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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Score Season #55
by Richard Jack Smith

Taking a poetry course in 2010 has proven significant. Back then, I enjoyed rhyming stanzas but seemed stuck as to worthy subject matter. Given Betty Jo Tucker’s example, I have endeavored to expand my horizons by making cinema my muse. On each occasion, I try to find new ways of rhyming words relative to cinematic spaces. I hope similar ideas inspire readers and writers… always.

Below are more soundtrack poems of recent and archival releases.

The Assassin (Lim Giong, 2015)


It went kablooie

During “The Whirling Dance of Hu-Ji.”

Strumming the lonely chords

In the absence of voice or words.


This left my mind throbbing

Like a chicken head bobbing.

To escape such doom

I cleaned my room.


You encounter less resistance

Making films from a distance.

True of note or lens,

Morality or procedure, just depends.


Emotionally, it missed the thrill

Simply amounting to nil.

The only thing which shook

Was my head buried in a book.


“The Ingenuous Lovers” was fine

Revealing much needed spine.

Like a step wise thief,

It was ever so brief.


Mood once placid

Soon transformed by acid.

All rather sad

A perishable fad.


Rolling down the meadow

Afraid of one’s own shadow.

Bagpipe sound on the nose

A weird instrument they chose.


Always the threat of cloning.

Mind the incessant droning.

Sparse chords took shape

Leaving mouth agape.


Probably under the gun

Or exposed to too much sun,

The Assassin was yesterday’s news

A replay I refuse.


Seeking an assist

“Cronies and Enemies” hissed.

Not much to the grind

Wake me when he resigned.


Cahill: United States Marshal (Elmer Bernstein, 1973) ****


If the theme can capture an ounce

Of the required grit, what bounce!

Regarding Cahill: United States Marshal

I am quite partial.


Music of such splendor

Better be tough yet tender.

Full is the flagon

And well packed the wagon.


Even on deadline eve

Elmer Bernstein made magic weave.

A man unfazed by a duel

Made it his secret fuel.


The saga of a saddle

And the fisherman with broken paddle.

The son of settlers

Used to disposing of rattlers.


His blueprints were intricate

Like he worked for superhuman syndicate.

Melodies as both guns were drawn.

A silhouette in the morn.


Just as a horse may bolt

At the noise of a colt,

Elmer’s music can rip

All pretensions away, just a tip!


In the Western maze,

Bernstein has the power to amaze.

From homestead to lowliest chasm

He approaches it without sarcasm.


From stirrups and hay

To sightings in May,

A distinctive three note phrase

Eliminates unwanted haze.


Only John Wayne

Could share his pain.

He needed someone to barter.

One he could call “partner.”


Fond of dabbling

Near a wood cabin,

Music pitched to dialogue and foley.

That’s the whole tamale.


The Don is Dead (Jerry Goldsmith, 1973)


Simply made of lead,

Witness The Don is Dead.

As strange as The Planet of the Apes

Where do they get these master tapes?


What were they yielding

Stealing from Jerry Fielding?

Through a warped prism

All you get is rhythm.


“No Trouble #1” made a pleasant exception,

Free from all the deception.

Like Capricorn One without the oomph

This one not exactly a triumph.


You might get the jitters.

A better artist might use scissors.

My mind turned to other things,

Namely The Lord of the Rings.


Only procrastination

Could lead to this assassination.

Whether it rains or scorches,

You must light the torches.


In case of a scuffle

Pack the duffel.

If it was inaudible,

Better sounds are affordable.


In matters of flaws and blimps,

Give improvisation a glimpse.

The instruments should seem marauding

Not merely defrauding.


Because it wasn’t all there

Buyers best beware.

Lacking the contrast to work

The music needed more than a perk.


Jerry Goldsmith once a hero

Lands a score netting zero.

Doesn’t matter if it’s copperplated

If the whole thing feels overrated.


A well-bred spaniel

Gains little from a manual.

With average music in the bones,

Guess this one is for Davy Jones.


Odd Man Out (William Alwyn, 1947) ****


A narrative in shades of grey

Simply pointing the way.

Opulent, deeply felt as a song

And it didn’t put a note wrong.


