Monday, October 28, 2002

Stream of consciousness blogging

I am sitting in my living room with my laptop, watching a 24 hour music video channel. I am not a big music fan, to tell the truth. Most of my CD collection consists of stuff I bought when I was 17, and/or movie soundtracks. I am interested in music from the point of view of what it can add to a movie, but not so much in the music in itself. (As people who have been reading this blog regularly are undoubtedly aware, I am a huge movie buff). Movies are about creating a mood and a state of mind, and the film-makers getting the music right is absolutely crucial to this. The music must have relevance to the plot, but this must be in an oblique and subtle way. The timing must be right, in the sense that it must follow the audience's moods rather than the plot directly. If the music is too obvious and telegraphs the content of the movie too directly it doesn't work. The style and timing of the music must fit the film. Getting this right it hard. One reason I like Donnie Darko so much is the perfect use of early 1980s pop music. The music isn't quite contemporary to the film - the film is set in 1988 and the music is mostly about five years older - but it suits the film perfectly. Unfortunately it was a relatively low budget film, and it appears they couldn't afford the original recordings for the soundtrack CD , so the CD consists mostly of the orchestral score rather than the wonderful music from Tears for Fears, Echo and the Bunnymen, and Joy Division that is in the film. (The orchestral score is good too, but it was the 80s pop tunes that were really striking in the movie).

Other movies that come to mind with wonderful contemporary music scores: Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia's use of Aimee Mann's music is wonderful, which is another reason I want to see Punch Drunk Love . Baz Luhrmann managed close to perfection with his Romeo and Juliet . (I don't think he got the music quite as right in Moulin Rouge ). The music in Amy Heckerling's Clueless is pretty good, although perhaps a little too obvious in places. (The music in her Loser , a much misunderstood and unfairly maligned film, is great too, although for some reason there is no soundtrack CD). Cameron Crowe's Say Anything... does of course have perfect use of music, as does most of everything Crowe has ever made. (I love the Icelandic unworldliness of the Sigur Ros in Vanilla Sky, too).

(There is a certain type of person who, when they are in your home, look at your CDs and think that they can figure out everything there is to know about you. I find this accutely embarassing, because my CD collection is not something I have every put much thought into, and as I said, it is a muddle of really naff stuff, plus some film soundtracks). Of course, there is a way to figure out a fair bit about me, which is to look at my bookshelves, or even my DVD collection. (There is some fairly naff stuff in my DVD collection, too, but I can usually defend my taste by talking about how the same Director of Photography won an Oscar for such and such, or something like that. That is, I have thought about my DVD collection). However, the sort of person who feels the need to check out your CDs isn't usually the sort of person who reads books, so this can be hard to explain).

Now, I think I started out talking about music, before wandering off into movies once more. I am not quite sure what I was going to say.

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