Music Break: Beyond the Lights & Begin Again

This past week I saw two wonderful music-themed films and the soundtracks have been playing in my head since. So I figure why not feature both of them in one post since I’m planning to post a double review of them later in the week.

Both films feature a female protagonist and both stories offer interesting commentaries on the music industries from two VERY different spectrum. So take a listen at my favorite tracks from both films …

BeyondtheLightsPosterThis one is my absolute favorite… it’s emotive and stirring, especially when it’s sung by Gugu Mbatha-Raw‘s Noni towards the end of the film. It’s a defiant song that becomes the unofficial anthem for her at a pivotal point in her life. I love love the melody of the song and the beautiful arrangement by Mark Isham, it’s perhaps one of my favorite songs of the year so far. I was already so impressed by Gugu in Belle, but she totally blew me away here. Her transformation into a pop-star persona is incredible, and she clearly has the vocal chops to actually be a recording artist for real!

This second one is pleasant but more familiar, perhaps because it’s written by Diane Warren, who’s responsible for so many movies’ romantic ballads. It’s performed by Rita Ora.

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I knew there’ll be some awesome music featured in this one, as Margaret already featured them in her Soundtrack Wednesday post. I still want to feature ‘em again here, especially the two soulful ones sung by Keira Knightley. I had no idea she could sing so well and with such raw emotion. I LOVE this scene when Mark Ruffalo‘s character first saw her singing in a bar and his reaction to her singing is so endearing.

I had to include this awesome video posted by Interscope Records. It’s a cute & poignant scene featuring Keira and James Corden as they record a song together as a voice mail message. The melody is wonderful but the lyrics are so moving and really, who can’t relate to a broken heart? We’ve all been there, if only I knew how to turn my feelings into such beautiful music!


Hope you enjoyed the music break! Have you seen either one of these films?

Everybody’s Chattin’ and Music Break: John Wick Soundtrack

HAPPY [almost] FRIDAY!! I’m gonna combine this month’s Chattin’ post with Music Break as I missed it the past couple of weeks. I’m getting a bit of a blog fatigue lately and I’m behind on a bunch of reviews, so I might do more mini reviews in the next few weeks. I also have two fantastic guest posts from my pals Jack Deth & Daveackackattack on David Mamet and great TV recommendations, so stay tuned!

Well, since Interstellar opens this weekend, I most likely will go see that on Saturday. It’s nearly 3 hrs long, so I don’t feel like seeing it after dinner or I’ll doze off before the first half is over.

So here are what blogger’s been chattin’ about this past week:

Michael eloquently talks about his love for film photography which is increasingly become a lost art today.

OnlyLoversLeftAliveImgI can’t believe I still haven’t seen Only Lovers Left Alive, especially after such a glowing review from Mark , but fortunately I have seen Fight Club, and another Mark, as in Mark Walker illustrates why it’s definitely one of Fincher’s finest

Margaret reviewed Begin Again, which sounds lovely and I can see why she’s crushing on Mark Ruffalo ;)

Stu just caught up on The Act of Killing and I’m glad he appreciated that documentary despite not being the easiest film to watch

Drew on the other hand, is lamenting on how boring and pointless The Rover was, I had no idea Joel Edgerton wrote it!

PrinceSwitching gear to a music post, check out what makes Chris‘ list of Top 10 Songs by Prince 

Lots of new trailers are released this week, check out what you’ve missed on Terrence‘s Trailer Time Thursday

Now this is a list I can get behind… Tom lists 10 actors he avoids in pretty much anything. Wow, I agree with ALL of them, though I still don’t mind Timberlake in a small supporting role

Last but not least, Dan and Ryan have already set their minds on 2015 Blindspot lists, and they’re asking your help to choose 12 movies that you believe they must watch next year

 


Now time for some awesome music …

JohnWickPuppy

… and John Wick’s puppy, cutest movie dog you’ll see this year!

A lot of you already know I love the movie but one of the things I love about it is this cool and dynamic score from Tyler Bates and Joel Richard. It fits the mood and tone so perfectly and it’ll make for an awesome dance party soundtrack! I can’t help tapping my feet and groovin’ to the beat as I’m listening to it. Screencrush said in their John Wick review that Keanu Reeves is “…the kind of star who is still partying like it’s the mid-to-late ’90s, and that’s totally more than okay…” Y’know what, the music certainly has a 90s vibe to it to match the 90s-style action sequences of shooting guns mid air and the likes.

