Music Monday: Songs from TV and Movies

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of all things entertainment, so when music intersects with movies or TV, I get super nerdy about it. Last September at TIFF, I saw a movie called Can A Song Save Your Life? and instantly fell in love with it and the music in it. Fast forward some 10 months and the movie finally gets released under a new name Begin Again and I FINALLY got my hands on the soundtrack, so I could just listen to all the songs over and over again. It is certainly something special when the right song (whether written specifically for the movie or not) is played at the right moment and encapsulates the feeling of that entire scene or becomes synonymous with that movie/show.

So with that being said, here are some of my personal favourite songs from TV and movies

  1. Adam Levine/Keira Knightley, Lost Stars [Begin Again] – I’m sure I’ve said it enough at this point, but I LOVE this song. I keep alternating between Adam’s version and Keira’s version. There’s such a sweetness in Keira’s version that plays to how the song was written within the context of the movie. Adam’s more polished version of the song presents itself later in the movie, showing character growth with a slight sense of nostalgia.
  2. Switchfoot, Dare You to Move [One Tree Hill] – I could have gone the easy route and just picked “I Don’t Want to Be” because if you think OTH, you think of that song. With “Dare You to Move,” I actually remember hearing it in A Walk to Remember first, but always associate it with OTH + Nathan & Haley, their memorable kiss in the rain.
  3. Nada Surf, If You Leave [The O.C.] – Again, it would’ve been too easy to put “California” or even “Hallelujah” but instead I had to put “If You Leave.” Who could forget the scene with Seth playing out the cliche of running to the airport, chasing after Anna, thinking that she’s moving back to Pittsburgh because of him?
  4. Gina Rene, U Must Be [Step Up] – Ahhh Step Up, the movie that brought Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan together. It was a pivotal scene, with Nora telling Tyler how she imagined her senior showcase, and then they dance with the sunset in the background. It’s all cute and romantic, and stuff.
  5. Michael Jackson, The Way You Make Me Feel/Ruff Endz, If I Was the One/Jamiroquai, Canned Heat [Center Stage] – So I’m cheating a little bit here, putting three songs for one movie. BUT, these three songs were used for the finale piece in Center Stage! They go together! And I can’t listen to any one of these songs without immediately playing the scene in my head, picturing the choreography.
  6. Gerardo Matos Rodríguez, La Cumparsita (Remix) [Take the Lead] – For some reason, I’ve always loved watching a good tango, so I’ve always loved the song, even if I didn’t know what it was called when I was younger. Then Take the Lead came out and featured this AMAZING trio tango with a remixed version of La Cumparsita, which kind of became my everything. The classic tango song, updated with a hip-hop flavour, which was part of what made the movie unique.
  7. Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova/Steve Kazee & Cristin Milioti, Falling Slowly [Once/Once the Musical] – Just such a beautiful song.
  8. Katharine McPhee & Megan Hilty, Let Me Be Your Star [Smash] – Let this be one of the few good things to come out of Smash. The pilot capped off with this wonderful song, that set the stage for the rest of the show. Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there. But hey, at least we got this song and Megan Hilty from that mess.
  9. Oscar Isaac, Never Had [10 Years] – Oscar Isaac actually wrote this song for the movie (an underrated gem about friends meeting up for their high school reunion), where he plays Reeves, a musician with this hit song. The song keeps getting talked about throughout the movie, until Reeves gets convinced to karaoke his own song. The song has a great nostalgic tone that was obviously meant to work with the movie. Just watch it.
  10. Dianna Agron & Lea Michele, I Feel Pretty/Unpretty [Glee] – There once was a time when I loved Glee, before it all went to shit. I particularly loved it most when they actually picked songs that worked itself organically into the story, and not just them doing songs for the sake of it. The performance is actually still one of my favourites that they did, which was in season 2, and dealt with Rachel’s want to get her nose fixed.
  11. Jason Segel, You Just Got Slapped [How I Met Your Mother] – Now for something fun and silly. Because creating Slapsgiving wasn’t enough, the HIMYM gang created this tune to commemorate the occasion in season 3.
  12. Orishas ft. Heather Headley, Represent Cuba [Dirty Dancing Havana Nights] – I stand by my “I don’t really like the movie, but I love the soundtrack.” I just love this song.
  13. Sara Bareilles, Breathe Again [The Vampire Diaries] – There once was also a time when I loved The Vampire Diaries. Now season 1, their music supervisor had already established himself with some really good song choices. But I remember distinctly the first half of season 2, where I thought they were just on a complete roll with the music. They used this fantastic Sara Bareilles song as the coda in episode 4.
  14. Jonathan Groff/Kyle Riabko, Left Behind [Spring Awakening] – It’s a poignant song in the musical, with Melchior lamenting Moritz’ death, wondering what led to it including Moritz’ parents’ treatment of him. Obviously I love the original version as sung by Jonathan Groff, but there’s also a soulful quality to Kyle Riabko’s version which he did on his own album.
  15. Florence + the Machine, Cosmic Love [Nikita] – Season 1, Episode 17: Michael goes to see Nikita and realizes she was right all along when it came to Division. They kiss and that was the beginning of Mikita. I sigh just thinking about it.



