The importance of music in film is undeniable, but there are certain film makers who take this relationship to another level. Nicholas Winding Refn, for example, seems to use music as a guiding force when coming to conceive of his films, and his long running collaboration with Johnny Jewel of Chromatics fame is a match made in heaven. The French director Claire Denis has utilised the English band Tindersticks’ music for many of her films, their low key, brooding atmospherics an apt compliment to her intense filmography.
We also have the musicians who seem to be inspired by cinema; Dirty Beaches is one of the strongest examples in recent memory. His eclectic style is in debt to his love of world cinema, particularly film makers like Wong Kar Wai and Theo Angelopolous (one song is named after the film Landscapes in the Mist). There are countless other cases of this creative flow between two mediums, but here we try and give a few of our own suggestions for potential collaborations:
Arthur Russell-Being It = Harmony Korine
This song is both bleak and beautiful, distorted yet poetic. Would perfectly frame a set of misfit loners roaming through decaying suburbia. Arthur Russell was of course somewhat of an outsider himself, tragically never gaining huge acclaim while he was alive. Like Korine he straddled high and low pop culture, creating something otherworldly and timeless.
Karen Dalton-Something on your mind = Wes Anderson
Perhaps controversial, some might say that Anderson doesn’t deserve a song of this beauty but he’s proved capable of perfectly integrating 60’s folk songs into his work at emotional peaks. He might even throw a bit of slo-mo in for this one! But seriously, a beautiful song for people who might not even like folk music that much. Dalton’s vocals are effortlessly heartbreaking, and the guitar is rusty and melancholic.
Lizzy Mercier Descloux- Rosa Vertov = Leos Carax
Hip, dark and urgent, this track by the 80’s chanteusse would be perfect for one of Leos Carax’s earlier films. I could just imagine Denis Lavant breaking into a feverish, explosive dance along the streets of Paris to this. Lizzy Mercier Descloux died relatively young leaving behind some startling work, and like the characters in Carax’s films, lived life at full tilt.
Mark McGuire- A matter of time =Michael Mann
Mann specialises in moody, neon lit cityscapes, and I think this track would be a great backdrop for one of those scenes. This is by the Emerald’s guitarist Mark McGuire and it’s hypnotic and beautiful. Just imagine a tortured cop looking out across a rooftop onto an indigo sky, with this playing in the background.
Beat Happening-Our Secret =Terry Malick
Yeah, it probably wouldn’t fit into any of his films, but this always reminds a lot of Badlands. Firstly, it’s really gorgeous and has a rural feel to it, and secondly, it talks about two young lovers fleeing from their parents. Sound familiar?
Buffy Saint Marie- God is alive, magic is afoot = Nic Roeg
Buffy Saint Marie’s earlier music is trippy and magical, so fits right in with Nic Roeg’s hallucinatory visuals. This particularly song is carried by lullaby guitar plucking and woozy reverberating vocals. Spooky.
Broadcast- You and me in time = Jaromil Jires
Broadcast were noted fans of ‘Valerie and her week of wonders’, so this selection is cheating a bit. Keenan’s soft cooing and the delicate, dreamlike xylophone notes instantly finding kinship with the childlike, pastoral wonder of Jires’ film.
Dirty Beaches- True Blue/Lord Knows Best = Wong Kar Wai
Dirty Beaches is a noted cinephile and this is clearly, CLEARLY influenced by Wong Kar Wai’s movies. Could see either of these songs set to a ballroom dance scene, ill fated lovers having their last dance together. Sad and sultry.
PJ Harvey- To talk to you= Jane Campion
National treasure PJ Harvey took a left turn with her 2007 album White Chalk- it was downbeat, mournful and seemed to arrive from another time. The parallels with Jane Campion’s film The Piano are clear, as we Polly Jean dressed in an ethereal white period dress on the front cover. The music is, as you might have guessed, mostly focused around Harvey’s piano and the haunting mixture of repression and desire coming through, much like in the film.