THE FINEST HOURS.

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Bernie Webber and his friend are meeting two girls for a night out. Bernie is a little apprehensive about the date as he has not even met the young woman he is about to go out with. When they do meet however the pair just seem to hit it off straight away. Her name is Miriam Penttinen and the two couples then embark on a night out together, the evening goes well and Bernie and Miriam even have their first kiss before the night is over. Bernie who is a coast guard decides to take Miriam on a boat ride. A little while later the couple are at a dance together and Miriam pops the question to Bernie asking him to marry her, he refuses and she ends up in tears, but he explains to her that it’s not because he does not love her it’s because of his job, but after talking it through Bernie says he will marry her. Whilst this is taking place two oil tankers are caught up in a storm and one of them the SS MERCER is hit by a wave and holed, the storm continues to smash the ship until it breaks in two and it is sunk and its crew lost, the chief engineer of the other ship the SS PENDLETON tells the crew they have to try and keep afloat because if they sink they will perish, He tells them they have to try and run the ship aground so it remains steady and thus afloat. Bernie is assigned to take the coast guards motor boat out with a hand-picked crew to try and rescue the crew of the SS PENDLETON. The score for this harrowing and tense thriller is the work of Carter Burwell who is no stranger to writing music for powerful, action movies, he is probably best known for his music to the TWILIGHT series of films, but he has been responsible for producing numerous film scores for a wide range of motion pictures, FARGO, ROB ROY, TRUE GRIT, BEING JOHN MALKOVICH and HAIL CEASER to name but a handful, he has collaborated with the Coen Brothers and worked with director Spike Jonze as well as numerous other film makers.

Born in New York City in November 1955, the composer once said. “There’s just too much music in movies, almost always more than I think there should be. It’s either lack of confidence on the part of filmmakers or a tradition of scoring things. It’s always better to have less than to have more”. His score for THE FINEST HOURS however is overflowing with strong thematic material and even when the composer utilizes action led cues these too still possess a high thematic quality that shines through and prevails above the at times high octane fast paced material. Saying this however, the score also contains some romantic and melancholy influenced pieces with Burwell employing soft strings and a subdued and delicate sounding piano solo. For the most part though this is a score that keeps up the pace and applies the pressure and tension when required, underlining the desperate plight of the crew who are positive they are going to the bottom of the ocean and supporting the efforts of the brave rescuers who too are uncertain if they will succeed in their efforts to bring the crew home safely. A score that will please both the action music fans and one that has something for lovers of romanticism and melody

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DOCTOR STRANGE.

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Yet another movie based upon a character or characters from Marvel comics, DOCTOR STRANGE is set to be another success at the box office this Autumn/Winter season. The score is by the composer who seems to be flavour of the moment Michael Giacchino. He of course is the composer who breathed a new life and sound into the STAR TREK franchise with the re-boot versions of the journeys of the star ship enterprise, in STAR TREK, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS and STAR TREK BEYOND (not that the franchise needed reviving as it has remained a firm fav for many years), he also has replaced Alexandre Desplat on the STAR WARS spin off ROGUE ONE which is set to hit screens very soon and it was Giacchino who also provided wonderful scores for two pretty dire movies JUPITER ASCENDING and JOHN CARTER. He has also followed in the footsteps of a few illustrious composers on re-boots of movies or at least spin off’s etc. Such as DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES and JURRASIC WORLD. Every project he has worked on being stamped with his own style and given its own musical identity, his scores are also varied and he is easily able to adapt to every genre or scenario that he is given. DOCTOR STRANGE I felt is something of a disappointment, the score seems to lack any originality as it could be by any number of composers who work in Hollywood today scoring movies such as this, I am however not saying it is not a pleasing or likeable soundtrack as there are a number of nice or interesting moments which I have to say are the more subdued parts of the work with some rather un expected harpsichord being added at certain points, but it is very much in a style and sound that we have all heard before, powerful and booming percussive elements forming a foundation to low sounding brass with swirling strings and also tense sounding woodwinds and action led cues which to be honest all melt into one, the fusion of electronic and symphonic works well to a point, but even then it is all of a muchness and sounds no different from the last STAR TREK score that he worked on with a reoccurring theme raising its head every so often and being given a varying arrangement or orchestration. I know that composers do become typecast in the same way that actors do, it’s like “HEY HE DID A GOOD JOB ON STAR TREK, LETS GIVE HIM DOCTOR STRANGE” or maybe another sci fi superhero type movie. So, for me this much-anticipated score is a rather damp squib, sorry and all that but it’s a score that you will listen to and think “YEP ok NEXT”.