Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What's the Score? A Question on Movie Soundtracks

Posted By on Tue, Apr 7, 2009 at 12:20 PM

click to enlarge "Where's Phil?" "Phil who? Never hearda no Phil. You seen Bo?" "Who's Bo?"
  • "Where's Phil?" "Phil who? Never hearda no Phil. You seen Bo?" "Who's Bo?"
I watched Cadillac Records last night while all the cool kids were doing cool things. It was a notch above "meh" but not quite a "yeah." It should have been a mini-series--too much happened to too many people. There were a lot of compelling stories ham-fistedly shoehorned into awkward one-liners, the chronology was wa-ay off and they left out Bo Diddley. How the fuck do you leave out Bo Diddley? And what happened to Phil, the other Chess brother? Fuckin' A, people.*

The only thing that stopped me from having a nerd-eurysm was the music. The re-records actually sounded more faithful than one would expect. Obviously, the songs don't have quite the same zing, but that comes with the territory. Most of the originals were cut in mono analog so you're going to lose a bit of life when you split it into 96 tracks of self-fellating digital wonderment, but the engineers did a good job of getting the tones as close to the source material as possible and the vocalists and musicians were pretty spot-on. Basically, the music saved the movie (which you could have guessed, I'm sure).

On the other hand, there's Knowing, the new Nicholas Cage movie, which was pushed from poorly-acted tripe to hilariously awful piece of shit by its ill-timed and overwrought score. Nothing makes Nick Cage's doe-eyed grimace more guffaw-inducing than a misplaced string stab, and Knowing--well, Knowing knows a lot about misplaced string stabs. It's a really awful movie and I think you should see it in the theaters, just to get the full effect.

This all got me thinking: How many movies are either saved or screwed by their soundtrack? The only thing good about the Joy Division movie, Control, was the Joy Division songs and What We Do Is Secret was only worth watching if you're the kind of person that memorizes stage banter from old punk bootlegs and aren't into things like acting and plot. Then again, I think that Jason Statham's ouevre would be closer to required watching if they just held off on the damned techno-metal bullshit. Or there's a movie like The Apple which is indescribably brilliant and moronic at the same time and the soundtrack totally shares the blame. Or S.F.W., which is worth watchin' just for the "mid-'90s memory lane" soundtrack--this list could go on.

So now I turn it over to you guys, which movies were saved/screwed by the soundtrack?

*All would be forgiven if, say, somebody made a Bo Diddley movie starring the awesome Kenan Thompson--picture him in plaid and tell me it wouldn't rule.

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