Tag Archives: Damien Chazelle

La La Land Was Bad

31 Dec
LLL d 41-42_6689.NEF

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone looking very bored in La La Land.

Wow, people really seem to love La La Land.  People love this movie so much that it was actually difficult to find a decent seat in a theater in LA the last few weekends to see it.  What’s going on here?  Why do people love La La Land? What am I missing?

Here’s the thing with me – I often find myself unable to find the suspension of disbelief necessary to properly enjoy a musical.  I am a bit of a misanthrope and I simply find it difficult to believe that humans would jump into song and dance at any moment.  This is for good reason, as I have never seen anyone jump into song and dance in my entire short life.  I have never seen song and dance routines taking place in the post office, restaurants, or on the freeway in traffic.  However, if a song and dance routine played out upon a Los Angeles freeway sounds intriguing, La La Land is the film for you.

Damien Chazelle’s brightly colored film centers on the story of Mia Dolan (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress who works as a barista in a Warner Brothers lot cafe, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a brooding aspiring jazz musician who pays the bills by playing corny piano tunes in restaurants.  The opening scene of the movie is a song and dance routine enacted  by the bored motorists of Los Angeles.  Not only was the song forgettable and useless, but the scene bothered me for another reason.  Apparently the only freeway that Chazelle was able to shut down was the 105, which runs east to west and is located several miles south of Pico Boulevard, running west toward LAX.  Pico Boulevard is relevant here because the people in the film most likely would balk at the idea of traveling south of that street.  They are that lame and self-protective.  To see a collection of people singing and dancing atop the 105 freeway, which runs atop one of the most dangerous and deadly neighborhoods in all of Los Angeles (Westmont), is truly disturbing.  The routine ends when Mia fails to realize that traffic is moving ahead, and Sebastian, perhaps in the only realistic moment of the film, cuts her off and unwittingly gives his future lover a dirty look.

One of the themes of this film is of course love, but I think what is most important about the twist in La La Land is that it does have some cynicism within it.  If anything, this movie would have been better with even more cynicism.  There was something so boring about both Mia and Sebastian, and when you put them together, it’s like watching two pieces of toast fall in love with each other just because the other one is there.  Mia wants to be an actress (duh) and Sebastian wants to be a jazz musician (okay so why isn’t he in New York), but they both are boring and flat characters with no real motivations for doing anything.

Perhaps the most pointless scene in the film comes when Mia gets angry with Sebastian for having to tour with a band nearly nonstop.  She asks him if he likes the music that he’s playing.  Sebastian isn’t sure.  The scene then escalates over this nothingness of a conflict.  Mia is mad that Sebastian will have to keep going out of town while making a living playing music.  Who cares if he doesn’t love what he’s playing?  Who is paying the bills in this relationship?  Is Mia’s job as a barista supporting them?  It makes no sense as to why this scene would serve as the rising action of the film.  Mia is mad at Sebastian for being a responsible adult.  Horrifying.  It then gets even worse, but I will leave the rest of the details a mystery.

There are some redeeming, enjoyable scenes.  The dance scene that took place in Griffith Observatory is perhaps the most memorable.  Most others are forgettable and lacking imagination.  Throughout the film, Chazelle appears to be paying homage to the film musicals of the past, but never quite as strongly as the actual musicals originally did it.

boring-la-la-land

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling look very bored here.  Appropriate!!!

La La Land also appears to have been slapped together in a short amount of time.  The choreography is very basic and both Gosling and Stone seem stiff.  The ending of the film is perhaps the only redeeming sequence and the only part that gave me some inkling of emotion.  However, I do not think many people will be satisfied with the ending.  In fact, the woman next to me let out a big shrug and exhaled deeply, like she was glad to be done with something taxing.

It did not feel as anyone in the audience was moved throughout this film.  There is a very strange disconnect between the audience and the characters of Mia and Sebastian.  Let’s face it – Mia and Sebastian are carbon copies of stereotypes of stereotypes of what women and men in LA are like.  They are self-absorbed, boring, vapid, and singularly focused on their alleged careers.  This stereotype is true for the most part – people in LA are self-obsessed.  And the ending to this film, in a way, confirms this.  This is perhaps the only redeeming moment of the film – the ending.

Overall, I give La La Land a 4.5 out of 10.  Would not watch again unless it was on TBS ten years from now and nothing else was on.

Advertisements