Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Oh For Christ's Sake...Another Goddamned List?! Enough Already!!!

So anyway, the missus and I had an interesting (well, to me anyway) conversation the other day. We were arguing about what to watch on TV. Well, not so much arguing as debating…vigorously. We have upwards of 700+ DVD’s in our collection and sometimes picking one is…difficult. Sam argued that we have way too many movies and we’ve probably only watched most of them once or twice. I countered that I had likely watched all of the movies in our collection that I actually like at least three or more times. That’s when it dawned on the both of us that A: we actually have a much more differing taste in movies than we ever thought, and B: after almost 14 years together, neither of us really has a good inkling of what the other’s absolute favorite movies even are.

I know what kinds of movies I like. And I know what kinds of movies she likes. I’ve commented before that my absolute favorite movie is The Empire Strikes Back while Schindler’s List is the best film I’ve ever seen. I already made my personal distinctions between movies and films in a previous post – I’m not going to get into it again here except to say that I do consider Empire a film as well (it also has that fun popcorn quality that let’s me justify calling it a mere “movie” too). I have no earthly idea what my wife’s favorite movie ever is. That might seem shocking if not for the fact that I doubt she has a fucking clue what it is either! Sam is a girl out of time. If she had her druthers (whatever the fuck a druther is?) I would imagine she would be most at home living either in the aristocracy of Victorian England, or as a one of the Ingalls’ children in that Little House out on that fucking prairie. I know she lives for Jane Austen and the sisters Bronte. If I were to hazard a guess, I’d wager that Sense and Sensibility is her favorite movie (the one with Keira Knightly). But who’s to say for sure when even she doesn’t fucking know!!!

So here I am…again. Back to plague you guys with another list (go ahead – start cursing my name and whatever else about me you want to insult…I’ll wait). Done? Good…let’s continue. This all made me curious as to just what were my favorite movies. I’ve always had an inkling of an idea – I’d just never put any kind of organization to it before. If I had to pare down my video store of a DVD collection to a select few, say 10 or a little more, what would they be? So, after some extended reflection, here it is…my favorite movies…ever. The ones I don’t think I’d ever like to be without. The “deserted island” list, if you will. These are the movies that, should I encounter them randomly on television, I’ll stop whatever I’m doing and watch them, regardless of where they are in the film. I’m sure you’ve already uttered several insulting iterations of fuck towards me, and my family…and my entire lineage for that matter, because of this. But please, don’t feel obligated to come up with your own list this time (unless you just really want to), I’m just doing this for me really. I’ll include the film, the year it came out, the director and primary cast members – just in case you aren’t familiar or whatever. So…in no particular order:

The Empire Strikes Back(1980; dir. Irvin Kershner; Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher; composer – John Williams)

I’d be remiss if I didn’t include the composers of said films in this list. After all what kind of film music nut/second-rate third-rate wannabe film composer do you take me for? So…yeah, Empire. What’s to be said about this that hasn’t been already? It’s arguably the finest sequel/second act ever produced – in any medium. It’s possible there’s just too much to love in this film.

Schindler’s List(1993; dir. Steven Spielberg; Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley; composer – John Williams)

I’m of the opinion that this is arguably the most well-crafted, haunting film ever made. That’s just my opinion, I could be wrong. I saw this in the theater twice. Both viewings left me shaken (and bawling like a wee girl). And I honestly felt like something had been stirred in my soul. If that’s melodramatic, well…sorry, it is what it is and that’s just how I feel about it. It still makes me cry to watch, especially the last 10 minutes or so. And the music (particularly the main theme) is one of the few pieces I’ve ever heard to illicit a tearful emotional response from me. Don’t know if that means anything to anyone else, but to me it’s a lot.

Moonstruck(1987; dir. Norman Jewison; Cher, Nicolas Cage, Olympia Dukakis; composer/arranger – Dick Hyman…that has to be the most awesome unintentionally filthy name ever!)

Don’t know if you’ve ever seen this little gem of a film. If not – you owe it to yourself to watch it as soon as humanly possible. It’s not a drama, it’s not a romantic comedy, it’s…Moonstruck. It’s a singular entity that stands out from any other film ever made. It was nominated for six Oscars, winning three (Best Screenplay, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress). I’ve never seen a movie with more charm or character – and some of the most memorable dialogue ever put to paper or film.

Sneakers(1992; dir. Phil Alden Robinson; Robert Redford, Sydney Poitier, Ben Kingsley, Mary McDonnell, Dan Aykroyd, River Phoenix, David Strathairn; composer – James Horner)

You’ll note I put the entire main cast above. And with good reason – this is one of the best ensemble movies ever. It wouldn’t be even half as wonderful should any one of those actors not be in it. Everyone in it is (was) top notch, and the combination of talent plus direction, screenplay, story, etc. makes this one of the most memorable heist/caper/whatever flicks ever.

The Shawshank Redemption(1994; dir. Frank Darabont; Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman; composer – Thomas Newman)

Fucking Forrest Gump!!! Don’t get me wrong, that was also a fantastic picture. Hell, 1994 was a great year for movies period. Had it not been for Forrest Gump however, I think the acclaim for Shawshank would have been much greater. I love a good, long, methodically paced, well-acted, well-shot, well-written, character-driven drama – and Shawshank is the poster-child for all of that. Despite that it’s often bleak and dreary, it’s also just a beautiful film throughout.

