You Should Be Watching: August 31 – September 5

Welcome to You Should Be Watching, my weekly opportunity to introduce you to a variety of great films, gems of the past and present, available for you to stream from Netflix, Amazon Prime, FilmStruck, and anywhere else streams are found.


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

    — Coming September 1

Year: 1993

Director: Lasse Hallström

Genre: Romance, Drama

Cast: Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Juliette Lewis, Mary Steenburgen, Darlene Cates, Laura Harrington, Mary Kate Schellhardt, Kevin Tighe, John C. Reilly, Crispin Glover, Penelope Branning, Tim Green, Susan Loughran, Robert B. Hedges, Mark Jordan, Cameron Finley, Brady Coleman, Tim Simek

Johnny Depp plays Gilbert Grape, a twenty-something stuck in the small Iowa town of Endora working as a grocery clerk. Despite the presence of his two sisters, he bears the weight of the world as he alone is obligated to care for his morbidly obese mother Bonnie (Darlene Cates) and his highly autistic 17-year-old brother Arnie (Leonardo DiCaprio in one of his first roles). The whole family lives in an old rundown house that Bonnie hasn’t left in years due to depression from her husband’s suicide. Gilbert is losing the battle of trying to cope with his life when he meets Becky (Juliette Lewis), a carefree spirit who brings him happiness and draws his attention away from the drudgery of his responsibilities. Unfortunately, Arnie is one of those responsibilities, and unsupervised, he is a true danger to himself.

Between Lasse Hallström’s direction and Peter Hedges‘ script, the perfect balance is struck between melancholy and humor. The big surprise is DiCaprio stealing the entire show with his standout Oscar-nominated supporting actor performance. Through expression, voice, and mannerisms, there is nothing to differentiate him from an actual autistic person. He is truly dependent on others, providing genuine tension when he’s left to his own devices, whether getting stuck up on the town water tower or left alone in the bath, unable to help himself.


Gone Baby Gone

Year: 2007

Director: Ben Affleck

Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery

Cast: Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, John Ashton, Amy Ryan, Amy Madigan, Titus Welliver, Michael Kenneth Williams, Edi Gathegi, Mark Margolis, Madeline O’Brien, Slaine, Matthew Maher, Trudi Goodman

By the mid 2000s, Ben Affleck’s acting career was in a shambles after a string of major flops. Something needed to change. So why not go behind the camera for once? Affleck joined Aaron Stockard to adapt Dennis Lehane’s source novel and found his cast, including leads Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan, who play private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, as well as big names like Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris. The result was the directorial debut Gone Baby Gone, a critically acclaimed neo-noir crime drama about the search through Boston’s criminal underground for a missing little girl named Amanda.

This is a bleak, depressing, and uncomfortable film full of unlikeable people. Even Amanda’s mother is neglectful and self-centered. But this is the world we live in. The stunning revelations and impossible moral dilemma thrust on our characters unmercifully puts the viewer’s ethical judgment and fortitude to the test. There’s also the sense that apart from the main cast, these aren’t actors; they’re real Bostonians living real life, rough and raw, for better or worse.


Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

 — Expiring September 7

Year: 1954

Director: Stanley Donen

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Musical, Western

Cast: Howard Keel, Jeff Richards, Russ Tamblyn, Tommy Rall, Marc Platt, Jane Powell, Jacques d’Amboise, Julie Newmar, Matt Mattox, Nancy Kilgas, Betty Carr, Virginia Gibson, Ruta Lee, Norma Doggett, Ian Wolfe, Howard Petrie, Earl Barton, Dante DiPaolo, Kelly Brown, Matt Moore, Russell Simpson, Marjorie Wood, Jarma Lewis, Anna Q. Nilsson, Dick Rich

Set in the Oregon frontier of the mid-19th century, this is the story of Adam Pontipee, played by the deep-voiced Howard Keel, and his six brothers, Benjamin through Frank. They’re all uncouth backwoodsmen who rarely see women much less have any idea how to treat them or how to have any kind of manners really. Nevertheless, Adam comes to town to find a bride, and find one he does in the beautiful Milly, played by the tough but lovely Jane Powell, who also has a beautiful singing voice. Milly accepts his offer not knowing of the rest of the family that awaits her or what kind of man Adam is.

