Thursday, February 11, 2016

Composer Cameos #5

Let's keep the Composer Cameos coming!  Hard to believe, but we're on the 5th post of Composer Cameos! This time including the multiple appearances of Howard Shore on SNL and Marc Shaiman as the pianist in every movie! 
(Find the previous posts here: #1, #2, #3, #4)

JOHN ADDISON
Addison conducts in Phantom of the Opera (1990 TV movie)

BURT BACHARACH
Bacharach serenades in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
Bacharach makes an end credit appearance in Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)

NICK CAVE
Nick Cave sings in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

ALEXANDER COURAGE
Courage conducts for Pavarotti in Yes, Giorgio (1982)

PATRICK DOYLE
Doyle sings and plays in the British TV series, No 73 (1982-1983)
Patrick Doyle as "Policeman in lift" in Dead Again (1991)
Doyle as Amiens in As You Like It (2006)
Doyle gets animated in Brave (2012)

DANNY ELFMAN
Elfman performs as part of Oingo Boingo in Back to School (1985)

MURRAY GOLD
Series composer Gold performs in the band in a 2007 episode of Doctor Who (with the mustache)

JAMES NEWTON HOWARD
JNH plays keyboard for Elton John Live in Central Park (1981)

BEAR MCCREARY
Series composer McCreary appears in the background of an episode of Battlestar Galactica (2009)

MARK MOTHERSBAUGH
Mothersbaugh in one of his several appearances on Yo Gabba Gabba! 

BLAKE NEELY
Series composer Neely plays piano in an episode of Eastwick (2009)

RANDY NEWMAN
Newman lends his voice to The Singing Bush for ¡Three Amigos! (1986)

TREVOR RABIN
Rabin is part of the band in Jack Frost (1998)

MARC SHAIMAN
Shaiman plays piano in Beaches (1988)
Shaiman (and a great mustache) conduct in The Addams Family (1991)
Shaiman accompanies on piano in Hot Shots! (1991)
Shaiman plays piano in Scenes from a Mall (1991)
Shaiman plays piano in The Wedding Planner (2001)
Shaiman is delightfully cheesy in Down With Love (2003)
Shaiman plays piano in an episode of Smash (2012)

THEODORE SHAPIRO
Shapiro (in blue) is part of the band in Along Came Polly (2004)

HOWARD SHORE
Shore and Lily Tomlin perform as part of The All Nurse Band on SNL (1975)
Shore performs as part of Howard Shore and the All Angel Band on SNL (1975)
Shore (L) performs as part of the All Bee Band on SNL (1976)
Shore (r) and Paul Shaffer perform as Dr. Frankenstein and the All Monster Band on SNL (1976)

MARK SNOW
Series composer Snow appears (l) as a doctor on an episode of X-Files (2001)

DIMITRI TIOMKIN
Tiomkin appears on an episode of What's My Line (1956)

PAUL WILLIAMS
Songwriter Williams appears as El Sleazo Pianist in The Muppet Movie (1979)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Screen Credit Quiz! (Decade Edition 3)


In this Screen Credit Quiz, each one is from a different decade (from the 1940's to 2010's).   
Here's what to do: name the film by the title card and put your guesses into the comment section!

1. 1940's

2. 1950's

3. 1960's

4. 1970's

5. 1980's

6. 1990's

7. 2000's

8. 2010's

Friday, January 22, 2016

2016: Top Anticipated Scores

It's always fun to look into what films and scores are on the horizon.  2016 is chock full of sequels and more superhero films than you can catch in one summer.  Let's see what's on the radar for a bunch of composers!  Here's the list:   

The Music Behind the Screen's 
Top Anticipated Scores of 2016

1. Alice Through the Looking Glass (Danny Elfman)
One of Elfman's greatest recent highlights was the first Alice in 2010. If this comes close to that score, this will be one of his best.    

2. The BFG (John Williams)
After passing on Bridge of Spies, Williams plans to return with Spielberg for this Roald Dahl adaptation.  Williams has succeeded with several of his past fantasy scores, so this could be no different.

3. The Magnificent Seven (James Horner)
Upon his tragic passing, it was announced that Horner had written a surprise score for Antoine Fugua's remake.  Hard to know what from the score will be used, but this is one last treasure from Horner to hear. 
   
4. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Alexandre Desplat)
A Star Wars spinoff without John Williams.  Who knows what we'll hear?!  Let's see what Desplat creates.  

5. Star Trek Beyond (Michael Giacchino)
While Into Darkness might not have been everyone's favorite, Giacchino expanded his Star Trek world, and will hopefully continue the action adventure in the newest installment.

