...or so I'm ready to argue as a 30 year devotee of this sorely under appreciated genre. So, in an effort to do my part, each week I'll be making recommendations of soundtracks current and vintage, make a fuss over long awaited soundtrack scores finally getting a well deserved release, and in general, make some noise about this often overlooked category. Beyond my long experience as a listener and as a pianist and songwriter, both of which I've put to use in writing a quarterly soundtrack column for the Chicago Tribune, I can only offer my recommendations. You'll discern my taste soon enough and upfront I'd like to make it clear that I'll focus most heavily on SCORE soundtracks. In the end, all criticism is subjective but if I can point a listener toward a little heard soundtrack or strongly advise you to either ORDER IMMEDIATELY or SKIP ALTOGETHER, all the better.
The Oscar nominations are out and though I'm REALLY irritated that Jonny Greenwood's amazing score for There Will Be Blood didn't make the cut (because it wasn't totally written for the film - insert RASPBERRY HERE) and I also think Alexandre Desplat got dissed. Both his scores for The Golden Compass and Lust, Caution were certainly worthy of consideration.
Fans of Desplat's collaboration last year with classical pianist Lang Lang on The Painted Veil will be reminded of that gentle score when they give a listen to the soundtrack from Lust, Caution. The piano-based score that Desplat composed for Ang Lee's terrifically entertaining story of romantic intrigue and espionage is sure to also find a devoted following. His main melody for the score, "Wong Chia Che's Theme," is repeated many times throughout the disc. Delicate and wistful (like the best of Desplat's melodies), this theme is entrancing on the piano and equally enthralling given the full orchestral treatment.
I have yet to encounter one of Desplat's scores (from Girl with a Pearl Earring to The Queen) that I haven't fallen for big time and here is another winner. Desplat's musical signatures are instantly recognizable and, as I've written before, his fragile music just shimmers. Sometimes in the car, particularly on a long trip, I put all his score soundtracks on, one after the other, and listen to them end to end. Desplat's music is the essence of tranquility and delicacy. Lust, Caution is a scintillating addition to his canon.