Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Carter Burwell Mix

My brain has been scrambled throughout this long day, so how about some music selections to change things up? I've just downloaded (for $5.99!) Carter Burwell's score for True Grit, and I feel like putting up some my favorite pieces to come out of his many contributions to the Coen Brothers' films.

The themes for Miller's Crossing and Fargo are endlessly listenable, and yet such odd pieces: quite stirring--lyrical?--and moving, they sound like they'd go well in the trailer for an uplifting Oscar-bait film, when the actual movies they belong to are decidedly off-beat and quite dark and nasty. There's undercurrents of that darkness in both pieces, which creates a juxtaposition that makes them so interesting.

"Wie Glauben" is one of the few originals contributed to the soundtrack for The Big Lebowski. It serves as the music for the German Nihilists when they've torched The Dude's car, and it is "by" them as well, belonging as they do to a Kraftwerk-styled electronica group, Autobahn and blasting the piece from their boombox in the parking lot. I know it's kind of a parody of such music, but I find it strangely compelling all the same.

The opening theme for Burn After Reading is even goofier, for, like the film it serves, it's making a lot of noise for what really is nothing at all. Music that is in itself funny--not a funny song with funny lyrics, but where the music itself elicits laughter--is hard to find, and maybe without the movie to provide context the humor of this is lost. But in any case, its over-the-top 'action-y' quality makes me smile.

The score for True Grit is based off a number of 19th century Protestant hymnals, and for this reason the Academy disqualified it from being nominated for an Oscar. Their loss. It's lovely work, and the religious inspiration meshes well with the film's redemption of Rooster Cogburn. "Little Blackie" is short and simple, a good example from a terrific score.

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