Conan the Barbarian(1982; dir. John Milius; Arnold Schwarzenegger; James Earl Jones, Mako, Sandhal Bergman, Gerry Lopez; composer – Basil Poledouris)

Conan shares a similar infamy as A New Hope in that it was the film that was responsible for an onslaught of cheap, half-assed imitators for several years after its initial release. By most people’s standards, I suppose Conan itself is a cheap, half-assed attempt at film-making, dismissed by many as substandard. For me it’s a total delight – a jewel, rough around the edges perhaps, but priceless just the same. Like with Sneakers, I included the supporting cast above as they all make the movie better - greater than what it could have (should have?) been.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962; dir. David Lean; Peter O’Toole, Omar Sharif, Alec Guiness; composer – Maurice Jarre)

I haven’t really looked into it, but I wonder if David Lean ever made a picture that was less than 3-and-a-half hours! A director known for making epic films, this was arguably his masterpiece, and most epic of all. T.E. Lawrence was a pompous, arrogant, egotistical, self-serving, showboat of a man. But there’s still something very special about this film, showcasing the finest hours of his life.

Operation Petticoat(1959; dir. Blake Edwards; Cary Grant, Tony Curtis; composer – Davie Rose [Henry Mancini – uncredited])

Yes – the pink submarine movie. Of all the fantastic war films ever made – I fall in love with the one that’s actually a screw-ball comedy. Honestly, I’ll watch just about anything with Cary Grant. I’d have to say that he’s likely my favorite actor and one of the greatest and most under-appreciated in all of Hollywood history. And I’m comfortable enough with my heterosexuality to admit that I may have a small man-crush on the guy – I’m cool with it. Yes…I know…he’s dead! But he’s just so cool, and suave, and sophisticated. Anyway…I actually didn’t even realize until a few years ago that this was a Blake Edwards film. I don’t know why, I just find that odd somehow. Again, if you’ve never watched it, you really should. It’s the very definition of fun little movie.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly(1966; dir. Sergio Leone; Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef; composer – Ennio Morricone)

I know Westerns aren’t exactly everybody’s cup of Joe. But this movie is more than just any Western. It’s the great Western – the masterwork. It transcends the genre really. It’s master storytelling at its finest, regardless of genre. And ol’ Clint is the emperor of bad-assery (sorry Sam Jackson, he’s even got you beat)!

The 13th Warrior(1999; dir. John McTiernan; Antonio Banderas, Omar Sharif, Dennis Storhøi; composer – Jerry Goldsmith)

Dennis Storhøi…where the fuck are you?!?! Seriously, this guy made this movie. If ever there was a European actor in desperate need of a big, Hollywood break-out, it’s him. I suppose we’ll just have to settle for his turn in the upcoming prequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing (another film, btw, that I probably should have on this list, but will have to settle for runner-up status). For all intents and purposes, this movie should have been an unrivaled disaster. I suppose if one were to take its initial reception combined with box office results into consideration, it still could be. Luckily, it has a rather highly-regarded cult following – and rightly so. It’s just all kinds of big, stupid fun. The production was a mess; Crichton had to step in as director and editor to reshoot and recut quite a bit. And why not – it was his own material; he should know it better than anyone. Add to it that it also has one of the most awesome scores of Goldsmith’s entire career behind it, and everything sorta just fell into place. Lucky us.

Kingdom of Heaven (director’s cut)(2005; dir. Ridley Scott; Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson, David Thewlis, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Eva Green; composer – Harry Gregson-Williams)

ATTENTION MOVIE STUDIO EXECUTIVE TYPE PEOPLE: When you’ve got a world-class director making a big-budget, period epic – let him do whatever the fuck he wants with it!!! Don’t try to whittle it down into something it’s not – like a 2-hour summer popcorn action flick. You’re just fucking up a good, or in the case of this film, AMAZING thing. Like most of you I would imagine, I watched the studio cut of Kingdom of Heaven and kinda went, “eh, ok…”. I know I’m not even remotely fucking alone when, after viewing it, I couldn’t help but feel like it was missing something – a whole fuckin’ bunch-o-something to the tune of nearly 50 minutes of footage to be precise. I really hope Tom Rothman, CEO of 20th Century Fox, felt like a total ass-hat after his cut of KoH bombed fantastically when it was released in May of 2005. And even more so after Scott was given the greenlight to recut it to his specs, and release it in limited theatrical runs and then DVD to excess lauding and applause. What should’ve been a serious Best Picture Oscar contender from Fall 2005 ended up a hacked-up mess. Luckily, we’ve all got the real film to enjoy whenever we want. Sure, the historical accuracy may be a tad, erm…flibberty-gibbertied, but what the hell – this is one awesome, spectacle of a film!


WALL-E(2008; dir. Andrew Stanton; composer – Thomas Newman)

Okay, so – once again, Pixar proved it could do no wrong. Even on a bad day, their least liked film (ahem...Cars) was at least entertaining and very well made. If it hadn’t been for a clusterfucked wave of “Curry Fever” overcoming Hollywood in 2008 (thanks to a silly little Bollywood-wannabe), this little gem might have been the first animated film to win Best Picture. And deservedly so. As it is, Disney didn’t even bother to make a push to even get it in the category – which is a shame because that goofy little robot was something downright magical.

