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Filmtracks vs Movie Music UK vs Movie-Wave

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I sometimes pop in to the Filmtracks forum to see what's going on, or to post links to our own reviews and podcasts at Celluloid Tunes. But it has a terrible, confusing interface, so I rarely hang around.

 

The other two, I rarely visit. I sometimes take a brief glance when my good colleagues James or Jon have posted a review on their site, just to reinforce once again that our taste these days tends to differ 9 times out of 10. ;) 

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I've been reading Movie-Wave and MMUK for almost ten years now. Thanks to James and Jon, I discovered a lot of great scores, great composers, they really opened my ears to a broader world in film music.

 

As for Clemmensen, I never actually cared about him. Maybe because I grew up as a Zimmer fan, loving The Last Samurai and At World's End, and his almost comical hatred of Zimmer maybe drove me away from him. But even now, that I don't exactly care about Zimmer's more recent scores (in fact, almost every one of them he has made this decade), I can't go to his website, thanks to the atrocious design, typical of horrid early 2000s internet. Does he still use that black wallpaper with white letters (ouch, my eyes!).

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16 minutes ago, Þekþiþm said:

 

Why does everyone else hate this design choice except for me? I find it much easier on the eyes than a blinding white background.

 

Agreed, and I believe it's also scientifically grounded.

 

29 minutes ago, TheUlyssesian said:

Filmtracks is the best of course. Very detailed lengthy essays on several aspects of major scores.

 

Agreed. Very informative, even though I don't always agree with his verdicts.

 

29 minutes ago, TheUlyssesian said:

You don't come for objectivity, you are coming for somebody's opinion.

 

Of course. But sadly, a lot of people don't understand that and only want to have their own views confirmed.

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It's like a time capsule to the early 2000s, and not in a way I would like it.

 

I simply can't focus on the writing with such a horrid site like this.

 

filmtracks.PNG

 

That said, it's not like the other two have great designs as well, and I guess they don't change theirs in a long time.

 

I guess film music reviwers are not great webdesigners. But that's what happen when you spend too much time listening to Williams, Goldsmith and Horner, and not enough learning how to code, lol.

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CCs biases are entertaining.  When I first got into film music I used to usually read his reviews before listening to a score.  If he loved a score, I'd get a mindset of "Is it really that good?"

And if he hated a score: "Can it really be that bad?"

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Filmtracks is the only one I read.  I subscribe to the RSS feed, so if he reviews a score I'm interested in, I'll click through.

 

CC is fine for me.  Personally, I'd rather read a review with a point of view than something bland, even if the POV is different than my own.

 

The only other reviews I read outside of forum posts are in FSMOnline.

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Apparently, is with this that he earns his money:

 

Quote

Administrative position leading a web team in managing the website user experience, business analysis, content development, and CMS production for the 1.3 million customers and 1,400 employees of Seattle Public Utilities.

 

So he seems awesome at coding and webdesign. That said, this is how he describes Filmtracks:

 

Quote

Sole proprietor of Filmtracks (filmtracks.com), a comprehensive, retro-themed website about orchestral film scores with 380,000 pages. Wrote over 2.8 million words of editorial content in 1,900 articles. Extensive research conducted for each article, some in excess of 7,000 words.

 

But I don't know. It's cool that he wants to be retro, but let's face it, webdesign is not like wine, it gets worse as it gets older. Most 90s websites were very shitty. 

 

I mean, if Filmtracks was like this, it would be odd, but still readable:

 

Resultado de imagem para 90s website design

 

But the way it is, I can't stay for more than one minute on his site without feeling nauseated.

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2 hours ago, Edmilson said:

I guess film music reviwers are not great webdesigners. But that's what happen when you spend too much time listening to Williams, Goldsmith and Horner, and not enough learning how to code, lol.

 

That's certainly true. I knew that when we changed the design at CT in 2018, I had no clue how to do it properly (for the previous versions, I basically just used existing templates), so I had to ally myself with a German web designer who provided a simple, but clean and elegant design for our site (at least I think so). You have to know your limits and all that.

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Movie Wave > Movie Music UK > > > > > Filmtracks.

