I Believe, from The Book of Mormon

BBC World News reviewed the London stage show of The Book of Mormon this morning, and played the showcase song of the show. I saw it last year with Firecracker, and we loved it. I gave it a full review.

The song does pick on Mormon beliefs, but the show in total is essentially a comedic anthropological take on religion itself, as stories we tell to make tragedy bearable, and is one of the funniest shows I’ve seen in a long time.

Song in my Head: Kurgan’s Theme by Queen

http://vimeo.com/40434430

Queen composed two soundtracks for cheesy ’80s movies that I adore and champion despite their myriad flaws. The first is FLASH (Ah-AAAH!!) Gordon, a terrific remake of the old serial. Thanks to classic performers Max von Sydow, Topol, Brian Blessed, Timothy Dalton, and Peter Wyngarde, it rises above the awful beef/cheesecake leads. And the amazing soundtrack keeps it centered.

The other film is HIGHLANDER, which is a running joke in many circles. Where do they hide those swords? Sean Connery is a Scot playing an Egyptian with a Spanish surname carrying a Japanese sword, and Frenchman Christopher Lambert plays the Scotsman. It’s hilarious and bizarre and you really shouldn’t care. The sequels can be safely ignored (WHAT sequels? LA LA LA) but the original is simply one of the best B pictures of the ’80s, better than the ninja flicks and anything by Chuck Norris. It wants to be Blade Runner, but it’s incredibly silly and just runs with it.

Clancy Brown as the Kurgan is an inspired performance, and the over the top swordplay, goofing on Cannon Group fanboys- Kurgan takes out a gun nut with a MAC-10 who plays vigilante, the film begins at a pro wrestling match- it really has a lot to offer and I’ve watched it countless times.

And this song is one of the best. “Princes of the Universe” is a close second. The entire Queen soundtrack is fantastic. This is where “Who Wants to Live Forever?” comes from. If you haven’t seen it, I’d suggest drinking yourself into a 13 year old’s mental faculties first, and buying a Nerf broadsword to flail around as you cheer the immortals in their quest for the ultimate power.

Man with a Harmonica

I first heard Apollo 440’s remix of Ennio Morricone’s classic “Man with a Harmonica” over the end credits of a great Sopranos episode, “Whoever Did This,” when we begin to see Tony’s veneer of humanity begin to crack.
The original song is the theme to one of the best westerns ever made, Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West. I was thinking about it after reading Wayne Dundee’s excellent review of the film. It is Leone at the top of his form, and Harmonica is one of the great characters of cinema, and perhaps Charles Bronson’s greatest role. Frank, the evil sonofabitch played by Peter Fonda, may be one of Fonda’s best as well. It’s certainly the one that plays against type.
The film is over two hours long, but worth every second. Each time you hear this theme play, Leone teases us with a blurry memory of a young boy faced with pure evil. Seeing who this young man becomes, and how he finally puts an end to a lifetime of pain, is one of the great catharses in western storytelling.

once-upon-a-time-in-the-west-charles-bronson

And this song is stuck in my head this week. The mournful tone evokes an inner sadness at the red-claw brutality of life on this Earth, and our endless struggle to rise above it. It speaks of the sadness of a young boy who feels responsible for his older brother’s agonizing death, and his long road to vengeance.
All with a harmonica and a lungful of air.