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Lewya

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Lewya last won the day on May 11 2016

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  1. Red Sparrow - James Newton Howard The opening is quite nice and I guess it is one of the brightest film music moments of the year (which doesn't say much as all given the weak year), but most of the rest passes by without any of it having any effect on me, I just find the underscore nondescript and dull.
  2. Lewya

    Who is your favorite film composer?

    I don't think I am, it is just my opinion, it is just what it is. Impressed by what? Just because my favourites are different than Williams? Come on. I am well aware that nobody cares.
  3. Lewya

    Who is your favorite film composer?

    Takemitsu or North is mine if I am forced to name one or two names - probably the most serious of film composers. In terms of imagination and chops, Takemitsu was the best, even beyond North. With that said, I do prefer North's body of film music over Takemitsu's and North was also arguably more influential in his film music. Here is a good read, where a notable music writer nominates Takemitsu as the greatest film composer of all time: Who's the greatest film composer of all time? By Jan Swafford We all know that trying to decide who's "the best" in matters of the arts, and especially who's best in the art of music, is a bad idea. But let's be bad. Let's do it: Here's my nomination for best film composer of all time. A little background. It's been said that to be a true film composer, you have to be a master of every style but your own. There's some truth in that, as rampant eclecticism is the rule. But in fact one style dominated movies for a long time: Max Steiner's faux-primitive ooga-booga music for the 1933 King Kong was the first full film score of the talkie era, and it set a number of precedents. Steiner was a Viennese who could emit late-19th-century music, redolent of Strauss and Mahler, by the kilo. Outside Skull Island, that plush orchestral sound would dominate film scores for the following decades: the Austro-German-Hollywood grand style epitomized by Steiner and another Austrian, Erich Wolfgang Korngold. (In recent years, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and others have returned, or regressed, to that approach, as channeled by John Williamsin Jurassic Park, Star Wars, and so on.) Second, Steiner's King Kong score established the idea of wall-to-wall music behind films—his Gone With the Wind score shuts up for only about 20 minutes of the movie. Third, he popularized the kind of obsessive musical mimesis called "Mickey Mousing." When a horse jumps over a fence in Gone With the Wind, Steiner's harp glissando follows her up and over. Steiner scored hundreds of movies, but not everybody adored him. When Bette Davis was filming the scene in Dark Victory (1939) where she climbs the stairs in the middle of going blind, she stopped halfway up and came down to demand of the director: "Is Steiner doing the music for this?" The director admitted Steiner was. "Then I'm not going up those stairs," Davis said. "If Max is doing the movie it'll be me and him both going up the stairs, and it'll wreck my scene." The director promised Davis no music. In the end, though, Steiner did score the scene and, inevitably, mucked it up. Then and now, producers and directors spoke a different language than musicians. What does a composer do with a direction like, "Write something hopeful, but with a sad undertone and a little sexy." You nod, do what you want, and hope for the best. When William Wyler heard one of Aaron Copland's cues for The Heiress, he said, "No, Aaron, it's all wrong. What I want for this scene is a nice lesbian tune." Nice lesbian tune, thought Copland. What he did was to go home and stick a few funny notes into the same tune, then bring it back to Wyler, who cried: "That's it exactly! A lesbian tune!" (Copland won an Oscar for The Heiress. I once asked him what he thought about writing for film. "It pays really well," was all he had to say.) A lot of people will declare, as I would have at one time, that the greatest film composer of all, hands-down, is Bernard Herrmann. His résumé starts spectacularly with Citizen Kane in 1939, and he died virtually in the saddle in 1976, hours after the last recording session for Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver. En route, Herrmann scored Hitchcock films including Vertigo, North by Northwest, and Psycho. Herrmann's most famous moment is also, I submit, the quintessential movie-music cue: the shower scene in Psycho. It's one of those bits (the shark music in Jaws is another) that you only need to "sing," or rather, howl—as in Reeeek! Reeeek! Reeeek!