Like Cameron Crowe last week, Tarantino’s style is probably more an aural one than visual. He’s certainly not a man without the ability to make a good looking movie, but the only discernible style that seems intrinsically his, on a visual level, is the foot fetish. Otherwise, its the music and the dialogue.
Since the beginning of his career, Tarantino has made a name for himself through his musical choices. Sometimes, and his present choices seem to speak to this, he has a tendency to side further towards more obscure music, often making selections which appear more wilfully obscure than components in aiding the quality of the film. Death Proof, a film I disliked quite a bit, has one amazing moment with the use of ‘Hold Tight’ by Dave, Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, a complete classic used to perfection. Otherwise, like much of that film, everything felt tightly constructed to evoke a certain style and feeling which felt derivative of Tarantino himself.
If there is one distinctive, auteurist-feature to the directorial work of Cameron Crowe, it’s surely aural rather than visual. He doesn’t necessarily have any visual style, though all of his films seem to have a misty nature to them, a kind of wistful dreaminess in their themes and in the way of their main characters. The only time this fails to happen is with Vanilla Sky, his remake of Alejandro Amenabar’s Abre los Ojos, though even here the soundtrack falls into line with his methods.
The single defining feature of a Cameron Crowe film is surely music. Crowe is interested in music of his characters, music of their time and music they would like. Some would place his squarely as a 60s-70s man, but this era-based categorisation is negated entirely by the first film I’m going to talk about in his column.
As an addendum to the show notes, which you will have read earlier, I thought I would put together a Spotify playlist of some of the songs which we focused on, and the films from which they come. The playlist is below and its linked to here and at the end of the playlist. More of these will follow as I continue the Music in Movies feature on the blog.
The songs are:
‘Gonna Fly Now’ by Bill Conti from Rocky
‘Little Green Bag’ by The George Baker Selection from Reservoir Dogs
‘Needle in the Hay’ by Elliott Smith from The Royal Tenenbaums
‘The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down’ by The Band from The Last Waltz (note: not the version from the live show)
‘The Wind’ by Cat Stevens from Almost Famous: Untitled Cut
‘It’s a Sin’ by Pet Shop Boys from Bronson
‘Across 110th Street’ by Bobbie Womack from Jackie Brown
‘Staralfur’ by Sigur Ros from The Life Aquatic
‘Battle Without Honour or Humanity’ by Tomoyasu Hotei from Kill Bill
‘Falling Slowly’ by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova from Once
‘Pretty in Pink’ by The Psychedelic Furs from Pretty in Pink
‘Lust for Life’ by Iggy Pop from Trainspotting
‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ by Queen from Shaun of the Dead
‘The End’ by The Doors from Apocalypse Now
Disclaimers on all fronts, folks. This is by no means the end of the conversation. We will be running a weekly column on the site considering music in films, published every Monday. There is sooooo much more to talk about with music in films, we have failed to even scratch the surface of all that shall be talked about. Until then however enjoy the above.