Sunday, February 10, 2013

Movie Soundtracks

I'm that person who sits with the credits playing on DVDs on my laptop pressing play and pause repeatedly to write down literally every song in the movie. Some of my favorite music comes from movies. It's like getting a playlist from your favorite directors.... or your favorite music supervisors. Either way, music is such a giant component with movies and it can really make or break a movie. Also, it can lift up a mediocre movie. Soundtracks tell so much about the movie and the progression of plot and a strong association between a great movie and great music can make me like that music even more. Here are some of my favorite soundtracks in no particular order!

1. (500) Days of Summer

Directed by Marc Webb

This soundtrack is full of beautiful, happy music that just takes you away. It's music that I can immediately visualize into movement. Featuring The Smiths, The Temper Trap, Carla Bruni, Regina Spektor and of course Hall & Oates, it's a soundtrack that rises and falls gracefully with every breath of the movie. Plus there's this:

2. School of Rock

Directed by Richard Linklater

This movie instantly became a classic for me when I saw it. It continued the music education that my brother had begun with me and that my parents had been secretly instilling in me since birth. With Jack Black's manic energy and a script literally about educating youth about rock music (with some not-so-honest intentions) the soundtrack had to be just as epic and manically energetic. It completely succeeds with the likes of The Ramones, The Clash, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, and even Aretha Franklin.

3. P.S. I Love You

Directed by Richard LaGravenese

Before you start rolling your eyes, trust me with this one. Sure the movie's not spectacular but it would have been much worse without the soundtrack. With both The Pogues and Flogging Molly bringing the Irish storyline to life and Paulo Nutini and others tugging at your heartstrings, the result is a tender soundtrack with energy in all the right places.

4. The Breakfast Club (and everything Hughes)

Directed by John Hughes

John Hughes is one of those directors who is known as much for the music in his films as the hugely relatable and classic story lines. Simple Minds defined the movie as much as the breakfast club itself and the final parting shots wouldn't have the same resonance without it. Similarly, Pretty in Pink with Duckie employing Otis and "Try a Little Tenderness" and Ferris Bueller's Day Off with Ferris highjacking a parade float and calling The Beatles and "Twist and Shout" to his aid have both provided unforgettable defining moments in great films.

5. Almost Famous

Directed by Cameron Crowe

Another director whose work speaks in part through the brilliant music choices and a movie about his own experiences with rock 'n' roll. The huge selection of Led Zeppelin acting as score is transcendent. Plus, any movie that starts with the Chipmunk Song is magical in my book. With Yes, The Beach Boys, The Who, Elton John and Joni Mitchell all playing vital roles in the emotional integrity and ebbs and flows of the story, a diverse and expansive library is presented.

6. Juno

Directed by Jason Reitman

This wonderful soundtrack is as offbeat as Juno MacGuff herself, which is why it works. Going for often understated and quirky, the soundtrack is almost unnoticeable in that it seamlessly works with the movie to create such an emotional impact. Kimya Dawson presents a multitude of cheeky, smart, beautiful songs for the movie with The Kinks, The Velvet Underground, Belle and Sebastian, and Mott the Hoople rounding out the rest of the soundtrack.

7. Pulp Fiction (and everything Tarantino)

Directed by Quentin Tarantino

As punchy and audacious as the film it accompanies, this soundtrack is as encyclopedic in scope as Tarantino's knowledge of obscure films and of course, music. It is electric and helps to sear the incredible scenes into your memory. "Jungle Boogie," "Son of a Preacher Man," and "Comanche" among many others provide one of the most memorable cinematic experiences in history, and it would be completely different with a different soundtrack. Though it wasn't one of my favorite Tarantino films, Django Unchained had a spectacular soundtrack.

So I left out scores because if I got into that bag of worms I'd never find my way out -- far too many brilliant scores! Bottom line, I love the way music and film works together to create the ultimate emotional impact.

Did I miss any?

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