—to conjure up the whole bloody affair. Psycho is as much state of mind as movie, and the shower scene embodies that. The music is utterly expressive of the action: The string glissandi make a nasty slicing sound that equally suggests female screams and the shrieks of predatory birds (recall Norman's little taxidermic hobby). Above all, the cue is perfect because it's nearly invisible, so imbedded in the moment that I suspect a lot of people don't realize there's "music" in the scene at all. Herrmann did a row of classic movies and pioneered modern film-scoring, but he's no longer my nominee for greatest of all. My new champion is a composer who's scored nearly 100 films, from thriller to arty, who had an encyclopedic command of style as well as a singular voice of his own, and who is numbered in the highest rank of modern concert-hall composers—something many film composers aspired to but only one achieved: Toru Takemitsu. Takemitsu was an amazing figure: a first-rate straight composer, detective novelist, and fanatic of film and pop music. ("My teachers," he said, "are Duke Ellington and nature.") Despite his success in the concert hall, he's not properly recognized in the United States for his movie work simply because many of his movies never made it here. But there's enough that can be found in your video store to show what he could do, including Woman in the Dunes and, near the end of his life, Akira Kurosawa's Ran. In terms of imagination and musical technique, Takemitsu simply had chops beyond Herrmann or anybody else. And if you want to talk about style: Woman in the Dunes has unearthly music close to his concert-hall voice; Rikyu, about a tea-ceremony master, uses short, almost inaudible washes of sound alternating with Renaissance-style viola da gamba music that Takemitsu imitated dead-on. When I first heard the wonderfully cheesy, neo-Burt Bacharach title tune for Kurosawa's Dod'es-kaden, I thought, Takemitsu can't possibly have written this. But he did, and it shows in the scoring: Phrase by phrase, the saccharine little tune is rendered into something new and surprising, starting with marimba and ending with Bach trumpet and recorder. That title tune is the movie: A story about a retarded kid living in a junkyard, which could have been dark and maudlin but is made with a light touch. Takemitsu's sweet-sad tune tells us that from the start. For the epic battle sequence of Ran, Kurosawa's version of King Lear, the director told Takemitsu he wanted something like Mahler. What Takemitsu gave him is and isn't Mahler. It has a big orchestral sound spread over wide spaces and a Mahleresque sense of doom, but the music is modern, keening with tragedy and horror, utterly unclichéd, as indelibly wedded to the images as the shower scene in Psycho. Together, the music and visuals make the battle in Ran, I propose, one of the most eloquent sequences in all of film. As he lay dying, Takemitsu lamented that he'd been too sick to go to the movies. In his prime he went several times a week, and he had the means to turn that obsession into something marvelous in an art too little celebrated—and let's face it, much of the time not all that worth celebrating. The ultimate test of Takemitsu's talent is that, like some of Herrmann's, his film scores can work splendidly on their own. Listen to the waltz from The Face of Another. You've probably never heard of the movie, you'd certainly never guess who wrote it, but it sweeps you off your feet. http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/music_box/2006/10/high_score.html More recently, Goldsmith, Morricone and Newman. Yep, that's right, no Williams, I care for so relatively few of his scores and most of them are from many years ago. Unless Williams writes another score like A.I. or Close Encounters, I am not overly enthusiastic with most of his other stuff. In terms of favourite among living film composers, then that's Newman.
  4. Maps to the Stars - Howard Shore I am not a big fan of The Hobbit scores even if they are decent, but this on the other hand is Shore's most striking recent achievement. This is a good and an imaginative score.
  5. Lewya

