Monday, April 30, 2012

Late Night Trailers: New Spot for The Dark Knight Rises

We're slowly learning more about how this might play out (though with all the arguments and theories I've heard thrown around, I feel like I've lived it twice), and the concept art and promotional footage available has increased exponentially.  While I still don't much like the look of Anne Hathaway in here, the trailer leaves me with a sense that things will likely remain on track.  The end of the trilogy is coming soon. What are you counting on or hoping for?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The 100 Best Uses of Songs in Movies pt. 7 (of 10)...

On Monday I had this moment where I wasn't sure I was actually going to be able to fill this list and I started to have visions of the final entry being made up of Emma Stone singing Natasha Bedingfield's "Pocketful of Sunshine".  90-100: all Emma Stone.  Or, you know, really stretching it into the absurd and just devoting a whole entry to the obvious brilliance of the clearly necessary  Peter Parker dance sequence in Spider-Man 3.  Ways to kill a franchise = that.  Then I got my shit together and realized that we have a long way to go.  Exhibit A: everything in this round of 10.  Exhibit B: everything that has come before it

61. "Tequila"  / The Champs
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985)
In which a man walks into a bar...and does that. I don't know how my childhood wasn't spent learning that dance.  It should have been.  Ah, wasted youth.  

62. "Lust for Life" / Iggy Pop
Trainspotting (1996)
Blondie's "Atomic" made this list earlier and it was definitely an unconventional cut from a double soundtrack of millions.  Here's the obvious one: opening scene, junkies on the run, the "Choose Life" monologue the memorization of which I occasionally use to decide whether or not we can be friends.  If I say "mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows" and you've got're lucky we're already friends.  

63. "All These Things That I Have Done" / The Killers
Southland Tales (2006)
I have mixed feelings about Richard Kelly's overblown Southland Tales.  On the one hand, I liked elements of it quite a bit.  On the other, the pieces never quite came together. One of my favorite moments, however, was this oddly placed lip synced moment with Justin Timberlake. It's absolutely striking.  

64. "Sister Christian" / Night Ranger
Boogie Nights (1997)
Admittedly, the first song I think of when I think of Boogie Nights is "Brand New Key", but that's only because Roller Girl seems to stick out as part of the branding of that film.  She's a mascot, or something.  "Sister Christian", however, has a substantially meatier role in the film's actual landscape.  This is Dirk Diggler at his lowest low, and Paul Thomas Anderson plays up the tense elements of the scene in a way that makes the audience feel as edgy and paranoid as the coked-up addicts.  THOSE GODDAMN FIRECRACKERS.

65. "Heart of the Sunrise" / Yes
Buffalo '66 (1998)
[NSFW] I almost forgot about this prog rock strip club sequence and all it's quietly trippy glory.  If you haven't seen Buffalo '66, you really should.  If you have, I'm hoping you remembered this before I did.  As the song builds, the action does too. Yet, what's perhaps most noteworthy is just the absolute style in the merger of sound and image. 

66. "You Never Can Tell" / Chuck Berry
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Once I tried out for the high school musical and for the dance audition they made us do a routine to this song off this soundtrack.  That meant it had the whole dialogue intro, so it was almost impossible to avoid slipping into the twist instead of doing the steps.  BECAUSE SERIOUSLY THIS SCENE IS SO GREAT. 
And no: I didn't make the cut...that's for the best. 

67. "California Dreamin'" / The Mamas and the Papas
Chungking Express (1994)
The sunny melancholy of this 60's pop hit is exported to Hong Kong to serve as the theme song for a romance that wasn't.  The thing about Wong Kar Wai's use of "California Dreamin'" is that this movie actually made me like the song where I'd always sort of taken it for granted. 

68. "Still" / Geto Boys
Office Space (1999)
The actual song could have been any number of big beat cruising tracks,but the sound struck a chord with the slow motion, cathartic destruction of that hated symbol of cubicle work.  

69. "We'll Meet Again" / Vera Lynn
Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
An ironic song for the end of the world.  Here, Stanley Kubrick obliterates all optimism and scores his mushroom cloud montage with a song designed to serve as a wartime promise. 

