Mandy Moore

La La Land

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La La Land (2016) – Musical | Comedy | Drama

Directed by: Damien Chazelle

Starring: Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone

How I Watched: Theatres

Best Line: “Alright, I was an asshole. I can admit that! But requesting “I Ran” from a serious musician? Too far!”

Anyone that has truly spent time with me probably knows my lifelong disdain for filmed musicals. When it comes down to it, I don’t even really have a concrete reason for this. My usual explanation involves the practicality of a group of people suddenly smiling like a bunch of stoned clowns and dancing like they’re thrashing in the middle of a choreographed fire, all while attempting to outdo each other so they can beat out the opposing blonde to be an extra in the next run of an off-Broadway Rent. “THAT ISN’T A REAL THING! NO ONE DOES THAT!”

OK, Nick. Let’s get real. Flash Mobs are a thing now, as much as you hate it. And you love horror and sci-fi films, so why can’t you just sit back and appreciate the eccentricities of musicals? Am I softening on musicals? Or was this just a good movie, in spite of the musical elements? Well, after giving it some time, I think my opinion is that this was just a pretty damn good movie.

Anyone that saw director Damien Chazelle’s absolutely spectacular Whiplash knows that they’re probably in for some sort of cinematic treat with La La Land. JK Simmons received an Oscar and Miles Teller damn well should have for the 2014 film. The thrashing of drums and human emotions throughout, while the camera rushes around like a sprinkler that’s lost control, highlight one of the most exciting and in my opinion, underrated films of this decade. Naturally, I was excited for Chazelle’s follow-up. When I learned it was a musical though, I was a bit let down.

Chazelle obviously digs on jazz. Pretty hard. Teller’s character in Whiplash is an aspiring jazz drummer and is dead-set on becoming the next Buddy Rich. For those that have not seen it, the film is a love letter to the mechanics and intricate work it takes to become good enough to play real jazz. Simmons plays his teacher way too excellently and the movie is just too perfect. Well, in La La Land, jazz is back in a big way (so is Simmons, for a bit). In fact, if the movie was not filmed in and about Hollywood, I’d say this whole film is a love letter to, as well as a confirmation that the golden age of jazz is dead. Gosling plays a struggling pianist whose biggest goal in life is to open a jazz club in L.A. to keep even a trace of that age of jazz alive.

Stone plays an aspiring actress that works on a Hollywood lot as a barista, happening accidentally upon Gosling playing a piano in a nearby bar one night. What follows is an often-complicated relationship over the next year, much that we’re privy to as the couple individually navigates their career paths. I won’t give any more than that away as far as the story is concerned, but I personally felt like I do at the end of any mid-70’s Woody Allen movie, in which the characters are presented with adult choices and must make real life decisions. This portion of the film was real and heartfelt, and I appreciated that, even among the smattering of musical bits in which they smiled and danced around like morons.

OK, Nick, calm down. Get back on track.

Listen, my mind has not really changed on musicals. I just don’t appreciate the big numbers or the choreography, and quite often, not even the intricate sets. I know how much work goes into this (Mandy Moore did the choreography for this, by the way – what?), but it just can’t really keep my interest. This movie is pretty cool, though. The “uninterrupted-cut” cinematography is excellent, Stone and Gosling are pretty great, and the storyline is relatable, even when discounting the outlandish musical bits. Will it win Best Picture? I don’t know yet, I haven’t seen enough of the potential contenders; but yeah, probably. It’s about Hollywood and it’s a musical – a deadly Oscar combination.

Final Score: 3/4

 

Cathy’s Take on ‘A Walk to Remember’

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A Walk to Remember (2002) – Fun Family Romp That Is Fun For The Whole Family | Cancer Romance

Directed by: Adam Shankman

Starring: Mandy Moore and Shane West

How I Watched: VHS Like, 30 Times

Sweet November. Love Story. The Fate in Our Stars. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. These are all movies that take the tragedy that is cancer and turn them into a super romantic movie. All of these movies are five star affairs with great casts, but all of them pale in comparison with my all-time favorite film of all time; A Walk to Remember. I own this movie on VHS and I own this movie on a DVD-Blu-Ray combo pack that I bought at Best Buy on Black Friday 2011, though I do not own a Blu-Ray player. And now, starting June 1st, you and me and Earl and the Dying Girl can all watch A Walk to Remember on Netflix as it is the latest addition to the wonderful library of streaming films.

A Walk to Remember, like I said, is my favorite movie and I find it such a blessing to be able to share this recommendation with you loyal followers. It is about a young stallion of a guy played by Shane West as Landon Carter, also known as a modern day Johnny Castle from Dirty Dancing. Though there is no dirty dancing in this. He meets a wonderful religious girl named Jamie Sullivan played by pop-star turned actress, Mandy Moore. He gets forced to work on her school play and finds his new love of acting and relationship with Jamie to be a stabilizing force as well as reinvigorates his zest for life.

As their love grows, Jamie pulls away emotionally. She has a secret. She has cancer. Which is pretty amazing considering most people I know with cancer don’t keep it a secret. They talk about it all the time. My aunt had breast cancer for a while but she passed away. Every time she’d come over, she’d just complain about my cooking, saying that the chemotherapy won’t allow her to eat chicken fried steak, so I’d have to pull out Lean Cuisine Stroganoff that I usually saved for work for her. I understand she was sick, but I wouldn’t want to be alive if I couldn’t eat chicken fried steak. But she passed away. Just like Mandy Moore does at the end of this movie.

I highly recommend this movie for anyone who loves movies about true romance. I don’t know why cancer makes romantic movies more romantic. Maybe it is the fact that when you die, you don’t give people the opportunity to get bored or disappointed by you. They can choose to remember you as they want to cause you are no longer living. Sounds pretty romantic to me. This is a pretty fun family romp that is fun for the whole family. I have seen it like thirty times, so you should see it also.
Cathy Gives It: I give this movie 10/10 of those bags they keep chemotherapy in.