    How do you rate The Terminal?

    I can't even remember the movie, but 2 stars out of 5 stars about right based on what I remember. Not horrible, but not good either. Score.. hm, it is fair to pretty good. I am being a bit generous and voting on 3 stars even if I don't really listen to it or like it much.
  6. Going to give Mandy a listen later today. Arrival was his most recent score I cared for and I have a feeling that this one won't be for me, but maybe it has at least one worthwhile track or something.
  7. Yeah, and the takeaway is a culminative one in my mind rather than standout tracks I think. Much like Cleopatra which I also need to give another listen to soon.
  8. Dragonslayer - Alex North Fantasy music doesn't get better than this. What brilliant orchestration. It makes me want to see the film.
  9. Totally disagree. He is certainly not unmatched, not even among living film composers. I find Newman, Morricone and maybe Goldenthal superior, or at least on his level. They are more original, inventive and/or progressive than Williams. I consider Newman the most original and finest living film composer even if he hasn't written as many very good scores as Williams yet (as he shouldn't, he is after all over 20 years younger than him). I also connect with Newman's style and approach to scoring more - he doesn't put too strong music behind the images like Williams too often does. Takemitsu and North are the kings of film scoring - no one else had their imagination, chops or track record of excellence. I'd put Takemitsu above North as a composer, he had chops even beyond North, but in my mind North's track record of excellence across his film music career is unparalleled, even if Takemitsu came pretty close. Also Takemitsu didn't write any film score as groundbreaking as Streetcar, North was more influential and groundbreaking to the field. I don't think it is controversial to say that objectively speaking, Takemitsu was the greatest composer who ever became a "true" film composer - Takemitsu is the only composer who ranks among the highest rank of modern concert hall composers - something some film composers only aspired to but only Takemitsu achieved. Don't get me wrong though, Williams is one of the top 10 film composers of all time and a master, but far from the king of film scoring. My main issue is his comfort zone which he stays in far too often for my liking, the recycling and the lack of diversity which he did quite well in the 70s in particular. As I have said before, some other composers are more original, inventive and/or progressive - Newman, Morricone and Goldenthal among living film composers - Takemitsu, North, Herrmann and Goldsmith among dead film composers.
  10. Lewya

    Justin Hurwitz's FIRST MAN (2018)

