| You scored as Batman, the Dark Knight. As the Dark Knight of Gotham, Batman is a vigilante who deals out his own brand of justice to the criminals and corrupt of the city. He follows his own code and is often misunderstood. He has few friends or allies, but finds comfort in his cause.|
Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
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Somehow, a very bored Raz talked me into seeing Shopgirl. I have to say that I did find myself enjoying the film. While its basic template is that of a romantic comedy, it is actually much deeper and probing than that. It is a film about contrasts, and it is nice to see that it never goes the easy route; there are no contrived situations here, everything moves naturally and flows. The movie is a little slow, but it looks and sounds so beautiful that I never really minded.
The performances are excellent. I never really took Claire Danes that seriously as an actress, but I'm not saying shit about her now. Steve Martin uses his cuddly screen image to excellent use in a role that is in many ways a reversal of the type of thing he usually does. Jason Schwartzman, however, steals the film. His story is often used to punctuate the main plot, but whenever he appears the movie takes a much lighter tone and prevents it from becoming maudlin. Sam Bottoms and Rebecca Pidgeon have very small roles, making one wonder if director Anand Tucker pared down a lot of material from Martin's script. The film pokes a bit of fun at its stars by having a scene in which two characters shop for DVDs; My So-Called Life and Saturday Night Live are two of the titles that appear in the shot.
The film is a visual and aural feast. Peter Suchitzky's handsome widescreen photography showcases some sumptuous work by production designer William Arnold and costume designer Nancy Steiner. Barrington Phelong, who scored the Inspector Morse TV series, Truly, Madly, Deeply and Nostradamus outdoes himself with this gorgeous score.
Ultimately, the film is nothing special, but decent enough. It does go on way too long, but the production is very classy.
I just caught up with Wendy Carlos' Digital Moonscapes album. This is apparently the next step in a phase of her work of which Tron is perhaps the most prominent, the combination/blurring of the acoustic and electronic soundworlds. From a production standpoint alone, the music is interesting, but Carlos brings the same sense of exploration to the compositions that she did with Tron, and some of these tracks are very moving.
The score for Tron is something that I've grown to appreciate a lot more over time. The flirtations with tonality that one hears in this film I find fascinating now, but it was something I had to grow into. Carlos' compositional style was so in tune with her electronic manipulations, so while the actual electronic sounds one hears in the score are dated, it sounds perfect in context; there's just no other way that music like that can sound. A perfect example of this is the bonus track on the CD, "Break-In (For Strings, Flutes and Celeste)," which is one of the few completely acoustic cues in the film, but the orchestra is emulating some of the techniques that will become part of the language of the score in the digital world. I also like her self-reflective use of the pipe organ - essentially the first synthesizer.
While her music for the lightcycles sequence and part of the end credits were not used in the film, for the most part this stands as being one of the few times her work was represented in the film as she intended. Stanley Kubrick was notorious for falling in love with his temporary tracks, and so even though she composed entire scores for A Clockwork Orange and The Shining, only bits and pieces were released on those respective soundtrack albums (I am not questioning Kubrick's musical choices, particularly not in the case of A Clockwork Orange, I am only pointing out that what one hears in the film and on record is only a fraction of what she did for them).
Her website is really interesting, too. Check out the section on quad and surround, she built some interesting equipment, and also her tribute to Robert Moog, who was a pioneer in synthesizer technology. Her first record, the ground-breaking Switched on Bach, was essentially a demo for the end result.
Interesting trivia: The Warner Brothers' Clockwork Orange soundtrack is the only in print album to credit "Walter Carlos." If you don't know what I'm talking about, I'm not going to rehash it here, but I'll let her speak for herself on the topic.