Monday, October 19, 2009

Five Favorite Film Soundtracks

Hey, it's my 50th post! Yay...
I was thinking of doing something really special for this post, like maybe a retrospective look at all my previous posts, with excerpts of everyone's favorite memories of Watts Up with Rhonda, or even a slide show of pictures of me writing the posts. They would all just be me sitting at a computer typing or, those times I was "taking a break" from writing, browsing on Amazon, updating my Facebook status, or getting really angry at iTunes. It would be really fun, but I think I'll save that for my 100th post.

For this one I decided to name my five favorite movie soundtrack albums. There is quite a heated debate on Amazon discussion boards (and elsewhere, I'm sure) about the distinction between orchestral/score soundtracks and pop or compilation soundtracks, and whether or not they should be considered separate genres for retail purposes. Maybe they are separate genres, but for this list I decided to include both score soundtracks composed specifically for a film and song compilations. The bottom line is that both types of soundtracks are important elements in a film; they help set the mood and tone, and neither should be ignored. My favorites, in no particular order, are:

Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
I still haven't seen the movie, but I love the music. Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Karen O composed these folk-alternative- rock songs for the movie, making this soundtrack both score and song collection. The sound is homemade, exuberant and, fittingly, wild. With acoustic guitar and an eclectic collection of other instruments, humming, shouts and a choir of kids, the music celebrates the joy and wildness of childhood and makes a perfect companion for Sendak's book.

Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Before this film came out, I was a little nervous. As an avid Austen fan, I worried that the movie would get everything wrong. Just one of the things it got incredibly right, however, was the music. The use of piano for much of Dario Marianelli's score was inspired by the fact that Elizabeth Bennet plays the piano, though not nearly as well as Jean-Yves Thibaudet. His talent is put to especially good use for "Liz On Top of the World," a theme that is echoed very effectively in "Your Hands Are Cold." There are pieces that don't use piano, too. I especially love "Meryton Town Hall," the song that is played at the Meryton Assembly near the beginning of the movie, for its slight imperfections that make it all the more real and believable as the performance of amateur musicians.

Juno (2007)
Listening to this collection of indie and folk rock songs is almost as good as watching the movie again. With both contributions from The Moldy Peaches' Kimya Dawson written especially for the film, and rock classics from the likes of The Kinks, Buddy Holly and Mott the Hoople, the album is a perfect reflection of Juno's world. My favorite tracks are Sonic Youth's cover of The Carpenters' "Superstar" and Cat Power's beautifully simple "Sea Of Love."

Marie Antoinette (2006)
Whoever heard of using 1980s punk and new wave rock music for a movie that takes place in the 1780s? It totally works, though! One of my favorite moments in the film is a scene at a ball with the dancing set to Siouxsie and the Banshees' "Hong Kong Garden." When the song ends the dancers stop and applaud. Brilliant. (The Vivaldi concerto isn't too shabby, either.)

Bend It Like Beckham (2002)
Before Bollywood met Hollywood (Bride & Prejudice), Bollywood met London. This bilingual soundtrack features a few tracks by Indian artists like Bally Sagoo and Bina Mistry (Buster Poindexter's "Hot Hot Hot" in Punjab!), the Blondie classic "Atomic," and some good songs by British artists (such as "a lit-ull band called Texas!"). Yes, there's a Victoria Beckham song on here, but I just skip that one! Oh, and Tito Beltran sings "Nessun Dorma." Not quite Pavoratti, but okay.