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.