Tuesday, January 24, 2017

3 Thoughts on La La Land

1. The "La La" effect - It's a musical about irresistibly charming people following their dreams titled "La La Land"; it's very easy to spot whether or not that's something you will enjoy. If you don't, it's pretty easy to, you know, NOT WATCH IT. It's exactly what it's advertised as, and that's not for everyone. But for everyone else, it's a joyous experience. Anyone who has a love for film-making, will appreciate the detail and collaboration that has to occur for the first opening number alone - it is astounding film-making. It's a 6 minute long musical number featuring dozens of dancers, choreographed to perfection, singing and dancing in the middle of a Los Angeles traffic-filled freeway, and all seemingly filmed in one shot (it's actually 3 shots, which is still really impressive). As someone who doesn't always connect with the "feel good" movies, after the first scene, I was stunned into submission. It sets up the attitude of the rest of the movie, and that attitude is to just have fun. It creates a very "magical" version of Los Angeles - not realistic in ANY way, but, you know what? Who cares? I think it's one of those movies that is really hard to criticize - and that's why it feels like it's being overly praised. Nominated for a record-tying 14 Oscars, the only one I would really argue with is Ryan Gosling's nomination. And that's not because he's bad, but there were better male acting performances this past year (Jake Gyllenhaal for Demolition and Nocturnal Animals, for one). Plus, I think it's fair to admit that it's not difficult for Gosling to portray a character whose sole purpose is to charm the pants off of everyone. Emma Stone, on the other hand, is sheer perfection. Her audition scenes were spectacular - overwhelmingly heartbreaking, her fragility clear as her spirit is slowly broken throughout the film.

2. The music - I enjoyed the music. Not as much as others seem to - and it's not making me seek out the soundtrack, like past musicals such as Chicago. I think I was more focused on the camera-work, the blast of colors, and the choreography. The actual songs got a little lost for me. Then, John Legend appears and blows me away with his song - his voice is so beautiful, especially with the sound of an IMAX theater. It was actually detrimental to both Gosling and Stone, because they sound good. Maybe above average? But it's clear that they are not trained vocalists, and Legend's song just emphasizes that so much more. The songs that were nominated for the Oscar, are surprising because "Another Day in the Sun" should have been the lock, and Legend's song "Start a Fire" is the catchiest song (although, I guess we are supposed to view it as a "sell-out" song). But they picked "Audition", which is a pretty song, and, "City of Stars" which is the "theme" of the movie, and also pretty. Neither of them are stunning, award-worthy songs, in my opinion.

3. The ending - *spoilers* I knew the ending was going to be "sad" because many people described it as "heartbreaking" etc., but I LOVED it. In all of it's sappy glory, the film ended on a realistic, but still positive note - and that note is that if you keep pushing and stick to your dreams, you just might achieve them. The fact that they don't end up together isn't heartbreaking AT ALL. They still achieve success! Why is that bad? The ending montage - an imagined version of what would happen if they had the expected "romance", is just that - IMAGINED. If they stayed together, things might not have worked out for either of them. I'm a firm believer that things happen for a reason - the people who you meet during the course of your life are all part of your story. Even when I reminisce about something that I regret or think of as maybe a waste - I just remember what else occurred during that time - and in every case, I can pull something positive out of that experience. Anyway, for the hopeless romantics, I understand, I guess, that this ending is "sad". And, surprisingly, there are still a lot of hopeless romantics out there. Even my mother said she liked the movie until the end, then we went into the women's bathroom and the room full of women declared to not like the ending. Maybe it was just expected that a "feel good" movie would have a happy ending (again, to me it was), maybe if it was declared beforehand like 500 Days of Summer does, people would accept it more?

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