mariaki

LaLa Land, Anyone?

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I would be interested in hearing opinions on LaLa Land.    I felt "OK" about it just because it was something different and I appreciated the attempt. (Plus I loved the ballet homage at the end.)  But thinking about it now after re-watching so many amazing old musicals reminds me how anemic the songs were and how "first dance at the wedding" the dancing was. 

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If there is anything we have learned this month, it's that musicals are of their time. What do you think La La Land tells us about our time, and the relationships we have personally/culturally/politically, as a musical intentionally set in a vague time period somewhere between the old and the new?

These are the interesting things to think about - how a musical, or any movie really, transports us to a specific time and place for a reason. Whether that is for pure escapism, subversive political/cultural commentary, relaying values, experimentation for disruptive reasons, or what have you, there are reasons for a film being what it is. Why is La La Land set in Los Angeles, for example? Why is the "theme song" somewhat lifeless? What is Damien Chazelle trying to depict about the nature of pursuing lofty dreams, life, love, and career? This is an award-winning performance from Emma Stone - what does that tell you about what we value in performers these days?

While I do agree with you on the blandness insofar as comparing it to some of the golden-era musicals we have watched this month, I believe that doesn't necessarily make it worse. Rather, different, as you say. And there are some really fantastic throwback and homage sequences in the film that perhaps one can appreciate more now after going through a course like this. In 50+ years, someone will be watching La La Land with the same analytical eye and realise how "2010s" it was. It will be as obvious to them as it is to us watching Singin' In the Rain or Top Hat.

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I thought it was pure magic. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg meet The Love Parade ... but also totally its own creation. It evoked that feeling when you’re young and excited about life in a new city or a new profession and all of the highs and lows are exaggerated and you feel like the star in your own musical. So sweet and full of the joy of life. I went to see it several times before it left the theatres, alone or with friends, because I knew that special feeling would never be quite the same on TV.

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La La Land is another film that has been on my list. I hope to see it after the class is completed; I just can't seem to fit in everything before the end date. The discussions here certainly inspire me, though!

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2 hours ago, MarkH said:

I thought it was pure magic. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg meet The Love Parade ... but also totally its own creation. It evoked that feeling when you’re young and excited about life in a new city or a new profession and all of the highs and lows are exaggerated and you feel like the star in your own musical. So sweet and full of the joy of life. I went to see it several times before it left the theatres, alone or with friends, because I knew that special feeling would never be quite the same on TV.

  I really liked it too!

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I haven't seen it but I've heard a some good, a few bad, and mostly lukewarm reviews so I didn't make it a priority to get out to see it. Maybe I'll see if my library has a copy and give it a try, time permitting.

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I thought it was pleasant enough but didn’t get why it got so many accolades. I appreciated the fact that somebody actually came up with something original in these times of endless remakes, sequels and reboots. I thought the songs and dancing were underwhelming.

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I like this movie. I have the DVD and watch it sometimes. I think is a breezy and lighthearted tribute to the old Hollywood musicals (the fantasy ending reminds me of the ballet in American in Paris and parts of the Broadway Melody in Singin in the Rain). Its definitely a feel good film. It encapsulates the mood or rather the idealized mood of olf Hollywood; a celebration of the mythic Hollywood. I do enjoy it. Its a throwback to those kinds of uncomplicated musical and romantic comedy movies that were made then. I really like the music! Fabulous songs! 

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4 minutes ago, EhlertML said:

I thought it was pleasant enough but didn’t get why it got so many accolades. I appreciated the fact that somebody actually came up with something original in these times of endless remakes, sequels and reboots. I thought the songs and dancing were underwhelming.

MTE. Its a pleasant film alright but I didn't think it was that good. As far as all the accolades heaped upon it. Maybe because its about Hollywood and its said Hollywood loves movies about itself. It's a rosy, nostalgic view of the industry too which "They" might be responding too. Maybe its because it is an original story with original music. 

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4 hours ago, NeverGonnaDance said:

If there is anything we have learned this month, it's that musicals are of their time. What do you think La La Land tells us about our time, and the relationships we have personally/culturally/politically, as a musical intentionally set in a vague time period somewhere between the old and the new?

