Tag Archives: Ryan Gosling

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.


Gosling and Cooper Take You Beyond The Pines

THE-PLACE-BEYOND-THE-PINES-PosterThere is no question that two of the most sought after actors in the business right now are Ryan Gosling and recent Academy Award nominee, Bradley Cooper. So it only makes sense that the two would sooner than later, meet up in a film. It just so happens it is the recent release of writer/director Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond The Pines. This teams up Cianfrance and Gosling for the first time since 2010’s Blue Valentine which further enhanced Gosling’s rapidly emerging talent. Bradley Cooper is fresh of his first Oscar nomination shows no signs of changing his M.O. and taking on challenging and interesting projects.

The Place Beyond The Pines is the story of a career criminal and motorcycle stunt driver who recently discovers he has a son he never knew about and decides to turn to the world of bank robbery to support his son. This life soon puts him on a collision course with rookie cop Avery Cross, the son of a supreme court justice. The twos brief conflict will then send shockwaves thru theirs and those they love’s lives that will have lasting consequences for years to come. With a story that takes several different turns and attacks several different tones, from thriller to drama and almost back to thriller once again, Cianfrance develops a truly captivating story that has you questioning it’s direction and ability at times but has you pulled in to it so deeply, you have to know what the next move is. There is no predictability to this project and you are left with feeling that nothing is off limits as far as outcome.

Cianfrance delivers every feeling and anticipation that can be brought to a film. With a story that dips and dives and despite the near 2 1/2 hour run time seems to fly by and even has the tendency to leave you with a wanting of more closure than is given. It’s perfectly crafted and performances are expertly delivered which may just become to be Derek’s true ability as a director.Place-Beyond-The-Pines-06

The_Place_Beyond_The_PinesMany will have been on such an emotional ride throughout this film that it may even leave some angry. As odd as that sounds it has an unexplained quality that many just won’t understand. It’s a film that needs digesting and multiple re-watch’s before one can fully get what is supposed to be drawn form the film. What is to be drawn from the movie is left up to the film watcher. Having so many elements and unspoken thoughts that are to be detected by the movie goer, the film is what you decide it to be.

Cooper shows his Oscar nomination was no fluke with such a strong performance as a man struggling for years with a split second decision and how to make your life make that decision the right one. Gosling’s time on screen is rife with haunting love. He has the unseen ability to go back and for from villain to hero on multiple scales.

Up and comer Emory Cohen turns in a performance that will undoubtedly push him further into the spotlight and garner him praise, assuming he keeps on the talented path he is currently blazing for himself.

The Place Beyond The Pines is not a film for the fair weather movie goer but for the film lover. One who loves the art of story telling and film making will find a gem with this movie. Others will dismiss it as a film full of itself and unnecessary. One thing is for sure it will leave everyone changed in the end from their view of the normal story telling movie.

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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.

The Timely Ides Of March Shows Politics Dirty Game

Nothing can disrupt a pleasant conversation or even a deep friendship like politics. Views and loyalties in the political arena run deep and are very strong for a majority of people. People truly believe that their guys are the right ones and that they are the ones with integrity and honesty, unlike the others in that business. The trouble is just that, it’s a business. Every politician gets into politics with the best intentions and values and the determination to change things for the better. The trouble is that everyone of them sooner or later gets sucked into the dirty side of politics whether they want to or not, and if they don’t they get out of the political game all together.

George Clooney revealed most of these truths last year with his political whirlwind drama last year, The Ides Of March. Following the campaign team of Governor Mike Morris (Clooney) and his advisors played by Ryan Gosling and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Mike Morris is the one honest guy in the game. His beliefs and way of doing things will change America for the better and he’s the guy who can get it done. Vying for the democratic party nomination and close to getting it done, he’s going to be the guy americans can be proud to have as their president. His campaign is on the up and up and won’t play the dirty tricks and won’t sling the mud with the rest of them. With Ohio being the swing state for the nomination, the campaign is diligently working in Cincinnati  to wrap up the nomination with a win there over the Arkansas senator. But when Senator Pullman’s campaign director attempts to steal the bright and highly useful Stephen Myers (Gosling) away the ball starts rolling that will either sink the campaign for Morris or drive him right into the white house.

With a cast that’s a who’s who of great actors and can’t miss up and comers, The Ides Of March delivers phenomenal dialogue at every turn leaving you entranced in the drama and spiral that happens everyday in the political world. Masterfully directed by Clooney who also gives a great performance and campaign speeches better than anyone running for public office right now.

Clooney shows the dirty game involved, not just with a presidential campaign, but any one who is running for an office of any kind. The story is one as old as this country and happens more than CNN and FOX news could even report. What isn’t seen every time are the internal affects it has how it shapes the way a campaign is set up.

With top notch performances all around and pace perfectly set by Clooney, The Ides Of March will have you thinking and slightly stunned long after you are done watching it. Clooney proves that he’s out to make good movies no matter what and that he is the force in Hollywood that the town needs to continue putting out not only timely entertainment but flat-out good movies.