Hans Zimmer Extracts the Secrets of the ‘Inception’ Score – NYTimes.com


Hans Zimmer Extracts the Secrets of the ‘Inception’ Score

By DAVE ITZKOFF

Having systematically picked apart the critical arguments for and against Christopher Nolan’s film “Inception” and the many possible meanings of that dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream caper, the Web this week went another level into the movie by focusing on its music.

In recent days Internet denizens have gotten very excited about a viral video posted above that compares the Édith Piaf song “Non, je ne Regrette Rien” to Hans Zimmer’s score for the movie. When the video’s pseudonymous author, camiam321, plays the key musical cue from that score, two ominous blares from a brass section, followed by a slowed-down version of the Piaf song which the “Inception” characters play at regular speed as a warning to wake up from a dream state, they sound nearly identical.

via Hans Zimmer Extracts the Secrets of the ‘Inception’ Score – NYTimes.com.

*****SPOILER ALERT FOR THE 83rd OSCARS*****

I am thoroughly pissed off about Hans not winning an Oscar for Best Score for Inception. As I mentioned on an upcoming podcast (coming soon) I had only listened to the Inception score and never saw the movie. Based on how powerful this score was, when I got a Blu Ray player, one of the first movies I bought on Blu Ray was Inception. Hans music was the icing on the cake. The visuals mixed with Hans’ score was absolutely brilliant. I was more than pleased when Hans was nominated this time around since the Academy left him out in the cold for his work on Batman: The Dark Knight.

Mr. Zimmer, who in 2008 was briefly excluded from an Oscar nomination for the score to “The Dark Knight,” which was deemed to have had too many composers (the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences eventually reversed itself and allowed him and a co-composer, James Newton Howard, to compete for the award), said he had no idea how awards bodies would react to his “Inception” score’s incorporation of the Piaf track.

via Hans Zimmer Extracts the Secrets of the ‘Inception’ Score – NYTimes.com.

I am always fascinated when a composer talks about their work. I remembered Michael Giacchino who composed the score for the Lost tv series whereby he included parts of the plane as seen in much of the first season as a musical instrument. I found this piece in which Hans talked about how he worked on the score of Inception:

YM: How did you come up with that iconic blast that’s part of the score?

HZ: Let’s talk about this. Chris had the Edith Piaf song in the script. Right in the intro of it, there are these two little brass nubs. Just in the accompaniment. They’re not even the tune. They’re just lying in the corner of your vision, as it were. And it seemed like a good idea to take the rhythm of that and play it at something like 800th of its speed. Play it really slowly.

I put a piano in the middle of the room and put a brick on the sustain pedal. So when the brass section was blasting away, the strings on the piano would vibrate. That’s what I recorded. Then I slowed it down and did all of the stuff to it. But it’s the same rhythm as the notes in the beginning of Piaf’s song.

I actually had a conversation with Chris [about] if just slowing it down makes it too obvious. Everyone will know straightaway. Shouldn’t we make it a greater riddle? It did actually take people about four weeks to work it out. Well, actually, that’s untrue. People probably did work it out faster. It took someone four weeks to make a YouTube video.

http://oscars.movies.yahoo.com/blog/102-hans-zimmer-talks-about-oscars-and-inception

Now giving credit to the winner of Best Score goes to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for The Social Network. I did love this movie for it’s writing (kudos to Aaron Sorkin), actors, and subject matter. The music for the most part was atmospheric in my opinion which is fine when you doing tv. I’m not knocking it but rather I was not blown away but it either. Bear McCreary of BSG, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and The Walking Dead are perfect examples of incredible workmanship on tv today. Even Wendy and Lisa who scored the canceled Heroes series made a huge impression on me. Much like I pointed out on Hans’ methodology, here is something about Reznor and Ross:

Q. You said David Fincher gave you specific direction or really knew what you wanted; was there kind of an overwhelming or over arching theme he had for you guys?

