A Song A Day: April 3rd – I’m scaring because I’m caring!

3 04 2011

Some of you well recognise todays tag line right off the bat, and if you do, then help yourself to a cyber cookie! I’m been quite fortunate recently in that I’ve been able to make good of some on offers on BD’s – thus bringing my collection up to 4. I’m still a high number away from worrying my DVD count! (I’m thinking of making a DVD collection post)

The good ship Disney is offering 2 for £20 at the moment which is worth going for. Besides, it’s Disney, who doesn’t enjoy a good Disney film from time to time. It’s Disney for crying out loud! It’s either that or I’m just a pixar-addict. I was able to pick up Toy Story 3 and Monsters Inc. in that offer above. I watched TS3 the other night and I have to say, the quality of the transfer onto BD is staggering. It’s such a vibrant, colourful and detailed image it’s unreal. I’m hoping that Monsters Inc. follows suit. After all, it might just be my favourite Pixar film overall. I already own it on DVD twice (once when it came out, and as part of the Pixar box-set)

Today’s post is right up Sunday’s street. For some reason, I always like to listen to jazzy type music on a Sunday, and that’s exactly what this piece is. This is the first piece of music that you hear once you start playing the film and as I recall it was on the DVD menu also. I must of watched Monsters Inc. so many times it’s got to be in double figures. I even watched it in hospital once I came out from an operation. Monsters Inc. and ham sarnies…I’m easily pleased clearly!

Just a little update about blog #2 – thedigitaldomain.wordpress.com – trying to shoot for post-a-day on there as well as doing it here was a bit more work than I had envisioned. I’m going to say that there is no fixed posting schedule on that one, but it’s still going to be updated regularly.

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A Song A Day – 31st March: My Intentions Are Good!

31 03 2011

Yesterday was an interesting day indeed. I had my haircut by an old friend from school (it was nice to catch up like) – and then… I got a job interview! It’s this coming Monday. I’m really excited. My role will be ‘Technical Tester’ – It’s up my street, the company looks great and it’s local also (which is good for several reasons) Fingers crossed!!

I want to give a nod towards my other blog which is now up and running. I’m going to attempt to put something on there everyday also if I can. This blog here is all about music. My 2nd blog is going to be about films and video games (retro gaming especially) – There’s going to be video content soon (hopefully) as well as recurring articles. You can check it out at http://thedigitaldomain.wordpress.com/ – Yes, I was surprised I got that domain name also!

Today’s song is another cut from the Kill Bill soundtrack. This one is called Don’t let me be misunderstood by Santa Esmeralda. It’s a funky upbeat disco number which makes you feel good. I love to crank this one. I totally dig these lyrics too.

Baby, do you understand me now?
Sometimes I feel a little mad
But, don’t you know that no one alive can always be an angel
When things go wrong I seem to be bad

I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood

If I seem edgy
I want you to know
That I never meant to take it out on you
Life has its problems
And I got my share
And that’s one thing I never meant to do
‘Cause I love you

Baby, don’t you know I’m just human
And I’ve got thoughts like any other one
And sometimes I find myself, oh Lord, regretting
Some foolish thing, some foolish thing I’ve done

But I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood

Oh Lord, don’t let me be misunderstood
Please don’t let me be misunderstood

Baby, do you understand me now?
Sometimes I feel a little mad
But, don’t you know that no one alive can always be an angel
When things go wrong I seem to be bad

‘Cause I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood

Baby, sometimes I’m so carefree
With a joy that’s hard to hide
And sometimes it seems that, all I have to do is worry
And then you’re bound to see my other side

‘Cause I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood

If I seem edgy
I want you to know
That I never meant to take it out on you
Life has its problems
And I got my share
And that’s one thing I never meant to do
‘Cause I love you

Oh, baby, don’t you know I’m human
I have thoughts like any other one
And sometimes I find myself, oh Lord, regretting
Some foolish thing, some foolish thing I’ve done

‘Cause I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood

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A Song A Day – March 24th – Beauty Song (from another life)

24 03 2011

So there I was, listening to a load of film soundtracks on spotify, when todays song came on. It’s from what is possibly my all time favourite film. I’m actually writing this from the past (the main bulk of todays post comes from a post on my old forgotten blog, but it’s apt today) but it gives a good insight into how I came to fall in love with this wonderfully engaging piece of cinema.

