Tuesday, June 20, 2006

SIFF Wrap - Music

There were a number of films with good soundtracks this year. Among my favorites were:

The Proposition by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis
Linda, Linda, Linda by James Iha
Brothers of The Head by Clive Langer
Langer's songs for Bang Bang, the fictitious band in Brothers of The Head, are of particular note. They've been described variously as pre-punk, proto-punk and as a link between glam and punk, but they're really just loud, discordant and a lot of fun. Who needs a label for that?
A number of films featured songs by artists I really love. Among my favorites were:
C.R.A.Z.Y.: Yes, as one might imagine, the Patsy Cline song figures heavily in this film, as does a few of her other numbers, but the stand-out for me was a bit from the instrumental part of 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond'. I heard they blew $300,000 on the music rights. Now you know where it went.
The Chances of The World Changing: This film was really a downer. There's only one sort-of happy scene and it's totally undercut by Faun Fables 'Live Old'. Man, what a depressing song. But it's great!
Crime Novel: Being set in the 70's and 80's this film relies a lot on the same old disco and rock songs you typically hear in films portraying that period. One surprising exception was an early Kinks ballad 'I Go To Sleep', a non-album cut that can be found as a bonus track on the CD reissue of Kinda Kinks.
Two films I saw that featured cover and tribute performances were Leonard Cohen I'm Your Man and Linda, Linda, Linda. I like many of the artists who contributed to the Cohen doc, but aside from Nick Cave, I can't say any of them have a style well-suited to his material. At the other end of the spectrum, the girl-band in Linda, Linda, Linda does as good, if not better, version of that song than the Blue Hearts ever did.
If the Cohen pic was a somewhat disappointing portrait [far better to watch Ladies and Gentlemen... Mr. Leonard Cohen] then Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talking About Him?) more than made up for it. I have every album of his up to Son of Schmilsson and can recommend them all heartily. Seeing Sean Nelson introduce the film with an excerpt from his forthcoming album, Nelson Sings Nilsson, was an additional treat.
I enjoyed both of the live music events, The Unknown with Portastatic and Melodic Meshes with Harold Budd and Robin Guthrie. True, most of the music created by those bands didn't very well fit the films, but they were enjoyable as performances nontheless.
One of my favorite films of the festival, Jack Smith and The Destruction of Atlantis, also had one of my favorite soundtracks. In an e-mail Mary Jordan informed me she has a record library that would 'knock my socks off' and I can believe it. I thought I had a good collection of exotica and lounge and dug the Martin Denny and Hugo Winterhalter tracks she used, but Mary tossed in a few artists I never heard of like Ozel Turkbas, Stanley Black and Webley Edwards. The film also makes liberal use of Bernard Herrmann's score for Journey To The Center of The Earth and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, both of which are must haves. In addition, she featured music by Low, The Velvet Underground, Rimsky-Korsakov, The Bees, The Royal Fingers and Kitty Kallen. If that wasn't enough she got Thurston Moore, Devendra Barnhart, John Zorn and Destroy All Monsters to compose new pieces for her. I mean, c'mon, Destroy All Monsters?!!! That's unbeatable!

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