As many of you already know, John Williams, the master musician who has brought us some of cinema’s greatest movie themes, turned 80 today. In honor of his work, I’ve decided to pick out my favorite 80 seconds of music from the scores he has written over the years.
Most of these clips don’t play to their fullest unless you’re listening to them in within the full track for context, but hey, picking 80 tracks for Williams’ 80th seemed too easy. The selections below are listed in order from shortest to longest, which actually ended up being the same order as lesser favorite to most favorite (I guess the more I liked each, the harder it was for me to trim around it?). I’ve included a YouTube link to each specific section of music and an embedded link to the full track. Feel free to let me know which of your favorites I’ve left out! Again, these aren’t my favorite tracks, but my favorite small chunks of music from John Williams.
“Cadillac of the Skies” from Empire of the Sun (8 Seconds)
I can barely remember this movie (saw it when I was maybe 10 or so), but the score has always stuck with me. It was one of the tracks from a “best of” Williams/Spielberg CD my dad gave me for Christmas one year and the reason I saw the movie is because I first fell in love with the music — which would later become a common theme in my life as a geek. (3:32-3:40)
“Into the Trap” from Return of the Jedi (11 seconds)
This scene not only gave us one of the greatest (or funniest?) lines in cinema history, it also is home to some of the best seconds of Williams’ carrer (although I guess most of the Star Wars saga is…) (1:37-1:48)
“The Tide Turns” from The Phantom Menace (12 seconds)
After wondering for years why this cue didn’t make it onto the soundtrack, they finally released the extended soundtrack, and all I could listen to repeatedly was this. (0:22-0:34)
“Goodbye” from E.T. (14 seconds)
Build up to my second favorite Williams theme. Beautiful. (5:11-5:25)
“Jedi Master Revealed/The Mynock Cave” from The Empire Strikes Back (17 seconds)
Love the cue that plays as the Falcon escapes the Mynock “cave”. (5:00-5:17)
“Journey to the Island” from Jurassic Park (18 seconds)
As you could probably tell already from earlier entries on this list, I love the unique pick-ups Williams uses to bridge an earlier part of his score to one of the main themes. Jurassic Park is perhaps the best example of this for me because the main theme of this film is, in fact, my favorite Williams theme. (6:36-6:54)
So there you have it! 80 of my favorite seconds of Williams music. Feel free to check my time math there, but also feel free not to tell me if it’s miscalculated. I purposefully didn’t check my work in fear I’d have to shave off a second. :)
Did I miss your favorite bit of John Williams music? Send me a link on Twitter or in the comments!
Movie and video game soundtracks are at the core of what makes me a geek. They’re responsible for well over 50% of my iTunes music library (and probably partially responsible for most girls having no interest in me during high school). 2011 was a fantastic year for new soundtracks; listed below are some of my favorites of the year in different categories.
Favorite Video Game Soundtrack
WINNER: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim by Jeremy Soule
Receiving the signed 4-disc collector’s soundtrack did nothing but confirm my undying love for this score. It’s an exquisite example of what I love about video game music. Soule strikes the perfect balance between melody and atmosphere, allowing the score to accompany the game without being too distracting yet plays wonderfully as an album on its own.
Runner Up: Ni No Kuni by Joe Hisaishi
Favorite Movie Soundtrack
WINNER: The Adventures of Tintin by John Williams
After a three-and-a-half year hiatus, John Williams is back with two scores for 2011. The music doesn’t break any new ground, but it certainly completes the classic Spielberg feel present in Tintin. Williams’ distinct style may not have shifted too drastically over the years, but that might be for the best — each theme stays memorable, and each note feels magical. In a time when soundtrack-lovers are asking who the next John Williams is, he kindly reminds us: no one.
Runner up: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Favorite OverClocked Remix Album
WINNER: Wild Arms: ARMed and DANGerous
As many of you know OCRemix may in fact be my favorite website on the entire internet. For those of you unfamiliar, OCR is a non-profit organization dedicated to the appreciation and promotion of video game music as an art form. You can check out the site, along with thousands of free remixes here. The site posts new remixes on a regular basis, and every now and then they release a full album.
The fact that I never played Wild Arms speaks volumes for how in love I am with this remix album. My initial draw to video game remixes is the connection I feel to the memory of playing the game, but this release proves that OCR’s quality of remixes transcends the initial nostalgia factor that started my interest in the site. ARMed and DANGerous is OCR’s largest album to date with over four hours of music spread over four discs. If you’ve played the game or are a fan of OCRemix, the free download is a no-brainer, but if you’re interested in starting with an album from a game you’ve played feel free to browse their ever-growing selection here.
