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Rick Senger
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Posted: 05 February 2017 at 11:43am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Finally saw this last night.  Best move of 2016 for me.  I thought I might be put off by the musical numbers but this is an ambitious, sprawling effort full of heart.  Anyone who has ever had a dream (that's everyone, right?) should relate in some way.  Just great.


Edited by Rick Senger on 14 February 2017 at 1:58pm
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Joe Smith
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Posted: 05 February 2017 at 1:17pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Viewed this a few weeks ago.
My Mom loved it.

I gave it everything I had, but, I found myself immersed
in the non-musical scenes. I felt cheated, like it was a
cop-out, not extending those scenes to where they could
have excelled.

I know. I know. It's a musical.

I was a professional musician for over 20 years. The
scenes where she kept needling him about his job, and he
was just trying to appease her smacked me in the junk
pretty hard. Annoyed as I was with her character's
opinion, I was even more annoyed when she SANG the answer.
Ensconced in her auditions, I was frustrated that she
broke out into song again. {Yes, that song (and
performance) was magical.}
I loved WHIPLASH, and know DC is a great director, and
that this was a great achievement. Just not my cup of meat
this time around.

My favorite musical is HUDSON HAWK, by the way.....
so, no, I wasn't put off by the opening number or the
scene in the parking lot after the party. :)

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Rick Senger
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Posted: 05 February 2017 at 2:25pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Living in LA I know some people for whom the material hits a little close to home so I can see how a personal connection to the music business made some of those scenes personally painful for you, but they rang true for me.  Most musicals annoy me because they break out into song at exactly the key junctures where I want to see acting and emoting rather than singing and prancing.  One scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail nails that complaint for me. 

However, in this movie a number of the key plot points were also heartbreakingly acted out (Gosling and Stone's dinner breakup, for one) and there were also several times like the aforementioned Stone climactic audition where the unusual narration and presentation was spine tingling for me.  I'm a heterosexual male and I actually enjoyed the whimsy of Hudson Hawk for what it was, but I think you'd agree La La Land has higher aspirations.  You can argue whether it entirely succeeds but for me it really goes for it and 99% of it was a home run, plus the ending didn't sell out.

Cheers to your mom, she has great taste.  ;)
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Thom Price
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Posted: 05 February 2017 at 2:25pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

I saw it a few weeks ago.  I liked it, but it wouldn't place in my top 10 favorite films of 2016.  The film has a lot of heart and exuberance plus star power but, beyond that, not much.  As a musical, in particular, I found it weak.  I thought the singing, dancing, and the songs themselves were just kind of okay; plus the movie went long stretches where it seemed to forget it was a musical. 

LA LA LAND, for me, falls into the same category as THE ARTIST from a few years ago; a novelty made with obvious love, but a movie I can't imagine I'll ever watch again.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 05 February 2017 at 2:50pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

I thought the singing, dancing, and the songs themselves were just kind of okay; plus the movie went long stretches where it seemed to forget it was a musical.
*****
Loved all the music, and as I've said, I'm not generally into musicals though I do love jazz.  As far as sometimes forgetting it was a musical, that was a plus for me for the very same reason.
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John Popa
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Posted: 05 February 2017 at 3:01pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

The stretches without a lot of musical elements didn't bother me - as a fan of musicals, it was clear to me that the early music related to their sort of fairy tale ideals about life, love and showbiz and then as the reality of business and relationships started to wear them down, they had less to sing about.  Only when Stone's character had to tap into herself to make the leap to the next level did she find song again, and then, of course, the final sequence of musical fantasy was marvelous.

I do wish Gosling and Stone were better singers and dancers. Gosling especially struggles to really put his songs over, especially in his lower registers. Both dance well but neither is a virtuoso.  The problem with reminding of us golden age musicals is those tended to have moments where Gene Kelly would take off and just show off what a great dancer he was.  

