The Good, The Bad and The Critic

Established on March 19th, 2012 and pioneered by film fanatic Michael J. Carlisle. The Good, The Bad and The Critic will analyze classic and contemporary films from all corners of the globe. This title references Sergei Leone's influential spaghetti western The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Review #913: La La Land (2016)

Title: La La Land
Year: 2016
Director: Damien Chazelle 
Country: US
Language: English

La La Land may be the most over-hyped film I have witnessed. It was up for a record amount of Academy Awards- which included Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography - it WON numerous awards making a star out of its young Director Damien Chazelle, and was hailed as "reinventing the Hollywood musical". I was convinced that I would love this picture...but I don't. In-fact I'm shocked by the fact that I really despise it. 

Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress, serves lattes to movie stars in between auditions and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a jazz musician, scrapes by playing cocktail party gigs in dingy bars, but as success mounts they are faced with decisions that begin to fray the fragile fabric of their love affair.

Though compared to Jacques Demy's films, Young Girls of Rocheforte this is not. Emma Stone is no Catherine Deneuvre and Ryan Gosling's attempt at musical talent cannot compare to the stars of yesteryear. La La Land tries so hard to be an "homage" to the Classic Hollywood musical that it just becomes another tired generic Hollywood Musical. Believe me, not every film of this genre was as well made as Singin in the Rain.

La La Land claims to be a love letter to Golden Hollywood, and while it does certainly have great production design, costumes, stage design, lighting, editing, mise en scene', staging and has a remarkable depth of colour it lacks in pace, acting, script and, most importantly, music! While the first 10 minutes were astonishing, I did feel like the picture lacked rhythm. It would pick up pace with a jazzy score, then halt for something completely different (like music from the 1980's). Beyond their specific motivations (girl wants to be an actor, boy wants to reinvent jazz) I didn't find anything enticing about these characters. I felt like I barely knew them after the first hour and thus couldn't really care about their love connection. Barry Jenkin's Moonlight had far greater character development. 

I'm not a fan of musicals that feature non-dancers and non-singers as leads. When Bob Fosse made Cabaret he had the common sense to feature Liza Minelli. Of course all Hollywood pictures are meant to be commercial, but this one carries an atmosphere of commercial cynicism. It tried too hard to innovate and became a tragic case of style over substance. Albeit the style is tremendous! More films should look like La La Land.


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