Category Archives: Films

Soundtrack News: ‘Driveways’ Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Available Now

The original motion picture soundtrack for Driveways, with music by Jay Wadley, is available now from Milan Records. Nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards, Driveways is out now and available to watch on demand. Director Andrew Ahn’s Driveways tells the story of Kathy (Golden Globe® Nominee Hong Chau), a single mother, who travels with her shy eight-year-old son Cody (newcomer Lucas Jaye) to Kathy’s late sister’s house which they plan to clean and sell. As Kathy realizes how little she knew about her sister, Cody develops an unlikely friendship with Del (Golden Globe®, Tony® winner and acting legend Brian Dennehy), the Korean War vet and widower who lives next door. Over the course of a summer, and with Del’s encouragement, Cody develops the courage to come out of his shell and, along with his mother, finds a new place to call home.

Jay Wadley is a NY based composer and music producer. Upcoming releases include; Charlie Kaufman’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things, The Innocence Files directed by Roger Ross Williams (Life Animated, Apollo), Independent Spirit Award-nominated Driveways directed by Andrew Ahn (Spa Night), and the Sundance NEXT Audience and Innovation award-winning narrative debut, I Carry You with Me (Sony), written and directed by Heidi Ewing (Jesus Camp, Detropia).

Of the soundtrack, composer Jay Wadley says:

“In my score for Andrew Ahn’s Driveways, I took an understated, paired down approach with textured analog production on a felted grand piano and chamber string ensemble.  The film is a delicate and subtle piece, so Andrew and I felt the score needed to take extra care not to step on or get in the way of story and character.  As I began the creative process, my way into Cody and Del’s sound was through an attempt to capture the mood of childhood experiences like tooling around in the yard and on the porch during long, lazy, hot summer afternoons. I find a certain dreaminess, comfort, and melancholy to those days that informed the music’s overall tone and character. To echo the simple yet profound nature of Del and Cody’s friendship, I used equally simple recurring melodic and harmonic material that often plays as intimate duets between strings and piano. These melodies thoughtfully blossom and mature throughout the film, deepening their associations, and help us connect to relationships that have shaped us and remind us of the beauty and tragedy of their impermanence.”

Driveways director Andrew Ahn adds:

“Jay’s score for Driveways is so human, full of character and soul. I loved working with Jay because, like an actor, he took the film on emotionally, letting the story and characters become a part of him. There’s a beautiful nostalgic quality to the score that feels so personal and intimate. For this reason, the score never hits a false note; it feels truthful and genuine in such an emotional way.”

DRIVEWAYS (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK)

TRACKLISITNG –

  1. On the Road
  2. Del
  3. Inside the House
  4. Cleaning Up
  5. Mouse Pad
  6. Can I Borrow a Shovel?
  7. Pretty Good
  8. Get Up
  9. Okay Bye!
  10. Shopping
  11. Thanatopsis
  12. Kathy Goes Out
  13. Invitation
  14. Rogers Team
  15. Wait List
  16. Hardwood Floors
  17. Move, Move
  18. Moving to Seattle
  19. This One
  20. Everything is Different

If you’d like to check out the soundtrack for Driveways, it is currently available.

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My Thoughts on: Tarzan and the Amazons (1945)

My ongoing journey through the classic Tarzan films took me to Tarzan and the Amazons, released in 1945. The plot, like Tarzan Triumphs before it, focuses yet again on a lost city, this time a city of ‘Amazons’ who live in total seclusion from the outside world. Tarzan’s son boy discovers where the hidden city is located after following Tarzan when he returns an injured warrior, a situation that becomes problematic when an expedition learns of the fabulously wealthy lost city’s existence.

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It’s almost funny to me how many lost cities there are in these Tarzan films. First there was Palandrya in Tarzan Triumphs, now we have a lost city of female warriors that looks like something straight out of ancient Greece. In fact, with their headbands and weapons, the ‘Amazons’ in this story reminded me quite strongly of Wonder Woman and the Amazons of Themiscyra. Still, the lost city is quite beautiful, even if it is completely out of place in the middle of Africa.

