Tag Archives: film score

Fragments of The Wolf: The Music of Red Riding Hood

Oh Red Riding Hood. There was so much potential there. You have a great cast that features Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, and a couple of young hotties that include the son of Jeremy Irons. You have that whole fairy-tale period-piece feel to you (though exactly what period, and where, are you supposed to take place? This is neither verbally mentioned nor evident in the scenery. Did you blow all the budget on catering and forget to hire a historian to glance over the script?) And let’s not forget what’s best of all: you’re one of the most interesting of the “traditional” fairy tales that we all know and love. On the surface it’s a simple story about minding your parents and not being thrown off your chosen path by strangers. However, at its heart Little Red Riding Hood is sexual, bloody, and disturbing (as are many of the original fairy tales before they were relegated to the realm of “children’s stories”). So Catherine Hardwicke had a lot to work with coming into this horror-tinged remake. And yet, somewhere along the line, it didn’t quite live up to its promise.

Perhaps it was my fault for expecting too much. When I hear that Gary Oldman is in a remake of one of my favourite fairy tales, I expect quality across the board. And to be fair, there were good things to be found. The snowy setting was a nice touch that helped make the red riding hood a visual star of its own. There were a couple of honest-to-goodness seat-jumping parts, which is always delicious in such a film. And the music was quite good (see the videos below). But overall it was cheesy, so terribly, terribly cheesy. I can enjoy a cheesy film when I’m prepared for it. But when I’m looking for a romantic horror along the lines of Bram Stoker’s Dracula or Interview with the Vampire, cheesy is disappointing. As I watched Red Riding Hood I discovered that I was straining to force myself to enjoy it more than I actually was. Once I realized that it just wasn’t going to be the film that I had hoped, I was able to let go and enjoy what was onscreen. Such as the soundtrack to the film, of which I am sharing my top three songs.

1.) Brian Reitzell – Towers of the Void

You might recognize Brian Reitzell as the guy who did the music for several Sofia Coppola films. I’ll give Catherine Hardwicke credit for having a good ear when it comes to her movies’ soundtracks, as Brian Reitzell is an excellent if underused choice in the movie biz. In regards to Red Riding Hood, while the rest of the score worked well enough with the film, this is the only track that I find myself wanting to listen to without the visuals. It’s eerie and cold, and the delicate reverberations of the strings remind me of melting droplets of snow falling from branch to ground. Very appropriate for a desolate mountain fairy tale.

2.) Fever Ray – The Wolf

Ooooo, I’d been waiting for this track for months! I looked for it as soon as the first trailers ran for this movie last winter, but sadly it was not available at the time. Now, however, we finally have it! This song speaks to what I wanted this film to be: raw, animalistic, sexual, powerful, and dark. Sadly, not even the scene in which it was utilized provided even half of that. (Pig masks, why did it have to be pig masks?!?) Still, I get shivers whenever I hear it. If nothing else came from this film but this song, I would still be a happy bunny.

3.) Alex Gonzalez & Brian Reitzell – Just a Fragment of You

The other Fever Ray song used in the film was good, but as soon as I saw that Alex Gonzalez of M83 worked on this track, I knew it was a winner. To be fair, I adore M83, as they gave me one of my top albums of all time (otherwise known as one of my “desert island albums” [Saturdays = Youth, for the curious]) so I was biased going in. But I think that even the uninitiated will find something beautiful and special in this track. It takes the eerie coldness from the first track that I shared and softens it, stretches it like taffy into a dream-like state of bliss. Like all the best ethereal music, I feel as though I could swim in an ocean of this sound. It’s gorgeous, and a surprising bonus gem from this film’s soundtrack.

So there you have it, dear reader. Personally I dislike movie reviews in which I am told which films to see and which films to skip. There is merit in this one, just as there is merit in pretty much any film. See it if you wish, and perhaps if you are forewarned of the impending cheese you will enjoy it even more than I was able to. Had I known then what I know now… Ah well, at least there are some kick-ass songs to take away from the experience.

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Oscar Special Part II: Holy Crap, Mr. Self Destruct Won An Oscar

Remember the guy who gave high school kids everywhere cause to shout, “I wanna f*** you like an animal?” Remember that he used to scream into a microphone from a cage while covered in dirt? That goth guy that you thought was super hot but made your mom wince whenever you watched MTV? That guy just won an Oscar.

 

"How many f-bombs can I sneak into 'The Social Network?'"

 

Not to say that this is the first time that the glitz and glamor of Hollywood has transformed a rock star into a “score composer.” Danny Elfman was once the eccentric lead singer of Oingo Boingo who sang about weird science, tender lumplings, and dead men’s parties. Now he’s “Oscar nominated composer Danny Elfman,” thanks in no small part to Tim Burton recognizing his genius early on, plucking him out of eighties new wave obscurity, and handing him a set of keys to his creepily fantastical film empire. These days Elfman is so prolific that you’d be hard pressed not to hear his work in at least one or two films every year, no matter what movie genres you prefer. And yet, even with numerous other awards and four nominations under his belt, that precious Oscar has eluded him.

Not so with Trent Reznor, aka the bleeding heart and blackened soul of the industrial band Nine Inch Nails. As of last night he has one of those precious golden statues to adorn his bathroom, and it all happened so (seemingly) quickly! True, he has flirted with the film industry in the past, having produced the soundtracks for both Natural Born Killers and Lost Highway as well as providing Nine Inch Nails songs for both albums in the nineties. Then in 2004 he was credited as a musical consultant for the film Man On Fire. Otherwise, he seems to be relatively disconnected to Hollywood, and certainly to the world of film scores. In 2001 he was asked to score the icky Robin Williams movie One Hour Photo, but the music didn’t work with the film and ended up instead on the limited edition Nine Inch Nails album Still. Fast forward to 2010: Trent Reznor collaborates with Brit buddy Atticus Ross (who has been listed as a producer and/or programmer on the four most recent NIN albums) on the score to The Social Network, and they strike Oscar pay dirt.

 

One of these guys wrote "March of the Pigs," can you guess which one?

 

It was pretty inspiring, in my opinion, and more than a little poetic. Trent Reznor has been a strong supporter of connecting to his fans online and using the internet to distribute music, and he continues to explore the best ways to utilize the medium (as opposed to those artists who have balked at the idea or even gone so far as to try to halt the natural evolution of music *cough*Metallica*cough*). Then he wins praise and distinguished awards for making music for a film about the internet and social networking. That’s kind of brilliant. Sure, I wish he’d worn something slightly more badass to the Academy Awards than the usual black and white tuxedo. I mean, when Coraline was up for an Oscar, Neil Gaiman commissioned Kambriel to design a cool gothy tux to wear to the ceremony, complete with Coraline-esque buttons on the jacket. Classy and spooky are not mutually exclusive terms!

 

More like this, please. Me-ow!

 

Even so, I’m proud of the ol’ boy. He accepted his award with eloquence and humble dignity. In years past he has seemed less than impressed with all things Hollywood-related (see his video for “StarF**kers Inc.” and note that he even steals the “Courtney Love” figure’s Oscar) but I hope that Trent has no inner conflict within himself. If anything he has proven that we all have the potential to do vastly different yet equally extraordinary things with our lives. And so, for old time’s sake, here’s Trent in concert circa ’94 as part of Nine Inch Nails, doing what we first loved him for doing:

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