The Famous Mister B
Though he’s hardly a household name, most American moviegoers have been exposed to the unobtrusive but slightly off-kilter soundscapes of Bruno Coulais at some point during the ‘00s. After providing carefully considered, minimalist soundscapes for a wave of popular French films and documentaries, Coulais provided a career-changing score for the Oscar-nominated Winged Migration. Though Coulais’ score for Henry Selick’s Coraline boasts a few of the composer’s trademarks — minimal, Satie-like piano melodies and unease-inducing ambient tones — it is also something of a departure for the composer. Eerie, sweetly off-kilter performances from the Children’s Choir of Nice provide the main melodic thrust to a number of these tracks and recall Krzysztof Komeda’s iconic work on the Rosemary’s Baby soundtrack, with it’s superficially saccharine surface juxtaposed against genuinely unnerving melodic depths. Indeed, Komeda could be seen as the primary influence here, and the influence of that often satirical Polish composer gives Coraline an acid sense of humor that makes it one of Coulais’ most distinctive and engaging works.