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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Score Season #35
by Richard Jack Smith

Below are more soundtrack reviews of recent and archival releases.

100 Rifles (Jerry Goldsmith, 1969) * Less than the sum of its notes, Jerry Goldsmith's 100 Rifles faces identity crisis number one: it's spectacular, yet unmemorable. Imagine what this score would be like with just a grand piano, some harp and a little string section. Going for epic, humanity got lost in the watercolours. Emotion comes first, then the pyramid.

Bank Shot (John Morris, 1974) * I doubt the circus would take John Morris no matter how nutty or clownish his compositions. As tedious as Bank Shot pretends to be, it's a rush job neither satisfyingly comedic nor horrible. The music occupies those middle distances between the jovial and trivial. The only thing missing would be elephant noises. 

Ever After: A Cinderella Story (George Fenton, 1998) *** While George Fenton might not command the stature occupied by John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith or Ennio Morricone, he's no less romantic. Indeed, that's the primary draw behind Ever After: A Cinderella Story. With some thought given to struggle and the hope that the title character shall overcome, Fenton dramatizes at a fair pitch. Flutes, fiddles and Uilleann pipes characterize Cinderella as a forward looking personality. She's got a good heart, so we eagerly await the musical events which follow.

The Green Berets (Miklos Rozsa, 1968) ** Firstly, few roundups of great movie scores would be comprehensive without Miklos Rozsa's The Thief of Bagdad. A groundbreaking masterpiece, such appeal was instantaneous. However, Rozsa's methods could be deemed self-serving or repetitive. If a producer wanted flowery melodrama, Rozsa was their man. This condition afflicts otherwise poignant soundscapes. Ergo, The Green Berets failed to liberate itself from the formula. Because he doesn't shy away from anguish or introspection, the music comes across as indulgent.

Il Terribile Ispettore (Carlo Rustichelli, 1969) **** Rusty the Rebel, what's the tone? Whimsical tragedy, perhaps? It would seem even the lesser known Carlo Rustichelli soundtracks hold surprises. For its instrumental creativity and dancing personality, Il Terribile Ispettore defies genre plantations. I absolutely loved it! For the best experience, headphones are recommended. 

Barbarella (Michel Magne, 1968) *** A poem:

Original masters saved from fire
Another circumstance proved dire.
To replace or keep
Out with Magne, no weep.

Expecting silly pop
I found melodies hard to top.
Dry as a new spanner
The orchestra radiates a threatening manner.

Those black spaces so weird
Not much this man feared.
Perfect as a trifle
Little need to fetch the rifle.

The tone suddenly breaks
Like water lifted from lakes.
Duality confronts the just
With images of pain and lust.

If the mood felt bleak
or the character weak,
whether we dance or fly
grown men cry.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, 2011) Time to rhyme:

In the name of humanity
This score tested my sanity.
Not one for telling lies
I was "Pinned and Mounted" with the flies.

Dissonance hit an all-time low
Any percussion lost its original glow.
Was it music? I could not tell
Felt like the black inside a well.

"What if We Could" held the only powers
Four minutes of quality in three hours.
You could be forgiven for cussing
Heaven knows these composers weren't fussing.

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Who among them was boss?
To believe such noise might work
How the army surrounded a lonely Turk.

Humming, buzzing and clicking
Come on boys, the clock's ticking.
Ergo, we hear better stuff from a boiler
Was that a spoiler?

Glass (West Dylan Thordson, 2019) * Another poem:

Rip the air 
With notes of despair. 
In "Brick Factory," a noteworthy reprise
Might be the only surprise.

Hoping for hello
Only whispers from cello.
Demented cushion a nest
For fun figures, what a pest!

All set for Vangelis cram
Familiar feelings, such a scam.
Music felt spotty
I'd prefer watching Gotti.

Aiming for hope
So others may cope,
"Belief" only causes the reverse
A fitting curse.

"Cycles" bumped into "Sea Wall"
To Hans Zimmer, I call.
While not impossible to like
Awful things done to mic.

"Parking Lot" broadened the mode
Somehow sharing the load.
Not in the least bit phased
All records safely erased.

La Mula (Oscar Navarro, 2013) **** Time to rhyme:

For Oscar Navarro, such passion
Wasn't on ration.
He stuck to his guns
Like a phalanx of Huns.

Underachievers need never apply
Inspiration on full supply.
Sweet and commemorative all at once
A subject not left to chance.

Tightly packed yet adventurous still
He took his fill.
La Mula and the love theme
Confidence makes a team.


Lost Souls (Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, 2000) ***** Disregard the myth that all horror music should boast harsh and grating textures. Making a statement, Jan A.P. Kaczmarek's Lost Souls fashions the most exquisite tapestry; a flowing flora and fauna where the green emerges from pure, dedicated love. No fluke for a carefully calibrated and sturdy emotional design builds into a monument touched by the heart. What could be more effective in horror than favouring beauty over ugliness? So many composers try the obvious they forget to experiment. Therefore, Kaczmarek's decision to open things up and add some humanity allows his work to achieve greater resonance. However, he doesn't overlook the toxic tenor of terror for "Exorcismus" represents undeniable possession. By commanding the thematic threads, he's generous about letting the orchestra wander a little. As such, we explore the music and feel consumed by it. Finally, I'd like to add that Lost Souls was a blind purchase for me, having never heard a note or seen the film. A supernatural soundtrack rendered with sensitivity as opposed to creepiness, this will be a treasure I explore often.

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