As we hunger and thirst

Strike a creative burst.

A rush in the blood

Please seek emergency hud.


Excitement in its very tissue

Orders we swiftly issue.

A test for the fallen folk

Patience and desperation are no joke.


Suspense running across the veins

William Alwyn took great pains.

Sensing a human so fragile

From tones which echo a plush style.


A new scent on the moor

Risky and hard to ignore.

How a gentle touch

Can matter so much.


Hark! A fiery mist arises

Harboring many surprises.

The virtue in working hard

Resonates with the Bard.


Having escaped the well

You’ll have quite a story to tell.

He felt blessed

Having labored and stressed.


It was jurisdictional quality

Which resulted in a lack of pity.

The notion that boulders smash

And first drafts crash.


To have partaken of this journey

Without the hindrance of Bernie,

A lonely trek rewards each lap

Via a timely nap.


The point was loud and clear

Carrying all we hold dear.

For those that accept the queue

I bid adieu.


The Red Shoes (Brian Easdale, 1948) ***


Ballet has a star

Rarely a note bizarre.

We hear sounds from the street

The place where souls meet.


The trick to immerse

A skill from rehearse.

As minds we enlace

Our feelings not a trace.


“Transformation” blinds 88 keys

In trying to hear, we freeze.

Fast steps heavy and fluid

Matching the wizened druid.


“Ballet Music” boasts a reddish shade.

Dread runs into the fade.

A journey through the mist

Of an ancient and forgotten list.


“Composer Sleepless Nights” was a drag.

Just not my bag.

Music sometimes quiet

Like Easdale went on a diet.


Music as a shimmering ghost

I wonder who played host.

Nearing the dramatic crescendo

Purity in line with innuendo.


Over fifteen minutes of patter

The time it takes for a life to shatter.

There’s applause and clapping

Such unnecessary rapping.


Originality lacking in “Night Ride.”

More required to turn the tide.

The talking in “Birthday Party”

Less than smarty.


Arms and legs in symphony

Failure means infamy.

Like an ancient pagoda

It must transcend the coda.


Difference between score and source

The picture of an unseen horse.

So in conclusion:

Dialogue was the only intrusion.


The Secret Garden (Zbigniew Preisner, 1993) *


Take it to the Hague

For impressions were vague.

I must beg your pardon

When casting judgement on The Secret Garden.


It felt as nice as a lily

The themes quite silly.

Only one mood: happiness

Sheer unadulterated sappiness.


It might stick to your shoe

Given enough glue.

I believe it’s shallow and soft

A sprinkle from the hayloft.


It can make you drowsy

The effect rather lousy.

I’d rather hear a garden hose

Than carry on with such prose.


One hundred degrees of nice

Cannot imagine hearing it twice.

When the glass is full

Impressions can be dull.


“Walking Through the Gardens” adds a choir.

Suitable for a funeral pyre.

“Mary and Robin Together” plays on strings

Positivity rarely clings.


Please make it stop.

The magic fails to pop.

You’ll need a bigger basket

For this casket.


It came across as a blunder

A score without wonder.

A little more thought and care

Before opting for the share.


You need more practice

Lest you get hurt by the cactus.

Woodwinds in the void

Lack inspiration for the unemployed.


Sometimes the role can be administrative

The result somewhat diminutive.

I classify it as fair

Fall asleep if you dare.


Stormy Crossing (Stanley Black, 1958) ****


Capturing a rare sweetness

Stanley Black all about neatness.

Stormy Crossing made its introduction well

Hear the orchestra swell.


Another plus for Black

Keeping the story on track.

An impressive scope

And the lingering chest of hope.


He was a diviner

Mastering major and minor.

Adventurous spirit was latent

The fourth movement a worthy patent.


It made me blush

The orchestrations were lush.

A tip-toeing ethic

So smooth and athletic.


Like taking to the high seas

Winds surfing, catch the breeze.

Just like Cupid

Keeping grease on the bow fluid.


A dramatic crush

The lift and then a hush.

Fancy such a disturbance

Gathering us together in accordance.


Some tinkling percussion

Makes for a lively discussion.