Those of you who have seen Zhang Yimou’s wuxia masterpice House of Flying Daggers will know what a full frontal cinematic attack it is. In a good way. Mind boggling visuals coupled with a great narrative puts this film as one of my all time favourites. I remember the first time that I watched this film. I’d watched two films before it, Naked Gun 33 1/3 and Vantage Point. House of Flying Daggers was rounding off an impromptu movie night. I’d actually picked the film up on an impulsive spur whilst in the local branch of HMV. I’m currently attempting to learn Mandarin and being able to combine a film with a learning experience seemed a good excuse to plough through a bag of popcorn with a pint of the fizzy stuff whilst relaxing in my easy chair! I wandered down to the martial arts section to see what was on offer. I figured the martial arts film might be in eastern languages, and if I could find one or two in Mandarin Chinese then I’m quids in.House of Flying Daggers OST Cover

It was always one of those ‘films-I-want-to-see-but-just-haven’t-done-so-yet’ so I saw it on the shelf, it ticked the boxes so I paid up and headed home. I came to put it on. Plugged in headphones, got comfy (popcorn and beer had already gone missing) so it was just me, the film and a darkened room. That’s not such a bad thing!

I had no idea just how breath-taking (and I use that term literally) the film would be. From the opening credits, I had a feeling it was going to be good… But, THIS good? Scoring 89 on Metacritic and ‘universal acclaim’ I can see why! I’d not seen anything like it.

Now, someone like me who has studied film for a fair few years now, will often watch a film a little bit differently from the average cinema-goer. One thing I always pick up on are the technical sides of it. It struck me that the soundstage in this film was quite remarkable. The sound was crisp, clear and was audibly detailed. Naturally, the soundtrack followed suit.

Shigeru Umebayashi’s soundtrack is really good. The tracks evoke a range of feelings such as urgency (The Echo Game) beauty (Beauty Song (Jia Ren Qi)) and even just straight up heart tugging (Lovers) – The final track (Until the End) is also an emotional piece, those of you who know the ending will no doubt be seeing that in your minds upon hearing this track. I don’t know about yourselves, but I didn’t see it coming or ending like that.

This is also a wonderfully evocative score and captures the heart and soul of the film as well as its ancient chinese location. Traditional chinese instruments such as the pipa and erhu are used to great effect throughout and there is a range of moods and tempos across the tracks. Just like any good soundtrack should have. If you’re not overly used to the chinese sound, it may take a few listens to get your head around. If you are one of those people, then I advise you to at least have a go. You will not be disappointed.

The specific piece I’m going to feature today comes from a scene rather early on in the film, where we first come across Zhang Ziyi. I also learnt how to read erhu notation, converted into the regular notes, plotted it on a guitar tab, and learnt it on the guitar. That was a fun evening! This song is called ‘The Beauty Song’ and is an arrangement of an old chinese poem. I’ve provided the english translation below the video.

Excuse the slighty blurry picture quality – youtube restrictions meant dailymotion was the source today. The bloke singing along is Andy Lau (a famous cantonese/chinese film star/singer — and in this film at this time, the guy is slightly tipsy, which explains his singing, the version without him was bound by embedding restrictions)

An extraordinary beauty in the North…

The most beautiful being of the world

From her first glance the city bows before her

From her second glance the empire falls into ruins

But there aren’t such an empire or a city

what we can laud more than this beauty

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A Song A Day: Feb 28th – 12 in 1!