Filmtracks is the first film music reviews site I ever found online, and I was a fan for a while because it's all I knew and I got into the forum there. But over time I grew to realize that lots of Christian's opinions were crazy (two stars for Planet of the Apes??) and much of his writing was a mess.

I FAR prefer reading the writings of James Southall, my favorite film music reviewer, at his site Movie Wave. Jon at MMUK is also very good, but perhaps a bit more serious (and occasionally long-winded like Christian) when compared with James, whom I usually find more entertaining (as well as informative) to read.

 

www.movie-wave.net guys!

Yavar

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10 minutes ago, Yavar Moradi said:

Filmtracks is the first film music reviews site I ever found online, and I was a fan for a while because it's all I knew and I got into the forum there. But over time I grew to realize that lots of Christian's opinions were crazy (two stars for Planet of the Apes??) and much of his writing was a mess.

I agree with you there about his writing. It’s hard to explain, but it’s like his choice of adjectives and adverbs somehow make reading him 15% more difficult than it needs to be.

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Christian is a personal friend. Had pizza with him in Montana.

 

Jon is a personal friend. I watched the 2004 Oscars with him. There's video proof of this.

 

James is a personal friend. Went to both the last Goldsmith concert and first LotR Symphony in London with him.

 

Verdict: I read 'em all. :thumbup:

 

PS: Yavar is also a personal friend. Had a scoregasm with him over Jett Hitt's music in a car at midnight in Los Angeles 11 years ago.

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1 hour ago, Kühni said:

Christian is a personal friend. Had pizza with him in Montana.

 

Jon is a personal friend. I watched the 2004 Oscars with him. There's video proof of this.

 

James is a personal friend. Went to both the last Goldsmith concert and first LotR Symphony in London with him.

 

Verdict: I read 'em all. :thumbup:

 

PS: Yavar is also a personal friend. Had a scoregasm with him over Jett Hitt's music in a car at midnight in Los Angeles 11 years ago.


Wasn't Jon with us in the exact same car? (Maybe with another person or two...I forget?)

I'm glad to have you as a friend Kuhni (one of my oldest on the internet...didn't we meet at Filmtracks almost two decades ago now?), I'm glad we were able to meet in person while I still lived in L.A., and I'm so glad I was able to introduce you and others to this great work. For those wondering what we're talking about, it's like the greatest western score never written:

 

The composer has written other works I would love to hear realized by orchestra some day. Maybe he should try a Kickstarter...

 

Yavar

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12 minutes ago, Yavar Moradi said:

Wasn't Jon with us in the exact same car? (Maybe with another person or two...I forget?)

 

I hope you (and Jon) won't mind the visual proof:

 

jyck.jpg

 

7 minutes ago, Jurassic Shark said:

Interesting. What else did you guys do in that car? ;)

 

Write a card to Clemmensen of all things! :D Talk about this thread coming full circle... https://www.filmtracks.com/scoreboard/index.cgi?read=35213

 

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Listening to music doesn't make you an eloquent writer and all these film music websites are the living proof. Southall is the funniest in a cuddlesome kind of way, but his musical acumen is - not to put too fine a point on it - pretty shitty. Clemmenson has often very interesting background info i would have to dig up first, but we all know how goofy his phrasing is (fun to read, sure) and that his ratings are prissy. A brilliant Goldenthal gets a big 'meh' at best, then four stars for every Rachel Portman score. And that's the best we're gonna get, gentlemen. 

 

But then, who needs new film music reviews right now? 99% either listen only to old stuff or are only interested in the most bleedingly obvious commercial bs Hollywood puts out. 

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38 minutes ago, publicist said:

But then, who needs new film music reviews right now? 99% either listen only to old stuff or are only interested in the most bleedingly obvious commercial bs Hollywood puts out. 


Well, then James Southall and Jon Broxton are in the 1%, for sure. And I for one don't agree about James's musical acumen being "pretty shitty". He makes it clear he's a musical amateur but with that understood I think he does a fairly good job describing the music, usually.

 

Yavar

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In a layman kind of way that is neither very illuminating nor analytically interesting. Some of the old FSM reviews were about the last breath of that kind of writing (within this niche/hobby) where you found humour, historic classification and analytical dissection in one package, and they seldom went beyond three or four paragraphs. 

