Top of the World: Celebrating Bernard Herrmann with 10 Wonderful Scores!

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Yesterday, the famous movie music composer Bernard Herrmann would have been 106 years old. He did not only share his brilliance in his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock, but in all the movie scores he composed. It’s for that reason that he is a favourite among many cinephiles. He certainly was among those movie composers who perfectly knew how to musically illustrate the atmosphere of a film.

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I didn’t have time to “celebrate” him yesterday as I was working, but I thought I should honour him today with one of my traditional top lists! So, let me introduce you my 10 most favourite Bernard Herrmann scores! Of course, that was a most difficult exercise as he was a master of music. I had to change the order of my top many times.

Before continuing, remember that these are my personal favourite ones, so it’s purely subjective. You obviously can’t contest my personal tastes. 馃槈

Ok, here we go!

10. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)

Ah! How can we forget this haunting music regrouping strings only?! The shower scene is not the most “melodious” Bernard Hermann moment, but probably the one people will remember the most.

9. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)

As much as I’m not THAT much a fan of this film (despite the fact that it is considered the best movie of all times and blablabla), there are TWO things that I love enormously about it, one of them being the music (the other one being Joseph Cotten). I love how it is at the time very sinister or very joyful. Typical Herrmann!

 

8.The Man Who Knew Too Much (Alfred Hitchcock, 1956)

My favourite Hitchcock’s film! And certainly one of my favourite Bernard Herrmann scores! It’s so orchestral, I love it! You unfortunately won’t hear it in this clip, but, during the film, there are some notes that remind us a lot of Vertigo‘s score that Herrmann will compose two years later. Of course, we all remember Herrmann’s cameo in the film! 馃檪

 

7. Marnie (Alfred Hitchcock, 1964)

Without being Hitchcock’s best film, one can’t deny that this is among Herrmann’s best scores! Actually, it might be the best thing about this film. I absolutely love it.

 

6. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)

When those notes start, you know you are in for something special! Somehow, I can always see Carlotta Valdes’s portrait when I hear this music or the famous dream sequence. A team work between Hitchcock and Hermann always creates prodigies! Another film that is considered “the best of all times” and, once again, Bernard Herrmann had the chance to be part of the team!

 

5. North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)

As far as I can remember, North by Northwest has always been one of my very favourite music scores. It succeeds to so perfectly capture the attention of the viewers. Once again, one can perfectly visualize the film in his/her head while listening to this GREAT score!

 

4. Jane Eyre (Robert Stevenson, 1944)

I must be honest, I didn’t become familiar with that score until… well today. The reason is that I’ve seen the movie only once and quite a long time ago, so let’s say the music was not necessarily fresh in my memory! But when I was re-listening to some of the Herrmann scores, I discovered how great it was! I just can’t believe I haven’t took the time to listen to it more carefully before. It’s just ace! Somehow, I can visualize the movie in my head when I listen to it. It truly makes me want to watch it again! 4m14 – 4m30: this moment is absolutely terrifying, but great!

 

3. The Day the Earth Stood Still (Robert Wise, 1951)

That is THE sound of science-fiction! My favourite sci-fi film and very probably my favourite music score for a sci-fi film. In this score, we can hear both acoustic and electronic instruments, including two Theremins, which create those typical sounds from outer space.

 

2. Obsession (Brian de Palma, 1976)

It goes without saying, I am obsessed with this film score (ouuuu!). It’s just spellbinding. I especially love the first minutes of it. I can always see the scene where Cliff Robertson throws the suitcase with the money on the street or that unforgettable final scene… For a movie that is very similar to Vertigo, Bernard Herrmann was of course the ultimate choice for the music!

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  1. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)

Ah, the last and ultimate Bernard Herrman’s score! From Citizen Kane (his first movie music score) to Taxi Driver (his last), he proved to be an absolute musical master. Taxi Driver‘s music is so mesmerizing and fits perfectly the dark New-Yorkian atmosphere of the film. It sort of makes me want to take saxophone lessons!

