Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Favourite Movie Songs: Original

Two qualifiers: songs written for movies that are not musicals. So, no chance of Over the Rainbow or Singing in the Rain (neither of which I like anyway). And no chance of other songs I'm supposed to like but am indifferent to like As Time Goes By or songs I flatly hate like Eye of the Tiger. So ....

IN HEAVEN: Eraserhead. It comes out of nowhere just like the Lady in the Radiator who sings it moves into the light from complete darkness. It's beautiful and unnerving. We don't know what it means or why it's there until the end. We think.

BECAUSE THE DEAD: Suicide Circle.  An ambush number that falls somewhere between Ziggy era Bowie and post-punk melange sung by the cult leader (digetically, there's a band around his throne) while various atrocities are taking place under bloodied sheets around him while two of his victims are forced to watch. "Because the dead shine all night long..." And then that's it, no more songs apart from the insanely catchy Mail Me by the J-pop girlband whose name keeps getting spelled differently. Nothing plays fair in this film.

THE WINDMILLS OF YOUR MIND: The Thomas Crown Affair. Brilliant controlled explosion of free association played under the pleasing motion of Steve McQueen gliding over a landscape. Pity it was Noel Harrison's anaemic version rather than Dusty's but you can't have everything.

AVE SATANI: The Omen. A few years after The Exorcist had overhauled horror film music with judicious use of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells everyone wanted a tinkly eerie piece. The Omen's brief was larger scale, however, so consistently brilliant Jerry Goldsmith churned out this tense and creepy burst of power. Of course that then was copied for everything after that as Exorcist ripoffs gave way to antichrist stories with big choirs. Goldsmith kept working with the series and produced consistenly high scores (the one for Damien: Omen II is worth having the cd for as it's written as a full black mass and is insanely good) as the quality of the film fell from the acceptable silliness of the first one to the style perdition of the third. Don't get me started on the remake.

GOLDFINGER: Goldfinger. After I lost interest in James Bond movies sometime in my teens my affection for the music remained. My self-imposed no instrumentals rule has prevented inclusion of the Bond theme so here's another goodie.

WALK AWAY: Trust. It's cheesy and all 90s/60s and indy but still packs a wallop with me and is placed expertly in the credits sequence. Not strictly written for the film but picked by Hartley who had become friends with Hub Moore during an earlier film. I loved the opening sequence anyway but when this song kicked in just after it was going to take a lot for me to dislike the rest of the film.

No clip for this one but here's another good tune by the same artist from an earlier film. Surviving Desire. The Music from the Films of Hal Hartley cd is worth it if you can find it anywhere.

MYSTERIES OF LOVE: Blue Velvet. Plays over Geoffrey and Sandy's slow dance which is a golden hued pool of warmth between bouts of violence and tension and comes on like codeine. Slice of what makes David Lynch movies work; heartrending, dark, vaguely troubling and ethereal all at once. Also plays very beautifully over the end credits. When heard out of context feels like a whispered memory after midnight.

THE BRAIN: The Brain. Great late 60s title tune with a British line in vocal harmony but a thumping Memphis groove. Much better than the pop art master criminal movie it was written for. Same folk as had a hit with Bend Me Shape Me.

TO SIR WITH LOVE: To Sir With Love. Irresistible 60s pop tastes like musk sticks and champagne. Exact poignancy as demandedby the film. A favourite. Almost always get to the brink of welling up when I hear this.

MOON RIVER: Breakfast at Tiffanys. Audrey Hepburn strumming on the fire escape and cooing this kills the rest of the film (which I like, erky Mickey Rooney performance as Japanese character notwithstanding). Moonlight, sighs and a dry Manhattan ....

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