Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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Omsay Upidstay Izzesquay

I've started to watch 24, only to find that it is a sort of all or nothing deal. The show is too tense to really support consecutive viewings unless one prepares oneself. The show is total bullshit, but it's well done total bullshit with some great retard-o-tastic flourishes. The thing is that it is so ratcheted up that if I put an episode on after work, I have to give myself a little time to calm down before I go to sleep. I may catch up with a few more over the weekend.

LiveJournal Username
Type of weapon
Secret power?
The evil villian...montyy0
The mastermind...suitboyskin
Who kidnaps you...amorpoeta
Your sidekick who should come save you is...aerolyndt
They never came,so you were saved by your secret lover...aerolyndt
Who rapes you in the middle of all this...waystone
Your final battle was with...waystone
Did you win?True
Quiz created by gothsheart2006 at BlogQuiz.Net
More Fun Quizzes at Blog Quiz!

LiveJournal Username
Real name
Who loves you?mike_kenshin
Who hates you?megthelegend
Who wants to screw you?montyy0
Who wants to bite you?satyrninus
You want to end up in bed withtmcm
The person who wants to screw yur momtmcm
Number of people who actually like you46
Do they really like you?True
Quiz created by gothsheart2006 at BlogQuiz.Net
LJ Quizzes at Blog Quiz

Your Own Little Episode of Buffy! by MorbidHamster123
Your Name
Your Favourite Season of Buffy
Your Villain of the episode is...Glory
Your Lover is...Angelus
How much you love this person:: 52%
Number of people who die:5
Will the villain or Buffy die?Buffy
weapon used:Sword
Any sex scenes?No... =(
When will this episode be aired?July 21, 2047
And in the end...It's a cut off scene with "To be Continued..."
Quiz created with MemeGen!

A Very Barry Evening

In one of those strange coincidences that sometimes happens in life, I found myself inundated with John Barry last night.

A couple of weeks ago, I found out to my delight that the soundtrack album from Zulu had been released in Europe on RPM Records in true stereo. All domestic releases of this score on vinyl and the Silva Screen CD had been in mono or electronically reprocessed stereo (yech), despite the fact that the music was recorded and dubbed into the film in stereo (and despite the fact that this was a big 70 millimeter stereo roadshow production, the current MGM DVD of the film has a mono soundtrack, which is ridiculous as it had been a public domain title in stereo for years and the European release is in stereo). I ordered the CD, but the seller took a while to get it in the mail to me, and quite a bit was happening at the time, so it slipped my mind. The CD arrived last night.

The score from Zulu is, like Jerry Goldsmith's Patton, a prime example of the power of spotting (placing music cues in the film). There is less than fifteen minutes of score in Cy Endfield's film, but what is there is incredibly potent. This is a powerhouse score, its brevity only matched by its boldness. The film itself is a factual account of the defense of Rorke's Drift from a Zulu attack in 1879, and is an incredibly well-executed picture with breathtaking Super Technirama 70 cinematography by Steven Dade. The score sounds primarily European, but the music is actually adapting actual Zulu tribal rhythms and building the orchestral thematic material on that.

The Silva release (1) and the RPM release (r)

This music is so proud, has such dignity that despite the brevity of the soundtrack album, I constantly played my Silva Screen release. Silva also recently released a new recording of the score, conducted by Nic Raine, but despite the outstanding sound quality, it lacked the punch of the original performance. I was therefore ecstatic when I put the new CD in and found that the stereo mix was as spacious and clear as the film mix was. There are some sound anomalies here and there, but this is a recording from 1963, after all. The other minor annoyance was that while it was in full stereo, the channels were swapped. This was easily remedied, however. What's cool about the stereo mix is that the separate instruments sound so much more discrete that one can make out much more detail than on the mono mix. In particular, the percussion heard whenever the main Zulu theme booms out it more apparent, and allows for the aforementioned rhythms to be more evident. It's great to hear something so familiar sounds so fresh.

Apparently, Barry would re-use his main theme from this film decades later for the Zulus in Cry the Beloved Country, a film I have not seen nor heard the score from.

