accepting to his orientation, and simply wants to love Ennis, and, though he feels Ennis shoves him away, we know that Ennis loved him. Sadly, Jack was never around to hear the words.
05. C. C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon, The Apartment)
Here is a character so loveable that they appear in some forms in Cameron Crowe films. Bud Baxter rents out his apartment to his amorous colleagues, with great results, and practically everyone recommends him for a promotion, and Baxter gets exactly where he wants. However, when the main boss gets to the key to his apartment, Bud discovers that his boss’s mistress is the girl of his dreams – Fran Kubelik. Torn between the desire to keep his job or to be with Fran, Baxter’s dilemma may seem a little odd, but his wonderful energy and the things he says makes us feel that we have known him forever. He truly is the embodiment of sweet pushover that would do anything for his girl, and that they make it (or do they?) serves as a true testament to the universal appeal of love.
06. Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr, Capote)
I feel kind of guilty. I mean, hello, he is a criminal. But anyone whose read In Cold Blood or the biography of Truman Capote ought to know how hard Perry’s had it. Bullied and tortured at orphanages and abandoned by his mother, he was obviously never going to turn out right. But Perry had some great talents. A talented artist, excellent calligrapher and writer, he saw Truman not only as a way out of prison, but someone to share his ideas with. That he grew to trust him so much, even giving him his diary, shows that in the coldest murderers lie a desire to be cared for, and to have someone to have some faith in.
07. Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint, Harry Potter)
Though Rupert isn’t the most talented of auteurs, his portrayal of Harry’s chum Ronald Weasely is by far my favourite performance from a young actor in the series of “films.” His comic timing impeccable, Ron is also beautifully tinted with that edge of humanity. Unlike Harry Potter, who cares about everyone, can fight dragons and fly better than anybody else in Hogwarts, Ron is magnificently mediocre. In his mediocrities he can be rather stupid, secretly crave Hermione and say awkward things that hurt other people’s feelings, but Ron always remains a loyal, brave and good-hearted individual. Far more deserving of the Gryffindor status than Harry, then.
08. The Dad (Peiqui Liu, Together)
- For loving his son and caring for him like a true father.
09. François Pignon (Daniel Auitel, The Closet)
- For being such a hilarious figure, who changes and becomes stronger, and braver about himself.
10. Stanley (Marlon Brando, A Streetcar Named Desire)
- For being the sex.
Honourable mentions go to Marlin and Nemo from Finding Nemo, who almost made it.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Saturday, May 13, 2006
The music, and the soundtracks.
Hedwig's Theme.... musical excellence.
To be fair, though, I loved the books long before the films.
The trading cards... going a little o'er the top, methinks.
Friday, May 12, 2006
- Schindler’s List
- Scrubs (Season 4)
- Shaun of the Dead
- The Shawshank Redemption
- Shrek II
- Sin City
- Spirited Away
- Stand By Me
- Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
Um, looking at some of them, I know what you’re thinking. But before you hasten to judge, you must bear in mind that I was given a lot of these. My grades are A-, B, C, C, A, B+, A, C, B-, B+, A- and D-. Also have The Simpsons, Syriana and a couple of others lurking around somewhere, but I haven’t yet uploaded them to my MP3 player, thus, and I cannot be arsed to move.
Schindler’s List (John Williams)
The heart-rending playing of Izthak Perlman is the main draw of this masterfully orchestrated score, which accompanies each of the images of the film perfectly, right from that very first introduction to the man himself. I had the pleasure of learning the Theme for my grade 7 violin C-piece, so I think I’ll ramble on about it. I think the form is binary, though I’ll have to check up on that, and the A part is the playing of the theme in its original low octave, appropriately accompanied with those rare chiming of harp and clarinet. The second part starts a little faster, then modulates to the first section, except two octaves higher. When I first started it, I was terrible, because you have to go into about 7th position on the violin, and after a while, it really hurts. Not that you’d be able to tell with Perlman’s rendition, where the playing in the second half matches, if not betters the beauty of the first. A truly talented musician, and it stings to think that he wastes his talent playing the violin to crap like Memoirs of a Geisha.
