Composer Christopher Lennertz Blows You Away

By Alice O’Neill

Composer Christopher Lennertz.

Composer Christopher Lennertz.

Award-winning composer Christopher Lennertz is still receiving accolades for his score of Ride Along, Universal Pictures’ buddy-cop action comedy starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart. The popular comedy marks Lennertz’s second collaboration with director Tim Story. Previously working together on Think Like A Man, Lennertz and Story are also working on Think Like A Man Too which hits theatres this summer. Ride Along proved a hit with fans when it opened in theaters nationwide. It is available Apr 15, 2014 on in Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD with Ultra Violet. Pre-order customer reviews, based on their seeing the movie in local theatres, looks to set new records for DVD sales. Lennertz’ original motion picture soundtrack is now available on Varèse Sarabande Records. It is a top seller.

What blows people away is getting inside the composer’s heart and head. Check out the gifted composer in this video, where he reveals his true genius for understanding emotions and music that projects them in THANKS FOR SHARING”>

Chris Lennertz Conducting Orchestra

Chris Lennertz Conducting Orchestra

Ride Along follows a fast-talking slacker (Hart) who must join his girlfriend’s brother (Ice Cube) —a hot-tempered cop—to patrol the streets of Atlanta. As he gets entangled in the officer’s latest case, he must survive the most insane 24 hours of his life to prove that he deserves his future bride. Lennertz wrote a comedic score, adding to the attitude necessary for the film’s action sequences. “Having worked with Tim previously, this film was the perfect situation for me. You have Kevin as the funny guy and Ice Cube as the straight shooter, which makes it the job of the music to enhance the energy of both of those characters” Lennertz says, adding that for Ice Cube’s character, he incorporated ’90s hip-hop influences, whereas for Kevin’s character, he harked back to the classic ‘80s cop comedies.

This composer does not sit in an ivory tower. He observes and lives a purposeful life, and brings to bear on his compositions all the nuances of human emotions. Being happily married with two young children in western Massachusetts grounds him.

Watch for more news of Lennertz, who is currently working on other projects.


Composer Marc Canham Entices, Teaches and Thrills

By Alice O’Neill

In a private phone interview from Oxfordshire, England, Marc Canham revealed how he composed music for the new hit video game, inFamous: Second Son. And he gleefully exposed some of the secret sources of his mesmerizing musical sounds.

Info you should know: Canham’s brilliantly scored Sony Entertainment’s inFamous: Second Son, exclusively on Playstation 4, is in stores now. Currently the #1 game in the UK, the game is quickly gaining fans in the U.S. and beyond. Also contributing to the soundtrack are composers Brain (You know him as the Guns N’ Roses drummer) and Nathan Johnson (film compositions for Looper, and Don Jon).

What Players Can Expect

Composer Marc Canham. Photo used by permission.

Composer Marc Canham. Photo used by permission.

The game is set in Seattle, seven years after the ending of inFamous 2. Players control Deslin Rowe, a local 24 year-old slacker graffiti artist. After an encounter with a “Conduit” (someone with supernatural powers), Deslin becomes one himself, and begins to use his powers to fight the Department of Unified Protection, a government organization out to destroy all Conduits.

Sounds Of Second Son

For the sheer fun of discovering Canham’s musical soul, go listen to some of his work. The inFamous: Second Son soundtrack is on Sumthing Else Music Works. Hear a free sample at

What you’ll hear is proof that Canham is at the top of his craft and art. A composer of music for both films and video games, he is at home discussing music with anyone with an interest to listen, from music students to professional musicians and composers. As an ex-English literature teacher I found an apt analogy in listening to Canham. Just as Shakespeare intended his plays to appeal to the groundlings as well as the professors of literature, so too Canham intends to entertain gamers and listeners of all degrees of knowledge and appreciation. In terms of musical education I’m a groundling. But Canham nourished my musical soul.

Film Music Favorites

“People know about film music because film music has been around for over seventy years,” Canham told me. “So, they have their favorites. Soundtracks are becoming very important to people’s lives. Think of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Batman. Out of Africa, composed by John Barry. That and other film music is actually being played at people’s weddings,” Canham added. He believes that “games music is sort of catching onto the coattails of film music a little bit and becoming an established art form inside the gaming industry.” He reminded me that it’s only been about 15 or 20 years that people have music they’ll play for themselves and compare to their film school experience or albums they listen to at home. That’s video game music.

