Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Epic soundtracks? The 18 or so ones I own and still listen to regularly

I really can't see myself driving a half hour and then paying $15 to see this, but for boxing fans, it's really nothing but good news.

One of the best/worst jobs I ever had was dealing blackjack (yes, really) in the back of a "gentleman's club." Along with the obvious regular "entertainment," the owner of the club's son was a huge fight fan, and he'd order every pay per view boxing offering he could find - which at the time meant a whole lot of Mike Tyson - and turn them into major events (which, if I'm not mistaken, was highly illegal.)

I tell you all that to tell you this: Boxing is returning to movie theaters for the first time in almost three decades with the Sept. 19 welterweight championship bout between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Juan Manuel Marquez and its undercard. Like I said, the only theater in my area that shows "events" like this (concerts, etc.) is about a half hour away in Centerville, so I can't see myself going, but this is still an awfully cool happening in my book (and it's apparently the first boxing event in movie theaters since the "No Mas Fight" between Sugar Ray and Roberto Duran - I remember that one.)

And if you happen to live in or will be visiting New York (which I will for the last week of the year), the Museum of Modern Art has something coming from Oct. 8-18 that will be a delight for fans of Spike Jonze (of which you can certainly count me one.)

The perhaps too cleverly titled "Spike Jonze: The First 80 Years" exhibit covers Jonze’s entire filmmaking and television career. Included are Jonze’s first two feature films, "Being John Malkovich" and "Adaptation," as well as two films that he co-produced: "Jackass: The Movie" and the documentary "Heavy Metal in Baghdad." I never would have guessed that about the "Jackass" flick, but I will admit I find it to be just about pure comic bliss.

Also featured will be music videos for Björk, Fatboy Slim,his award-winning Weezer, Beastie Boys, Wax, The Notorious B.I.G., and many others, as well as his commercials. Easily best of all, though, on opening night, will be "In Cahoots: Maurice Sendak and Spike Jonze," an evening of short films that Jonze made about, and with, Maurice Sendak during the production of his forthcoming feature, "Where the Wild Things Are" (which you just may have heard me talk about, oh, 290 times by now.) Nothing but cool there, and you New Yorkers, I'm nothing but jealous.

But before all that here today, it was supposed to (and still will) be about the 18 or so soundtracks (and movie-related oddities) that I discovered I own (or used to own) as I was cleaning up my CD collection. I wouldn't go so far to call too many of them among the best soundtracks ever, but I still listen to them all, so they're winners in my book. Here goes:

"Slumdog Millionaire": I hear tell that AR Rahman has done much better film score work than this, but as a representative sample of his sound, it's nothing but fun.

"Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten": Imagine listening to the late Joe Strummer play DJ, as he used to do for the BBC, and you'll come close to just how great the soundtrack for this documentary about him is. Elvis, Nina Simone, Eddie Cochran and, of course, lots of Clash all find a home here.

"Into the Wild": What has grown to become my favorite movie of 2007 has also slowly evolved into the year's best soundtrack in my book too. Eddie Vedder delivers these mostly great tunes with a guttural growl and howl that indeed almost transport you "Into the Wild."

"The Muppet Movie": It hurts me a little to even type this, because I grew up on it but now can not find the cassette tape my family and I burned a hole through when I was a kid. If anyone out there somehow has a copy of this they'd be willing to burn on CD, please let me know, and I'll gladly send you music, money or anything else you might desire in return. Man, do I love the Muppets!

"O Brother Where Art Thou": If the purpose of a movie soundtrack is to allow you to watch the movie unfold in your mind while you're listening to it, none succeeds as well as this one from the Coen Brothers (one of two that will make this list.)

"Avenue Q": OK, I concede that the soundtrack for this Broadway musical starring a bunch of puppets and even Gary Coleman is extremely silly, but it's also just perfect listening for whatever you may be doing around the house on a Sunday afternoon. This show is coming to Macon's Grand Opera House next May, and I highly recommend it.

"Hairspray": This could be either the soundtrack for the utterly addictive Jon Waters original or the Broadway musical, both of which I own, but not for that other movie, which I haven't and won't see. If I had to pick just one, it would probably be the Broadway set, which is just pure fun, but for one single song, I'll take the movie's "Nothing Takes the Place of You" by Toussaint McCall," which just slays me every time I hear it.

"Seu Jorge: The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions": OK, this is the first, but not the last, one on this list that really isn't a movie soundtrack at all. Instead, it's a collection of those David Bowie songs delivered in Brazilian Portuguese by Seu Jorge in director Wes Anderson's "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou," easily the best thing about that mostly disappointing film.

"Ladykillers": This second entry from the Coens also comes from a flick that most people find not only disappointing but downright useless. But I kinda like it, and I like the soundtrack, featuring a mix of genuine gospel greats from the likes of the Soul Stirrers and Donnie McClurkin with hip-hop from the Nappy Roots, a whole lot more.

