last-minute Christmas gifts: movie soundtracks

Holy crap, Christmas Eve is barrelling down on us. You still need something cool for someone special… or maybe you’re just looking to reward yourself with some holiday cheer. Well, never fear: your Auntie Flick Chick is here to help. Sure, you may pay a little more for express shipping, or you may have to actually haul ass to a store, but I’ve got a few things to recommend that will impress.

I dunno much about music, but I know what I like, and there’s been a lot of great music at the movies this year. And I like these (in alphabetical order, cuz they’re all worth a hear or three or a hundred):

Atonement: The act of writing — on a typewriter — plays a dramatic role in this astonishing film, and even more astonishing, Dario Marianelli’s score incorporates the imperative clackety-clack of a manual typewriter into the music, lending it a unique urgency unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. The score, which features piano performances by Jean-Yves Thibaudet, is one of the more memorable aspects of this unforgettable film. [buy at Amazon]

August Rush: From the folky-rock tunes of the band Jonathan Rhys-Meyers’s character is a member of to August’s funky guitar improvs to the pleasantly jarring symphony the child prodigy writes, this is a nicely eclectic collection of tunes that celebrates the freedom of music. Rhys-Meyer’s even does his own singing, and he’s got a great voice. [buy at Amazon] [read my review]

Enchanted: New songs from Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz are reason enough to cheer, but their tunes for this faux-yet-not-faux Disney musical send up their own past work in the most delightful way. “Happy Working Song” is a hoot — I can’t wait to see Amy Adams dancing around an Oscar stage with a vacuum cleaning. (She and James Marsden do their own singing, too.) [buy at Amazon] [read my review]

I’m Not There: The stars don’t sing here, but lots of other impressive names cover Dylan’s songlist: Sonic Youth, Eddie Vedder, Richie Havens, Sufjan Stevens, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, and a ton of others in the two discs included here. [buy at Amazon] [read my review]

Into the Wild: And it’s Eddie Vedder again, crooning four new songs full of pain and angst. Plus he helped write the score, with Kaki King (who plays August’s guitar pieces in August Rush) and Michael Brook. [buy at Amazon] [read my review]

The Kite Runner: Alberto Iglesias’s symphonic score soars like the kites, truly, with themes that resonate with Middle Eastern flourishes. Afghanistan artists Ahmad Zahir and Ehsan Aman appear, as does British-Iranian singer Sami Yusuf. Beautiful stuff. [buy at Amazon] [read my review]

Once: It seems like all the same people keep showing up on my favorite movie music of the year. Here it’s Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, of course, their music all intimate and soulful and expressive and gorgeous. [buy at Amazon]

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter to their own singing, too, on Sondheim’s operatic masterpiece, and the untrained but agreeable roughness of their voices lends their poor peasant characters exactly the right level of immediacy. [buy at Amazon]

There Will Be Blood: Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood (who has the BBC’s composer in residence since May 2004) attacks us with this most unlikely to movie scores. It’s not soft and melodious: it’s harsh and driving and mechanical, befitting this tough, edgy movie. [buy at Amazon]

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story: As with any legendary rock star, you’d spend a fortune acquiring all his albums. But you can get the highlights here… sure, they’re sung by John C. Reilly, but just as Joaquin Phoenix captured the magic of Johnny Cash, Reilly captures the magic of Cox. All the biggest hits are included, such as “Beautiful Ride,” “(Mama) You Got to Love Your Negro Man,” “Take My Hand,” and of course, the song that started it all, “Walk Hard.” [buy at Amazon] [read my review]

You can order from Amazon as late as 1pm Pacific on Saturday, December 22, and still get your prezzies by Christmas Eve. And of course, you’ll find these CDs in most book and media stores, electronics stores, and retailers like Target, etc. (Don’t shop Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is bad people.)

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Fri, Dec 21, 2007 2:26pm

The Atonement soundtrack is indeed excellent.
Are we going to get a review of the film? It’s about to slip off the end of the “recent screenings” list, but I’d still like to read what you thought of it.

Tonio Kruger
Tonio Kruger
Fri, Dec 21, 2007 4:17pm

Shop Circuit City instead. All they do is fire all their experienced people so they could afford to sell their big-screen TVs at a more appealing price. But at least they didn’t do it around Christmastime so they’re good people.:-)

Fri, Dec 21, 2007 4:45pm

Yes, I will review *Atonement* soon.

Fri, Dec 21, 2007 7:22pm

Take a look at the new Blade Runner soundtrack, released simultaneously with the Blade Runner: The Final Cut DVDs. 3 CDs: The first is the Blade Runner soundtrack CD from 1992, the second is more (previously unreleased) music from the movie, and the third is all new music (all by Vangelis) in the theme of Blade Runner. Great stuff, especially if you are a BR fan like I am.