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Entries in Original Song (78)

Tuesday
Nov182014

Interview: John Carney "Begin Again"

Jose here. When I learned I would be talking to Begin Again director John Carney, I had to promise myself that my interview wouldn't just consist of me begging him to reshoot that scene where Greta (Keira Knightley) and Dan (Mark Ruffalo) put on their headphones and walk through NYC, using me and Keira... 

...because as magical movie moments go, that one takes the crown this year. You'll be relieved to hear that I did talk to him about other things when we spoke about Begin Again, which is now out on DVD. We even get the last word on which songs will be campaigned for Oscar nominations. 

JOSE: Begin Again is actually the only film that I paid to see more than once in movie theaters this year...

JOHN CARNEY: Sorry, can you say that once more, I didn’t hear you.

JOSE: Yeah sure, I was just saying your movie is the only one I bought tickets to more…

JOHN CARNEY: [Laughs] That’s fantastic and I was joking, I heard you the first time, but wanted to hear you say it again.

I really meant it. The last time I went, I had literally just been dumped by someone, so in trying to make myself feel better, going to see Begin Again seemed like the only option.

I’m sorry, but I’m glad you went again, that’s very sweet!

Keira Knightley and John Carney

This mostly made me wonder if you intended to make the film as the equivalent of “listening to your favorite record” when you’re feeling blue for example?

Oh that’s interesting and it’s funny you say that. Mostly I think that musical films are more like albums in the way that they make sense anywhere, you don’t necessarily have to follow the plot each time to just tune into that bit you love, like an album.  [More...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Nov042014

Will the Hollywood Music in Media Awards Tell Us Anything about Oscar?

Tonight in Los Angeles they're holding the Hollywood Music in Media Awards. I'm not familiar with this organization but this is apparently their fifth year. Two Oscar nominees, actor Eric Roberts (who has a small but key role in the upcoming Inherent Vice) and songwriter Stephen Bishop (Remember "Separative Lives" that duet from White Nights?), are among the handful of hosts and performances will include Antonio Sanchez (interviewed right here) performing a section of his all drum score for Birdman and Gregg Alexander doing "Lost Stars" from Begin Again (clearly the song to beat at this point but we wish they'd push for two nominations in that category because the whole soundtrack is so good).  

But will any of this tell us anything about Oscar? [More...]

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Sep042014

"Happy now and happy hence and happy ever after"?

Manuel here, to discuss some news that got lost in the shuffle last week -in an interview with EW last week, Rob Marshall confirmed that that new Stephen Sondheim-penned number for Into The Woods was cut. [Gay gasp!] Yes, that song which Meryl was so effusive about last year and which Sondheim had penned just for her (seemingly in response to certain plot strands that were left dangling by, well, Disneyfied cuts to the fairy tale musical) has found itself on the cutting room floor. In Marshall's words,

“It was beautiful and spectacular, but it was very clear, as good as the song was, that [the movie] was stronger without.”
Rumblings on the web lead me to believe there's more to the story (isn't there always?) but rather than give credence to the rumor mill, we'll at least have something to look forward to in the film's DVD/Blu-Ray bonus features (they still have those, right? I feel as though I've been streaming so many films lately, I haven't sought out or outright explored these behind the scenes featurettes unless they become viral sensations). 

 

But rather than ask that obvious question ("will the song still be featured in some way in the film and thus be eligible for the Best Original Song?") I thought I'd open it up to a more interesting, if obscure, conversation. Writing new songs for existing musicals as they make their way to the silver screen is nothing new. Written either as an Oscar-grab or as a way to solve cinematic problems when adapting stage-primed material, these songs have been just as often outright hits as they've been unmistakable misses. For every serviceable number such as "Suddenly" (Les Mis) there is a head-scratcher like "Cinema Italiano" (Nine). For every tacked on song like "Hopelessly Devoted to You" (Grease) that nevertheless finds life outside of the musical film therein, there is "Mein Herr" which is now integral to stage mountings of Cabaret

I know I'm talking to the theatre queens in the audience, but I'm sure there's plenty of you out there: If you could choose one such number to nix it from a musical film adaptation, which one would it be? Or, conversely, which numbers written specifically for the screen do you think have captured the spirit of the show and made significant contributions to its sensibility? 

Saturday
Aug162014

"Sing out (Madonna), Louise!"

A happy 56th birthday to the Queen Herself. I was out for drinks with two friends the other night (Hi, Sue & Jordan!) and somehow the conversation turned to Madonna -- I can't remember how it got there -- and the Best Actress for Evita Golden Globe was discussed. 'Her one shot at an Oscar' ...but then of course she wasn't nominated. (1996 was an overstuffed year in Best Actress of course but even if it hadn't been, The Academy probably would have resisted.) But of course it wasn't her only shot at Oscar. They've snubbed her repeatedly in that Best Original Song category though two songs she sang but didn't write won the actual gold man ("Sooner or Later" from Dick Tracy by Stephen Sondheim and "You Must Love Me" from Evita by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber). 

