Director Martin Scorsese's Hugo, adapted from the novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick, presents composer Howard Shore, working on his sixth Scorsese film, with distinct requirements that he fulfills ably. The story is set in 1930s Paris, and it is concerned with magical and childlike elements, also taking in the early days of cinema. For this most lighthearted (and most Gallic) of Scorsese efforts, Shore appropriately suggests French moods everywhere. The basic way he achieves this is by using two different sets of musicians simultaneously on most cues. There is a full orchestra, to be sure, but it tends to occupy the background of the sound picture…
Marvin Hamlisch's first feature film score – written while he was still a college student – remains one of the great debuts in soundtrack history: a work of remarkable maturity, 1968's The Swimmer is rich in contrast and scope, communicating the film's uncommon emotional complexity in stunningly clear detail. Hamlisch proves a master of both style and mood, shifting effortlessly from the poignant simplicity of the main theme to the effervescent jazz cut "Easy Four/Bubbles" to the soaring orchestral flourishes of "Hurdles." Like the new generation of filmmakers who redefined American cinema in the late '60s and early '70s, Hamlisch achieves a note-perfect balance between tradition and innovation, acknowledging the past masters of movie music even as he expands the parameters of the form. Film Score Monthly's superlative reissue includes excellent liner notes and a series of stills from the film. Highly recommended.
Varèse Sarabande presents "Surviving Christmas", music from the film featuring Randy Edelman's score mixed with several songs from the past Holiday seasons…a list of some talented people Chet Atkins, Bing Crosby, Jose Feliciano, Judy Garland, Lou Rawls and Andy Williams.
Since The Big Chill, too often directors and film producers have taken the easy way out in creating soundtracks for their big-budget Hollywood movies by licensing a couple handfuls of hits either from the catalog of yesteryear's pop giants or from hungry up-and-comers. It's a formula almost. Thankfully there are still film scores, though they all seem to be written by the same five men. Both of these poles sees to lie in stark contrast to Robert Rodriguez's approach to creating an audio environment both to accompany and stand apart from his films. On Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Rodriquez took matters into his own hands and procured a series of rather obscure existing tracks that viscerally underscore defined themes in his movie – such as Juno Reactor's "Pistolero," Brian Setzer's ass-kicking "Malagueña," and Manu Chao's "Me Gustas Tu." He also commissioned several tracks to actors and wrote others for his players. Thus Tito Larriva's haunting "Flor de Mal," or Johnny Depp and friends under the moniker Tonto's Giant Nuts offer "Sands Theme," while Rubén Blades and Antonio Banderas helped to flesh out their own character's themes musically as well as dramatically.
No matter the lack of critical popular acclaim for director Akiva Goldsman's adaptation of Mark Helprin's novel Winter's Tale, the Hans Zimmer/ Rupert Gregson-Williams score is utterly worthy of the film, and also the novel itself. Full of classical and electronic textures, ambiences, and melodies that wed both the lyric themes of 19th century folk and classical music to the early 20th, these 14 cues are, by turns, delicate and dramatic, melancholy and romantic, spare and elegant. As a piece of music it stands on its own. The final track here is singer/songwriter K.T. Tunstall's "Miracle," written with A.R. Rahman specifically for the film. While it is dramatically different from the rest of the score, since it is the final track, it sums up the transcendent nature of the narrative.