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The 15 Best Needle Drops In Movie History

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As Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” becomes a chart-topping hit thanks to its placement in the popular Netflix series Stranger Things, one thing becomes perfectly clear — music and film (or in this case, highly cinematic television) are undeniably linked. A great song has the power to elevate a movie scene, while a well-executed scene can breathe new life into a track. But there are some song uses in films that just stand out. There’s something magical about them. It’s hard to put a finger on what makes a needle drop special, but you know it when you hear it.

Using an iconic track in a movie can do several different things. If it’s a period piece, a song can help establish the era that the film is set in. In some cases, the song exists within the world of the film — for example, it’s playing from a jukebox or in someone’s headphones. In others, the song is placed over a scene where no music would actually be playing. Rather, the song is meant to heighten a viewer’s emotional reaction.

Before we get started, you might be wondering — what exactly defines a “needle drop”? No, there doesn’t have to be a record player present. A needle drop is when a movie uses a song that wasn’t written for the soundtrack. Oftentimes, the movie’s budget dictates which — and how many — songs can be used. Movies with a bigger budget may get the rights to bigger pop hits, while smaller indie flicks tend to stick with less recognizable tracks. Sometimes, that’s for the better — if a song becomes too overused, it might not have the same impact as a track that’s lesser known.

Here are 15 of the most epic needle drops in movie history.

 

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  • 1

    American Hustle — “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”

    Loosely inspired by historical events, David O. Russell’s American Hustle is a groovy black comedy crime film. Part of its panache comes from its excellent use of pop songs from the 1970s, when the movie takes place. There are quite a few memorable tracks scattered throughout the film, but there’s one in particular that creates a gut-punch impact. It’s the scene where Irving (Christian Bale), accompanied by his wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), crosses paths with lover Sydney (Amy Adams) on the arm of Richie (Bradley Cooper) at a casino party. The tension is so thick you could cut it with a knife, made even more palpable by Elton John’s stunning “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” The melancholic nature of the song pairs perfectly with our characters’ inner conflicts as they try to hold their ruse together.

  • 2

    The Graduate — “The Sound of Silence”

    While many remember The Graduate for its use of the Simon and Garfunkel song “Mrs. Robinson” — which was actually written for the film — it’s “The Sound of Silence” that leaves the longest-lasting impression. Recent college graduate Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) has just run off with would-be bride Elaine (Katharine Ross), who happens to be the daughter of the woman he’s been having an affair with, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft). While their whirlwind escape seems like a great idea at first, they begin to realize the uncertainty of their futures while sitting at the back of a bus. “The Sound of Silence” begins to play, adding a layer of strain to the film’s uneasy conclusion.

  • 3

    Dazed and Confused — “Hurricane”

    Filmed in the ‘90s but set in the ‘70s, Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused uses music as a way to instantly establish its place in time. While there are a number of era-appropriate rock tracks used in the movie, none are utilized better than Bob Dylan’s “Hurricane”. The song plays as Wooderson (Matthew McConaughey), Randall (Jason London), and Mitch (Wiley Wiggins) confidently strut into the Emporium, a pool hall that’s frequented by Austin locals. With “Hurricane” fading into the background, the Emporium takes on a new level of cool — we totally see why the high schoolers want to hang out here.

  • 4

    Say Anything… — “In Your Eyes”

    This iconic scene from Say Anything… has inspired young people everywhere to hold up boomboxes outside of their lovers’ houses for decades — it’s even lightly spoofed in the 2010 film Easy A. There’s a good reason for this, and that’s the song selection itself. John Cusack’s Lloyd picks “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel to serenade Diane (Ione Sky), as it was the song the two first became intimate to. The song’s tender lyrics and sweet guitars should have worked their charms on Diane, but she holds back for the time being. Say Anything has forever cemented “In Your Eyes” as the stuff of ‘80s teen romance dreams.

  • 5

    JoJo Rabbit — “Helden” (“Heroes”)

    David Bowie’s music has proven itself as a powerful choice for film many times over, but Taika Waititi’s JoJo Rabbit manages to bring something new to the table. In the movie’s final moments, German boy Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) and Jewish girl Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) realize that she’s free from the grasp of Nazi Germany. In what could be considered the only appropriate response, the two begin to dance. Their moves are silly and uninhibited, complemented perfectly by Bowie’s euphoric track, “Heroes.” Except this time, it’s in German. No matter which language it’s sung in, “Heroes” feels like the perfect song for these kids to joyously boogie to.