Best tunes: Theme from Schindler’s List, Remembrances, Midnight Show.
Scrubs – Season 4 (various)
Zach Braff, star of medical comedy Scrubs handpicked the songs for his directorial debut, Garden State, and I’m inclined to think he was influenced by some of the music from his own TV show, as Blue Eyes from the Cary Brothers features on both OSTs. However, that is where the similarities end, because the wide range of songs here totally define eclectic. From Hawsley Workman, Mozart, Robert Palmer and Jets to Rimsy-Korsikov, there is a different song for just about any mood. Of course, the trouble with having such a wide variety is that sometimes the general gist of the music can get lost in the hubbub, but overall, indulge in the randomness.
Best tunes: Something, Today
Serenity (David Newman)
Meh. Not a fan of the film, nor am I of the score, there are moments of intensity that strike the occasional chord and its appropriately atmospheric, but unless you’re missing Star Trek, I’d say bin it. Or, play it and the Crash score at the same time, and you’ve just made yourself an aquarium.
Shaun of the Dead (various)
Though the soundtrack sounded beyond sublime on the film, to sit down to, some of the tracks get a little tired and the audio tracks are nothing short of grating without the images to go with. The collection of classic rock songs are not to be faulted, of course, especially the lovely Queen’s You’re My Best Friend. The rest is a little samey, but the Zombi dub with Simon Pegg and that fat man is quite amusing.
Best tracks: You’re My Best Friend
The Shawshank Redemption (Thomas Newman)
So good, it’s been pinched for the Brokeback Mountain trailer, Thomas Newman’s score to Shaw ranks as one of his best works. Like a magician, he deftly captures the essence of prison life in his score, from the foreboding (New Fish, delicate chords exuding uncertainty), the quietly triumphant (drawn-out strings moderating to an upbeat pizz, a highlight of Finding Nemo), and the utterly devastating (Andy’s sadness and fear are flawlessly composed in An Inch of His Life, where almost a minute is sound effects, [an effect echoed in Mental Boy from American Beauty]. Newman exhibits his ableness with all the instruments, though, mind, as everything comes together majestically in the final End Titles, giving the film the sense of triumph, with the woodwind singing neatly in the background as the violins sing Andy and Red’s joy. But the highlight for me are the triumphant fiddles in And that Right Soon, a piece as fantastic as the scene it accompanies, dancing with Andy's glee. This film is my favourite of all time, and it has so rightly been given the music it deserves.
Best tracks: And that Right Soon, End Titles, So Was Red, Stoic Theme
It was one of the most successful children’s films of all time, but adults found something to love in it too. I’m sure at least some of this was down to the soundtrack, which feature a collection of pop records that would normally seem dated, but are suddenly cooler having appeared in this film. At times the youth of the film may be a little too clear, through the songs Bad Reputation and Like Wow!, which practically scream youth and immaturity, whilst Eddie Murphy’s I’m A Believer is amusing, if a tad silly. Nonetheless, Dana Glover, Eels and particularly My Rufie bring the edge of emotional force needed to elevate this above generic Dreamworks stuff. Indeed, Rufus Wainwright’s soulful rendition of Hallelujah is one of my favourite songs of all time, absolutely shattering in its sadness, soul and an impassioned, unfightable desperation. Hot damn.