My fave track is the Shots Fired one at the club scene, followed by Red Circle and a slower one about Willem Dafoe’s character, Old Friend Marcus.


Well have a great Friday, everyone! What are you gonna see this weekend?

Music Break: Favorite Themes from BATMAN Screen Adaptations

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Happy Wednesday everyone! Inspired by the GOTHAM pilot on Monday night, I thought I’d do a Batman-themed Music Break today. Before I do that, here’s my two cents on the show:

I was going to do a quick review but tonight ended up getting hectic and since I was listening to some Batman music, I thought why not do a Music Break instead. Maybe I’ll do a review of GOTHAM at some point, that is if I’ll watch the entire season. The pilot was better than I expected at least, maybe because I had such a low expectations given how other comic-book shows have failed to keep me tuning in. I stopped watching Agents of SHIELD after just four episodes and ARROW after just two, despite Stephen Amell’s hunky-ness I just couldn’t be bothered!

Now let’s get to the Batman Music, shall we? Nolan’s Batman trilogy are excellent all around, including the phenomenal soundtrack by Hans Zimmer [collaborating with James Newton Howard on Batman Begins & The Dark Knight]. Here are five of my favorites, starting with my most beloved of ALL the screen adaptations out there.


BONUS: I just had to include this one from the video game Arkham City, as the soundtrack is simply astounding! I think it’s even better than most film scores out there.

 


Hope you enjoyed this week’s Music Break. So what’s YOUR fave Batman-related soundtrack?

Music Break – TRON: Legacy score by Daft Punk

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My hubby was playing one of the tracks of Tron: Legacy soundtrack this weekend and I loved it so much I asked him to play the entire album. It’s been five years since I saw the movie (read my review), which was not quite as good as the trailer promised it to be, but two things I loved about the movie are those super cool light cycles and the awesome soundtrack by Daft Punk.

DaftPunkTRONLegacyPer its Wiki page, the score features an 85-piece orchestra, recorded at AIR Lyndhurst Studios in London, mixing orchestral and electronic music as director Joseph Kosinki intended. Joseph Trapanese, who apparently was a fan of the helmeted French techno-pop duo, arranged and orchestrated their score. “We were just together working throughout the whole process and there was never a point where the orchestra was not in their minds and the electronics were not in my mind. It was a continual translation between the two worlds and hopefully we put something together that will be something different because of that,” Trapanese said of their two-year collaboration.

Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, the two guys behind Daft Punk, actually had a cameo in the movie as DJs in the computer world’s after-hours hot spot called the End of the Line club. The music adds so much to the movie, especially during all the light cycle race scenes. It’s kind of an odd genre mash-up, electronic and classical, but it works so beautifully here. I really think the score surpasses the movie and one I like listening to over and over.

Here are four of my favorite tracks from the album, starting with the one I like best, Recognizer. As I’m a big fan of classical music, naturally adore the Adagio for Tron.

Here’s the music video of the track Derezzed which appeared in the special trailer for the movie, it features cast member Olivia Wilde at the end:


Hope you enjoyed this music break. What do you think of the TRON: Legacy soundtrack?

Music Break: Top 10 Favorite Bond Songs

10FaveBondSongs

This Music Break is so long overdue! I listen to basically two music genres regularly: classical and soundtrack. And growing up the James Bond soundtrack got a lot of play in my house as my two brothers love ‘em too and my penchant for them continue to this day. Over the years I don’t know how many Bond CDs I’ve bought as they keep updating their collections [just like they do with their box-sets, heh]. From the classically-tinged ones to the more contemporary sounds, I love most of the Bond songs from the 23 films, with only a few exceptions (i.e. Die Another Day by Madonna, ugh). This list consist of the Bond songs, not themes by John Barry, David Arnold, etc. So far, my absolute favorite Bond theme is City of Lovers from Casino Royale that I featured a while back.

The other day I was thinking how it’s been ages since I made a Bond-related post. Well, inspired by last Monday’s birthday of the jazz great Louis Armstrong, as well as my pal Michael’s Songs on My iPod series, post #6 specifically, it’s time to reveal my top 10 favorites! I actually made a top 5 back in 2010, but I decided to expand my list to 10. So here goes (in order of release):

1. From Russia with Love (Matt Monro) – From Russia with Love 1963

….

2. We Have All the Time in the World (Louis Armstrong) – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service 1969

….