Despite moments of discomfort and awkwardness brought about by its sometimes pigheaded characters, this movie musical is a pure delight with catchy and memorable songs, creative, can’t take your eyes off it large-scale group choreography–especially during the barn-raising sequence, laughs a plenty, and a no-nonsense, take-charge heroine in Milly.

When I say Milly is a heroine, I mean she is the most important character in the story. She’s the one who takes on the role of taming this group of brothers and teaching them what respect and true masculinity looks like. Ironically, despite being the oldest, her new husband is the one most in need of maturing, despite what he himself thinks. He’s as stubborn as they come, and Milly, while quick to forgive and generous in heart, is not a doormat and is more than ready to stand up for herself and for the other girls who end up falling into her protection.


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

August 31
Batman Begins (2005)
Casino (1995)
The Dark Knight (2008)
Dead Poets Society (1989)
The Descent (2005)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009)
It Might Get Loud (2008)
Man on Wire (2008)
Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

September 4
PK (2014)
To The Wonder (2012)

September 13
Pete’s Dragon (2016)

September 14
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)

September 15
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

September 27
The Imitation Game (2014)

AMAZON PRIME

August 31
Anthropoid (2016)
The Big Racket (1976)
Blazing Saddles (1974)
Capote (2005)
Dead Man Walking (1995)
Death at a Funeral (2007)
A Fistful Of Dynamite (1971)
The Flowers of War (2011)
The Hurt Locker (2008)
Inferno (1980)
The Natural (1984)
Raging Bull (1980)
Red River (1948)
Stories We Tell (2012)
Training Day (2001)
Trees Lounge (1996)

FILMSTRUCK

August 31
Badlands (1973)
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Diary of a Lost Girl (1929)
The Exorcist (1973)
Gun Crazy (1950)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)
Kameradschaft (1931)
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
The Searchers (1956)
They Live by Night (1948)
Tootsie (1982)
Westfront 1918 (1930)
You Only Live Once (1937)

September 7
The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)
The Band Wagon (1953)
Giant (1956)
Grand Illusion (1937)
Home from the Hill (1960)
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
Slacker (1990)
Some Came Running (1958)
Steamboat Round the Bend (1935)
Tea and Sympathy (1956)
The Thin Man Series (1934 – 1947)
Touchez Pas au Grisbi (1954)

September 14
Advise & Consent (1962)
Easy Rider (1969)
Five Easy Pieces (1970)
Fruit of Paradise (1970)
The Night of the Iguana (1964)
A Patch of Blue (1965)
Queen Christina (1933)
Seven Days in May (1964)
Splendor in the Grass (1961)
The Thief of Bagdad (1924)

September 21
Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974)
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005)
Mean Streets (197
Night Moves (1975)

HULU

August 31
Across the Universe (2007)
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
The ’Burbs (1989)
Clue (1985)
Dead Man Walking (1995)
Escape from Alcatraz (1979)
Event Horizon (1997)
Hellboy (2004)
My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown (1989)
Primal Fear (1996)
Rain Man (1988)
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
Trainspotting (1996)


JUST ARRIVED

FILMSTRUCK

Captains Courageous (1937)
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Dead Ringers (1988)
Gunga Din (1939)
The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
A Mighty Wind (2003)
North by Northwest (1959)
The Prisoner of Zenda (1937)
Suspicion (1941)
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Westworld (1973)

HULU

Crime + Punishment (2018)
Gangs of New York (2002)
mother! (2017)


COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

September 1
The Breakfast Club (1985)
Bruce Almighty (2003)
Groundhog Day (1993)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
King Kong (2005)
Nacho Libre (2006)
Pearl Harbor (2001)
Scarface (1983)
Unforgiven (1992)

September 2
The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
Lilo & Stitch (2002)

September 4
Black Panther (2018)

AMAZON PRIME

September 1
Chinatown (1974)
Blow Out (1981)
Dressed to Kill (1980)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Ghostbusters 2 (1989)
Hustle & Flow (2005)
Jerry Maguire (1996)
Miami Vice (2006)
Primal Fear (1996)
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
There Will Be Blood (2007)
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

HULU

August 31
The Terminator (1984)

September 1
13 Going On 30 (2004)
Adaptation. (2002)
Blow Out (1981)
City of God (2002)
Dressed to Kill (1980)
Field of Dreams (1989)
The Fly (1986)
Jerry Maguire (1996)
Primal Fear (1996)
Rushmore (1998)
Signs (2002)
Searching for Sugar Man (2012)
Sixteen Candles (1984)
There Will Be Blood (2007)
Unbreakable (2000)
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

September 2
The English Patient (1996)


Jacob Neff is a film enthusiast living east of Sacramento. In addition to his contributions as an admin of the Feelin’ Film Facebook group and website, he is an active participant in the Letterboxd community, where his film reviews can be found. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with his latest thoughts and shared content.

