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CD Reviews: A Home at the End of the World, King Arthur and Bobby Jones

A Home at the End of the World ***


Milan M2-36090

13 tracks - 41:52

This adaptation of Michael (The Hours) Cunningham's novel about a young man's quest for his place in the world will be remembered mainly for the scene where Colin Farrell gets castrated. And probably even more so due to the fact that a prominent Farrell nude scene was excised before the film moved from the indie circuit into hit multiplexes. Cuttings aside, this quirky and wonderful character study should be able to transcend the gossip columns when it reaches home video. One of its many pleasures is the debut score of pop star Duncan Sheik.

Of course there's not much score in this small drama (suffice it to say, Sheik would never be asked to score a James Bond entry), but what's there is atmospheric and lovely. Sheik writes swoony pop songs and has even dabbled in the musical theater genre, so he's a little more in tune with an artistic collaboration with director Michael Mayer than the average pop star might have been. Three cues totaling 7:36 minutes of Sheik's score are included on the CD, and they are all of the acoustic guitar or piano variety. The optimistic cue, "Brothers" is especially touching. Sheik also contributes two pop songs to the film.

Michael Cunningham, who also wrote the screenplay, has always said that music is a very important element in his writing, so the movie is peppered with interesting choices from Patti Smith to Steve Reich. This is a gentle soundtrack to a small gem of a movie.     -- Cary Wong

King Arthur **


Hollywood 2061-62461-2

Total Time - 58:03

Consider everything you might have enjoyed about Hans Zimmer's Gladiator, double it in terms of length and volume, and you'll have a good idea of what to expect from King Arthur. The score is so overblown in that it wallows in its own decadence, but if you love Zimmer's action scores without fail, you might consider this one a rousing success.

The score opens with Moya Brennan singing the Enya-like end credit song "Tell Me Now (What You See)," which is based on the score's main theme. The Enya reference is apropos; since the movie is set in early England, Zimmer fills his soundscape with celtic instruments. For instance, in the middle of track two, "Woad to Ruin," all instruments except percussion and a piercing double reed drop out for a few seconds to remind the audience of the setting. Zimmer also uses the male chorus' thick, dark sound for atmosphere (and is it just me, or do the progressions at the end of "Do You Think I'm Saxon?" sound just like the second movement from Johannes Brahms' German Requiem?). These incorporations are effective, but get lost in the score's heavy bombast.

Overall, the album is beautifully produced. The tracks are long, averaging eight minutes, and flow into each other for an integrated listening experience. But again -- and I know it's old news -- Zimmer's textures are thick and dense, filling every possible inch of the sonic spectrum, and that can sometimes be hard to hear through.

With The Last Samurai and the Nino Rota-like Matchstick Men, Zimmer indicated he might be moving on to new musical territory. But I suppose that's too much to ask, especially considering that he's usually hired specifically to provide the exact sound I'm hoping he moves away from. In short, if you are looking for more of the same, you'll definitely find it here.     -- Andrew Granade

Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius *** 1/2


Varèse Sarabande 302 066 577 2

12 tracks - 63:24

A movie about golf is kind of like the sport itself: a few people enjoy it and relish in its repetition and slow pace, while the rest of us are either bored or baffled. Bobby Jones was a real-life golfer who overcame childhood illness to win the Triple Crown of golf in 1930. This movie follows in the tradition of The Legend of Bagger Vance in trying to elevate the sport to mythical proportions (a la baseball), but alas, both films are preaching to the converted. Fortunately, like Bagger Vance and its magical Rachel Portman score, Bobby Jones is well supported by a first-rate effort from James Horner.

Horner is in full Cocoon mode here. Heart-tugging and emotional, inspirational and romantic, Horner's touch should give goose bumps to his fans (and give Horner-haters a day off from grousing). And while the bagpipes of Braveheart are back, they're used in a totally unintrusive way. The track titles are a dead giveaway as to how each track will sound, from "Destined for Greatness" (the CD's best track) to the 10-minute "Living the Dream." I was surprised how thoroughly I enjoyed this score. Yes, there's hardly a black cloud in the movie or in the score's mood (like most sports heroes, Jones' biggest flaw is that he overextends himself). And yes, the score walks a thin line, sometimes falling into treacle territory. But, mostly it's uplifting without the sugary moments.     -- CW

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