Soundtracks are a lot more than movie music...
...or so I'm ready to argue as a 30 year devotee of this sorely under appreciated genre. So, in an effort to do my part, each week
I'll be making recommendations of soundtracks current and vintage, make a fuss over long awaited soundtrack scores finally getting
a well deserved release, and in general, make some noise about this often overlooked category. Beyond my long experience as a
listener and as a pianist and songwriter, both of which I've put to use in writing a quarterly soundtrack column for the Chicago
Tribune, I can only offer my recommendations. You'll discern my taste soon enough and upfront I'd like to make it clear that I'll
focus most heavily on SCORE soundtracks. In the end, all criticism is subjective but if I can point a listener toward a little heard
soundtrack or strongly advise you to either ORDER IMMEDIATELY or SKIP ALTOGETHER, all the better.
Capote film music composer Mychael
Danna has written a haunting score that
perfectly supports Bennett Miller's movie.
There are just a little more than 30 minutes of music on the soundtrack to Capote. But
what an exquisite 30 minutes they are! Composer Mychael Danna utilizes a technique
recently popularized by Thomas Newman (most famously in the cue “White Plastic Bag”
from American Beauty). This is to overlay a haunting yet simple melody plunked out on
a solo instrument (usually piano) over a somber bed of legato strings. “Out There,”
the cue that opens the soundtrack and the film – sets the tone for both movie and
recording as well. The plaintive beauty of the theme is underlined by wistfulness,
sadness and unease. Like the best of Newman (the aforementioned American Beauty
and Road to Perdition), Danna has written great contemplative music for Capote.
Though not as original as his lovely Being Julia of last year, Danna is certainly a film
composer to listen out for.
The soundtrack is filled out with a vintage 1966 recording of Truman Capote reading
excerpts from his chilling “In Cold Blood,” his infamous “nonfiction novel,” the writing of
which is the basis for the film. Listening to Capote’s lyrical opening chapter is to again
be reminded of his mastery of telling detail and it’s also an immediate tribute to the
work of Philip Seymour Hoffman. He doesn’t so much as imitate Capote in the film as
catch the familiar girlish twang and heighten it.
The inclusion of the narrative excerpts makes this a great, though somewhat creepy,
listening experience. Once you’ve bought the CD or downloaded it from iTunes or
other site, you might wish to add it to your own soundtrack compilation (as I did). It
stands on its own and fits in beautifully with selections from recent scores by Alexandre
DesPlat (The Upside of Anger), James Horner (The New World), and of course, Thomas
Newman (Cinderella Man).
Don't forget to check out all the soundtrack recommendations by visiting the ARCHIVES
Next Week: Two little known soundtracks you MUST HAVE