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The Shore/Cronenberg Collaboration, Part 2 (feat. Riley KZ!)

AhN
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The Shore/Cronenberg Collaboration, Part 2 (feat. Riley KZ!)   Tuesday, May 10, 2022 (6:16 a.m.) 

ICYMI, Part 1: https://www.filmtracks.com/scoreboard/forum.cgi?read=108163&expand=1

Once again, I'll share three excerpts out of the 7 in this half of the piece. The other films/scores covered in part 2 are eXistenz, Spider, A History of Violence, and Maps to the Stars. Enjoy!



Cronen-Shore: A Collaboration of Nightmares, Part 2
A collaboration of convenience concludes.
By Vikram Lakhanpal and Riley Webster

Last month, we began an exploration of the 15-film collaboration between Howard Shore and David Cronenberg. With their latest movie, Crimes of the Future, finally around the corner with a June 3 release date, we look at the second half of their work together, where the duo shift from the surreal and bizarre into more grounded but equally unsettling dramas.
As before, for each film, I will analyze the music on its own and then take a guess at what the movie is about, and Riley will explain how wrong I am and how Shore’s music plays in context. —Vikram Lakhanpal

Eastern Promises (2007)
The Album
Shore builds this score around two main themes introduced in the opening tracks. Both center on solo violin and there’s a strong Slavic sound to the whole affair. The Red Army Choir even shows up to perform “Slavery and Suffering,” a Russian revolutionary song. The score is dark and brooding overall, but the themes and violin writing are gorgeous, making this one of Shore’s most compelling works in this style.

The Story
The music is incredibly Russian, but the track titles are incredibly British. On the album cover are a pair of hands covered in tattoos, so I’m going to assume those are Viggo’s hands, and that he’s a (former?) Russian gangster, ruthless in his profession, one of the best. Until he meets Tatiana. After their paths cross, and something happens to her, Viggo’s emotions are compromised, and he retaliates against his own mob, causing pain and tragedy for everyone.

The Actual Story
After the success of A History of Violence, I was originally disappointed with Eastern Promises—but repeat viewings (and listens) prove it to be just as good as the previous flick. It also has some major twists in the plot revolving around a Russian gangster (Mortensen) and a nurse (Naomi Watts), but I’m scared to say how close Vik’s predictions were, in case they spoil the surprises that Eastern Promises contain. Shore definitely focused more on the melancholy, somber elements of the story of old, violent men stuck in their old, violent ways, and it produces a highly listenable, occasionally beautiful score. Special note must go to solo violinist Nicola Benedetti for really finding the heart of Shore’s music behind the despair of Cronenberg’s film.

A Dangerous Method (2011)
The Album
Half of the album is Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, arranged by Shore for piano and performed by Lang Lang, leaving just 33 minutes of original score. That original material starts off deceptively with thunderous and dark string runs, but the rest of the score is far more subdued until the ending. Quotes of the Wagner piece are sprinkled throughout, leaving a stronger impression than any of Shore’s motifs.

The Story
The album cover has Michael Fassbender with a ridiculous mustache and tiny glasses, so I’m guessing this is a period drama. (It also has Keira Knightley on the cover, who I’m pretty sure is haunted by the ghost of Laurence Olivier every time she does a movie set in the present day.) The music here is generally pretty, albeit subdued, which by Cronenberg standards indicates more and more horrifying things done by the characters. Someone has an affair (either Keira cheats on Viggo with Michael, or vice versa; personally I’d pick Viggo, but my gut tells me that Fassbender is the Other Man), and then things spiral out of control when Keira tries to end the affair. Oh, and she’s seduced by Michael’s love of Wagner. That’s why Siegfried appears so much in the score: It represents his dark allure.

The Actual Story
If by “Michael’s love of Wagner” you mean “Michael’s love of spanking,” then you’re pretty close there, Vik. The film is an adaptation of the real-life relationship between Carl Jung (Fassbender), Sigmund Freud (Mortensen) and their patient Sabina Spielrein (Knightley). And yeah, sadomasochistic sex (and lots of spanking) comes into play with how to properly treat her. Kudos to the performers, particularly Knightley, for going all-out, but this is a curiously detached and remote flick, even by Cronenberg standards. A movie with this much sex and passion (and freakin’ Freud) shouldn’t be dull! Sadly, that applies to the score as well, which functions fine without establishing much of a noticeable personality. I’ll attribute this lack of musical veracity to what Shore had to work with, and the frequent interjections by Wagner, which likely didn’t help.

