It is one of the most maligned comic book films of all time. Even in the wake of Batman’s more recent triumphant dominance at the box office and on Flickchart (with his newest film being the highest-ranked so far of 2012, even out-ranking The Avengers), the aftertaste left by Joel Schumacher‘s Batman & Robin is still bitter. Only five movies rank higher (lower?) than Batman & Robin on Flickchart’s list of The Worst Superhero Films of All Time; it’s outranked on the global charts by such big budget duds as Hulk, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider and even Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. And while people have defended Batman Forever when it was chosen as one of Flickchart’s Guilty Pleasures, they’ve trashed its sequel at the same time.
Yet, as much as people like to trash Schumacher’s Bat-films, they actually resulted in a pair of pretty great soundtrack albums. While the soundtrack for B&R bears no chart-topping hit like Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose” (partially because of the movie’s reputation?), in many ways, it’s the more interesting listen. And on a personal level, it evokes just as many memories.
I was sitting in the middle of a film marketing class last year when my professor started class with his weekly catch-up: What did movies did you guys see this week? The girl sitting behind me boasted that she’d gotten an advanced screening to Drive and that it was her favorite film of the year so far. A friend of mine turned around and gushed about how desperate he was to see it. She replied that it was mandatory to see in theaters, even going as far to suggest which theaters within a ten-mile radius were the best. Her criteria for such fastidiousness was not the picture, but the sound. To be frank, I’m not an audio expert and I’ve deliberately stayed away from sound design classes because the technicalities terrify me. I took her enthusiasm to mean that she was just an enthusiast of all things auditory and found this film to be exemplary in that arena. Still, I took her words into account thinking that there were gonna be some amazing sound effects… or something.
A number of directors in the last two decades have been excellent at picking music to be a part of their movies, but for my money, the one who manages to always impress me is Wes Anderson. Starting with Bottle Rocket, Anderson has been smart to pepper all of his movies with great music. Who can think of “Judy is a Punk” by The Ramones without thinking of the visual file of Margot Tenenbaum in The Royal Tenenbaums? Or “Let Her Dance” by The Bobby Fuller Four without thinking of Mr. Fox and family dancing at the end of Fantastic Mr. Fox? Or even “This Time Tomorrow” by The Kinks at the start of The Darjeeling Limited? These are three perfect examples of great music in Anderson’s films, but for my money, his best compilation of music comes from his second movie, which was released in 1998. The movie was Rushmore.
When Ethan Coen and Joel Coen hired T. Bone Burnett to produce the music for their film, O Brother, Where Art Thou? perhaps no one could have foreseen that it would usher in a whole movement in Americana and bluegrass music.
That’s just what happened, though. It turned out that the art house viewers who went to see O Brother really enjoyed the “old timey” music that created so much of the film’s ambiance. Sales were through the roof; the album hit #1 on Billboard’s Top Soundtracks chart, Top Country Albums chart and even the Top 200 chart which covers all genres! The Recording Industry Association of America has certified it 8x platinum for shipment of 8 million units.
After being persuaded by Col. Parker that a movie would be a good career move, George Strait agreed to make Pure Country for release in 1992. It was a surprising move, given “King” George’s reputation for shying away from attention off stage. Unlike nearly every other mainstream country artist, Strait never made the move to Nashville, preferring to go back home to Texas when his tours conclude. There’s an amusing anecdote that survives to this day that when he was introduced to a woman at Warner Bros. who worked in publicity, he replied, “Hi, I’m George Strait and I don’t do publicity.” Even if said tongue in cheek, his notorious resistance to interviews must have appeared entirely sincere and surely gave her pause! Read the rest of this entry »