Writer, director, filmmaker, DJ, athlete, and all around good guy, Aristotle Torres (aka VXA) is a renaissance man from the Bronx. We met many years ago when I produced a video that VXA was featured in. We’ve kept up through social media as I’m always liking or digging things he shares online. VXA appreciates both visuals and music and how they compliment each other. With that I asked him to share some of his favorite film scores/soundtracks. Learn about his 2018 short film “Story Ave” and check out his list below.
One of my favorite quotes on filmmaking is from Martin Scorsese - "Half of cinema is sound"
I love that quote. In five words you understand the scope of movies and how important the combination of visuals paired with audio is. Watch a film with poor sound design and/or score - it's an unpleasant experience. So, when Jones Robinson asked me to write something up on my favorite soundtracks, I jumped at the opportunity to share my appreciation for two of my biggest loves: film and music.
First up, I'm going with a soundtrack that has not only impacted me on a sonic level but has actually been instrumental in helping me write my first feature film. I can honestly credit this body of music in helping craft my story, matching the lyric of dialogue or structure with the pacing of the score.
"IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK"
Dir. Barry Jenkins. 2017
Original Score by Nicholas Britell
As I learn more and more about filmmaking, I realize how important musical themes are to establishing your characters internal conflict. This score does that to perfection. Even now, when I hear certain chord progressions from the soundtrack, I'm immediately drawn back to the visual of Fonny fighting for his place in the world and Tish doing her best to support him. Pure Magic.
Speaking of magic, this next soundtrack overflows with it. Eclectic sounds, global appeal, romantic themes, mixed with strong musical elements. It's also the middle child of one of my favorite franchises.
Dir. Steven Soderbergh. 2004
Composed by David Holmes
I remember the day I saw this film in theatres and immediately fell in love with the score. Even the way the film starts. (Spoilers Ahead) It's Brad Pitt, a convicted con-man doing a major heist in Amsterdam. His girlfriend, Catherine Zeta Jones, a top-level detective at Interpol is investigating Brad's very crime. During a passive couple'ish conversation one night when Brad returns to their apartment, he realizes she's almost on-to-him so he immediately jumps out of the bathroom window. Freeze Frame - Queue: Ornella Vanoni's "L'Appuntamento".
Next up is just a classic soundtrack. If you have any appreciation for black music, cinema or culture, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
"NUTTY PROFESSOR 2: THE KLUMPS"
Dir. Peter Segal
Composed by David Newman
One word: JAMS. "Hey Papi" "Thong Song" "Missing You" "Just Friends" "Off The Wall". All joints that can still go hard today at your summer BBQ. This is quite possibly one of the best compilations of music ever assembled for a comedic picture.
Next selection is a bit of a sleeper and a random pick, but still worth a serious listen.
Dir. Guy Ritchie. 2000
Composed by John Murphy
Snatch is one of my favorite films. It's Ritchie's follow up to his debut film "Lock Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels". Close to a perfect film for me. Direction, performance, dialogue, composition, it all hits home. And the score, it's something else. One of the best moments of the film is compounded by this song by Massive Attack "Angel". Fun Fact: one of my favorite songs ever is on this too - Maceo and The Macks "Cross The Tracks".
I saved my last selection for two reasons; Its another Barry Jenkins film and it might be the most fun you'll have listening to a soundtrack.
PURPLE MOONLIGHT inspired by "MOONLIGHT"
Dir. Barry Jenkins (2016)
Created by The Chopstars
Moonlight itself is in my Top 5. EVER. And this interpretation of the official soundtrack does not disappoint. The film itself features some chopped n' screwed elements but The Chopstars take it to a whole 'nother level. Also, from a blending/mix/DJ standpoint, these guys are the real deal.
Hope you enjoy and if you have soundtracks in your life that inspire you, please shoot em my way!