TIFF 2013 Wrap-Up!

It was another successful year at the Toronto International Film Festival! At the end of the festival, Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave won the Blackberry People’s Choice Award, with the runners-up being Stephen Frears’ Philomena and Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners. As a movie fan, I always enjoy going to TIFF, not only for all the celebrities who come to Toronto, but because it allows me to see some movies before it gets released and see movies I might not have seen otherwise. This year was no exception.

Due to last year being quite a success for us, my friend and I opted to once again purchase the TIFF Choice Premium package, whereby TIFF organizers choose three films for us and allow us to see the premiere screenings of those movies, for which the stars of said film would be in attendance. Last year we got to see Rust and Bone (starring Marion Cotillard), Venus and Serena (the directors of the documentary were there, as was Wyclef Jean who did the music for the film), and Twice Born (featuring Penelope Cruz, with bonus Javier Bardem sighting, and Emile Hirsch). This year, the movies we got to see were Philomena, Dom Hemingway, and Bright Days Ahead.

Philomena stars Dame Judi Dench as the title character, a woman who after decades decides to open up and reveals that she once had a son as a teenager and was forced to give him up for adoption. The film follows her quest in finding her son, with the help of a journalist played by Steve Coogan (who also co-wrote the screenplay). Although I was unfamiliar with it, the movie was based on a true story. What the film did well was counter the dramatic moments of hope, despair, and heartbreak, with moments of humour. At the end of it, I started tearing up, along with most of the audience, because the movie was just so emotional.

Premiere Screening of "Philomena" w/ director Stephen Frears and writer/co-star Steve Coogan. Dame Judi Dench was unable to attend.

Premiere Screening of “Philomena” w/ director Stephen Frears and writer/co-star Steve Coogan. Dame Judi Dench was unable to attend.

Our second movie, Dom Hemingway, written and directed by Richard Shepard, was a completely different movie experience from Philomena. The movie stars Jude Law as the title character, playing against type in a role that is unlike any of his previous roles. Dom Hemingway is a foul-mouthed and aggressive safecracker, just getting out of prison after 12 years. Upon his release, he’s looking to collect his money for not ratting out his boss all these years, and then wants to re-connect with his daughter (played by Emilia Clarke) and his grandson. If it wasn’t for the festival, I don’t think I would have watched this movie because it’s not something I’d watch normally, but that feeling didn’t come until after it was over. If you ever watch this movie, you’ll realize that it is a very different role for Law, and you’ll immediately get a sense for the tone of the rest of the film.

Premiere Screening of "Dom Hemingway" (L-R): Director Richard Shepard, Richard E. Grant, Demian Bichir, Madalina Ghenea, Emilia Clarke, Jude Law

Premiere Screening of “Dom Hemingway”
(L-R): Director Richard Shepard, Richard E. Grant, Demian Bichir, Madalina Ghenea, Emilia Clarke, Jude Law

The third film that got chosen for us was a French film, Bright Days Ahead. The film follows Caroline (played by Fanny Ardant), an older woman at a crossroads in her life after retiring from dentistry, who begins an affair with a younger man. The plot doesn’t seem like much, but the execution to which director Marion Vernoux developed Caroline was wonderfully done.

We also took in two other movies, which were looking for distribution at the festival, and ended up being the hot movies getting picked up. The first was John Carney’s follow-up to the wonderful little movie Once, Can A Song Save Your Life? The movie stars Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, as two down on their luck individuals, who connect after the former performs a song at an open mic night. Knightley’s Gretta has just been dumped by her rising star boyfriend/musical partner, Dave (played by Maroon 5’s Adam Levine in his feature film debut), and decided that with nothing holding her to New York, she’ll move back home to England. Ruffalo’s Dan is a music exec who refuses to play to the current industry’s state of business, has an alcohol problem, and estranged from his wife and daughter. The movie does invoke a similar feeling to Carney’s first film, but the good intentions and the great music really made it a wonderful movie. The Weinstein Company picked up the film and I am eagerly awaiting its official release (along with the soundtrack).

We capped off the festival with Bad Words, the directorial debut of Jason Bateman, who also starred. A small registration loophole for a national spelling bee for kids allows 40-year old Guy Trilby to enter and wipe out his pint-sized competition. It’s a great first effort by Bateman as a director, which also allowed him to play a character that isn’t completely likeable like we’ve come to see of him. Bateman is also supported in the film by the likes of Kathryn Hahn and Allison Janney, who add so much hilarity to the movie. Focus Features picked up distribution rights and I can totally see the general public LOVING this movie upon its release, because it is just so funny.

That’s it for this year, and I can’t wait to do it all again next year!