Reel tunes

The band’s rob­bie robert­son called di­rec­tor Martin Scors­ese a frus­trated mu­si­cian, with good rea­son.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MUSIC - > Layla

THIS week, The Wolf Of Wall Street comes to Malaysian cine­mas, telling the story of a stock bro­ker (Leonardo DiCaprio) who gets tan­gled in the worlds of cor­po­rate bank­ing and the mob. It’s the lat­est epic from leg­endary film di­rec­tor Martin Scors­ese, the man re­spon­si­ble for clas­sics like Taxi Driver, Rag­ing Bull, Good­fel­las and The De­parted.

In ad­di­tion to be­ing riv­et­ing films, Scors­ese’s works in­clude some of the best and most cre­ative uses of “source mu­sic.” That’s a movie in­dus­try term for mu­sic that was not cre­ated specif­i­cally for the film. While di­rec­tor Steven Spiel­berg of­ten works with com­poser John Wil­liams to cre­ate orig­i­nal or­ches­tral scores for his movies, Scors­ese is more likely to sound­track his mu­sic with tunes that al­ready ex­ist. In most cases, that means rock and roll.

The Amer­i­can di­rec­tor wasn’t the first per­son to use rock mu­sic in the movies (that prac­tice started al­most as soon as rock and roll be­came pop­u­lar in the 1950s), but Scors­ese might be the best at it. His films are lit­tered with un­for­get­table se­quences set to some of the great­est mu­sic in rock his­tory: songs by The Clash, Eric Clap­ton, Bob Dy­lan and – most no­tably – The Rolling Stones.

Yes, Scors­ese and the Stones are as in­ter­twined as the di­rec­tor and Robert DeNiro (or, th­ese days, DiCaprio). Scors­ese has em­ployed dozens of Rolling Stones tracks in his movies, us­ing them to un­der­score re­gret, fear, ex­cite­ment, vi­o­lence and more. Mick Jag­ger and Keith Richards kick in on the sound­track and th­ese scenes come to life. In 1973’s Mean Streets, DeNiro makes one of the best en­trances in screen his­tory, set to the jagged riffs of the Stones’ Jumpin’ Jack Flash. He wob­bles into the bar, coated in red light, with a woman on each arm and it’s clear to the au­di­ence, here comes trou­ble. He’s used the Stones’ apoc­a­lyp­tic

no less than three times in his movies ( Good­fel­las, Casino and The De­parted). The third time proved to be the charm, as Scors­ese in­ter­twined a howl­ing Jag­ger with a nasty Jack Nicholson to cre­ate the ap­pro­pri­ate sense of fore­bod­ing in the open­ing scenes of The De­parted. Of course, Scors­ese’s cat­a­logue of films isn’t lim­ited to sim­ply us­ing the Stones’ tunes; he helmed a con­cert film star­ring the band, the ex­pertly shot Shine A Light, in 2008.

The Band’s Rob­bie Robert­son once called Scors­ese a frus­trated mu­si­cian, which is ev­i­dent by the amount of mu­sic doc­u­men­taries he’s di­rected, in­clud­ing ones fo­cus­ing on Dy­lan, Bea­tle Ge­orge Har­ri­son and The Band. The Last Waltz, a movie that de­picts the fi­nal con­cert for the orig­i­nal lineup of The Band, is a lov­ingly crafted trib­ute to live rock and roll. I re­mem­ber watch­ing it as a teenager with my fa­ther and him telling me, “Watch the mu­si­cians’ eyes. It’s how they com­mu­ni­cate.” Sure enough, The Last Waltz show­cased the in­ti­mate in­ter­play of a great group. Be­cause of this (and many more qual­i­ties), it’s the best con­cert movie of all time.