I should also mention this is the first film to feature Brenda Joyce as Jane. When she first appears (in regular clothes), it’s a little hard to accept that she’s Jane. But once she changes into her regular jungle attire, it actually becomes fairly believable. It’s still not the same as having Maureen O’Sullivan in the role, but Brenda Joyce does a pretty good job.

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The bulk of the plot, unfortunately, is pretty formulaic. In regular fashion, the greedy members of an expedition (excluding the honorable leader) find out about a lost city that’s full of treasure, decide to loot it, Boy becomes an unwitting (and later unwilling) accomplice, and Tarzan has to rush in at the last minute to save the day. Even worse, most of what happens is Tarzan’s fault if you think about it. Instead of plainly telling Boy that Palmyria (the city of the Amazons) has to stay a secret because of its fantastic wealth, Tarzan talks in riddles and simply tells Boy that it must be a secret without telling him why. If Tarzan had just been honest with his son then a lot of this might have been avoided. Most disappointing of all, the bad guys in the expedition are punished far too quickly. There’s barely a chase, and while their fate is gruesome, it’s over in less than a minute.

Despite these issues, Tarzan and the Amazons is enjoyable, if not completely original. You’ll like it if you’ve gotten this far into the Tarzan series of films, but it might not be the best place to start if you’ve never seen a Tarzan film before.

Let me know what you think about Tarzan and the Amazons in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Tarzan the Ape Man (1932)

My Thoughts on: Tarzan and His Mate (1934)

My Thoughts on: Tarzan Escapes (1936)

My Thoughts on: Tarzan Triumphs (1943)

Film Reviews

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Soundtrack Review: Spaceship Earth (2020)

The soundtrack for the recently released documentary Spaceship Earth is now available from Milan Records. Spaceship Earth is the true, stranger-than-fiction, adventure of eight visionaries who in 1991 spent two years quarantined inside of a self-engineered replica of Earth’s ecosystem called BIOSPHERE 2. The experiment was a worldwide phenomenon, chronicling daily existence in the face of life threatening ecological disaster and a growing criticism that it was nothing more than a cult. The bizarre story is both a cautionary tale and a hopeful lesson of how a small group of dreamers can potentially reimagine a new world.

Album Artwork - Owen Pallett

The soundtrack for Spaceship Earth was composed by Owen Pallett, who is a composer, violinist, keyboardist, and vocalist. They have released a string of critically praised solo recordings, winning the Polaris Prize in 2006. They currently release albums with Secret City Records and Domino Recording Co., and have performed as a solo performer with orchestras worldwide. Their chamber music work has been commissioned by The National Ballet of Canada, The Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Bang On A Can, The Barbican, among many others. They also served as curator of the TSO’s New Creations Festival in 2017.

Of the soundtrack, composer Owen Pallett says:

This is my second collaboration with Matt Wolf, after 2019’s Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project.  The film Spaceship Earth chronologically spans from 1960 to present day— it is serious, it is comedic, it is retro, it is futuristic, it is scientific and it is highly human.  It is also distinctly American.  As a result, I was inspired by 60s sci-fi film scores, Nino Rota, as well as American 20th century music— John Adams and Aaron Copland.

All of those influences are evident in Pallett’s score for Spaceship Earth, which is among the most beautiful I’ve heard this year. The music for this documentary runs a huge gamut from nearly symphonic to an American style that is, as the composer indicated, clearly inspired by the music of Aaron Copland (“Synergia Ranch” in particular). I may have listened to a few of the pieces out of order, but I was instantly struck by a four-part piece organized under the title “Biosphere 2.” Played back to back, these four pieces reminded me of a symphony, with themes weaving together and coming back at the end of the piece. It’s not often I hear a symphonic piece of music while listening to a soundtrack, but that is indeed what the four parts of “Biosphere 2” reminded me of.

And it only got better from there. Most of the soundtrack is delightfully musical, with a sense of “sci-fi” lurking around every corner. If you didn’t know what this documentary was about, you could be forgiven for thinking it was about literal space travel. It would be interesting to know, specifically, which sci-fi film scores influenced Pallett, as their influence can clearly be felt.

