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La La Land


BitterToad
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6 hours ago, Matt Defis said:

Well I watched it all the way through and I just didn't get it, I love Whiplash but this just bored me.

Exactly the same for me. There were odd bits that I didn't mind, I quite liked the ending but otherwise I'm just not seeing it. I thought Whiplash was a masterpiece. 

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Enjoyed it, but didn't think it was as standout as I was led to believe. My girlfriend was the same, which surprised me, as I thought she'd love it. 

 

I think if we had seen it near release, prior to the hype, we might have gotten more from it.

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Same here. I think a lot of the hype is around Hollywood loving movies about Hollywood. And maybe there are references to old golden age musicals in there that I didn't get. I thought the relationship development was a bit staccato. Opening shot (or is it two, think there's a cut in there at one point) was VERY impressive.

Gosling's pianoforte also.

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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.

 

Spoiler

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.

 

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My favourite review of this was Sally Jane Black's on Letterboxd.  Not sure I agree with all its points, but it's pretty on the nose with some stuff...

 

https://letterboxd.com/film/la-la-land/

 

Quote

 


CW: white supremacy/racism/whiteness, gender

 

"you cannot be proud of being white & not be a racist. it's a tautology. you can be proud of your irish heritage. you can be proud of your german heritage. you can be proud of your lutheran heritage or your appalachian roots or your large italian family's sunday gravy tradition. you cannot be proud of your *white* heritage b/c there is no such thing. whiteness only exists as a power relationship. a system of domination is not a culture to take pride in unless you are an asshole." - k.m.

 

k. very succinctly covers it, though others have said this before in other ways. This one just happens to be the one I remember most clearly at the moment (because I saw it recently). One of the ways in which whiteness maintains its dominance is by defining itself as the standard by which other things are judged. The "no accent" voice most people think of is a white Midwestern American accent. The "lowest common denominator" that most marketers, advertisers, and Hollywood executives warp their output toward is based on standards developed with white people in mind. Because whiteness is a system of dominance, it subsumes other races and cultures into it; literally everyone within a white supremacist society interacts with and experiences whiteness. Only some are able to benefit from it; many (most?) suffer from its exclusion of, exploitation of, oppression of, repression of their existence.

 

With apologies, a white girl is going to talk about jazz: As I am given to understand, jazz was, more or less (because of bad record keeping at the time, the birth certificate of jazz is unclear on the precise location--white people demanding the full length version think it will reveal it was born in Omaha, but we all know better) born in a New Orleans flophouse, as known Caucasian Ryan Gosling says (thank you, nevin), failing to ever actually really explain it well. He mentions that the people didn't even speak the same language. He doesn't mention they weren't white. He doesn't mention what brought many of them there is that their ancestors were stolen from their homes and dragged across an ocean to be enslaved. He doesn't mention that jazz was appropriated by white musicians and white record executives and white club owners and white listeners; when confronted with the stereotypical blandness of Kenny G, he refers to passion and emotion and so on, but he doesn't talk about appropriation and history and how race played such a huge part in it all.

 

Some people will dismiss something as "too white." I will sign on: this film is too white. This is not a cultural designation; this is a note about how this film has no awareness of its cultural appropriation. This is a note about how this film sidelines every person of color. This is a note about how this film presents two main characters who replace personality with cuteness, whose entire arcs are predictable, starving artist tropes drawn from the aforementioned lowest common denominator, bland faces on bland plots on bland themes, and yet they are lauded and loved and celebrated and awarded for it. This is a note about how this film steals mythologies from black musicians and posits a white guy as some sort of passionate savior of jazz (in his own small way) while having judgment for a black man trying to make a living off a (supposedly) more accessible style.

Celebrate this film for drawing from the history of musicals. You can feel Rogers and Astaire's "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" in spirit oozing out of "A Lovely Night," even if the dancing lacks the spectacle of the former. You can sense Singin' in the Rain in the big finale dream sequence. You cannot miss Jacques Demy even if you closed your eyes and ears and only sniffed the film from across the world. Yes, those musicals have their own problematic histories to contend with, but if we impose some limits on how far back we go, at least there's a line between these things and La La Land that doesn't entirely reek of treating the art of oppressed people as a smorgasbord. Celebrate, too, the fact that while this film isn't a model of gender equality (really if someone called me a baby for crying, I'd be so done), it still features a man ceding his romantic interests to a woman's career. It could have been handled better, but it still managed to surprise me. Celebrate that this film has a scene where two people float in the air and dance. Celebrate some of those shots, especially those beautiful views of the city.

