Thor Ragnarok composer interview

When he was hired to compose the score for Thor: Ragnarok, Mark Mothersbaugh was well aware that Marvel Studios has been hammered with criticism about bland and unoriginal scores for their superhero movies. So when he met with director Taika Waititi, Mothersbaugh put a two-pronged plan in place: to live up to the scores they’d done previously, but also to widen the scope and bring something new to the table that we hadn’t heard in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before.

For the former frontman of the successful new wave band Devo and someone who has since scored over 190 films, video games, and TV shows, this was a new challenge. But Mothersbaugh rose to the occasion and ended up crafting a score that complements Waititi’s comedic approach to the mythological hero and his journey. I spoke with the composer by phone to talk about his approach to the material, “quoting” Michael Giacchino’s Doctor Strange score, working on the David S. Pumpkins animated Halloween special, and more.
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Mark Mothersbaugh to Score ‘Thor: Ragnarok’

thor ragnarok score

Marvel Studios has had a music problem for nearly a decade now. Say what you will about Warner Bros.’ recent wave of DC movies (I’ve certainly said my fair share), but at least Hans Zimmer’s Man of Steel score is an instantly identifiable piece of music that captures its lead character. For all of their various charms, the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been grossly lacking in strong scores. Other than Tony Stark liking AC/DC and some occasionally stirring melodies in the Captain America movies, the heroes of the MCU have been deprived of music that matches their heroic actions.

And it’s starting to look like Marvel Studios is starting to do something about it. First, Michael Giacchino was hired to compose the score for the upcoming Doctor Strange, a promising sign for a movie that begs to have a unique score. Now, a new report claims that Mark Mothersbaugh will be lending his distinctive sound to Thor: Ragnarok.

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in & of itself - In and Of Itself

A couple years ago, two-time Close-Up Magician of the Year Derek DelGaudio and Helder Guimarães broke records at Los Angeles’ Geffen Theatre with their magic show Nothing To Hide. That production was extended to 144 performances, breaking daily and weekly box office sales, and grossing more than $1 million before moving to New York City. It was one of those little shows that became the thing to see in LA. When I saw it, the theater was filled with a who’s who of Hollywood, all there to see exactly what everyone was talking about. And the show itself, in many ways was about that — about having a special experience with a small group of people, untethered by technology, that couldn’t be taken in anywhere else.

So when Derek DelGaudio announced he would be returning to the Geffen with a new show called In & Of Itself, directed by Frank Oz (The Muppet Studio legend who voiced/performed Yoda and directed many great films in his own right) and featuring an original score by Mark Mothersbaugh (the Devo co-founder who has composed so many great film and television scores over the last three decades, but with notable contributions to Wes Anderson’s films), I knew I had to see it.

And in the months leading up to the show, there has been very little information revealed about what it would even entail. In place of a description, Geffen’s own programing magazine features a one page handwritten letter from Derek explaining why he was unable to write one for this show. Last night I saw the opening night performance, and I can tell you that In & Of Itself is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before.

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Pixar and Disney commander John Lasseter has already directed a few shorts based in his Cars universe, and now he’s got a new one about to debut. Heavy Metal Mater is directed by Lasseter and Rob Gibbs, and will premiere on Friday on the Disney Channel. More details after the break. Read More »

A new Pixar short in the Cars Toon series will premiere on the Disney Channel on July 30th at 9:30pm. The latest of Mater’s tall tales is titled Monster Truck Mater. More information after the jump.

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New Pixar Cars Short: Unidentified Flying Mater

Directed John Lasseter, Pixar’s co-founder and director of Toy Story 1 & 2, A Bug’s Life and Cars (along with co-director Rob Gibbs), Unidentified Flying Mater is the fifth in a series of Cars short films (originally titled “Cars-toons”). The computer animated short premiered on The Disney Channel on Friday, November 20th 2009.

Mater tells a tall tale about the time he met a UFO and saved him from a group of government scientists in this Cars Toon. Mater finds a small UFO called Mator and they have a night out. When Mator is captured by the military forces, Mater saves him with the help of Lightning McQueen and Mator’s mother.

Also of note: An older press release claims that Mark Mothersbaugh (”Devo”) composed the music for the short film. Watch the full short film, embedded after the jump.

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TIFF Review: Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

Many people have drawn a comparison between Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Juno, due to the hand drawn opening title sequence / poster title, Michael Cera and a focus on indie pop music. It also doesnt help that Norah screens at the Toronto a year after Juno premiered at the Film Festival. But Nick and Norah is nothing like Juno.

The teen comedy genre has always placed one step below Horror movies on the meter of public respect, probably because there are so many bad ones. I’ve always had a soft spot for high school films, and have had to defend the genre over the years to friends and family, touting Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Can’t Hardly Wait, Go and most recently Superbad as examples of what the genre can produce with the right talents involved. I’ve noticed that many of the teen films I’ve enjoyed, tend to happen over the course of one night. Nick and Norah is no different.

Nick (Michael Cera) is still trying to get over a six month relationship by making the 12th volume of a mix CD for his uninterested bitchy ex-girlfriend. After playing a gig with his queencore band The Jerk Offs (sans drummer), Norah (Kat Dennings) abruptly asks Nick to be her boyfriend for five minutes in order to show up her condescending friend Tris. And so the adventure begins. Norah’s drunk girlfriend gets lost in New York City while the duo goes on the hunt to find Fluffy’s secret show in Nick’s crappy little yellow car. And this is only the beginning.

Adapted from the novel by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is good but not great. I have a feeling that it could have been better if they had stuck closer to the source material. In the book, it is Nick, not Norah, who asks for the five-minute relationship in an attempt to show his ex, who has showed up at his gig with a new guy, that he has also moved on. The reasoning behind the moment in the film seems very forced and contrived. It’s also never made clear why Tris went out with Nick in the first place. The six month relationship is unbelievable, even if she spent the whole time cheating on him. Maybe she was impressed that he is in a band.

What the film does get right is the wonderful little moments of a blossoming relationship, for example, one sweet moment when Nick offers to washes off Norah’s hands with a wet nap that he got at a resturant the week before. But the fantastical story gets in the way too often. Kat Dennings is the perfect go-to non-perfect girl you can’t help but love, and Michael Cera elevates the film with the wonderfully awkward comic timing we have come to enjoy. Mark Mothersbaugh provides a magical synth-pop score. Oh, and did I mention there is a small cameo by SNL’s Andy Samberg.

/Film Rating: 7 out of 10