But there was also a touch of weirdness (in a good way) as well. As I mentioned earlier, “Synergia Ranch” was clearly inspired by the music of Aaron Copland (it put me in mind of “Hoedown” in case you were wondering) and it definitely stands out from the music around it.

In conclusion, the soundtrack for Spaceship Earth is beautifully done, and I applaud Owen Pallett for creating such beautiful music to accompany the documentary. Let me know what you think about Spaceship Earth (and the soundtrack) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

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Soundtrack Review: A Brief History of Time Travel (2018)

Just recently I had the unexpected pleasure of looking over the soundtrack for the documentary A Brief History of Time Travel. As the title suggests, this documentary is all about a subject that has fascinated scientists (and regular people for years: time travel. The synopsis is as follows:

Time travel reaches far beyond the realm of science fiction. From early stories featuring heroes mysteriously falling into far-flung future worlds to countless appearances in literature, science fiction and video games, the idea of traveling through time has spanned cultures across the globe.

Through interviews with experts across a variety of fields – theoretical physicists, game designers, spiritual leaders to futurist authors, “A Brief History of Time Travel” explores how this idea has inspired some of the prominent intellectual minds of today, and how it has influenced their work.

The soundtrack for A Brief History of Time Travel was composed by Tracie Turnbull, an LA-based composer. Apart from her work on this documentary, Tracie also works as a scoring and tech assistant for Emmy award winning composer Jeff Russo. She has written additional music on projects including: CBS’s Star Trek: Discovery, Sci-fi’s Channel Zero, FX’s Snowfall, Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy and the film, Mile 22.

The music for A Brief History of Time Travel was a lot of fun to listen to. Considering Tracie Turnbull is also a cellist, it’s not a surprise that the soundtrack features a healthy amount of that instrument. Indeed, a large portion of the soundtrack appears to be devoted primarily to the strings to create the warm, but quirky sounds that make up most of the score. Perhaps I was overly influenced by the title of the documentary, but it seemed to me that a lot of the music I heard reflected the passing of time. For example, I could’ve sworn I heard the ticking of clocks in several pieces. The idea occurred to me because Andrew Prahlow did something similar in his score for Outer Wilds. For that matter, speaking of the passage of time, the way most of these pieces “flowed” felt so appropriate given that they’re covering a documentary about time travel, in that time is often described as “flowing” from the past to the future.

As with most documentary scores that I’ve heard, the music for A Brief History of Time Travel is very easy to listen to; it’s gentle, it’s warm, and it draws no more attention to itself than necessary. By no means is that a bad thing, by their nature documentary scores aren’t generally supposed to stand out because that would make them a distraction to what the documentary is talking about. I think Tracie Turnbull’s score complements the topic of the documentary beautifully, allowing the imagination to run wild about the possibilities of time travel.

Track List:

1 Time Travel
2 Time Passing
3 Clock Slowed
4 Three Theories
5 Beyond Space
6 Back And Forward
7 Perspective Of A Computer
8 Space And Looking Back
9 Freeze People
10 Imagine Time Travel
11 Happens In The Future
12 Constraints Of Nature
13 If You Could Travel
14 History Of The Universe

The score for A Brief History of Time Travel can be purchased/downloaded from the following places:

Notefornote Website: https://bit.ly/36bS4DF

Let me know what you think about A Brief History of Time Travel (and the score) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

 

My Thoughts on: Tarzan Triumphs (1943)

After a long stretch, I decided to resume my watch of all the classic Tarzan films, deciding to go on with Tarzan Triumphs, made in 1943 and a most interesting entry because the plot sees Tarzan fighting against Nazis. In hindsight it actually isn’t that surprising that a story was written to pit Tarzan against the Third Reich. After all, in 1943 World War II was in full swing and many stories of this type were being told. Still, it is a little jarring to see Tarzan existing in the same world with Nazis, since I’ve always associated the character with the late 19th century (or at the very least the turn of the 20th century). The plot sees Tarzan (eventually) go to war against a contingent of Nazis who have taken over the hidden city of Palandrya in an effort to steal its riches to support the war effort.

