Personal Favourite Film Soundtracks

It recently occurred to me how the films that I have been watching lately have had brilliant soundtracks and ones which I have been listening to over and over again. So here is a list of my personal favourite film soundtracks.

I re-watched the Tarantino Classic Reservoir Dogs not so long ago and it once again reminded of how brilliant the all 70’s soundtrack is which sees “Stuck In The Middle of You” be played in time to Mr Blonde cutting someone’s ear off. Sticking with Tarantino it is only fair to mention Pulp Fiction which sees some unconventional songs such as “Jungle Boogey” turn into a classic moment.

500 Days of Summer also holds one of the best soundtracks which is one of the main highlights to the unusual non-stereotypical rom-com, with song “Sweet Disposition” constantly being in your head after. Similar film Juno also brings to the table a very up-beat warm soundtrack that again is a highlight and credit to it’s film.

Most recently in cinema’s both Inside Llewyn Davis and Her have produced amazing soundtracks which I have not stopped listening to as well as a high standard to 2014 films. Inside Llewyn Davis really shows off folk music and Oscar Isaac’s talents whilst Her’s mixture of synthetic scores and songs such as “The Moon Song” is just beautiful and rather complimentary to Spike Jonze’s creation.

Two of my all time favourite films also hold two of my all time favourite soundtracks. Drive is brilliant with such a upbeat award winning score with songs “Night call” and “Real Hero” being amongst the highlights.  Donnie Darko my all time top film holds a great score which compliments and foreshadows every event with the famous and iconic “Mad World” being the highlight.

Do you agree? What are your personal favourite soundtracks?

Only God Forgives (2013)

Genre: Thriller, Drama, Crime

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Writer: Nicolas Winding Refn

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm

Rating: ★★★★

Only God Forgives was a controversial and the “cliché marmite” film of last year as it was either blasted and destroyed by critics or quite contrary praised and applauded as one of the best. Nicholas Winding Refn writes and directs the unnamed sequel to Drive, which is a popular soon to be classic in the making, however Only God Forgives takes a very different approach. Technically and visually powering with a very vague story surrounding sex and violence it brings a mixture between art and action leaving a lot of thoughts and opinions with its audience.

We follow Julian (Ryan Gosling) in the heart of Bangkok who ten years previously killed a man and went on the run. In the present and day to day he manages a Thai boxing club whilst playing a major role for an underground drugs operation. He’s a powerful, respected individual with a life, but inside he is empty. When Julian’s brother murders a young underage prostitute the police call on a retired cop, Chang –The Angel of Vengeance. Chang allows the girl’s father to kill Julian’s brother giving him the power of revenge however Chang “restoring order” chops of his hand.  Julian’s estranged criminal mother Crystal flies over to collect her son’s body, with a dysfunctional relationship Crystal orders Julian to seek revenge. Julian empty and lifeless accepts the challenge and dispatches to find his brother’s killer and “raise hell”. However Julian trying revenge The Angle of Vengeance will lead to a battle of more than just strength which ultimately could restore what he has been missing.

Winding Refn’s story attempts to carry on from Drive (2010), Julian is now emotionless and the violent personality we saw in Drive has taken over completely leaving him not only lost but dangerous. The film has a clear plot however it is not executed so it is clear visually; everything is disguised and very vague. Refn attempts to create links and most importantly achieves this, however to understand Only God Forgives you will have to notice the tiny references which relate Chang’s actions together in his arrival and departing scene. The final scenes are amazing to watch however “the fight” scene is by far the best and most stand-out being anticipated throughout. The story in a whole for me is very strong and although it has been criticised on its vagueness and obsessive sex and violence it is all for a reason; Refn makes us think and to show how empty Julian is we watch him when he should be most intimate and connecting. Once again Winding Refn creates a very misty, symbolic and aggressive film.

Visually Only God Forgives is brilliant, it has been described as “perfect photography but without the captions”, that description is spot on. Each and every frame is a joy to experience and has been shot with precision and accuracy. The cinematography again is equal and this alongside Refn’s direction flourishes within the long awaited fight scene. Only God Forgives is technically flawless with even the make-up department thriving in turning the idolised and loved face of Gosling into something that looks broken and destroyed and more so the special effects team on creating gore which is worthy of the horror genre should be praised. The sound is also a highlighting feature and again likewise to Drive it should be applauded as Cliff Martinez shows great talent and skill.

Criticisms have been harshly focused too on Ryan Gosling and his performance which some have said isn’t worthy to be called a “performance”. However for me Gosling was brilliant, it is most likely harder to act without emotions then it is with, as it is human nature that we display emotions each and every day, every second. To capture such a lifeless and empty Julian, Gosling should be praised. However it was only Gosling that really impressed as the rest of the cast although very silent due to script and Refn’s nature wasn’t too believing or real.

Only God Forgives was victim of very bad criticisms however for me there were only two major flaws and areas I didn’t find impressive. The acting in general as I said with the exclusion of Ryan Gosling was very poor but more so this was due to a very mute script from Refn that didn’t pay off as he hoped despite turning more attention maybe towards the visuals.  The story too for me should have been directly linked to Drive and therefore it would have created a better understanding even if there was a short opening sequence continuing from the end of the 2010 hit.

Only God Forgives is a very complex film yet looks so simplistic, once the story is digested and understood it is then easier to enjoy and be inspired by what is a technically and visually flawless film. It thrives of an excellence main character and acting, whilst elements of gore and effects are well managed and executed. Winding Refn creates a very lovable film which for me was one of my favourites of last year and although not the most easiest to watch nor understand it can become very entertaining and essentially a worth-while viewing.

MY 2013 AWARDS

The year of 2013 has been a great year for the film industry and cinema; there have been some outstanding releases that have therefore played a role in advertising cinema in all its glory; however there have also been those flops and shameful failures. I have been lucky enough to have viewed many new releases this year and more so, some outstanding ones. I have also been lucky in dodging some of the terrible showings. I will not be awarding films generic titles but ones that suit its viewing most accordingly.

I SHOULD HAVE KEPT MY £10 AND BROUGHT NETFLIX AWARD!

Surprisingly there was no contest for this award even with Movie 43 and The Harry Hill Movie being released in the same year. Oblivion for me was the worse film of 2013 that I had paid to see and even with that in mind, I’m sure it still would have been equally terrible if it was free! The story to Oblivion really didn’t reveal itself till the end so for the most part it was Tom Cruise fixing broken droids with chewing gum and fighting his own clones in a “Tom Cruise-off”. It was just a really poor film that seemed the only purpose it fulfilled was to remind us all how egotistical Mr. Cruise is. For the majority of this film apart from planning the fire exit route home, I was actually thinking of things I could have brought instead, and yes a month’s trail of Netflix crossed my mind!

IT WAS WORTH THAT EXTRA £1 FOR THE GLASSES AWARD!

Most films I’ve seen in 3D have really not been worth that extra £1 for the glasses nor the hassle of the glasses irritating your head. However on that very short list is a 2013 release that I believe is the best cinematic viewing experience in recent years! Gravity was outstanding and its use of 3D was just brilliant. The scene that was most amazing consisted of Ryan Stone’s (Sandra Bullock) tears falling from her eyes towards your face out of the screen. Alfonso Cuarón editing and effects should be applauded. There were really no other contenders for this award, Gravity was visually faultless!

I ALMOST CHOKED ON MY SKITTLES WHILST LAUGHING AWARD!

Every year a handful of “comedies” are released and only a select few manage a snigger or a laugh. This year has been slightly encouraging though with a few films being released that were surprisingly funny. This is the End was by no means special but I giggled due to the works of Seth Rogan once again, and of course The Worlds End was very good displaying that classical Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright humour. However the best comedy of 2013 for me was The Heat! It was hilarious and included amazing humour achieved by the physical display as well as the dialogue. I was actually lucky to see the advanced viewing of The Heat all the way back in February/March and I can still remember the punch-lines. There was one scene out of many that made me hysterical and I actually choked on my skittles at the time, I shall just call that “the watermelon scene”. The Heat isn’t the best film ever but it definitely succeeded at making me laugh non-stop throughout so the award was a no-brainer!

MOST TENSE EXPERIENCE AWARD!

There’s nothing I find more interesting than how a film can make you feel so tense and on edge despite knowing full well it’s just fiction, it’s just a film. This year two films made me on edge, James Wan’s horror The Conjuring had one particular scene that made me amongst others a little bit clammy. However it was Captain Phillips that completely by surprise made me so tense and thrilled throughout viewing. Tom Hanks playing the lead role in a film based on the real life event of Somali pirates capturing the captain of an American cargo ship back in 2009. It had many breath taking and nervy scenes that was helped by the great performance of Tom Hanks. As well as being the tensest viewing experience of 2013, Captain Phillips is also one of my favourite releases.

IT WAS SO WORTH BEING SURROUNDED BY KIDS AWARD!

No matter how old you are there will always be certain films that you can’t help but go to the cinema and watch, despite it involving being surrounded by excitable kids and their parents. Despicable Me 2 was one of those films that I had to see and it was very worth it due the minion mayhem, but it was Monsters University that was the real entertainer. The long awaited sequel to the 2001 Monsters Inc. and the film of my childhood it was one I couldn’t resist. Watching Mike and Sully back at university competing in the scare games was great and it really made me feel like a little child again. I might have looked a bit odd laughing and smiling throughout but the film was amazing. I really don’t regret going to the cinema to see it at all even I did look like a big kid and I’m sure there were many others out there just like me!

YOU SHOULD QUIT THE FATHER AND SON DUO AWARD!

It’s always a disaster waiting to happen when a film becomes a family project. However the film that needed to ditch its father and son duo wasn’t A Good Day To Die Hard but Will and Jadon Smith’s After Earth. The father and son duo had struck lucky with The Pursuit Of Happiness but it wasn’t going to happen again. Jadon really can’t act and the storyline was so dull, at times I didn’t know what was worse. The film previously had such a huge advertisement campaign focusing on the pairing but after this display, this should be the last time we see the Smith’s on the big screen together for a while.

LETS JUST SHHH AND ENJOY THE CINEMATOGRAPHY AND SOUNDTRACK AWARD!

I had to squeeze this film in here somehow! Many will criticise and shame Nicholas Winding Refn’s 2013 Only God Forgives but for me it was a technical and visual master display. It was the unlabelled sequel to the very popular and prestigious Drive (2011) but the film itself was very different. Despite a quiet story, the technical side of Only God Forgives was amazing, the cinematography was really as good as it gets. I’ve heard this film being described as many things, but the one that was really spot on was, “Perfect photography without the caption.” Once again like Drive the soundtrack was also brilliant. Even if you don’t have a clue about what is going on you can’t shun the faultless visuals and for me it was one of the best and underrated releases this year.

I WAS BRIEFLY SCARED AWARD!

2013 for horror was very disappointing in comparison to my original expectations. With big name releases like The Evil Dead and Carrie I was hoping for something else apart from just gore but that didn’t arrive. Surprisingly though it was two of the less talked about films that made the impact, Mama was especially good but James Wan’s The Conjuring for me was the best horror. It had an interesting story that was executed well resulting in a few moments where I was actually scared. The “clap game scene” especially showed that. Again it was nothing too special but it was definitely the best out of the bunch.

 

BEST SEQUEL AWARD!

Usually when a bag full of sequels gets released it’s for the wrong reasons and they only produce a dent in their franchise. 2013 however was a good year for sequels with the likes of, Monsters University, A good day to Die Hard, Despicable Me 2, The Hunger Games etc. but as expected there was no contest as soon as The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug was released. The prequels to the best trilogy made in Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit films were always going to have high expectations and they’ve surely delivered. Once again the entertainment flourished with a great storyline and cast recreating that much loved adventurous feel. There is no other alternative than to choose The Hobbit as the best sequel!

MOST FAVOURITE PERFORMANCE AWARD!

There are always those films and those characters that you can’t help but get attached too and this is purely down to the great performances captured by the actors and actresses. This year for me I saw two standout performances, Colin Farrell although only playing a side-role in Saving Mr Banks was absolutely brilliant. It was Farrell’s co-star Tom Hanks that gave the best performance of 2013 though, in the outstanding Captain Phillips. Tom Hanks reminded us all just why many regard him as one of the greatest actors of recent years. It was the final scene that really showed this, as a hysterical Tom Hanks captured brilliantly the feelings of Captain Richard Phillips. There will be no surprise if Hanks wins many awards for his role as without it Captain Phillips wouldn’t have been as enjoyable and as impacting.

There’s my non-generic awards for 2013, feel free to comment on all those wonderful controversial statements, or perhaps agree with my absolute correctness.

 

Top 5: Films To Look Out For In The Rest Of 2013

So we’ve had The Great Gatsby and our Pacific Rim but let’s have a look at what 2013 has left in its film closet.

 

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Action

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Writer: Nicolas Winding Refn

Release Date: 02/08/13

Staring: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas

#5 Only God Forgives: For those who have seen the brilliant film that is Drive (2011) this is a sequel following the story of Julian (Ryan Gosling) 10 years later after fleeing to Thailand. Owning a boxing club, being the main man on a drugs front and an all round respected criminal he gets ordered to kill those who murdered his brother. Feeling the same emptiness and rage that he did in Drive I’m sure the action in this film will be amazing. Staring Ryan Gosling whose performance in Drive was thrilling and from the same director Nicolas Winding Refn you can expect the same quality meaning this film will definitely be a must watch.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Director: Francis Lawrence

Writers: Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt (Screenplay), Suzanne Collins (Novel)

Release Date: 22/11/13

Staring: Jenifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth

#4 The Hunger Games- Catching Fire: A sequel to the 2012 film The Hunger Games it follows  Katniss and Peeta after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games sparks a rebellion in the districts.  An inviting story and a great cast makes this film very much-anticipated, especially following its prequel it the Hunger Games Trilogy.

Genre: Comedy

Director: Adam McKay

Writers: Will Ferrell & Adam McKay

Release Date: 20/12/13

Staring: Will Ferrell, Steve Carell. Paul Rudd

#3 Anchorman- The Legend Continues: After the much famous success with Anchorman (2004) here comes a sequel, with an amazing all-star cast it provided us with many laughs and is possibly one of the most popular comedies. With Will Ferrell once again staring and writing it looks to have the same success and effect making it a film to look out for.

Genre: Horror

Director: Kimberly Peirce

Writers: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Screenplay), Stephen King (Novel)

Release Date: 29/10/13

Staring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Judy Greer

#2 Carrie: A remake of the prestigious and greatly known 1976 horror, Carrie a lonely awkward teen is bullied at school and is beaten at home by her religious mother. However Carrie is blessed with an evil power and after a prank at her high school prom she teaches people a value lesson, If you play with fire, you’ll get burnt. With this film being tipped to be the best horror this year, better than Evil Dead (2013) this will definitely be a film people will flood to see.

Genre: Adventure, Fantasy

Director: Peter Jackson

Writers: Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro, Philippa Boyens

Release Date: 13/12/13

Staring: Martin Freeman, Elijah Woods

#1: The Hobbit-The Desolation of Smaug: The Hobbit the prequels to the most popular trilogy of all time, Lord Of The Rings are very  anticipated films. After the Unexpected Journey (2012) became a huge success and left us with a cliff-hanger you can expect the film to flood the box office with unbelievable sales. Following the story this time Bilbo (Martin Freeman) meets our golden dragon as he goes on his adventure.

That concludes my list of what I think the most top 5 most anticipated films will be for the rest of 2013 but I would like to hear what you think, comment below and let me know.

Film Review: Drive (2011)

 

Genre: Crime, Drama

Director: Nicholas Winding Refn

Writers: Hossein Amini, James Sallis

Staring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks

Rating: ★★★★★

Ryan Gosling stars in this crime drama as a Driver, he has no name, no past, no other life. He drives as a stuntman, a wheelman for getaways and he drives to save his neighbours lives. We first see  Driver in LA being used as a wheelman for a getaway. He’s calm, composed and mysterious and in pursuit from the police he uses not only the sheer power, speed and his driving ability but the environment and intelligence to escape. During the day he works as a mechanic and a stuntman, he asks no questions, he just drives.

He is this traditional “hero” and this film fits the 1960’s trend and style, he is a complete mystery but all we can tell is that he’s damaged and whatever damaged him has had a lasting effect on his mental state. He has no family, no friends, no past not even a name making him defined purely by his behaviour and all he does is drive. He has few if any emotions, he doesn’t talk much but we become to be attached and sympathise for him and this is down to a truly amazing soundtrack and score editing.

The Driver befriends his neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan), and her son Benecio (Kaden Leos) and within a week becomes very affectionate and close. He takes them home from the supermarket after their car breaks down, he then goes on to drive them around and take them places. This sets up a rather heart warming relationship between the three of them however Irene’s husband and Benecio’s dad called Standard (Oscar Isaac) is due out from prison in a week destroying the relationship. Standard at first is hostile with his new neighbour but then realises that he can use him to pay off his debt in a $1million heist on a local pawn brokers. However when things go wrong it puts his family in danger and being attached Driver decides to take it into his own hands to protect their lives. This fuels the rest of the film as Driver gets involved with ruthless big time mobsters Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks as he takes risks to show unbelievable loyalty and feelings for Irene.

As the plot progresses and the danger and conflict increases we see the damaged Driver show as he displays extreme violence. This however creates us to sympathise for him more rather than making him a villain, it also brings some great entertainment and some thrilling action.

The film is action packed but leaves room for a light hearted romance and a good storyline, for once I think a film has managed to balance this out correctly and effectively. Unlike most other crime-action dramas, Drive is a very realistic film, chases seem realistic and so do stunts. CGI is used as little as possible, Danish director Nicholas Winding Refn respecting the genre and craft of film making. The key element in this film is sound, Cliff Martinez should be very proud of what he’s achieved. Due to the lack of dialogue from the driver the soundtrack speaks for him, telling us everything about him including his feelings. Drive has been credited with many awards for it’s sound editing and well deserved too. This is definitely a film you don’t want to miss and you won’t be disappointed after watching.