The Dark Knight(2008; dir. Christopher Nolan; Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman; composers – Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard)

The other victim of the Slumdog hype machine, TDK offered the most gritty, dark, realistic, intense takes on Batman ever. Not to mention it was brilliantly executed in just about every conceivable way – and hands down the true best non-animated film from that year. And naturally, it got snubbed all to hell during awards season – save Heath Ledger’s overwhelmingly deserved posthumous Best Supporting Oscar. My initial reaction to it had me placing it even with, if not above my love for The Empire Strikes Back. Time has allowed me to be a bit more subjective. And while I still acknowledge that it’s a masterpiece of filmmaking, I too acknowledge that, as evident from above, there are at least 11 other movies I hold in higher regard overall.

Unbreakable(2000; dir. M. Night Shyamalan; Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson; composer – James Newton Howard)

Say what you will about all of M. Night’s other films, I believe Unbreakable is his finest work. Signs may have the honor of having one of the best compositional achievements in film from the last 30 or so years, but everything else about Unbreakable is better. If he’s serious about making a sequel, he really needs to get on it right away before the last few grams of mojo he has are gone for good. The whole Unbreakable universe just screams “FRANCHISE!!!” I actually have enjoyed all of MNS’s films (even The Happening), but I can kind of understand why a lot of the viewing public has turned against him over the last few. I’m not one to go so far as some and say that he’s raped my eyeballs with his “shitty” filmmaking. But I do see how each film since Unbreakable has become less and less accessible to the movie-going public.

My Fair Lady(1964; dir. George Cukor; Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison; composers – Frederick Lowe & Alan Jay Lerner and Andre Previn)

Yeah, that’s right fuckers…I’ve got a fucking musical on my list! A lot of people these days balk at the fact that MFL received the Best Picture Oscar. I’m of the opinion that it 110% deserved every accolade it received. And absolutely none of my opinion is based on the fact that I will forever be totally head-over-heels in love with Audrey Hepburn. I repeat…none of my opinion of this film is based on that. None. Nada. No. Zilch. Zip. Zero. Uh-Uh. No Way, Jose. Okay, maybe a little. Still, it is a great movie, with enough memorable songs and set-pieces for any other two musicals.

Fight Club(1999; dir. David Fincher; Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham-Carter; composers – The Dust Brothers)

I was really conflicted as to whether or not put this one in my main list. In the end though, I suppose a runner-up status is a fair shake. I can’t put my finger on what it is about this film, whether it’s the story, the cinematography, the editing, the performances – ah hell, it’s probably a combination of all of it, but I just love this movie. Too bad it didn’t get a better reception during its initial release because it’s an honest-to-goodness modern classic. And then there’s that twist that rivals the best of ‘em (I’m lookin’ at you Sixth Sense) – well, I didn’t see it coming anyway…at least not in the first viewing. All the clues are there in the opening minute if you’re a better problem solver than I am. This movie just speaks to me (as the bullshit artsy-fartsy sect of the human race would put it). I dunno, maybe it’s just a wonderful outlet for my inner non-conformist, anti-social anarchist that’s been dying to get out all these years.

Blazing Saddles – (1974; dir. Mel Brooks; Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Harvey Korman, Mel Brooks, Madeline Kahn; composer – John Morris)

It’s almost disheartening that in our modern, stuck up, over Politically Correct-ified world a film like this being made today would cause a complete and total riotous uproar. I don’t care if it was written by black people, directed by a black person, starring nothing but an all-black cast, filmed by an all-black pre-through-post production crew, and funded by the NAACP, the I Have A Dream Foundation, the Black Panthers, and the United Negro College Fund – making this film today would be nothing short of scandalous. And that’s a shame – no – a crime really. This is the comedy of comedies. It is the highest standard of funny by which all comedies should ever hope to obtain. And even after the umpteenth viewing, it’s still the funniest goddamned thing I have ever seen (with Airplane! a close fucking second).

So…there it is – a semi-detailed look into my movie happy place. Do your eyes hurt? My eyes hurt. And my fingers…and my head. I may have gone a tad overboard on this one. I guess what may be most revealing is what isn’t on the list. No Star Trek. No Lord of the Rings. No Godfather. No James Cameron, or Tim Burton, or Stanley Kubrick, or Dick Donner. I admit it – in some cases at least, I like some weird shit. Well, hope you suffered through reading that as much as I suffered through writing it. If you want to contribute your own list, well…good luck fuckers!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


So anyway, they say things come in three’s: deaths, events – both good and bad, etc. Well as luck would have it – we at the Shehan household are two for three. On Monday, we found out our home loan was going through – so the little lady and I it seems have our first house. Yay! Took fucking long enough! I've already made my spiel about the terrors of securing a home loan, so I won’t go into that again. Let’s just say a giant frakkin’ weight, the size of oh I dunno, say…ME…has been lifted off our chests. And good riddance too…can’t have anything damaging such a lovely thing as my chest (you thought I was going to say something to disgust you, you know, T.M.I about my wife’s T.I.T.’s, didn't you? Didn't YOU?! Admit it…CONFESS I SAY!!!“There’s a shortage of perfect breasts in the world, t’would be a pity to lose a pair such as yours!”).

