DIFF Review: Score

Score: B

Director: Matt Schrader

Cast: Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, Trent Reznor, Quincy Jones

Running Time: 93 Minutes

Rated: NR

Music is such an important part of a film. It's the last piece of the puzzle. It can enhance a great movie, save a bad one, distract from a good one and be as important as any special effect. That's why it's surprising there hasn't been a solid documentary on the subject, outside of the occasional supercut.

Score fills that void with an entertaining, occasionally insightful film about the history of scores, from the early days of cinema with live organists to the modern masters of the form. They also spend a good amount of time on crafting a memorable score, even on movies that are clearly terrible.

If you know much at all about music composition or film history, most of this won't be new to you. But what Score lacks in depth, it makes up for in breadth.

Pretty much every living composer you can think of gets interviewed here, with other musicians, directors and industry folks singing their praises. It would have been nice for them to interview more female composers and those who are further off the beaten path (Mica Levi would have fit that Venn diagram nicely), but they do cover a lot of folks with varied styles.

While many composers have easily recognizable styles, all the ones interviewed here have an insatiable desire to keep experimenting, using more unusual instruments, time signatures and effects so they never stay on autopilot, even though it would easy to do so, considering they're lucky to have even two months to work on the final product.

For any serious fan of films and film music, Score is a treat. Like many solid docs, it will send you out of the theater to go down your own rabbit holes.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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