A Film Score A Day For the Month of November

So, as promised, here is another month of fantastic, emotive, some happy, some very sad, film and TV scores for each day of November. To understand why I’ve decided to do this, read the header of last month’s post. If you DON’T feel like going backwards just know that while these are amongst my most listened-to scores, this is not a list of “the best of” or even a Top Sixty list. And, as before, I will give you not only links to the specific featured song from each score, but usually one or two more as well as a link to the entire thing. I’ll feature thirty scores here for November. And…

Thanksgiving Week is New York Week! Much of my adult life meant going home to New York to see the family at Thanksgiving, so in honor I have efforted to hit appropriate scores for all five boroughs, plus the home of my adolescence, Long Island. And on Thanksgiving day (the 26th), I’ll feature the best New York-centric Thanksgiving film ever made.

If you’re interested in film music, you must check out the fantastic 2017 documentary, “Score: A Film Music Documentary”. It’s on Hoopla. And as a reminder, Lindsay Jones’ excellent “make you feel better” playlist of mostly non-film music can be heard here

Oh, and Black Lives Matter.

Click on the album cover images for the entire score (where attainable), and the song titles for the specific songs.

1b) Philip (Martin Phipps, Season 3)
The Crown (Hans Zimmer , Rupert-Gregson Williams, Lorne Balfe, Martin Phipps, 2016, 2017, 2019)

The rule of the original list was that Sundays were exclusively for TV music, and since November 1st is a Sunday we’re going to get dramatic right away! “The Crown” has, interestingly, featured three different composer; one for each season (Rupert Gregson-Williams, Lorne Balfe and Martin Phipps) and still a fourth, Hans Zimmer, wrote the main theme. For my money, the season 3 compositions are, beginning to end, the best. However, “Duck Shoot” from Williams’ Season 1 score, and it’s hundred-twenty-three-trombone fanfare, possesses amazing dynamics that land with a punch in he gut, so I add that here. However, as a bonus, I’ll give you the remarkable “Philip” from Phipp’s third season score. And should you like to listen to them all, here’s Season 1 (or click on the image above), Season 2, and Season 3.

el club2a) Fratres for Strings and Percussion
2b) La Valse Moderne
Various Scores (Arvo Pärt, 1977)
(album link is to the Hungarian State Opera Orchestra studio performance – my favorite version of this piece, conducted by Tamas Benedek, 1997)

Modern classical composers get a pretty bad rap. We tend to think of atonal craziness (a la John Cage or Steve Reich), or obvious regionalisms (a la Aaron Copeland). But within the category there exists some amazing music, much of which is used in film. Yes, there is Philip Glass and Max Richter. But there is also an Estonian man who gave us one of the most mournful pieces of music ever written. It’s called “Fratres” and its been used in dozens of films, most successfully in Pablo Larrain’s incredible ‘El Club”. Most of you will recognize it from “There Will Be Blood”. But it has also been featured in “Mother Night”, Malick’s “To the Wonder”, “Beyond the Pines” and the aforementioned “New York: A Documentary Film”. These compositions, on the eve of the most important election of our time, act as a sort of doom-listen to accompany our doom-scrolling. Regardless, it’s beautiful music.

once3a) When Your Mind’s Made Up
3b) Falling Slowly
Once (Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová, 2007)

Election day. And I thought this brilliant collection of songs from the even more brilliant film, “Once” had two of the better options. And while the first song’s title makes it the obvious choice, it’s the anger and frustrating in Hansard’s voice that I thought perfectly captures what we’ve been going through for the last year. And the second…well, it can either be an elegy to our growing appreciation for anyone that could beat the Orange one, or a literal description of what has happened to democracy if it goes the wrong way. The film is amazing. The score equals it, and today…isn’t it nice to just be reminded of what art can do for our souls?

revenant4a) Imagining Buffalo (Dressner)
4b) Main Theme (Sakomoto)
The Revenant (Ryuichi Sakomoto/Alva Noto/Bryce Dressner, )

My second featured Sakomoto score goes to his most successful box office feature, “The Revenant”. That film was really quite good, but without the work of Mr. Sakomoto, and his aides de camp, Alva Noto and Bryce Dressner, I wouldn’t like it nearly as much. Interestingly, my favorite piece from the score belongs to Dressner. It’s also used in one of the most beautifully shot scenes…ever? This score a beautiful elegy to a long-since lost movement of electronic music championed by Brian Eno, and to a large extent Kraftwerk, as well. It had a big impact during the seventies and early eighties and it was called Ambient (a perfect and perfectly warm version of this can be heard right here). Sakomoto himself came to the ambient side of electronica much later, but his works within that framework, of which this might be the best example  – along with a few pieces from the biographical doc about his life, “Coda”, (available on the Criterion Channel) are simply gorgeous and affecting.