Best tracks: Hallelujah, My Beloved Monster
Shrek II (various)
Whilst not equally its prequel in terms of quality, the soundtrack is even better. Opening with the Oscar-nominated, Summer song of the year, Counting Crows deliver Accidentally In Love, a fun, sweet and catchy and effortlessly feel-good. None of the sad songs equal Wainwright, though Eels try with I Need Some Sleep, an oddity that begins like a lullaby but harbours some grown-up themes in its lyrics. Lipps Inc’s uber-catchy Funky Town is great fun, Tom Waits’ husky vocals shine on Little Drops of Poison, a track that is freaky and captivating in equal turn. The downside of this package is actually Jennifer Saunders’s wailings, as I’m never one for actors’ voices featuring on soundtracks, but that little glitch aside, this is one of the most fun, listenable soundtracks I own, with a new delight every time you listen to it. My latest discovery was Frou Frou on Holding on For a Hero. Priceless.
Best tracks: Accidentally in Love, Changes, Little Drops of Poison
Sin City (Robert Rodriguez, Graeme Revell and John Debney)
So hurried was the post-production of Rodriguez’s film, he had to call on three composers just to get it scored in time, a different guy for a different segment. John Debney, the most accomplished of the three, does the best work, as his tunes ring a persuasive, sexy jazziness, not different to that in The Incredibles, though to be fair its all pretty mediocre as a sit-down listen. The theme is appropriately comic book, though.
Best tracks: Sin City Titles, Old Town
Spanglish (Hans Zimmer)
To hablar Spanglish is to say English and Spanish. Such a culture clash needs to come across in the music, and Zimmer hasn’t entirely convinced me with his efforts. Granted, it’s awfully nice to listen to, though the same recurring theme (Spanglish) gets a bit boring, and sometimes you can’t see where he’s going with the music. Yes, I’m talking about the 10-minute long piece The Beach, where violins and guitars alternate like there’s no tomorrow. As witness in the track Learning Spanglish, the guitarist is certainly capable one, and the accompanying strums/pizzs complement his playing, but, as I say, tell me the direction, and the grade will improve. Not a failure, just a bit odd.
Best tracks: Learning Spanglish, Spanglish
Spirited Away (Joe Hisaishi)
Practically every track echoes mystery and a gorgeous sense of adventure in Hisaishi’s score, showing that he’s scored again (ahem) with Miyazaki. The opening booms of No Face actually made me jump the first time I heard them, which is just a testament to the ambience of the piece, especially as, seconds later, it transforms into a rhytm-fuelled drum beat. In terms of instruments, there isn’t a whole lot of variety, but what’s on display – the drums, the cymbals, the tentative violins, they dance around each other delightfully. Hisaishi's score is a rich blend of broad orchestras and piano, melancholy pieces, I can hear hints of Japanese music amidst but the composition remains ever accessible. From excitement to fear to anger, it guides us through the emotions of the protagonists beautifully.
Best tracks: The Empty Restaurant, The Stink Spirit
Stand By Me (various)
Another Stephen King adaptation is given another excellent soundtrack, this time through a selection of well-known 50s rock classics, as well as some quiet, under heard masterpieces. At just over 23 minutes, it rates as one of the shortest soundtracks I own, but what is on show is simply excellent. Coasters sing the lively Yakety Yak and there are two lovely Del Vikings tunes, amongst the many others – Everyday and Get a Job are two other good songs, and Lollipop is fantastically catchy in its childishness. But the highlight of the soundtrack is Ben E King’s soulful vocals on Stand By Me. Listening to this is a timeless, exquisite experience, that only stands to remind you how amazing the film is.
Best tracks: Stand By Me, Lollipop, Come Go with Me
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (John Williams)
I’ve never been bowled over by the music in the Star Wars films, and that is probably because in listening to the music, I remember the mediocrity (at best) of the films. John Williams seems to feel it to, as he reverts to autopilot for most of the action sequences, a la booming crescendos at practically every climax and the clashing cymbals featuring so often that they would give anyone a headache. There is little originality. The Phantom Menace is pratically a mirror of previous Williams scores. The Droid Invasion is a blatant child of Belly of the Steel Beast from Indiana Jones and the use of high woodwind runs screams to Jurassic Park. Aficionados of the “films” will see this as a must own, but I wouldn’t waste your time or your money.