Well, that’s it! I hope you enjoyed! Of course, don’t hesitate to share your personal favourites in the comment section!

Cheers to Herrmann!

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Top of the World: Bette Davis, Gregory Peck and Spencer Tracy in Tops Five

April 5 is an important date on our calendar as three major movie stars were born on this day: Bette Davis, Gregory Peck and Spencer Tracy (and also Melvyn Douglas, Frank Gorshin and Walter Huston). To pay a tribute to them, I’ve decided to present you 3 little top 5 of 1- my favourite Bette Davis’ films, 2- my favourite Gregory Peck’s films and 3- my favourite Spencer Tracy’s films. These actors are all personal favourites and it’s been a long time since I haven’t post a traditional top list on this blog!

Remember that these are my personal choices, so thanks in advance for respecting them!

Bette Davis Top 5 Favourite Films

5- Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte聽(Robert Aldrich, 1964)

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4- The Letter(William Wyler, 1940)

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3- Now, Voyager聽(Irving Rapper, 1942)

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2- All About Eve(Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

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1- Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?(Robert Aldrich, 1962)

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Gregory Peck Top 5 Favourite Films

5- The Big Country (William Wyler, 1958)

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4-聽Cape Fear (Martin Scorsese, 1991) – Yes, I do prefer the remake, even if Peck doesn’t have the leading role.

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3- To Kill a Mockingbird (Robert Mulligan, 1962)

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2- Spellbound (Alfred Hitchcock, 1945)

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1- Roman Holiday (William Wyler, 1953)

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Spencer Tracy Top 5 Films

5- Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (Stanley Kramer, 1967)

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4- Father of the Bride (Vincente Minnelli, 1950)

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3- Woman of the Year (George Steven, 1942)

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2- Libeled Lady (Jack Conway)

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1- It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (Stanley Kramer, 1963)

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Well, that’s that! Don’t hesitate to share your favourites!

A happy heavenly birthday to all these marvellous stars!

Top of the World: Remembering David Bowie with 15 Favourite Songs

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Already one year ago, on January 10, 2016, a musical legend, David Bowie passed away and left his fans in deep sorrow. He was an icon and a real source of inspiration. This聽sad event is one that we aren’t completely ready to accept and that seemed to have happened聽too suddenly. Unexpected deaths like this one are the most painful.

However, I’m strongly convinced that Bowie’s memory will never stop being聽celebrated. Today, in his honour, I’m back with a top 15 of my favourite Bowie’s songs (already another top? Yes!) Plus, two days ago it was his birthday so that makes it a double occasion. There are moments like this when I allow myself to put movies aside and focus on a different cultural subject. (Yes, David Bowie did play in some films, but that’s another story).

This list is very subjective as these are my personal favourites. I ask you to please respect my choices. If a song you like isn’t part of聽the top, it’s not because I don’t like it! It’s just not in my top 15.

I love Bowie, but I’m really not an expert. To tell you the sad truth, I discovered most of his songs after his death. (You know, stuff like that always happens). I think I knew 6 of them before. However, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a favourite before his death, and I was one of those who couldn’t believe it. I’m telling you all this because this top mostly contains Bowie’s famous songs, which are the one I know the most. I’m not too familiar with his more obscure songs.

Well, enjoy the top now!

15. Changes (1971)

Seriously, how can we forget this refrain?

14. Let’s Dance (1983)

A perfect song to dance indeed.

13. Under Pressure (1982)

Davie Bowie and Freddy Mercury = priceless

12. Dancing in the Streets ( David Bowie and Mick Jagger’s version: 1985)

This song was originally written by聽聽William Stevenson,聽Ivy Jo Hunter聽et聽Marvin Gaye and contains several different versions. Bowie/Jaggers’s one deserves credits for its video clip only.

11. The Man Who Sold the World (1970)

A “mysterious” song, that’s why I like it.

10. Modern Love (1983)

I know it sounds strange said like that, but I’ve always loved the musicality of this song

9. Rebel Rebel (1974)

Just for that lyric: “Hot tramp, I love you so! “

8. Suffragette City (1972)

Another unforgettable David Bowie’s song

7.聽Ziggy Stardust聽(1972)

Because I like the creativity of this song and Bowie’s very sexy voice in it.