My wife’s boss is a snotty bitch. No really, she’s temperamental, and crabby, and unsociable in the worst way. She’s always chastising my wife for this, that and the other, and for no damned good reason. She’s rude, hateful, condescending, and seems to go through life with something terribly uncomfortable permanently lodged up her ass. In short, she has no business being in charge of grass, let alone other people. My wife’s a fucking hard worker. She busts her petite little butt – she’s a perfectionist (at work, don’t get me started about home), and she won’t settle for anything less than the best. She has OCD, so that plays into it, but in the end it works out for her. And try as she may, she just can’t please this cunt. Yes…I used the C-word (“Did you just say the F-Word?” “What…Jew?!”). Today is Sam’s first day back at work from maternity leave (awww…), and wouldn't you know it – she just found out the bitch is quitting a week from Friday [cue elating music]. Seems poor miss thing just doesn't like city life and is resigning to the quiet charms of…Springfield?! Wait…what?!?! Lady, what the fuck are you thinking?! Oh, well considering the source, I’d say she isn't. I told you she was weird – okay so I didn't use the word weird, but whatever, you get the gist.

So, I’m thinking I've got one more bit of good luck coming my way. What do you fine folks think. I’m wondering if I should start a poll or something. You know…vote for what would be the ideal bit of good news. I’m voting for threesome (with another fucking woman of course – another dude is just 31 flavors of wrong, and besides, two dudes and a girl is a gang-bang, not a threesome – if you really want to know why, I’ll explain it in a comment). Hey, threesome…three, that’s poetic somehow! Yeah, I know…in my dreams, but what the fuck right…as long as I’m dreaming? I suppose for the moment I’ll just settle for a free CD or something. A guy can always use new, free shit!

Seriously, what do you think…pushing my luck?

BTW...this is my third post in less than a week. Coincidence? We may never know...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Best of the Best of the Best...Mam! See How I Changed That Just A Little And Called It Original?! See How I Did That?!

So anyway, I've taken on the task of answering the James Horner portion of Reed’s question posed on Brad’s facebook page the other day. If you need a refresher (and after Brad’s ginormous fucking post on Jerry Goldsmith, you really shouldn't you no-short-term-memory-bastard), the question was:

“A question for those concerned: what, in your opinion, is Goldsmith’s best Fantasy score? What is his best sci-fi score? What is his best score not in those two genres? Same question for James Horner? Same question for one film composer of your choosing.”

Before I begin, I think some clear definitions are in order. A problem arises with how we all define the genres of Fantasy and Sci-Fi. This was touched on in Brad’s post, and I’d like to expand upon it here. I divide Fantasy into pure fantasy, and quasi-real fantasy. For me, a broad definition of pure fantasy is a story contained in its own world, during its own undefined time, where our understanding of both the laws of physics, nature, and general reality don’t necessarily apply. In film, this would include the likes of Krull, Willow, Dragonslayer, and most especially The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. A common element amongst all of these films is the use of magic. I exclude films like the Harry Potter films because, while they include magic, they exist in our world, specifically, in 21st Century England. Harry Potter I feel falls into the quasi-real fantasy category. I realize that you may not share these ideas, but my blog, my rules [gives reader raspberries].

And then a new problem arises. Limiting the discussion to the realm of pure fantasy inhibits the discussion. Why? Because you can take every A-list composer since the beginning of cinema, and count on one hand the number of films they scored that fall into pure fantasy. I think to be fair you have to include both categories. But then…where do you draw the line. Because it takes place in the real world, but bends our conceptions of physics and nature, does a film like The Rocketeer fall into the category of quasi-real fantasy? Or is it Science Fiction? I’m not even going to try to define Sci-Fi. I’d have better luck getting Katy Perry and Megan Fox to take turns going Ass-to-Mouth with my cock then I would coming up with an all-encompassing definition of Sci-Fi. Let’s just say that I consider The Rocketeer Sci-Fi because of how its story centers on an improbable, but not impossible piece of technology. That, I think, will be my foundation for Sci-Fi in this context.

I should also note that a somewhat humorous discussion came up with Brad’s post. He originally included the film Capricorn One as a stand-out example of Goldsmith’s sci-fi composing until I pointed out that Capricorn One isn't a sci-fi film. Why not? Because it’s a conspiracy thriller. A conspiracy thriller with an ever so slight Sci-Fi bent, but a conspiracy thriller nonetheless. For those that don’t know, Capricorn One is about a faked Mars landing (building itself around all the fake moon landing conspiracies since the Apollo missions) and what happens when the government tries to cover up the project and eliminate everyone involved. So for future reference, films like Capricorn Onenot Sci-Fi! That’s why it’s not in his post anymore!

…and with all that out of the way – on with the show…

Discussing the best of James Horner is considerably simpler than Jerry Goldsmith if for no other reason than because his career has been half as long. It’s not necessary to divide Horner’s career into time periods because he’s really only had two, the 80’s…and everything after. For the purposes of this post, I’ll do my best to avoid digging into a lot of the negativity surrounding his infamous proclivities in his writing style. Those are matters of personal taste and not really germane to this post. If you’re one to hold those things against him – you probably shouldn't be reading this anyway.

Finding Horner’s best Fantasy score is actually quite simple; you literally can count on one hand how many Fantasy films he’s composed for. There are five. Just five. Of those, two are pure fantasy, three qualify as quasi-real fantasy. And the obvious choice is, well…obvious. Krull. Talk about a classic case of blowing your creative load early! It could be argued that Basil Poledouris had the same problem with Conan the Barbarian. It’s a fair argument that Krull is not only Horner’s best Fantasy score, but perhaps one of the (if not the) greatest achievements of his career. If you’re wondering, the other pure fantasy score was Willow. The other three would be Field of Dreams, Jumanji, and Casper. These latter three, all good scores in their own right, I think certainly qualify as quasi-real fantasy – you've got: The ghosts of the Chicago eight showing up in an Iowa corn farmers field to play baseball, and find redemption; A board game that brings the wilds of its surreal jungle to life as you play; and a love story between a young girl and a ghost who lives in the house that her father has just inherited. All of them taking place in the modern world with fantastical elements. One could make an argument in favor of Willow’s superiority over Krull I suppose. You can certainly hear the maturity in writing that developed in the five short years between it and Krull. But you can also hear the obvious beginnings of Horner’s penchant for self-plagiary.

