La La Land Reviews

The Original BJ
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Re: La La Land Reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Tue Nov 22, 2016 4:26 pm

ITALIANO wrote:I know that Original BJ meant it as a praise, but seeing this movie compared to Sleepless in Seattle and Jerry Maguire AND considered worse than Room (!) doesn't exactly make me look forward to seeing it...


I think you might actively detest this one!

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Re: La La Land Reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Tue Nov 22, 2016 4:01 pm

I know that Original BJ meant it as a praise, but seeing this movie compared to Sleepless in Seattle and Jerry Maguire AND considered worse than Room (!) doesn't exactly make me look forward to seeing it...

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Re: La La Land Reviews

Postby Greg » Tue Nov 22, 2016 3:42 pm

The Original BJ wrote:But if we're going to lament that appealing entertainments have practically vanished from cinemas -- a tradition going back to the MGM musicals referenced in this film, but continuing into the '90's with such crowd-pleasers as Sleepless in Seattle and Jerry Maguire -- I think we have to appreciate a movie like La La Land for what it does well.


It appears that role now is mostly played by animated films.
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Re: La La Land Reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Tue Nov 22, 2016 3:11 pm

La La Land is such an effervescently charming thing, I imagine a lot of people will enjoy it, as I did. For me, the movie fills the void that has been left in recent years as the mainstream romantic comedy all but disappeared from movie screens -- it's got a pair of very likable stars, winning laughs, and a lot of heart. I don't think the material deals with any astounding subject matter, and there are certain plot elements that aren't what you'd call wildly original. But if we're going to lament that appealing entertainments have practically vanished from cinemas -- a tradition going back to the MGM musicals referenced in this film, but continuing into the '90's with such crowd-pleasers as Sleepless in Seattle and Jerry Maguire -- I think we have to appreciate a movie like La La Land for what it does well.

The movie clearly stakes its claim on wanting to wow with the opening sequence, a musical number set in an LA traffic jam, filmed in a one-take wonder that, from a technical/choreographic standpoint, is dazzlingly ambitious. At the end of this sequence, we meet our two heroes, struggling actress Emma Stone, and struggling jazz pianist Ryan Gosling. The bulk of the movie involves the two characters crossing paths over and over, until they become friends, then lovers, singing and dancing through it all. Both actors are quite strong, with seemingly effortless chemistry, graceful physicality in their dance numbers, and a surprising amount of emotional heft once their relationship turns rocky. There is one area where I think both performers do sadly fall short, and that's vocally -- much to my chagrin, movie musicals still haven't figured out that great singing voices really should be a requirement in this genre.

The film's milieu is one I'm pretty intimately familiar with -- a world of casting rooms, smoky jazz clubs, black box theaters, and studio lots -- and I imagine many Angelenos, particularly those in entertainment, will find the movie captures quite well the feeling of being a foot away from fame at all times, even if that foot can sometimes feel like miles. (I do think some of the movie's jokes about L.A. culture can be a bit broad, though -- some moments feel pretty clearly designed to just flatter audiences in on the joke.) I liked that the movie's second half took a more dramatic turn, exploring the kinds of questions a lot of artists ask themselves -- when should you recognize that your dream isn't going to happen? Should you give up? And when you do "succeed," is it ungrateful to wish that your success were of a different kind? How do people with different dreams, even different tastes, juggle that with a relationship? And yet, I must acknowledge that the movie's answers to these questions didn't feel terribly unique -- I wondered what a filmmaker with more life experience (and experience that didn't include such stratospheric success so young) might have come up with for this section.

We often talk on here about movies that succeed for much of their running time and then whiff the landing. Well, La La Land certainly has no problem sticking its dismount. The finale is the most ambitious and imaginative sequence in the film, the kind that dazzles with what people used to call the magic of movies, while maintaining a hugely bittersweet edge to it. It's rare that a movie leaves its viewers on such a high without feeling like unrealistic wish fulfillment, but La La Land manages this balance pretty perfectly in its final moments.

Sets and costumes are dazzling, and in very creative ways -- the movie has such a clever color palette you find yourself marveling at small details, like the arrangement of trash cans, or the placement of potted plants, that create an overall cotton candy-textured hue while still feeling of a piece with modern, urban Los Angeles. (The film's visual design is where the Jacques Demy influence really shines through). And the music is full of ear worms, with an underscore that's ravishing in its un-ironic emotion, and two songs -- "City of Stars" and "Audition" that 100% merit nominations in that often woe-begone category. The first is essentially the film's main theme, which runs throughout the movie, sung by Gosling in bits and pieces at certain points, and then it gets its best showcase as a love duet for both leads. The latter is Stone's Oscar clip -- the showcase eleven o'clock number filmed entirely in close-up that the actress knocks out of the park emotionally.

