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La La Land

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39 minutes ago, Treble said:

Fair enough, I'll give it a re-watch and see if my opinions change. 

I dont think it will but will be interesting to see if you do see something different in it.

 

I just realised my posts came out as quite agresssive too but I didnt mean them too. Apologies if you thought they were.

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Nah man, it's all good, I like to be challenged on stuff :)

 

I did actually enjoy the film on a superficial level, by the way - people compare it to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg  but that's a slightly lazy comparison as UoC is like an opera where everything is sung. I actually think LLL is a far more successful and enjoyable piece of musical work than that one.  Not as pretty, not as dramatically satisfying, but more successful in blending great tunes with a grown-up drama.

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Very late to the party with this, but I absolutely loved it - my expectations were pretty high, and it exceeded them. The chemistry between a career-best Stone and Gosling at his most likeably laconic was dynamite, the songs were great, the cinematography sumptuous, and the story simple but affecting. At times it felt less like a trad musical and more like a mid-budget dramedy that happened to have some singing and dancing in. It's clear that neither of the leads are seasoned pros in either discipline, but that only added to the appeal for me - the flaws made them feel more human, and their relationship more relatable. And there's something thrilling about watching them perform knowing that; with many of the numbers shot in long, unforgiving takes, it felt a bit like witnessing a daring high-wire act. 

 

I think it could stand to lose maybe 10 minutes, but I was happy to forgive the few longueurs after such a wonderful final act (which I'm not afraid to admit had me choked up). Everything from Audition onward was immaculately judged. Chazelle seems to have a knack of writing endings that have you leaving the cinema on a high. The infuriatingly talented prick. 

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This won't make me popular (and I don't agree with every word in it - I don't have much truck with the arguments about white people championing jazz, and I thought both Gosling and Stone did a great job with the acting and the singing/dancing) but the dissatisfaction I felt with the characters' self-obsession rang through for me:

 

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/feb/23/la-la-lands-inevitable-oscars-win-is-a-disaster-for-hollywood-and-for-us

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Started watching this earlier, lasted 31 minutes. Found what I watched incredibly smug, when it wasn't meandering.

 

Will go back to finish it off at some point because I rarely turn a film off and want to tick off the last few Oscar-nominated films but reaction was pretty much the same as to the trailer.

 

Actually pretty disappointed because I really liked Whiplash.

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Crushingly smug and pedestrian, a huge disappointment after Whiplash. Deeply annoying and unlikable characters with zero chemistry and surprisingly limited acting range, even for Ryan Gosling who has added "piano" to his list of props to hide behind. The sooner Hollywood stops congratulating itself for existing the better.

 

Fantastic soundtrack though.

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Saw this last night.

For me it lived up to the hype but Gosling's performance did pull it down a bit. The guy has hardly any emotional range and it was really noticeable here

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On 2017-4-8 at 00:54, Moz said:

Crushingly smug and pedestrian, a huge disappointment after Whiplash. Deeply annoying and unlikable characters with zero chemistry and surprisingly limited acting range, even for Ryan Gosling who has added "piano" to his list of props to hide behind. The sooner Hollywood stops congratulating itself for existing the better.

 

Fantastic soundtrack though.

Oof! Stop making me dislike this movie lol!

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Film is great. Looks stunning. But feels like it's missing an emotional beat in the second act connecting the two leads. [/wankhat]  Would have been nice to see them supporting each other through other stuff than their career-aspirations. Would have been nice if this musical had more than one memorable song. Would be nice if the director goes on to make a film that isn't about fucking jazz.

 

But I still loved it. Parts of it were just masterfully done. A treat, just shy of a classiic for me, but I think it will be regarded as such a future.

 

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On 06/02/2017 at 08:38, Uncle Mike said:

I saw it yesterday. I'd freely admit it was more for my girlfriend than me,  but she was a bit let down also.

