August 23, 2017

As I am pouring over the latest TIFF schedule and listing of films for 2017, yesterday I managed to find at the library a copy of last year’s TIFF Top Pick, LaLa Land.   I had vowed that I wasn’t going to see in the theatre nor spend money on a musical on film as previously discussed.  In short I have found Hollywood’s attempts to generate a buzz about this genre to be less than successful (even when such films were awarded the top prize for a film during that year).  The Artist, Chicago and others of late have not resonated with me, even when I had seen the film on stage (Chicago was seen by me in London).

Now with Lala Land we have the story starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.

I think I entered this film with an open mind.   There was the hype to be sure and all the awards, but I was looking forward to it.   The story is a simple one; aspiring actress is frustrated by the whole Hollywood scene, when she meets frustrated jazz pianist (Gosling) who wants to revive the dying jazz clubs and music.  I did like the bright and colourful costumes and sets.  They showed joy and positive energy when so much around us can be down and dark.   There are a couple cute scenes.  The music I felt was good, with some catchy songs.  Still this didn’t excite me, and I wasn’t enthralled.    I found the singing ability lacking, and in some cases hard to hear the voices of the leads.   They aren’t singers.   Not in a Russell Crowe or Peirce Brosnan horrible way, but not accomplished singers.  And perhaps that is one of the frustrations, is that there ARE triple threats out there who can sing, dance and act.   Ryan Gosling has confidence in what he is doing, it is true, but I don’t pretend that he is playing the piano.  Some of it, yes but much of it is done by others I suspect.   His dancing was competent but he wasn’t channeling Fred Astaire.   It is a bit forced.  Like the relationship between the leads.   They don’t have electric chemistry together.   Alison’s description about Emma Stone’s face is right on point.  The math just simply doesn’t add up.  She is not very attractive; she doesn’t have a killer body; she is not a singer as we have established; she is a decent actor.   Her turn in Birdman as the daughter was one of her better performances, and garnered her a Supporting Actress nomination.   She is quirky and simply just doesn’t do anything for me.  That she WON the Best Actress award for this just floors me.    If you have seen Elle, Isabelle Huppert who won the Golden Globe had a better performance.   I suspect Stone won for her song performance when she auditioned for the movie in Paris, and that song about her aunt.   Still I remain perplexed.    In the end the romantic in me was not satisfied with the ending, but then again that was a twist that was to be expected I suppose.  It made sense.   There are paths that we all choose to take and they direct our lives and have consequences.  The same holds true here.   That we have a review of a different path and how things could have been just highlights one of life’s truths.

Despite the gaffe at the actual Awards with Warren and Faye fumbling with the wrong Best Picture card – I am pleased that this did not win.   It wasn’t the Best Picture, but then again almost a year later neither was the winner Moonlight.   The movie that I will remember best, and re-watch for last year will continue to be Arrival.

January 9th, 2017

I went out to see Manchester By The Sea with all of the good reviews and award nominations that is has received.  Casey Affleck then last night wins the Best Actor Award in a Drama for his performance.

A quick sidebar about the Golden Globes last night.   La La Land was nominated in 7 categories and won every one.  It became the movie with the most Golden Globe wins ever.   I have to say that I have little interest in seeing this homage to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, nor particularly in the whole musical on film genre.  Best Picture Oscars have been awarded to Chicago and The Artist and other such films but for me they are not all that intriguing.   I certainly do not need to see them on the big screen, especially in this instance with Golden Globe winner Emma Stone who I really don’t like much.  Meryl Streep went off on a political rant as well as others such as Hugh Laurie.   In the end, they all need to accept the fact that Americans voted as they did.   And they’re not going to like it for the next four years.   Some of the dresses were pretty, others less so.  I wonder why dudes (like Jonah Hill) who wear sneakers with a tux don’t get lambasted as much for their lack of class and fashion sense than the women do.

Onto the Misery by the Water.  As described by Alison this was not a feel good movie.  This is a movie of an emotionally detached guy, and for good reason, who needs to address and accept the death of his brother, and his brother’s unilateral decision to make him the guardian of a walking hormone 16 yo son.   There are good performances all around.  This is NOT the Best Picture of the Year.   Casey himself is a portrait of a man who internalizes and then lashes out unexpectedly at times.   He has an alcohol issue and should be kept away from most bar situations.   The story then unfolds as he and the boy and those around them address this new state.   The use of flashback sequences is effective to fill in the gaps about these people, and what occurred, to show their history and current attitudes.  There is some humour, mostly with the boy and the interactions with his uncle.   I think that the music was used as effectively as at any time in recent memory.   The music plays, much like the first few minutes of UP where you see the couple’s life unfold without words, with the voices being muffled and you see the body language and emotions of those on screen to the actions that have taken place.   It is powerful.   In the end there is a thought-provoking story that raises many questions to be discussed.   I am glad to have seen it, but I had to be prepared for it.    Everyone here is damaged in one way or another, without fail.  I was a little taken aback by the conclusion.    I’ll leave it at that.    Is this a movie about depression?   I am not sure.   It is certainly a movie about death and dealing with it.  It can also be about small town issues and dealing with small minds and one’s past.   Lion in comparison had emotional aspects to it that were powerful.   Here too there was power in the message but different.    Hard to describe.

I finished Westworld which I (gulp) downloaded.  I am a bad person.    But it had to be done.   Crichton does love his twists and turns or at the very least the Nolan Brothers do.  There is more gratuitous violence and nudity than required here.   I guess it gains audiences for titillation but does not add much to the story.  I did like the arc of the story for Anthony Hopkins.  Also too Bernard.    Thandie Newton was very good and I think better than Evan Rachel Wood.   I had not seen the original movie from 70s.   Still this held my attention and was glad I watched closely together as the story remained fresh.   There are plenty of interesting insights about people, and happiness and what drives us.
Game of Thrones Season 5 is done and onto Season 6.   The Jon Snow ending was kind of unexpected but I am aware that we have not seen the last of him.   I think I will relish seeing the end of the religious fanatics as much as Cersei. The Bran story does not hold my interest.