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KK last won the day on April 16 2016

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  • Birthday June 13

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    Karl Ulrich Nikolaus Traeger
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  1. Popular tracks featuring the piano, sure. But hardly pianistic. They're like pop songs, which is not at all a bad thing, but that doesn't make them great piano pieces. The piano work in Coward is mostly just fast, repeating arpeggios. Nice to listen to, but doesn't take a strong, or even competent pianist to write. A good case that comes to mind right now are Philip Glass' etudes. Glass himself has admitted many times to his piano-playing deficiencies. But he wrote those to become a better performer. And those compositions, while simple in design, are quite thoughtful in thinking about the mechanics of piano performance, specifically around what his style demands of the performer. They're excellent piano compositions. The Zimmer/Djawadi examples above might be fine enough pieces but aren't good examples of strong piano writing. Indeed. And yet Adams' piano works are very pianistic. I'm sure Adams is decently proficient on the instrument, just probably not at a concert-performance level. He certainly knows the language. But these comparisons are a bit moot because composers in that world are often curating the works around the commissioning ensemble or soloist. The priorities of the writing are different. That's not really how most composers think in the film world.
  2. Depends. I think mosabri2's point about being a poor pianist is more about how that can be symptomatic of having limited knowledge of existing musical vocabulary and repertoire. This limits your imaginative capacity for what you write. Suddenly your palette, and musical choices are defined by the limitations of your sample libraries, plugins and DAW capabilities. Because that's what you know. And for better or for worse, most new film music, even the big "traditional" orchestral ones, have become aesthetically informed by "DAW music". That's why you never really see concert music composers do "mockups" for commissions, even though they too, also mostly write on computers. Of course, piano proficiency or technical performance prowess is hardly a requirement to be a great, or more importantly, interesting composer (history has given us many great composers/shitty performers). You can circumvent those limitations by expanding your musical vocabulary, what you listen to, what you watch, how you make music (away from the DAW), the musicians you work with (you learn the most through this), etc. That's why I'd argue the most interesting music being written now for film is being done by the "outsiders". But alas, mainstream Hollywood, where the money is, rewards playing it by convention.
  3. As has been described in detail above, most film composers aren't very good at reading music nowadays. They can slowly read through a piece of sheet music (like sounding out words) or loosely follow a score to a performance or a recording session, but many aren't fluent with it, because unless you happen to do a lot of orchestration, it doesn't have to factor much into the average film composer's workflow anymore. And this has definitely had an impact on the general sound and aesthetic of mainstream film music. He's right. That video is telling that Djawadi isn't really a good pianist. But then again, most film composers aren't, and that's also okay. Yes, film composers are generally more useful in the booth. But the reality is, most film composers are terrified of conducting because many of them aren't very good at it and haven't had many opportunities to get better at it. And again, that's okay. It's always more effective to have someone who knows what they're doing and knows how to best communicate to the musicians on the podium, so they can best translate the composer's needs from the booth. The demanding needs of a contemporary film music recording session now requires multiple people with specialized duties (i.e. conducting, copyists, recording engineers, etc) to get the deed done. Gone are the days of the romanticized renaissance man on the podium (a la Williams, who was also often supported by a robust team).
  4. I liked the new one more than the last one. It still rings a little hollow for me, but it is impressive. Clearly, the films divided the plot material poorly. I'm glad it's doing what it is to generate box office interest, but the euphoria around it being the saviour of cinema feels silly. The score is less offensive to the picture than its predecessor, but it's still not very good. I listened to the sketchbook last night, and there's honestly some interesting stuff in there (unlike the drab colourless OSTs). If only Denis' musical instincts allowed more for that kind of material, these films could have been more imaginative and wild.
  5. Cool to hear him acknowledge here that the new Lion King was more or less a derivative knock-off. I think it's wise that Zimmer stepped out of the way, because I don't think he could recreate that sound himself anymore anyway (that's why we have Dune!). Hopefully, this will inspire HGW though. He's got it in him to write something good for this, as long he's not as bored as he's sounded for the last decade or so.
  6. Even at 92, this man is spinning gold in wisdom. Agreed, though I think this is a recent thing he's embraced. I feel like the same insecurities he speaks to have plagued him for much of his career in his prime. But now he seems to have let them go, especially since many of those institutions now celebrate him and his craftsmanship, a caliber and mode of working that has more or less disappeared across the spectrum, be it film or concert music.
