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 Posted:   Sep 29, 2004 - 1:12 AM   
 By:   JohnSWalsh   (Member)

To those who are complaining about this thread, PLEASE read my opening post.

If you don't like this thread--don't post on it. If you think it's a "Williams stinks" thread, you're applying your own interpretation to it that isn't here.

I'm interested in constructive criticism, not bashing. For those who think posters here should only say positive things about anyone, you have nothing to add to this thread, so leave it for those of us who are interested in understanding the criticisms. I am finding interesting ideas here, and even if I disagree with them, they are adding to my ideas about Williams's work. It sure isn't going to make me dislike his music.

This is how people get reputations for being touchy and fannish. Grow up--Williams's music (it's not the man, after all) is just as valid a subject of criticism as everything else in this world.

If you don't like it, stay away, and post on a thread you like. Thanks.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 29, 2004 - 6:24 AM   
 By:   SPQR   (Member)

I respect Mr. Williams music and accomplishments. His talent is undeniable and quite beyond question, but does he still excite me as a listener?

Well, no...not that often of late (and by late I mean that to approximate 18 or so years). But, occasionally, just occasionally, from the syrup spigot that's fattened his larder comes spilling forth a sort of Williams Lite™, that curious condiment comprised of a certain crystal clear dramatic sensibility with just that slightest sliver of saccharine to crispen the palette. It is a rare commodity.

For instance, HP3, which took many a connoisseur by surprise, was a particularly fine vintage, with delicate color and an earthen vibrancy which belied the over-saturated sugar content of the cask in which it steeped. Indeed, when one would expect with each passing year an ever sweeter confection, we are instead delighted to flavor a remarkable conundrum of chemistry. Perhaps....

And then there is, of course, AOTC. Though an adamantly and unapologetically full-bodied brew, and one which might, to imbibers in their dotage, appear on the mere whiff of the nose to be of the slightest pedigree is quite to the contrary, for its refinement, distilled from the oldest and mustiest of casks, is in its indubious vigor and simple, spirited clarity a worthy contender without doubt. Bright, brash and fortifying to the last drop--and completely unnecessary of any label warning of hyperglycemic aftereffects!

There are other vaunted vintages, naturally. Over the course of career arc that has saw Mr. Williams vault from a wee Johnny in the pits to a veritable pop icon atop the charts, it would be impossible to deny the man his plaudits. But where success meets the artist, so the artist can sometimes become over-shadowed by that success, or the equally successful company he keeps. And whereupon Mr. Williams was distilling more than would be wise from the fawning spiel weighing in over his shoulder would perhaps be the moment his further artistic relevance to the craft would begin to raise question.

But it would be remiss of me not to mention that his misdirection is and was shared by others of equivalent stature in his profession, for I do not think it really a matter of an artist losing his integrity in so much as the influence of those mounting voices over the shoulder of his profession, which were always there to some degree, but never before so wanting for the same benefits of age, learning and culture shared by Williams and his peers--these malnourished voices which would, unfortunately, inaugurate a coarsening of the craft because of an unsettling lack of authenticity borne of dubious talent and questionable motive.

NP: Alien

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 29, 2004 - 6:53 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

That's SPQR eloquency for ya! (although I disagree with some of his viewpoints).

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 29, 2004 - 7:09 AM   
 By:   SPQR   (Member)

I like HEARTBEEPS.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 29, 2004 - 7:20 AM   
 By:   Alexcremers   (Member)

I respect Mr. Williams music and accomplishments. His talent is undeniable and quite beyond question, but does he still excite me as a listener?
Well, no...not that often of late (and by late I mean that to approximate 18 or so years).


That means that SPACECAMP was the last exciting thing he did. You missed a few small gems like THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST, STANLEY AND IRIS, JFK, parts of WITCHES OF EASTWICK, ...

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 29, 2004 - 7:42 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

I like HEARTBEEPS.

Well, we all have what they call "guilty pleasures".

I kinda like the soundtrack too for all its wackiness, but both music and film are UNBELIEVEABLY cheesy and campy. I couldn't believe I was watching a Williams-scored 80's film when I first saw it. Seemed like something Roger Corman had churned out. Ed Wood even.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 29, 2004 - 8:10 AM   
 By:   Jaquandor   (Member)

To those who are complaining about this thread, PLEASE read my opening post.

If you don't like this thread--don't post on it. If you think it's a "Williams stinks" thread, you're applying your own interpretation to it that isn't here.


