Thursday, August 31, 2006

Movie Trailer Music Euphoria

The group Immediate Music has created a lot of original music for movie trailers, including Lord of the Rings, Spiderman 2, King Kong, Superman Returns, The Chronicles of Narnia, and X-Men: The Last Stand. Until recently, this increasingly popular sub-genre of music has not been made available to the general public. Now, the CD “Epicon” has been released for all to enjoy. This is from the official press release:

Ever since director John Boorman had the brilliant idea to track Carl Orff’s rousing ‘O Fortuna’ piece from ‘Carmen Burana’ into his 1981 film ‘Excalibur’, the sound of movie trailer music has never been the same. “Back-end music”, as it’s often called, follows a formula that any moviegoer will instantly recognise: a eclectic mix of orchestral music underscores an often dizzying array of moods steadily building to an overpowering sonic explosion that stirs audiences into a near-euphoric state of anticipatory frenzy.

The Globus Music MySpace page has several samples from the album, my favorite being the track entitled “Preliator.” It beings with an unfortunate O Fortuna rip-off of an introduction (nice but clichéd), then segues into a progression of intriguing choral, orchestral, and rock elements. If you like the music from movie trailers, you might like this album.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Piper Quote for the Day

“…The strength of patience hangs on our capacity to believe that God is up to something good for us in all our delays and detours.”

(Future Grace, pg. 174)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Monday Morning with Mike Moeller and Miracle Morgan

(Yes, one of my mottos is “avoid alliteration always and allow alternative articulations.”)

As some of you know, I had the privilege of helping produce a documentary about Morgan Moeller, a Knoxville girl who suffered from DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) with cerebral edema in 2001. Well, this morning I got to join Morgan and her father Mike on the Bob Bell Show (on Joy 62, WRJZ). Mike and Morgan shared some of their family’s story, which Mike has written about in his book Above the Clouds.

One area of the story Michael Cummins and I chose to omit in our film (because of thematic and time constraints) was Morgan’s interaction with the spiritual realm. During her coma, she went “above the clouds” and met her three guardian angels: David, Jacob, and UM. Yes, the third angel’s name was UM.

During one of the breaks, Mike explained to us a recent development of Morgan’s story. Mike got a call from a stewardess who had read his book. She told him, “I know who UM is.” She explained that when young children are traveling alone on an airplane, they can have an escort from the airline watch over them during the flight. These children traveling alone are classified as Unaccompanied Minors, or UM’s.

What makes this revelation even more interesting is that after a particular period of time, Morgan’s angel UM disappeared, while David and Jacob stayed around. Mike believes UM was the angel charged with keeping Morgan safe during her critical time.

Yeah. That’s a pretty cool aspect to the story if you ask me.

On a side note: this week’s music clip is from the documentary. Brendan Anderson, my longtime film scoring collaborator, did an excellent job with the score.

Dude, Where’s My Post(s)?

Sorry for the lack of updates (and the bad grammar above). Sometimes real life happens real fast, and last week was one of those times. I’m going to try posting a lot this week, especially since I’ll be taking an extended Labor Day weekend to go on vacation. Speaking of which, isn’t it funny how we celebrate Labor Day by not working? It should be called Lazy Day.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Hollywood Heavies Publicly Condemn Hezbollah

With Tinseltown’s current propensity to excuse and even dismiss terrorist actions, it’s encouraging to read this report. Way to go Nicole Kidman (et al)!

Puritans with Mad Skills

Last night, I watched the season finale to America’s Got Talent. (Evidently, America’s talent doesn’t include grammar). Among the finalists was a juggling team comprised of two guys named John and Owen. I found them amusing, and not just because of their names. Their act was quite funny.

Monday, August 14, 2006

WORLD View

Want to know how much I love The Lake House? Click here. (Look for the subheading, “Spoiling a romance.”)

Friday, August 11, 2006

WORLD TRADE CENTER (2006) – Film Review

Oliver Stone is nothing if not controversial. This time around, though, the controversy surrounding World Trade Center is based on the fact that the award-winning director has jettisoned his usual trademarks in favor of telling a simple and straightforward story.

