Monday, September 28, 2009

Soundtrack September: 10 Favorite Fake Film Bands

As a concluding piece for Soundtrack September here's another patented Film Babble Blog list. Despite that this is something that's been covered a lot on the internets (see fakebands.com for example), I decided to put my own personal spin on it. Now, I tried to avoid bands that began on television, like, say, The Blues Brothers or Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, but #1 on this list itself originated on a TV special so that was difficult to do. For the most part though these are fictional groups introduced to us on the silver screen. So here they are:

Film Babble Blog's 10 Favorite Fake Film Bands

1. Spinal Tap from THIS IS SPINAL TAP (1984)

I know, it's an incredibly obvious choice but this list wouldn't exist without David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean), Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest), and Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer) as one of England's loudest bands and stars of Rob Reiner's cult classic rockumentary. Their soundtrack set the template for music parodies while the film's faux documentary style is still a vital formula today (see The Office). Now celebrating their 25th anniversary Tap still tours, usually with the Folksman (also consisting of the same folks) from A MIGHTY WIND opening and have just released a new album: "Back From The Dead" so the line fine between fantasy and reality gets more and more blurred as time goes on, or is it the fine line between stupid and clever I'm thinking of?

2. Max Frost and the Troopers from WILD IN THE STREETS (1968) James Dean lookalike Christopher Jones fronts this great group of rowdy rebels (including future Ohio Senator Kevin Coughlin and future famous funnyman Richard Pryor) in this teen exploitation flick that's as ridiculous as it is fun. Here's a clip of Jones, Jim Morrison style, lip synching "Shape Of Things To Come" which was actually a #22 hit on the US Billboard charts:

Incidentally songs credited to Max Frost and the Troopers were on the soundtracks to the Dennis Hopper film THE GLORY STOMPERS and Jones' AIP film followup THREE IN THE ATTIC.

3. Circus Monkey from BANDWAGON (1996) As the focus of a funny and touching portrait of a indie band just starting out, Circus Monkey (Kevin Corrigan, Steve Parlavecchio, Lee Holmes, and Matthew Hennessey is an endearing quartet of indie underdogs. I'm biased about their inclusion because the movie was filmed in my area by NC native John Schultz (formerly a member of the Connells) with a gig set at Cat's Cradle in Carrboro as well as a climatic concert filmed at the Rialto theatre in Raleigh, but I still strongly stand by the choice - their songs (especially "It Couldn't Be Ann") are catchy and their story a heartfelt one. Sadly it has never been released on DVD but here's the trailer to tide you over until it is:

4. The Fabulous Stains in LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE FABULOUS STAINS (1981)

A great girl group shoo-in from one of my favorite could be cult films that came up in another recent list. Again in the interest of space check out my original review.

5. Eddie and the Cruisers in EDDIE AND THE CRUISERS (1983)

My pal "Pinball" put it best in his essay for Soundtrack September in the previous post. Read it here.

6. The Wonders in THAT THING YOU DO! (1996) Tom Hanks directorial debut features the fab fascimile of The Wonders - literal one hit wonders (like you couldn't figure that out) that had one catchy ditty that actually became a real life hit (# 41 on the Billboard Top 100). The band consisted of Tom Everett Scott ("the smart one"), Johnathon Schaech ("the talent"), Steve Zahn ("the fool"), and Ethan Embrey (uh, the unremarked upon one). The film is a guilty pleasure I usually stop on when changing channels - the title song is so damn catchy!

7. The Five Heartbeats in THE FIVE HEARTBEATS (1991) Robert Townshend's homage to the heyday of Motown, with obviously the Four Tops and Temptations as template, is another film that wore its way into my heart through multiple cable airings. The music and merit within definitely give DREAMGIRLS a run for its money - "A Heart Is A House For Love" recorded by the Dells (another obvious influence) is a Helluva song.

8. Stillwater in ALMOST FAMOUS (2000) This 70's arena rock band was concocted out of stories about interaction with such bands as the Eagles, the Allman Brothers, and Lynyrd Skynard (among others) during Cameron Crowe's days as a teenage journalist for Rolling Stone magazine, but they still seem like a real living breathing entity mainly because of his angsty autobiographical angle. Stillwater, which features Jason Lee and Billy Crudup as its Plant/Page or Glimmer Twins or what have you, only had one song on the official soundtrack: "Fever Dog" written by Heart's Nancy Wilson (also Crowe's wife).

