Here's a challenge to workhorse producer/sideman/composer Jon Brion: For your next film-score gig, take on something by Wes Craven, or Antoine Fuqua, or the guy who directed Seed of Chucky--basically any movie that isn't a talky, middlebrow think piece about the wondrous fragility of the human condition. Thanks to his winsome melodic flair and post-White Album studio acumen--the handy way he can make an instrumental passage feel like a pop song, and vice versa--the well-connected Los Angeleno has become the go-to guy for maverick filmmakers looking to leaven existential gravitas with anti-depressant whimsy. His work on Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia led to a job on Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which in turn yielded his spot scoring David O. Russell's I Heart Huckabees, the highlights of which are collected here, along with a handful of Brion's pop songs, which neatly synthesize elements of stuff by pals Elliott Smith, Aimee Mann and Rufus Wainwright. As ever, he manages to cram ideas for a dozen pieces into the space of one: "Strangest Times" alone imagines an outer-space beachfront tango party thrown by Thom Yorke and Ry Cooder. Brion could keep the non-indie indie-film biz buzzing for years, but doesn't he heart trying new things?
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