JNH Thursday

Soundtrack review: Intersection (James Newton Howard – 1994, 2015)

Intersection (Quartet Records) - Cover

Well this will be an interesting one to review… Before the fundamental change that happened to him once he met M Night Shyamalan, in the 1990 James Newton Howard made a name for himself scoring various thrillers, some interesting, some obscure, some cult. I am always impressed by his 90s body of work and I am taking a great pleasure in discovering his works. After Hans Zimmer, he’s the composer I am treating with the most respect and curiosity. It’s also intriguing to me when record companies decide to release scores by him which hadn’t seen the light of day in their time. “Intersection” is such a composition. Now I know this movie and it was quite uninteresting for that it promised. Just like in “Unfaithful” Richard Gere was miscast and he really did a forgettable job. Sharon Stone was equally bland and the movie itself went nowhere. But it’s James Newton Howard and the folks at Quartet records deemed the score worthy of a release 20 years later. “JNH Thursday” is here and this review is part of the series.

Of course when I hear cues like “Waking up” and “Home” I recognize the mood that’s always attracted me to James Newton Howard. Part sensible, part mysterious and part melancholic the music strikes a chord with me and I get wonderfully lost in it. This is the kind of score I could listen to for quite some time without getting bored or feeling the need to change it; it’s quiet and moody, slow but interesting. I like to hear what it tells me and it’s the perfect background for a relaxing and reflective time. The soft and meaningful piano, the sweeping orchestral parts and the questions “Intersection” asks make for a very fulfilling listening experience.

I even recognize the flow of the movie in the music. But what made for a rather uninteresting visual and intellectual experience morphs into a very rewarding musical journey. “What’s a girl gotta do” is almost ambient music and brings me joy and a sweet sting of melancholy. I must admit the piano and synth pieces send me back to early Hans Zimmer scores like “Pacific Heights”. It’s so wonderful to discover the roots of the sound that I love so much now and to browse through the childhood pictures of James Newton Howard’s personal musical album…

There’s a joy in the music that lacks in the movie. “The auction” is a delightful little piece that acts like a glowing ray of sunshine in an otherwise cloudy score. There are also jazzy moments in “Intersection” and I know James Newton Howard toyed with those in his career. The jazzy inserts were a trademark of early 90s.

I smile when I listen to “First date” because the cue has the tender feel of a real first date when you are stumbling and looking for words, still amazed that the girl has agreed to go out with you. As the minutes pass the mood gets even more intimate, more wonderful and this quiet melody creates a lasting memory.

Listen to this score for its subtle inflexions and sunny moments. Listen to it if the 90s meant something to you because “Intersection” will be a shot of nostalgia. Listen to it if you are a James Newton Howard fan because I am a big one and discovering this quietly romantic score has been a real pleasure. This is one of those reflective scores that are easy on the ears and heavy on the soul from a composer that almost never misses.

Cue rating: 90 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 28 / 50

Album excellence: 57%

Highlights:

Waking Up

Home

She Needs Her Father

What’s A Girl Gotta Do?

First Date

Letter To Olivia

Mercedes By

The Accident

Personal Effects

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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