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Soundtrack review: Miles (Justin Bell and Jonathan Levi Shanes – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Miles (Justin Bell and Jonathan Levi Shanes – 2017)

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“Miles” is a 2016 comedy / drama co-written and directed by Nathan Adloff. The film has already won several awards at festivals such as the California Independent Film Festival or the L.A. Outfest. The film tells the story of a kid from middle America who is desperate to move to Chicago, joins the volleyball team to get a scholarship – the only catch is that his high school only has a girls team. Starring Tim Boardman, Missi Pyle, Paul Reiser and Molly Shannon. Justin Bell and Jonathan Levi Shanes wrote the score.

I am usually worried about comedic scores like this since I don’t always have an easy time connecting with them and enjoying them. The fact that the opening cue “Stop and go” is also vocal doesn’t help much. I understand what the composer want to do but I am not a fan of vocals and lyrics in a score. In “Game time, pt 1” I am enjoying the guitar rock sound but I feel the voice wasn’t very necessary at the end. On the other hand I get a cue like “Funeral” which is a very well written piece of music with the sombre strings and the more joyful and optimistic guitar chords. The cue is whimsical at times and makes me think of the music of Rob Simonsen. There is variation in this score as the composer showcase their talents in more than one mood.

The music is light all the time to match the story at hand; there are no clear themes in here as I imagine the composers follow the scenes and elements of the movie and write the music that best fits them, like the grunge guitar for the game time scores, or the softer guitar for the romantic or confused moments. I am enjoying the overall sound of “Miles” because it’s light and mostly relaxing. I like the best when the cello is heard in the quieter emotional pieces like “You’re fired”. This is my musical sweet spot for comedic scores, the small cloud on a sunny day.

If you usually enjoy like guitar based scores for romantic comedies you will enjoy this one; there is no slapstick music or monkeying around and there is no drama. Just a relaxing Sunday score that can make the background a little lighter and more joyful. There are a few more serious emotional moments that show good potential from these composers.

Cue rating: 77 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 14 / 42

Album excellence: 32%

Highlights:
Funeral
You’re Fired
A Note from Dad
Ejected
Miles’ Movie Music

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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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