Best track: um...
The best of these soundtracks…
01. Hallelujah (Rufus Wainwright, Shrek)
02. And that Right Soon (Thomas Newman, The Shawshank Redemption)
03. Theme from Schindler’s List (John Williams, Schindler’s List)
04. Stand By Me (Ben E King, Stand By Me)
05. End Titles (Thomas Newman, The Shawshank Redemption)
06. You’re My Best Friend (Queen, Shaun of the Dead)
07. Accidentally in Love (Counting Crows, Shrek II)
08. So Was Red (Thomas Newman, The Shawshank Redemption)
09. Funky Town (Lipps Inc, Shrek II)
10. Little Drops of Poison (Tom Waits, Shrek)
11. I Need Some Sleep (Eels, Shrek II)
12. Blue Eyes (Cary Brothers, Scrubs)
13. Holding out for a Hero (Frou Frou, Shrek II)
14. Remembrances (John Williams, Schindler’s List)
15. Come Go With Me (The Del Vikings, Stand By Me)
16. The Empty Restaurant (Joe Hisaisi, Spirited Away)
17. You’re My Best Friend (Queen, Shaun of the Dead)
18. Stoic Theme (Thomas Newman, The Shawshank Redemption)
19. Spanglish (Hans Zimmer, Spanglish)
20. Sin City Titles (Robert Rodriguez, Sin City)
Mission Impossible 3 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
And currently reading:
In Cold Blood
... More to come.
Monday, May 08, 2006
J.J. Abrams, creator of Lost, takes on the third instalment of the action franchise, which sees human yo-yo Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) in rare human mode as he plans on making an early retirement to be with his nurse wife (Michelle Monaghan), only to be go on another impossible mission as he plans catching sadistic arms dealer Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman). To aid him are Ving Rhames, Jonathon Rhys-Meyers and Maggie Q, and, this being a third, there are gadgets, explosions, sets and plot twists like now other.
You’ve got to hand it to Abrams – he certainly knows how to keep an audience on their toes. Drawing on a few of his popular plot devices from Lost (flashbacks, a crescendo to the turning point), he sets us up neatly into his little world, where Ethan Hunt is now a man trying to live a normal life. Whilst that scenario may be a hard to buy, this is redeemed by the many action scenes in the film which are each exhilarating. To go into detail would be spoiling it, but let’s just say there is an extremely breathtaking sequence involving a fulcrum, an amusing one involving Tom Cruise disguising himself as someone, and lastly, but by no means least a helicopter chase which is utterly awe-inspiring and barely lets the audience pause for breath. All this, and you get a Michael Giacchino score that perfectly blends action, anxiety, fear and anger.
The cast in themselves are a treat. Tom Cruise, though not given the most trying of tasks in playing an action hero, does a good job with his usual intensity. In the action scenes, his facial expressions are concentrated and focussed and utterly convincing. However, Cruise fails in having any genuine chemistry with Michelle Monaghan, for and the romance comes across as rather bland. This is not aided with the poor writing in these scenes. Ving Rhames, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Maggie Q merely look cool as his helpers, and Laurence Fisburne and Billy Crudup successfully bring that edge of moral ambiguity to their characters. And Philip Seymour Hoffman is excellently malicious as the elusive and extremely dangerous Davian, shining in his lizard-eyed role and bringing some genuine terror to the villain. His scenes aside Tom Cruise are superb, as they practically tremble in tension and quiet hatred on both characters parts.
You will go to see Mission Impossible III expecting some grand-scale set pieces, and you will not be disappointed here. Each one of the four is masterfully executed, with a breezy slickness that is both cool and exciting. We’re talking non-stop action, occasionally interspersed with those corny Hollywood love formulae, cruising as “emotion.” Its big, its bombastic, and it could be the Summer blockbuster of the year.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Saturday, May 06, 2006
OK, found this great little questionnaire on Nathaniel’s blog.
