A MONSTER CALLS is not released officially until the new year (2017) and by all accounts this is a real tear jerker of a movie that is beautifully filmed and superbly acted by all concerned. Based on the novel by Patrick Ness. This is movie that teaches us that we must face up to our problems in life and be honest about what problems we do have. The story focuses upon an 11-year-old boy, Connor, who is being bullied at school and has an even greater worry on his mind, because his Mother has cancer and he is in constant fear that should could die at any time. The Monster that calls is an old and very wise tree monster voiced wonderfully by Liam Neeson. At first the Monster is fearsome and aggressive but as things progress the boy and the monster become friends. The music for the movie is by Spanish born composer, Fernando Velazquez, and once again he has produced a score that brims with melody and attractive themes which support and underline the at times fast paced storyline and compliment and augment the more emotive and poignant scenarios within the film. The composers delicate and affecting touch adds another dimension to the actual story that is unfolding on screen, plus the composers musical score ingratiates all that it meets. The opening track on the compact disc, is a perfect opener to the work, CONOR WAKES UP/MAIN TITLE is an entertaining and totally absorbing cue, the composer utilising a light and fragile sounding piano for most, the composition, which is mirrored by a childlike sounding chime that is almost lullaby like, but within the cue there is also a slightly more sinister or darker side, when choir is added momentarily to give the piece a fearsome or foreboding sound. Track number two, DRAWING, is a slightly more apprehensive and dissonant sounding piece, with strings and choir introducing the cue, these however soon melt away and give way to the lighter sounding style that was present within the MAIN TITLE. Track three is a lot more dissonant and fearsome, THE MONSTER WAKES UP is a collaboration of percussive elements, brass flourishes. choir and threatening and stressful strings which evokes certain sections of the composers score for DEVIL, low strings that are underlined by a deliberate and threatening percussive beat and swirling strings and voices works both with and away from the screen action. Jumping forward to track number six, THE FIRST TALE which is I have to say my favourite cue, this I think is like a mini overture for the score, it contains many of the themes that are included within the soundtrack and the composer weaves these together cleverly to create a piece works wonderfully to film, but is also a rich and rewarding listen, it is filled with powerful and at times abrasive interludes, which are complimented and interspersed with some beautiful tone poems performed by woods and strings, which are brought to life and given a magical persona by the use of delicate piano and shimmering chiming effects.
But the cue alters from being a subdued and lilting composition to an action led and commanding force approximately midway through with the brass and strings taking the lead backed up by percussion, the taught and somewhat aggressive musical persona forging ahead as if it is an unstoppable force, this then melts away and we are returned to the poignant and emotive side of the work, with piano once again being in the forefront underlined by strings. I like the way the composer utilises organ within the score, it brings to the work a sinister but at the same time safe and warm feeling, it is an instrument I suppose that is associated with both good and evil. The cue I WISH I HAD A MILLION YEARS is one that will leave listeners mesmerised, a heavenly sounding choir and strings combine with piano to create a melancholy and absorbing mood, as does the rich and romantic sound achieved with the films END CREDITS. The emotion and the sadness of the films storyline is brought to the forefront in the final cue on the compact disc and digital download. MONTAGE, includes dialogue from the movie being underscored by the composers highly affecting music, this is certainly a tearjerker of a film, but I have a feeling that the musical score might have a lot to do with creating this also. In my opinion this is another triumph for Velazquez, and one of the film score highlights of 2016 and I for one look forward to more from this highly talented and ever original Maestro.
In 1936, the people of Spain democratically elected a socialist government who at times were referred to as republicans, it was not that long however before unrest began to rise within the country and a coup was carried out by a group of right-wing nationalist generals who were intent on ousting their leader and create their own government. This was not an overnight attempt at gaining power and turned into a long, cruel and particularly bloody civil war that lasted for several years. Soon the Russians started to assist the government of the country and both Italy and Germany decided to combine their efforts as the Axis Powers and started to send arms and support to the forces that were fighting on the side of General Franco, who’s nationalist forces eventually gained the upper hand and ultimately won the war, if anyone wins in these type of conflicts. The town of GUERNICA or GERNIKA as it is called in the movie and also gives the film its title as well, was heavily bombed by the German Luftwaffe and was made notoriously famous by Pablo Picasso’s gigantic mural which was also named after the town. The movie opens with American news reporter Henry portrayed by James D’Arcy finding it increasingly difficult to report back accurately the events that are taking place in the country because of heavy censorship by the Republican authorities. His reports are altered and tampered with making them no more than propaganda essays in favour of the republicans. The reporter becomes caught up in a web of deceit that begins to affect not only him but his partner Teresa played by Maria Valverde who is one of the censors. Just as the authorities are about to close in on him the air raids on GERNIKA begin. This is a rather tragic and bitter sweet storyline that although does have some romantic interludes is essentially an accurate telling of the events that led up to the barbaric and incessant bombing and also depicts the actual relentless blitz upon the town and the affect upon its helpless inhabitants. The movie is a moving and well-made account of this particular event in history and is surprisingly impartial not once depicting either side as being good or bad. The musical score as one can imagine is powerful to say the least and filled with drama, tension and action material, it also however possesses a number of highly emotive and passionate sounding compositions that further elevate the action on screen lending their poignancy and potent weight to the proceedings. Fernando Velazquez has over a fairly short period of time become one of Spain’s most respected and sought after composers of film music, he works not only in his native Spain but also scores movies that are produced in Hollywood etc.
