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April 1998

Various Artists
Midnight In the Garden of Good And Evil
Warner Brothers

Remember when a soundtrack album was merely a compilation of a film's background music, with dialogue excerpts thrown in? Today's soundtracks are thinly-disguised old/new commercial hits packages, containing tunes that may or may not exist in the films they are derived from. For his latest directorial effort, Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil, Clint Eastwood has flipped the script by using current musicians to record jazz versions of standards. Based on a real-life high society gay murder in Savannah, GA, the film's kinky noir is cleverly intensified by the music's wishful romanticism. While the soundtrack works for the movie, as a jazz record it is just OK. Save for k.d. lang's lush "Skylark," Brad Mehldau's "Dream," movie lead Kevin Spacey's pleasurably corny "That Old Black Magic" and Tony Bennett's timeless "I Wanna Be Around," one wonders why Eastwood bothered to book the studio time. If you dug the film, buy the soundtrack; otherwise, pass.

Originally published in April 1998
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