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Entries in Soundtracking (40)

Wednesday
Feb212018

Soundtracking: "All That Jazz"

by Chris Feil

These days we don’t get many musicals brave enough to buck genre comforts and form as Bob Fosse’s autobiographical All That Jazz. The director/choreographer transplants himself onto Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider), a highly regarded and sexually cruel master of the stage on his way to untimely demise. It’s a masterpiece to shame other masterpieces.

There’s a reason that the film isn’t remembered for its songs - musical pleasantry is low on his priorities, as the film is an uncompromising character study of the visionary creator’s weakest impulses...

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Wednesday
Feb142018

Soundtracking: "Harold and Maude"

by Chris Feil

Some of our greatest cinematic love stories are more than the coupling at the center. As in life, the love can be more deeply felt when both sides of the arrangement have had their own separate journeys that inform and are informed by their relationship. Conflicting personal priorities, emotional walls dismantled, allowing oneself to accept being loved - it’s the personal obstacles that allow us to get swept up in the romance. One of the (cult) classics of this kind of love story is Hal Ashby’s delicate Harold and Maude, with Harold’s emotional arc towards self-acceptance all underscored with the musical stylings of a Cat Stevens soundtrack.

Would that all of our romantic foibles and internal battles could sound as lovely as this...

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Wednesday
Feb072018

Soundtracking: "Pretty Woman"

by Chris Feil

Decades later, it’s still easy to fall for the charms of Pretty Woman - despite maybe being a problematic fave for how it softens the struggles of sex workers. That feel-good fantasy is aided by a pleasing adult-contempo soundtrack, and one that half-comments on the situation as it charms us. It’s a modern variation on the Pygmalion/My Fair Lady archetype and packed with musical moments, so it makes sense that it is on its way to a stage musical treatment. Go West’s “King of Wishful Thinking” makes for a buoyant opening number of wishful love to start our hearts fluttering, before fading into equally crowd-pleasing tracks that dance around the love story’s circumstance.

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Wednesday
Jan312018

Soundtracking: "The Shape of Water"

by Chris Feil

“You’ll never know...” Is it safe yet to discuss the musical flourish in The Shape of Water? It’s a moment that should remain unspoiled if you haven’t seen it.

Guillermo Del Toro’s interspecies romance is itself in love with the movies, and its genre bending owes as much to classic musicals as it does to Sirkian melodrama and monster movies. Even without the moment in question or Alexandre Desplat’s gorgeous score, the texture of the film recalls old Hollywood musicals from its structure to its overflowing emotionality. But Del Toro actually goes there, and unexpectedly reveals something more than an expression of love from its heroine Eliza, played by Sally Hawkins.

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Tuesday
Jan232018

Soundtracking: 2017's Original Song Nominees

by Chris Feil

Chris here, with your weekly dose of movie music. If this year's list of Oscar nominated songs doesn't help relieve the widely stated concerns for the category, I'm not sure what will. Not only do you have a batch of memorable tunes you would have actually heard, but they also fulfill the branch's aim of being narratively resonant as well. Throw in some popular artists and rousing emotion and it might actually make for a less disposable part of the ceremony this year...

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Monday
Jan152018

Soundtracking: "Call Me By Your Name"

by Chris Feil

Luca Guadagnino has become one of our top cinematic sensualists, making films built to be felt in the mind, body, and soul. Music is one of the key tools in his arsenal, particularly for how he uses rock music in ways that feel unburdened by music video tactics. Call Me By Your Name is no exception, with both classical and more electronic music highlighting the internal struggle of its protagonist Elio.

The film begins with a John Adams composition, projecting a similar personality to what Elio thinks is expected of him...

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