Wednesday, 29 December 2010

... 2010 In Review (cont.)

Best Surprises of 2010 (Film Scores)

#1 Explorers (Jerry Goldsmith)

Quite possibly the best collaboration between Goldsmith and director Joe Dante, the score for Explorers, one of Dante's most overlooked films, brims with a terrific sense of optimism not often heard in the composer's work. It's arguably his finest score for a live-action family film, boasting a tremendous main theme (The Construction) that is practically alive with the possibilities of childhood adventure. And with a plethora of typically accomplished electronic segments and an awe-inspiring round up of the primary themes at the climax, it's a magnificent, full-blooded effort from Hollywood's greatest film composer, one who is sorely missed.

#2 Kikujiro (Joe Hisaishi)

Joe Hisaishi is perhaps best known for his wonderful efforts on the Studio Ghibli films, scores which boast memorable themes and heavenly incidental sections. However, he also brought these principles to bear on his other key collaboration with director Takeshi Kitano (one that unfortunately came to an end a few years ago), most notably in his delightful score for the director's Kikujiro. Featuring a beautifully intimate sense of melancholy throughout, with special emphasis going on the interplay between piano and strings, it's an enormously moving work, one which underlines the film's central relationship (between a crook and an unnaturally repressed young boy) with deftness and intelligence.

#3 Heavy Metal (Elmer Bernstein)

For a composer best known for his work with intimate ensembles on the likes of To Kill a Mockingbird, Elmer Bernstein made an astonishing plunge into large-scale fantasy with Heavy Metal. For what is essentially an animated anthology featuring lusty babes, blood and guts, Bernstein composed an extraordinarily rich, almost apocalyptic effort, one that reaches for a grand sense of choral/orchestral chaos rarely heard in the rest of his output. It's a shame the film simmered under the radar as a cult classic because the score rivals the best of John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith, boasting one of the composer's best themes (Taarna), some blistering action music and the type of compositional intelligence we always associate with Bernstein's work.

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