81hrFWu097L._SY355_5a) Arrival
5b) A New Home
Lion (Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka, 2016)

Today we look at a great score for a film that was half good, composed by a pair, one of whom changed his name from two words to one. Confused? Don’t be. The film was “Lion”, the pair was Dustin O’Halloran (who wrote all that beautiful music for “Transparent”) & Volker Bertelmann aka Hauschka (responsible for the music in “The Dublin Murders”). Together they have collaborated on about thirty or more scores, but I would suggest it has never been better than this. What I love is something I’m drawn to by many contemporary scores, a Philip Glass-ian use of repetition. I’ve used a couple already. For instance, in my last post I mentioned Carter Burwell’s score for “Carol”. That score is littered with moments that were basically invented by Philip Glass. The featured song here, “Arrival”, has more of that than the rest of the score, but it’s a fantastic piece. And for some variety, I’ve added “A New Home”. Enjoy…

Screen Shot 2020-11-01 at 12.52.12 PM6a) Badal
6b) Nanawatai
The Beast aka Beast of War (Mark Isham, 1988)

Mark Isham came out with two magnificent scores in one year, and they, quite literally, couldn’t be more different sonically. The other, “The Moderns” was featured last month. That lovely, flighty, French pastry of a score must have been written on a much better day than “The Beast”. This brilliant anti-war movie about a tired and worn-down tank crew in the midst of the never-ending Soviet-Afghanistan war (sound familiar?) relies on its superior acting and Isham’s soundscapes to make it work. Sounding like a continuation of side two of David Bowie’s “Low” or “Heroes” albums (Eno, anyone?), it feels dangerous, alien and often quite jolting. This is an extreme example of a score working perfectly within the context of a film’s environment. The two cuts featured here are actually sides one and two of the original CD release of the  recording. I’ve long since lost my copy of the CD, but if you have one, it’s worth quite a bit.

8thgrade7a) Being Yourself
7b) How To Be Confident (For Real)
Eighth Grade (Anna Meredith, 2018)

I’ll be honest. It  took me a long time to appreciate this score outside of the experience of the film. It’s often annoying, regularly piercing, and brutally irreverent…just like the film. But the more I listen to it, the more it grows on me. And, more importantly, it brings me back to the emotions I felt when seeing the film for the first time. Can’t ask much more than that from a score that is so different than most any other. Give it a listen. You may hate it. But if you saw the film, you’ll at least smile…and I thought a completely different kind of score, a very modern score, belonged somewhere here.

334943492200548) Medley of Favorite British TV Themes
See below for listing…

It’s Sunday Funday TV day! I thought I’d give some more love to British television. Today I want to focus on theme music. It’s something American shows have, for the most part, eschewed to give more time to the content of the show and its plot. But Brits have never given up on it, especially their mysteries and detective shows. So here is a mishmash (not a mashup) I concocted of eleven of my favorites…the ones that have stayed with me:

00:00: “Foyle’s War” (Jim Parker)
00:50: “Hidden” (John Hardy)
01:50: “Shetland” (John Lunn)
02:20: “DCI Banks” (Sheridan Tongue)
02:50: “Endeavour” (Barrington Pheloung – RIP)
03:45: “Doc Martin” (Colin Towns)
04:45: “This Is England [film, 86, 88 & 90]” (Ludovico Einaudi)
05:13: “Downton Abbey” (John Lunn)
06:00: “Victoria” (Martin Phipps)
06:46: “Ripper Street” (Dominik Scherrer)
07:24: “Fleabag” (Isobel Waller-Bridge)

Have fun…….

godfther9a) Love Theme
9b) The Godfather Waltz
9c) The New Godfather
The Godfather (Nino Rota, 1972)

This one is a no-brainer. No reason to put it on here other than that Mr. Rota deserves acknowledgement for making a piece of music so intertwined with the mythos of the film series, that your brain instantly places you in a scene from one of them. Instantly. Sure other scores do that, too, but play this and everyone in the ROOM will go to that place. A titanic work.

