Sometimes a piece of music can transform a scene into something extraordinary and something that remains with you longer after the film has finished. We asked Time Out deputy film editor Cath Clarke to pick her favourite music moments in film from 2013.
The Beatitudes, Vladimir Martynov, performed by the Kronos Quartet
I must have listened to the Kronos Quartet’s version of The Beatitudes every day for a month after watching Paolo Sorrentino’s gorgeous swoon of an arthouse movie. Like the film, this track aches, exquisitely, with sadness. It turns out the composer is a Russian, Vladimir Martynov, who discovered avant-garde music when it was frowned on by the Soviet authorities. He performed with John Cage and Stockhausen, fell in love with electronic music, and worked in a monastery with chanting monks.
Which makes perfect sense when you listen to The Beatitudes. Minimalism + spirituality = great beauty.
Which Will, written and performed by Nick Drake
About the film I feel kind of meh. It’s based on a novel by Meg Rosoff – one of those teenage girl books so good they have to publish it with a grown-up cover. And as adaptations go, it’s on the drab side. But there is a scene of absolute, no-holds loveliness when a gaggle of kids and teenagers are left to their own devices in the English countryside as World War 3 kicks off. As Nick Drake’s ‘Which Will’ plays, they have the time of their lives larking about in a river in a forest.
The score by Mercury nominee Jon Hopkins is also brilliant, with a lovely track, Garden’s Heart, by Hopkins and Natasha Khan of Bat For Lashes.
If I Needed You written by Townes Van Zandt, performed by Veerle Baetens and Johan Heldenbergh.
The song is a bluegrass staple, written by Townes Van Zandt (aka ‘the true voice of American country music’, aka ‘the best songwriter in the world’). The film is a Belgian hipster weepie, about a couple who fall in and out of love, with a terrible tragedy in the middle. The two lead actors Veerle Baetens and Johan Heldenbergh (singing in English) wipe the floor with Mumford and Sons’ 2012 cover of the song. Like their acting they sing with souls-laid-bare sweetness and honesty.
The film is on the shortlist for Best Foreign film at the Oscars.
Composed by Simon Fisher Turner
Often when musicians compose scores to old silent movie they batter the images, overfilling and cramming in sound. Not Simon Fisher Turner. I love his soundtrack to the newly restored 1924 film of climbers George Mallory and Sandy Irvine’s ill-fated Everest expedition. It gets under the skin and stays there, collaging Cosey Fanni Tutti (Throbbing Gristle) on cornet, a modern Neapalese family playing Tibetan instruments and what Fisher Turner calls ‘stolen life sounds’. The Quietus brilliantly reviewed it here.
As the camera goes up into peaks the soundtrack manage to capture this beautiful, haunting, blissed-out and terrifying spectacle.
Short Term 12
So You Know What It’s Like, written by Keith Stanfield and Destin Daniel Cretton, performed by Keith Stanfield
There’s a campaign by bloggers to get this rap from a tiny indie movie nominated for Best Original Song at the Oscars. The track is co-written by the film’s director Destin Daniel Cretton and 22 year-old Keith Stanfield, who plays a volatile teenager in living in a foster home for at-risk kids. ‘Look into my eyes so you know what it’s like to live a life not knowing what a normal life’s like.’ In 90 seconds he articulates the damage, the years he won’t get back, that can’t be fixed. ‘Damn near 18. All the pretty pictures in my fuckin’ head is faded’.