Retro-Loop: Songs From The London Film Festival


The section in which we remember our favourite not new music is dedicated this week to the, still warm, musical memories brought by the films shown at the London Film Festival.

A fantastic programme comprising around 240 films was always going to be a good occasion for soundtracks to shine and this year has been no exception. Excellent work from Nicolas Jaar in Jacques Audiard’ Cannes Palm D’or winner ‘Dheepan’; Nils Frahm in the German thriller ‘Victoria’; Junkie XL adding a touch of the contemporary to gangster biopic ‘Black Mass’; Carter Burwell evocative score for ‘Carol’ or Michael Brook’s charming work in “Brooklyn” stood out; all of which new and soon to be getting the attention they deserve.

Among the songs from the past rescued by this year’s films we found terrific renditions of such classics as the Rolling Stones ‘Emotional Rescue’ by Ralph Fiennes in “A Bigger Splash’; Olivia Colman & Garry Mountaine in a deadpan karaoke performance of Gene Pitney’s ‘Something’s gotten hold of my heart’ for ‘The Lobster’ or Jennifer Jason Leigh doing an acoustic take in English and Italian of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls just want to have fun’ as part of Charlie Kauffman’s animated masterpiece ‘Anomalisa’, this edition’s surprise film.

Elsewhere songs by Billie Holiday; Mark Kozelek; The Fall; Tindersticks; Dead Kennedys ; Sparks or Songhoy Blues, as well as a terrific, yet to be released cover of Abba’s ‘S.O.S’ by Bristol finest Portishead, also grabbed our attention.

Check our brand (not) new, cinematic retro loop here

(From the "ARABIAN NIGHTS" trilogy)

Miguel Gomes’ epic trilogy about the misery caused by austerity policies in Portugal has a soundtrack that ranges from Fado to Lionel Ritchie and pretty much covers everything in between. 'Perfidia', the Nat "King" Cole hit, serves as a musical link between its many chapters, appearing in all three parts with several versions and genres. This reggae version performed by Phillis Dyson stands up among the rest.

(From "CAROL" )

The unforgettable scene where Rooney Mara plays Billie Holiday at the piano for an enamoured Cate Blanchett is still one of the most vivid memories from the masterful Todd Haynes film.

SPARKS-The Final Derriere

The hilarious song Sparks wrote for Guy Maddin's latest extraordinary project is used in one of its many b-movie inspired films within the film, the one with Udo Kier fighting an unhealthy obsession with, eerm yes, bottoms.


One of the funniest moments in Athina Rachel Tsangari's comic study of men rivalry, winner of the official competition, shows the less alpha male within a group of friends testing each other's abilities in unforgettable mimic rendition of Minnie Riperton’s ‘Loving You’. Enough to put the rising levels of testosterone between competing men to rest.

ROLLING STONES-Emotional Rescue

An abrasive Ralph Fiennes as the record producer reunited with former flame and rock diva, Tilda Swinton, was in total show-stealing mode as he let his hair down emulating Mick Jagger’s moves and ‘Emotional Rescue’ vocal falsetto.

LOU REED-Turning Time Around

Although dedicated to her rat terrier Lolabelle, the memory of Laurie Anderson’s late partner Lou Reed pervades her uplifting meditation on life and loss. Anderson’s new documentary ends up with a dedication to his magnificent spirit and one of the rock legend’s classics playing during the end credits.

Paolo Sorrentino has always put great care in his films’ soundtracks. His latest follows a pattern initiated in ‘The Great Beauty’. An eclectic mix of sublime choral and classical pieces with trashy pop and dance, all laced with the works of alternative songwriters. Among the latter, Sun Kil Moon’s Mark Kozelek, also featured in the film as one of the night entertainers for the moneyed clientele of the Swiss balneary where Caine and Keytel are staying.