(Seriously, his legs are amazing. And this live version is my favourite one)

6. The Jean Genie (1973)

This song has “swag”.

5. Golden Years (1975)

This proves that David was able to perform different styles of music and did them all well.

4. Starman (1972)

The first Bowie’s song I discovered. Used to be my #1 once, but it still has a special place in my heart.

3. Heroes (1977)

A powerful song and Bowie’s voice: OH MY GOD. The emotion.

2. Space Oddity (1969)

Bowie’s most iconic song. Always makes me think of my favourite Quebecker movie, C.R.A.Z.Y (Jean-Marc Vall茅e) in which the main character is a fan of Bowie and listens to this song in an iconic聽scene.

The song was originally released in 1969, but my favourite version is the 1972’s re-release, also the most well-known version.

C.R.Z.Y’s scene, in case you are curious.

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  1. China Girl (1977)

Strangely, I used not to like this song very much. But now I love it and… it’s my favourite one. Once again, David Bowie’s voice is amazing and full of emotion, and a song that mentions Marlon Brando’s name is always a winner for me. 馃槈

That was difficult and I’m still not a 100 % sure of聽my order of preference. There are some I just love equally.

Anyway, I hope you like these ones too! Please don’t hesitate to share with me what are YOUR favourite David Bowie’s songs.

I watched Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars yesterday and discovered a bunch of other amazing songs in it, but as I’ve heard most of them only once (except those in the top) and because this article was already edited I will leave it as it is now. But a big shout out to this film and its songs!

David Bowie: the man is gone, but the legend will live forever. RIP

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Top of the World: 10 Spanish Speaking Movies

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This past semester at university I had a Contemporary Spanish Cinema course. It was optional, but I took it for my own curiosity as, I have to admit, I don’t think I had seen any Spanish movies before. Here I mean Spanish from Spain. Some names were familiar, such as Almod贸var, but I still didn’t really know what to expect and if I would like it or not. Well, I did. The teacher was interesting and I loved almost all the movies we watched! The course is over now, but in good memory of it I’ve decided to do a…. top list! However, here I won’t only include Spanish movies from Spain, but Spanish speaking movies in general. So, some South American movies will be included on this list (actually, I think there’s only two) and movies produced by Spain, but not Spanish speaking won’t be included (here I can think of The Others with Nicole Kidman. We watched it in class, it’s very good, but not a word of Spanish is spoken in it).

Before I start the top, here are some new, and not so new warnings:

As I’ve just discovered the world of Spanish movies, I haven’t seen them all! So it’s no use saying “you should have put this film on your list.” If I haven’t seen it, I just haven’t, so I can’t include it. Among all the Spanish films I saw, I think that maybe 4 or 5 are not included in the list, so it’s not that much as you can see. And those are not like the “obvious” Spanish films that everybody should see. But of course, if you are curious to know if I have seen some particular film that might be among the 5 that are not on the list, you surely can ask! 馃檪

I don’t say that any of these films are better than another one. This is a very subjective list. These are my personal favourites. Please respect my choices.

My course was about聽contemporary Spanish Cinema, meaning that the list doesn’t include Spanish movies from the 40s or the 50s for example. The oldest one is a 1980’s movie. However, if you know some good “old” Spanish films I should watch, please don’t hesitate to recommend them!

I think it would be important to mention that I did see all these films in class, but most of my viewings were related to the course, except for one.

All the Almod贸var’s films I saw are included in this list.

Ok, here we go!

