Album: Erin Brockovich: Motion Picture Soundtrack

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Erin Brockovich: Motion Picture Soundtrack

Artist: Thomas Newman
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Label: Sony

In scoring Steven Soderbergh’s litigation-themed hit (wherein Julia Roberts’ tough-as-nails/sexy-mom character claws her way to an entry-level legal assistant job, then brings a multi-billion dollar industrial polluter to its knees), Thomas Newman again stakes his claim as Hollywood’s most consistently inventive young composer. Or make that reinventive—Newman breaths fresh life into the traditional, theme-based scoring concept (perhaps not surprisingly; his father Alfred Newman was one of Hollywood’s Golden Age masters), imbuing the film’s characters with…

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In scoring Steven Soderbergh’s litigation-themed hit (wherein Julia Roberts’ tough-as-nails/sexy-mom character claws her way to an entry-level legal assistant job, then brings a multi-billion dollar industrial polluter to its knees), Thomas Newman again stakes his claim as Hollywood’s most consistently inventive young composer. Or make that reinventive—Newman breaths fresh life into the traditional, theme-based scoring concept (perhaps not surprisingly; his father Alfred Newman was one of Hollywood’s Golden Age masters), imbuing the film’s characters with deceptively simple yet distinctly modern minimalist motifs that pulse with dramatic energy. Using a mix of electric and acoustic pianos and his by-now-familiar array of eclectic, sometimes exotic, percussion wed to an astute mastery of studio technique, Newman gets inside the narrative and drives it with masterful subtlety. Another bonus: Sheryl Crow’s “Everyday Is a Winding Road” and “Redemption Day” seem an organic part of Newman’s score rather than tacked-on marketing afterthoughts. All in all, it’s another gem from American cinema’s musical Zen master. —Jerry McCulley

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Film:Erin Brockovich

Erin Brockovich

Steven Soderbergh

Much will be made of Julia Roberts’s wardrobe in Erin Brockovich—a brash parade of daring hemlines and Wonderbra confidence. Roberts is unabashedly sexy in the title role of this fact-based comedy-drama, but she and director Steven Soderbergh are far too intelligent to rely solely on high heels and cleavage. Susannah Grant’s brassy screenplay fuels this winning combination of star, director, and material, firing on all pistons with maximum efficiency. With Ed Lachman, his noted cinematographer from The Limey, Soderbergh tackles this A-list project…

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