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Marvin Hamlisch’s “The Informant!”, the film score of the year.

Marvin Hamlisch’s “The Informant!”, the film score of the year. (photo)

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Because few people pay close attention to film composers, they can pretty much say whatever the hell they think on the rare occasions someone thinks to interview them. As a result, “Where The Wild Things Are” composer Carter Burwell provides as much concrete information on the film’s studio-meeting turmoil as anyone on record yet in an interview in Moving Image Source.

In 4,000+ dense, fascinating words, the plainspoken Burwell opens up. A man I always thought of as a provider of ready-made, generically plaintive music (is there anything more basic than the “Being John Malkovich” theme?), but the man himself is perfectly aware of his role as studio hand-holder. When Warner Bros. wasn’t comfortable having Karen O score everything, Burwell got brought in: “It was just a comfort thing for Warner Bros. to know that there was going to be some composer who would handle that job on that scene,” he grouses. “I’m not comfortable with everything I just said to you, because I don’t like to be the dependable traditional composer.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the WB lot, Steven Soderbergh and Marvin Hamlisch got away with murder. The much-remarked-upon score for “The Informant!” (you can hear an excerpt at the link) is notable for a reason, as the LA Times explains. In dragging Hamlish out of semi-retirement for his first score since 1996’s “The Mirror Has Two Faces,” Soderbergh knew exactly what he was doing: using ironically upbeat, anachronistic music as a jarring counterpoint to Matt Damon’s self-deluding perspective.

Soderbergh actually managed to realized Sergei Eisenstein’s dream of “vertical montage” — using sound and music not to reinforce what’s on-screen, but to contradict and complicate it. If this sounds terribly academic, well, it is: the beauty of “The Informant!” is that it makes that goal viscerally comprehensible. You don’t have to be a steeped-in-academe theoretician to instantly realize the oddity of what’s happening or why.

Like all of Soderbergh’s work, “The Informant!” isn’t so much a movie as the solution to a complicated problem. And Hamlisch’s score is the key to that: Soderbergh’s foregrounded his music like no one since P.T. Anderson in “There Will Be Blood.” Here’s hoping awards season should be generous.

[Photos: “Where the Wild Things Are,” Warner Bros., 2009; “The Informant!,” Warner Bros, 2009]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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