Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Why I Don't Think La La Land Deserves to be Best Picture

1. For a supposed musical, there are too few memorable songs. In fact, they seem to play the same two songs over and over and over again.

2. There is really only one big production number and we get that in the first scene. And its total abandon and joy is never repeated.

3. The movie is underpopulated. Some friends appear in the beginning and are seldom heard from again. All great musicals have friends, family, someone. This basically has three characters and one is detested.

4. The dancing and singing rarely rises above adequate.

5. So much of it is a generic Hollywood story. In fact, all of it is.

6. I could really never make sense of exactly what sort of jazz Seb was referring to. When he plays his own song, it is like jazz light if jazz at all.

7. Although they are both pleasant leads, neither does anything worthy of Oscar consideration if you compare it to Isabelle Huppert for instance. Actually I would place Gosling in fifth place in the Leading Actor category. And I am a Gosling fan.

8. We never get any sense what Mia's one-woman show is about and her story about her aunt that leads to fame and fortune is indistinct at best.

9. Same with Seb. He never once really shows us the jazz he wants to play.

10. Their romance seems similar to one in high school. There is no heat between them. Just a sort of middling affection.

I have no objection to a light-hearted film winning Best Picture but it has to be meritorious in some way and I didn't see any real strength here.  It is the epitome of a pleasant two hours.

18 comments:

Rick Robinson said...

Not having seen it, I don't have an opinion, but it's clear you weren't smitten.

Todd said...

Worship of the film since it's about aspiring performers who Make It. Imagine a National Book Award winner about two writers who manage to write and publish books they and everyone else in the book love, that come across unintentionally to the reader as half-assed.

Steve Oerkfitz said...

I liked it but prefer Manchester By the Bay, Hell or High Water, The Arrival,The Handmaiden and Hacksaw Ridge.

pattinase (abbott) said...

On a second viewing some of its deficits became more evident to me. I liked it too but it is not a great movie. I would rate MOONLIGHT best followed by MANCHESTER. Still haven't seen HACKSAW.

Margot Kinberg said...

You make some good arguments here, Patti.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

HIDDEN FIGURES. MOONLIGHT. I wouldn't see HACKSAW RIDGE under any circumstances.

We're still trying to convince ourselves that we need to see this, but neither of us is at all looking forward to it.

pattinase (abbott) said...

It will probably win and it is certainly the most non-offensive picture of them all. But in this year, I would have expected MOONLIGHT or FENCES to win.

Charles Gramlich said...

Probably won't get around to this one.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Thanks Patti. I thought I had little interest in this one. It was next on the list. I think I'll pass.

Jackie

Rick Robinson said...

I guess of the batch of films getting attention, LION would be the one I'd see.

Al Tucher said...

I know what you mean Patti, strickly speaking it was just Chazelle worshipping Demy in the same way that Demy had worshipped the Hollywood musicals of the late 20`s.

pattinase (abbott) said...

An excellent observation. And neither was quite able to translate it adequately.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

LION was good for the most part, but I wouldn't give it a Best Picture.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

I saw this film without any preconceived notions, without having read a single review beforehand, with a good friend who knows her film history as well as I do and she loved it too, which convinced me we must both be right and that everyone would probably fall under its spell - how wrong I was ... Since then I have discovered that this is not a universally loved film at all and that a lot of people really don't like Gosling in it at all. I don't really understand the criticism of what it isn't, that seems weirdly reductive. Demi's musicals of the 1960s are a massive inspiration. very nakedly so in fact, but shouldn't we be comparing it with the last original musical that was not either animated or made for children? Because I think a lot of the appeal comes from that -it is a real rarity as it is just not a mode associated with adult cinema anymore. And the fact that the main number between the two leads was shot for real, in a single take, at magic hour, which is incredibly hard to achieve, is charming to me precisely because the dancing is decent but not professional standard. Surely that is the point - it is the kind of love story that we can all relate to from our 20s but tries to make one soar emotionally but remain grounded, though of course we have two big fantasy sequences too (don;t those count as big musical numbers? And what about the opening sequence on the freeway? Why be so sour for a film that is actually tying to do something so rare and so difficult? I think it is the idea that it might win Oscars that seems to have turned viewers against it - which I find fascinating. Personally, when it comes to the Oscars, I really don't think "deserve" is a meaningful term. Just look at past winners and losers after all ...

Al Tucher said...

Sergio, the key point here is that LA LA LAND is easily the best American made musical we`ve seen in a long time (animated or otherwise) its just that it still isn`t in the same class as THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG or THE YOUNG GIRLS OF ROCHEFORT. LA LA LAND is a good movie but not a great one although i do think it may achieve a cult following in the future just like Demys films.

George said...

I think LA LA LAND just benefited from the fact it was a musical in a time of Super Hero Movies. It's uniqueness is a Big Deal even though the music is forgettable and the dancing is mostly ho-hum.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I think it is absolutely about its Oscar hopes. I saw it twice and the first time I didn't notice its deficits nearly as much. But it really irked me that the story was so generic as was the music and the dancing. I liked both the actors well enough--as actors. Certainly Astaire was never much of an actor and we accepted him as a romantic lead. So why not Gosling's okay dancing and singing. I almost think his dancing was better than his singing. It seemed like they were both cast for their star power mostly.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

OK, we saw it. Jackie liked it a lot more than I did. In fact, she pretty much loved it with two exceptions:

Gosling's horrible singing
The ending

I hated the beginning, though it did grow on me to some extent. I think I'm just too old.

1. His singing was appalling, embarrassing. (The contrast with John Legend was striking.) His dancing was (barely) adequate.
2. His music wasn't jazz, for the most part. And his tortured pretensions about why he was going to "save" jazz was annoying.

There are other, personal, things but I won't bother mentioning them. But no, this is not the Best Picture of the year by any objective standard.