  7. That series is dull and derivative. Occasionally shot nicely, but riddled, almost laughably, with sad drama clichés. Kidman verges on self-parody.
  8. Yikes. I hadn't seen this before. But this isn't very good, is it?
  9. Agreed. It's a remarkably empty film. Beautifully shot, and well-acted, but little more than a string of "shock" moments designed for TikTokers to foam over. Though it does have a particular fanbase. I don't think Babylon is by any means a "great film". I think it's very impressively made, but has little to say that hasn't been said before in better ways. All of it feels like imitative grandstanding. It's basically Boogie Nights (almost beat for beat) meets Singing in the Rain, and I'd rather watch both of those. But I'd take all three over Saltburn. It's great! Like a darker cousin to Spirited Away. It's messier than his other films, and is filled to brim with ideas (perhaps a bit too much so), but it's still lovely. Definitely worth watching it in the theatres.
  10. There are still films to see, but at the moment, these are the ones that would likely be on my list: Poor Things Killers of the Flower Moon The Zone of Interest Oppenheimer Anatomy of a Fall All of Us Strangers The Delinquents Past Lives I do think ultimately, Poor Things made for the most riveting cinema, just in everything it tries to do with its tools, even if some of the other films try to reach for bolder places. Films that I haven't gotten to yet that I anticipate will crack my top 10: La Chimera Perfect Days The Taste of Things Fallen Leaves Scores that I've enjoyed or have made an impression: Poor Things by Jerskin Fendrix The Zone of Interest by Mica Levi Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse by Daniel Pemberton American Fiction by Laura Karpman Oppenheimer by Ludwig Gorannsson Poor Things is without a doubt, the most thrilling film score of the year in my opinion.
  11. Yes, but with how far technology has come with the degree of control of the theatrical experience, I think it's fair for the director to want to curate that experience as much as they can. And the variables around different theatres just randomly breaking up the film at any point of its duration without the director's knowledge...that is an understandably painful concession for any director, especially someone like Scorsese, who at this stage of his career, has definitely earned that level of command over how he wishes his films to be presented to the world. To your broader point, yes, I'm a big fan of bringing intermissions back for epics of this length. As long as they're built into the design of the work.
  12. Eh. I thought the album was okay. It kind of strips out the magic and musicality of many of the original pieces. A lot of it now just feels like pretty chords for piano and strings. Some parts of it are nice, but stuff like the "Hands of Fate" arrangement is dreadfully boring.
  13. Killers of the Flower Moon This is an excellent picture. It's a brooding, operatic meditation on Scorsese's familiar themes of power and corruption but in a far more compelling spiritual context. De Niro is absolutely terrifying in one of his best roles in years (decades?) and Lily Gladstone just draws you in from her very first frame. Beautiful visual gestures disrupt the narrative, evoking the metaphysical qualities of Scoresese's often-overlooked 21st-century masterpiece, Silence. The framing of his subjects and narrative just goes to show that Scorsese, as an inherently cinematic filmmaker, has still got that spark in a way I feel his contemporaries have lost over the years (I'm looking at you, Spielberg). The unreliable narration of the events of this epic draws our sympathies in directions that make the experience thrillingly ambiguous and uncomfortable. And while there is a point where the investigation starts to draw the spotlight away from the magnetic Gladstone and become a third-act courtroom drama that I thought would actively decenter the Osage people, the film doesn't get "lost" for too long and brings us back on track with a very thoughtful coda. Robertson's score remains the only uninspired facet of this production. When it works, it works, albeit often too buried underneath everything. But either the film needed a score with real personality or should have played out with no score at all.
  14. I did! I was trying to catch it at Cannes when I was there, but never made it work. So I'm glad I got to see it here. There were a couple of other great TIFF films too, which I'll spew about here eventually. Anatomy of a Fall Excellent courtroom drama on the paradox of vulnerability and doubt. Sandra Hüller is such a revelation (she's good in Zone of Interest too, but here she just gets to really shine), you can stare at her face for hours and watch everything she imbues onto the screen. The film feels really incisive and never really gets sensational. Love how it plays with language too.
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