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Seth

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  1. Of course, the film structure certainly drives the score. I wonder if your theory on Goldsmith could be redirected to explore why Williams' concert works that seem to have some extramusical association are more formally successful than those that don't. Even though Williams isn't obviously drawing on structure and image for his concert work, it seems to me that drawing inspiration from nature or myth, for instance (such as the bassoon and horn concertos and Heartwood) or personal tragedy in the case of the violin concerto, leads him to create pieces that more solid structurally-speaking than those that don't rely on those external sources of inspiration. But maybe I'm just rambling.
  2. I'm genuinely curious as to whether anyone is truly excited about this movie. I can't think of many books I've hated more than this one and I honestly can't believe Spielberg is directing the adaptation. I wish he had dug up the aborted Robopocalypse adaptation if he felt the need to make an effects-heavy adventure movie. I would have killed to have heard Williams score that one. I think it would have been a hybrid of A.I. and Minority Report with some strains of War of the Worlds, and in my mind it's nothing short of awesome.
  3. I keep hoping Indy 5 turns out to be something that never happens. I only love Raiders out of the lot (and that goes for scores too), and I don't see any of the three sequels to date as essential, though I love the Grail and father/son material from Last Crusade. As far as West Side Story goes, I think it would be interesting if Williams were to do new adaptations of the songs and maybe write some new underscore, but I honestly like the arrangements from the 60s just fine. I don't think it would be West Side Story with new songs. The Bernstein/Sondheim songs are so established and ingrained that trying to replace them would be a fool's errand.
  4. What a bummer that would be. I loved Kraemer's score to Rogue Nation. Really effective interpolation of the Schifrin material with his own writing, orchestrations that were effective in how each section was used and played off of each other (so much clarity, compared to a lot of orchestral scores for big-budget action movies!) and pretty solidly engineered recording too. I think Kraemer would be a solid choice for a Star Wars spin-off if anyone thinks to ask.
  5. I don't know if this question was meant for the peanut gallery, but I'm willing to take a stab at it. In my mind, form has a lot of impact on how interesting and involving a musical work is and can affect how I receive a piece emotionally or intellectually. It can reveal a lot about a composer's ability to manipulate his/her material and get mileage out of it, so to speak, and it can show a great deal about pacing and architecture, and how everything fits together. Form affects everything, from how the piece's building blocks (whether it's melodic material, textural, harmonic, or rhythmic devices, etc.) are established, and then how those building blocks get rearranged, elaborated on, varied, combined, and so on. I actually agree with @TGP that it's hard sometimes to argue with that criticism when it's applied to Williams. A good example to me is the first movement of the cello concerto or the corresponding movement of the viola concerto, where Williams lays out his material fairly quickly, gives the soloist a little room to ruminate on it, but Williams places what other composers might use for a climax comes so quickly that there isn't really anywhere else to go. That's not to disparage the orchestral scoring or the melodic material in either case, and Williams gets into and out of the climactic passage material skillfully, but it feels out of place and as far as I'm concerned the rest of the movement is wheel-spinning punctuated by occasional moments of interest. By contrast, the first movement of The Five Sacred Trees is a formal structure that works much better. It's a really artfully constructed build, from the solo bassoon opening through to the various passages for orchestra without soloist and that feature the soloist weaving in and out of the orchestral textures, and the climax of the movement comes naturally and comes at just the right place--it's related to the material that got worked over throughout the movement, and it still allows for the soloist to have a denoument, in literary terms, before the movement comes to a close. This kind of criticism doesn't necessarily apply to his film work, where there are discrete cues that allow material to come and go as necessary and get developed in a different way over a longer time with shorter sections. If that makes any sense. If any of this makes any sense. I admittedly don't have the vocabulary to discuss music in the way I would like, even though I love it and have opinions about it that I can't always put into words well. As an aside, if his longevity is being discussed, I think the bassoon, horn, and harp concertos stand a chance of lasting. I'm not fond of the cello concerto, and although I like the violin concerto I don't know that will take a huge place in the repertoire when violinists have so much else to choose from. I think it would be the same situation if he chose wrote a piano concerto.