By Request 001: The Last Five Years

Aaron reacts to The Last Five Years, the Broadway to Big Screen musical starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan.

 

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Music: “Something Elated” – Broke For Free

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MOVIE REVIEW: Christopher Robin


Aaron White is a Seattle-based film critic and co-creator/co-host of the Feelin’ Film Podcast. He is also a member of the Seattle Film Critics Society. He writes reviews with a focus on the emotional experience he has with a film. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

MOVIE REVIEW: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN (2018)

1 Hour and 54 Minutes (PG-13)

Mamma Mia

premiered on the stages of London in 1999, then a little less than 10 years later it graced American movie theatres, so it was only fitting that another 10 years would pass before we were given the next iteration.

A prequel hidden in a sequel, “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” picks up with Sophie, the eve before she officially re-opens The Hotel Bella Donna in honor of her mother. As she prepares for the hotel’s opening, The movie is both a prequel and a sequel, the plot is set after the events of the first film but transforms into a montage of the moments that brought Donna (Meryl Streep) to the beautiful Greek island of Kolokairi and Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) to her womb. To show their support of Sophie and to mourn the loss of their friend, Tanya (Christina Baranski) and Rosie (Julia Walters) arrive to bolster Sophie, showing her how her mother’s past will lead to her future.

When the announcement came that they were making a sequel, some audience members had PTSD flashbacks of Pierce Brosnan singing and an impending sense of dread fell over them. Many arrived with low expectations, myself included, but most were strangely delighted by the overwhelming amount of silliness and self-awareness the film provided. The casting of the Young Dynamos was incredibly spot-on, I don’t think they could have chosen better actresses to portray them; Young Donna (Lily James), Young Tanya (Jessica Keenan Wynn), and Young Rosie (Alexa Davies) brought smiles to everyone’s faces and had instant on-screen chemistry.

Sophie’s potential fathers were a different story, the casting did well enough but it was clear their priorities were to find semi-decent voices attached to pretty faces, not necessarily actors who could physically mimic or grow into their older counterparts. Hugh Skinner managed the nervousness of Young Harry well enough but had too much confidence to truly sell his more anxious behavior. Young Bill (Josh Dylan) barely attempted any type of Scandinavian accent but at least he managed to be beyond charming in a surfer/sailor kind of way, Young Sam (Jeremy Irvine) was one of the bigger disappointments because, while he could sing better than his older counterpart, the lustful romantic personality one would expect to sweep Young Donna off her feet just wasn’t there.

Overall, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is an over the top film, full of unrealistic moments of grandeur, brilliant choreography, a Cher cameo (looking more like Lady Gaga’s rich aunt), and of course an overwhelming amount of ABBA music albeit some of their lesser-known hits. While I feel that more of the songs felt forced into the storyline this time around, I think this film targets a very specific audience. It’s a silly summer film that will leave ABBA lovers feeling like true dancing queens.

PS: If you’ve ever wanted to see Pierce, Colin, and Stellan in glitter spandex then stay through the credits! My my, how can you resist that?

Rating:


Erynne Hundley is Seattle-based writer and freelance film critic, currently writing and editing articles for Essentially Erynne. She prides herself on crafting spoiler-free film reviews that balance franchise history, stylistic approach, script interpretation, and the emotional turmoil the final piece creates. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram for article updates.

The Evolution of Eastwood: PAINT YOUR WAGON

PAINT YOUR WAGON (1969)

Take this in: Clint Eastwood. Lee Marvin. Western… Musical.

If that general concept strikes you as somewhat odd, you’re in the precise mindset to encounter 1969’s Paint Your Wagon. Directed by Joshua Logan based on the Broadway play by Alan Jay Lerner, Paint Your Wagon is an odd and apparently misguided venture from conception all the way to execution.