 

But do so with acknowledgments of its flaws. This film is the middle-of-the-road sort of crowdpleaser people tell you it is because it is a product of whiteness.

 

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blimey the backlash has begun. I thought it was wonderful, it's a shame some people want to create a backlash.

 

Also I sort of missed the thing where it became OK, or even a good thing, to criticise something as being "white" or "too white". I'm a big fan of Jazz by the way and I don't think the film did make a judgement about which is "better". Should any film talking about something related to Black history stop the whole thing and explain it really carefully? I don't understand these criticisms and I find them worrying, especially as they are going after the wrong targets and making the situation worse. 

 

Is it just me?

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On 2/6/2017 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.

 

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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 feel like your interpretation of the story is quite off the mark and seems to be painting Stone's character as almost villainous.

 

 

- He doesn't put all of his dreams and plans on hold. He has no money to pursue his dream of a jazz club, which is why he gets involved in the band in the first place. Until then he's moping around doing odd jobs he hates for little money. At least initially, the band is just a means to an end of him being able to realise his dream. Happening simultaneously with this is Emma Stone's character trying to get her acting break.

 - Eventually the band becomes extremely successful and starts taking over his life. He sees years of touring and recording ahead of him and no longer seems to care as much about his dream of a jazz club. She's understandably a bit concerned about the potential impact of this lifestyle on their relationship, especially after he misses her show to do a photo shoot. (I do also feel like we're meant to believe that he's selling out his principles a bit, so I do agree with the notion that the movie is making a judgement on which style is better but it didn't really bother me. Gosling's character is a music snob after all so it makes sense to dwell on the idea that he's selling out for money).

 - She gets her big break and although they both love each other, life is taking them both in completely different directions. Gosling has the opportunity to make lots of money through touring and recording with his band, eventually enabling him to set up his jazz club, while Stone has the chance to fulfil her dream of becoming a successful actress in Paris. She doesn't dump him. The final scene of them together on the bench makes it clear that they are both resigned to the fact that this is a life changing moment for both of them in which their relationship will probably not survive, but that doesn't mean that they don't really love each other.

 We don't know what happened in those five intervening years, but what happened is pretty much irrelevant to the story. Maybe they tried to make it work long distance and they couldn't. Maybe they decided to be friends and drifted apart. We don't really need to know the ins and outs of what caused them to lose contact as the mundanity of that would probably conspire to undermine the magic of the final 15 minutes or so. Which is that you can really, deeply love someone but sometimes life just gets in the way and you drift apart. But if circumstances conspire and you end up in the same room again 5 years later, your heart can still stop and the passion of everything you experienced together can still come rushing back, even if you now have different lives with different lovers in different places.

 

 

Anyway I saw the movie yesterday and enjoyed it, although perhaps not quite as much as I expected. The ending really elevates it a lot and I was quite choked up, perhaps because I could relate to it via my own personal experience of a particular relationship. But I did think it could be a bit slow and labored in the middle of the movie and I was a bit disappointed there weren't more musical numbers.

 

Honestly, I think it's as perfect an example of an ending elevating a movie from good to excellent as you're going to get. I know it's going to stay with me a long time because of the last 15 minutes, even if I was sometimes a little bored during the middle.

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Spoiler

There's that whole scene where he's listening Emma Stone's half of a conversation with her Mum, when he realise he has to get a job so Emma Stone and her Mum won't think he's a loser.

 

Like, it's fine if you walked out with a different impression, obviously. I just didn't get on with it.

 

Spoiler

And then in the flashback of, like what might have been? It all starts with them getting together more easily, but then that wasn't what pulled them apart anyway. What pulled them apart was his greater willingness to support her over his happiness. And her inability apparently to use email, phones and planes to keep a relationship alive.

