Friday, December 23, 2016


I have jazz musician friends who found the supposed "jazz purist" element of Ryan Gosling's character unbelievable, because the music he was mostly making wasn't pure jazz at all. And as a jazz pianist myself, I have to agree. But I found LA LA LAND ultimately so charming by the end of it, that that seemed like an almost insignificant quibble most people won't even notice.

I mostly went to see LA LA LAND for Emma Stone, who so far in her movie career has never let me down. In LA LA LAND she sings and dances (a lot of critics felt she wasn't polished and advanced enough in either to be the star to bring back Hollywood musicals, but I found her less-than-perfect chops, as both dancer and singer, endearing and totally engaging). But she also acts herself into Oscar worthy dramatic scenes in the midst of comedy!

I found the audition scenes, and other Hollywood realities I had decades of experience with, as real as any drama, which is saying something for a musical. The scenes involving Gosling's character's music career a little less so. There are plenty of improbable and inconsistent plot turns, but there are also some very realistic scenes about youthful dreams of stardom or just personal agency and the challenges the world throws at them.

In the end, it isn't, for me, the "best" picture of the year, but it's certainly one of the best, and so far the most delightful.

[PS: I highly recommend seeing it on the big screen where the almost classic color palette shines brightly and the romantic leads look almost as glamorous as the leads in golden age Hollywood musicals.]

1 comment:

tpw said...

Dear M: As you know, I don't like to read your reviews until after I've seen the thing myself. So we saw this last night on the big screen & my reaction was very close to yours. The dancing was pretty lame (I kept thinking about Debbie Reynolds holding her own with Gene Kelly & Donald O'Connor after only 3 or 6 or whatever months of practicing). But I really liked both their voices. I normally don't like the songs in most musicals, but some of La La's were very good. I too love Emma Stone. I thought the scenes inside clubs were, from a cinematographic perspective, really accurate & appealing. It could have been about 18 minutes shorter. yrs, T