Adapted by the legendary screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky, the production became troubled even from earliest developments. The location was remote, forcing the cast and crew to be helicoptered in every day. The original playwright micro-managed Logan’s direction, forcing frustrations and production delays. Lee Marvin, while regarded by everyone as a consummate southern gentleman, was also unfortunately drunk for nearly every scene of the film. Locals were used as extras who eventually became a coercive union, forcing the budget to bloat even further with unreasonable demands that had to be met rather than further delay production.

These complications don’t automatically shine through in the finished film, but something beneath the surface certainly feels strained. The result is a film that’s overlong, unfocused, and largely thematically confused. There are a couple of memorable songs, but even they feel somewhat forced amidst an ambling and disjointed narrative.

The story, in brief, centers around Ben Rumson (Marvin) who, after finding the wreckage of a wagon that left one man dead and the man’s brother (Eastwood) severely wounded, discovers gold dust and stakes a claim there. Eventually a town builds up around that claim, and into that town drifts a Mormon man with two wives (one of whom he rather casually sells off to the highest bidder – which, of course, winds up being Rumson). As the town continues to boom, a love triangle forms between Rumson, his “Pardner” (Eastwood), and the bride (Jean Seberg) which is set against the backdrop of the wild and fickle gold rush in California. Eventually the triangle (and the town) collapses, leaving our characters to decide for themselves how to tackle whatever comes next.

Eastwood again takes a supporting role here, following his strong presence in Where Eagles Dare. His acting is a bit less steady, and it is disarming on a fundamental level to hear him sing (he and Marvin both perform all of their own songs), but his character in this is far too aimless and reactionary to really anchor any of his performance choices. Where he had previously seemed to bring the full power of his expertise to the strong, silent type role of Lieutenant Schaffer, he now seems to feel out of sorts and confused, wondering both on and off screen (apparently) just where the hell everything is going.

Fans of large-scale movie musicals may find a handful of diamonds in the rough to cherish, but not being in that company myself, I found little to admire and even less to enjoy. The narrative is tedious, the comedy is too ham-fisted, the drama is too self-important. And the theme of the piece seems to confuse whether it wants us to be on board with our protagonists’ philosophies or not (it spends 2 hours bringing us on board with their frontier ways of thinking and living only to monumentally dismantle all of them in the last 30 minutes and ultimately justify the stark-raving preacher who condemned it all).

If I haven’t made it clear enough, I did not enjoy Paint Your Wagon. However, it is a vital entry in Eastwood’s catalogue for one gigantic reason: this is the film that made Eastwood want to become a director.

He would later reference Paint Your Wagon specifically as an impetus for him to move more firmly behind the camera. He said that being a part of this production taught him “how not to make a movie.” And it would only be a couple short years later before he would indeed step behind the camera for the first time, beginning a lifelong legacy that expanded beyond performance into the realm of Hollywood storyteller. If only for the push in that impressive direction, perhaps Paint Your Wagon should be thanked after all.


Reed Lackey is based in Los Angeles, where he writes and podcasts about film and faith. His primary work is featured on the More Than One Lesson website and podcast, as well as his primary podcast, The Fear of God (which examines the intersection between Christianity and the horror genre). Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook to receive updates on his reviews and editorials.

Episode 091: The Greatest Showman

We wanted to open up 2018 with a bang, so we called in That Guy Named John from the About to Review podcast to have a lively discussion with us about Hugh Jackman’s new circus musical. We all three enjoyed this show very much, but we do spend some time discussing criticism revolving around the real-life P.T. Barnum versus his portrayal in the film. The Greatest Showman is a film that brought us lots of smiles and joy, and we hope that listening to this conversation will do the same for you.

The Greatest Showman Review – 0:01:49

The Connecting Point – 1:06:54

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Greatest Showman

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN (2017)


GOING IN

If there were only two genres of film that I could watch for the rest of my life, they would be Science Fiction and Musicals (and if I had a third it very well might be Biopics). The Greatest Showman is the latter two and looks to be shamelessly nostalgic. Its story of P. T. Barnum’s founding of the famous Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus appears full of bombastic dance numbers, bright lights, and big voices. Jackman’s work in the movie adaptation of one of my favorite musicals of all-time, Les Miserables, coupled with his passion for bringing this project to the big screen instill in me the utmost hope. The thing that I love most about musicals is how they can make me feel and that starts with the entire team of creators buying in first. Jackman has said, “A bad musical stinks to high heaven, but when a musical works, there’s nothing like it. It’s everyone coming together and opening their heart.” I couldn’t agree more. My heart is open, too, and I’m ready to receive the spectacle.

