Oscar History

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Gotham Noms- The Favourite, First Reformed, Hereditary

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"Loved First Man myself and the score. "The Landing" reminds me of Michael Nyman's score for The Piano in parts.  Nice balanced talk on A Star Is Born..." - Joseph

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Entries in Soundtracking (72)


Soundtracking: "A Star is Born (2018)"

Chris Feil wraps up his look at the musical legacy of A Star is Born...

Bradley Cooper has kept with the 1976 A Star is Born’s arena template, largely correcting many of that film’s pitfalls for his directorial debut. Most obvious, the songs don’t mostly suck. And though it does lose sight of the perspective of Lady Gaga’s emerging singer somewhat, it’s more of a two-hander in terms of musical responsibility.

That shared weight is evident in the film’s showstopper “Shallow”, the song that already defines the film’s iconography and identity. It matches the “yes-and” nature of falling in love: Ally’s lyrics and soaring melody presenting the fear of taking the leap, Jackson orchestrating it to something cohesive and singular, both of them contributing the personal and universal essential to any ballad worth its luster. They’re both observational and confessional, with “I’m falling” being the most terrifying admission. Like love, the song begins with a simple feeling, and its eventual rush of emotion builds until it must be submitted to.

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Soundtracking: "A Star is Born (1976)"

Last week Chris Feil looked back at Judy Garland and A Star is Born's musical beginning. This week, it's Streisand/Kristofferson...

Some viewers have chastised the current remake of A Star is Born’s presentation of pop music, but it kind of pales to the cynicism and condescension to 70s rock and roll in the Streisand/Kristofferson version of 1976. What had previous been told as a saga of the film industry is transplanted into rock arenas, the emptiness of fame represented by a ravenous crowd of thousands acting a fool. Know a little something about Streisand’s skittishness with (sometimes rabid) crowds and you can begin to understand the film’s boorish presentation of fandom, so some grace can be granted. But nevertheless, fame suddenly seems all the more vacuous here in the face of Real Artistry.

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Soundtracking: "A Star is Born (1954)"

Chris Feil's weekly look at music in the movies will be revisiting all of the musical remakes of A Star is Born in coming weeks. Here is 1954 and Judy Garland...

Musicals are known for their required suspension of disbelief, the fact that we must buy into a reality where people simply burst into song. But the legacy of A Star is Born has its own kind of suspension of disbelief: the notion that whatever legendary songstress that leads each version is some undiscovered talent. George Cukor’s 1954 version (the first to properly musicalize the story birthed in William A. Wellman’s 1937 original) requires the greatest leap. But there are few cinematic superstars in history as immediately convincing in their gifts as Judy Garland.

Casting such a powerhouse as a woefully undiscovered talent is absurd on paper, as if the film exists in some fantasy land where maybe she’s never opened her mouth or humans have ceased to have ears. Our buy-in to the conceit of the plot has to be as momentous as her implacable voice...

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Soundtracking: "Her"

by Chris Feil

Say what you will about its hipster, ukulele verve, but “The Moon Song” from Her is one of the most deserving Best Original Song nominees of the past decade. Some of the reward may be carryover from songwriter Karen O missing out for Where The Wild Things Are’s equally deserving “All is Love”, but both prove essential to the emotional experience of their films. Seriously, Karen O, please make more music for films and not just those from Spike Jonze.

This song is a deceptively simple ditty, a longing love song that slips into the deep melancholy and faint whimsy of the near-future that Jonze creates in the film. It belongs to Her’s manic pixie dream AI Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), but also the romantic imagination of Joaquin Pheonix’s Theodore. Every couple needs a song, even if one of the parties is solely digital.

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Soundtracking: "Lady Sings the Blues"

The 1972 Smackdown is coming soon! Here's Chris on that year's Oscar nominated biopic on Billie Holliday...

We complain a lot about stodgy biopics in the “greatest hits” mold, simply relying on the known Wikipedia fenceposts to construct its narrative. Lady Sings The Blues is kind of the poster child for such frustrations - I mean, the original poster literally proclaimed “Diana Ross IS Billie Holiday”.

What we were given is a film mostly bored by subject and performer, or at least unable to capture what made Ross and Holliday such captivating performers. Blues meanders through the singer’s life story, halting for her performances with fly-on-the-wall passivity that’s as indifferent to the magnetism of the music as it is to Ross’ take...

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Soundtracking: "Adventures in Babysitting"

by Chris Feil

Ah, midcentury girl group bliss. In previous columns like My Best Friend’s Wedding or last week’s 45 Years, I’ve discussed how this upbeat era of soulpop music has been used to embody romantic tunnel-vision optimism and traditional (sometimes quite gendered) expectations of love inside the melodies. This era’s brand plays an obviously great tool to reveal hidden longings and sadnesses, but what of actually reveling in their joy? Enter lipsync queen Elizabeth Shue in Adventures in Babysitting, truly being all of us when The Crystals’ “And Then He Kissed Me” plays.

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