SIFF Kissin’, Burnin’, and Sinnin’
posted by May 23 at 22:37 PMon
I promise my Slog posts won’t all be music-related,
but here are some thoughts on a couple of SIFF selections.
Rocket Science, the fiction debut from Spellbound’s Jeffrey Blitz, features a soundtrack by Clem Snide’s Eef Barzelay. I liked the wistful instrumental interludes quite a bit (they feature “utterings,” but no actual words, so I guess they aren’t technically instrumental). Blitz also includes a few Violent Femmes tunes, and I never noticed before how much Barzelay sounds like Gordon Gano, i.e. nasal.
But the best musical moments in the film—which isn’t bad, by the way—are the cello/piano duets on Femmes numbers like “Add It Up.” Reminds me of Twelve and Holding, in which Zoe Weizenbaum plays BÖC’s “Burnin’ For You” on the violin to impress construction worker Jeremy Renner (and if she wasn’t 12, it might’ve worked).
Golden Door, which is set during the turn of the century, utilizes a couple of anachronistic Nina Simone classics. I love Nina, I really do, but I wonder if filmmakers aren't getting a little lazy in borrowing her smoky alto whenever a scene calls for "drama" or "punctuation."
Off the top of my head: Before Sunset ends with "Just in Time," the chase sequence in Cellular (a nifty little thriller even if Larry Cohen followed up with...Snakes on a Plane) is set to "Sinnerman," Michael Mann's Miami Vice opens with "Sinnerman," David Lynch's INLAND EMPIRE ends with "Sinnerman," and Golden Door ends with—yes, that's right—"Sinnerman." (Actually, I like every one of those films.)
The late, great Homicide also used "Sinnerman" in an episode,
which means David Simon beat all these guys to the punch (big surprise coming from a man who turned to Tom Waits for The Wire). I'm sure there are plenty of other examples. Maybe it's time to start giving Sarah Vaughn, Abbey Lincoln, and Cassandra Wilson a little love. As for Nina: I worship at her feet. But enough already!
For those keeping score at home, the version of "Sinnerman" featured in Cellular, Miami Vice, and INLAND EMPIRE (only Lynch excludes the chorus) is the "Felix da Housecat's Heavenly House Mix." I'd imagine it's available on a variety of releases, but I first heard it on Verve Remixed 2. Rocket Science plays the Neptune on 6/2 and Lincoln Square Cinemas on 6/4. (Blitz and star Reece Daniel Thompson will be in attendance.) Golden Door plays the Egyptian on 5/25 and 5/27.