Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Conceding Defeat

It's been a long, hard road. Even through the worst of it it looked as though we still had a chance. Everyone really gave it their all to try and achieve our goal. I want to take this opportunity to thank everybody for their support and dedication to the cause. However, as everyone has likely observed, for now at least, it's over. Sacrifices were made, hopes were elevated as high as could be, well...hoped! But, as fate would have it (as it often does in these situations), things just didn't go our way. We fought the good fight, and I know you were all behind us on this one. It just wasn't our time...this time. things stand right now, it would appear as though, in fact, we are all not going to die after all!

I know, I one wants to admit when they're beaten. I know everybody was pushing for escalation. But it would seem that the Arab nations hate each other almost as much as they hate the Jews! Our own government, God bless them, apparently felt it better to only fight the fights they thought they could win, rather than the ones that needed fighting. Oh wait...oh, nevermind. I suppose the best we can hope for now is that a stray rock or perhaps a misconstrued glance at the wrong person will get the ball rolling again. Maybe even an ill willed comment about someones goat by one side or the other...wouldn't that be glorious?! Only time will tell, for now the word is: patience. Like the man said, "All we need is just a little patience".

Thank you, and good night.

That is all.

Friday, August 11, 2006

"Oh that...that's my Theme Music. Every good hero should have some!"

So anyway, I'm Baaaaack!!! I know not everyone's had a chance to weigh in on the last one, but I thought I'd go ahead and get the next one going anyway. So like I alluded to previously, here it is, plain and simple:

What are your top 10 favorite Themes ever?

Yes, I know, I'm still a bastard, perhaps becoming even more so with each new posting. Now in this case, I don't necessarily mean the Main Titles from the film. Just the (or just a) primary musical motif from the film. In some cases you may want to reference a specific cue or track from the CD to represent what you're really thinking (I know I will in a case or two). And again, you don't have to write an essay on each choice explaining it, but a little something for most of them might be nice. Character or event motifs really shouldn't count, but if you feel that strongly about one, then what the hell, by all means include it! And as Vogler demonstrated on the last posting, feel free to include runners-up or honorable mentions or what ever the hell you feel like calling them.

Oh, and don't set your phasers to kill on me yet, cuz if you hate me now, then my next post will make you want to pull my spine out through my asshole and parade me around like a friggin meat popsicle. So (once again) without further ado, I choices:

10. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (Michael Kamen) - To this day I still get a little excited when I hear those cellos start grinding away with that opening ostinato. Like most Mike Kamen scores, the film mix blows the CD mix out of the water, nearly to the point where it almost sounds like two different orchestras performing. The CD sounds like a 30-piece group performing in my bathroom. Regardless, it's still about as rousing as rousing gets.

9. Monsignor (John Williams) - Ok, so...obviously most you (or people in general, for that matter) will have absolutely no frame of reference for what I'm talking about here. Monsignor was this bad little film from 1982 starring Christopher Reeve (God bless) as an American priest reassigned to the Vatican just after WWII who gets involved with the mafia, a woman, and other shady affairs. The music has only been available on LP and as a bootleg doubled with The Missouri Breaks. Just take my word for it that it's stirringly gorgeous (way better than the film deserved).

8. The Last Starfighter (Craig Safan) - Yes kids, that The Last Starfighter. That silly little guilty pleasure from '84 with all the cheesy computer effects about the trailer park kid that gets recruited from playing an arcade game to become a space fighter pilot "defending the Frontier against Zur, and the Kodan Armada!". Despite it's goofy synth embellishments (cheesy fx/cheesy music), it's still a fantastic little piece of music. Just take my word for it, go get the CD (you can usually find it online).

7. Ghost in the Shell (Kenji Kawai) - Once again I wander into the valley of the unknown for most. There's something eerily brilliant about this theme (or the whole score for that matter - which is basically just variations on the theme). The Japanese do strange things with their scores (and pull it off quite successfully), things that most Western composers wouldn't even think of trying. The vocal effects are genius. The theme is simultaneously haunting, moving, and deafeningly shrill.

6. Sabrina (1995) (John Williams) - My predilection for that which is schmaltzy will not be denied. I'm sorry, say what you will, but I think that this may be one of the most beautiful things written for piano (I even like the film - whatever happened to Julia Ormond anyway?). Whenever I need a little light cheering up, I'll sit down at the piano and play through a little of it, works every time.

5. Signs (James Newton Howard) - What more can I say than what I mentioned on the last list. Never in their short history has the Academy been so very wrong. This theme is Hitchcockian in a way that even Hitchcock and Herrmann may never have dreamed of. A pristine example of sheer compositional brilliance.