 

 

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Actually, during that phone call I thought 

Spoiler

please dont let him do something stupid or rash just because of his own damn insecurities. She is not her mother, end of. I think it's rather unfair to judge her because of what her mother said. It did serve to make him rethink his life, but he needed that as he was stuck in a rut.

 

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Everybody keeps going on about the last 15-20 minutes as being amazing when I think they could just be removed and nothing would change

 

Spoiler

Stone and her husband go into Goslings club sits down realises where she is then he comes on stage the lock eyes end of story, the whole path not taken was just bollocks, it wasn't taken so it's irrelevant. 

 

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I loved whiplash too but I found it brutal and tragic. Not going to talk about the ending as many won't have seen it yet.

Everyone should experiemce those feelings of all-consuming naive romanticism even if only once. It's amazing but when it's inevitably over, it's painful.

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On 2/6/2017 at 17:04, Pete said:

blimey the backlash has begun. I thought it was wonderful, it's a shame some people want to create a backlash.

 

Also I sort of missed the thing where it became OK, or even a good thing, to criticise something as being "white" or "too white". I'm a big fan of Jazz by the way and I don't think the film did make a judgement about which is "better". Should any film talking about something related to Black history stop the whole thing and explain it really carefully? I don't understand these criticisms and I find them worrying, especially as they are going after the wrong targets and making the situation worse. 

 

Is it just me?

 

 

Well, clearly not just you hence all the green.  I'm not sure I'd describe that review as a 'backlash' either.  It's not the review I would write (I enjoyed the film) but I do like the fact it challenges some of the cultural aspects.

 

If we don't analyse stuff for cultural appropriation and just view things in isolation that's, hmmm, sort of ok?  But we have to be careful we're not whitewashing / Whitesplaining / overusing the 'White Saviour' paradigm in our films at the same time.  

 

There's nothing inherently wrong with a story about two comparatively rich, Western white kids who actually have very few worries in life, facing trials and tribulations centered entirely around their love lives - escapism is fine.  Once you bring in things like Jazz, though, and Gosling being the filter through which we judge both that musical style and also the black proponents of it in the film, you have to choose: you can either dismiss the film as fluff to ignore the deeper implications, or you can acknowledge that it has a cultural bias.

 

Being white myself, I don't feel I can or should judge how black Americans will react to the film, but I'd like to think I check my privilege frequently enough to know when there are potential worries.  Looks like there is a lot of wider discussion on this, too and yes - bit of a backlash:

 

Guardian:  The La La Land backlash: why have critics turned on the Oscar favorite?It might have a record-tying 14 Oscar nominations but the musical hit has been criticized for its treatment of race, gender and jazz]

 

Washington Post:

Your guide to the ‘La La Land’ backlash

 

So yeah, a complex issue.  I'm not saying I ascribe to all these views in full (or sometimes even in part) but we do have to be careful we're considering this stuff otherwise behemoths like - say - Disney don't either. Being forced to check their cultural 'sensitivity' ensured The Force Awakens and Rogue One weren't whitewashed (and that Moana got made).  The knock-on effect is that progressive stuff like Moonlight at least has a legit shot at an Oscar. 

 

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10 hours ago, Matt Defis said:

Everybody keeps going on about the last 15-20 minutes as being amazing when I think they could just be removed and nothing would change

 

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Stone and her husband go into Goslings club sits down realises where she is then he comes on stage the lock eyes end of story, the whole path not taken was just bollocks, it wasn't taken so it's irrelevant. 

 

 

Spot on. I find 90% of recent films always have the perfect end point, then ruin it by tacking on "what happened next" for idiots. See Arrival for a prime example.

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11 hours ago, Matt Defis said:

Everybody keeps going on about the last 15-20 minutes as being amazing when I think they could just be removed and nothing would change

 

  Hide contents

Stone and her husband go into Goslings club sits down realises where she is then he comes on stage the lock eyes end of story, the whole path not taken was just bollocks, it wasn't taken so it's irrelevant. 

 

 

 

That whole bit is a nod to 'The Umbrellas of Cherbourg'. The time skip forward, the children born off camera etc.

 

I thought it went on a little long.

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Oh man, I completely disagree about the ending.

