Quick Review – La La Land (Dir. by Damien Chazelle)


la-la-land-full-poster-image-691x1024Hype is a dangerous thing.

Too little of it will leave a movie’s showing with tons of empty seats. Too much, and you raise skepticism in the masses. The movie never lives up to the growing expectations and tanks before you know it.  Tonight (as of this writing), preview audiences are going to be packed with fans waiting to catch the latest Star Wars film. While I hope it works out for them, there’s another film moving into a wider release this weekend that deserves just as much love. Right now, La La Land is heavily hyped, and hopefully will be part of every major awards run. I still want to try to catch some of the other soon to be nominated films for the Awards season, but I’m good for right now. I’m that kid in the corner, totally content with that one little Transformer he always wanted while other presents still need to be opened. Unless I run into another film that captures my eye (and ears) like this one, La La Land is easily my go to pick for everything this year. It’s a fun little love story wrapped up in musical dance numbers, my feel good movie.

lalalandtickets

I really, truly loved La La Land. 

For me, that’s saying a lot. Outside of the usual Disney film, I don’t see too many musicals. I can count on one hand a few favorites – Frank Oz’s movie version of Little Shop of Horrors, Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge, both Muppet films and of course West Side Story. However, I’ve never watched Singing in the Rain, or any of the Astaire/Rogers numbers. The opening dance sequence in Ted 2 might be the closest I’ve come to all that, or maybe the French Mistake in Blazing Saddles. However, I walked out of La La Land with a huge smile on my face, one that prompted me to run right back in for the next showing. This isn’t meant to convince you to see the film or not. If you do, cool. If you don’t, that’s fine. I just know that I’ll be scooping this up come the Blu-Ray release. This review is me, geeking out.

La La Land is a very simple story. In Los Angeles, Mia (Emma Stone) is an aspiring actress who meets Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a lover of Jazz who’s fighting to keep it alive. Both individuals are fighting to fulfill their dreams, and it’s hard not to root for them. This leads to a friendship that grows, surrounded by great music. For the story, that’s all you really need to know, and to go into more detail risks going into spoiler territory. It’s a classic Boy Meets Girl in the Big City situation.

Having worked together in Gangster Land and Crazy Stupid Love, Stone and Gosling already have some great chemistry. The dialogue pops between them and is very reminiscent of some of the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan films. With the conversation style, coupled with Damien Chazelle’s writing, it all feels very natural. Both of their characters come across as passionate individuals when it comes to the talent of their choice. The cast also includes singer John Legend, Callie Hernandez (Blair Witch), Jessica Rothe (Better Off Single), and Sonoya Mizuno (Ex Machina). If I have one problem with La La Land, it would just be that I wanted to see more of the co-stars, but the film truly belongs to the leads. At least in a film like Grease, you were at least aware of the supporting cast and their stories. It’s a tiny nitpick, but it doesn’t get in the way of the story’s progression.

Visually, La La Land is full of rich colors and deep shadows. When there’s a change in lighting or a focus made, it’s a beautiful thing to behold. Linus Sandgren (American Hustle, Joy) does a great job here and I’m adding him to my list of Cinematographers to keep an eye on. The movie feels like a classic film from start to finish. The editing deserves some kudos as well. Every scene feels like it grew naturally from the one before it, and there’s rarely a moment where you ask yourself if one scene needed to be there if there were any holes to be found. If there was an editing mistake in La La Land, I couldn’t find it.

As with Guy and Madeline On a Park Bench & Whiplash, it wouldn’t be a Chazelle film without music. Justin Hurwitz is on music duty here and La La Land’s music is in some places snappy. I picked up the soundtrack after the movie, and there’s a good chance that some of that music is going to get stuck in your head. Emma Stone may get some recognition come awards season with one song in particular, but overall it’s difficult not to listen to some of these and not want to nod your head with the crowd. On my exit after the second showing, there were people humming and/or whistling the tunes.