Golden Age of Games Scoring

Canham explained that we’re in kind of a golden age of games scoring, where funds and resources are being made available to make music for these scores. “And,” he added, “this music is attaching itself to a whole new generation. I explain to people that I got into music because I loved listening to the James Bond soundtracks. Now people say, ‘I love the music of Call of Duty or Uncharted or Journey’ – all video games.” Canham agrees that video games as a genre represents a flourishing new area of music soundtracks. “People are starting to get more and more into it,” he told me, “which is so exciting to see it evolve.“

“With the right music accompanying it the game comes across in its best possible light,” Canham told me. “The game isn’t an excuse for me to put music on top of everything; the game is an excuse to put music within it—to make all the emotive moments be even more emotive.”

How Music Enhances Video Games

He explained by giving me a vivid example. “A good test is when people come into my studio,” he said. “These are people who are in the profession, have a technical understanding of music. I’ll play them a five-minute scene with the music off and ask them what they think. So all they hear is the dialogue and the sound effects. And they’ll give me some answers. Then I’ll play the same five-minute scene with the music on. The conversation will be ten times as long because they’ll be attached emotionally. And the attachment is far, far greater and deeper, thanks to the music! That’s the difference. “

Canham said he likes the phrase “composers are the servants to the film, or game.” Always he feels it’s his job to serve the emotional component.

I explained that as a non-musician I still have a great appreciation of classical music. My question: “Isn’t all music grounded in classical composition?”

Good Music Shares From Other Music

Canham answered as if explaining his favorite subject to an avid student. “Music is all about taking what’s happened before and interpreting it in new ways. That’s how music evolves,” he said. “You very rarely get a sudden moment in time where a new kind of music hits your ears. It’s all about this metamorphosis of sound, over centuries, really. So, medieval music through to baroque, to modern classical, to electronica—they all hold hands in some way.” A brief pause and he added, “Good music is good music. It all shares something from what’s gone before. That’s one of the lovely things about music. It’s not a bad thing to say that you’re influenced by someone. The classical composers were very open about being influenced to the point where they would take a small part of somebody else’s music and play on it to create a whole new piece of music. And sometimes that new piece of music would be far more popular than the original, where it came from.”

“And we do that today,” Canham explained. “That’s how we operate as human beings. And music operates on a very human level, so it’s no surprise that this goes on. So, yes, I’m heavily influenced by classical music.”

If you listen to Canham’s soundtracks (films and games) you see that he has a voice, a style that people can identify. “Well, that’s my aim, at least,” he says.

Canham’s Style

“I will take interesting bits of world music – like from Africa, interesting classical pieces from centuries ago, from the modern classical movement (started in the 30s, 40s and 50s—which sounds very different from music a hundred years before that). Then I try to put it in a big cauldron, and hope something pleasant comes out the other side. It’s a bit like cooking, I find,” he says with a laugh. “The more interesting the ingredients I can put together and deliver a delicious pitch, the more proud I am with the end.”

I asked Canham to speak to gamers, those who recognize him and his prodigious output of games music. What about inFamous: Second Son?

Canham explained, “The lovely thing about inFamous: Second Son is I had the chance to really experiment for quite a long period at the beginning of the project, trying to create this collision of influences.”

Collision Of Influences

He said his team went out to multi-story car parks to get reverb effects. “We went and destroyed mail boxes, and cars, and we took some of those sounds and we went into a studio where we had a drum kit made out of all sorts of things you’d never see on a traditional drum kit. There was an oil can, pots and pans, bits of machinery. So we recorded those.”

And then they had a great cellist perform for their recording, Martin Tillman, who played on many of Hans Zimmer soundtracks. “He put his cello through amazing effects units that had delays, and echoes and reverbs,” Canham said. “This amazingly classically-trained cellist created strange, weird, other-worldly sounds with this cello that you wouldn’t necessarily think were coming from a cello. Then we had a traditional drummer come and play on a drum kit. And a traditional guitarist came in and played. And then back in my studio here in the U.K. I recorded my synthesizer, my acoustic guitars, and some strange instruments I picked up from around the world.”

“And so, inFamous: Second Son is a very eclectic mix of sounds,” he said. “My objective was to try and create something that is challenging in the right way that makes sense as music, but also that is very interesting for the listeners because every time they listen to it they’ll hear something different. Reactions are like ‘What’s that sound?’ and ‘Never heard a sound like that before.’ So, Second Son is a real melting pot of centuries of musical ideas, all colliding in one go, which is quite an interesting concept, I think, for a project.”