70. "Goodbye Horses" / Q Lazzarus
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)    [and Clerks II]
I've often wondered if the movie made this a hit for Q Lazzarus or if it completely destroyed any chance she had at a future career.  It's almost impossible to separate the song from the creeptastic Buffalo Bill dance in Silence of the Lambs (embedding is blocked on the original, watch it here), so much so that even simple mimicry makes for a memorable scene.  I mean, seriously, this is a pretty great moment in Clerks II. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Late Night Trailers: Ruby Sparks

I'm trying very hard to stop myself from typing the term Manic Pixie Dream Girl.  I'm telling myself that I don't believe in that term, that it's ridiculous and ever so slightly insulting.  Then, you know, I'm also looking at the trailer for Ruby Sparks, in which a writer (Paul Dano) experiences a Stranger Than Fiction-like bit of magic and finds himself able to actually manifest his protagonist & ideal girlfriend (Zoe Kazan) via the written word.  Zoe Kazan, as the writer and star, would likely object to the MPDG title too, so as we don't even know whether or not Ruby is "real", we should probably just withhold all judgment.  All I know is I have a fair amount of faith in the leads and the supporting cast is an impressive line-up: Annette Bening, Steve Coogan, Antonio Banderas, and Elliott Gould all in one quirky little go (yes, I realize that word is fairly belittling as well)?  Characters who are writers?  Yessssssssssssssssss.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Late Night Trailers: Cosmopolis

Apparently I need to reread Cosmopolis.  I know I read the Don DeLillo book back in the day, or whatever, but I don't remember it quite like this.  Cosmopolis made the list of most anticipated films a few months ago as the one project that could possibly redeem Edward Cullen (yes, yes, I know his real name is Robert Pattinson) after the tremendously saccharine mess he's made with the Twilight franchise.  The reasons, of course, are many.  1. David Cronenberg.  2. Don DeLillo.  3. Actual debauchery.  4. David Cronenberg working with the sort of material David Cronenberg does best.  5. Juliette Binoche.  6. Mathieu Almaric.  7. Paul Giamatti.  8. Samantha Morton.  9. David fucking Cronenberg making a movie that actually seems like a movie David Cronenberg would make (I'm looking at you, A Dangerous Method).   This is old school, vintage, oddball noir with a melodramatic flair and a touch of future freak out, and Edward Cullen is along for the 24-hour ride.  Long live the new flesh.

Mixtape: Here We Are.

In which we don't know if we're ever going to have a relationship, we can't control our hearts, and California has our soul. We are the rock 'n' roll, we are different, we are sun-soaked, burnt around the edges, dazed, confused, and playing precursor to Hank Moody. 24 songs for a trip through the chlorinated lagoons, hazy living rooms, guitar riffs, and hillsides of Lisa Cholodenko's Laurel Canyon.

Yep, this is definitely designed to be a mix for a certain type of summer.

Listen here or visit us on 8tracks.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The 100 Best Uses of Songs in Movies pt. 6 (of 10)

Over half way there and going strong.  We're over the mountain, it's all downhill from there, or, you know, whatever adage you'd like to insert here: ___________.  This week, we ditch any sort of thematic thread and go back to randomly cobbling together a new batch of ten.  So, instead of checking out internet reruns of one TV show or another, you should probably play catch up and click here

51. “Singin’ in the Rain”  
 Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
"Singin' in the Rain" already showed up here in a more, um, expected capacity, but the thing about that particular song (and most of the musical) is that it existed long before Gene Kelly pranced through that downpour.  The film was essentially designed as a showcase for the songs by MGM producer Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown.

52. “Hip to be Square” / Huey Lewis and the News 
American Psycho (2000)
Nevermind the vid. This is one of those moments where YouTube and Lionsgate have to go and spoil everything.  You can check out the song in context here, but if you don't know it from memory, I'm going to have to really doubt your commitment to sparkle motion.    This is the brilliant scene in which our deranged Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) executes a co-worker he perceives as a serious rival while monologuing on the meaning behind this particular pop song.  It says so much, don't you agree?

