Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Laura Rose and Edward Norton as Lionel Essrog in Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama “Motherless Brooklyn,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release | Photo by Glen Wilson/Warner Brothers

Motherless Brooklyn is a new noir film written and directed by Edward Norton. It’s about a private eye in 1950s New York, played by Norton, who’s chasing down a case of corruption and conspiracy that got his partner killed. The soundtrack is more pivotal, and more multifaceted, than usual: Norton commissioned a new song from Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke, “Daily Battles.”

And the story orbits around a jazz club, where a character played by Michael K. Williams plays the trumpet — but the trumpet you hear actually belongs to Wynton Marsalis, who did new arrangements of standards and of the Thom Yorke song.


Cinematographer Dick Pope and actor/director/writer/producer Edward Norton on the set of Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama “Motherless Brooklyn,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release | Photo by Glen Wilson


Composer Daniel Pemberton | Photo by Chloe Pemberton

The film’s composer, Daniel Pemberton, had the uniquely challenging task of seamlessly stitching all those elements together with a completely original noir jazz score — in a film full of romance, chase sequences, intrigue, and humor — that feels of the time, but also urgently modern. On top of that, Norton’s character, Lionel, has Tourette’s syndrome — and Pemberton tried to take the score inside his unique mind.

I interviewed Pemberton at the Henson Recording Studio, where he was getting ready to record the score for the DC comic book movie Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn.

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Motherless Brooklyn, with an original score by Daniel Pemberton, is in theaters now.

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