I wondered, even in the midst of such extraordinary creativity, if there was ever a head-scratching moment– anything that gave him a great challenge?

Head-Scratching Moment

Canham laughed, remembering. “We were very conscious of the fact that we did not want it to sound like a grunge sound from Seattle,” he began, “but we wanted it to feel like Seattle. We wanted the attitude. But we didn’t want it to sound like Nirvana. So we thought how do you distill the attitude of Seattle out and then drop it into a different melting pot of musical styles.” He paused, and quickly added, “And yet still retain that slightly imperfect, slightly rusty-around-the-edges effect? Getting that right was the hardest thing.”

I mused aloud, “And you’re happy with the outcome?”

Canham exclaimed, “I’m extremely happy with the outcome. It’s always nice – you tend to have a few months after the project is finished—you’ve handed in your cues, and development theme at PlayStation. Now, you get busy sort of trying to fit it into the game because obviously it’s interactive which is very different from the linear medium of film. There is still work to do.”

PlayStation’s Task

“The PlayStation people have a task after I finish,” he said, “which is to mold it into the game so that it reacts to the players’ emotions and movements. So, yeah, I had two months away from the score, pretty much, and then I had to listen to it again last week, when the soundtrack came out. And I was so proud. It just sounded so fresh. It didn’t sound like anything else and that’s a good thing to have about your music. I could hear its influences, but it sounded like its own thing. So if you heard it [apart from playing the game] you wouldn’t know it was Second Son.”

“Sometimes,” Canham continued, “in video games and in films, a lot of the time a very ‘wallpaper-esque’ music is used to basically make you feel the emotion. Whereas, Second Son feels very crafted and purposely very well-thought-out. And at PlayStation they are willing to push the boundaries and do new things. They understand when they have an opportunity to do very creative, new and challenging music. And this is one of those projects.”

Parents’ Criticism

I wondered about parents’ criticism that video games are too violent–detrimental to teenagers. I said I’d heard such comments.

Canham Answers Criticism

Canham was ready to take that on. “The thing you have to be cautious with is that the games don’t take over your life,” he said. “You wouldn’t stay in a room for 24 hours, nonstop, and watch films. So, it’s not healthy to do the same thing with video games. I lean toward the very narrative-driven story type games, rather than games that really don’t have much of a purpose to them. I like a story. I like films that have a great narrative that moves me, and therefore, I like games that do a similar thing.”

Games Are Mentally Nourishing

“There are some fantastically engaging, entertaining, thought-provoking games out there,” he said, “ which will deliver to the gamer as much as a great film will, in terms of mental nourishment. It’s not a bad thing to play games,” he said, quite definitively. “You can’t do broad strokes like that. The same thing happened with rap music. It went through a phase where it was just considered bad. The advisory warnings on the boxes were essentially health warnings for children.” Laughs.

My question: “So, that’s no longer the case?”

“Exactly,” he said. “Similarly, games have overcome negative assertions. The fact is that skills involved in making these games are very high end,” Canham explained. “And from the artists to the more technologically minded programmers, to the audio people who I often work with, I absolutely believe that a game can offer a helluva lot to an individual. I just think variety is the spice of life. Gamers get a bit of flack, unnecessarily, because in truth, they are engaging their creative side of their minds in playing the game.”

Most Video Game Players Are Very Verbal And Creative

Canham talked about his wife, a clinical psychologist who specializes in child psychology. “While she doesn’t have clients who suffer from playing too much of video games, she is aware of the popularity of games,” he explained, adding that “she said in the vast majority of the cases kids who play these games have extraordinary imaginations. They’re very verbal and can introduce interesting areas to a conversation. Invariably, they are very creative. So it’s not like video games stunt your growth. There’s a very positive side to the video games.”

I wondered what games, other than his own, did Canham like.