That being said, as jarring as it is at first, this might be one of my favorite Tarzan films yet. Considering that Nazis are involved in the plot, you know from the start that it’s only a matter of time before Tarzan and the Germans come to blows, and once that starts, it goes just about the way you think it will. But I’m getting ahead of myself, there’s a few details to talk about first.

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Since this is the first Tarzan film made for RKO Studios, Tarzan Triumphs is also the first film in the series to be made without Maureen O’Sullivan in the role of Jane. While the film does explain Jane’s absence by explaining that she’s tending to her mother in England, O’Sullivan’s absence in the story does leave a noticeable hole in, well, everything, one that isn’t quite filled by Frances Gifford in her role as Zandra. That isn’t the only difference between the RKO films and the original MGM films either. The iconic Tarzan yell is absent too (oh, he makes one, but it’s not the one everyone knows). Also, the entire set up of the hidden city of Palandrya is a bit much to take (it’s a hidden city of white people in the middle of the African jungle).

If you can overlook these issues, however, then you will like Tarzan Triumphs, particularly once Tarzan decides to get involved in fighting against the Nazis. Frustratingly, it takes Tarzan most of the film (and the kidnapping of Boy) to decide that the Nazis are a problem. I should mention that the Nazi characters are all easy-to-hate characters (though one is a near unending source of comic relief), which makes sense given it was wartime when this was made. It’s great fun to see Tarzan take the enemy down, especially when he takes special care to hunt down the head Nazi, chasing him into the jungle to give him the coup de grace.

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While the story does suffer from the absence of Jane, Tarzan Triumphs is an enjoyable story once all is said and done. I particularly enjoy watching the Nazi characters fumble about in the jungle (two fall prey to “cannibal fish”) before finally receiving their comeuppance. Tarzan’s initial stubbornness is also incredibly frustrating but if you stick with the film it pays off in the end. And for what it’s worth, I do like watching Zandra interact with Tarzan and Boy (even if it isn’t quite the same as having Jane in the story).

Let me know what you think about Tarzan Triumphs in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Tarzan the Ape Man (1932)

My Thoughts on: Tarzan and His Mate (1934)

My Thoughts on: Tarzan Escapes (1936)

My Thoughts on: Tarzan and the Amazons (1945)

Film Reviews

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Soundtrack News: ‘Capone’ Soundtrack to be Released on May 29th

Milan Records announced today that the original motion picture soundtrack for Capone will be released on May 29th, 2020. Available for preorder now, the album features music written and produced by EL-P and co-produced by long time EL-P collaborator Wilder Zoby (Run the Jewels, Roma) for the new film starring Tom Hardy as the infamous gangster Al Capone. This marks the first complete film score from EL-P since 2004’s Bomb The System, and arrives on the heels of score contributions to Fantastic 4 (for which EL-P scored the end credits, which marked the beginning of his working relationship with Capone director Josh Trank) and 2016’s Bleed For This (directed by Ben Younger) as well as contributing to the soundtrack for 2018’s Oscar winning Roma (directed by Alfonso Cuarón).

Of the score, EL-P says:

“I grew up on film scores and they’ve always been a huge influence on me and I’ve been hoping to get the time and chance to do another, so I was thrilled to do Capone. Huge thanks to Josh Trank and Tom Hardy for bringing me in and of course to Wilder Zoby who was my right hand man through the whole score. I loved helping create and getting lost in this twisted little trip in to Al’s mind.  Much of the music on this score is directly from the movie and some of it is stuff that was created for the film but didn’t survive the final cut.  I’m excited to present it to the world in this form.”

Produced by BRON Studios and recently released by Vertical Entertainment, Capone is now available anywhere you can buy or rent movies, including, but not limited to, Apple TV, iTunes (where it hit #1 on the US and Canada new movie charts), Amazon, Google Play, FandangoNow, and Vudu.

