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Reviews Comments: Not Quite Good Enough La La Land film/book review by maninahat

La La Land sets its tone perfectly in the first five minutes. The movie opens on a modern day LA traffic jam. One lady breaks into song whilst she sits at the wheel, and within moments, seemingly everyone in the city is dancing and diving across their cars, joining in on a huge old timey musical number. Whereas The Artist was a throwback to the silent movie era, La La Land is a pastiche of the big grand musicals of old. And it pulls that off masterfully.

This movie favours big, long takes so that you can see just how well composed, photographed and rehearsed every moment is. The story is deliberately made to be as uncynical and simplistic as possible, so as to better hang original musical and dance numbers off of it. It looks gorgeous and on a technical level it gets nothing wrong. It is worth seeing for the novelty factor alone, but the execution of the idea is excellent and I don\'t hesitate to recommend it to anyone.

But it also isn\'t quite good enough. La La Land lends itself to be compared to the likes of Singing in the Rain or On the Town, and that\'s where the problems come in. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are both tremendously talented and versatile actors, and this movie showcases their singing, tap dancing, playing Jazz piano and acting their asses off. But watching La La Land, you can tell that they are actors first and performers second. Meanwhile, the likes of Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly got to be in dance musicals specifically because they are performers first, and the best damn tap dancers in the world. Unfortunately for Gosling and Stone, this makes all the difference to me. These movies serve to show off some amazing singing and dancing, I expect to see amazing singing and dancing. What we get is some quite good singing and quite good dancing. Quite good is not good enough. There was never a bad scene, but there was never a truly memorable one. There was no singing in the rain.

When you are left with only a quite good musical, you pay more attention to the romance and drama (which are traditionally quite simple and superficial in these things). I liked the way my wife described the problem: \"There is a nice scene where the two gradually begin to hold hands. But it isn\'t electric. In something like Pride and Prejudice, holding hands with Mr Darcy is such an electric moment it makes you want to go jerk off somewhere. But that chemistry isn\'t here, and what you get is some generic romance like out of the The Note Book, but worse.\"

I will reiterate: it is a good movie that is completely worth watching. But it isn\'t quite good enough to be worth remembering.

Comments

  • Pannic
  • 22nd Jan 17
You don\'t seem to be alone in feeling that the couple lacked chemistry. Jay Bauman of Half in the Bag seemed to find them a bit lacking, too.

As far as them not being the greatest singers, I dunno if that\'s quite the deal-breaker for me. I mean, some of the old-timey musicals didn\'t have the greatest singers in them - Marlin Brando in Guys & Dolls, Christopher Plummer in The Sound of Music, Glynis Johns in Mary Poppins. Honestly I think I might\'ve liked the movie less if they had cast someone like Aaron Tveit or Jeremy Jordan in Gosling\'s role.

As far as a memorable signature scene, I think I might nominate the opening number, the dance at the observatory, or the ending sequence.
  • cake1
  • 22nd Jan 17
While I won\'t be able to comment on how good the dancing was compared to the classics (I thought it was very well done, honestly), I believe Emma Stone actually had calloused vocal chords from the time she was an infant, so the fact that she was able to sing as well as she did was extremely impressive.

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