Great Cake, Too Much Frosting: “La La Land”

La La Land, directed by Damien Chazelle, was a fine film, but I can’t help but feel nostalgia for the power of his ‘Whiplash’ or even the rapture of a similar love story musical ‘Moulin Rouge’.

So, let me complain first. The first two musical scenes needed to be combined or shortened. Dancers in a California traffic jam is unique, girls singing in their bedrooms, not so much, but again, shorten them up and I wouldn’t have been thinking, “Ok when does the tremendously praised movie start”.

My only other complaint are the Disneyesque scenes where I thought I was re-watching Fantasia. Not that there’s anything wrong with children’s films, but it added schmaltz which limited my emotional response.

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling were amazing and they made me want to take tap dancing lessons. And I appreciated and concur on the ‘moral to the story’ which I’ll relate in a few months again to protect my dear readers. Justin Hurwitz’s music is fitting to the film, sweet, in an overly confectionery way. I didn’t leave saying, I have to have the soundtrack as I did in a musical like ‘Rent’.

The last 30 minutes of the film were wonderful, realistic and emotionally effective. Won’t say more to protect you from spoilers. I just wish Mr. Chazelle had started from a more serious angle from the get go.

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Miles Teller

Saw two accomplished films this weekend, one a doc Citizenfour (Laura Poitras) and one of fiction, Whiplash (Damien Chazelle).

Citizenfour is basically cinematic voyeurism; watching a man’s last few days of freedom. While I disagree with Leonard Maltin’s hyperbolic review “has Hitchockian suspense”, I will admit it held my interest despite ‘knowing the ending’ so to speak, that Snowden remains an exile in Russia. And here’s where I want to step on the thin ice and say, hooray for Snowden, a man of principles…yet the skeptic in me thinks, can our government be THAT corrupt? Can a man simply exposing Obama’s transparency as an opaque farce, really be stripped of his passport and free citizenship? Yikes.

But I say Snowden for President as a man of true integrity. But believe me, the whispering dissenter chirps, “Can a world power exist without infringing on privacy to protect its citizens?”.

Which leads me to my presidential analogy that Miles Teller, at least in this role, (and at the risk of tying Maltin for hyperbole), is the most sincere and dedicated person on Earth. And while I’m at my electoral picks, let me propose J.K. Simmons as Secretary of State because he’d tell any bullying totalitarianism to bend over and kiss their inhumane arses goodbye. And for good measure, let’s throw in Paul Reiser as Press Secretary with his realistic chagrined father portrayal. Whiplash is a fantastic film worthy of viewing and award nominations. While I won’t discuss plot points in my pledge to tell no spoiler, I will say if the movie’s end had been a hair shorter, it’d be absolute perfection.

P.S. I’ll be posting this on every blog, but soon my website name will change to something shorter and easier to type after the new year…still pondering domain names…stay tuned.