His contributions to Sci-Fi film music are a little bit harder to sift through – but not much. For those who are interested, here’s a list of Horner’s complete Sci-Fi output, in chronological order (beginning with his first “larger budget” feature):

Battle Beyond the Stars, Star Trek II, Brainstorm, Star Trek III, Cocoon, Aliens, *Batteries Not Included, Cocoon II, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, The Rocketeer, Deep Impact, and Avatar.

Not a bad resume of Sci-Fi really. I was really surprised how few there actually were. As I researched his filmography, it struck me how many dramas, action films, and epics (modern and historical) he’s done. Of the twelve scores on that list, I realized I have eleven. I never picked up Deep Impact, it was a little too Horner-y (read: lazy) for me. If I were to pick a favorite from that list, it would have to come down to either one of the Star Trek films or Aliens. Don’t ask me to pick just one; I don’t think I could do it. The score for Star Trek II has been argued as being the best of the entire film series – and for good reason. Aside from brilliant writing, it single-handedly changed the tone of the entire Star Trek musical universe going forward. I've always had a soft spot for III, why I don’t know – there’s just something about it that always stood out for me. Aliens is notable not only for its brilliant combination of atmospheric horror and kinetic action scoring, but also the speed in which such an inspired score was produced. There’s an interesting divergence that happens with The Rocketeer. The Rocketeer was 1991, after which, Horner (with the two listed exceptions) completely stayed away from Science Fiction. Brad also made a fascinating observation to me the other day that The Rocketeer was also the last time Horner wrote a truly large, orchestral, original, non-gimmicky, non-ethnic, non-epic score. Maybe that’s why it’s one of my favorites of his – regardless of genre.

If you want to know a lot about James Horner the composer, you’d do well to concentrate on his 1980’s output. Beginning with Battle Beyond the Stars going all the way to The Rocketeer, the 80’s represents a truly masterful period of Horner’s compositional and creative output. That’s not to say that anything he did post 1991 wasn't good, even damned good – hell, brilliant even. But there’s something so…new and fresh about 1980’s James Horner. The scores to Apollo 13, Braveheart, Titanic, Avatar, Legends of the Fall, the Zorro films – are all excellent, and highly entertaining. They’re true highlights of his output in the last 20 years and deserving of whatever accolades one sees fit to apply to them. But I think they lack that certain something, that spark that came with the best of what Horner gave us in the 80’s. Amongst the films I've already listed, we also have Glory, The Land Before Time, An American Tale, Red Heat, Commando, 48 hrs., Where the River Runs Black, The Journey of Natty Gann, Uncommon Valor, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and In the Name of the Rose. Of course in between those, you also have films like Streets of Fire, Gorky Park, Wolfen, and even a little “gem” called Barbarian Queen (good luck finding that one).

Maybe I’m just waxing nostalgically because I grew up with so many of these films – they’re important to me. Maybe I’m just struggling because I haven’t written “fuck” since the beginning of this post. I’m having “fuck” withdrawal – it starts with the shakes, followed by profuse sweating, and then paranoia. Eventually sufferers de-evolve into a primitive state, flinging their poo at people and masturbating uncontrollably. So...par for the course for me. Who knows?! At any rate, I hope this helps, sorry if it dragged on a paragraph or twelve too long!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pikey-o, Pikey-o...Where Fuck You Been Pikey-o?!

So anyway, did I mention I had another kid? I didn't? Really?! Wow…I must’ve really spaced out there. Damn, what was I thinking? I don’t know how I could’ve forgotten that, what with the crying, and screaming, and feeding, and sleepless nights, and hundreds upon hundreds of rotten, awful, filthy, shitty diapers. And that was just me – don’t even get me started on the baby (wocka, wocka). OK, well…here he is, EvilMonkey2.0:

Weird how much he looks like EvilMonkey1.0. And yet not. I realized the other day that he has a striking resemblance to my grandmother. I don’t think my mom liked that idea so much…eh, what’re you gonna do? The kid has one mood – hungry. If he’s awake, he’s hungry. And if he’s hungry, and we’re not feeding him – BABY SMASH!!! Brad had the brilliant idea that we nickname him Ike, so the brothers can be Mike and Ike. Didn't go over so well with Mommy or Grandma. I liked it. But what do I know?

So when were we here in Pikey-verse last? April. Huh…imagine that. Well, to my loyal readers (all three of you)…sorry. I offer my most humble and sincere apologies. I have no excuse except to say…I been fuckin’ busy, yo! Let’s see…covered the whole “baby” thing, right. Then what else, um…oh, I’m buying a house. Yeah…that’s, uhh…that’s been fun. I know Reed’s been down this road, but for those that haven’t – caveat fucking emptor my friends. If the urge ever strikes you to enter the realm of property ownership, my first piece of advice would be…don’t! Don’t do it. It’s so not worth it. But since “it is inevitabur”, my second bit of advice is this: have every…single…solitary…FUCKING piece of information about you, regardless of how trivial or insignificant it may seem, ready and at hand to give to your lender. Fuck it, get blood samples, saliva swabs, stool, urine, semen (or Pap Smears for the ladies?), hell…have your entire fucking genetic code charted out ahead of time. Just on the off chance that your lender comes back and says, “Hey…could we get this from you?!” And they will…oh yes, they will. They aren't loan officers, THEY. ARE. THE. DEVIL!!!