  6. Seth

    The Last Jedi vs. The Post

    I've actually got to say my vote is split on this one. I am enjoying TLJ a lot more than The Post. But I think The Post should have been nominated for the Oscar (though I say this having only heard the album; not seen the film). It covers a lot of ground in a short time, and I think the more rhythmic, textural material is really interesting. I love those jagged brass figures in "The Presses Roll" a lot, and also that lovely, melancholy tune in the same track that gets carried by the woodwinds. The electronic stuff is really tastefully applied. As much as I like those elements, I kind of wish the whole score had been in the vein of "The Oak Room" and "Two Martini Lunch," in a more reflective, jazz-tinged mode. Plus it's really beautiful piano/combo writing that seems to just scratch the surface of something richer. I think Williams has a kind of dark, forlorn side that he doesn't indulge often, but when he does it's usually very striking. But from my understanding that's not the kind of film Spielberg made. I'm honestly surprised TLJ got him the nomination; I thought it would be a double nomination or just The Post.
  7. Seth

    THE POST - SCORE Thread

    It certainly has some moments of interest, at least on first listen. I do think it may work better on its own terms rather than as underscore, though I also suspect it fits the film Spielberg actually made rather than the film I wish Spielberg had made (at least based on my impressions of what The Post is, from the reviews I have seen). I imagine that this and TLJ will both reward repeat listens.
  8. ESB, and it's not exactly a contest. I love the ending of AOTC, though, where he weaves together the love theme, Anakin's theme, and the Imperial March. It's a shame that the middle portion is just the concert arrangement dropped in. I do have a soft spot for the original, especially in the film recording, and I think there's something to be said for the ending that he eventually replaced with the Throne Room music. I also like the sound of the strings playing those initial bars of the end credits rather than trumpets, as it became from ESB forward. It's a nice contrast to the brass renditions of the rebel fanfare and main title theme. But I think ESB has the advantage of more diverse thematic material, and some really well-crafted transitions. The way the brass bring it to a close is one of my favorite musical things about the Star Wars scores. The transitions are the only thing the ROTS end titles have going for them, if you ask me. It's a lackluster performance and recording of the OT material that eats up valuable space on a too-short album. ROTJ has nothing to really distinguish it, nor does TPM. So I guess TFA is tied for second, and it's actually pretty close.
  9. I can't hear anything in this score that suggests a composer who wasn't interested or involved in the project. If you want to infer that, that's your right, but I think it's really unfair to insist that your dissatisfaction with the score should lead to one single assessment of Williams' investment in the work. Frankly I think the issues go beyond substituting temp track for spotting session, if we want to take Rian Johnson literally. As an aside, personally I'm still trying to square that comment with an earlier story where he talked about joking with Williams about replacing the main title as they watched the film. Perhaps he did a temp track and viewed the film with Williams without a temp? If there was just a temp and no discussion until the stage, Williams may have simply concluded that some moments were not as important musically and shifted his attention elsewhere. A lot of the dramatic underscore has its own personality and adds a lot of weight and substance to the story; the material for Luke on the island really enriches that part of the story and gives it a sense of grandeur that it might not have had otherwise. I don't think it's a case of losing interest, necessarily; it may rather be a case of him being sensitive to the fact that some parts of the film needed more attention or a different kind of attention than others. I can't listen to cues like "The Spark" or "The Fathiers," or hear the application of the themes for Luke and the island, and think he doesn't care about this anymore, or didn't care about it this time, at any rate. I just think your explanation is perhaps too facile and too dismissive. But it's really all a moot point, isn't it? No one will ever know for sure what was going through Williams or Johnson's mind. One thing I do think to be true is that Johnson may not have quite known what was really possible in working with Williams--I think the score was well-served by the lack of constant rewrites, but I think a little more collaboration and discussion may have resulted in a more coherent musical narrative (or maybe not, the movie does jump around a lot). Star Wars obviously requires a different musical approach than his first three films, and it's possible Johnson didn't quite know what to do in that regard other than letting Williams alone. I don't think a week is enough time to get the measure of the score, especially with half of the music in the film not appearing on the album. And as someone noted in another thread, a lot of the unreleased music isn't quite as dependent on the existing themes. A week isn't enough time for me, anyway. This score doesn't have the immediacy of TFA, but I do think it will be a grower--or at least it will be for me (and probably some others, I imagine). I certainly can't even begin to think about where it ranks in the series but in terms of sheer energy I think it outpaces TFA and the final two prequels.