pina10a) Lillies In the Valley (Jun Miyake)
10b) Shake It (Thom Hanreich)
Pina (Thom Hanriech & various artists, 2011)

I went to a film at the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival. All I knew about it was that it was a “dance film in 3D” and that Wim Wenders had directed it. What followed was 100 minutes or so of visual, aural and multi-dimensional bliss. A love letter to Wenders good friend, choreographer Pina Bausch, his use of 3D technology, only eclipsed by “Gravity”, was mind-blowing. His staging of these pieces in the real world and on stage, was pitch perfect. And then there’s the music, which is fabulous. More a collection of interesting songs plus Thom Hanreich’s score for the bits inbetween the dancing, if it gets you to see the film, then it’s worth it.

21stcentury11a) Santa Barbara 1979
11b)The Politics of Orgasm
20th Century Women (Roger Neill, 2016)

This film is almost exactly the West Coast version of my child. A young boy in ninth grade in 1978 who lives in an uber-progressive household, is turned on to a new form of music, loosely called Punk, about the same time that Jimmy Carter is dealing with a hostage crisis and an election. So it meant a lot to me. It’s also really well acted and written. It also features a set of songs from Roger Neill that accompany the “punk” music used in the film really really, well (which for the record features The Clash, The Talking Heads, Siouxsie, Black Flag, Suicide, Devo and Bowie). Almost like an internalized aural dreamscape, Neill’s music here tends to possess me, stop what I’m doing and allow my mind to wander off to those late night/early morning trips from the East Village back to Long Island in 1981 after seeing, well, any one of those listed above.

giultesta12a) Dopo L’Esplosione
12b) Messico e Irlanda
12c) Invenzione Per John
12d) Marcia Degli Accattoni
Duck, You Sucker
aka Giu La Testa aka A Fistful of Dynamite aka Once Upon A Time In the Revolution (Ennio Morriconne, 1971)

The most underrated, and yeah, kinda strange, Sergio Leone flick is this Mexican Revolution tale featuring Rod Steiger as a Mexican peasant gang-leader, and James Coburn as an ex-pat I.R.A. explosives expert. Equally strange is Morriconne’s score, as evidenced by the beauty of the first two selection above, and then the modern classical suite of “Invenzione” and then the totally out there “Marcia…” – a march made up of bass bassoon, a child’s chorus and some guy saying “wah” like a frog. It’s awesome and totally fits the film, which again, if you’ve never seen, and you like Leone’s work (and if you don’t then we’re no longer friends), you must watch right now.

foxcatcher13a) Strange New World (Rob Simonsen)
13b) Olympic Losses (Rob Simonsen)
Foxcatcher (Rob Simonsen, West Dylan Throdson and Mychael Danna, 2014)

As I’ve illustrated in many of these choices, the simplest melodies/orchestrations can have the greatest effect on our emotions and on a scene. I’d go as far as to say that the true sign of a great score is how subversively it accents a scene…heightening the desired emotional goal of the director, without you noticing. Well, this score is Example A. If you just listened to it, I’m guessing you would probably never suspect the film comes from a wrestling film (although that’s the beauty of the film, as well). Composer Rob Simonsen is one of those lesser heralded artists. He’s been at it a long time and has worked on over 50 films (interestingly he did the scores for both this year’s “The Way Back” and 2013’s “The Way, Way Back” – which are two very different films). I think maybe one of the reasons for the “unheralded” moniker is due to his light touch. But “Strange New World” and the haunting “Olympic Losses”, are brilliantly small…like sad music boxes…and build and build without feeling like it. Terrific pieces from a terrific film. Here’s two of his from a score that featured three different composers (West Dylan Throdson and Mychael Danna being the other two).

arrival14a) The Nature of Daylight (Richter)
14b) Kangaru (Johannsson)
Arrival (Johann Johannsson & Max Richter, 2016)