1. Total Number of Books I Own
Several thousand, methinks. I like nothing better than buying old books from thrift shops.
2. Last Book I Bought
3. Last Book I Read
4. Book I Am Currently Reading
5. Fiction or Non-Fiction?
6. The First Book I Read
7. Largest Impact
8. Favorite Scholarly
9. Most Read Book
10. Sexiest Book
11. Biggest Disappointments
12. Five Books that Mean Something to Me
04 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling, because my friends and I can sit around all day sharing theories about how thr seventh book will go, and these are great times which remind me that I am still a child. I really loved Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone when I read it. The magic, the mystery, the intricacy at which JK Rowling created her own characters, and what characters. From Ron, to Dumbledore, I was spellbinded by everyone I read about, save Harry Potter, who is one of the blandest characters to be created.
03 Lolita by Vladimir Narbakov, because I thought I’d go into reading the book blaming Humbert, but I kind of thought that Lolita Haze was somewhat of a slut too, but both she and Humbert were just confused, tortured souls. The book was difficult, impressive, and sad.
02 Persuasion by Jane Austen, because I think that the message, that everyone deserves a second chance, is very powerful and beautiful.
01 The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley. This depiction of a young boy’s transition to adolescence, and loss of innocence, is one of the most well-written, imaginative and important books ever written, with artful touches of surrealism, using the star signs to blur the line between reality and fiction. Every page resonates.
1. How does the world see you?
3. What do my friends think of me?
4. Do people secretly lust after me?
Gettin' in Tune by The Who. I see.
5. How can I make myself happy?
Minute Waltz by Chopin. Um, yeah, Dancing is good.
6. What should I do with my life?
Munich, 1972 by John Williams. That's a little bit worrying.
8. What is some good advice for me?
Waiting for a Dream by Rufus Wainwright. Indeed. I'll wait patiently.
9. How will I be remembered?
Three Letter Word by Jamie Foxx. Lol! I can barely watch a film without commenting about the actor's fineness, though, so it's deserved.
10. What’s my signature dance song?
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds by The Beatles. Um. OK. Quite hard to dance to this one, but fine.
11. What’s my current theme song?
The Crisis by Ennio Morricone. I see.
12. What do others think my current theme song is?
Max Steals Briefcase by James Newton Howard. Uh-huh.
14. What type of men do I like?
Bad Boy by The Beatles. Well, I agree.
15. How’s my love life?
La Sagesse du Destin by Tangerine Dream. The most accurate my MP3 player has been. You have totally got to leave it to the wisdom of fate. This is the life.
Friday, May 05, 2006
These are the ones that me (and my friends) collectively decided to be the crème de la femme. Pictures of the first 4 too, to maintain a male fan base for this website.
01. Audrey Hepburn
02. Evangeline Lilly
03. Maria Bello
04. Audrey Tautou
05. Emmanuelle Béart
06. Li Gong
07. Jennifer Connelly
08. Reese Witherspoon
09. Grace Kelly
10. Juliette Binoche
There are some actresses, in my opinion, who are pretty, but have the “been there, done that,” factor. Names that immediately spring to mind are Keira Knightley and Naomi Watts. With these people, you get the distinct impression that they’ve just modelled their looks of the latest poster girl of CQ or some crap. Then there are others who are so cold and pallid that you think “That’s not beauty, that’s anaemia,” a la Nicole Kidman.
Lastly, there are sluts who basically try to get themselves in magazines by wearing a low cut dresses. Three immediate names that spring to mind here are Johansson, Dunst and Lohan. Each three are absolutely ugly, and absolutely desperate for fame.