    Two tracks from the score have been released exclusively: https://ew.com/movies/2018/10/04/first-man-score-first-listen-exclusive/
  11. Nah, one of his better I guess - a top 10 Zimmer score, but there are far too big parts of the score that bore and/or grate me. Still, it has some fine moments. Inception is his best probably - which was remarkably fresh at the time it came out and remains a interestingly obsessive maximum-minimal score. I also dig some of the ambience in it. Now playing: Avatar - James Horner Not really a fan of this, uninspired RCP-like ostinatos and annoying chanting - strikes me as bland "epicness", but I don't mind it too much. It at least has a few tracks that are pretty good. Like Titanic, I don't mind it much in context even if I am not a fan of it, it just feels like a big missed opportunity though. Addendum: East of Eden - Leonard Rosenman Much, much better - in fact, one of the best film scores of all time. As Corigliano said, not even Copland could have written a better Americana theme. 1900 - Ennio Morricone My favourite Morricone score of the 100-something I have heard, not only because of the fantastic main theme, but also because it contains one of the 10 best film music tracks of all time - Olmo E Alfredo. How the melody is laid against accompaniment and what you can do with 2 notes. The string writing starting at around one minute into the track is amazing. It is my most favourite Morricone.
  12. Gone Girl - Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross Listening to this again. I really dig the none abrasive/industrial parts of the score in particular.
  13. Solaris - Cliff Martinez Fantastic, the best electronic film score of the last 20+ years. I love this score. Drive - Cliff Martinez I hope this one will grow on me on my upcoming listen. I remember liking it, but nowhere near my love for Solaris.
  14. Right now I have two (or three or four, if we count Williams/Goldenthal - I am going to addd Shore to make it a top 5) favourites among living film composers: Thomas Newman Cliff Martinez I consider Newman the finest living film composer even if he has yet to live up to his 90s glory. I also think Martinez's Solaris in particular is the best electronic film score of the last 20+ years, a remarkable achievement. It is one of the top 10 film scores of the 21st century (so far). Don't get me wrong, I also like Williams, but I am not as enthusiastic about his "big sound" like I have stated before. I am a bit tired of all of the re-treading (admittedly imaginative) of the past that Williams usually don't go far beyond. I only love two or three scores of his: Close Encounters, A.I. and the Star Wars scores (mainly because they brought orchestal film scores back, because they are well-crafted and can be pretty fun to listen to). I can totally see why a composer like say for instance Sakamoto and Greenwood doesn't seem to be big fans of Williams, and I agree with some of that "negativity". I still consider myself a pretty big fan of Williams, but only because of his best music, not most of his scores. I also like Reznor & Ross, especially Gone Girl, but not to the extent that I consider them current favourites. Levi is an interesting composer, I have liked both of her major film scores, especially Under the Skin, but I can't say that she is a favourite, at least not yet. With Greenwood, I enjoyed There Will Be Blood but since then I haven't liked his stuff to the same degree as it. When it comes to Zimmer, I loved Inception but I haven't cared for anything he has done since, not that everything has been bad, just not good enough. I don't care for Giacchino or Powell at all I have to say. Desplat is at least more interesting, but I am a fan of him as a person rather than his music. I am not a big fan of Newton Howard either even if he is above average. I guess I will add Shore along with Williams and Goldenthal to make it a top 5 current favourites among living film composers. In terms of current top 5 all time favourites, it would have to be these five film composers: Toru Takemitsu Ennio Morricone Bernard Herrmann Alex North Thomas Newman It is painful to have to leave out Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams from my all time top 5. Anyway, these are my top 7 film composers of all time.
  15. Same! I am a pretty big fan of Sakamoto, and his async album was my favourite album last year. Anyway, this thing is way too expensive, and especially since I already owned most of the music before I discovered his list. I decided to just grab some of the tracks that he mentioned which I didn't have before and through someone I managed to access parts of the booklet that comes with the CD to read some of the comments on all the various tracks. I can't improve much on his list and think it is exceptional, I agree with the vast majority of it. I think only two of the tracks were previously unfamiliar for me, I hadn't heard the Lai track, but I agree that it is great, even if it doesn't make my personal top 25. Also the François de Roubaix track was news to me, another great track, maybe Roubaix at his best. Bespin - your Spotify list is not entirely correct, you have picked some of the wrong versions of the tracks he selected and not all of it is on Spotify. The specific Takemitsu track he selected for the CD is not the entire 5 minute suite thing, it is the 1 minute something track which I uploaded to YouTube above. I uploaded the track from Blue too, which I included among my top 5 tracks of all time. It is hard to think of more intimate film music, it is hard to think of ambient music done better than it in film, the only possible exception I can think of is Eno's For All Mankind, which inhabits a similiar kind of soundscape as this, but both are different. It is also hard to think of other film music were spoken word is used on this level. I accidentally deleted the booklet that comes with the CD that I partly got access to, but in it Sakamoto and a few critics/professors (I can't remember exactly) discuss all his picks. His picks are not discussed in great detail, but more like brief thoughts on his picks. It might be of interest to some of you reading this, here is one or two of the things I remember reading in it: Steiner in his film music was apparently superior to Korngold according to Sakamoto. He also said that Gone with the Wind was of high quality too, even if he prefered the moody track from King Kong - probably Steiner's best. He also said something about that Pierrot le Fou didn't impress him first, the music that is, but it is one of his favourite films and he seems to have grown to love the music too, despite his initial impression. The Tiomkin from The Alamo he included for selfish reasons, I think he said something that it was one of the first film scores he remembered and that he loved. At a later date, Sakamoto selected some of the best music movies - some of the movies that according to him have the best music, here is the list of the movies he selected for some events: A Streetcar Named Desire East of Eden Blue The Garden King Kong Jose Torres & Jose Torres part 2 Kwaidan Beauty and the Beast Solaris (the Tarkovsky film) Stalker Nostalghia The Sacrifice India Song Son nom de Venise dans Calcutta désert Elevator to the Gallows Pierrot le Fou Hiroshima Mon Amour The Umbrellas of Cherbourg Histoire(s) du cinéma Ugetsu Citizen Kane Ivan the Terrible The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari I wish more top film composers selected their favourite film music like this, even if I probably would disagree a whole lot with say what Zimmer, Giacchino etc might have selected. Sakamoto strikes me as the person with the best taste in music, not just going by his film music list, but also the fairly recent restaurant playlist which he made, this one: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2YY3rAwm9tldNhlBmuMqgY I will say that I don't love everything he included here, but at least it is an interesting list which is to me pretty rare. Most of it was new to me too - I made a few wonderful discoveries thanks to his restaurant playlist. I love this track for instance: Gotta love that minimalist influence - new-age at its best. So first North is the most underrated film composer of all time, followed by Rosenman and third would probably be Simon Fisher Turner as the third most underrated film composer of all time. I am not very familar with Fisher Turner, even if I have always loved Blue since I saw it years ago. I sampled The Garden on Spotify after I saw Sakamoto including it among his best music movies, but unlike Blue, I don't think I will love this one, but I will give it a try at a later date I suppose.
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