Soundtracks are a lot more than movie music...
...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.
Just time for a quick recommendation this time but it's a good one. Danny
Elfman and director Gus Van Sant have collaborated before but Elfman has
outdone himself with his impressive, string based score for Milk Van Sant's
terrific movie about slain gay rights activist Harvey Milk. The soundtrack
kicks off a quintet of choice 70s era selections and then rest of the disc is
made of up Elfman's quietly elegiac score. It's far, far away from the
spirited bombast of Elfman's collaborations with Tim Burton and it's a lovely
stand alone listening experience. Though strings predominate, Elfman
colors several of the cues with solo instruments - a gently persuasive sax on
one track, a melancholy trumpet on another. Most of the cues are quiet and
thoughtful, matching the mood of the picture but from time to time the
tempo and spirits are elevated. Don't be surprised if this moving score gets
an Oscar nod for Elfman.
Don't forget to check out previous soundtrack recommendations by visiting
Next Recommendation: TBA
The soundtrack cover and composer
Danny Elfman with director Gus Van Sant
at the film's October 28, 2008 premiere.