Posts filed under “Film”

The Beatles Help!

Speaking of Film Soundtracks . . .


We were just discussing these last week, and I happened to notice that EMI is re-releasing the 1965 movie, The Beatles Help! in a special-beautiful-super-deluxe 2 DVD set (and  advertising the hell out of it everywhere I look).

I guess when Help! the Deluxe Edition sells for $95, they can afford the advertising budget. Its a huge promotional push to nostalgic boomers.

I have a hard time justifying the $95 dollar price for this one — but not for the $54.99 5 DVD Blade Runner (previously discussed here, here, here and here).

Especially since a digitally restored and newly created 5.1 soundtrack 2 DVD version of Help! is available for $17 !


UPDATE: November 9, 2007 5:43am

I see the 5 DVD deluxe Blade Runner has an Sales Rank of # 107, versus Help! the Deluxe Edition, which is has #112 in DVD sellers; 

The 2 DVD version of Help! version of help is #17.

Ha! Score one for rational behavior . . .


click for video


Category: Digital Media, Film, Music

Friday Night Jazz Film Soundtracks

Oh, goody, yet another list. How f$%&ing original!

For some silly reason, there seems to be all this hoo-haa about the silly Vanity Fair article on the top Movie Soundtracks of all time.

These people are wankers for many reasons: 1) The VF weenies press released to death; b) the article is not even available on line; iii) the editors chose Purple Rain as the greatest film soundtrack of all time.

I remain convinced that the purveyors of these annoying lists select a controversial top pick to generate buzz (tho’ you would think this would might encourage online posting).

Regardless, let’s not play into their hand. Rather than waste too much time telling you how clueless VF’s music editors are, or giving them any linklove, I would rather — in the spirit of Friday Night Jazz — compile a worthwhile list of films and soundtracks for your perusal.

A few ground rules:

• We are looking for outstanding soundtracks to outstanding films. (Merely o.k. doesn’t cut it).

• Groundbreaking films, soundtracks and performances get bonus points. (Mediocre performances get cut).

• Better non-film versions take points away from the movie soundtrack — where there are superior versions such as the Broadway soundtrack (i.e., Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, etc.) than those flicks don ‘t make the cut.

• Pure adaptations of Broadway shows also get cut. In my mind, Cabaret, Chicago, Chorus Line are more filmed stage productions, rather than pure movies. (as forewarned, totally subjective).

Hence, several films that I love failed to make the cut: Apocalypse Now is fantastic in the way it uses music (especially The Doors’ The End, and Wagner’s The Ride Of The Valkyries), but its not great as a standalone soundtrack; the wonderful My Fair Lady, with Rex Harrison’s mediocre voice, and the dubbing of Audrey Hepburn’s voice, also doesn’t make the cut.

These things are totally subjective, and are rarely based exclusively on mere merits. Pink Floyd The Wall was a great album so overplayed when I was in
college, that I simply couldn’t pull the trigger on it (the film is a bit
ponderous to boot). Again, these things are very subjective.

Alternatively, the film can’t suck. The greatest
soundtrack in the world becomes irrelevant if its attached to a film
like, say, Hedwig and the Angry Inch — a play that sucked two hours out of my life that I will never get back, and will literally regret on my death bed.

We can certainly debate the order of any list, or the contents, and we probably will (thats what the comments are for).

Here’s my subjective top ~20:

1. A Hard Day’s Night:  A brilliant film and album that both remain as energetic and fresh today as they were in 1964. The Beatles personalities were perfectly suited to the medium, so much so that its hard to imagine a better film/soundtrack combo.

: A Hard Day's Night

A Hard Day’s Night

If you want to consider another Beatles sound track, both Yellow Submarine and Help! are fun — but neither rise to the sheer genius of A Hard Day’s Night. 


2. Stop Making Sense:
Quite simply, the best concert film ever made. Yes, some of you will
declare The Last Waltz, (with a few stragglers nominating Woodstock)
but there is simply nothing else that ha the combination of
showmanship, musical innovation — and the big suit — like this film
does. Marvelous.