Just because you didn't intend it to be there doesn't mean that it isn't there. And to the extent that you're referring to me, I'd note that I have never implied that Williams's music shouldn't be criticized.

And until the day I'm banned, I'll post where I like, thank you very much.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 29, 2004 - 8:24 AM   
 By:   SPQR   (Member)

The only thing I could consider HEARTBEEPS guilty of is its beguiling modesty, which is hardly something to be embarrassed by, and certainly makes for a more enchanting listen than the lugubrious strains of an ACCIDENTAL TOURIST or the maudlin affliction that is SCHINDLER'S LIST.

Never saw HEARTBEEPS, by the way, but the CD offers a good deal of credible music beyond the flaky opening and closing titles.

Sorry, toward the end of the 80's and onward Williams' music just got too fat eating from the Spielberg Trough, and very strictly speaking, I'm not a chubby chaser.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 29, 2004 - 9:07 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Well, that's your opinion. For my own part, I actually love his post-90's output the most...for both nostalgic and musical reasons. There's something delicate, fleshed-out, overtly introspective (if there is such a thing) about his music that connects to me. My favourite Williams score, JURASSIC PARK, is located in this period, as are many instances of his "religious" sound.

HEARTBEEPS is, and forever will be, a turkey of dimensions on Williams' resume. And even though the soundtrack has some highlights that can be enjoyed for what they are, it's still incredibly dated AND goofy.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 29, 2004 - 9:32 AM   
 By:   Alexcremers   (Member)


HEARTBEEPS is, and forever will be, a turkey of dimensions on Williams' resume. And even though the soundtrack has some highlights that can be enjoyed for what they are, it's still incredibly dated AND goofy.


I don't know, despite the excessive synth/drum/electric bass sounds, it's essentially just another Williams score (incredible recognizable Williamesque themes), while ACCIDENTAL TOURIST, for example, is not.

--------------------
Alex Cremers

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 29, 2004 - 9:43 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Recognizable, sure. But really without his usual finesse. Then again, there's only so much you can do with a film like that.

ACCIDENTAL TOURIST is far more classy, although it wanders a bit too close to clichée on occasion (at least in the saccharine parts of the film).

On CD, I find HEARTBEEPS the most engaging of the two, although TOURIST's theme is quite lovely and delicate.

Again, one should specify if one is talking "film" or "soundtrack" here.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 29, 2004 - 10:06 AM   
 By:   SPQR   (Member)

"There's something delicate, fleshed-out, overtly introspective (if there is such a thing)" about his 90's music.

Affected and self-important pop to the fore as well.

My favourite Williams score, JURASSIC PARK, is located in this period

LOST WORLD has gotten more play time on this end, I'm afraid.

HEARTBEEPS is, and forever will be, a turkey of dimensions on Williams' resume. And even though the soundtrack has some highlights that can be enjoyed for what they are, it's still incredibly dated AND goofy.

As I stated above, I have no relationship with the movie, so I'm not unduly influenced by an onerous contextual bias resultant of a plumply plastic Bernadette Peters making goo goo eyes from behind the screen. I'm only intimately aware of the music.

Besides, all the melodic building blocks, the baroquish counterpoint and colorations he's ever used are present in HEARTBEEPS--just not in the unflatteringly, fattened fashion you seem so enraptured by in his 900 pound gorilla days.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 29, 2004 - 10:13 AM   
 By:   Alexcremers   (Member)



ACCIDENTAL TOURIST is far more classy, although it wanders a bit too close to clichée on occasion (at least in the saccharine parts of the film).
Again, one should specify if one is talking "film" or "soundtrack" here.


As far as I remember, the only saccharine part of the movie was its ending, Thor.
THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST is mostly written in a minor key. Maybe "sad" and "reflective" aren't engaging to some, but it sure is to me. If only Williams had written a few more like these! (PRESUMED INNOCENT is another one I can think of, although I admit this one tends to be a bit repetitive)

--------------------
Alex Cremers

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 29, 2004 - 10:37 AM   
 By:   David Coscina   (Member)

I also love Accidental Tourist. But I would venture to say that something such as SLeepers is much more of an atypical approach in scoring for Williams. Or even large parts of A.I. Very texture based or minimalist as opposed to the broad thematic strokes Williams is oft associated with.

Dan, regarding my earlier post, I didn't say that Goldsmith's canon was boring. I said that if every film composer approached films like Goldsmith, we'd have a pretty uniform sound that would pervade throughout Hollywood. But I didn't single him out. I wouldn't like it if all we got on every film was a John Williams sound/score. I like how Elfman is different from Shore who is different from Goldenthal who's different from NEwman. Most of us have such utter disdain for Media Ventures because of this very problem- a homogenized approach towards music for film. That's all I was trying to say.

