- DICHOTOMY REWARDS
- Last Sunday was the Academy Awards. I saw an interesting split on my Facebook news feed: half of my friends were ecstatic that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross won the Oscar for best original score for The Social Network while the other half were furious.
Now, I don't watch the Oscars anymore, and I haven't for many years, having been turned off by the tackiness and the politics. Besides, Sunday was the day that the New York Knicks triumphed over the Miami Heat with extreme prejudice, which was much more interesting to me than the industrial self-adulation of the Academy Awards.
Now, my favorite score of the year was hands-down John Powell's How To Train Your Dragon. It had all of the things I like in a film score: an epic sweep contrasted with intimacy, a plethora of themes (many of which are quite hummable) and a taut overall structure to it. I listen to the beautifully sequenced soundtrack album all the time. The Social Network is a score that I doubt I would ever really want to listen to on its own.
All that said, if I was a member of the Academy (putting aside all of the patterns and politics), I would have voted for Reznor and Ross as well.
The music of The Social Network gives the film a very unique sound, icy but energetic. It is designed to evoke the sterile emotional world of the film's subjects, and how it has colored our social interactions. How To Train Your Dragon is a great fantasy score, but it is written in a familiar idiom, while The Social Network's score is innovative as well as illustrative.
I am singling out How To Train Your Dragon because it has been a personal favorite of mine, but the same can also be said about the other nominees as well; Alexandre Desplat's The King's Speech is another relatively traditional score, A.R. Rahman's guitar-based score for 127 Hours and Hans Zimmer's thunderous Inception are also on familiar (if well-executed) territory. My favorite score of the year, an album I've listened to countless times, is not the score that advanced the art form.
Keep in mind, I'm not saying that Reznor and Ross won because they deserved to win. Reznor had a lot of celebrity going for him and a very high profile project. He'd also been kicking around Hollywood for a while and doing some very distinctive work with Oliver Stone and David Lynch, and the score really did stand out from the others. I'm sure that their win was for all of the wrong reasons. It was, however, a case where I feel that it was the right decision.
- While I have enjoyed my Samsung BD-UP5000 and its beautiful performance for about three years now, it hasn't been without its occasional hitches. One of the biggest issues was, of course, that Samsung is notoriously lackadaisical about posting firmware upgrades in general, and so for a discontinued model it was like pulling teeth. There was also a slight problem with the loading tray that I caused myself by distractedly walking into it when it was open.
I therefore determined that I would have to get a new Blu-ray player with my profit-sharing check. After much deliberation, I settled on the acclaimed Oppo BDP-93. This item appealed to me for several reasons:
- The firmware is consistently updated. This is a much quicker process than on the Samsung.
- The performance of the model has been roundly lauded. I found immediately that its mechanisms were solid and very quiet, and it was very quick to load up any media I inserted.
- In addition to playing Blu-ray discs and upconverting DVDs, it also plays Super Audio CDs and DVD-Audio discs. This allowed me to eliminate at least one DVD player from my home theater; the axe fell on the Toshiba DVD-Audio player (the Sony DVD/SACD player is a 5 disc changer, which is just too damn convenient to get rid of) as well as a plethora of wires from the back, which freed up a lot of space on my amplifier.
- The player has USB and eSATA inputs and can play back a huge array of video and audio file formats on hard or flash drives.
- The player connects to my LAN and links up with my Netflix account, and I can view their streaming content. I had started availing myself of Netflix streaming when my desktop computer was hooked up to the television, so this is very convenient, especially for television series. Several selections are in HD as well (albeit only in stereo at present).
- Sunday was a major milestone for The Early Mixes. It was the first time that I took all of the individual scenes and bridged them together on the timeline. There is still a lot more work to do on the film; the sound mix is rough in spots, we have more music to license and we have to record the score, but for the first time, the film has a beginning, a middle and (most of the) end.
Last week we licensed our first song, "All My Life" by Leroy Justice.
TOYS IN THE STATIC