Music Break: Philip Glass’ The Illusionist score

As tonight I’ll be seeing Now You See Me tonight, a crime thriller about a team of illusionists pulling off bank heists during their performances, I thought this week’s music break would have a similar theme of magic. The Illusionist is essentially a love story based on Steven Millhauser’s short story, “Eisenheim the Illusionist.

TheIllusionistScore

The film tells the story of Eisenheim, the the son of a cabinetmaker in Vienna, who uses his abilities to secure the love of a woman far above his social standing.

Before I get to the music, I’m quite fond of this period drama. The cast is wonderful, especially Ed Norton who carried the film with his affecting performance. I also love Paul Giammatti and Rufus Sewell here, both are terrific character actors who rarely disappoint. Even Jessica Biel, who’s not typically a strong actress, seems to acquit herself well here as Norton’s long lost love, though at times she did seem to be out of her elements amongst other more experienced actors. Visually it’s quite beautiful as well, shot by cinematographer Dick Pope who deservedly nabbed an Oscar nomination for his work.

Now, I think Philip Glass should’ve been nominated for his work here as well, as his score is no doubt one of the strongest artistic elements of the film.


I love Philip Glass‘ musical style, he’s actually my dream composer for my romantic thriller movie pitch Hearts Want. I first heard his beautiful score for The Hours a few years ago, and I also love his work in The Truman Show. Glass was nominated for three Oscars for his work in The Hours, Notes on a Scandal and Kundun. The Baltimore-born composer utilizes the repetitive structures that some critics would label ‘minimalist style.’ Now, I’m no musical critic, so for me, I’m a fan of his work as his music have a distinct sound unlike any other, and they’re pleasing to the ear.

In this one, he wonderfully captures the romantic sensibility as well as the mysticism and magical tone of the story. According to PhilipGlass.com, Michael Riesman is the conductor and producer of nearly every Philip Glass soundtrack recordings. And here he conducted the Czech Film Orchestra to bring the score to life beautifully.

Another one of my favorites from the score is the Orange Tree track, and the scene in the movie is also one of the major highlights.



Hope you’ve enjoyed today’s music break. What do you think of Philip Glass and/or The Illusionist’ score?

FlixChatter Review: The Painted Veil

This is one of the most touching and poignant movie I’ve seen in a very long time. The tag line says “Sometimes the greatest journey is the distance between two people.” And what a journey it really is.

The story takes place in China in the 1920s, which tells the story of a mid-class doctor (Walter) who marries an upper-class woman (Kitty) and moves to Shanghai. It’s clear from the beginning that she marries him only to please her family. In Shanghai, she has an affair with a fellow ex pat (Liev Schreiber, Watt’s real life partner), which is quickly discovered by her husband. As an act of vengeance, Walter whisks her off to a remote village ravaged by cholera. It is here, amongst the deadly epidemic and tough circumstances, that they rediscover their relationship and find purpose both as a couple and as a person.

The movie is superbly acted and well-written. Ed Norton is in top form as always (he’s easily one of the best actors working today) and Naomi Watts gives a wonderful, nuanced portrayal as the initially unlikable Kitty, but she slowly earns my sympathy as the film wears on. Toby Jones as the couple’s cheery neighbor Waddington also gives a notable performance.

What I love the most is how the movie presents the characters as they are, neither heroic nor evil (like most people are), they are simply human. The film does shy away from being ‘preachy,’ such as when dealing with a Catholic orphanage, focusing instead on how the characters evolve as the story progresses. Although the pace is a bit slow at times, the ending has such a redeeming quality that it’s worth every second. It also boast a beautiful cinematography of the lush rural setting in China.

It’s rare to find a movie that tells a wonderful human drama without being too cutesy or overly romantic. Love is more than a bed of roses or candlelit dinner in fact, it’s best experienced when you’d least expect it.


Have you seen this film? Let me know what you think.