This is what happens when you get the stomach flu: things freeze while you lie in bed writhing, wondering if it was the raw tomato, the cooked chicken, the feta cheese in the sandwich, the bread, or the milk in the cereal that carried a bug, or maybe some schmo in the subway who chose to venture into the world in spite of being a walking contagion of bug matter.

What follows next will be a cluster of stuff planned, done, and organized over the last week, and actually live on the site – it just took a while to type up the corresponding blogs and update the RSS feeds.

First up is a three-part piece on Armored (2009), a film about $42 bank heist flick that’s really simple, not daringly original, but was directed by Nimrod Antal, who wrote and directed the New Voguish subway film Kontroll / Control (2003). He was well-used by Hollywood to make the simple-but-fun No Vacancy (2007), and followed up with what’s basically a vintage B-movie loaded with character actors and the odd star or three (Jean Reno? Laurence Fishburne? Fred Ward?).

The stunts are practical, real metal gets destroyed, and stuff blows up now and then, but more to the point, Antal isn’t an attention-deficit director. He knows how to cut, balance action montages, and has a great feel for brisk tempo, and that’s probably why composer John Murphy was able to write another striking score.

Murphy’s calling cards are the 28 Days / 28 Weeks Later diptych of zombie nihilism, but he’s done way more than horror since he started scoring films in 1992. Leon the Pig Farmer was his debut (and is still annoyingly unavailable on home video in Region 1 land), and he’s worked with Danny Boyle, Guy Ritchie, and Michael Mann.

In our lengthy conversation, the candid Murphy discusses his style, why directors like him so much, and what was it like scoring for the difficult Michael Mann.

Years ago Music from the Movies did a long spread on Elliot Goldenthal, and the composer described the frustration in trying to meet the particular sounds Mann wanted for Heat (1995). Specific instruments. Then changes. Agreement. More changes. And then a finished score that brilliantly sounded like Tangerine Dream filtered through Goldenthal and the Kronos Quartet.

Here are some specific things you can usually bank on in a Mann film:

- the music will sound like Tangerine Dream’s Thief (Mann’s 1981 theatrical film debut as a director)

- cobalt blue with a hue of soothing neon will be integral to the colour scheme

- Big Decisions will occur when the star or tormented lead character is standing or sitting by the edge of a lake or ocean edge. His head will likely be canted, and at one point he will probably be shot in silhouette, sometimes with trees or a log.

- characters will have their most earnest conversation or meeting in a coffee shop

- an older character will have close-cut salt and pepper hair

- sunglasses and a steely visage are mandatory

- women don’t really matter, and are frequently whiny and annoying, if not duplicitous and a hindrance to a male character’s personal growth.

Like his music for Mann’s Miami Vice (2006), John Murphy’s score for Armored meets all of that film’s requirements, and the links for reviews of Sony’s DVD, La-La Land Record’s soundtrack album, and my interview with the composer are active.

(Murphy’s upcoming gig, incidentally, is Matthew Vaughan’s Kick-Ass, which he co-scored with Henry Jackman.)

While I’m on the subject of Armored (and I’ll keep this brief due to time, and sore fingers from typing on a vintage IMB PS/2 keyboard), the film’s fleeting theatrical release and quick-and-quiet DVD release does validate the odd dilemma good B-movies sliding off cinema screens without a trace.

With theatrical runs basically functioning as adverts for tentpole pictures, do tight action films have any hope in hell of theatrical runs, or have audiences grown accustomed to seeing smallish films in their personal home theatres? Are Event Films the only lure to spend high admission fees? Are smaller films better-suited for home environments because we’ve been acclimatized to small-scope films playing on TV, either because of DVD or Cable TV dumping over the years?

I remember watching a number of really neat New Horizons films on First Choice Pay TV, and I can’t imagine those films got much theatrical play even their day. (I know Sister, Sister got some, because Brian Linehan found the cast and story interesting enough to do an interview episode on Bill Condon’s 1987 southern, mossy thriller.)

I remember what it was like to see a B-flick in a theatre – while an edit suite was kaput, a bunch of us trekked over to Yorkdale Mall and were pretty much the only people there to see Walter Hill’s underrated Trespass (1992) – but that was eons ago, and I’ve caught far more on home video since then.

Maybe if Armored was 100 mins. it would qualify for a broad release, but it seems the only 88 mins. films sent to theatres are crap horror remakes and re-imaginings in specialty runs, and I’m willing to bet shite like Black Christmas (2006) got a wider release than Armored.

I guess if the method of accessing the media changes, so does our behaviour.

More blather to follow.



Copyright © mondomark