 

 

Of course it's not irrelevant that they didn't take that path in the end. We've all had moments in life when we've wondered how things might have turned out if we'd turned left instead of right or if circumstances didn't dictate that a particular path got closed off to us. 

The musical number at the end is both a dizzying, joyful celebration of everything they had while they were together, as well as a bittersweet ode to what could have been if they hadn't both gone in different directions to follow their dreams. It's that exuberant musical sequence which makes the scene where their eyes lock at the end so much more poignant. If that musical number wasn't present and they just locked eyes it wouldn't be completely without emotion, but it needs that contrast of the rush of happy memories, followed by the tinge of regret and sadness of a future together that never materialised, in order really earn that emotional kick from the wordless, final goodbye. 

It's idealised, almost fairytale romanticism, sure, but it's also a movie where people burst into song spontaneously and perform dance numbers against a vivid lilac sunset. I think you either buy into it completely or you don't.

 

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50 minutes ago, Majora said:

Oh man, I completely disagree about the ending.

 

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Of course it's not irrelevant that they didn't take that path in the end. We've all had moments in life when we've wondered how things might have turned out if we'd turned left instead of right or if circumstances didn't dictate that a particular path got closed off to us. 

The musical number at the end is both a dizzying, joyful celebration of everything they had while they were together, as well as a bittersweet ode to what could have been if they hadn't both gone in different directions to follow their dreams. It's that exuberant musical sequence which makes the scene where their eyes lock at the end so much more poignant. If that musical number wasn't present and they just locked eyes it wouldn't be completely without emotion, but it needs that contrast of the rush of happy memories, followed by the tinge of regret and sadness of a future together that never materialised, in order really earn that emotional kick from the wordless, final goodbye. 

It's idealised, almost fairytale romanticism, sure, but it's also a movie where people burst into song spontaneously and perform dance numbers against a vivid lilac sunset. I think you either buy into it completely or you don't.

 

This is exactly how I feel about this whole last scene argument and frankly I'm very happy it's here so that I don't have to write it out myself. 

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On 6 February 2017 at 08:38, Uncle Mike said:

 

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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.

 

 

But she didn't dump him, he chose to stay. The flashback at the end shows what would have happened if he'd chosen to go with her. My girlfriend still rants about how dumb he was

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I saw this last night in an absolutely packed cinema, so it's clearly still drawing the crowds. Loved every minute of it and, as seems to be the norm, I went home and bought the soundtrack. Really enjoyed the commute this morning, but now can't get the damned thing out of my head. 

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On 06/02/2017 at 10:37, Treble said:

My favourite review of this was Sally Jane Black's on Letterboxd.  Not sure I agree with all its points, but it's pretty on the nose with some stuff...

 

https://letterboxd.com/film/la-la-land/

 

I respectfully have to dissagree with this and I think this kind of backlash is ridiculous and just looking for an angle. Judge a film based on its script, acting, directing, score, editing, cinematopgraphy etc not if the two leads are racial diverse or not.

 

I didnt see anything in this film to suggest it was about race, more about the struggle of people trying to follow their dreams. Their race didnt ever cross my mind. Maybe thats because I'm white and I dont see things how a none white person would, I dont know. It just seems now that we not allowed to have films with two lead white people without it being an issue. Are white people not allowed to like Jazz or black music either? 

 

I even saw one responce to this review saying [Sic] "damien chazelle, a white man, has made two films centered  around jazz which both seem to ignore how jazz was created by and for black people."

 

Yes it was created by black people, but so was many other forms of music that over time white people have learnt to love and appreciate. I never once saw any race issue in this film or saw it as having undertones of a "white savoir of Jazz". It just so happens that DC chose a white actor his lead, nothing more nothing less. If he'd had made Goslings character love Western music instead would we still have the same discussions or is it literally because a white lead loves Jazz?

 

To me its as bad as the review I saw of Passengers that saidnit was nothing more than a film about male dominance and misogyny because *Spoiler, but not really* a man forced his will onto the woman ans let her out early. All I saw was a very lonely and isolated mans obsession get the better of him. But obviously someone found a way to turn that into a diversity issue.

 

Dont get me wrong, I 100% agree that diversity is still a massive issue in the film indistry. Just look at the acadamies lack of diversity, the lack of woman directors, the pay scale, the white washing of asian films/characters etc. I just dont think this film falls under that banner just because the leads are both white and one of them loves MOBO music. 

