Beginning tonight, one of South Florida’s bold little indie cinemas will recognize Memorial Day weekend with a mini film festival of war-related films. O Cinema will host screenings for Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket and Kathryn Bigelow’s the Hurt Locker. Each screens one night, beginning this Friday and continuing through the weekend. The capper, however, arrives Monday with the epic battle for Middle Earth: the Peter Jackson’s entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy— the extended editions (that’s over 11 hours).

The weekend starts with Inglourious Basterds. I spent 2010 bitching at the lack of recognition for this film during Oscar® season. There are just too many good scenes and set pieces to single out one, so here’s its trailer:

Stanley Kubrick’s film screens the following day. What to say about Kubrick (my MA thesis subject, by the way)? He is a true master, and the effort he puts into every second of his movies shows. He does not waste a single frame. Though Full Metal Jacket is typical Kubrickian perfection, as a student of Jung, I do have a favorite scene. After Private Joker (Matthew Modine)  explains “Born to Kill” and a peace sign drawn on his helmet as a reference to “The duality man” to a questioning colonel (Bruce Boa: “What is that? Some sort of sick joke?), the colonel gives a pregnant pause and delivers one of the best lines in the movie:

As for the Hurt Locker, It won the Oscar® over Avatar for best picture, but barely anyone saw it. No one should doubt the skills of director Bigelow, and this movie, too, should not be missed as a great example of the modern war film. Early in the film she sets the intense tone with this scene featuring Guy Pearce as part of a bomb disposal team:

Monday will be something for the serious film nerd. There are epic battles galore (of course including the one between and that great creature of the underworld noted in the title of this post and Gandalf [Ian McKellen]). However, the film is filled with many great human moments thanks to the talent of the actors and Jackson’s patience in leading up to the action sequences. One of my favorite interactions comes early in the trilogy when Gandalf visits the hobbit Bilbo (Ian Holm) about the ring of power.

See O Cinema’s schedule of events for individual tickets. All current and former military personnel will be treated to a free beer and a small popcorn during the weekend films.

Hans Morgenstern

(Copyright 2012 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

2010 in review

January 3, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The average container ship can carry about 4,500 containers. This blog was viewed about 20,000 times in 2010. If each view were a shipping container, your blog would have filled about 4 fully loaded ships.

 

In 2010, there were 79 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 103 posts. There were 267 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 190mb. That’s about 5 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was April 30th with 412 views. The most popular post that day was From the archives: Tony Levin interview 2003, Part 1 of 3: on Peter Gabriel.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were forum.dvdtalk.com, dgmlive.com, ideensynthese.de, facebook.com, and squidoo.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for thin white duke, melanie gabriel, david bowie 2010, ben bridwell, and tony levin.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

From the archives: Tony Levin interview 2003, Part 1 of 3: on Peter Gabriel April 2010
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2

David Bowie’s Station to Station to be reissued in fancy 9-disc package July 2010
4 comments

3

Brian Eno and the Lovely Bones February 2010
12 comments

4

Advance copies for Bowie’s Station to Station features DVD-A August 2010
7 comments

5

From the archives: Tony Levin interview 2003, Part 2 of 3: on tour with Peter Gabriel April 2010
2 comments

Thanks to all for the support. I couldn’t have kept this blog without you! A special thanks to my wife Ana who pushed me to start this thing in the first place.

I had no idea Brian Eno composed the soundtrack to the Lovely Bones when I bought my ticket to see the movie last week. During the montage that sets the story up, it was one Eno piece after another, and I could not help but be surprised by the drama I never heard in the music. Though the film has not been received favorably*, I think the creative use of Eno’s music, more known for its unobtrusive ambient qualities, deserves some credit for adding to the dramatic power of the film.

Readers wary of spoilers should be forewarned, this close look at the use of Eno’s music in the Lovely Bones will lead to certain key revelations in plot points.

In an interview by Sheila Roberts, Peter Jackson, director of the Lovely Bones, reveals that an idea to license a couple of Eno songs for a period soundtrack lead to something much grander when Eno offered his services to score the film instead. “He said to us, have you got a composer to do the soundtrack? And we said no, not really … and then he said he would be really interested in doing it. If we wanted to go that way, he sort of volunteered, which was amazing to us.”

eno - Taking Tiger MountainNot only did Eno offer his services as a composer, but he allowed Jackson to chop up his music, which included some of his long-existing 70s-era work in addition to lengthy, original compositions he put together based on concept sketches Jackson shared with him (again, see interview). “It was a completely different way to how we’ve ever worked with a composer before,” Jackson said. “But, for this particular movie, both the sound and the style of working really ended up suiting the film great.”