Reverent, heartfelt, restrained, spiritual, patriotic—the film is all these things and much more. There is no need for extravagant effects and Stone thankfully avoids sensationalism. Most of the horror the movie portrays isn’t visual—it’s aural. Rather than being forced to watch what we have already seen a hundred times, we simply hear the first plane’s impact. When the policemen run into the elevator shafts for safety, we don’t see much; instead, we endure the seemingly-endless and gratuitous sounds of the towers collapsing. What we hear is more than enough to make the movie real. In fact, the sense of claustrophobia/peril is so real that there were times I feared John McLoughlin (Nicolas Cage) and Will Jimeno (Michael Peña) might not make it out alive—even though I knew how the story ended.

World Trade Center may not affect the emotional palate as strongly as United 93 did, but it is easier to swallow. In fact, some have complained that the approach Stone takes is too soft, turning the story into a generic search-and-rescue effort that could have just as easily taken place in a mining shaft or burning building. I’m not sure if these people saw the same movie I did. Elements of 9/11 permeate the narrative, continually reminding us that this was no mere accident. The movie may not be as intense or heart wrenching as United 93 was, but it doesn’t need to be.

Given the simplicity of the plot, it’s hard to believe how quickly the two hours pass. Once the Port Authority officers are trapped under the rubble of the towers, the story alternates between their conversations as they fight to stay alive and the interactions of their family members as they wait for any news from Ground Zero. The dialogue isn’t polished, which actually serves the film well. In the midst of great tragedy, victims don’t automatically wax eloquent. These were real, normal people engaging in real, normal relationships. Life is filled with these “little moments,” the consequences of which are seemingly insignificant in the grand scheme of things. And yet, as we see in the movie, the mundane aspects of life can have a greater impact on us than we might imagine.

Like the movie, Craig Armstrong’s music is simple and restrained. It’s nothing that grabs your attention—but then, that was probably the point. Dominated by a melancholy piano theme (heard in the trailers) and string-heavy underscore, the music doesn’t really rise to any prominence until the climax. Much of the film’s music contributes little more than ethereal subtext. In fact, the most intense scenes are completely music-free—a nice touch that helps the film avoid accusations of shameless manipulation.

This year has brought us two motion pictures about September 11 2001, both of which have treated their subject matter with dignity and respect. Oliver Stone and Paul Greengrass deserve our admiration for their efforts. And let’s hope that future cinematic treatments of this topic rise to the standard these two men have set.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Continuing the Pirate Theme

This week’s film score clip comes from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Hans Zimmer’s theme for Jack Sparrow wonderfully captures the character’s tipsy, swaggering personality.

Friday, August 04, 2006

What’s in the Sponge?

I came across an excellent article today: You Made Me Sin, by Carolyn McCulley. It shines a spotlight on the nature of indwelling sin. Highly recommended.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Actually, I Lied

Here’s another quote, which (ironically enough) relates to the Orson Welles quote below and which I found transcribed here.

“We haven’t had a television in our house in America for thirty years. And I used to think, ‘O dear, I’m going to raise these boys and they’re going to be “out of it”’, and yet I was choosing to take that risk because of mainly time and banality. I wasn’t worried about sex and violence. I mean, who cares about sex and violence? The bible is full of it. I care about the silliness of it all, and dragging the soul down into such small empty insignificant junk that fills that screen everyday. How can anybody have a capacity for glory and greatness and magnificence and chivalry and beauty?” (John Piper)

Quote for the Day

“I hate television. I hate it as much as peanuts. But I can’t stop eating peanuts.” (Orson Welles)

(Found on Gene Edward Veith’s blog.)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Theology of the Cross

Click here to view a chart that details the differences between the “theology of glory” and the “theology of the cross.” I can’t say I agree with every statement made in the table. For example, the placement of “once saved, always saved” baffles me. (Maybe I’m just missing something.) However, I think this particular chart helps us see more clearly what it means to have a cross-centered theology.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

WTC Opening Night

Advanced tickets for World Trade Center are now available. For those of you in Knoxville, we’re going to see the film opening night, Wednesday, July 9. If you’re interested, you can purchase your ticket here and meet us in the lobby of the Pinnacle at 10:00pm. You can watch several scenes from the movie here.