On the recent Lunar New Year I spent the afternoon catching a classic film for the first time, Dirty Dancing. Many of you are rightly showing disgust with me that I waited 29 years to finally see this movie, but sometimes, for one reason or another, a person just doesn’t see a particular movie or other show or song or whatever. The movie was fun and entertaining, and said many things about how people from the 1980s see the 1960s, and despite the blunt handling of class and gender issues, and Roger Ebert’s one-star review, Dirty Dancing has become an iconic film from the late 1980s.
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), a film directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu and starring Michael Keaton, is a surreal tale of a washed-up Hollywood action star who tries his hand at serious theater acting in New York City. The movie opened in mid-November and has been well received. I knew about the movie for a while but it wasn’t until I read Stephin Merritt’s review of the score that I was compelled to go see the movie—mostly to experience its soundtrack.
Birdman‘s soundtrack consists mostly of drum kit music composed by jazz drummer Antonio Sanchez, along with some “additional music” composed by both Joan Valent and Victor Hernandez Stumpfhauser, and some cuts of music by Mahler, Ravel, John Adams, and a couple other classical composers. This score of primarily drum kit work is a fascinating experiment because the music requires the film much more than the film requires the music. Additionally the work of multiple composers along with selections by a music supervisor are an interesting departure from what is the traditional model of film scoring. Continue reading