 

I just didn't get the story the film was telling. It was just self-obsessed white people problems: the musical, and I left annoyed with them.

 

So whilst I like the singing and dancing and clothes and sets and stuff, I didn't rate the story much.

 

  Reveal hidden contents

Like, so they're both struggling poor artists, and get together. Then he puts all his dreams and plans on hold so he can support her both financially and psychologically to get the right exposure to get her break. And then she dumps him to do that, and that's just fine, and he carries on with his dream. Despite that they both supposedly love each other forever.

 

I've only just watched this last night, but I must say my reading of it, and particularly the ending, is different to yours.

Spoiler

Their separation was not brought about by her "dumping" him as you put it, but by him telling her she'd have to put everything into her career and that there was no time for them. It was pretty clear that he wasn't prepared to even try and make it work.

 

The flashback ending makes even more sense viewed that way. It's not his recollection and interpretation of events, or a shared one, but hers. We know this because of one key scene which they didn't share together - the husband, child and nanny.

 

After all, she did manage to follow her dreams and balance a successful career with a committed relationship, and in a relatively short space of time. 

 

The line that keeps ringing in my ears is "Hollywood worships everything but values nothing"

 That criticism could be aimed at Seb who was stuck in the past, not fully able to embrace and enjoy the present. 

 

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I still weep that people in this thread said that the musical number at the end should have been cut. It's both the best part and the emotional climax of the entire movie FFS!

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Yes, I saw this recently and thought it was pretty decent, it’s a nice flick.

 

I have noticed, however, with something approaching an incandescent rage, that frothy young upstart @Treble is claiming it is a better film than The Umbrellas of Cherbourg!!!

 

However, that was a year ago, so he has no doubt since reconsidered and made amends for his heinous crime.

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I like the bit where Gosling is explaining why he likes jazz. I'm not being snarkey, this isn't a comment on white man explaining black jazz, I just genuinely like it. He says it like he means it. I think what surprised me about the film is that even though Stone and Gosling have great chemistry in Crazy Stupid Love I didn't think in this they connected. Their romance was weak for me. Something about Gosling's character was off, I didn't sense his attachment to Stone's character. 

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17 hours ago, ZOK said:

Yes, I saw this recently and thought it was pretty decent, it’s a nice flick.

 

I have noticed, however, with something approaching an incandescent rage, that frothy young upstart @Treble is claiming it is a better film than The Umbrellas of Cherbourg!!!

 

However, that was a year ago, so he has no doubt since reconsidered and made amends for his heinous crime.

 

That's a bit of an over-simplification ;)

 

I think UoC is really striking and completely unique. It's a very sensuous flick but everything being sung, opera-style, doesn't work for me. LLL is extremely simplistic by comparison, its shots chocolate box pretty but not stunning. However, it's a musical with proper songs that really work.

 

In all honesty, it's a moot point as I'm not really a fan of either! Just not my jam. UoC is the better film though, yep.

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It took me a while to get into this but I was really quite enamoured by it by the end. I liked setting up Gosling as cool and aloof and then putting him in demeaning positions like the pool party band and the Color Me Badd get-up. The lip-biting bit was hilarious.

 

In general I preferred it when the music was diegetic, apart from the ending. That was just brilliant. 

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On 16/02/2017 at 11:26, Treble said:

Fair enough, I'll give it a re-watch and see if my opinions change. 

 

On 16/02/2017 at 12:05, Stigweard said:

I dont think it will but will be interesting to see if you do see something different in it.

 

I just realised my posts came out as quite agresssive too but I didnt mean them too. Apologies if you thought they were.

 

Not sure if anyone remembers this conversation, but I finally got around to a re-watch.

 

Hmm, right. We;ll, the conversation has changed a LOT in 18 months. Moonlight (rightfully) beat this to the Oscar, yet even that win got marred by the morons reading out the wrong winner. Now the narrative is "Remember when Moonlight won and they read out La La Land by mistake?" rather than simply, "Remember when Moonlight - that film about gay black people - won Best Picture?".  A smallish thing, but an annoying thing.We've had releases of Black Panther, Wonder Woman, Coco, etc. and have a better understanding of how our privilege can stop the right voices telling their stories.

