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Jesse JamesOriginal Soundtrack - Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Australian buddies Nick Cave and Warren Ellis spent a lot of time on the prairie in 2005 and 2007, laying down music for (and even appearing in) the westerns Proposition and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. While the former relied heavily on Cave's doom-laden vocals, Assassination focuses on fellow Bad Seed, Grinderman and founding member of the Dirty Three Warren Ellis' violin and Celeste-tinged audio landscapes to color the "new" Old West. Like a music box tipped on its' side in the desert, Cave and Ellis' all instrumental soundtrack occasionally echoes familiar genre exercises (check out the Morricone-esque "Song For Jesse"), but it's long, languid motifs are as spread out as the film's 160-minute run time. Read more >>

Dark CrystalTrevor Jones - Dark Crystal: 25th Anniversary
The fantasy film The Dark Crystal is a live-action feature performed entirely by puppets created by the Jim Henson organization, also responsible for the Muppets. As such, it is visually unusual, but Trevor Jones' score is a traditional orchestral work in the Hollywood tradition. In Randall D. Larson's liner notes to the 25th anniversary edition of the soundtrack album (reissued to coincide with a similarly commemorative DVD release), Jones reveals that the initial idea was to come up with music just as inventive as the look of the film, but that plan was abandoned when it was decided that audiences needed something to feel comfortable with in contrast to what they were seeing. Read more >>

Planet TerrorRobert Rodriguez and Graeme Revell - Grindhouse: Planet Terror
Planet Terror, Robert Rodriguez's half of the 2007 double-feature exploitation celebration Grindhouse, has a very different soundtrack than Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof. Like any other QT soundtrack, Death Proof relies on existing music, cherry-picked from obscure pop, soul, and soundtrack records, but Rodriguez is a D.I.Y.-er right down to assembling his own scores (albeit with some assistance from Graeme Revell here). Here, he extends his John Carpenter tribute right down to the icy, grimy synth scores that fueled films like Escape from New York (of course, Carpenter also did his own music, just like Rodriguez). Read more >>

HairsprayVarious Artists - Hairspray
Hairspray began life in 1988 as the first John Waters film to earn a PG rating, despite such subversive elements as the casting of cross-dressing Waters favorite Divine as Edna, the mother of the main character, tubby teenager Tracy Turnblad. The story was further softened in its conversion to a Broadway musical hit in 2002 with a raft of songs written and performed in the period style of 1962 pop/rock; this time, openly gay actor/playwright Harvey Fierstein donned a dress to play the mother, his gravelly bass voice notwithstanding. It is some measure of the work's ongoing move toward the mainstream that in the 2007 movie musical based on the stage musical that was based on the first movie, John Travolta in a fat suit becomes Edna. Read more >>

I'm Not ThereVarious Artists - I'm Not There
For his impressionistic 2007 Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There, director Todd Haynes hired an army of six actors to portray the singer/songwriter, each thespian representing a different phase or public persona of Dylan's career. The accompanying double-disc soundtrack -- not all of its 34 songs are used in the film -- employs a similar conceit, as Haynes and his music supervisors, Randall Poster and Jim Dunbar, rounded up rockers and folksingers of all stripes to reinterpret and re-create portions of Dylan's immense catalog. Taken as a whole, neither the singers nor the selections are too conventional, as the album alternates between standards and obscurities, old cohorts and new blood, faithful renditions and original interpretations, never tipping too far in either direction or staying in one place too long. Read more >>

King of KongVarious Artists - The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
The film King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters follows a cross-country duel between two gamers vying for the 2007 Guinness World Record high score in Donkey Kong. Some might argue that compiling a soundtrack for a documentary of this nature would involve simply slapping the film's name on the cover of Rush's 2112, but the producers have put together something far more entertaining. Read more >>

