Avran works in Paris as a film producer and makes music under the name of Lagrima. We met him during a 4h long bus trip that ended up in a memorable and passionate conversation about films, and we thought it would be just perfect to invite him to craft the next episode of The Scores! Indeed, Avran provided us with an impressive mix full of rarities, beautiful coups de cœur and witty anecdotes. Reading his erudite although very personal movie list will surely make you want to share many long bus rides with him as well 🙂
Avran’s list :
ERIE by Kevin Jerome Everson
Erie focuses on the afro-american working class communities living around Lake Erie, in the Great Lakes area. The film consists of a series of long shots, some staged (a young girl watching a melting candle for more than 10 minutes), others are just daily scenes of people working, talking, practicing sports or arts. This excerpt comes from a scene shot in some kind of community center, where two teenagers are playing a song on an out-oftune piano. The beauty of the melody really struck me during my first watch, and it stayed with me for several days after the screening.
BELLY by Hype Williams
♪ Soul II Soul – Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)
When I first saw Belly, I was a 15yo hip-hop nerd and a huge Nas fan.
The movie didn’t really make an impression on me, it felt like just another gangster movie, with no particular personality. It was several years later that I saw the introduction scene again on Youtube, and realized how special the aesthetic was : the club, the black light, the strobes and this long acapella of Soul II Soul made this whole scene an intense, levitating
ANTONYMS OF BEAUTY by Khalik Allah
♪ Nas & Large Professor – One Plus One
Khalik Allah is a street photographer from New York, who’s been working mostly with marginalized people, homeless, drug addicts… In Antonyms of beauty, he sets himself on a street corner in Harlem and starts taking shots and talking to the people passing by. The film is a mix of moving images, stills and sound that all seem to exist on their own, capturing the essence of the neighborhood. At some point, he welcomes a man in his car and starts playing this tune for him, and his reaction is quite unexpected. The second time Nas appears in this mix (and maybe not the last ^^).
LIGHTNING DANCE by Cecilia Bangolea
Muffled sounds, the rain, the thunder, thumping beats… The ambiance in this short video by Cecilia Bangolea is absolutely stunning. This 6 minute piece was shot with dancehall dancers in Jamaica, and it really feels out of time, a mesmerizing moment.
SYNDROMS AND A CENTURY by Apichatpong Weerasethakul
♪ Koichi Shimizu – Reverberation
Weerasethakul’s cinema is probably for me the most soothing form of art there is. Everything seems so simple and obvious in his work, it almost feels like there is no intermediary between his thoughts and his films. The soundscapes and atmospheres make up a lot of what makes his art so special, putting you in a strange state of hypnosis, on the verge of falling asleep, and maybe talking directly to your unconscious.
JESSICA FOREVER by Jonathan Vinel et Caroline Poggi
♪ A.G. Cook – New City
I have to admit Jessica Forever was not everything I hoped it would be. I felt the film was nowhere near the emotion their shorts could create. Nevertheless, it has moments of pure grace and most include music, for instance Never Again by JonatanLeandoer96 or this obscure track by A.G. Cook, that accompanies a soft moment when the character of Jessica wishes good night to her «sons».
AS I WAS MOVING AHEAD, OCCASIONNALY I SAW BRIEF GLIMPSES OF BEAUTY by Jonas Mekkas
This 5 hour long movie by Jonas Mekkas has a really interesting score, a never-ending piano improvisation, accordion loops and the filmmaker’s voice commenting on his life and some of his thoughts, jumping erratically from one to another. I looked for this specific part of the piano improv that really stood out on my first watch.
ANNETTE by Leos Carax
Although I don’t really connect with the whole score of Annette by the Sparks, this particular moment when Annette starts singing during her first performance gave me the chills and was definitely one of my most memorable cinema moments of 2021.
YI YI by Edward Yang and ELEPHANT by Gus Van Sant
♪ Ludvig Van Beethoven – Moonlight Sonata
This Beethoven piece allows me to connect two of my favorite films. I find it particularly interesting how the music moves me in different ways in these scenes. I guess in Yi Yi, everything seems to be more explicit, the characters talk about their relationship to music, and you can easily guess what they are feeling at this exact moment, creating a strong sense of empathy. In Elephant, the beauty is more related to the fact that you don’t know any of these characters, nor their thoughts, but only their fate. The empathy is definitely strong there too.
THE THIEF OF BAGDAD by Raoul Walsh
♪ Lee Erwin – The Thief of Bagdad
Third and last appearance of Nas in this mix 🙂 I discovered this musical piece because it was sampled by DJ Premier on the track Represent, in Nas’s first album Illmatic. It was composed by the organist Lee Erwin to be played in the theaters during the silent screenings of The Thief of Bagdad. I find it a bit odd to listen to this without image, as it moves fast between moods, and it really shows how the music had to carry the dramatic tension back when cinema was silent.
THE KILLER by John Woo
♪ Lowell Lo – The Killer Theme Song
The introduction scene of the killer has a lot of elements dear to John Woo : the doves, the candles, faith. In a pure maximalist fashion, the director introduces his character in a staring contest with a statue of the Virgin Mary. The intense and elegant music prepares you for a film full of internal conflict, violence, and love.
