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Entries by Chris Feil (689)

Wednesday
Nov 20 2019

Soundtracking: Yentl

byChris Feil

Some might reduce it to simple star vehicle, butYentldoes something quite uncommon within the musical genre: through song, it places us in the mind and isolation of exclusively one character. All of the songs belong to Barbra Streisand’s protagonist Yentl, locked in the chamber of her mind, until it triumphantly breaks out in her reality. It might seem criminal to have the likes of her costar Mandy Patinkin going songless despite being at hisEvitaandSunday in the Park with George-era peak, and maybe more condescending viewers would chalk this up to ego on the part of Streisand. But the effect gives us something that quietly defies musical convention, turning song into metaphor and providing richer payoff to the character arc. It’s only a musical inside the head of our heroine, a way of reflecting the strictures that limit her voice.

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Wednesday
Nov 13 2019

Soundtracking: Rachel Getting Married

byChris Feil

Jonathan Demme’s career was populated with a musical sensibility that bordered on spirituality, more obviously so in his many music documentaries and the definitiveStop Making Sense. His narrative films could stealthily incorporate a hum of music integral to the world he was presenting, as keenly observed as his character details. FromSomething WildtoPhiladelphiato evenRicki and the Flash, Demme would use music to make his stories come alive in authentic ways.Rachel Getting Married, his late career masterpiece, has a musical language all its own, one that represents the film’s simmering grief and provides its necessary catharsis.

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Thursday
Nov 07 2019

Review: Last Christmas

byChris Feil

A sure signal of the coming holiday season at the movies is the arrival of unpretentious lighter fare likeLast Christmas. This year’s offering falls in line with the easy charms of such previous entries as The Holiday and Almost Christmas, but also arrives with a somewhat affably strange lump of ingredients. Inspired by the Wham! song and packed with a slew of George Michael songs, the Paul Feig-directed film is co-written by Emma Thompson (with Bryony Kimmings and Greg Wise) and offers up timely context within a classic romcom structure. It’s a sugar high of a movie that remains grounded in some substance, not exactly tidy but satisfyingly more than meets the eye.

Emilia Clarke plays the disillusioned would-be singer and Yugoslavian immigrant Kate, couch-hopping between friends that she quickly burns out with carelessness and working in a Christmas-themed giftshop. She avoids her family, particularly her domineering mother (also played by Thompson), and is increasingly testing the patience of her demanding but doting boss (Michelle Yeoh). Kate’s self-destructiveness comes after a serious illness has left her not with renewed gratitude, but with a diminished sense of self she has internalized into constant misbehavior. But her main challenger in the struggle comes when a charming man on a bike named Tom (Henry Golding) wanders in and out of her life.

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Wednesday
Nov 06 2019

Soundtracking: Judy Garland Takes Over The Criterion Channel

byChris Feil

Forget Disney+, this month we have Judy+. For those of you not already subscribers to the streaming platform, The Criterion Channel has (in addition to a slew of other old studio musicals) added seven classic Judy Garland musicals to the platform for the month of November. Spanning a decade of Garland’s film career, it’s a treat from more famous titles likeMeet Me In St. Louisto other oddities such asThe Pirate. To entice you to binge as I did, let's run down one of Judy's songs from each of the films available...

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Wednesday
Oct 30 2019

Soundtracking: Hocus Pocus

byChris Feil

As derided asHocus Pocuswas at the time of its release it was ultimately wholeheartedly embraced by a generation well-accustomed to watching Disney villains sing splashy musical numbers. In just a few numbers,Hocus Pocussomewhat accidentally honors a tradition that the audience instinctively recognizes. It may not be a complete musical, butHocus Pocusfalls right in step to Ursula’s “Poor Unfortunate Souls” or Scar’s “Be Prepared”. It’s no wonder that fans constantly demand it be given the Broadway treatment -- they already think of it as belonging to the genre.

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Thursday
Oct 24 2019

Interview: Ira Sachs on "Frankie"

byChris Feil

Frankieis the latest film from director Ira Sachs, one that transplants his trademark humane examination of family dynamics to a beautiful town in Portugal. Isabelle Huppert plays the titular actress, who has insisted on a vacation with family and friends after receiving a fatal diagnosis. The film - also starring Marisa Tomei, Brendan Gleeson, Jérémire Renier, and Greg Kinnear - is Sachs’ most sprawling ensemble yet. In the span of the day, there are reconciliations and aired heartbreaks shared between lovers, step-siblings, and most importantly parents and children - all set against the revealing truth of nature and the landscape. When I sat down to talk with Sachs about the film and his point of view as a storyteller, he was every bit as warm and thoughtful and introspective as his films...

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