Hollywoodland/Marcelo Zarvos

September 15, 2006

 

Good movie, good song CD, great soundtrack sums up the Hollywoodland film starring Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Ben Affleck, and Bob Hoskins. Director Alan “Soprano” Coulter gives a great “what-if” story mixed in with real life tragedy about the television star of Superman George Reeves. George, in real life took his own life or did he? Alan presents us with three different ways that Reeves was killed through the eyes of the private investigator Louis Simo played by Adrien Brody. The entry level low end character Louis Simo was very well researched even having him use a “bottom of the barrel” argus camera for his photos. In fact Brody was good enough to want to make want to go out and chew a pack of gum, something the gumshoe did a lot of in the film. Gum and gumshoe, hmm?

Both the song and soundtrack material fit the film like custom tailoring, shifting smoothly between one another and complementing each other. Marcelo “Door In The Floor” Zarvos while a relative newcomer to the soundtrack world certainly sounds more like a seasoned veteran to this reviewers ears and look for even more from him in the future. The overall mood of the score material is quite dark and somber filled with lots of slow quiet passages from the piano, trumpet or flugehorn, vibraphone, harp, and woodwinds. Small statements initially fooled me into thinking this was a “cool jazz” kind of album as hearing the muted trumpet reminded me of phrases from Miles Davis and the delicacy of the piano playing of Bill Evans. However, upon repeated listens, my overall opinion has changed to that of a quiet work. Even the track entitled “A Violent Past” one that you might think would have some brashness and dissonance to it is not the case, far from it. Tracks such as “Louis Simo P.I.” and “Roosevelt Hotel” the Simo theme, reflect the air of a L.A. Confidental mood for the 50’s era of Los Angeles. And while it is still too structured to be called the cool jazz of Mulligan, Baker and others it still has the appearance and feeling of. It would be nice sometime to hear a 10-15 small jazz group rendition of the Simo theme with all instruments being given the opportunity to express themselves. Overall the film is dark thus the score is a direct reflection of it and written in a way that it never gets in the way of the film but its presence always looms in the background. People that attended the film with me and they are not into soundtracks all noticed the music.

The song CD on the otherhand was one to bring back memories of the 50’s. The first track “Superman M E” while a scant 50 or so seconds immediately brought back childhood memories of watching the Superman television show. This reviewer is old enough to have watched them when they weren’t reruns! Yikes, has that many years gone by! This was quite a catchy theme and the only thing missing was the narration of faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. “Theme For Ernie” played by John Coltrane was the extended exit music for the film and a thing of beauty, a composition usually not associated with “Trane”, an artist who would make an interesting film himself. “Elephant Walk” is an early on Quincy Jones composition and performed quite nicely by the Arturo O’Farrill Orchestra. Quincy’s early tunes were big band with some bop and foot stomping feelings to them and Arturo didn’t miss a beat! Arturo is also featured on “El Cumbanchero” and “At Last” and both are performed well. In fact I again admit to playing this standard in the high school swing band. Since it had a trombone solo and guess what instrument I played, it was a favorite of mine, still is along with Hollywood.

The recording/mixing/mastering process is so good these days that almost all the time the word excellent describes it and this is no exception. The lonely figure of Superman with the trash cans on the back cover of the song cd is excellent artwork and tells quite a complete story in its own way. While the film has some flaws (very few don’t) and the song cd could have included the short singing/guitar strumming of Ben Affleck all three have to be recommended as a watch, listen, and listen.

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