My Favorite Soundtracks
The most listenable movies ever put on disc...



Orchestral scores

Empire Strikes Back by John Williams - This was the original powerful score from the first film with all the depth of great new themes like "The Imperial March" (aka Darth Vader's theme), "Yoda's Theme," the love theme, and the finale, plus great action sequences like the Asteroid Belt chase.  It is incredibly emotive and gets your adrenaline rushing.

Forrest Gump by Alan Silvestri - Great themes for a movie that is filled with climaxes at every step.  (Contact gets a "runner's-up" for sharing many of the same qualities, but this beats it.)

Revenge of the Sith by John Williams - Everything "Empire" had and more.  Most of the familiar themes are revisited in ways that compliment the scenes and improve on them, plus several tracks (e.g., "Palpatine's Teachings" and "Padme's Ruminations") feature inventive use of choral voices that you don't hear from Williams too often.

The Matrix by Don Davis - It's a bit chaotic at times, but, then, so was the action on-screen.  And that's what's fun about both.  It isn't clever music in the traditional sense, but it is very inventive and sufficiently memorable to recall the emotional context of the scenes at just a listen (even if you've only seen the movie once).

Close Encounters of the Third Kind by John Williams - Yes, another one by Williams.  Naturally, this score stands out for the famous "Conversation" between us and the visitors, but there's so much more to this score than just that moment.  As with the movie, there are elements of both excitement and wonder.  I don't know whether the movie compliments the score or vice versa, but this one is enjoyable completely on its own.

Dune by Toto - Again, this isn't a particularly "good" score by many definitions, but it has many moments that are haunting such as when "Paul Meets Chani," among others.  The band obviously struggled to figure out how to flesh this out in spots, but even simple tracks are powerfully expressed by giant orchestral and choral arrangements.

Electronic

Fifth Element by Eric Serra - I really wish this one had received more attention, but I guess what was on the screen was sufficiently distracting.  However, this score is as bizarre and original as any of the scenes in the film, and it's quite a bit better than the script!  Case in point, the montage of the characters setting in (or stowing) away aboard the spaceship on the way to Fhloston Paradise features an electronic reggae piece by Serra.  Other tracks seem almost formless utterances by random instruments that gradually emerge to create a holistic piece (e.g., "Five Millennia...").  It's a very enjoyable score.

Fight Club by The Dust Bros. - Another really inventive score that has a distinct sound in spite of the fact that it alternates between serious and more tongue-in-cheek influences like Latin and techno.  At its core though, it's really hard-driving, yet it always shifts gears precisely with the motions on the screen in ways most film composers never bother with.

Twin Peaks by Angelo Badalamenti - While certainly many of the instruments in both the film and tv soundtracks are acoustic, the most memorable tones are so because of their electronic peculiarities.  For example, the main theme's soft Rhodes keyboard mixed with the strange trebly bass.  And then there's Julee Cruise's voice that is something from another planet.

Blade Runner by Vangelis - The visuals alone took you into the future, but this film has one of the most atmospheric soundtracks that makes scenes poignant when almost nothing is happening onscreen.  At times it is too overtly electronic in tone, but the compositions themselves are so human that it doesn't really matter.

Monster by BT - This is absolutely haunting.  It's better than the movie and works as a second screenplay that expresses emotions that would have been absent from this somewhat minimalist film.  I honestly get chills listening to it, and I really look forward to more scoring from BT in the future.

Me And You And Everyone We Know - Michael Andrews' score follows the mood of this film perfectly.  It exists outside of time.  It isn't pretentious, just thoughtful.  Somehow it is very powerful, much like the film, all the while remaining understated.



Compilation soundtracks

Trainspotting by everyone in the UK - This may be one of the best party records, but it also las so many odd twists thrown in.  Just like the movie.

Wild At Heart by Angelo Badalamenti - It's a better soundtrack than it was a movie.  The pieces on this disc match the landscape.  Both combine to make such a surreal backdrop.

Lost Highway by Trent Reznor, Angelo Badalamenti, etc. - Another example of a better soundtrack and the movie.  Also by David Lynch.  If he hadn't redeemed himself with Mulholland Dr., I would have suggested he go into this business instead.

Natural Born Killers sndtrk by Trent Reznor et al. - It's as crazy a collage as the movie and quite a bit more entertaining.  Tracks segue abruptly from one to the next with little regard for genre, yet the whole thing works.  Reznor's talent is as much the ability to find interesting pieces in his record collection as is his ability to add to ours (which he hardly ever does anymore).  Speaking of finding a new career.

Musicals

Rocky Horror by Richard O'Brien - You mix all the craziest elements of '50s rock, sci-fi, and sexual deviants of all kinds together and see if you come up with something this good.  And I don't care who all you've had sex with.  If you haven't seen this in the theater yet, then you're still a virgin.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch by Stephen Trask (and mostly sung by John Cameron Mitchell) - Here's another musical that just shouldn't work.  I mean, who would think the story of a sarcastic, unsympathetic (almost) transgendered (almost) woman would be so powerful?  Well, it's because of the songs.  Songs like "Wig in the Box" somehow capture something so universal, you don't stop and think, "Yeah, cross-dressing is an odd subject for a ballad."  And "Origin of Love" is equal parts epic and sublime.  Freddy Mercury would have wept with envy that this wasn't his song.

People who should try their hand at scoring a movie
See also my list of Favorite Movies elsewhere on this site.




Copyright 2005 cinemAle[x].
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