Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ends and Odds

So anyway, I haven’t posted a helluva lot lately. Owing mostly to the fact that Ze Banc (Sieg Heil!!!) web-blocked my fucking blog!!! Why?! What could possibly be objectionable here in Pikey-space?! Hehehe - Anyway, I’ve already covered that, so let’s move on to other things. I’ve had a couple of smaller things on my mind, so I just thought I’d condense and share them all in one, neat, expletive-laden package.

So…what’s first. Let’s see – oh, caught Green Zone the other night. A few thoughts, firstly, who is this particular movie not for:

  1. If you’re favorite source of world news spawns from a place that rhymes with giant, throbbing COCKS, then this movie likely won’t be for you.
  2. If you in any way idolize George W. Bush, Dick (Satan) Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, or anyone else of their particular ilk, then this movie likely won’t be for you.
  3. If you think the Younited States of Mmerica was totally justified in goin’ over there and whoopin’ Saddamn Insane’s heathen fuck ass…then this movie…likely isn’t for you.

But, if you enjoyed the Bourne movies, and like a fantastic, modern warfare thriller that offers some interesting conjecture into the “what-if’s” of what actually happened when the “war” in Iraq started in 2003 (and you don’t mind a lot of shaky cinematography), then I can’t recommend it enough.

On a similar note – if I may offer a bit of advice to the esteemed Mr. Greengrass, please…for the love of DOG, buy a fucking steady-cam rig for your next movie! I appreciate the stylistic reasoning behind the whole “shaky-cam” thing, but really – this made Ultimatum’s action cinematography look like a trip through an automated car wash.

OK, so what else. Oh yeah…with all due respect to Team America, I think I really have seen everything. No…I still haven’t seen a man swallow his own head (but come on, when will anyone ever actually see that?), but I have seen a jive-talkin’, 70’s bad-ass, blaxploitation muthafucka have a nunchuk fight with Tricky Dick in the Oval Office! “What the…HUH?!?!”, I know you’re asking. Last night the missus and I rented and watched Black Dynamite, a blaxploitation comedy spoof from last year. Outta sight mutha fuckas, outta-fuckin’-sight!

What else?

We have a customer at the bank named Rex Martini.

That’s it. That’s the joke.

You want more…ok, fine. My initial thought upon learning that was something akin to, “Gee…anyone else think that sounds like the name of a forgotten, gay, 60’s playboy/superspy/pornstar?”

I’ve noticed my “readership” hasn’t’ posted their own responses to my last post yet. It’s okay, I don’t mind. Besides, like I already commented on that post, I’m giving everyone a little leeway on that one because, let’s face it, it’s going to take a fair amount of research to actually contribute to the post. I figure the three of you (that sounds a lot more pathetic when I “say it” out loud) are working on it and you’ll have your ideas out in cyberspace eventually.

A couple of CD gem’s as of late – both courtesy of the brilliant mind of the late Mr. Goldsmith. First we have Islands in the Stream from Film Score Monthly. What a gorgeous little score. I can’t presume to know why it was said to be Jerry’s favorite, but I can hazard a few guesses. Then there’s The Spiral Road from VareseSarabande’s “Soundtrack Club”. The score, from 1962, was sandwiched between Lonely Are the Brave, and Freud, and represents what is essentially his first foray into big, dark, sweeping drama. Stylistically, the three scores couldn’t be more different – a testament to what a master even young, 33-year-old Jerry Goldsmith was. Listening to the CD, if you didn’t know it was Jerry in 1962, you’d have a hard time guessing it. Great stuff. Ah crap, I just realized he wrote all three of these monumental scores at the same age as I am now. CRAP! I need to get busy, I really fuckin’ need to get busy!!!

I’m listening to Hans’ Hannibal score as I type this. It’s not having any kind of effect on my thoughts and whatnot, but I can’t help but notice that many of the cues sound like the Evil Stepmother of many of the ideas he would later have for The Ring and Batman Begins. Interesting…

I had to fill out our annual employee survey this morning. The usual bullshit, “Are you motivated to do your best for the bank?”, “Do you believe in the values the bank stands for?”, “Are you ‘customer focused’?”. Gaaaaah! Nonsense. And I know it’s largely ignored anyway – I talk to people from other shifts and other departments, they have the same complaints as I do. Yet, invariably, every year we get the same “Oh, we’re doing GREAT!!!” responses from HR. There was a comment section at the end. I pretty much let them have it in regards to our pay and benefits. I wasn’t rude, fowl, or disrespectful. But I was damned hostile! Eh…whatever, for what it’s worth I suppose. I guess maybe sometimes I let my overdeveloped sense of righteous indignation combined with my complete intolerance of and disgust towards the blissfully ignorant get the better of me.

I suppose I would’ve been less pissed and negative overall if it weren’t for the e-mail from the CEO a couple months ago. It basically told us that we should fight the Obama administration because the new banking laws they were trying to pass were out to destroy the banking industry.

