Sunday 8 January 2017

Review: La La Land

La La Land
Cert: 12A / 128 mins / Dir. Damien Chazelle / Trailer

As I write these words, two things of note have happened to me in the last forty-eight hours. On Saturday morning, I went to my dentist to have an infected tooth removed. On Sunday evening, I went to my cinema to watch a preview-screening of La La Land.

As I write these words, it's Sunday night and I'm trying to work out the low-point of the weekend…

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
…if you enjoyed being invited to your niece's stage-school reimagining of Singin' In The Rain, only to remember twenty minutes in that you don't have a niece, you don't know anyone on the stage and other people's children are precocious shits anyway, but you're pretty much trapped now so the only options are a) grimace through the taped-on enthusiasm looking for any trace of subtlety and meaning, or b) stand up and yell "when does this END?" towards the stage. If, like me, you over-value politeness you'll probably go for A, knowing at least that you'll give the production a fucking rinsing as soon as you're in front of a keyboard.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
Well, advance screenings (of which this was one) always have a slightly earlier start-time, due to no adverts being shown and fewer trailers before the film. It's usual, therefore, for there to be several 'late arrivals' as the feature presentation is in its first ten minutes, and tonight was no exception. And how I envied those souls as time went on, if only because they'd had to sit through less of La La Land than I had….

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
Well if - if - writer/director Damien Chazelle was aiming for 'directionless, overly-long, overly-kitsch and self-indulgent fan-film of Hollywood's Golden Age, clearly hoping to do for the big-number musical what The Artist did for silent cinema but seemingly forgetting that the things which made those musicals great were craft, charm, characters you actually gave a shit about and above all else the music', then yeah it probably does.

Point also deducted for having John Legend in the film (whom one can only assume has been cast because of his in-movie singing rather than his acting) to lecture our lead character about being 'stuck in the past', a speech inserted artlessly into a screenplay whose only concession to the modern day is that the characters have iPhones.

If you want a film about a bittersweet, nearly-made-it love story in Hollywood between two flawed but engaging characters, watch Café Society. If you want a film about the relevance of Jazz in the twenty first century, watch Miles Ahead.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Oddly, both Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are on pretty good form, here. But being a good performer in a thing that's awful doesn't make that thing any better (cf the cast of Exodus: Gods & Kings).

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Of course not.
Everyone seems to love La La Land so far, and I'm aware that my opinion's in a minority.

Albeit a minority of people who are right.

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: This film stars that Ryan Gosling, who's also in the upcoming Blade Runner sequel alongside Harrison 'Solo' Ford.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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