  • 6

    Shrek — “Hallelujah”

    When it came out in 2001, Shrek was the antithesis to the sweet, family-friendly movies being churned out by Disney. Whereas those movies relied on originally composed scores and songs, Shrek decided to go in a different direction, incorporating energetic pop songs such as “All Star” — which inspired a slew of internet memes — and Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation”. But perhaps Shrek’s best use of music comes in the latter half of the movie, as Shrek (Mike Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) both return to their respective lives as swamp ogre and princess. Rather than opt for a more popular tune, the musical directors convinced the executive producers to soundtrack the scene with John Cale’s rendition of “Hallelujah”. The powerful tune adds surprising emotional weight to the animated movie, even if most kids grew up knowing it as “the song from Shrek.

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  • 7

    Call Me By Your Name — “Love My Way”

    Based on André Aciman’s novel of the same name, Call Me By Your Name is a sumptuous ode to one balmy, romantic Italian summer. The lush sights, smells, and sounds seem to waft right through the movie screen, and that includes the intoxicating melody of The Psychedelic Furs’ “Love My Way.” Richard Butler’s haunting vocals mingle with atmospheric synths, transforming a simple outdoor dance party into something otherworldly. “Love My Way”’s placement in Call Me By Your Name caused it to spike in popularity, hitting its biggest streaming week ever following the film’s release in late 2017.

  • 8

    500 Days Of Summer — “You Make My Dreams”

    One of the more lighthearted entries on this list, 500 Days of Summer introduced a whole new generation to the brilliance of pop rock duo Hall and Oates. The song pops on after Joseph Gordon Levitt’s Tom finally gets to share a night with the girl of his dreams, Summer (Zooey Deschanel). Tom walks down the street with a pep in his step, greeting everyone he sees along the way. Eventually, his cheerful lilt turns into a full-blown dance, complete with an ensemble, a marching band, and a Disney-esque cartoon bird. While this movie isn’t a musical in any sense, this fun scene reminds us not to take anything we see too seriously.

  • 9

    American Honey — “We Found Love”

    As its name suggests, Andrea Arnold’s A24-produced coming-of-age drama is steeped in American culture, but not the kind usually depicted on the big screen. This is the land of convenience stores, roadside motels, and cheap handles of vodka — not to mention a steady stream of explicit rap and the occasional country tune. That’s why Rihanna and Calvin Harris’ “We Found Love” creates such a bright spot in Star (Sasha Lane)’s weary world. She watches with unfettered desire as Shia LaBeouf’s Jake dances with his motley magazine crew through the checkout line in a fluorescent-it Wal-Mart, and the lyrics of the song become achingly true. It’s hard to think of a more hopeless place than this, and thus their love story begins.

  • 10

    Apocalypse Now — “The End”

    While Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors, wrote “The End” about a particularly gnarly breakup with his girlfriend, the epic song ended up being just the right soundtrack for the opening of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. The irony was not lost on Coppola, who remarked how funny it would be if a song called “The End” was placed at the start of his movie. As it turns out, it was the right call — the hypnotic song punctuates the footage of burning treetops, giving the intro an even more ominous feel.

  • 11

    Guardians of the Galaxy — “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”

    Guardians of the Galaxy is peppered with catchy bops from the ‘60s and ‘70s, serving as a way for Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) to stay connected with his life on Earth as he blasts through space. Director James Gunn experimented with several tunes to create just the right tone for a scene, and the results really paid off — especially at the end of the movie. Quill and the rest of his superhero team leave in his rebuilt ship, the Milano, with tunes courtesy of his mother, who left him a tape cassette of her favorite songs. One of those songs is Diana Ross’ “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” which soundtracks Guardians of the Galaxy’s electrifying, feel-good ending. It’s impossible to finish the movie without humming this song the rest of the day.

  • 12

    Lost in Translation — “Just Like Honey”

    Lost in Translation stars Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray as a pair of unlikely friends, Charlotte and Bob, who grow close while staying at the same hotel in Tokyo, Japan. Both feeling alienated by their surroundings — and their respective lives back in the States — the two engage in intimate conversations and experience the city’s nightlife together. Their unique relationship is soundtracked by a mix of shoegaze and dreampop, right down to their eventual parting, which occurs to The Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Just Like Honey.” The hazy track adds an inexplicable sense of melancholy to their final moments and Bob’s winding taxi ride back to the airport.

