August 20, 2008

Chorus Choices

Continuing in the vein of relating music with film and writing, a word about choruses in film scores. A hobby of mine is surfing for the skinny on the latest soundtracks and whether they're really worth buying or just rehashed bits of oldie scores.

For some reason the review of the Batman Returns soundtrack jumped out at me. It talks about how using different types of vocal choruses--young male or adult male, young woman or adult woman, or some combination--changes the the feeling the listener gets from it.

The adult male chorus in Batman brings a depth and grandeur to Gotham that Batman Returns apparently lacks. To use another example, the Harlem Boys Choir in Glory lends a touching innocence to the film. Except for the closing credits, when the adult male bass singers and synthesized music bring a different flavor that's appropriate for the end I think.

I also recall reading a reviewer once distinguish between the youth of the chorus in the Spider-Man movie versus older singers in the first sequel. Or maybe I've reversed it. In any case, the older version made the hero seem more mature probably.

I guess it's just a nice example of how small choices made early on can change the entire style you arrive at in the finished product.

August 19, 2008

Chiles in the News

The Lawton Chiles Endowment helps rescue Florida's budget fiasco...

August 18, 2008

Fatherhood on Film

Of course, the theme of fatherhood is pretty common in literature and on film. And it definitely weaves in and out of the Lawton Chiles story, as politics becomes a family pastime just like Scrabble or baseball in the backyard and going to hear the politicos speak means going to cheer on Dad.

Filmmaker Oliver Stone is well-known for exploring the "dueling fathers" theme in Platoon and Wall Street. I actually haven't seen the former film but from what I've read before, it's the same basic premise of a young man torn between two father figures. One might be a biological father and one might be a "found" father. Wall Street ends with a pretty firm decision to stick with blood family, but the fight to get leaves enough scars that things probably won't ever be the same for Bud Fox.

But what I've noticed is that when you push the slightest bit, even seemingly oddball film choices have comments on fatherhood and "false" fatherhood. The last exchange between Colin and Frank in The Departed gives that away clearly.

Even in supposedly light but mega-popular fair like Batman Begins, the memories of a lost father and a heavy legacy haunt Bruce Wayne through his maturity to young adulthood. The film's score composers even devised a musical cue for these moments since there is little or no dialogue to explore it. It's a moving piece. And the visual cue--Bruce's father's stethoscope.

And when it does come up in these unexpected places, I think it adds a little depth to the movie that makes it harder to forget even after multiple viewings.