There is one more type of beauty that I feel worth mentioning. Fugly. Actresses who are so ugly, they’re kind of pretty, or have a flint edge to their good looks. Here, I think of Katharine Hepburn, Laura Linney, Emmanuelle Devos and Catherine Keener. The good thing about being beautiful and ugly at the same time is of course, that you can play a beauty or a beast, thus displaying their versatility and earn my respect. And that is an accolade greater than being considered pretty.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Today’s letter: C.
- Cinderella Man
- 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+.
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
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
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
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)
Yesterday, I was on the phone, and absent mindedly watching the first episode of season 2 of Lost (women can multitask, didn’t ya know?) So anyway, I was chatting away when the vapid adverts came on, wasting the TV space, and then there was something that really grabbed my attention – the minute director/writer, J.J Abrams, boosting his own film, Mission Impossible III.
Now, as you may know, I promised that I would only go see this if I earnt my right to watch it, ala, higher than 80% on my Spanish aural. Well, my Spanish teacher said I’d get a high mark, which means he’s happy with it, if I’m not, and I’d made plans to see it years ago, so I am totally seeing it.
The only other film that I am anywhere as excited about is Ron Howard’s adaptation of Dan Brown’s uber-shoddily written, but still rather interesting, The Da Vinci Code. Snobby pseuds will knock it (as I have, I guess…), but the book did thrill me, and, having it read to you on audiobook is fantastic! I actually feel kind of sorry of Silas.
So, what better way to celebrate my excitement, then comparing the two? Tom and Tom both starred in 2004 promise-showers, The Terminal and Collateral, released around the same time in the UK, though the two could not have been more different. And their difference continues.
MI3: J.J. Abrams is the creator of TV’s most innovative an exciting creation – Lost. With its mixture of intensity, emotion and adrenaline fuelled-tension, it truly is one of the best things to have come on TV. Abrams has also done Felicity and Alias, the latter of which I enjoyed the first season of, but then found Jennifer Garner so talented, good at fighting, and pretty, that it simply hurt my ego too much to watch. ****
Da Vinci: Ron Howard is not what I call a good director. I enjoyed A Beautiful Mind, but that was largely due to Jennifer Connely and Paul Bettany, as well as the Maths, than anything capital in the way it was made. Cinderella Man epitomizes the phrase “Oscar begging,” though I did enjoy it, as well as Apollo 13, which I thought rather fantastic. What was not fantastic was Cocoon, Parenthood and The Missing. Still, if he can make fun of himself in The Simpsons, he’s not all bad. ***
I say stars because when we’re on box office babes such as these, it’s all about the attraction.
MI3: Tom Cruise, box-office draw of Will Smithian proportions and sporting some very fine suits as the hero, newly crowned Best Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, IMDb Oscar Buzz Boards draw and sporting post-Oscar weight (after Bennett and Dan quit their babysitting posts) as the villain, working together again after Magnolia. There’s also British talents in Shaun of the Dead’s Simon Pegg and Bend it Like Beckham babe Jonathon Rhys Meyers. Michelle Monaghan and Keri Russell are people I’m less familiar with, though the former is not related to Dominic. ****
Da Vinci: Tom Hanks, donning the hair extensions and a pseudo-intellectual frown as Robert Langdon, with the fantastic Audrey Tautou as Sophie Neaveau (I always knew she’d be perfect for the part) Paul Bettany takes as the homicidal albino Silas, freshly equipped with white-blonde hair and a cilice belt. Jean Reno (who was in MI) plays the officer tailing them all, and Ian McKellan is the eccentric grail-searcher Leigh Teabing. And someone else. Which anyone who’s read the book ought to know who. Yeah, he’s Teacher. ****
MI3: Don’t know quite what writing is to be expected, as it kind of is an action movie. The cinematography/jumpcuts will surely be suiting to the style of the film. But what I’m most excited about is the composer…Michael Giacchino! An underrated composer to the extent of Alexandre Desplat, he is also one of the most diverse, responsible for the jazzy, sexy smoothness of The Incredibles, as well as the tremolo-fuelled Lost score. And they’re maintaining the theme too! Clashing cymbals and violins, here we come! ***
Da Vinci: Avika Goldsman does not shy from the sentimental (proof: A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man), though I’ve never disliked any of his scripts, and Da Vinci promises some fresh concepts for him to work with. Cinematographer Salvatore Totinic is a relatively new member. Even Hans Zimmer, who I’m not normally overly impressed with (the score for Black Hawk Down sounded like some queer Gladiator work on electric guitars), shows promise, as the haunting music played in the trailer to The Da Vinci Code sounds very excellent indeed. Yay! ***
I’ve seen each of these trailers several times because… hot damn… they appeal to me more than the idea of a Peter Sarsgaard/Jake Gyllenhaal kiss.
