Tag Archives: Cesar Benito

THE RUSSIAN BRIDE.

There seem to be several critics recently that don’t just watch a movie, TV show etc or listen to a score without getting into so many why’s and wherefores about the plot or how the music should have worked. Which is why I always try and watch or listen with an open mind and try not to see too deeply into a movie or its sub plots or what the director producer was trying to put over and comparing it with a situation that is taking place or has already taken place out there somewhere in the world. I attempt to watch it for entertainment and that alone, whether it is a movie or its score, yes of course music has a job to do within a movie and providing its doing that then well, that’s it for me even if it does not sound great as just music, but there again if it does work as stand-alone music all well and good and that’s a bonus.

The Russian Bride (2018) is a horror movie so let’s not get carried away and look for parts of the script or even a plot that can be considered as highbrow. Like most people I see it’s a horror and go and watch it because maybe I want to be scared, I also go to watch and escape into a world that is hopefully far removed from reality, that’s what cinema is I think escapism for us all.

Whether its in a Galaxy Far, Far, Away, or in a world that is being attacked by aliens, a Zombie Apocalypse, or even a silly rom com, they all serve their purpose to take our minds off the real horrors in this world.(after all there is so many at the moment).

Let’s save any criticism or complaining about historical facts, the literary content or indeed the standard of the performance to things with multi-million-dollar budgets and get on with enjoying the movie no matter how bad or wrong it maybe.

Forget that the spaceship looks really dodgy, and the director who is on a budget that cannot stretch to Industrial light and Magic, but instead has to try and create FX with a fairy liquid bottle, a cornflake box, some string, odd bits of an Air fix model kit, PVA glue and a Blue Peter Badge (get down Shep) (joking).

The Russian Bride, is probably not the best movie in the world, but its one that I think at least can hold its own and also grab the audiences attention and maintain that focus from them. Its not a new storyline or concept, in fact it’s been done a few times by other directors and in other countries, but still, it remains an interesting angle.

At first one would be forgiven for thinking the movie is a slow burner, because I would say the first fifty minutes or so are quite easy going and like a saunter down a country lane, but then wow the plot erupts, wakes up and becomes what any self-respecting horror should be a shocker, slasher, that smacks you right in the face with a generous helping of gratuitous violence, portions of gore and also some nice tongue in cheek moments. That culminate is something that includes, a fest of cannibalism references, the classic tale of Frankenstein, arcs of blood, guts, and blunt instrument swiping female revenge chaos. Like the sound of it? 

Cesar Benito.

The music which has been released on digital platforms recently by Plaza Mayor is the work of Spanish born composer Cesar Benito. Who wowed many of us with his scores for films such as Ways to Live Forever, and the gloriously emotive The Time Between.

The Russian Bride is an inventive score, and one that although being for a horror movie maintains a high level of thematic content, I have to say you will never become bored listening to this score, as there are so many musical twists and turns within it.

The composer employs synth sounds alongside conventional instrumentation, with the use of solo piano being particularly haunting in tracks such as Till Death Us Do Part, which begins graciously and in a classical style, but soon segues into something darker, but the composer utilising cello midway through to take the apprehensive edge off things, piano returns in the cue Nina and Dasha which is an emotive and haunting piece, piano being subtly supported by low profile strings.

There is an ominous and uneasy sound present throughout the score, with tremolo strings acting as a fearsome remainder that this is a horror, but there is as I say melody here, which every now and then seems to rise out of the more atonal moments that have been created, bringing a welcomed chink of light into the proceedings.

The composer also treats us to action cues such as Horseback Stab Riding, which is a jagged sounding fast paced piece and the dark fearsome sounds in the track Marriage At War, that both contain Herrmann-esque qualities and elements,

Plus there are a handful of cues that on occasion evoke memories of the style of John Barry and little touches that could be Delarue.

It’s a score that I know you will like, so please check it out now, on the likes of Spotify.    

