Posts Tagged ‘Soundtrack’

I am not a film critic, nor do I play one on TV. In fact, these days, I rarely go to the multiplex – the last film I saw in a theater was Jason Bourne (my choice) and before that Love & Friendship (Diane’s choice), and before that Indignation (mine), Spotlight (ours), and whatever the final Harry Potter film (Diane’s) was called. And, at home, despite having an array of options thanks to cable, Netflix and Amazon Prime, I rarely click play on a movie. I don’t care about animation, live-action comic books, or crass comedies, which are pretty much all that the Hollywood studios crank out these days.

In fact, before Here I Am, the last “new” movie I watched was Lady Bird on Amazon Prime, which Diane wanted to see. I found it insightful, poignant and funny, and enjoyed its nuanced, slice-of-life story. 

Written and directed by Cynthia Mort, Here I Am is also a slice-of-life tale, though it’s a music-based drama that includes a layer of metaphysical musings. The plot is straightforward: Successful singer Tommy Gold (Shelby Lynne), who’s been rocked by guilt and self-doubt since a tragic death, deals with the pressures of life while recording a new album and preparing for a tour. In some respects, the film has a cinéma-vérité feel – we’re plopped into the middle of an ongoing story, and it’s left to us to sort certain things out.

As Tommy, Shelby Lynne radiates pain – but also the magnetism that’s made Tommy a star. You believe her in the role. The supporting cast is also strong: Ally Walker plays Walker, who’s either Tommy’s manager or former manager-turned-record company executive, as well as a former lover – aside from Tommy’s internal demons, she’s the main antagonist. Elisabeth Röhm costars as Tommy’s agent, Gail, who defends and explains her boss to those who only see her as a product. Hugo Armstrong plays Colton, a sympathetic record-company man. 

I found it an insightful look at this thing called human existence, and recommend it to anyone interested in adult stories. (And by “adult” I mean “grown-up.”) Don’t get me wrong: Shot on a barebones budget over 15 days, it’s not a perfect film. But the story and performances are compelling enough that you’ll overlook the flaws.

You can buy it and the soundtrack via Shelby Lynne’s web store.

The soundtrack, I should mention, features songs written by Shelby Lynne as well as Shelby and Cynthia Mort. My only criticism: At present, it’s only available on vinyl from Shelby’s store, which means I can only listen when I’m here, at home, and not on the road. Here’s one of the songs, which I’m leaving unlisted on YouTube, as performed at the Ardmore Music Hall a few weeks back:

A few days after the show, Shelby told me via a tweet that the title is “Looking at the Moon/Revolving Broken Heart,” but that doesn’t match any of the songs listed at the end of the DVD or on the film’s website…and our LP, which we picked up along with the Here I Am DVD at the show, doesn’t list titles on the jacket or label. Late tonight (8/12), she said it’s “My Mind’s Riot.” Whatever it’s called, it’s a stirring ode to the downside of love – losing it, or the fear of losing it. It’s the kind of song that lingers in the mind long after the album is over.

And the rest of the soundtrack is as good. Here’s another track, “Off My Mind,” which was released as a single earlier this year.

(To learn more about Here I Am, visit Shelby Lynne’s website.)

vg_first_cdThe 1983 movie Valley Girl is not a five- , four- or even three-star effort, yet it’s fun with a capital F. It ably captures the flavor of the early ’80s while unreeling a plot shared by many a teen flick: a girl (Deborah Foreman) falls for a guy (Nicholas Cage) from the wrong side of the tracks.

The DVD bonus features are cool, too. Nicholas Cage sits down with the film’s director, Martha Coolidge, for a fascinating conversation; and there’s a documentary that hones in on the acts whose music filled the totally tubular soundtrack. The singer from Modern English, for example, recalls how the band was playing to, at most, 200 indifferent club-going folks a night in England when “I Melt with You” – thanks to MTV – became a major hit in the States. They flew to Florida for their first gig (dressed for cold weather, no less), and found themselves playing to a crowd of 10,000 screaming fans who knew all the words to all their songs.

moremusic_vgIn addition to Modern English, that soundtrack included songs from the Plimsouls, Flirts, Josie Cotton and Bonnie Hayes. At the time, though, licensing issues prevented its release on vinyl – a real shame, as it likely would’ve helped some of them graduate from “struggling” to “successful.” It wasn’t until a decade later, in fact, that two CD collections “inspired” by the flick hit the store shelves. (Some of the songs weren’t in the movie, but are representative of the era.) So, for today’s Top 5: Music From Valley Girl. Some are true lost treasures.

1) Modern English – “I Melt With You.” I saw Modern English in May 1983, when they opened for Roxy Music at the Tower Theater. My main memory of their performance: kids spilling into the aisles to dance when they played this song.

2) The Plimsouls – “A Million Miles Away.” Never saw the Plimsouls, but I did catch Peter Case at Dobbs one very-late night in 1989 on his tour in support of his The Man with the Blue Post-Modern Fragmented Neo-Traditionalist Guitar album. Good show.

3) The Flirts – “Jukebox”

4) Josie Cotton – “He Could Be the One”

5) Bonnie Hayes with the Wild Combo – “Girls Like Me”