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J.A.A. Purves

La La Land (2016)

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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.”

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La La Land will open the Venice Film Festival. U.S. release date has been pushed back to December 16:

Quote

The festival described the film as “a modern take on the classic Hollywood romance, which is heightened by spectacular song-and-dance numbers, as two dreamers struggle to make ends meet while they pursue their passions in a city known for destroying hopes and breaking hearts.”

“Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress, serves lattes to movie stars in between auditions, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a dedicated jazz musician, scrapes by playing cocktail piano gigs in dingy bars, but as success mounts they are faced with decisions that begin to fray the fragile fabric of their love affair, and the dreams they worked so hard to maintain in each other threaten to rip them apart.”

I was wondering earlier this week why I hadn't seen a trailer or heard anything about the film, knowing it was supposed to be released in July. Looking forward to this one, mostly based on Chazelle's direction in Whiplash.

Edited by Joel Mayward

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Our first glimpse of La La Land:

 

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Well, that pair are becoming the Jennifer Lawrence/Bradley Cooper of their generation.  ;)

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As a rising (fully arrived?) filmmaker, Chazelle continues to intrigue me.  Is the look of La La Land influenced by Francis Coppola's One From the Heart, of all things? 

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The second teaser trailer, this time highlighting Stone's vocals:

 

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Okay, I'll commit a flagrant, premature, completely irresponsible prediction: This takes the Oscar from Silence and Birth of a Nation.

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If it works, yep.

But this could easily turn out to be another One from the Heart.

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Considering how much the Academy liked Whiplash, that they'd want to reward a bigger, grander picture by Chazelle seems highly probable.

The trailer has subtle, but distinct vibes of Jacques Demy, so if it's half as good as his best films, this will be sublime.

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I was going to say that there's also the "sophomore slump" issue to consider, but apparently Whiplash was Chazelle's second film, and this was his first:

... And now I see that we already have a thread on that film. Interesting.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Brian Tallerico:

 One of many remarkable things about Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land” is how much energy and time it devotes to movement and music, not just lyrics. The modern movie musicals, so often based on Broadway shows, have focused heavily on songs that further plot. In Chazelle’s vision, choreography matters and a simple piano refrain can have more power than a lyric. This is a beautiful film about love and dreams, and how the two impact each other. Los Angeles is filled with dreamers, and sometimes it takes a partner to make your dream come true.

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Probably my favorite film at TIFF -- and that's in a year with a new Dardennes film. 

I'd be really surprised if this is not your Oscar frontrunner. 

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How good is La La Land? I didn't really mind the fact that one song used "you and I", for rhyming purposes, when the grammatically correct expression would have been "you and me". There was another bit, though, that felt a bit odd, where someone sings "she and I" and, in context, I believe "her and me" would have been more correct...

I liked this film quite a bit, though the whole "Oscar front-runner" thing bugs me a bit because there have already been quite a few Best Picture winners about Hollywood lately (The Artist, Argo, Birdman... that last film is technically about Broadway, but the main character is a movie star trying to revitalize his career, so).

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Richard Brody is not a fan -- and for reasons that dovetail with his dislike of Hacksaw Ridge. Too much emphasis on loner individuals, not enough emphasis on community and collaboration.

 

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Brody also makes some of the same criticisms that Nick Pinkerton does in his review, essentially complaining that this is NOSTALGIA: THE MUSICAL. 

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I loved it. Haven't seen a fictional movie romance as mature and adult as this one in awhile (and by "adult" I don't mean "lots of sex," as this is quite a chaste film). Makes for a great date night film, and any movie that prompts my non-cinephile wife want to want to watch Rebel Without a Cause with me afterwards is worth noting.

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I'm with Brody. So is Suz, who was irked by the film. 

Edited by SDG

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33 minutes ago, SDG said:

I'm with Brody. So is Suz, who was irked by the film. 

Oooh!

I'll be seeing this in a few days. I have no idea where I'll land.

