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Soundtrack review: Once upon a time in Venice (Jeff Cardoni – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Once upon a time in Venice (Jeff Cardoni – 2017)

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“Once Upon a Time in Venice” is a 2017 American action comedy film directed and written by Mark and Robb Cullen in their directorial debuts. The film stars Bruce Willis, Jason Momoa, John Goodman, Thomas Middleditch, Famke Janssen, and Adam Goldberg. When a Los Angeles-based private detective named Steve Ford tries to retrieve his stolen dog from a gang, the gang’s drug lord, “Spyder”, forces the detective to do some jobs before getting the dog back. Jeff Cardoni wrote the score.

Comedic scores are iffy for me because I can’t always connect with quirky or slapstick or monkeying around music. Luckily in this case Jeff Cardoni starts with a groovy and fun electric guitar and bass theme that instantly puts me in a good mood. “My first case” is a nice introduction into this score and it also has a bit on a 70s psychedelic vibe. The music is very simple but I am sure the movie doesn’t ask for more and the composer didn’t feel the need to go very deep with his cues. As the score progresses the sound also makes me think of surfing movies and the beach vibe is enjoyable. I don’t imagine though that this score took too long to write and record as often if feels like a guitar jam session where the performer is just having fun.

What this score does very well as a standalone listening experience is put me exactly in the mood I imagine a movie about a detective who has to perform jobs for a drug lord in order to get his dog back would put me it. The guitar plays acoustic, then electric, other times grungy and the most serious moments from the score are moments of mystery like the opening of “Ten percent”. Usually I am unhappy when the score and soundtrack are put on the same album but this is one case where the vocal songs complement the instrumental music and make the whole album more enjoyable. The score on its own is 21 minutes and it’s more than enough for what it has to offer. I enjoyed the most the surf vibes in Jeff Cardoni’s music.

Cue rating: 70 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 0 / 21

Album excellence: 0%

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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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