The 52-Movie Challenge
The Week: January 1-7
Can you believe that, right off the bat, I kinda cheated? I watched this movie a day or two before January. I guess I couldn’t wait, I’d been really looking forward to this movie. As time slowly eats away at me, I’ve found my love of musicals has increased, mostly in proportionate response to how crappy the world is being.
And 2016, amirite?
This flick was one that I didn’t want to know to much about beforehand. Honestly, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone was all the required knowledge I needed. This week has been an odd bundle of hope, despair, hesitance, and grim determination. In response to that, La La Land felt nice and rebellious. Its a movie that, from trailers, struck me as a classic Hollywood musical. In short… a movie about dreamers. And I was most definitely in the mood for dreaming.
The trailer was dead on. La La Land is a musical of dreamers falling in love and daring to, yes, go for their dreams. Corny? Maybe. Overdone? …actually, no. Are you kidding? Movies are rarely optimistic in a way that La La Land dared to be. The only movie that comes immediately to mind is Tomorrowland. Its kind of crazy when you think about it. The only way that La La Land is old hat is that its the oldest hat. Like from the 1940’s and 50’s.
The trend of a lot of movies lately, for a while really, that aren’t Superhero movies is pretty depressing. And I could say that there are some damn bummers of Superhero movies too, though I’m not naming names BATMAN VS SUPERMAN okay I lied. I’ll be the first to admit it. See I’m a noble liar. With a heart of gold or something. La La Land is sweet. Yeah. Sorry, it is. If that’s hard for some people out there to enjoy then, you are free to not see this movie. But darn if I didn’t enjoy the heck out of this here happy flick.
To be fair, there is some heartbreak that goes on in this movie, which felt well executed to me. The ending made a lot of sense. An exploration of the best intentions and possibilities, even going so far as to remind us that the sad moments, and the aches and pains and loss, are what makes us. Half as much as the joys. Equal and always present.
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. What can I say that doesn’t start and end with “crazy mega charisma”? Dedicated, talented, and just lovely. For both of them. Movies can make you see a couple as a couple, but actual chemistry is that very hard to define. They have it by the truck load, which was illustrated already in Crazy, Stupid, Love. Their singing weren’t incredibly powerful, but they had lovely voices utilized in a way that reminded me of the Les Miserables from 2011, more feeling rather than raw, sonic power. And that worked like gangbusters on me in Les Miz, so Gosling and Stone really knew how to make me feel their performances.
The director, Damien Chazelle, had a strong, clear vision for La La Land, and how the songs would not only be performed, but how they would be felt. Kudos to him for one hell of a lovely cinematic dream.
One quibble I would have is that the songs, though excellent, don’t really sound very different from each other. Once you hear the first song and “City of Stars” then one could argue that you’ve heard all the notes that will be in the movie. But the music is darn good, why argue? Just sit back and let your ears be sweetly bathed in catchy tunes. I will go so far in defense of the songs and say that its a thematic choice. That the similarity in songs is to show a connective line throughout the whole movie.
Yeah, that sounds nice!
La La Land was an excellent choice to start off my 52-movie Challenge. Nice and optimistic, with some whimsy to boot. I really liked it and needed it at the same time. Which is quite an accomplishment for any movie. Next up is The Dirty Dozen, with a classic war movie of actual old Hollywood. Watch it with me next week!