3. Moonraker (Shirley Bassey) – Moonraker 1979

4. For Your Eyes Only (Sheena Easton) – For Your Eyes Only 1981

5. All Time High (Rita Coolidge) – Octopussy 1983

6. The Living Daylights (A-Ha) –The Living Daylights 1987

7. Tomorrow Never Dies (Sheryl Crowe) – Tomorrow Never Dies 1997

8. The World Is Not Enough (Garbage) – The World Is Not Enough 1999

9. You Know My Name (Chris Cornell) – Casino Royale (2006)

10. Skyfall (Adele) – Skyfall (2012)


HONORABLE MENTIONS:

  • Goldfinger (Shirley Bassey) – Goldfinger (1964)
  • Nobody Does It Better (Carly Simon) – The Spy Who Loved Me 1977
  • Goldeneye (Tina Turner) – Goldeneye 1995
  • License to Kill (Gladys Knight) – License to Kill 1989

So are you a fan of any of these Bond songs? Which one(s) are YOUR favorite?

Music Break: Seven Favorite Themes By Alexandre Desplat

For some reason, I had just become familiar with Alexandre Desplat‘s work fairly recently. I think it was his score for The Queen (2006) that garnered my attention, and since then I’ve been a big fan. On my Five for the Fifth post I talked about Hans Zimmer’s concert, now I’d definitely go to Mr. Desplat’s concert if he had one!

AlexandreDesplat

Per his official site:

52-year-old Alexandre Michel Gérard Desplat was raised in a musical and cultural mix with a Greek mother and French father who studied and were married in California, he grew up listening to the French symphonists Ravel and Debussy and to jazz. He enriched his classical musical education by studying Brazilian and African music, which later lead him to record with Carlinhos Brown and Ray Lema.

An avid fan of cinema, he expressed his desire to compose for the Big Screen early on. During the recording of his first film, he met Dominique Lemonnier violinist who became his favorite soloist, artistic director and wife. She founded the Traffic Quintet for which he wrote original music and transcribed soundtracks.

In 2003 he burst onto the Hollywood scene with his evocative score to Girl With a Pearl Earring (starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth), which earned him nominations at the Golden Globes, BAFTAs and European Film Awards.

Those who watch a lot of French films might recognize him as he’s composed a lot of work for French cinema. Since I listen to a lot of classical music, I definitely LOVE Desplat’s style. A lot of his scores have such an emotional experience that can take you to another place. Some music can pierce your soul and I feel that Desplat’s music has that quality, especially his work for Tree of Life and Philomena. It’s melancholic and reflective, but he can also be playful and even whimsical, i.e. The Grand Budapest Hotel.

It’s only been a little over a decade that he made his Hollywood big break, but he’s been amazingly-prolific since. If you look at his IMDb resume, he’d often work on half a dozen scores a year! In 2013 alone, he worked on no less than six films, yet somehow he churn out great work virtually every time. Just in the past decade alone, he’s got 48 wins and 90 nominations (including Oscar, Golden Globes, BAFTA and Grammy) This man is a machine!

So for today’s music break, I want to highlight just a sampling of his stellar work:


So what do you think of Alexandre Desplat’s works? Which one(s) are YOUR faves?

Music Break: Five Favorite JOHN POWELL Scores

John Powell is one of the most versatile composers working today. Just looking at his filmography, his work spans multiple genres: animation, romantic dramas, action/adventure, thrillers, etc.

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I’ve been a fan of his work for some time, but for some reason I don’t always recognize that it’s him behind the great music I enjoy. So for that reason, and because I’m such a fan of his work, he’s the perfect subject for my Music Break! According to this Spitfire Q&A, early in his career Powell worked with Hans Zimmer at Media Ventures. His music influence also came from his dad, a tuba player with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in the 50s and 60s, who performed on a lot of film scores.

Powell has been nominated for various major awards, including one Academy Award nomination (for How To Train Your Dragon) and three BAFTAs. I’ve said it before that composers are instrumental (pardon the pun) in the filmmaking process. A great score adds so much to the experience as a whole, and at times it could be the best thing about the movie itself.

So for this music break, here are my five favorites  from the talented British composer:

Bourne Ultimatum

Powell did all the Bourne films’ soundtrack except Bourne Legacy, and this one from Bourne Ultimatum is my favorite. He also worked with Moby on the Extreme Ways track that I’ve featured here.