6. Finding Dory (Thomas Newman)
Really unsure how this sequel to 2003's Finding Nemo will go, but I'm happy to see Newman's name listed as composer.  His entry back into the underwater Pixar world is something I can't wait to hear.  

OTHER SCORES TO HEAR IN 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Hans Zimmer, Junkie XL)
Captain America: Civil War (Henry Jackman)
Doctor Strange [no composer announced]
Fantasic Beasts and Where to Find Them [no composer announced]
 Ghostbusters (Theodore Shapiro)
Hail Caesar! (Carter Burwell)
The Huntsman: Winter’s War (James Newton Howard)
Inferno (Hans Zimmer)
The Jungle Book (John Debney)
Kung Fu Panda 3 (Hans Zimmer)
Moana (Mark Mancina)
The Secret Life of Pets (Alexandre Desplat)
Star Trek Beyond (Michael Giacchino)
X-Men: Apocalypse (John Ottman)
Zootopia (Michael Giacchino)

Friday, January 15, 2016

Album Review: The Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight
Music composed by Ennio Morricone
Music conducted and orchestrated by Ennio Morricone
Music performed by Czech National Symphony Orchestra
Music recorded at CNSO Recording Studios, Prague
Album running time: 72 minutes
Available on Decca Records

Ennio Morricone has a history with Quentin Tarantino, even if Morricone wasn't involved for most of it.  As an ultimate fanboy, Tarantino's soundtracks for Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003), Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004),  Death Proof segment of Grindhouse (2007), Inglourious Basterds (2009) and Django Unchained (2012).  It was also for 'Django' that Morricone wrote the original song, "Ancora Qu" and said he wouldn't work with Tarantino again (which was later recanted).  For The Hateful Eight, Tarantino looked to Morricone to write an original score to his Western, and he accepted.

The film became a first for Tarantino - first it's shot in the expansive 70mm, and second, has an original score, not just a hand-picked mixtape.  The resulting album for The Hateful Eight contains all of Morricone's original score, a few pop songs, plus separate tracks of dialogue.  In this review, I'll only be covering the original score tracks.

The bulk of the score is based on two original themes, and many album tracks are derived from these melodic ideas.  And yes, track names are in Italian. 

L'ultima diligenza di red rock builds a bassoon motif (Main Theme, for easy reference) over held notes both quite low and quite high.  It sets the tone of distant violence amid a stark winter backdrop.  The repetitive pattern gets more instruments added to it as the dissonance grows.  A male choir joins in, as the woodwinds add a swirling motif to the mix.  It almost could pass as a horror/Godzilla-like cue by the end.  Overture is a slow build, with bells and low strings in a Herrmann-esque hypnotic ostinato (Second Theme).  A new melodic idea gets passed around in solo woodwinds as low brass continue to creep in.  A brief reference to the Main Theme bassoon motif from the last cue ends the track.  Narratore letterario continues the hypnotic bells, with the Main Theme added in,  stabs of tremolo strings and brass jabs add another texture into this track.  

L'ultima diligenza di red rock #2 continues the thematic material of the first track, building to a larger climax.  Neve explores more of the eerie sustained string and woodwind writing in this lengthy track.  Hints of past motifs appear in various forms with the hypnotic Second Theme qualities taking full form.  Sei cavalli brings the timpani and brass jabs to the forefront with dissonant brass added in.  Raggi di sole sulla montagna changes the tone from previous tracks, an almost impressionistic cue for woodwinds and strings which gives me reminders of Ravel.  Neve #2 continues another slow sustained strings build on the Second Theme with the Main Theme appearing in the foreground and background of the cue.

I quattro passeggeri
brings back the Main Theme on bassoon and the tapping high hat cymbal heard  earlier plays over a pizzicato string section.  La musica prima del massacro breaks apart the aspects of Main Theme and Second Theme in a slower (still eerie) arrangement.  L'inferno bianco (Synth) is full of nervous energy and builds tension on some repetitive figures.  The way he uses pizzicato strings as a pseudo-percussion instrument is interesting.


Sangue e neve returns us to the Second Theme with a building string section on the Main Theme.  This variation is more intense and quickly drops off at the end.  Hope you liked the earlier track, because L'inferno bianco (Ottoni), is the brass version of the same cue.  Neve #3 is not too far from the Neve material heard earlier, a slow manipulation of both Second and Main Theme with a low string petal point.  La lettera di lincoln appears in 2 versions, instrumental and with dialog.  The brass writing is fitting for the reading of Lincoln's letter held by Major Warren (Samuel L. Jackson). The trumpet solo is naturally noble and feels like a cousin of the trumpet tune "Taps".  The album ends with La puntura della morte, a brief (!) string crescendo that is used earlier in the film.   
                          