Eno’s gracious gesture to allow the filmmaker to edit the music indeed adds a deeper dimension to the compatibility of music and mise-en-scene in the movie. I found the empowerment of the director to manipulate the music as he saw fit to the drama added to the impact of the scenes featuring music.

Recognizing Eno originals at the beginning of the movie made for a fun sequence setting up Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan)’s personality. Jackson utilizes the sporadic, minimal piano melody of “1/1” from 1978’s Ambient 1: Music for Airports during the scene when a very young Susie (Saoirse Ronan) wistfully stares at a penguin figurine “living” inside a snow globe. Then there was the scene featuring the throbbing bass line and the harsh driving guitar strums of “Third Uncle” from 1974’s Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) when Susie saves her brother from choking by taking him in the family car to the hospital.

Those sequences were a fine and entertaining contrast to the music, which hinted at the dramatic potential in Eno’s established works, but the real powerful uses of Eno’s music would come later in the film. Interestingly enough both of these moments featured songs Jackson had intended to use on the soundtrack before contacting Eno. “There were two or three of Brian Eno’s existing tracks that made it onto our list,” Jackson said in the Roberts interview. “‘Babies on Fire’ (sic) was one that we always thought would be great to accompany the scene where Mack goes into the cornfield with a baseball bat. There was an instrumental that he did called ‘The Big Ship,’ which was another beautiful piece of music that we had planned on using.”Lovely Bones 3

The music of “Baby’s on Fire” from 1973’s Here Come the Warm Jets creeps up on you during the scene Jackson mentions featuring Mack (Mark Wahlberg) following the man he correctly suspects is his daughter’s killer (Stanley Tucci), Mr. Harvey. As Mack ducks behind trees wielding the bat, a strange buzzing can be heard on the soundtrack. It would appear sporadically, as Mack got closer and closer, until I could recognize it as the fractured guitar solo by Robert Fripp on the track. The song actually grew from the sound of insect noises to the full-on, frantic guitar part of “Baby’s on Fire,” which, knowing Eno and his “oblique” production strategies, probably came from him asking Fripp for a solo that imitates the sound of a raging fire. The scene climaxes when Mack stumbles across two teens making out, and the boy takes the bat from Mack and beats him so bad he needs to be hospitalized, all the while, the famous Fripp solo is burning across the soundtrack.

another green worldJackson uses “Big Ship” from 1975’s Another Green World (a rock album I consider one of the greatest ever composed in the history of the genre, by the way) during the climax of the movie. As Harvey tries to unload a large, heavy safe containing Susie’s bones, the community’s young resident psychic, sitting inside a shack overlooking the scene,  channels Susie as she kisses the boy who would have been Susie’s first kiss. It’s a chaotic song featuring a quiet but hyper keyboard melody that shimmers, as deep swells of synthesizers grow from soft distant whistles to what sound like deep, slow growling guitar lines (though no guitars are credited on the track, just synthesizers– man, did those early 70s synths sound other-worldly). The song truly sounds like a large ship emerging from some foggy horizon. It certainly fits the slow-motion tension underlying the scene that actually becomes an ironic moment of sentimentality. Susie forgoes the opportunity to communicate to the real world that her murderer stands just outside the shack to instead have that kiss she never had while alive.

I have heard Eno’s music in several films before the Lovely Bones, offering great surprises to hear in the dark movie theater. In Alfonso Cuaron’s Y Tu Mama Tambien, an incidental scene features “By This River” from Eno’s 1977 album Before and After Science playing on the protagonists’ car stereo. When David Bowie refused to allow Todd Haynes to use his music in his movie Velvet Goldmine, which was loosely based on Bowie’s life in the 70s, Haynes turned to Eno for some of the tracks. Still, even with Eno’s music playing a direct part of the story in Velvet Goldmine, no other movie that I have seen featuring Eno’s music has been used to greater effect than in the manner Jackson has used it in his underrated effort in the Lovely Bones.

Edit: As this is one of Independent Ethos’ most popular posts, I felt inclined to up-date this to note that the Eno fansite, Enoweb has noted his 2010 solo album Small Craft on a Milk Sea (Support the Independent Ethos, purchase on Amazon) includes some of the score he had exclusively composed for the Lovely Bones.

Hans Morgenstern

(Copyright 2011 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

*I had read the movie reviews warning of the overwrought sentimentality of the film, and after seeing the film, I feel it is a valid point. But I also feel inclined to forgive it as, well, film critics were hardly ever 14-year-old girls, and I think the “in-between” segments of the film have to be informed by the naïve mentality of a young teen girl to be believable.

(Copyright 2010 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)
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