What a crock of shit.

First of all – you guys didn’t take any of the TARP funds, you’re too fucking conservative to have needed them anyway. So these regulations weren’t really aimed at your little bank. Second, the proposed laws are aimed at the BIG banks (you know who you are), the ones that threw money around like it was sea-water. The ones giving billions in bonuses and salary to their executives, and lending thousands to every irresponsible jack-ass Tom, Dick, or Harry that could furnish a picture of themselves. The ones that have done everything in their power to fuck their customers out of every dime they have with their bullshit credit card policies. The ones that had a major fuck impact on the financial shitburger this country is in at the moment. Third, and this is the most important, KEEP YOUR FUCKING POLITICS TO YOUR GODDAMNED SELF! I don’t care what side of the fence you lean towards, an open letter to all of your fucking employees essentially telling them to tell the President of the United States to go fuck himself is unwanted, unnecessary, and completely uncalled for! It’s bad fucking form! Don’t go pushing your ideals on everyone (literally everyone) that works for you. As it so happens, I was doubly pissed because he was pushing his right-wing bullshit agenda on us. Fuck you, you lousy cocksucker…fuck you in your giant, overpaid, conservative ass.

Ok, I feel better now…the bad people in my head are gone.

Friday, March 05, 2010

That Special Something (or: Why Doth The Pikey Hate Us So?)

So anyway, a long time ago in some blog posts far, far away, we set about listing our top 10 (or so) favorite scores and favorite score cues. It was horrible, it was obscene, it was blasphemous, it was downright indecent…and a rather smashing good time I must say. At the time I had an idea for a follow-up, and life...being life and all, just sort of got in the way, and the idea went on a rather extended hibernation. Well, it’s back, and I’ve got some time to kill so I’m going to throw it out for one and all to chime in on. This one’s gonna require some serious thought, and a fair amount of research kids, so buckle up ‘cuz here’s what I’ve got in mind.

List, if you’d be so kind, your top ten (or so…again) favorite moments from your vast knowledge of film-score-dom. That is to say, think of your favorite 5 to 30-ish seconds (maybe a minute) from various cues that just really do it for ya! These are little moments, perhaps contained within your favorite cues – perhaps not, that really get the old stick at attention. OK, so that’s not entirely accurate – these don’t have to all be ginormous boner-fied musical moments. But rather, they’re snippets that have had an extreme emotional resonance with you and stuck with you over all others. Any kind of excess emotional response will do, be it extreme joy, sadness or anything in between. This connection can stem from just simply extraordinary composition or a combination of that aural element and its perfect marriage to the scene from whence it came. It’s your call, although more than likely the music as it aids the film will be a deciding factor…so hop to it. And, since it’s my idea and I’ll likely be branded some kind of wretched, evil, Nazi, sadist fuck bastard for even thinking of it…I’ll go first.

In no particular order:

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King –
Howard Shore – from “The Fellowship Reunited” (6:30 – 7:03 on The Complete Recordings): This scene is, for me, the high point of the entire trilogy, and it all culminates at one beautiful and spectacular moment. Sauron is no more, Aragorn has been crowned King of, well…everything, and as he walks out and greets his subjects, he comes upon his four Hobbit friends. You know the moment – the whole world knows the moment. He sees them, they start to bow, he stops them and says, “My friends…you bow to no one.” And at that moment, what is arguably the most stirring moment in the series (courtesy of the Shire theme as it comes sailing in) happens as the King and everyone within a half-kilometer radius bows down before these four little men. I’ve probably seen it 20 times and I still get misty.

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – John Williams – from “Sail Barge Assault” (5:25 to End on ’97 Special Ed. Release): Jabba the Hutt is toast, Han’s been rescued, the droids have been sucked out of the sand, and everyone’s ready to get the hell outta this godforsaken sand pit. Cue what is, for me, one of the most awesomely balls-out moments in the entire saga. It climaxes with a triumphant shot of the Millennium Falcon and Luke’s X-Wing breaking orbit and sailing off into the cosmos accompanied by an absolutely boner-inducing brass fanfare. Goddammit I love this part!!!

The Iron Giant – Michael Kamen – from “The Last Giant Piece” (Final :30 on OST): OK, so…the whole cue’s just over a minute anyway. But the last half is just so stupendously glorious! The film has just cut to the Arctic where we start following all the various bits of the Giant as they make they’re way to the beacon on his head. The last chord swells triumphantly as he opens his eyes revealing he’s alive and all will soon be well and a final stinger hits in the orchestra…”THE END”. The whole score was to my ears a (if not the) high point of Kamen’s output, and that last thirty seconds or so is some of the best writing he, or anyone else, has ever put in front of an orchestra.