Cosmopolis (2012)
The Album
Shore teams up with Canadian alternative band Metric, with whom he had previously co-written the theme song for The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. For Cosmopolis, not only did they co-write three songs, but the band performed the entire score as well. (A fourth song is by Somali-Canadian rapper K’naan, which only further convinces me that every Canadian in entertainment knows each other.) As a result, Metric’s songs blend seamlessly with Shore’s score, with the composer interpolating fragments of the songs throughout. It all gels into a cohesive electronic/alt-rock score, alternating between bright, energetic euphoria and dark, energetic moodiness that drifts into Crash’s lane. Excellent atmosphere, but very little by way of narrative structure.

The Story
While there’s not a strong narrative flow to the album, I have a secret weapon this time: song lyrics! Let’s see… “Haven’t got long to live,” “I don’t want to wake up,” “Death, no matter where you go, come and get ya.” Sounds very morbid, with a bit of “living in the moment” energy. Throw in track titles like “White Limos” and “Asymmetrical,” as well as a cover of Robert Pattinson looking very dapper in a car, and I’m going to guess that Cosmopolis is about a successful businessman fighting to maintain his empire. He’s assailed on all sides by his competitors, his allies plotting to betray him, and of course his own drug addiction that’s about to spiral out of control. So Wolf of Wall Street with less laughter?

The Actual Story
I love the effort in analyzing Metric’s wicked songs to predict Cosmopolis, but alas, we’ve run into a film that doesn’t really have a plot to guess on. It’s a rambling mess, with Pattinson being driven around and constantly meeting oddballs and other dull business types until Paul Giamatti points a gun at him. I wish I could be more descriptive, but I can barely recall anything else; unlike most Cronenberg flicks (even his failures), Cosmopolis was such a pedantic experience that I’ve never felt the need to revisit it. Ironically, however, it may be my favorite collaboration between Shore and the director; the score is ominously awesome, bringing back the electric dread of Crash with a much more listenable approach. Plus, those Metric songs work wonders, making this one of those times a soundtrack album is far more fun than the film itself.

So to wrap things up, our rankings:
Vikram’s Score Ranking
1. The Fly
2. Dead Ringers
3. Crash
4. Eastern Promises
5. Cosmopolis
6. Maps to the Stars
7. Naked Lunch
8. The Brood
9. A History of Violence
10. eXistenZ
11. M. Butterfly
12. A Dangerous Method
13. Scanners
14. Spider
15. Videodrome

Riley’s Film Ranking
1. The Fly
2. Videodrome
3. Naked Lunch
4. A History of Violence
5. Eastern Promises
6. Dead Ringers
7. Scanners
8. A Dangerous Method
9. Maps to the Stars
10. eXistenZ
11. Spider
12. M. Butterfly
13. Cosmopolis
14. The Brood
15. Crash



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Roman
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Re: The Shore/Cronenberg Collaboration, Part 2 (feat. Riley KZ!)   Tuesday, May 10, 2022 (6:46 a.m.) 
• Now Playing: Capricorn One - Goldsmith  

> ICYMI, Part 1:
> https://www.filmtracks.com/scoreboard/forum.cgi?read=108163&expand=1

> Once again, I'll share three excerpts out of the 7 in this half of the
> piece. The other films/scores covered in part 2 are eXistenz, Spider, A
> History of Violence, and Maps to the Stars. Enjoy!

Really enjoyed reading these. It was a fun idea for a collaboration we don't see examined all that much. Thanks so much for sharing!


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AhN
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Riley KZ
Re: The Shore/Cronenberg Collaboration, Part 2 (feat. Riley KZ!)   Tuesday, May 10, 2022 (7:32 a.m.) 

> Really enjoyed reading these. It was a fun idea for a collaboration we
> don't see examined all that much. Thanks so much for sharing!

Yeah, I guess we don't talk that much about Riley and my friendship, so getting a chance to explore that more was very rewa---oh wait you mean Shore and Cronenberg. Yeah okay that too wink


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AhN
Re: The Shore/Cronenberg Collaboration, Part 2 (feat. Riley KZ!)   Tuesday, May 10, 2022 (11:39 a.m.) 

> Yeah, I guess we don't talk that much about Riley and my friendship, so
> getting a chance to explore that more was very rewa---oh wait you mean
> Shore and Cronenberg. Yeah okay that too wink

Funny, cause when Craig made a similar comment on FB, I made the exact same retort haha. Surely OUR collaboration is just as important as Cron and Shore! :P

Anyways, thanks again for bringing me into that, was a lot of fun!


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Soundtracker94
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AhN
Re: The Shore/Cronenberg Collaboration, Part 2 (feat. Riley KZ!)   Tuesday, May 10, 2022 (8:49 p.m.) 