Journey Had An Impact

“The last game that had an impact on me, and took me to that place (like a film can) was the game Journey,” he said. “That was a beautiful example of art, music and storytelling and imagination all happening at the same time, in such a charming way. Fantastic. The music is by Austin Wintory. “

“Second Son was a divergence for me,” Canham told me. “I tend to write slightly more cerebral music and there are many elements of that within Second Son. There’s also an element of sort of a dangerous feel to it as well, sort of an industrial edge to it. Whereas, the music I scored previously, has had a far more cerebral feel to it, very much like Austin Wintory’s score. So, for example, projects like The Secret World or Far Cry 2 (films he scored), have a slightly more subtle effect where they sort of seep into your soul. Elements of Second Son have to be a little bit more brash and instant. But the Journey soundtrack reminded me of things that I do but it’s altogether another person’s instinctive and different take on that approach. I found the soundtrack of that absolutely mesmerizing.”

I wanted to know what Canham’s “sound” was called. Does it have a name?

Canham’s Own Sound And The Industrial Soap Cutter

“It has a name that people use,” he told me, “but it’s a little strange. They call it ‘found sound’.”

By way of an explanation, Canham told me about a recent experience. “I found this weird contraption which turned out to be an industrial soap cutter,” he said, remembering that it had strings with a metallic chime effect. So, he bought it and took it back to his studio.

“I put microphones in front of this big contraption to record as I started playing it,” he told me, excitement in his voice. “I played it with my fingers, with mallets, rubber sticks, bamboo sticks—anything I could find—kids toys. The sounds were fantastic!” The upshot was that Canham loaded the sounds onto his computer software where he could put it across the keyboard, so that when he played his keyboard he was actually playing all the sounds he’d recorded from the soap cutter. “I have the world’s first soap cutter instrument,” he said, laughter bubbling up in perverse pride.

Canham’s Latest Film Compositions

Canham’s music for the film, The Disappearance of Alice Creed, is perfectly in sync with, and runs the gamut of, human emotions. Now available on DVD, the film is worth watching as a taut exercise in psychological manipulation. And Canham’s music is well worth a listen on its own.

Also, watch for the release of Canham’s recently scored Final Girl, a drama-thriller starring Abigail Breslin (grown up but still recognizable as the girl in Little Miss Sunshine), Wes Bentley (Hunger Games) and Francesca Eastwood (Clint’s daughter).

After spending time with Canham and marveling at his knowledge, skill and enthusiasm for his subject, I suggest that he hit the college speakers’ circuit and give student audiences a thrill.


“When The Garden Was Eden” Opens Tribeca Film Festival 2014

 By Phil Johnson

New York is a sports town.  In every season of every year, folks pack the parks and the stadiums and the rinks and the arenas to cheer (mostly) for their local teams.

Michael Rapaport, director, When The Garden Was Eden.  Photo credit: Getty Images.

Michael Rapaport, director, When The Garden Was Eden. Photo credit: Getty Images.

But never did the city hop quite as much as in the late 1960’s – early 1970’s. It was a great time to be a New York sports fan.

First there were the Jets with brash young quarterback Joe Willie Namath upsetting Baltimore to win the Super Bowl in 1968. The “can’t anyone here play this game” Mets came from nowhere to win the World Series in 1969.

Then there were the Knicks – Oh! Those Knicks – a blend of talent, teamwork, drama, and a colorful cast of characters that won the championship of Pro Basketball in 1970 and 1973.

Now comes the great documentary film When the Garden was Eden, an unabashed love note from actor/director Michael Rapaport about the glory days of his hometown New York Knickerbockers and their championship seasons.

Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival

The film premieres April 16, opening the festival as part of this year’s Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival and is part of the network’s 30 for 30 documentary series and runs during Tribeca Film Festival, taking place April 16-27 in New York City.

When The Garden Was Eden offers a plateful of game action, behind the scenes looks, and conversations that recount those days and the people who made the Knicks special.

There is probably no more dramatic moment in the annals of pro basketball than when, after missing Game 6 with an injury, Willis Reed limps onto the court, just before tipoff for the final game of the championship series. He scores the first two baskets of the game and inspires the Knicks to their first NBA title since the league was founded in 1949.

The Rest of The Cast

In addition to team captain Reed, there is Walt “Clyde” Frazer whose style on and off the court made him a fan favorite;

A young Phil Jackson cools off in the New York Knicks locker room circa 1973.  From the Lens of George Kalinsky. © George Kalinsky.

A young Phil Jackson cools off in the New York Knicks locker room circa 1973. From the Lens of George Kalinsky. © George Kalinsky.

Dave DeBusschere who added a toughness to the team after being traded from Detroit; Dick Barnett with the leg-bending jump shot that every playground kid tried to copy; shaggy haired, coat hanger- shouldered Phil Jackson; and old college rivals “Dollar” Bill Bradley and Cazzie Russell, now teammates with the Knicks.