A. [Reznor] Well, we had read the script and David called us in and said, the only immediate direction was, “I don’t want to use an orchestra. I would like it to feel kind of electronic.” He referenced a couple films. BLADE RUNNER was one of them. Not to sound like BLADE RUNNER, but to inhabit the to have a score that felt like the same iconic quality that the music BLADE RUNNER had in its time. Not something that sounds like that or sounds dated like, but might today. And the thing with David though, and I think this is where we we hit the mark right from the start, is David is never making things up on the fly. And it was difficult at first for us to see a film or read a film and read a script that was a bunch of people talking in rooms. It was no great sweeping landscapes or battle scenes or anything like that and it wasn’t obvious to us what flavor or kind of shape the music was going to have.

Okay, so I give some props to Fincher using Blade Runner as an example of the music he was looking for The Social Network. I’m still bummed that Hans did not win this time around. I’m hoping he will not be the next Spielberg of composers whereby he get nominated tons of times and never take home the big prize. Well, he already did win for The Lion King but Inception is leaps and bounds from his early work.
FYI – If you haven’t heard this by now, give a listen to the theme from Jurassic Park where the music was slowed down to 1000%. Click here to hear it.

Paranormal Activity vs. Paranormal Entity


Here is my thing about going to the movies, I rarely get to go other than to family movies. Never mind that my wife and I have seen a rated R movie in over a year. Even more, I have not seen a horror movie in the theater since The Blair Witch Project; which oddly enough does ties into these two movies.

Paranormal Activity

Katie (Katie Featherston) and her boyfriend, Micah (Micah Sloat), are a young couple who recently moved into a two-story tract housein suburban San Diego, California. Katie claims that a ghostly presence has haunted her since her youth and believes that it has followed her to their new home. She hires a psychic, Dr. Fredrichs (Mark Fredrichs), who assesses that she is being haunted not by aghost, but by a demon. He says the demon feeds off negative energy, and its intent is to haunt and torment Katie no matter where she goes. Before leaving, he advises them not to taunt or communicate with the demon, and to contact demonologist Dr. Johan Averies for help. Instead, each night, Micah mounts a video camera on a tripod in their bedroom to record any paranormal activity that might occur while they sleep in the hopes of solving the problem himself.

The camera manages to capture several supernatural phenomena which remain minor at first, including the bedroom door moving by itself, and the sound of rapid footsteps downstairs. As Micah consistently taunts the demon, the phenomena gradually grow worse, including loud bangs and inhuman noises reverberating from deep within the house. One night, Katie awakens to spend several hours standing by the bed staring at Micah while he sleeps and goes outside to sit on the backyard swing, none of which she remembers the following morning. Katie, already irritated by Micah’s making light of the situation, becomes irate when Micah brings home a ouija board despite Dr. Fredrichs’ warnings. While the two are out of the house, the Ouija board‘s planchette moves on its own and a small fire erupts on the board, extinguishing itself moments later. The next night, Micah sprinkles talcum powder in the hallway and later the couple finds non-human footprints leading to the bedroom from the attic. In the attic, Micah finds a burnt photograph of a young Katie, which was previously thought to have been destroyed in a house fire.

The morning after a particularly intense haunting, a loud bang is heard and they discover the glass over a photo of them has been smashed with Micah’s image scratched underneath. Dr. Averies is abroad when Micah finally agrees to invite him, so Dr. Fredrichs comes instead. Upon his arrival, Dr. Fredrichs immediately has a sense of dread. He apologetically leaves despite their pleas for his help, stating that his presence is only making the demon angry. Two nights later, Katie is dragged out of bed and down the hallway by an invisible force. Hearing her screams, Micah gives chase and seizes her back; the next morning they discover a gruesome bite mark on her back. Stressed and exhausted, the couple decide to go to a hotel. Later, Micah finds Katie gripping a crucifix so tightly that it bloodies her palm. Micah, angry at a situation he cannot control, burns the crucifix and the picture found in the attic. Just as Micah is set to leave, a suddenly calm Katie insists they remain at the house, claiming that they’re “going to be okay now”, her voice speaking dually with the demon’s voice.