I've come to the conclusion that a significant portion of the American populace is stark fucking mad! You’d have to be to want to subject yourself to this! And there are a lot of fucking home owners out there. So, by that logic – lots and lots of crazy people. Hey, I should fit right in then!

The soundtrack labels really need to lay off the new fucking releases already. Seriously folks – I’m trying to buy a goddamned house here…I don’t need the extra debt. Seriously, I haven’t fucked my wife in about four months (give or take a few weeks) – now I know that technically that has nothing to do with film music. I only bring it up because if I ever have any hope of doing it ever again – you fucking soundtrack labels need to quit putting out shit I want to buy!!! Ahem…anyway, where were we? I hope any of you that missed Varese’s release of Predator a few years ago jumped on the Intrada re-release. If not, tough shit – that thing was apparently gone (all 3000 of ‘em) in less than 21 hours! Same thing just happened with SpaceCamp. I already had that actually. It was released as a limited 1000 edition pressing in Japan about 20 years ago. I picked one up on Ebay about six or seven years ago for oh, I don’t remember - around $175 I think. Don’t look at me like that…I needed it. It was important. Funny part is, I haven’t even opened it. It was still sealed up in its original plastic wrap. So now that I’ve got the Intrada release from Monday, I can finally listen to it!!! Only took a few years – I’m patient.

Don’t get me started on that Spartacus monstrosity of a thing from Varese. I want that one with a passion – but I’m not that crazy. I did pick up Batman, I’ll throw a comment onto Brad’s post about that here eventually. I’m really hoping to get Krull before they’re gone. I have the SuperCollector 2-Disc from the 90’s (and despite what SoundtrackCollector.com says, it’s not a bootleg) – the LaLaLand set is basically the same thing – only it sounds crazy better! Perseverance is currently doing a digital restoration on the extended LP of Ennio Morricone’s Red Sonja. When it does finally come out – I can’t recommend it enough – there are some truly great moments in there. It’s an excellent companion to Conan the Barbarian (much better than Conan the Destroyer, blasphemous as that sounds). If you don’t have Conan…shame on you.

Tadlow produced a complete re-recording of Maurice Jarre’s Lawrence of Arabia. If you’re at all serious about film music, regardless of your thoughts on Jarre (“I like the French, but they can be a little French”), you really need to get this set. It not only has the complete score re-recorded, but a second disc full of suites and cues from a shit load of scores of his that have never been released, like Firefox and Enemy Mine just to name a few. Good Stuff.

I know there’s a lot of shit going on in the world right now that could use some classic Pikey commentary. Frankly, I don’t have the time or energy right now. I've got a giant shitburger of my own to deal with at the moment to get too fired up about oil spills; and illegal immigrants; and repealing constitutional amendments about said immigrants; and the constitutionality of gay marriage in Kahlifohrnja; and where one should and shouldn’t build Mosques that aren’t actually going to be Mosques; and psychotic, right-wing, racist, über-bitches going nuts and revealing their true nature on the airwaves. OK – well I will say it’s about time that freaky bitch was pulled off the radio…it’s only 29 years too late. Now if someone would only do something about that Ann Coulter cunt. Ooh, did I just say that?

Yes…yes I think I did.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

What's in a Name? Hey, What's in Those Brownies?!

So anyway, I know I don’t get a lot of posting done these days. But every once in a while something comes my way that just…compels me to just cast it out and see what bites. In this case I direct you to this story. Go ahead, look it over…I’ll wait…

Done?! OK, let’s continue then. With the baby due in July, and having already picked out a relatively traditional, if not really fucking old name for him (Isaac Connor), I can’t help but look at a list like that and be completely and totally dumbfounded! If I were to draw an immediate conclusion, it’s that perhaps it’s not necessarily a good thing to be a wealthy celebrity. Why…?

…Because it makes you FUCKING CRAZY!!!!!

Seriously, are the drugs that much better when you’re rich and famous? Or does Hollywood really exist on a totally different plane of reality?! I don’t know about you, but generally speaking, the end of my intoxication rainbow usually involves an occasional carisoprodol or hydrocodone for a bad-back day. Seriously…that’s it! I’ve never done any hard narcotics (save a little Demerol when I had my knee operated on). I’ve well documented my complete lack of drinking skills much to the shame of my, erm, "esteemed" and "noble" heritage. Seriously, I’m an Irish, German, American Indian – for all intents and purposes, I should be a raging alcoholic! But even if I was a total lush or just constantly smacked off my gourd, I don’t think there are enough drugs or alcohol in the world to make me torture my children with names like that. A few highlights:

Apple Martin: Ok, so this one’s old news – when Gwen Paltrow announced she was naming her kid after fruit, the whole world more or less went “HUH?!”. Don’t get me wrong, I’d still love to plug my pecker into Pepper Potts’ pretty, pink, pixie pooper - but girlfriend seriously gots some wires crossed in her noggin. Anyone else notice that that poor kid’s name is one “I” away from being a faggy, foo-foo-drink cocktail?!