   

EL TIEMPO ENTRE COSTURAS.

tiempoentrecosturas

EL TIEMPO ENTRE COSTURAS, is a Spanish television production that is currently airing and is being hailed by many as Spain’s answer to the highly successful and addictive British drama series, DOWNTON ABBEY. The series which is based upon the novel by Maria Duenas entitled THE TIME IN BETWEEN, the drama which is set at the time of the Spanish civil war, has attracted more than 5 Million viewers every week and contains a  fully symphonic lush and highly romantic sounding musical score which is the work of Cesar Benito (WAYS TO LIVE FOREVER), the composer has produced a soundtrack that is literally overflowing with emotion and beautifully written musical pieces that are not only gracious and engrossing but have the ability to mesmerise and enthral any listener. Fragile and delicate sounding tone poems warm the heart and evoke and create feelings of sadness and passion throughout. The score is built on and around a particularly haunting and amiable sounding piano composition which opens the proceedings. A six note motif acts as the foundation for the scores central theme which is heard in the form of TEMA DI SIRA in the first instance, the composition which is an enchanting one has an almost trickling sounding piano performance being played over the six note foundation, which undulates and builds slowly gaining slightly more momentum as it ambles its way towards the cues conclusion. In many ways it is similar to Michael Nyman’s PIANO theme from the movie of the same name, Benito taking a simple theme and repeating it whilst underlining and punctuating it with a firm foundation. It has to it an originality and freshness which radiates throughout its running time and although simple undoubtedly effective. This central theme either opens various cues or is cleverly woven into the fabric of the work and acts as a musical bridge or glue that brings together all the other thematic elements of the score and holds them together creating a glorious, dramatic, attractive and stunning sound. Track number 2, MADRID 1922, is a more upbeat affair, strident strings open the piece taking it along at a fairly brisk pace, to this is added trumpet and also solo piano, which pass the theme from one to the other during the cues duration, the string section also taking a hand and giving the composition a real luxurious sound, playing in unison with faraway sounding horns. Plaintive sounding woods are also brought into the equation creating a sense and atmosphere of melancholy with harp making a brief but effective appearance acting as a punctuation of sorts to both woods and strings. The score also contains a number of more dramatic and urgent sounding pieces, but it is the romantically laced sound that Benito has created that will delight many a soundtrack collector and indeed I am confident will attract the attention of music lovers even if they are not film music fans.

There are also a handful of Arabic sounding cues which add greater authenticity to the work plus choir and female solo voice are folded into the mix adding at times emotion and power to the already imposing sounding score. Another great soundtrack from Spain, another worthy addition to Movie Score Medias more than impressive catalogue.

Cesar Benito.

Cesar_BenitoHailing from Southern Spain, Los Angeles-based composer Cesar Benito’s film credits include the critically-acclaimed MIA SARAH, for which he won the BEST ORCHESTRAL COMPOSITION AWARD at the Garden State Film Festival and was nominated for BEST NEW COMPOSER at the Film Music Critics Awards as well as BEST ORIGINAL SCORE at the Cinema Writers Circle Awards of Spain.

Benito has also worked as a producer, arranger, orchestrator, conductor, performer and music director of a wide variety of shows like The Emperor’s Jazz Orchestra, the American Society of Music Arrangers & Composers Big Band, the Boston Conservatory Orchestra, Musicals, Choral ensembles, International folk festivals featuring Symphonic Flamenco and other events like the Opening Gala & Unveiling of the Ricardo Montalban Theater in Hollywood–Where he also accompanied on the Piano to Broadway star, recording artist and Grammy, Tony and Emmy Award winner Robert Goulet.

Cesar graduated Magna Cum Laude in Film Scoring and Contemporary Writing & Production from Berklee College of Music, Boston. He also holds degrees in Music Theory, Piano and Composition by the Conservatories of Malaga and Madrid in Spain as well as a Diploma in Industrial Engineering by the University of Malaga.