His scores for movies such as THE ORPHAN, THE LAST DAYS, DEVIL, CRIMSON PEAK, HERCULES, MAMA and even the horror spoof PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES were met with much enthusiasm and praise from collectors of film music and critics alike the latter I think was a case of the score being far superior to the movie it was created for. It is probably true to say that it was his score for THE IMPOSSIBLE which drew attention to his ample talents as a composer of music for film and television projects. GERNIKA is in my opinion one of his best soundtracks, filled with inspiring themes and memorable compositions it is a score that seems to get under one’s skin as it were, there is just something about this work that oozes class and radiates an aura that is overflowing with highly charged and commanding musical passages. The CD opens with TERESA/PRESS OFFICE a meandering piano acts as a background to strings and woodwind that pick out a pleasant and melancholy theme that is romantically laced but at the same time seems to hint at tension or apprehension.
Track number 2, I ‘VE SEEN WAR, is too a low key affair, with dark sounding strings opening the cue, these soon segue into lighter but still sombre strings that are underlined by woods. The composer also puts to good use brass and choir within the score which create a sense of unease and turmoil within certain cues, as in BACK FROM THE FRONT/THE PICTURE which is track number 4, this is initially a low key piece which develops and builds into a driving action composition which is dominated by horns and strings that are punctuated and supported by percussion. Highlights for me if indeed there are any stand out cues, simply because the entire score is a delight, include, the tender and haunting TERESA’S FAMILY FARMHOUSE, the lavish and lush sounding RECEPTION AT CITY HALL. The powerhouse of a piece that is STALIN DOESN’T FORGIVE MIIAVICH/ALLES GUT SEIN and GENIKA UNDER BOMBS which is not as one would think dismal or sombre but uplifting with the composer employing rich strings, driving brass and proud and patriotic sounding choir which also purveys an atmosphere of hope in a time of chaos and death. I highly recommend you at least take a listen to the samples of this score that are available, I guarantee after you do so you will be ordering it or downloading it.
PRIDE PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES ? Yes that’s correct I have not gone mad and got two genres or stories mixed up, well I haven’t but director Burr Steers seems to have. Released this week in the UK PRIDE PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES (lets not forget those flesh eating varmints) Is an odd fusion of horror with the highly acclaimed and sophisticated story as penned by Jane Austen in 1813. It is actually based on the 2009 novel by Seth Grahame Smith who via his writings provided us with this parody of established English romanticism and mashed it up with the gory and manic world of the ZOMBIE. So here we are in 19th Century England and a mysterious plague has fallen upon the country the entire land being overrun and decimated by the un-dead hordes who lust after human flesh and more. Who can stop these I hear you scream, well our fearsome and somewhat highly strung Heroine Elizabeth Bennet of course silly you.
She is a supreme master of the martial arts and has all sorts of weaponry at her disposal. She joins forces with Mr Darcy and together they set about ridding the land of this Zombie scourge and whilst doing so discover that they are truly in love with each other. A highly unlikely scenario yes, but it’s a bit of fun isn’t it. The musical score is the work of Spanish born composer Fernando Velazquez who is certainly no stranger to horror movies, his score to DEVIL for example just oozed a virulent and foreboding atmosphere and was hailed by many as a masterpiece of film scoring which tilted its hat to the style of the great Bernard Herrmann within its perimeters on more than one occasion. I love the way in which the composer manages to balance the music equally within its respective genres, by this I mean that the score remains elegant and romantic throughout but at the same time the composer infuses the correct amount of action led cues and horror laced passages whilst introducing a certain amount of comedic writing which lightens the mood at times. The score is quite large scale, the composer utilising to great effect the string section which is ably supported and enhanced by percussion and imposing sounding horns. Velazquez also employs to great effect lilting solo piano and a spidery sounding harpsichord at times which effectively sends shivers down the listeners spine giving the work a chilling aura.
This is a score that is filled with numerous sharp and searing string stabs, pounding percussive passages and an ample helping of rasping and growling brass performances, in short it is a great horror score but even though the majority of the music is what can be deemed as KNOCK EM DOWN AND DRAG EM OUT cues it still remains highly thematic and entertaining. Full of stirring heroic material which is supported by touches of the mysterious and full blown mayhem this is a soundtrack that I recommend to you, a truly old fashioned sounding horror score, that is relentless and unyielding, it’s a blast.
In recent years the score for the Horror movie seems to have become a more popular entity within the realms of soundtrack collectors. OK, a horror score normally contains its fair share of crashes, bangs and bumps but because the music is from a tale of terror or torment or a story of evil and sheer fright, does not mean that the music cannot be melodic or have sweeping themes to underline the action or the at times grotesque or just downright scary moments that the movie could contain. In fact in many cases composers have scored a moment of sheer terror or a moment of violence with music far removed from the actual scenario being acted out upon screen; by this I mean the composer underlines or enhances that moment with music that could either be beautiful or indeed soothing, thus making the scenario even more shocking and hard hitting with watching audiences when Continue reading Mama→
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