Howard Shore

Film scores

Film series are a great way to tell a story that cannot be contained to a single film. Successful films usually end up getting sequels, but series are stories intended to be digested over the course of several films. The cast will (usually) stay the same throughout a series, but there is another important element that should remain consistent to help link each film to the next – the music. While it is not a requirement to stick with a single composer throughout a series (and sometimes you have no choice but to change things up due to schedules and prior commitments), having a singular musical voice working on a film series helps keep a consistent feeling from film to film. Most film series have kept the same composer throughout the series, and the few that have changed composers from film to film had it fit the story or ultimately ended up returning to the original composer.

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The Hobbit

Just a day after Peter Jackson and his team released Neil Finn’s song from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the folks at Empire have released the full soundtrack for free online. Now you can get a preview of what the December 13 release will hold. The score is from composer Howard Shore, who as you know also served as music man behind The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It’s all got a very Middle Earthian feel to it, as is appropriate for such a release. However, fans will undoubtedly find enough in Shore’s new score that feels fresh and new.

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It just doesn’t stop, does it? Not only is one film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s “The Hobbit” not enough for movie fans (or director Peter Jackson? or his vast and very talented cast? or the country of New Zealand?), two film adaptations are also not enough, so you better believe that just one soundtrack isn’t even close to good enough for a production that has now ballooned to include three films based on one novel. WaterTower Music has just announced (via Fandango) the release of the official soundtrack to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and, shock of shocks, just one disc isn’t going to cut it. The Official Motion Picture Soundtrack will arrive in stores and online on December 11 as a two-disc set, with a Special Edition also available on that same day. The so-called Special Edition will include six exclusive bonus tracks, seven extended score cues, and deluxe liner notes. The soundtrack features an original score by Academy Award winner Howard Shore (who also did the score for Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy), along with a new original song by Crowded House’s Neil Finn. You can check out the full track listing for both editions of the soundtrack after the break, if you’re into that sort of thing.

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Aural Fixation - Large

Music and sound are not just elements that underscore select scenes in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, they are each specifically discussed and used in the story itself. Cosmopolis follows 28-year-old billionaire Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) as he drives around Manhattan over the course of a day, trying to get from one end of the city to the other to get a haircut. A seemingly simple premise, but as any Cronenberg fan (or those who have read Don DeLillo’s novel) know, it does not stay simple for long. It is clear that Eric is incredibly rich and his wealth has caused him to become removed from (although still amused by) the general population – a point that is further driven home as he travels through town in a showy, tricked out, bulletproof white stretch limousine. The score, created by composer Howard Shore and indie rock band Metric, may start the film at a kinetic pace with “White Limos” (which almost echoes the opening to U2’s “Where The Streets Have No Name”), but once Eric enters his limo it is not just the music that is suddenly stripped away, all noise evaporates once he is inside. We learn that Eric had lined his limo with cork to eliminate street noise and it is this lack of ambient noise that makes every move, breath, and grunt in his limo sound all the more intrusive and off-putting. Cronenberg does not let up with this complete lack of ambience, and it makes the expansive limo feel no bigger than […]

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David Cronenberg

David Cronenberg has made many types of films, but all of them are unmistakably Cronenberg. From B-horror movies to a beat literature adaptation to a film about the working relationship between Freud and Jung, the Canadian filmmaking veteran’s oeuvre exhibits a versatility of subject matter that somehow maintains consistency in style. Cronenberg’s films are known for their complicated portrayals of sex, in-your-face depictions of violence, and unmitigated explorations of human transformation, whether that transformation be from a human to a fly, a patient to a psychologist, or an east coast mobster to a Midwest suburban father. David Cronenberg got his start in underground experimental films, then made interesting low-budget B-movie horror features, and has since risen to prominence as one of North America’s most respected and revered auteurs. In August, the 69-year-old Cronenberg’s 18th feature film will be released, and he may follow it up soon with his first ever sequel. So here’s a bit of free film school from an experienced filmmaker hailing from America’s favorite hat.