1 Hour and 40 Minutes Later.


COMING OUT

P. T. Barnum is famously quoted as saying, “The noblest art is that of making others happy.” With The Greatest Showman, the Australian duo of director Michael Gracey and star Hugh Jackman fully embrace this sentiment in retelling the birth of show business. From the sensational opening scene, watching the film is a joyful experience. An homage to big musicals of the past, it progresses from start to finish linked together by one grandiose song after another, full of over-the-top production and exciting choreography. The passion poured into the project oozes off the screen in every performance and its multiple positive messages about chasing your dreams, using your imagination, and accepting everyone as they are serve as inspirational lessons for child and adult alike.  Also creating that emotional connectivity are the excellent songs, featuring lyrics from Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the break-out songwriters of La La Land‘s award-winning “City of Stars.” Expect at least one of The Greatest Showman‘s awesome musical numbers to receive similar recognition at the 2018 Academy Award ceremony.

Jackman as Barnum is perfect. He has the charisma and vocal talent needed to a showman, and he pulls off both Barnum’s overconfidence and feelings of inadequacy equally well. One thing that must always be considered with biopics is whether or not they accurately depict the characters portrayed. In this case, Barnum’s slave ownership is overlooked completely and the film most likely treats him as more of a champion for the marginalized than he may have been. That being said, it does keep him balanced, showing plenty of poor decisions along with the ones that made him such a success. As a movie-goer, my primary desire is to be entertained, though, and whether its historically correct or not, the pleasure it provides is undeniable.

Also standing out are Rebecca Ferguson as “The Swedish Nightingale” Jenny Lind and Zac Efron as Phillip Carlysle, Barnum’s eventual partner and romantic interest of trapeze artist Anne Wheeler (Zendaya). Ferguson is outstanding and has the most touching solo vocal performance of the film. Efron, meanwhile, provides solid work throughout as someone who slowly becomes a sort of grounding figure for Barnum. He also has a standout musical number with Jackman that made me want an entire movie of just those two actors singing to each other while dancing their way through a plot.

The Greatest Showman is not without fault, however. It’s not a perfect script, and like many musicals of old some cheesiness does slip in. It also could have used a little more character development for the circus performers. While there are the briefest of backstories for them, their unique looks or talents would have been fun to explore further. Yet that would have also made the film longer. As is, its tight runtime of just over an hour and a half is a very good thing, allowing the music to stay center stage and never be silent for long.

VERDICT

The Greatest Showman‘s reverence for the musicals of old shines through in every way. Full of impressive songs that form a soundtrack worth listening to on repeat, it is emotionally provocative and will have viewers smiling and humming their way out of the theater. Though its story may not be 100% historically accurate, the inspirational messages are no less meaningful. Likely to end up one of my most frequently re-watched films from 2017, The Greatest Showman continues the revival of the Hollywood musical and is one of the most enjoyable theater experiences of the year. Take the kids to this family friendly spectacle and enjoy the show!

Rating:


Aaron White is a Seattle-based film critic and co-creator/co-host of the Feelin’ Film Podcast. He is also a member of the Seattle Film Critics Society. He writes reviews with a focus on how his expectations influenced his experience. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Episode 065: Baby Driver

Join us this week for a unique and special recording of the Feelin’ Film Podcast as we record live side-by-side for the first time ever. Not only that, but we also have an awesome guest with us, Chad Hopkins the host of The Cinescope Podcast, to help us talk though Edgar Wright’s musical mayhem of a film, Baby Driver. This episode is recorded directly after we leave the theater so it’s unlike any you’ve heard from us before. We hope you enjoy as we geek out over fast cars, rockin’ tunes, and style style style.

What We’ve Been Up To – 0:04:11

(Aaron –  Cruise)
(Patrick – Indie games)
(Chad – Batman v Superman, Breaking Bad)

Baby Driver Review – 0:14:32

The Connecting Point – 0:55:14

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Intro/Outro Music – “Air Hockey Saloon” by Chris Zabriskie

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MOVIE REVIEW: La La Land

From the street, a baby grand in the middle of a supper club beckons her; the crescendo of a smooth jazz arrangement filling the night air like a clarion call.  She stands and looks at him, mesmerized.  I sit in a dark theater and look at her looking at him, mesmerized.   What happens in the next two hours can only be described as a dizzying spectacle of genuine magic.  A cinematic mish-mash of wondrous set pieces, decorated with a vibrant color palette, lit with appropriate mood lighting, and accompanied by musical numbers ranging from soulful to toe-tapping.  It’s the perfect backdrop in which to watch America’s newest sweethearts pursue their dreams and each other.  This is the City of Stars.  This is La La Land.