: Stop Making Sense

Stop Making Sense


3.  Blade Runner: Forget the ponderous and boring Chariots of Fire, THIS is Vangelis Masterpiece. Not only is the music hauntingly beautiful, but it fits the filmscape so perfectly, making it even better than it originally was. We’ve already spilled so many words about BR, that the less said the better. "All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain." 

: Blade Runner

Blade Runner


4. The Rocky Horror Picture Show:
I could try to explain this, but I couldn’t do it justice. Find a
theater where this is playing at the midnight show, and go with someone
who’s gone before. Repeat.

: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975 Film)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975 Film)


5. The Graduate:
Not only is this a seminal, groundbreaking film, but the soundtrack is
phenomenal. The way the various songs are interwoven into the action,
mood, psyches of the players is amazing (listen as Benjamin’s Alpha Romeo Spider runs out of gas).

I don’t know if Mike Nichols is
a genius, or just got incredibly lucky. Either way, its a great
soundtrack and a great movie.   

: The Graduate (1967 Film)

The Graduate (1967 Film)


6.  Harold and Maude:
One of the most subversive, outrageously amusing black comedies ever made — hysterically funny to boot. Cat Stevens (before he became Yusaf)
created a wonderful collection of songs that enhance the story line’s mood and emotions.  This is, quite bluntly, one of the
funniest films ever made.

: Harold and Maude

Harold and Maude


7. Garden State:
My "surprise" entry. A charming little film with a soundtrack that simply
refuses to stop delighting you with its lovely tunes and ballads, nearly all of which are by bands that
prior to this soundtrack were relatively unknown. This disc was played constantly in the car in 2004/05.

: Garden State

Garden State


8. (tie):Led Zeppelin, The Song Remains The Same
The Who, The Kids Are Alright:

Perhaps its my age showing, but I have always found each of these to be tremendous films and soundtracks. The Zep concert film was utterly ground breaking, and I must have seen it a zillion times after they broke up; The Who film was a fantastic documentary.

: The Song Remains The Same (Remastered / Expanded) (2CD)

The Song Remains The Same

: The Kids Are Alright

The Kids Are Alright


10. Fantasia: Music by Tchaikovsky, Moussorgsky, Stravinsky, Beethoven, Ponchielli, Bach, Dukas, and Schubert. ’nuff said.

The film was groundbreaking in many ways, including the innovative
use of animation and stereophonic sound — but its the overall approach
that has been so enduring:  Allow the Disney animators tointerpret Classical music. The results are both playful and surreal. Its amazing how well this has held up after 60 years . . .   

: Fantasia (Special 60th Anniversary Edition)

Fantasia (Special 60th Anniversary Edition)


11. Pulp Fiction: The film does so many things so well — but the way the music is integrated into the actual plot is simply terrific.  Plus, Travolta and Uma can each dance. 

: Pulp Fiction: Music From The Motion Picture

Pulp Fiction: Music From The Motion Picture


12. West Side Story:
Leonard Bernstein’s musical update of Romeo and Juliet. The combination
of Stephen Sondheim brilliant lyrics, the kinetic choreography and the
bravura camera work made for a fantastic wide screen film. The
soundtrack created the perfect counterpoint to the dance and action.

Sure, its a bit dated (hence, #10), but it remains an all time great.

: West Side Story

West Side Story


13.  Purple Rain: There is no doubt that the purple one can sign, dance, play guitar — but Acting? Not so much.

Regardless, his sheer overwhelming talent is why this manages to get onto my top 15.

True Story: I saw this in the theaters in college, and my remark was "He’s going to be bigger than Michael Jackson" — who was huge at the time.

Its a toss up how right that call was, but the general concept was dead on . . .

: Music from the Motion Picture "Purple Rain"

Music from the Motion Picture "Purple Rain"


14. Little Shop Of Horrors: A fantabulous musical/horror/comedy. It’s all a whole lot of fun, and the musical styles range from honky-tonk to doo-wop to straightforward rock n’ roll. The strength of the film carries what otherwise might have been a mere Broadway adaption into an entire different level.

