Archive for the ‘Claire Denis’ Category

SOUNDTRACKTINDERSTICKS-Claire Denis Film Scores 1996-2009: White Material [CST077] (2009).

White Material is the most recent soundtrack that the Tindersticks created for Claire Denis.  It was recorded between their “reunion” album The Hungry Saw and their latest album Falling Down a Mountain.

This is a very moody soundtrack.  The guitars set a brisk but desperate-sounding pace.  There are feedback squalls that echo for even more tension.  The feedback could be any number of things as well: squeaky machines, industrial noise, or simply disconcerting sounds.

There is a repeated motif throughout the score that morphs and blends with the tone.  The overall feel of the soundtrack is unified but it never sounds like you’re listening to the same few notes repeated (which is actually what it is, the songs use a very limited palette).

For such a limited palette of music, they really manage to give a diverse picture of the movie.  The way “Andre’s Death” builds, using those same few notes and feedback is truly amazing.  The tension that has been building throughout the score really comes to a head in those 2 minutes.  Contrarily, the flute that plays over those same notes in “Children’s Theme 2” is a haunting exploration of the theme.

This soundtrack isn’t as industrial/weird as L’intrus, but it is probably more intense and spooky.  It’s amazing how evocative these guys are.

[READ: June 22, 2011] Merit Badges

Sarah brought this book home, but she didn’t read it.  It sounded pretty good (I mean it won the 2009 AWP Award for the Novel), so I decided to give it a go.

The book seemed strange to me in the way it was set up: it seemed to have a very specific structure but it didn’t always follow it exactly. So, there are four main protagonists who write chapters of the book.  But they don’t each get a turn, in fact one, Barbara doesn’t really have much to say until much later when her story becomes very compelling.  It also advanced over the years with no real explanation of pacing or even of when a new narrator has jumped ahead several years.

I assumed this was going to be a story of four people looking back on their high school years.  But indeed, it’s about four people looking back on their whole lives, as they grow together, drift apart, come back into each others lives and then disappear again.  In that way, it was also a bit hard to get my bearings.  It was also hard for me to keep all of the characters straight.  Because even though there are four narrators there are many many more kids introduced in the beginning of the story.

Each chapter opens by stating who the narrator is.  The first few narrators are Chimes Sanborn (Prologue), Quint (Woodwork), Slow Slocum (Cooking), Chimes (Drafting), Barb Carimona (Music), Quint (Mammals), Quint (Crime Prevention) etc.  So it’s not consistent.

But also, as you can see, all of the chapter titles are named after Merit badges (which I liked quite a bit).  The subtitle describes what you have to do to achieve the badge (and the chapter does indeed kind of work within that stricture).

So far so good, but we’re also introduced to ancillary characters who appear quite often: Dickie Burpee, Pooch Labrador, Smash Sarnia, and a psychopath named Tulep.  With all of the nicknames and rotating narrators, I admit to losing track of who was who, which I fear lessened the impact of some of the events.

Of course, that’s all structural.  And while I felt like I probably missed out on moments of impact, the overall storyline was not hard to follow.  And, indeed, complaints aside, the story was pretty intriguing.  It is set in the (fictional) small suburb of Minnisapa, Minnesota.  It feels very true to me (having lived in a small town, myself) as do the choices (bad and good) that the kids make. (more…)

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This is a charming and very French sounding soundtrack. A delightful melody runs throughout the disc (which totals just over 25 minutes).

When Sarah first heard it, she said, “What’s this French music you’re listening to?”  And indeed, it is very French-sounding. There are very simple instruments: melodica, acoustic guitars, piano.  And that melodica is a prominent sound–giving it a sense of intrigue as well as a sense of solitude (the melodica can sound so yearning).  But it’s not all melodica and intrigue; for instance, there’s some delicate xylophone on “Night Time Apartments.”

There are also several snippets from the movie online.  Here’s one clip (with Tindersticks score underneath):

Of the new soundtracks releases this one is my favorite.  And it’s one that I could see listening to for fun.

[READ: June 16, 2011] “The Rules of Engagement”

This is the final story in The Walrus‘ Summer Reading issue.  As I mentioned, the intro states: “We asked five celebrated writers to devise five guidelines for composing a short story or poem. They all traded lists–and played by the rules.”  Alexi Zenther was given rules by Sarah Selecky (which I posted below).

I really enjoyed this story, despite the immoral behavior.  Susan and her friends from high school (it’s ten years after high school now) are enjoying a foreign vacation for a week.  The first thing we see is a man seducing Susan.  They call him “Fork” because after a few hours of flirting, he asked, “And now we fork?”  Amusingly, for someone who made a living seducing women, he was bad in bed.

The other women also meet and bed these professional gigilos.  After sex, one of them simply walked over to the woman’s wallet and took money when he was ready to leave.  She notes that he took “probably less than I would have given him if he had asked.”

The women are in various stages of relationships, one woman is divorced, another is serially monogamous and a third is married (that’s the immoral part).

There’s a wonderful diversion in the story that flashes back to Susan’s grandfather Bert.  Bert had a U-pick apple stand and the girls worked there for many summers.  There’s an especially tender moment in which Susan and Bert are wandering the island and they see a wild horse.  And the scene fills Susan (and the reader) with a sense of wonder at her grandfather. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: TINDERSTICKS-Claire Denis Film Scores 1996-2009 [CST077] (2011).

Constellation Records just released a 5 disc box set of Tindersticks movie scores.  Fans of the band will know the soundtracks for Nenette et Boni and Trouble Every Day which were released years ago.  Those are included here, along with four other soundtracks (on 3 discs).  The entire set includes Nenette et Boni (1996) White Material (2009), 35 rhum (2008), Trouble Every Day (2001) and two solo soundtracks: Stuart Staples’ score for L’intrus (2004) and Dickon Hinchliffe’s score for Vendredi Soir (2002).

As with most Constellation releases, this one is packaged beautifully.  The box is lovely with an opening for the top cover to show though. Each disc gets a cardboard sleeve with a cool still from the film.  And the booklet that accompanies the set is bilingual with lots and lots of still from the films and a cool interview with Denis and members of the band.

I have never seen any of Denis’ films.  So I was confused that some of these scores were only half an hour.  I thought maybe they were short films.  But indeed they are not.  35 Shots of Rum is 100 minutes for instance, even if the soundtrack is a third of that.

I’m going to review each score shortly, but since I’ve already discussed Nenette et Boni and Trouble Every Day, I’ll just put links to them.  In the meantime, the scores are really beautiful and moving.  Tindersticks are a very cinematic band to begin with, so it’s no surprise that they would make good soundtracks.

And the booklet is really interesting, showing how the band was introudced to Denis in the first place.  She loved the music of ‘My Sister’ and asked if she could use it for a film.  They said, well, maybe we can make a soundtrack for you instead.  And they began working together.  The combination proved so successful that they have scored virtually all of her movies since.  I really must get around to watching them some day.

In the meantime, I can just imagine what they are like from the music.

Here’s the opening credits for Trouble Every Day

[READ: June 24, 2011] Five Dials: Your Valentine’s Day Card

This Five Dials special issue doesn’t appear on the Five Dials home page.  I only found it while reading their news feed.  It’s not an issue per se.  Indeed, all that this valentine’s card is is one poem from Joe Dunthorne, and a cool cover illustration from Sophia Augusta. (more…)

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