28 02 2011

It’s Monday again! I’m excited about March being just one day away now – I’ll be undertaking the 30 day song challenge (which is doing the rounds on facebook) throughout March, see the link above.

This afternoon onwards I’ve been thinking about my favourite films in some detail. The reason being is because I’ve done a deal with fellow bloggette and film fan Dark Vador and we’re going to be making a top 10 post in the forthcoming days, which we’ll both post on the 14th March. So, 2 weeks from today. The trouble is, trying to sum up my favourite films is going to be harder then I think – but, there again I like a challenge, and it’s all a good bit of friendly fun.

So there I was with Evernote open making notes and ideas about films and possible wordage to go alongside them, whilst listening to my film soundtracks playlist open in Spotify. This following track came on, and it was stuck in my head for the rest of the day. It’s also a very cheeky way to cram more songs into this blog. It’s a medley of many a well known love song strung together and sung in a very grandiose style. This is the Elephant Love Medley from Moulin Rouge… which may or may not be making an appearance in the aforementioned top 10 list!

Christian: Love is a many splendored thing,
Love lifts us up where we belong, all you need is love.
Satine: Please, don’t start that again.

C: All you need is love.
S: A girl has got to eat.

C: All you need is love.
S: Or she’ll end up on the streets.

C: All you need is love.
S: Love is just a game.

C: I was made for loving you baby, you were made for loving me.
S: The only way of loving me baby, is to pay a lovely fee.

C: Just one night, give me just one night.
S: There’s no way, ’cause you can’t pay.

C: In the name of love, one night in the name of love.
S: You crazy fool, I won’t give in to you.

C: Don’t leave me this way,
I can’t survive without your sweet love, oh baby
Don’t leave me this way.
S: You’d think that people would have had enough of silly love songs.
C: I look around me and I see, it isn’t so, oh no.
S: Some people want to fill the world with silly love songs.

C: Well what’s wrong with that? I’d like to know.
‘Cause here I go again!
Love lifts us up where we belong,
Where eagles fly, on a mountain high.
S: Love makes us act like we are fools,
Throw our lives away, for one happy day.

C: We could be heroes! Just for one day.
S: You, you will be mean.

C: No I won’t!
S: And I, I’ll drink all the time.

C: We should be lovers.
S: We can’t do that.

C: We should be lovers, and that’s a fact.
S: Though nothing, will keep us together.

C: We could steal time…
Both: Just for one day. We could be heroes, forever and ever.
We could be heroes, forever and ever. We could be heroes…
C: Just because I will always love you.

S: I
Both: Can’t help loving you
S: How Wonderful life is
Both: Now you are in the world

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A Song A Day: Feb 9th – The Last 24 Hours

9 02 2011

Someone once penned the words ‘what a difference a day makes’. Whoever did, they were an absolute genius in my view. I know what I’m about to say is totally cliche but the last 24 hours have been an absolute rollercoaster. A strange mix blending highs, lows and the lolwhat! I was ever so tempted to go on an absolute rant to end all rants about something that happened, but in light of recent evidence, that wouldn’t make sense, nor is it really justified anymore. Enough dwelling on that, crisis aborted.

Anyway. On a much more cherry note, I have some very good news. Remember a short while back I mentioned about the possibility of some writing opportunities coming my way. Well, those opportunities came my way, and I’m very pleased to be contributing articles to Obsessed With Film. I’m going to be writing two articles a month. Soundtrack Of The Month and World Cinema Showcase. I’m so very excited about both of these. It feels so good to be writing about film!

I checked my emails tonight, and I’ve been given an invite to look around a theatre in a nearby city with the intentions of joining the technical staff on a casual basis. Whilst I am very excited about this chance. The fact I sent the email out AGES ago (I think late summer/autumn) makes me chuckle, but yes, I’m grateful for the chance and the invite. It’s going to be good to look backstage and see what they want. Hopefully my skills learnt on the video ropes can translate to the theatre (some do) and I can do my bit. You never know. I first got into video through an interest in technical theatre LX (lighting and sound)

So yes, two very nice bits of news which were topped of by some little bits of joy (such as a good score on Team Fortress 2!)

