Wednesday, January 18, 2017

La La Land (2016) **1/2

Most films that come out this time of year, angling for Oscars glory, are serious affairs. Some of them can be hard to watch because of their ponderous themes, like the Holocaust. The new musical “La La Land” is exactly the opposite. This light and fluffy confection is about almost nothing. Its scenes float away like notes on the air.

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling play an actress and a jazz musician trying to achieve success in modern-day L.A. They fall in love, but wind up having to chose between love and success. And that's it. Absolutely nothing else happens. Sure people break out into song and dance on a regular basis, and everyone looks just lovely, but after two hours of fidgeting in my seat, I felt like I had seen nothing at all. “La La Land” is a great example of tremendous star power and beautiful cinematography wasted.

“La La Land” indulges the same “follow your dreams” tropes that so many Hollywood films do. The film also implicitly promotes another familiar Hollywood conceit, which is that the only dreams worth having are artistic dreams.

The point of a musical, of course, is the music, and 30 minutes after the film, I couldn't recall the songs at all. There is an attempt to give jazz music some love, and I suppose that works to some extent. Bottom line: “La La Land” is not going to enter the pantheon of great movie musicals.

I am definitely in the minority here. Audiences and critics alike seem to love this movie, and the awards and nominations are pouring in. Maybe in a time when half the country hates the other half, a movie that says nothing, and thereby offends no one, is the only thing we can all agree on.

2.5 stars out of 5

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