On the whole, for a movie that had been advertised as a confection, I found myself moved by its strains of melancholy more than I expected, all while being very pleasantly entertained. It's not what you'd call a bracing piece of work, but not every movie needs to be Room, and given all that's going on in the world right now, I'm certainly happy that La La Land's optimism is out there in it.

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Re: La La Land Reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Sep 01, 2016 11:52 am

FilmFan720 wrote:It wasn't a box office giant, but I think you would have to consider Once...a critical hit, won an Oscar and did remarkably well for a small indie.

Good one.

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Re: La La Land Reviews

Postby OscarGuy » Thu Sep 01, 2016 10:24 am

Well, Peter, that's an incredibly narrow field from which to draw selections, especially as a way to devalue the film's Oscar chances. It would be like saying that when was the last black-and-white comedy silent film to compete at the Oscars before The Artist?
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Re: La La Land Reviews

Postby FilmFan720 » Thu Sep 01, 2016 9:16 am

It wasn't a box office giant, but I think you would have to consider Once...a critical hit, won an Oscar and did remarkably well for a small indie.
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Re: La La Land Reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Sep 01, 2016 9:10 am

Based on my hypothesis, The Lion King meets my criteria of the last successful completely original screen musical in terms of both music and story. The Princess and the Frog was "inspired by" The Frog Princess, Tangled was based on Rapunzel and Frozen was based on The Snow Queen. Films about the real-life Pocahontas go back to 1910.

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Re: La La Land Reviews

Postby OscarGuy » Thu Sep 01, 2016 6:25 am

Lion King was not the last success.

Pocahontas made $141 million in 1995 (adjusted to $281 M for inflation). Nominated and won for both Original Song and Comedy/Muical Score.
Hunchback of Notre Dame made $100 million in 1996 (adjusted to $196 M for inflation). Nominated for Comedy/Musical Score.
Mulan made $120 million in 1998 (adjusted to $222 M for inflation). Nominated for Comedy/Musical Score.
Tarzan made $171 million in 1999 (adjusted to $291 M for inflation). Nominated and won Original Song.

You can debate their critical acclaim (Pocahontas is the only one with a rotten rating at RT), sure, but their box office totals were successful.

Then, the rebirth saw:
The Princess and the Frog made $104 million in 2009 (adjusted to $117 M for inflation). Nominated for Animated Feature, Original Song x2
Tangled made $200 million in 2010 (adjusted to $218 M for inflation). Nominated for Original Song
Frozen made $400 million in 2013 (adjusted to $424 M for inflation). Nominated and won Animated Feature, Original Song.

Whatever your opinions of any of these films, the most recent box office/critical success musical was 2013: Frozen.
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Re: La La Land Reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Sep 01, 2016 3:37 am

anonymous1980 wrote:
Big Magilla wrote:
La La Land is an original musical, not a film version of a highly regarded Broadway hit like Chicago or the retelling of a classic tale with an eclectic, if mostly familiar mix of songs like Moulin Rouge!. What was the last successful completely original screen musical in terms of both music and story? The original Footloose?


I suppose you mean LIVE-ACTION because without that caveat the last one is The Lion King. Of course Disney is successful in turning original musicals based on familiar stories for years now with Tangled and Frozen.

OK, The Lion King.

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Re: La La Land Reviews

Postby anonymous1980 » Wed Aug 31, 2016 11:34 pm

Mister Tee wrote: Is it even technically possible they could revive the song score category? -- I'm thinking, with this and Moana, there might be real justification for it.


It's called Original Musical. According to the rules, a film has to have at least 5 original songs written by the same person or team to qualify AND at least five eligible films for the Academy to activate this category and give out an award for it. In addition to La La Land and Moana, there's also Sing Street and Pop Star: Never Stop, Never Stopping. So they need one more to activate it. Perhaps a couple of Bollywood films make an L.A. run and they have original songs so there will be enough to activate this category.

Trivia: The last person to win this award is none other than Prince for Purple Rain.

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Re: La La Land Reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Aug 31, 2016 9:13 pm

The folks at AwardsWatch have already labelled this "the clear front-runner" -- a pretty pointless designation when it's the only major Fall movie yet reviewed. Mark Harris warns: the movie you label front-runner in September is the one you lament "peaked too early" in December.

