Liyo Gong is a movie editor and the co-founder of the HE4RTBROKEN collective. Alexandros Sourbis has a background in Social and Cultural Studies and is currently working for Belgian music agency Culte. In 2019, he ran the radio show Our remembrance on The Word Radio, inspired by cinematic melodies. He’s also a founding member of the 254NOW platform.
Liyo Gong’s list :
Sun dog by Dorian Jespers
This excerpt is taken from my favourite scene of Sun Dog. Probably the most emotional moment of this dreamy and brilliant short film, about a heartbroken locksmith wandering through Russian Arctic’s winter. I’ve rarely seen loneliness and nocturnal snow being filmed in such a romantic way.
The Mirror by Andrei Tarkovsky
♪ Stabat Mater – Pergolesi
In The Mirror, Tarkovsky captures the vertigo of time passing and remembrances of love bonds: that moment when memories, dreams, past and present feelings merge in one stream of evanescent consciousness. Coincidentally another film shot in Russia, and one of the absolute cinematic masterpieces of all times, if you ask me. The Mirror articulates a filmic language that has more to do with poetry or a musical piece than with narrative cinema.
Ouverture – The Living and the Dead Ensemble by Louis Henderson
♪ Original Score by Polido
Ouverture is a as trenchant and political as it is witty and vigorous. The film was born from the collaboration between The Living and the Dead Ensemble: a collective of eight Haitian poets and performers, filmmaker Louis Henderson and curator Olivier Marboeuf. Together, they explore new narratives for the past and present of Haiti. Freely inspired by the play of Edouard Glissant, Monsieur Toussaint, which recounts the last days in the life of Toussaint Louverture, the hero of the Haitian Revolution. The soundtrack was made by a young producer from Portugal, Polido, and perfectly fits the very vibrant and intricate spoken word poetry dynamic of the film.
Tabu by Miguel Gomes
♪ Variações pindéricas sobre a insensatez – Joana Sa
This piano piece by Joana Sa is opening the film, and I was instantly moved by it. It conveys the re-enacted romanticism and uncomfortable sense of nostalgia of the main character’s memories. In this multi-layered film, as Richard Brody puts it, “Gomes’s vision, realised in calmly expansive, keenly perceptive compositions in a charcoal black-and-white, is two-fold. First, he reveals a rational modern Europe of noble yet sterile passions, of moderate pleasure, impotent principle, and economized energy; of an aestheticized dignity that is ever so slightly out of sync with the tawdry mercenary activity of daily life. […] Second, Gomes sees the predatory injustices of colonial life as a sort of Wild West of anarchic self-indulgence and self-reinvention, a perfect environment for romance to flower and to grow to monstrous, untenable dimensions. Nothing suggests nostalgia for or ambivalence about Portugal’s colonial empire. The narrator of the second part, an Italian immigrant, is clear-eyed about the indecent inequities that he took advantage of, and it’s among the sins for which the modern Portugal of Pilar’s circle is in lasting penance. But the very vastness of its cavalier moral obliviousness is one of the things that vanishes with the clarity of vision; amour fou comes off inextricably linked to diabolical evil (which is explicitly invoked in the narration), and the humanist’s circumspect, responsible politics appear also to put relationships on an ethical footing and to put a brake on the emotional life – without completely extinguishing the inner spark of spontaneous extremes. […] It’s not a film of a nostalgic anti-modernity; it’s a model of imaginative freedom and audacity in a supremely, sublimely modern vein.”
Mysterious Skin by Gregg Araki
♪ Original Score by Harold Budd & Robin Guthrie
An extremely beautiful score composed and played by Harold Budd, who sadly has recently passed away, and Robin Guthrie. The tenderness and soothing effect of the soundtrack brings a salutary counterpoint to this sometimes harrowing tale of trauma and stolen innocence.
Atlantics by Mati Diop
♪ Original Score by Fatima Al Qadiri
The meeting of two brilliant and singular minds like the ones of Fatima Al Qadiri and Mati Diop could only result in something out of this world. A haunting, dazzling soundtrack that crawls under your skin and gives an extra emotional weight to this ghost story about migration, headily accompanying the characters’ journey in the limbos between here and there, presence and absence, life and death.
Shara by Naomi Kawase
This excerpt is taken from one of the most beautiful, exhilarating climatic scenes I’ve ever watched. Taking place at the traditional Basara festival in Naomi Kawase’s hometown, this hypnotic sequence, full of colours and joy, is like a musical prayer for life and re-birth and a celebration of community spirit through chants, dance and the euphoria of present togetherness. It feels as if it is letting go of all the long-suppressed, heavy hearted emotions that run throughout the rest of the film, an elliptic story about grief in a family recovering from the mysterious disappearance of one of its twin sons.