Overall, La La Land is a wonderful film that reminds one of the beauty of the Cinema Experience, with a pair of characters that make you want to cheer them on. Really, if you have a chance to see this in the theatre, do so. Who knows, maybe you’ll find yourself with a spring in your step too on the way out.

Here Are the 91 Songs That Have Been Deemed Eligible For Best Original Song!


la-la-land

Hi, Oscar watchers and predictors!

Well, the Academy has released the names of the 91 songs that have been deemed eligible for Best Original Song!

And here they are:

“Just Like Fire” from “Alice through the Looking Glass”
“Rise” from “American Wrestler: The Wizard”
“Friends” from “The Angry Birds Movie”
“Flicker” from “Audrie & Daisy”
“Seconds” from “Autumn Lights”
“A Minute To Breathe” from “Before the Flood”
“Glory (Let There Be Peace)” from “Believe”
“Mother’s Theme” from “Believe”
“Somewhere” from “Believe”
“The Only Way Out” from “Ben-Hur”
“Still Falling For You” from “Bridget Jones’s Baby”
“F That” from “The Bronze”
“Torch Pt. 2″ from “Citizen Soldier”
“Drift And Fall Again” from “Criminal”
“Take Me Down” from “Deepwater Horizon”
“Land Of All” from “Desierto”
“Sad But True (Dreamland Theme)” from “Dreamland”
“Angel By The Wings” from “The Eagle Huntress”
“Blind Pig” from “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
“One Frame At A Time” from “Floyd Norman: An Animated Life”
“I’m Crying” from “Free State of Jones”
“Gold” from “Gold”
“Champion” from “Hands of Stone”
“Dance Rascal, Dance” from “Hello, My Name Is Doris”
“I See A Victory” from “Hidden Figures”
“Runnin” from “Hidden Figures”
“Sixty Charisma Scented Blackbirds” from “How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate
Can’t Change”
“My Superstar” from “Ice Age: Collision Course”
“Seeing You Around” from “Ithaca”
“The Empty Chair” from “Jim: The James Foley Story”
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from “La La Land”
“City Of Stars” from “La La Land”
“Start A Fire” from “La La Land
“Cateura Vamos A Soñar (We Will Dream)” from “Landfill Harmonic”
“Better Love” from “The Legend of Tarzan”
“Never Give Up” from “Lion”
“Equation” from “The Little Prince”
“Turnaround” from “The Little Prince”
“Moonshine” from “Live By Night”
“Loving” from “Loving”
“Hurry Home” from “Max Rose”
“Gone 2015″ from “Miles Ahead”
“Wish That You Were Here” from “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”
“I’m Still Here” from “Miss Sharon Jones!”
“How Far I’ll Go” from “Moana
“We Know The Way” from “Moana
“Even More Mine” from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2″
“Waving Goodbye” from “The Neon Demon”
“I’m Back” from “Never Surrender”
“Find My Victory” from “Olympic Pride, American Prejudice”
“On Ghost Ridge” from “100 Years: One Woman’s Fight for Justice”
“Ordinary World” from “Ordinary World”
“Devil’s Girl” from “Outlaws and Angels”
“Levitate” from “Passengers”
“Ginga” from “Pelé: Birth of a Legend”
“Nobody Knows” from “Pete’s Dragon”
“Something Wild” from “Pete’s Dragon”
“Dancing With Your Shadow” from “Po”
“I’m So Humble” from “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping”
“Stay Here” from “Presenting Princess Shaw”
“Celebrate Life” from “Queen Mimi”
“Back To Life” from “Queen of Katwe”
“Let The Games Begin” from “Race”
“Think About It” from “The Red Pill”
“The Rules Don’t Apply” from “Rules Don’t Apply”
“The Great Beyond” from “Sausage Party”
“Faith” from “Sing”
“Set It All Free” from “Sing”
“Drive It Like You Stole It” from “Sing Street”
“Go Now” from “Sing Street”
“The Veil” from “Snowden”
“Hymn” from “Snowtime!”
“Kiss Me Goodnight” from “Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four”
“Holdin’ Out” from “Storks”
“Heathens” from “Suicide Squad”
“Flying Home” from “Sully
“Montage” from “Swiss Army Man”
“Petit Metier” from “They Will Have to Kill Us First – Malian Music in Exile”
“Letter To The Free” from “13th”
“Down With Mary” from “Too Late”
“Can’t Stop The Feeling” from “Trolls”
“Get Back Up Again” from “Trolls”
“Smile” from “The Uncondemned”
“We Will Rise” from “Veeram-Macbeth”
“LA Venus” from “We Are X”
“New Dogs, Old Tricks” from “What Happened Last Night”
“Runnin’ Runnin’” from “What Happened Last Night”
“What’s Happening Today” from “What Happened Last Night”
“Who I Am” from “What Happened Last Night”
“The Ballad Of Wiener-Dog” from “Wiener-Dog”
“Try Everything” from “Zootopia”

