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(A&F links to Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench (2009) and Whiplash (2014).) Wikipedia: “La La Land is an upcoming American musical comedy-drama film directed and written by Damien Chazelle. The film stars Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, J. K. Simmons, Finn Wittrock, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Meagen Fay. Summit Entertainment will release the film domestically on July 15, 2016.”
Kyle Smith: At last, I can write the words, “‘Fame,’ meet ‘Full Metal Jacket.’” Miles Teller, who is much more chill and assured than he was last year, when he tried way too hard in “The Spectacular Now,” plays a New York kid who is a freshman at a fictitious music conservatory. He attracts the attention of the terrifying conductor (an outstanding J.K. Simmons) of the school’s all-star jazz orchestra, who begins putting him through his blistering paces with a combination of verbal and physical abuse, hilarious sarcastic putdowns and many brutal homophobic “Full Metal Jacket”-style slurs that clearly stunned the politically ubercorrect audience at the Eccles theater. Fletcher (Simmons) refers to one student as “Mr. Gay Pride of the Upper West Side. This isn’t a Bette Midler concert!” and repeatedly slaps his young protege in the face. A classic line: “Do you want to know why I just hurled a chair at you?” Another (I paraphrase): “The saddest words in the English language are, ‘good job.’” Comparisons with Charlie Parker and Buddy Rich arise, with the understanding that this kid has a chance to be a genius of the skins, but only if he is willing to give it everything and then some. The film is gripping, funny and inspiring: Imagine “The Karate Kid” with Mr. Miyagi played by R. Lee Armey. . . .
This weekend I saw a great movie, Margaret, but was at least as impressed by Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, a film I knew nothing about going into it. It's wonderful! Like Margaret, I found one or two things I could cite as less than perfect, but when the highs are as high as this film delivers, what's the point? Do you, like me, love The Umbrellas of Cherbourg? Do you love cinema verite? Have you ever considered what a combination of the two might look like? Wait! Don't let that head of yours explode! Find this film (my library carries the DVD; don't ask me about Netflix -- I don't have it) and watch it. Especially if you love jazz. I think jazz might be the key to my response. Sure, I have a soft spot for MGM musicals, but for me, the visuals have almost always trumped the songs in those films, even the most beloved. In Guy and Madeline, the music is wonderful. A bit uneven, yes, but the jazz playing looks and sounds spontaneous (there's a "live" quality to the footage; not sure how many takes were required, how much was improvised, etc.), and the tap-dancing is a treat! "Magical" is an overused term in reference to movie musicals, but this film approaches it, maybe even gets there a few times. I think the less said about what happens storywise, the better. It's not complicated, it's just that ... well, let's just say that if you fall in love with this film, it probably won't be the characters you fall in love with so much as the filmmaking and some of the artistic choices made. This film was a big surprise, and it made me very, very happy. EDITED to add links to John Anderson's review in Variety: http://www.variety.c...100?refcatid=31 And to David Hudson's roundup at Mubi's "The Daily": http://mubi.com/note...nch-events-more