P.S. I Love You

It’s interesting how he could go from an action theme like Bourne to something tender and sweet like this one. But I LOVE this music, I actually have the soundtrack in my car and I always replay this last theme on the CD.


Face/Off

One of my fave soundtracks from the 90s and it’s still awesome to listen to today. I love both the slower theme as well as the action-packed version. This is Powell’s big film project and at times it sounds a bit like something Hans Zimmer would’ve done. Of course over the years Powell’s created his own unique style in his music.


How To Train Your Dragon

This score won a bunch of awards, including an Oscar nomination. It’s perhaps one of my favorite scores of all time! The entire soundtrack is excellent but my all time favorite is this one that I’ve highlighted in this post. It literally makes my heart soar!


The Italian Job

Some of Powell’s music has that tribal sounding and this is one of them. Yet it sounds very cool, modern and exciting. I like this boat chase one a bit more than the mini cooper chase through the tunnel. Fun stuff overall.


Hope you enjoy today’s music break, folks.
So which John Powell’s score is YOUR favorite?

Music Break: ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ Themes by John Powell

HTTYDbanner

It’s been way too long since my last Music Break post and this is one I’ve been wanting to feature for a long time. Well tonight I’m going to How To Train Your Dragon 2 screening and it’s definitely a perfect time to feature this. I LOVE LOVE the first movie, which has become one of my all time favorite animated feature ever! In fact, I’ve watched my Blu-ray several times and I’ve always enjoyed it!

One of the best thing about the movie is the music! The soundtrack by John Powell is absolutely wonderful, it’s got that majestic feel to it whilst still retains its playfulness. What’s more, it’s actually a very moving score, I actually tear up sometimes when I listen to it. He collaborated with Icelandic musician Jónsi for this album. This Flying theme is my absolute favorite, I could imagine Hiccup and Toothless soaring to the sky as I’m listening to it.

Well, I’m thrilled that Mr. Powell is back doing the soundtrack for the second film! Well, it sounds just as great, it still retains some of the sounds from the first one. I love how lush this music is, I especially love this one called Beyond the Clouds, which I’m thinking is the flying sequence as well.

HTTYD2_FlyingScene

I missed the theatrical release of the first movie, so I can’t wait to see this one, especially the flying sequence in its big screen glory!


What do you think of this soundtrack? Are you also anticipating the How To Train Your Dragon 2?

Music Break: 5 Memorable Piano Moments on Film

MemorablePianoMoments

As a big fan of classical music, I have always been a fan of piano music. In fact, I grew up listening to Richard Clayderman in the car nearly every single day as the French pianist is my late mother’s favorite.

This month’s music break is inspired by a scene I saw on Monday night. It was in the new drama Breathe-In starring Guy Pearce who plays a music teacher and aspiring concert cellist who’s tempted by a high school British exchange student in the form of Felicity Jones. There is a scene where she played the piano for him right after both being drenched by a thunderstorm. Brimming with breathless sexual tension, let’s just say their mutual attraction reached a crescendo.

It made me think of other memorable piano scenes in movies. Now, I’m not talking about films that are about musicians like Amadeus, Immortal Beloved, Copying BeethovenGreat Balls of Fire! or movies with piano/pianist in the title for obvious reasons (plus I haven’t seen The Pianist yet, but I’m guessing there are many piano moments in it). No matter what the genre, a well-choreographed piano scene is not just about the music itself. As some of these scenes exemplify, they can stir up various emotions, whether it’s sweet, fun, tense, happy, melancholy, or ominous.

Here are five to start with and I hope you, my friends, can add your own favorites in the comment section:

STOKER

Just like the scene in Breathe-In, the sexual tension is ricocheting off the walls and the ceiling of the whole room. So much so that one can’t help but squirm in one’s seat as the scene reaches its er, climax.

Casablanca

“Play it once, Sam, for old times’ sake.” It’s one of the most misquoted line from Hollywood classics. I love this scene, it’s romantic but tinged with sadness. Ingrid Bergman never looked so luminous and As Time Goes By remains one of my favorite songs ever.

Corpse Bride

I didn’t plan on having an animated feature on this list but somehow I just remembered how much I enjoyed this scene. It’s one of my fave Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter many collaborations, and they made a sweet musical duet.

Groundhog Day

This is such a great movie as it’s full of surprises. I love Phil’s piano solo, especially when he played Rachmaninoff’s 18th Variation on a Theme by Paganini, as in the music used in Somewhere in Time.