Under Coach Red Holzman

They were all great talents individually. But their skills were blended under the direction of coach Red Holzman. He harnessed their power and drive and brought a championship to a city where champions are celebrated from the neighborhood playgrounds to center court at Madison Square Garden.

May 10, 1973: New York Knicks Jerry Lucas, Walt "Clyde" Frazier, Willis Reed, Phil Jackson, and Bill Bradley celebrate after defeating the Knicks in Game 5 to win the NBA Championship at the LA Forum in Los Angeles, California.

From left to right: Jerry Lucas, Walt Frazier, Willis Reed, Phil Jackson & Bill Bradley celebrate after winning the 1973 NBA Title in five games against the Los Angeles Lakers. Photo credit: From the Lens of George Kalinsky. © George Kalinsky.

Now it is 1973. Cazzie Russell is gone but part of the team now are Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, the high dribbling showman who had been traded from Baltimore, and smooth frontcourt man Jerry Lucas who had distinctive recall skills like the ability to memorize all the numbers in a phone book. Henry Bibby and New York City playground legend Dean “The Dream” Meminger were now regulars too.

Winning was no longer a surprise. It was now an expectation. The Knicks beat the Celtics in Boston in the conference championship, then beat the Lakers in the finals to win their second title in four years.

But what timing for this great documentary film! Phil Jackson has just returned to New York as President of the Knickerbockers after coaching the Chicago Bulls and then the Los Angeles Lakers to multiple NBA championships.

New Yorkers are hoping there will be a sequel soon: When The Garden Was Eden II.

* Additional information and further details on the Festival can be found at


Andy Garcia’s Eyes Captivate in Rob The Mob . . . and in Person

By Alice O’Neill

 When Andy Garcia first appears as a gray-bearded grandfather in Rob The Mob, I didn’t know, for several seconds, that the old man is actually the handsome actor Andy Garcia, so immersed is he in the character he plays, Big Al Fiorello, a mobster who teaches his grandson the secrets of Italian cooking. Then it dawned on me—the eyes. The Garcia eyes give him away.

Andy Garcia and L A Features reporter Alice O'Neill

Andy Garcia and LA Features reporter Alice O’Neill

“The beard was not in the script,” he told me at a press conference in Beverly Hills’ Four Sesaons Hotel where reporters questioned the stars, writer, director and composer. “I’d grown it before filming and he (motioning to director Raymond De Felitta) liked it.”

“As actors we bring emotional baggage to our characters,” Garcia said. “I drew on personal experiences. I wanted to humanize Big Al.”

A light twinkled in his eyes, the same eyes of the grandfather but looking decidedly younger. Here, in the well-organized public relations event, the smoothly shaven face, carefully trimmed dark hair and Armani-suited trim body quietly proclaimed,“This is a movie star.”

The child actor who plays Big Al’s grandson is Luke Fobb. Garcia explained how he worked with Luke, to loosen him up so he’d be ready to do a scene and stay in character. “Working with kid actors means you have to concentrate on the kid. A lot. We spent a lot of time together, making jokes, doing tricks. It’s all about the kid, about building a relationship. And we did build a relationship. We took meals together, played games. Actually it was good getting to know Luke. He’s an actor and he wants to continue working. He knows how to be natural for the camera. That’s important.”

Watch for Garcia’s performance in the romantic  At Middleton, opposite Vera Farmiga and also featuring Garcia’s daughter Daniella Garcia-Lorido.

Also upcoming is What About Love with Sharon Stone.

Ray Romano Fights the Good Fight in Rob The Mob

By Alice O’Neill

In Rob The Mob, Ray Romano, still beloved by fans of Everybody Loves Raymond, plays a good guy newspaper reporter, Jerry Cardozo, who fights to save a young couple who are marked for extinction by the mob and by the feds.

Ray Romano: "Would I play a bad guy? Sure, I'd love it!"

Ray Romano: “Would I play a bad guy? Sure, I’d love it!”

I questioned Romano about his always playing an honest guy and if he deliberately chooses such roles. “Well, if you mean I play the character honestly, yeah. I mean, I always look to bring out the real person,” he told me. “My character has been covering the mob beat – John Gotti–for a long time. As a reporter the fascination is gone.”