These are the interesting things to think about - how a musical, or any movie really, transports us to a specific time and place for a reason. Whether that is for pure escapism, subversive political/cultural commentary, relaying values, experimentation for disruptive reasons, or what have you, there are reasons for a film being what it is. Why is La La Land set in Los Angeles, for example? Why is the "theme song" somewhat lifeless? What is Damien Chazelle trying to depict about the nature of pursuing lofty dreams, life, love, and career? This is an award-winning performance from Emma Stone - what does that tell you about what we value in performers these days?

While I do agree with you on the blandness insofar as comparing it to some of the golden-era musicals we have watched this month, I believe that doesn't necessarily make it worse. Rather, different, as you say. And there are some really fantastic throwback and homage sequences in the film that perhaps one can appreciate more now after going through a course like this. In 50+ years, someone will be watching La La Land with the same analytical eye and realise how "2010s" it was. It will be as obvious to them as it is to us watching Singin' In the Rain or Top Hat.

Well said.

I wrote on another post that I do like this movie. Emma and Ryan I don't have strong opinions on but I found them charming and likable. I like the music. I'm not a dancer, can't dance, and know nothing about it technically so I have no criticisms on the dancing.Still, I feel like something is missing in the plot and story. It seems like LLL was conceived as a nice throwback to the musicals specifically and the mood generally of classic films. The "mood" in this case  reflects some kind of mythic Los Angeles as a city and Hollywood as a concept as well as the film business. One of my fave songs Another Day of Sun sums this up. I like nostalgia and I don't have a problem with tributes. But I feel like the plot needed more. I get Mia and Seb's relationship and their conflict and the characters represent nostalgia. He for jazz and she for movies.

It would have been nice if the movie wasn't really about this relationship and more about questions of nostalgia, what does the golden age of anything (her for movies and he for jazz music) really mean for the characters and for the film as a whole. Why did Damien (I can't remember the last name but hes the director i think) choose to portray a mythos of LA , and Hollywood? That's one of my questions. I'm not against romance and relationships.I like Seb and Mia as a couple. And I can't think of many current films that have love stories in them. But there's a lot more potential to mine and explore themes and interrogate old Hollywood nostalgia that feels wasted. In my opinion, these are themes and questions that could better be better served with a different plotline. Tipping your hat to the past is nice, throwbacks and tributes are nice. But still. There is much more storywise that could have been explored, even within the context of Seb and Mia's relationship. 

Its kind of the critique and annoyance I have with The Artist, to digress a bit. I definitely see and appreciate the ambition of making a silent film in the 2010s. But I feel like that movie, though I like it, is too much of a nostalgic, memory lane fest of 1920s Hollywood & storywise, its basically a rehash of Sunset Blvd, Singin in the Rain, A Star Born, and to a lesser All About Eve. There isn't thing new being presented. There's aren't any new takes or insights about the technological shift from silents to sounds. Nothing in the story previous films didn't do or cover better. This frustrates me because making a silent movie of all things in 2012 is  different. There has to be a reason. What does this say about technology and consuming movies in the 21st century? Why did they even choose to make a silent movie in this century? What's the point of doing that if you're not going to pose these questions and present them in your story? Like LLL, it feels like a waste of concept and story.

Weaving nostalgia and tributes and throwback sensibilities falls apart if the story is not more substantial. You can make a fun and feelgood movie while still saying something about the past and TA and LLL don't really get into this as much as I would like. I like and appreciate LLL's finale fantasy sequence because it clearly takes inspiration from An American in Paris among others just like I like and appreciate fact that the lead actor in TA  resembles Douglas Fairbanks. But what's the point other than recalling the past because there's something about it you like?

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Lala Land was not bad its actually good.  It was just not as great as I hoped it would be.

When I went to see LaLa Land I wanted to enjoy it and root for it before I saw it and was starving for a new original musical.  Unfortunately I came away as one of the "lukewarm" fans.  I like Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone very much as actors and I applaud the time they spent rehearsing the dance numbers but they are far from Fred and Ginger and some of this movie made me cringe because the performances were under played and understated dance routines (I guess I am spoiled by remembrances of Elenore Powell, Gene Kelly Fred Ginger and others).

The next problem for me was the music and the singing.  The only song I liked in the movie  was Emma Stone's audition solo "The Fools Who Dream".  The others I thought were not memorable (again I think I have been spoiled but the great composers and lyricists of past musicals).

The final problem for me was the story. You can do a musical containing tragedy but unfortunately for me I came out actually depressed by what I had seen.

And then along came "The Greatest Showman" which was the kind of musical I was hoping LaLa Land would be. Its wonderful.  It has not got the BUZZ or acclaim of LaLa Land but fans like it, it has received quite a lot of awards  and it made about the same amount of money. Best of all it has great songs and production numbers.

Note Wikipedia lists all the musical numbers in the Greatest Showman as is done with most all musicals.  you have to do special searches to get a list of songs in LaLa Land. 

   

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4 minutes ago, GLSkipper said:

Lala Land was not bad its actually good.  It was just not as great as I hoped it would be.

When I went to see LaLa Land I wanted to enjoy it and root for it before I saw it and was starving for a new original musical.  Unfortunately I came away as one of the "lukewarm" fans.  I like Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone very much as actors and I applaud the time they spent rehearsing the dance numbers but they are far from Fred and Ginger and some of this movie made me cringe because the performances were under played and understated dance routines (I guess I am spoiled by remembrances of Elenore Powell, Gene Kelly Fred Ginger and others).

The next problem for me was the music and the singing.  The only song I liked in the movie  was Emma Stone's audition solo "The Fools Who Dream".  The others I thought were not memorable (again I think I have been spoiled but the great composers and lyricists of past musicals).

The final problem for me was the story. You can do a musical containing tragedy but unfortunately for me I came out actually depressed by what I had seen.

And then along came "The Greatest Showman" which was the kind of musical I was hoping LaLa Land would be. Its wonderful.  It has not got the BUZZ or acclaim of LaLa Land but fans like it, it has received quite a lot of awards  and it made about the same amount of money. Best of all it has great songs and production numbers.

Note Wikipedia lists all the musical numbers in the Greatest Showman as is done with most all musicals.  you have to do special searches to get a list of songs in LaLa Land. 

   

Well said!

Was hoping for so much with La La Land and was underwhelmed.

Then I saw "The Greatest Showman" and it blew me away! I was surprised there was no discussion on that film yet. And to think both movies had songs by Pasek and Paul. La La Land and Greatest Showman are so different.

To bring up one more movie, I always loved Newsies (in both formats) and seeing the Broadway performance in the movie theaters was awesome.  I am so glad they did that. Was hoping that would spark a trend also. Perhaps Fathom events could record a Broadway performance and release it to the greater public.  It is a dream of mine to see a live performance in New York, but until then I would love to see the performance in any type of format.    

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I went to see LLL with high hopes. I love musicals and I have cried my way through the The Umbrellas of Cherbourg many times. By the end of LLL I was crying once again, but I have reservations. The leads are good actors and charming people but they just can't dance up to the level of the drama. This is just the opposite of Fred and Ginger musicals where the plot is thin but the dance is powerful. As I watched LLL, I kept thinking of all the wonderful dancers out there, beautifully trained and never getting a chance to enchant us. I hope that the true musical and dance artists get their chance in years to come. 

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I enjoyed  La La Land a great deal. I look at the movie for what it is rather than what it could be.  Asking for Fred and Ginger is like asking for moondust.  It is so rare. We've watched tremendous musicals. We've watch so-so musicals, and some stinkers. La La Land is somewhere in the better than so-so and good range for me. it was a victim of being overhyped because people are starves for musicals. 

What I enjoyed about La La Land was a nostalgic movie informed by the past that is still examining how those crazy show biz kids of today are trying to make it happen.  It showed us one of the classic tropes of whether or not one of the lovers will give up the other for the career. Won't spoil it here by discussing the ending. How artists support one another and inform each other's art. The way La La Land wove fantasy and escapism into the lives of Seb's and Mia's reality while employing humor and romance was wonderfully done for me. 

There is an astute observation above regarding the musical being a product of its time. As our fearless instructor told us, it is a time capsule of when it is made.  What does the audience and the culture want from it's aesthetic, its protagonists, its conflicts? What does that say about us? In such a divided country, I liked that "Here' to the Dreamers" relates to all of us -- for surely we all dream. Do we dare to reach for the dreams? If so, what do we sacrifice? That is very uniting in most lives, I'd say.

The leads are gorgeous but relatable. For me, that was are faced whether or not each will compromise his and her vision to achieve their dreams. It asks the "if only I had..." in a very compelling way. It is exceptionally accessible while still being evocative of the magic of musicals. "If one gets one's dream, at what price" is an extremely timely question in the movie.

Are we applying an outdated standard for what the musical is becoming? I don't have an answer to that. It is a question I ask when I look for more in La La Land.  The songs "City of Dreams" and "Here's to the Dreamers" really touch me whenever I watch the movie. When I left hte theater after watching it, I heard more people discussing the plot, events, and meaning than I usually do. It wasn't for lack of those elements. Rather it was because it had provoked thought. That's what art should do.

I actually think it is stronger than many recent musicals and original content is a delight. Add that it succeeded at the box office, and we have a musical that paves the way for more musicals.  

On the other hand, I didn't go to TGSMOE because I know how it glossed over some unpleasantness in a way I couldn't overlook. That's just me. I know some people adore it.   

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I must be a curmudgeon or maybe its just that I watch a lot of old movies with INCREDIBLE talen,t because though I liked "The Greatest Showman," it didn't wow me.  I am a circus fan so I had big hopes, and I enjoyed the big dance numbers and one smaller beautiful one that included the dancers dangling acrobatcally, but I didn't find the music overall captivating and felt the "theme" song was played and "stomped" out too frequently so it became redundant. But what a fabulous topic for a musical!  Can we try just one more film, please? 

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I really liked La La Land but I didn't like the music. Justin Hurwitz's instrumental score was great but the actual songs are all the typical bland Pasek/Paul radio playable songs with a tenuous connection to the plot. Other than Mia's audition song towards the end it sounds like a jukebox musical. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are both passable singers but mostly skate by on the merit of their overall performances. Their dancing isn't particularly good either, and it's just disappointing that none of the featured and ensemble singers were particularly strong either, I guess it was so they didn't outshine the leads.

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3 hours ago, MotherofZeus said:

Are we applying an outdated standard for what the musical is becoming? I don't have an answer to that. It is a question I ask when I look for more in La La Land.  The songs "City of Dreams" and "Here's to the Dreamers" really touch me whenever I watch the movie. When I left hte theater after watching it, I heard more people discussing the plot, events, and meaning than I usually do. It wasn't for lack of those elements. Rather it was because it had provoked thought. That's what art should do.

I actually think it is stronger than many recent musicals and original content is a delight. Add that it succeeded at the box office, and we have a musical that paves the way for more musicals.  

 

I think  you are right about the relatability of the actors.  That is quite true of both. Attractive, but not unattainably gorgeous. Talented, but not at the Fred/Ginger level.  But that brings me to your point about outdated standard:  My standard is the lead better be either a great singer OR a great dancer to be in a musical.  I didn't see high singing and dancing standards with LLL actors. I can overlook Astaire's singing because he's a great dancer and overlook Dean Martin's acting because he's a great singer, etc, but didn't find anything noteworthy with the leads of LLL that made them the right casting for a musical. (Hugh Jackman, however it happened, I think danced better in his films. )  I agree that LLL is stronger than other recent musicals since it had a compelling story,nice cinematography and a lovely hint of magical realism. (Especially better if we are comparing it to Frozen and Tangled. ) BTW, have you seen the Polish film, The Lure? Imagine vampiric mermaids with a touch of Abba in a sleazy 1980s Eastern Europe. Slightly rated-R link is below.  

 

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I adore La La Land. I think it's very much a musical for millennials. Mia's speech to Seb at the end of the film really resonates with me as a millennial...

"“No, maybe I’m not. Maybe I’m one of those people that has always wanted to do it, but it’s like a pipe dream for me. You know, and then you, you said it. You change your dreams and then you grow up. Maybe I’m one of those people and I’m not supposed to. And I can go back to school and I can find something else that I’m supposed to do. ‘Cause i left to do that. And its been six years and I dont want to do it anymore."

And I think if people aren't part of this generation, it's hard for them to fully understand this. I have friends who are a generation ahead of me and there are a lot of things that they don't get about this film. 

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7 hours ago, MotherofZeus said:

On the other hand, I didn't go to TGSMOE because I know how it glossed over some unpleasantness in a way I couldn't overlook. That's just me. I know some people adore it.   

Agreed with everything u said but this stuck out. I can (and I have using this term) excuse alot but the true story of PT Barnum is so bad and to know they glossed over it is something I cannot abide. And I can  deal with a lot

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I posted the following in regard to the news that Spielberg wants to remake West Side Story. I post it here as it included my response to La La Land.

This casting notice for a WSS remake is terrible. They say, dance experience is "a plus". Are they kidding?! Guess they didn't notice how much and how great Bernardo and Anita had to dance in the stage production and in the original film - on the NYC streets, at the Gym (Mambo and other styles) and on the rooftop (America). It sounds like this is another case of movie-making fools who think they can get by without hiring trained dancers for their leads. La La Land had good music and had good potential but didn't live up to it. The leads Ryan and Emma were terribly miscast. They could sing ok but they weren't proficient enough as dancers to pull it off.  Their dance technique was so limited and their performing personalities were so lackluster that the backup dancers and even the scenery pulled focus from them. You can auto-tune singers but ya simply can't "fake" excellent quality dancing. And if it's supposed to be a musical, people will naturally compare your cast to the best dancers from the past. The waiters in Hello Dolly and Mary Poppins roof top chimney sweeps were better and more exciting than the lead couple in La La Land. I'd much rather have seen Derek Hough and his sister Julianne (or any of so many other dancers on DWTS or SYTYCD) in those roles as they can actually SING AND DANCE and have performed onstage in New York and London. And when Ryan and Emma Stone got to the finale with the black mirrored flooring and the starry background - obviously meant as an homage to Eleanor Powell and Fred Astaire in Broadway Melody of 1938 (or was it 39 or 40?) - that only made me MISS Eleanor and Fred even More. If ya can't improve on or even hold a candle to an original dance number then don't put it in your film as people WILL compare it and your remake's finale will leave the audience disappointed and nostalgic for the real STARS from the classic film. After seeing La La Land, I immediately turned on TCM to remind myself of what real TALENT looks like! The quality of dancing by trained dancers has improved so much in the last 80 years that there ARE lots of people out there who can perform fabulous choreography for movie musicals but it's up to the filmmakers to raise their standards and hire the most talented, best TRAINED and experienced people for the roles.

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True, Ryan and Emma were no Eleanor and Fred.  But it's like Frank Sinatra said in That's Entertainment:  "You can sit around and hope but you'll never see the likes of this again."  However we can appreciate the efforts of all who keep the musical genre alive.

Broadway Melody of 1940

Image result for broadway melody of 1940Y

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5 hours ago, mariaki said:

I must be a curmudgeon or maybe its just that I watch a lot of old movies with INCREDIBLE talen,t because though I liked "The Greatest Showman," it didn't wow me.  I am a circus fan so I had big hopes, and I enjoyed the big dance numbers and one smaller beautiful one that included the dancers dangling acrobatcally, but I didn't find the music overall captivating and felt the "theme" song was played and "stomped" out too frequently so it became redundant. But what a fabulous topic for a musical!  Can we try just one more film, please? 

I also felt like there was a lot of unresolved plot in the film. There was too much focus on the unnecessary emotional affair and the plot that was more interesting, that of the circus performers, was kind of left off to the side. I adored the dancing and This is Me in particular. 

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14 minutes ago, Movie Buff 56 said:

True, Ryan and Emma were no Eleanor and Fred.  But it's like Frank Sinatra said in That's Entertainment:  "You can sit around and hope but you'll never see the likes of this again."  However we can appreciate the efforts of all who keep the musical genre alive.

Broadway Melody of 1940

Image result for broadway melody of 1940Y

The Artist dance scene in the finale  is also inspired by this number 

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On 6/30/2018 at 6:42 PM, mariaki said:

I think  you are right about the relatability of the actors.  That is quite true of both. Attractive, but not unattainably gorgeous. Talented, but not at the Fred/Ginger level.  But that brings me to your point about outdated standard:  My standard is the lead better be either a great singer OR a great dancer to be in a musical.  I didn't see high singing and dancing standards with LLL actors. I can overlook Astaire's singing because he's a great dancer and overlook Dean Martin's acting because he's a great singer, etc, but didn't find anything noteworthy with the leads of LLL that made them the right casting for a musical. (Hugh Jackman, however it happened, I think danced better in his films. )  I agree that LLL is stronger than other recent musicals since it had a compelling story,nice cinematography and a lovely hint of magical realism. (Especially better if we are comparing it to Frozen and Tangled. ) BTW, have you seen the Polish film, The Lure? Imagine vampiric mermaids with a touch of Abba in a sleazy 1980s Eastern Europe. Slightly rated-R link is below.  

 

Wow!  You are a revelation. 😁 Thanks for the tip.

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Saw it last night.  Did not like it.  Having taken and enjoyed our recent course on musicals, it made me once again appreciate how great Fred Astaire and his partners were.  Gosling and Stone are not singers nor dancers.  The visuals in LLL were quite good, but the rest mediocre.

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