Moonraker

What, a Bond film? Well, why the heck not? I’ve shared it on this blog before that my early introduction to classical music was partly through Roger Moore’s Bond movies, as the Spy Who Loved Me introduced me to Mozart as Bond villain Stromberg played Piano Concerto No. 21. This scene is particularly memorable as it’s the first time Bond met his nemesis Drax, an elegant billionaire with a penchant for killer dogs and classical music.


As a bonus, I had to add this one in The Fabulous Baker Boys. Though really who notices the piano when you’ve got Michelle Pfeiffer in that red dress, ahah. Amazing that Jeff Bridges didn’t make one false notes watching her sexy rendition of Making Whopee.


Well, hope you enjoy today’s music break. What are some of YOUR fave piano moments in movies?

Music Break: Top 10 Disney Princess Songs

Can’t believe I haven’t made this post sooner as I grew up with Disney Princess movies. But thanks to Cinema Parrot Disco who put up her fave Disney songs last week, I thought I should do the same.

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So this list is limited to the Princess Movies, otherwise I’d have included The Lion King‘s Circle of Life & Can You Feel the Love Tonight, as well as Hercules’ Go the Distance and Tarzan’s You’ll Be In My Heart. That last one by Phil Collins never fails to make me tear up as the lyric’s so beautiful. I’m also excluding Pixar films, otherwise I’d have included Brave‘s Touch the Sky on here.

It’s REALLY tough to narrow it down to just 10 but here we go (in order of the movie’s release):

Heigh-ho – Snow White (1937)

I actually love the songs by the seven dwarves more than those sung by Snow White. This one is just so chirpy and fun to sing along to!


A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes – Cinderella (1950)

Ok so the part where the birds and mice are singing along are pretty silly but I find it endearing. The song has such a dreamy quality about it that’s lush and lovely.


Once Upon A Dream – Sleeping Beauty (1959)

I love this song so much I’ve dedicated a Sleeping Beauty’s Music Break post for it a few years ago. Based in Tchaikovsky‘s ballet, this song still sounds fresh even today. I like how the originally perky song is made darker and sexier in the Lana Del Rey’s rendition for Maleficent coming this May. I’m including both versions below:


Part of That World – Little Mermaid (1989)

I remember being so moved by this film as a kid. What teenager doesn’t want to be someone else sometimes, but Ariel’s plight seems more than a flight of fancy. I really feel for her and her desire to be part of our world and this song still gets me teary-eyed.


Kiss the Girl – Little Mermaid (1989)

I LOVE LOVE Sebastian, the adorable red crab voiced by Samuel E. Wright. I even owned the stuffed animal as a kid! This one deservedly won the Oscar for Best Original Song. I just love the Calypso/Afro-Caribbean music style used here, it’s such a whimsical and jovial tune!


Something There – Beauty & The Beast (1991)

I’ve made a Beauty & the Beast Music Break post of this one as well. It never fails to make me all gooey inside every time I listen to it.


A Whole New World – Aladdin (1992)

Anything by frequent Disney composer/lyricist Alan Menken &  Tim Rice is usually a recipe for gold. This one won Best Original Song at the Oscar. I actually prefer the Brad Kane and Lea Salonga rendition instead of the Peabo Bryson/Regina Belle version.


Colors of the Wind – Pocahontas (1995)

Oscars seems to get a lot of their picks right when it comes to songs, this is yet another Best Original Song winner by you guessed it, Alan Menken! I love both the Judy Kuhn version in the film, as well as Vanessa Williams’ cover. Great melody and poetic lyrics I love listening to year after year.


I See The Light – Tangled (2010)

For some odd reason I always burst into sobs every time I watch this! I love Tangled and this emotionally-charged lantern sequence is by far my favorite scene. This unabashedly sweet and romantic love song between Rapunzel and Flynn is classic Disney. It’s Menken’s magic once again, featuring the voice of Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi who’s a surprisingly good singer!


For the First Time in Forever – Frozen (2013)

Let It Go is likely to nab Best Original Song at the Oscars this Sunday, but it’s actually not my favorite tune from the movie. THIS is the one I love most and the scene as its played in the movie is so much fun! I actually prefer Kristen Bell’s voice to Idina Menzel’s for some reason.


HONORABLE MENTION:

In Summer – Frozen (2013)


What do you think of my picks? Let me know YOUR own favorite Disney Princess songs!