Once a ruthless businessman and bootlegger who ruled Chicago with an iron fist, Alfonse Capone was the most infamous and feared gangster of American lore. At the age of 47, following nearly a decade of imprisonment, dementia rots Alfonse’s mind and his past becomes present. Harrowing memories of his violent and brutal origins melt into his waking life. As he spends his final year surrounded by family with the FBI lying in wait, this ailing patriarch struggles to place the memory of the location of millions of dollars he hid away on his property.

CAPONE (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SCORE)

TRACKLISTING –

1.                Italy theme

2.                something in the hall

3.                by car and by boat

4.                intruders

5.                we don’t use that name around here

6.                walking in to a dream

7.                give it up for Al

8.                mama’s hurt

9.                still a family…assassin!

10.             you’re a good man, Al

11.             Al hell breaks loose

12.             back from hell

13.             this is Al thats left (end credits)

Remember you’ll be able to pick up the soundtrack for Capone starting May 29th, 2020. Until then, let me know what you think about the film in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Soundtrack Review: The Painter and the Thief (2020)

Today Milan Records released the official soundtrack for The Painter and the Thief, with music composed by Uno Helmersson. The Painter and the Thief tells the story of a Czech artist, who, desperate for answers about the theft of her 2 paintings, seeks out and befriends the career criminal who stole them. After inviting her thief to sit for a portrait, the two form an improbable relationship and an inextricable bond that will forever link these lonely souls.

Uno Helmersson is an award-winning Swedish composer and a multi-instrumentalist whose credits include the worldwide hit TV series The Bridge, broadcast in more than 100 territories and for which he was awarded a Golden FIPA. Other major credits include the Emmy winning Armadillo documentary series following a group of Danish soldiers for 6 months in Afghanistan; Magnus, about the life of Norway’s Mozart of Chess directed by Benjamin Ree for Norway’s Moskus Film; Susanne Bier’s A Second Chance, additional score; Mikkei Norgaard’s The Absent One; and Zentropa’s Department Q film series.

Of the soundtrack, composer Uno Helmersson says:

“I am really happy with the music for The Painter and the Thief. I think that it is by all means emphasizing the uniqueness in this beautiful and unexpected story. Working with Benjamin Ree has been a true pleasure. With his enormous trust in the process of creating narration and his trust in my music, we have had a creative collaboration on my music for The Painter and the Thief. This film is truly a piece of art.”

Given that this documentary is about an artist who becomes friends with the thief who stole her paintings, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I sat down to listen to this soundtrack. While I rarely hear a soundtrack I don’t like, I still don’t listen to that many documentary soundtracks. That being said….the music for The Painter and the Thief surprised me in a way I wasn’t expecting. See, for the most part, the soundtrack is what you would expect from a documentary: soft, gentle tones that come across as thoughtful, polite, enough to fill the background but not dominate the action. Then came the track “Finding the Swans” and everything changed. This piece is loud, frenetic, and completely different from the rest of the soundtrack. I’m not sure of the context of this piece but it was a welcome diversion from the norm.

And then there’s “The Exhibition”, the final entry in the soundtrack. I think I may have liked this piece the best, because it literally comes across as the grand finale, complete with organ music. It’s quite the payoff given how quiet most of the soundtrack is.

In conclusion, if you like listening to soundtracks, you will find the music for The Painter and the Thief enjoyable, particularly towards the end. If you’ve never heard the music of Uno Helmersson before, I think this is a fine introduction to his work.

Let me know what you think about The Painter and the Thief (and its soundtrack) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Soundtrack Review: Vivarium (2019)

Recently, I got the chance to listen to the original motion picture soundtrack for Vivarium. Described as an existential trip to suburban Hell, Vivarium follows a young couple looking for the perfect place to live. In search of their dream home, the couple find themselves trapped in a bizarre labyrinthine neighborhood of identical houses. In time, the surreal situation spirals further and further out of control. The soundtrack for this film was written by Danish composer Kristian Eidnes Andersen. He received a degree from the National Film School of Denmark, and has been sound designer on more than 80 films. As a score composer, Eidnes Andersen has credit for more than 20 titles including von Triers Antichrist, Thomas Vinterberg’s Submarino, and Per Fly’s The Woman That Dreamed About a Man.