9. Citizen Dick from SINGLES (1991) Matt Dillon's Cliff Poncier is definitely in the right place at the right time - in a grunge band in Seattle in the early 90's. With a wardrobe and songs written by Green River/Pearl Jam's Jeff Ament as well as all of Pearl Jam as fellow band members, Dillon has more than a little help from his friends. None of Citizen Dick's songs are on the soundtrack but "Spooner" written by Soundgarden's Chris Cornell can be heard in an acoustic version can be heard in the background at one point.

10. Otis Day and the Knights in ANIMAL HOUSE (1978)

Another seminal band that started out fake but got real after the fact. The Delta's toga party favorites, fronted by Dewayne Jessie, put out an album produced by George Clinton called "Shout" in 1989 and have been touring as "the number one party band in America" to this day.

Okay! One last special mention: Autobahn in THE BIG LEBOWSKI. The nihilist Kraftwerkian band consisted of Flea, Peter Stormare, and Torsten Voges. Sure we never hear a note of them * but damn that album cover ought to count for something!

* Correction: We do actually hear "Wie Glauben" - supposedly an Autobahn tune in the movie and the soundtrack album. From composer Carter Burwell's notes at carterburwell.com: "The story also involves a band of nihilist Germans, and in their final scene their music is playing on a boombox. For this I wrote "Wie Glauben" ("We Believe" in German) a techopop tune."

More later...

Soundtrack September Selection # 7: EDDIE AND THE CRUISERS

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One of the last selections of the month comes from Jason Kennedy - a musician and friend from when I lived in Greensboro, NC close to a decade ago. Also known as "Hook" or more recently "Pinball", Kennedy puts a spot light on a supreme soundtrack that many have overlooked:

EDDIE AND THE CRUISERS (1983)



"First there was Star Wars. Every kid my age had that one. Then there was Raiders of the Lost Ark. Not everyone had that one; but once your best buddy, Mike Edwards, told you how terrifying the “Well of the Souls” track was, well you kind of had to get it. 

Yet those were first and foremost souvenirs. There was nothing inherent in the music that particularly moved you other than the mental image of Harrison Ford hurling through space or running through the jungle. All that changed the moment Eddie Wilson showed up. To a budding teenager in the early eighties summer break meant being stuck at home for 3 months with no mobility, few resources and even less company.

These were the days before Beta fell to VHS; before Hulu or the internet; before Netflix or Blockbuster. There was one main source of entertainment, and we called it plain old TV. And on TV, HBO was King. And that’s where I first found Eddie, lurking in the pages of the HBO guide, with a summary paragraph and a detailed listing of every time I could see him day or night, a cruel reminder of what little else I had to do.




I was interested in rock music well enough by this time. I had bought some records (Police, Men at Work), perused my older brother’s vinyl collection (Rush, Reo Speedwagon) and purged hours of time watching MTV (a fellow King for sure, albeit from another place entirely). Yet Eddie and the Cruisers afforded me something that I just couldn’t buy at any record store. For in addition to just liking the music, I was increasingly interested in the idea of the band itself.

The instruments they used; the songwriting process. The rehearsals and the sound checks and the dealings with shady managers. And all of a sudden, here was a glimpse behind that curtain. The faces that once only stared back from an album cover suddenly had names and personalities; they began to live and breathe. You mean people in a band argued with each other? They made moves on each others girlfriends?? They took drugs and died from them???

Why on earth would anyone in a successful band want to do anything but smile for the camera and count their money? These were the questions that the Cruisers suddenly had me asking. And while much of that may have shaped the tunes, it would be an insult to let it define them. So as Eddie would say, let’s get on with the music.

Only one album ever saw release during Eddie Wilson’s too brief career, 1963’s Tender Years. Keyboardist/lyricist Frank Ridgeway (the band’s own ‘quiet one’) modestly described it as “one album, twelve cuts, a big deal about nothing”. Except that in the summer of 1963 “On the Dark Side” was the number one song in the country. And twenty years later John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band returned it there.

