Music has always been an integral part of our movie going experience but this week we’ll spend some time with videos that show us how music, when used appropriately, can elevate the cinematic experience to new, heartbreaking, earth-shattering heights.
There are few movies I’ve watched more times than Grosse Pointe Blank. I first saw it at a perfect age, where I was still in high school and developing my appreciation for action and dark comedy. It tells the story of Martin (John Cusack), a neurotic hit man who returns to Michigan for his ten-year high school reunion. His anxiety is twofold: not only is he wanted by the law and other killers, but he worries about his inevitable run-in with Debi (Minnie Driver), the girl he abandoned on prom night. Now Debi works as a local DJ, and in honor of the reunion she’s broadcasting all 80s music, all weekend long. The soundtrack for Grosse Point Blank is one of my favorites, as it combines 80s classics with forgotten hits.
In this scene, Martin is at the reunion and stops by his old locker. After discovering a joint he stashed away, he abruptly starts fighting a fellow hit-man. The soundtrack is “Mirror in the Bathroom” by The English Beat. We hear the song in the background at first, then the tension of horns and guitar gets louder as the men exchange blows. It’s a terrific fight sequence – Cusack and the other man sell the tough physical work of hand-to-hand combat – and the soundtrack undercuts the suspense before it accentuates the tension seconds later. The skirmish ends with a flash of horrific violence as the horns blare, so both the action and music reach their climax simultaneously. The song grows quiet as blood drains from the man’s body, but the relief is only temporary since Debi immediately discovers Martin with the body. Grosse Pointe Blank is filled with great musical moments like this, making it hard to pick just one, yet this is my favorite due to my nostalgic appreciation of ska and well-choreographed action.