Runner Up: Sonic the Hedgehog: The Sound of Speed
Favorite OverClocked Remix Single
WINNER: “Suite for Violin and Piano” by Gabriel Terracciano and Shnabubula from Metroid
In some cases less is more, but not for Terracciano and Shnabubula’s ten-minute tribute to the original Metroid. In light of the series’ 25th anniversary, there were plenty of remixes to choose from in virtually any style imaginable. I’ve always loved the way Metroid’s themes sound on piano, as these arrangements always show a much different perspective to the themes which are usually heard through a lens of eerie electronic sci-fi timbers.
Runner up: “Nullification” by PrototypeRaptor from The Legend of Zelda
BONUS: Favorite Album Normal People Listen to
WINNER: The King is Dead by The Decemberists
Sometimes it’s easy to forget January releases on lists like these, but not true for me and The Decemberists’ new album. After 2009’s epic rock opera album, The Hazards of Love, the more traditional King is Dead may seem like a step back at first, but it offers ten solid tracks, including one of my all-time favorite Decemberists’ songs, “Rise to Me”.
Runner Up: Meyrin Fields EP by Broken Bells
Like many others, I’ve wanted something like Google+ Circles for a long time, but since the service is still so new, it’s hard to tell if Google will ever deliver what I want from Circles, or if it will just be another failed attempt at categorizing our friends online (see Twitter lists and Facebook lists).
As someone who has sorted all of his friends on Facebook already, the only real difference I see in Circles is the fact that they’re selling their entire concept as an online space where you can finally categorize your friends. Miraculously, everyone believes it too. Yes, Google’s drag-and-drop GUI works well, and yes, it’s fun because it’s new, but at the end of the day, I already have Circles’ functionality with Facebook. I’ve grouped my Facebook friends into different categories (all of which, like Google+ are hidden from the other user), I can choose to select who sees which updates (just as easily as choosing a Google+ Circle), and I’ve friended 603 people on Facebook (…most of who won’t sign up for Google+ any time soon).
What I want to see from Google Circles (and Facebook and Twitter) is the exact opposite of what they’ve been offering. While choosing who sees which updates is a nice feature to have, I rarely feel the need to hide an update from any group of people. What I do feel constantly is the desire to pick and choose categories I want to read from each individual person. We all have a handful of friends who post tweets and status updates that we enjoy reading back-to-back with posts we have no interest in. For instance, I love hearing the hosts of a variety of video game podcasts tweet about the games they play on a daily basis, but as soon as football season starts, they add a lot of crap to my feed every Sunday. For others, maybe they like the sports tweets, but would rather skip the tweets about movies or family life. Knowing that sometimes I like to filter other people’s feeds occasionally makes me scale back on my own tweeting habits. Maybe the people who like my video game tweets don’t want to know every thought I have about Pixar, and maybe the people following my adventures with Brian Brushwood don’t want to know about how much I love Scott Pilgrim.
I often wonder if we were given the choice to subscribe to subcategories if some of the annoyances we have with social media would go away. As it stands now, everyone seems to be cranky about privacy, which, as far as I’m concerned, is an exact opposite of the Internet’s key characteristics. The problem to solve here is filtration of the massive amount of content we see on a daily basis. When I split apart my groups on Twitter, Facebook, and now Google+ I still get a mishmash of crap because, guess what: people have a variety of interests and no one person is going to talk about one thing and one thing only. Just because I made a Twitter list containing people who are related to video games doesn’t mean that list will only contain updates about video games; the same goes for every Google Circle I made this week. Again, it’s nice to filter who I see updates from via groups and circles, but that’s a problem we’ve already solved whether or not the general social networking public is aware of it. If Google+ wants Circles to win me over, I need something both useful and new.
It is with a heavy heart and baggy eyes that we announce the closing of the curtains on the Trending Cinema podcast. It has been a beautiful 18 months, and we’re deeply proud of the 40 episodes and 2 specials we created (a little shy of the 100 episode-benchmark we were going for; close though!) but in recent months our priorities have shifted. Jon has moved on from college life, moved across the United States, and begun an exciting career full of fire-eating and sleight-of-hand. As for Simon, well, he’s just getting older, and sleepier, and frankly there are enough forums for him to share his ridiculous opinions on the world of film.
Just remember kids – this isn’t because we stopped loving you. We’re so glad to have had you as an audience. This podcast was founded by two movie-lovers from different sides of the globe that met over Twitter, became Facebook friends and began recording their chats on Skype. Beyond that, it gave us an excuse to talk with those of you who were similarly living in a different part of the world. On many occasions, our audience became our co-hosts; we couldn’t have done it without you.