Okay, I have a confession to make. I used to love this movie as a kid, and today I look at it and see all of its flaws, and it has a lot of them. The acting is mostly pretty wooden, Dr. Hans Reinhardt is one of the most obvious villains in movie history, the ending makes no fucking sense whatsoever... and yet I have to say that this movie still enthralls me. Why? Because it looks amazing. It was intended to be Disney's foray into science fiction in the wake of Star Wars, and its spare-no-expense presentation yielded a visually beautiful film. While it may be a complete failure as drama or science-fiction, as a spectacle it delivers the goods in spades. While a lot of the optical printing is really obvious and you can see the strings holding up the people and robots in many scenes, The Black Hole is one of the most visually unique films I've ever seen. Gary Nelson is listed as the director, Maximillian Schell, Ernest Borgnine, Tony Perkins and Yvette Mimeux cash their paychecks, but the real star of the film is production designer Peter Ellenshaw.

In addition to being the first PG rated film Disney had ever produced, The Black Hole also bears the distiction of being the last big special effects spectacle to be produced under the last holdout of the traditional studio system. After Star Wars changed the way special effects were done, so did it change the where the effects were created; independent companies would ever more be contracted to produce the visual effects for a film (the most prominent of these would be Industrial Light and Magic, of course, but Douglas Trumbull's Apogee and other firms began appearing at about this time as well). The effects for The Black Hole, however, were created by Disney's special effects department.

The combination of Ellenshaw's conceptual designs and the professionalism of the effects crew created some impressive and unforgettable shots. The design of the robots is arresting; despite criticisms that V.I.N.Cent and B.O.B. were R2-D2 ripoffs, I am actually of the opinion (and I was glad to learn that suitboyskin agreed with me) that the robots are actually among the strongest elements of the film, and much of the reason for that is how catchy in appearance they are. Maximillian is a particularly menacing creation, and his showdown with V.I.N.Cent avenging B.O.B. is probably the most exciting scene in the film. The use of Roddy McDowell and Slim Pickens for the robots' voices was also inspired. As suitboyskin would point out, S.T.A.R. is actually a really hilarious concept.

There are some interesting concepts in the film as well. While the characterization of a collapsar as a portal is rather silly, the ultimate horror of the haunted house that is the Cygnus is not how mad Reinhardt is, but how his thirst for glory consumes his crew's individuality. The humanoid robots are very disturbing - and as Reinhardt himself points out, they have a downright medieval appearance - yet they occupy the marvelous Cygnus perfectly.

Ah, the Cygnus. There is not one image of the Cygnus that is not beautiful, from its gorgeous silhouette its cavernous interiors. If there is one area of this film that it was at the top of its game with, it was the modelwork. The Cygnus does not look like any other movie spaceship. It consists amost entirely of windows, and intricate latticework. The idea behind the ship is that it was an expensive fiasco, so the scale of the thing is enormous and distancing. It is actually the perfect location for the horror movie that The Black Hole starts out as, and the scenes of its destruction are breathtaking.

And, if you haven't guessed at the connection between this film and Zulu yet, it is simply that John Barry composed the scores for both. There isn't much overlap between these two (Zulu is Barry writing very much in his Dances With Wolves mode, while The Black Hole is much more in the vein of his suspenseful James Bond scores), but they both share a certain stateliness as both were scores for event pictures of their era. Despite its myriad of shortcomings in other arenas, The Black Hole has a magnificent score.

The Black Hole was literally the first album I ever owned. My father bought it for me for Christmas of 1979, and I l o v e d it. I wore that album down (I still have it but it's more noise than music now, twisted and crackly). While I was already familiar with the Star Wars LP, that really belonged to my mother. This was the first record that was ever actually mine. A few years ago I bought the gray market Mask CD (the same company that put out that dubious King Kong release a few years before), and the sound is quite good for what it is - it is a carefully transferred LP rip with the stereo soundfield thankfully widened (Dan Wallin is not my favorite engineer) with a few extra tracks from somewhere else. Who knows where. The disc also had Howard the Duck on it. Weird.