With that original album 20 years out of print (look for a copy of the LP in the film), director Martin Davidson needed someone to reinvent the Cruisers sound for the big screen. Cafferty and Co., a fledgling Rhode Island bar band with a healthy Springsteen fixation (the Boss may well have taken notice of the Cruisers himself, cribbing both the concepts of a sax wielding musical foil and a girlfriend/wife vocal accompanist for his own E Street Band) were the perfect choice.

“On the Dark Side” was the first song written after Ridgeway joined the band to provide lyrics to Eddie Wilson’s music; it was also the band’s crowning commercial achievement. Starting life as a plaintive ballad, it quickly transformed into an edgy expression of universal angst and uncertainly at the hands of an unattainable and more than likely non-existent lover. That initial DNA of Ridgeway lyrics and Wilson music coursed through the remainder of the album. “Wild Summer Nights” and “Down on My Knees” were both up beat rockers detailing the lustful pursuit and acquisition of teenage dreams, and the sober morning after reflection of what price one is willing to pay for them.

The ballads “Tender Years” and “Boardwalk Angel” traded these insecurities of what may or may not be for a more romanticized idolization of what could and should be, if only life would stop getting in the way. The album was padded out with several workman-like covers of contemporary rock and roll; songs with little agenda save for keeping dance floor feet from losing the beat or skipping a step.

The soundtrack culminates with a song not found on the Tender Years record. “A Season in Hell” was to be the title track to the Cruisers’ follow up album. Satin Records (anticipating a “Dark Side” redux no doubt) refused to release it and effectively destroyed the band in the process. Sonically and thematically years ahead of it’s time, “A Season in Hell” was a portent of many things to come in those next few formative years for rock and roll. Backwards tape masking? Hendrix was listening.

Lyrical gravity coupled with surrealistic imagery?? Dylan noted it. A controlled chaotic crescendo??? It took the Beatles 3 more years to get there with “A Day in the Life” (note the similarly prepositioned titles). It was Eddie and the Cruisers’ masterstroke, and the world wouldn’t listen. How many geniuses does that remind you of?

I guess it all sounds quaint today, when anything you’ve ever wanted to know is a mere keyboard click anyway. But for a kid who knew next to nothing about the world and even less about how it worked, Eddie and the Cruisers was a revelation of style and substance, a guilty glimpse into the inner workings of this thing called rock and roll that would go on to shape my life in ways that I’m still trying to figure out. I can’t recall the last time I actually listened to this soundtrack, but that’s of little consequence.

I listened to it enough then to last a lifetime. For that one brief period of time, the Cruisers were the light and the way. Eddie lives."

More later...

Soundtrack September: Heavenly Movie Soundtracks & More

We're coming to the home stretch of Soundtrack September but don't worry there's still plenty left!

The Reverend Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade, contributed a wonderful piece entitled "Heavenly Movie Soundtracks". Here's an excerpt with a link to the full article:

"While the first soundtrack recording I recall buying was the inescapable STAR WARS by modern movie music maestro John Williams, it was Williams' follow-up score for SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE that really struck a chord (no pun intended) with me. I will never forget the dramatic impact Superman's main title march had on me, accompanied as it was by the film's literally soaring opening credits. Williams brilliantly utilized a variety of styles to underscore the superhero's story, from his origin on the doomed planet Krypton to his climactic showdown with arch-nemesis Lex Luthor. The score also includes the song "Can You Read My Mind?", although it is performed in the film by Margot Kidder as more of a spoken word recitation, with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse. The SUPERMAN score was nominated for a 1978 Academy Award but lost to Giorgio Moroder's innovative electronic score for MIDNIGHT EXPRESS. Moroder would go on to score a number of successful 80's movies, including FLASHDANCE. In my opinion, however, Moroder's best work is his alternately lyrical, intense and sexy score for the 1982 remake of the horror classic CAT PEOPLE. David Bowie co-wrote and performed the film's title song, which was recently resurrected to awesome effect in Quentin Tarantino's INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS." Read the rest of Reverend's Reviews: Heavenly Movie Soundtracks at Movie Dearest. Next up, Fletch from the brilliant Blog Cabins, billed as: "Movie reviews and commentary made fun", pointed out a piece he wrote last year about his 5 favorite soundtracks and here are a few of his choices and a link to the rest: PULP FICTION (1994) People give a ton of credit to Quentin Tarantino for kick-starting or re-starting careers, but they're usually talking about actors. However, the man has probably been a bigger force (dollar-wise) when it comes to rejuvenating the careers of soul, R & B, pop and surf musicians from the 60s and 70s. His breakout film featured songs from artists as diverse as Dick Dale, Al Green and Urge Overkill, no doubt selling millions of albums for them in addition to the sales of this film's soundtrack. Favorite Track: "Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon" by Urge Overkill. RUSHMORE (1998) If any director has rivaled Tarantino in terms of quality and diverseness when it comes to his films' soundtracks, it's Wes Anderson. This one is all over the place, with great tracks from classic rock starts like John Lennon and The Who to folk star Cat Stevens to jazz to Mark Mothersbaugh's brilliant scored tracks. Brilliant all around. Favorite Track: "A Quick One While He's Away" by The Who. Read the rest of Fletch's Favored Five: Movies Worth Listening To at Blog Cabins. More later...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Soundtrack September Selection #6: FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE

Ernest Dollar, director of the Preservation Society of Chapel Hill, gives us Soundtrack September selection #6: FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE (1993) "The soundtrack to FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE is a shock to Western ears but so evocative as it brings to life Eastern culture. The screetchy and whiny sounds of Chinese opera grow with each listening and act as a porthole into China's colorful past. Just as these operatic pieces have you daydreaming about the Great Wall, the modern Chinese love ballads on the soundtrack with push you off the parapet. Ever wondered what a Beijing Bryan Adams would sound like? Released in 1993, FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE became one of the top 100 movies, opening the door for other successful movies and introducing many new audiences to the peculiar and hauntingly beautiful sounds of Chinese opera." More later...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Soundtrack September: The Playlist Provides A Favorite Films Songs Top 5

One of my favorite sites :: The Playlist :: posted an eclectic and entertaining Top 5 that I'm proud to present. This is just an excerpt so please follow the link to their page and be sure to check out their other awesome and extremely prolific posts. Here's the first couple of their picks: "So we ostensibly run a 'soundtracks blog', although that's obviously kind of changed organically, but Daniel at Film Babble Blog wanted us/me to write him a post for his excellent September Soundtracks theme idea (which yes, we should probably have done, but there was TIFF, NYFF; we can "borrow" the concept next year), which is great. So we don't have that much to say, but if you asked the editor-in-chief (me) what his five favorite songs scores in a movie were he'd say, as of *right now they are this - and yes, it's a mixed bag, there's no theme; the preference lies in the song: 5. Yeong Wook Jo's score to Park Chan-Wook's "Old Boy" is largely majestic — apart from a few odd techno-like moments here and there. And it's awesome for two reasons, one simply being just how gloriously sonorous it is, but secondarily because he names the themes from the film after classic movies: "Kiss Me Deadly" (Robert Aldrich), "In a Lonely Place' (Nicholas Ray), "Cul-De-Sac" (Roman Polanski) and our utmost favorite theme on the soundtrack "The Last Waltz," named after Scorsese's The Band concert-farewell doc (his work on "Sympathy For Lady Vengeance" is also incredible, elegiac and hauntingly good (this song is particularly orchestrally marvelous and "Lullaby" is also excellent)." 4. Carlos Saura's haunting children's tale, "Cria Cuervos" is a '70s Spanish film masterwork, no it's just a masterwork period, it won the Grand Prix in Cannes in 1976. The star of the film, little Ana Torrent is ridiculously good and the song prominently featured in the movie is Spanish pop star Jeanette's "Por Que Te Vas." It's a top 10 all-timer as far as we're/I'm concerned. The dance moves the little girls make-up this scene is amazing." Read the rest of the list here. More later...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

BRIGHT STAR: The Film Babble Blog Review


BRIGHT STAR (Dir. Jan Campion, 2009)



A poem isn’t something to “work out”, John Keats (Ben Whishaw) tells Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish). It’s something to “luxuriate in” he explains. Keats scorns the craft of poetry believing that it must come as naturally to a poet as the leaves comes to the trees. Brawne is quite taken with Keats with a fascination that quickly becomes infatuation, but is it for him or for his words? The film seems to be in the same boat; Keats is a poor man who could never fully provide for Brawne, yet as history later confirms, he is rich in romantic poetry and that is all she cares about.