I need to be upfront with something.  La La Land was like Hollywood lobbing me a softball the size of a beach ball and giving me a telephone pole to hit it with.  Let’s suffice it to say this film was square in my wheelhouse, so my excitement level was dialed to eleven before I even started the car to head to the theater.  It’s rare to have such high expectations for something and have them met, but as I went into La La Land with five star expectations, I walked out having had a six star experience.

What writer/director Damien Chazelle has crafted here is a pure spectacle in all of the best possible ways.  Culling from the golden age of Hollywood musicals, when Fred twirled Ginger around the soundstage, Chazelle captures the glamour of a bygone era and places it neatly into a modern world. Thankfully, he doesn’t burden it with overproduced glitz (ala Baz Luhrman).  Instead, there is a beauty to these production numbers.  There is a dreamlike quality to most of them; perfect asides that enhance the burgeoning love story of Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling).  When the film does veer into more rambunctious musical territory, as it does with the side bar narrative of Sebastian’s rising career with modern jazz band The Messengers (led by a guitar playing John Legend as lead vocalist Keith), it never feels forced or unnecessary.  It all feels appropriate; keeping us grounded in the now. Just when you allow the magic of old Hollywood to take you away, a well timed cell phone ring or smoke alarm reels you back in.  Getting antsy with all of the jazz?  Here’s an 80’s cover band performance to enjoy. It’s all part of the larger experience. There is a purpose to everything Chazelle does.  

There isn’t really a deep narrative that drives La La Land.  This is a story about dreamers, and the courtship of Mia and Sebastian is purely a means to an end.  The chemistry between Stone and Gosling only serves to enhance the experience of getting there.  Their relationship checks off all of the right boxes as the movie forges on, but everything they experience together as a couple feels natural and never melodramatic.  Chazelle isn’t interested in cliches.  Time is better spent with walks through a deserted studio backlot, or inside a dimly lit nightclub listening to jazz music.  We are invested in this couple.  We want to see them succeed.  So when the time comes where conflict is necessary, it rings true.  And it hurts.

What we ultimately learn from La La Land is that dreams always come with a price.  Perseverance is required, but it comes with a healthy dose of self doubt.  The world will chew you up and spit you out, because it couldn’t care less about your dreams.  Hollywood is the perfect setting for just such a story.  It is a land of dreamers who rarely get the opportunity to do.  And what about sacrifice?  You can’t have it all.  You may one day beat the odds and achieve the success you seek, but it might be at the cost of the fantastic partner who has been by your side the whole time.  The one that believed in you unconditionally might be the one who gets pushed aside; a tragic consequence to the realities of life.  If the dream is the goal, you have to be willing to look back across a crowded nightclub, with a wry smile and a knowing nod, and be okay with what you had to give up to get here.  Here’s to the fools who dream.

 

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STEVE CLIFTON has been writing moderately well on the Internet at this blog, Popcorn Confessional, for the better part of the last decade.  His love for movies can be traced back to the North Park Cinema in Buffalo, NY circa 1972, when his aunt took him to see Dumbo.  Now living in Maine, Steve routinely consumes as much film, television, and books as time will allow.  He also finds time to complain about winter and Buffalo sports teams.  He is a big fan of bad horror films and guacamole, and mildly amused by pandas.

 

Episode 021: West Side Story

We don’t take sides in this gang war, but we certainly lean more toward love than hate when discussing the all-time great musical. West Side Story is beloved by many, and for very good reason. Its themes of star-crossed love and race in America are handled with some of the best and most unique choreography ever produced. Mix in the many memorable songs and its easy to see why this is considered one of the best musicals ever made.

What We’ve Been Up To – 2:00

Aaron (Hell or High Water, Alien vs. Predator/AVP: Requiem)

Patrick (ESPN 30 for 30)

West Side Story Review – 17:10

The Connecting Point – 1:04:15

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