As promised, here is the second Max Richter offering. Only this time it’s a piece not written for film. No, it just ended up getting used in a lot of ’em. Let’s see…it’s been used in “Shutter Island” (2010), “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” (2011), “Stranger Than Fiction” (2006), “Disconnect” (2012), “The Innocents” (2016), at the beginning and ending of “Arrival” (also 2016), and most recently in the final episode of “The Trip To Greece” series (2020). Ironically, it was the inclusion of this piece that disqualified Johann Johannsson from being considered for an Oscar for his “Arrival” original score which is amazing (just listen to the second piece, “Kangaru” or click on the picture for the whole score). In the recording of Richter’s piece, and I only know this from having to listen to it a million times in 2016 for one of my various Oscars’ duties, there is a missed note about halfway through by a viola, if I’m not mistaken. I can no longer NOT hear that note, which is a shame. Chances are you won’t notice, nor should you (but the first to notice and tell me the time code for it gets their name mentioned next month!). So, here is Max Richter’s “On the Nature of Daylight” from his 2004 release, “The Blue Notebooks” .

scotlandL15a) Athelston
15b) Secret Religion
15c) James’ Scotland
A History of Scotland (Paul Leonard-Morgan, 2008)

You guessed it, TV day!! I thought I’d feature a totally underappreciated artist today. Paul Leonard-Morgan is fairly well-known in England, having done several TV scores (he did do the scores for “Limitless”, Dredd” and “Legendary”, but never seemed to find footing in the film world). But I’d like to direct your attention to a score for a BBC documentary series which he had almost no time to complete. So much so that he never even saw picture…only the script! And what was the subject, you ask? Something easy, you’re thinking? A trifle, not too big in scope? Well, only THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF SCOTLAND! Yes, a little over a decade ago, Neil Oliver put together a terrific ten-part series called “A History of Scotland”. Alas, it’s pretty hard to find the doc over here. But the score is a LARGE part of why it sustains our attention for ten hours, and THAT you can find real easy on YouTube. So for today, here are three from Paul Leonard-Morgan.

jackie16a) Vanity
16b) Empty White House

Jackie (Mica Levi, 2016)

 Sometimes there’s a score you know you hate…but then the more you listen to it, the more you like it. Gary Yershon’s score for “Mr. Turner” (2014) is a great example of this – annoying music that fits the film really well. Pablo Larrain’s films get mentioned a lot when it comes to this, because he has a great ear for what fits his films. So, when his Hollywood debut, “Jackie”, premiered, I remember thinking how intrusive the score was. But when I thought about it for my review it occurred to me that the music is purposefully off-kilter…ajar…sort of like one might feel if, say, their husband had just been murdered and the very public existence they had was going to forever change. Even the execution of the orchestra is slightly ragged – bowings are not in unison…slightly off from each other, like there was no conductor (but, of course, there was). And that’s when I started to appreciate not just the mood and dramatic purpose of the music, but the music itself. So much so that I include it here. Composed by another person of the rock world, Mica Levi (who had success with Micachu and the Shapes at the end of the 00’s), this score was nominated for Best Score at the 2017 Oscars – eventually losing to the juggernaut that was the “La La Land” tsunami. So here are “Vanity” and “Empty White House” from Mica Levi’s score for “Jackie”, and while, in truth, I could use anything from that score, “Vanity” is the piece I think of when musing on it.

miller's crossing17a) Opening Titles
17b) Danny Boy
(Frank Patterson, 1990)
Miller’s Crossing (Carter Burwell, 1990)

Not much to say. It’s another Carter Burwell score…this time an early one of his Coen collaborations. I mean, if you were to pull my arm, I’d say the “Oh, Danny Boy” scene is the aural high point of the film, but the main theme is every bit as delicious. Not that any of it suffers…the dialogue is amongst the best ever written and the performances, look and story are extraordinary. So, from my favorite Coen Bros. film, here is the music accompanying the opening titles from “Miller’s Crossing” (and Frank Patterson’s take on “Oh, Danny Boy”). I dare ya not to go watch it right now…

Interstellar_soundtrack_album_cover18a) Where We’re Going
18b) Cornfield Chase
18c) Message From Home
Interstellar (Hans Zimmer, 2014)

As I think most people who know me know, I’m not a huge fan of Hans Zimmer’s work (excluding “Video Killed the Radio Star” and “Dunkirk”, of course). But the repetitive theme that makes up “Where We’re Going” from “Interstellar” was a stroke of genius. It fits the film perfectly, evokes the exact sensation of longing and distance that infect long-distance relationships (in this case REALLY long distance), and has that Rick Wakeman-esque fugue in its last third. Now, the bit I’m referring to doesn’t even begin until 3:45 into the piece, so you’ll have to be patient. I’ve added a couple other pieces to point out the craftsmanship of the entire score. It is amazing how well matched Nolan and Zimmer are. Settle down with a cup of coffee and enjoy…

