06.18.2009

Sideways Score, Rolfe Kent

Posted by AJ Harbison at 5:25 pm

My lovely wife and I watched the movie Sideways for the first time last night (and drank a 2007 Robert Mondavi pinot noir to commemorate the occasion). The movie is about two middle-aged men who take a trip through Napa Valley wine country the week before one of them gets married; along the way, as the movie’s tagline states, they’re “In search of wine. In search of women. In search of themselves.” It was an enjoyable movie; it’s billed as a comedy, and the first half was quite fun and had a lot to do with wine (which of course I enjoyed). The second half, however, was much more of a drama, and had much less to do with wine (and I was a little disappointed). But overall it was quite a good movie.

The score was written by Rolfe Kent, who has written music for many of director Alexander Payne’s movies (including About Schmidt and Election) as well as other popular movies such as Wedding Crashers, Thank You For Smoking and Legally Blonde. It was a jazzy, piano-driven pop-music score–reminiscent in my mind of the style of Hitch‘s score by George Fenton. There was a lot of music in the film, probably because the movie covers the period of an entire week and thus there are a lot of short scenes and transitions that the music helps along, and the upbeat, poppy music definitely kept the atmosphere light and kept things moving. I was especially fond of the theme that plays on the DVD menu (you can hear samples on the score’s Amazon page; that particular theme can be found in a more subdued version in “Los Olivos,” track 8). But there was also some melancholy piano solo music that helped set the tone of the second half of the movie as well, that followed a common bass line progression: G minor – F# augmented – B-flat major over F – C major 9 over E – etc. (You can hear this theme in track 11 on the Amazon page, “Abandoning The Wedding.”)

Sideways progression

We watched the movie all the way through the end credits, as we always do, and it was interesting to note that through most of the credits the music was the jazzy, upbeat style of the first half of the movie; but the very last part of the score at the end returned to the doleful piano theme and ended on that. I wonder if it was an intentional statement by the filmmakers that although there are happy and upbeat times in life, the underlying theme (or perhaps the final theme) is melancholy. It certainly did seem that way for the characters in the film.

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    Katy on 06.23.2009

    Pretty good post. I just came by your site and wanted to say
    that I have really liked reading your posts. Any way
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