Composer Hans Zimmer (Gladiator, Thin Red Line, Batman Begins) successfully fused his signature brand of overwrought but highly effective melodrama to the backbone of director Ron Howard's 2006 movie adaptation of Dan Brown's controversial religious thriller The Da Vinci Code. That film's main theme, "Chevaliers de Sangreal," has been retooled for the 2009 sequel (the book was actually a prequel) Angels & Demons, preserving all of its elegiac atmosphere while bringing in more choral elements, as well as the nimble fingers of Grammy Award-winning violinist Joshua Bell to reflect the story's central character, Vatican City.
Call it a soundtrack producer's dream. One of the most vital and influential bands in modern-day music cuts a song entitled "If God Will Send His Angels" just months before you are hired to put together a soundtrack for a movie entitled City of Angels. The band is U2, and their song not only opens the City of Angels soundtrack, but it is also the anchor of a group of tracks that narrowly escapes the sappy trail that the movie blazed when it hit theaters. In all actuality, the soundtrack sounds much too dark, menacing, and legitimate to be attached to the film. Alanis Morissette assures the direction of the album when she follows U2's less-than-perky offering with "Uninvited," which is nothing if not vintage Alanis. From there on the quality drops off somewhat, but not until after Jimi Hendrix comes in with "Red House." It's still amazing to this day how the sounds of Hendrix on the guitar could be so many things all at the same time – soothing, moving, eerie, and untouchable.
The film The Sandpiper is best-remembered today for Johnny Mandel's "The Shadow of Your Smile". Its soundtrack CD has 11 pieces on it, ten of which are variations of that one melody. Other than a straightforward version of the theme that features a vocal group, Jack Sheldon's trumpet is prominent throughout much of the haunting score; the one exception to the moody music is the brief R&Bish "Bird Bath" which was used in a nightclub scene. Otherwise this CD's value to listeners depends largely on how much one enjoys "The Shadow of Your Smile".
The soundtrack to Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter boasts an expansive folk/international mix tailored made for the film's atmospheric study of loss and guilt. Featuring original material by Mychael Danna, the disc spotlights the wan vocal talents of Sarah Polley (who also appears in the film and contributes some music and lyrics here) enveloped in lean and ethereal backdrops; the accompaniment comes courtesy of the Toronto Consort and a combo that includes Danna on Harmonium and Kim Deschamps on pedal steel. Also on hand are ney player extraordinaire Hossein Omoumi and flautist Ron Korb, both of whom fit snug on the many Middle Eastern-flavored sides they guest on. In addition to the Danna material, the soundtrack also features numbers by Jane Siberry and the Tragically Hip.
The soundtrack for About Time, the 2013 British romantic comedy from Love Actually writer and director Richard Curtis, dutifully reflects its story's time travel premise with a 17-song set of (mostly) previously released selections from the likes of The Killers ("Mr. Brightside"), Groove Armada ("At the River"), Amy Winehouse ("Back to Black"), and Nick Cave ("Into My Arms"). Ben Folds offers up a new, heavily orchestrated version of his sentimental 2001 ballad "The Luckiest," while ex-Dream Academy mastermind Nick Laird Clowes offers up a pair of wistful piano pieces ("Golborne Road" and "The About Time Theme") from his evocative score.