: Little Shop Of Horrors (1986 Film)

Little Shop Of Horrors (1986 Film)


15. Koyaanisqatsi: A quasi-documentary, this film has been described as "visual concert of images" or a "filmic landscape." The reason its here is the hauntingly beautiful music of Phillip Glass. A classic college flick . . .

: Koyaanisqatsi - Life Out of Balance

Koyaanisqatsi – Life Out of Balance


16. Saturday Night Fever: One of those seminal films that tremendously influenced the culture.

My choice in music was rock-n-roll, and I had little interest in blow-dried hair, white polyester suits, or cruising discos looking to pick Staten Island bimbos.

The music works as well on its own, but it also works as a classic piece of pop history. (And John Travolta makes the list twice!)

: Saturday Night Fever: The Original Movie Sound Track

Saturday Night Fever: The Original Movie Sound Track


17. The Tao of Steve: Another charming little film that surprises with its wonderful songs. A fun amusing, philosophically oriented film, with a soundtrack to match. For you Outdoor Types.

: The Tao of Steve: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

The Tao of Steve: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


18. All That Jazz: The Oscar winning soundtrack by Ralph Burns includes jazz, classical, pop, and Broadway standards. Its a marvelous mix that works to great effect in the film.

Can you imagine anyone other Director making so self-critical autobiographical film other than Bob Fosse? While some have criticized the film as a  rip-off of Fellini’s 8 1/2, my favored descriptions of All That Jazz is "the musical version of Apocalypse Now." If you can imagine that, you have a better sense of what the film itself is like.

: All That Jazz (1979 Film)
All that work. All that glitter. All that pain. All that love. All that crazy rhythm. All that jazz.

All That Jazz (1979 Film)


19. The Big Chill:
The Motown dominated score was one of the most artistically skillful –
and commercially successful — uses of pop ever set to a film.

More than merely setting a time and place, the soundtrack has a
wispy nostalgia for a prior period in the players’ lives. Subsequent
attempts by other movies have been less successful of creating a look
back from a specific time to another one;  e.g., I think of the Forrest
Gump soundtrack as Big Chill 2.

: The Big Chill - Deluxe Edition

The Big Chill – Deluxe Edition



20.  South Park – Bigger, Longer & Uncut: You will laugh until you piss yourself. This one squeaks in at #20 because the soundtrack is so very, very funny. 

: South Park - Bigger, Longer & Uncut

South Park – Bigger, Longer & Uncut


Thats my top list; A few Honorable Mentions are after the jump . . .

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Category: Digital Media, Film, Friday Night Jazz, Music

Blade Runner: The Final Cut at the Ziegfeld

Category: Digital Media, Film, Technology


Category: Digital Media, Film

Q&A: Ridley Scott on Blade Runner


Attention Blade Runner junkies: The offline Wired interview with Ridley Scott, which I mentioned in this weekend’s linkfest, is now online.

As we noted previously, the latest version of Blade Runner is in theaters in October, with a 5 DVD disc set to follow next year.

Here’s the Ubiq-cerpt:™

"It’s a classic tale of failure and redemption, the kind of story Hollywood
loves to tell.

Fresh off his second successful movie, an up-and-coming director takes a
chance on a dark tale of a 21st-century cop who hunts humanlike androids. But he
runs over budget, and the financiers take control, forcing him to add a
ham-fisted voice-over and an absurdly cheery ending. The public doesn’t buy it.
The director’s masterpiece plays to near-empty theaters, ultimately retreating
to the art-house circuit as a cult oddity.

That’s where we left Ridley Scott’s future-noir epic in 1982. But a funny
thing happened over the next 25 years. Blade Runner’s audience quietly
multiplied. An accidental public showing of a rough-cut work print created
surprise demand for a re-release, so in 1992 Scott issued his director’s cut. He
silenced the narration, axed the ending, and added a twist — a dream sequence
suggesting that Rick Deckard, the film’s protagonist, is an android, just like
those he was hired to dispatch.