Signs – James Newton Howard – from “The Hand of Fate, Pt I” (Final :50 of Track, OST): I firmly believe that this score, overall, is about as close to perfect as one could ever hope to achieve. The film climaxes with this scene and it all comes together with this particular moment. Gibson gets the boy outside, and Phoenix has been laying the smack down on the alien guy. He finally gets it over on its back and, from a point-of-view shot, a glass of water topples over on its face, killing it. All to the tune of one of the greatest orchestral climaxes ever put to film.

Stargate – David Arnold – from “The Other Side” (appx. Final :30 of Track, Special Ed.): I still say Stargate is Arnold’s best work. Here, one of my favorite pieces ever comes after the team arrives on the alien world. Daniel Jackson and Col. O’Neil are out in the sand, they turn around and…BLAM! It’s an Egyptian pyramid…on an alien world…accompanied by some of the most glorious, nutsack-rattling orchestra and chorus ever.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier – Jerry Goldsmith – from “A Busy Man” (3:32 – 3:52, OST): OK, so I’m sure you’re thinking, “Of all the damned Trek films…you pick this one?! REALLY?!?!” Yes, really! There’s this great little moment towards the end of the cue/scene, you have all this heavenly music swirling, Kirk and Co. are on the planet trying to find “God”, everyone on the Enterprise is awestruck (save the ever-vigilant Scotty, who’s trying his damnedest to get shit fixed). Then you cut to a monitoring screen, to which nobody notices that the scanners have picked up a Bird of Prey on an intercept course and cloaking. And behind it, perfectly matched to the rest of the underscore, Jerry’s “Klingon Theme” has the most subtle and wonderful entrance. It’s a rather inspired moment in what is otherwise a giant, coughed-up, hairball of sci-fi.

Braveheart – James Horner – from “Bannockburn” (6:05 – 6:21, OST) – Wallace is dead, the Scottish army is on the field at Bannockburn to accept an English truce…then, they basically just say, “Fuck this shit!” Hamish (Brendan Gleeson) throws down the proverbial gauntlet (by way of chucking Wallace’s sword into the battlefield), and then there’s this tremendous orchestral swell climaxing in one of the most well-placed cymbal crashes ever as Robert the Bruce draws his sword. And there’s that look! He has that awesome look on his face that just says, “I’m gonna stick this thing so far up your ass, your brain will feel the tip!!!” It’s spectacular!

Jurassic ParkJohn Williams – from “Journey to the Island” (5:05 – 6:15, OST): This is one of those great movie-going moments that I’ll likely remember for the rest of my life. And it’s because of one specific spot. Spielberg did at that moment what no other filmmaker had achieved and that was to make us, the audience, believe that that goddamned computerized dinosaur was real! It worked…that brachiosaur stepped onto screen, and we were all just as awestruck as the people in the film. And it was done, in no small part, thanks to the sweeping majesty of Williams’ Main Theme entering at that precise moment.

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within – Elliot Goldenthal – from “Adagio and Transfiguration (2:33 – 3:33, OST): I love this score. How can anyone not love this score. The fact that Goldenthal doesn’t have an Oscar for this score is a crime worthy of the Nuremburg trials. You might have noticed a pattern that my favorite bits tend to be from sections that really grab you by the nuts and squeeze…and this is no exception. The final moments of the cue as Alec Baldwin’s “spirit” is carried off into the…wherever…and all is made right with the world are accompanied by this window rattling orchestral swell. And it’s marvelous. And then, we cut to the “spirit” thingy shooting off into the cosmos with this perfect, somber solo trumpet that hits every note perfectly (no pun intended).

Star Trek: First Contact – Jerry Goldsmith – from “First Contact” (3:01 – 3:37, OST): What kind of half-assed, no account Star Wars fan am I that I only have one SW cue on here but two from Star Trek. Eh…whatever. This one actually breaks down into two separate moments for me. The first being that grand statement of the Main Theme as Cochrane let’s go of Lily’s hand so he can go greet their new guests. It’s quite awe inspiring and wondermous. It’s followed shortly thereafter by that amazing climax up to the cymbal crash as the alien throws off his hood, then low and behold…VULCANS!!! FUCKING AWESOME BABY!!! Two teary-eyed, inspirational moments within a minute of each other on the same cue!

Honorable Mentions

Raiders of the Lost Ark
John Williams – from “The Maproom”: That BIG crescendo as the sun comes up behind Indy and then the talisman fires off into the model…glorious…abso-fuckin-lutely breathtaking moment.

Con Air – Mark Mancina/Trevor Rabin – from “Battle in the Boneyard” (3:34 – 3:56, OST): I love a good, over-zealous, heroic fanfare accompanied by a wailing electric guitar! And this one, as Poe jumps into the thick of the shit, is just fucking spectacular!

The Prince of EgyptHans Zimmer – from “Red Sea”: Such a powerful moment, both on film and musically, as the waters of the Red Sea go soaring into the air. You had to know that any composer scoring this scene would’ve pulled out all the stops for this moment, and ol’ Hans did it quite inspirationally.

Feel free to start sending the hate mail and death threats now.