The big thing that strikes me about Eidnes Andersen’s soundtrack for Vivarium is how the entire thing is filled with a sense of “the Other.” That is to say, you listen to this music, and it gives you chills because it doesn’t sound like anything that came from here, it is “other than” and that’s something that can instinctively set nerves on edge, which can be good if that’s the feeling a composer is going for. Given the plot of Vivarium sees a couple trapped in a simulacrum of suburbia, I think this was very much the idea the composer had in mind.

Another detail I can’t get out of my mind is how the soundtrack for Vivarium seems to just “exist.” Most of the time there’s some sense of forward motion in a soundtrack, be it plodding or breakneck speed. In Vivarium, however, the music doesn’t really move at all, it’s just floating in a bubble, perhaps further symbolizing the unnaturalness of the world that Gemma and Tom find themselves in. There are also a lot of echoes in the music that reminded me of someone making noise in an empty room. Listening to this music really gives you a sense of loneliness and emptiness, this is not happy music (but then again, this isn’t a happy story either).

The soundtrack for Vivarium is definitely out there, but that’s not a bad thing. This is an unusual story and it needed unusual music to go along with it, and as far as that goes I think Eidnes Andersen nailed it.

TRACKLISTING

01. Vivarium

02. Fire

03. Lost

04. Nest

05. Tom Died

06. Garden and the Sun

07. Gemma Dies

08. Gemma Care

09. Follow the Boy

10. The End

11. TV

Let me know what you think about the music of Vivarium in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Looking at El Camino: An Interview with Dave Porter

I recently had the opportunity to speak with composer Dave Porter about his work on El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. The movie, a direct continuation of Breaking Bad, was released on Netflix on October 11, 2019. The story follows Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) in the wake of Breaking Bad’s series finale.

Dave Porter studied classical and electronic music composition at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. He received an ASCAP Award for his work on Breaking Bad. Other composing credits include the Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul, The Blacklist, and Preacher.

How did you get started in composing for film and television?

I grew up playing piano from when I was very young; my parents both are musicians though not professionally. I was always into music and when I got into high school I started to get into the technology of the time, digital synthesizers and computers. I found all of that very inspiring. I went to a liberal arts college called Sarah Lawrence College which was near New York City and there I learned to combine the two worlds: my interest in electronic music and my interest in classical music. In addition to that I learned to love the collaboration between music and film, TV, dance, theatre, lots of other things. That’s what really sparked my interest.

What was it like to return to the world of Breaking Bad after its been off the air for seven years? Or was it not that difficult since you’ve been working on Better Call Saul since then?

When Breaking Bad ended in 2013 we had a big event at the airing of the final episode, with the cast and crew and a bunch of the fans at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. They projected [the episode] on a huge wall and it really felt at that moment like I was saying goodbye to this world. Then Better Call Saul came along, which is a prequel to Breaking Bad. At the beginning I thought “Oh, I can get right back into the same world of characters” but actually because Better Call Saul happens so far before Breaking Bad it was entirely different. It hasn’t been until recent years, when the Better Call Saul timeline has started to encroach on the Breaking Bad timeline, that the music and those worlds started to meld. So when [El Camino] came up, totally unexpected to me, I was very surprised and excited because I didn’t think I’d get to see a character like Jesse Pinkman again. I was also excited because, in the process of working on Better Call Saul, and working back up to Breaking Bad, I had gotten excited about that idea, so it was in my mind already. In some ways it was not a huge transition, because I haven’t entirely left that universe.

How connected is the sound world of El Camino to that of Breaking Bad? Are the musical themes related?

Right at the beginning of El Camino, the score could have been ripped right out of the finale of Breaking Bad. That was very much intentional to try and connect our audience back to that moment in time. From there it actually does diverge into its own thing. That’s because it is a different story and is told in a different way. It’s also a film, which allows for a different kind of score than on a television show. There’s much more of an opening expanse of time to develop cues and the score. Since we’re focusing on one character, we really get to delve into him in a way I really didn’t get to during the series. The only exception to all that is in a few flashback moments within El Camino where we are once again placing ourselves back into the original Breaking Bad timeline. In those situations I’m going back and bringing back the score I used originally in various forms. That is to say, a newly tailored version of something I had already written for Breaking Bad.

