|1.||Danny's Theme Movement I|
|2.||Danny's Theme Movement II|
|5.||Klezmer In Brooklyn|
|8.||Walking In Queens|
|10.||Obliterate The Chaos|
|14.||Planting The Bomb|
|15.||The Bomb Test|
|18.||The Tree of Life|
|20.||Henry Bean's Interview|
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Music Used in Trailers
Review: Believer, The
2.5 / 5 Stars
Boy, has Henry Bean's film The Believer stirred up a lot of controversy this year. Based on the multitude of things I have read about it, it would seem an understatement to say the film deals with some contradictions. On the one hand, it is an unapologetic look at a self-loathing Jewish man who became the leader of a neo-Nazi skinhead movement. On the other hand, it took the Grand Jury prize at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. Add to that the rumors of dismayed Jewish leaders trying to squash its release by a major Hollywood studio and effectively succeeding. And did I mention it's based on a true story? Oh yeah, this is one for the kids alright.
The one thing about The Believer everyone seems to agree on is the effectiveness of composer Joel Diamond's score in the context of the film. What that probably means, to the Sundance-impaired, is that both film critics and real people walked around Park City for several days using a lot of buzzy terms like "moody", "hip", and "edgy". While I personally haven't seen the film yet (supposedly it will be running on the Showtime Network in September), it is safe to say that after listening to Milan's fifty minute CD release of Diamond's work that the composer really did take a some chances here. Actually, that's putting it mildly.
As heard here, the score is a literal cornucopia of differing styles and sounds. You've got aggressive hip hop backbeats. You've also got traditional Jewish music. You've also got weird voice samples and what sounds like people smacking a hammer on phone wires. You get the idea. Call it experimental. Call it a low-budget approach. Whatever you want to call it, on the album it all ends up being too disjointed to sustain any kind of normal listening experience. But by that same token, it is a little too intricately weird to dismiss as just so much indie film synth noise.
The synth thing might be what bugs me the most. I understand that money was probably tight, but there is a difference between taking a low-budget electronic approach and just trying to make synthesizers sound like an orchestra. Diamond has a whole lot of both on this album. "Danny's Theme Movement 1" sounds a lot like an electronic hybrid of Morricone's urgent string writing and Harry Manfredini's Friday The 13th scores, while "Movement 2" tries a more contemplative approach with a moaning female voice over string pads. "Jewish Theme" is just the opposite, so bouncy and ethnically over the top as to be satirical (probably its intention). And the New Yawk vibe of the film is evoked well by the backbeat and trash-talking samples of "Walking In Queens".
The rest of the album plays out just as schizophrenically as the troubled main character of the film. Tracks seem to be either short and bizarre, or overlong moody wallpaper spiced up with some Peter Gabriel-esque percussion. That wailing female voice pops up now and again, trying to tie things together, and "End Credits" has so many dramatic dialogue snippets pasted on top of it that I might not need to see the movie now.
Hey, I don't mean to be overly snarky here. I consider myself a pretty adventurous listener. I like to try new and weird things. And I'm sure Diamond's work here greatly enhances the film in question. But ultimately, on CD The Believer is a tough one to get through on its own terms. But hey, that's just me.
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