Romano told me he worked on the honesty of the scene with the young couple, the moment. “I felt what Jerry was feeling. You say you felt the poignancy of me trying to give them tickets to get away—to safety—out of the mob’s reach. Yeah, I felt it.”

Director Raymond De Felitta told me, “Ray’s right. When the actor thinks the thought, the camera records it.”

A beat went by. “But would I play a bad guy?” Brown eyes opened wide. “Sure. I’d love to!”

Romano’s role is a plume one, small but deeply significant. The “moment” he described is haunting.

When someone apparently in charge called time and told the reporters, “We’ll take two more questions then we have to go.”

‘What?!” Romano called out. “We’re not in a hurry. Let them ask their questions.” They posed for photos and some of us kept up the questioning even as we snapped pictures.

Both Garcia and Romano looked great. Garcia was in a suit and Romano wore what looked like a knit work shirt and sported what looked like the beginnings of a beard. I didn’t get a chance to ask if he had just come from a set.

I did ask about his ethnicity. He was happy to explain. “I was born in the U.S. and both my parents were born in the U.S. But my wife is Sicilian. So we go to visit her relatives in Siciy. Beautiful place.”

A Millennium Entertainment release. The cast:
Michael Pitt, Nina Arianda, Ray Romano, Andy Garcia, Burt Young, Frank Whaley, Michael Rispoli, Yul Vasquez, Cathy Moriarity, and Griffin Dunne, and Luke Fobb, Big Al’s grandson.


Stephen Endelman’s Nostalgic Score Lifts Rob The Mob

By Alice O’Neill

From the opening of the mobster flick, Rob The Mob, audiences are pulled into the story unfolding to the musical sounds of the early 1990s.

Stephen Endelman shows Rob The Mob card to Andy Garcia. Photo by Alice O'Neill

Stephen Endelman shows Rob The Mob card to Andy Garcia. Photo by Alice O’Neill

The music bathing the New York borough streets is the same that played on the radio in the mob restaurants and private social clubs at the time of the John Gotti trial. The top Gambino family mafioso is being ratted out by Sammy “The Bull” Gravano. And his lieutenants are old and saggy.

Big Al Fiorello, top banana in Gotti’s absence, played by Andy Garcia, has a full salt and pepper gray beard. How much damage could he do, you wonder. He seems devoted to one thing– teaching his grandson the secrets of Italian cooking. The director lets out the story slowly, the camera and the music capturing each indelible scene.

It isn’t exactly a puzzle, but you wonder where the story’s going. I won’t spoil it for viewers. It’s worth your time. If you know the era you’ll be right at home. If you don’t know anything about Gambinos, Gotti, or Gravano– no worry. It all becomes clear. There are no loose ends. Jonathan Fernandez, the scriptwriter, put everything on the page. He honed his craft while president of The Harvard Lampoon. After graduation he began his career running the production companies of Roger Corman and Dino De Laurentiis.

Endelman knew that Rob the Mob follows the true story of Thomas and Rosemarie Uva, two lovers who take their passion for audacious heists to another level by robbing New York City Mafia social clubs. Endelman says he was drawn to the film because he lived in the city during the actual incidents in 1991.

Michael Pitt and Nina Arianda star as the doomed lovers, Tommy and Rosie. They’re young, wild, impulsive, crazy in love, and out to get revenge on the mob for brutally beating Tommy’s father. Music of the day accompanies their actions.

But Endelman isn’t content to merely play the music of the day. He raises the stakes—-makes us care about the modern day Bonnie and Clyde characters who steal our hearts, even as they uproarously rob the mob, taking incredible chances as they carry out their outrageous plan. The music that accompanies the heists and getaways is a perfect marriage of action and emotion.

“One of the first scenes I became inspired by is when Tommy (Pitt) visits his mother (Cathy Moriarty) after he is sprung from prison, followed by a second scene where Tommy proposes to Rosie,” Endelman explained, adding that such emotional moments became the springboard to a cohesive, thematic score.

As I watched the film at a private press screening, I hoped the pair would get a break and come out okay. Gut level I knew it wouldn’t end well. But while it lasts, the exuberance and the passion these crazy kids exhibit takes you for a loopy ride. And always, accompanied by Endelman’s music, the heartbeat of the tale, based on real people and real events.

At a press conference (Beverly Hills Four Seasons Hotel) Endelman told me how he used popular music of the time and segued into his own compositions to accompany screen actions and human emotions.

