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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Score Season #39
by Richard Jack Smith

Below are more soundtrack poems of recent and archival releases.

8 1/2 (Nino Rota, 1963) *** The journey from first story concept to post-production can involve a leap of faith. Burdened by studio demands for success as well as their own ambitions, directors have to trust in the longevity of composers. Famous examples in time's telling test include: Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann, Steven Spielberg and John Williams. The same structural integrity applies to the cornerstone of Italian cinema: Federico Fellini and Nino Rota.


Fanfare for a soul
Of men and coal.
They hit the street
Acquiring language of the beat.

Run the risk of abusing
Techniques he was using.
Real artists trust their nerves
Rather than ready made hors d’oeuvres.

It’s a dance move or turn
Which causes the pulse to yearn.
That feeling of intimacy locked
All other emotions shocked.

A director’s wish
Making delicacies of fish.
Best served with wine chilled
Any trepidations stilled.

Hark! The breath
Alongside treble clef.
Under the pass of strings
Themes about devotion and other things.

99 and 44/100% Dead (Henry Mancini, 1974) ***

“The Kid and the Pro”
Tended to undermine the show.
“Main Title” from the gut
Safe in the cut.

An opener so striking
The remainder less to my liking.
You know the situation’s improving
With music so soothing.

Such language of the wind
For those that grinned.
Like tasting really good candy
Mancini’s score rates as dandy.

Caprice (Frank De Vol, 1967) **

An instinct for melody captured
With those first notes, I am enraptured.
For the new guest
You might feel the test.

Cosy to a fault
All wounds receive salt.
A pace meant to be hectic
I was left apoplectic.

As the first and only date
Not much to ingratiate.
Caprice delayed the task
While wearing a mask.

All for neatness
And some go-to sweetness,
Sadly all Frank could offer
Adds little to coffer.

The Cloverfield Paradox (Bear McCreary, 2018)

Difficulty understanding where I stood
Like losing money in Sherwood.
In the absence of worthy fruit
The Cloverfield Paradox got the boot.

Suspense as empty as the shell
Or the cavern where man fell.
Did I fear for these people?
Comforts gathered at the steeple.

Much to admire about Bear
Despite the truth or dare.
Choosing the former
He couldn’t decide if it was warmer.

Atmosphere shocked by ice
All systems down, men became mice.
Such a meandering glow
Caused my patience to blow.

Hard to find tension
When waiting for pension.
The film’s soul made vacant
Cold will of the agent.

Mood in the shop felt down
An apt reflection of the town.
Few woodwinds could rally
A hint of survival for tally.

Felt like a concentration camp
Hey McCreary, what’s your stamp?
As bleary as The Ghost Writer
Bet on a new fighter.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (Bear McCreary, 2019) ***

Godzilla: King of the Monsters came as planned
Muscular peaks and valleys, everything else canned.
Mothra flapped its wings
To instruments unfit for kings.

While King Ghidorah had a theme
It got lost in a dream.
During the film, Bear’s music was blocked
Any qualities mocked.

Just as the market ran out of cucumbers
Quality went down, not only in numbers.
If there was an ace
Time marched at a comfortable pace.

The Homesman (Marco Beltrami, 2014) * 

The feel bad theme of the summer
Locked away alone, what a bummer!
Like a chimney choking
The composer’s plan was smoking.

Beltrami enjoys bending the pitch
Like an overweight man fighting a stitch.
The Homesman was sombre and crude
Want temporal dissonance? He’s your dude.

All enthusiasm was ripped
Because water in the bucket tipped.
Sound on a constant wave
Like the man never took a shave.

Ground to a screeching halt
A collective fault.
Broken by the random chord
Dare we view a sword?

“Entering Town” carried refreshing glow
Introducing a welcome flow.
“Briggs Moves On” felt fine
Like a decent cutting of twine.

Missing the warmth of home
And freedom to roam,
The Homesman got covered in mud
Simply a dud.

In Love and War (George Fenton, 1996) * 

How pleasant became dull
Cushioned and falling into a lull.
In Love and War orchestrated well
George Fenton worked that bell.

Music freshly coined
Woodwinds and piano safely joined.
Beginning to get sleepy
In the absence of something creepy.

“Play the Hand You’re Dealt”
Refused the invitation to make me melt.
Followed by “The Lake”
Giving the army a fair old shake.

Films about the First World War
Should report what somebody saw.
Music can make that inquiry deeper
Resulting in a keeper.

In Love and War felt romantic
Dare I say pedantic.
It was fair and wispy
Afraid of becoming crispy.

Troubled by a replay
Put it down to the cliché.

It came across as ancient
Trying to outdo The English Patient.

I’d prefer a call to arms
Over such weighty psalms.

Interview with the Vampire (Elliot Goldenthal, 1994) ****

Bassoon made it sinister
Like the shadowy minister.
A harpsichord broke the chain
Fewer boundaries on blood soaked lane.

The undead stick to rules
Most become tools.
For Lestat, a farce of self
For Louis, tear spangled wealth.

Goldenthal’s symphony caused a hound
To flee, seeking comfort in mound.
Darkness there was much
Not overpowering lightness as such.

“Louis’ Revenge” proved permanent marker
Others aim for starker.
Done with the meal?
There’s room to feel.

North Dallas Forty (John Scott, 1979) ****

Players who are wild and naughty
Make their base at North Dallas Forty.
As dark as crime alley
Getting lost in the deepest valley.

If I was feeling doubtful
A message from the thoughtful.
Human core drove this sport
Style and the common wort.

For a project of this magnitude
John Scott had the attitude.



Citizen Kane (Bernard Herrmann, 1941) *****

Some might be content with La Haine
For me… it’s Citizen Kane.
A virgin filmmaker struck gold
Making impressions on young and old.

Bernard Herrmann gave the fort
The menace of Gort.
From Xanadu to Susan’s operatic blunder
Life’s faults and more for the plunder.

We follow Kane as a boy
Riding the snow on his toy.
Taken to somewhere bleak
Worldly money made him weak.

Women saw through broken whim
Hedging bets on a limb.
Putting faith in the old paper
So he could build another skyscraper.

The caverns in a man’s soul
That was... Herrmann’s goal.
Did he make it smart and bright?
I’d say just right.

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