Thursday, January 19, 2017

La La Land: Monday, January 9 2017

La La Land is written and directed by Damien Chazelle. In high school, he wanted to be a drummer, but he says himself he "knew instinctively he never had the talent to be a great musician". He went back to filmmaking, his first love, studying the subject at Harvard University, graduating in 2007. He is now 32 years old, and already has had a distinguished career. His film, Whiplash, won many accolades, and Chazelle has established himself as a leading member of the filmmaking community. La La Land is being hailed by many critics as a wonderful product of his fantastic genius.

After all the positive critique, I was looking forward to being amused, entertained, and uplifted by this musical comedy. Instead I was, primarily, bored: I would have walked out in the middle of the production but for my friends who wanted to see it to the end. I suffered through the rest of the film. As a singer myself, I was insulted that anyone would think I might enjoy hearing Emma Stone try to sing. I also used to play the piano, and wasn't too impressed by the ability of Ryan Gosling to play that instrument. Apparently he had learned to play especially for this production. It might have been better if he had mimed the performance of a pianist who could actually play reasonably well.

I totally didn't relate to the two main characters. The couple meet on a motorway traffic jam, during which the drivers get out of their cars to do acrobatics to pass the time. When the cars begin to move, the leading lady is distracted and not fast enough in getting going. The leading man draws out from immediately behind her, and then passes slowly enough to "give her the bird". She does the same back to him, I think. This established in my mind that Mia Dolan, played by Emma Stone, is not too swift, and Sebastian Wilder, played by Ryan Gosling, is an immature, rude person. Their actions from then on reinforced this initial impression.

All the singing was bad, the dancing uninspired, the music a cacophony of sound, the acting stilted and unrealistic, and the story line unbelievable. The cinematography has left me with the impression that life in Los Angeles is largely carried out in the dark. Altogether, I definitely did not like this film. I was pleased to find at least one honest review, that echoes my remarks. Chazelle wants to be a filmmaker. If I were he, I would be consulting my inner self to confirm that I really should pursue that line of work.

La La Land won Golden Globes, in the category Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. It had very little competition. My choice would have been to give this award to Florence Foster Jenkins. At least that film made me laugh.

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