Anyway… I need a song to post don’t I! Because it’s Wednesday, I’m going to go down Wordless Wednesday Lane and post up an instrumental. However, this is more then just a random song that I like. This is a cut from what might just be favourite album of all time (along with Aja by Steely Dan and The Garden by Unitopia)

For me, one of the pleasures of listening to music is just sometimes (usually at night) putting your headphones on in a darkened room and just sitting back letting the music wash over you. Sat there and seeing allsorts of wonderful imagery form inside your mind. Call it synesthesia, call it vivid imagination or whatever, but there are just some wonderful pieces of music which can invoke such wonderful and surreal imagery in my head. The first time I heard Metallic Spheres by The Orb and David Gilmour I was in awe. The piece I’m bringing here today is called Hymns To The Sun (from the Metallic Side) and is one of the highlights of the album. I get a shiver down my spine nearly everytime I listen to this. I crank my stereo up to as loud as I can fairly get it for this. So many memories within. Once I got the album, I listened to it everyday (sometimes multiple times per day) for about a fortnight. It’s that good. The imagery in this video is just like what you get with your media player on your computer. Stunning. A wonderful combination of imagery and audio.

MAKE SURE YOU CHECK OUT FEB 8TH’S POST HERE TO BE IN WITH A CHANCE TO WIN A SUPER COOL PRIZE!

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Top 5 – Movie Soundtrack Pieces

7 02 2011

It’s time for the my 1st countdown list on this blog! I’m combining my two passions in life, film and music to present to you my top 5 pieces of music from the movies. Borrowing a leaf from the Screw Attack gaming website, I’m going to limit it to one piece of music per film. Note that this won’t be your regular old top film music list. You know what I mean; blah blah star wars theme, yadda yadda jurassic park etc. If you don’t agree with something in this list, or would like to add your five penneth into the ring, then leave me a comment below and I’ll get back to you. A good usage of music should be able to make you think of the scene it’s taken from in an instant, or should perfectly accompany the images on screen to create a wonderful juxtaposition of sight and sound.

So, without further ado, let’s get into it.

#5 – Dick Dale – Miserlou

Pulp Fiction is one of all time favourite movies. I can watch it from start to finish and every time I’m completely engrossed by the story. An absolute masterclass in non-linear narrative structure (the film isn’t in a linear order) The acting from every single actor (Travolta, L. Jackson, Willis, Thurman and Walken to name but a few) is fantastic. The only weak link has to be Quentin’s cameo appearance. In each of his films, Quentin has a knack for choosing music which really sets off a scene and is the proverbial icing on the cake. There is a reason that this film is loved in the way that it is. The script throughout is just tantalising. The interplay at the start between John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson as Vincent and Jools respectively has to be seen to be felt. The section of the film concerning John Travolta and Uma Thurman might just be the pinnacle of this film, but in no way does that mean the other sections are poor. Far from it. Miserlou comes from the first few minutes of the film. After a well crafted exchange between Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer and Amanda’s Immortal lines culminating in …’And I’ll execute every mother******* last one of ya’ – Miserlou kicks in and from that moment on, you know you are in for something special.

FILM CLIP CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE.

#4 – Philip Glass – The Grid

Frequent readers of this blog will remember this piece from the Wordless Wednesday post the other day. Incase you didn’t see it… This piece is a very long piece of music which augments the films visuals. Koyaanisqatsi is a poetic documentary (it’s meanings, and anchorage are depicted through the combination of what you see, and what you hear, as apposed to a traditional sense where you have a voice over detailing the action) about life being out of balance. The Grid is the films most recognised part and features some stunning cinematography and shots throughout. This section of the film is all about how fast paced modern day living has become and how quickly day to day activities have become in our lives. It really has to be seen to be believed. The first time I saw this during my degree course, I was stunned in awe.

