Tag Archives: Matthew McConaughey

Daniel Pemberton talks Gold (2016)

Gold is a 2016 American crime drama film loosely based on a true story about a fraudulent gold mine established in Indonesia and the aftermath when the fraud is uncovered. The film was directed by Stephen Gaghan and stars Matthew McConaughey, Édgar Ramírez, and Bryce Dallas Howard. The musical score for Gold was composed by Daniel Pemberton (Steve Jobs, The Man from U.N.C.L.E) and in this video Pemberton talks at length about how he got started with creating the music for this film.


Daniel Pemberton explains that his initial concept for the score was the sound of bells (which in themselves can create a myriad of sounds). What fascinated me about Pemberton’s approach to the score is the way he incorporated the sound of the New York Stock Exchange opening bell into the music. That sound is, as Pemberton puts it, the essence of capitalism and greed, which makes it perfect for the score. What’s also interesting is the way the composer manipulates the sound of the stock exchange bell. By altering the sound, the composer can create entirely different effects and meanings. This is one of the reasons Daniel Pemberton is quickly becoming one of my favorite film composers, he can take unusual sounds and instruments and fully incorporate them into the score (and you’d never know unless he told you).

Let me know what you think about Gold and Daniel Pemberton’s interview in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Daniel Pemberton talks The Man from U.N.C.L.E (2015)

Daniel Pemberton talks Steve Jobs (2015)

Daniel Pemberton talks King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

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My thoughts on: Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

So on Saturday afternoon I finally got to see Kubo and the Two Strings and wow! Oh.my.gosh. This film is AMAZING!! It deserves every ounce of praise that it is getting and is easily the best film I have seen this year, period. I can’t sing the praises of the stop-motion animation enough, this film takes the genre to an entirely different level. In fact, the stop-motion was so fluid that for 90% of the film, I forgot that this was stop-motion entirely (there are a handful of moments where you can see the tell-tale signs that the figures are being manipulated, but I’m not really complaining).


As for the story, oh wow, talk about a roller coaster ride! This story had more than it’s fair share of highs and lows. The film stars Art Parkinson as Kubo, Charlize Theron as Monkey (Kubo’s protector), and Matthew McConaughey as Beetle, a strange warrior-beetle…thing. The film has a heavy emphasis on dealing with loss, the power of memories and the meaning of family. The main villain of this film is the mysterious Moon King, an otherworldly figure that is after Kubo for the most dastardly of reasons (and when the full reason is explained, I gasped in horror). To try and stop the Moon King, Kubo embarks on a journey to find a legendary suit of armor and a sword that is said to be powerful enough to defeat him.

But we don’t meet the Moon King until well into the film; first we meet two of his daughters (and I don’t believe they have any specific name) and they are, by far, two of the scariest characters I’ve seen in a long time. In fact…

*minor spoilers*

The Moon King’s daughters remind me very much of V from V for Vendetta because they both wear these smiling masks (that make them look really creepy) and they wear long black cloaks with wide-brimmed black hats. Every time I saw them, I had the nagging sensation that they looked familiar, but it wasn’t until I got home that I made the connection. I’m not saying it’s bad that they resemble V, just pointing out the similarity.


Monkey (Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey) are hilarious, especially when they’re interacting with each other. And of course, Kubo himself is the best character in the film; he cares for his mother, he takes on this massive quest and…. *minor spoiler* he learns to use magic.

Traditional Japanese music is front and center in this film and that is something that I love! A lot of the music is generated in-story by the shamisen that belongs to Kubo and his mother. A shamisen is a traditional Japanese instrument that has three strings and is played with a plectrum (think of a really large guitar pick). As a film music scholar, I’m so pleased to see a film with non-orchestral music, as that is a rare thing these days.


A Japanese noblewoman with a shamisen

In conclusion, Kubo and the Two Strings is an amazing film (I keep saying that but it’s true!) that everyone should go see. After the less than stellar sequels, prequels and remakes offered this summer, Kubo and the Two Strings is a breath of fresh air. 🙂

See also:

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See also: Animated Film Reviews

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Interstellar “No Time for Caution”

Like many, I watched enthralled when Interstellar (2014) came out into theaters. Even before I first saw the film, I’d heard that there were some fairly intense musical sequences. But nothing, absolutely NOTHING could prepare me for the sequence known as “No time for caution.” To briefly sum up how the story gets to this point: Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is put in charge of a mission to scout three planets to see if one of them is capable of supporting the human race in place of the dying Earth. One planet has already been proven unviable, the third is too far away, and the second planet was claimed (falsely) by Dr. Mann (Matt Damon) to be a viable place to live (frigid conditions notwithstanding).


Dr. Mann claimed that there was water located deep under the surface. Cooper discovered this was a lie and after surviving a murder attempt, Cooper and Brand (Anne Hathaway) chase after Dr. Mann who is making his way to the spaceship Endurance without them. Insane after years of isolation, Dr. Mann has convinced himself that he can somehow control the Endurance and take it back to Earth. In his rush to board, Mann ignores the fact that his ship is docked improperly, meaning the hatch seal is not stable. When the door seal is forced to open anyway, Mann is blown out of the ship into space and Endurance is sent spinning out of control. If Cooper and Brand can’t dock and stabilize the ship, humanity is doomed.

This is where the cue begins. There is a long high pitched drone immediately after the explosion (as Cooper and Brand watch in shock as Endurance begins to spin wildly). Then a strong drumbeat sets in as Cooper makes his decision. He orders TARS (a robot) to analyze the Endurance’s rate of spin (to help with docking). And when Brand asks the fateful question “Cooper what are you doing?” The only answer is “Docking.” This one word sets off the next stage of the cue in a revolving spiral of theme and variation.

In fact, I listened to this cue over and over and it finally hit me, that composer Hans Zimmer used a Baroque form called passacaglia when he put this cue together. A passacaglia is a musical form based on a repeating melody in the bass line. As you listen to the cue, listen closely to the primary melody (which launches around 0:44, 0:45 in the soundtrack version) and hear how it continues, leaping from instrument to instrument for most of the piece.

I hope you enjoy “No Time for Caution” as much as I do. Please comment if you liked it (or even if you didn’t).

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See also: Film Soundtracks A-W

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Hans Zimmer talks Interstellar (2014)


Question, who watched Interstellar when it came out? *hand shoots up* Who thought it was awesome? *hand shoots up again* Who freaked out when Matt Damon accidentally blew himself out of an airlock into the void of space never to be seen again? (I liked this movie, can you tell?)

Hans Zimmer talks Interstellar (2014)

The plot of Interstellar is rather complicated at certain points but the main gist is as follows: in the future (no year is ever specified), the Earth has suffered from a string of blights that has rendered most crops ungrowable. When the film opens, corn is the major food supply of the world and even that is quickly growing vulnerable. As a result, the world has suffered a major technological regression.


There appears to be no TV, no Internet, no advanced medical equipment (it is openly stated that MRI machines are not available anymore), and man’s great technological achievements (such as landing on the Moon) are regarded as mere propaganda, not historical fact. To put it bluntly, the Earth is one generation away from being uninhabitable and it will mean the extinction of the human race…unless we can find a new home, and the story continues from there. (I will have to write about this movie in full some time in the future).


The score of this magnificent film was composed by film music giant Hans Zimmer (born 1957). Zimmer is responsible for such great scores as: The Last Samurai (2003), The Lion King (1994), Gladiator (2000), The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005-2012) and Inception (2010) (and these are just a few, he’s a prolific composer).

In this interview, Hans Zimmer talks about how he developed the score for Interstellar, including how they decided to use an organ. Please watch and enjoy.

See also:

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

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