On a related note, how did you decide on THIS type of sound world for El Camino? Given the plot, I was expecting something with more action in the score, but much of this feels very laid back.

There’s two aspects to that. One, part of it is grounding the sound of the musical score in a way that is relatable to all of the other aspects of the Breaking Bad universe. That way, when an audience hears [the music] they’ll feel that connection. There’s a certain world of sounds that I use on the shows that I definitely adhere to as well in the film. I don’t use a traditional, classical, Western orchestra. There’s no oboes or solo violins in this world, which was very much by design because, in Breaking Bad, I wanted Walter White to feel very much like a fish out of water.

The other aspect of figuring out what we wanted El Camino to sound like involved talking with Vince Gilligan about what the story really was. The story of El Camino, while it has a lot of tension and fast-moving elements about it, it’s actually a very cerebral movie. It’s a movie where we spend a lot of time in one character’s head, that of Jesse Pinkman. It’s his struggle to survive and also making right the wrongs he has made the best way he can. The score really takes a macro look at the storytelling as a whole. It certainly plays into the action. For the most part, though, the role of the score is to help us be with Jesse and be deep inside where Jesse is.

What was the scoring process like for this film? What was your starting point in putting the musical themes together?

That’s a good question. I don’t always do this, but in the case of El Camino I did it very much in sequence. I started at the beginning and worked my way through it. I did that because that’s how the film was constructed. First of all I knew we were starting right as Breaking Bad ends. I knew how I wanted the beginning of the movie to feel. Then I wanted to feel my way through Jesse’s journey. I thought the best way musically to approach that and have the music remain on a trajectory across the whole film was to do it in sequence. I was afraid if I jumped around that I would lose the overhead vision of the film. I was trying to keep an eye on the larger story of the film.

About how much time did you have to put the score together?

I was fortunate to have a good block of time. Music and sound are typically one of the last things to get done on a TV or film project. That was certainly the case here. I’ve been blessed to almost always get to work with a “locked picture” on Vince Gilligan projects which means that almost every aspect of the show is complete by the time I see it. I spent around six to eight weeks on the score for El Camino. By comparison, I generally have three or four days to do the score for an episode of Better Call Saul or Breaking Bad.

Do any of the tracks correspond to specific characters?

Actually they all relate to one person, which is very different from the TV shows. Everything about the music in El Camino is focused solely on Jesse Pinkman. It is really telling his story, his physical journey. It’s also his intellectual and psychological journey from where he is at the beginning of the movie to the end of the movie where he has a glimmer of hope for the future.

What kind of instruments are used in this soundtrack? Some of the tracks sound very non-traditional. 

Good, I’m glad to hear that because that was definitely the goal. With Breaking Bad and El Camino, maybe not so much with Better Call Saul, I’m definitely spending a lot of time trying to create sounds that are new, sounds that are interesting to the ear. I create sounds that are evocative and familiar that you can’t quite place. I take a lot of interest and joy in working with sounds that are electronically created or “found sounds.” There’s also taking a recording of something else and manipulating it into something that feels organic, like something you’d hear with your own ears in the real world. That’s part of the goal and what I’ve always wished for on these Vince Gilligan projects.

There were a lot of live performances [for this music]. One of the beauties of working on the film as opposed to the TV show is that I had the luxury of a lot more time. In that time I was able to record a lot of musicians and spend a lot more time recording myself playing instruments that found their way into the score of the film. There’s a lot of interesting instruments in use, including some non-traditional stuff in terms of the percussion and world instruments. Almost everything I do I’m later processing with various computer and synthesizer elements to blur the lines between real, organic instruments and what is synthetically created.

Do you have a favorite part of the soundtrack?