moana

The Las Vegas Film Critics Society Take A Gamble With Their 2016 Nominees!


Let’s take a gamble with the nominees of the Las Vegas Film Critics Society!

(Ha ha — I’m so cute.)

Anyway, the winners will be announced tomorrow!

Best Picture
Moonlight
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
Nocturnal Animals
Hell or High Water

Best Actor
Chris Pine – Hell or High Water
Jake Gyllenhaal – Nocturnal Animals
Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
Ryan Gosling – La La Land
Denzel Washington – Fences

Best Actress
Emma Stone – La La Land
Natalie Portman – Jackie
Taraji P. Henson – Hidden Figures
Amy Adams – Arrival
Annette Bening – 20th Century Women

Best Supporting Actor
Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea
Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals
Ben Foster – Hell or High Water

Best Supporting Actress
Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures
Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Viola Davis – Fences
Greta Gerwig – 20th Century Women
Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea

Best Director
Garth Davis – Lion
Theodore Melfi – Hidden Figures
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
J.A. Bayona – A Monster Calls
Tom Ford – Nocturnal Animals

Best Original Screenplay
Manchester by the Sea
The Witch
Hell or High Water
Moonlight
La La Land

Best Adapted Screenplay
Hidden Figures
Lion
Nocturnal Animals
Arrival
A Monster Calls

Best Cinematography
Moonlight
Nocturnal Animals
Arrival
La La Land
Rogue One

Best Editing
La La Land
Moonlight
Nocturnal Animals
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge

Best Score
Jackie
Nocturnal Animals
Arrival
Lion
La La Land

Best Song
“City of Stars” (La La Land)
“How Far Will I Go” (Moana)
“I See Victory” (Hidden Figures)
“The Great Beyond” (Sausage Party)
“Finest Girl (Bin Laden Song) (Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping)

Best Action Film
Deadpool
Captain America: Civil War
Rogue One
Hacksaw Ridge
Doctor Strange

Best Documentary
8 Days a Week
Weiner
OJ: Made in America
13
The Eagle Huntress

Best Costume Design
Jackie
The Witch
Fantastic Beasts
Love & Friendship
La La Land

Best Visual Effects
Jungle Book
Doctor Strange
Fantastic Beasts
Arrival
A Monster Calls

Best Art Direction
Jackie
La La Land
Arrival
A Monster Calls
Fantastic Beasts

Best Animated Film
Kubo and the Two Strings
Sausage Party
Finding Dory
Zootopia
Moana

Best Foreign Film
Elle
Neruda
The Handmaiden
Toni Erdmann
The Salesman

Best Comedy
Deadpool
Don’t Think Twice
The Edge of Seventeen
Sausage Party
The Nice Guys

