David Thompson
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November 26, 2007

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georges

It's good - not bad or ugly. But I miss the guitar of Bruno Battisti D'Amorio. A marimba isn't quite the right substitute...

David

Georges,

I quite like the marimba. But here’s the theatrical trailer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xj0gJTGL93Q

And, for lovers of the ‘chicken-in-a-basket’ aesthetic, here’s the midi version from hell.

http://www.angelfire.com/tx/scooterbb/images/Thegoodb.mid

If you can’t access the direct link above, you can find it in the index here, under ‘G’.

http://www.angelfire.com/tx/scooterb/midi2.html

It’s a work of staggering genius. No, really.

georges

Is Morricone the greatest film composer EVER? Quite possibly.

His spaghetti western scores are amazing. He builds musical structures out of grunts, wails, yodels, wolf whistles and other gestures that feel more like sound effects than melodies. And that's very risky. A lesser artist would have wound up with something cheesily comical and deflationary, more like "Crazy Frog" than Bernard Herrmann. One reason it works is it really feels as if Morricone owns those sounds and that sound world. They don't belong to anyone else.

You can almost always tell when you're hearing a Morricone score, even when the movie is far, far removed from the style of Sergio Leone. John Barry is like that too - his non-Bond scores are still immediately identifiable.

Who, of current movie composers, is like that? Maybe Thomas Newman, although I hear a lot of fake Thomas Newman in movies these days...

David

“One reason it works is it really feels as if Morricone owns those sounds and that sound world. They don't belong to anyone else.”

I suppose Morricone’s scores match Leone’s films in their distinctiveness and slightly surreal overstatement. In some respects they’re operatic and cartoonish. They don’t look or sound like much else that springs to mind.

“John Barry is like that too - his non-Bond scores are still immediately identifiable.”

There’s a scene in one of the early Bond films, I forget which, where Bond is just walking casually across a hotel lobby and getting into a lift. There’s no lurking threat and no obvious drama or urgency – he’s just getting into a lift - yet the main theme is belted out anyway. It should be utterly incongruous and comical, but somehow it isn’t. Again, it’s almost cartoonish, and strangely charming.

Horace Dunn

Georges

"Who, of current movie composers, is like that?"

Yes, it is difficult to think of one. I do think, though, that Danny Elfman is pretty distinctive and, indeed, effective. But even Elfman isn't as arresting and individual as Morricone, though the Simpsons theme music with its madcap modulations and clownish orchestration comes close.

Morricone's other great strength, of course, is his ability to write lovely tunes. I also like the way he can switch from those sparse rattle-and-groan moments to the most sumptuous orchestral (and choral) effects. Think of "Once Upon a Time..." when Claudia Cardinale gets off the train and walks into the town. Big swooping crane shot and the soundtrack knocks your socks off. It's another of those "It ought to be ... but it isn't" moments. What it ought to be is cheesy.

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