Jermajesty Jackson: Alright, so I really don’t want to get into a discussion about the parental naming habits of members of the black community. But on the other hand, I have to wonder if there is ANYONE in Michael Jackson’s family that isn’t some combination of completely psychotic and mentally retarded. What happened Jermaine – really?

Don’t even get me started on Frank Zappa’s kids – that’s a whole different level of stoned.

Kal-el Cage: Look, I like Star Wars, but I’m never naming any of my kids Yoda, or Chewie, or Han Solo, or Leia, or Darth (...ok, I might consider Darth down the road). Sure Nic, we get it…you likes you some Superman. But…well…DAMN!

Moxie CrimeFighter Jillette/Pilot Inspektor Lee: Sure, Penn and Teller have been one of the premiere Magic/Comedy acts for over 30 years – but at some point, they obviously made Penn’s brain disappear. Problem is, they didn’t make it re-appear. And Jason…I like your movies, generally, but, umm…what the fuck, man?!?! Ok guys, general rule-of-thumb…don’t give your kids names that are occupations…real…or fictional!!!

Tabooger Cortese: Right, so Dan Cortese barely qualifies as a celebrity, I mean let’s face it, he’s about as D-list as you get. But judging from his kid’s name, the only conclusions one can arrive at are that Dan hates children…he especially hates his kid…and he’s angry. Why so angry Dan? Didn’t get that Quick-E Mart opening gig in East Bumfuck Texas did ya?!

So what is it – is celebrity status like some kind of fucked-up fraternity or cult whose initiation ritual includes a big ol’ honkin’ hit off the worlds biggest crack pipe? Who’s to say? Do they get a card and a membership pin? When you become famous, do Angie and Brad show up at your door with a free African kid – which you then promptly proceed to name Maxturbation Steakfry Cosmonaut? Are there beny’s (aside from access to nearly endless supplies of tits, ass, and drugs)? You know, in the unlikely event I ever achieve some level of notoriety, I suppose, if nothing else, I can take some small measure of comfort in knowing that I named most or all of my kids long before it happened. And that if I’m ever accused of being totally bat-shit bonkers fuck crazy, I started out that way – money didn’t do it to me!

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.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


So, anyway - seems I made another one with a penis. That's right, Evil Monkey 2.0 is...a...BOY!!! I've circled the manly bits for one and all to view. So, everyone say hi to Isaac. Isaac, say hi to Herr Vogler, Timmay, Reed, and anyone else that just happens to occasionally find their way here. It's just the three of them you say, oh...well, ahem, in that case...

By the way, seems the fine folks at the bank have deemed Blogger inappropriate for us poor adult type folks and blocked it. So it seems my posting output will be going down the shitter. Not that I posted a lot anyway, but still...what a bunch of douchesticks. REALLY?!?! MY BLOG...BLOCKED?!?!?! WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Gentle Reminder

So anyway, a little something (embedded below - wait for it, just keep reading) came my way, and I couldn't help but ponder the struggles of the Obama administration in its first year. Struggles to keep promises made during his election campaign. Struggles to renew, strengthen, or outright start diplomacy with a world that had lost most, if not all faith, in the United States as a world leader. Struggles to fix internal problems: finance, health care, the "war". Struggles just to save face. And let's be fair for a moment - the President of the United States...the proverbial leader of the free world, is still just a man (and ladies please relax, I mean that in an all-encompassing, species sort of way; not the "the Prezident cain't be havin' no durn vagina" sort of way). He can only come up with ideas, plans, agendas...he can't make them happen. He can only propose policy, he can't dictate it. He can't even be directly involved in the writing of the laws - he can only put his signature to the finished product.

A good portion of the American populace is doing its best to try and forget that the years 2001 to 2008 ever even happened (at least where Washington D.C. is concerned). And then there are those that actually miss the former administration. Those that think we could not and have not ever been worse off than we are right now - I suppose this post really isn't for those people...but I digress. So while I don't want to stir up any bad memories - provoke any hostilities as it were - I thought I'd take a moment to remind every one just how much better things are now, or at least how much better things can be. How much potential this current President and his administration truly has. I want to remind everyone of the good that can come from our leadership if only our legislative branch can stop all of their petty bickering and unite to make a better America for one and all. I just wanted to offer a gentle, subtle reminder that this...

...used to be the most powerful man in the world. This was the face of America. Once several years back on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart had someone from Congress on (can't recall who, I just remember it was a Republican) and tried to be diplomatic by saying Bush wasn't stupid. With it being 2010 and all, looking back I think it's safe to say that yes Jon...Bush was/is/forevermore shall be stupid. It's ok...you can say it now. In fact, I don't think that does it justice. The man was fucking retarded! So I say to you people (left or right) if nothing else - if you really don't like the way things are now, just remember...they can always be worse!

That was an awful lot of work just to share one, stupid picture with everyone...eh?!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Kicking a Dead Horse's Ass

So anyway, Intrada just announced the complete score to the John Wayne drama Hellfighters, composed by Leonard Rosenman. And after listening to the sound samples, combined with recent listenings of Robocop 2 and Star Trek IV, I'm starting to get a clearer picture of why I really don't care for the man's music (or the man for that matter - I'll elaborate further as the post stumbles on). Seeing as how he died almost two years ago, a lambasting of the man and his craft might seem in poor taste, but well...I don't really give a shit. This is what's on my mind at the moment and I'm running with it.