But I see no reason why this couldn't be a major contender, if audiences go for it. Though I'm one of the non-enthusiasts of Whiplash, there's no denying many were mesmerized by its director. And this seems to have the hugging-Hollywood quality that's done well for films in the recent past. You can imagine this getting near double-digits in nominations, seeing it could get song/sound/art direction/cinematography, in addition to the top-line citations. Is it even technically possible they could revive the song score category? -- I'm thinking, with this and Moana, there might be real justification for it.

It also looks like a big career boost for Emma Stone -- who could move into that circle of lovely young things who win best actress -- and Ryan Gosling. It's hard to believe it's been ten years since Gosling got the one nomination we were all fairly certain would be first of many. He's spent the intervening years just missing nods (for Lars and the Real Girl and Blue Valentine), then doing movies no one saw, but now, with The Big Short and this, he could be back up on top.

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Re: La La Land Reviews

Postby anonymous1980 » Wed Aug 31, 2016 7:59 pm

Big Magilla wrote:
La La Land is an original musical, not a film version of a highly regarded Broadway hit like Chicago or the retelling of a classic tale with an eclectic, if mostly familiar mix of songs like Moulin Rouge!. What was the last successful completely original screen musical in terms of both music and story? The original Footloose?


I suppose you mean LIVE-ACTION because without that caveat the last one is The Lion King. Of course Disney is successful in turning original musicals based on familiar stories for years now with Tangled and Frozen.

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Re: La La Land Reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Aug 31, 2016 7:43 pm

I was referring to the films themselves, not the reviews of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and Singin' in the Rain.

La La Land is an original musical, not a film version of a highly regarded Broadway hit like Chicago or the retelling of a classic tale with an eclectic, if mostly familiar mix of songs like Moulin Rouge!. What was the last successful completely original screen musical in terms of both music and story? The original Footloose?

I'm not saying it won't be a success or that it won't be nominated for a slew of Oscars, but without a Harvey Weinstein to proclaim it the best thing since sliced bread and get everyone in Hollywood to agree, I don't see it as the second coming of The Artist and certainly not of Chicago.

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Re: La La Land Reviews

Postby Sabin » Wed Aug 31, 2016 6:43 pm

Big Magilla wrote
I don't know. The reviews are great, but having seen the trailer and reading between the lines of the reviews this looks more like Jacques Demy's The Umbrellas of Cherbourg than Singin' in the Rain which might turn off as many voters as it turns on.

We shall see what we shall see.

Well, I've never read any reviews for Singin' in the Rain or The Umbrellas of Cherbourg so I'll have to take your word for that.

I don't think either comparisons work. Today's film market doesn't feature a steady output of classical Hollywood musicals. Instead, we have comic book movies. Musicals are almost exclusively awards hopefuls, so I think we have four paradigms: Chicago, Moulin Rouge, Dancer in the Dark, and failures. Based on these reviews, it is unlikely to be a failure by the standards of Nine. Dancer in the Dark is an art film, closer in spirit to The Umbreallas of Cherbourg, but commercially inaccessible and not really in the Oscar conversation. There might be some similarities but La La Land does not sound inaccessible.

La La Land sounds like it exists somewhere between Moulin Rouge! and Chicago, which is why I'm pretty sold on this thing as a heavy. Moulin Rouge! has a pop sensibility. It has an romantic, emotional pull, but it's also a big weird movie out there on a limb doing its own thing. Chicago is classical. It's a smarter piece of storytelling but in effect it's more emotionally shallow. It's primary pull is razzle dazzle and nostalgia for an era where Hollywood used to churn these things out on a regular basis. La La Land sounds like it has both a romantic, emotional pull but it's also wrapped up in Hollywood nostalgia* and that's why I'm pretty sold on this thing as a heavy. That's a strong combination.

But also I'm pretty sold on it because there's a lot of hot talent in it with Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, but mostly Damian Chazelle. There is a tone of worship surrounding him in Hollywood. His screenplay for Whiplash is considered a new model. He is somebody that they very much want to honor. I keep getting the sense that this is something that regardless of how good it is, industry types are going to want to like it.


* Which is to say it's not a film that condemns Hollywood from the outside, but rather it's about Hollywood types refinding their purpose like in films like The Artist, Argo, and Birdman. That's a hot theme. This is a toxic year for Hollywood, so I can see them taking to this message.
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