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Oscar 2012 Predictions: Best Original Score

As I note each week in Aural Fixation, music is one of the most important components in a film, providing the underlying emotion in certain scenes as well as the overall tone of a film. Creating this musical landscape is no easy task and the five scores nominated this year were brought to the screen by four talented composers (yes, someone got nominated twice.) While last year gave us slightly more innovative music with scores from first time composer Trent Reznor and the more electrified Hans Zimmer, the past year in film seemed to hearken back to the more classical era of filmmaking and the scores followed suit. From tales of adventure, spy thrillers, a different perspective on war to a look back at the early days of filmmaking, the nominated scores kept pace with their respective films and came from composers that ranged from Academy veterans to first time nominees. While I was admittedly more excited (and felt slightly more invested) in the nominees last year, the composers selected for the potential honor this year are well-deserved and created scores that undeniably elevated each their films. Who will take home the golden statue this year? Stay tuned to see if my prediction of who will win proves true. Read on for the nominations and my predicted winner in red…

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Aural Fixation - Large

With the 84th Academy Award nominations announced last week (and me finally coming up for air post-Sundance), I wanted to give the five Original Score (and two Original Song) nominees a closer look. Each nominated score is full-bodied and as varied as the films they are featured in ranging from fun (John Williams for The Adventures of Tin Tin) to lush (Ludovic Bource for The Artist) to dramatic (Howard Shore for Hugo) to tense (Alberto Iglesias for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) to emotional (John Williams for War Horse) while each of the nominated songs are quirky and catchy (Bret McKenzie’s “Man or Muppet” from The Muppets and Sergio Mendes, Carlinhos Brown and Siedah Garrett’s “Real In Rio” from Rio.) While I am not going to propose to understand why the Academy makes their choices the way they do (the lack of Drive and Shame nominations alone had me scratching my head last week) and I do not think that the scores and songs that were selected are unworthy of their nominations, I was still left with some questions when looking into who may come out on top on February 26th.

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This year has brought us back to classic filmmaking from the silent film era with The Artist to the fantasy adventure Hugo, which recalled classic film moments (as The Film Stage rounded up here). The New York Times has even gotten in on the classical score action, drawing on booming horns and frenetic strings to help create horror and unease in their portraits of various actors’ impressions of classic film villains. It is an almost surprising turn in a year that awarded Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s electronic influenced score for The Social Network the Oscar for Original Score and saw electronic duos The Chemical Brothers and Basement Jaxx creating the scores for Hanna and Attack the Block, respectively. Film scoring seemed to be going the way of the electric guitar, swapping out full orchestrations for synthesizers, but as 2011 comes to a close, it seems classic orchestration is not on its way out just yet. Full orchestrations of horns, drums, strings, and wind instruments filled theaters in films like The Artist and Hugo, taking us back to a time when live orchestras would play along with films. Their electronic counterparts tend to turn up the volume (who wasn’t rattled when Reznor and Karen O’s booming “Immigrant Song” in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’s teaser trailer came on screen?) while classical scores are able to gain that same power from the sheer number of instruments called upon and layered together. Both work to draw an emotional reaction out of […]

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Twenty-five years after its initial release, David Cronenberg’s The Fly is thought to be a modern classic, a highly effective mixture of science, romance, and terror that pulled in a much greater audience than the horror fans looking for a cheap thrill. Cronenberg has always been a director poised on horror as a higher art, a filmmaker who understands the grotesque and how much it is apparent in real life. Some, myself included, call The Fly his master work, and Cronenberg, a very intelligent speaker about all things, not just his own work, has much to offer the viewers of his film and the listeners of the commentary he provides that film. So here, without any further ado or buzz or flitting around your head or what have you, the things we learned from David Cronenberg’s commentary on The Fly.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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