Kurt CobainVarious Artists - Kurt Cobain: About a Son
AJ Schnack's documentary Kurt Cobain: About a Son is constructed largely from interviews author/journalist Michael Azerrad conducted with the Nirvana singer/songwriter when he was writing their authorized biography, Come as You Are. About a Son is also a biography, but it relies on Cobain's own recollections, pairing it with still photos and newly shot footage of Olympia, Seattle, and Aberdeen, WA, all intended to create the perception of seeing the world through Cobain's eyes. There is no Nirvana footage in the movie and there are no Nirvana songs on the accompanying soundtrack, which instead relies heavily on songs important and influential to Kurt, along with five interview excerpts and a couple of dreamy, atmospheric instrumentals from Death Cab for Cutie/Postal Service leader Ben Gibbard and Steve Fisk, who provided much more of this kind of background ambient music for the film. Read more >>

Talk to MeVarious Artists - Talk to Me
The soundtrack to the film Talk to Me is not an original score, but a compilation mostly made up of stellar tracks from the Atlantic soul catalog. It's all hits, from Sam and Dave's "Hold On, I'm Comin'" to Otis Redding's "Tramp," to cuts by Arthur Conley, Archie Bell & the Drells, Booker T. and the MG's and Clarence Carter. There are a few non-Atlantic cuts tossed into the mix like James Brown's "I'm Black and I'm Proud," and a smoking read of Gene McDaniels' "Compared to What," by Me'Shell NdegeOcello and Terence Blanchard to close the album with a bang. Read more >>

There Will Be BloodJonny Greenwood - There Will Be Blood
Paul Thomas Anderson's fifth film There Will Be Blood is too monumental and odd to not provoke sharply divided opinions but all reviews, from raves to revulsion, agree on two points: Daniel Day Lewis' performance as oilman Daniel Plainview is astonishing, and Jonny Greenwood's score is extraordinary. Lewis dominates the film, appearing in all but one scene, and Greenwood's music is used far more sparingly yet it's no less indelible. From the moment the film fades open to a spare, unrelenting Californian landscape, Greenwood's tense, coiled score mirrors the eerie emotional undercurrent to the film, pulling suppressed feelings to the surface, often with an almost operatic sense of drama. This is grand music, but it's also controlled, unleashing its furious clashes of dissonance with precision. Read more >>

Twin Peaks 2Angelo Badalamenti and David Lynch - Twin Peaks: All New Season Two Music
For Twin Peaks fans, hearing more of the series' immediately recognizable music is almost as much of a revelation as another chapter from Laura Palmer's diary. While "All New" is something of a misnomer, Twin Peaks: All New Season Two Music is a nice way to commemorate the release of Twin Peaks' second season on DVD after years of languishing in the video netherworld. This music isn't as iconic as David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti's first-season soundtrack, but like everything in Twin Peaks' second season, it's fascinatingly fragmented, while going deeper into the series' lore and emotions.

Walk HardVarious Artists - Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
It goes without saying that a music movie lives or dies by its music, but it's particularly true with pop music parodies. If the music doesn't hit the right notes -- if it doesn't feel like the period it's meant to evoke, if the humor is either too broad or dry -- the movie crumbles around it, to say nothing of the soundtrack, which will be hard-pressed to stand on its own as an album. The gold standard for rock comedies is This Is Spinal Tap, as the music felt authentic, and Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer, and Michael McKean proved that lightning could strike twice with their folk music saga A Mighty Wind. The soundtrack to the John C. Reilly-starring Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story belongs in such rarefied company. Read more >>

Sweeney ToddVarious Artists - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street [2007 Soundtrack]
Stephen Sondheim's 1979 Broadway musical Sweeney Todd has been hailed as the composer's best work and the best musical of its decade, if not of the last three decades of the 20th century. It has been revived frequently and, as a work that straddles the line between musical theater and opera, adopted for the repertories of opera companies. When a stage musical is adapted into a motion picture, it is often the case that the score is given a bigger treatment. Broadway shows use a limited number of musicians, and, due to union regulations, Broadway cast albums tend to be recorded in a single day by casts also performing the music eight times that week on-stage. When the same score gets to Hollywood, producers often employ much larger orchestras and more elaborate recording techniques, for better or worse. Read more >>

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