> Once again, I'll share three excerpts out of the 7 in this half of the
> piece. The other films/scores covered in part 2 are eXistenz, Spider, A
> History of Violence, and Maps to the Stars. Enjoy!

Oh man... I'd love to hear what was said about eXistenz! XDDD

> Eastern Promises (2007)
> The Album
> Shore builds this score around two main themes introduced in the opening
> tracks. Both center on solo violin and there’s a strong Slavic sound to
> the whole affair. The Red Army Choir even shows up to perform “Slavery and
> Suffering,” a Russian revolutionary song. The score is dark and brooding
> overall, but the themes and violin writing are gorgeous, making this one
> of Shore’s most compelling works in this style.

It's a fantastic, dreary score that compliments the equally fantastic, dreary film to a T. Haven't explored it as an album experience, but highly recommend it purely based on in-film usage.

> The Story
> The music is incredibly Russian, but the track titles are incredibly
> British. On the album cover are a pair of hands covered in tattoos, so I’m
> going to assume those are Viggo’s hands, and that he’s a (former?) Russian
> gangster, ruthless in his profession, one of the best. Until he meets
> Tatiana. After their paths cross, and something happens to her, Viggo’s
> emotions are compromised, and he retaliates against his own mob, causing
> pain and tragedy for everyone.

Well... you're close, but also not. Go watch the film when you have a chance. wink

> The Actual Story
> After the success of A History of Violence, I was originally disappointed
> with Eastern Promises—but repeat viewings (and listens) prove it to be
> just as good as the previous flick. It also has some major twists in the
> plot revolving around a Russian gangster (Mortensen) and a nurse (Naomi
> Watts), but I’m scared to say how close Vik’s predictions were, in case
> they spoil the surprises that Eastern Promises contain. Shore definitely
> focused more on the melancholy, somber elements of the story of old,
> violent men stuck in their old, violent ways, and it produces a highly
> listenable, occasionally beautiful score. Special note must go to solo
> violinist Nicola Benedetti for really finding the heart of Shore’s music
> behind the despair of Cronenberg’s film.

I actually watched this before A History of Violence last year, so there wasn't any comparisons in my mind. That said, they're both fantastic films and titles I'm very glad I (finally) got around to.

> So to wrap things up, our rankings:
> Vikram’s Score Ranking
> 1. The Fly
> 2. Dead Ringers
> 3. Crash
> 4. Eastern Promises
> 5. Cosmopolis
> 6. Maps to the Stars
> 7. Naked Lunch
> 8. The Brood
> 9. A History of Violence
> 10. eXistenZ
> 11. M. Butterfly
> 12. A Dangerous Method
> 13. Scanners
> 14. Spider
> 15. Videodrome

Not surprised Videdrome is at the very bottom for you, Vik. Glad to see we share 6 titles in the Top 10, though. Also... I really need to finish watching all of Cronenberg's films.

> Riley’s Film Ranking
> 1. The Fly
> 2. Videodrome
> 3. Naked Lunch
> 4. A History of Violence
> 5. Eastern Promises
> 6. Dead Ringers
> 7. Scanners
> 8. A Dangerous Method
> 9. Maps to the Stars
> 10. eXistenZ
> 11. Spider
> 12. M. Butterfly
> 13. Cosmopolis
> 14. The Brood
> 15. Crash

I'm honestly not sure if I'd put The Fly or Dead Ringers as #1, of the Cronenberg films I've seen. Still need to see so many though (Videodrome, The Brood, Naked Lunch, A Dangerous Method, M. Butterfly, etc.).


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Jonesy
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AhN

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AhN
Re: The Shore/Cronenberg Collaboration, Part 2 (feat. Riley KZ!)   Thursday, May 19, 2022 (9:32 a.m.) 

Gotta say, I love this series! Really fun and clever way to describe the scores and films (and now I wanna see some more Cronenberg, my only one has been A History of Violence, which I loved).


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AhN
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Jonesy
Re: The Shore/Cronenberg Collaboration, Part 2 (feat. Riley KZ!)   Thursday, May 26, 2022 (11:30 p.m.) 

> Gotta say, I love this series! Really fun and clever way to describe the
> scores and films (and now I wanna see some more Cronenberg, my only one
> has been A History of Violence, which I loved).

Late reply, but thanks for reading, glad you enjoyed it! I too want to check some of these movies out (at the very least The Fly and Scanners), plus I'd love to see more Viggo films. I'm also irrationally hyped up for Crimes of the Future now. Maybe I'll go in blind to that movie and then review the score haha.


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