Scors­ese brings that sort of crack­ling en­ergy to ev­ery film, of­ten by way of rock and roll. Some­times it’s right from the open­ing cred­its – The Ronettes’ fa­mous stut­ter drum­beat from Be My Baby that opens Mean Streets or The Drop­kick Mur­phys’ blar­ing I’m Ship­ping Up To Bos­ton in The De­parted. Some­times the mu­sic am­pli­fies the exuberance of a scene – War­ren Zevon’s Were­wolves Of Lon­don en­hances the cocky at­ti­tude of Tom Cruise as he has his way with a bil­liard ta­ble in The Color Of Money and The Crys­tals’ And Then He Kissed Me gal­lops along with an un­bro­ken shot through the Copaca­bana night­club as Ray Liotta en­joys the perks of be­ing a mob­ster in Good­fel­las.

Some­times the mu­sic brings a nervy edge to the scene (The Clash’s ram­pag­ing Janie Jones in Bring­ing Out The Dead) or a sense of in­evitable tragedy (both The An­i­mals’ House Of The Ris­ing Sun in Casino and Derek and the Domi­nos’ Layla in Good­fel­las are the sound­tracks to a slew of mur­ders).

For all of th­ese – and many other – ex­am­ples, Scors­ese has been an enor­mous in­flu­ence on new gen­er­a­tions of film­mak­ers who use source mu­sic in their movies: no­table di­rec­tors that in­clude Quentin Tarantino ( Pulp Fic­tion, Django Un­chained), Wes An­der­son that when done in ex­cess, Blunt risks the dan­ger of com­ing across like a sad puppy, as ev­i­dent on tracks such as Al­ways Hate Me, Blue On Blue and Miss Amer­ica (which sounds like a carbon copy of Lana Del Rey’s Video Games).

Ob­vi­ously, no one in their right mind would have the heart to kick a sad puppy. It’s just re­ally un­for­tu­nate that Blunt doesn’t en­joy that kind of im­mu­nity. ( Rush­more, Moon­rise King­dom) and Cameron Crowe ( Say Any­thing, Al­most Fa­mous). An­der­son has even said he used a Stones song in his first film be­cause of Martin Scors­ese.

Al­though Scors­ese has in­spired his share of di­rec­tors, he’s not ready to pass on the torch quite yet. Af­ter all, The Wolf Of Wall Street has drawn glow­ing re­views as well as spec­u­la­tion that it might land some Os­cars. I don’t know if it will live up to the hype, but I can guar­an­tee I’ll go home from the the­atre with a few more songs and im­ages burned into my mem­ory. Pants, a man­u­fac­tured pop project called Valli Girls and a theme song for an Amer­i­can an­i­mated tele­vi­sion se­ries called ... wait for it ... Trollz.

But as far as pop ac­ces­si­bil­ity on Haim’s de­but stu­dio al­bum is con­cerned, it be­gan and ended with a song called The Wire. With airy melodies and a kiss-off line like “I just know that you’re gonna be ok any­way”, the track’s a guar­an­teed fix­ture for any self-re­spect­ing fe­male indie mu­sic fes­ti­val-goer.

The rest of Days Are Gone is an amal­ga­ma­tion of songs that bring to mind a time of shoul­der pads. Or if we’re talk­ing in the rock ‘n’ roll sense – an era of mul­lets.

And while we’re on the topic of fash­ion, Vogue sums it up best when it dubbed Haim’s mu­sic as “stripped-back nu-folk-meets-nineties-R&B-pop sound”. On tracks such as Fall­ing and Go Slow, the sem­blance of mu­sic from the cas­sette years is uncanny.

Con­sist­ing of three spunky twen­tysome­thing sis­ters – Este, Danielle and Alana Haim – along with drum­mer Dash Hut­ton, the band’s de­but is rife with re­vival­ism of by­gone mu­sic that will get the yes­ter­year crowd cheer­ing. And thanks to their sta­tus as the lat­est cool kids on the block, younger fans might jump on this nos­tal­gic band­wagon, too.

Wild horses: Martin Scors­ese (cen­tre) has a pen­chant for mak­ing edgy movies, quite like how the rolling Stones has worked at craft­ing its mu­sic. — aFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.