22 January 2017

Ready For La La Love?!

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Musicals are a strange old thing. Especially the ones in which crowds spring into a huge song and dance routines en mass and then go back to their normal activities as though nothing had ever happened. It's sort of as though every musical like that belongs to a George A Romero-like apocalyptic sub-genre in which humanity has been infected with some sort of singing tourettes. If the afflicted in 28 Days Later were bitten by a rage infected monkey then I can only assume the occupants of a musical were bitten by whatever this genre's equivalent is. I don't know what that would be but I'm thinking.. probably.. Bonnie Tyler. As such, I can see why some people wouldn't like musicals. It is strange to see people express their inner thoughts and deepest emotions with what looks like a completely improvised song and dance that everybody knows the lyrics and choreography too. Although fuck it- I'm English, so I'm shocked whenever people simply express their deepest emotions regardless of how they do it.

La La Land is exactly 'this kind' of musical with the film opening in a sunny old traffic jam in which all of the irate drivers get out of their vehicles and have a little sing song. Obviously in the heat they're in, the stress they're under, and the country they're in, this would normally result in at least a couple of people being shot to death. However here the worst thing that happens is that Ryan Gosling gets pissed off with fellow driver Emma Stone and so honks his horn and drives away. That's obviously not a euphemism. She's an aspiring actress that's so far having zero luck with auditions despite how talented she clearly is. I can only assume that Danny Dyer having an acting career must be an absolute slap in the face to her. Gosling on the other hand is struggling to keep a job as a piano player in a restaurant because he can't help but play jazz despite having been told not to by his boss. This seems fair enough to me as I really find it difficult to trust any person whose collection of jazz mags contain pictures of saxophones. Anyway the two eventually meet up again by chance, get to know each other, and decide to start going out. It's like playing on Tinder but the live-action version I suppose.

Since La La Land's first ever showing, it seems that humanity has collectively lost its shit over it with reviewers reacting as though their screenings involved a free cinema-sponsored ecstasy pill on the way in. At this point in time, the film has also been nominated for more awards than I've had dismissive looks off attractive girls, and it really wouldn't surprise me if it won Best Film at the Academy Awards. Obviously I couldn't give a flying fuck about the Oscars because they're the industry equivalent of watching a giant golden man attempt to fellate himself. Just look at some of the winners from the last few years.. you've got The Artist in which we all fondly reminisce about Hollywood, Argo in which Hollywood saves the world, and Birdman in which a Hollywood actor has a mental breakdown. La La Land in turn is about an actress who dreams of making it big in Hollywood whilst the film itself is tarted up to the tits with references to Hollywood's yesteryear. Singin' In The Rain might be the film's main influence, with the two sharing a few satirical jabs at their industry, a similar use of colour, and a concluding musical number that takes place on a simplistically designed sound stage. However there's also a Sleeping Beauty-esque dance in the clouds, the characters knowingly revisit the shooting locations of Rebel Without A Cause, and even the directors previous film Whiplash is referenced with JK Simmons cameoing as a big bald twat.

Throughout the film we see Gosling's character struggle to escape the history of jazz in order to move the genre on and flourish as a performer. Well, despite quite how cine-literate La La Land might be, the brilliance of the film is that as much as it references the past, it refuses to be beholden to it. One of the other films that the director referenced as an influence on his is Pulp Fiction for the way in which “it uses unglamorous L.A. locations and yet somehow completely creates its own unique world”. Well, Tarantino is another chap to delve into the films of the past however what he tends to do is simply recreate scenes wholesale, sticks them all together, and then have his fans kiss his arse. An arse which is already completely exposed as though Emperor Tarantino might not actually be wearing any clothes at all. Here however the director uses his homages to continue the thematic points of his own film instead of making the reference to them the sole reason for the film's existence. For example Singin' In The Rain was a warm look at Hollywood when it was released however it's used in this movie to reference the nostalgia that the characters have for the industry around them. How we remember Singin' In The Rain is essentially the way Emma Stone dreamt about the industry. The way the director treats its influences is a bit like how the only way that us youngsters are getting onto the property ladder is if our parents die and leave us their house. We obviously owe a debt to the past but at the end of the day we're still going knock a few walls through, insert a secret sex dungeon, and make the place feel a little more like our own.

In fact, throughout the bulk of the reviews I've seen, I've only heard one real criticism of the film which came from Empire Magazine's Helen O'Hara. She claimed that the problem with the film is that Emma Stone's character is essentially just a Manic Pixie Dream Girl which is a term defined as “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures”. I mean, don't get me wrong.. the only reason I bother to leave the house is in the delusion that one of these MPDD's might fall into my life. However O'Hara goes on to say that the only reason that La La Land's lead doesn't feel quite so much like an MPDD is because of Stone's own charm. Which may also be true.. She backs this claim up by continuing to point out how Gosling's character can be a dick and has obvious flaws whereas Stones character is pretty much perfect in every way. Which is also true. Helen O'Hara is literally one of my favourite film critics and one that's constantly highlighting the all too common problem of misogyny in movies. I have to say that although I didn't notice it when watching at the time, she's not wrong on any of her points regarding La La Land, and may have found the film's one flaw. What a typical woman she is - refusing to let us enjoy things!

Despite this though, I'd be lying if I said that I hadn't loved the movie when I was watching it. I was invested in the characters and I felt bad when things went wrong for them, which is despite the fact that they're not only both significantly better looking than me but also infinitely more successful. Of course I spent a good few hours hurling abuse at my inferior self in the mirror when I got home but I'd have probably only ended up doing that for one reason or another anyway. The songs in the movie are also brilliant, and even more contagious than dipping your genitals into a Petri dish full of knob-rot. Thinking about it, it's actually getting quite annoying now if I'm being totally honest. Originally when my mind would go blank and I'd hear Ryan Gosling singing “City Of Stars”, it was quite charming and a pleasant reminder of my love for the film. But it's been a week now and I can't quite get rid of it. I enjoyed La La Land a lot, but if I can still hear its songs playing non-stop in brain then I'm likely to need the power drill to bore them out. In honesty, I had no real plans for the rest of my life though, so the film was probably still more than worth it. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.

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