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8 minutes ago, Stigweard said:

I respectfully have to dissagree with this and I think this kind of backlash is ridiculous and just looking for an angle. Judge a film based on its script, acting, directing, score, editing, cinematopgraphy etc not if the two leads are racial diverse or not.

 

Are we not allowed to have films with two lead white actors anymore? Are white peoole not allowed to like Jazz? I even saw one responce to this review saying [Sic] "damien chazelle, a white man, has made two films centered  around jazz which both seem to ignore how jazz was created by and for black people."

 

Yes it was created by black people, but so was many other forms of music that over time white people have learnt to love and appreciate. I never once saw any race issue in this film or saw it as having undertones of a "white savoir of Jazz". It just so happens that DC chose a white actor his lead, nothing more nothing less. If he'd had made Goslings character love Western music instead would we sti have the same discussions or is it literally because a white lead loves Jazz?

 

To me its as bad as the review I saw of Passengers that saidnit was nothing more than a film about male dominance and misogyny because *Spoiler, but not really* a man forced his will onto the woman ans let her out early. All I saw was a very lonely and isolated mans obsession get the better of him. But obviously someone found a way to turn that into a diversity issue.

 

Dont get me wrong, I 100% agree that diversity is still a massive issue in the film indistry. Just look at the acadamies lack of diversity, the lack of woman directors, the pay scale, the white washing of asian films/characters etc. I just done think this film falls under that banner just because the leads are both white and one of them loves MOBO music. 

 

Well, I respectfully disagree. You don't change the conversation by making films that ignore or marginalise other cultures, and their contribution to the society in which they were created.  

 

Consider, on a very basic level what's the message here?  It's that Gosling's character has mastered Jazz, is portrayed as more talented than (and slumming it with) a black band, who he also criticises for not doing black music properly.     

 

Everyone has to do the 'check your privilege' thing when it comes to stuff like this. This sort of marginalization seems trivial only to the people who aren't trivialized or marginalized. 

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But Gosling hasn't mastered jazz - he's shown obsessively practicing his Jazz by copying tapes of his masters. It's his on going passion. He's worshiping at the altar, not the idol itself.

 

He isn't portrayed as more talented than the 'black band' - he's portrayed as more stubbornly holding onto the classic form of Jazz and encouraged to embrace change to stop his type of Jazz withering on the vine. The only person he is explicitly portrayed as better than is their former keyboardist who is never shown and hence, shock, may well not be black. 

 

He criticises them for not doing Jazz properly, which he is entirely in his rights to do. Why on earth is Jazz or anything, especially music, suddenly only able to be criticised by those who have the same racial background as the progenitors of that music? Why is Jazz not seen as American music that only Americans can criticise? If it was a woman who invented Jazz, would only women be able to criticise it? If it was a lesbian, would only lesbians? Exactly what metric are you using here to ascertain correct behaviour. It's just utterly arbitraty and moronic to make these kind of divisions, and actually very oppressive and divisive. Stop taking offence where none is meant and twisting everything into racial opposites when it serves no purpose.

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2 minutes ago, Treble said:

 

Well, I respectfully disagree. You don't change the conversation by making films that ignore or marginalise other cultures, and their contribution to the society in which they were created.  

 

Consider, on a very basic level what's the message here?  It's that Gosling's character has mastered Jazz, is portrayed as more talented than (and slumming it with) a black band, who he also criticises for not doing black music properly.     

At what point is he viewed as being more talented? Hes clearly not more talented as the band made it without him in the first place and hes a strugglig artist. They asked him to join but we already succeful. He just didn't like the style they were playing, but so what? Music style changes all the time but just because you love one form doesnt mean you'll love what it evolved into.

 

Would it have been better if the band were white? "look at these white people destorying the jazz music I love". It doesnt matter what race they were, he just hated the new style. Did the lead have to black just because culturally hes closer to Jazz than a white man, even though there are plenty of white jazz muscians?

 

Do you consider a film like 8 Mile racist because its the story of a white man being better at rap than a black man? Even though its based on Eminems real life.

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