Exclusive: Composer Cliff Martinez scoring French action-thriller ‘Mea Culpa’

07.16.13 5 years ago


AUSTIN – Cliff Martinez has had a busy 2013 thus far. The successful stateside bow of “Spring Breakers” and the wide release of “Only God Forgives” this month seems to be part of a larger career surge for the composer. During an interview promoting his (current) film with “Drive” director Nicolas Winding Refn, Martinez revealed some more of his future work, which includes penning music for forthcoming feature “Mea Culpa.”

“I’m about to do a French film called ‘Mea Culpa.’ It’s an action-thriller,” Martinez said, likening it to a mix of  “Die Hard” and “Taken.” It will be his third French movie, though he said, “I’ve never done anything like it.”

As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, “Mea Culpa” is directed by Fred Cavaye (“Anything For Her,” “Point Blank”) and stars Vincent Lindon, Gilles Lellouche and Nadine Labaki. It is set for release in early 2014, and was picked up by Fox International just ahead of Cannes this May.

Martinez said he and Cavaye bonded over a mutual disdain of traditional action movie scores.

“[Action music] is so stylized and predictable. Action music is supposed to get you excited but because it’s so predictable, I feel like I’m slipping into a hot sauna, I can just relax. The pounding drums, the marcato strings, it’s like going to yoga,” Martinez said. “This new director says, ‘I hate action music,’ and there’s 60 minutes of action in this film.

“It’s gonna be comedy music over the most violent things you’ve ever seen,” Martinez jokes. “Lots of marimba tuba and xylophone.”

The composer’s career in film work kicked off right around 1987’s “Sex, Lies and Videotape,” and has bounced along with Steven Soderbergh since then, for “Solaris,” “Contagion” and “Traffic.” But Martinez’ career has flourished in eras, the latest since 2011’s “Lincoln Lawyer.” Before that, he’d earned a Grammy nom for “Traffic”; the former Captain Beefheart drummer and “Pee Wee’s Playhouse” songwriter joined the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year, for having been a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Martinez said he’s scored a Corvette commercial recently (“I hope they’ll send me a car”), but when he’s not working on a project, “I catch up on my thumb twiddling and feet dangling. I get as far away from music as possible.”

Read our report on Martinez and Refn’s next endeavors together, including a Grey Goose commercial and an all-women horror film.

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