View Poll Results: Yay or Nay

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Thread: La La Land (Damian Chazelle)

  1. #26
    Yeah, like others on here, I too have been thinking a lot about this the next day... and wondering whether I have even overrated it. In the light of day, it looks even cheaper and hollower, once you take a look at how cliched the love story is, and how poorly it changes through the gears in order to get to its hugely unearned finale.

    Example: the argument dinner. As soon as the scene started, I immediately thought "They are going to argue here" and lo and behold... Wouldn't have been an issue if it had been about something interesting, but it is another tired conversation about selling out and what being an artist means. (And it is filmed in the blandest shot-reverse shot manner possible.) While at the same time, the movie goes to great pains to totally skip anything to do with the actual content of Mia's one-women show (partly because it's easier to present on screen Hollywood's version of selling out - big crowds! synthesizers! funny costumes! than it is to present earnest artistic impulses, good or bad), instead leaving it as a convenient way to (a) split them up (with the most hackneyed contrivance of all time... "You didn't know the photoshoot was tonight?"), (b) make us feel sorry for Mia because two unknown guys are overheard saying she sucked, though we are not presented any evidence whatsoever, which allows then for (3) the deus ex machina of the random casting call because of said play...

    And then they skip 5 years because the filmmakers are worried that the big number at the end would lose some of its power if we actually knew who was responsible for the romance fizzling away, if we actually had a read on the characters as actual living people... instead we get to handwave that all away to celebrate what basically amounted to a chain of meet-cutes then a love story completely captured in a single montage somewhere in the middle there.

    Add to that the fact that it actually stops being a musical for a while so it can lever through the contrived plot and, boy, it's a terribly written film.
    Last edited by transmogrifier; 12-18-2016 at 05:04 AM.
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  2. #27
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    I was half being charmed and half resisting it for a long time. The charms are obvious, led by the irresistible star charisma and megawatt chemistry of Gosling/Stone pairing. But the resistance comes from the discrepancy between classic musical elements and showy modern "flourishes", best encapsulated by that first number; sometimes the scene's messiness among the crowd works exhilaratingly, but its more choreographed tidbits are ill-served by the rushing one-take direction, which doesn't allow me to take in its pleasures that well. Or the hilltop tapdance scenes, in which the precision is clearly lacking in comparison to its direct inspiration from Astaire and Gingers musicals. The story and stars are a complete pleasure, but I wonder about the musical elements if they are signs of slight ineptitude and impossible standards expected of the stars, or if they are teaching us how to "watch" it by merging in the old and the new.

    Might take another viewing to determine that (especially as I warmed significantly more to the tapdance scene when watching its clip at home), but, well, can't it be both? And after the third act, I am inclined to think that the latter is more prevalent than the former: playing homages to the original musicals, but keeping it loose, more life-sized and modern, before unleashing the full-throwback grand finale on us when the story is at its peak. All the self-commentary, text and subtext, about compromises and choices, about balancing your needs and wants, about keeping a past tradition alive by understanding first how it has to fit in with the future (in this respect, Sebastian's arc is basically a Chazelle stand-in, and also how the film chooses to aestheticize itself as a musical); all of these come tiding back in a great big rush of bittersweet culmination, the ultimate of have your cake and eat it too.

    But it works. The musical elements will remain imperfect, the skill of its lead stars will never measure up to the genre's heyday, the self-commentary will still often be on-the-nose. But the poignancy in those clearly expressed limitations, and in the joy and heartbreak of Sebastian and Mia trying to make it through, will also always reign supreme. Chazelle might not have made a great musical, but for me he has made a heart-stoppingly beautiful grace note of a musical finale, up there with the greats. 8.5/10
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  3. #28
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    Quote Quoting transmogrifier (view post)
    Add to that the fact that it actually stops being a musical for a while so it can lever through the contrived plot and, boy, it's a terribly written film.
    I definitely agree that the writing is the weakest element. Any laughs are earned by the performers rather than the script. Take away Gosling and Stone's own personalities and who are these characters? Two-dimensional sketches that wouldn't pass muster in a short chapter book for young teens.

    As The New Yorker notes, opportunity after opportunity is missed to flesh out the characters, their world and the motivations that lead them to their different destinations.

    And the film is so empty-headed, it doesn't even listen to itself:

    Quote Quoting The New Yorker
    Mia tells Seb that she hates jazz, complaining that what passed in her home town for a jazz radio station was used as background music for parties and everyone talked while it was playing. Seb is determined to introduce her to the real thing, and he immediately takes her to a club, where a quintet is playing some vigorous (if derivative) post-bop—and after the first few notes are heard Seb launches into his elaborate mansplanation of the origins and merits of jazz, talking volubly and inexhaustibly over the music he loves as if it were nothing but the local background station.
    A Star is Born (Cooper, 2018) ***
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    The Three Musketeers (Niblo, 1921) **
    Chi-Raq (Lee, 2015) ***1/2
    The Headless Woman (Martel, 2008) ***
    Searching (Chaganty, 2018) **
    The Neon Demon (Refn, 2016) **
    BlacKkKlansman (Lee, 2018) ****
    Happy End (Haneke, 2017) ***1/2

  4. #29
    Guttenbergian Pop Trash's Avatar
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    I'm not surprised Richard Brody didn't like this. He is a big naysayer of Whiplash, too.
    Ratings on a 1-10 scale for your pleasure:

    A Star Is Born (2018) - 7
    Venom - 6
    Sixteen Candles - 7
    A Simple Favor - 7
    The Predator - 5
    The Godfather - 10
    Touch of Evil - 8
    BlacKkKlansman - 6
    Eighth Grade - 8
    Blindspotting - 7

  5. #30
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    This finally opens here on Christmas. Perfect gift for the season.

  6. #31
    Moderator TGM's Avatar
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    I'm not sure I've ever been more angry at a theater experience. I wanted to love this movie, to get sucked in and be wowed by it. But my fucking god, in a packed theater, I just had to have the two most incredibly rude old hags sit right next to me and proceed to commentate the entire god damn thing to one another.

    I have been so fucking stressed in my life right now, between one asshole making my life miserable at work, and my roommate making my life miserable at home, and I was just looking forward all god damn week long to finally getting a chance to see this movie and leave my stress behind for 2 god damn fucking hours, but here I am now yet again fucking stressed out and infuriated after sitting through this movie. And now, instead of being able to sit back and reflect on what I just watched, all I can think of is how god damn fumed I am at even more god damn people making life fucking harder than it already is yet again.

    Fuck me, I have had my absolute fill of assholes as of late. It's not even the movie's fault, I enjoyed it well enough, as well as I could I suppose, but I am sitting here just fucking seething after yet another absolutely awful theater experience. God dammit, dude. Why do people fucking have to suck so much? What the fuck is wrong with people? Jesus fucking christ, just hoping to enjoy myself at the god damn theater is apparently asking too god damn much anymore. Fuck...

    I might return later with some actual thoughts on the movie itself, but god dammit all I can even do right now is fucking vent. Jeesus...

  7. #32
    the maker of my own evil Ivan Drago's Avatar
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    That fucking sucks, man. Sorry that it had to happen during THIS, of all movies. I had a similar theater experience this time last year after a period of high stress, and I was so angry by the end of it, that it took a while for me to shake it off.

    Perhaps it's the holidays that bring out the worst in moviegoers.
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    Life Itself (Fogelman, 2018) 2.5
    Widows (McQueen, 2018) 9.5
    Venom (Fleischer, 2018) 2.5
    First Man (Chazelle, 2018) 9
    Let The Corpses Tan (Cattet/Forzani, 2018) 8
    Assassination Nation (Levinson, 2018) 9

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  8. #33
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    Sorry TGM, but I feel your pain. A couple years ago I implemented the personal policy that if theaters didn't stop obnoxious movie goers, I would demand my money back (and I did more than a few times). Then I got tired of doing even that. I may have seen three or four movies in the theater this year. Its just not worth the blood pressure spike, and always associating a movie with some assholes ruining it for me forever. Especially these days where its on demand a few months later.

  9. #34
    Moderator TGM's Avatar
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    Okay, so I decided to say screw it and give it another shot this morning. I had been looking forward to this movie for far too long to just let some assholes completely ruin it for me like that, and reading and watching reviews afterward made me realize just how much of this movie I had actually missed (I was actually shocked that I was so distracted before, where were entire scenes that I had no recollection of). And I'm really glad I gave it another go, 'cause it was SUCH a better experience this time! And it was great actually being able to appreciate what I was watching!

    And yeah, I sorta love this movie. The music has been playing through my head all night, and the visuals are absolutely gorgeous. This is quite frankly the only film this year to rival The Neon Demon in terms of cinematography.

    Quote Quoting Spinal (view post)
    As I was watching, I found myself wondering, "Are people praising this movie because they like the idea of it? Or are they actually that excited about the movie?"
    Maybe a little of both? For me at least, part of what I love so much about this movie is how much it plays out almost precisely like one of my own movie ideas I've been playing with for a number of years now. Sure, my actual story is entirely different, but from a filmmaking perspective, from the way the movie's shot, the way it's edited, the alternate timeline sequence, the lighting, the musical composition, even the way it repeats so many variations of its main songs as often as it does, which is something I see also bothered some of you guys here. But for me, this all feels like something ripped right out of my own head, so much so that when the day comes should I film my own idea, I'll almost inevitably have people claiming it's inspired by La La Land, that despite the fact that my idea predates the existence of this movie by a good five years now.

    But yeah, it was just really cool to see this movie play out the way it does, so in that regard, no matter its shortcomings that it may have, I still found myself completely in love with it all the same. So in that respect, yes, you could say that I love the idea of this movie.



    Quote Quoting transmogrifier (view post)
    Example: the argument dinner. As soon as the scene started, I immediately thought "They are going to argue here" and lo and behold... Wouldn't have been an issue if it had been about something interesting, but it is another tired conversation about selling out and what being an artist means. (And it is filmed in the blandest shot-reverse shot manner possible.)
    On the contrary, I actually feel that being shot this way actually helped make it stand out. Most of the movie is filmed in a series of long takes, where the two leads and whoever else may be involved are all occupying the screen to some degree. It shows a sense of unison between them throughout. However, here, his decision to film this scene the way he did helped differentiate it, and establish the mood of what was happening. There's tension between the two, and the camera now cutting back and forth, as opposed to allowing them to share the same space in one long take, shows us this. Then, as the conversation takes a turn for the worse, the camera pulled tighter in on each of their faces, cutting the other out of the frame entirely, showing us how further distanced the two have grown to one another. He could've been more fancy with his camera work like he is in much of the film, but I felt taking the simpler approach here helped to make the scene more distinct in its execution and the mood he was trying to convey.

  10. #35
    Loved this.

    Chazelle's style is brash, but it has reason to be. It reminds me of the first-to-second film evolution we've seen from other referential filmmakers like Tarantino, P.T. Anderson and Wes. The exuberance for cinema bleeds off the screen. There is a joy for movie-making that comes through here -- and you only really see it in the works of young, talented filmmakers who have just a bit of experience under their belt. With Whiplash and La La Land, Chazelle joins an elite class of directors who debuted with the likes Reservoir Dogs/Pulp Fiction, Hard Eight/Boogie Nights, Bottle Rocket/Rushmore.

    It may not be the perfect "musical" musical, but this is a movie about self-conscious artists hoping to find their way. In that sense, I found the actors' raw singing voices and modest dancing numbers to add to the richness of the film and the endearing quality of the characters. It is more about enthusiasm for artistic pursuits than it is about execution. Gosling and Stone convey what they need to -- that desire and wherewithal will get them there, average talents aside. And anyway, I don't need to hear a trained voice to enjoy a song-and-dance. Sometimes pure earnestness will do, and sometimes the best bits are found in the imperfections.
    Last edited by DavidSeven; 12-27-2016 at 10:40 PM.
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    Crazy Rich Asians (2018) ***
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    Sorry to Bother You (2018) **1/2
    Eighth Grade (2018) ***
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    Ant-Man (2015) **
    Leave No Trace (2018) ***
    Ocean's 8 (2018) **1/2

  11. #36
    I think he's a long, long, long way off Tarantino and the Andersons. Both with the pen and with the camera.
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    Ready Player One
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    /Deadpool
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    Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds (2017) 61
    The Death of Stalin (2017) 67

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  12. #37
    Moderator TGM's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting DavidSeven (view post)
    It may not be the perfect "musical" musical, but this is a movie about self-conscious artists hoping to find their way. In that sense, I found the actors' raw singing voices and modest dancing numbers to add to the richness of the film and the endearing quality of the characters. It is more about enthusiasm for artistic pursuits than it is about execution. Gosling and Stone convey what they need to -- that desire and wherewithal will get them there, average talents aside. And anyway, I don't need to hear a trained voice to enjoy a song-and-dance. Sometimes pure earnestness will do, and sometimes the best bits are found in the imperfections.
    Pretty much spot on how I feel about it, too. I've pointed out how certain movies' imperfections can add to the overall charm of the film, depending upon how those imperfections compliment the film, and I think that definitely rings true in this instance as well.

    This movie is sitting incredibly well with me, and I'm honestly antsy to go out and see it again. It's possible this may well have become my favorite of the whole year. Love this movie.

  13. #38
    Administrator Ezee E's Avatar
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    Whiplash
    La La Land

    Reservoir Dogs
    Pulp Fiction

    Hard Eight
    Boogie Nights.

    ....
    I think the PTA connection could work, but Pulp Fiction is on a far escalated level than the other movies.

    It has been quite a while since there's been an interesting writer/director to me.

    First Man - ***
    The Sisters Brothers - *** 1/2
    Mandy - ***


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  14. #39
    I'm not quite saying he's exactly a Tarantino or either of the Andersons, more recognizing the leap from a comparatively safe, containted -- yet confident -- debut to an energetic, referential, bigger-in-scope follow-up. This feels like a piece by a youthful filmmaker who's no longer restricted by a lack of experience or resource, and not yet bogged down by the weariness that comes with age. That is what I see as a common thread with him and the others who broke out in their late 20s and early 30s.

    "Exuberance" would be the word. I love films that convey that sense of excitement in the process. Often, you see it most in the follow-up film of a young director.
    Last edited by DavidSeven; 12-28-2016 at 05:10 AM.
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    Crazy Rich Asians (2018) ***
    The Informant! (2009) ***1/2
    BlacKkKlansman (2018) ***1/2
    Sorry to Bother You (2018) **1/2
    Eighth Grade (2018) ***
    Mission Impossible: Fallout (2018) ***
    Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018) **1/2
    Ant-Man (2015) **
    Leave No Trace (2018) ***
    Ocean's 8 (2018) **1/2

  15. #40
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    Earnestness in place of technique is all well and good if you able to unearth something richer and deeper. My argument would be that the film fails to do that, offering up unimaginative musical numbers in the service of poorly sketched characters and vacuous ideas. Indeed, Stone and Gosling are the only reason this film works at all.
    A Star is Born (Cooper, 2018) ***
    A Simple Favor (Feig, 2018) **1/2
    Mandy (Cosmatos, 2018) **1/2
    The Three Musketeers (Niblo, 1921) **
    Chi-Raq (Lee, 2015) ***1/2
    The Headless Woman (Martel, 2008) ***
    Searching (Chaganty, 2018) **
    The Neon Demon (Refn, 2016) **
    BlacKkKlansman (Lee, 2018) ****
    Happy End (Haneke, 2017) ***1/2

  16. #41
    The Pan Spinal's Avatar
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    Also ...

    Boy, it's going to be awkward when this beats Moonlight for Best Picture at the Oscars.
    A Star is Born (Cooper, 2018) ***
    A Simple Favor (Feig, 2018) **1/2
    Mandy (Cosmatos, 2018) **1/2
    The Three Musketeers (Niblo, 1921) **
    Chi-Raq (Lee, 2015) ***1/2
    The Headless Woman (Martel, 2008) ***
    Searching (Chaganty, 2018) **
    The Neon Demon (Refn, 2016) **
    BlacKkKlansman (Lee, 2018) ****
    Happy End (Haneke, 2017) ***1/2

  17. #42
    Administrator Ezee E's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Spinal (view post)
    Also ...

    Boy, it's going to be awkward when this beats Moonlight for Best Picture at the Oscars.
    Why awkward?

    First Man - ***
    The Sisters Brothers - *** 1/2
    Mandy - ***


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  18. #43
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    Quote Quoting Ezee E (view post)
    Why awkward?
    Navel-gazing Los Angeles film about performers (in other words, a film about themselves) versus a film about growing up African-American in poverty.
    A Star is Born (Cooper, 2018) ***
    A Simple Favor (Feig, 2018) **1/2
    Mandy (Cosmatos, 2018) **1/2
    The Three Musketeers (Niblo, 1921) **
    Chi-Raq (Lee, 2015) ***1/2
    The Headless Woman (Martel, 2008) ***
    Searching (Chaganty, 2018) **
    The Neon Demon (Refn, 2016) **
    BlacKkKlansman (Lee, 2018) ****
    Happy End (Haneke, 2017) ***1/2

  19. #44
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    Quote Quoting Spinal (view post)
    Navel-gazing Los Angeles film about performers (in other words, a film about themselves) versus a film about growing up African-American in poverty.
    That's not awkward. Just predictable. The Artist and Argo both won Best Picture and those were pure Hollywood masturbatory.
    Sure why not?

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  20. #45
    Kung Fu Hippie Watashi's Avatar
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    I haven't seen La La Land (or Moonlight) yet, but only one movie musical has won Best Picture since 1968 and that was Chicago.
    Last edited by Watashi; 12-29-2016 at 07:08 AM.
    Sure why not?

    STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (Rian Johnson) - 9
    STRONGER (David Gordon Green) - 6
    THE DISASTER ARTIST (James Franco) - 7
    THE FLORIDA PROJECT (Sean Baker) - 9
    LADY BIRD (Greta Gerwig) - 8


    "Hitchcock is really bad at suspense."
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  21. #46
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    La La Land will win. If it doesn't it will be because of the oscars so white campaign. I have very little faith in the academy to pick the better film.

  22. #47
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    I wouldn't mind if La La Land won.

    First Man - ***
    The Sisters Brothers - *** 1/2
    Mandy - ***


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  23. #48
    the maker of my own evil Ivan Drago's Avatar
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    As much as I want Moonlight to win and think it should (it's my favorite movie of the year), I'd rather it won for its aesthetics and not for the sake of pandering to SJWs and the Oscars So White campaign. Of course, these are the Oscars we're talking about, so asking for that is pointless.

    That said, I feel La La Land is just as deserving. It's as much a work of art as Moonlight is in a completely different way.
    Last Five Films I've Seen

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    Let The Corpses Tan (Cattet/Forzani, 2018) 8
    Assassination Nation (Levinson, 2018) 9

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  24. #49
    I really don't like La La Land, but I don't care if it wins. Many bad films have won it before, and it will forever be so.
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    You Were Never Really Here
    (2018) 74
    A Quiet Place
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    The Little Mermaid (1989) 59
    /The Lion King (1994) 55
    The Sheriff in Town
    (2017) 42
    /Pacific Heights (1990) 62

    Ready Player One
    (2018) 53

    /Deadpool
    (2016) 67
    Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds (2017) 61
    The Death of Stalin (2017) 67

    Stuff at Letterboxd


  25. #50
    Moderator TGM's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Ezee E (view post)
    I wouldn't mind if La La Land won.
    Not at all. Hell, it'd be one of the very few times my favorite of the year actually won.

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