La La Land

The Film Itself

Boy oh boy. La La Land is the movie I didn’t know I needed in my life. I am so happy to have experienced this movie in theaters (even though I had to drive half an hour to see it. stupid limited release). I feel like someday my grandkids will discover this movie the way I discovered Singin’ in the Rain and say, “Grandma have you seen this?” and I’ll say “Seen it?! I saw it in theaters twice!” (Totally making my boyfriend see it now). And that’s the thing. You can’t talk about this movie and not talk about Singin’ in the Rain and I think that’s the way Damen Chazelle intended it. Not only does La La Land pay tribute to Singin’ in the Rain, it’s in league with it, which is saying a whole lot.

“Here’s to the ones who dream.”

That’s the best part about this movie. It’s a love note to passionate people. The movie itself plays to people who are passionate about movies and cherish Singin’ in the Rain, West Side Story, An American in Paris, Casablanca. It plays to people who are passionate about music, mainly jazz. But really I think anyone who has a passion for anything gets a stirring in their heart when they see this movie. I’ve said before that I’m a hopeless romantic and let me tell you, as the girlfriend of an artist like the leads of this movie, the ending hit way too close to home. However, my poor broken heart was salved, by the fact that all dreams were realized and that’s the only way they could have been realized. I’ve figured out two interpretations of the ending of this movie thus far: 1)You can’t have it all. Sacrifices must be made. You don’t get multiple dreams, you have to decide. Love or “career satisfaction”. 2) It’s okay to choose your passion over love.

And that is just another regard in which this movie is so perfect. It seamlessly blends all elements of old and new. ‘Passion over love’ is a rather modern moral to end such a romantic and nostalgic movie on but it is so representative of this movie. The best example of this duality is at the end of this surreal, beautiful tap number, an iPhone rings, bringing both the characters and us back into the real world. Just another way this movie plays to the dreamers. It lets us live in the characters’ dreams again and again. God do I love this movie.

Another way the duality plays in is the fact that the leads are not overly skilled at singing or dancing. The friend I saw La La Land was held back by this fact. She’s a sucker for the oldie musicals, as am I, and she pointed out to me how Singin’ in the Rain has the great, superhuman feats of singing and dancing. For me, I enjoyed the fact that they learned to sing and dance for this movie. That in and of itself seems a superhuman feat to me. And it did bring in an element of the new that the focus was more on the acting.

Final thoughts:

Why don’t Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling do every movie together? They are so much each other’s equals and banter together so well.

I personally am not a fan of Emma Stone’s voice but it had to be her. It couldn’t have been anyone else. Which is so weird considering Emma Watson was originally cast in this part. It had to be Stone. No way around it.

Shoutout to Ryan Gosling’s piano skills.

Shoutout to Damien Chazelle. So many beautiful and interesting shots. *Cough cough* unbroken shot of Emma Stone talking to Ryan Gosling by the car. Another reason it had to be her. And Chazelle totally knew how to use her, just give her room to make her magic. Ugh so good. This was totally her movie.

Fun Fact

HO-lee crap. Not only did John Legend learn to play guitar for this movie, but RYAN GOSLING HAD NO PREVIOUS PIANO TRAINING. wut.

Best Part

I was on the verge of sobbing when Emma Stone took out saddle shoes and I realized a tap number was coming.

Runner-up: Emma Stone being Emma Stone after requesting “I Ran”. Every quirky girl’s aspiration.

Worst Part

Hard to pin down. I really wasn’t a fan of Emma’s voice, but like I said it had to be her.

I mean I was absolutely heartbroken watching Emma Stone walk into Seb’s and realize she wasn’t part of him realizing his dream but that wasn’t because the scene was bad.