220px-AtonementOST19a) With My Own Eyes
19b) Elegy For Dunkirk

Atonement (Dario Marinelli, 2008)

I have no reason for including this score other than I love it…more than I love the film (although I am awfully fond of it). I know it sounds ridiculous to say what I’m about to when someone has won an Oscar (for this score) and been nominated for two others (“Anna Karenina” and “Pride and Prejudice”), but Marinelli doesn’t get enough credit. Much of that comes down to the movies he scores (period pieces, mostly), and, more importantly, the music he writes for them (usually straight ahead orchestral or chamber music). He doesn’t have a specific style that would make you say “ooh…that’s a Marinelli score” in the way you would if you heard Desplat, Thomas Newman, Morriconne, Burwell or even Hildur Guðnadóttir. But that doesn’t mean he’s not brilliant at what he does. And this is one of those scores. Beautiful and perfectly fits the film. What more can you ask?

On a side note, the use of a typewriter as an instrument is seen in many scores, but the idea of it was probably put in ear-hole of most composers by a chamber group that is a favorite of filmmakers and musicians, The Penguin Cafe Orchestra, who have several songs where everyday items are used as instruments, like “Telephone and Rubber Band”. And, of course, The Tom Tom Club, another art world darling band of the early eighties, use the typewriter in their dance floor hit, “Wordy Rappinghood”.

imitiation20a) The Imitation Game
20b) U-Boats
The Imitation Game (Alexandre Desplat, 2014)

Alexandre Desplat’s scores often verge in to a more irreverent lane. But amongst his many scores that are generally better than the movie itself, is one that falls squarely in the world of the mystery/thriller. Director Morten Tyldum’s mediocre at best, downright dull at worst, 2014 film, “The Imitation Game”, should’ve been great. Centered on Alan Turing and the British code-breakers  who developed the Enigma machine that helped secure the end of WWII, it featured a terrific cast and is one of the greatest stories ever. But, man, except for the performance of Matthew Goode, it was dul – more meh-nigma than enigma. Yet the score, which was nominated for that year’s Oscar is terrific, and is responsible for driving what little tension there is in the film. Here is the eponymous track from 2014’s “Imitation Game” and the oh, so Desplat, “U-Boats”. (Oh…Alexandre Desplat lost that year to some guy named Alexandre Desplat for “Grand Budapest Hotel”, so don’t feel too bad for him)

TheInsult21a) The Streets of Beyreuth
21b) A Burden

The Insult (Eric Neveux, 2017)

There are tons of small films, foreign films, usually, that feature young or unknown composers – or, more often, long time veterans of  film composition whose output accompanies films from another country…or docs…or TV. Their work is often every bit as good as their perpetually cinematically-awarded colleagues if not as celebrated. “the Insult” is one of my favorite foreign films of the recently completed decade and it features a terrific score from Eric Neveux. Who’s he, you ask? Well, he has scored over 55 films and probably just as many television programs. However they’re almost all French language offerings. So, allow me to turn you on to the terrific work of Monsieur Neveux, and his score for Ziad Doueiri’s Oscar-nominated film, “The Insult”…a movie you should watch. It’s on Kanopy currently. Enjoy…

halt and catch fire22a) Theme and Opening Credits
22b) Mosaic
Halt and Catch Fire (Paul Haslinger, 2014)

 It’s TV day, and I want to make sure I acknowledge Paul Haslinger’s work on a terrific show that very few people watched. “Halt and Catch Fire” was intelligent, emotional, and relatable. But it was also a period piece…the period being the early days of personal computing and the rush to market for the developers. Not many theme songs (or TV scores) nail a very specific late 20th century time period while ALSO adding tension in those thirty seconds. So, here’s Haslinger’s fantastic theme song from “Halt and Catch Fire” and the Tomita-esque “Mosaic” from its score. Oh, and if you haven’t watched the show, do. It’s pretty much better than anything on right now and it’s available on Netflix.

