CD Review: THE COUNSELOR soundtrack

THE COUNSELOR soundtrack | ©2013 Milan Records

After such impressive scores as the majestic haunting of THE AWAKENING and the entrancingly downbeat crime drama BLOOD, the prolific English composer Daniel Pemberton finally gets a major Hollywood score for fellow Brit Ridley Scott’s THE COUNSELOR. It’s a gig that lands Pemberton once again on the wrong side of the law, and south of the border as a suave legal eagle gets in way over his head in the Mexican drug business. But that doesn’t mean that Pemberton can’t have black-humored fun with the bloodshed at hand with a nice big helping of Spaghetti Western music. It’s an ironic, […]Read On »

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CD Review: RISING SUN (Limited Edition) soundtrack

RISING SUN soundtrack | ©2013 Kritzerland Records

Where most Hollywood “Asian” movies usually kowtowed Orientals into secondary positions below the American actors (though mixed up a bit in this case with the brogue of Sean Connery and the urban cool of Wesley Snipes), we can credit RISING SUN director Philip Kaufman for bringing some level of authenticity to this thriller’s cultural melange by hiring Toru Takemitsu for his sole Hollywood film. One of Japan’s most revered movie composers for his work on KWAIDAN, WOMAN IN THE DUNES and RAN, Takemitsu’s sole work truly stands out for his mastery of the distinctly American genre form known as film noir. […]Read On »

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CD Review: STANDING UP soundtrack

STANDING UP soundtrack | ©2013 Varese Sarabande Records

Brian Tyler is best known for blowing stuff up real good in such might-makes-right scores as THE EXPENDABLES, IRON MAN 3 and THOR: THE DARK WORLD. Easily one of his most deliriously bombastic entries in this action field was for D.J. Caruso’s action thriller EAGLE EYE, which makes their new collaboration on “Standing Up” all the more surprising and powerful. For this story of two decidedly non-testosterone kids who run away from bullying at their summer camp, Tyler and Caruso show that real strength lies from within. It’s a lesson that the composer spells out with one of his most […]Read On »

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CD Review: I, THE JURY soundtrack

I, THE JURY soundtrack | ©2013 La La Land Records

If authors Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler gave their investigators Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe some small amount of hard-bitten class, Mickey Spillane was all about putting the dick into his private with the beyond hard-broiled investigator Mike Hammer. While he’d prove his barely ironic name in such envelop-pushing film iterations as KISS ME DEADLY and the Spillane-starring GIRL HUNTERS, none caught the character’s sleazy magnetism like 1982s I, THE JURY. As written by exploitation maestro Larry Cohen (HELL UP IN HARLEM) and played with five o’clock shadow cockiness by Armand Assante, the hyper-violent, sexed-up JURY was a soupcon of […]Read On »

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CD Review: JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL soundtrack

JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL soundtrack | ©2013 Kritzerland

Kritzerland has released such singing-dancing cult movie numbers as THE GHASTLY LOVE OF JOHNNY X and label founder Bruce Kimmel’s own FIRST NUDIE MUSICAL. But if they’ve put out one soundtrack, and film that’s long overdue for GLEE-like enthusiasm, then it’s JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL. I’d certainly never heard of it before watching this beguiling production as part of a teen throwback night at LA’s Cinefamily theater. As a member of The Class of 1983, this 1978 feature gave me a beguiling rush that recalled the rush of seeing GREASE for the first time that very same year. For both productions […]Read On »

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CD Review: HOCUS POCUS soundtrack

HOCUS POCUS soundtrack | ©2013 Intrada Records

Among the spells cast by a company whose fan devotion borders on the scary, Disney’s HOCUS POCUS has bewitched a following easily big enough to form more than a few covens over the last 30 years. Following up his similarly cultish Mouse House musical NEWSIES with this supernatural kid’s comedy-thriller, director Kenny Ortega resurrected three Salem witches on Halloween night, with only a bunch of intrepid kids, a talking black cat and a zombie standing between these twisted sisters and world domination. But if these ladies weren’t exactly threatening (and far more devilishly hot in the broom-flying case of Sarah […]Read On »

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CD Review: THE WHITE DAWN soundtrack

THE WHITE DAWN soundtrack | ©2013 Intrada Records

When given the opportunity to write non-comedic scores, Henry Mancini would run with the opportunity with some of his most beautiful and adventurous work, trekking from Italy to Russia in SUNFLOWER, venturing to outer space in LIFEFORCE  or digging into the Irish-worked coalmines of THE MOLLY MAGUIRES. It’s that score’s spirit that has the most in common with one of the composer’s most haunting works as he treks across Alaska in 1974’s THE WHITE DAWN. With a rousing (though unused) orchestral theme promising high adventure, Mancini follows a trio of seriously misplaced whalers into the company of Eskimos. At first, […]Read On »

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CD Review: DAY OF THE DEAD (Limited Edition) soundtrack

DAY OF THE DEAD soundtrack | ©2013 La La Land Records

Even when outright horror movies had humor in them, composers would mostly play the often gory action straight. While DAY OF THE DEAD might amiably shamble amongst George Romero’s original trilogy, it’s John Harrison’s score that stands as the most unique of their soundtracks for this reason. Where NIGHT used library music for maximum black and white effect, and Goblin brought catchy, progressive rock color to DAWN‘s entrail-laden shopping mall, it could be argued that Harrison was the composer who truly got Romero’s subversive satire, even if this sequel was claustrophobically set in a decidedly non-consumerist military mine complex. For […]Read On »

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CD Review: THANKS FOR SHARING soundtrack

THANKS FOR SHARING soundtrack | ©2013 Milan Records

If there’s one addiction that it’s hard to think there’s ever too much of, then it’s likely sex addiction. So understandably, that clinically diagnosed affliction is often mocked by mainstream Hollywood, especially since it usually happens to befall incredibly good looking actors we don’t mind seeing have continuous sex. Given that cinematic problem (one that’s slightly remedied here with the casting of Josh Gad), one can only imagine the score that a comedy-centric composer like Christopher Lennertz might unleash on THANKS FOR SHARING. But as opposed to the rambunctious orchestrations of MARMADUKE or the dirty retro funk of IDENTITY THIEF, […]Read On »

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CD Review: KISS OF THE DAMNED soundtrack

KISS OF THE DAMNED soundtrack | ©2013 Soraya Recordings

A new wave of artsy filmmakers are paying tribute to the pop art Euro-horror movies of the late 60s and early 70s with AMER and BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO whose Shagadelic scores at least succeeded in being enjoyably tributes to the likes of Ennio Morricone, Fabio Frizzi and Goblin. But there’s a big difference between creating an impressive, intellectual music exercise for homages that don’t cinematically get it for all of their arch hipness. But for Xan Cassavetes’ infinitely more successful KISS OF THE DAMNED, Steve Hufsteter has come up with a score that has real retro heart. John Cassavetes talented daughter riffs […]Read On »

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