NONAMES – Takeshi Furukawa


Original Review by Alan RogersNonames

NONAMES, a 2010 film written, directed and co-produced by American-born Kathy Lindboe, stars James Badge Dale as Kevin, a young man who, when his mother dies, decides to remain in his hometown rather than move to the big city with his father. Unfortunately, the Wisconsin mill town offers no opportunities and everyone tells Kevin that he will not amount to anything if he remains in the town. The film explores the consequences of trying to hold on to the past even with a lack of opportunities rather than letting the past go and starting afresh elsewhere. The score is supplied by Japanese-born composer Takeshi Furukawa (Star Trek: Enterprise, CSI: Miami, Star Wars: Clone Wars) and is an interesting example of what is possible with limited time and budget. However, it lacks any sort of a lasting punch that elevates it above much of what is currently being written for independent films.

Furukawa bases the score around a single theme, manipulating it to meet the needs of the drama. The theme unfolds over the course of the 5-minute “Main Titles”, with the statements of the theme on piano developing in complexity from its simple beginning. Strings form a backdrop to this thematic development and it is this combination of sombre, reflective piano chords and broad-stroke strings that gives the theme a very Thomas Newman kind of a feel (think The Shawshank Redemption or Revolutionary Road). Apparently, Newman’s scores were used as part of the temp track (e.g., In The Bedroom) and although this theme has a strong presence it is let down by being too reminiscent to Newman’s. As the score progresses, thematic fragments can be heard. These fragments have an introverted, almost aimless quality, adding an emotional edge to the lack of opportunities offered by town in which they Kevin and his group of friends (e.g., “No Big Plans”, “Searching For Miller”).

Although this rather introverted theme sets the tone of the score, Furukawa is able to inject additional colours into the score for NONAMES. A sense of optimism (again using piano and strings) does appear at several points in the score and is particularly associated with his partner, CJ (Gillian Jacobs) (e.g., “New Home”, “She Loves It”). However, these brighter passages are only brief respites from the oppressive feel. “Assault” and “The Shooting” provide a some welcome dramatic scoring with subtle percussion rhythms and driving piano (“Assault”) and massed strings (“The Shooting”) adding tension as well as drama. This short album closes (“Just Let It Go”) with a continuation of the drama first set out in “The Shooting” Although dramatic, the album’s conclusion offers little in the sense of optimism or even resolution.

Furukawa’s score for NONAMES is very low-key. In terms of the goal the composer set out to achieve with the score – by keeping the orchestrations “simple and understated”, using broad strokes rather than intricate writing, producing a “musical world that has little in the way of positive energy” – he has, I think, succeeded. And taking a simple idea like the piano motif and playing with it throughout the score is an admirable one and fits in with the limited time he had to write the score (reportedly only 2 weeks) and the limited budgets associated with an independent film (the ensemble of musicians included 15 strings, 2 woodwinds, 2 French horns as well as piano and percussion). It’s a shame though that the most memorable part of the score once the album has finished is the “Main Titles” and how similar it is to Thomas Newman’s style. I’ve not heard any of the composer’s music for other projects, such as the Star Wars: Clone Wars TV spin-off. But there’s enough here for me to want to hear more of his work, particularly if he gets the opportunity to spread his wings and just “go with it.” NONAMES can be purchased as a digital download in a variety of formats at the Bandcamp store. The complete tracks can be listened there also.

Rating: **

  1. The Rape (1:40)
  2. Main Titles (5:35)
  3. No Big Plans (1:57)
  4. New Home (2:35)
  5. She Loves It (2:33)
  6. Working In The Field (2:08)
  7. In The Pond (0:32)
  8. Assault (2:50)
  9. I’m Sorry (0:49)
  10. Fire (2:11)
  11. Searching For Miller (1:55)
  12. You Have A Home (0:46)
  13. The Shooting (3:47)
  14. Just Let It Go (1:49)

Running Time: 31:11

Takeshi Furukawa (2012)

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Comments

  1. Doesn’t make me want to rush to my computer and get it although I listened to the main title on bandcamp which is complete, not an audio clip. The main title is a direct copy of the style and arranging of Thomas Newman. I probably couldn’t tell it apart in a blindfold test. Some of the other tracks aren’t quite as obvious. Nice theme!!!

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