La La Land
Directed by Damien Chazelle
I am currently stuck in bed with a nasty cold that keeps showing off its impression of the flu (a five star performance, by the way). I believe that a great musical is a cure for any ailment. After all, there is nothing like relentlessly cheerful singing and dancing to put you in a good mood. Unfortunately, this wasn't a great musical and my mood remains, as always, cranky and irritable.
Mia Dolan is an aspiring actress who currently works as a barista in a movie. Sebastian Wilder is a struggling (and oh so pretentious) jazz musician who dreams about opening his own jazz club. I can only imagine the comments he would leave on my music blog. In any case, movies are really running out of reasons why two hot people should initially dislike each other. This movie's attempt is particularly feeble: Sebastian sort of brushes Mia off when she tries to compliment his music. Oh, and they kind of annoy each other at a traffic stop. Oh, shut up and go have sex already.
I suppose I shouldn't be bothered that this film is packed with cliches, as it is clearly an homage to old Hollywood musicals. Still, I felt as though I was just trudging along from predictable plot point a to predictable plot point b. And not every cliche they used could properly be attributed to old musicals. Emma Stone running out of a restaurant during a group date with her boring boyfriend...I know I have seen that before. And a jazz musician who tries to convince his girlfriend she doesn't hate jazz...that should be familiar to anyone who watches Sex and the City (you guys are going to have to take my word on this one, since I doubt any of you are fans).
I felt like the film was begging me to like it; after all, it was critically praised and I do enjoy Gene Kelly-style musicals. But the talent just wasn't there. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone did their best with the singing and dancing, but I didn't feel hypnotized watching them, like I do when Gene Kelly dances or when Debbie Reynolds sings. Also 90% of the songs were forgettable.
I did, however, enjoy the ending. "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" was beautiful, and Stone's performance made me rethink my assessment of her performance. The last fantasy sequence was a worthy tribute to the musicals of the past. Unfortunately, you have to sit through two hours of tripe to get to the good parts.
Emma Stone performed "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" live.
Features many references to Casablanca. Now that I'm okay with.