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Infamous by Rachel Portman


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Infamous (Soundtrack)  by Rachel Portman

Composed by Rachel Portman
Milan Records (2006)

Rating: 4/10

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“It’s hard to take an album like INFAMOUS seriously when you have Portman’s gloomy compositions mixed with lighthearted fare like Hank Ballard’s 'The Twist.' ”

Capote, Portman, and All That Jazz
By Cap Stewart


I’ll admit, until recently I disliked jazz. Actually, that’s putting it nicely. My dislike was something more akin to hatred. Then something changed—what, I’m not exactly sure. In the last year or so, this particular musical genre has grown on me—considerably, in fact.

So when I say the soundtrack to INFAMOUS is a bore, it’s not because of the intermittent jazz elements. I find the jazzy portions quite entertaining. In its entirety, however, the hodgepodge that is the soundtrack album is far from satisfying.

Actually, “far from satisfying” may be the sentiments of many regarding the film as a whole. Having been released one year after the similarly-themed film Capote (which garnered Philip Seymour Hoffman an Oscar for his portrayal of the title character), INFAMOUS never seemed to move from beyond the shadow of its predecessor. While Infamous may not live on in infamy, the timing of its release may have permanently minimized its appeal. But I digress.

With jazz, there is a certain amount of unpredictability; because of the improvisational nature of the music, the listener may not always know exactly what is coming next. That is part of the genre’s charm. It seems that a similar technique was used (intentionally or not) in the construction of the soundtrack album. The flow of Rachel Portman’s score is interrupted by the inclusion of various period pieces. The result is irritating, not charming.

There is nothing wrong with the songs themselves. In fact, they are oftentimes more enjoyable than the score. (One of my favorite cues is the opening track, “What Is This Thing Called Loved,” effectively sung by Gwyneth Paltrow.) At the same time, the inclusion of the songs results in a constant shift in tone. For example, going from Rachel Portman’s dark and somber “Truman Decides to Open Up / The Killing” (track 12) to the song “How About You” (performed by Johnny Bond) is both abrupt and unwelcome.

The track order is not the CD’s only problem. Portman’s score is simply not that engaging. It could be said that the short track lengths are the real culprit, and that may be partly true. (Only two score tracks pass the five-minute mark.) But the material itself fails to capture one’s attention. It is occasionally jazzy—and these are arguably the best parts of the score—but most of the music is broodingly melancholic in nature, not going anywhere of much melodic interest.

Good jazz can indeed combine seemingly incongruous elements with satisfying results. The structure of INFAMOUS, however, isn’t like good jazz. A different track order would have remedied at least part of the problem. For instance, all the score cues cold have been placed together, followed by the songs. Even so, the CD would still lack a sense of coherency. It’s hard to take an album like INFAMOUS seriously when you have Portman’s gloomy compositions mixed with lighthearted fare like Hank Ballard’s “The Twist.”

Rating: 4/10

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Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 What is this Thing Called Love - Gwyneth Paltrow 4:04  ***
2 Heartaches - Mark Rubin 3:27  **
3 La Cote Basque 1:17  **
4 Broken Hearted Melody - Sarah Vaughan 2:27  **
5 Truman's Mother 2:14  **
6 Safe Place 1:13  *
7 Truman Tries Out Lines 0:53  **
8 There I Go Dreamin' Again - Johnny Band 2:20  **
9 Perry's Story 4:23  **
10 Truman & Perry Kiss 1:36  *
11 Clutter Home 2:00  ***
12 Truman Decides to Open Up/ The Killings 5:05  ***
13 How About You - Johnny Bond 2:01  **
14 Porn Magazines 1:45  ***
15 Friend Truman/ End Titles 5:55  **
16 There's a Goldmine in the Sky - Daniel Craig 1:54  *
17 Yesterday When I was Young - Dusty Springfield 3:42  **
18 The Twist - Hank Ballard 2:37  **
  Total Running Time (approx) 49 minutes  




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