53.  “These Days” / Nico 
Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Finally. There it is.  All those other Wes Anderson soundtrack entries, and here it is: the moment Margot steps off the Green Line Bus and into a slow motion wind tunnel.  Everything falls into sync, the world is perfect, and we remember that Gwyneth Paltrow really does have redeeming qualities.

54.  “Magic Man” / Heart 
The Virgin Suicides (1999)
The Air-composed score to the film doesn't count for this list, but Josh Hartnett's disruptive entry into the world of the Lisbon sisters (and the entire school) is chronicled via a dead-on montage that even manages to make that ridiculous hair look cool.

55. “Seems Like Old Times” / Guy Lombardo 
Annie Hall (1978)
Woody Allen drops old standards into his movies with atomic clock precision, and smack dab in the middle of Annie Hall is a melancholy performance from its leading lady.  It's slow, beautiful, and sad; prematurely mourning the loss of the relationship before its inevitable end.

56.  “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” / Edith Piaf 
Inception (2010)
The way this particular Edith Piaf song is incorporated into Inception is unconventional to say the least.  Where the actual track is used as "the kick", Hans Zimmer used its elements (slowed down, dramatized) as the basis for the film's entire score.  Nearly everything you hear is this song.  The goal, reportedly, was to mimic the nature of the film by having the sounds line up in our subconscious.  We hear as if - what else- we're picking up strains from within a dream.

57.  “Patricia” / Perez Prado 
La Dolce Vita (1960)
Yep, no film clip again.  Can't even link you to one.  So, you'll just have to go and actually watch the film, which, luckily, I highly recommend. If there's a climactic moment to be found in the meandering adventures of Marcello, this song scores it.  At a debauched party leading into the close of the film, we watch as Italy's bored upper crust tips wearily into a veritable Roman orgy of exhaustion, housewife stripteases, and nasty commentary. 

58.  “Yumeji’s Theme” / Shigeru Umebayashi 
In the Mood for Love (2000)
Wong Kar Wai knows when to throw down a track, and "Yumeji's Theme" actually sounds as though it is part of the original score of the film.  It blends effortlessly into the movie's atmosphere; a gorgeously lush touch to an already romantic story.

59. “Just Like Honey” / The Jesus and Mary Chain 
Lost in Translation (2003)
Two appearances by Sofia Coppola in one go! For my money: the soundtrack to Lost in Translation is one of the best around. It's possible, actually, that it's a huge part of what sells the oddly romantic touches to the May/December connection between these two lonely souls.  "Just Like Honey" closes the film, scoring the aftermath of [SPOILER] the farewell kiss between Bob (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson).  Watch the actual scene here

60. “White Rabbit” / Jefferson Airplane 
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
As memorable a presence in Hunter S. Thompson's book as it is in the film, we see the drugged-out depravity of these two characters manifest itself in a sinister moment of cartoon wacky self-endangerment as Dr. Gonzo (Benicio del Toro) demands possible electrocution at the climax of the hallucinatory anthem "White Rabbit."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Late Night Trailers: Magic Mike

Magic Mike is the movie previously whispered about as the "Channing Tatum stripper story", a seemingly out of character dramatic comedy from Steven Soderbergh that is, yes, based on real-life Tatum's dancing background.  While I had my doubts upon initially hearing about the film, I figured if Soderbergh got involved the material was probably stronger than I expected.  Yes, just a few short months ago I was a card-carrying member of the "what good is Channing Tatum?" club.  He's proven himself to be something of an odd, comedic, self-aware character over the past few months, and, well, a film based on the past he eagerly lampooned on SNL could be pretty entertaining.  Will my deep deep loathing for Matthew McConaughey get in the way?  We'll see when Magic Mike struts into theaters on June 29th.

