5. La La Land
So, I don’t ordinarily go in for musicals and I’m not really a fan of jazz music, so in theory I’m not this movie’s target audience. As far as jazz goes, I understand what the movie is trying to tell me, I’m not listening to it correctly or something to that effect. Also, I wouldn’t consider myself the foremost expert on old Hollywood musicals that this movie models itself after, but I will contend that the multiple times I have ridden the Great Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios have provided me with enough of an education on the subject. So, with all this going against it, how could it be my 5th favourite movie of the year? It’s simple really… It’s undeniably charming. Much like “The Artist” a few years back, it’s a filmmaker making something we don’t see anymore and doing it really well.
The movie is about making it in Hollywood, but I suppose, could easily relate to any goal you trying to achieve. Let’s say your dream is to be the greatest Hogan’s Alley player for the old school Nintendo in your whole entire county (your parish is from Louisiana) then there’s something in this movie for you too. It follows the ups and downs of an aspiring actress and a jazz pianist living in LA and follows them throughout the seasons of the year (in the exact same order as “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” I might add). There’s a big opening song and dance number in LA traffic, of which I’ve heard the director, Damien Chazelle, say “The reason we decided to begin this movie with a big ensemble number, mainly as a warning sign to people. If people aren’t going to be comfortable with it, they’ll leave right away, the rest of us can have a good time, hopefully. ” and surprisingly, I was in. After that there’s a really cool and creative dance number at an LA party, a particularly great Ryan Gosling sung song, called City of Stars, and several dazzling jazz instrumental performances. There’s a dancing scene at the Griffith Observatory that I’m sure Gene Kelly would have approved of… or at least what I know about Gene Kelly from the tram driver at Hollywood Studios… and his appearance in Xanadu. The leads have perfectly acceptable singing voices, not Broadway caliber by any means, but I think that adds to the authenticity of their story. As a personal hero of mine, David Byrne, once said
“The better a singer’s voice, the harder it is to believe what they’re saying.”
Damien Chazelle is 2 for 2 with his directing features so far, the previous being 2014’s Whiplash, another Kyle Miller’s best of movie list winner, an honor on par with an Academy Award, I’m sure. Your certificate is in the mail. It should also be noted he also penned my 12th favorite movie of this year, “10 Cloverfield Lane.” He’s 31 and has written and directed two Oscar contenders. The kid is good. Inadequacy pours over me.