Tag Archives: emma stone

La La Land Dances Its Way Into Award Season

rs_634x634-160713082755-600-lalaland-cm-71316Hollywood has a long history with nostalgia; you could even make a case that the whole film industry is based on nostalgia. We love to be taken back to different times and places; we watch certain movies so they can bring back old feelings we want. Some filmmakers passion projects are rooted deep in nostalgia; Woody Allen has made an entire career on his love of the past.

Young rising writer/director Damien Chazelle has released his newest film, and it is full of his love of old Hollywood and more. Chazelle shows his love for the lavish classic musical that were staples every year during the golden age of movies. Of course, this is not the first time that a film has drawn in an era of movies that is long since the past. In 2011 everyone swept away with The Artist, a modern day silent film like those of the days before recorded sound on film. In hindsight, The Artist feels more like a gimmick film now than a genuinely great movie, and many of its awards were doled out because it tugged at the nostalgia muscle of many in tinsel town.

La La Land is the story of Mia, played by Emma Stone, and Sebastian la-la-land-2-800x480played by Ryan Gosling, who are two young people trying to make it in the cutthroat world of L.A. and show business. They meet and soon find each other irresistible and try making their dreams come true while at the same time falling in love. Mia is desperate to be an actress and fulfill her childhood dreams While Sebastian wants nothing more than to own a jazz nightclub and preserve the feelings he feels towards the classic and traditional jazz music he loves. As Mia and Sebastian work towards their goals, they feel themselves begin to separate from each other and soon difficult choices need to be made. Their love is undeniable but is it as strong as it needs to be for them to breakthrough?

La La Land begins with a well choreographed lavish dance number on the freeways of Los Angeles with everyone leaving their vehicles dancing in the middle of gridlocked traffic. The vast number that makes the opening of the film left me a little uncertain as to what style and flow the movie would have because the previews of the film were more set up to show the visual beauty rather than the way any story would be told. Mia is then introduced first, and a small glimpse into her life is shown before we are shown Sebastian’s world. I have to say it took me a good 30 minutes before the story started to flow, but once it did, it pulled you in so deeply and yet gently that you are 100% immersed in their lives.

The film does not follow the typical musical blueprints of the old Gene Kelly or Danny Kaye style films from 70 or 80 years ago, but it is a love letter to that way of storytelling none the less. While music is the life force flowing through the film, it helps move the story along as well as the lives of Mia and Sebastian as opposed to being the only purpose of the film. We become enthralled with the relationship they both share and where it will lead. Sebastian is in love with the jazz music of the 1920’s and 30’s and is afraid the whole style of jazz is dying, and when he is united with an old musician friend, he isn’t a fan of his new style of jazz. His friend tells him that while he is afraid that jazz will die out, he refuses to change with the times and advance it so that people of a newer younger generation can appreciate it as a whole. This reflects the film itself and the state that musical films are in right now. When musicals are made they do seem to be old love letters to the musicals of old, there doesn’t appear to be anything new that would bring old and new together. Chazelle has made his attempt at bringing that out with his version of a new musical in films. He has in essence challenged others to make musicals more prevalent again, but at the same time to give them a new look and feel that will draw everyone back.

La La Land is one of the heavy favorites going into award season and it is for a good reason. Part of the reason that it is garnering so much attention is that it is a return to musicals, and it stirs up the nostalgia of all the awards committees, but in this turn of the musical, Chazelle has made it new and given it a life of its own. Chazelle has established himself as a new and exciting voice in filmmaking in a very short amount of time and gave movie fans quite a bit to be excited about.

 

Gangster Squad Doesn’t Know What Side It’s On

gangster-squadEvery movie rides a very thin line between being a humorous comedy or a serious drama. No genre of movies ride this line thinner than period pieces, films that attempt to capture a certain time in human history in every aspect. They can go from feeling like a breathing comic book or to a snapshot of history. Rarely does a film capture both. Gangster Squad has managed that very thing, and dare I say in a good way. Capturing both could be a good thing if done right. Gangster squad captures both in the wrong way.