John Mansell: Was it always your intention to write for film?
Cesar Benito: Not really. I didn’t even think about making a living with music until I was in my mid 20s. I even quit my music studies for a few years to get a degree in Industrial Engineering; only to find out how much I hated it. Then I developed a passion for Broadway, and West End musicals. So I went back to my music studies at the Conservatory in Spain, and in order to expand my musical knowledge I went to Berklee College of Music in Boston. Their Film Scoring program caught my eye, and I fell in love with the genre after the first few classes.

John Mansell: One of your recent projects is WAYS TO LIVE FOREVER; how did you become involved on this picture?
Cesar Benito: The director of the film, Gustavo Ron, and I are good friends. We also have very similar film, and music tastes. We enjoy, and get very excited about every opportunity we get to work together. We have a close rapport. WAYS TO LIVE FOREVER is my second collaboration with him. Our previous project was his debut film MÍA SARAH.

John Mansell: WAYS TO LIVE FOREVER is a touching and bittersweet tale that contains a highly emotional score, that is uplifting but also at times so sad. You fuse both conventional instrumentation with that of a more quirky line up of instrumentation which you combine with electronic support. How do these elements relate to the actual story and central characters in the movie?
Cesar Benito: Gustavo gave me some initial directions about the music aspects for this film. He didn’t want a score rich in melodies and lush orchestrations. He didn’t want a sad depressing score either. He asked me to write minimalistic music with an uplifting feel to support the spirit of the young protagonist. We tried many approaches and brainstormed together quite a bit until the very last moment.

John Mansell: How long did you have to work on the score and was the director hands on when it came to the music or was he happy to let you do your job?
Cesar Benito: The whole score was done from inception to completion in about three weeks. It was a very hectic process. Once I got the workprint, and had a spotting session with the director, he let me do my job during the composing period. But during the recording sessions he got more hands-on and contributed with great ideas that improved the overall score. He was also very supportive to me during the whole process which I really appreciated.

John Mansell: What would you say is the role of music in film?
Cesar Benito: It’s different on each film. Sometimes the score is crucial to transmit certain emotions that cannot be accomplished just with the acting, or the sound effects. Some other times the music plays a more subliminal role in the story, setting the mood, in the background. In some other films you can find good catchy themes to make a character more attractive, or you can also find leitmotivs that identify different characters, and situations. The music can also become a character by itself in the film. The possibilities are endless.

Cesar_Benito_1John Mansell: What musical education did you receive and did you come from a family background that was musical?
Cesar Benito: Both of my parents are classical music lovers. I’ve always been listening to classical music at home, or during road trips with my family. Mainly Bach, Beethoven and Chopin. My mom has some musical studies, and she was the one who introduced me and my sister to music at a very early age. I didn’t start studying music seriously until I was ten years old. I graduated in Piano, Music Theory, Orchestration, and Composition at the Conservatories of Malaga, and Madrid, I also have a Dual Major degree in Film Scoring, and Contemporary Writing & Production (Pop-Rock arranging, Jazz & Big band arranging, etc.) at Berklee College of Music. Additionally, I have studies in Conducting, Music Technology, Film Music Orchestration, Classical Percussion, Latin Percussion, Electroacoustic Music, and I also learned as a teenager how to play the Electric Guitar on my own by listening to the music of AC/DC and Van Halen.

John Mansell: You were born in Marbella in Spain. When did you re-locate to the United States and was this because of your musical career?
Cesar Benito: I had dreamed of moving to the United States since I was about twelve or thirteen years old. I don’t really remember what triggered that idea in me. It wasn’t music at that time; maybe it started with my love for basketball and the L.A. Lakers. Once I decided I wanted to be a composer the idea of moving to the U.S. grew stronger in me. It took me many years to decide when to move because I felt that I should have a very solid musical foundation before I took the leap. I first thought of moving to New York to get into the world of Broadway, and write a musical, but then after I studied Film Scoring I decided to pursue a career as a film composer in Hollywood. I still want to write a musical sometime soon!