  10. I haven't heard that. Interesting. But yeah, everything about the brass in this score is faultless, from the writing to the performing to the recording and mixing. Perfectly handled.
  11. The more I think about this film the more I like it. It certainly wasn't the sugar-high that TFA was, but I thought it was very satisfying--in a more real way--in the end. I do have some quibbles--the chronology of this trilogy puzzles me, and I don't understand how the crawl could say that the First Order has conquered a large part of the galaxy already, given that this film picks up right at the end of TFA (overlapping it, in fact, depending on how you read the opening space battle). Snoke turned out to be a means to an end (Kylo Ren's further descent) rather than anyone of consequence in his own right, and I did think it was going to end three or four times before it actually did. I was relieved that Rey is a nobody--that decision was the right one. I just wish JJ Abrams didn't seem to get off so much on mystery for its own sake; it seems like Rian Johnson just wasn't interested in playing along with that stuff and decided to be rid of it. The Rose/Finn stuff didn't bother me, honestly; I thought their getting derailed was necessary to add tension to the middle part of the film, and the way that Johnson tied all his threads together in the buildup to Crait was really well-handled. The Resistance fuel plot already reminded me a little of the episode "33" from Battlestar Galactica's first season, and for me that extra element of Finn and Rose's side adventure helped make it something more its own. Plus I thought Rose was a really endearing character--not quite like anyone else in Star Wars, in her unbridled optimism and hopeful, innocent nature--so I appreciated getting to spend more time with her. I thought Luke got a really fitting send-off, and the scene where that happened was incredibly beautiful in its staging and cinematography. Speaking of, I think this is easily the best looking film in the series, with some really incredible design and cinematography. Mark Hamill really impressed me with how he moved through Luke's arc. I also think Domhnall Gleeson deserves some credit for making the most out of a character that is a bit superfluous, adding some dimension to an underwritten and poorly utilized part. So many moments in this film have stuck in my mind, certainly moreso than Rogue One or TFA. With all that happened in this film, and how it ended, I find myself questioning whether Episode IX is really necessary. None of the major OT characters will be around, and I would be content if they just left it here, honestly. The only way it will really work, as far as I can tell, is if the JJ Abrams builds in a time jump, with the Resistance perhaps being built up beyond the 40 or so people who were crammed onboard the Millennium Falcon and with Rey being more firmly established in her knowledge of the Force. I expect the final film to come down to Rey and Kylo Ren fighting for all the marbles.
