La La Land

At the end of 2016, we need a movie like La La Land. Musicals offer an alternate universe where people don’t sit around mad at each other, they get out on the freeway and sing together. The film is a throwback to the classic era of old-school Hollywood, while still managing to be relevant and fresh. Damien Chazelle, who burst on the scene with 2014’s Whiplash, is back with another masterpiece. Chazelle writes and directs with his trademark precision, bringing together lighting, cinematography, costumes, acting, writing, and music to remind us why we go to the movies in the first place.

Join Jon and Tim as they talk about the connection between Birdman and Whiplash, Jon’s man-crush on Ryan Gosling, why Tim hates musicals, how jazz is a metaphor for relationships, Emma Stone’s Oscar chances, and the cost of pursuing your dreams.

  • DocRLS

    Tim and Jon,
    Once again you made me laugh multiple times in your latest podcast. I wondered, Tim, if you were going to have to resuscitate Jon when you told him “anyone” could have been plugged into Mia’s role. Ha!

    I am surprised that you never (to my memory) brought up any of the fantasy elements of the film. I have not seen it yet but by the trailers there are things going on that are not based in physics. Did that bother you? Did it add to the story or not?

    Now, I have to scold you both (more Tim than Jon, I guess) for your dismissive attitude towards musicals. GIVE ME A BREAK! You enjoy a medium that is repeatedly surreal and yet it bothers you that some films choose to bring out emotions or feeling by singing rather than dialogue or action? Really? Does everything have to be “realistic” to you? Are song and dance not art forms? Only “Circus stuff”? “Vaudeville stuff”? Do you think in “Fiddler” the emotions produced by “Sunrise/Sunset”, “Anatevka” or “Tradition” could be better told by a soliloquy? Would it be as entrancing? Do you not appreciate the skill and talent it takes to sing, dance and act all at the same time? Did “Cabaret” not dazzle you with Liza Minelli’s and Joel Grey’s artistry telling of the grim times of that era in Germany? Can a story not be told musically (with GREAT music) in lyrical form as in “Les Miserables” and be appreciated for what a tremendous work of art it is? Yes, it is fantastic on the stage and cannot be fully duplicated on film, but is there not value and worth in bringing art to the masses (where you don’t have to pay $200 for a ticket?) Did “Godspell” not give you a different take on Christ’s ministry by song – something no dramatic presentation could have done? Jon, you just gave “Sing Street” an “A-“ which for you is a pretty high rating (and more than I would have given it but…). Do you not think that was a musical, or at least a faux musical? Was the last song at the show realistic? Do you not look forward to “Hamilton” being on film sometime soon? Are you not in awe at Lin-Manuel Miranda’s artistry? (See the PBS “Great Performances” program on “Hamilton” to BE awed.)

    So, I have cross-examined you both enough. Yes there are some REALLY bad film musicals out there (“Man of La Mancha”, “Nine”, “A Little Night Music” etc.). And there are many really good ones too. No need to be condescending about them, as if they are less worthwhile than a Kubrick or an Altman film. If you cannot relate, your loss. Grin. (Jon, I bet your spouse would agree.)

    • Ha! Well done, Ron. I love your passion. Let the record show that I don’t hate musicals or even dislike them. I just don’t love them. Tim, on the other hand, has proudly stated his hatred for them, and I would love to hear his defense of your arguments!

      I’m glad you brought up Sing Street, because I think that’s an example of a musical done right. Rather than have “song moments” completely removed from the flow of the film, the music feels natural and connected to the whole. I think La La Land does the same thing, which is probably why Tim begrudgingly appreciated it. 🙂

      And yes, bring on the Hamilton movie written and directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda! Everything that guy touches turns to gold, and it’s clearly the only why I’m ever going to see the musical.