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Soundtrack review: The old man & the gun (Daniel Hart – 2018)

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Soundtrack review: The old man & the gun (Daniel Hart – 2018)

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“The Old Man & the Gun” is a 2018 American crime comedy film written and directed by David Lowery. The film is based on the true-life story of Forrest Tucker, a career criminal and prison escape artist. The script is based on David Grann’s 2003 article in The New Yorker titled “The Old Man and the Gun”, which was later collected in Grann’s book The Devil and Sherlock Holmes. It stars Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, Danny Glover, Tika Sumpter, Tom Waits and Sissy Spacek. It is reportedly Redford’s final role, as he announced his intent to retire from acting in August 2018. Daniel Hart wrote the score.

Now for me, a movie involving crimes and heists and escapes should have a sore that incorporates jazz elements; the essence of sneaking around and conning and spying in film music has been jazzy since the 50′ or 60s and there’s no reason Daniel Hart should write this score any differently, especially with the melancholy brought by this possibly being Robert Redford’s final score. However this score isn’t your vivacious, loud big band jazz composition. I said melancholy and this is the tone for which the composer went with a soft, smooth, suave jazz score that is absolutely delightful to hear. To say that a score like this one is rare in today’s film music is an understatement; I think Dave Grusin is the only one who used to write pure solo jazz scores like this one. Almost everything is done with soft percussion and bass and the longest cue of the score, “Three day bank” is the one that will get you hooked on this album; the suspense, the movement of the music, I feel like I am listening to a 70s cop movie, smooth and silky. The music is like honey, addictive, hypnotic, never leaving that laid back mood.

This is all that matters, really, in regard to this score; it’s a composition coming from another age, from a room that’s often forgotten but from which every now and then a composer chooses to bring something. As a film music fan, actually as a music fan it’s a privilege to be able to listen to an album like this. Daniel Hart’s “The old man & the gun” is a magnificent soft jazz improvisation written by a crafty musician who continues to amaze me. If you like the genre, if you feel like pretending you are in a dark and smoke filled jazz lounge getting lost in this velvety sound you will find your score of the year right here. It’s an ode to melancholy, an exploration of the edges of the noir genre, a rare composition that is both nostalgic and modern. Plus, the sax; there’s never enough sax playing in film music and those motifs stay with me long after the score is over. Exceptional material, if you listen to one score today, let it be this one.

Cue rating: 100 / 100

Highlights:
Theme
The Diner Part One
The Diner Part Two
Three Day Bank
John and Maureen
More Happy
The Over the Hill Gang
You’re Doing a Great Job
Freeze Sailor
Two Different Things
West St. Louis Toodle Oo
He Must Be Thinking of You
Keep on Pushin’
Lola (The Kinks)
Jewels for Jewel
When You Find Something You Love
The Gun and The Kiss
Officially Retired
Rub A Dub Dub
Samuel Anselm

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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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