The Fits by Anna Rose Holmer
♪ Original Score by Danny Bensi & Saunder Jurriaans
This sound excerpt is also taken from my favourite scene of this film, in which the main character, a young tomboy called Toni, invents her own body language somewhere in between boxing and dancing. This long single-sequence shot beautifully represents a crucial moment of her coming of age journey, exploring girlhood and femininity on her own terms. I love Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans’ score with its minimal, spooky beats and heady chants !
Blade by Stephen Norrington
♪ Ni-Ten-Ichi-Ryu (Two Sword Technique) – Photek
Probably the coolest superhero AND vampire film at the same time – the outfits, the action scenes, Wesley Snipes… Wesley Snipes! and the opening scene that made me want to go clubbing at the time even though I was underaged… It was The Matrix’s hype before The Matrix. The soundtrack is a miscellaneous selection of everything cool from that era, including tracks from the likes of Dj Krush and this crazy drum and bass track of Photek.
The Virgin Suicides by Sofia Coppola
♪ Original Score by Air
« Obviously, Doctor, you’ve never been a 13-year-old girl» I was a also a young teenager when The Virgin Suicides was released in theatres, and watching that film at that age was a particular experience… I remember it shook me to the core. I think it was probably one of my most important first cinema moments, when I perceived that movies could touch your feelings in a way that words couldn’t; that a movie’s mystery, beauty and atmosphere could stick with you in a way your brain could not entirely process in another language than the one of cinema. As many, I don’t relate much to the rest of Sofia Coppola’s filmography, but The Virgin Suicides and its beautiful score by Air (I bought the CD with my pocket money!) still encapsulates a precious moment of my discovery of films.
Alex Sourbis’s list :
Under The Skin by Jonathan Glazer
♪ Death – Mica Levi
In Under The Skin, we follow an unearthly being throughout its brutal murders around Scotland. The soundtrack is cold and extremely dark. Only strings and a few drums. Scary and very simple melodies. Drum samples are slowed down making them sound dangerous.
The beauty of the movie reaches its highest point toward the end. After almost a whole hour of no signs of emotions the alien is submerged by them. This is expressed by an emotional and warm track called ‘Love’ which is just beautiful. Among all the horrific feelings felt through almost an hour of dark, creepy sounds, this track opens a whole new dimension we discover hand in hand with Scarlet Johansson’s character.
Mica Levi was inspired by the “evil themes” of old 1930 Disney movies creating a very effective and uncomfortable soundtrack that plays such a big part in a movie with very few dialogues.
The last track, “Death”, is like a summary of the movie as a whole. The high strings of the beginning settle the threatening and dark atmosphere. Towards the end the warm melodies emerge and the peacefulness comes in.
Monos by Alejandro Landes
♪ Pisa Suave – Mica Levi
A paramilitary organisation of young people in some unidentified mountains in Colombia are watching over a foreign prisoner. The very young age of the troop is where all the intensity of the movie lies. We follow their story but we also follow their confrontation with adult age.
The very primary feelings are echoed in the music : simple, sharp and easy, Mica Levi created a much more instinctive score for Monos than she did for Under The Skin. A soundtrack that lives with the image in a very strong dialogue. Some sounds from the movie are even inserted into the score, blending both elements in a way you don’t know which sound is coming from the “real” and which one isn’t. It’s another masterpiece that has already left a mark on the music score history for sure!
Range of Clues by Margarita Maximova
♪ Roc – &apos
This is a great project by two great friends of mine.
Margarita Maximova is a video artist based in Berlin. Two years ago I saw this mesmerising video installation of hers at the Art Brussels fair. In this piece she plays with conspiracy theory narratives in a journey of empty (almost alien) landscapes and public locations. We learn about a mysterious seismic event that was never reported on official news channels. The soundtrack is really adding a great layer of weirdness giving the video project an uncomfortable vibe that I found really effective.
All sounds are made by artist: &apos. His practice is about playing with a software he created himself and randomly inviting it to produce different melodies and music patterns. A perfect “6 hands” collaboration as Margarita Maximova made her own score using &apos’ samples and loops made through his software.