M13: Loads of booming colours! Tom being thrown into a car! Philip screaming! Two female characters! Some more explosions and stuff… all the ingredients I need to take my mind off exams that are looming. *****
Da Vinci: Glimpses of everyone in the film, as well key passages showing some promise in the dialogue. Then there’s the transition where Tom and Audrey are in London, and you think, in Match Point, London was portrayed as somewhat of a Utopian society, whereas here, police chase everyone about. Da Vinci is closer. *****
MI3: I have really enjoyed the other two, the first more than second, as I thought Thandie really damaged the second film. This franchise’s style-over-substance, thrill a minute really entertains me, and Tom himself is pretty great. Also, it’s rated 12A, which promises more violence than the first, less than the second. I also looked at pictures of the premiere, and Tom seemed really happy, which certainly is a boost from the War of the Worlds’ “You’re a jerk!” Lastly, I’d began to think that Scientology had got to Tom’s head when I read that he actually wanted Scarlett J in the film, but luckily, her role fell through. She was too good for it, you know. She was making masterpieces like The Island. **
Da Vinci: Whilst I am fine with watching films like MI3 and King Kong with a bunch of rowdy 4 year olds, this is because the film is so loud that you can’t hear the children half the time anyway. What really grates is that this film… with such 15, even 18 rated premise, became another Bourne Identity, and got a 12A. I said I’d refuse to see it if it were a 12A, but I guess I lied, though if I get seated behind some chav who starts getting their digital camcorder out, I am like, so, never going to read Angels and Demons ever again.
MI3: Might scrape a few technicals – Sound, Visual effects, perhaps. I’m also hoping for a masterful, Lost-esque score, to make up for Giacchino’s missing nomination for The Incredibles. What it will not get nominated for is Best Original Song, where Kanye West hollers his name consistently. Tone down the ego pal, you’ve been hanging out with Jamie Foxx too much. **
Da Vinci: Had Brokeback Mountain won the Best Picture Oscar, I would have seriously thought this film would have stood a chance in the final five, as it would have shown the voter’s liberal side. All the right Oscar-beggers are involved, and it could have been viewed as a Cinderella Man makeup. However, BBM did not win, so Da Vinci will have to do with score (Hans Zimmer, duh), perhaps Sound Editing (it was re-edited to suit England’s 12A rating… fantastic) and something like Art Direction? If anything, for that masterful creation of inside of Teighbing’s House. Well, I don’t know, do I? They awarded Art Direction to Memoirs of a Geisha, so they clearly don’t know an awful lot. **
MI3: It’s the third in a very popular series, and God knows it’s been promoted enough. Yippee! (predict: 50 million, first week; total gross: $300,00,000)
Da Vinci: Slightly more controversial, though adds are appearing for it weeks before the film comes out. Also, just about everyone’s read Dan Brown’s book. (predict: 45 million, first week, total gross: $300,000,000)
The winner? I’ll have to watch them, won’t I? Though I have a hunch that The Da Vinci Code may snake out in the lead.
And you? Which are you looking forward to more?
Quench your thirst: A photo of one of the pictures,
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Oh, good. Am so delighted to know that it was almost a 15, then cut. Fantastic.