When I mentioned how his music was just right for the comedy scenes, he grinned. “As a composer you don’t try to write funny,” he said. “Funny is what happens. You just need to write the truth of emotions. Pure and simple. That’s how the song, Love and the Gun came about.”

I found a “Love and the Gun” video on You Tube at this link from the Rob The Mob soundtrack. The performance by Tamela D’Amico is captivating. Timeless. As I watched I realized it is a mini movie that ran over the end credits. Brilliant.

The composer said he wrote the song with the film’s director and longtime collaborator, Raymond De Felitta.

“It was an unusual working relationship,” Endelman said. “Usually music is composed after the film is finished and edited. But not on this one. Raymond and his editor moved into my studio. We each worked in separate rooms. They’d bring me the latest edit, I’d write music and throw it back to them. Then we’d tackle another scene. Raymond would change things in the picture. Or he’d say maybe I could adjust the music.”

“Sounds like total collaboration,” I said. “Other composers tell me they wish they could work that way. You’re the first to tell me you had that kind of relationship with a film’s director.”

“Ah, it was a wonderful way to work,” he said. “It’s the most creative experience I’ve ever had with a director.”

Director of Rob The Mob, Raymond De Felitta. Photo by Alice O'Neill.

Director of Rob The Mob, Raymond De Felitta at press conference. Photo by Alice O’Neill 2014.

Some background:

Endelman, a British composer based in Los Angeles, gained recognition for his scoring on independent films including The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, a hit movie for Hugh Grant that propelled him into stardom. Endelman didn’t work directly with Grant or any of the stars. He wrote the music after the film wrapped, in the traditional mode.

It seems music was Endelman’s first language. He began playing clarinet at age seven. Soon afterward he studied as a clarinetist at The Purcell School of Young Musicians, and at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Endelman pursued composition and subsequently graduated from the Banff School of Fine Arts in Alberta, Canada as a classical composer.

At the age of 18, he moved to New York City to develop his film music career. He scored the 1992 Broadway production of Eugene O’Neill’s A Moon For The Misbegotten, which won a Tony Award. He made his film debut the following year with Robert De Niro’s A Bronx Tale. His second film, Household Saints, was released the same year.

When I mentioned these to him, and commented on the incredible quickness with which he accomplished so much, he smiled. “I like what I do,” he said, and shrugged. The smile grew . . . and grew.

The more I learn about this gifted composer the more fascinating he becomes. At the press conference and interview afterward he was completely open and helpful in explaining his mode of working as the film’s composer. I came away thinking, “What a thoroughly nice person in an industry I love.”

Little known facts about Endelman: He wrote two operas and the incidental music at New York’s Hayden Planetarium. In fact his music accompanies the first two planetarium shows, Passport To The Universe, narrated by Tom Hanks, and The Search For Life, Are We Alone? narrated by Harrison Ford.

Over 45 film credits have followed including Lionsgate’s Two Family House, which received an Audience Award for Best Dramatic Film at the Sundance Film Festival 2000, Disney’s Tom and Huck, Norman Rene’s Reckless, and Largo Entertainment’s City of Industry, directed by John Irvin. He also scored October Film’s Kicked in the Head, a Martin Scorsese production directed by Matthew Harrison, Polygram Filmed Entertainment’s The Proposition, Largo Entertainment’s Finding Graceland, Morgan Creek’s Imaginary Crimes, and Sony’s Jawbreaker, in addition to the box office hit Flirting with Disaster.

In 1998, he won the ASCAP Foundation Award as Resident Composer at the Metropolitan Opera Guild where he has been a resident artist since 1993.

As the soundtrack producer on Irwin Winkler’s film De-Lovely, Endelman arranged a number of classic Cole Porter tunes, for which he received a Grammy nomination.

When I asked what he had hoped to accomplish in Rob The Mob, Endelman told me, “I wanted the music to give the audience a sense of time and place, that’s true,” he said, “but uppermost in my mind was to create a unique, romantic theme for Tommy and Rosie. They’re madly in love and I wanted to say it musically.”

Endelman got it right; piano notes were never used so well to accomplish so much.

A Millennium Entertainment release. The cast:
Michael Pitt, Nina Arianda, Ray Romano, Andy Garcia, Burt Young, Frank Whaley, Michael Rispoli, Yul Vasquez, Cathy Moriarity, and Griffin Dunne, and Luke Fobb as Big Al’s grandson.