Although the foundations seem antique

The presentation felt unique.


Such a grand opening

Ensures I’ll be reopening.

This mountain raider

Turned out to be a crusader.


The intention was crystal

Like a round fired from a pistol.

When in distress,

Hear music to relieve the stress.


Stormy Crossing was a fine choice

Like earning a new Rolls Royce.

It plays without a hitch

Ignoring all that kitsch.


Twister (Mark Mancina, 1996) ***


In the summer of 1996, Twister came.

Tornadoes and bad acting, who was to blame?

The music wasn’t a casualty

Of a script so faulty.


The weather might be dire

Still there’s a jolly good choir.

Electric guitars rarely intrude

Mark Mancina is one cool dude.


A stormy chase

At exciting pace

Carries us forward

Minus anything untoward.


“Walk in the Woods” a spellbinding cue

Wonder what’s next in the stew?

“Bob’s Road” throws in a little interference.

Singing quality worth a reference.


The orchestra I appoint

For their performance does not disappoint.

The measure of a score rarely in tow

Fixed position for arrow and bow.


While “Drive-In Twister” was prone to repeat,

Don’t let that defeat.

“Wakita” touched what was most native.

Its methods sound and creative.


“Sculptures” began slow and dark.

Surely making its mark.

The pace rises and quickens

Like the best Charles Dickens.


I wonder what “House Visit”

Shall prompt or elicit?

A reaction favourable and prickly

Are we tickly?


Whether hawk or duck,

We got roped into “The Big Suck.”

Cover art needs more light

To conjure tornado might.


Shame there was no sister

For this lonely Twister.

A pleasant jaunt

The promise of joy may haunt.


X2: X-Men United (John Ottman, 2003) *


Will the pulse ignite

As these X-Men unite?

You know there’s trouble

When ideas occupy a generic bubble.


“Suite from X2” was seven minutes long.

Busy and not so strong.

Only a director could allow

The music to end up shallow.


John Ottman seems capable of better

Rather than following guidelines to the letter.

It took “Finding Faith”

To bypass playing it safe.


Difficult creating an opus

As “Mansion Attack” loses focus.

Spot the enticing worm

In “Storm’s Perfect Storm.”


“It’s Time” presented a dutiful worker

No mistaking it for the berserker.

While “Magneto’s Old Tricks” coursed and bobbed.

Acting like a frigate just got robbed.


I slowly began to tire

Of heaven bound choir.

Compared to animated series, X2 was rootless

The struggled turned out fruitless.


Next in play? “I’m In”

Another for the dustbin.

It was lacking intuition

Which prevented fruition.


Even a brief bassoon or harp

 Could not keep things sharp.

From foot soldier to cannon fodder

The differences between puppy and toddler.


To impart something raw

Like a great event we saw,

Those miles have been well trodden

The result empty and modern.


Ottman’s contribution was meagre

From one so eager.

As for a superhero affliction

It was outside his jurisdiction.




Octopussy (John Barry, 1983) *****


James Bond forever linked to John Barry.

A burden of identity few can carry.

Octopussy captures that elusive glow

No part is slow.


Such sweeping romanticism made me fall in love,

Spreading wings as a dove.

I melt far and away

Music keeps the evil things at bay.


Barry’s work in the moment

Can shield the bruise of torment.

He was one to tinker

Like the Critical Drinker.


Maud Adams made the heart leap

Even more effectively than Meryl Streep.

A love theme for all ages

Plucked from the golden pages


Romance the interplay between notes and eyes

In a stirring reprise.

For novice or lifer

Rarely a formula to decipher.


A story on the stave

With the instinct of Dave.

Fantasy was the realm of Orc

A pleasure for genius or dork.


What made Bond incorrigible

His actions terrible

Were those sudden shifts

Of which a lesser man drifts.


Suspense as crisp as a wisp

Minus the hesitation in a lisp.

One score to rule?

A notion fit for a ghoul.


Run via boot

Into snake fang root.

Fight or break

You cannot make a mistake.


Open the lid

And accept the highest bid.

Octopussy emerges the victor

With the hold of a boa constrictor.

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