In her first film since IN THE CUT (2003), Jane Campion returns to the picturesque period piece palette of her breakthrough THE PIANO (1993). She gives us the last 3 years of John Keats’ life rendered un-romantically but beautifully nevertheless. He spends his days lounging around his Hamstead house with his dear friend and writing partner Charles Armitage Brown (Paul Schneider) seemingly waiting for inspiration to arise. Scene stealer Schneider portrays Brown as a boorish lout who is over-protective of Keats. However as Keats suffers a severe bout of tuberculosis, Brown’s stance becomes more and more valid.


Brawne falls for the doomed poet and bathes in his words whether they come from the printed page or a folded letter, but knows that her mother and society in general would not approve. We, of course, are aware that there is no happy ending here but even if one has no knowledge of any biographical information the tale is told with such an engaging emphasis on the fragility of love that its pathos is no less powerful.

With no showy tricks or stylish staging, Campion provides a sad splendor to what in someone else's hands might amount to just another costume drama. Whishaw, who has portrayed other notable tortured artists such as Bob Dylan (I’M NOT THERE) and Keith Richards (STONED), brings a quiet passion to the part of Keats which can be summoned simply in his suggestive smirk. It’s Cornish’s movie though and her performance is as much a work of beauty as the film surrounding her. As Whishaw’s recitation of Keat’s famous lines serenaded the end credits it was hard for me to leave my seat. For BRIGHT STAR isn’t just a fine film to take in and then exit, it’s one to luxuriate in.

More later...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Soundtrack September Selection #5: POPEYE (1980)


This Soundtrack September selection comes from a movie that many would like to forget - even (or especially) Robin Williams for who this was his film debut: 

POPEYE (1980)



In the planning stages a conventional (and more importantly commercial) comic book movie was envisioned but a few factors rendered far different results. The first was the signing of maverick Robert Altman to direct, then there's that cantankerous cartoonist (and screenwriter of such incompatible works as LITTLE MURDERS and CARNAL KNOWLEDGE) Jules Feiffer was commissioned to write the screenplay, but the adding to the mix of Harry Nilsson to write the soundtrack has to be the oddest choice of them all. 

Hardly an obvious choice to write songs for a live action family comedy, Nilsson nevertheless handed in a collection of demos that, while weird, fit Altman's re-imagining of E.C. Segar's salty sailor seaworld. From the opening song sung by all the townsfolk: "Sweethaven" to the character defining "I Yam What I Yam" straight through to the gruff "Kids" spoke-sung by Ray Walston (a notable non-singer in a cast of non-singers), Nilsson matches Altman's overlapping dialogue and scewed sense of narrative with a just as scewed and overlapping soundtrack. 

In 2002 one of the songs was granted new life: "He Needs Me" sung by Olive Oil (Shelly Duvall) appeared in Paul Thomas Anderson's PUNCH DRUNK LOVE. As it stands it's the only song from the POPEYE soundtrack that is currently available on CD. Though long out of print, the original 1980 soundtrack can be found online as can Nilsson's deliciously demented demos. They are definitely worth hunting for, if only to hear one of the oddest collection of songs composed for a feature intended for kids. 

More later...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

THE INFORMANT!: The Film Babble Blog Review


THE INFORMANT!
(Dir. Steven Soderbergh, 2009)


In a piece of inspired casting, Matt Damon plays Mark Whitacre, the pudgy mustached toupee-wearing former President of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), who was an FBI informant in the early to mid '90s.

However his heroic whistle-blowing stance was fairly jeopardized by the fact that he was defrauding his company of 9 million dollars during the same period.

At first, he seems a decent plain spoken sort, a straight-laced family man with a loving wife (Melanie Lynskey) comes through in an opening voice-over extolling the virtues of corn in his chosen industry.

As he goes on shifting from corn to the German name for pen ("kugelscheiber"), and back again, it becomes apparent that this is less an inner monologue than an unstoppable stream of consciousness that runs throughout the film sometimes obscuring important info that folks around him are trying to parlay.

