BIRDS OF PREY and THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN.

 

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BIRDS OF PREY and THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN is out and in Cinema’s many people saying its not a good movie, but I suppose that depends on your own personal taste. The film which is the sequel to SUICIDE SQUAD and a superhero movie based on DC COMICS, BIRDS OF PREY. it is the 8th movie to get a release in what many call the DC Extended Universe. The movie was directed by Cathy Yan and written by Christina Hodson, it stars Margot Robbie (as Harley Quinn), Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ella Jay Basco and features Ewan Mc Gregor as Roman Sionis or Black Mask. Robbie also acted as a producer on the movie and it was her who originally tried to get it off the ground by approaching Warner Brothers in 2015. The film has already received a number of positive remarks and comments from critics for its visual appearance, but the screenplay has not exactly been the flavour of the month. The musical score is by British composer Daniel Pemberton, who is a rising star in the world of film music and has already penned some brilliant scores for films such as the re-boot of THE MAN FROM UNCLE, KING ARTHUR LEGEND OF THE SWORD, STEVE JOBS, MOLLYS GAME, BLACK MIRROR, GOLD, SPIDER MAN INTO THE SPIDER VERSE and more recently MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN his style is so varied that it is hard to actually put him into a musical category, which for a film music composer is a good thing as they work on so many varying genres of film. The score for BIRDS OF PREY is another brilliantly wild and off beat affair, with the composer utilising a near spaghetti western style at times, combine this with pop and drum and bass passages, heavy rock interludes and flourishes and an operatic Morricone-esque swagger and there you have it BIRDS OF PREY, its unpredictable, edgy and most importantly innovative and entertaining. Every track serves up something that is riveting and outstanding, the styles within the score are many fold, each of them so different but at the same time they compliment and support each other, who would have thought rock guitar and soprano voice would have worked? Well it does because Daniel Pemberton makes it so. At times it is as if one is listening to a soundtrack from the 1960’s with twangy guitars and percussive elements supporting them, there is a definite nod or acknowledgement to the sound of Italian film music present also, the quirky orchestration combining female voice, with dark and ominous backgrounds, plus it has to it an operatic quality and I do not mean as in Soprano performances, there is just a grandness and an imposing and exciting sound to this score. It possesses an enticing sound that is irresistible to anyone who loves movie music and knows a little of its history. The richly dark and ominous musical lines being enhanced and bolstered by a rhythmic and eclectic array of instrumentation.

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This is a score that you will listen to and then go back to the beginning and listen again and continue to do so because it is such a compellingly colourful work. I thought Pemberton could not top THE MAN FROM UNCLE well I was wrong, this is every bit as innovative and interesting, all I can say is move over Hans Zimmer, Bond 27 has Pemberton’s name on the credits. One track on BIRDS OF PREY that I will mention is WORK TOGETHER, this is a slow burner a gradual builder, that will just inspire and also evoke memories of all things spaghetti western, dark and ominous strings act as a background, the composer adding struck strings and whip cracks bells and a lilting melody that could be a chiming watch if you think about it, it is this that builds the tension, as it chimes away and repeats as Pemberton builds his strings and adds elements to the composition that intensify the taught and imposing composition. Then we have FIGHT TOGETHER (BIRDS OF PREY) which is much more in your face as in rock orientated and thundering percussion, the composer incorporating vocals that are at times verging upon manic sounding. Rock guitar and wild drums take the lead for a while, creating an almost chaotic style and a grating and sharp sound. This curtails for a short period but soon returns with a greater resolve and volume, the composer adding more and more elements as the track heads towards its climax. The first two tracks also on the soundtrack I believe will blow you away, they are show-stoppers, centre stage material, in fact awesome is the word I am looking for, I think. The first cue, FLYING HIGH is a cue that really goes nowhere as in development, but it is a simple piece, female wordless vocal, supported by synthetic or electronic backing, it kind of sets the scene for what is to follow, because after listening to it you really dont know what to expect.

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Track two, well how can I describe this, I don’t know really, soprano voice, bells, grand stabs and punctuations and pounding percussion, again its affecting stuff that literally explodes out of your speakers. So all I can is have you got this score yet, what NO,,,, what have you been doing , buy it now.

MAH.