Later that night, Katie awakens to once again stand and stare at Micah while he sleeps. After standing and staring at Micah for approximately three hours, Katie goes downstairs into the darkness. After a moment of silence, Katie lets out a blood-curdling scream, waking Micah who rushes to her while the camera records what sounds like a struggle downstairs. The screams suddenly stop, and a brief silence is followed by the sound of heavy footsteps coming up the stairs. Micah’s body is violently hurled at the camera, knocking it over. Katie slowly walks into view, her clothing soaked with blood. Crouching over Micah’s body, she slowly looks at the camera with an evil smile and suddenly lunges toward it, with her face adopting a demonic appearance right before the screen fades to black.

The film ends with an ending title card stating that Micah’s body was discovered a few days later by the police, and Katie’s whereabouts remain unknown.

Wikipedia

Paranormal Enity

Samantha Finley (Erin Marie Hogan), her older brother Thomas Finley, and their mother Ellen Finley, are a family who have lost their father David. Ellen tries to contact her husband by writing to him and is overjoyed upon receiving a written response. Soon the family claims that a ghostly entity is haunting them. At first they think it is their father/husband David, but after a series of horrible attacks upon Samantha they begin to suspect otherwise.

One night the camera records Ellen sitting up in her bed and leaving her bedroom. She is then seen walking into the living room and kneeling at the coffee table where she writes something on a piece of paper. Ellen stands up, crumples the paper and walks back down the hallway. Thomas finds the paper in Samantha’s bedroom under her pillow and opens it to see that the writing spells out the word MARON. Thomas suggests that Ellen and Samantha stay at a hotel while he remains at the house to deal with the problem.

That night, Thomas rummages through a toolbox and finds three bells and some thin wire. On the archways outside his bedroom, the living room and the dining room he sets up traps. The idea is that should the entity enter a room the bell on the wire will jingle. When this does eventually occur, Thomas investigates. The wire and bell outside his door are ripped from the wall and thrown at him. Thomas then shuts himself in the bedroom, where the entity bangs on his door.

Just as the banging stops, Thomas receives a phone call from Ellen, who is in hysterics after the entity apparently followed them and again attacked Samantha. Upon arriving back at the house, Samantha is hunched over and in pain. Ellen says that it looked like something was holding Samantha’s arms before dragging her off the bed.

Thomas awakens at night, finds his sister missing and sees the front door standing open. He searches outside but cannot find her. He later finds the attic ladder hanging down and ascends it to find her silently standing there in a state of undress and in a trance. Upon awakening, Samantha is unable to recall anything from that night.

The following night, Thomas calls the previous owner of the house, asking if anyone under the name of Maron ever lived or died in their home, but the previous owner does not recognize the name. Soon afterwards, Thomas hears Samantha screaming. He rushes to the bathroom and finds her lying topless in the bathtub, wide-eyed and severely traumatized.

Ellen wakes after hearing thuds from outside. In the living room camera she is seen to stand in the archway for a few minutes before disappearing back into her bedroom. Thomas later wakes up, after hearing a door slam shut, and finds that Ellen has slit her wrists, weapon still in hand. She is then taken to the hospital.

Thomas and Sam are left at home when a self-professed paranormal expert arrives and walks through the residence. He explains that there is a powerful dark entity in the home and that Samantha is the focus of its attention. The psychic explains that the entity gained entry into the home via the supernatural gateway that was unwittingly opened up by the mother during her unsuccessful attempts to contact the spirit of her dead husband. Thomas gives the researcher the note his mother wrote in her sleep bearing the name “MARON”. It turns out that “maron” is Old Germanic for “nightmare” or, more specifically, incubus, which is the entity that has targeted Samantha.

The psychic agrees to help them evict the entity when the video fades to black.