But the director didn’t stop there. As the millennium turned, he continued
polishing: erasing stray f/x wires, trimming shots originally extended to
accommodate the voice-over, even rebuilding a scene in which the stunt double
was obvious. Now he’s ready to release Blade Runner: The Final Cut,
which will hit theaters in Los Angeles and New York in October, with a DVD to
follow in December.

At age 69, Ridley Scott is finally satisfied with his most challenging film.
He’s still turning out movies at a furious pace — American Gangster,
with Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, is due in November — building on an
extraordinary oeuvre that includes Alien, Thelma & Louise,
Gladiator, and Black Hawk Down. But he seems ready to accept
Blade Runner as his crowning achievement. In his northern English accent, he
describes its genesis and lasting influence. And, inevitably, he returns to the
darkness that pervades his view of the future — the shadows that shield Deckard
from a reality that may be too disturbing to face."

Other goodies:  An interactive look at the Cultural Influences Before and After the Film in the Blade Runner Nexus , and a full transcript and Audio of Wired’s Interview with Ridley Scott.

Its a must read for fans — even if Ridley gets whether Deckard is a replicant or a human wrong . . .



Q&A: Ridley Scott Has Finally Created the Blade Runner He Always Imagined   
By Ted Greenwald  09.26.07 | 4:00 PM

Category: Digital Media, Film, Video

Coming Soon: the Touchscreen iPod

Category: Digital Media, Film, Music, Technology

Blade Runner Final Cut in Theaters Fall 2007

Category: Digital Media, Film

Blade Runner’s 25th Anniversary

Category: Digital Media, Film

What Does the iPhone Teach Us About Technology & Commerce?

Iphone The reviews for the iPhone are coming in, and they are breathless (see below).

Rather than add to the over-the-top-hype about the gorgeous little thing, I would rather think about what lessons can be drawn from its mere existence.

I believe there are quite a few practical things to be taken away from the development and marketing of this. An education is available to those companies, corporate mangements, engineers, inventors and investors who are paying attention:

1. Committees Suck: The old joke is that a Camel is a Horse designed by a committee. As we have seen all too often, what comes out of large corporations are bland-to-ugly items that (while functional and reliable) do not excite consumers.

When a company decides to break the committee mindset and give a great designer the reins, you get terrific products that sell well. The Chrysler 300 does not looks like it was designed by a corporate committee. Think of Chris Bangle’s vision for BMW — and its huge sales spike — and you can see what the upside is in having a visionary in charge of design.

Better pick a damned good one, though . . .

2. Present Interfaces Stink: How bad is the present Human Interface of most consumer items? Leaving the improving, but still too hard to use Windows aside for a moment, let’s consider the mobile phone market: It was so kludgy and ugly that the entire 100 million unit, multi-billion dollar industry now finds itself at risk of being completely bypassed, all because some geek from California wanted a cooler and easier to use phone.

What other industries may be at risk? 

3. Industrial Design Matters:  We have entered a period where industrial design is a significant element in consumer items. From the VW Bug to the iPod, good design can take a ho-hum ordinary product and turn it into a sales winner.

4. R&D is Paramount: While most of corporate America is slashing
R&D budgets (and buying back stock), the handful of companies who
have plowed cash back into R&D are the clear market leaders this
cycle: Think
Apple, Google (Maps, Search), Toyota (Hybrid), Nintendo (Wii). A well designed, innovative product can create — or upend — an entire market. Even Microsoft did it with the X-box;

What other companies have the ability to disrupt an entire market?

5. Disdain for the Consumer can be Fatal: As we have seen with Dell, Home Depot, The Gap, Sears, etc., the consumer experience is more important than most corporate management seem to realize. Ignore the public at your peril.

What other lessons are there for companies in the business of designing products for consumers to use?

For the moment, let’s put the iPhone aside and answer the questions above:  What markets, companies, products , segments are at risk due to their poor designs?  (Use the comments to answer).


Note:  Some of the commenters are missing the point of the post — this is about the business of creativity and innovation.

We are not looking for a discussion of Apple in general; Off topic comments will be unpublished.



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Category: Digital Media, Film, Music, Technology, Web/Tech

Tivo HD = $400

Category: Digital Media, Film, Television