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This is a comments thread about Blog Post: Film Score Friday 9/1/23 by Scott Bettencourt
 Posted:   Sep 1, 2023 - 3:42 PM   
 By:   A Busy Man   (Member)

I’ve been meaning for a while to thank Scott Bettencourt for his "Did they mention the music?" segment. It’s so instructive on the way critics write reviews and on how little they have to say about the music, even in the Internet age, when there is no word limit.

Usually they just throw an adjective or two in front of the noun “score”, a few favourites being “haunting”, “aggressive” and “intrusive”. But sometimes they tell the audience whether it’s an orchestral score or a pop score or a jazz score. Of course, they then fail to say why that’s significant or why the composer or director might have made that choice.

This week, the critics’ comments on the Michael Abels score for Landscape with Invisible Hand (a film and score I am not familiar with) are particularly amusing. I know the music of Star Trek pretty well, but I have no idea what a “Star Trek-style trill” is. Ah, but then the next reviewer tells us that the score uses the “otherworldly theremin”. Maybe that explains it, although I don’t think of the theremin when I think of Star Trek music. Enter the third reviewer: it’s a “zither score”. Was there zither in Star Trek? Was there zither in The Day the Earth Stood Still? Regardless, these writers should compare notes.

And how would you like to be Roger Neill and have your score adjectivized as “inoffensive”? The praise is faint and ... damning. But perhaps being damned by such critics ain’t so bad.

 Posted:   Sep 1, 2023 - 4:30 PM   
 By:   Scott Bettencourt   (Member)

The Landscape score had a definite theremin sound, though I don't know if it was an actual theremin, an ondes martenot, or just a synthesizer patch with that sound (and I suspect the critic who mentioned "zither" may have been thinking of a theremin.)

Considering how most reviews only mention the score to criticize it, "inoffensive" is one of the nicer things that gets said about current scoring.

I don't know that any of them are great scores, but lately I've appreciated The Adults, Golda and Landscape with Invisible Hand because the music actually seemed to be doing something.

 Posted:   Sep 2, 2023 - 6:17 AM   
 By:   A Busy Man   (Member)

Thanks Scott. It's a shame because music can do so much for a scene or a film, including more than just set a mood. But I guess it would take more musically literate critics and audiences to appreciate that.

I'll keep my eye out for those films!

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