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MAH, is the sixth time that composer Navid Hejazi has collaborated with film maker Armando Ravelo, MAH, is set in what we call the Canary islands centuries ago, and it focuses upon a Mother who has to defend herself and her child from hunters who are unforgiving and brutal. The score for the movie is in a way quite raw and primitive, as in it is no way scored in the traditional fashion, the composer has created lilting and affecting themes for the Mother and her baby, but has also composed quite stark and savage sounding music to accompany the relentless human hunters who are pursuing the Mother. The percussive elements which the composer has employed are unnerving and ominous in their style and sound, creating a fearsome and unsettling air. This is particularly evident in track number three, AMENAZA, which is powerful piece that includes various percussive sounds and an almost rasping voice, that gives the piece an even greater sense of dread and urgency. This style and the atmosphere created via it is also present in track number four, GUANARTEME/LA BUSQUEDA, it is in my opinion even more of an apprehensive and threatening mood that the composer purveys here, which a dark and sinister mood being fashioned by otherworldly atonal textures. Track five APARICION is brief, but it grabs one’s attention with its use of a malevolent sounding voice that is calling in a hushed but at the same time sinister way, which sends shivers through the listener, or at least this one. Going back to the beginning of the recording INICIO, is the track that opens the soundtrack, in many ways this can be likened to the work of Vangelis, especially on his score THE APOCALYPSE OF THE ANIMALS, or at least the opening of the cue that is, because it soon alters direction musically, and segues into a darker and more atonal piece.

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Track number two, TITULOS/LA CUEVA also opens in a lighter mood, but again soon descends into a more trouble and urgent persona, percussion again forming the foundation, to a tense and shadowy affair, but then this also relents as a lighter more subtle and melodic motif begins to be introduced, the piano performance which is fleeting and subtle creating a fragile and vulnerable sounding passage, that brings forth a beautiful melody performed by strings, that is touching if albeit brief. Overall this is an inventive score, ok it may not be the most lush or even the most lavish sounding work, but the subject matter obviously did not call for this style of scoring, and the composer has fashioned a soundtrack that is not only effective but innovative. Recommended, available on digital platforms from Plaza Mayor Company.

THE LOST PRINCE.

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Howard Shore is without a doubt a great composer, his music for LORD OF THE RINGS is a testament to that statement. He is an inventive and highly original composer, who utilises at times unusual instrumentation or experiments with orchestration to achieve effective and affecting musical solutions. His scores are varied and also interesting as his style if you can say he has one is so varied with each assignment. I suppose he first came to everyone’s attention with his music for the David Cronenberg movie THE BROOD, he soon followed up this success with music for films such as DEAD RINGERS and of course SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. It was not long before Shore had established himself as a composer who was talented and also a Maestro who could adapt and tailor his music to any genre of film and also to any scenario within these genres. One of the composer’s latest releases is musical score for THE LOST PRINCE, which is something of a departure for the composer from films such as LORD OF THE RINGS, SEVEN and THE FLY. The score is a light-hearted one, with the composer creating charming and carefree musical themes, that are not only a delight to hear but also a fresh and at times amusing listen. But, saying this I suppose I should take a look back on the composers credits and re-visit scores such as BIG and to a degree HUGO, before I say that THE LOST PRINCE is a departure musically and stylistically for Shore, I think at times it is just because we associate him with films that have a darker and sinister subject matter that we forget that he is perfectly capable of fashioning delicate and subdued musical compositions. And for THE LOST PRINCE we are treated to many of these such moments, the score is a sheer delight from start to finish, the composer utilising strings, brass, percussion, harp and woods in the main, that are complimented and further enhanced via choral performances, it is a score that like many of his other works is filled to overflowing with a richness and also an abundance of standout musical moments throughout. Directed by Michel Hazanavicius, THE LOST PRINCE is a film that tells the story of a seven year old girl, who every night is transported to an imaginary film studio or STORYLAND, where fantastical fairy tales and adventures are brought to life by her Father Djibi, who has a starring role in each of them, portraying a heroic and handsome Prince. But as the girl grows up, she starts to invent her own stories and her Father is no longer the hero or central character, in the real world too, his roles begin to alter, and he decides that he must re-invent himself and find a way to remain his daughters hero.

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Shore’s music compliments and enhances perfectly the varying scenarios that are unfolding on screen, it is a dramatic but also a touching, heart-warming and melancholic sounding work, that also has to it a brilliant comedic and mischievous air.  Filled with emotion and also subtle nuances that are poignant and heart-breaking, THE LOST PRINCE is  highly enjoyable and entertaining.  Recommended. Available on various digital platforms on Howe records.