November 10th, 2005

Goldsmith (film composer)

"Even Hell has its heroes, Señor!"

When I skim through my collection looking for music to use in my mixes, or just to listen to, I sometimes think about what my 'pantheon' might be. Every fandom has a pantheon, and film music is no different, but the fact that it is an evolving art form also means that the pantheon itself within the fandom is constantly changing.

For me, composers fall into several categories. There are those whose work I absolutely love, those whose music I like very much, those whose work I am lukewarm on and there are those whose music is fine but I just don't like (Alfred Newman and Leonard Rosenman fall into this latter category; there's nothing wrong with their scores, I respect them, I just don't like them). There are some composers whose work I find very blah, but I don't really outright hate anybody's work, really. Except for Hans Zimmer and James Horner, of course. Them I loathe.

The reason for my vitriol is twofold: both of these composers had very significant and provocative beginnings, but both of them have developed a very generic approach to their projects since.

Horner leapt from several widely distributed Roger Corman films into the big leagues with Wolfen and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and once there he wrote several very vivid scores, such as Brainstorm and Krull. I loved these scores. He was young, enthusiastic... and then something happened. He kept doing the same things in similar situations in different films. He also started getting really sloppy with his... er... "borrowings." The main theme from Aliens is the Adagio from Aram Khachaturian's Gayaneh ballet suite (this music was used in 2001 for the early Discovery sequences).

Zimmer was apprenticed to Stanley Myers (The Deer Hunter), and one of the first projects he was the primary composer on was the splendid Paperhouse, which I fell in love with when I first heard it. He then came to Hollywood and did some interesting pop-oriented comedy work. He then started scoring serious works with Driving Miss Daisy (which I think is overrated) and redefining what the action film score sounded like with his slick and effective Black Rain. Unfortunately, he fell into a groove with Backdraft and, like Horner, began to write the same score for every film.

Horner bothers me, don't get me wrong, but he has also gotten much more boring over the years. His scores are moderately effective in the context of their films because they are now very ambient, which makes for some real iffy listening. Zimmer, on the other hand, continues to produce drek after drek score, and with his stable of Media Ventures or Remote Control or whatever slaves who all compose in exactly his style have made film music in general much more generic.

There are plenty of working film composers out there right now whose work is as fine examples of film music. Howard Shore, Elliot Goldenthal, James Newton Howard, Christopher Young, John Williams and many others are composing interesting scores with specific identities, so I'm not lamenting the death of film music as an art form that many people in the various internet communities are. But Zimmer and his cronies are cheapening the art form, and I feel that I am justified in being angry at them for that.

I feel that it is the promise that they both showed so early in their respective careers that makes their eventual descent into artistic mediocrity so annoying to me. If either one of them came onto the scene with the kind of "so what" scores like those that Harold Kloser has been churning out recently, then it would have just been a case of some dull composers. However, both of them were such shining stars when they first broke out. I suppose that I feel... well... either betrayed by them or hoodwinked by them. Either point of view doesn't make me feel very well disposed towards them.


I'm going to have to come up with a title for the first compilation in the projected three disc (possibly four) set of Fear! that I had discussed earlier. I am going to post the track listing as soon as I think of it, as I'm not sure when I'll be getting around to the other two/three. I may work on some other projects first.

I've noticed that I've been a lot more productive on the mix front lately than ever before. Usually there are a couple of weeks between projects, but I've just done three discs in three weeks. I'm pretty proud of myself, actually. In a very navel-gazing way, true, but still...
  • Current Music
    John Williams: Stanley and Iris
  • Tags
Conan the King (Conan the Barbarian)

A minute to learn...

I first learned Othello from my father when I was maybe eight or nine. I liked the game, but I only had my father to play against. I wasn't really forced to get good at it until high school, as a bunch of my friends, including aerolyndt, would play. They were quite good, and they forced me to get better. Over the intervening years, I've developed my skills at the game, and have played several different computer versions of the game. I have never tallied my win ratio, but it is pretty high.

I suppose that this is of little importance to anyone, but I've been playing a lot of Othello and Internet Reversi lately, so it's on my mind...

* * *

I'm preparing for a visit to see suitboyskin. A lot of Ecology to get done this weekend!
  • Current Music
    John Williams: The Eiger Sanction
  • Tags
Pai Mei (Kill Bill)

I am a leaf on the wind.

Actor Ron Glass

Has Thirty-Seven Visible Hairs
In His Left Nostril

How do I know this? Well, Raz and I decided that we wanted to see Serenity again, both of us only having seen it opening weekend. After that, of course, my grandfather's situation took most of my attention, and seeing the film again was not possible. The film was still playing at the AMC 25 on 42nd Street, a fact we discovered Monday in our roundabout path to see Capote. Unfortunately, we ended up getting to the movie late and had to sit in the front row. While the art of theatrical exhibition has gotten rather shabby in the 'burbs, in Manhattan it is still going strong, and the screens are quite large at this theater; the experience was perhaps a bit too vivid. The aforementioned nostril was the height of suitboyskin.

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The Strange Case
of the Finicky Smart Card

I had an installation today. I took the requisite equipment; that being a smartjack (how we hand the circuit off to the customer), a smart card (which goes in the smartjack) and a repeater card (which goes into the mux, and converts the light into an electrical signal that can be transmitted upstairs on copper). Being a fairly cautious guy, I also brought spare cards with me.

I got to the site and installed the circuit. When I had finished, I went to the smartjack to check out how it looked. The card had power, but it wasn't working properly. Having checked all of my facilities fully during the installation, I knew that there wasn't a problem with the mux, the house or the ties (house is the copper that runs up a building; ties are the connections between where the house terminates on each floor and the customers premises). That left the card. I took the card out and went to replace it with my spare, only to find that the spare I brought was the wrong kind of card for this type of circuit. In frustration, knowing I would have to go back to my hole and get a new card, I tossed the card that wasn't working over my shoulder. I then put all my tools back together in my toolbag in preparation for the trip back to the hole. I had to get my keys out of the smartjack (they have a lock so that only trained technicians can open them) and close it, so I picked up the card off the floor and put it back in the smartjack.

It lit up.

The circuit started behaving completely normally. I tested it extensively, and had our bureau tester do the same. There was nothing wrong with it.

I brutalized the circuit into working properly.

So, let this be a lesson to you that you can solve problems with violence.
  • Current Music
    Miles Davis: In A Silent Way
  • Tags