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3 hours ago, Kühni said:

 

I hope you (and Jon) won't mind the visual proof:

 

jyck.jpg

 

Write a card to Clemmensen of all things! :D Talk about this thread coming full circle... https://www.filmtracks.com/scoreboard/index.cgi?read=35213

 

Haha I'd forgotten all about us doing that! I like the photo though, so I'm glad you shared it! I guess it was just the three of us for that get-together, after all. I did get together with other film music friends from the Filmtracks and MMUK boards in L.A. on other occasions.

Yavar

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4 hours ago, Jurassic Shark said:

Celluloid Tunes is miles better than the sites mentioned in the topic, both when it comes to design and content. Don't you agree, @Thor? ;)

 

In a way I do, yes, and thanks for asking. Celluloid Tunes actually started at more or less the same time as these sites. It was a Yahoo Club in '98-ish, right when Ricard started his Yahoo Club that would eventually turn into this site. Then it was rebooted as a general film music site in 2000, then again in 2013 and once again 2018 into its current format. But we never got the international exposure as the sites in question, and so we've been struggling ever since and never been able to attain the traffic that these sites have. Even if I think the content we provide is the best out there (completely biased, of course). In-depth, well-informed and with interviews with top composers that no other sites can match.

 

When I "hire" writers to work on the site, I make it a criterion that they have a) a good "pen" (write well) and b) have extensive knowledge about film music and film music history. I've had to reject several over the years, but right now, I feel it's a good group. And I'm aiming to expand it a bit more, so that we can perhaps compete with Filmtracks, Jon and James a bit more.Tricky, yes, because they've had decades to amass their reputation, but possible.

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5 hours ago, publicist said:

Listening to music doesn't make you an eloquent writer and all these film music websites are the living proof. Southall is the funniest in a cuddlesome kind of way, but his musical acumen is - not to put too fine a point on it - pretty shitty. Clemmenson has often very interesting background info i would have to dig up first, but we all know how goofy his phrasing is (fun to read, sure) and that his ratings are prissy. A brilliant Goldenthal gets a big 'meh' at best, then four stars for every Rachel Portman score. And that's the best we're gonna get, gentlemen. 

 

But then, who needs new film music reviews right now? 99% either listen only to old stuff or are only interested in the most bleedingly obvious commercial bs Hollywood puts out. 

 

I understand what you're getting at and agree that there isn't much real intellectual discourse on the music itself. And at a certain point, long essays on the plot of the film and describing the literal nature of the music doesn't offer a whole lot of musical insight for some.

 

But what these three have done, among others, have built and fostered an entire community of film music fans that would not have existed were it not for their reviews. I got into film music stumbling onto some Zimmer, which eventually led to me to Christian's, at the time, savagely entertaining reviews which gave me a whole lot of context about the nature of the industry that I would not have gotten at all having just sat with the music. And as much as I might have disagreed with them (proud Zimmer fanboy at the time), his site essentially pointed me to Horner, Goldsmith, Barry, Poledouris, etc. Jon's site was great at highlighting a number of foreign composers and scores outside of Hollywood. I didn't really get to James' site till later. But these guys provided me a gateway into an industry and community I had no context for. And I think they remain an enormously valuable resource for people just searching for fellow fans to share excitement with.

 

Do I still read their stuff? Not really. Mostly because of time, but I also no longer find the kind of discourse I'd like to engage with in their work. Even Christian's sardonic brand of humour was something I outgrew, mostly because I don't find much in his arguments anymore. And of course, I sometimes find problematic misunderstandings/disagreements with the nature of film music and composition itself. And that's fine. I still have respect for them, because they hold meaning for a large group of people.

 

It's so easy to dismiss the nature of "reviews" with a niche interest like this. But I think it's important to acknowledge that they continue to tell a community that what they value matters.

 

I, for one, however, would like to see this idea of film music "journalism" to diversify. I think there's so much potential for many talented writers, many of whom are on this forum, to do more than just "reviews" and "best-of lists". Whether that be analyses, writing on industry, craft, film music sociology, etc etc. But I know this kind of work is happening more often. I know Yavar here is doing some interesting stuff, and so does Thor. Hope that and the demand for other kinds of writing/journalism continues to grow.