4. Star Trek: The Motion Picture/Star Trek: First Contact (Jerry Goldsmith) - I just can't split these two up. I love Jerry's Star Trek theme, and I particularly love what he did with it in the Next Gen films. I can't think of a better way to capture the emotion and awe of a first meeting with an alien intelligence than he did with his First Contact theme. So here they are, together, at number 4.

3. Anvil of Crom (from Conan the Barbarian) (Basil Poledouris) - There's something about that many Horns blasting away like they do here that's almost boner inducing. I suppose it's safe to say that Basil is my 3rd favorite composer and this theme (the whole score for that matter) represents him at his absolute best. This is, in a word...Divine. If ever there was a score in dire need of a re-recording, I think Conan the Barbarian is it. It's funny, you combine two whole European orchestras together for your recording, you get perfection. Take one away, you get...well, Conan the Destroyer to be precise (yecch!).

2. Schindler's List (John Williams) - I'm sorry, but, I still get teary-eyed when I hear this. Where Star Trek: First Contact embodied wonder and awe, so does Schindler's List for the hauntingly tragic and hope within sadness. I can't help but think a piece of music like this was nothing if not a result of genuine Divine inspiration. This is truly God's music (regardless of which One represents you). I play this at the piano when I'm sad and want to stay that way (ok, well not always, but you get the idea).

1. Star Wars/Superman (John Williams) - Ok, so again, I just can't break these two up even though (unlike number 4) one has nothing to do with the other. With everything else prior on the list, what else could be number one? If either of these two themes don't stir some sort of excitement in you every time you hear're dead inside. I hear Superman, and I think "Superman - man of steel, man who can fly, leaps tall buildings, etc.". It makes me want to fly. And regardless of how jaded you were by the Prequel Trilogy, regardless of your thoughts on The Lord of the Rings, nothing in cinema for the remainder of time will ever have the impact musically that the music from Star Wars has on Western culture. I hear that opening Bb major blast on a big screen and I just about jump out of my seat with excitement. Regardless of the 60 or 70 some odd years of film music history that came before them, these two themes are, and likely will forever be, the quintessential examples of music for film. It just does...not...get...any...better...


1st Runner-Up:
The James Bond Theme (particularly as represented by "The Company Car" in Tomorrow Never Dies*) (Monty Norman/David Arnold*) - I know Jack and shit about jazz (and Jack just left), but this, to me, is fantastic. The theme embodies cool sophistication and what David Arnold did with it in the aforementioned cue was pure genius.

2nd Runner-Up
Hymn to Red October (Basil Poledouris) - Big chorus...singing in Russian...nuff said!

3rd Runner-Up:
The Raiders March (John Williams) - As far as pop culture is concerned, this may have about the same impact musically as Star Wars or Superman. I couldn't very well leave it forgotten.

4th Runner-Up:
The 13th Warrior (particularly as represented by the track "Old Baghdad") (Jerry Goldsmith) - Brad already said enough about the Horns in his last list, so I'll leave it at that!

5th Runner-Up:
Batman (Danny Elfman) - The dark, evil cousin to the Superman march is exciting, brooding and bombastic. I adore most of Elfman's superhero themes (what the hell, he's done about three-fourths of them anyway), and this one is still the best. Unfortunately, I adore my top 10 even more so. But I couldn't very well leave this unmentioned. It should be illegal somehow that he's not doing Spiderman 3.

Honorable Mentions:

Rudy (Jerry Goldsmith) - What was it about this story that must have touched Jerry so deeply as to write such a moving theme? If I'm not mistaken, this one had some of the orchestral members misty-eyed after playing it, yes?! It's easy to see picks at the heartstrings so very deeply.

The Imperial March (from The Empire Strikes Back) (John Williams) - One might argue that this is in fact the main theme of the film. In fact, I will, this is the Main Theme for The Empire Strikes Back. Sure, the main Main Theme is ever present, but given the context of the story, and the fact that this theme shows up more in this chapter than the other five combined, makes for a compelling argument that this is the central musical motif.

Lawrence of Arabia (Maurice Jarre) - You can blame Monsieur Jarre for setting the standard for which every desert or Arabic motif from nearly every film since is based. Unfortunately for everyone else...his is, and always will be the grandest. This theme is sweepingly epic like just about no other. Unfortunately for Jarre, this is one of his 3 scores that all of his other scores sound like. But it all basically started here.

Stargate (David Arnold) - Back to the desert, just on a different world. And it shows as Arnold's theme (and really entire score) are one of the few of this genre that don't sound like a Lawrence of Arabia rip-off. Oddly, I think it's a pretty safe statement to say that this is Arnold's best theme and score - helluva way to start seeing as how it was his first major one. If Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich really are going to do a second and third film as they've hinted at as of late, I hope they can bury the hatchet with Arnold and get him back to score them.

P.S. Once again, bonus points for the title...Name That Movie!!!

That is all.