I went to see Wong-kar Wai's In the Mood for Love last week in the courtyard of the Somerset house. I've seen it well over a dozen times by now. It's one of my favorite films and viewing it forms part of my Valentine's Day ritual along with Casablanca.
So many factors collide to make it a near perfect film. In the Mood for Love is genuinely a masterpiece and a worldwide classic. Music, the score for a film, can often make or break it. The soundtrack for In the Mood for Love is pitch perfect, setting the scene of two strangers meeting, coping with betrayal, falling in love, and heartache. "Yumeji's Theme" by Shigeru Umebayashi is so exquisitely evocative of the film's mood that it's repeated, often accompanied by slo-mo shots of Su Li-shen (played by the gorgeous Maggie Cheung) or Chow Mo-wan (the always dapper Tony Leung) walking. Usually in rain.
Another example is the Harry and Hermione dance scene in "The Deathly Hallows part 1" (you can hear the full version of Nick Cave's "O' Children" here). So much of the characters' pain is expressed not in their words but in their posture, the way they look at each, and the mournful sound of Nick Cave's voice and the chorus singing 'children'. It's a very moving scene in a powerful movie about growing up and facing the adult world. That whole loss of innocence trope. But it's also mourning the passing of a cultural phenomenon. So many kids literally grew up with Harry Potter over the past decade. And this song addresses that sense of loss that accompanies the ending of something so integrally linked to the childhood of a generation.
Music, in other words, can make the film.
Here are 5 more songs from movies and series that set the tone.
1. nat king cole - quizás quizás quizás (in the mood for love)
2. claire littley - fly me to the moon (neon genesis evangelion outro)
3. yoko kanno & seatbelts - tank! (cowboy bebop intro)
4. radiohead - paranoid android (outro to ergo proxy)
5. yeong-wook jo - kiss me deadly (from oldboy)
You can read a countdown of the best tracks from the Oldboy soundtrack along with the scenes in which they appear in this article.