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  • 13

    Baby Driver — “Bellbottoms”

    Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver strikes the perfect balance between edge-of-your-seat thriller and offbeat comedy, starting with the opening scene. Baby (Ansel Elgort) waits in his car as his cohorts swiftly rob a bank, pumping himself up with “Bellbottoms” by The John Spencer Blues Explosion. He lip syncs and grooves with the beat, just moments before gunning it in reverse. The funky song continues to play as Baby continues with his flawless work behind the wheel, and it’s clear that Baby Driver is going to be one wild ride.

  • 14

    Goodfellas — “Sunshine Of Your Love”

    While this scene from Goodfellas certainly isn’t the most monumental in the entire movie, it’s a perfect example of how the right song can exponentially add to the drama of a moment. It takes place right after Henry (Ray Liotta) and Morrie (Chuck Low) have finished having a conversation, and we see Jimmy (Robert DeNiro) sitting at the bar. With a cigarette in hand, he’s clearly pondering something bad — later, we’ll learn that he plans to pick off members of his own gang. The camera zooms in on DeNiro’s face as Cream’s “Sunshine Of Your Love” begins to play. Something about that badass opening riff tells us everything we need to know about Jimmy’s intentions. It’s a short, simple moment, but it sticks out thanks to “Sunshine Of Your Love”.

  • 15

    Pulp Fiction — “You Can Never Tell”

    Quentin Tarantino is a bit of an expert when it comes to placing songs in movies, and he was right on the money with his usage of Chuck Berry’s “You Can Never Tell” in Pulp Fiction. John Travolta’s Vincent Vega agrees to escort gangster Marcellus Wallace’s wife Mia while he’s out of town, so the two head to a 1950s-themed restaurant called Jack Rabbit Slim’s. At the diner, Vincent and Mia participate in a twist contest soundtracked to “You Can Never Tell”, and, well, it’s pretty much perfect. The retro swing of the song fits their utterly surreal dance sequence, resulting in a truly memorable scene from an iconic piece of cinema.

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

Hitting the three-quarter-century mark usually means a retirement home, a nursing facility, or if you’re lucky to be blessed with relatively good health and savings to match, living in a gated community in Arizona or Florida.

For Sylvester Stallone, however, it means something else entirely: starring in the first superhero-centered film of his decades-long career in the much-delayed Samaritan. Unfortunately for Stallone and the audience on the other side of the screen, the derivative, turgid, forgettable results won’t get mentioned in a career retrospective, let alone among the ever-expanding list of must-see entries in a genre already well past its peak.

For Stallone, however, it’s better late than never when it involves the superhero genre. Maybe in getting a taste of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) with his walk-on role in the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel several years ago, Stallone thought anything Marvel can do, I can do even better (or just as good in the nebulous definition of the word).

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The property Stallone and his team found for him, Samaritan, a little-known graphic novel released by a small, almost negligible, publisher, certainly takes advantage of Stallone’s brute-force physicality and his often underrated talent for near-monosyllabic brooding (e.g., the Rambo series), but too often gives him to little do or say as the lone super-powered survivor, the so-called “Samaritan” of the title, of a lifelong rivalry with his brother, “Nemesis.” Two brothers entered a fire-ravaged building and while both were presumed dead, one brother did survive (Stallone’s Joe Smith, a garbageman by day, an appliance repairman by night).

In the Granite City of screenwriter Bragi F. Schut (Escape Room, Season of the Witch), the United States, and presumably the rest of the world, teeters on economic and political collapse, with a recession spiraling into a depression, steady gigs difficult, if not impossible, to obtain, and the city’s neighborhoods rocked by crime and violence. No one’s safe, not even 13-year-old Sam (Javon Walker), Joe’s neighbor.

When he’s not dodging bullies connected to a gang, he’s falling under the undue influence of Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk), a low-rent gang leader with an outsized ego and the conviction that he and only he can take on Nemesis’s mantle and along with that mantle, a hammer “forged in hate,” to orchestrate a Bane-like plan to plunge the city into chaos and become a wealthy power-broker in the process.

Schut’s woefully underwritten script takes a clumsy, haphazard approach to world-building, relying on a two-minute animated sequence to open Samaritan while a naive, worshipful Sam narrates Samaritan and Nemesis’s supposedly tragic, Cain and Abel-inspired backstory. Schut and director Julius Avery (Overlord) clumsily attempt to contrast Sam’s childish belief in messiah-like, superheroic saviors stepping in to save humanity from itself and its own worst excesses, but following that path leads to authoritarianism and fascism (ideas better, more thoroughly explored in Watchmen and The Boys).