This is the VERY loosely based true story of mobster Mickey Cohen’s reign over Hollywoodland, as it was affectionately known, and Los Angeles county. Aside from names and positions, the majority of this film is fabricated and the spin of money making film makers yarn. The essential Gangster Squad there seems to be little known about and what they did or accomplished, even less. What is known is how Cohen was taken down and what he did, subsequently afterwards. The movie tells the story of 5 legit cops who put all ethics and laws aside to take down Cohen. In there pursuit is every aspect that makes up a perfect story from a young bitter bachelor cop that falls in love to the gritty veteran who can’t seem to let the war go and the ambitious aspect that came with it who also happens to be an expecting father and wants clean streets for his child to grow up on. The dossier on these gentlemen couldn’t line up more perfectly outside a Hollywood script therefore taking away the credibility of the film piece by piece.

The trouble with Gangster squad is it’s inconsistency as a film. It starts out fairly light hearted, tho in a darker tone a la Guy Ritchie. While it’s a serous topic the humor seems to take center stage. the lines almost seemed to be delivered over the top outside of Emma Stone and Sean Penn who are masters at this moment in delivering dialogue. One of the other great speakers and dialogue deliverers is Ryan Gosling who at the out set seems to be a very satyrical and almost cliche character.

My initial thoughts were that this was gonna be a Guy Ritchie meets Brian DePalma film. While on paper and in minds that sounds fantastic, on screenGangster-Squad-1 it didn’t seem to be working.

About half way to 3/4 of the way the film takes a very serious turn and forces all the loose comical appeal of the characters out the window and now forces you to try and look at the film as a serious work of art with great ambitions. There’s one problem…it’s way too late for that. Everyone seemed to be looking for the next funny moment, which only seemed to arrive when a bloody Mickey Cohen seemed to weep when arrested, but unsure if it was a weep or smile. The faults all lay with the director as the actors seemed to transition well and not make a dramatic change in character, accents and demeanor remained the same but the tone and flow of the film was destroyed.Initial impressions were, if I wondered what would have happened if Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy and L.A. Confidential had a love child this would without question be the answer.

Every actor signed up with a great script and rightfully so, don’t fault them for being let down creatively.

It is worthy to note that a substantial portion of the movie was taken out and some was re-shot after the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado and the massacre at the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. This may have played a significant role in the feel and flow of the film but based on the final product, so much was left as a “what could have been” type feeling.

Emma Stone Leads A Powerhouse Cast In The Help

It is without question that Emma Stone is one of Hollywood’s brightest stars on the rise. Her role in the Oscar nominated movie, The Help does nothing but prove that. While she may be overshadowed by the brilliant performances of Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, she non the less proves her worth.

She first came to light in the incredibly funny Greg Mottola movie, Superbad alongside Oscar nominee, Jonah Hill. She has since gone on to be nominated for a Golden Globe for her role in the somewhat cheesy teen movie Easy A.

Her ability to choose diverse and unique roles is what has catapulted her to he front of the line. The Help is no doubt her shinning achievement thus far. It was a courageous challenge to take the role in a movie that has brought both high acclaim and scornful criticism.

The Help is the story of an aspiring journalist in 1960’s Mississippi, which was the center of the segregated world at the time, and her mission to tell the story of well to do families maids who at the time were a majority of the african american race. Met with much reluctancy she does convince two of the local maids to help her start telling their story. After a series of events, nearly all the local maids begin to open up and help her tell their stories. After publishing their stories in a book it sets the town a buzzing. Her book is a true success and she is offered a job in NYC but wants to stay in Mississippi but is then convinced she needs to go.

The movie is a reflection on the ignorance and mistreatment that went on at a pivotal time in American history. It is a fictional story that is no less powerful just because it may not be completely true. It in no way is meant to reflect negatively on the black race in any way. It is however a story that needs to be told so that we as a society may never forget the misguided treatment of others and never repeat our horrid mistakes.

However it is a story that can’t be told without striking a nerve on some in a negative way. As with every movie or story, there is no pleasing everyone, people will find a negative view and hold on to it. Some may ask why we need to be reminded of such horrible times and actions and may say that it will only promote others to act that way or have those negative views. This could not be further from the truth. It is the same reason that we learn of these things in school or that Holocaust stories are still told to this day. It is only so that we may not have the unfortunate result of repeating history that we continue to learn.

The Help is a powerful and wonderful film if looked at in the correct and positive way. With a cast that without a doubt is one of the finest acting ensembles in recent memory. With Viola Davis proving she may be the best working actress right now and Octavia Spencer breaking out in her role as Millie, The Help may not win the best picture of the year but there is no doubt it very well is one of the best.