Sunday, September 8, 2013

Successful Films and Fabulous Soundtracks

The soundtrack to a motion picture can make or break the work a director and his team scrambles to put together.  There are many films out there that have perfect music to go with the film and its ideas that are being conveyed.  On the other hand, many films fail to have music that reflects what is going on, whether it is anachronistic or just doesn’t fit the tone presented.

Without soundtracks and music in film, it is difficult to comprehend the overall feel of a piece.  I find that when I listen to the soundtrack alone and then go back and watch the movie I become more attuned to what is going on.  It makes for better interpretation of the story of a motion picture, along with the work as a whole. 

Here are some films that have soundtracks that are perfectly coordinated for the films they are coupled with:

“The Aviator” (2004): Probably one of my all-time favourite movies.  Even though Howard Hughes’ struggle with OCD isn’t exactly a feel-good film, the biopic is a cinematic masterpiece in every aspect.  The soundtrack is perfect for conveying the mood of the 1920’s into the post-war 1940’s.  Artie Shaw’s “Nightmare” was a recurring piece, and it was perfect for the mental deconstruction of Hughes.  Upbeat jazz pieces, even though performed by our contemporaries, were incorporated into this film’s music as well.  Just because they are modern artists, however, doesn’t mean that they lost the flare for the Roaring Twenties.  Even though this film may be on this list because of my passionate feeling for all things 1920’s, this soundtrack really does make the film.  If you don’t believe me, just watch the movie and stay attuned with the music. 

“When Harry Met Sally” (1989): This movie is beyond heart-warming.  The story of two best friends who slowly fall in love may be chick-flick in nature, but it is first and foremost a romantic comedy.  Harry Connick Jr. sets the mood for this film with his solo piano pieces, vocals and the accompaniment of a big band.  The music in this film gives off warm vibes.  The big band version of “It Had to be You” gets you off your feet to dance around your kitchen.  On the other hand Connick’s piano rendition of “Winter Wonderland” is soft and delicate, like snowflakes falling in Central Park.  If I had to give it a season, I would make it an autumn-into-winter soundtrack.   

“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986): There are very few places where you will get eclectic eighties music in a good film.  There is no better place to find it than this John Hughes classic.  As soon as I managed to put together the songs onto a CD, I drove around blasting it, celebrating the care-free attitude that Ferris has.  Originally, John Hughes didn’t want to realize a physical album, because he thought the music didn’t “go together.”  However, that is the beauty of these one-hit wonders being combined into one killer soundtrack! If anyone is looking to Save Ferris, I highly recommend checking out IMDB for the full soundtrack list on this movie’s page.  It is still one of my favourite albums to jam out to.

“Gangster Squad”(2013): Alright.  Although this movie was a lot of dumb show, violence and Ryan Gosling’s face, it did have a fantastic soundtrack.  Featuring the talents of Peggy Lee, Mel Tome, and Johnny Mercer, the music here is phenomenal.  The pieces chosen definitely set the mood well for the crime scenes, mob fights and momentary positive vibes.   It is anything but anachronistic, and I was pleased to find that if any contemporary artists were featured, they once again kept the spirit of 1950’s Los Angeles alive.  Much better than certain films that incorporate rap into the 1920’s (Jay-Z, cough, Gastby). 

“Ocean’s 11” (2001): David Holmes compiled a fantastic soundtrack for this film.  As though the talents of George Clooney, Brad Pitt and many other A-Listers weren’t enough, the music makes the film even better.  The tone Holmes sets is perfect for the heist of a Las Vegas casino.  Reminiscent of a James Bond soundtrack, the music here is great for driving around on a mission, whilst wearing ultra-slick sunglasses.  The same goes for the soundtracks of Ocean’s 12 and 13.  Good films and good music overall, completely worth the watch and listen. 

“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (2001): John Williams has done it again.  The composer of the iconic “Raider’s March,” Star Wars theme, and Jurassic Park piece gives us one more reason to love him.  I couldn’t imagine anyone else writing pieces for the films of the beloved Harry Potter series.  Slowly, “Hedwig’s Theme” has become more and more iconic overtime.  This piece is the sound of Harry Potter, as far as this generation is concerned.  All the films in the series have excellent music, even though it isn’t for everyone.  My personal favorite is the soundtrack to the third film, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” It is the transition of darker aspects into this magical series, and the music follows this trend with intense pieces. 

“Sherlock Holmes” (2009): There is little I dislike about the latest Sherlock Holmes films.  They have an all-star cast, great scenes and locations to film at, and awesome music.  Quirky in nature, composer Hans Zimmer understands the mysterious feel and unorthodox personality Robert Downey Jr. brings to the silver screen.  If anyone is looking to unlock their inner Sherlock, you should definitely check out the soundtracks to these films. 

“Big Night” (1996): This film has everything; Italian people, Italian food, Italian Italian.  Most importantly, its soundtrack.  Pieces by Louis Prima, Rosemary Clooney and Matteo Salvatore highlight the music in this film.  Music that is stereotypically Italian is a major part of the film, especially since the film revolves around the premise of Louis Prima (a Sicilian musician) is supposed to come to the restaurant where the bulk of Big Night takes place.   If this music doesn’t sweep you off your feet to your kitchen to make a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs straight away, I’m not sure what will!

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