Flash of Genius/Zigman

October 29, 2008

“Flash of genius” was a test used for a decade from 41-52 in patentability issues with the theory that an inventor could in a short period of time come up with an idea as opposed to doing years of research. Flash Of Genius, the film, is based on a true story of Robert Kearns and his invention of the intermittent windshield wiper stolen from him by the Ford Motor Company. This flash of genius doctrine comes into play as he claims that the idea just came to him one day while driving in the rain. The Universal picture stars Greg Kinnear, Lauren Gilmore, and Alan Alda with directing by newcomer Marc Abraham. The David vs. Goliath story is of course stretched by Hollywood to make it palatable and more interesting to the viewer and has been a common template theme for them over the years. As of this 10-08 writing the film is playing at limited theaters in the US.

Aaron Zigman has been one of the busier Hollywood composers having worked on 28 film and television scores in just the past four years. Some of his more noteworthy films include The Notebook, Sex and the City: The Movie, Bridge to Terabithia, and Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. He seems to be at home in almost any genre having also done producing, and arranging for Tina Turner, Christine Aguilera, and wrote a symphonic piece for Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin.

A sad lonely trumpet carries the melody in “The Warehouse”, the main theme that will be featured throughout the 24 tracks of the soundtrack. The trumpet is complemented with a small string ensemble and soft delicate chords from the piano. Hearing it for the first time I was immediately reminded of the famous themes from L.A. Confidential, Chinatown, and Farewell My Lovely. It’s a theme of one voice standing alone against many and a memorable one that will be included on compilation recordings that I make for myself. In addition the melody is featured on a twangy guitar, soft blues with organ/synthesizer, and with a lush string ensemble on other tracks. While some might think the theme is somewhat overused Aaron makes it work as a monothematic melody effectively in the film. Another highlight albeit very brief is a soulful funky piece “Make Another Kid” featuring guitar, piano, percussion, and organ/synthesizer. “Get Out” and “Piece of Crap” follows in the same vein but are even shorter in length. These were piece’s that reminded me of some of the work Jimmy Smith and his jazz organ ensemble used to do in the 60’s. “It’s Not Over” contains some great soft underscore featuring the delicate piano and some tension building from the strings. “The Verdict”, the concluding track has the heart swelling buildup to a feel good ending.

Overall the score must be categorized as a soft easy listening style, very relaxing that you can close your eyes and put your feet up and just enjoy. There is nothing loud or obtrusive about any of the music in this soundtrack. This was written for a smaller ensemble likely in the 40-piece range. If you enjoy your music on the soft side this comes recommended.

Film Music: A Neglected Art rating is ***

Varese Sarabande CD# is 302 066 933 2

Track listing

1. The Warehouse (01:06)
2. Mustangs (01:39)
3. Drive to Peric’s (01:32)
4. Back Home (01:54)
5. Pray for Rain (01:16)
6. Losing It (05:00)
7. Dennis Returns (01:29)
8. Get Out (00:40)
9. Testimony Montage (00:52)
10. Take the Deal (00:44)
11. It’s Not Over Yet (02:22)
12. Breakup (02:11)
13. Patent Library (00:37)
14. Make Another Kid (01:09)
15. The Diner (01:57)
16. It’s Alive (01:07)
17. Phylis & Jean (01:00)
18. The Porch (01:11)
19. The Letter (00:48)
20. Dafao’s Final Offer (00:41)
21. Last Pill (00:38)
22. Piece of Crap (00:37)
23. The Verdict (02:42)
Bonus track:
24. Vis Vitae (09:43)

The chamber work Vis Vitae was performed by Robert Thies (Piano), Susan Greenberg (Flute), Phil Ayling (Oboe), Don Foster (Clarinet), Judy Farmer (Bassoon), Martin Chalifour (Violin), Carrie Dennis (Viola) and Ben Hong (Cello).

Total Time is 42:55

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