Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Blade Runner

Blade Runner, first and foremost, is a visual 3 course meal at a 3 Michelin star restaurant of a film. The post apocolyptic looking East meets West Los Angeles is a grim backdrop for this tale of lifelike robots being built to help humans but then going mental.

The score itself is also utterly immeasurable. The man behind the score is Greek god Vangelis. Most of the score is charged with emotion and sombre, but at parts you can hear throbbing electronic music. The score is so diverse and has stood the test of time. It is no secret that there is no traditional orchestras here, but just synthesizers and electric keyboards. But therein lies the beauty. The score is extremely futuristic (for its time) but sad at times, reflecting exactly what you're seeing on screen.

Every song on the soundtrack is worthy of me posting, but I have been loving the below track for the past few days or so.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Cultural stereoypes/motifs

A very well known song, Dario G's Carnival De Paris, contains instruments that are representive of the countries that featured in the 1998 World Cup.

Some of them may be stereotypical of their countries, but overall the instruments helped paint a picture for the listeners of a country.

This is a useful tool in films also. For example, if a scene is set in a foreign country from where the film is set, if they chose to negate spoonfeeding the audience, they would use music as a narrative device to show that they have moved on to the next chapter of the story in X country.

Interesting quotes

The following paragraph is taken from a book by Peter Larsen called Film Music. I feel it is a concise description of the ambiguity of music. Music is a complex arrangement of musical notes yet it is enjoyed by almost everyone.

Anyone can see what a photograph, a film image or a figurative painting represents and describe it in words. Anyone can retell what is written in text. It is, however, much more difficult to say what a piece of music "means" or "deals with". Music, like a series of images or text, is an organised sequence of elements. But unlike images and texts this sequence does not produce a precise content.

Although I have to disagree with Mr Larsen regarding the below comment. As I stated above, music has the beauty of being heard in extremely different ways by any one listener. To some it is art, others it is a memory, others it brings emotion.

Literature, drama, film are representational art forms. Music is not.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Down By Law

Last month I watched a film by Jim Jarmusch called Down By Law, it's a low budget film set in the southern states of America. The film is about 3 very low level crooks who are imprisoned in a small cell together and how they're relationship develops inside and outside the prison.

This is one of the films that I'm going to be using for my dissertation. I will be doing a case study on Jarmusch and his musical counterpart John Lurie. The reason I feel this is a good example of a musical film is because it uses a lot of jazz/latin music for all the themes and motifs. But it also uses a lot of silences to perhaps illustrate the circumstances the men are in. There are many questions I would like to have answered such as; why use the latin music? or Why use silence?

Through my case study I would like to think I'd learn the answers to these questions and more.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Excellent advert

Not a lot to say other than I think this Audi advert is brilliant. The music is lovely and works well with the visuals. Fulfilling the stereotype that Germans are an industrious, work loving, strong nation, I feel that the musical notes played in this clip are representive of such cliches.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Clockers by Spike Lee

Spike Lee's film Clockers is a tale of young men selling drugs for a local kingpin in Brooklyn. Having only seen do The Right Thing by Lee previous to this (which was years ago), I was struck by the soundtrack used throughout the film. Being a huge soul fan, it was good to hear people like Chaka Khan and Seal's music.

But it was the way the music was used that interested me. For example the scene below, where the protagonist "Strike"(Mehki Phifer) was getting attacked by his local police officer in front of a lot of people. For me and my experience in watching films akin to Clockers, the music in scenes like this where something nasty is going on, it wouldn't be as soulful, smooth and dare I say it, relaxing? The music was almost the opposite of what you would expect in a gritty scene like this. I'd expect something like this to be playing, as it would fit the scene and the surroundings. But I guess that would be too obvious.

It did cross my mind that the music could be diegetic, but there was no evidence of diegetic music in any shots throughout the film. My theory as to why Lee used the song was that it was perhaps something that would have been ringing out of the close-knit houses on a summer day like this.

Either way, it's a good movie with an interesting choice of songs.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Bad Santa

I was watching the film Bad Santa yesterday and noticed that the soundtrack was made up of famous classical music. The film revolves around a alcoholic Santa and his crooked elf. The film is a dark comedy set in a very warm, sunny Phoenix during Christmas, which in itself is a major contrast.

I found this anachronistic soundtrack working really well with the film. The contrast worked very well with the score and the film, when you think of classical music, the connotations are of grand buildings, Vienna, men in wigs, Pimms and high brow events!

But this is almost the opposite; a beat up man who's had a shit life and resorts to stealing and philandering.

I also noticed at some points the director had used the "mickey mousing" effect when playing some classical music and syncing it in time with the protagonist hammering a safe he was trying to break into.

Below is a clip where classical music is used.