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7 hours ago, publicist said:

But then, who needs new film music reviews right now? 99% either listen only to old stuff or are only interested in the most bleedingly obvious commercial bs Hollywood puts out. 

That commercial stuff sells, and just because it was shat out of a multi-billion dollar company doesn't mean it inherently has less value!

Why do people follow film critics, read film reviews, speculate online for hours and hundreds of pages of a forum? The same question can be asked of film music critics and the people who follow them.

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4 hours ago, KK said:

It's so easy to dismiss the nature of "reviews" with a niche interest like this. But I think it's important to acknowledge that they continue to tell a community that what they value matters.

 

I, for one, however, would like to see this idea of film music "journalism" to diversify. I think there's so much potential for many talented writers, many of whom are on this forum, to do more than just "reviews" and "best-of lists". Whether that be analyses, writing on industry, craft, film music sociology, etc etc. But I know this kind of work is happening more often. I know Yavar here is doing some interesting stuff, and so does Thor. Hope that and the demand for other kinds of writing/journalism continues to grow.

 

I don't think the first argument matters much - maybe it did back in 2000 - and even acknowledging it, better critics surely would help that even more. 

 

A whole-hearted 'YES' to the second paragraph, though, because scholarly podcasts and/or crossover digests (reviews plus interviews and comments/discussions) are the thing now and are, maybe, the more honest way of dealing with your hobby.

2 hours ago, Arpy said:

That commercial stuff sells, and just because it was shat out of a multi-billion dollar company doesn't mean it inherently has less value!

 

Mostly it does, especially when we look at the cold hard realities of this board: status quo is reinforced by having literally hundreds of threads on a very narrow margin of entertainment product, which generate clicks and irrelevant posts like crazy (often before a single frame is known, though still better than shipping updates, i guess), whereas threads on an mildly diverting subject, say, an interesting new spanish movie or score, are buried.

 

This isn't even a lament, i'm just stating the way it is, it's human nature that we crave familiar stuff and these boards often follow the track laid out by powerful PR and marketing machines. But it still is a mighty struggle to keep the flame going for good music, movies and so forth in recent times, where it's more apparent than ever how limited in idea and content the mainstream market is.

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I agree with you that it's a very small world when it comes to the mainstream consumer products/films/scores, but this very forum is dedicated to Williams of whom a majority of his scores lie within that mainstream market, and the fans of his music are going to fall within those margins too. No surprises there when we have dozens of threads fawning over Star Wars scores. Who's going to blame them for that?

 

I don't believe it's a struggle either for indie scores to find their place here and are discussed frequently in the relevant threads as shared by members like yourself. Good music, whatever that may be isn't decided by consensus, or an appeal to popularity. Good music will speak for itself. Whether that's coming from mainstream products, or indie productions is irelevant. 

 

 

 

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13 hours ago, Thor said:

But we never got the international exposure as the sites in question, and so we've been struggling ever since and never been able to attain the traffic that these sites have.

 

A significantly contributing reason for that could be that the world doesn't speak, nor read, Norwegian very well... although people definitely should!

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4 hours ago, Jurassic Shark said:

 

A significantly contributing reason for that could be that the world doesn't speak speak, nor read, Norwegian very well... although people definitely should!

 

True, but in recent times, our English contents far outnumber the Norwegian. I think it has just as much to do with frequency. Jon and James are good at "shoving them out there" (Christian Clemmensen too, back in the day) with regular intervals, whereas we are more 'irregular' that way.

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2 minutes ago, Thor said:

 

True, but in recent times, our English contents far outnumber the Norwegian. I think it has just as much to do with frequency. Jon and James are good at "shoving them out there" (Christian Clemmensen too, back in the day) with regular intervals, whereas we are more 'irregular' that way.

 

Perhaps it could be a good idea to hold back some reviews/interviews/webcasts instead of posting several in one week. :)

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Oh yes, we've done that too.

 

In any case, a site is only as 'alive' as its contributors. I'm impressed that Jon and James have been able to stay so active, all alone, for all those years - despite having a work and family life to deal with.

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