 

So, to Whiplash. The Shaffer school (a stand-in for the real world Julliard) is - I guess - unlikely to have a large proportion of black pupils, simply down to economic factors. There are a handful of black pupils in scenes, only one where two talk (in sotto voce) and no black protagonists. In itself and due to the nature of the story - one person, who happens to be white, is blind to all other factors in life due to career ambition - not a problem. Odd, but not a problem.

 

J.K. Simmon's professor - Fletcher - insults all his pupils with gay jibes, calling them 'faggot' and talking about them 'sucking cock'. Not a problem in and of itself, but there's no subtle nod to the fact he's doing this; no character calling him out on it; no positive (or even neutral) portrayal of a gay character to compensate; no insinuation that Fletcher is a self-hating gay man a la Beau Travail. So we have to assume Damien Chazelle has these intentions. Odd, out of step with modern culture, but not (necessarily) a problem.

 

Then, on to La La Land.  Again, POC are not represented very much here. Singing City of Stars, Gosling hands a hat back to a black man who says 'thank you', but is muted and we don't hear him. We hear a couple of sentences from his backing band. Mia marries a white guy who is accorded several lines of dialogue. Seb's sister marries a black man, and you never hear him speak. John Legend  gets a decent part, but he's famous outside of the film. There are no Latino/Latina parts that I can recall, despite LA being 50% Hispanic. So yeah, another film about two obsessed and self-obsessed people where the people in the background are pretty much just matte paintings. Odd, but not in and of itself a problem.

 

So yes, my opinion has changed. Do I think the film is overtly racist? No. Do I think it disrespects the importance of the black voice in Jazz? Nope. What what's the problem? Well, it's not 100% necessary to have representation of different ethnicities in films, or of gender. If you don't give voice to other sections of society to tell your very specific story, that's not inherently bad.

 

It does become an issue when every tale you tell is set in and around cultures that are not white, yet you ignore them. Not according any power or voice to the people whose faces make up a city and inform its entire lifestyle (Hispanic people in LA), not empowering the black voice in two (two!) films about Jazz music. 

 

For the record, I think LLL operates on two levels: superficially it's about how you have to choose whether to compromise love for art, or vice versa. The slim subtext is that 'artists are self-involved' as evidenced by the characters in Mia and Seb's liives being utterly peripheral. This subtext is thinly-sketched as not to interfere with the plot, which I think is the right choice - the film is very melancholic already; even the original songs are downers.

 

It should be operating on a third level - acknowledging the world around it, and explaining why we don't have non-white characters in prominent roles, in a city 60% non-white, performing music created by black people and mostly still performed and advanced by black people. But no one single thing is a problem, it's the gestalt. It doesn't make LLL a bad film, nor a racist one, but it makes it tone deaf, unintentionally anachronistic* and superficial in a way that's not intended. Chazelle clearly thinks he's covered his bases by acknowledging these characters are selfish and privileged (both main characters whine endlessly about their lives, whilst being employed and living in nice houses) but in doing so is blind to the other pitfalls he's created.


TL;DR: La La Land is an ok movie that has some well-crafted musical numbers, good (but not great) performances, and doesn't drag too much. It's not racist; it doesn't negate the roots of Jazz in black culture.  It does, however, fluff having any deeper significance or cultural relevance due to a multitude of minor sins caused by Chazelle's refusal to incorporate any non-white, non-male, non-hetero perspectives. That's fine, but it remains a superficial and trivial film for those reasons.

 

* Chazelle toys with anachronisms - the clothes, the art deco side of LA, the obsession with traditional Jazz, Rebel without a Cause - but only in a superficial, "Hollywood musicals eh?!" kind of way.

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