  12. Having seen the film and listened to the soundtrack for the first time, I don't think one time through is sufficient to completely absorb either one. After hearing the action music Williams wrote for this one, I really wonder if the streamlined sound of TFA really was more due to how that film was made rather than any independently-made creative decisions. I am stunned that at 85 he was able to write a score this vigorous. That's the best word for it, I think. It's so full of energy and sounds like it could have been written a decade ago rather than this year. The way the score follows every turn of the film (and some of those turns just whip right from one thing to another) is incredible considering his age. Wall-to-wall scoring isn't always a good thing, but it really didn't bother me in this case. I think the parts without music were well-chosen, and as far as I am concerned the rest of the film is perfectly able to support the amount of score it received. I was surprised at how well the music was mixed in the movie, certainly better than TFA. I think his handling of Luke's final act was perfect--it made that part of the story incredibly enthralling. I think that assessment could actually go for how he scored Luke's entire arc. His use of Leia's theme was also handled better than some of the other recurring themes, especially early in the film when she was thrown into space. I think using the climax of the concert arrangement for her flight through space made the scene fantastically surreal rather than silly (your mileage may vary, of course). And I was so happy to hear that warm rendition of Luke and Leia's theme. I think someone else here said that Williams has finally got all he can get out of the Force theme, and I am inclined to agree. There's only so many times that theme can be played by a solo horn before it starts to be ignored. That said, though, there is one gigantic brass rendition of that theme (I think it underscored the burning tree and is on the album in The Sacred Jedi Texts--would have to see the film again to be sure) that I loved. As far as other recurring theme uses go, I thought the delicate statement of the main title at the end of the film was a beautiful moment. I was also surprised--pleasantly--to hear him write some wonderful variations on the Resistance march, which I didn't even think he would bring back. I think it's a shame that there isn't more Rey's theme on the album, considering that he did explore it throughout the movie. I am looking forward to spending more time with score on album and seeing the film at least one more time to get a better sense of how it all hangs together. That's just it, though--there's no practice involved. They don't see the music until the day of the sessions. That's a fact that never ceases to blow my mind when it comes to Williams' more complex scores. This one certainly put them through their paces; no other film composer writes for trumpets as well as Williams, at least as far as I am concerned.
  13. Hopefully this won't get lost in all the back-and-forth of the impending release of The Last Jedi, but I was hoping to start a discussion of aspects of Williams' work and approach that might be underrated or not discussed as much as maybe they warrant. The topic was inspired while I was re-watching the Star Wars prequels and noticed his approach to the dialogue scenes. I don't have any other strong examples of his dialogue underscoring close at hand, but his approach to the more talky scenes of these films struck me as unusually strong. One of the ones that stood out most (and always has) is the scene in Attack of the Clones where Anakin is finding out from the Lars family what has happened to his mother. The score, based on arpeggios in the strings that don't fully resolve harmonically, adds so much tension and a sense of dread that the dialogue and acting just aren't creating. His string voicings there are impeccable too, pitched in just the right range to work with the voice ranges of the actors without causing conflict. Revenge of the Sith is rife with smart dialogue underscore too, especially in nearly any scene involving Anakin and Palpatine before Anakin's fall, and the same applies to scenes of Anakin and Obi-Wan before their split. I also think his handling of the scene where Obi-Wan confronts Padme about Anakin's turn was handled just right, not overbearing melodically and with harmonic resolution coming at just the right point. The writing and acting in these films don't really generate any sense of tragedy or tension or drama, but the music does what everything else fails to do, mostly without resorting to histrionics to do it. I really don't mean for this thread to turn into fanboy-ish gushing, but hope it turns into a good discussion of things Williams does that we just don't talk about that much or that we think of as underappreciated.
  14. Yeah, that's one of the worst offenders to me. The music really drives the tension and drama of the heroes escaping, and Lucas destroyed all of that by cutting in the series of shots of Vader leaving Bespin and landing on the Star Destroyer. It's almost like he completely misunderstood why that part of the film works so well--it's the music and the editing that already existed. Didn't need anything. For all the times he's paid lip service to John Williams' contributions to Star Wars, I don't think he really understands or appreciates what Williams did for his films, especially in the prequels where I think Williams put in more effort than the movies probably deserved (though if one wanted to be really reductive about it I suppose you could say that about the entire series--and I say that as someone who admittedly is less objective about Star Wars than he possibly should be).
  15. The thread topic is pretty well self-explanatory--does anyone here subscribe to the Filmstruck streaming service? I'm finding myself increasingly frustrated and dissatisfied by what's on offer at Netflix and Hulu when it comes to more serious films, and I don't want to buy DVDs or rent from Amazon when I want to see something I can't find anywhere else. The big draw for me is that Filmstruck makes the Criterion Collection available via streaming. Does anybody have any experience with this particular service, and can offer any opinions about the range and quality of their offerings?
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