Televideo Music in Brief Review

RIP Michael K. Williams. For my peer group, The Wire landed like a body blow.

I’m overdue to rewatch, but one aspect of the David Simon production remains vivid in my mind: There was no underscoring. The only music was diegetic. Williams had no sonic help when creating dramatic tension as Omar. (Williams didn’t need any help.)

Last month Sarah and I caught up with Mare of Easttown. The score by Lele Marchitelli was a bold act of style that helped generate form, for during moments of trauma the music was lyrical and lovely, playing against type.

We enjoyed the series, and the last act was unusually satisfying. A relevant comparison is the first season of True Detective. When the murder is solved, Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson change their characters into “good guys” and it doesn’t really work. At the close of Mare of Easttown, Kate Winslet and Julianne Nicholson get into the weeds in a manner that is far more fresh.

Jean-Paul Belmondo also passed yesterday. As with Mare of Easttown, Le Professionnel (1981) is enlivened by a distinctive score by an Italian composer, in this case Ennio Morricone; also like Mare of Easttown, the pretty music acts in surprising counterpoint to violence. Le Professionnel is very French.

There are two adaptations of Thomas Harris’s fabulous novel Red Dragon. Somewhat to my surprise, Manhunter (dir. Micheal Mann, 1986) is much better than Red Dragon (dir. Brett Ratner, 2002). There’s nothing wrong with the normal orchestral score to the 2002 adaptation, but the overbearing synth score by Michel Rubini and The Reds in 1986 is hypnotic and striking. That musical detail is representative of the movies as a whole. Mann gives us a style and an image. Cheesy at times? Unquestionably, yes, but always a style and an image. Ratner gives us a bunch of stuff that I’ve already forgotten.