I've always been musically-oriented, and I like feeling like I know what's around the next corner, music-wise. I've never been one to obsess over what's on the radio--too pedestrian-- but being a movie-buff has served my musical tastes well. One of the best ways to discover good music that is a little off the beaten path is the soundtrack compilation, particularly of more art-house cinema.
Here are a few of my favorite soundtracks, and why I like them, in no particular order.
Until the End Of The World - Various artists - from the ubiquitous film by Wim Wenders
This was the sequel to Wings of Desire, but fell a little flat - the plot was convoluted and difficult to digest. Still, any Wim Wenders film is worth seeing once. Honorable mention to the soundtrack from Wings Of Desire, which is full of lovely, yearning cello, and the deliciously ghoulish Nick Cave. Ah, the perennial allure of the doom-crooner, extra-bad-boy of rock'n'roll who ties damsels to the railroad tracks.
Naked Lunch - Soundtrack by Fort Worth genius Ornette Coleman. Coleman's style is astonishing and can be incredibly demanding listening. However, this soundtrack--while noodle-some and all over the map in a good way-- contains some of his tightest and most compelling compositions, in my opinion. Love this one. It's very mood-inspiring in an ultra-hip, beatnik sort of way. Good poker background music, if you're playing with the hep set.
Romeo Is Bleeding - Mark Isham - Generally, I'm into about any soundtrack by Mark Isham - he sets mood brilliantly. This soundtrack also features the sublime "Bird Alone" by Abbey Lincoln, and a fantastic track by A.J. Croce, son of Jim Croce.
Stealing Beauty - Various artists - one of the best soundtracks EVAH, baby. LOVE this. Run out and buy it. NOW. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Grab your bonnet, hop in the chariot and get this soundtrack. Standouts include Portishead, Mazzy Star (favorite!), Cocteau Twins, Bootsy Collins, Nina Simone, John Lee Hooker and lots of other yummy stuff. I was pleased the powers-that-be saw fit to leave the Hole track from the movie out of this compilation. This is my favorite whilst floating in the pool.
Of course, Tarantino's Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs get big points for delectable soundtracks which are a walk through odd pockets of the 50s, 60s and 70s.
Any film by Michael Mann will have superb music, but in my opinion the ultimate soundtrack to his films has got to be Last Of The Mohicans - incredibly compelling and just plain old gorgeousness. His film Manhunter had a fantastic soundtrack that set the mood masterfully, but I don't think that soundtrack is even available any more, and the film was pretty obscure to begin with.
I love the jazz-baby era music which was popular in the 1920s and 1930s. I'm sure that somewhere there's a compilation of great hits of that era, but I haven't really looked. I have found treasures of this era in the soundtracks for Bullets Over Broadway and also for Henry & June.
Anyway - do you have a favorite soundtrack to recommend to me? There's room in my head for more good music.
OH- My sister reminded me - any soundtrack by Lisa Gerrard is worth checking out - we particularly recommend The Insider and Gladiator. Of course, you MUST love the soundtrack from O Brother, Where Art Thou?