DEAD KENNEDYS-Nazi Punks Fuck Off
(Covered by the starring band in "GREEN ROOM")

When a skint hardcore band on tour accepts a gig in the middle of nowhere in a desperate attempt to cover expenses, they soon find out the venue is a gathering point for Nazi punks so they give them a warm reception by covering The Dead Kennedy’s anti-fascism anthem. Predictably, hell breaks loose.

DJ KOZE-Marilyn Whirlwind

The German heist film shot in a single take has a great original score written by Nils Frahm that matches its technical achievements by perfectly underlining the film’s constantly changing tone. It also features a couple of recent dance favourites by DJ Koze, during the scenes shot in one of Berlin’s nightclubs.

BOB DYLAN-Shelter From The Storm

Danny Boyle’s intense, operatic portrait of the controversial Apple mogul, built upon the three product launches that shaped his career, ends up with Bob Dylan’s calming things down during the closing credits.

MARC ALMOND & GENE PITNEY-Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart
(Covered by Olivia Colman & Garry Mountaine in "THE LOBSTER" )

Full of memorable musical moments, Lanthimos’ superb metaphor about the ways society pigeonholes and rules our relationships offers the chance to watch Colin Farrell mumbling Nick Cave’s ‘Where The Wild Roses Grow’ or a hilariously deadpan karaoke rendition of this Gene Pitney classic.


The story of reclusive writer David Foster Wallace and the journalist who followed him on a book's promotional tour to write a report for Rolling stone underlines Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg’s superb performances with a nicely curated selection of 90’s alternative classics. Tindersticks covering Pavement’s achingly melancholic ‘Here’ is one of the standouts.

SONGHOY BLUES-All Hassidi Terei

This superb documentary about the great musical tradition of Mali, forced into exile when the north of the country was taken over by fundamentalists, narrates the struggles of several Malian artists, the most famous of which is this supergroup currently earning raves across the world.

THE FALL-Mr Pharmacist

Stephen Frears added a pertinent touch of genius by using this Fall classic as background for his account of Lance Armstrong’s performance enhancing drug scandal. The Program also features some other great rock classics from the 80’s, including a no less ironic ending with Leonard Cohen’s ‘Everybody Knows’.

CYNDI LAUPER-Girls Just Want To Have Fun (Covered by Jennifer Jason Leigh in "ANOMALISA")

Kauffman impresses once again with this animated marvel inspired by the symptons of the Fregoli syndrome. It counts with Jennifer Jason Leigh voicing one of the characters and tackling Cyndi Lauper’s classic ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’, both in English and in an enchanting Italian version.

(Covered by Portishead in the "HIGH-RISE")

Among the many surprises on offer in this divisive adaptation of JG Ballard’s dystopia, we found Portishead with a magnificent dark cover of ABBA’s seventies hit ‘S.O.S’. Beth Gibbons’ voice adds a whole new layer of pain and desperation to the bittersweet original.

THELMA HOUSTON-Don't Leave Me This Way

A careful collection of Seventies tracks goes back to back with Junkie XL's score of this James "Whitey" Bulger’s biopic. Among them, we found Johnny Depp engaging in his gangster business to the disco sounds of Thelma Houston’s popular take on Harold Melvin & The Blue notes classic.


Although Jia Zhangke’s reflection on China’ s recent past, present and future begins and ends with a colourful choreography of The Pet Shop Boys ‘Go West’; this Chinese ballad from the 80s is the common link between the three parts of his excellent latest epic.

BIG JAY MCNEELY-Willie The Cool Cat
(From "TRUMBO")

The biopic of the infamously blacklisted screenwriter who went to win two Oscars under pseudonym contains a selection of timeless blues and jazz classics from the forties.

ARVO PÄRT / BRITTEN QUARTET-Fratres For String Quartet
(From "THE CLUB")

Chilean auteur Pablo Larraín’s darkly allegorical film uses religious hymns and classical works by Arvo Pärt and The Britten Quartet to underline its piercing criticism against the ways the religious institution deals with its black sheep.


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