Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Incongruity, Debussy

I am, as they say, into films. Something struck me, though, recently; there’s something charming in how odd music can be when it’s used incongruously. Here’s what I would term the Alpha Example:

If memory serves, this sequence marks the end of the second act in Dog Soldiers. 

The first act is the setup for carnage. 

The second act is carnage. 

The third act is, well… carnage. 

And yet in the middle there’s a moment taken out for some classical music, a quiet little moment used to show just how shattered the characters are and how isolated and alone they’ve come to be. It works, but it does so in an odd way. Sometimes, however, it’s just weird. As in: 

I know that this was an excuse – or, let’s be charitable, a reason – to include a song of the day and show Mr Newman frolicking around and having fun and also interacting with a woman rather than, say, his heterosexual life partner (in the film). 

[Sidebar; typing that sentence makes me want to discuss the bringing in of aggressively heterosexual content-centric sequences into otherwise male-dominated films, the best example of which is this:] 
[but we won’t stop to go into that now.] 

There are other good examples; Strange Days has a good one, with Skunk Anansie actually fitting into the feel of the film:


Then, though, you have the strangeness of Juliette Lewis singing songs written by PJ Harvey:


Although, again, a little less incongruous. 

I’ve already raised the spectre, too, in previous articles, of Huey Lewis and the News in American Psycho, but that’s a deliberate inclusion. As opposed to, say, the inclusion of London Calling in Die Another Day which is just, well, a bit silly. 

It swings both ways, as well; a film that I cannot recommend highly enough, Bubba Ho-Tep, is about Elvis, starring Bruce Campbell as Elvis, and discusses the issues of celebrity and mortality through an Elvis-centric narrative. 

It does not, however, feature a single Elvis song. 

 The one thing I wish I could bring to this, too, is the sequence from Crank – and here’s the trailer, just so you know how batshit insane Crank is:


And yet, after receiving a massive overdose of epinephrine, we’re treated to a lovely sequence as Chev Chelios starts to go on the nod while riding a stolen police motorcycle set to Nillson’s Everybody’s Talking. Which, let’s not forget, turns up in Midnight Cowboy, too. 

We’re not even mentioning Quentin Tarantino’s films at this juncture, because that’s a can of sweary interestingly-shot seventies homage worms that could best be left for another day. 

These are just the examples I have, though; can anyone out there give anything weirder? If you like incongruity, this is your chance.

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