#3 – Pink Floyd – Come in #51 (aka Careful With That Axe, Eugene (Alternate Version)

This choice is from a relatively little-known film called Zabriskie Point. Pink Floyd were commissioned to compose the soundtrack for the film. Amongst the music recorded for the film was this gem. Essentially, it’s Careful With That Axe, Eugene; just in a different key and altered from the original a little bit. In the introduction to this post, I said that a good piece of music in a film creates a wonderful pairing of sight and sound, and this scene is up there with the best. Apparently… ‘The explosion…represents the psychological separation from corporate greed, superficiality, and racial injustice’ – New York Times – February 10, 1970. That much may be true, but the final result is a treat for the senses.

#2 – Shigeru Umebayshi – The Echo Game

This piece is taken from what might just be my favourite overall soundtrack of all-time. This is taken from a Chinese film called Shi Mian Mai Fu or to give it it’s western title: House Of Flying Daggers. The very first time I saw this film I was amazed beyond belief. I was having a film night to myself and this was the 3rd film I’d watched in a row (after Naked Gun 33 1/3 and Vantage Point) I’d only brought the DVD about 2 days before on a spur. No doubt driven by Milky’s presence in my life, a chinese film seemed appropriate but I never got round to seeing this film at the cinema or on TV etc. However, what I got was far beyond what I could of ever expected. Zhang Yimou instantly became a favourite director and I’ve begun to seek out other works by him. This film is single handily responsible for sparking an interest in both Chinese Film and the Wuxia genre. The film is a full steam ahead attack on the senses. It transports you to another world. The special effects are amazing, the soundstage is exquisite and the overall cinematography is second to none. I have posted the full Echo Game scene here so you get the full effect. To set the story, Takeshi Kaneshiro (the one throwing the nuts) has come to wrongfully take away and lock up Zhang Ziyi (the dancer) but allows her a chance at redemption if she can play and complete The Echo Game. That’s basically the story of the scene in a nutshell, but the film’s plot is far deeper and more involved in that, with double crosses, twists and turns galore and an ending I didn’t see coming. Prepare to be blown away!

#1 – Luis Bacalov – The Grand Duel (Parte Prima)

If I had to list my favourite movies, Kill Bill Vol. 1 might just top that list. It is a sure fire contender for Quentin Tarantino’s finest hour. The film relies more on action and visuals unlike it’s counterpart Vol 2. Both are great films in their own right (or should that be one film?) However, I prefer Vol 1. Just like previous works by QT, it’s told using a non-linear structure. Uma Thurman was once a member of the deadly viper assassination squad, before being stitched up by the squad and left for dead by the leader Bill (David Carradine) She sets about killing each member of the squad including Bill. That’s essentially the story, but I won’t spoil it anymore then that for those of you who haven’t seen it. The first time we hear The Grand Duel is during the back story of Lucy Liu’s character (O-Ren Ishii) which is told through the medium of anime. I first saw this film on TV, and I believe this section was edited down to make it that little bit less graphic. Even so, it was still very intense. However, the music that plays during the anime is extremely powerful, and even on it’s own taken away from the film it’s a stimulating piece of music. But set against the anime, it’s wonderful. I’ve put up two videos. One of the song on it’s own… and the other being the anime scene.

However be warned, the Anime scene is highly graphic and carries a solid 18 rating. If you are reading this blog with young children close by, or you’re a sensitive viewer, I have to strongly suggest you play the song only. (1st video)

I hope you enjoyed this little run-down of songs from movies. I shall be posting more countdown lists in the future amongst other things. Feel free to comment, and spread the word.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter: http://bit.ly/eBAhZi — or at the Facebook Fan Page: http://on.fb.me/fszSws

If you’re a fellow postaday2011 blogger then I strongly urge you to check out this wonderful facebook community: http://on.fb.me/gpDjW1

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