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BOUNCE – Mychael Danna

November 17, 2000 Leave a comment Go to comments

bounceOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The more of Mychael Danna’s music I hear, the more I am of the opinion that he is one of the most talented  – and versatile – practitioners of film music working today. Having become noted for composing minimalist, ethnically-inflected scores for films such as Exotica, Kama Sutra and The Ice Storm, Danna bucked his own trend by writing two of the most interesting and challenging scores of 1999: the vivid, confrontational 8MM, and the sweeping, epic Ride with the Devil. The musical development of Danna continues with his lovely score for Bounce, the Canadian’s first mainstream romance. Bounce is directed by Don Roos (previously responsible for The Opposite of Sex) and stars Ben Affleck as businessman Buddy Amaral, who finds himself delayed at an airport while waiting for an overbooked flight to Los Angeles. Striking up a conversation with fellow passenger Greg Janello (Tony Goldwyn), Buddy thinks he is doing a good turn when he offers Greg his seat so he can get back in time to see his young son. In a tragic twist of fate, the plane Buddy should have been on then crashes, killing all on board. Racked with guilt and remorse, descending into alcoholism and quitting his job, Buddy seeks out Greg’s widow Abby (Gwyneth Paltrow) looking for some kind of redemption and forgiveness… and certainly not expecting to end up falling in love.

Completely eschewing the occasionally abrasive style that has typified many of his scores, Danna’s work on Bounce is modern, up-tempo and thoroughly enjoyable. Danna combines a small orchestra and electronics with a trio of soloists – Lyle Workman and Mike Elizondo playing guitar, and Sumesh Pathak contributing breathy, evocative tones on a bansuri (bamboo flute). As far as I can tell, the film has no Indian element as such; instead, Danna’s use of the bansuri is purely for effect, not unlike the way in which James Horner uses a shakuhachi to influence the colors and emotions of his scores. Several tracks, notably ‘Weather’, ‘Nice to Meet You’ and ‘You’re Excused’, feature superb performances of the instrument.

The rest of the score is a hybrid pop/orchestral fusion, and a good one too. The electronic samples and rhythms used by Danna give his music a much-needed contemporary kick, illustrating the hectic nature of modern life without ever losing touch with the emotional undertones. ‘Boarding Pass’, with its sultry urban vibes, ‘Hangover’ and ‘Testimony’, with their strong, urgent beats, and the energetic ‘Seven Steps’ are worth special note.

‘Moving Day’ and ‘Award’ have some delicate, slightly melancholy string and solo piano performances which add a romantic element to the score’s make-up. ‘Crash’ is also a clever cue in this regard, underscoring what is quite possibly one of the worst moments in someone’s life with a gentleness and restraint that comes across as the musical embodiment of shock and quiet disbelief. However, the best tracks on the album are ‘The Kiss’ and ‘Deception’. While only running for just under 3 minutes in total, the swell of the orchestra, the grace of the piano sand the lilt of the guitars make them two of the most conventionally attractive single pieces Danna has yet penned.

In the bigger scheme of things, Bounce is fairly inconsequential. It won’t win any awards, won’t be a big seller, and is unlikely to generate that much interest, even amongst score fans. However, as far as the direction of Danna’s career is concerned, it marks an important step. While I admit to being unfamiliar with the majority of Danna’s domestic Canadian output, Bounce marks one of the few occasions where he has almost fully embraced convention, and has proved beyond doubt that he is an accomplished practitioner. He may express a personal preference for his moodier, more experimental works, it will do him no harm to score a blockbuster once in a while, if he is ever given the chance.

Rating: ****

Track Listing:

  • Weather (3:29)
  • Bed Time (1:09)
  • Boarding Pass (2:34)
  • Moving Day (1:05)
  • Hangover (0:57)
  • Crash (1:37)
  • Nice to Meet You (1:36)
  • Now I Am (1:10)
  • So Brave (1:47)
  • Seven Steps (2:18)
  • Christmas Trees (1:47)
  • Award (1:21)
  • Kiss (1:39)
  • Deception (1:13)
  • Say Goodbye (1:22)
  • Testimony (1:37)
  • You’re Excused (1:48)
  • Can We Try? (2:05)

Running Time: 30 minutes 34 seconds

Varèse Sarabande VSD-6194 (2000)

Music composed by Mychael Danna. Conducted and orchestrated by Nicholas Dodd. Featured musical soloists Sumesh Pathak, Lyle Werkman and Mike Elizondo. Recorded and mixed by Brad Haehnel. Edited by Thomas Milano. Album produced by Mychael Danna.

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