When originally tasked, Morricone wrote the longer cues and promised to provide the themes that Tarantino wanted.  It's clear that these themes are the backbone of the score, with most tracks on the album breaking apart and adding slight variations to the themes.  While not incorporated on the album, Tarantino turned to other (previously written) Morricone cues to add into the final film.  Those include "Regan's Theme" from The Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), and "Eternity", "Bestiality", and "Despair" from Morricone's unused score to The Thing (1982).

Giving something different than the Western scores he composed 40-plus years ago, Morricone composed a tense and evocative score. As noted before, the film result is a bit different than on the album, which might be a little difficult to make through.  As his 6th Academy Award nomination for Original Score at the age of 87, he has his best chances of winning in the category. (Sidebar: he won a Honorary Award in 2007 for his career in film music.)  

Tarantino, the Morricone fanboy, finally got his original score he was looking for, and the Morricone fanboys got a brand Western new score to admire.  Seems like a good deal to me.       

Monday, January 11, 2016

2015 Original Score Awards Roundup

Here's the 2015 Roundup of Original Score nominations and winners from various associations. Winners will be marked in red and updated regularly!


ACADEMY AWARD
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Bridge of Spies (Thomas Newman)
Carol (Carter Burwell)
The Hateful Eight (Ennio Morricone)
Sicario (Jóhann Jóhannsson)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (John Williams)

GOLDEN GLOBE
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE 

Carol (Carter Burwell)
The Danish Girl (Alexandre Desplat)
*The Hateful Eight (Ennio Morricone)

Steve Jobs (Daniel Pemberton)
The Revenant (Ryuichi Sakamoto, Alva Noto)

BRITISH ACADEMY FILM AWARDS (BAFTA)
Bridge of Spies (Thomas Newman)
The Hateful Eight (Ennio Morricone)
The Revenant (Ryuichi Sakamoto, Alva Noto)
Sicario (Jóhann Jóhannsson)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (John Williams)

ANNIE AWARDS
BEST MUSIC IN AN ANIMATED FEATURE PRODUCTION

Anomalisa (Carter Burwell)
Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem (Kevin Riepl)
Boy and the World (Ruben Feffer, Gustavo Kurlat)
Inside Out (Michael Giacchino)
The Good Dinosaur (Mychael Danna, Jeff Danna)


SATELLITE AWARDS (INTERNATIONAL PRESS ACADEMY)
ORIGINAL SCORE

Carol (Carter Burwell)
The Danish Girl (Alexandre Desplat)
Inside Out (Michael Giacchino)
The Martian (Harry Gregson-Williams)
Spectre (Thomas Newman)
Spotlight (Howard Shore)


LOS ANGELES FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION
BEST MUSIC SCORE

*Anomalisa (Carter Burwell) & Carol (Carter Burwell)
Runner Up: The Hateful Eight (Ennio Morricone)

SAN DIEGO FILM CRITICS SOCIETY
BEST USE OF MUSIC IN A FILM

*The Hateful Eight (Ennio Morricone)
Love & Mercy
Mad Max: Fury Road (Tom Holkenborg)
Sicario (Jóhann Jóhannsson)
Straight Outta Compton

WASHINGTON DC AREA FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

*Sicario (Jóhann Jóhannsson)

BOSTON SOCIETY OF FILM CRITICS
BEST USE OF MUSIC IN A FILM

*Love & Mercy

CHICAGO FILM CRITICS AWARDS
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

*The Hateful Eight (Ennio Morricone)

DALLAS-FORT WORTH FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION
BEST MUSICAL SCORE

*The Revenant (Ryuichi Sakamoto, Alva Noto, Bryce Dessner)

HOUSTON FILM CRITICS SOCIETY
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Inside Out (Michael Giacchino)
Mad Max: Fury Road (Tom Holkenborg)
*The Hateful Eight (Ennio Morricone)
Steve Jobs (Daniel Pemberton)
The Revenant (Ryuichi Sakamoto, Alva Noto, Bryce Dessner)

LAS VEGAS FILM CRITICS SOCIETY
BEST SCORE

*The Hateful Eight (Ennio Morricone)

LONDON CRITICS CIRCLE FILM AWARDS
TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT (FOR MUSIC)

*Carol (Carter Burwell)

CRITICS CHOICE AWARDS
BEST SCORE

Carol (Carter Burwell)
*The Hateful Eight (Ennio Morricone)
The Revenant (Ryuichi Sakamoto, Alva Noto)
Sicario (Jóhann Jóhannsson)
Spotlight (Howard Shore)

SATURN AWARDS
BEST MUSIC

[nominees TBA]