Damon's Whitacre sees himself as a character in a Crichton novel; a good guy going up against a corrupt corporation. Initially we do too as his company is indeed guilty of price fixing and the film comes from the director of ERIN BROCKOVICH, but its take on the character zippy comic style places it more accurately somewhere between the OCEAN'S movies and OUT OF SIGHT Soderbergh-wise.

A couple of FBI agents (Scott Bakula and Joel McHale) are stupefied by Damon's stories yet still wire him up to get the evidence against ADM.

Damon makes hundreds of tapes, narrating them as he goes, and the case gets stronger but after a raid of his company the operation rapidly unravels with facts fudged and forged documents piling up to expose Damon's dementia.

While the film at times over-estimates the wackiness of its plotting, the tone is pleasingly punchy with a groovy score provided by the master of groovy scores: Marvin Hamlisch. Matched with colorful AUSTIN POWERS-ish titles, Hamlisch's brassy '60s pastiche, including a parody of John Barry's "James Bond Theme," suits the material marvelously as if it's as much the product of Damon's psyche as the voices in his head.

The supporting cast is curiously made of a roster of comic actors (the before mentioned McHale, Patton Oswalt, Paul F. Tompkins, Tony Hale, and Allen Havey) who you'd more likely expect to be present at a roast on Comedy Central than as button down "suits" with almost no funny lines in a slick Soderbergh satire.

That they provide a sober stone-walling counterpoint to the delightfully off kilter Damon gives the THE INFORMANT! a cunning comic gravity.

And now for no other reason than that the film featured in this post has an exclamation point in its title, here's:

10 More Movies With Exclamation Points In Their Titles:


1. AIRPLANE!

2. ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES!

3. FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!

4. ANVIL! THE STORY OF ANVIL

5. WIN A DATE WITH TAD HAMILTON!

6. OH, GOD!

7. 18 AGAIN! (Another George Burns movie! How about that?)

8. BEWARE! THE BLOB

9. TORA! TORA! TORA!

10. TOYKO!

More later...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Soundtrack September Selection #4: WALK HARD (2007)

Soundtrack September Selection #4 comes from Angie & Chantale at Cinema Obsessed. They picked a sublime soundtrack indeed: WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY "Oh man, did this movie surprise us. As much faith as we have in Judd Apatow and John C. Reilly, they just don't make spoofs like they used to. We're SO done with these "Not Another 'blank' Movies." They just throw in every pop-culture reference they can think of, and have entirely lost the true meaning of spoofing. I mean honestly, what does Amy Winehouse have to do with a Disaster movie? Ridiculous. Back to the film at hand. Walk Hard had a brilliant soundtrack, full of original songs that fit the decades they are emulating PERFECTLY. Many critics praised the soundtrack, saying the songs were not only funny, catchy and well-written, but perfectly reflected the genres and times of the film.
The soundtrack was nominated for both a Grammy and Golden Globe Award and was nominated and won the Sierra Award for Best Song in a Motion Picture from the Las Vegas Film Critics Society. (Wikipedia) Some of the influences (in story AND in music) of Dewey Cox are:
Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Jim Morrison, Brian Wilson, Glen Campbell, Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Donovan, John Lennon, Sir Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, but mainly Johnny Cash. Reilly was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance. Not only was it comedic triumph, but he played guitar and sang his own songs. The film was actually a flop, earning less at the box office than the film's budget, but received critical acclaim later, especially for the brilliant soundtrack.

Here you see Dewey's early music in the 50s (as a 14 year-old. Yes. Hilarious). His utterly offensive and blasphemous Take My Hand. As Dewey's unsupportive father tells him, "You know who's got hands? The DEVIL! And he uses 'em for holdin' things!" Below we get a taste of Dewey's 70s Bob Dylan phase, when he's wacked out on drugs and writing very "deep" songs. Lyrics: Mailboxes drip like lampposts in the twisted birth canal of the coliseum Rim job fairy teapots mask the temper tantrum O' say can you see 'em Stuffed cabbage is the darling of the Laundromat 'N the sorority mascot sat with the lumberjack Pressing passing stinging half synthetic fabrication of his-- Time The mouse with the overbite explained how the rabbits were ensnared 'N the skinny scanty sylph trashed the apothecary diplomat Inside the three-eyed monkey within inches of his toaster oven liiife... Not to be missed is the title track, Walk Hard, and the lovely Let's Duet, a wonderful piece of harmonious, hilarious innuendo."

For more Sublime Soundtracks, visit cinemaobsessed.com.

More later...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Soundtrack September: More Movie Musical Musings From Movie Dearest

This time out my friends at Movie Dearest have contributed an entertaining and essential list for Soundtrack September: 25 Favorite Movie Musical Soundtracks, a.k.a. the "Gayest" Soundtracks of All Time. "Not all of the following movies are gay (and one isn't even technically a musical), but they — and their soundtracks — certainly have their gay fans." Here's a few selections from the top 25: The Sound of Music(1965): Admit it: you twirl around like Julie Andrews on that hilltop every time you hear it. Victor/Victoria(1982): Speaking of Julie ... she bends her gender, rolls her shoulders and gives us her best "Le Jazz Hot". The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert(1994): Not exactly a musical per se, but from the lip-synced wonders of "I've Never Been to Me" to the finale "Finally", you won't care. No more f*cking ABBA ...? Read the rest of the list here at Movie Dearest. More later...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Soundtrack September Selection #3: THE TRIP (1967)

Selection # 3 for Soundtrack September comes from fellow film buff Jon Mitchell who is the owner operator of Rockin' Ammonia Karaoke. Jon is at City Beverage in Durham every Wednesday night so if you're in the Triangle area, please give him a visit. Take it away, Jon!:

"My all time favorite soundtrack, just happens to be from my all time favorite movie: Roger Corman's THE TRIP.

Mainly because it's just great exploito Psych, but on a deeper level it's done by The Electric Flag, which while not a great band, they managed to come up with some great music that matched the film and was totally not consistent with their recorded output as a band. Had they made another album after this, I'm sure it would have been great. But Buddy Miles went on to do his own thing with The Express with Mike Bloomfield going on to work with Al Kooper and Stephen Stills on the "Supersessions" album.

THE TRIP soundtrack album from The Electric Flag (although they are kind of in disguise - in a way it's the precursor to XTC's Dukes Of Stratosphear outings) shows what they were capable of doing in the psychedelic genre, but unfortunately they chose not to follow that path."

More later...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Soundtrack September: Scoring Paul Thomas Anderson

Fellow film blogger Scott Nye (The Rail of Tomorrow) wrote a wonderful piece for Soundtrack September entitled: "Music Is Cinema: Scoring Paul Thomas Anderson". Here's an excerpt: "At first glance, music and film seem so terribly disconnected, joined together more by the convenience of having to keep an audience entertained on multiple levels than by the feeling that music and images simply belonged together (and just to get our terminology correct, a “soundtrack” for a film is ALL the sound going on in a motion picture, not just the music). Now, of course, the idea of music existing totally separate from a moving image is archaic – any major musical creation requires an accompanying video. Similarly, it’s rare to the point of nonexistent for a major motion picture to exist without music. In our modern conscience, the two are of a piece, though rarely regarded as such. When Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood came out, a surprisingly large number of critics found fault in the overwhelming nature of Johnny Greenwood’s score. I found that it enhanced the picture tremendously, leaving us teetering on the edge of, ideally, our very sanity, certainly our hold on reality, a struggle familiar to Daniel Plainview. Its dissonance reflected and created the uncertainty and fear Anderson laid the groundwork for. More pointedly, it represented a continuing development in Anderson’s work that is often discussed film-by-film in a sort of throwaway sense (“oh, and the music’s great”), but, to my knowledge, never considered as essential to his oeuvre from Boogie Nights onward – for Anderson, music isn’t there to simply enhance or underline something created separately in the film; music is as essential to the image in the creation of cinema itself." Read the complete piece here at The Rail of Tomorrow. More later...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

COLD SOULS: The Film Babble Blog Review

COLD SOULS (Dir. Sophie Barnes, 2009)



The set-up is straight from Charlie Kaufman 101 (or for you old schoolers - consult your Twilight Zone text books): Man walks into a Doctor's office, not just any Doctor's office mind you, for a fantastical existential service that he only just heard about. Skeptical but desperate, the man undergoes some sort of surgery on his psyche. In the aftermath, in episode after episode the man's life goes more and more askew and he returns to the Doctor to get that extracted piece of him back.