After a pause, the camera’s POV shows the doctor’s bleeding head and vacantly-staring face resting sideways on the floor and “looking” toward the lens. Thomas is heard panicking. He grabs the camera after hearing Samantha screaming in agony and runs to her bedroom. We see that the house is in total disarray. Thomas finds his sister naked and levitating above the floor in her bedroom stark, covered in blood while being attacked by some invisible force. He drops the camera and tries to help her. A gurgling noise is heard off-screen, and an unseen figure picks up the camera and focuses it on Samantha’s lifeless face.

A notice at the beginning of the film revealed that Thomas was convicted of murdering the psychic and raping and killing Samantha. Despite his pleas, he was sent to prison, where he committed suicide sometime later.

At the end, it is revealed that upon hearing of both of her childrens’ deaths, Ellen also commits suicide.

Wikipedia

Thanks to Netflix, I mistakenly thought that Paranormal Entity (PE) was the Paranormal Activity (PA) movie that came out recently in the theaters. I discussed the events with a co-worker about Entity (thinking Activity) that apparently happened the same in Activity. Wow, that’s bad sign. Then again, the company who put out PE, The Asylum, is know who making these copies of popular movies like Transmorphers. (I wonder what this movie was originally called, hmmm?) In fairness, having seen both movies, there are some similar plot lines and some scenes that are better done but there were moments where I am taken out of the film and not staying immersed as in Blair Witch.

One of the scenes I discussed with me co-worker was about the footprints. PA’s Micah throws down talcum/baby powder on the floor to catch the pesky loud stomping demonic ghost. There is some evidence shortly afterwards. In PE’s Thomas, discovers footprints on the ceiling. The next day, he finds the footprints came from the ashes of their late father’s urn. In both cases, this is not enough evidence to simply get the $*ck out of the house. Come on, they made the argument that if they leave the “ghosts” would follow them but why for the love of god do you stay and keep recording. However, the next day, both powders are cleaned up. Come on, why are you getting rid of evidence to prove your claim?

Here’s the other thing about the recordings, PA has one camera and PE have several cameras. As these tape were uncovered after the events were recorded, there is a matter of editing. With PA, the camera at times has a visible time clock but is only seen at night. However, when Heather stands up from her sleep, the video goes into time lapse. So, who exactly did this while Micah was asleep? Are the police watching this video? In the PE situation, there are several camera recording different areas of the house and yet, the video is spliced together. Not to mention, there are title cards to indicated how many nights they are into plus the date. Who exactly is doing this?  For me, if I have to ask this question then I am not in the moment. Even Blair had this problem but I am more forgiving because of what they were attempting as they were the first to try this low tech movie making approach.

Another movie came to mind which made me think as how PA and PE could have worked better and that was Cloverfield. In this movie, we had the one camera and the single P.O.V. for most of the film. In the end, the two remaining survivors turned the camera on themselves essentially saying goodbye before their end. With PA and PE, the camera is put on the counter to record themselves or have to be put down in a certain spot and then the camera operator walks into the shot (More on this in a bit).


One of the surprises in PA, is towards the end where Heather is pulled out of the bed. First, one of legs is yanked on which moves Heather to the floor. She panics and then she is dragged down the hall with her legs firsts. She is screaming for Micah to wake and for a while he doesn’t. Great scene to watch but still don’t know how this effect was achieved.

(Here is more about the previous bit. ) Normal people in these situation, I believe, would forget to take the care with them in the case of emergencies. I know I was woken up during Hurricane Andrew and recorded the situation because the power went out but this was just short term. Had there been a situation where someone was in danger or a more serious situation, the camera would not be the first thing I would take. PA did it right at the end. Micah wakes after he hears Heather screaming bloody murder downstairs. For once, he left the camera behind. A few seconds later, the screaming stops and the Micah is thrown into the camera in the bedroom. The camera is knocked to the side and then in come Heather but not Heather. She give this weird look the to camera and closes quickly into the camera. The image goes black and we get another title card about what had just happened. Again, I am taken out of the moment.