Anyway, with the exception of the overture (The Black Hole and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, released the same year, were the last wide theatrical releases to be graced with an overture) and the "Laser" cues for the film's rather pedestrian laser battle sequences, this is one of Barry's most tense scores. Moments of lyrical beauty emerge here and there, but for the most part the tone stays foreboding. Of particular interest is the main title theme, which illustrates the titular singularity as a swirling string motif overlayed with a grand passage for French horn that bespeaks of its awesome power.

The French horn is one of the most prominent instruments in the score, and only Barry can do that with a snare drum. He also uses the blaster beam, which was a fad in science-fiction during the period (although the most effective use of that distinctive instrument will forever be Jerry Goldsmith's use of it to denote V'Ger in his masterpiece Star Trek: The Motion Picture, James Horner would use it in Battle Beyond the Stars, Wolfen and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan), which gives cues such as "Start the Countdown" a very idiosyncratic sound.

The only misstep is that "Laser" theme, which was clearly a case where the filmmakers were looking for something that sounded like Star Wars from a composer who doesn't really write music like that. The resulting brass theme is okay, but it doesn't really fit the rest of the score, and it doesn't really fit the film either. Now... that doesn't mean that I don't like it. I have quite a lot of nostalgic affection for this piece of music. I just don't think it sounds like Barry and wasn't this particular film, which is way too dark for such a bright-eyed brassy theme.

Having the movie for me is essential because the LP was only 35 minutes long, and there is some great unreleased music here, and since Disney are bitches about releasing catalogue items, there is little hope that there might be an expanded edition at some point (although they did allow Wendy Carlos to release her Tron soundtrack on their label). Much of the music accompanying the exploration of the Cygnus' vast corridors feature some awesome trademark Barry string and snare drum figures (think Body Heat)... and one of the climactic cues from the film, the aforementioned confrontation between Maximillian and V.I.N.Cent, is one of my favorite Barry tracks of all time and it is not included on the album.

I was therefore most pleased to have been idly glancing through the videostore yesterday, as I found that Disney has just re-released the film on DVD. The previous DVD was from Anchor Bay, and was not 16:9 enhanced; the new one is and it looks pretty good. There is some graininess here and there, but for the most part that looks like it is film grain and not video compression grain. Some of the visual effects have aged better than others, but they retain their ability to mesmerize. The sound on the new disc is outstanding, making great use of the soundfield and having some nice, rich bass. The dialogue track is a bit brittle, and there are a few moments where you hear some wow in the music, but overall it is a great aural presentation of the film.

Audrey II
Feed me! Feed me! Feed me!
Feed me, Seymour
Feed me all night long
That's right, boy
You can do it

Feed me, Seymour
Feed me all night long
'Cause if you feed me, Seymour
I can grow up big and strong

Would you like a Cadillac car?
Or a guest shot on Jack Paar?
How about a date with Hedy Lamarr?
You gonna git it.

Would you like to be a big wheel,
Dinin' out for every meal?
I'm the plant that can make it all real
You gonna git it

I'm your genie, I'm your friend
I'm your willing slave
Take a chance, just feed me and
You know the kinda eats,
The kinda red hot treats
The kinda sticky licky sweets
I crave

Come on, Seymour, don't be a putz
Trust me and your life will surely rival King Tut's
Show a little 'nitiative, work up the guts
And you'll git it

I don't know. I don't know
I have so, so many strong reservations
Should I go and perform mutilations?

Audrey II
Think about a room at the Ritz
Wrapped in velvet, covered in glitz
A little nookie gonna clean up your zits
And you'll git it

Gee I'd like a Harley machine,
Toolin' around like I was James Dean,
Makin' all the guys on the corner turn green

Audrey II
So go git it
If you wanna be profound
And you really gotta justify
Take a breath and look around
A lot of folks deserve to die

Seymour & Audrey II
If you want a rationale
It isn't very hard to see
Stop and think it over, pal
The guy sure looks like plant food to me.

He's so nasty, treatin' her rough,

Audrey II
Smackin' her around and always talkin' so tough.

Seymour & Audrey II
You/I need blood and he's got more than enough

Audrey II
So go git it!


Lester Swing will be playing tomorrow night at Kenny's Castaways on Bleecker Street.
Tags: audio, cinema, film music, john barry, memes, vinyl
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