Thanksgiving Week (New York Week)

For those of you who, like me, never spent much of my adult life, if any,  living in the town of my youth, you might look at Thanksgiving as less a time to argue around a giant table, and more of a wistful look back on those days as we share it with our families of choice in a city far from home. And I think movies, and for me, the music from them, have as much to do with that emotional connective tissue as anything. So, it is interesting that before I thought of doing this “week” theme, I had lined up the films “Manhattan” followed by “Brooklyn” without even being aware. Then it came to me. So what follows are music from films specific to each borough and my high school heartland, Long Island, and on the day itself, the greatest NYC-centric Thanksgiving film.

sddefaultMonday: Manhattan
23a) Rhapsody in Blue
(George Gershwin)
23b) Rhapsody In Blue in opening scene from film
23b) Our Love Is Here To Stay

Manhattan (Score arranged by  Zubin Mehta and featuring Gray Graffman, 1979)

 Since I’ve already jumped in to the waters of using music we attach to film, even though it wasn’t necessarily written for film (or at least not from the film we connect it to),  let’s go to Mr. George Gershwin and his “Rhapsody In Blue”. It’s been used numerous times but most notably and effectively in Woody Allen’s “Manhattan” – hell, it’s practically burned in to the DNA of our experience of the film. I’m not going to discuss the nature of the Woody Allen controversy. I only mean to use it to showcase how the city of my adolescence (which I first started to explore on my own the same year this movie was made) was very different to how it is now. And the ability for Manhattan to always come back from the brink (which, again, when “Manhattan” was shot, was definitely where it teetered). Here it is, the gorgeous, fun and spectacular “Rhapsody In Blue” form George Gershwin in “Manhattan”. Oh…and I’ll throw in a little piece of Mehta’s arrangements with “Our Love Is Here To Stay”.

brooklynTuesday: Brooklyn
24a) Packing for the Voyage

24b) Arriving In America

Brooklyn (Michael Brook, 2015)

Michael Brook gets overlooked often, which seems a little unfair. His output for major releases, while fairly small, is almost always excellent. And none more so than his score for “Brooklyn”. A quiet yet epic period film about leaving everything behind to go to a new and frightening world deserves a quiet score that is of that period and accurately portrays the inherent loneliness of such a new existence. Brooks handles it masterfully, with lots of solo piano, violin, and the deep timbre of viola (my first instrument). And, not for nothing, but the film is wonderful with incredible performances by Saoirse Ronan (natch), Emory Cohen, and the perpetually working Domhnall Gleeson. And the accents! Like listening to music. Here’s “Packing for the Voyage” and “Arriving in America” from Michael Brooks’ score for 2015’s “Brooklyn”…

fort apacheWednesday: The Bronx
25) Suite of Opening Titles, The Chase, End Credits

Fort Apache, The Bronx (Jonathan Tunick, 1981)

You’re thinking, why such a squalid and violent portrayal of the Bronx for home week? Well, my grandparents lived in Yonkers and we used to take the Cross Bronx Expressway to go see them, and to the north of that road, the borough had become so dilapidated, that Koch put in to place a program by which they replaced all the windows with boards painted to look like window treatments just to make people feel less like they were in Beirut. Also, in 1981, I was coming home with a couple friends from a Yankees game when we broke down on that road. Long before cell phones, and long after any payphones near the section we were at were in working order. It was night time. we were all 17 in a Volvo. Out of nowhere, our Puerto Rican guardian angel showed up in a tow truck. He was coming home from the stadium where he was a food vendor who sold knishes (that’s right), and we recognized each other because, of COURSE, I bought a knish from him. He towed us all the to Roslyn Heights and our parents were so grateful they offered him a ton of cash, which he refused (but took upon much convincing). So, this movie IS my experience of the Bronx. (Mom and Dad, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry I didn’t pick a film that showcases the Bronx of your childhood. I tried, but scores for those movies are scarce).