Carole King's "Really Rosie": In the spirit of "Where the Wild Things Are" comes this soundtrack for the '70s (I think) TV special based on the children's collection by the great Maurice Sendak. And yes, I really do still listen to the likes of "Alligators all Around" and "The Ballad of Chicken Soup" and smile every time I do.

"Hedwig and the Angry Inch": Though the straightforward movie soundtrack for this divine oddity from the mind of John Cameron Mitchell is perfectly good in its own right, much better is the "Wig in a Box" collection, which features the Breeders, the Polyphonic Spree, They Might Be Giants and many more offering their takes on the very catchy songs. Pop perfection.

Prince: "Parade": I was so addicted to Prince when I was a teenager that to this day, most of my computer passwords contain some variation on the word (which indeed draws raised eyebrows from my co-workers if I ever have to reveal that.) I've even seen all the Prince movies, and though "Under the Cherry Moon" is pretty darn wretched, the soundtrack stands up very well over time.

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Once More With Feeling": Who can't like this one? Buffy's musical episode was not only a ton of fun when it first hit the air, but if you go back and listen to it now - which I still do from time to time - you'll find that little pop gems like that "I'll Never Tell" with Xander and Anya are just pretty much timeless.

"Once": I've probably listened to this soundtrack for the great little Irish movie starring Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova more often than anything else you might find on my desk at work, and each time it still manages to take me away, no matter how downright rotten my work day just might be.

"Spongebob Squarepants": Yes, that's right, "Spongebob Squarepants." I've seen the movie and I own the soundtrack, and I'm well aware that might mean there's something rather seriously wrong with me, but when it contains Ween, the Flaming Lips and even the delirious delight of "Prince Paul's Bubble Party", how can you resist? If you have kids and want to teach them to listen to good music, I can't recommend this highly enough.

"Office Space": I just tried to check the Web sites for my local multiplexes to see if Mike Judge's "Extract" would indeed play as widely as promised this week, but they haven't put up their Friday listings yet. I can't imagine "Extract" will be as funny or just therapeutic as "Office Space," which features a soundtrack full of gangster rap that just fits the movie perfectly.

"Big Bad Love": I managed to see this biopic of sorts based on the short stories of Southern writer Larry Brown in New York with an introduction by producer and star Debra Winger, and though I liked the movie quite a bit, I'm pretty sure I was one of about 10 people in the entire world who bothered to watch it. The soundtrack, full of a lot of genuine Southern blues and two great tracks by Tom Waits, is well getting your hands on if you can still find it.

"A Tribute to Robert Altman's Nashville": Whew, last one! Instead of what should have been an insufferable bit of hipster irony from Carolyn Mark and her buddies, this is instead a heartfelt tribute to one of American's great movie soundtracks. Robyn Carrigan's "It Don't Worry Me" is particularly just spot on.

OK, there you have it. And anyone who really made it this far deserves a reward, so here goes: If anything on this list strikes your fancy, simply e-mail me your name, address and request to keidem4@gmail.com, and I'll gladly burn you a copy of anything you want. Piracy? Perhaps, but I still spend more than enough money on music that I can make this offer with a clear conscience. Hope you enjoyed this list, and have a perfectly passable Tuesday. Peace out.

55 comments:

The Mad Hatter said...

Great call with ONCE, lord knows I've been listening to it a ton over the last two years.

Some others I could have included are HIGH FIDELITY, AWAY WE GO, GARDEN STATE, and PUKP FICTION.

Reel Fanatic said...

I haven't heard the soundtrack for "Away We Go," Mad Hatter, but I'd certainly agree that the other three are pretty great (though I couldn't include them by my rules, since I don't own them) .. I'm sure I had a copy of "Pulp Fiction" that a friend made for me at some point, but it's long gone by now

Chalupa said...

I love Seu Jorge's music from Life Aquatic. I also see you have two Coen films listed. Carter Burwell is a veritable force of nature. I've never taken the time to listen to the Ladykiller's soundtrack, but I was just interviewing Falsani about her new book coming out and she mentioned that soundtrack as being pretty great.

Reel Fanatic said...

It's easily one of my favorites, Chalupa ... Even if you don't like gospel or rap music, I still think you'll somehow still like what they came up with for "Ladykillers"

dbackdad said...

Great soundtrack list. Into the Wild, both movie and album we're my faves of that year and among my top ones for the last 5 years.

Ashok said...

I am with you on "Once" and "Into the Wild". "(500) Days of Summer" is good too.

Reel Fanatic said...

I should buy that one, Ashok .. The movie itself was a bit too cute for me (though still very enjoyable), but I love that She & Him album by Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, so I bet the soundtrack is cool

Buy Viagra online said...

One of my favorite is Kill Bill soundtrack. RZA did a great job with the selection.

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