With PE’s ending, we get a less desirable effect. With the Mom in the hospital, we get the “expert” doctor who finally comes to the house. A few minutes later, the doctor gets killed but we assume it’s the demon but the camera stops recording and then gets restarted with a closeup with of the dead doctor lying on the floor. We then get a scream from Sam and then Thomas picks up the camera and runs towards her room. We see Sam somewhat levitated, not really as I can see a black box she is lying. She is covered in blood and nude. (Way to throw in some sex in the last minute.) Finally, Thomas puts the camera down. We hear more scream but ends with this weird choking noise. The came is then picked up and pans over Sam’s dead body as seen above. This time, there is no blood except for a cut near her breasts. So, who exactly recorded this final image? It wouldn’t be Thomas, right? The screen goes black and another title card telling us that the police found Thomas holding his dead sister in his arms. Thomas gets arrested. The mom hears the news and commits suicide. Shortly thereafter, Thomas kills himself. Why did it take over a year for the “footage” to be revealed? If the cops, blamed Thomas for what he did to the family, who hid the film? Again, I am asking too many questions and I am taken out of the situation.

Overall, there are a few chills worth watching but capturing the lightning in the bottle a la Blair Witch or Cloverfield this is not.

Top 10 Sci-fi Horror Films – The Sci-Fi Block


Top 10 Sci-fi Horror Films

“Best Of” List by Robert Ring, John Dubrawa, 10.02.2009

It is perhaps natural that all of the writers for The Sci-Fi Block also happen to be huge fans of the horror genre. Both genres offer a wealth of dynamic visuals, bold storytelling, and uninhibited imagination, so it only makes sense that combining them leads to amazing things. The sci-fi/horror subgenre provides what may be the most fertile platform for movie-making possible. Whether they’re man-eating extra-terrestrials or horrendous creations of science, the subjects of these movies alone are often worth the time and money spent to watch them. Throw in a good story, and you have a genuine package of seat-glue. For this Halloween, here are the ten best as determined by us, guaranteed to provide a great night (and equally great nightmares).

10. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Don Siegel‘s Invasion of the Body Snatchers is THE ultimate paranoia film. This movie follows an outbreak of human body possessions as they progress from a handful of suspicious events to widespread zombification. It happens when an alien plant form begins replicating the residents of a small town and killing the originals. What results are pure automatons in the guise of everyday townspeople, guided by a mission to propagate their species until the entire planet has been overtaken and converted from humanity. We follow Dr. Miles Bennell through this nightmare as he attempts to escape a town in which literally anyone might be the enemy. When filmed by a cinematographer with the ability to evoke paranoia from practically any location, a story like this is basically guaranteed to become a classic.

via Top 10 Sci-fi Horror Films – The Sci-Fi Block.

Is Horror Dead? / Does a changing of the guard mean the end of a genre as we know it? | MovieMaker Magazine


Found this article some time ago and now seems like the perfect to to bring up this topic. Looking over the past couple of nights, I’ve noticed that a good deal of the horror movies I’ve enjoyed have something to with some type of monster ie Humanoids of the Deep, Prophecy ( not Christopher Walken), and The Beast Within. Even zombies to a degree would be on par with this creatures but having said that most of these movies were from the 70’s and 80’s. Before the age of CGI, there was a great deal of rubber latex makeup effects and animatronics effects. From Dick Smith to Rick Baker to Rob Bottin and to the late Stan Winston, these were geniuses of creativity, true masters of horror effects that have yet to be surpassed still to this day.

I have no problems with a mutilation of someone by a beast/monster or a slasher film that finds new ways of killing people but straight on torture, just torture, just doesn’t speak to me. Compare my statement to a comedian who is funny without having to swear versus those who constantly drop the f-bomb. What I want are for films to be interesting to watch with moments of sheer terror that doesn’t have to rely on just torture for thrills. The Cell with Jennifer Lopez is an amazing film to watch because of director Tarsem’s unique visual style plus add in the performance of Vincent D’onofrio as Carl Stargher and you will have an experience that you will soon not forget.