I love a whole lot of GOldsmith's music. First Blood, to me, is much more enjoyable than Williams' Raiders of the Lost Ark. But I'm not going to call Raiders inferior because of my personal preference. And First Blood, while being a very good, if not underrated film, isn't on the level of Raiders insofar as production is concerned.

I think the biggest problem with these boards is that a whole lot of us cling to our favorite composer's music like they are an extention of ourselves. And if someone says "Silvestri's Contact sucks!" then we get our feathers ruffled because we interpret that as someone saying "you suck", which usually isn't the case at all. But insecurities run deep, not just here, but in any forum that involves a group dynamic. Is this solvable? Probably not. But a greater awareness and insight into why someone makes a paticular charge would help maintain an aire of intelligent discourse on this board as opposed to the occsional flame war (which in some morbid way is kind of interesting to read admittedly).

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 29, 2004 - 11:06 AM   
 By:   Dan Hobgood   (Member)

I woke up this morning and realized I hadn't posted the following, which would have been more appropriate as a response about ten replies back:

Whoever's deifying Goldsmith should stop--but I certainly haven't seen it done here in this thread.

By virtue of the undeniable FACT that a film score is a distinct thing with unique characteristics and purpose, we can make valid inferences about what it should and should not resemble.

DH

P.S: David--I know you weren't calling Goldsmith's canon boring. smile But that's my point: it certainly wouldn't be boring then if many different composers with different musical voices were employing a linear approach to scoring. The MV criticism is perhaps valid--but they might be considered boring because they have the same dronish musical voice, not the same organizational approach, dramatically.

Would write more, but gotta run!

Dan

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 29, 2004 - 11:23 AM   
 By:   Jesse Hopkins   (Member)

I am always amazed by the opinion that Williams writes grand theme after grand theme. In the scheme of things, they are rare in his overall output. Most of his music is very modern and almost avant garde. In fact, I would say he is the most successfully avant garde composer in Hollywood.

 
 Posted:   Sep 29, 2004 - 11:47 AM   
 By:   Gunnar   (Member)

Jesse, could you please take a minute or two and tell me your definition of "avant garde"? Because I've never thought of Williams as an avant-garde composer.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 29, 2004 - 12:23 PM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

No, Gunnar, I do not consider him an avant garde composer either. But he's surely brushed against it on numerous occasions (however you define it). Check out this thread I did called "John Williams - Caesar of the Avant Garde?":

http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.asp?threadID=1122&forumID=1

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 29, 2004 - 12:28 PM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Hey, SPQR, it's perfectly OK to make an asessment of HEARTBEEPS solely by the CD (I do that all the time myself, as you know).

But I would say that even when judging it as an album alone, it comes off as overly simplistic, fluffy and tongue-in-cheek. Entertaining? Yeah. A couple of nice themes? Yup. But inspired? Hardly.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 29, 2004 - 12:30 PM   
 By:   Jesse Hopkins   (Member)

Jesse, could you please take a minute or two and tell me your definition of "avant garde"? Because I've never thought of Williams as an avant-garde composer.

An avant-garde work pushes the known boundaries of acceptable art:

In the past, it was not acceptable to linger between romanticism and atonality with so little post-modern self-awareness. One had to choose one or the other most of the time - or to include both, they had to use Romanticism as a detached found object/a cold encyclopedic reference. But Williams uses each element with passion, rather than irony or historical reference. He uses Romanticism, chromaticism, atonality, unusual instruments, aleatoric writing, invented scales, detuned instruments, Electronics,etc. Not with coldness, but with true conviction of the emotional possibilities of each.

John Cage (the normally associated avant garde type) very quickly reached a boundary, because he was unwilling to use styles of the past. He was a conduit to force change, thus was very visible as a composer, but mostly to academics. On the other hand, Williams' style is all encompassing, bridging the gaps between the entire history of symphonic and electronic music. If there is anything new in the world of orchestral or electronic music, he will learn about it and be very interested in how it can expand the expressive capabilities of the orchestra.

In fact, if he wasn't pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable, he wouldn't have nearly so many fans nor detractors. He would either be a John Debney or a John Cage.

In a review of Williams' Clarinet Concerto, the reviewer was positively angry that Williams wouldn't choose between atonality and romanticism within the piece. That type of thinking is going away, largely due to Williams' lack of differentitation between those two "extremes" of symphonic expression.

 
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