Her original songs from the movies in preference order:

 

  1. "Into the Groove" for Desperately Seeking Susan (1985) 
  2. "Live To Tell" for At Close Range (1986)
    I'm not sure if this was officially disqualified but it would have been for the same reason as the infamous rejection of "Come What May" from Moulin Rouge! (It was written for another film altogether but switched movies) 
  3. "Crazy For You" for Vision Quest (1985)
  4. "Die Another Day" for Die Another Day (2002) - Golden Globe nod
  5. "Beautiful Stranger" for Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) - Golden Globe nod
  6. "Who's That Girl" for Who's That Girl (1987) - Golden Globe & Grammy nods
  7. "This Used To Be My Playground" for A League of Their Own (1992) - Golden Globe nod
  8. "I'll Remember" for With Honors (1994) - Golden Globe & Grammy nods 
  9. "Causing a Commotion" for Who's That Girl (1987)
  10. "Masterpiece" for W.E. (2012) - Globe win
    disqualified from Oscar - too late in the end credits 

And I don't even want to talk about Truth or Dare (1991) not winning a Best Documentary nomination when it's one of the best docs ever made... or at least in the top 5 most entertaining. And while we're Oscar dissing, how is it that Stephen Sondheim's rousing "More" from Dick Tracy missed a nomination? Did they only submit the one song or was it the way Warren Beatty edited its production number to smithereens so there was barely any of it there -- one of the weirdest directorial decisions ever when there was clearly a big festive Madonna/Sondheim production number filmed?

Madonna having a bit of a Joan Crawford moment in her recent "Revolution of Love" short film which I'll admit I didn't 'get' at all. Rare for me with a Madonna project.

Madonna's dreams to become "A Real Actress" (I love that she has a Moulin Rouge! "Satine" connection!) seem to have ended at the same time her marriage to Guy Ritchie wrapped and the only movies she's made since have been behind the camera with Filth & Wisdom and W.E. But she'll always have the music. If you haven't yet read it you should check out this excellent essay from Savage Garden's Darren Hayes on 'why the world needs another brilliant Madonna album'. And hat tip to Erik at Awards Watch (who've been holding a Madonna Week) for pointing that one out. I hope she writes a killer song for a movie again soon, a song so strong that it would be shameful for the Academy to ignore. 

Monday
Jul282014

Podcast: Charming Musicians, Frosty Survivors, Talking Apes

It's one-on-one podcast time this week. Nathaniel and Nick discuss two movies they're sympatico on (Begin Again and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and one which halfway divides them (Snowpiercer). 

You can listen at the bottom of the post or download the conversation on iTunes. Continue the conversation in the comments.

Index
00:01 Intro & Scene Stealing
01:30 Begin Again: rough starts, Mark Ruffalo's abrasiveness, Keira Knightley overall excellence, how it compares to Once.
14:00 Why we're not talking Boyhood. Plus the difficulty of grading ambitious movies.
20:00 Snowpiercer: allegory, structure, and the fight over the final cut, Tilda Swinton of course. Plus Bong Joon-ho and Korean cinema.
35:00 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: highlight scenes, amazing imagery, franchise politics, Jason Clarke, and Caesar vs. Koba.
45:00 "Lost Stars" 


What is this picture doing here?
You'll have to listen to find out.

 

Begin Again Snowpiercer Dawn of...

Monday
Jul072014

Halfway Pt. 3: Sound, Songs, Score. What Did You Enjoy Listening To?

Having covered the most astounding visuals from the first half of 2014 let's move on to Sound. This is when I suddenly become shy, mutable, and tongue-tied as a critic. You may read this post at any decibel level but please know that I'm whispering it. A truth: sound is the aspect of filmmaking for which I feel least qualified to judge. I try to absorb what's happening in underscoring and with the mix and editing. I'm definitely more attuned that I once was. But the fact remains that my ears are neither as well trained nor as aggressive in consumption as my eyes. I love to hear other people talk sound and scoring (I recommend the book The Conversations by Walter Murch which is on film editing but it touches on sound as well) so please do share your favorites in the comments. I'll probably learn something if you do. At the very least I'll have more to consider. 

If I had to vote right now...

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Henry Jackman); Godzilla (Alexandre Desplat); The Grand Budapest Hotel (Alexandre Desplat); Noah (Clint Mansell); Snowpiercer (Marco Beltrami)... though I'd be hard-pressed to tell you why in all five cases other than that I responded to the music and thought it a fine match for the material tonally

BEST SOUND MIXING & EDITING: In these categories I'd undoubtedly go with some mix of the otherwordly bestial movies like Godzilla, Noah and How To Train Your Dragon 2 and I'd most definitely opt for Under the Skin and not just because my BFF and I leaned toward each other and whispered Yaz's "I Before E Except After C" lyrics during the enormously creepy vocalizations in the first minute of the film. But other than that I'm open to suggestions...

BEST ORIGINAL SONG: And now we can raise our voices again after the jump because I have five I LOVE already and we're only half finished with 2014. Guess what they are...

Click to read more ...