Let's get this out of the way right off the bat - Leonard Rosenman...was a complete and total fucking douchebag. There, I said it. Seriously he was - I can't stand reading anything he ever said because invariably he always comes off as a complete and total pretentious, elitist, snobby, prick! Read any of the countless interviews* he gave in his lifetime and you quickly get a sense that Leonard Rosenman liked nothing more than to talk about the awesomeness and wonderment that was Leonard Rosenman, and how Leonard Rosenman was God's gift to all things music. Other things he enjoyed seemed to be discussing how directors were wrong in their film making choices, and making disparaging remarks about his peers.

This in particular gets on my nerves - for instance, he once made a remark (something to the effect of) that he didn't understand all the hubbub over John Williams, particularly where Star Wars was concerned because he (the great Leonard Rosenman) could out-compose any "tune" Williams could write at anytime. He was also particularly harsh to (what was to him, at the time) the younger, up-and-coming generation of film composers, particularly James Horner and Basil Poledouris saying that they lacked any personal compositional voice or style. Whilst working on Robocop 2, he offered that Poledouris' score for the original was essentially rubbish, and went on to say that it "had no sense of the orchestra, no sense of drama; It was a lousy, dopey score, and just didn't work". I dunno - maybe we were listening to two different scores?! I've noticed that even the harshest of critics of the film usually still found the music to be quite fitting, if not truly brilliant. I guess I'm just not sure what Rosenman was (or wasn't) hearing.

As for his music...well, I really just don't care for most of it. I've been struggling quite a bit to put into words exactly what I think about it. And even now, I think the perfect idea - that one, all-encompassing, cohesive thought that best describes my ire - escapes me. But, fuck it, I'll try anyway. I don't claim to be any sort of aficionado of the man's body of work, but one thing that strikes me, listening to the small sampling that I have heard, is that Rosenman never developed as a composer...stylistically speaking. You find that most composers, over the course of their lifetime, change their approach to writing. Or at the very least they learn to embrace new ideas, styles, and whatnot and incorporate them into their own personal style. Take any sampling of Rosenman, be it The Cobweb from the 50's, Hellfighters from the 60's, The Lord of the Rings or one of the Apes films from the 70's, Star Trek or Robocop 2 from the 80's, and you'll no doubt hear that essentially, they're all the same.

To me, Rosenman's music is...well...a "high-brow" version of the absolute worst Junior High or High School level concert band music you can think of. It's musical string cheese. Everything I've heard of his, regardless of what it was written for, inevitabry (hehe) ends up sounding like it was made for a Danielle Steele movie-of-the-week. As I understand it, Rosenman considered himself a neo-Classicist, and there are brief moments where I suppose I can hear it. But generally, to my ear, his music always comes across as bad melodrama. If his music were personified, I'd see it as one of the nimwits from Monty Python's "Upperclass Twit of the Year" sketch. I'll admit, there are moments of really interesting stuff, almost brilliant at times. But those moments are fleeting, usually to be found as developmental material in between his major motives and ideas.

Take for instance Robocop 2. If nothing else, that particular score will be infamous for one thing - those shrill, blaring sopranos shrieking out "Roooo-bo COOOOOOP; Roooo-bo COOOOOOP!!!" as one of the major motivic ideas of the score. I mean, come on...REALLY?!?! That was his brilliant idea for a futuristic movie about a cyborg police officer, and he had the nerve to call Poledouris' work crap?! The "overture" to the film, as is presented on the CD (ironically, it's actually the end credits suite) starts of quite interestingly. It begins with a short brass fanfare, which is then followed by an absolutely spectacular driving rhythm in the low brass and percussion. But then this wretched, hokey, goofball of a main theme enters and ruins the whole thing. It's the kind of stupid thematic line that would make James Swearingen come in his pants! It might have been more effective if a freshman concert band had been playing it - complete with intonation problems (HA - that's an understatement), missed entrances, maybe even one kid in the brass section playing everything at a triple-Fortissimo! Interestingly enough...it does sound like, at various points in the piece, that the percussionist playing the suspended cymbal got lost...a lot. There's a middle section to it that's essentially a reworking of some of the underscore to various dramatic scenes from the film. And it's fantastic - chocked full of great harmonic devices, orchestral colors, counterpoint, you name it! But then that stupid main theme comes back for a reprise and fucks it all up.

Someone on the FSM discussion board once remarked that, when in high school band, they attempted a band arrangement of the "Main Titles" from Star Trek IV. Apparently they read through it a couple of times, and the band director absolutely hated it. Then someone in the band spoke up and said that they had been playing it at half tempo. So they gave it another go at the correct tempo, and when it was over...he still hated it, and tossed it. I don't hate the score for ST:IV (sorry for the Dr. Seuss moment there), there are a few things to really like about it, but overall the only real reason I own the CD is for completionist sake. I suppose if bouncy and hokey, regardless of the film it was written for, is your kind of music then I don't know...maybe Rosenman is your guy. For me though, I just can't bring myself to really like him. His shitty demeanor certainly doesn't/didn't help. I want to hear more of his work, if for no other reason than to better clarify and justify my disdain for it. Problem is...I don't want to actually pay for any of it! That would seem almost hypocritical some how.

*there's a series of several posts on FSM from a couple of years ago that chronicle the life of Rosenman through various snippets of interviews he gave. Search for his name and read them if you don't believe me - The Life of Leonard Rosenman, pts. I - V, I believe.