Nocturnal Animals

The Film Itself

“It was exhilirating and kept your attention the whole time you were watching.”-My Roommate

I don’t know if it’s just because I don’t usually go for a movie like this (but put Aaron Taylor-Johnson in a movie and I am there), but this movie seemed surprisingly different and new, which is a rare thing to see nowadays. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie like this. It feels like Tom Ford is still learning. I think his next couple of movies could be absolute masterpieces, and this one was a gigantic step in the right direction. I mean I have no idea because I’ve never seen A Single Man, but this one just doesn’t feel like quite his full potential.

Upon first glance, it seems as though this movie is all about the fashion and style. That is so far from the truth. The fashion and style is important thematically, but the thing that really stands out about this movie is hands-down the acting. Tom Ford is my kind of director because he gets acting. This movie is all about the eyes and I LOVE IT. Alright. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is HOT. No doubt about it. He also created my single favorite moment in all of cinema*. But one wonders if that could be a fluke, created by the illusion of his dazzling crystalline eyes. No. It most assuredly is not. This movie officially shot him straight past Ewan McGregor to the spot of my number one favorite actor. He is so good at playing just an annoying, disgusting jerk of a hick, one that we have all encountered, but it’s more than that. I don’t think anyone could miss THE scene. When Jake Gyllenhaal is screaming his head off at Aaron Taylor-Johnson, but the camera isn’t on Jakey boy. It’s on Aaron. He doesn’t speak a word but he taunts us all with those beautiful eyes. Goodness gracious. He’s not the only one. Jake and Amy Adams do it consistently too and it’s amazing. But Aaron Taylor-Johnson definitely stole the show. No that’s not true. Jake Gylenhaal and Amy Adams more than held their own, but I think THE scene probably stands out in everyone’s mind.

Now you may be asking yourself, well why isn’t this Tom Ford’s piece de resistance then? Well, I’m not a huge fan of all his camera shots. They can be kind of choppy, but maybe that was his intention. Also, I feel as though it’s a little all over the place. The way I see it, this movie is a romantic drama disguised as a psychological thriller. And it is wonderful at being that. Maybe it was the marketing of this movie, but during the whole movie, my roommate and I were just waiting with baited breath for a plot twist that didn’t come. Well I suppose it did come. The plot twist was more simple than anyone could have imagined. It was all a metaphor for the relationship. Which honestly I loved. I don’t know if I fully understood all of it but hey it was pretty cool.

Oh right the fashion! I loved the metaphor with the makeup. Like when she moved further away from herself ( and Edward) she wore way more makeup and she took it off again to go get Edward back. Also Amy Adams was great and all but who could ever believe that she is a super cynical person. No you know what, I did feel like she was coming from a real place with that which is great because it makes her seem like more of a real person. I really did feel like she had sad eyes.

Bechdel Test

The website I usually use for this said this movie was an easy pass. I’m not so sure about that. Susan definitely has plenty of conversations with other women, but most of them are about either Jake Gyllenhaal or Armie Hammer. Although the board meeting at the museum probably counted.

 Fun Fact

No Tom Ford-designed items were used in this movie because he didn’t want it to be a commercial. I respect that.

Best Part

Easily the Aaron Taylor-Johnson eye part but I already discussed that so… probably the opening seen. I’ve never seen anything like that and it was super shocking and interesting and went on way longer than felt appropriate/comfortable in the most wonderful way.

Worst Part

I mean I have a compassionate heart so the whole abduction scene was really hard to watch. I guess I didn’t like the fact that the real Susan had a daughter but I think a lot of that is just things I didn’t pick up on. Is it Edward’s? Did the abortion not take? I don’t feel like it was necessary except to show us that the book is based in real life. Well I guess it was supposed to feel like Amy Adams felt threatened by the story but I just thought it was good writing and any mother would feel worried about her daughter after reading that. Huh. I don’t know.

*my favorite cinematic moment: In Anna Karenina, there’s this scene where Aaron Taylor-Johnson was like tell me not to leave and Keira Knightley didn’t say anything so he starts to leave and then she passionately screams out “NO!” and there’s just this beautiful perfect look of hope in his eyes. It’s brief but it’s everything a hopeless romantic could ever want.