I recently rented Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep again, great movie by the way, and I remembered how absolutely fantastic the soundtrack is. I’ll post the track listing at the end of the blog. The soundtrack isn’t simply brilliant because it is a mixtape of great songs, it is that. But what puts it other the top as possibly my favorite soundtrack ever is how the music blends with the images on screen. Every instance a track is played, each scene is able to capture all of the complexities of a montage without losing the simplicity of that singular moment. The moment when Stan and his wife are dancing in the kitchen with Dinah Washington’s ‘This Bitter Earth’ being the pinnacle moment of the film as far as these two ideas meshing.
Another director that is excellent at selecting soundtracks, or having someone else collaborate with him, is Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino however uses the music in a different way. His attempts are usually for reference purposes, ie. all the old kung fu punch and kick noises in Kill Bill, or to flip the songs meaning into whatever he’s attempting to do in the scene. Twisted Nerve was previously used in the movie of the same name to evoke a sense of paranoia was used in Kill Bill Volume 1 to bring an obvious sense of foreboding and terror as our protagonist, The Bride, was about to be killed.
Now I’m going to go down a list of all my favorite soundtracks in movies. I believe I’m currently at the point where I prefer a soundtrack being used. Particularly considering original scores these days are usually attempting or come off as bombastic stereotypical Classical music garbage. Instead of trying to juxtapose sound and images, be it the director or composer, they instead go for the most obvious route. Everyone already knows which music is supposed to be used during the moments of sadness, or during the montage of the couple falling in love or during the final climatic battle. It has all become so boring to me. That’s not to say that I’m against the music itself, just can’t help but be bored by the lack or fear of imagination when it comes to orchestrated scores. Repetition and saturation kills all good things though. I’m sure I would be antagonistic towards swing music if it was constantly used during Hollywood movies of the 30s and 40s too.