Prometheus Goes Viral: Happy Birthday David

Prometheus is almost here, folks, and it seems like more and more of the film's world is being revealed each week.  The latest is a faux product introduction to David, the android played by Michael Fassbender.  Like all good creepy bots before him, David exists in the uncanny valley between the good and evil of his (its?) own subservience. While he expresses gratitude for his creators and naively professes an abhorrence of cruelty and unnecessary violence, he menacingly states his primary function is to do anything, including "directives that [his] human counterparts might find distressing or...unethical."   Only a few prototypes away from Ash, right?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The 100 Best Uses of Songs in Movies pt. 5 (of 10)

Last week's installment was dominated by heavy heavy dourness and super serious business.  So, as promised, this week needs to lighten up a bit.  I mean, seriously, dude, we need to relax. Shit is getting so uptight that if you shoved a lump of coal up its ass...well, you know where I'm going with that.  As always, visit the rest of the list through the magic of clicking here

41. “In Your Eyes”  / Peter Gabriel
Say Anything... (1989)
Let's get this out of the way, shall we?  It had to be on here somewhere, otherwise the internet would've had my head.  So, there you have it: Cusack. Boombox. Trenchcoat. Peter Gabriel.  So imitated that I have to ask: how many dudes have tried this in real life, do you think?

42. “Try a Little Tenderness / Otis Redding 
Pretty in Pink (1986)
Before we were watching the throne and - more importantly- before we'd ever heard of the television travesty that is "Two and a Half Men", we had the purity of this scene.  The record store dance party scene is some sort of strange staple of comedies throughout the 80's and 90's.  And this one, as Duckie once again tries to impress Andie  (Molly Ringwald) by throwing himself around to Otis Redding, is just fantastic. 

43. “Oh Yeah” / Yellow 
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
"Oh Yeah" is the unofficial theme song of this sick day.  While there are a handful of massively memorable musical moments in the film (and this clip even highlights a couple others - seriously, how good is "Beat City" under the right conditions?), it's such an odd, halting expression of admiration for that glorious, doomed Ferrari that we pick up on it immediately and don't let go.  

44.  “Time After Time” / Cyndi Lauper 
Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997)
As much as I dislike this song (and it's a lot), I love this ridiculous scene in this ridiculous, completely underrated comedy.  Here, our titular ditzy freaks (Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow) join forces with the nouveau riche geek (Alan Cumming) to steal the spotlight at the reunion and perform the weirdest, stupidest interpretive dance for their onlooking classmates.  Because why not?  

45.  “Natural’s Not In It” / Gang of Four
 Marie Antoinette (2006)
The opening credits of Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette perform a brilliant bit of time-warped scene setting.  As I'm not able to embed them here, you can visit YouTube to refresh yourself on their deceptively simple powers.  The song, the lyrics, the excess, the stark, 80's punk black and pink; if you don't immediately catch on to the juxtaposed direction of Coppola's film, you're not listening.

46.  "The Concept" / Teenage Fanclub
Young Adult (2011)
Our sad, unlikable protagonist receives notice that her high school boyfriend is now a father and immediately packs her bags for the return drive home.  On the way, of course, the only thing to play is the mix tape he gave her all those years ago.  One song in particular.  As the song repeats, as she rewinds, sings, and obsesses, we are shown her damage, her inability to let go, and her stunted place in the mindset of her drawn out adolescence.

47.  “Canned Heat” / Jamiroquai
Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
Admit it: when you saw this movie with your friends, this scene was some kind of weird triumph.  It was a release of off-kilter awesomeness, a rewind and watch that happen again moment, and in what seems a very strange way, I directly associate it with the birth of the internet meme.  

48.  “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” / Simple Minds
The Breakfast Club (1985)
Ok. So, originally I was pretty sure I couldn't include this song because I felt quite positive that it had been recorded specifically for use in this movie.  In trying to sort out whether or not that was the case, I couldn't seem to find any evidence that really backed that up.  If someone knows of some, let me know.  Otherwise, what I found indicated that it was written with the purpose of being shopped around with the hopes of landing in a movie, but that it was never specifically birthed with this one in mind.  Since I have my doubts, I have to include it as I kind of really love this song and (don't throw things at me), it's basically my favorite part of this beloved movie. The actual moment (the end) can be viewed here, and it's hard to deny that the track is so quintessentially associated with teenage triumph that a mere hit of the opening sends everyone straight into study hall relapse.  