Oh right, the score! So Jonathan Tunick is mostly remembered for the musicals he wrote or orchestrated, like “Follies”, “A Little Night Music” and “Company” and about a million others. So, of course, the PERFECT choice to compose music for a film like “Fort Apache”. BUT, if you recall, movies in the late seventies and early eighties that took place in NYC all had that musical feel…”Author Author”, “Chapter Two”, “Arthur”…and who better than someone as prolific as Tunick. I used to have this score, but it’s long gone, and on youtube, the only piece is a suite of three of the tracks, but it should give you a good idea of that style.

hannahThanksgiving Day: Hannah and Her Sisters
26a) You Made Me Love You (Harry James)

26b) I’m in Love Again (Bobby Short)
(Various artists, 1986)

I’ve now watched this film at least fifty times and I STILL get chills from that last moment. There is not a wasted moment or performance misstep in this perfect illustration of a specific moment in New York (betwixt the city’s upper middle class WASP’s, Jews and art-world elites. And the music is equal to the task. I cannot hear any of it without going to my memory of seeing it for the first time in Evanston in a theater long gone. Alas, the scene I wanted to showcase, Carrie Fisher’s audition scene, is not available on the tube, so watch the film instead. And I added the Bobby Short performance because…well…remind me someday to tell you my Bobby Short story, cause it’s a doozy!


nighthawksFriday: Queens (sort of)
27a) Nighthawks Theme

27b) Flight of a Hawk

Nighthawks (Keith Emerson, 1981)

So, there are really very few Queen’s-based films, and even less with scores that are worth a damn. In fact, I had to find a film that never even manages to ge to the other side of the Queensborough Bridge. This, let’s just be polite and say fashion-forward vehicle for Stallone and Rutger Hauer definitely has its moments and is famous for the Roosevelt Island tram scene, also features a score from a Prog Rock titan who…uh…never composed a score for another feature. And much as I LOVE Emerson Lake and Palmer, and I do…a lot…the music in this film is so blatantly ELP that it takes you out of the film regularly. As an ELP record it’s not so bad…but as a score…oof. Listen in, you’ll see what I mean. Sorry Queens, you deserve better scores. If the music from “Queen’s Logic” or “Five Corners” were more than K-Tel compilations, I’d have chosen them.

eternalSaturday: Long Island (specifically, Nassau County)
28a) Collecting Things
28b) A Dream Upon Waking
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Jon Brion, 2004)

Not many films represent the connective tissue of the very Long Island I come from (ie the Long Island Rail Road) than “Eternal Sunshine”. The Island, and its shift from the heart of Nassau County to the environs of the far eastern shorelines, are practically a character in the film. And Jon Brion’s score is a huge piece of the film’s success. Brion has made a career of scoring quirky films like “Lady Bird”, “Punch Drunk Love”, “Synecdoche, New York” and “Magnolia”. I’ve included the lovely “Collecting Things” and the Carl Stallings via Frank Zappa-esque “Dream Upon Waking”. Brilliant.


Sunday: Heading back to Chicago….
29a) Tour de Fraance (Etape 2)
29b) Vitamin

Tour de France (Kraftwerk, 2003)

Time to travel home to Chicago and since it’s TV day, let’s hit something written for traveling long distances – likes hundreds of miles on a bike. I’m cheating, however, because while the album this music is from is called a soundtrack, it really isn’t. Now, it COULD have been the score for a doc about the Tour de France, it sounds like it should be, and, in truth was supposed to be unveiled as the music to accompany the 100th Tour de France…but it took so long to make complete, it was released well after that Tour had ended. Instead it’s one of Kraftwerk’s great albums. While most people may recognize the song “Tour de France”, which was a bit of a dance club hit in 1983, it wasn’t actually a part of the original album release (it has since been attached to almost every version). And since the single doesn’t much sound like film music let’s go with “Tour de France Etape 2” (the funkiest of the bunch) and the sexy and pulsating “Vitamin”. The whole thing is friggin’ great.

91cgvnkZqvL._AC_UL600_SR600,600_30a) We Cry For You
30b) A Comedy of Terrors (End Titles)

Death of Stalin (Christopher Willis, 2017)

Okay…it’s the last day of November, which deserves something big and bold! “Death of Stalin” is one of the great satires of the last decade and works on many, many levels. One of its standout attributes is Christopher Willis’ hijaaking of Stravinsky and Rimsky-Korsakov. It is bold, over-the-top and VERY Russian.

Thirty-one more coming on December 1st…if I have time…definitely some strange holiday music for sure!

2 thoughts on “A Film Score A Day For the Month of November

  1. To say the least…this is impressive!!! I LOVE the film and score of Once!! They actually fell in love on the set and then lived and toured together for a year and sadly it didn’t last. Side note: when she comes out of the store after buying batteries, the paper she is holding contain the actual lyrics as they just had finished the song 1/2 hour before the shot. I must admit I am not attuned to the scores like this. Super job. I should learn from this! I will try harder. Steve


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