This Is an Alexandre Desplat Appreciation Post

Best Original Score, for most, is one of those categories at the Golden Globes (and, by proxy, the Academy Awards) that you just kind of gloss over. Many of the same names cycle annually as nominees (John Williams, Gustavo Santaolalla, the Danna brothers, etc.) and it usually falls by the wayside to its more popular, eclectic cousin, Best Original Song, this weird and wonderful space responsible for Oscars for “Blame Canada” and Three Six Mafia (and a lot of snubs we found unfortunate). Last night, Mychael Danna, who scored the tigers-and-shipwrecks tale Life of Pi, took home the Globe for his lovely score, but today, we salute another workhorse of film composition.

You know who had a great year in award-fodder movies? Alexandre Desplat. Sure, Danna got the win and the Oscars love John Williams and biopics so the big one will probably go to Lincoln, and it’s just an honor to be nominated what are these awards anyway etc., but dude was pretty much killing it this whole time, and it was about time he got his own appreciation post.

 For sheer volume of work alone, all the writing and rehearsing and recording for three of the most acclaimed movies of 2012, as well as some others. Did he sleep at all? Did he remember to bathe? Or was he just so immersed in quickening the pulse of Argo armed with ouds and beats and some a cappella that would have been tacky in most places but worked here? Or was he too busy cultivating that stomach-dropping, ominous feel for Zero Dark Thirty, or giving Wes Anderson another earworm of a leitmotif for Moonrise Kingdom? A score is everything, and for three of the most celebrated filmmakers of the year and the three most celebrated films, there was only one composer for the job.

Desplat has been nominated five times for Best Original Score for the Oscars and has gone 1-for-6 with Golden Globes. This may not be his year, but he’s a winner in our hearts. Listen to some choice selections from Moonrise Kingdom, Argo and Zero Dark Thirty below.  


If You Just Can’t Take Any More ‘Thriller,’ Here’s Diplo’s Radio 1 Halloween Mix

Halloween is the optimal time for a dance party, although one can only tolerate so much cliché seasonally-appropriate music. Yes, that one bro at your party with the silver glove and the zombie makeup learned the "Thriller" dance and is SO EXCITED about it, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit through it for the umpteenth time. If the idea of more "Monster Mash" makes you cringe, you may find solace in Diplo and music video director/producer System D-128’s three-hour-plus creepy, eclectic and thoroughly bumpin’ Halloween mix from the "Diplo & Friends" BBC Radio 1xtra show. From the opening strains of the thundering Godzilla theme music, Diplo goes all over the place, including Afrika Bambaataa, Rihanna, Crookers, Danny Brown, Mykki Blanco and of course, the obligatory M.I.A. remix, while System D-128 goes a bit more traditional Halloween with Haunted Dancehall, Can, Barrington Levy’s "Murderer" and some other eerie sounds.

Be sure to stick with it through the end, to System D-128’s marathon of Three Six Mafia tracks. You can check out the whole tracklist at Diplo’s SoundCloud or NME, and wherever you are this Halloween, crank it loud and get your super-scary dance on. Happy Halloween (or, to BBC listeners, Hallowe’en), y’all! 

Alice in Twitter-land

imageSince prehistory, sentient creatures have been using Twitter to filter out value, meaning, and substance from their lives, reducing their foibles to 140-word bursts of meaningless floss. And then Oprah showed the olds that Twittering is an activity they too can enjoy, and somewhere, a triceratops tipped over and died. Twitter has, in its relatively short time on this frantic planet, given us useful things like job opportunities and easy ways to stalk our neighbors. And yet, all of that pathetically pales when examining its latest, nay, greatest use: retelling the lore of Alice In Wonderland.

You may be wondering, how can such arbitrarily restrictive text limits capture the true essence of a sweeping epic that counts casual drug use, talking animals, and a morbidly obese queen among its cultural touchstones? Is it black magic? No, it’s just smart editing and a thorough knowledge of murky copyrights surrounding public domain literature. It’s as if, while wondering through Wonderland, Alice had an iPhone on hand to relay her antics in third person, 140 effing characters at a time. For example: “[W]hen Alice had been all the way down one side and up the other, trying every door, she walked sadly down the middle.” And if Facebook was to import this tweet, you can be sure that the Cheshire Cat would indeed “Like” this.

For cloistered prudish literary die-hards who go to sleep with Emily Dickinson under their pillows, these Twitter bursts of prose recall another time — a more quaint era when fat Victorian tomes were originally presented as serials in newspapers and magazines. That is, in brief, digestible chunklets. Back then (a lot like now), most people were too broke to buy books. Sadness! But that’s before the dead trees industry went the way of said dead trees. So if you’re coping with your unemployment with some healthy costume play, you’d be wise to suck in your gut, lace up your corset, pour yourself some Earl Grey, and follow along. Or failing that, admire what a universe where Alice In Wonderland colliding with Three Six Mafia might look like.