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I saw it today. I'm writing a review now, but my first paragraph reads thus:

Quote

I like musicals. Actually, that’s not true. I love musicals. My top ten favorite films list includes Singin’ in the Rain, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, and Sweeney Todd, all of which I have seen more times than I can count. When Criterion released a box set of the complete Jacques Demy films, I purchased it as soon as I could. I enjoy and have defended the artistry of Rob Marshall’s adaptations of Chicago and Into the Woods 9 (his adaptation of Nine, however, is beyond defense). I own the complete vocal scores for seven musicals and the vocal selections for countless others. I think Love Me Tonight and All That Jazz are both astonishing works of cinema as well as great musicals, and I routinely encourage everyone to watch the former (the latter being too graphic for a general endorsement). In middle school and high school I wrote two musicals, each over two hours in length (I wrote score, lyrics, and libretto – the musicals were not good, but it’s a testament to how much I love the art form). All that is to say: few things fill me with as much joy as a well made musical, and few things pain me as much as a musical gone wrong.

Take a guess whether I think La La Land falls under "well made" or "gone wrong." (For the record, I don't think "technically proficient" equals "well made.")

Edited by Evan C

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3 hours ago, Evan C said:

I saw it today. I'm writing a review now, but my first paragraph reads thus:

Take a guess whether I think La La Land falls under "well made" or "gone wrong." (For the record, I don't think "technically proficient" equals "well made.")

I'm going to guess the latter. :)

It's interesting, because I don't really enjoy many musicals, much to my wife's chagrin. And the ones I do enjoy are either the exceptional ones (Singin' in the Rain, The Wizard of Oz) or don't follow many of the usual genre norms, such as John Carney's films. I felt like La La Land did both--it made a plethora of nods to previous musicals and Hollywood classics (especially Demy and Gene Kelly's films), yet within a modern-day context and sensibility. I think it's a very millennial film, in the generational sense, which is something I hope to unpack in a longer essay in the future.

Edit: Gonna ask a question here, both to Evan and the larger A&F community: What makes a musical "well made"? How would one discern between a great musical and a not-so-great one? What criteria matter most?

Edited by Joel Mayward

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Well, I felt like the Grinch writing this.

Quote

For every wonderful breathtaking moment of inspiring beauty (and there are a lot), there are one or two moments of clunky technical distractions grounding the film to earth.

....

However, the ending undoes any goodwill I was inclined to give the film. Admittedly, Justin Hurwitz’  score is excellent, Mandy Moore’s choreography is stunning, and the production design is gorgeous. None of that makes up for the sloppy, ham-fisted copying of vastly superior musical.

....

Just like The Artist was a silent film for people who had never seen a silent film, La La Land is basically a musical for people who don’t particularly care for musicals. If you want to see La La Land, I’m not going to discourage you, but do yourself a favor and watch several Jacques Demy musicals first, most importantly The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and The Young Girls of Rochefort, both of which soar head and heels over this film, and neither of which this film would exist without.

 

1 hour ago, Joel Mayward said:

Edit: Gonna ask a question here, both to Evan and the larger A&F community: What makes a musical "well made"? How would one discern between a great musical and a not-so-great one? What criteria matter most?

Isn't that a variation on what makes any work of art great? For musicals, I would say good score, good lyrics, and all the parts contribute to the whole, the last of which is where La La Land really fell for me.

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1 hour ago, Evan C said:

Isn't that a variation on what makes any work of art great? For musicals, I would say good score, good lyrics, and all the parts contribute to the whole, the last of which is where La La Land really fell for me.

I suppose, though different mediums and genres entail different criterion--I wouldn't evaluating a musical film in the same way I'd evaluate a staged musical, or a horror film, or a book of poetry, or a Bruegel painting. I value your opinion on this genre because I know you're fond of musicals and have a musician's experience in viewing the film. The question behind my original question was, am I missing something unique about musicals here? As this film had a great score, great lyrics, and all the parts contributed well to the whole--plus I'm a person who doesn't particularly care for many musicals, though I have seen and enjoyed Demy--I found La La Land to be a refreshing and invigorating film-going experience.

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6 hours ago, Joel Mayward said:

I value your opinion on this genre because I know you're fond of musicals and have a musician's experience in viewing the film. The question behind my original question was, am I missing something unique about musicals here?

Got it. I'll have to give it some thought, and maybe start a new thread.

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I have not yet seen La La Land (I'll be seeing it in a few days), but I'm a massive fan of musicals. 

I would note, however, that the movie musical, as a category, is a very mixed bag. The high-artifice of the classic stage musical was well-married to the high-artifice of classic Hollywood spectacle. But the various attempts to bring the more contemporary dramatic musical to the screen have often been wonky.

The last entry in the movie musical category that really knocked my socks off was Moulin Rouge

Edited by Ryan H.

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