There will be one final ‘Goodbye’ episode of Trending Cinema recorded in July; or, at least once our schedules clear up (seriously, if the canceling of the podcast wasn’t already an indication, we’re really busy right now). We’d love for you to send in some farewell messages to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, in the comments here, or to leave a voicemail at (321) 57 TREND or (321) 578-7363, and we can include it on the show.
So, we’ll save our proper goodbye until then. In the meantime … did you hear our Disney Princesses episode? Ca-ray-zee!
- Jon and Simon
PS: Because our current host costs a few bucks per month, we will be moving the website from trendingcinema.com to trendingcinema.wordpress.com — we’re still in the middle of this transition, so the mp3 files aren’t properly linked up yet, but eventually they will be. There’s a chance that the episodes won’t be accessible for a few days at the end of June and early July, so if our farewell message has inspired you to download a few of the episodes you haven’t listened to yet, it might be a good idea to grab those now. They won’t be gone forever by any means, but they will probably be down for a few days.
While I always enjoy watching quality anime, every now and then I hit a state of anime-craving. My most recent one started early this week, and last night I finally got around to satisfying my anime needs with Mamoru Hosoda’s The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.
This 2006 anime film tells the story of Makoto, a teenage girl who discovers a mysterious artifact that grants her the ability to leap through time. While the simple plot description reflects its title well, the film’s sci-fi elements don’t dominate the plot, but instead act as a lens to examine its characters, and more specifically, the romance between them. This technique reminded me of Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – another film I adore for its romantic focus, seasoned with subtle elements of science fiction. In non-media cases, I typically hate anything that adds an unnecessary extra subtle flavor (namely flavored water, like Propel, and hint of lime tortilla chips – ewww). But that’s not the case with The Girl Who Leapt Through Time; rather, sprinkling the right amount of sci-fi into a romance film tastes like a dash of chocolate in a strawberry banana smoothie (seriously, try that sometime). The addition adds something unique to the flavor while complementing the themes at work.
Ok, before that analogy turns into (even more of) a wild tangent about food, I better just say that I highly recommend checking out The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (and “Eternal Sunshine” if you haven’t already). I’m also hoping to find similar films to these, so if you have any recommendations, let me know on Twitter or in the comments.
I had the privilege of seeing Rango in theaters last night. After I woke up this morning, I immediately thought about how amazing it is, which, in the past, has been a consistent indicator for some of my favorite recent films. I went into Rango not knowing much about it, and I’d recommend doing the same. Overall though, the film is a perfect blend of action, humor, and beauty, all overlaid with a dazzling Western atmosphere and fun soundtrack from Hans Zimmer and Los Lobos. One thing I did know, thanks to Germain Lussier, was that it’s an extremely good idea to bring a large bottle of water to the theater, as the entire film made me incredibly thirsty!
I hope live-action directors, like Rango’s Gore Verbinski, continue to take a crack at the animated medium, as we’ve seen some fantastic results so far. 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Fox from Wes Anderson hit a similar chord with me by delivering an experience far different from what we’re used to seeing every year from Dreamworks, Disney, and Pixar. While I still enjoy both types of animated films, it’s nice to see something fresh in this medium, and like I said, I hope the trend continues.
Today I launched a website for my New Media class at Calvin. The goal is to help students improve their academic lives by teaching them how to use digital technology in light of their schoolwork. If you know any friends who may benefit from reading this blog, feel free to pass it along. :)
I finished reading a breathtaking work of art tonight. Its beauty has left me speechless. At its core, Daytripper explores life through the lens of death. I’ll leave the remaining details for you to discover on your own. Trust me, this is worth your time.
Tiny Wings is the latest 99¢ app to hit #1 in Apple’s paid iOS shop. I just finished playing it for the first time, and I had one of those “this-is-so-cute-I-have-to-tell-someone-about-it” moments.
The game stars an adorable little bird whose wings are too tiny to fly. Fortunately for him, the world is populated by beautiful rolling hills, which allow him to slide into the air and experience the feeling of flight. Coupled with its gorgeous visuals, Tiny Wings includes a charming, catchy soundtrack that I’ve been humming silently while writing this short review.
Overall, playing Tiny Wings is simply a pleasant experience – the type you might be itching for if another bird-related app has you hitting your head against a wall.
Download here: iTunes link
As some of you already know, Zelda turned 25 years old today. While my experience with the franchise didn’t start until Ocarina of Time, the series has made a clear impact on my love for video games, and I await Skyward Sword with much anticipation.
Music has always played a large role in my video game experience. I celebrated Mario’s 25th by listening to a variety of Mushroom Kingdom remixes, and today I’m doing the same thing with Zelda. Below are some of my favorite remixed Zelda tracks from OCRemix: