Thinking about Blade Runner 2049

Well, in just over a week I’ll finally be able to see the sequel to Blade Runner that I’m still not fully convinced should exist (but it does). Everything I’ve seen so far looks intriguing (and I’m so curious to see what Jared Leto’s character is doing), but what worries me is there are still so many ways this film could turn out to be terrible.

For instance, a make or break moment for me is going to be how they resolve the fates of Deckard and Rachael (since their last scene in the Final Cut is abruptly cut off as they get into the elevator to leave). I NEED to know what happened, and if they don’t resolve it to my satisfaction, I’m going to be upset.

Also, I’ve gathered from the trailers that a pretty big twist is coming, and for their sakes I hope it’s worth my time. Maybe I’m being too harsh, but as I said before, I’m still not convinced that this film should exist in the first place (because some films just don’t need sequels). Of course, if this film DOES end up ruining the overall story, I can always ignore it (just like I ignore Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection).

Are you looking forward to Blade Runner 2049? Will you be seeing it next week? Let me know your reasons why or why not in the comments below.

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Ask me Anything!

Since I’ve made it to 400 followers (thanks again, you guys are awesome!), I decided it was time for another round of “ask me anything.” In the comments below, ask me whatever you want (but keep it clean of course) and I will do my best to answer.

Can’t wait to hear your questions, have a good Tuesday!

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Achievement Unlocked: 400 Followers!!

Yes! Yes! YES!! I was teetering on the edge for what felt like an eternity but it has finally happened! Film Music Central has 400 followers and I am over the MOON!! I love reaching these milestones because with each one I feel like I’m that much closer to fulfilling my dream of being a big-time blogger (I mean we all have to start somewhere right?) I could not have gotten nearly this far without all of you wonderful people, so thank you for sticking with the blog, and here’s to the next 100 followers!

As promised, since I reached a new milestone, tomorrow you can “ask me anything” (but keep it clean please) and I will answer ๐Ÿ™‚ (I’ll put up a post in the morning announcing as much, just ask your questions in the comments)

Thanks again everyone! 400 followers, WOOHOO!!!!!!

Soundtrack Review: Ben-Hur (1959)

Longtime readers of this blog know that I am a huge fan of composer Miklos Rozsa’s film scores. Rozsa (1907-1995) was a titan of film music and his epic score for Ben-Hur (1959) remains a benchmark that few have ever equalled (let alone surpassed).

I am pleased to announce that Tadlow Music is releasing a completely new recording of this 157 minute score on October 3rd, one that will feature previously unrecorded music. The music has been recorded by the City of Prague Philarmonic and is conducted by Nic Raine.

If you haven’t seen the 1959 epic, it is NOTHING like the travesty that came out in 2016 (in fact, forget that movie even exists). The 1959 version of Ben-Hur is still considered to be one of the greatest films ever made, winning a record 11 Academy Awards (a feat that has only been equaled twice and NEVER surpassed) as it tells the story of a Judean prince (played brilliantly by Charlton Heston) whose life is thrown into turmoil at the same time that a strange carpenter begins preaching a new message to the people.

When you listen to this soundtrack, I highly recommend starting with the Overture. While it may seem strange now for a film to have an “overture” like an opera, back in the day it was fairly common for an epic film to start with a musical overture of some kind (there was also intermission music and exit music) that would play as the audience took their seats.

Another track that I absolutely recommend is the “Parade of the Charioteers” (this is usually preceded by a series of fanfares). This is the music that precedes the climactic chariot race (where Ben-Hur and Messala settle their differences once and for all) and is rightly considered one of the greatest sequences ever put on film. Curiously, the race itself has no music, something I’ve talked at length about.

Another track that I must recommend is the music that accompanies the “Lepers!” scene. As I’ve said previously, this scene features some amazing musical work, as Rozsa must convey with music alone that something terrible has happened to Ben-Hur’s mother and sister without the audience actually seeing what it is.

Truthfully, I could recommend this entire soundtrack, as it is a beautiful masterpiece, whose importance to film music cannot be overstated. In fact, parts of the score were used as temporary music for Star Warsย (1977) (and it is said you can still hear its influence in certain places). If you want to hear some fantastic music, please pick up this new recording when it comes out in October. My thanks to The Krakower Group for making this information available.

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Soundtrack Review: Teen Wolf (2011-present)

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Teen Wolf is an American television series that airs on MTV (the final season is currently airing). It is loosely based on the 1985 Teen Wolf film and tells the story of Scott McCall (Tyler Posey), a teenager who is bitten by a werewolf and must learn to live with the consequences. The soundtrack is composed by Dino Meneghin, who has worked on the series since its premiere in 2011 (which has really allowed for the musical themes to develop). The soundtrack for Teen Wolf was released on September 15th, so be sure to check it out!

In listening to any television soundtrack, I like to start with the main title. This sets the tone for any series and is usually a good indicator of what you’re going to get (that’s why McCreary’s theme for Constantine is one of my favorites). The main title for Teen Wolf is largely what I expected for a series of this kind: fast-paced, frenetic, a blend of symphonic instruments and electronic sounds, with a firm drum beat as well. I say this is what I expected, but that does not make it a bad thing. This is a show aimed at young adults after all, so the sound is right for that audience.

The next piece I listened to was “Hellhound” and for a few seconds I wondered if the track had been mislabeled. It starts out very soft and quiet, not what you’d expect. And then, out of nowhere, there’s a HUGE crash of drumbeats and you finally have the feeling of something menacing going on. It was still more melodic than I expected for the track title, but I enjoyed listening to it.

Of all the tracks I heard, “Fear Defeated” might be my favorite (with the main title running a close second). The track begins with an eerie sort of sound, followed by a strange clanking noise. I think this might be a mallet dragged over xylophones, or better yet, it may be the xylophone bars themselves clanked together to make a really creepy sound. The music then shifts into a dark and at times triumphant symphonic quality that I really enjoyed listening to. It really felt like the music you might hear in a movie, not a television show.

One thing I’ve taken away from listening to these recent television soundtracks is that the nature of television scoring has really changed from the early years. In some high-quality productions (most notably Game of Thrones), the music is so complex and thematic that it really stands on the same level as film music. But even in smaller (compared to GoT) productions, the music is now more symphonic, more nuanced and I couldn’t be happier. Whether it be television or film, music is often the make or break ingredient in any production.

I hope you enjoyed this short look into the music of Teen Wolf, the soundtrack is available now if you’d like to hear it in full. My thanks to The Krakower Group for making the soundtrack available for review.

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“Behold the King…” Sampling Triple H’s memorable Wrestlemania entrances

Earlier this year I talked about how wrestling can be considered a musical event due to how much music it employs in its production. Nowhere is this more true than in Wrestlemania, the “Superbowl” of the wrestling world (or one of them anyway, but that’s a discussion for another day). Having aired 33 editions since 1985, “the showcase of the Immortals” has seen some truly epic entrances (with thrilling musical performances to boot). But I want to focus on one wrestler in particular today: Hunter Hearst Helmsley, better known to all as Triple H. Given his dominant position in the industry, Triple H has taken part in some of the most elaborate entrances EVER. While I can’t list ALL of them, I do want to go through some of the more memorable entrances (note: this is not ranked in any particular order at the moment, though I may change that in the future).

  1. Wrestlemania 22 (2006): Triple H enters as “King Conan” (“King of Kings” entrance theme combined with classic “The Game” entrance)

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Triple H Wrestlemania 22 entrance (2006)

This entrance is a particular favorite of mine, and one of the better examples of how wrestling can resemble musical theater. The music begins with smoke hovering over the stage (as a weird video occasionally flashes on the screen). Seated on a throne, Triple H slowly rises through the smoke as Motorhead’s “King of Kings” plays out. Triple H is dressed for the occasion as King Conan (as in Conan the Barbarian), with a crown and fur lined cloak. While he looks inimidating, the effect is somewhat ruined by the fact that he’s also carrying a plastic water bottle in one hand (another trademark of his). Once the throne fully raises up, the music fades out and as “The Game” roars to life, Triple H stands up from his throne and dramatically makes his march to the ring, shaking off his cloak and roaring that HE will be the winner (spoiler alert: he loses).

2. Wrestlemania X-Seven (2001): Motorhead plays Triple H’s entrance music live (“The Game”)

Motorhead performs “The Game” live (2001)

This is actually the first time Motorhead performed Triple H’s theme music live at Wrestlemania; they would repeat this at Wrestlemania 21 (although Wrestlemania X-Seven is considered the superior performance). It starts out pretty much like a mini-rock concert: the band plays the song (to the delight of the crowd) and goes through a large portion before Triple H’s entrance even starts. And it’s at THAT point that the crowd remembers that this is all for a villain and they promptly begin to boo. Triple H noted later that while he had to keep his “mean face” on for his character, inside he was practically screaming with joy because Motorhead was a favorite band of his.

3. Wrestlemania 27 (2011): “The Gladiator Entrance”: Triple H emerges behind a ring of gladiators (Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls”+ “The Game”)

Triple H’s Gladiator Entrance for Wrestlemania 27 (2011)

For the last five to six years, it has practically been a guarantee that Triple H’s entrance will be one of the most elaborate and Wrestlemania 27 showed this in spades. This would mark the second time that Triple H would meet The Undertaker at Wrestlemania and the stakes for this match were through the roof. The entrance begins with Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” As the music grows louder, images of flames begin pouring up the ramp and the stage, making it look like it is all on fire. A ring of “gladiators” (in reality independent wrestlers looking to make some extra money) emerges from a lowered ramp in the stage floor to form a ring with their shields. Suddenly the lights drop to a single spotlight and the gladiators move forward to reveal Triple H in a creepy-as-hell skull and crown mask (this is a look he’s repeated several times, I guess he likes it). He stands motionless for a good thirty seconds when the music abruptly stops and the lights go out. And then…out of nowhere, the stage blares to life and there stands “The Game” in all his glory (he did a quick change in the dark) as Motorhead’s music takes over.

These are the three entrances that stand out the most in my mind, the honorable mentions included:

Triple H’s EPIC entrance at Wrestlemania 30 (2014)

“The Terminator Entrance” at Wrestlemania 31 (2015)

If anyone tries to tell you that wrestling is not connected to musical theater, show them these examples, they really do speak for themselves. Hopefully in the future I can expand more on this idea. I hope you enjoyed reading and watching ๐Ÿ™‚

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Anastasia “Once Upon a December” (1997)

The glittering world of the Russian Imperial Family came crashing down almost 100 years ago, when Tsar Nicholas II abdicated, he and his family were arrested, and later summarily executed. The ultimate fates of the Tsar, his wife, their four daughters, Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, and the crown prince Alexei were left unknown for decades, which gave rise to rumors and stories that some of the family had survived after all. The most well known story is that of Anastasia, the youngest daughter of Nicholas II. Rumors persisted for decades that the Grand Duchess had survived execution and was out there in the world somewhere. While ultimately disproven when the family’s remains were discovered in 1991, the story continued to be told both on screen and on stage.

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Don Bluth’s 1997 film Anastasia is one such recounting. It imagines a world where, while attempting to flee on a train with her grandmother Marie (played to perfection by Angela Lansbury), Anastasia falls and strikes her head, losing all memory as well as being left behind. Not knowing who she is, she grows up in poverty, with half-remembered songs and images her only clues as to where she came from. Anastasia is a musical film (and is sometimes confused for a Disney film) and my favorite song has to be “Once Upon a December.” In it, Anastasia is exploring an abandoned palace while looking for Dmitri (a former servant boy who is now working with a con man to find a “fake” Anastasia to claim a large reward) and she reminisces over her fragmented memories.

Anastasia “Once Upon a December” (1997)

Anastasia’s words conjure up a spectral ball as ghostly figures descend from the ceiling to take part in a dance, all dressed in the finery and glamour of the lost Imperial Russia. The royal family comes to “life” as well, with Anastasia’s four sisters dancing around her before finding partners. Anastasia, in the meantime, transforms into the grown-up princess she should have become, dancing with a partner of her own while her father strides onto the dance floor, all bowing to him (while her mother and brother wait in the background. As the song winds down, Anastasia and Nicholas share a brief dance before the magic is shattered and the figures vanish.

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I like to think of this song (and the scene as a whole) as being an homage of sorts to the old world of royalty, balls, and Imperial courts that was irrevocably broken after the First World War. It was an age of palaces, princes and princesses, nobles beyond count that had lasted for over a thousand years, and it will never come again, except in our memories. Hence, my favorite verse is at the end:

“Far away, long ago/glowing dim as an ember/things my heart used to know/things it yearns to remember…”

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This scene really is one of the best in the film, and I hope you enjoy watching and listening.

For more awesome animated songs (Disney and otherwise), check out the awesome main page here

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