Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

La La Land

Finally, LA LA LAND. See the hit movie, sure, but don't think it's the best musical ever just because you've never seen a musical.

The Oracle, my friend Martin says:
Believe the hype! Damien Chazelle's gorgeous, bitter-sweet new musical LA LA LAND filters both Demy and Minnelli through Chazelle's own post-modern vision of a 21st century LA that's steeped in a mythical musical past. This is a movie the way I sometimes remember movies used to be; big, bold, innovative and totally unafraid to take chances. It begins with a genuinely entrancing homage to the kind of fifties song-and-dance films that Gene Kelly might have dreamed up before launching into a boy-meets-girl love affair that isn't afraid to threaten to turn sour a la NEW YORK NEW YORK, (another musical it pays homage to with its jazz inflected score), but never really does. 
This is a truly uplifting experience. unashamedly romantic and blessed with a couple of sublime performances from Ryan Gosling and especially Emma Stone who together make falling in love seem like the most natural thing in the world. LA LA LAND recently picked up seven Golden Globes and is virtually guaranteed to sweep the boards at next month's Oscars. Who says they don't make 'em like this anymore.

I agree with most of that, but I do not regard it a a muscial as such - apart from the astonishing opening scene on the freeway, and some nice moments with the two leads dancing. Anyone who knows Jacques Demy's UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG or, especially, LES DEMOISELLES DE ROCHEFORT from 1967 with its candy colours and the whole cast dancing - and yes, an older Gene Kelly is there too - will find much to enjoy here. It is certainly the film of the season, let's see how the rest of the awards pile up ...

1 comment:

  1. Lifting this response from a previous post on Nocturnal Animals and La La Land -- I'm soooooooo in the minority here!

    "As a SAG award nominator, I was deluged with DVD screeners this year and am slowly making my way through them. Have to say that so far, Nocturnal Animals is the best thing I've seen (in many a year, in fact), and La La Land is hands down the worst (again, in many a year). (And I'm projecting them 7' wide, so the fault isn't that I didn't see it "on the big screen.")

    La La Land's much vaunted opening sequence (set to an absolutely awful song -- which is par for the entire "score") has all the visual and choreographic freshness of an 80's Doctor Pepper commercial. (Didn't kids already dance on cars in a traffic jam in Fame?)

    The choreography for the two leads kept reminding me of the walking-in-rhythm stuff Ernie Flatt was forced to come up with when that week's guest on The Carol Burnett Show couldn't dance. The two (underwritten) leads are without charisma individually, and without chemistry together. And while having a leading lady who can't sing or dance is what makes Torch Song so much fun, no such fun is to be had here; the leads can't sing or dance, and are completely devoid of charm (though the movie keeps insisting that we should find them adorable). The biggest flaw is that we're given no reason to give a damn about what happens to these two incredibly unappealing characters.

    I bailed after the first half, which lasted approximately 6 months. The most over praised, overhyped movie in years..."