Yes, there are a few moments that I love and I’ll give you a Top 3. There’s some music right after Jesse learns the fate of Walter White over the radio and he’s thinking about his next move. A second moment would be a piece where Jesse sneaks back into his childhood home. These are all things where Jesse is being forced to deal emotionally with things he would rather not. And the third moment was one of the hardest pieces to write by far, which is the very end of the film. I love how we worked to tie together all the emotion from Jesse’s journey in as few notes as possible and then leave the audience with silence at the end of the film-as we have so often in the Breaking Bad universe-leaving it open for the viewer.

When you started Breaking Bad, did you ever think it would come to all this?

Definitely not. When we began Breaking Bad, I knew I was blessed to be a part of something very special when I saw the pilot episode. It was unlike anything else that was on TV at the time. Twelve years later…to imagine that I still get to work not only with Vince Gilligan but so many of the wonderful people who have been part of that world for this long. This is something I’m so grateful for and I never could have imagined it.

My thanks to Dave Porter for taking the time to talk about his work on El Camino. You can find Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul readily available on DVD while El Camino remains available on Netflix.

See also:

Composer Interviews

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My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life (2009)

My journey through the Pokémon films continues with Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life, the 12th film in the series. This movie concludes a story arc that began in Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai. The story follows Ash, Dawn and Brock as they arrive at the town of Michina, where strange events are taking place. In the distant past, Arceus, a legendary Pokémon with the power to create worlds, lent some of his power to revive the land Michina is built on in the form of the Jewel of Life. But when the time came to return the jewel, Arceus was betrayed, the jewel withheld. Now, thousands of years later, Arceus has returned to judge humans for their betrayal. But once again, things are not as they seem and it is up to Ash and his friends to uncover the truth.

Going in, I could’ve sworn that I never saw this particular film before. But as the story played out, it dawned on me that I remembered certain parts, so while I don’t remember the exact date, it seems I have seen Arceus and the Jewel of Life before, so it was great to revisit the story a number of years later.

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It was fascinating to see how Arceus and the Jewel of Life ties The Rise of Darkrai and Giratina & the Sky Warrior together. The film’s explanation that it was Arceus awakening that set everything into motion makes sense and it answers a question I hadn’t even thought to ask while watching The Rise of Darkrai, which was WHY had Dialga and Palkia encountered each other in the first place?

Once again, the plot of this film reminded me of a previous Pokémon film, in this case the story reminded me in part of Lucario and the Mystery of Mew. Like that film, Arceus and the Jewel of Life requires our heroes to find out the truth of what happened in the distant past. Unlike the Lucario story, Ash and company actually get to travel back to the distant past with the help of Dialga. And this is where I have my one big problem with this film. As you might expect, Ash and his friends succeed in changing the past and returning the Jewel of Life to Arceus, who gratefully leaves. But when everyone returns to the present…not only is Arceus still there, he’s still angry and fighting everyone. This makes NO sense to me. The general rule about time travel is if you change the past, you change the future at the same time. By returning the Jewel of Life to Arceus in the past, there would’ve been no reason for Arceus to be there in the present, so he should’ve been gone when Ash and his friends returned. I understand there needs to be a dramatic climax but this went way over the line of believability in my opinion.

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I also have to say, I really like how the designs of Arceus, Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina complement each other. When all four are together, you can tell they kind of belong to the same “family” of Pokémon creatures. I mention that because I think it’s a really cool example of attention to detail.

Once again, I finished a Pokémon film that I really liked by the time it was over. Arceus and the Jewel of Life is definitely one of the better films in the series, and it caps off an excellent story arc. Definitely watch this one if you get the chance (but make sure you watch the others first for full effect).

Let me know what you think about Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Pokemon-The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back (1998)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: The Movie 2000 (1999)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon 3: The Movie: Entei – Spell of the Unown (2000)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon 4Ever- Celebi – Voice of the Forest (2001)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias (2002)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Jirachi—Wish Maker (2003)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew (2005)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea (2006)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai (2007)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Giratina & the Sky Warrior (2008)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

Animated Film Reviews

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Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook