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La La Land

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Reply #15 on: December 29, 2016, 04:46:56 PM
I loved this movie, but let's settle down on the PTA comparisons

I think things got a little out of control but let me try to clarify my earlier post a bit.

Firstly, let's not get it twisted: PTA is and will always be the greatest, period.

But what I was responding to specifically is what B.E.E. had brought up about there being "no more PTA's being raised." And that isn't to say that there aren't talented young filmmakers out there today, because of course there are (go Ghostboyyy), but that those filmmakers aren't getting the same opportunities to SWING FOR THE FENCES the way that the 90s class of auteurs did. What I miss specifically is the 2nd or 3rd film, the step-up from indie to 30-to-60-ish million dollar swing-for-the-fences film, and that is disappearing. Because what happens is you have promising dudes like Ryan Coogler having to do his best within pre-existing franchises and IP instead of making his Boogie Nights or Three Kings or Adaptation or Fight Club or The Fountain or what-have-you. Now I loved Creed, but it's no Boogie Nights and whether Coogler was capable of stepping up into something on that scale, I guess we'll just have to wonder. So right off the bat, what I love about La La Land is it fits into that disappearing class of film. I liked Whiplash but would not have pegged Chazelle as a dude who could've made a film like La La Land, and I'm really glad he did. Whether he flames out from here or keeps stepping it up is anybodies guess.

Secondly, I think that Chazelle is part of a younger group of dudes (about our age) who grew up idolizing that 90s crew as much as that 90s crew grew up idolizing that 70s crew, so it's interesting to watch a film and start seeing someone aping little PTA stylistic touches the way PTA aped them from Scorsese or Altman. It may be debatable whether he's getting them directly from PTA or whether he's stealing them from the earlier films that PTA stole them from, but I don't think it's a stretch to think that there are some nods/touches coming directly from him. Here are some quirky delights that stood out to me (feel free to add some after you've seen it).

- Obviously the color washes on the title cards in the trailer were a direct nod to PDL.
- The girl jumping in the pool during Someone In The Crowd (even though the camera stays above water) reminds me of the I Am Cuba shot from Boogie.
- Gosling's apartment has a drab, plain Barry Egan feel to it.
- The iris in during the kiss reminds me of the iris in with Barry and Lena holding hands in PDL.
- Lense flares on Gosling, the lovelorn lead character creating his own love theme on the piano/harmonium, also PDL-ish.
- Shot of Gosling/Stone walking down the sidewalk has a Barry/Lena feel to it, I almost expected the white semi-truck with blue stripes to drive by them.
- The whip-pans of 90s PTA.
- Gosling's suit in Barry Egan blue.
- 80s cover band has some Boogie Feel My Heat vibes.
- Quick cut close-ups in the coffee shop are very 90s PTA (Boogie breakfast, etc.).

I don't think this film is as good as PDL -- it's way more straightforward and doesn't have the dark, strange undercurrents that make every PTA film so endlessly rewatchable -- but it's not really fair to compare. I've seen it three times now and I'd see it again tomorrow in a second.
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Reply #16 on: December 29, 2016, 05:22:43 PM
I agree with all the things you just said (and that you initially said). I was reacting more to "Chazelle is our new PTA" and the ridiculous suggestion that LLL was better than PDL (shame on you).


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Reply #17 on: December 29, 2016, 09:02:31 PM
Jesus tap dancing christ.

I was reacting more to "Chazelle is our a new PTA-esque writer/director who, like PTA after only two movies, has proven himself as a filmmaker to watch"

Didn't mean to insinuate he was a PTA replacement/equal. It's just refreshing to see an American director who can write and who's film fluency extends beyond David Fincher and movies made before 1999.

and the ridiculous suggestion that LLL was better than PDL (shame on you).

There's nothing ridiculous about this notion.

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Reply #18 on: December 29, 2016, 09:44:44 PM
I haven't seen LLL. Just want to reiterate that PDL is a total mind-bending masterpiece that (maybe belaboring the obvious) is a lot more than a love story. There are so many complex emotions, moods, abstract images, atmospheres, sounds, and ideas in that movie. It is deeply exhilarating and frightening on a molecular level in all kinds of mysterious ways.

If this film manages to top that, I'll be impressed.

(Not that it has any obligation to do so.)
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Reply #19 on: December 30, 2016, 12:45:25 AM
It's hard when the debate about the movie isn't "bad vs. good," but "really liked it vs. LOVED IT." Or more specifically, "thought it was a good movie vs. had an intense emotional connection with it." I feel like I liked and appreciated La La Land quite a bit, but it didn't punch me in the gut the way it did some people here, so I end up feeling like I'm pissing in someone's ice cream when I give my thoughts about it.

I get the PTA comparison in the sense that this movie is clearly Damien Chazelle opening his wrists and draining himself dry for us. The huge, unavoidable difference is that PTA's films are endlessly and uniquely insightful about humanity in every moment of every scene, while Chazelle just doesn't seem to have that singular point of view, that thing that only he is capable of telling us. Points for ambition, to be sure, but the gears of the machinery are visible in his storytelling in a way that the truly great filmmakers can make invisible. I certainly didn't hate the dinner scene the way samsong did, but even as I admire the solid writing and great acting, I can feel the mechanics behind the emotional beats, moving the pieces around the board.

Also, Chazelle has a tendency toward injecting humor in the form of gags that undercuts the emotional integrity of the scenes a bit. The thing when Ryan Gosling was going to meet her outside her house to drive her back for her audition, thinks she's not showing up and starts to drive away, but it turns out she had just gone to bring coffee and donuts? A funny moment, for sure, but it's a sitcom gag. It's not true in the way the greatest storytelling is true.

And without even trying, I sound massively negative about the film, which isn't true! I really, really liked it. I walked away from it happy and wistful. There are so many great things in it, and the ending is so fucking good, so heartbreaking and beautiful and perfect. But I just can't shake the feeling that Chazelle left points on the field.
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Reply #20 on: December 30, 2016, 03:18:10 PM
any movie that makes people chatty is in serious consideration for having been a good idea. that's the law of the land. i appreciated this conversation and its emotional beats. i found its immediate shape bizarre and similar to an existential crisis. i believe that particular conversation is over because i believe polka nailed the ending. i look forward to other people talking about this movie in other ways.

i won't think about the movie the way it's been talked about, i never do okay. from the conversation i'm chill on this movie. RK nailed the downtempo created by the PTA comparison. nerd ass references only work after you already like the movie. though i found the Demy comparison helpful. i don't feel the need to see Demy movies in theater. i saw The Umbrellas of Cherbourg in theater and that was both wonderful and unnecessary kind of. no one walks around calling a Demy movie one of their favorite movies, by the way. Lola is my favorite of his and it's not a musical. Donkey Skin is my second favorite and it's not a musical. so this movie isn't destined to be one of my favorite movies, based on my pattern and from conversation suggestions, although indeed i liked the conversation i think everyone did, Redbox feels me on that.


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Reply #21 on: January 03, 2017, 07:10:23 AM
It's no PDL but it put a smile on my face.

Like Whiplash, the film seems pretty one track but I don't mind it much here- whereas Whiplash felt a little empty once you stepped back from the chaos. It's also a little juvenile and kinda reverent at times, but I suppose that wide-eyed simplicity is part of its charm. It is indeed charming and I was glad to catch this on the big screen but I have to admit that I wasn't under its spell for its entire running time. I do agree that Chazelle is putting all of himself out there but it's not always enough. There are a couple of truly masterful moments, that made me go 'wow' but the overall emotional effect wasn't entirely consistent.

Also, thanks to this thread- I did think about PTA a few times during the screening. Even if it was just on a superficial level- the lens flares, close shots of Stone in the car, Gosling in the alley- really, really makes me want to see a new contemporary PTA movie.

Anyway, simple film with lots of pizzazz. That's been enough to enjoy Chazelle's work so far, I just wonder if there's more to the dude.

PDL is a total mind-bending masterpiece that (maybe belaboring the obvious) is a lot more than a love story. There are so many complex emotions, moods, abstract images, atmospheres, sounds, and ideas in that movie. It is deeply exhilarating and frightening on a molecular level in all kinds of mysterious ways.

Amen. As time passes, the more and more I think it's the second best thing he's ever made (Master #1). It's so goddamn pure, despite the manic nature of it all, it just feels so whole in its effect.


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Reply #22 on: January 14, 2017, 11:36:01 PM

See this on a big screen.*

This especially works for the Observatory sequence (not ruining anything since they show bits of it in the trailers).


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Reply #23 on: January 15, 2017, 02:01:02 PM
I posted this on Facebook but I'll repost here to have more of a dialogue about it. I really love the movie. I think that it's a lot more interesting and rich than it appears on the surface. I don't agree that it's just a simple film with some pizzaz. I would not make comparisons to PDL, but I feel compelled to talk more about the movie so that it doesn't become yet another "cute movie" that becomes forgotten in a few years.

LA LA LAND is an intelligent, witty, slyly subversive movie with serious thematic engagement and cohesiveness, which is, frankly, a rare thing. Most movies, including very good ones, are a series of things happening in a certain direction for an hour and a half, circling around a handful of typical themes. And that can be very entertaining. And often, they capture moments of truth. But LA LA LAND, alongside THE LOVE WITCH and THE LOBSTER, is a movie in which the style, characters, actions, and circumstances emerge from and return to a focused theme. That takes rigorous effort, and it makes me a bit sad when people dismiss the movie as a vapid candy-colored trifle about two white people dancing that isn't worth taking seriously, or as something that's just aping classic movies without having its own identity.

I wouldn't say that everyone should love it, just as I wouldn't say that about any of the esoteric movies that I usually extol. You do have to be charmed by the music and the actors and the concept for it to work. If you don't, then there's not really a way in for you. It's not wrong to not like the music; that's a matter of taste, but the movie's not vapid. Yes, the movie is about self-absorbed idealists, one of whom is a mansplaining white jazz man who verges on insufferable, but that doesn't mean that the movie is vapid (I think that it's self-aware of all those things and uses that to further the engagement with its theme). And I get that the movie has ingredients that will automatically make people allergic and they're just not going to get past that. But if you do step into place with it, there is richness and substance and even subversiveness there, beyond just being cute. So the point of this post is to encourage you to

A: watch the movie if you haven't or think it looks dumb
B: re-consider or re-watch the movie if you thought it was cute but empty
C: not think that the people who love the movie are just idiots who were charmed by all the pretty colors, even if you hated it, which is a fine opinion to have.

I will say that I don't think the movie is about the central love story or even really about the two main characters. I think that the movie's operating on a thematic/representative level, using the love story (and movie stars) as a seductive portal into a story that's more concerned with the bittersweet nature of dreams and the idea of Los Angeles (not the real Los Angeles), the weirdest city in the world, the city that Werner Herzog calls the most substantive city in America, a city that hums to its own tune, a tune that creates a certain insanity in certain people, a tune that dreamers sometimes can step in time with, a tune that is often used to exploit people, a tune that guides the nonsensical choices that people make, a tune that people will willingly suffer deeply for. The songs in the movie don't stem from inner feeling bursting out, the way that we would traditionally think of musicals. The songs stem from a desire to connect with the tune of Los Angeles. Even romantic love often stems from a desire to connect with the tune of Los Angeles (we want our romances to feel like the movies), as ill-fated as that impulse may be. The movie celebrates the bittersweet nature of dreams, and the fact that dreams aren't reality, even when those dreams come true.

I also think that it's worth noting that the movie isn't called SEBASTIAN & MIA, but LA LA LAND, a term that suggests disassociation from reality.

I've seen the movie twice (it holds up!) and I think I would have more specific things to say after a third viewing, as far as citing certain examples of what I think is really smart about it.


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Reply #24 on: January 15, 2017, 02:15:35 PM
adorable. there's no way i'm going to smack down your passion for La La Land, which movie has this quote

People love what other people are passionate about.

isn't that a good one? i remember i leaned toward my friend and whispered, "if only it were true..." and she laughed. it's not the 'what' which is easy to share, it's the passion.


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Reply #25 on: January 22, 2017, 02:49:43 PM


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Reply #26 on: January 22, 2017, 05:56:35 PM
I actually kinda hate this sketch, not because it features a guy who doesn't like La La Land. But because it's POV seems either backwards from reality or just confused.

On one level you have the feeling of seeing a movie that everybody loves and going "well, it's not THAT good" which is a normal and natural response to hype. so the joke being the same as the Beyonce sketch from a year or two ago where you can't actually admit you don't like this thing for fear of being attacked by the crowd.

On  the other hand you have that same character being a mouthpiece for every kinda internet backlash complaint about the film. But delivering those complaints as if they were all thoughts that he had and being very soft spoken about them.

In the "real world" I can see the first scenario playing out. Everybody seems to like this movie but it's not for everyone. In the "online world" it seems quite the opposite. The anti-La La Land-ers seem to have the loudest voices with their think pieces and eye rolls while I've yet to see any pro-LLL piece or person aggressively shouting down someone for thinking it portrays it's POC in a negative light or whatever. I've seen pieces that argue that it doesn't but the tone is generally respectful and not a KINDA aggressive shouting way.

Which may seem like a small thing but if the premise of the sketch doesn't ring true, it ceases to be funny to me because what's the point?
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Reply #27 on: January 30, 2017, 06:04:54 PM

I think this is a bad movie. (I thought Whiplash was bad, too.) His childish way to perceive artists as loners who can't be happy and have to dedicate their lives to their PURE ART —which is just about being the most noisy, the same way the first scene of LLL is absolutely graceless but technically difficult, constantly showing how difficult it must have been— makes me mad. But it is not just about what it is about, it is also about how it is done...

He doesn't know to write characters. I'd even say Chazelle is not aware of how dumb they are if there wasn't John Legend saying: "Dude, jazz is about innovation", and Seb's sister mocking her brother...I like Girls so I know it's possible to write assholes in a way I actually enjoy—I mean, in a way they are humans...Mia is not a character, she is an intention...Seb has more development but, like I said, I wonder if Cgazelle is that aware of how ridiculous his character is. At the end, he has his club. Does he save his silly idea of what jazz is? Is it possible to save a silly idea?

It's barely a musical. City of Stars is the only good song in it. They know it. There is nothing but City of Stars during 30 minutes. I said that I dislike the first scene, but not just because Chazelle is filming his camera not caring about the dance, but also because the song SUCKS!

The worst sequence must be at the beginning when she is at her house with her friends, and then they sing? and pretend to dance? and then there is the party where Chazelle does the ending of Whiplash with his camera: being noisy with no character development. No sense of wonder, no real scene: it's just boom, boom, boom...

It's probably my bad, but when Seb calls Emma Stone "Mia" toward the end of the movie I didn't know her name was Mia. I wish she existed, I wish Seb saw her acting once, I wish we could have seen a few seconds of her play. And what about her thing with dudes who could be Trump's sons?

(By the way, the casting for this movie must have been way more ridiculous than the scenes of casting in it. They all could be in an ad for shampoo.)

This movie is bad nostalgia, because it's not about a world that existed or it's about the level zero of fantasy. (I loved when it went meta and said "fuck you" to the viewer, but it made me think that Mia's play must be bad, too.)

The last scene is great and, while being frenetic, it doesn't seem like he's trying to hit us with his camera. But then I remembered about the characters and realized I didn't care. Maybe if her marriage with Trump Jr seemed like more like a real marriage between two human beings who love each other and not just like an excuse for separation?

Chazelle strikes me as an arrogant technical genius writing movies about arrogants assholes. But whatever. I'll just stop seeing his movies.

BUT: it is good that the industry can produce movies who can make me mad that way. I think he's a bad filmaker and writer, but he is a filmaker and a writer.

If you liked it and are interest in musicals, there is this great show on the CW called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: to me, the first song of the show is the perfect counter-example to the first scene of LLL: a good song with character development (+fun and aware of its own fantasy).

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Reply #28 on: February 19, 2017, 04:59:12 PM
I enjoyed the film. It is probably my favorite of 2016, but I still have a lot to see.
One thing that stood out to me on a technical standpoint - did it look really "digital" to you when the camera was moving or panning at any fast speed? Was it my screening, or is that just how digital looks? I don't remember pre-digital films with moving cameras - think Scorsese or PTA - where it looked like that.
I don't know if maybe they had to do some digital time compression in post to make music sync up and it causes that?
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Reply #29 on: March 04, 2017, 04:56:55 PM

played this in the car last night and it made me realize that no sequence in La La Land used its musical numbers as effectively as Monty Python did in a parody scene and no scene had better music or dancing or just joy than this little number and it made me rethink this film's place amongst other films. I liked being pandered to, but I'm now even less sure if this really was that good of a film.
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