While Sam continues to think otherwise, Stallone’s superhero, 25 years past his last, fatal encounter with his presumably deceased brother, obviously believes superheroes are the problem and not the solution (a somewhat reasonable position), but as Samaritan tracks Joe and Sam’s friendship, Sam giving Joe the son he never had, Joe giving Sam the father he lost to street violence well before the film’s opening scene, it gets closer and closer to embracing, if not outright endorsing Sam’s power fantasies, right through a literally and figuratively explosive ending. Might, as always, wins regardless of how righteous or justified the underlying action.

It’s what superhero audiences want, apparently, and what Samaritan uncritically delivers via a woefully under-rendered finale involving not just unconvincing CGI fire effects, but a videogame cut-scene quality Stallone in a late-film flashback sequence that’s meant to be subversively revelatory, but will instead lead to unintentional laughter for anyone who’s managed to sit the entirety of Samaritan’s one-hour and 40-minute running time.

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Samaritan is now streaming worldwide on Prime Video.

Samaritan

Cast
  • Sylvester Stallone
  • Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton
  • Pilou Asbæk

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Matt Shakman Is In Talks To Direct ‘Fantastic Four’

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According to a new report, Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct the upcoming MCU project, Fantastic Four. Marvel Studios has been very hush-hush regarding Fantastic Four to the point where no official announcements have been made other than the film’s release date. No casting news or literally anything other than rumors has been released regarding the project. We know that Fantastic Four is slated for release on November 8th, 2024, and will be a part of Marvel’s Phase 6. There are also rumors that the cast of the new Fantastic Four will be announced at the D23 Expo on September 9th.

Fantastic Four is still over two years from release, and we assume we will hear more news about the project in the coming months. However, the idea of the Fantastic Four has already been introduced into the MCU. John Krasinski played Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The cameo was a huge deal for fans who have been waiting a long time for the Fantastic Four to enter the MCU. When Disney acquired Twenty Century Fox in 2019 we assumed that the Fox Marvel characters would eventually make their way into the MCU. It’s been 3 years and we already have had an X-Men and Fantastic Four cameo – even if they were from another universe.

Deadline is reporting that Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct Fantastic Four. Shakman served as the director for Wandavision and has had an extensive career. He directed two episodes of Game of Thrones and an episode of The Boys, and he had a long stint on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. There is nothing official yet, but Deadline’s sources say that Shakman is currently in talks for the job and things are headed in the right direction.

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To be honest, I was a bit more excited when Jon Watts was set to direct. I’m sure Shakman is a good director, but Watts proved he could handle a tentpole superhero film with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Wandavision was good, but Watts’ style would have been perfect for Fantastic Four. The film is probably one of the most anticipated films in Marvel’s upcoming slate films and they need to find the best person they can to direct. Is that Matt Shakman? It could be, but whoever takes the job must realize that Marvel has a lot riding on this movie. The other Fantastic Four films were awful and fans deserve better. Hopefully, Marvel knocks it out of the park as they usually do. You can see for yourself when Fantastic Four hits theaters on November 8th, 2024.

Film Synopsis: One of Marvel’s most iconic families makes it to the big screen: the Fantastic Four.

Source: Deadline

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Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase Star in ‘Zombie Town’ Mystery Teen Romancer (Exclusive)

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Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase have entered Zombie Town, a mystery teen romancer based on author R.L. Stine’s book of the same name.

The indie, now shooting in Ontario, also stars Henry Czerny and co-teen leads Marlon Kazadi and Madi Monroe. The ensemble cast includes Scott Thompson and Bruce McCulloch of the Canadian comedy show Kids in the Hall.

Canadian animator Peter Lepeniotis will direct Zombie Town. Stine’s kid’s book sees a quiet town upended when 12-year-old Mike and his friend, Karen, see a horror movie called Zombie Town and unexpectedly see the title characters leap off the screen and chase them through the theater.

Zombie Town will premiere in U.S. theaters before streaming on Hulu and then ABC Australia in 2023.

“We are delighted to bring the pages of R.L. Stine’s Zombie Town to the screen and equally thrilled to be working with such an exceptional cast and crew on this production. A three-time Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award winner with book sales of over $500 million, R.L. Stine has a phenomenal track record of crafting stories that engage and entertain audiences,” John Gillespie, Trimuse Entertainment founder and executive producer, said in a statement.

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Executive producers are Trimuse Entertainment, Toonz Media Group, Lookout Entertainment, Viva Pictures and Sons of Anarchy actor Kim Coates.  

Paco Alvarez and Mark Holdom of Trimuse negotiated the deal to acquire the rights to Stine’s Zombie Town book.

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