Best Horror/Sci-Fi
The Witch
The Neon Demon
Arrival
10 Cloverfield Lane
Don’t Breathe

Best Family Film
The Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Moana
Zootopia
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings

Best Ensemble
Hidden Figures
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight
Fences
Hell or High Water

Breakout Filmmaker
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Robert Eggers – The Witch
Kelly Fremon Craig – Edge of Seventeen
Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert – Swiss Army Man
Nate Parker – Birth of a Nation

Youth in Film
Madina Nalwanga – Queen of Katwe
Lewis MacDougall – A Monster Calls
Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea
Hailee Steinfeld – Edge of Seventeen
Alex B. Hibbert – Moonlight

The Phoenix Critics Circle Has Risen From The Ashes With These Nominees!


The members of the Phoenix Film Critics Circle challenge their rival in the Phoenix Film Critics Society.

The members of the Phoenix Film Critics Circle challenge their rival in the Phoenix Film Critics Society.

Here are the nominees of the Phoenix Critics Circle, who should not be mistaken for the Phoenix Film Critics Society.  Do the Circle and the Society have regular rumbles, like the Sharks and the Jets?  I’d like to think that they do.

The winners will be announced on the 17th!

BEST PICTURE
Arrival
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight

BEST COMEDY FILM
Deadpool
The Edge of Seventeen
Hail, Caesar!
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
The Nice Guys

BEST SCIENCE FICTION FILM
10 Cloverfield Lane
Arrival
Midnight Special

BEST HORROR FILM
The Conjouring 2
Don’t Breathe
The Witch

BEST MYSTERY OR THRILLER FILM
Green Room
Hell or High Water
Nocturnal Animals

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
Zootopia

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
The Handmaiden
Neruda
Things to Come
The Wailing

BEST DOCUMENTARY
13th
Gleason
O.J.: Made in America
Tickled
Weiner

BEST ACTOR
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

BEST ACTRESS
Amy Adams, Arrival
Annette Bening, 20th Century Women
Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Emma Stone, La La Land

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Ben Foster, Hell or High Water
John Goodman, 10 Cloverfield Lane
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Viola Davis, Fences
Greta Gerwig, 20th Century Women
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Helen Mirren, Eye in the Sky
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

BEST DIRECTOR
Damian Chazelle, La La Land
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

BEST SCREENPLAY
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Efthimis Filippou, Yorgos Lanthimos, The Lobster
Eric Heisserer, Arrival
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water

BEST SCORE
Nicholas Britell, Moonlight
Justin Hurwitz, La La Land
Johann Johannsson, Arrival
Mica Levi, Jackie

Here Are The Nominees of the Detroit Film Critics Society!


hell-or-high-water

The winners will be announced on the 19th!

BEST PICTURE

BEST DIRECTOR

BEST ACTOR

  • CASEY AFFLECK – MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
  • JOEL EDGERTON – LOVING
  • ANDREW GARFIELD – HACKSAW RIDGE
  • RYAN GOSLING – LA LA LAND
  • DENZEL WASHINGTON – FENCES

BEST ACTRESS

  • AMY ADAMS – ARRIVAL
  • ANNETTE BENING – 20TH CENTURY WOMEN
  • REBECCA HALL – CHRISTINE
  • RUTH NEGGA – LOVING
  • NATALIE PORTMAN – JACKIE
  • EMMA STONE – LA LA LAND

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • VIOLA DAVIS – FENCES
  • ELLE FANNING – 20TH CENTURY WOMEN
  • GRETA GERWIG – 20TH CENTURY WOMEN
  • FELICITY JONES – A MONSTER CALLS
  • MICHELLE WILLIAMS – MANCHESTER BY THE SEA