49.  “A Quick One, While He’s Away” / The Who
Rushmore (1998)
Here, a seven minute story-song is dismantled for parts and the fantastic, rollicking conclusion is salvaged to score a bitter feud between the precocious Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) and his middle aged frenemy Herman Blume (Bill Murray). Things escalate in a fairly cartoonish game of cat and mouse to dangerous, life endangering levels that are only enhanced by the bouts of harmony and discord at work in the song.

50.   “Anyone Else but You” / The Moldy Peaches
Juno (2007)
Ugh. This song was annoying, wasn't it?  I mean, does it get more twee than this?  Regardless, this irritatingly sweet scene in Juno achieved one of those remarkable feats: it took a song few people knew even existed and made it immediately recognizable. On top of that, yes, it's adorable. And yes, it fits these two characters like a goddamn custom stitched glove.  And, fine, yes, they're really charming when they sing it.  And, again, it's true, it feels like a fresh start after a harrowing journey.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Scarlett Johansson + Massive Attack

The strange place where film and music meet has been highlighted a lot here lately, so why not step outside of the movie and share a place where the two meet in the real world?  The soundtrack for Spanish-language flick Days of Grace has been getting a lot of hype on the interwebs.  Not least of all because it has a heat-stroked, burned-up, super-dramatic cover of George Gershwin's  "Summertime" from Massive Attack's 3D and featuring some throaty vocals courtesy of Scarlett Johansson.  I dig it.

Late Night Trailers: Savages

I'm not much of an Oliver Stone fan.  In my humble opinion: that dude is massively overrated.  So, the fact that I have any interest at all in Stone's newest venture is some kind of weird, rare moment of nonsense.  Especially when you consider that not only is this an Oliver Stone film: it's also appears to heavily feature Gossip Girl's most stagnant clothes hanger, Blake Lively.  While I'm quite sure this film could be a vast pit of searingly lit crap, I'm also quite sure it falls into the rare category of "thrillers I will watch in spite of being crap."  See, it has all the features I consider enjoyable in a dramatic thriller.  Namely: copious amounts of drugs, mercenaries, stylish cinematography, 'crazy love', idiosyncratic head wear, and a lady with a severe  haircut.  Another selling point? That poster. It could be that I'm a sucker for colors and well-placed type. Savages is based on the critically successful crime novel of the same name by Don Winslow and, as far as I can tell, all you need to know is that it involves two young entrepreneurial dudes (Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson) as they build a successful marijuana enterprise and get involved with a cartel.  There you have it. Pure trouble. Will you see it?  Will you dare to expect much?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The 100 Best Uses of Songs in Movies pt. 4 (of 10)

We're not even halfway yet, and the number of times I've seen the dreaded YouTube "embedding disabled by request" buzzkill is rising exponentially.  While I try to find ways around it, in some cases it's simply impossible.  So, of course, trailers and fan-made montages must be subbed in sometimes.  Is what it is, I guess.  This week's features little of that, but a TON of potential spoilers.  The first pick set the tone, and the rest fell in line as surprisingly...heavy.  Emotionally, musically, thematically; all of it. I guess that means next week needs to be all teen flicks and comedies.  Catch up on the rest of the list here.  

31. "Staralfur" / Sigur Ros
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
(SPOILER) In Wes Anderson's love it or hate it The Life Aquatic, we embark on a madcap journey of marine revenge.  Yet, while the film is rife with absurd moments and playfully old school effects, it has a hefty dose of family tragedy.  As the whole motley crew crowds in to catch a glimpse of the sought after Jaguar Shark, Anderson employs an out of character SIgur Ros track as a beautiful, wrenching dirge for the recently deceased.  It couldn't be better.

