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by Randy Astle
Ariel Marx is a film composer to watch. It’s early in her career, but her credits already include an impressive variety of dramas and comedies on both film and television. She’s assisted on projects like Wonder and Amazon’s Z: The Beginning of Everything, and her own scores have been in the films West of Her, By Jingo, and The Tale, which premiered at Sundance earlier this year and runs on HBO next month. She’s even worked in augmented reality with Armen Perian’s The Angry River, a piece about human traffickers that changes with the direction of the viewer’s gaze — an impressive challenge for a traditionally linear form like music to match.
Marx - Project - Dust - Feature - Debut
Now Marx’s newest project is To Dust, the feature debut of 2016 25 New Faces alum Shawn Snyder, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on Sunday. The story is about Shmuel (Geza Rohrig), a Hasidic cantor who has just lost his wife to cancer. He channels his grief into a morbid obsession with the state of her body’s decomposition, and seeking answers he seeks out a local community college science teacher played by Matthew Broderick. The duo set out on an unlikely scientific journey that intertwines rotting corpses with deep religious convictions, along with a healthy dose of dark comedy. It also provides fodder for an engaging and beautiful score, with Marx’s work sounding like equal parts klezmer music from Eastern European Judaism, a contemporary horror film, and minimalist drones that might be descended from La Monte Young or Steve Reich — and all filtered through the sonic world of Tom Waits.
Filmmaker: How did you first get interested in composing for film and other media rather than for concert music?
Marx - Music - Purpose
Marx: I’ve always been more drawn to writing music that has a collaborative and narrative purpose....
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