OBSCURRO BARROCO by Evangelia Kranioti
« Rio de Janeiro is a factory of dreams, and nightmares. In these dreams, some get lost, some find themselves. But no one steps into the same Rio two times. » Evangelia Kranioti’s take on the Rio carnival is a powerful blend of colors, sounds, glitter and feathers. In this stunning scene, she goes above the city with one of her two characters, a sad introvert clown, while the other, Luana Muniz, an iconic transgender figure of Rio, comments on its duality, its constant metamorphosis. The scene ends with the words « apocalyptic orgasm » and huge fireworks on the beach, which make the perfect transition to my next choice.
SPRING BREAKERS by Harmony Korine
♪ Skrillex – Scary Monsters and nice sprites
Another kind of carnival and apocalyptic orgasm, the spring break filmed by Harmony Korine. In the first seconds of the film, you can already see people drinking and dancing to this Skrillex song. Spring Breakers was probably one of the first films that made me reflect strongly on what I considered « bad taste », and how using pop and mainstream codes in a different way could also bring out the beauty in things that I considered of less artistic value.
PAPRIKA by Satoshi Kon
♪ Susumu Hirasawa – The Girl in Byakkoya
The late Satoshi Kon has left us with a short but remarkable filmography. In Perfect Blue, the soundtrack was oppressive, mental and dark. In Paprika, it makes you feel like you’re on mushrooms, stuck forever in the Circus Circus casino in Las Vegas. The trippy voices, the trance synths and the pop vocals really make this song hit differently, and a really good fit for Satoshi Kon’s unconventional world.
ELLIS ISLAND by Meredith Monk
♪ Original score by Meredith Monk
Ellis Island is a short video installation made by the great singer and composer Meredith Monk. This simple and beautiful piano piece gives gravity to the images that are being edited in a really playful manner. Even though quite simple, this balance between images and music makes this installation quite surprising.
TRAVOLTA ET MOI by Patricia Mazuy
This amazing film by Patricia Mazuy was part of the Arte collection « Tous les garçons et les filles de leur âge ». It tells a passionate teenage love story that does not end well, and this dialogue line was for me one of the most memorable moments of the film, embodying well this idea of an unbound first love.
HAPPY TOGETHER by Wong Kar Wai
♪ Astor Piazzolla – Finale (Tango Apasionado)
Another passionate love story, and probably my favorite WKW film. For his first feature outside of Hong-Kong, he really embraced the sound of Argentina and worked with one of the most recognized tango composers. The last part of the film is a total twirling frenzy of music, dances and wild feelings. I had rarely felt such a strong succession of scenes, that seemed to be following the rhythm of the music, carrying the emotion to new heights.
THE SON’S ROOM by Nanni Moretti
♪ Brian Eno – By this river
I feel a special bond with Nanni Moretti’s musical taste. I actually thought of several of his films where I felt the soundtrack was special : Keith Jarrett in Dear Diary, Gino Paoli in Bianca, and this wonderful Brian Eno track in The Son’s Room. In his case, it’s not only the quality of the music, but how it is used, how it becomes an important part of the film. The last scene of the movie, on the beach, is for me the most heartbreaking moment of this extremely moving drama, and you can picture the characters in a never-ending wandering to this song.
SISTERS WITH TRANSISTORS by Lisa Rovner
♪ Suzanne Ciani – The First Wave : Birth of Venus
It feels a bit easy to choose a documentary about music for its soundtrack, but this recent film has brought to light several women pioneers of electronic music, who definitely deserve more recognition. I didn’t know Suzanne Ciani’s work really well before seeing the film, and Seven Waves was a big shock.
HEAT by Michael Mann
♪ Moby – God moving over the face of the waters
The ending of Heat and this duel between Al Pacino and Robert De Niro would definitely not be as powerful if it wasn’t for Moby’s music. I haven’t seen the film in a really long time, but I’ve been listening to this song regularly and it always reminds me of this scene, the airport lights and the ultimate handshake between them.
LOTUS by Coni Beeson
This short film poem by Coni Beeson from the 70s really touched me by its simplicity, and its ambient loop. A pure moment of joy, sensitivity and sensuality.
ASAKO by Ryusuke Hamaguchi
♪ Tofubeats – River
Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s last feature Drive my Car really put him in the spotlight, but his previous work is also really worth a watch. The pop drama Asako is for me one of the most gracious, charming film of the past years. Its take on duality, fantasy is extremely subtle, while using more obvious gimmicks in his story, which gives the film this « on the edge » feeling between the pop TV drama and the psychological auteur flick. The theme song by Tofubeats concludes the film in a really gentle way and is one of the reasons I love it so much.
TRUST by Hal Hartley
♪ Original Score by Ned Rifle
Hal Hartley was the shooting star of the 90s. He made a few brilliant films and then disappeared. The score of Trust is somehow a little bit clumsy, offbeat, like the movie actually. The cynicism of the characters is always bent by the film’s sentimentalism and empathy, and Trust is in the end perfectly upfront in the feelings it describes, sincere and with no irony.
The Scores is a project produced by 254NOW and curated by Liyo Gong & Alex Sourbis