offbalance: (UB Divas)
[personal profile] offbalance
I'm baaaaaaaack.

So, on that *other* social media site, there is a secret group that is trying to get the band back together (as it were) here on LJ. So far, it's been a glorious class reunion. I never lost touch with [ profile] fragbert, thankfully, but getting back in touch with [ profile] first_lobster and [ profile] trappedinabay has been marvelous. There's also a new community, [ profile] 2017revival that seems dead set serious about making this a *thing* again and I'm all for it. Will be posting over there shortly too, just figured I'd go through the trouble of posting here first so anyone wanting to meander to my page would have something fresh to read.

Christmas was lovely - presents included copies of the Springsteen memoir, Hamiltome, the Hamilton Mixtape, the new Leonard Cohen and Lady Gaga albums, my own copy of Metropolitan on dvd, and TICKETS TO SEE BETTE MIDLER IN HELLO DOLLY. I may be just a tad tiny bit excited about that last one. [ profile] quasisonic magically got me this Ogio tote bag I was in love with but didn't manage to buy for myself also, and I may have shattered a few windows when I got to unwrap that one. She also got me the blu-ray set of That's Entertainment! I-III, which my dorky ass is SO excited about diving into.


I just got back from seeing La La Land, and boy, what a let down. The most disappointing thing of all is that there may have been a good movie under there somewhere if they had spent a little more time making the script make sense, hiring actors who could sing and dance, and perhaps writing a few more songs. Alas, this was not the finished product I plunked down $16.50 to see.

I am certain now in my assessment that Ryan Gosling is (as the old joke goes) a triple threat: can't sing, can't dance, can't act. He was his usual blend of wooden and smarmy. As usual, Emma Stone was generally pretty charming. However, my real issue was with the script (or tremendous lack thereof). One would think that script so long in turnaround would be ripe for a few polishes, or at the very least, the writer-director would have had a chance to FINISH the damn thing. But this half-baked mess just collapsed like the souffle Ryan Gosling's character attempts to make in the Fall segment. Half the plot threads that were introduced were dopped inexplicably (what was the great injustice done to Sebastian? By Whom? And if it was by the guy who offered him a place in his new band, then why did he so readily JOIN said band?). This massive plot hole really could have been solved in a few simple dialogue exchanges. If this character had time to disagree with him about the state of jazz music, certainly they could have squeezed in a little explanation or backstory? I also wanted John Legend (who was quite good!) to slap the SHIT out of this white boy explaining jazz to him. REALLY now?

I also continue to find it frustrating that so many artists (pronounced "ahhh-tists") in these films seem to not be able to hold down a regular job while being creative, while my experience is the polar opposite. I have many friends who engage in serious creative endeavors while holding down non-service-industry jobs at the same time. A balancing act worthy of Ringling Brothers, no doubt. Not to mention the scores of couples I know (myself included) that manage to keep relationships flourishing despite separations of schedule and distance. Perhaps my knowledge of business and real estate got in my way of enjoying this movie - I understand all too well how difficult it is to get a club going, and how much investment capital is required (not to mention potential investor contacts he could acquire while being a professional musician of some renown!), so the fact that Ryan Gosling's character found surprisingly gainful employment as a musician in order to take care of himself, open a tidy savings account, pay off whatever debts he incurred while unemployed and seemingly support his unemployed-by-choice-playwright-actress girlfriend would be something to celebrate, not deride. (Also, explain to me why Mia, who is no longer going out on auditions and focusing on her one-woman show that she was the subject of, could not keep her cafe job, with its regular hours, breaks, and seemingly decent pay? Seems like the ideal job for what she was working on.)

Also baffled as to why so many reviewers are falling over themselves over the singing and dancing. It's nothing that Stanley Donnen or Vincente Minelli or other great musical directors of the golden technicolor era didn't do (and better!) 60 years ago with Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire or anyone else who managed to be present on the MGM lot that day (who could actually carry a tune). The third-act "ballet" (if you can call it that) was a blatant ripoff of work that Donnen and Kelly did in An American in Paris and Singing in the Rain, only lacking in the deft artistry that made those sequences classic. (I never thought I'd see the day where I'd prefer Leslie Caron for any reason, but here we are!)

My friend [ profile] lwoodbloo put it best on the way out of the theater - the wheels fell off the movie when no one was singing and dancing. And in my own opinion, the singing and dancing wasn't all that good. The best numbers either did not feature or barely featured the leads (the Griffith Observatory number CLEARLY employed dance doubles!) and the songs were forgettable at best. Jacques Demy it is not. In one scene in the jazz club, Emma Stone's "dancing" made me laugh out loud. I've seen better choreography in amateur productions!

My sister was kind enough to by me the boxed set of all three That's Entertainment! compilations for Christmas, and I think I will now watch one to remind myself of what a quality musical looks like. I also have Hello, Dolly to look forward to for just this reason as well.

Date: 2016-12-27 02:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I went to a 4:45 showing of Moonlight at one of the local smaller cinemas, and their 4:10 showing of La La Land was sold out -- which I'd never seen happen at that cinema before and which surprised me 'cause I hadn't realized there was a lot of buzz around that film (given my circles, the films on my list are Fences, Moana, Rogue One, and Hidden Figures once it hits Boston).

Date: 2016-12-27 03:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think the buzz is coming from what I call the "Ace Ventura effect." Ace Ventura was the only comedy to come out in a year that featured, among other things, Schindler's List and many other "serious" releases around this time of year (and from what I remember, rather bleak weather). As a result, it was a runaway success, because people wanted to laugh, not cry. (Bread and circus).

How was Moonlight? I tend to get aggravated with "atmosphere" movies but I LOVE Mahershala Ali, so I'm torn). I really liked Rogue One, and I'm hoping to see Moana, Hidden Figures and Fences some point soon, in that order.

Date: 2016-12-27 11:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That makes sense about the "Ace Ventura Effect." I figure I've got Moana for feel-good movies (and I tend not to be into comedies -- I've seen the trailer for Toni Erdmann twice now and still have no desire to see it ... though I have enjoyed other light-hearted films at the Kendall -- The Brand New Testament, The Love Witch, Girl Asleep).

I struggled some with how much of an "atmosphere" movie Moonlight is while I was watching it, so it probably would not be your thing. There's minimal dialogue, and I kept yearning for more of what the characters were thinking, more information on what else was going on, etc. On reflection after the fact, I feel good about the movie, but while watching it I often struggled.

Date: 2016-12-28 06:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I was intrigued by the reviews I read and the trailer I saw for The Love Witch, but it wasn't a priority for me to get to. How was it?

I'm a big dialogue person. I can (and do) enjoy movies without it, or with a lot of atmosphere, but there's only so much pensive staring into the middle distance I can stand before I start to lose patience. Was it as extraordinary as the hype makes it out to be?

Date: 2016-12-31 12:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The Love Witch was campy fun, and I enjoyed it a lot.

I wouldn't say that Moonlight is exactly a "pensive staring into the middle distance" kind of film. More like, as IndieWire put it, "the gaps between words — and an ongoing battle to find the right one."

I wasn't as blown away by it as all the hype led me to (expect? hope?) be.

Date: 2016-12-27 02:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I don't know those folks. But, OMG, I am so down for an LJ revival in 2017.

Date: 2016-12-27 03:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Right? SO down for LJ to come back in a big way.

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