I know, you're saying "I've heard this one before...", but what makes this particular mundane exercise in surrealism is that the man in question is Paul Giamatti playing himself. Well, a version of himself in which he is a tormented stage actor who relates too intensely with Chekov's "Uncle Vanya" character as he prepares for the role in an off Broadway play. Oh, and his wife (named Claire - Giamatti's real life wife is named Elizabeth), is played by Emily Watson so there's that too. 

When Giamatti's agent points out an article in the New Yorker about soul storage, he can't resist checking out the institute in the profile. A contrite Dr. Flintstein (David Strathairn) makes the process very appealing to our protagonist Paul who proclaims: "I don't want to be happy; I just need to not suffer."



I was surprised how little of this was played for laughs. For any of a number of film makers such material would be a launching pad for a bevy of comedic premises but Barnes' film wants to keep a straight face and let the amusement come from a number of well played understated moments. Our hapless hero's reaction to his bottled soul looking like a chick pea, his strained soul-less acting in rehearsals that trouble his director along with fellow cast members, and his exasperated eye bulging at the prospect of his soul being stolen (or "borrowed") are all Giamatti gold. 

 However, there's much more to COLD SOULS than just a Charlie Kaufman-mode Giamatti work-out. Nina Korzun as a "mule" for trafficking souls has a piercing presence that hints at a bigger back story. The eerie implications of left over residue built up from the many souls Korzun has transported aren't underlined but felt nonetheless. Giamatti's obsession with a soul he "rents" - that of a Russian poet is equally subtle and emotionally effective

The second half of the film concerns Giamatti travelling to track down his soul to a scenic yet dreary St. Petersburg, Russia. Icy isolation torments Giamatti as he shuffles down the streets and in a pivotal scene, set inside his soul, reminiscent (in a good way) of his schlepping through a white soundstage backdrop in AMERICAN SPLENDOR. This cranky curmudgeon has to finally acknowledge that a tiny piece of suffering is worth weathering the elements in a foreign land. Even if it is just the size of a chick pea.

  More later...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Soundtrack September: Movie Musicals & More!

Soundtrack September continues! First off, Julie from Misfortune Cookie Blog wrote a great piece picking her favorite soundtracks from different genres. Here's an excerpt: "I was invited to participate in "Soundtrack September" over at Film Babble Blog, and it got my wheels a-turning. The task was just to discuss some favorite soundtracks - easy enough. But I didn't want my choices to be too obvious. Like, of course I could mention The Graduate or Singin' in the Rain, but that's not really breaking any new ground, now is it? So I thought I'd use this space to highlight some of my more obscure or unappreciated faves. What was supposed to be a couple of blurbs spiraled quickly out of control! I have broken my picks into three categories, with three selections each: preexisting songs, scores, and musicals. PREEXISTING MUSIC I started to see a theme emerging in the picks for this category - all of them were preexisting songs that had new versions recorded for a film. It's not that I don't love mix-tape soundtracks (looking at you, Garden State), but it's always interesting to see beloved songs re-appropriated for a new context. 1. DE-LOVELY (2004) The move itself is kind of lame. Skip it. You're allowed to. But the soundtrack is, in a word, ravishing. The film is a biopic of Cole Porter, which attempts to right the wrongs of earlier biopics such as Night and Day by painting a more thorough portrait of Porter that includes his homosexuality. Along the way, his famous songs get new life breathed into them by artists such as Sheryl Crow, Elvis Costello, Robbie Williams, and Alanis Morrissette. Now, I know this seems odd. Like isn't Morrissette really angsty and a peculiar choice to be singing such happy songs? Not so. Her version of "Let's Do It" is super perky and I actually choreographed a super perky dance to it in high school. They also don't try to modernize the songs at all - they record them in a way that's true to the originals, but with a fresh feel. It's the ultimate primer on 30s/40s music. Download. Now." Read the rest of Julie's picks from pre-existing music, scores, and musicals here. Kirby Holt from the marvelous Movie Dearest site referred me to a post from a bit back about a favorite soundtrack of his - the movie musical of John Waters' cult classic HAIRSPRAY (2007): "Movie Music: You Can't Stop The Beat" (July 16, 2007) More later...