Fame was a film directed by Alan Parker, a serious auteur (some would say overly serious, especially in light of the work that came later) who designed the film for posterity, and the same attitude carried over the music. Yes, the production techniques often do sound dated – the over-reliance on state-of-the-art synthesizer ironically now sounds helplessly tied to the year of its creation – but the music by Michael Gore is dynamic, varied, and alive, sung with real passion and vigor, and it still retains its essential spark 23 years after it was a pop culture phenomenon. Sure, it's glitzy and glossy, sounding like show tunes, but that's the tradition of this music, and it was done better than most Broadway tunes and movie soundtracks of the '80s. Years later, this still has the spark and vitality of kids trying to make their big break, no matter the kind of music they're singing, and that's one of the main reasons (along with Gore's fine compositions) Fame retains its power and entertainment value years later.
For Robert Altman's Kansas City film, since the story was centered in 1934 Kansas City, Altman wanted to have younger musicians depict top jazz artists of the era playing at one of the legendary jam sessions. He recruited many of today's top modernists and, although they used arrangements based on older recordings, they did not have to necessarily improvise in the style of the time. Actually, it is surprising how close the musicians often come, recapturing not just the music of the period but the adventurous spirit of such immortals as Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, and Lester Young. A dozen songs from the film are on this very enjoyable and unique CD, which features such players as trumpeter Nicholas Payton, clarinetist Don Byron, guitarists Russell Malone and Mark Whitfield, pianists Geri Allen and Cyrus Chestnut, altoists Jesse Davis and David "Fathead" Newman, and four of today's great tenors: James Carter, Craig Handy, David Murray, and Joshua Redman. In addition, Kevin Mahogany sings "I Left My Baby." Although there are some audience shouts on a couple of the pieces, this is one soundtrack album that very much stands up on its own.
Kissed is a 1996 Canadian film, directed and co-written by Lynne Stopkewich, based on Barbara Gowdy's short story "We So Seldom Look On Love". It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 1996. The film stars Molly Parker as Sandra Larson, a young woman whose fixation on death leads her to study embalming at a mortuary school, where in turn she finds herself drawn toward feelings of necrophilia. Peter Outerbridge also stars as Matt, a fellow student who develops romantic feelings for Sandra, and so must learn to accept her sexual proclivities.
For his third lushly photographed martial-arts film, CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER, Zhang Yimou once again collaborated with Japanese composer Shigeru Umebayashi, who created the music for the Chinese director's lauded HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS. Umebayashi's orchestral pieces fittingly echo the sweeping drama and stunning visuals of the movie, as best revealed in the Wagnerian "Rebellion" and the percussive "Heroic Battle".
One of the best kept secrets in film music is out! World premiere release of never-used Michael Small score for highly-praised, then-timely thriller directed by James Bridges, starring Jane Fonda, Michael Douglas, Jack Lemmon. Tense tale of nuclear plant disaster played incredibly well without any dramatic scoring, but original intent was to have Small add suspense, excitement to grim & eerie proceedings. Small offers terse ideas, keeps pace with pending disaster, then unleashes sensational action cue with "Meltdown!" sequence. While multi-track elements have vanished, Sony fortunately vaulted mono safety copies of entire sessions. Engineering slates and paperwork allowed us to recreate Small's original picture intent as well. Also included is "bonus" section of Small's original source music, used for various TV bumpers (Fonda & Douglas are TV reporters). Michael Small conducts. Intrada Special Collection release limited to 1000 copies!