Top positive review
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Flawed, yet Lush with tried and true jazz ballads
on September 24, 2000
There's some dissenting viewpoints on the idea of putting dialogue into soundtrack albums, and unfortunately, Leaving Las Vegas won't be winning over any of those critics. Unlike the Pulp Fiction soundtrack, which has a comedic flavor to it and weaves the dialogue perfectly between the music, with an emotional score like the one used in Leaving Las Vegas, words can only detract, and too many words only spoil. Some of the dialogue, while interesting and bringing us back to scenes from the movie, is more often than not superfluous, and doesn't add a great deal to the musical experience. It's almost a cross between watching the movie and listening to the music *from* the movie. But that's what the producers felt was right, and I'm not going to say it's unlistenable (unlike one professional review I read which gave this soundtrack 1 star because of this). There's just too much great music on this album to give it anything less than 4 stars. I secretly wanted some dialogue to be on this soundtrack, as the events in the film are tightly woven into the musical flow, but just not as much, so let's just leave it at that.
As for the music itself, it's an emotionally aching experience, intercepted by periods of nostalgia and joy--just like the movie itself. Mike Figgis, who produced, directed, and wrote the original score for the film, is obviously a real jazz hound, as he put some real gems into his movie. Having 2 great singers to re-interpret old jazz standards was another ingenious idea. All the songs performed by Sting and Don Henly were written by some greats:
Angel Eyes (written by Matt Dennis and Earl Brent)
My One and Only Love (written by Robert Mellin and Guy Wood)
Come Rain or Come Shine (written by Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen)
It's A Lonesome Old Town (written by Harry Tobias and Charles Kisco)
This soundtrack is a great introduction to good jazz. So if you liked these songs, I suggest you search out more by these artists. But as for how how this soundtrack stands up on its own, I have to say I couldn't afford NOT to get this CD. It truly is music that transcends mere soundtrack status and can become an anthem for those days when not everything is going well, when not everything you do gets a stamp of approval from those around you, when the world seems to be an empty place and you feel all alone, yet you can still smile wickedly like Nicholas Cage's character and say, "Maybe I shouldn't breathe so much..? Ah-haaaa!" (the soundtrack would not have been complete *without* this dialogue segment--track 8, "Burlesque")
If you connected with the film at any level more than as mere movie entertainment, if you could connect with either characters at a deeper poetic level, then you will connect with this music as well. And if you look at this for more than a mere CD, a mere soundtrack album, but as an experience, an experience in itself, an equal to watching the movie itself, then a little dialogue is very welcome. So you have to bring a bit of yourself to the listening experience. I gave the objective viewpoint in the beginning of this review, and now I end with a very subjective analysis of my own experience with this music. As for me, nothing less than 5 stars will do this album justice.