Thursday, December 29, 2016
LA LA LAND -- My review
LA LA LAND is a bright Technicolor homage of the great movie musicals of the past while still maintaining the sensibility and vibe of the present. Not easy to do.
Writer/Director Damien Chazelle (who gave us the fabulous WHIPLASH) has created a love letter to my favorite city the way Woody Allen has so often done with New York. (Thank you for not showing City of Industry.) It’s always sunny. It’s always bright and vivid. There’s always a big orchestra when you want to break out into song.
This is a film you will want to see on a big screen with THX sound. Your phone and ear buds won’t do it justice. If you’re lucky, the shit head next to you won’t be texting through the musical numbers.
The story takes a while to get going but ultimately it sucks you in. And the film is just brimming with interesting ideas.
The music was catchy and the lyrics were clever. Too bad the composers didn’t write HAMILTON. They might have won an Oscar for LA LA LAND.
So all this is leading up to me saying this is a super great movie and should win every award there is, right? Wrong. Because for all of its many attributes there is one small problem.
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone can’t sing. They can't sing a lick.
And that’s kind of important since this is a… well, MUSICAL.
They dance well, their acting is always top notch, they have chemistry, Gosling’s piano playing looks very credible (I don’t play the piano so I’m no expert. For all I know he was really just playing “Turkey in the Straw” and they dubbed in the real music.) But their voices are thin, they’re often off-key, and I believe the film really suffers from it. I'd give anything for Simon Cowell to review this movie.
You'd think Hollywood would have learned its lesson with Russell Crowe in LES MISERABLES.
Hey, singing is important in musicals. If you want to be an NFL quarterback you have to be able to throw a football. If you want to be “Miss America” you need to be a woman (although maybe not). There are certain requirements that must be met and for a musical, singing is one of them. Actually, singing is all of them. In the critics’ reviews I’m surprised so few of them noted that. To me it was sorta MAJOR. Superb singers are not hard to find. THE VOICE finds twenty every year.
Great singing can lift a very good entertaining musical to a thrilling event. LA LA LAND was a well-crafted confection but never really transported me.
I just kept thinking – same movie with a young Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway and the film would soar through the ionosphere.
No movie this Oscar season has been as highly anticipated. And lots of people (and reviewers) love it. But I was surprised how many people were disappointed. The question is: Do you give it thumbs up because it’s very good or thumbs down because it falls short of greatness? I’m going with thumbs up. Natalie would go thumbs down.