BEST ENSEMBLE

BEST BREAKTHROUGH

  • MAHERSHALA ALI – MOONLIGHT, HIDDEN FIGURES – ACTOR
  • KELLY FREMON CRAIG – EDGE OF SEVENTEEN – DIRECTOR/WRITER
  • LUCAS HEDGES – MANCHESTER BY THE SEA – ACTOR
  • BARRY JENKINS – MOONLIGHT – DIRECTOR/WRITER
  • TREVANTE RHODES – MOONLIGHT – ACTOR
  • TREY EDWARD SHULTS – KRISHA – DIRECTOR/WRITER

BEST SCREENPLAY

  BEST DOCUMENTARY

  • 13TH
  • GLEASON
  • LIFE, ANIMATED
  • O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA
  • TICKLED
  • WEINER

Weiner_(film)

Oscar Season Continues With The 2016 Phoenix Film Critics Society Nominations!


la-la-land

The winners will be announced on the 20th!

BEST PICTURE
A Monster Calls
Arrival
Florence Foster Jenkins
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester By The Sea
Moonlight
Nocturnal Animals
Sing Street

BEST DIRECTOR
Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge
David Mackenzie – Hell or High Water
Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester By The Sea
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge
Casey Affleck – Manchester By The Sea
Denzel Washington – Fences
Ryan Gosling – La La Land
Tom Hanks – Sully

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Amy Adams – Arrival
Emma Stone – La La Land
Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins
Natalie Portman – Jackie
Ruth Negga – Loving

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Ben Foster – Hell or High Water
Hugh Grant – Florence Foster Jenkins
Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Felicity Jones – A Monster Calls
Greta Gerwig – 20th Century Women
Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea
Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Viola Davis – Fences

BEST ENSEMBLE ACTING
Fences
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight
The Lobster

BEST SCREENPLAY ADAPTED
FROM OTHER MATERIAL
Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Lion
Love & Friendship

THE OVERLOOKED FILM OF THE YEAR
Anthropoid
Captain Fantastic
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Sing Street
The Lobster

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Finding Dory
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
Trolls
Zootopia

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
A Man Called Ove
Between Sea and Land
Desierto
Elle
The Handmaiden

BEST DOCUMENTARY
13th
Gleason
Oasis: Supersonic
OJ: Made in America
Weiner

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
La La Land – Audition (The Fools Who Dream)
La La Land – City Of Stars
Moana – How Far I’ll Go
Rules Don’t Apply – The Rules Don’t Apply
Sing Street – Drive it Like You Stole It

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Arrival
Jackie
La La Land
Lion
Nocturnal Animals

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Lion
Silence

BEST FILM EDITING
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Moonlight
Nocturnal Animals
Sully

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Hacksaw Ridge
Jackie
La La Land
Silence

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
Hacksaw Ridge
Jackie
La La Land

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Arrival
Captain America: Civil War
Doctor Strange
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
The Jungle Book

BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE
Anya Taylor-Joy – The Witch
Lewis MacDougall – A Monster Calls
Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Ruth Negga – Loving

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A YOUTH
Alex R. Hibbert – Moonlight
Lewis MacDougall – A Monster Calls
Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea
Neel Sethi – The Jungle Book
Sunny Pawar – Lion

The Roots of STAR WARS (20th Century Fox 1977)


cracked rear viewer

starwars1

It had to happen sooner or later so, with the new ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY being released tomorrow, I figure now is a good time to take a look at one of the biggest films of the 1970’s, STAR WARS (retitled A NEW HOPE for you revisionists, but to me it’s still just STAR WARS). I’m pretty sure everyone reading this post is familiar with the story, so rather than rehash the plot, I’m just going to dive right into some points of interest for classic film fans.

starwars2

First off, the movie was originally imagined as a loving homage to serials like FLASH GORDON and BUCK ROGERS. Writer/director George Lucas originally intended to remake FLASH, but couldn’t obtain the rights, so he created his own space opera universe, cobbling bits and pieces from Edgar Rice Burroughs, Joseph Campbell, The Bible, and other sources, including the movies he grew up with and admired…

View original post 702 more words