Of course, I should be doing some proper work. But I started thinking about Jon Brion. Brion (born December 11, 1963) is “an American rock and pop multi-instrumentalist,singer, songwriter, composer and record producer” (much like the splenetic and rumbustious musical savant Craig Jeffery). I’m not massively au fait with his solo work but I am familiar with his soundtrack work as it forms part of several of what I consider (often loudly and at length) some of the best films ever made. So this is really just an excuse to post some videos of highlights from those Jon Brion soundtracks.
I might get round to writing longer pieces on these films in the future but in the meantime its worth saying that although we each have our own reality-filters so the merits or otherwise of these films lies in the eyes of the beholder, while I understand that, if you don’t like these films then it would be remiss of me not to seriously consider either snubbing you forever or smothering you with a pillow to put you out of your tasteless idiotic misery. If you haven’t seen these films then go now and find them. Stop conversing with friends and loved ones, or whatever it is you do, and find these movies. It’ll be worth it.
Here’s the audacious and quite brilliant opening sequence from Magnolia. From the voiceover:
And it is in the humble opinion of this narrator that this is not just “Something That Happened.” This cannot be “One of Those Things… ” This, please, cannot be that. And for what I would like to say, I can’t. This Was Not Just A Matter Of Chance. No. These strange things happen all the time.
Aimee Mann provides most of the songs for the soundtrack (though they are, I think, produced by Brion-correct me if I’m wrong). Here however is some of Brion’s incidental music, the track So Now Then…
Unfortunately I can’t find a clip of the closing voice-over (not the final scene mind you which is ballsy and brilliant but if I start writing about the whole film we’ll be here all day) but here is the transcription because it’s a great piece of writing:
So now then…there is the account of the hanging of three men, and a scuba diver, and a suicide. There are stories of coincidence and chance, of intersections and strange things told, and which is which and who only knows? And we generally say, “Well, if that was in a movie, I wouldn’t believe it.” Someone’s so-and-so met someone else’s so-and-so and so on. And it is in the humble opinion of this narrator that strange things happen all the time. And so it goes, and so it goes. And the book says, “We may be through with the past, but the past ain’t through with us.”
Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
From the paranoid and anxious romantic comedy with Adam Sandler and Emily Watson who, and I don’t think this is a secret, I am a little bit in love with. Particularly in this film. The song’s called Here We Go, and the video gives a good idea of the films unique tone and feel. Also, Emily Watson is in it. Did I say that already?
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
More strange love. The song is called Strings That Tie to You.
I Heart Huckabees (2004)
Some people don’t like I Heart Huckabees. Those people are wrong. Here’s the song Get What It’s About
And my personal favourite, Knock Yourself Out. It would make a good funeral song. I mean that in a good way. The video features Jason Scwartzman and Mark Wahlberg who star in the film.
And finally some incidental music, the track You Learn.
Synecdoche, New York (2008)
I love the other films in this post. But if faced with the choice between killing a puppy or ensuring that Synecdoche, New York still exists in the world I would happily indulge in canine genocide. I’m being ironic here of course but only because it strikes me as very, very unlikely that such a situation should occur. But if, for reasons beyond my imaginings, it did happen, the puppies are getting it. If for no other reason this film has both Emily Watson and Samantha Morton in it, thus upping the pale and melancholy ethereal beauty content considerably.
Synecdoche, New York is the directorial debut of Charlie Kaufman, writer but not director of Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Like those screenplays Synechdoche is a story about stories and hinges on a single metatextual big idea. It’s about life and art and life as art and art as life. Its about the impossibility of pinning life down, how meaning and truth always slip from one’s grasp. How the desperate to represent life fully can overwhelm the actual living of life. And it has Emily Watson and Samantha Morton in it, not to mention a brilliant lead performance from the ever reliable professional sad-sack Phillip Seymour Hoffman (also of course in Magnolia and Punch Drunk Love). In short, it is like someone made a film just for me. Maybe you will like it too.
A taste then. First, here is the strange and sad and lovely Little Person.
And here is the amazing final scene. Don’t worry if you haven’t seen the film, Synecdoche, New York, is an unusual and remarkable piece of cinema that remains remorselessly brilliant whether one knows the ‘story’ (such as it is) or not. As the title to this video has it, in a quote taken from the clip, “The specifics hardly matter. everyone is everyone.” It’s more like a mood piece or a tone poem. Anyway, here’s the video, with Brion’s music (the sound design on this film is just brilliant, all of life seems to be there, a teeming aural ecology of clicks and buzzes).
That’s about it for now. Apparently Brion has also done the music for Miranda July’s new film The Future, which sounds like a match made in heaven. Hope you enjoyed the videos. And thank you Mr. Brion.