John Mansell: You have worked on TV productions such as the Spanish remake of the BBC show LIFE ON MARS, LA CHICA DE AYER and have scored motion pictures and worked on various musical projects, what would you identify as the main differences between the mediums apart from maybe budget?
Cesar Benito: When I work in films I’m given a time frame to meet a deadline, and I can manage my own schedule as long as I meet the deadline. On TV shows deadlines are much more tight, and immediate. The lower budget in TV projects forces me to work with sampled instruments rather than a real orchestra, so that limits my musical possibilities in these kinds of projects.

John Mansell: Do you orchestrate your own music all of the time or do you at times use an orchestrator; also do you conduct at all?
Cesar Benito: So far, I have always orchestrated and conducted all of my projects. However I would love to have a project with a budget that would allow me to work with some of the big orchestrators from Hollywood some day.

John Mansell: When spotting a movie how many times do you like to see it before you begin to get fixed ideas about the style of music and also the placing of the music?
Cesar Benito: I usually watch the film over, and over. Sometimes I respond immediately to the images, and good ideas can come fairly quickly while others I need more time to get inspired. I try to come up with music that reflects the personality of the film. I try not to repeat myself from other projects, and instead I try to be as unique as I can with every new project to give it its own individual personality. The beginning is always hard; trying to find out the tone of the story, the rhythm, the dramatic aspects, an identity for the music, etc. Of the time frame I’m given to score a film I usually use about 60% of that time to compose the best original themes and ideas that I can. When I think I have a decent amount of material to work with I start scoring and orchestrating scene by scene, usually in chronologically order, so the music evolves in tandem with the story, and the dramatic arc of every scene, and the film as a whole.

John Mansell: When working on a film score or indeed any musical assignment   how do you bring your musical ideas to fruition, do you use piano, synth or write straight to manuscript?
Cesar Benito: I mostly sit at the Piano, but I also hum while I drive, walk or go for a hike recording those ideas on any portable device I have at hand, or in the sequencer if I’m sitting in front of my computer. Occasionally I will write down something on paper if I’m already in bed…

John Mansell: What composers or artists would you say have influenced you at all?
Cesar Benito: I guess every composer I like has influenced me in some way. My role model would be John Williams.

15573John Mansell: Were you involved in the sequencing of the soundtrack compact disc for WAYS TO LIVE FOREVER; I mean did you select what music was to be on the disc?
Cesar Benito: Absolutely, this CD is my brainchild. I selected all the tracks, edited, and mix-and-match them to make the listening of the album more enjoyable. I also worked with the engineer, Javier Ferreiro, to remix and remaster some of the tracks to improve them sonically for the CD. I basically did everything to make a presentable product in the market from hiring the graphic designer of the CD cover to contacting the publisher.

John Mansell: Have any movies that you worked on contained a temp track of any type and if so did you find it helpful or distracting when trying to think of ways to score the film?
Cesar Benito: I get a temp track on most of the films I score. Sometimes they help, sometimes they distract, or sometimes they could be an obstacle when the director has fallen in love with it.

John Mansell: Out of the movies you have worked on is there any one or two that hold a special place in your affections and why?
Cesar Benito: I love most of my scores as if they were my children, but maybe MÍA SARAH is the one that holds that special place in my heart. It was the first feature film I got to use a real orchestra to record my music. I like the themes I wrote, and the way I used them as leitmotivs for each character and situations all along the story.

John Mansell: What are the main differences between Spain and The United States in the way of recording facilities orchestras etc?
Cesar Benito: I love working in the United States because of the level of expertise and professionalism of the musicians.

John Mansell: What are you working on at the moment?
Cesar Benito: I’m currently scoring two very musically ambitious TV shows for Antena 3 TV (Spain). The third season of LOS PROTEGIDOS (a show about kids with super-powers, action-packed with thrills, drama, comedy, and romance) and EL TIEMPO ENTRE COSTURAS (a story about a Spanish seamstress that becomes a spy for the British government during the WWII based on the bestselling novel by the writer Maria Dueñas) I predict it’s going to be a huge success. Also I just initiated talks with a film director from India to score his next feature film, a psycho-thriller.

John Mansell: Many thanks, for your time and patience…