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It took me long enough but it wasn't until recently that I fell in love with film soundtracks. Obviously, they have a profound influence on navigation of the tones and moods of the story's narrative and it seems like 2015 was yet another exceptional year for soundtracks especially to someone like me who wasn't aware of their significant roles previously. So here we go, I picked five film soundtracks that not only influenced the narration but also were a powerful and singular character in the film. I'm sure you can guess a few of them now but let's go!

Ryan Gosling's directorial debut film, Lost River, may have went over many people's heads but without a doubt, the film score by Johnny Jewel is one that will bring feverish nightmares or ethereal serenity to some. If I were stuck in a romanticized version of the post-apocalypse, I would want this soundtrack to be blasting on every decrepit street corner. You can tell he got some major inspiration from working with Nicolas Winding Refn especially on Only God Forgive. And before you disregard Gosling's directing chops, I suggest you watch this film for yourself. (See Review)

Favorite tune to dance to while a building burns down: Tell Me - Johnny Jewel

There is no film this year that has a more in-your-face soundtrack and one that acts like its very own wild character than in Sean Baker's Tangerine. The tone of the film would've been drastically different had it not been the trap music amongst the most prominent sounds that introduced us into the wild wild west of the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Highland. What is more surprising is that Baker utilized such a boisterous soundtrack in Tangerine which vastly contracts from his previous works where there were little to no music involved. I'm thrilled he got his inspiration from seeing Wolftyla's vine. (See Review)

#1 song I want playing while I enter my High School reunion looking fly as hell: Taliban - Haterade & Skellism

If Mad Max: Fury Road isn't 2015's best film of the year, I don't know what is! I know some were peeved that Brian May of the music composer of the OG Mad Max and Road Warrior didn't return for Fury Road but hey, Junkie XL, the composer of Fury Road did one hell of a job! It perfectly captures the impending and current shitshow that is going down as Feminists across the land reclaim back their freedom in the most glorious and earth-shattering fashion! It is THE most perfect soundtrack to the grandest of cat and mouse chases!

Perfect anthem to play while I continue to handle my shit and stomp on patriarchy!: Storm Is Coming

In Duke of Burgundy, The characters and music seem to be speaking the same language and dancing to the same beats. The sultry tunes of the seduction and power play within this provocative relationship continues to make bewildering rounds around us with every ringing chord. It helps guide the audience through the ebbs and flow of this strange dynamic, causing the characters and audience alike to be entranced and entangled in this ever growing enigma. But underneath it's dream-like melodies, there is a deep sense of melancholia that fills the titillating air.

Melody I'd like to hear while dancing like a gypsy in my sun-soaked living room on a Sunday afternoon: Opening Credit Song 

It Follows is one of the best horror films of this decade. While that might be a big statement, it’s the swift precision of the narrative, cinematography, and especially the soundtrack that propels this film to the top of many top film lists. The soundtrack music by Disasterpeace elevates this claustrophobic and anxiety-inducing story to suffocating heights with it’s piercing instrumentals and skin-crawling melodies. The music reigns supreme in this story and it's a beast that cannot be tamed! You have been warned!

Melody I’d like playing when I’m having an existential crisis aka SOMEONE IS TRYING TO MURDER ME (How perfect): Detroit

Other soundtracks like Kumiko the Treasure Hunter, Victoria, Only Lovers Left Alive and many others deserve recognition for providing a stellar soundtrack that help gear the narrative in such magnificent ways. It’s incredible how a bunch of curated tracks could truly make a film that much better by either helping the audience understand the emotional state of a character or just to heighten the mood even that much deeper. I cannot wait to see what next year will provide because by the looks of it, it’s going to be a tough year to follow up!
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This may be the most obvious statement of this year but Jeremy Saulnier is one of the most promising and visionary upcoming American filmmakers today. There's no denying his masterful and innovative storytelling chops especially after seeing his gritty and slow-burning thriller, Blue Ruin (See review). Now he's back with his third feature film, Green Room which is about a young punk rock band who find themselves trapped in a secluded roadhouse after witnessing a horrific act of violence committed by murderous white supremacists. And yeah, Patrick Stewart is their neo-nazi ring leader! Hold on tight, cause this trailer is a bumpy one!

This film basically has all the qualities of a film that I would DIIIIIIIIE for! A punk rock band (check), hotties Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat (check), a death fight against a terrifying neo-nazi gang out to drink your blood while you're completely secluded in an abandoned warehouse?! (CHECK!). As expected, it seems like Saulnier has crafted another brilliantly suspenseful thriller that'll have me gnawing my whole hand off by the looks of the trailer. I'm always down for premises that channel some The Raid: Redemption vibes so bring it on! A24 (love u) is releasing Green Room on April 1st. I'll be there with my bat in hand. 

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Year: 2015
Director: Hou Hsiao-Hsien
Writer: Ah Cheng, Chu T'ien-wen, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Hsieh Hai-Meng, Pei Xing (short story)
Cinematographer: Lee Ping Bin
Cast: Shu Qi, Chang Chen, Tsumabuki Satoshi
Country of Origin: China/France
Time: 105 min.

Sal from Crome Yellow and I got to witness one of the most beautiful films of this year at Beyond Fest which is Hou Hsiao-Hsien's The Assassin. In ninth-century China, an exiled assassin must choose between love and her duty when she is ordered to kill a man from her past. This is unlike any other martial arts film you have ever seen! The film showcases the most stunning and breathtaking cinematography that will transport you through time and space to witness a story truly visionary and masterful. Any fan of Hou knows the steady pace he utilizes and to some it may be too slow, but with these kind of rich visuals, who cares!

The Assassin is China's official entry to the Oscars for Best Foreign Language film. It might have some serious competition with Deniz Gamze Erg├╝ven's Mustang from France but regardless, you should experience these two singularly powerful films for themselves. I had a chance to go to a q&a with Hou a day after where he went over his filmography and filmmaking style. All I can say is that he is such a wacky cat! I need to definitely to check out his previous works because if they are anything like The Assassin, I am in for a real treat! 

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