November 7, 2022

30 favorite movie-music moments

In no particular order: 

1. Doing it to Death by The Kills > Titane, screenshot from hulu

2. Dies Irae > The Shining, screenshot from video; Dies Irae has been used countless times in media and this will always be the best, most spine-chilling use of all time 

3. Moonlight by John Williams > Sabrina, screenshot from DVD; this song and scene perfectly encapsulate the feeling of watching a glamorous, beautiful life from the outside and wishing you could be a part of it (the YouTube video shows Sabrina getting that life later in the movie). 

4. Summer Kisses, Winter Tears by Elvis Presley > Until the End of the World, screenshot from video; no one captures the alienation and freedom of driving like Wim Wenders does. The version of this song on the official soundtrack is by Julee Cruise, but I believe the song in this scene is by Elvis.  

5. My Heart is in the Highlands by Arvo Part and Else Torp > The Great Beauty, screenshot from DVD; not only is every frame in this movie a painting, but every song choice in this movie is transcendent. 

6. Dreams by the Cranberries covered by Faye Wong > Chungking Express, screenshot from DVD; what a joyful, yet heart-rending scene of loving someone secretly and ardently from afar. This song is actually sung by the actress in the scene, Faye Wong, who was better known at the time as a canto-pop star.

7. Yumeji's Theme by Shigeru Umebayashi > In the Mood for Love, screenshot from DVD; nothing will ever express loneliness better than this song combined with Maggie Cheung walking in slow-motion. 

8. Ich Ruf Zu Dir by Johann Sebastian Bach > Solaris, screenshot from dvd; thirty seconds of weightlessness.

9. Jockey Full of Bourbon by Tom Waits > Down by Law, screenshot from DVD

10. I'm Deranged by David Bowie > Lost Highway

screenshot from art of the title, which also has a great video embedded on the page; when I saw this movie several years ago, I went into this movie and am certain I came out a new, parallel self. The opening credits with this song were already the point of no return. 

11. All the World is Green by Tom Waits > The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, screenshot from IMDb; I don't remember this movie very much, but it did give me one of my favorite songs of all time, this one by Tom Waits.

12. Theme from The American Friend by Jurgen Knieper > The American Friend
image.png; screenshot from DVD. The theme from this movie repeats throughout, but it is at its best after an assassination. The melody is taken over by a sinister accordion as Bruno Ganz commits and runs away from the scene of the crime, in the Paris Metro.

13. Romance Anonimo by Narciso Yepes > Forbidden Games; screenshot from video

14. Cucurrucucu Paloma by Caetano Veloso > Talk to Her, screenshot from Hulu

15. Werewolf by Cat Power > Broken Embraces, screenshot from Hulu. This music plays following a particularly painful moment in the movie, which we process as the camera pans the volcanic "geria" vineyards in Lanzarote. This combination of movie moment+music is seared into my psyche.

16. Modern Love by David Bowie > Mauvais Sang, screenshot from video; my heart just absolutely soars watching and hearing this scene.

17. Love is Strange by Mickey & Sylvia > Badlands
image.png, screenshot from video

18. Le Temps de l'Amour by Francoise Hardy > Moonrise Kingdom
image.png, screenshot from video

19. Nightcall by Kavinsky > Drive, screenshot from video

20. Charade by Henry Mancini > Charade, screenshot from DVD

21. Suzanne by Leonard Cohen > Breaking the Waves, screenshot from HBO Max

22. This Must be the Place (Naive Melody) by Talking Heads > Wall Street
image.png, screenshot from video

23. Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins > Top Gun
image.png, screenshot from video; I may not agree with what's being propagandized here, but it's such a fricking slick, exciting, adrenaline-pumping song and scene

24. The main theme from The Conversation > The Conversation, screenshot from video; if paranoia could be soothing, this song is what it would sound like. 

25. Générique by Miles Davis > Burning, screenshot from Amazon Prime; watching this scene, you can literally feel the wind in your hair. 

26. Générique by Miles Davis > Elevator to the Gallows, screenshot from HBO Max; same song, but its origin in what is also a very good scene. Miles Davis improvised this song, and the entire soundtrack, for Elevator to the Gallows.

27. Fight the Power by Public Enemy > Do the Right Thing, screenshot from DVD; Rosie Perez dancing.

28. Dragula by Rob Zombie > The Matrix, screenshot from HBO Max

29. Sea of Love by Cat Power > Juno, screenshot from HBO Max

30. Moonfog by Jimmy Buffett > The Beach Bum; screenshot from HBO Max; before the Beach Bum came out, I don't think I would have believed you if you told me I'd one day really love a Jimmy Buffett song. But here it is in this freeing, give-no-shits movie. By the way, that's Snoop on the left, Matthew McConaughey in the middle, and Jimmy Buffett on the right.

some thoughts

This has turned out to be something of a catalog of my favorite music and film-makers: David Bowie, Cat Power, and Tom Waits each show up twice in this list, as do Almodovar, Wim Wenders, and Wong Kar Wai. (I also think Kubrick and Paolo Sorrentino are geniuses with how they used music in their films.) 
Also, I'm realizing now that a lot of these scenes are opening credits. We lose so much with the fact that Hollywood has largely moved the credits to the end of the movie. Sure, as I've shown here, we lose what can be an impactful setting of the mood but, most importantly, we lose an acknowledgment of the work and people that created the thing !

Hope you catch some of these movies and these tunes 🎵🎶