(And what am I missing that one must clarify one's sexuality before stating they like 'Hudson Hawk?') 
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 05 February 2017 at 3:25pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

I agree that Gosling's singing is the weak link though he gets through his songs and it's better that they didn't dub his voice.  Stone exceeded expectations in that she hit her notes adequately and I really felt her emotions, something many technically superior singers don't always deliver.
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 05 February 2017 at 3:27pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

plus the movie went long stretches where it seemed to forget it was a music
------------------------------------
I don't think this is a coincidence. Damian Chazelle drapes the first hour of the movie in what Variety described as "confectionary studio-system daydream aesthetic". The movie shifts into a different aesthetic from that point on and, eventually, into a completely different mood. The big production numbers with their old-style choreography completely disappear. The planetarium is the high point of their love; at that point neither they nor the audience realises this to be the case. But the big studio style musical numbers disappearing in a puff of smoke is a big signpost.
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John Popa
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Posted: 05 February 2017 at 6:21pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Stone exceeded expectations in that she hit her notes adequately and I really felt her emotions, something many technically superior singers don't always deliver.

-----

Stone was really well received when she played Sally Bowles on Broadway in the most recent revival of "Cabaret."  Not a powerhouse singer by any stretch, but a quality singer/actress.
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Warren Scott
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Posted: 13 February 2017 at 8:46pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

I agree with Thom. The beginning sets itself up as a movie in which anyone may start singing and dancing, even in the most unusual places. Then the only ones who sing or dance are the two leads and usually in the context of their professions.
SPOILER ALERT!
Unlike many, I'm not impressed by the ending, either. First of all, don't they know there are many couples, including spouses of service members, who often spend months apart? Don't most movies usually take less than a year to film?
Then the creators have to use an extended dream sequence to beat us over the head with the idea the ending is not really sad because things would have worked out differently had they stayed together.
I think many critics welcomed the film as a change of pace, like "The Artist, and you could give it points for originality. But it's a very uneven film.
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Jamie Grey
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Posted: 14 February 2017 at 8:37am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

It won 5 UK BAFTA's on Sunday; Best Film, Director, Actress, Cinematography and Music.
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Thom Price
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Posted: 14 February 2017 at 12:03pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

The beginning sets itself up as a movie in which anyone may start singing and dancing, even in the most unusual places. Then the only ones who sing or dance are the two leads and usually in the context of their professions. 

***

Yes; I think either the concept or the execution of the film is muddled.  I get why people responded so enthusiastically to LA LA LAND, but a movie can be both a joy and a muddle.  LA LA LAND is no XANADU, but it's not SINGIN' IN THE RAIN either.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 14 February 2017 at 1:14pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

don't they know there are many couples, including spouses of service members, who often spend months apart?
*****
Some couples can cope with lengthy separation, some can't and break up.   This couple already had relationship troubles and the writer previously laid the foundation that Stone could barely handle Gostling's jazz tour absence so I thought the breakup at the end after a far lengthier separation, while sad, was quite believable. 

Then the creators have to use an extended dream sequence to beat us over the head with the idea the ending is not really sad because things would have worked out differently had they stayed together.
*****
It was a device but I hardly felt beaten over the head.  Creative ambitions drove these two.  The movie spent a lot of time exploring dilemmas attached to their ambitions and "success" and the conflict between staying creatively true versus selling out but it was also about the price to be paid to get there.   It felt right to balance the joys of working hard and finally succeeding against all odds with the attendant sacrifices in ones personal life (loss of time, flexibility, relationships) often required to get there.  Each is the other's muse (Gosling is Stone's only inspiration when she has given up and gets her to the key audition just as Stone is the only one encouraging Gosling not to sell out or give up his jazz club dream) but besides their initial chemistry and shared creative dreams, they never really seemed built to be with each other. 

It almost sounds like you're angry at them for not finding a way to work things out but given the way the characters are presented, I again thought this was the most realistic ending.  Utlimately LA LA LAND s a hopeful film for dreamers but I thought the dose of sad realism at the end was a welcome, grounding reminder that success in one area doesn't always equate to complete happiness and usually comes with a price.
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Warren Scott
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Posted: 14 February 2017 at 7:24pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

I respect your opinion, Rick, but I just don't see it. I was thinking, after seeing her kiss another man, if I had been reading a book and came to that chapter, I would have thought, did I accidentally skip over some of it?
Had the scene before that been the one where he missed her one-woman show, I could have seen it coming. But he encouraged her to go to the audition, so he was responsible for her getting the movie. She can't keep the relationship intact for that long? It seems like a modern movie with old-fashioned sensibilities. What about keeping in touch through e-mail and Skype? Since he didn't really want to tour with John Legend's band anyway,why didn't he join her in Paris, where he said the jazz is good? I know someone will say, he had a contract with the band, but it's not unheard of in the entertainment world for people to be let out of contracts.
I know some are thinking I was disappointed because it wasn't a happy ending. That's not true. Just as happy endings can be contrived, so can sad ones. And we sure had to sit through a lot of an imaginary life to get to the point.
Again, I respect your opinion. I just don't see it.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 15 February 2017 at 10:47am | IP Logged | 15 post reply

I respect your opinion, Rick, but I just don't see it. I was thinking, after seeing her kiss another man, if I had been reading a book and came to that chapter, I would have thought, did I accidentally skip over some of it?
****
You did skip a chapter... that kiss (and the ending) occurred in a flash forward five years after the previous scene.  For all we know there was an attempted reconciliation during Mia's movie shoot or after, but obviously it didn't work out.

Had the scene before that been the one where he missed her one-woman show, I could have seen it coming. But he encouraged her to go to the audition, so he was responsible for her getting the movie. She can't keep the relationship intact for that long? It seems like a modern movie with old-fashioned sensibilities. What about keeping in touch through e-mail and Skype?
*****
The couple had already basically broken up when Mia packed up, left LA and went home to her parents in the desert.  If that audition call hadn't come for Sebastian to relay to her, there's reason to believe it was over.   It was a grand romantic gesture for him to drive all the way out there and convince her to give it one more try, but I didn't see them as officially back together.   While there was vague discussion of love and hopes, when she left for Paris again there were no commitments or promises made.  She had a dream role and a burgeoning career to pursue.  Sebastian had his touring and jazz club obsession.  Neither was willing to sacrifice their own ambitions and both required a lot of time and energy to achieve.  You are taking points off for them not working things out, but I see more than enough roadblocks.  Also, your apparent anger / disappointment at fictional characters not saving their fictional relationship suggests the movie really did move you. 

Since he didn't really want to tour with John Legend's band anyway,why didn't he join her in Paris, where he said the jazz is good?
*****
True, and I wistfully made the same comment to my GF as we walked out the theater.  Yeah, he could have done that.  But as you said, he had a lucrative contract and a dream of his own and we don't always do the right thing (or figure it out) in time.


Edited by Rick Senger on 15 February 2017 at 10:51am
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 15 February 2017 at 12:54pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

Then the creators have to use an extended dream sequence to beat us over the head with the idea the ending is not really sad because things would have worked out differently had they stayed together.
-------------------------------------
You've interpreted this a different way to me. I don't see the movie as desperately trying to convince us the ending is not sad. That whole sequence goes to show you what could have been and was not -- and is conjured by Seb's piano piece. All the love they once had is encapsulated in that tune. It's not a happy thing for Seb to play it and mull over what might have been.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 15 February 2017 at 1:15pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

That whole sequence goes to show you what could have been and was not -- and is conjured by Seb's piano piece. All the love they once had is encapsulated in that tune. It's not a happy thing for Seb to play it and mull over what might have been.
*****
D'accord.  There is disagreement on whether this was Sebastian's fantasy of what might have been or Mia's or both (seems like it was Seb's to me), but either way it is an idealization of something that didn't come to pass.  If anything, it gave the audience false hope for a moment then plucked it away, making the failed relationship arguably even sadder. 
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 26 February 2017 at 11:11pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

Jeez, what an embarrassing mess at the Oscars.

I felt it got robbed, but there you go; it's one set of people's opinions. To humiliate the producers of the film in such an incompetent manner, however, is rather unforgivable.
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 26 February 2017 at 11:24pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

Warren Beatty didn't cover himself in glory -- noticing that something was awry with the winner's card he gallantly passed it over to Fay Dunaway to let her take the fall.
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Anthony J Lombardi
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Posted: 27 February 2017 at 12:02am | IP Logged | 20 post reply

Jeez, what an embarrassing mess at the Oscars.

I felt it got robbed, but there you go; it's one set of people's opinions. To humiliate the producers of the film in such an incompetent manner, however, is rather unforgivable.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`
It is embarrassing to say the least. But I don't think it's unforgivable or humiliating for the producers of La La land. That distinction falls upon Warren Beatty for not handling it better and it falls upon the Academy. For not being better prepared. 

Still regardless how that went La La Land has no reason to feel too disappointed tonight. They won quite often tonight.
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 27 February 2017 at 12:17am | IP Logged | 21 post reply

It's humiliating because it calls on them to give their victory speech in a scenario in which they did not win. Clearly not their fault and they handled it with great humility and grace but still required a climbdown to quickly switch from the guise of victor to non-victor in front of millions of people.
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 27 February 2017 at 12:22am | IP Logged | 22 post reply

And I didn't say it was unforgivable for the producers of La La Land. I said it was unforgivable to humiliate them. i.e. unforgivable for Beatty and the organisers of the show, who subjected them to such an unfortunate sequence of events.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 27 February 2017 at 1:45am | IP Logged | 23 post reply

It was a cascade of errors but to me, the producers of the show are primarily to blame, with Dunaway contributing more to the calamity than Beatty.  Dunaway is the one who said "LA LA LAND, after all, and she obviously didn't look very long or hard at the card, which said Emma Stone of LA LA LAND (Beatty was, it seems, given the duplicate best actress envelope (there are two for every award) rather than the best pic envelope.)  Sure Beatty could have stopped the telecast and said he'd been given the wrong envelope, but that would have taken some stones as the show was already running 40 minutes late and I'm sure Beatty was told to wrap it up quickly.  He chose, instead, to try to stall, obviously hoping the producers or SOMEONE would step in and bail him out by interrupting to say there had been a mistake.   But it didn't happen and instead Dunaway tragically misinterpreted Beatty's actions as milking the moment rather than what it really was.  I have a feeling if Dunaway hadn't blurted out LA LA LAND, Beatty was building up to saying that there had been a mistake and he'd been given the wrong envelope.  But Dunaway made that impossible. 

It's not easy to know what to do in that moment and Beatty was placed in a truly unfair and impossible situation.    I saw his showing her the envelope as his response to her indignation at his discomfort (ie, "look, it's the wrong envelope... I'm not hamming it up here") but Dunaway, without even really looking at the card, blurted out LA LA LAND without reading what the card really said.  That's on Dunaway.

In short, Beatty could have handled it better but Dunaway REALLY screwed up and the keepers of the cards (is it still Price Waterhouse?) screwed up badly enough that they must all be fired.  How do you hand someone the wrong envelope for the biggest award in the entire industry?



Edited by Rick Senger on 27 February 2017 at 1:48am
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John Byrne
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Posted: 27 February 2017 at 6:11am | IP Logged | 24 post reply

Awoke to this (since I don't watch awards shows) and all I can say is TAKE IT DOWN A FEW HUNDRED NOTCHES, HOLLYWOOD!

The Press is carrying on like Trump nuked North Korea.

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Anthony J Lombardi
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Posted: 27 February 2017 at 6:14am | IP Logged | 25 post reply



And I didn't say it was unforgivable for the producers of La La Land. I said it was unforgivable to humiliate them. i.e. unforgivable for Beatty and the organisers of the show, who subjected them to such an unfortunate sequence of events.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~``
I don't think I said it was unforgivable for the producers either. If my manner of writing made it seem like I did. That's an error on my part. I meant it isn't unforgivable for the Academy. It was an accident with no malice involved. 
As bad as the timing of the accident or how embarrassing as it may have been. It wasn't done on purpose so it is a forgivable offense.
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