La La Lame

La La Land is a 2016 American romantic musical comedy-drama film written and directed by Damien Chazelle and starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone (Mia) as a musician and an aspiring actress who meet and fall in love in Los Angeles. The film’s title refers both to the city of Los Angeles and to the idiom for being out of touch with reality.

So this is the big hit of 2016 (!). It’s been nominated for 14 Oscars and appears to be the film everyone is raving about.

My only theory for it’s popularity is that it comes after a depressing time in American history (the election) and it’s formula works at this time and place.

The film has lots of problems. The characters aren’t engaging and  the plot feels like every other romantic comedy (but without the funny bits).  After half-way through I partially lost interest. There are a few inventive sequences, one in a planetarium and another near the end.

As for the music –

The score feels like a continuous collection of symphonic cliches.
The songs are generally OK and they do appear to employ professional singers in the minor roles. Like Mia, I hated the self-indulgent Jazz snob Sebastian likes. It was only when John Legend performs that the music has some life in it.

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are only average singers. It couldn’t have been difficult to find better singer/actors. What was Sutton Foster doing at the time ? As for an alternative male lead, I can think of a few Court Theatre actors that could have done better.

The best comparison that can be made is to The Fabulous Baker Boys from 1989 with the Daniels Brothers and the fabulous Michelle Pfeiffer. (See this instead).

The Best of the Worst Review.


Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures is a 2016 American biographical drama film directed by Theodore Melfi and written by Melfi and Allison Schroeder, based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly, about female African-American mathematicians at NASA. The film stars Taraji P. Henson as Katherine G. Johnson, a mathematician who calculated flight trajectories for Project Mercury and other missions. The film also features Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan and Janelle Monáe as Mary Jackson, with Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Glen Powell and Mahershala Ali in supporting roles.

A great, inspirational story of three women behind NASA. Surprised to find Janelle Monáe in an acting role (she does well). What I liked was that they didn’t skimp on the science and maths details. Fun moment when they everyone went ‘WOW’ at a new IBM machine that did 24,000 calcs per second. Also a moment of recognition when the programmer opened the new FORTRAN manual.