Interface Chaos by Demystification Committee
♪ Interface Reality Theme- Sky H1
This short movie by THE DEMYSTIFICATION COMMITTEE was scored by artist and friend SKY H1. In a very uncanny way, the movie compares a rare species of palm trees and the (rare) traces of money in the Seychelles, a tax heaven country. The images of the empty mail boxes represent all the companies using the tax shelter services of the Island and SKY H1’s dreamy and melancholic sounds create a very eerie and mixed feeling that I found really refreshing for an art video about capitalism’s excesses.
The Matrix by Lana Wachowski & Lilly Wachowski
♪ Dissolved Girl – Massive Attack
Not a big discovery from a movie point of view but this scene from The Matrix made me discover this track of Massive Attack when I was little. The movie is full of trip-hop and drum & bass 90’s references if you pay attention to it.
Three Colors : Blue by Krzysztof Kieślowski
♪ Olivier & Julie – Zbigniew Preisner
After a car accident, Julie (Juliette Binoche) loses her husband (a famous classical music composer) and her little daughter. Inspired by the three french ideals (liberty, equality, fraternity) Bleu is a movie about grief and the process for reaching freedom from the darkness of the past.
Julie’s husband died without finishing his greatest piece of music. After her denial of everything related to her past life (her family, her husband’s work etc), Juliette Binoche’s character slowly accepts that life goes on.
The extract I chose is quite significant as it’s the first time Julie decides to help her husband’s assistant to finish the music score.
Kieślowski’s masterpiece is full of metaphors and the music, by long time collaborator Zbigniew Preisner, evolves beautifully with Julie’s journey through grief. It leaves us with a very powerful feeling of acceptance and freedom.
La Double Vie de Véronique by Krzysztof Kieślowski
♪ Van den Budenmayer Concerto en mi mineur version de 1798 – Zbigniew Preisner
The musical theme in La Double Vie de Véronique is really closely connected to the one from Three Colors : Blue, as these movies are also related by a common approach to time and death.
In this movie we follow two physically similar and mysteriously linked women. Weronika, a polish young girl, dies mysteriously after singing in a choir. After her death, Véronique, from France, feels grief and solitude like she lost someone.
The music piece I chose here is from the same imaginary Dutch music composer from the 18th century that Preisner and Kieslovski invented for Blue and La Double Vie de Véronique. It’s Weronika’s very last song as she dies while singing it. The dark crescendo strings make the scene so powerful.
Good Time by Josh and Benny Safdie
♪ Good Time – Oneohtrix Point Never
Like the movie itself, Oneothrix Point Never’s soundtrack is infused with adrenaline and escalating melodies, alternating music and silence, making the whole tension even greater.
We follow one of the most anti-moral characters of movie history in a stressful, edgy night. It’s like we are stuck with the bad guy. Hope for human kindness is only found in the people he encounters throughout his journey, making the whole anti-hero viewpoint even more disturbing.
A very dark and hopeless vision of America that hunts you for quite a while.
Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival
by Fabrizio Terranova
♪ Cayenne – Lawrence Le Doux
Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival is a documentary everyone should watch nowadays. The amazing thinker is giving us a small glimpse of her thoughts and her everyday life. Movies about philosophy are hard to make without simplifying too much one’s thought. But this one is truly eye-opening.
Belgian music artist, Lawrence Le Doux, created a great soundtrack making the whole intellectual experience even more powerful. Simple and subtle, his sounds guide us towards a mixed feeling of being disturbed intellectually and being more at peace with the world.
A Woman Under the Influence by John Cassavetes
The scores is a project centred around movie soundtracks but here is a proof that music isn’t required to create an emotionally powerful scene. I do hate when a movie dictates us how we should feel with very obvious music choices. Music should add or accompany rather than compensate emotions.
Creating powerful emotional scenes without music is something John Cassavetes always mastered perfectly. I discovered independent American cinema thanks to him and especially with A Woman Under the Influence but also Opening Night which is one of my absolutely favourite movies.
From the former I picked the scene where Mable (Gena Rowlands) and Nick (Peter Falw) are having the discussion that will lead her to be sent to a mental health institution. It’s such a powerful scene where Mable explicitly tries to convince Nick that their love is way stronger than what society expects from them.
The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye by Marie Losier
♪ White Nights – Psychic TV
In The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye, one of the most poignant documentaries on love, we follow Genesis B. P-Orridge and Lady Jaye in their quest for the ultimate proof of love. The will of two to become one.
It’s such a heartbreaking film. Both Genesis B. P-Orridge and Lady Jaye have left us, making it even more touching.
The soundtrack is, of course, mostly Psychic TV and the movie is a great introduction to the industrial music movement.