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We Own the Night by Wojciech Kilar

We Own the Night

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 The Soundtrack
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We Own the Night (Soundtrack) by Wojciech Kilar

We Own the Night
Composed by Wojciech Kilar
Lakeshore Records (2007)

Rating: 4/10

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Listen to this soundclip of We Own the Night by Wojciech KilarBobby Gets News(358 kb)

Listen to this soundclip of We Own the Night by Wojciech KilarBobby Sees Joe (353 kb)

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“If you are in an introspective mood, then you'll likely enjoy Kilar's work here and If you are into some eclectic reminiscing then you'll be quite taken with the first half of this soundtrack. But taken together WE OWN THE NIGHT ends up being a rather odd listening experience.”

The Yin and the Gang
Review by Christopher Coleman

James Gray doesn't direct a ton of movies, but when he does, he seems partial to having actors Mark Wahlberg and Joacquin Phoenix star in them. James Gray has only directed a handful of films since the mid-90s, and apparently prefers scores that are generally subdued, dark, and brooding. Gray's 2007 project, WE OWN THE NIGHT, reportedly took years to write, but its unlikely much of that time was spent deciding who would play the main roles or what type of score he would have. For his latest project, Gray kept to form. Wahlberg and Phoenix play brothers who live on opposite sides of the law and are at each others throats. As Joseph (Wahlberg) follows in the footsteps of their father as a policeman, Bobby (Phoenix) changes his surname and lives the high-life of the late 1980s running in the circle of the Russian mob of Brooklyn, NY. The tension of WE OWN THE NIGHT is to see who actually owns the night: the police or the mob. The night life of the 1980s dance scene is contrasted with the cold, midnight-blue of New Yorks finest.  It's about opposites and what it takes to get the two sides to attempt some sort of synthesis. They can try, but they never really mix.  It's the yin and the yang and this contrast is carried right over into the film's soundtrack.

The soundtrack for WE OWN THE NIGHT represents the two musical sides of the film well. On the one hand, we have an odd collection of popular songs used to represent the wild life of Bobby. While some of these well-known songs do add the "life" and color I'm sure Gray was after, I have to say it is an "odd collection" because the songs used were all released years before the setting of the film, 1988. "Let's Dance" (2) by David Bowie comes from 1983. Blonde has two songs featured, "Heart of Glass" (1) from 1978 and "Rapture" (3) from 1980. "A Message to You Rudy" (5) and A Little Bit of Soap (6) are both from the 1960s. And there's more. Included is Louis Prima's famous rendition of "I Ain't Got Nobody" (9) which is from 1956. I find this strange too, since David Lee Roth's version of the very same song was released in 1985. Why not use that one? Why use songs that are not accurate to the setting of the film? Perhaps INXS, Robert Palmer, and Salt-N-Pepa, didn't quite capture the mood director James Gray was looking for and true-1988-songs would have made for an even wilder contrast with composer WOJCIECH KILAR's forlorn score.

Now, onto "the other hand." Composer Kilar is one of the most prolific composers of the 20th century; composing for some 50 years now. He has written scores for well over 100 films and Kilar is one of the most interesting and quotable composers around. While the first half of the soundtrack gives us the sanguine-portion of the music, Kilar, on the second half, delivers the melancholic. In much the same way as Howard Shore scored Gray's THE YARDS in 2000, Kilar's score is carried by long string performances occasionally lead by woodwinds, tense and even menacing. Again, the motif of this yin and yang is found but this time within the score itself. There is the dark, heavy side but also a light, innocent side. The music representing Bobby the Bad is usually of this sort see: "Bobby Gets News" (14), "Bobby Breaks Leg" (17), and "Funeral" (20). Now, in stark contrast to Bobby's intensity and darkness, Joseph's theme is music-box like, innocent and even playful: "Bobby Sees Joe" (15), "Bobby and Joe Talk" (21).  Evoking audible elements of both light and dark, Kilar's score in itself successfully captures, if not creates, a tragic-grey mood that hangs over every one of his tracks.

So there we have it. Both sides of the coin. The light and the dark. The law and the lawbreaker. The Yin and the gang. Lakeshore's release capture's the essence of WE OWN THE NIGHT, a film that didn't quite execute what it set out to accomplish. WOJCIECH KILAR executes his duties pretty well and if this was a score album alone it would likely warrant a more generous rating of 6/10. But it's not. If you are in an introspective mood, then you'll likely enjoy Kilar's work here and If you are into some eclectic reminiscing then you'll be quite taken with the first half of this soundtrack.  But taken together WE OWN THE NIGHT ends up a rather odd listening experience.

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Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Heart of Glass - Blondie 5:48  **
2 Let's Dance - David Bowie 4:08  **
3 Rapture - Blondie 6:28  **
4 Message to You Rudy - The Specials 2:53  **
5 A Little Bit of Soap - The Jarmels 2:14  **
6 Que Pasa/ Me No Pop - Coati Mundi 6:20  **
7 Should I - Louis Prima 2:03  **
8 Maraca - Descarga Total 6:03  **
9 I Ain't Got Nobody - Louis Prima and Keely Smith 4:38  **
10 Mambo Diablo - Tito Puente 4:10  **
11 I'll Be Seeing You - Jackie Gleason 3:03  **
12 Club Raid 1:31  ***
13 Dad Visits Bobby 1:30  ***
14 Boddy Gets News 0:43  ***
15 Bobby Sees Joe 2:08  ***
16 Bobby Kiss Amanda 1:25  ***
17 Bobby Breaks Leg 1:46  ***
18 Vadim Escapes 2:59  ***
19 Burt Dies 1:03  ***
20 Funeral 1:08  ***
21 Bobby and Joe Talk 0:50  ***
22 Planning the Bust 1:48  ***
23 Vadim Dies 2:46  ***
24 End Credits 2:56  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 70 minutes  




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