But I digress, I’ve learned that everyone, yes everyone, has a right to like what they like. I may not agree with these newer films but if it makes you happy in the sense that you enjoy them then by all means, have at it. They are all yours for the taking. Just give me my landshark eating zombie with raping men and women on the friday the 13th on elm street and I’ll call it a day.

Is Horror Dead?

Does a changing of the guard mean the end of a genre as we know it?

by Christian Toto | Published August 1, 2008

Heather Matarazzo in Eli Roth‘s Hostel: Part II (2007).

Torture porn showcases like Turistas and Hostel: Part II didn’t cut it with critics or moviegoers; Freddy, Jason and Michael are either showing up infrequently or basking in retirement—and there hasn’t been a breakout horror hit since a puppet named Jigsaw jump-started the grotesque Saw franchise back in 2004.

Though they’re trying, a new crop of young horror directors are having a devil of a time resurrecting the genre. Rising star Eli Roth’s reputation took a hit when his highly anticipated Hostel: Part II tanked. Neil Marshall delivered one of the better frights of the decade with 2005’s The Descent, but took a creative leap backward with the recycled mess that was Doomsday. Rogue, director Greg Mclean’s follow-up to the 2005 cult hit Wolf Creek, snuck into only a few theaters earlier this year before its inevitable date with DVD. Rob Zombie’s 2007 Halloween remake earned a tidy profit but left fans clamoring for the low-budget original.

Combine this with the old guard’s disappearing box office clout (George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead earned less than $1 million in its theatrical release earlier this year), and audiences are left wondering: What’s next on the horror horizon? Who can scare us silly again?

Legendary special effects guru Tom Savini, who worked on many of Romero’s classic films and is an actor and director in his own right, scratches his head over the genre’s current state.

“It’s hard to tell what phase it’s in,” Savini says of the cyclical genre, which rotates from old-school creature features like Frankenstein to psychological terrors such as The Haunting. Today, what amounts to an original idea is having a cell phone that can kill you, he laments. Horror fans are noticing the dearth of quality scares.

“When I go to [horror] conventions and do Q&As, you can tell they’re starving for something,” he says. If the last year has laid the groundwork for any trend it’s toward films evoking the video game experience, says Savini. Both Cloverfield and Diary of the Dead used a video camera as the audience’s main viewpoint, and scenes from each could easily be translated to a shoot-’em-up style video game. “That mindset—that point of view—is what’s important to the young audience,” he notes.

via Is Horror Dead? / Does a changing of the guard mean the end of a genre as we know it? | MovieMaker Magazine.

George A. Romero Speaks / Horror legend shares the 10 lessons he’s learned over 40 years behind the camera | MovieMaker Magazine


George A. Romero Speaks

Horror legend shares the 10 lessons he’s learned over 40 years behind the camera

by George A. Romero | Published May 26, 2010

A legend of the horror genre, George A. Romero has been scaring audiences for more than 40 years with his unique brand of socially-conscious fright films. His latest, the zombie epic Survival of the Dead (the sixth feature in Romero’s “Dead” series), was released by Magnolia Pictures via video on demand on April 30th, before hitting theaters on May 28th. Here, Romero shares 10 lessons he’s learned during his career.

1. Show, don’t tell. First drafts of my earliest screenplays always came in at 300-plus pages. I used to think that a thought unwritten was a thought lost. I learned that new and better thoughts come once you’ve had a chance to think about what you’ve written and then—rewrite. My producing partner, a wonderful editor, taught me that thoughts on the page should be precise and well-contemplated, or they wind up wasting time and money.

2. Time is money. So be prepared when you walk on to the set.

3. Know as much as you can about every crew member’s specialty. You will better appreciate a good job, and you won’t be ripped off by a DP who requisitions an outrageously expensive equipment package.

4. Computer graphics should be thought of as tools. Use them to save time and money, rather than just because you can.

via George A. Romero Speaks / Horror legend shares the 10 lessons he’s learned over 40 years behind the camera | MovieMaker Magazine.