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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Music in Film: Solaris (2002)

Hard to believe, Steven Soderbergh's coldly received, overlooked tour de force Solaris was released more than five years ago. 

Lukewarm reviews from critics and audiences, all expecting a special effects bonanza akin to the latest version of The Day the Earth Stood Still. Soderbergh's film diluted a three-hour film into 90 minutes, using George Clooney's expert charm and the near-perfect chemistry between Clooney and Natasha McElhone to move things along. 

Simply put, it's one of my favorite films. But the reason it stands out—the haunting, pulsing score by Cliff Martinez. 

One of the best shots in the film is Clooney on the train sitting in front of McElhone as she twiddles with a doorknob and tries to garner the eyes of Clooney's character to look at her. The shot's beauty is magnified by ten because of the percussive blips and bleeps, which moves into a pounding bass line and rousing strings. 

It sounds like love. At first, we're all giddy, our senses are tingling, then we calm down a bit and perhaps smile, but there's still that giddiness, that frailty that if we make one wrong step—it's over. 

It's no wonder the song is titled "Don't Blow It." Martinez's score is one of the few soundtracks I sought out after seeing the film. It's not something I'd regularly put on, but during a rainy winter day, it's a blissful soundtrack. 

It can make the rainiest of afternoons sound hopeful. 

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