10.聽La Mala Educaci贸n (Bad Education) – Pedro Almod贸var, 2004

I chose this film for my final essay of Spanish Contemporary Cinema and I got an…. A! 馃榾 Look what the teacher said about my text: “This was an excellent paper, with an outstanding engagement with both historical context and literature on the subject. Great work! Only as a minor comment, the paper, is 1000 words larger than the word count asked for, be sure to double check these things (I appreciate the effort but usually its better to try and not overdo too much). At any rate, this paper shows an excellent engagement with course topics and it was very insightful and complete assignment.” 聽Ok, I write too much, but hey! I got an A you know! 馃槈

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9.聽Flores de otro mundo (Flowers From Another World) – Ic铆ar Bolla铆n, 1999

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8.Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Mujeres al bored de un ataque de nervios)– Pedro Almod贸var, 1988

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7.La piel que habito (The Skin I Live in) – Pedro Almod贸var, 2011

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6.XXY – Luc铆a Puenzo, 2007

A very interesting and touching Argentinian movie about the complex subject of intersexuality. I actually saw this one in a different class.

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5.Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother) – Pedro Almod贸var, 1999

Definitely my favourite Almod贸var’s film so far, and the first I’ve seen.

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4.El laberinto del fauno (Pan鈥檚 Labyrinth) – Guillermo del Toro, 2006

Ok, I think everybody knows this one. I loved it, but I actually thought she would spend more time in the labyrinth!

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3.聽Pa Negre (Black Bread) – August铆 Villaronga, 2010

Another great聽film about Spanish Civil War, still with the mean guy from Pan’s Labyrinth. Here I cheat a little as the film is not in Spanish, but in Catalan.

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2.Y Tu Mama Tambi茅n (And your Mother Too) – Alfonso Cuar贸n, 2001

Another pretty well-known film. I watched it because of Gael Garc铆a Bernal and I was not disappointed. Amazingly shot. A Mexican movie. The only one I watched that was not related to the course (or any other course if I think of XXY)

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1.聽Tambi茅n la lluvia (Even the Rain) – Ic铆ar Bolla铆n, 2010

The film that made me discover Gael Garc铆a Bernal. I didn’t know what to expect from this film, but it’s just amazing. The story is breathtaking and the actors are excellent. Not to be missed.

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Here it is. I know there’s much more I have to see such as Almodovar’s Talk to Her or聽Diarios de motocicleta聽with Bernal, but these films gave me a good preview聽of how great Spanish cinema is. If you are like me five months ago and haven’t seen any Spanish films, I hope this list will be useful to you!

It was good to be back! See you soon! 馃檪

And Happy New Year too!

Top of the World: 9 Leo DiCaprio Films

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Just… too adorable ahah 鉂

Today, one of my very favourite modern actors, the one and only Leonardo DiCaprio, turned 42! Young and still full of talents!

For the occasion, I’m presenting you my top 9 of my favourite movies of his! Why 9? Sounds a bit odd I know, but the simple reason is that I’ve seen 11 of his films, and there’s two of them that I didn’t really like, so I don’t see the use of including them in the top! It was The Revenant and The Great Gatsby. Leo is not the reasons why I didn’t like those movies! More like just the movie itself…

Of course, these are my personal choices and just list my own favourites. 馃檪 Don’t hesitate to share your choices with me!

Ok, here we go:

9. The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006)

Quite a cast.

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8. Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010)

Not sure I understood everything, but despite that I liked it!

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7. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, 2013)

A bit long and a bit too much, but overall I appreciated it.

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6. Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese, 2010)

Weird film, but one you don’t forget!

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5. Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino, 2012)

Normally not a fan of Tarantino’s films, but I exceptionally loved this one. Leo is delightfully evil!

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4. Catch Me if You Can (Steven Spielberg, 2002)

Gotta love Spielberg 馃檪

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3. The Aviator (Martin Scorsese, 2004)

IMHO, what the best DiCaprio-Scorsese’s collaboration

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2. Titanic (James Cameron, 1997)

Well, a 聽Leo DiCaprio’s top without this guilty pleasure wouldn’t be a real one. Anyway, I love this film, find it entertaining and Jack is such a cool character聽馃檪

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Suspense….

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  1. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape! (Lasse Hallstr枚m, 1993)

I think it’s for this film or The Aviator that Leo should have won his first Oscar! Gilbert Grape is a delightful film. Love it.

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Hope you appreciated the top!

Happy birthday Leo! 馃檪

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