Entries tagged with “Emma Stone”.


The buzz is high, the prizes started to accumulate. They tell however more about the status of the industry and the longing of the public for escapist entertainment combined with a high dose of nostalgia for the musical successes that were running high 60 or 70 years ago. La La Land directed by combines a well known formula, makes reverences to the golden period of the musical films in Hollywood (some scenes were filmed in the studio were Fred Astaire once was filmed) but also to some more modern film makers and their ideas (like ), and enjoys the participation of shining stars like and . It may be sufficient for collecting statuettes. It is not enough to make it a real good film. I know I am in a minority expressing this opinion now. I believe that it will be a growing minority soon.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3783958/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3783958/

 

What we get with La La Land a collection of a few wonderful moments connected by an awfully schematic story. Boy meets girl, of course. Boy is an aspiring jazz musician in a time when real jazz seems to be in a descending slope of interest, Girl is an aspiring actress, waiting in a Starbucks (or like) coffee shop and auditioning in a serial and desperate manner. They both have visions and passion. They both aspire to careers, but life is tough and art and success seldom meet for one person and almost never with personal happiness. Or true love. From here on the story accumulates many of the possible stereotypes and too little artistic truth. Great scenes are not missing – actually this film has a number of memorable quotes, the problem is the rosy sweet materials on between. There is also one great idea that I liked – who does it belong to? script writers or director – the non-reality scenes are drawn in music and dance. The ones from the films in the 40s and 50s.

 

(video source Lionsgate Movies)

 

When jazz is played however, it’s different. Jazz music is also about being true, great jazzmen do not lie when they play music. Sebastian () explaining to Mia () what jazz is about is one of the best scenes I have ever seen about jazz. The problem is that this is not a jazz movie. As much as I love and appreciate their chemistry on screen is not enough to sustain the film, and it actually makes their breaking (and the break away scene) even less credible.

Just to be clear – La La Land is not a bad movie.   is at his third film, the two other were also one way or the other related to music. Whiplash was welcome with ravishing critics and a very high IMDB rating.  La La Land however belongs to a very different category. In the thin air of the ideas and good cinema of the last years it will get a lot of prizes in the next couple of months. Many of them are not deserved. I write this by respect for what the film is (and is not) and for what the Academy, BAFTA, or Golden Globe awards should be. I am expecting more and better films about music from . Maybe a great jazz movie.

A few days ago I have seen the brand new ‘Black Mass’ which is also a mob story made in Hollywood and enjoying the participation of a fine cast. I was not enthusiastic. ‘Gangster Squad’ directed by has the few ingredients that I was missing in that film, which make the genre ‘mob story inspired by real characters’ much more enjoyable to me. It does start with ‘inspired by a true story’ (or ‘true characters’), inserts the inevitable ‘true crime’ photos, and ends with the even more unavoidable text and pictures about the years spent in jail by the surviving bad guys, and the years happily spent fighting crime and raising kids by the good guys (those who survived, of course). In the middle it does better.

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1321870/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1321870/

 

The story of ‘Gangster Squad’ is set in the post-war LA, and this certainly helps as the place and the period seems to gather interests because of the classical ‘noire’ thrillers that it inspired followed by a number of successful movies (starting with The Maltese Falcon, of course, set and filmed in 1941). The despicable bad guy’s name is Micky Cohen and his overtaking of the city could not (at least according to the script) be fought but by unconventional vigilante methods, because most of the police and judicial system was corrupted by hum. Find the right cops, motivated enough by having fought and survived WWII in order to build a world worth being lived by their kids, add the necessary dose of romantic, get a stunt master and a good choreographer for the fights and chases, and success is almost ensured.

 

(video source Movieclips Trailers)

 

The story may be more remote from the truth than in ‘Black Mass’, the capabilities of the squad in fights and shooting may seem overrated, but at the end of the day the result was more enjoyable for me. It certainly helped to have on board such a fine team of actors, including as the ultimate bad guy, ‘can’t do wrong’ , and beautiful who always seems to create around her a fascinating touch of mystery very appropriate in this movie. ‘Gangster Squad’ is a mob story that works and succeeds to be an entertaining film.