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Soundtrack review: The Meyerowitz stories (New and selected) (Randy Newman – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The Meyerowitz stories (New and selected) (Randy Newman – 2017)

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From writer/director Noah Baumbach, THE MEYEROWITZ STORIES (NEW AND SELECTED) is the emotional, and comic intergenerational tale of adult siblings (Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, and Elizabeth Marvel) contending with the long shadow their strong-willed father (Dustin Hoffman) has cast over their lives. With an original screenplay by Baumbach, the film also stars Emma Thompson, Grace Van Patten, Adam Driver, Candice Bergen, Judd Hirsch, and Rebecca Miller. The film was produced by Scott Rudin, Baumbach, Lila Yacoub, and Eli Bush. The score was composed by Randy Newman.

As someone who’s been watching so many movies and listening to so many scores I am above familiar with the sound of Randy Newman, from his sarcastic loves songs to his playful and rarely linear piano themes. He can morph his piano sound to any story and, to me, even substitute dialogue and images with the richness of his music. In the case of “The Meyerowitz stories” he went for a long fluent 25 minutes long cue divided into 26 short moments that still go together like one. As the piano starts flowing I don’t even notice when one cue ends and another one begins as every single mood or tonal swing seems natural. The score is solo piano, there’s no other sound to interfere so Randy Newman has to explore the depth of the story, the characters and their emotions using just this instrument and its wide range. I love the playful, ironic sound of cues like “At the museum” which is written so well that it evokes memories of watching silent movies when the piano would follow the movements, sometimes silly, other times serious of the main character who didn’t speak. It’s fascinating to me how much one single instrument can tell under the skilled hands of a composer and performer like Randy Newman.

This score is quite rare in today’s film music as I haven’t heart pure solo piano improvisations like this in quite a while, maybe since listening to the last Dave Grusin score. There have been piano heavy scores but usually there were separate themes or a musical story. Here Randy Newman provides the sonic texture of the story without breaking the flow or the rhythm he establishes right from the start. Like I said I cannot tell where one cue ends and another one begins as the score plays like one long scene. It’s difficult even to rank the separate cues. What matters is that I am enjoying it from start to finish; the solo piano sound gives a distinctive and almost unique sound to this film. Consider it a 25 minute long extension of the instrumental craft of a Randy Newman theme or a 25 minutes long piano improvisation by one of the most gifted artists of our times.

Cue rating: 90 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 13 / 26

Album excellence: 54%

Highlights:
Main Title
Blueberry Pancakes
Harold’s Theme
Harold and the Curator
The Chase
The Sunglasses
At the Museum
Sick on Weekends
Bard
Eliza
Alternate Cue 2
Alternate Cue 4
Harold’s Theme – Original Demo

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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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