32. "Harmonielehre: Part III Meister Eckhardt and Quackie"  / John Adams
I Am Love (2010)
(SPOILER) Tilda Swinton and director Luca Guadagnino built I Am Love partially around pre-existing John Adams compositions.  While neither knew the composer at the time - and held out little hope of using the music to score their film- they stuck with it.  Luckily for all of us, Adams authorized the usage and gave the film the tremendous, bigger than life score it deserves.  In context, this final scene is one of my cinematic favorites, and the score just drives it home.  It kills me every time I see it and serves, for all practical purposes, as an essential how-to crash course in reaction shots (though watching it on YouTube isn't really the way to see it).

33. "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" / Richard Strauss
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
There are few things this iconic.  People who haven't seen 2001 know the reference, people who didn't get the film at all (that's the majority) still recognize it in an instant.

34. "The Sound of Silence" / Simon and Garfunkel
The Graduate (1967)
I know, right?  It feels almost like a cheat.  But, remember, while it owned on the soundtrack, "The Sound of Silence" wasn't written for the restless ennui of Benjamin Braddock.  It just seems as though it was.  Because it's EXACTLY CORRECT.

35. "Lacrimosa - Day of Tears" / Zbigniew Preisner
The Tree of Life (2011)
This is one of those YouTube montages that isn't the real thing, but does include parts of it.  From this, you can get an idea of the natural sorcery occurring on screen in Malick's creation sequence in that gorgeous interlude jammed into Tree of Life.  I can see how some find it overwrought, but....damn.   

36. "The Ride of the Valkyries" / Richard Wagner
Apocalypse Now (1979)
A second appearance!  You knew it was coming! The horrors of war, impressively brought to you by Francis Ford Coppola: young dudes, helicopters, Wagner, and a village in "the middle of nowhere."  This is what a great combat scene looks like.  

37. "Tristan und Isolde: Prelude" / Richard Wagner
Melancholia (2011)
A series of barely moving tableaux serves as our introduction into the lilting, poetic end of the world within Melancholia.  It's recent, yes, and the images have significantly more power than the score does, but imma argue its place on the list.  Melancholia is a small film built off of small relationships yet set within the context of a large scale, universal event. In stealing a Wagner opera and using it as the score, Lars Von Trier effectively sets the film's tone.  This is a tragedy, a romance, a big, grand event in prim packaging.

38. "Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Opus 46: 
IV. In the Hall of the Mountain King"   / Edvard Grieg
M (1931)
In a chilling use of leitmotif we learn to identify a whistled version of "In the Hall of the Mountain King" with Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre), a killer of children.  Before he appears, we know he's present.  We hear him lurking in the shadows, just off screen.  It's positively creepy, yet with a strange, fairy tale quality that transforms the dismal nature of the film into something wholly other.

39. "Rhapsody in Blue" / George Gershwin
Manhattan (1980)
Woody Allen introduces us to the New York he truly does love, giving us a stumbling character voice over matched to black and white street shots of the city through the seasons.  It's remarkably simple, and in some ways "Rhapsody in Blue" seems almost too obvious.  Yet, you know, that could be part of the whole magic trick.

40. "The Sorcerer's Apprentice (L'apprenti sorcier)" / Paul Dukas
Fantastia (1940)
ALL of Fantasia could easily be included on this list, yet, for some reason it's easy to forget it completely. Fantastia is less a film than a full-cycle of animated music videos, the crown jewel of which is the oft-repeated Sorcerer's Apprentice starring the one and only Mickey Mouse.  Don't kid yourself.  It's wonderful.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Late Night Trailers: To Rome With Love

It's been a few years since Woody Allen stepped in front of the camera, but he's back to lead a cast of favorites To Rome With Love (formerly titled 'Nero Fiddled').  The jokes sound like trademark Woody, the European setting in keeping with the director's 21st century filmography, and there's little doubt he'll find an audience in search of more of that Midnight in Paris magic.  Will they find it?  I don't know.  While there's no doubt I'll be seeing this when it opens in theaters this June, I'm not sure whether this will be a Vicky Cristina or a Whatever Works.  Let's hope, at least, it's not an Anything Else
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